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Showing posts from 2007

Thankful

We have a very precise Thanksgiving tradition in our family – Nancy cooks; I eat. In fact I have already finished my first sweet potato pie, and it is only 10:30 AM. Nancy watches the parades, and I, well, don’t really do anything – until this year. I decided to run in a 5K this morning that benefits the local rescue mission in Roanoke. I woke up today to an exceptional morning. It was supposed to be overcast and raining, but instead the sun is shining brightly and the temperature is already in the upper 60’s. It is a beautiful fall morning. I initially guessed that the race crowd would be small with the forecast of rain. Instead, there were 3200 runners and walkers in only the 2nd annual drumstick dash. As we waited for the start of the race I was mildly apprehensive. My running and training have been minimal lately. I knew that I would turn into a competitive freak once the gun sounded, and my body would not be able to do what my mind would suggest. I successfully completed the 5K

The Reaper

Last night as I was channel surfing I watched part of a new show called the Reaper . I don’t usually get into sci-fi (well not since Quantum Leap), but this sitcom was mildly entertaining. The main character, Sam (Bret Harrison), was having a conversation with the Devil (Ray Wise), and the Devil was really upset. It was the evening before Halloween, and to Sam’s surprise the Devil said that Halloween was the worst day of the year for him. The Devil said that it was “the commercialization of evil.” He said that no one was afraid of him and that it was just all fun and games now. I couldn’t help but laugh at the wisdom behind the comedy. Halloween has become a fun time for many kids. At Oakland we are planning to give out lots of candy tonight. As I drove onto our campus this morning, I had a momentary rush of excitement as I thought about thousands of kids in Roanoke flooding the streets (and coming to our event) as Power Rangers and Princesses. I can’t help but think that to

Casper the friendly atheist

Allow me to put on my educational hat for a review. I freely admit that it is much easier to critique a book than it is to write one. Book review: Jim and Casper Go to Church I recently read a new book, Jim and Casper Go to Church , and it has sparked my thinking related to church growth. Jim (a former Pentecostal preacher) hired Casper (a self-proclaimed atheist) to attend church services with him and give his impressions of the services. The premise of the book was irresistible to me as I wish to see the church from the blind side of Johari’s window. I enjoyed the case studies in this book, but I think the authors went too far with their applications. Jim and Matt’s book was worth the read for me because it made me think, but not for the reasons the authors intended. All truth claims must be evaluated before acceptance into the core of church life. I think that this book fails to provide compelling evidence of truth for most churches. From a research standpoint the book says mor

Do good people go to heaven?

When I was on a date in high school one night, I slid off a slippery road and got my car stuck in a muddy ditch. These were the days before cell phones (except for KITT on Knight Rider), and I wasn’t sure how I would get my car back on the road. Within minutes a guy came driving by on a tractor (thank God for growing up in the country), and asked if I needed help. He quickly pulled me out of the ditch and went on his way barely giving me time to say thanks. My car wasn’t damaged and a simple visit to the car wash concealed all evidence that I was driving too fast on a wet road. This experience and many others have taught me that there are a lot of good people in this world. With so many good people in the world, I am faced with the question of whether or not good people go to heaven. Over the years I have encountered several well intentioned people who have insisted that they simply don’t need Jesus. Most of these people believe in God and believe that God will give them a fair shake

Why people don't go to church

As a pastor, one of the consuming questions with which I wrestle is “Why don’t people go to church?” In particular, the question is “Why don’t people come to my church?” If you doubt that people are opinionated, ask this question to a group of church people on a Wednesday night. I’ve studied church growth for several years, and I have a number of opinions about the matter myself. But, I wonder if we are asking the right question to the wrong people. Several researchers in the last few years have begun asking people who don’t attend church why they don’t attend church, and the answers are interesting. George Barna asked this question and provided the answers in his book, Grow Your Church from the Outside In . The top five reasons that people gave for not attending church comprise 83% of the reasons why people don’t come to church. 1. No time; schedule conflicts; working 26% 2. Not interested; nothing to offer; no reason 16% 3. Don’t know 15% 4. My beliefs are different than the church

Got Purpose?

I love watching nature shows on Animal Planet, the Discovery Channel, the National Geographic Channel, etc. Shark Week sans the evolutionary mumbo jumbo is usually quite exhilarating. It is simply fascinating to learn the intricate details of thousands of animals and to bask in the awe of God’s creativity and wisdom. Recently, I learned that if you hit a shark on the nose (snout) there is a good chance it will leave you alone. I’m hoping I never get a chance to test that theory. With all of the amazing animals that God has created, I think the most amazing are the Homo sapiens. We have the ability to study other animals and influence the lives of all of the other animals. We have great capacity to think (notice I said capacity) and ponder the great questions of existence. I mean, you never see a depressed shark moping around wondering if he will ever be able to program his remote control. Ultimately, we want to know what the meaning of life is. We want to know why w

The Hypocrisy Card

Several years ago I served as pastor of a church in Alabama. I was energetic and frequently visited people door-to-door style like a candy bar salesman. During one such encounter a husband and wife (Let’s call them Bob and Susan.) invited me into their home. The couple’s house was adjacent to our church property, and from their living room window you could see right into my church office. I was exuberant as I presented my pitch to the party. After a few minutes of my exquisite presentation, I extended the invitation for the couple to join us for worship. As I paused and pondered the precision of my performance, Bob quickly enlightened me concerning the dysfunctional nature of our church. Bob said that they no longer attended church (our church in particular) because people in the church are hypocrites. He cited numerous examples of hypocrisy including Sunday school teachers who frequented bars. He saw people from our church at these polluted places that he also patronized for…uhm… res

Trash day

My wife, Nancy, has creative ways of reminding me to do things that I already know that I need to do. I assure her that I am not a kid, but my actions sometimes prove otherwise. I often forget to do little things that I really should remember. I have struggled for years with remembering trash day. Our trash is collected on Thursdays in Roanoke County, and I typically forget to either move our trash can to the curb or I forget to retrieve the receptacle after our trash has been collected. This past week my neighbor returned my trash can for me, and I only noticed it because it was turned differently than I normally have it. Nancy usually reminds me by simply telling me on Wednesday nights when we get home that I need to move the trash can. Sometimes she calls me from work on Thursday mornings to jog my memory. Occasionally I will get an email from her reminding me about trash day, and she has even sent me an e-card so that I won’t forget the all important day. Why do I forget

mental

Several years ago I developed a crazy notion to start running. I was in my mid to late-twenties, and I discovered that my once athletic body was now more suited for Kevin James look-a-like contests. I could think of many reasons why I wasn’t taking care of myself – grad school, multiple jobs, Seinfeld reruns, etc. But, I knew that I had to do something. Running had been viewed as a necessary evil to accomplish my goals. As a teenager, I ran for conditioning for other sports. Running was effective, but not truly enjoyed as a sport unto itself. I decided to resume this tortuous practice and redeem my athleticism. I soon discovered the horror of my physical neglect. After strapping on my running shoes and running shorts and shirt, I hit the open road ready to reclaim my honor. Within a few minutes my heart was pounding, and I was breathing harder than I could ever remember. What had happened to that strong, all-district middle linebacker who could play an entire game without e