Tuesday, April 27, 2004

As of this past Saturday, I have been married 5 years to Dana. Five years seems both fleeting and eternal at the same time. On one hand, it seems like it was just yesterday. I remember the first time I saw her, the first time we spoke, and the first time I held her hand. On the other hand, I can't imagine my life without her. Even though I know there was a time (actually most of my life at this point) that I didn't know her, it seems like she was always there. She is like Jesus in all the ways I'm not. Her way of living challenges me to something better than I am. She says I move her closer to Jesus, although I have trouble imagining how. She is an incredible mother to our daughter Emma. Like I said in an earlier post, I'm still figuring the whole parent thing out, but it seems to come naturally to her. When we had a child, Dana just seemed to naturally become what she was meant to be. I'm incredibly optimistic about who Emma is becoming simply because of her constant exposure to her mother. Dana is a light in our lives. I thank God every day for her.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

I make kids cry. It's sort of what I do for a living. Dana (my wife) and I were joking with each other about it the other day. Sometimes in my business tears are indicators of success. They can be tears of a broken heart or tears of joy. They can be tears for one's own condition, tears of empathy, or tears for the world. Oh, I make them laugh too. I make them smile. Sometimes I make them mad. It's all part of the job. There's a school of thought that says I shouldn't do this. "They are teenagers!" someone exclaims. "They are already an emotional mess. Their feelings are easy to manipulate." "Are you nuts???" I respond. Have you been around any teenagers lately? Apathy is the norm. It's even encouraged. They dare you to try to make them feel something. Don't get me wrong, I educate. I teach lots of Bible facts and theology. That's not really the challenge. Most of these kids are natural learners. The tough job is to get them to connect on a relational/emotional level with God, Jesus, The Holy Spirit, and each other; to challenge them to embrace a faith that saturates their entire beings (heart, soul, mind and strength).
I make kids cry. It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

What if we are the Gospel. or at least we are supposed to be the Gospel? I mean what if the Gospel isn't just some information that we are supposed to share, but rather something that we are supposed to embody? What if it isn't the "5-step plan of salvation" or the "4 spiritual laws"? What if, instead, we as followers of Jesus are supposed to BE the good news to the world? What if we are supposed to embody redemption, forgiveness, grace, and love? What if like Jesus, we are supposed to "preach good news to the poor, proclaim the captives will be released, the blind will see, the downtrodden will be released from their oppressors, and that the time of the Lord's favor has come"? (Luke 4:18-19) You see, to Jesus that stuff wasn't just information to be taught. He was the living embodyment of all of those things. He said that His followers would do even greater things than He did after He was gone. I'm not saying we shouldn't be teaching information. I am, however, saying that the Gospel is a much bigger concept than that and we cheapen it by reducing it to simply information about how to be saved. If we embody the Gospel (as I believe we are Biblically called to do), the information will make alot more sense. If we constantly show grace to people in our interactions with them, then the concept of God's grace makes more sense when they hear about it. Can you imagine a world where instead of arguing with everyone (and each other), Christians embodied the Gospel? I can. It starts with me.

Friday, April 16, 2004

I love being a Dad. I'm still figuring the whole thing out, but I love it none the less. There simply aren't words to describe what that smile and that laugh do to me. It's so weird to watch my daughter grow and develop...to get older. I'm so excited to see her do new things, but at the same time I'm a little sad because she needs me a little less. On the other hand, there's nothing in the world quite like when she chooses to come to me...when she reaches for me...the rare occasions when she actually calls out for me. On second thought, I'll take being wanted over being needed any day.
You know, I have sort of a different motivation now. I want to make the world better for her. I want to make the church better for her. I want to raise her so that she'll want to do the same. I want her to see Jesus in her mother and I so that when we tell her about Him it will seem less like a fairy tale and more like the story that our lives are simply an extension of.
Yep, I love being a Dad. I think God does too.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Did Jesus love the moneychangers? What about the Pharisees? Of course He did. We all know that. His love for them tended to look a little different than his love for overt sinners or even his own disciples (who were constantly blowing it). Was "turning over the tables" in the temple an act of love? It was an act of love for God for certain. I also think it was an act of love for the people who were being taken advantage of in the name of religion. But, what about those pesky moneychangers? Was it an act of love for them as well? Could it be that sometimes love is confrontational. Could it be that Jesus knew that they were "better than that?" Could it be that He loved them too much to let them get comfortable in a system where they were using religion for their own benifiet at the expense of others, when it is supposed to be exactly the other way around? And what about the Pharissees? I can't find anyone that Jesus was harder on in scripture than them. There's no question that He loved them though. Could it be that Jesus' love for them wouldn't allow Him to prop themselves up with false religion when the real thing was so much better? Could it be that His dream for them was so much bigger than the lie they had accepted that He just couldn't stomach it? Was He just trying to get their attention by any means neccessary so that they could find a better way? As followers of Jesus, we are called to love everyone. Somtimes that love requires confrontation. I hate that because I'm not a confrontational person. I don't like being confronted (who does?) and I don't like confronting others. Maybe sometimes I love my own comfort more than I love others, whether they are caught up in an overtly sinful lifestyle or whether they are living out a self centered Christianity. Maybe sometimes I don't love people enough to point them toward the dream that God has for this world and their part in it. Maybe sometimes Jesus turns over some tables in my life because my Christianity is too much about me and not enough about God's dream that I would love Him and let Him love and change the world through me.


Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Well, this is my first attempt at a blog. I'm giving it a try because I usually forget all my good ideas before I get around to writing an article. This way I guess I can just write it as it comes to me. A little background for those who don't know me. I'm a youth minister for a church of Christ in Panama City, FL. I have a wonderful wife and a 10 month old daughter (she's pretty wonderful too). My father is a minister in the churches of Christ and my mother is a social worker. I am really reading alot on postmodernism and the emerging church movement these days. Some of my favorite authors are Tony Campolo, Brian Mclaren, Dan Kimball, and Dave Roberts. I've started trying alot of "experiential worship" elements with the teens I work with, with some pretty amazing results in my opinion. Maybe I'll outline some of the things I'm trying in a later post for anyone who's interested. Maybe somebody will find all of this stuff interesting. If not, at least I have a new creative outlet.