Star Wars, Children, and the Future

If I was the writer of the third episode of Star Wars, here is what I would do. And maybe this is what has been done. I haven't read any reviews.

Obviously, we know that the Dark Side wins. Anakin becomes Darth Vader and leads Emperor Palpatine into victory. It will inevitably be a dark movie where the dark side wins.

But instead of the ending being a climatic battle victory, I would have it be the birth of Leia and Luke. The last sound that would come out of speakers that can portray earthquakes, tornadoes, shipwrecks, and gigantic explosions would be the precious cry of a newborn baby (I'm talking about that first cry. That precious cry sure gets annoying real fast, especially in the middle of the night.) That cry would be the last sound to exit the speakers.

All Star Wars fans know tha in the end those two babies will bring victory over the darkness.

And that is what I hope my children help to do. In this chaotic world of darkness where evil is around every corner, where children are kidnapped, molested and raped, and where we confront temptation around ever corner - in that world I want my children to shine Jesus' light.

When chaos comes and darkness seems to win, I can look at my children and see a fresh hope for humanity. They are untainted. They are happy. They are optimistic. And they don't give up.

Children (and I would say the same thing about church plants) are our future. That might be cliche, but that was the overwhelming thought in my mind today on my ride to work.

Now I just need to figure out how to raise them, so they can be that light in the darkness.

Watch out for the potholes.

A Unified Church - Becoming of One Mind

I read a great book that had a section on mission statements by George Barna entitled The Power of Team Leadership. 10 years ago mission statements were all the rage. Everyone was trying to be the best at writing in a unique way how we are to fulfill the mission of the church. Barna points out that the mission statement of all churches should be the same. There really isn't a difference in locale to what the mission of the church should be. However, the vision of how we are to live that mission out locally will change depending upon the gifting, the call of the congregation involved, and the community the congregation lives in.

The problem in many churches across this nation is that they have been operating so long without without a conscious and deliberate vision. Without a conscious vision, the body isn't unified in mind. Everyone develops their own vision for how the church should be implementing the mission Christ has called the church to. Eventually, if left unattended, this will lead to a church split or just people leaving (which is a church split on a smaller scale).

Any church that is trying to be conscious about their vision is on the right track. It is essential that the church is heading in one unified direction in order to be healthy. It is difficult to get there when everyone has really been heading in their own direction for years. It is also difficult because the church has been operating the an unspoken vision of the decision makers for years. This vision is the vision of those in decision making capacities. It is much easier for a church to start with the unified vision and remain on course.

The transition from many visions to one vision doesn't occur quietly. People have been joining the church for years because of one reason or another. To come to one vision people have to concede their visions and meld them into one. It is a difficult thing to do. It is extremely difficult when the church begins to head in a direction you or your family isn''t called to. What do you do then?

Watch out for the potholes.

Reevaluating Church Structure

We wonder how we can be used to help turnaround the decline of the church in America. And then the discussion seems to focus on how to more effectively do all the things we are currently doing. Maybe the problem isn't our effectiveness. Maybe it is what we are doing.

Instead of spending tens of hours on having more effective sermons, maybe we need to evaluate what would be the most effective method to educate our flock and bring them together under a common vision. Instead of automatically spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on buildings, maybe we need to evaluate what would honestly be the most effective use of God's resources (sometimes it could be a building). Instead of trying to figure a better way to educate on Sunday Morning and Wednesday nights, maybe we need to start worrying about developing community rather than just educating. This is just a little list, but instead of contemplating how to make things better, we should evaluate whether we could be doing something else that would be much more effective. It's not where we going that is broken: Sometimes the bike we're on that has lost its chain and blown it's tires.

For the last fifty years, the leaders in churches across this nation have been doing their best. They've been praying and loving their congregations. I think the path blazed before us has been done by godly people with good intentions. The problem isn't the leaders; it's the system. True, supermen like Joel Osteen, Bill Hybels, Robert Schuller, Charles Stanley, Bob Russell, etc., thrive in this system; however, we need a church that can thrive without the supermen, a church that can flourish in inner-city Lansing, in rural Antwerp, not just in suburbia where the supermen like to plant their churches.

It seems arrogant to think we can turn around the sinking ship by doing the same things that the people have done before us. We think we can do it better and produce the intended results that they couldn't. What we need to do is reevaluate all that they were doing rather than just trying to do what they did, albeit more effectively.

Insanity is trying the same thing and expecting different results. Seeing the numbers of the church in decline and seeing the methods the church is using to reverse that trend leads me to the conclusion that most churches have gone insane. We try the same things only we try to dress them up in different clothes. I think it is time to change our clothes.

Watch out for the potholes.

Just a Jersey

I was driving to Ft. Wayne today to see the finalized layout of the new location in the mall for Clem's Collectibles.

On the way I saw an amish lady hanging clothes out on the line. With all of the white and light blue clothes, the Peyton Manning jersey on the line really stood out. It made me and Lindsay laugh.

Watch out for the potholes.

Working on the Sabbath

I wrote this on the CBIA (Comic Book Industry Alliance). It is a closed forum, so I can't direct you there.

After reading through the entire thread, I've decided I will give an explanation of my religious convictions on the issue. This is my own personal beliefs, and I won't hold it against anyone who doesn't agree. If you disagree, then feel free to post your comments. I won't be offended. I'm in theological discussions all of the time over at my college's alumni forum. I've actually started a thread on this discussion to see what they think. (Jim - can I quote your comments on why you think it is okay over there to help start the discussion?)

Obviously, it centers around the Sabbath principle taught in the Torah. Before I get going, I also understand that the true day of the Sabbath is actually Saturday. Christian tradition has moved it to Sunday to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus on a weekly basis. I'm talking about the moved day of Christian tradition.

To me (this is the only time I will use that phrase - the rest of the time just assume that it is a belief to me), Jesus was upset with his religious peers (if you can call them that) because they didn't follow the principles behind the laws, they just followed the letter of the laws. I would have to come to the conclusion that either the Sabbath is irrelevant in modern culture or we can personalize it.

First, I will deal with the option that Rory pointed out that some Jewish shopowners take. Selling the business in order to have it still operate and then buying it back after the allotted time period appears to be exactly what Jesus was attacking when he attacked the Pharisees throughout the book of Matthew. Excusing myself in a way similar to that would seems like I'm being dishonest with myself. I would be following the letter of the law while ignoring the principle behind the law.

Concering whether the Sabbath is irrelevant: I think its disappearance is one of the reasons of the downfall of the family in our culture. We no longer have that day set aside where everyone rests and spends time together.

Concerning whether it can be personalized: Having my own personal Sabbath doesn't seem to be the same as celebrating the Sabbath. It also might fall into the category of adhering to the letter of the law while ignoring the larger principle behind it. God is concerned with healthy communities rather than just healthy individuals. Although healthy communities consist of healthy individuals, healthy individuals don't automatically create a healthy community until they spend time together. This isn't easy to do in a culture where everyone works various days of the week. Creating a healthy community (kingdom in the Bible's language) is one of God's greatest concerns. Being open on the Sabbath would feel like I am joining in with our culture's attacks against healthy community. I know I'm a hypocrite because the mall store is open on Sunday, but that isn't something that I'm as in control of as our stores outside of the mall.

I would love to come to a conclusion that could make me comfortable with being open on Sundays, but right now I'm just not there.

It comes down to who do I trust to make the business successful. Do I trust myself or do I trust God? I need to do all that I can as an individual (trusting myself), but in the end, I need to make sure that I never do anything that crosses the line into doing things that God doesn't want done - even if I know those acts would make me more money (trusting God). I know that this will all sound like foolishness, but it is where I am at.

I know the CBIA might not be the best to have this discussion, but it is important to retailing. I make many decisions (even concerning what I stock and sell) based upon my religious convictions, so I guess it would be good to have this discussion. If we do have it, we need to be careful to not offend one another. We also need to be careful and understanding that others involved aren't trying to offend us.

Watch out for the potholes.

I'm Back - A Sick Night

Well, I'm back.

After taking a week off from the internet, I have made a few decisions in life.

First, I will not be blogging daily. I'll just blog whenever I feel like it. The days of the daily blog are gone.

Second, there is no second.

I enjoyed the week away from the computer except for business. I recommend it to everyone. It's refreshing like drinking a cup of water on a hot day. It cleans the system.


The following happened last Tuesday night.

I was tired. More tired than usual. Lindsay was running to the store to buy ice cream. I was supposed to be watching the kids. I laid down on the floor.

The tiredness made me feel like I was ready to pass out drunk. I really don't think I have ever been this tired before. And as I laid there drifting between reality and my delusions I was convicted of something.

I pictured myself dying and leaving my wife and children stranded. Without life insurance I was a little worried. I really felt terrible and wondered if I would wake up if I fell asleep.

But then it hit me. God will take care of them. And I was comforted.

Then it hit me again. God will take care of them now even when I am alive. And I was disturbed.

At some point between laying on the floor feeling like I was passing out and going asleep I realized that I haven't been trusting God as much as I should. I try to be independent. I try to be self-sustaining with needing God's help.

But if I am to be the man that God wants me to be, I need to live in total surrender. If I am to raise my children the way that God wants, then I need to allow him to be incontrol.

Writing these words seem to almost state that nothing has changed, but in my heart everything has changed.

I want to resurrender myself to God. I don't know if that will change anything that is going on in my life, but I'm willing.

Watch out for the potholes.