Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Phil's Friends

I wanted to do something different with todays post.  I thought that it would be a good idea to highlight an organization that is furthering God’s kingdom. 

Today, a great organization came to talk to our students about their ministry.  The ministry is Phil’s Friends.  They minister to men, women and children who are suffering with cancer.  They provide care packages, cards, letters, phone calls and so much more to those who need encouragement. 

Here’s more information about them:

“Give a moment and you’ll change a life.

Our goal is simple. We strive to provide support and comfort to those who are fighting cancer. One of the main ways we’re able to bring this sense of ease into one’s life is by delivering God’s Word. There is much to be found when searching for ourselves through God.

Phil's Friends also distributes care packages to cancer patients and their families. We hold fund raising events such as the Annual Celebration of Hope Dinner & Golf Outing. We are establishing packing facilities, mobile pack and a widespread volunteer base to help cancer patients and their families across the country.

The purpose of our charity is, “to bring hope”. People are diagnosed with cancer every day.  People with cancer often experience support needs. Many have no place to turn. We all need comfort, peace, and joy. Phil’s Friends is a faith-based charity that seeks to provide “the hope” we all need.”

This is a great organization that helps so many people.  Cancer is something that strikes close to home for many f us.  I know that many of my family members have had cancer and it’s organizations like Phil’s Friends that helped them get through those tough times.

Take a moment to check out their website and see if it’s an organization that you would like to help.  Any help that you can give them can go a long way!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Ray Of Light?

I love sports.  Always have and always will.  They are a huge part of my life.  I love to play, but I also love to watch professionals.  One thing I’m always intrigued about is how athletes bring their faith into their sport.  Some wear t shirts with biblical sayings underneath their uniform.  Others may pray with other Christian athletes at mid-field after the game.  And others choose a more unconventional route.

A few weeks ago, I was watching the end of the Broncos-Ravens game and caught Ray Lewis’ post game speech.  If you didn’t catch it, here it is:

“No weapon formed shall prosper.  No Weapon…no weapons…no weapon, God is amazin,’ and when you believe in Him…Man believes in the possible, God believes in the impossible.”

This is a loose paraphrase of Isaiah 54:17.  And when I say loose, I mean loose.  When I heard Ray say this, I busted out laughing (no lie).  I couldn’t contain myself.  “No weapon formed shall prosper?”  So, in that instance was the “weapon” Peyton Mannings arm? 

I think that there is a great misinterpretation of how God views us.  Does God care about every person?  Yes.  Does it break His heart when you are sad? Yes.  Do the heavens rejoice alongside you when you are happy?  Sure.  Does God care about who wins or loses a football game?  Doubtful.  Does God love Ray Lewis more than, say, Peyton Manning because the Ravens won the game?  No.  Did the Ravens win because Ray’s faith is stronger than another player on the Broncos?  No.

Most of the media focused on the fact that Ray Lewis wore a shirt that said “Psalm 91” as he took a lap around the field that day, but most of the media dropped the ball on the Isaiah mis-quote.  Psalm 91 is a great Psalm:

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.  If you make the Most High your dwelling—even the Lord, who is my refuge—then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.  He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.”                                                             
Psalm 91

Athletes and how they express their faith has always been an intriguing topic for me.  It has always been an interesting mix where the Bible is misquoted and “God’s love and power” is invoked and the cause of a victory.  What are your thoughts on the subject of athletes and their faith?  Do you think that athletes quoting scripture (wether correctly or incorrectly) helps or hurts other Christians?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


I was at my neighborhood Chipotle yesterday.  I ordered my usual chicken salad, asked for the appropriate additions and then waited patiently for someone to ring me up.  They weren’t that busy, so I didn’t mind waiting for the cashier to finish preparing someone burrito.  As I was standing there, I was taken aback by the customer behind me and his attitude. 

First of all, he never once looked up from his phone.  He never once showed eye contact with the person assisting him in creating his lunch.  Second when the worker asked what he wanted on his burrito, he scoffed at the worker like she should know his “usual” order.  She was clearly new.  (You could tell by the way she carefully rolled the burrito.  The “pros” are pretty quick.)

After his burrito was wrapped, he noticed that no one was at the register.  He mockingly asked, “ So are these free?”  He gave a heavy sigh (so that everyone could hear his frustration) and went back to his phone.  The cashier then came and rang me up.  As she was putting my food in the bag, I was practically pushed out of the way by the man, because he was in such a hurry to be rung up.

As I walked out, I thought, “Wow, what is that guys problem?”  I don’t know the guy personally.  I don’t know his story.  But in the 30 seconds that I watched him, I developed a stigma about him.  I labeled him as a “jerk.”  Maybe he was just having an off day.  Maybe he’s going through a tough time in his life.  I don’t know.  But his attitude gave everyone at Chipotle an impression of who he is.

Too often I have seen Christians have similar attitudes outside of church.  They treat waiters and waitresses with disrespect  at restaurants.  They treat clothing stores like their closets and throw clothes on the floor of the stores.  Whenever I get cut off on the highway, the car, more often than not, has a KLOVE or Ichthys (Jesus Fish) sticker on the rear windshield.

My question to you this week is: What does your attitude say about you?  Does it reflect the attitude of Jesus?  I know it won’t be the last time I go to that Chipotle (it’s dangerously close to the church), but what does my short interaction with the staff say about me?  What does your attitude towards others say about you?  How well do you represent Christ as an ambassador for Him?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Missing Christmas

Like many of you, my month of December was crazy.  We have so many things going on around our church, that it’s tough to keep up, especially when you are under-staffed as we are.  When you throw in all of the children’s pageants and extra services and events, it’s hard to believe that Christmas is actually over. 

There’s something about working in the ministry…I never really get to “enjoy” the holidays.  I spend more nights at work and less time with my family due to added practices.  The free time that I do have is spent thinking about how I’m going to accomplish all of the other goals that have to get done (shopping, decorating, etc.)

The past few days, I have finally been able to relax.  Now, it’s January 9th.  It seems I missed Christmas.

 I have been listening to Christmas music since September, not because I wanted to, but because I had to find the right songs for our services.  By December 15th, I couldn’t hear a Christmas song without changing the station.  I had been hearing it for so long.  I was just done.

There has been one year in the last fifteen that I haven’t had some sort of major responsibility at church during the holidays.  It was last year, when I was unemployed.

I remember how relaxed I was.  How I really didn’t know what to do with myself and all the free time that I had.  I was able to go see Christmas decorations and appreciate the music of the season.  I wasn’t in a hurry to get anywhere, cause I really had no place to be.

This year, it was back to my usual busy season. 

I know that I really need to do a better job of saying “no.”  I know that I need to do a better job of enjoying the season.  I know that I need to do a better job of spending time with my family.

Maybe next year…

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

December Reposts: Part 3

This month, I am going to repost some past blogs.  My hope is that you enjoy re-reading them.  For the rest of you reading these for the first time will gain a little more nderstanding of where I came from.  Maybe learn from a mistake or two of mine.

I always have and always will love football.  It really has over thrown baseball as "America's Pastime" in recent years.  Every year there is one story in the NFL that sticks out among the rest.  This year (2011) is no exception.  This year it's Tebow.

You can't escape it no matter how hard you try.  Every hour on Sportscenter.  Every night on the news.  ESPN.  NFL Network.  ABC.  NBC.  FOX News.  You can't escape Tebow!  Granted, all the guy does is win!  As i am writing this, his team is currently 6-1 with him as a starter.  He leads 4th quarter comebacks and game winning drives.  He does it with his legs, where most quarterbacks win with their arms.  He takes care of the football and rarely make any turnovers.  He's a polarizing figure.  People either love him or hate him.  Why?  The answer: his faith.

Tim Tebow has been very outspoken about his faith.  He has a very popular book out that describes his faith in Christ in detail.  In the off season, he makes his rounds in churches across the country giving motivational speeches and interviews with pastors.  During his games, you see him down on one knee with his head bowed (Tebowing); a common ritual for after he scores touchdowns as well.

But then comes the critics.  Players mock his knee down prayer after a sack.  Other mock his outspoken faith.  Some Christians are up in arms over the deliberate mocking.  Those people are told to "lighten up" by members of the media and that it's "all in good fun."

Here's a question: what if Tebow wasn't a Christian?  What if he was Muslim?  Jewish?  Buddhist?  What would happen if he was mocked then?  I guarantee you, people would be up in arms.  The NFL commissioner would be handing out suspensions like he was handing out candy at Halloween.  No one would be told to "lighten up."  The player that mocked him would be told to go to counseling due to his lack of tolerance.  So why then is it OK to mock Christians?

Jen Floyd Engel from had a great article on this the other day.  In the article she says:

"His religious fervor is an easy target for the vitriol spewed from those who dislike him, but the reasons are much deeper than that. From his advocacy of abstinence to his infamous “You will never see another team play this hard” speech at Florida, it is like he is too good to be true. He is too nice, and thereby we want him to trip up so we can feel better. We want him to be revealed as a hypocrite, and when that fails to happen, we settle for gleefully celebrating his failures on the football field. And why? Because he dares to say thanks?"

Do people really want  to see this kid fail?  I guess that is the cynical nature of our being.  Instead of raising our morals to the high standard of those around us, we try to bring those with higher morals down to our level.  Sad.  Tragic even.  

Personally, I admire Tim.  I don't know him personally, but he seems like a pretty genuine guy.  I don't root for him to fail by any means...unless I'm playing against him in fantasy football that is.  He's accomplished a lot in his life, and every time someone tries to knock him down, he keeps fighting.  He could easily respond to his critics negatively, but that's not him.  He knows the eyes of the world are on him.  Maybe that's unfair, but so far, he's doing a pretty good job of carrying that burden.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

December Reposts: Part 2

This month, I am going to repost some past blogs.  My hope is that you enjoy re-reading them.  For the rest of you reading these for the first time will gain a little more nderstanding of where I came from.  Maybe learn from a mistake or two of mine.

I spent yesterday afternoon with my wife and some leaders and members of a church at a northwest suburban eatery.  OK, so it looked more like a bar than your typical restaurant.  Alright, it was a bar.  Big screen TVs, and Hollywood memorabilia adorned the walls of the establishment.  But the most interesting part of the afternoon was the conversations that we had.  We talked about ideas for ministry.  We discussed what it would look like to have a worship band play in that bar.  We talked about what it would take to have a men's small group at the bar.  We even talked about having a church service or two there.

Huh?  I was/am confused.  You mean that ministry doesn't happen within the four walls of our church buildings?  

For most churches that have ideas like this, they are only doing "lip service."  So many churches "want" to be apart of the community, but when the time comes, they balk at the idea.  It's "too much work" or "now's not a good time" are their reasons, but the reality is that it's uncomfortable.  It is uncomfortable.  It's supposed to be.

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues."  Matthew 10:16-17

When Jesus sent out his disciples, he said that bad things would happen to them.  Why should we expect any less?  It would be hard.  We might see rejection, but doesn't God want us to be lights in our community?

Why do so many churches spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on their buildings trying to make them "cool" and "acceptable" to outside observers, when local bars, restaurants, and theaters have already done that?  Think about it: what do our modern churches look like? Coffee houses. Bars. Theaters.  What make those community buildings any different from our church buildings?

Seriously, what WOULD it look like to have church in a bar?  I'm not necessarily saying that you should serve beer during the offering or worship set, but what about just using the facility?  They have the stage, the lighting, the decor, the sound system...they have everything!

Why don't we do it? Fear.  Uncertainty.  Doubt.  These factors always creep in when God calls us to do something radical.

“Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven." Matthew 10: 32-33

God promises to be with us when we step out in faith.  When we go out and spread His name in our community, we are doing what He wants, but it takes faith.  We need to take those radical steps to reach others for Christ.  

So, what would church in a local bar look like?  I hope someday soon to have an answer for you.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

December Reposts: Part 1

This month, I am going to repost some past blogs.  My hope is that you enjoy re-reading them.  For the rest of you reading these for the first time will gain a little more nderstanding of where I came from.  Maybe learn from a mistake or two of mine.

The more that I am involved in full-time ministry, the more I understand that Christians have trouble distinguishing between advertising and evangelism.  I witnessed the difference the other day when I was hanging out with a local pastor.

As we went into the local Caribou Coffee, he told me that he requires his staff members to be a part of the community.  Every pastor that I have ever met says the same thing, but this particular pastor lives that.  By the time that we arrived at the front counter to order our coffee, he had already ran into 3 people that he knew by name.  He also knew 2 of the barristers by name and they knew his.  The thing that caught my eye was what he did after we ordered.  He noticed that the cashier was new and introduced himself.  At that moment, this pastor made a new friend, Drew.

We then sat at that Caribou for the next few hours.  We talked about our hopes and dreams of ministry, our spiritual journey, and the daily challenges that we face in ministry.  During that time, we were interrupted countless times by people that he knew.  He knew each person by name, their story and their family.  Some were members of his church, others were people that he knew that worked at that Caribou or in the downtown area.  

As Drew was leaving for the day, he stopped by our table.  He asked, "Are you guys Christian?"  We laughed and said, "Yes.  Why do you ask?"  Drew then stated that he too was a Christian, but he never met anyone like us before.  No one usually exchanges names or talks with a cashier.  He stayed a few minutes and told us his story.  That was ministry.  That was evangelism.  After my meeting with this pastor, I realized that he "got it."  Evangelism is about relationships.  

So often, church "evangelism" takes place at places like a business expo.  We hand out pens, brochures, or candy as people walk by our booth.  They look at your church like another "business" when you're surrounded by a local bank and a plumbing company.  Once you put in your few hours at the expo, your "evangelism" is done for the year, you pack up your candy and you head back to the four walls of the church.

Today, I wonder what that pastor is doing.  I bet he went into that same Caribou to order his Mint Mocha and talk to Drew by name.  I bet they are building a relationship.  I bet that if and when Drew hits hard times in his life, he'll look for "that pastor who knows his name."  That's ministry.  That's what real evangelism looks like.