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Rhetoric Matters

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A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.  --Proverbs 15:1

There aren't a lot of gentle answers today, are there?

Our politicians, our news & entertainment media and our social media conversations and posts are filled with outrage and vilification.  People who disagree with us, aren't just wrong, they are evil.  And not evil in a Biblical sense that they have fallen short and are in need of redemption, but evil in a sense that they do not deserve the dignity or respect due their position or their humanity.

In the wake of the recent shootings in El Paso and Dayton, we find ourselves asking the question again:  "What could we have done to prevent such a tragedies?"  Maybe nothing.  Maybe there was such evil in the heart of these individuals that no matter our actions, they would have still found their way to take revenge on people they deemed worthy of death.

However, at the same time, I can't help but believe that the rhetoric of vilif…

What 18 Years of Ministry Has Taught Me

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Today marks my 18th year in ministry...at the same church!

Being in the same place for nearly two decades gives a depth of perspective often not experienced by those in ministry because many do not make 18 years in ministry and even those who do often have that experience split between many different churches.

So in honor of the 18 years of ministry I have been blessed to serve, I would like to share 18 things that I have learned during this time.  Some of these things are painful, some of these things are harsh truths and some of these things are insurmountable blessings.

1.  God uses incredibly flawed people, of whom, I am the greatest.

I know myself better than anyone else.  I know how terribly flawed I am.  Yet, I am amazed that God still works through me, even on my worst days.  I can remember, on more than one occasion, where my attitude and my actions didn't line up with where God wanted me to be and the same day hearing how a sermon or teaching given under those less than d…

Why "Infinity War" is a Pro-Life Movie

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I have always been a superhero geek.  During my youth and adult years, I have collected many comics from both Marvel and DC.  I follow superheroes, not just for the fantasy (I mean who doesn't want to run the speed of light or fly), but for the compelling characters and struggles these characters must triumph over.

Many of the successes on the big and small screen today had their origins in the pages of a monthly comic.  You think waiting a week is a long time to see what happens to your favorite hero next, try waiting a month.  Yet, if you are an avid comic book junkie like I was, you memorized which week your favorite comic hit the stands so you could be at the store on the arrival date.  Then, you would go out to your car and spend the next 20 minutes consuming the next chapter in the story colorfully splashed across a couple dozen pages.  A satisfying tale could sometimes take a year or two to flesh out.

Marvel has done an astonishingly good job in mimicking this same process …

Why Living Together is the Opposite of Marriage

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Let me be blunt for a moment.

Our generation and our children's generation is getting punked concerning living together and marriage.  Through countless cultural icons and generations affected by the sexual revolution, they have been told that living together is a stepping stone to marriage.

On TV and in the movies, scenes reminiscent of marriage proposal scenes take place between men and women with an elongated rectangular box replacing the traditional square one.  A key to an apartment or house replaces the diamond ring reserved for a deeper commitment.  What's inside the box, when you think about it, is as pitiful a replacement as the notion of living together is to a life long commitment in marriage.

What is so sad concerning this trend is that it is marketed as a progression toward marriage when in reality, living together is the exact opposite of marriage.  It is just a step away from true commitment, they are told.  And unfortunately, they are buying it.

For a moment, l…

Advent Ponderings: Why was Zechariah struck dumb?

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During advent, our church is reading through parts of the Christmas story week by week.  These ponderings are based upon those readings and designed to get us thinking about Christmas keeping Christ at the center.  I hope you will enjoy them.

Luke 1:5-20

Have you ever wondered why Zechariah was dumbstruck by Gabriel?  I mean, on the surface, it seems harsh.  Zechariah asks a simple question followed by an obvious observation:  "How can I be sure of this?  I am an old man and my wife is well along in years."  (Luke 1:18)

Zechariah was just promised some incredible things.  He and his wife were going to have a son in their old age who was going to be "great in the sight of the Lord" (v. 15).  I think that I would want some assurance too.

The problem with angels

Wouldn't the appearance of an angel be enough to heed whatever words he was saying?  If there was an angel that suddenly appeared to us in all of his glory that told us not to be afraid (as angels often do i…

Dissing On My Bride

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He walked up to me visibly stung by an interaction that he just had.  I didn't know him, but he began to talk to me as if he was doing me a favor.

"Be careful of that lady over there." pointing to the one across the room in a red dress, "I don't think she's got it all together."

"Really?  What happened?" I asked.

"Well, I went over there, introduced myself, held out my hand for a friendly handshake and after a few awkward moments, she simply turned away and started talking to someone else."

"Maybe she didn't mean anything by it."  I interjected.

"I don't know.  She just didn't seem all there.  Not the type of person I think I'd like to hang around."

"You got all that from a refusal to shake your hand?"

"I'm a pretty good judge of character.  Trust me, if you have a chance to get around her, you'll see."  All of a sudden a smile began to creep on my new friend's face,…

How One Little Card is Changing My Perception Toward Outreach

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Yesterday, our church started the 52 Week Challenge.  It is a challenge to personally invite 1 person/family to church each week for 52 weeks and see what God will do with our faithfulness.  We made cards for our congregation that has our website, address and meeting time (along with our church name and mission statement).  Each person/family who accepts the challenge is given a set of 52 cards to personally hand out (some have taken more than one set).

I took two sets for my family and it is already changing my outlook on things.  I currently have two cards in my back pocket and I am looking for ways to connect with people to hand them out.

Today, I had lunch with one of our congregation members.  While I was totally there for them, I found myself looking for a way to talk with someone (waiter, hostess, etc...), so I could learn their name and invite them to church in my moments in-between our conversation.  Unfortunately, the waiter who serviced our table wasn't around much and …