Thursday, December 20, 2007

Labels and Blogging Vacation

For all two of you that read my blog, I'm going to take a blogging vacation. This will be my last post this year. In the meantime, I was watching the show Duel last night and I found it funny that every person on that show has a label. Labels like the Belly Dancer, the Used Car Salesman, and the Telemarketer are used to help a contestant pick their duelmate. The host then explains how teh labels are incomplete and how the Belly Dancer actually has a 4.0 GPA or that the Football Playing Telemarketer that loves Dirty Dancing (the movie, not the activity).

I know I like labels. For example, I am an ESTJ. I am a Student Minister. I hate though saying either of those things at a party because A) I hate being labeled as a Minister only (no more than a person being labeled as just a lawyer or something else) and B) no one knows what ESTJ means.

We label things/people we want to understand better and we remained focused on those labels.

What label are you given that you can't stand? What labels do you put on others?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Two funny things I saw today. . .

This is how I envisioned the birth of Christ. . .

Pension Book - Like Facebook for old people. (Daan points us to this very funny image, which I got from Seth).

"Take a knee"

I saw the weirdest thing this weekend in the Dallas/Philly Football Game. It wasn't a play of great glamor or marvelous athleticism. It was a play of humility. It was a man choosing to put the best option for the team over getting another personal stat.

It was the fourth quarter with 2:30 to go in the game. Philly lead 10-6 with the ball on the Dallas 25. Philly RB Brian Westbrook busts through the on his way for a potential TD when all of the sudden he stops and takes a knee. That score would put Philly up 17-6 with 2:00 left. There is no way that makes sense. Wouldn't that put the game out of reach? Why would a high priced star do that? Who in their right mind would pass up a TD like that?

It doesn't make sense until you look at the situation. Dallas had no timeouts. The clock would stop at the 2:00 mark but after that Dallas could not stop the clock. Every play can take 45 seconds if some one wanted to take their time (like Philly would want to do). If Philly scored, Dallas would get the ball and possibly tie the game or even win. However, by not scoring, Philly could definitely run the clock out and thus win the game. Before the play, one of Westbrook's teammates aware of the situation, told him to take a knee. Westbrook was cheered on to do what was best for the team rather than what was best for himself.

When I hear that, I admire the personal sacrifice in the name of the team. Last week, coach Bobby Petrino of Atlanta "resigned" to coach another team when the going got tough with the Falcons. Over the weekend coach Rich Rodriquez "resigned" from W.Va. (his home college) to coach Michigan, which in his words was a "special opportunity." Truth be told, it is nice to see someone take one for the team, rather then for his own fame. Times might be tough in Philly but he still did something selfless while these other guys for whatever reason bailed on their teams for a bigger paycheck or for more glory in a bigger pond.

I know many pastors/Christians that do this too. They bail when times get rough. They go to "bigger" churches instead of sticking it out. They rather make a name for themselves at whatever cost instead of making a name in their given place, no matter the size. I know this is a question I had to wrestle with when I moved to RDU. I wrestle with this daily. Do I put my pride aside for the church? Do I seek "bigger" ponds rather than putting team first? Who glory am I striving for?

A lot of times I don't know how to answer this. Where do you stand?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

What, no mini Tiger Stadium!

When I get out of debt and get a house, this just might be something crazy that I would do. Mini Fenway!

Go here if you want more of the story. They even built a mini Wrigley Field. Oh the Jealousy! Oh the need to play whiffle ball right now.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Now this is Christmas Spirit

I give you Snowglobe Boy. He's right here in the Triangle too. Way to Represent!

w00ty w00t!

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I give you the 2007 Merriam-Webster word of the year: w00t!

I know what you might be thinking, "Dan, that is not a new word. I heard all of the time during the 80's at sporting events." That might be true but that word was spelled with two "o's" and not two "0's". Numbers have taken the place of letters. Though the pronunciations is the same and mean the same, they are different words.

I found irony in the fact that words use to be visual symbols on paper of how a word is spoken in some form or another. Culture, up to the advent of the printing press, was an audio culture so words written down had to look like the audio form. I'm sure many of you as you read this hear my voice reading this to you(if you know me or your own voice if you do not know me. However with the computer age, language is now more visual. Symbol can be used that can express idea or words. For example, IDK my BFF Jill. LOL :) We are communicating with symbols rather than actual audio words. Book reading is on the decline in the younger generation. I think that is going to continue evolve into a symbol based economy.

Why should you care? I don't know per se but it is indicative of a changing culture. The church needs to adapt and leverage this change. Asking students of today that love communicating through image to read might be a sudden leap into scripture. There is a new tool out there called YouVersion that tries to merge the two. Check it out.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

"What is Myspace?"


Have you ever wondered how Myspace works? In this albeit funny SNL clip, it will show you parents everything you need to know and to keep in mind when it comes to Myspace (and facebook for that matter).

So do you know what your kids are doing on the internet?
FYI: Here is a dictionary for your viewing pleasure.
Sk8er Boi
Chad Michael Murray
Ashley Parker Angel
Jessica Alba

Friday, December 7, 2007

This makes me sick

Click the link and set your eyes on stunned. Let me be clear.
Highway to heaven?
Highway to heaven?

I know God is smart and all seeing but I'm sure he did have a federal highway in mind when helping Isaiah out. By the way, when Isaiah wrote the book, there weren't any book numbers. Ignorance, plain and simple.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

A new respect for Joel Osteen

Okay, I don't agree with all he says but I won't go so far as to call him evil either. Joel Osteen does have a HUGE church but he doesn't seem to be in it for the money as I've heard many Churched and Unchurched people accuse him of doing. Read the following:

[Osteen] has not taken a salary from his Houston megachurch for two years. He owns one house — the same one he and his wife, Victoria, have lived in for 13 years — and until recently he drove a 9-year-old car he inherited from his late father. Osteen pays his own hotel bills, and there is no private jet.

Although the upbeat minister does take collections at services, netting an estimated $43 million a year, Osteen does not ask for money on his broadcasts, which reach an estimated 7 million viewers weekly in the U.S. and 100 other countries. Nonetheless, an additional $30 million comes through the mail. His most recent book deal earned him a $13 million advance.

“We make plenty of money from our books,” said Osteen, 44. “But we just live normal lives. We try to be conservative and honor God with our life and with our example.”

Osteen refuses to condemn the targets of Grassley’s inquiry, or Richard Roberts, who quit as president of Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla., amid charges that he used school funds and facilities for his family.

“While I never like to hear negative things about friends and other ministers, I choose to believe the very best in them,” Osteen said.

Osteen leads the 48,000-member Lakewood Church in Houston. Services border on the nonsectarian, with no crosses in evidence. Osteen’s theology is more inspirational than theological, with a strong emphasis on self-help, in the feel-good tradition of Norman Vincent Peale and Robert Schuller. Osteen speaks from a lectern he prefers to call a “podium,” rather than a “pulpit.” His books are filled with lots of exclamation points, but the word Jesus rarely appears.

Osteen’s first book, Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential, sold millions of copies. His latest, Become a Better You: 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day, is on The New York Times best-seller list, and propelled him onto 60 Minutes and Larry King Live, as well as several magazine covers.

In his new book, Osteen points to himself as an example of unlocking hidden potential. A college dropout, he preached for the first time when his father, who founded Lakewood Church, became ill and later died. For the preceding 17 years, Joel Osteen had worked behind the scenes in production at the television ministry.

The success of these books raises questions about how religious figures should handle the millions of dollars in royalties and contributions.

Osteen is not the only prominent religious figure who tries to navigate these issues and, by doing so, differentiate himself from such controversies.

Warren, for example, has repaid every dollar he has earned in the pulpit of Saddleback Church in Orange County, Calif., and pledged to give away 90 percent of his book royalties. He accepts no speaking fees and is not as reluctant as Osteen to criticize those who are less altruistic.

“The opulent lifestyles of televangelists make me sick,” said Warren, of those ministries now under investigation. The scandals, he said, flow from the “prosperity gospel” that many televangelists preach.

“Success in any area often creates a spirit of entitlement — ‘I deserve this’ — that is the exact opposite of servant leadership,” Warren said.

Osteen agrees, offering his own definition of the prosperity gospel: “I never preach a message on money,” he said. “I do believe that God wants us to be blessed, to have good marriages, to have peace in our minds, to have health, to have money to pay our bills. I think God wants us to excel. But everyone isn’t going to be rich — if we’re talking about money.” Source: Orlando Sentinel

I have criticized Rick Warren in the past when I was a young Calvinist at UT but now I really respect the guy and all he has done. He brought down the house Catalyst. I'm not willing to say listen to what he believes but I can say act least outwardly he is living out something of Christianity. I believe he is 100% genuine in he approach and means well. He gets vilified for having a weak gospel by many in the Blog world but I'm indirectly his presence on TV have brought some people back to church. He knows what he believes he was put on earth to do and is doing. He is focused and not ashamed about it. He acts humbly towards critics and seems to be living above reproach.

He may believe in a light version of Christianity but he is living out the "little" he knows. While many of us know more but live out a small portion of our knowledge. Which one are you? Unfortunately, I'm probably the latter rather than the former. . .

My things have changed. . .

Last night, Lori and I watched Babes in Toyland last night (it was Lori's choice). For all of you younger then say 30, it is a cheesy yet my wife loves it. While watching it though I had many of thoughts with most of them centered around how things have changed from 1960 to today.

Let me list the ways:
  1. Kids movies then used bigger words. I was shocked to hear some of the words that they were using that I honestly think would go above today's kids heads. I often think I use big words too much but at least I take solace knowing that there was a time (probably when kids read more than watched T.V.) that teens would understand bigger words. There was one point where Mary was singing about not being able to pay her mortgage. What movie today would handle this topic?
  2. I would much rather sing a song to communicate then simply talk about it. Granted, songs are more attention grabbing then simple speech but it makes me jealous that more people can't simply bust out in song. In today's movies, popular songs already written are used rather than the "character" singing.
  3. A plot did not seem to matter. It was all about entertainment and the music, not telling a good story. There were actually 3 different movies in one. At one point, I asked Lori, "Why is this called Babes in Toyland since I don't see a Toyland anywhere let alone Barbara Streisand?" The movie was all over the place. This would not keep a child's interest. Today's attention span would not be able to keep up.
  4. Most importantly, child labor would be frowned on today. At one point, about 5 kids were "volunteered" to help put together toys for Christmas. Plus, I hinted a form a racism against Gypsy in the movie that would never have flew past the ACLU.
  5. Graphics have come a LONG way.
Just a couple thoughts. Some changes were good, others maybe not. Over the last few year, how have you changed for the good? How about for bad?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

This is me in a nutshell. . .

I'm not by nature obedient. I am a rebel. I loathe being told what to do but I have such freedom in obeying God.

From Mark Driscoll, Mars Hall Church.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

What to do when you move. . .

My biblical journey right now is in the book of Jeremiah. Last week, I read something that was very inspirational to me and probably for many in the RDU area. For starters, this area is filled with people that have moved from their hometowns and families in order to help their family survive. This situation is very much like the environment Jeremiah is speaking into. Families were separated as members were sent from Israel into exile miles and miles away. This exile was a better option then being killed. That's when I read the following:
This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: "Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper. ~ Jeremiah 29:4-7
I love the missional aspect of this verse. God is telling the exiles that may have been hurting from being forced to move that they need to focus on the current situation. God wants us to live right now focusing on the family and the city. This was the word that God thought was helpful to prepare people for serving God during this time. There was a futurist aspect to things with focus on the present. Jeremiah continues on to talk about the promise of the second temple being built.

All of us have had to move along to something new at sometime in our lives. There have been many times that I have been so focused on the past that it impacted how I was living now and for the future. Jeremiah says remember and doesn't say dwell.

I could write more but I have to ask are you living in this way that Jeremiah is discribing or are you focused on something different?

Friday, November 30, 2007

Credit Cards = Snakes. . .

I finally believe Dave Ramsey about credit cards and as of today, the Staifer Family are done with credit cards officially. I use to think that as long as you pay them off every month, they are fine. That was until looked at my statement closely today and notice "payment protector - 1.05". I then proceeded to notice this same charge dating back to FEBRUARY that amounted to 1% of my balance. I know I never signed up for it but yet it was there. While this only amounted to something like 40 dollars over the course of that time, I did earn $50 in "free" gift cards so at least I got a couple books for my stupid tax.

I know this is weird. If I have the money, I might as well pay it off. It's one less thing I have to worry about. I'm not going to cancel it until I get my second amazon gift card (after all I did "pay for it). Oh wait, it's going to impact my FICO score some might say. So what! Eat your heart out Chase. You are never getting our money again!

If you think I'm an idiot, watch the movie Maxed Out and see what the credit card industry is doing to the U.S. It is destroying families and lives.

Credit sucks and I've drunk the Kool-aid. . .

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Stopping to smell the roses. . .

Today I decided to walk from my apartment to the Church. It's a little over 2 miles and it took me like an hour (rather than the 5 minutes by car) to do. I amazed me how nice it was just to slow down. I was able to see some really nice houses and landscaping. I also able to see how hilly it was or how many leaves are on the ground. It was refreshing and calming. It was neat to see God in the leaves all around. I also walked from the church to the bank and noticed some great places along the way to maybe just go and relax. I also noticed some crummy-looking houses that I never saw before.

How many times in life do we simply go to fast and speed right by things. Things that are beautiful. Things that are cool. Things that are beneficial. We go too fast to really see the things are God and even miss the problems in are life.

How good are you at slowing down to see God?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Gay and Lesbian Bible

There is now a Bible that is devoted specifically to defending Gay and Lesbian lifestyle. For their website:
When the Bible was first translated from the original languages into English in 1537, the knowledge of Greek word meaning was quite limited. There was no real advance until the early 1900s, but the significant advances in Greek word meaning came after 1976. The meaning of numerous words which appeared in the New Testament then became known for the first time. This information was published in scholarly academic secular journals but has not yet made its way significantly into lexicons (dictionaries). The major documentary lexicon project on New Testament words is many years from completion. Bible translators have had to rely on outdated lexicons for their word meanings. In 2005, The Source New Testament (TSNT) was published. It was by Classical Greek scholar and lexicographer Dr A. Nyland, whose research field is word meaning from New Testament times. Now, in 2007, Dr Nyland has produced Study Notes along with TSNT for Gay, Lesbian, Bi and Transgender people.
Here is what bugs me about this (CAUTION: Geek stuff ahead). The goal of Biblical interpretation is to determine the context and the thoughts of the author 2000 years ago to an audience that is also 2000 years ago in order to see what principles transcend the time and place. The debate over biblical text is almost always over how much is the culture of this day impacting the words of Paul (see debate of Women in ministry). When we approach the text, we want to put ourselves in the shoes of the writer and the audience because we are simply eavesdropping on one side of the conversation some 2000 years later. This is called exegesis in the Biblical studies world.

What is being done here is something called eisegesis. The interpretor of today is seeing the text through his eyes and bases all conclusions based off of today's values. This Bible is written with a ax to grind so every problem text will be looked at in light of Homosexuality as being legit.

When the New Testament was written, the focus was not on whether a dude could be with a dude. It was on Christ. Everything was focused on Christ. Paul (and Jesus for that matter) calls the Christ the bridegroom and the Church the bride. Throughout the OT, marriage is used to describe the relationship between God and Mankind where God is addressed as the "man" and mankind as "the woman". God get angry then when his people "whore" themselves out to other idols (see Hosea and Ezekiel 23). So, we can see that marriage between two different monogamous beings (either sexual or spiritual) is exalted as the ideal and the holiest form. All other representations are sin.

I applaud these people for attempting to bridge the gap and become a "grace wholesaler" to these people. We need to stop seeing homosexuality as any different from the cohabitors, the cheaters, and the porn crazies. All are sexual sins that need Jesus no different than the gossiper, the liar, and legalist. The only difference is a different idol to worship. However, the minute we attempt to justify our idol through scripture we get in trouble. We are coming to he hoping to find an answer, and guess what, we find the answer we are looking for.

Trust me, as a new Christian, I tried to justify every one of my sins as I read the Bible. If I didn't want to hear the answer, I would come away thinking about some way how the text I read was for someone else or some way it did NOT apply to me. It upset my idol and I refused to listen.

We need to approach the text with this Question: What does God want to tell me here about himself or Jesus? Not how can I justify my actions.

So which are you doing more of as you approach the Bible: reading about God or reading what we want God to be about?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

"You know. . ."

This last Sunday I got the privilege to "preach" at Capital City. For the most part, it went well. I had a good time doing it. Then the day after comes. . .

I usually teach every week but I don't get a chance to listen to myself. Since the sermon gets recorded, I can listen to it in all of its glory (you can listen to it too at the website). Man, is it tough to listen to yourself! My Oma has told before that I say "you know" a lot and my wife makes fun of me for it but then I actually heard it for myself. I couldn't believe it. I said it A LOT! I guess if you have ever had a conversation with me I'm sure that you have picked up on that before so this is not anything new. Now, I finally had the OMG moment that should motivate me to change.

I firmly believe that many of us rarely are open to honestly looking at what we do and how we act. Others may see things clearly but until we actually see it for ourselves, we will never change. Solomon is right when he writes:

Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him—for this is his lot. Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work—this is a gift of God. He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart. ~Ecc 5:18-20

Because things are going well, we "seldom" look at our lives. Why should we reflect and look at our lives? Look at the Book of proverbs for a few:
  • There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. ~ Proverbs 14:12
  • The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice. ~ Proverbs 12:15
  • Make plans by seeking advice; if you wage war, obtain guidance. ~ Proverbs 20:18
  • When the wicked thrive, so does sin, but the righteous will see their downfall. ~Proverbs 29:16
I'm already noticing my faults the more that I listen to people. I'm going to look to Jesus to help with this part of my soul. My heart needs changed not my words. My heart needs to be clarified, confident and unhurried. When that happens, the nervous "You know" habit will disappear.
  • As water reflects a face, so a man's heart reflects the man. ~Proverbs 27:19
  • Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. ~Proverbs 4:23
  • The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks." It's not about not doing something. It is about filling the something with something else. I need to submit my mouth to Christ more. ~Luke 6:45
What is it in your life that you have refused to look at because you are afraid of what you see? What do others see in you that you have ignored for far too long?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Oprah's favorite things. . .

I was flipping through channels yesterday and stumbled upon Oprah's favorite things episode where she talks about a bunch of things that average people cannot buy unless they have their own T.V. show and magazine at their disposal (like Oprah). She gives everyone in the audience these items then which makes all of the women in the audience revert back to their Middle School days.

It made me want to vomit at some of the things that she was trying to pimp (yes, in many ways I see Oprah as a pimp to the middle American woman of the self-love gospel so I am using that word correctly). While I wasn't surprise to see a O's guide to life as an item on her list (since Oprah actual favorite thing is herself), I had to ask myself does anyone really need the following:

    Oprah's giving the most expensive gift in Oprah's Favorite Things history to her loyal viewers in Macon—LG HDTV Refrigerator LSC27991. It's a top-of-the-line, high-tech entertainment center with a LCD TV, DVD hookup, radio and slideshow option to display your favorite digital photos.

    With the press of a button, you can also access your five-day weather forecast and view more than 100 built-in recipes. LG has even volunteered to remove our lucky audience members' old fridges and either recycle them or give them to families in need. "LG has literally thought of everything!" Oprah says.

    Approximate value: $3,799 (here is a link to the rest of the list)

Now, I know it would be nice to have all of this but does someone actually need it. We may want it but do we need it. I saw a post recently but a guy named Joe Sangl who talked about wants versus needs. He might be a little too dogmatic but I like generally like he says.

We all get to a point where we are fed up and sacrifice one thing in favor of another or a higher cause. No matter what we all need to ask ourselves these two questions:
  1. What are the things we truly need or I will literally die (think food, shelter, etc.)?
  2. What are things I only want and don't actually "need"?
This type of thinking can also be attributed to actions as well. People say that we "need" sex but I did live for 25 years without it. A good rule of thumb is if an infant (or child) does not need to keep breathing, then perhaps we don't need it either. I'm not saying that we should be poor hobos living in a van down by the river but I think all of us are living like kings and never stop to ask are the things I truly need to get through the day. If you actually buy one of Oprah's favorite things, that might be a good sign.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Friday, November 16, 2007

Kitchen Nightmare = Church Nightmare?

It amazes me how similar restaurants and churches are at its core: the service of food. I'm sure everyone in some form or another have heard that Jesus has called himself the bread of life. Bread is a food. The church is suppose to be a dispenser of Jesus and make people hungry and thirsty for him. David has compared his search for God in the same way.

In the day of Jesus, restaurants as we know it were not around. They would make things from nothing or buy the ingredients at a market and make meals themselves. They would not go somewhere and be waited on hand and foot like at today's restaurant. So restaurants today survive by making people hungry for the food they serve.

Kitchen Nightmares is a Wednesday night show on Fox that turns around restaurants that for some reason or another have no longer been able to make people hungry for their product and they are close to shutting down. Star British chief, Gordon Ramsey, comes in to try and help these hapless dinning establishments around. It makes for some good entertainment. Here are some of the common problems in no particular order (see if they sound familiar):
  1. Poor Leadership - The leader(s) is either weak, indecisive, delusional with ideas of making it big, reluctant to remove failing parts, or all of these above. All of the employees are running around like chickens with their head cut off. They no idea what to do or are doing what ever they want.
  2. Lack of focus - They have too many choices in the menu or they are just plain confusing. They opened a restaurant but have no idea what makes them different from other places.
  3. Conflict - Everyone is out for themselves and are constantly looking out for number 1, not the restaurant.
  4. Poor Decor - The place is dirty or too old that it makes the 1950's look new. Bugs everywhere. Nasty smells. Corners cut. Lack of attention to detail and what new people see as they enter.
  5. Poor Product - This is the big one because the food is the major product of a restaurant. The food is usually frozen or prepackaged. The cooks have lost all passion and cut corners. They serve substandard food and think nothing is wrong. The people that work there are use to it but their expectations have been lowered over time.
Gordon comes in and diagnoses the problems and starts to work with the management to correct their bad habits. The first thing he has to do is convince the people that there is problem and change has to take place. It amazes me how many times the management refuses to listen to Gordon. They fight him. He changes the menu and they complain. He gets them to see there's a problem and Gordon then brings in his design team to fix things up. The staff then always gets excited and sees that a change can happen. The dinner service is hard but people see hope and things start to turn around.

Many churches suffer from the same problems listed above. The minister/preacher (the cook) have lost passion and are giving prepackaged "meals" to their congregations. The "restaurant" is not inviting and old looking. The "team members" are only out for themselves.

At C4, we are going in the right direction but our facilities are limiting the excitement of everyone, both new and old. This weekend is a big weekend for our church as this is pledge weekend for our Unleashed Campaign to improve ministry effectiveness. I'm excited by the steps we the leaders have taken already and I can't wait to see how the rest of our team responses on Sunday. I can feel God is about to do a big thing here at C4 and it rests a lot on this weekend.

FYI - Episodes of the show are free on to watch. Feel free to watch and see for yourself. Caution: Language can be a little strong since the guy is British.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

"It's a miracle!"

Who knew you could get some outstanding theological insight from ESPN. Columnist Gregg Easterbrook wrote the following:

"TMQ has long objected to athletes and sports announcers calling exciting outcomes a 'miracle.' First, a miracle is an event that contravenes physical law -- I have never seen anything in sports that contravenes physical law, and neither have you. Second, to describe a sports outcome as a 'miracle' is to suggest that God will not intervene on Earth to stop human suffering in Africa or the Middle East, but does intervene to determine the outcome of football games. Third, if you call a good outcome a miracle, what do you call a bad outcome? Earlier this season, when Jon Kitna returned to a game from a concussion to lead Detroit to a close victory, he said afterward, 'It was a miracle.' This Sunday, Kitna threw two interceptions and lost two fumbles as the Lions got pounded. What was that, divine retribution for Kitna's sins?"

This illustration is great because I know I get caught thinking after I do something good, that it was all God, and after the bad, that it was all me. I know God doesn't make me sin. But does God deserve all the credit for all of my good? Ultimately, yes but we do have a some stake in the matter and the process. Genesis 1:26-27 talks about us being created in the image of God to have dominion over the earth. We do get to have some of the credit because God has left us to make some decisions on this earth and stand for him as his agent/ambassador. We have to make the choice to say we are choosing to honor God and not ourselves. Likewise, some of our bad days do come from God as a way to "correcting" the stupidity God sees us do. So to the thought that all bad things that happen are our fault is incomplete.

So yes he should get the credit for our motives and some of the blame but bigger question is this: in the all things we say, do, or think about, is God being given credit for making me and this world? Am I honoring his name and his image? Am I thankful for everything, the good and the bad? Are you lost in the mystery of this?

Note: I probably didn't do this topic justice but it is always good to wrestle with.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Who knew using a GPS could be so fun. . .

So I tried a new hobby this weekend: Geocaching. A friend of ours, Chris, was down for the weekend and he is into this advanced form of hide and seek using a GPS to hunt down little film containers hidden somewhere. Chances are you have walked past "caches" and don't even know it. I found five with Chris. We should have found two more if we had more time last Sunday. All of it is based off of GPS coordinates you get from the website and then you look for it. There was one that was simply a hollowed out bolt screwed into a transformer with a log in it that you sign to say "you found it". If you didn't have the clues or a GPS, you wouldn't even suspect any thing was there.

It got me thinking about how many times I go through the day and "think" past God or walk past something that God is hidden. I see something awesome and think nothing of it. I then read the Bible and I realize what I have been walking past everyday. Those of us that have the divine "GPS" known as the Bible, we can find hidden treasures in life. There are a lot of people searching for something but have no idea where to look. Chris was showing Lori and I the ropes and what to look for. It was fun.

I believe the Bible is more like a GPS system than an other form of direction. People say a lot that the Bible is a roadmap but that is too concrete. If I don't know where I am on a map, how helpful can it be? A map can tell us where things are but can't tell us how to get there. It has no way of interacting with us to tell us if we are going the right way or even if we have started in the right place. A GPS is constantly updating and telling its user how far off target the user is. It helps us zero in on truth and shows us how far we are from what we are looking for.

So, do you see the Bible as a roadmap or a GPS? Do you know where you are and how far you are from the "hidden" goal? Are you just walking by truth and don't even realize it?

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Hunters and Fishers

"But now I will send for many fishermen," declares the LORD, "and they will catch them. After that I will send for many hunters, and they will hunt them down on every mountain and hill and from the crevices of the rocks." ~ Jeremiah 16:16

I read this the other day in the book of Jeremiah and I was surprised. I've always heard from Preachers and religious people that we are "Fishers of Men" in this world. When I hear that, I think of the times that I have been fishing: BORING and A LOT of waiting for something that might happen. In church, we do this a lot. If were have a good thing (bait), people will come. That might be nice but when I was unchurched, you could have been giving away 3 million dollars and I wouldn't have stepped into a church.

But then God calls others to be hunters and seek out people. I've hunted before. Maybe not for an animal but for clothes or information. I have such a better time but I feel more effective. I'm at least doing something and trying to bring people back to God when I'm hunting them out. This was how I was won over by Christ. People sought me out.

So which are you more prone to be: a fisher or a hunter?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Watch This and Become Distrubed. . .

Back in early October, I got to go to Catalyst in Atlanta were I got to see one of my distant mentors, Craig Groeschel, whom I've mentioned before on this blog, speak on how he lives practically as an atheist on most days. It kicked my butt. Well, he gave the same talk at another conference in June called the Buzz Conference at National Community Church in Washington DC. The Buzz Conference placed the sessions online to watch including the Practical Atheist Message. You can watch it here. Everyone should listen to this because this WILL kick your butt.

My name is Dan and often I live like God does not exist. Let me know your thoughts.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

"The Office" Romace

It has been just this season that I (an avid T.V. watcher) have got into the cultural tour-de-force known as the Office on NBC. I have had the ability to catch up on the last few seasons (thanks to Blockbuster direct). I love the show. Steve Carell is a comic genius as Micheal Scott and they really do a great job at bringing Office Space to the small scene.

My favorite part has been watching Jim and Pam mess with Dwight K. Schrute. Their common cause to stave off boredom at work helped bring them together. In the second season, Jim dug Pam's chili though Pam was engaged. In the third season, Jim was dating another woman and through her aside for Pam. This season, they are together. We all cheer as they are now together. The show makes it hard not to root for Love to prevail.

I love the show but I have to say something about the dangers of letting people get too close when you are married. In a day and age where people are spending more and more away from their families at work, office relationships are and will happen a lot more. It starts off innocently because you're just trying to have a good day at work and be nice. After a while when things get rough (like when Pam's engagement was going too long), they confide in one another. They then start enjoying life together (like sneaking off to the roof to get away). While Jim does the right thing at the end of season two by moving to Conn. and letting Pam go, but then season three comes along and they are both pining for one another. Yet Jim falls for another Co-worker and Pam is stuck wondering and waiting. This makes for a very awkward situation.

While Pam wasn't married, this happens to marriages all of the time both in the church and in the business world. So watch out. The question is what boundaries have you established to prevent this from happening? While you think about it, I'm going to start a Finer Things Club so let me know if you are interested.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Hard to believe where some phrases come from. . .

For same reason, I've been really enjoying reading the Prophets lately. This wasn't always the case. For the longest time, I avoided these books that conclude the Old Testament. I only referred to them in joking form (See Ezekiel 23:20) or in short form (see Jonah or Hosea). I would never touch the big, long nasty books. Ever since I went to Catalyst back in the first part of October (which I would recommend to everyone), I have been going through Jeremiah. Today, I read the following verse, "Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil." (Jeremiah 13:23)

This provides makes me think about where I would be without Christ. I like evil (evil=living for myself) and I do it and without Christ living through me, I would be a wreck.

By the way, I have always wondered this but I'm curious do these two look alike:

Luke Shortridge - College Ministry Pastor, Cedar Creek Church in Perrysburg, OH. He was a critical part in the beginning of my faith journey.

Kyle Idleman - Preaching Associate from Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY. I've never met him but I do like the way he preaches.

I think so but I could be wrong.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Good bye first generation shuffle. . .

It looks like my iPod shuffle has died . Sad day.

By the way, C4 peeps. This sunday everything is happening as planned. . .


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Things I wished were never invented. . .

Here are some things I wish were never invented:

1) Wallpaper - Could there be an uglier thing in the world? Plus, have you ever tried to change it?
2) Non-dairy creamer - It is disgusting and I never know how much to add.
3) Blackberries/PDA's - Aka electronic leashes. I know it allows people to stay connected at all times but is that a good thing? It is bad enough I have to put up with Cell phones ringing but do I have to compete with e-mail/internet access.
4) "Crotch Rockets" - they spawn so of the most annoying drivers in the world. . .
5) White Castle - Sliders are disgusting. . .
6) Chick-Fil-A Stand-alone stores- Not because I hate it but because I love it some much. Who knew they have awesome Milkshakes! At least when they were only in the Mall I could avoid them more. Also, I always want to visit them on sundays and they are closed. Again not a bad thing (actually to the contrary) but I want something more that I cannot have.
7) Text Messages - Only because I cannot stand the corrupting of the English language. OMG! IDK! My BFF Jill! Keep it to only text messages! en 1 w/me?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I knew there was something fishy about that guy. . .

Thanks a lot J.K. Rowling for telling us something that has nothing to do with anything. In case you haven't heard, Dumbdledore was gay the whole time. To quote John Cloud from TIME, "I don't see how Rowling's outing of Dumbledore strikes a blow for gay equality." How does it change anything that he was gay? Actually, it does. It seems like society is saying the same thing. Cloud goes on to write,

"But here is a gay man as de-sexed as any priest—and, to uncomfortably extend the analogy, whose greatest emotional bond is with an adolescent boy: scarred, orphaned, needy Harry. Rowling said at Carnegie Hall that in her conception of his character, Dumbledore had fallen in love long ago with Gellert Grindelwald when the two were just teenagers. But Grindelwald turned out to be evil, which apparently broke Dumbledore's heart."

Apparently, Rowling is implying that Dumbdledore is apart of NAMBLA or something. Yes, I am an evangelical and I have certain options about homosexually but why doesn't Rowling let her books speak for themselves and keep some mystery around them.

While I've never read the books, I do enjoy the movies. Will this ruin them for me? Maybe. But I am sick of people declaring their sexuality as some type of banner of honor. "I'm gay" or "I'm straight" or "I'm into donkeys", does it matter because all of them are identities that I'm now willing to die for or that really categorize me fully. They are limiting because they don't give me a purpose. In the Potter Books, Dumbdledore's purpose was save the world not "be gay". Much like today, if I call myself gay, then my purpose is to have as many gay relationships as possible. If I call myself heterosexual, same thing but with the opposite sex.

How we label ourselves will impact how we live out our lives. The only true label that I need to strive to live by is that of "Christ-follower". Every other label is selfish because it is devoid of a purpose that exist greater than oneself. Whether Gay or straight, that shouldn't be the first thing we call ourselves.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Going all the way. . .

I'm really excited about a new book that's coming out by one of my distant mentors, Craig Groeschel, who pastors in Oklahoma (and like 3 other states). Craig's Confessions of a Pastor is one of my favorite books and really prepped me for ministry back in the spring. He has a new book coming out dealing with sex. If it is anything like the series he did last spring on the issue, it is going to be good. I can't wait to pick up a copy. . .

Parents, you should pick one up so you can learn how to talk to your kids about sex. . .

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

This list bugs me. . .

This is from

The 12 Most Powerful Christians in Hollywood

Click here to find out who are the most powerful Christians in Hollywood.

This is crazy. Why? Because WHO CARES! Because I don't care what George Clooney believes or Sean Penn or Tom Hanks, why should I care that there are powerful Christians? I'm glad they are there doing their work in the name of Jesus but why do we have to rank them in order? If they are Christians, isn't Jesus more powerful than all of them and guiding them? I know these actors or actresses are just living their lives and now we place them on a pedestal expecting them to change Hollywood. Because of this list, should we then only buy from these people? Plus, what criteria are we using to make this list? Do we really know their hearts because they call themselves Christians?

I'm sick of all of us calling people Christians just because they say so. Let's let God make that determination and just point everyone to Jesus. Only then can we all be in good shape.

Stupid Lists. . .

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

So what is my job?

From Church Relevance, (bold is my emphasis)

"A recent study by The Barna Group researched the spirituality of teens as well as what they want and learn from church. Here is what they discovered:

In a typical week,

* 72% of teens pray
* 48% attend a worship service at a church
* 35% attend Sunday school
* 33% attend youth group
* 32% participate in a small group
* 31% read the Bible

What teens expect at church:

* 45% of teens expect “to worship or make a connection with God”
* 42% expect “to better understand what I believe”
* 34% expect “to spend time with close friends”
* 34% expect “to get encouraged or inspired”
* 30% expect “to volunteer or help others”

What teens prefer for church:

* 39% of teens prefer a church that teaches how their faith should influence everyday decisions and lifestyle
* 16% prefer a church that teaches the traditions and background of their faith
* 45% do not care

What topics taught at church shaped teens’ views in the last 12 months:

* 65% said moral and ethical standards
* 62% relationships
* 55% faith traditions
* 50% evangelism
* 35% media, movies, and television
* 30% money and finances
* 28% the supernatural world
* 27% leisure activities
* 26% government and law
* 22% art and music
* 21% health issues
* 9% technology

Overall, the research is not surprising. Sadly, it affirms that a large portion of teens just don’t care. It is not that they simply just don’t care about the teaching style; the low levels of weekly spiritual commitment also prove that they don’t care enough to invest their time into spiritual things.

Obviously, hearing God’s Word is not enough to transform many teenagers into being doers of God’s Word. So what is needed to engage these teenagers in a way that causes them to start caring enough to do God’s Word? I believe that meaningful relationships are the key. The measure of your relationship with teenagers directly affects the measure of the influence you have with them. And your influence can dramatically shape how they live their lives."

Dan's thoughts: I think Teens are bored in church usually and they don't hear anything of substance. They only hear things that are relevant by someone who cares.

I am a big fan of women named Lori

Sunday was Lori and I's first anniversary. After being married a year, I realized something. I have grown more in the last year with Lori than any year previous. This verse has become really real Ephesians 5:25 - "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." Over the last year, I have come to realize how hard it was for Christ to give his life for me because how little I actually give myself for Lori. I have come to respect Christ that much more. I realize that I don't love Lori as Christ loves the church because I am really selfish 100% of the time.

I also read the three previous verses "Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything." I then see that I have authority issues and I don't like submitting to Christ. I see how Lori does follow me when I do lay down my life and I wonder why I don't have that same drive to follow Christ in that manner. I can be a real idiot but I don't understand why submitting is so hard for me. Jesus has laid down his life but I do an awful job of living out it out.

Lori is doing a great job of showing me Christ. After a year, I have so much longer to go.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

I couldn't have said it better. . .

This is Mark Driscoll. He is my favorite preacher and this is some I think all of us needed to be reminded of, especially in light of my Kid Nation observation.

Friday, October 12, 2007

It has been long over due. . .

Last night, Lori and I did something that we needed to do for like three months. We made a budget. I now feel a lot better about our finances. For the last three months, I was freaking out about every time we spent money. Now, I feel freedom. I know where all of the money is going and I can't believe how much more focused our money is and why I didn't take the time to do it sooner. Listening to Dave Ramsay at Catalyst, motivated me to step up and make us put every thing on paper for a purpose. I repent that I have not been a better manager of God's money. I have not stepped up to the plate to lead my household better. If you are not a budget, get on one yesterday and tell me if you don't feel relieved.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Kid Nation. . .


I watch Kid Nation on CBS Wednesday night (well not last night on this morning). If you don't know it is a collection of 40 8-15 kids living by themselves in New Mexico with hopes of building a new town. Last night episode dealt with religion. I wasn't surprised to see what I saw. All of the kids did not see a problem in a having one religious service for all religions. Hearing the kids speak about their own faith broke me heart. The kids all said some good things but the only arguments I heard for separating the faiths up is that it will create fights between the sects. CBS spins this the same way. They even gave the kids an assortment of religious texts for them to study. There is a scene where a Jewish kid and a Christian kid both read Genesis 1 and come to the conclusion that that it all sounds the same.

Of course, this could be just creative editing but I really think this is what MANY kids think today. All prayer leads to the same God and all of this fighting is stupid. If I pick up my phone hoping to call my wife, dial randomly, I shouldn't be surprised if Domino Pizza picks up. If I hear my wife's name and I think of one of a tutu wearing polar bear on a unicycle, then I'm not thinking of my wife. If don't have the right picture or the place to look to God, then we are not praying to God. He is the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings and if you read the OT, he is the God of all Gods.

Parents, how are you talking about Christianity? Is it just another religion or a way to know the Most High God?


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I'm a blogger

Yes, I have joined the blogging world (again). Why might you ask? I had a Xanga Account but this is a little more professional. Plus, I have been greatly influenced by the Blog world. I currently subscribe to some 30 RSS from various pastors and leaders. I would like to try to do this as well. I would like to have impact on the students I minister to here at Capital City Christian Church in Raleigh, NC. So there you have it. I plan to use this to comment on Pop Culture, the Church, and the Bible. I don't want to use this as a whine journal or a soapbox to grip from. So please comment and please enjoy.