Finding Our Faith For Our Time

What we're about is moving beyond education as
the primary form of spiritual formation
Not surprisingly,some people have pointed questions:
They wonder whether what we're doing is a trendy
reaction against the church that will experience
its own backlash in time, or they want to know
whether what we are doing is viable financially
or in areas of church growth.

My answer? "I don't know, and it really doesn't matter
that much to me."

I am increasingly convinced that what matters in our
efforts is our willingness to experiment and try--
to develop expressions of faith that are fully
our day and time
, recognizing that
our efforts will be adapted and changed in years to come.
Our role is to do our part in our day and time. It's
not important to me whether someone s still singing our
songs or using our couches 15 years from now (my hope
is that they will sing their own songs and figure out
their own seating.) It's the spirit of exploring, of
seeking, risking that I hope will inspire future
generations. Our duty to those who follow is to
leave a legacy of faith and not particular
. While being led by the broader
community of faith, including those who have come
before us, we need to be people of the future--
people whose ways of spiritual formation and life
with God can flex and grow to meet the needs of our
changing world. This adaptability is taken for
granted in our means of communication, modes of
transportation, medical practices, and even our
wardrobe. How much more important it is in
developing our faith!

An excerpt from Doug Pagitt's Reimaging Spiritual Formation.

Watch out for the potholes.

The Most Divisive Element In Church Today - Worship And What We Think Is Authentic

The church we visited this week was a very charismatic church. At one point during the sermon, the pastor made the point that people who don't get into worship physically aren't really worshipping. I think he is wrong. I would argue that people could be dancing around, waving banners, and clapping with all their strength and they still might not be worshipping. They might just be having a good time. On the other hand, someone could be sitting there not even singing the song yet desiring to change their life. A changed life is more worship than a thousand songs.

The different worship styles are not a result of people worshipping or not worshipping, but a result of people's personality and the sub-culture they were brought up in. We are different people who express ourselves different ways. If you went to a rock concert, you would be able to see that. There are people in th mosh pit, dancing around, raising arms, just jigglin their head, and just sittng in a chair enjoying the music. All of them are enjoying the music in the way they enjoy music. Most of them paid to come and here one of their favorite bands live in concert, but they all enjoy their favorite music in different ways.

We worry about unity when it comes to doctrine, race, and age; however, it seems like we could care less when it comes to personality types. With race and age, we don't want everyone to be the same. However, with personality types, we do. We have yet to even address the situation about how we do worship alienates certain types of people, and we find churches that are filled with all of the same types of people. Maybe that is the way it should be, but it sure doesn't seem like that is right. How can we have a church environment where people can express themselves the way they naturally would to God without being looked down upon by others?

And in the end, it's just another symptom of our misconstrued idea of worship. It is fruitless to be overly concerned about the way we sing songs on Sunday. Our real worship is our life. A good song service reveals nothing about the health of a church. Sadly, to see deeper into the heart of the church and how they worship God with their lives, it would take more than just experiencing the Sunday morning gathering.

Watch out for the potholes.

The Conversion (?) Of Fox Reporter Steve Centanni and Christianity

If you haven't been following the news in the last week, two Fox News reporters were kidnapped. Then they converted to Islam. Then the Holy Jihad Brigades released them. All of the news coverage after their release mentions nothing of the confession on video of their conversion to Islam. It seems like their release wasn't due to the pressure of the governments involved but to the conversions.

I also wonder if the Palestinian government was allowed to negotiate with them, why weren't they able to arrest the kidnappers. But that seems to be another topic for another day.

I don't know if Steve Centanni and his companion claimed to be Christian prior to this kidnapping, so this is not an attack on them. I am happy that they are freed.

But the story got me thinking. What if I was kidnapped by a group like the Holy Jihad Brigades? They would give me the option to convert to Islam or be killed. Part of me says that I could just give lip service to my Islamic conversion just to be free. Isn't Christianity just a matter of the heart anyhow? If I don't give my heart over to Islam, then it wouldn't really count no matter what I say.

Wow. How far we have come to reach the point where our actions and words don't really matter. I really thought that was a viable option for a few minutes until I realized how that devalued our words and actions to being inferior to our faith.

The church has dealt with this problem throughout history. Sadly, I don't think the Bible clearly addrsses the issue. Maybe it does and I am mistaken. In the practice of Christianity, there always seems to be a struggle being being pure and holy with legalism that excludes. Below is an excerpt from A History of Christianity that deals with this subject.

In its earlier days the Church maintained rigorous standards for its
membership. As we have seen, baptism was believed to wash away all sins
comitted before it was aministered. After baptism, the Christian was supposed not
to sin, and some sins, if indulged in after that rite had been administered,
were regarded as unforgivable. Tertullian listed the "seven deadly sins" as
"idolatry, blasphemy, murder, adultery, fornication, false witness, and fraud."
Both Hermas and Tertullian conceded that forgiveness might be had for one
such sin committed after baptism, but allowed only one.

Modfications began to be made in this rigour. The guilty might obtain remission even forapostasy and sex offenses if they were truly repentant--although assurance of
forgivenss and readmission into the full fellowship of the Church might be deferred until the penitent had demonstrated his sincerity by prolonged demonstration of sorrow for his sin. Pardon might be had through the officers of the Church. Those about to suffer death or who had endure mprisonment and torture for the faith were often looked upon as competent to assure forgiveness to the repentant, especially to those who had lapsed. The exercise of this function sometimes proved annoying to the bishops, among them to the Cyprian whom we have met as Bishop of Carthage. Again and again there were Christians who protested against this laxity. Part of the appeal of the Montanists was their insistence upon strict moral standards.

In the first quarter of the third century Callistus, Bishop of Rome, seems to have
declared that no sin is unforgivale if the sinner is genuinely contrite. He is said to have appealed to Scripture for authority for his practice, finding as he did so ample precedent in the parables of the lost sheep and the prodigal son and in Paul's letters. He is also reported to have declared that the Church is like the field which has both wheat and tares and like Noah's ark, in which were many kinds of animals. In the next quarter of a century the principles of Callistus won wide although by no means universal acceptance in the Church.

In he middle of the third century the Decian persecution brought the issue starkly before the Church, for thousands yielded to pressure and compromised their faith. Many of them, terrified or deeply grieved by what they had done sought readmission to the Church. In Rome the bishop, Cornelius by name, was prepared to permit the restoration of the lapsed. However, there was opposition led by Novatian, a presbyter of the Roman Church, no mean theologian, and of impeccable orthodoxy. Chosen bishop by critics of Cornelius he gathered about him many who shared his convictions about exacting ethical requirements for church membership and
rebaptized those who came to him from the Catholic Church. The movement spread and in part coalesced with the Montanists. Novatian appointed bishops for the emerging communities, and churches in sympathy with him arose in North Africa, the West, and especially the East. They persisted for several generations. In the fifth century there were three Novatian churhes in Constantinople and even more in Rome. In the first half of the fifth century the Bishop of Rome took possession of their churches in that city and they could henceforth meet only secretly and in private homes. Yet their churches were still permitted in Constantinople.

The Donatist schism appeared after the persecution which began with Diocletian in the first quarter of the fourth century and had its main centre in North Africa. A Bishop of Carthage was consecrated in 31 by one whom the strict elements in the
Church declared to have been a traitor during the persecution. These elements
chose a counter bishop who in 316 was succeeded by Donatus, from whom the
movement took its name. A number of factors combined to give the Donatists an
extensive following in North Africa. It may have been that they were drawn
largely from the non-Latin and the Catholics from the Latin elements in the
population, and that the cleaveage was in part racial and cultural. It is said
that at one time they had 270 bishops. Synods called by Constantine at the
request of the Donatists decided against the latter and for a time the Emperor
sought to suppress them by force. Augustine endeavoured, without avail, to
bring about a reconciliation. They regarded themselves as the true Catholic
Church and continued at least until the Vandal invasion of the fifth century and
possibly until the Moslem Arab invasion late in the seventh century.

Out of the controversy came the enunciation of the principle, formulated by one of
the councils called to deal with the issues raised by the Donatists, that, contrary to the latters' contention, ordination and baptism are not dependent for their validity upon the moral character of the one through whose hands they are administered. This continued to be upheld by the Catholic Church.

A schism in Egypt about the same time as that of the Donatists and for a similar reason was that of the Meletians, named for the bishop who was their first leader. They, too, stood for a rigorous attitude towards those who had denied the faith.

As we have suggested, the majority in the Catholic Church took the attitude that no sin is beyond forgiveness if it is followed by the true pentience. It may be that it was this conviction which led to the addition to the Roman Symbol of the phrase [I believe in] "the forgiveness of sins," now so familiar a part of the Apostles' Creed.

Watch out for the potholes.

Another Chruch Visit

Well, I heard about another non-denomenational church in the area, so I hope it goes well as we visit it today.

One thing I have discovered as a result of our church hunt is that I would like to stay in a non-denomenational church. Now, that doesn't mean that we definitely will. In the end, I think a church should be able to have the beliefs and practices it comes up with itself through the study of Scripture, listening to the Holy Spirit through Prayer, and church history.

Watch out for the potholes.

H.L. Mencken, The Anti-Christ, and The Beginning of a Reading Journey

I had a customer recomment that I read Anti-Christ by Friedrich Nietzsche. It is Nietzsche's treatment of Chsitianity. I will deal more with this in the coming days as I continue to read the book and it challenges my thoughts.

The introduction alone is worth the price of admission. H.L. Mencken is no lightweight himself. In the introduction he writes:

An idea is an idea. the present one may be right and it may be wrong. One thing is quite certain: that no progress will be made aginst it by denouncing it as merely immoral. If it is ever laid at all, it must be laid evidentially, logically. The notion to the contrary is thoroughly democratic; the mob is the most ruthless of tyrants; it is always in a democratic society that heresy and felony tend to be most constantly confused. One hears without surprise of a Bismarck philosophizing placidly (at least in his old age) upon the delusion of Socialism and of a Frederick the Great playing the hose of his cynicism upon the absolutism that was almost identical with his own person, but men in the mass never brook the destructive discussion of their fundamental beliefs, and that impatience is naturally most evident in those socities in which men in the mass are most influential. Democracy and free speech are not facets of one gem; democracy and free speech are eternal enemies. But in any battle between an institution and an idea, the idea, in the long run, has the better of it. Here I do not venture into the absurdity of arguing that, as the world wags on, the truth always survives. I believe nothing of the sort. As a matter of fact, it seems to me that an idea that happens to be true--or, more exactly, as near to truth as any human idea can be, and yet remain generally intelligible--it seems to me that such an idea carries a special and often fatal handicap. The majority of men prefer delusion to truth. It soothes. It is easy to grasp. Above all, it fits more snugly than the truth into a universe of false appearances--of complex and irrational phenomena, defectively grasped. But though an idea that is true is thus not likely to prevail, an idea that is attacked enjoys a great advantage. The evidence behind it is now supported by sympathy, the sporting instinct, sentimentality--and sentimentality is as powerful as an army with banners. One never hears of a martyr in history whose notions are seriously disputed today. The forgotten ideas are those of the men who put them forward soberly and quietly, hoping fatuously that they would conquer by the force of their truth; these are the ideas that we now struggle to rediscover. Had Nietzsche lived to be burned at the stake by outraged Mississippi Methodists, it would have been a glorious day for his doctrines. As it is, they are helped on their way every time they are denounced as immoral and against God. The war brought down upon them the maledictions of vast herds of right-thinking men.

I couldn't agree more with the statment about denouncing things as being immoral. If all we do is claim something is immoral without an attempt to explain why it is such, our statement really carries no weight. Unless it is with a person who is already a Christian, saying the Bible says something is immoral also carries no weight. It would never hurt to explain to a Christian why something is moral or immoral. There is a reason why God forbids or allows all actions. It doesn't hurt us to try to figure out why. In doing so, I think we get a glimpse of the heart of God.

As for democratic society being the place where heresy and felony are linked, I guess the writer did not live to see the world today. I would say that in Muslim dictatorships the two are linked much more than in democratic societies.

As for the thought that men never talk about the subjects that can be destructive for their faith, I think I would have to agree. There are tough issues with the Christian faith. Too bad that we usually ignore them. That causes us to not have a well thought out belief on those issues when they come up in conversations with non-believers. We try to say that those subjects are unimportant. But if a person is bringing it up, then that is an important subject. Maybe we need to frame the subject differently to view it in a different way. But many tough issues of being a Christian are usually blindly believed, which leaves us open for being mocked by people who don't believe what we believe. If they want to mock the gospel because we are living it out, then that is a shame but it is fine. If they mock us for being ignorant of the reasons for us believing the things that we believe, then it is a shame on us.

I guess my next couple of posts are going to give my fame to the writings of Nietzsche. That might be a result of these posts, but it is not my intention. My intention is to share what I discover as reasons some people dislike Christianity and what we, as Christians, can do about those.

Watch out for the potholes.

A la carte Satellite - Give it to me

We're currently looking at options for satellite television (Dish or DirectTV).  The process is extremely frustrating because of the package options.  I don't really want to pay for the largest package, but the system seems to be set up to encourage me to do such.  It seems weird.  From te very beginning of my interaction with the satellite company, my feelings have been negative.  That doesn't seem like the relationship I would like to have as a businessman with my customers.  

There has been a push lately for legislation to ban satellite and cable companies from selling bundled packages.  I think that would be great.  I would love to choose what
channels come into my house without having to buy them in a bundle.

Consumers Union (an organization of Consumers Reports) has a petition to sign if you want to ban bundling.  

Here is an article that says bundling isn't really a bad thing.  

Do I really believe it will get us a lower price as the proponents of a la carte programming believe?  No.  But it will make me happy to know that I am not paying for things that I don't like, and that I can have all the channels I want without having to buy the largest package.  

However, I do believe choice would allow for better programming in the long run.  That is unless you live on the fringe and enjoy things nobody else does.  But most fringes in America seem to be large enough to support their own channel.  We would only really know that if we had the choice to choose what channels we have on our television.  And choice would show the companies what we want to watch.    

What baffles me is that we only have two companies in all of the United States offering satellite television.  Along, with the handful of oil companies, I'm going to have to say that capitalism is dead in our nation.

I do think the actions of satellite and cable companies are just setting themselves up for defeat once the internet catches up to them.

Watch out for the potholes.

Martin Luther on Reason and an Unreasonable Grace

Our flesh, despite its creation by God, does not find itself naturally pure but filled with impure desires. Our heart, despite its creation by God, does not find itself naturally humble or filled with the passion to love our neighbors. We find our hearts filled with pride and selfishness. Unless our flesh or our hearts are forcibly restrained, they will act according to these naturally tainted inclinations.

People of reason are similar. Through reason, these people know that we should only do good. Sadly, reason is so perverted that through it we cannot decipher what is good. Reason calls whatever is pleasing to itself good. It then takes its good to an extreme and concludes that we should only do that which it has defined as good. The end result is that through reason we find ourselves pursuing evil rather than good.

Through reason, we know that we should be pious and serve God. People of reason know how to talk the talk when it comes to piety and service. And through their reasoning, they think they can show the whole world how they should be pious and serve God. But in the end, these people cannot, through reason, show us how we should be pious and in what ways we are to serve God. Of true piety and service, these people know nothing. They are almost blind, if not completely blind. They say we must fast, pray, sing, and do the works of the law. People of reason continue to act the fool with works untl it has gone so far astray as to imagine that people are serving God in building churches, ringing bells, burning incense, whining, singing, wearing hoods, shaving their heads, burning candles, and other innumerable trivial acts. We continue to clutter our lives with acts that we consider worship and service to God. In this clutter we continue to wallow while the bright light of Truth that would free us from this vicious cycle or reason remains shining for all that are willing to seek it.

Jesus, the light of grace, came and taught us to be pious and serve God. In doing this, he was not focused on extinguishing reason but opposed to the way and manner that people of reason teach us how we are to become pious and serve God. He said, "To become pious is not to do works. No works are good without faith."

Then begins the fight. People of reason rise up against grace and cry out against the teaching of Jesus. Although they will not claim they are against Jesus, they accuse his teachings of forbidding good works. These people claim to have the right way of becoming pious and continually argue that we need to be pious and serve God only in their way. Through their teachings, they attempt to make the teachings of Jesus foolishness. They relegate His teaching of grace to the realm of error and heresy. The person of reason believes the teaching of grace needs to be persecuted and banished. This is as far as a person of reason can go. He will find himself raving against the teachings of Jesus while constantly boasting of his piety and good works. People of reason will not be taught what piety is and what good works really are. People of reason insist that what they think and propose are right and good.

In teaching and living to what is reasonable, we have the cause and origin of all idolatry, of all heresy, of all hypocrisy, and of all error that the prophets of old have spoken about and the Scriptures protest. Many of the prophets were even killed for speaking out against people of reason.

All this comes from the stubborn, self-willed arrogance and delusion that people of natural reason find themselves in. They are self-confident and puffed up because they know that we ought to be pious and serve God. They will not listen to or suffer a teacher to teach them. They think they know enough and would find out for themselves what it means to be pious and serve God. They will reason for themselves how they should be pious and serve God.

Divine truth cannot and must not ever submit to reason or the thoughts of the people of reason. This would be the greatest mistake and be contrary to God's honor and glory. Through conceding to people of reason, contentions and tribulations arise.


An excerpt in modern language from Martin Luther's Third Christmas Sermon preached in 1521.

Sadly, I find myself to be more of a person of reason. May I be able to change.

Watch out for the potholes.

Worship Pastor? That Seems to be the Wrong Name for What is Done

We all know the truth in the phrase "actions speak louder than words". At its heart, it states the actions we make show what we really believe.

With that in mind, I ask, "What does the church think worship is?"

If you have a worship pastor, what does he do in his "worship pastor" capacity? has a job description for a worship pastor. I think it is fairly typical of what we expect out of a worship pastor. We have narrowed worship down to the service on Sunday mornings, and this is shown by the expectation we have of a worship pastor. In some cases, worship seems to be narrowed down to being just the singing portion of a Sunday gathering.

I think it would be more honest if we called the position "music minister" or "gathering director". When we label the position "worship pastor" we do a disservice to the people of the church because we fall right into teaching the stereotype that narrowly defines worship to be only that which happens through music.

Romans 12:1 states: "I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship."

If we were to use the word properly, a worship pastor would be in charge of teaching people to present their whole life as a living sacrifice to God. The pastor would focus on how to turn your vocation into worship, how to turn your parenting into worship, and how to turn your social life into worship. True spiritual worship is turning our whole life into worship, not just the time we spend in the "worship service" or under the direction of the "worship leader".

Watch out for the potholes.


Here are my answers to a little survey. Feel free to post your answers in my comments or a link to your blog if you answer there.

1. One book that changed your life: There are so many, but here's one - Celtic Way of Evangelism
2. One book that you’ve read more than once: Upside Down Church
3. One book you’d want on a desert island: SAS Survival Handbook: How to Survive in the Wild, in Any Climate, on Land or at Sea
4. One book that made you laugh: Deep Thoughts
5. One book that made you cry: It's a Bird
6. One book you wish had been written: How to be an effective Christian layperson in today's heirarchical church
7. One book you wish had never been written: Developing the Leader Within You
8. One book you’re currently reading: Unabridged Christianity
9. One book you’ve been meaning to read: Shakey: Neil Young's Biography
10. One book you’d like to write: a book that helps more normal people in church experience church the way God intended it to be.

Watch out for the potholes.

Exercising With a Pipe

Yesterday, we saw the weirdest thing. As we were driving home from Lindsay's parents, we saw a man riding his bicycle in the middle of the country. He was smoking a pipe while riding. One of the strangest things I have ever seen.

Watch out for the potholes unless you're too busy smoking your pipe.

Find Me An Ugly Christian

My father is currently reading the book by Donald Miller (of Blue Like Jazz fame) entitled Searching For God Knows What.

In it, the author tells the story of his shopping trip with a friend. They found themselves in a record store where he asked his friend to find a cd with an ugly singer. The man goes over to the rock section and quickly finds some ugly singers.

Later in the day, he and his friend find themselves in a Christian store. He asks his friend to find a cd with an ugly singer. It wasn't possible.

What does that say about the Christian music industry? What does it say about the Christian product industry? Does it say anything about American Christianity?

Watch out for the potholes.

A Vivid 9/11 Dream and What People Think Our Response Should be to Remembering that Tragic Day


That, along with deep sadness, was my thought when I woke up drenched in sweat. It was a somewhat twisted 9/11.

It began in the airport where I saw a group of terrorists get onto a plane. They were obviously terrorists, not because of their race, but because of their big action movie guns. I ran around the airport trying to find a way out.

At times I was with my family. At other times I wasn't. I ran with all of the people in fear away from the falling towers. It was crazy. Well, I'll spare you the long dream story. But it was on those extremely vivid dreams that makes you mentally experience things that you didn't truly experiene. Baffling. And I felt the sadness that I felt on 9/11 all over again.

But here is what I want to get to. In remembering 9/11, what should be my response? It seems like people think that if Americans would remember 9/11, we would be willing to all march on over to the Middle East and fight the "terrorists". That doesn't seem too Christ-like.

With the 5th anniversary of 9/11 coming up, what should be the Christian thought process about the event?

Watch out for the potholes.

Update on the Abraham Cherrix Case

I originally posted about this story in July.

Good news! The parents are allowed to treat their child how they choose. I don't have to make plans to flee this country yet.

Teen wins court battle to stop chemotherapy.

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Mediation, Church Splits, House Church, and Unity

Shannon has been away from his blog for a while, but his most recent post was part 1 about Conflict in the Church. I've been mulling it over for a while before posting a response.

My main concern is: "How do you insure that you have a neutral third party?"

I think of the church plant in Lansing. We had a church split very early on in the church plant. To simplify things, it came as a result of the debate on whether we were to be an association of houses churches with a large gathering or whether we were going to be one church with small groups.

Now, we can all tell which one is the normal one and the format of church that most people are comfortable with.

Prior to planting the church, I had assembled a group of advisors. They were all men that I respected very much, but they were also men that had invested their lives in the style of church that is different than the one that I felt called to plant. There really wasn't anyone around that I knew of to get advice from.

When the conflict initiated, I debated on pulling them together to help us through it. Maybe I should've done that, but I chose not to because I feared that they would make me choose the path that God wasn't calling me to.

Instead, I just stepped down and left the churches. I felt it was better to just stop doing anything in regards to that church than to do something that was against my conscience. However, the rest of the people in the church that I was most directly involved with didn't want me to step down and wanted to do church the way I felt we were called to. That was the church format they signed on to in the beginning.

I wish it wouldn't have come to becoming a church split, but I don't think the other side would budge. I do know that I wouldn't budge. I'm sure he felt that he was called to do what he was doing. And I know that I was called to do what I was doing. If there was ever a time in my life where I felt called to do something, it was moving to Lansing to plant that church.

Looking back, I feel that if we had consulted an outside group for mediation we would've just ended up being another sanctuary church. There would really have been no reason to plant another sanctuary church in the Lansing area.

Maybe I'm wrong in thinking what the counseling would've been prior to receiving, but I do know that I am extremely happy with the way things turned out.

When doing experimental church methods that most people are against, who would you go to for mediation?

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Stay Focused on What is Truly Important

We went to two Ft. Wayne Wizards baseball games last week. The first was on Friday. They had fireworks after the game. Eli was terrified of the noise and wept uncontrollably a few times. I covered his ears the whole time. Despite the crying, he did seem to like the fireworks.

Then we went to a game on Monday. After every game, they open up the field and allow kids to run the bases. Isaac thoroughly enjoys it. Up to this point, Eli has yet to ever reach first base.

We waited in line for about ten minutes. Then it was our turn. Isaac and his friend took off down the line racing. Eli and I took off behind them. Eli uses his upper torso way more than his legs when he runs. Its rather funny.

We ran down the first base line towards first base. As we ran, we passed Dinger the Dragon (the Wizards' mascot). Then we continued. About five feet away from first Eli turned around, pointed at the dragon, and started running towards him.

Getting to first base for the first time was not as important as giving Dinger a five.

What pointless rat races do we find ourselves in that we should just give up on and focus on what is important?

Watch out for the potholes.

An Inconsistent Truth - Being Only Politically Green - Al Gore & Barack Obama

In this first story, Obama warns of gas guzzlers as he leaves in his SUV.

Obama Warns of Gas Guzzling Cars

This second story is an examination of Al Gore's lifestyle. Gore has set himself up as the world's greatest environmental spokesman, yet he doesn't seem to live up to his own talk. I seem to be more green than him, and I don't even try all that much.

Gore Isn't Quite as Green as He has Led the World to Believe

I like the environmentalists of old. The ones who weren't environmentalists for political gain but were environmentalists for the sake of the earth. They weren't pretenders. They actually believed in what they said. It wasn't for the sake of politics or book sales. They were "crazies" for the sake of the earth.

Now it has become popular to be green. But in actuality, it appears that it really isn't popular to be green; it's popular to be pseudo-green.

It reminds me of Christians. We always have this tendency to be a Christian without any of the sacrifice. We like the label and what it brings, yet sometimes we don't want to live the sacrificial life that being a Christian is all about.

Being green is trendy. Sacrificing square footage on your house, driving less of a gas guzzler, spending the money on solar or wind power, recycling, using cloth diapers, and all of the other aspects of being truly green aren't something you can just give lip service to. They take continual sacrifice and, sometimes, money.

I'm not green yet, but I'm all for being green.

Watch out for the potholes.

Truth Comes By Conflict

"Truth comes by conflict."

That quote comes from Hilaire Belloc's Essays of a Catholic.

We shelter ourselves in a world that is sanitized from conflict. And in our conflict shelters, we fail to realize that we no longer see the truth. Conflict is something to be cherished. Political correctness brings us to a fraudulent unity. Sharing the truth in love brings us to the truth, which will result in authentic unity.

No sugarcoating. No manipulating. No appeasing. Those are the tools of fraudulent unity.

Struggling. Challenging. Correcting. In love, those are the tools of authentic unity.

Watch out for the potholes.

A Poem Will Be Published

Well, I found out last week that a poem I wrote and submitted into a poetry contest will be published. Once I find out more, I will post a link to the book on Amazon. And it could also win me some money in the contest still. Woohoo!

Watch out for the potholes

Grocery Shopping Comparison - Walmart, Meijer, Scotts, and IGA - Ft. Wayne and Antwerp

Yesterday, I wasted about two hours to finally see what grocery store would actually save my family money.

I know there are other issues than just saving money in figuring out what store to buy from, and maybe we need to have a discussion about those. Whether those issues outweigh being wise with our money is at the crux of the conflict. But for now, I just looked at what was cheapest.

I chose ten items (actually 13 but 3 were eliminated due to not being available at all of the places). I will list the results, followed by all of the details at the bottom.


If I were to buy my whole list at normal retail price, it would cost:

at Antwerp's Kammeyer's IGA: $39.60
at a Ft. Wayne Scotts: $38.83
at a Ft. Wayne Walmart: $27.83
at a Ft. Wayne Meijer: $30.73


If I were to buy my whole list at their sale prices where applicable, substitute generic diapers for the name-brand (which we do) and pay regular on all of the items that weren't on sale, it would cost:

at Antwerp's Kammeyer's IGA: $29.80
at a Ft. Wayne Scotts: $32.45
at a Ft. Wayne Walmart: $24.35
at a Ft. Wayne Meijer: $27.18


Now, I figured out how much it would cost for a week if the costs were spread out throughout the other items that I didn't research. My weekly grocery spending is about three to four times the total of these items, so I multiplied the weekly number by 3.5 and I used the sale number due to sale items shifting, which would probably keep the savings the same.

at Antwerp's Kammeyer's IGA: $104.30
at a Ft. Wayne Scotts: $113.58
at a Ft. Wayne Walmart: $85.23
at a Ft. Wayne Meijer: $95.13


Now, I have a yearly spending estimate:

at Antwerp's Kammeyer's IGA: $5423.60
at a Ft. Wayne Scotts: $5905.90
at a Ft. Wayne Walmart: $4431.70
at a Ft. Wayne Meijer: $4946.76


With Walmart being the lowest, I now show how much extra I would spend in a year to shop at one of the other stores.

to shop at Antwerp's Kammeyer's IGA: $991.90
to shop at Ft. Wayne Scotts: $1474.20
to shop at Ft. Wayne Meijer: $515.06


I wish I could say that it would be cheaper to buy your groceries in Antwerp, but I can't. With current gas prices and using my vehicle, it would cost around $312 per year to drive to the closer Walmart and back. That would still result in a savings of $680.


The ten items I used were:

Bush's Baked Beans
Kraft Shredded Cheese
100% Ocean Spray White Grapefruit
a Gallon of Milk
a Dozen Large Grade A Eggs
Breyer's Ice Cream
Huggie's Size 3
1 lb. of Ground Beef
1/2 gallon of Minute Maid Orange Juice


Other items that I tried to check prices on:

Ocean Spray 100% Cranberry Juice. On this item, only Scott's ($4.49) and Walmart ($2.88) had it in stock. Obviously, Walmart was a huge savings.

Hebrew National Hot Dogs. We discovered these things and absolutely love them. The best tasting hot dog I have ever had. They were only stocked at Meijer ($4.19) and Walmart ($2.99 normal, but on sale for the last few weeks at $2.50). Again, Walmart was a huge savings.

Bacon. This item was all over the place since the stores don't carry a brand across them. I won't share the prices.


Watch out for the potholes.

Would Jesus be allowed to be a leader in your church?

This is just another addition to my post from the other day.

Jesus was also single. Protestants don't seem to like single men to be in position's of leadership.

Again I ask, would we let Jesus be a leader in our church?

Watch out for the potholes.

Legalism and Love

Legalism brings about secrecy and individualism.

Love brings about openness and community.

Watch out for the potholes.

A Fish Bit My Nipple

I was teaching Isaac to swim down at the beach. We were walking on our hands while showing him how to kick his feet. Then it happened; something bit my nipple. I leapt out of the water. I looked down at my nipple and saw that blood was coming from it. What in the world? A fish, I presume, bit my nipple and made it bleed. Needless to say, I was terrified of getting back into the water.

As I was on the beach ten minutes later, two new kids came up. The one mentioned that he didn't want to go into the water because he was scared fish would bite him. The other was telling him that there is nothing to be afraid of. I wanted to show him my still bloody nipple and tell him that he should be scared. However, I remained silent.

Watch out for the potholes and those carnvirous fish.


I'll be away for the week, so I hope everyone has a great week.

Watch out for the potholes.

Would Jesus be allowed to be a leader in your church?

Would Jesus be allowed to be a leader of your church? Would we even allow him to attend?

I think we have become too civilized in our Christianity. So civilized, in fact, that if Jesus was here in the flesh we would be like the Pharisees and not accept Him. Surely, we wouldn't want him to be in the leadership of our churches with the behavior he exhibited. Here is three examples of actions we would not accept in our church leaders. I think just one of the examples would exclude a person from leadership. Jesus did all three.

Jesus, the drinker and provider of alcohol

Matthew 11:19

The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and "sinners.'" But wisdom is proved right by her actions.

Here we have an example of people accusing Jesus of being a drunkard. Why would they think he was a drunkard? I would assume that it was because he came "eating and drinking" more than most. Would we allow our leaders to live in such a way that people accused them of being drunkards?

John 2:1-11

1 On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine was gone, Jesus' mother said to him, "They have no more wine." 4 "Dear woman, why do you involve me?" Jesus replied. "My time has not yet come." 5 His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you." 6 Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water"; so they filled them to the brim. 8 Then he told them, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet." They did so, 9 and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 and said, "Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now." 11 This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.

To be accused of being a drunkard is one thing. To actually be the one that carries the kegs to the party seems to be another (or in this case to turn the water at the party into alcoholic beverages). Here we have Jesus turning water into wine so that the wedding party can continue with alcoholic beverages. Would we allow our leaders to drink at a wedding party, let alone be the ones that provide the alcohol?

Jesus, the politically incorrect

Matthew 21:12-17

12 Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 "It is written," he said to them, "'My house will be called a house of prayer,' but you are making it a 'den of robbers.'

What an attitude! It just doesn't seem like the nice, gentle, and civilized approach we expect out of our church leaders. We like our leaders to be political and diplomatic. Jesus could've held a meeting with those in charge of the activities of the temple and discussed what they were doing. If that didn't work, he should've just submitted to their authority. That is what we would expect our leaders to do. Would we allow our leaders to come into the church building and destroy something that he thought was contrary to what God intended for his people to be doing?

Jesus, the outcast

Luke 7:36-50

36 Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. 37 When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, 38 and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. 39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is--that she is a sinner." 40 Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to tell you." "Tell me, teacher," he said. 41 "Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?" 43 Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled." "You have judged correctly," Jesus said. 44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven--for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little." 48 Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." 49 The other guests began to say among themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?" 50 Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."

Talk about disturbing. If I had a individual over for dinner and the town whore heard about it and wanted to come into my house, clean, and annoint his feet with oil, I would be disturbed to say the least. I would wonder why in the world would this guy let this whore spend so much time cleaning his feet. It would seem a little erotic to me. I surely wouldn't let that guy be a leader in my church. Would we allow our leader to have the town whore lather his feet with oil?

Luke 19:1-10

1 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. 5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. 7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, "He has gone to be the guest of a 'sinner.'" 8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount." 9 Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost."

Imagine a guest speaker coming into our town. This guest speaker had the opportunity to meet with any of the people in the church or the leaders in the community, yet he chose to meet with the most despised people in our community (probably the poor family who doesn't bath their kids or the owner of the bar) instead of any of the people of good reputation. Would we want that kind of speaker as a leader in our church?

I think we have a long way to go until we are really followers of Christ and genuine accepters of Him. I really don't think we would accept Jesus as a leader in our churches. So if we wouldn't do that, are we really accepting him as the Lord of our lives? I fear we have turned "following Christ" into something it isn't.

Watch out for the potholes.

Targeting people for our church

Sam replied to my previous post:

I see the greatest implications of your post on new church plants. They too often target a particular niche in an area, but if there are so many competing cultures, should they focus on one or a few and "market" to those or not?

I think that maybe we should have a variety of different style of churches (or programs
within a larger church) that would be able to reach out to the niche cultures. There isn't a cookie cutter church any longer. I would be excited to go to a town and see churches that are all completely unique from one another in the non-essentials.

In the sixties, churches were planted by moving into a town with a building and a minister. That evolved into moving into a town with a minister who established a congregation, then they built a building. Now, I propose that there is no right mold (oooh - so postmodern) to plant a church. Church planting used to be an expensive endeavor, but it needs to not be that way any longer. We need new (or reformed) church planting organizations that are training laypeople to plant churches left and right. But I digress.

Sometimes a church needs a building and/or a paid minister. And sometimes a church would be more effective without one or both. We need to be sensitive to the community we are planting the church in and the people there that need to learn to be complete disciples of Christ. And in being sensitive to that and, most importantly, to what God calls the church to be, we will create churches that effectively change our cultures into what God desires them to be.

We also need churches and programs that reach each culture in America. None should be excluded because they aren't the rich group or not the larger group. We look down on churches that minister to the biker crowd or the twenty-somethings as if they are targeting a certain culture and that is a bad thing. But where is the equal scorn for the church that consists of mainly middle class white folk, upper class white folk, or the church that only has new people who have young children. Every church is targeting a certain audience by what they are doing. Whether they are targeting people like themselves because they are doing what they enjoy or they are targeting an older generation because they refuse to change, every church is targeting some crowd.

But this all frustrates me. I want a church that is just focused on glorifying God. But is that targeting someone? Does that bridge the gap to our culture so I can effectively help people become complete disciples? Is that possible? Arrggh!

Watch out for the potholes.

The Demise of the Common Culture and what that means for the Church

With all of the technology available today and all of the various forms of entertainment (or even the choice to not entertain), we have lost our common culture.

From Publishers Weekly
Wired editor Anderson declares the death of "common culture"—and insists that it's for the best. Why don't we all watch the same TV shows, like we used to? Because not long ago, "we had fewer alternatives to compete for our screen attention," he writes. Smash hits have existed largely because of scarcity: with a finite number of bookstore shelves and theaters and Wal-Mart CD racks, "it's only sensible to fill them with the titles that will sell best." Today, Web sites and online retailers offer seemingly infinite inventory, and the result is the "shattering of the mainstream into a zillion different cultural shards." These "countless niches" are market opportunities for those who cast a wide net and de-emphasize the search for blockbusters. It's a provocative analysis and almost certainly on target—though Anderson's assurances that these principles are equally applicable outside the media and entertainment industries are not entirely convincing. The book overuses its examples from Google, Rhapsody, iTunes, Amazon, Netflix and eBay, and it doesn't help that most of the charts of "Long Tail" curves look the same. But Anderson manages to explain a murky trend in clear language, giving entrepreneurs and the rest of us plenty to think about. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Then I asked myself, what does this mean for the church? Can the church exist like it is and thrive in a society of various cultures? Should the culture of one's society matter when deciding what activities to do at the Sunday gathering and other activities the church participates in?

I'll take a shot at the last question first. Whether we acknowledge it or not, our Sunday gathering and other church activities are influenced by our culture or the culture of the group that planted the church we attend. Many things from the music style and songs to the style of preaching is purely a choice of culture. Other activities can be cultural too. We don't realize how much culture influences our setting because we have always resided in our culture and the way we do things seems to be the right way to do things.

That is what a common culture provides. Everyone in the culture agrees in the right way to do things. However, once the culutre fragments like our culture has, what used to be the common way to do things is no longer common to everyone.

There are some essential elements to being the church. These should never be strayed from. Sadly, most groups of Christians try to say that what makes them different is an essential when it is actually just a cultural opinion. Then they hold onto that cultural opinion and refuse to change it. It would be a glorious day if Christians could come to an agreement on what are the essentials.

Can the church exist like it is and thrive in a society of various cultures? To answer this question, I think it would be fair to ask, "Can the American church just transplant itself into the heart of Africa and care less about the African culture? Can we just transplant "American" churches around the world without changing for the culture and expect them to be effective?"

All cultural things of the church can change except for where they cross the line into sin or prevent us from being the loving people we are to be (another form of sin that seems to be ignored). We are not servants to or ambassadors of any culture; we are solely servants and priests of the kingdom of God. If our cultural practices must change in order for us to be the servant that God wants us to be, then we should gladly change.

So we like tradition. There is nothing wrong with that unless of love of doing things in a traditional way prevent us from effectively reaching the culture around us.

So we like change. There is nothing wrong with that unless we like change so much that we morph into a church that is foreign to the culture around us.

The future of the church depends upon us being sensitive to what God wants the church to be. We need to not hold on to any sacred cows but the essentials. It is our calling to be priests to the culture around us. And in so doing, the church will change, yet still remain, at its core, the same.

Watch out for the potholes.

Creating Authentic Communtiy

What an oxymoron. Can authentic community be created? Maybe if we create an environment where it would naturally happen.

Sam replied to me on a forum that we frequent concerning my post on experimental community:

I thought about this idea, and reread your post, I noticed you wanted a place where people did not have to "buy coffee or beer" but still feel a sense of community. Why not have a building that has similar things as a coffee house or bar? Pool tables, ping-pong tables, fussball, etc. You will recall that the open area in the ad building at GlCC was similar and fostered community. At the same time, I wonder how much is too much? Does it turn into entertainment as the catalyst for bringing people together instead of a deep sense of community?

Here is my reply:

I concur. Those questions are things I struggle with. That is why I came up with this house idea. What things do we naturally want in our backyard? It so happens that those things we want in our backyard foster community. (That might be why we want them in our backyard.) So if we get together and do together what we naturally want (but might not be able to afford on our own) and allow it to be open rather than only by our invitation (which we will also give), then we have created a place where community will foster naturally (I hope).

Last night (and many nights), despite the heat, I took my kids out and played in the backyard. We filled up the little play pool, grilled dinner (although the propane ran out half way through), and ran around. Many families do the same thing. If we joined together in this nightly activity because of the close proximity of living together, we would have very dynamic and authentic community. If we have healthy community, it would be natural for it to take in others that are seeking for the same thing.

I didn't play fussball, pool, or ping pong in the ad building because I didn't enjoy playing those games all that much. I would say that our living in close proximity to one another had as much if not more to do with fostering community than the games did because I had good community despite only playing 5 games of fussball, 30 games of ping pong, and no pool during my college years. The ad building did provide a common place to just sit and hang out, which I did do much more frequently than play any of the games.

Although, I have toyed around with the idea of establishing a great big living room with games like you mentioned (and other games that I enjoy) in which we would gather together in and hang out at on a near nightly basis. But I feel that giant living room wouldn't be as welcoming or as natural as a shared back yard. A place in the open air always seems a little more welcoming than a place surrounded by walls.

"It is a place for people to hang out when they are lonely and just want people to hang out with, and they can do it without having to buy a coffee or a beer."

The key word in the phrase "buy coffee and beer" was "buy". And I had previously used the word "free" in the sentence following that one, but it apparently didn't make it through editing. I wouldn't want to exclude people who have an extremely tight budget from being involved in community so it has to be free to everyone (except for those who obviously support the ministry - I would hope it was the church budget). We probably wouldn't serve beer because of all the alcohol hatred in Christian circles in America. But coffee would more than likely pop up its addictive head.

Watch out for potholes.

A Prayer for me and the Church

Ah, Lord, great and awesome God, keeping covenant and steadfast love with those who love you and keep your commandments, we have sinned and done wrong, acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from being loving. We have not listened to your teachings, which you brought yourself to all of the earth.

Righteousness is on your side, O Lord, but open shame, as at this day, falls on us, the people of your Church, those who are faithful and those who are stumbling, who find themselves in all sorts of places to which you have driven them because of the treachery that they have committed against you.

Open shame, O Lord, falls on us, our pastors, our leaders, and those who have come before us, because we have sinned against you. To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against him, and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God to live a life of love, which he set modeled us when He walked among us.

All the Church has transgressed your law of love and turned aside, refusing to obey your voice. So the curse and the oath written in the law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured out upon us, because we have sinned against you. He has confirmed his words, which he spoke against us and against our pastors, by giving us over to our own selfish desires and allowing us to toil away at this institution we have created.

Just as it is written in the law of Moses, all this calamity has come upon us. We did not entreat the favor of the Lord our God, turning from our iniquities and reflecting on his fidelity. So the Lord kept watch over this calamity until he brought it upon us. Indeed, the Lord our God is right in all that he has done; for we have disobeyed his voice.

And now, O Lord our God, who sent your Son down to earth and established your kingdom through the Church and made your name known even to this day — we have sinned, we have done wickedly. O Lord, in view of all your righteous acts, let your anger and wrath, we pray, turn away from your Church, your holy people; because of our sins and the iniquities of those before us, your kingdom and your Church have become a disgrace among all our neighbors.

Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his supplication, and for your own sake, Lord, let your face shine upon your desolated sanctuary. Incline your ear, O my God, and hear. Open your eyes and look at our desolation and the Church that bears your name.

We do not present our supplication before you on the ground of our righteousness, but on the ground of your great mercies. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, listen and act and do not delay! For your own sake, O my God, because your Church and your people bear your name!


This is an exercise I do some times. I take a prayer from the Bible and rework it into modern terms. I try to keep the heart of the author and say what he would say today. The original prayer is in Daniel 9. I think it is my favorite prayer in the Bible.

Watch out for potholes