Wednesday, May 31, 2006

My Dad And The Sex Talk

May 30th was my Dad's 52nd Birthday. In his honor, I decided to post a short article I wrote for a family magazine in Panama City, FL.

My Dad and the Sex Talk

I remember the first time my Dad really talked to me about sex. Actually, I need to back up a bit before we get to that. When I was in my pre-teenage years, it was becoming popular for guys to wear earrings. I was never actually interested in getting one, but one day, Dad surprised me by saying, “You know, Adam, you can get an earring if you want to.” Knowing how much he didn’t like this particular fad, I was stunned, until (with a wink) he continued. “…you’ll have to carry your ear in your pocket, but you can certainly get one.” We had a good laugh about it, and then were able to talk about the reasons why he felt the way he did on the subject.

Some time later, Dad and I were riding together in the car. It was just the two of us, and he looked over and said, “Well, I guess we should have the ‘sex talk’.” My cheeks burned. My eyes locked on my shoes. At that moment I wanted to be anywhere in the world except for in that car. Then, Dad said, “Remember what I said about the earring? Same rule.” We both burst into laughter. The tension was broken and we were able to talk.

My Dad didn’t spend much time on mechanics. Instead, he talked about the life he wanted me to have. He shared his vision for the kind of marriage he wanted me to enjoy. He talked about the kind of husband and father he wanted me to be. He made sure I understood that if I wound up making a poor decision in this area, there would be forgiveness, but there would also be real life consequences, responsibilities and difficult decisions that came with it. My Dad broached this difficult and intimidating subject by breaking the tension and casting a vision for my future. In many ways, most of the decisions I made in this area were based on a desire to become the man my Dad believed I could be.


Thursday, May 25, 2006

Bookstuff: DaVinci and a Reformission Rev

Sorry about my longer than usual absence. I was on vacation last week. On to the bookstuff:

So, my mom handed me the DaVinci Code Audio Book almost a year ago and told me I needed to listen to it because it was going to be really big and I'd need to be familiar with it and the challenges it presented. I finally started listening to it a couple of weeks ago because, up until she turned out to be right, I thought she was being silly. I'm about halfway through the book (the owner of the bank just tried to take the keystone from them at gunpoint...if you've read it). It's fairly engaging, though predictable in places (I make the same complaint about John Grisham, and I love his stuff). The historical claims are being refuted by pretty much everyone...including Matt Lauer of the Today Show, oddly enough. The movie is being panned by secular European critics, and has respected theologians saying, "Come on, it's not THAT bad." I'll leave the debunking to the scores of theologians who have written thorough books for that purpose...and to Matt Lauer. The whole thing does raise a few interesting questions for me though. Isn't it interesting that something dealing with Jesus can raise this much buzz? I find it facinating that so many people seem to have been actually clamoring for some "new information" about Jesus. I think the whole thing could point to both a symptom and a diagnosis of a problem. Is it possible that we've neutered and cleaned up Jesus to the point that the image we are presenting of him is no longer even interesting? What would happen if we intentionally took a look at the Jesus we are presenting and compared him with the Jesus of the Bible. If you think there is no difference, then you shouldn't feel threatened by this situation, though I certainly have trouble finding any record of white, republican first century Jews (or Democratic ones either, just to be fair). What if we presented Jesus as the system challenging, world changing revolutionary that he really was instead of simply the nice guy who can help you clear up your sin problem? If Jesus can still generate this kind of buzz, wouldn't it be great if the church could do it as well as an author? Shouldn't they be able to do it better? (and, as a side note, couldn't we do it in ways other than debunking said author's appropriate as that may be?) Two excellent resources that I can recommend if you want to re-examine Jesus are Brian McLaren's The Secret Message of Jesus and Steve Chalke's
The Lost Message of Jesus.

Reformission Rev:
While I was on vacation, I read Mark Driscoll's Confessions of a Reformission Rev: Hard Lessons from an Emerging Missional Church. Driscoll is an interesting guy. He's engaging, funny, insightful, rude at times, unfair at times, and bold enough to say what no one else has the spine to say at times. His book is written in a semi-autobiographical fashion and deals with taking his church from a handful of people to over 4,000. He is unflinching and, at times unflatteringly honest in his portrayal. I disagree with his Reformed theology, which pops up a couple of times. I don't like the section where he criticizes McLaren and Pagitt, though he does it fairly and "as a friend". I don't mind that he critiques their work and beliefs per just didn't seem to fit in the book. Still, I recommend this book to any and all church leaders. Particularly helpful are his comments about the attitudes that have to be overcome as a church passes a size barrier; the comments on what kind of people will come into your church and what you should do with them; his description of how a church goes through certain stages that can lead back to creativity if handled one way and organizational death if handled another way; and his gut level honesty about himself and his attitudes through his church's evolution. Do yourself a favor and check it out.


Thursday, May 11, 2006

Que violin music and overly dramatic voice...

Today I am disappointed in America. In spite of all of our spite of all of our achievements...we let Chris Daughtry get eliminated from American Idol. I didn't vote either, so I am just as guilty as any of you. The world had almost forgiven us for the unexplainable popularity of Billy Ray Cyrus and New Kids On The Block. Now, once again we have proven ourselves to be tasteless idiots. Fly the flags at half mast and may God have mercy on our souls. (fade out violin music and end overly dramatic voice)
P.S. I'll try to do a real post tomorrow.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Faith, Hope and Love

1 Corinthians 13:13 TNIV

" these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."

: I first experienced it through my family. I possessed it in the same way I possessed the house I grew up in. It was "mine" in a sense, but only because it was "ours". I had it because my parents had it. This may strike you as a bad thing, however I would disagree. I think it's a beautiful thing...and a true thing. I believe that a person must experience the faith of others before they can have a vibrant faith of their own. I thank God that I had the opportunity to experience the sincere and vibrant faith of my parents (and their parents before them, etc.) before I could choose faith. Faith was hard wired into me (I realize this is not everyone's experience). I now see it happening in my daughter, Emma. She has a "faith" of sorts, but she has it because we do. She is ecstatic about any opportunity to go to church. She loves reading Bible stories at night. She has never chosen to have faith. At this point, faith is simply the context of her existence. At some point, she will question all of it. As her parents, Dana and I will be there to hold her hand and walk with her as she questions. We will wrestle with our own fear and elation as she honestly comes to different answers than we did. We will do the same as she honestly finds many of the truths we taught her to actually be true. We will do our best when she comes up with questions we never anticipated.

Hope: But here's the thing...I anticipate God's future for her. I envision her as a woman of profound and vibrant faith. I expect that she will have the kind of faith that makes a difference in the world rather than being a mere intellectual exercise. Her mother and I are partnering with God in the mission of helping this vision of the future become a reality. At the same time, we all realize that despite all of this, our daughter will have a choice. And (I speak from experience here), people can make incredibly stupid choices. Even so, because of our faith and because the streams of faith that her mother and I come from, we choose to hope. Full of hope, we anticipate God's future in our daughter's life...and in the world around her. We assume the best future and then pour our lives into partnering with God so that future can break into reality. Every night Dana and I pray that God is raising up a man for Emma to share her life with...someone who will love her...someone who will respect and cherish her...someone who will encourage and empower her to be everything that she was meant to be. We anticipate a future where this is true and live accordingly.

Love: You see, we love our much that sometimes we can't wipe the goofy smiles off our faces...and so much that sometimes it hurts. If she makes choices that take her down a different path than those that we anticipate for her, we will continue to love her and we will continue to hope for God's future in her life and the world around her. The stream of faith that we live in tells us that God loves her more than we do and hopes for that future in her life and world more than we do. Our love for our daughter isn't dependent on the choices she makes. We will never stop hoping for her future, no matter what. This may seem rationally counterintuitive. My relationship with my daughter is not based on reason. I don't love her because I decided to. My love for her consumes me. It is the reality that her mother and I live in.

These Three: Faith, Hope and Love. That's how it plays out in our family, but can you see how it would play out for the church? Can you see what it means for the world and for our relationship with"the world"? Can you see the difference this perspective makes for what we call "evangelism"?

The Greatest of These: As Rob Bell and the sticker on the back of my Jeep say, "Love Wins." This is the great reality of our faith and hope. We have confidence in the Way of Jesus. We believe that in a world where power, money, fear and death seem to win...Love actually wins. We believe this because of the cross and the resurrection of the Son of God. In a world that at times seems to be headed for Hell (in a handbasket), we believe that the Kingdom of Heaven is breaking through. We believe that though the church seems to get it so wrong so often, she will rise to the occasion and the expectation of God...embracing the future God envisions for her. We believe that, though some people who we are forming genuine relationships with seem thoroughly uninterested in the Way of Jesus and seem to be taking their lives in a different direction, God is partnering with us in their lives...that he loves them and hopes for their future even more than we do. With our God we will continue to love and hope for them, regardless of the choices they make. We will stubbornly, passionately live these lives of faith, hope and love, because these 3 things are the reality of the Kingdom of God. The greatest of these is Love, for it is exactly because of the love of God and the love of other that we have faith to start with, and it is because of the love of God and our love for others that we have faith in them and hope for their future.