Showing posts from September, 2009

Non-Christian Contact with Christians

In an 2007 article from Evangelical Missions Quarterly, Christian researchers Todd Johnson and Charles Tieszen examine a rudimentary but oft overlooked component of world evangelization: personal contact between Christians and non-Christians ("Personal Contact: The sin qua non of Twenty-first Century Christian Mission," October 2007, EMQ).

A simple overview: If non-Christian people have any hope of becoming Christians, they will almost assuredly come to Christ via relationship with Christian(s). Makes sense, right? How many of you became a Christian because of a relationship? Perhaps your parents brought you to church. Maybe you married a person of faith. Some people have become Christians through co-workers, neighbors, etc. A personal relationship almost always plays a key role in conversion.
Here's problem: Out of all non-Christians in the world, less than 19% even know a Christian. Among Muslims, only 13% know a Christian. (You can find this and other similar data at ht…

Remembering "The Professionals" and the newish BBC series "MI-5" on PBS

Since I'm on a short TV-streak here with blog posts, I might as well run with it. Don't know when this will happen again. I've been surprised to see how many Hugh Laurie fans discovered my blog post about the season episode of House. No one has actually commented, so I don't know if my post was well received. But I do know that my blog has guests from Europe and Asia. I don't pretend to think that I am naturally that popular! It's all abuot House & Hugh Laurie.

After I just stated that I don't watch any regular TV series in yesterday's post, I may have to modify this claim. Last night, I just watched my 2nd straight episode of MI-5, a British Broadcasting Co. show being telecast in HiDef on PBS. The show is currently producing its 8th season, but PBS is beginning with season 1. Last night was the 4th episode. (I'm wondering if this show was previously broadcast on A&E. Anyone? I think it was shown in Canada under the name "Spooks."…

Conversion & the New Season of "House" with Hugh Laurie

There aren't really any TV shows that I watch with much regularity. Our family tends to enjoy Monk and Psych on Friday nights, but that's about as far as it goes. Anything else I watch is completely random.

For some reason Julie recorded the season premier of House Tuesday. We watched it last night. I've seen House a few times and generally think it's interesting. The character of Dr. Greg House, played by British actor Hugh Laurie, reeks of brilliance and arrogance. He's not easy to like.
The 2-hour season opener titled "Broken" was one of the best TV shows I've seen. Yes, it exceeded the WKRP "Turkeys Can't Fly" episode--though a different genre, no doubt. Perhaps not quite as good as the finale of MASH. Certainly WAY better than the last episode of Seinfeld--what a waste.
This episode was real, authentic, biting. There was a brief moment of naive sentimentality, but the overwhelming trajectory of the show was one that did not sugarcoat …

The Fruit of the Spirit

By contrast the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal 5:22-23).

I cannot imagine a spiritual person who does not extol the value of these virtues. When encouraging others to grow in Christ, we are like good gardeners who look for the first signs of fruit. Physical gardeners rejoice that the plant, the soil, the sun and the water are producing what it should naturally produce. Fruit is the natural product of the plant. Work prepares the way for fruit. But we can't make fruit. It grows on its own.

Spiritual people are those who display spiritual fruit in their own lives. We are all ordinary people who serve an extraordinary God. People who have the fruit of the Spirit are not extraordinary people. Rather, they are demonstrating that God's extraordinary presence dwells within them. They are humble people who know that the work of the flesh is all kinds of sinfulness. But the gifts of God's Spirit,…

Suffering as a Form of Ministry

In Romans 5:1-5, Paul begins by saying that we can boast in our hope of sharing God’s glory.Then he explains where this hope comes from:

And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
How do you react to hardship and difficulty?Do you run from adversity?Do you believe that you have a God-given right to be happy?Do you look for people to blame when you face trials and struggles?
Paul teaches that suffering is normal for the Christian – at least for the Christian who wants to know true hope.Do you remember the many things that Paul had to endure, how many hardships he went through?And yet he said that he had learned the secret of being content in every situation (Phil4:11).
As Americans we tend to idolize happiness and success.We think we de…

A New Kind of White-Out

Tonight, Fresno State hosts Boise State in a potentially big football game. Since this game is to be nationally televised on ESPN, the promoters have urged fans to come dressed in white rather than traditional Bulldog red. The white should make for a great setting as the ESPN cameras pan the crowds.

This will actually be my second white-out. Last December 6, Jericho and I attended a frigid game that was billed as a white-out, and it was a spectacular sight to behold. Around 65,000 faithful fans of West Virginia University's football team arrived mostly in white that night. The goal was to honor the team's graduating legend, Pat White. It was a great night as WVU stuck it to USF.

Jericho & I had on huge t-shirts that we simply pulled over our heavy coats. The game time temperature was somewhere in the 20s. We honestly had a blast. I'm hoping that tonight's game will bring some similar entertainment.

There are some things we miss about West Virginia. Not just things -- …

Sexuality, Feminism and Our Consumer Culture

Feminism sure has changed since the 1960s.The new “liberated” woman is one who goes to strip clubs with the guys, listens to Howard Stern, undergoes breast augmentation, and either dresses like a Playmate or notices (with appreciation) those who do.The new “feminist” really isn't female at all – she is either trying to be like a cliche from Hooters or simply trying to be one of the guys by going to Hooters with them.

I don’t mean to suggest that guys should be going to strip clubs or Hooters!But there’s something wrong with our understanding of femininity and womanhood if our models are Paris Hilton, Carmen Electra, Jenna Jameson or the cast from Sex and the City.For too many people today, our understanding of sexuality is that it is just another commodity to be used in life.“If you've got it, flaunt it,” could be a mantra of many women today.Never mind your own inner interests and desires in life.Simply use your body and your sexuality to win your way into the club.Or if you a…

Spiritual Healing

Thanks to our webmaster Robin Button who has already put our sermon from Sunday on the church website. I'm amazed & blessed to be at a church that can be so authentic and flexible. The worship and response time was beautiful. Even more encouraging is the fact that many of our church folks are still wrestling with some of the things they heard & experienced Sunday. God is good!

As I've gotten to know the College Church a little better, I realize that our church (like any other that is being honest) is full of people who are struggling. We are not people who have arrived. We are not perfect. We are wounded, hurting, broken, insecure, guilty, insufficient. You name it. That's us.

While I realize that we will never completely arrive, I also know that our lives can often attain much more than we allow. We tend to stay put in our brokenness, thinking one of two things: either (1) that we don't deserve any better; or (b) in denial that we are broken. In either case thin…

9/11 Remembrances

I vividly recall what I was doing September 11, 2001. We had a '92 VW Passat that needed some kind of repair. I drove it early that morning down to Clarksburg, WV from Morgantown where we were living at the time. I was listening to NPR on the way home when they broke in live to say that a plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center buildings. I remember with horror as they reported the second plane and then reports of a plane crashing into the Pentagon.

I went straight home instead of to my office to watch the TV reports. There were reports of another plane going down in Pennsylvania, only a few miles from where we lived.

No one knew what was happening. Could this be the start of some major attack? Could this only be the first wave of many coordinated attacks? There were rumors and strange reports all day. Panic struck every town, even the relatively safe haven of Morgantown.

Julie and Jacob were at our church's Mother's Day-Our program. Jericho was in kin…

The NFL Starts Today!!!

One of the greatest things about the fall is football season. We love watching football. There's nothing like the build-up to pro & college football. I used to love the crisp evening air -- before I moved to Fresno, that is. It was the signal that it's football time!

No other sport can compare in our minds.

The baseball season always starts in the shadow of the NCAA Final Four. Plus, major league baseball lasts like 10 months of the year. Why get in a rush about a season that never ends? Especially when your team likely has a budget 1/10 the size of the Yankees or Red Sox. Why even bother getting your hopes up?

And basketball doesn't really get interesting until January. Plus, the football season is still in full swing when basketball tips off. It can wait.

But not football. By now I could care less about the baseball season. Tell me when the World Series starts so I can decide if I want to watch a game or two. Football is now here!

I love the preseason predictions from ESP…

Swine Flu

My father-in-law posted this picture as proof that some people may be taking swine flu precautions a bit too far:

Or maybe I'm imagining things. I did read that Egypt and Afghanistan slaughtered all their pigs as a precaution. And some Jews are offended that they may get a flu with the name "swine" attached to it. In the public interest, therefore, we should all commit to using the official name for this virus: H1N1.

Jericho has already had it (confirmed by blood work). He had a rough 36 hours in July , but the Tamiflu drugs SURE do work. He was feeling fine fairly quickly. None of the rest of us seem to have had it.

Conspiracy Theories & Hoaxes

Sunday's sermon talked about the difficulty of believing Jesus' offer of forgiveness. I guess it's not that people can't believe. It's more, "Where's the proof?" How can you preach forgiveness to a world inundated with hoaxes. They may want to believe it, but they aren't sure we have the authority to offer it.

To set the stage I talked about how easy it is to fall for internet hoaxes, conspiracy theories and the like. I played that up a bit before moving more deeply into our text, Mark 2:1-12.

When we got home, Julie was looking through the LA Times. She stopped and flipped the comics my way pointing out the Doonesbury strip for that day. About the only strip I regularly read is Dilbert, but I couldn't believe what was there in the paper the same day I talked about all the crazy myths people love to believe. Weird!

Tuesday Humor

I haven't posted all weekend, but here's a little humor to make up for my silence. This was recently sent to me by Jim & Margie York. If you need an excuse not to jog or at least not to stretch afterwards, this should do the trick. (This is a little different from what I first posted!)

Santa Cruz Naturalists

So, our ministry staff was in Santa Cruz for a day last week. After visiting Vintage Faith church and some other activities, our last "task" was to spend individual time in prayer and meditation along the coast in between the lighthouse and the natural bridge. Sandra headed south toward the lighthouse. Doug meandered around in the middle.

I headed north toward Natural Bridge State Park. There's a nice beach up near the natural bridge, and I slowly made my way toward it on foot as I listened to the ocean and observed the people around me. The surf was crashing heavily into the cliffs, but there are a few spots where one can traipse down to sandy patches of beach before reaching the natural bridge.
I wandered close to the cliff at one spot to peacefully look up along the coast. As I glanced out, I noticed a kelp-covered, sandy cove down beneath the cliffs. Two men had made their way down to this semi-private beach. I could tell they were tossing juggling pins (like bowling p…

Too Good to Be True

Some things in life are like this video, just too good to be true.

Too many people are in the habit of believing all kinds of crazy things, just because they saw it on YouTube or read it in an email. Just like the Michael Jackson hoax video this week that went viral. What has happened to our sense of reason? I know we all fall for things from time to time, but it would be nice if we were more discerning in general.

When it comes to church, however, people are increasingly in the habit of NOT believing whatever we say. If church says something, people are immediately suspicious. They think we must have some secret agenda or are just pushing politics.

Why will people believe YouTube but not the church? Does this say something about the church? Or about the society where we live? And what would we need to do so that people will believe what we say about hope and forgiveness?

Home of the Banana Slugs

On Thursday, our ministry staff took a road trip to Santa Cruz. We had an agenda for the day that included prayer, meditation, sharing of dreams & visiting a church. But my main goal was to spend some time together in a way that is outside the normal parameters of the church building, ministry & the like. There's nothing like a road trip to bring people together.

So Doug, Sandra & I head out early Thursday morning. It's a 3-hour drive, so we left about 6:00 am. After finally getting some coffee in Los Banos, I started to wake up -- good thing, since I was driving. When we got to Gilroy of garlic fame, we had two choices of how to proceed to Santa Cruz. (1) The Google directions I printed looped us around to the south toward Monterrey and back up. (2) The GPS in our car wanted us to go north toward San Jose and then back down. I'm unsure as to which path we should believe. At this point Doug spoke up that one way to Santa Cruz is incredibly curvy & we should …