Sunday, December 17, 2006

Final Entry for 2006?

We're capping off the blogging year with some new photos in the e|Photo Gallery.
  • First off, we've got a new featured photo (see right). It's a photo of the house exterior decorated for Christmas time.
  • We've got photos of the Children's Christmas Musical at church today. Both Andrik and Kellin were involved. Kellin had small solo and Andrik played a non-speaking role as Joseph.
  • There is also a collection of photos from September to December called Winter Potpourri 2006. These include Andrik's birthday, Halloween, and the kid's school Christmas programs. There are also a couple movies.
  • Finally, we will soon have part two of Andrea's trip to Minnesota (If it doesn't come up, check back again later). There are quite a few photos and they were all taken with the digital camera.
BTW, this may be our last real post before vacation and we don't plan on posting until we get back. Have a meaningful Christmas and a hopeful New Year!

Merry "Yul"

Here's one million bucks to you, Yul. Congratulation!
Click here for more.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Not My Job!

Do you have "ownership" issues in your workplace or church. This is what happens when we don't "buy in" to the vision...

Piraka! The Video

I've already posted here and here about Andrik's Piraka song. We worked together to make a video to his song using clips from Lego's It's on YouTube and also right here.

Christmas Vacation, Literally

At this point, what I am really looking forward to is our Christmas vacation. You know when it starts? You guessed it - Christmas Day.

We are leaving Christmas morning for California. We plan on being in SoCal for six days, then driving up to see a friend in Sacramento (that's you, Len). Finally, we are going over to visit with some more friends in Reno, NV (that's you, Bill).

We are looking forward to seeing family & friends, eating great food (El Torito, Vince's, and Chilis - here we come!), and getting in some good shopping.

Please pray for safe driving and a time of refreshment for us.

Wake Up And Smell Christmas!

I know, I know. It's been about two weeks. Where have I been? Just busy with work and stuff.
  • We're singing Christmas Carols each Sunday through December and I've taken the initiative to re-notate all our Christmas Band Charts. I found some great new arrangements last year, but they were very busy to look at - hard to follow in a worship service environment.
  • We've also been lighting the candles in the Advent Wreath each Sunday. It's been quite a blessing to have different families or couples contribute.
  • I've been meeting and rehearsing with several musicians to prepare for some featured music.
  • Pastor John and I drive up to Great Falls on Wednesday to pick up some stage lights and also tour three different churches there. We're looking how local churches have installed stage lighting and auditorium sound.
  • Andrik's Middle School Choir had their Christmas performance a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately, Kellin got lost in the auditorium and we all had a little scare. We found him, though. (Photos should be coming soon.)
  • Kellin also had his Christmas Program. I really enjoied the first grader songs. (Photos also coming soon.)
  • Tomorrow is the Children's Christmas Musical at Hannaford. Kellin has a small solo and has been doing great in practice. Andrik will be Joseph in the Youth Group's Little Drummer Boy drama skit.
  • This coming week before Christmas, I need to plan for 6 worship services. But really only three different Orders of Worship.
Well, Christmas is here!

A Big Deal?

I have to agree with Dan Kimball, when he says that most of the concerns with the Emerging Church are hyper-exaggerated. I think that there are two main reasons for this. First, the range of beliefs from one church to another can vary greatly. Second, those that criticize the Emerging Church have never set one foot inside one. People have no first-hand experience with what they are criticizing.

Most importantly, we MUST stay away for stereotyping the Emerging Church and lumping together churches with that label. This thought is the point of a rather long article from Dan Kimball, emerging church Pastor of Vintage Faith Church in Santa Cruz, Calif.

He is concerned with a growing number of comments made by an well-known, respected, and influential Christian leader and pastor about the Emerging Church - This leader will soon be releasing a book on the subject. Anyway, Kimball has a passionate response in his blog article here.

I have a feeling this will be a big deal when the book comes out. Don't be deceived.

Don't Want To Be The "Church" Anymore...

There is an important article I came across about a month ago. It is an excerpt from Sarah Raymond Cunningham’s book Dear Church: Letters from a Disillusioned Generation. While I do not know this author or her book, the article is captivating. It decribes the struggles I have with the church. I passionately want to be (and I am) part of The Church (the Body of Christ), but in many ways the local church scares me. I don't feel it even comes close to to what Jesus would have.

In her article, Cunningham describes her struggle as a Christian in today's "church." She does a good job explaining what many of us are feeling. What do you think? Let me know in the comments...

Here is the link.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Worship Like A First Grader

Jesus explained in Matthew 18:3 that "unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." Consider that when you read the following from this article.

"Worship God like a first grader. You know what I mean—talking to your friends about Jesus without any shame or any fear of what they will think, singing Jesus songs like you've never heard any other genre, jumping up and down with joy for Him at random times. You are still His child and He longs to receive your pure praise."

What do you think?

Saturday, November 25, 2006

New Video Gallery

This three-day week, believe it or not, I had a little time to upload many of the videos we've created for worship at Hannaford. You can check them out on the Hannaford website or on YouTube.

The Other Christmas Season

Yesterday, on Black Friday, the Powell family drove out to Missoula in a snow storm, just to find some decent shopping. We got a few killer deals. With the Christmas season upon us, one thing we have to look forward for the rest of the month is the busy stores, parking lots, people, etc. Let's remember to make Peace, not war :-)

Thanks to Arron Chambers for this clip.

The Anticipation & Hope of Christmas

This year at Hannaford, I've suggested we celebrate anticipation and Hope of Christmas through the lighting of Advent candles and scripture each week. I got a few odd looks as if to say, "Isn't that some type of Roman Catholic ritual" Of course it is not. A great many church in America do celebrate the Advent season through the lighting of candles and recitation of scripture.

After getting the go-ahead, I began looking into how we might observe Advent. Much to my surprise, there is really no one way. I found that some use four candles, some use five. Some use three purple and one rose candle, and other use a different combination. I also found that for different people, the candles represent different things.

There is the Names of Christ Advent. For some there are the Prophesy, Bethlehem, Shepherd, Angel, and Christ candles for Advent. Also, there is the Waiting, Dreaming, Healing, Promise, and Christ Advent.

Regardless of the particular tradition, the observance of Advent candle lighting seems an important one for worshiping congregations. It helps foster the anticipation of Christmas, not simply for the giving and getting of gifts, but the anticipation of the coming of Christ.

The word 'Advent' itself, is defined as “The arrival of something or someone important or awaited.” An important aspect of observing Advent is to connect the experiences of ancient God-followers with ours today. Using the themes of Hope, Peace, Joy, Love, and Light, we will attempt to look back to those who anticipated Jesus' coming as well as hope for His coming return.
  • HOPE in Christ (December 3) - Like God's people centuries ago, we also look forward with HOPE and anticipation to the coming of the Christ.
  • PEACE in Christ (December 10) - Through long generations, God prepared a way in our world for the coming of His Son, and is still bringing peace to darkened lives. Jesus is our Peace, Jesus. – The Prince of peace.
  • JOY in Christ (December 17) - We know that when Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the angels brought "good news of a great joy, which shall be to all people." The good news of Jesus' birth and the promise of peace are still "tidings of great joy" for us today…not only because Christ came, but also because He is still here.
  • LOVE of Christ (December 24) - We ask God to give us such love and wonder, that with shepherds and wise men and pilgrims unknown, we may come to adore the holy child, the promised King; and with our gifts worship him, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
  • LIGHT of the World (Christmas Eve) - Christ has made God known to us, and He makes us known to God. He can make the darkness and the despair of our lives shine like day. He is the Light of the world, the dawning of a new day.
It is my prayer all people would experience the anticipation and hope of Christ this Christmas season; that you and I, like generations before, would find hope, peace, joy, and love through Jesus, who is the Light of the world.

Battle Rap of the Johns

One of my mantras is that the church must be relevant to society. Recently, John MacArthur of all people, released a rap song for Christian radio. Not to be outdone, John Piper teamed up with Michael Jackson and released his own rap. I think Piper's rap is really "bad"...

John MacArthur's Rap (mp3 - 1.1mb)
John Piper's Rap (mp3 - 0.6mb)

Thanks to Monday Morning Insight for the links.

Saddleback Training Film

Rick Warren's Saddleback Church is one of the most influential in America. It's no wonder churches across look to Saddleback for training and advice. Here's a great instructional video from Saddleback highlighting the best ways to greet people (he he).

Thanks to Monday Morning Insight for this clip.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Nobody's Watching, On Treadmills

If you remember the OK GO, ON TREADMILLS music video, then I've got another one for you. Be sure you check out the original first.

These guys called Nobody's Watching have attempted a treadmill video of their own. I came across them on YouTube and eventually visited their website. For great laughs, I highly recommend checking out their other videos there or on YouTube. Enjoy!

Piraka! Piraka! Piraka! Piraka!

Andrik (my son, 12 yrs. old) has discovered songwriting. He's really excited about the 7 songs he's written lyrics for so far, but we recently worked together to help him "produce" his first recording. This one, called Piraka, is about the bad guys in the world of Lego Bionicle. If you want to know what a Piraka is, he's holding one in the photo (click it to enlarge).

Anyway, I used my talents and equipment to help put a techno soundtrack to the melody and words he came up with. He even came up with the bass line! Click the link below to listen (you must have an mp3 plugin like quicktime.)

Piraka (mp3 - 2.4mb)

***UPDATE 02-2007: Check out the Piraka music video here***

PC vs. Mac

Of course, you know that I am a Mac user. I don't really understand why someone would want to use a PC, but "to each his own." You'll be happy to know that I don't think it's a major issue of salvation. :-)

Community Christian Church in Naperville, Il. recently created a series of parody videos based on those PC vs. Mac commercials. A good link to find all four videos is here at But the best video can be seen here on YouTube. (he he he)

Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Opposite Of Serving Our Communities

Referring to the last post here, I've been blogging about serving our community (here and here and here). Thinking back to Halloween two weeks ago, it ocurred to me one way we don't serve our community is acting like weird Christians! Halloween is the perfect example. I was reminded of this reading a recent post from Kevin Hendricks at Church Marketing Sucks. He was referring to a post Gary Lamb made regarding the holiday. You've got to check the original post here!

When we have our "Harvest Parties," we need to be thinking about how to reach and serve our community rather than just serve ourselves. The question I have is "Who are these parties for?" Most kids are happier "trick-or-treating" in the neighborhood because our neighbors are much more generous with the candy than most churches. When churches have games, they often make kids "earn" their candy based on performance (it reminds me of how churches often make people think they need to earn favor with God).

I was very happy to stay at home and give out oodles of candie and non-candy gifts. We had one of the best decorated houses in the neighborhood and quite a few kids recognized me as Pastor Eric. I think it was a great statement to show how Christians can love the community rather than separate themselves from it.

Another Idea For Serving Our Communities

I've been blogging about serving our community (here and here and here). Here's another idea from those crazy New Zelanders. Steve Taylor at Opawa Baptist Church in New Zeland posts about their Annual Spring Clean Day. Keeping in mind that it's Spring there in
November, this is a great way to serve the community without asking anything in return.

McManus: Challenging The Church

I may or may not have mentioned that two of the most influential books I have read lately are Rob Bell's Velvet Elvis and Erwin McManus' The Barbarian Way. I've never been able to see McManus in person, but Perry Noble has...and he blogged about it here. McManus spoke recently at Willow Creek's A2 Conference. Here are my excerpts of Noble's excerpts. I think it is really good when churches are challenged to be what Christ intended.
  • How are we going to reach people across the world when we won’t even change our style of music to reach our own kids.
  • The opposite of a “come as you are” church is a “don’t come at all” church!
  • Most of the time the people who have not met Christ are way more honest than those who have met Christ.
  • Many times if you lead the attack for the cause of Christ…the spears thrown at you will come from behind you.
  • It’s a tragic thing when Christianity exists without Christ.
  • The churches that look perfect–they’re dead!
  • Many churches have an “intimate” feel–but not in a good way. it’s sort of like when you walk in on someone making out…it’s intimate, but you just feel like you’re not supposed to be there.
Feel free to pass these thoughts around. It's time we start taking the Christ's mission, our mission, seriously.

Following God Again...

I am much more pleased with my activity this week. Not really because I got more done (as my title implies), but because what I did work on was more in line with the values and goals of the worship ministry, my role, and my calling. Here are some of the things I worked on...
  • Finished planning for Thanksgiving Eve worship (an extra service in the workflow). - Planning our worship services is one of my main responsibilities.
  • Planned out readings for our Advent celebration. Came up with a list of names. I still need to contact the people and see if they will participate. - Allowing people to get involved in worship is also a vital responsibility of the worship ministry.
  • The Women's Ministry is going through a study regarding the Joy of Serving. They asked me with share during their class this Sunday. I spent some time this week working on how I might convey how God leads us to serve, how He led me to where I am today, and how others can get involved in the worship ministry. - Again, building relationships is important. And allowing people to worship through service is what my role and calling areall about.
  • We finally had the Worship Ministry Fellowship that we've been planning. There was a decent turnout (about 22) and it was a fun time. We had pizza and food, listened to some music, and played a long game of Encore. Families were invited so the kids played video games and watched the movie, Cars. - Relationship- and team- building is one of the areas we've fallen short in and it's a key focus of the upcoming year.
  • Tonight, I'll be driving a team of middle-schoolers around town for the Middle School Youth "Where's Waldo?" event.
It was a busy week, but I'm glad to be moving in the direction that God wants.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Yet Another Week, Yet Another Video

While I am getting ready to simply put away all my worship leading duties, here is yet another video. This is the third video for the third week and it should make the series complete. This video called Discover Hannaford: Impact, presents the impact God's people can make by sharing the recent life events of the Smiths, a family at Hannaford. Anyway, we used and remixed clips from three DVDs Jane DeLong produced (also from Hannaford). Don't forget to have some tissues handy...

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Hannaford Videos on YouTube

Just a quick note to let you know that I've created a YouTube account and started uploading the videos I've produced for Hannaford Street Bible Church. Feel free to stop by at

Ten Things The Church Can Learn From Disney

No longer living in SoCal, I recognize the excitement families feel in visiting one of the Disney theme parks. Tony Morgan and his wife just visited Disney World in Orlando, Florida, and in usual Tony fashion, he's posted 10 things he will remember about his visit to Disney.

I propose that these are also "10 things the church can learn from Disney." How can we apply these to our churches and the experience people have each week with God and each other? Let me know what you think with a comment...
  1. The experience begins in the parking lot.
  2. We will invest a lot of money to make dreams come true.
  3. It helps to have someone with you that’s been there before.
  4. The value of excellence transcends socioeconomic and cultural barriers.
  5. It’s hard to communicate with people wearing masks.
  6. The journey is more fun when you’re on it with friends.
  7. The world is small.
  8. Lots of people fulfilling the same mission can achieve great results.
  9. It’s possible to leave a legacy for future generations.
  10. We remember the fireworks at the end.

Salt & Light - Being IN The World

Recently I blogged about serving our community (here and here). While at the Purpose Driven Worship Conference this year, Louie Giglio gave a message about worship. His main point was that God doesn't just want us to sit around and sing songs - an important aspect of our worship is getting out into the world and sharing the heart of Jesus. Here's a quip...

"Do not forget to DO GOOD and to SHARE WITH OTHERS with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased." God is not saying "Man, I hope they sing me some songs this morning." He is saying, "I hope they GO OUT and touch lives, help the sick, poor, oppressed - the people whom this world has no concern for. Consider the brothel down a small alley in India where a little 8-year-old girl is chained to a bed. Does God want another song? or does He want more? (Read the complete message notes here.)

With that in mind, I came across some news lately about some churches recently cancelling their worship services in lieu of getting out into and serving the community. First from Rev Magazine, John Ortberg's church (Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in Melo Park, Ca.). The headline reads, "Mobilized For Servanthood: How Menlo Park Presbyterian Church shut down for a weekend to be the church and love its neighbors." A similar response from Gateway Community Church in South Riding, Va. Instead of a typical Sunday morning worship service, the congregation went out and did volunteer work for 61 area homes. (Read info and links here.)

So here's the question. What do you think? Would you, or whould your people go for shutting down for a weekend? Is that still worship? Or is it paramount to be in church every Sunday? Leave your thoughts in the comments...

Quotable Quips - Apple and God

"QUESTION: I don't own an Apple computer.
I feel like I'm missing out. Am I?
ANSWER: This is like me asking you, 'I don't believe in God.
Am I missing out?'"

Guy Kawasaki, CEO of Garage Technology Ventures in Silicon Valley, California and part of the team responsible for marketing the Macintosh at Apple Computer. Quoted from Tony Morgan's blog at (October 20, 2006)

While owning an Apple is in no way comparable to knowing God, I thought it was an interesting conversation. Read the whole interview here.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Enough Complaining!

Okay, okay. Enough complaining! I'm sitting here listening to Andrea watch Beth Moore talk about breaking free from bondage. One of the things I am battling lately is the bondage of complaining and bitterness. I need to start focusing less on what others are doing to me and more on my response. Mike Pilivachi, a founder of the Soul Survivor movement, once said that we can either become bitter or become better. [Say it with a British accent and it sounds cooler.]

Truth be told, I've been doing quite a bit of introspection lately. I've been looking at my calling from God and the things that are holding me back from being and doing the things He intends for me. I'm also examining the changes I need to make to follow His plan for me more closely. You can pray for me on these issues.

With these things said, let me share with you some of the things I am excited about...
  • I am planning a weekly celebration of Advent through the four Sundays before Christmas. I know this is old hat for many of you, but this is something that our congregation is unfamiliar with. It is a exciting opportunity to capture the anticipation of "the birth of our Lord."
  • I am going through one-on-ones with our Praise Team right now. It's an opportunity to meet individually with all the Worship Ministry participants and share the challenges and successes of the last year and next.
  • The Lord is renewing some passion in my heart for teaching or worship. Please pray that I will be able to follow through in a way that has an impact.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Another Week, Another Video

Did I mention I was supposed to complete three videos in three weeks? Here's the second video for the second week if you've got about ten minutes. There are still a few things I'd like to fix (a few duplicate scenes). I'd also like to add a scrolling list of ministries at the end. I just ran out of time (with actually planning worship and all). Anyhoo...

Oh yeah, did I mention that I am in this one?

[P.S. Andrea did all the footage of me.]

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Let Me Be Blunt...

I'm struggling with more responsibilities at church than I can handle and I'm feeling that the worship ministry is suffering. That's because most of my days are filled up with tasks that are not worship related. For example, I flat out said that I did not have time to prepare a program for the Christmas season AND produce three "new members" videos in November. It was decided that the videos were the priority. I am really struggling with this.

As someone whose life calling is to lead others in the worship of God, I am spending too little time on worship and relationships, and too much time using my technical skills for any type of project that comes up. There. That's off my chest.

By the way, here's the first video. :-)

Friday, October 13, 2006

Minnesota & Mr. Mom

Hi folks, I know it's been a while. I've been pretty busy.

Of course, I was very busy during the conference. It was fantastic! The next Tuesday, Andrea left on a trip with Erica, one of our friends from church.

So I have been playing "Mr. Mom" for about two weeks while Andrea is visiting Minneapolis, Minnesota. The places they're visiting there and along the way? The Mall of America, Yellowstone, Rushmore, Cody, Wyoming, and more. She's been sending photos from her phone during the trips so I've posted the ones so far.

Andrea arrives back Saturday night and will have more photos on the digital camera. I'll update the gallery then.

Sunday, September 17, 2006


Just a quick note to let you know we're still here. The 2006 Hannaford Fall Conference is next weekend and we're wrapping up a lot of loose ends. Basically, I'm swamped. I pray that my "swamped-ness" somehow translates into lives impacted. Some quick notes:
  • Got two grade progress reports for Andrik. They send them every two weeks in email - How cool is that??!! A in English, A+ in Computer Apps.
  • Shooting a video for church. Bad timing with the Conference and all. I'm hoping it turns out well.
  • I have two extra Orders of Worship to plan this week in addition to the regular Sunday service. I also have a program, name tags and a number of other misc projects for the conference.
  • Andrea's been working hard trying to decorate Pastor Dick's office (painting, finding furniture, hunting in thrift stores).
  • Kellin's been getting in trouble at school. It's only two weeks in!!! Oy!
  • It got really cold, really fast. It was in the 80's one day and then dropped to the 40's. We just got our first snow this fall (in the mountians).
  • Worship was especially energized for me this morning. I needed that. I pray that is was pleasing to Him.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!

Author and pastor Rick Warren starts his book The Purpose-Driven Life with the words, "It's not about you." While those words are correct, the deep truth is ... it is all about Jesus.

While there are a million, a billion, or more things to occupy our thoughts, joys, excitement, complaints, and concerns - it all comes down to Jesus. He is our focus.

Democrats, Republicans, homosexuals, pro-life, pro-choice, tattoos, body piercings, hymns, tradional, contemporary, evolution, intelligent design, creation, baptism, dancing, potlucks, music, nice suits, shorts & flip-flops, doctrine, spirituality, Gen-X, Modernism, church decorations, windows, home school, public schools, MTV, movies, the internet ... JESUS!

What's your focus?

Another September Disaster

No, it's not 9/11. It's not Hurricane Katrina. It's "Western Day" at Hannaford Street Bible Church.

I guess that's a bit of an overstatement - it certainly will not be a disaster. Our annual Western Day tomorrow is part of our "Fall Kickoff" campaign this year. It was planned to be a big start to September. We notified all the local media and sent out 10,000 full-color postcards to Helena residents informing them of the free western breakfast, hayrides for the kids, and best of all, a live bluegrass band in both services!

Thursday afternoon the bluegrass band canceled (due to an emergency health issue in the band). So two days before Labor Day weekend we have been frantically calling and searching for a replacement group. The result? No go. :-(

Needless to say, we're pretty disappointed. We made the decision late yesterday that there is just no getting someone in here at such late notice, so I've had to come up with a plan for worship on Sunday. Did I mention that I'm off Fridays, that I cleared the stage for Sunday's band, that I'm pretty sick with a cold? We considered just playing a DVD of the bluegrass band through the whole service, but we thought that might be boring especially because you can't really see the projection screen in daytime anyway.

So finally, I've decided on a Good Ol' Down Home Sing-A-Long. I've picked out about 25 good ol' songs from our hymn book that our people can request on Sunday. I'm sure some with really appreciate and enjoy the day! Although some in second service may not know any of the songs listed. That's okay, though. Our relationship with Jesus is far more important that the tradition of singing a few 50-100 year-old songs.

Like I said, it may not be what we intended, but Western Day won't be a disaster.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Rediscovering Hope in 2006

I probably haven't mentioned anything about an upcoming event at Hannaford this September. Each year we host a Fall conference to bring Christian speakers from across the country to Helena, Montana.

This alone is a feat in itself. While there are general sessions with the keynote speakers and worship, we perform a free special service to pastors and church leaders - we have two days of workshops especially for pastors in the Northwest.

This year, we're putting on the finishing touches on the 2006 conference planning. With a theme of Rediscovering Hope, we're excited to have as our keynote speaker, Bob Russell, former Senior Pastor of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky. Over 22,000 people attend Southeast each weekend and the church has been named the 6th most influential church in America by Church Report magazine.

We are also excited to have Doug Schmidt, Senior Pastor of Woodside Bible Church in Troy, Michigan, and performer/comedian Jeff Smith, Director of Salt & Light Ministries in Richmond, Virginia. Finally, I am especially looking forward to having Martin Allen of Worship Foundations International lead worship and conduct two workshops. It will be the first year the conference has had a worship component.

Quotable Quips - Why Waste People's Time?

"Believe it or not–I have STRONG political opinions–STRONG ONES! AND…I love to discuss politics with people in a one on one conversation OR in a small group. However, while I will use sermon illustrations that include people in politics…I will never use the platform God has given me to support a political candidate or party…why would I waste people’s time on a Sunday talking about the government when I can tell them about Jesus?"

Perry Noble, Senior Pastor or NewSpring Church in Anderson, South Carolina - as quoted from his blog at (August 29, 2006)

What other things do waste people's time with on Sundays when we could be telling them about Jesus?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Montana Facts Potpourri

Since we've moved to Montana, we've started noticing how many times our state comes up in conversations, movies, and television. So we have decided to keep a running list. We'll update it whenever we run across another reference to Montana and you can check back by checking the link in the sidebar under "Montana Facts Potpourri"
  • American stuntman Evel Knievel (Robert Craig Knievel, Jr.) was born October 17, 1938 in Butte, Montana.
  • In 1888 Helena had more millionaires per capita than any other city in the world.
  • The 1992 movie A River Runs Through It is set in Montana and was filmed in Bozeman and Livingston, Montana.
  • In the 1971 movie Willie Wonka & Chocolate Factory, the character Violet Beauregarde is from Miles City, Montana.
  • The infamous Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski (Theodore John Kaczynski) was arrested on April 3, 1996, at his remote cabin outside Lincoln, Montana.
  • The U.S.-Canadian border scene of the 1987 movie The Untouchables was filmed at the old Hardy Creek Bridge over the Missouri River, just south of Great Falls, Montana.
  • The 1992 Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman movie Far and Away was filmed in Billings and Bozeman, Montana.
  • Drinking while driving in Montana only became illegal on October 1, 2005
  • Dana Carvey is from Missoula, Montana
  • Montana is the fourth largest state in the U.S. right behind Alaska, Texas, and California. As far as population, however, Montana ranks 44 out of 50.
  • In the computer-animated 2007 Disney movie Meet The Robinsons, the main character, Lewis, travels to the future to meet his family and finds out that modern-day Montana will become South Montana and Canada will become North Montana
  • The character Peggy Hill from the animated television show King Of The Hill grew up in Missoula, Montana
Email me if you have an interesting tidbit about Montana that I've missed.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

God in the Movies - Galaxy Quest

Okay, so here's a movie I saw a long time ago. We just rented it on DVD and saw it again. It stars Tim Allen (a.k.a. Tim "the tool-man" Taylor), Sigourney Weaver ("Alien" movies), and that guy who plays "Monk" on USA. Galaxy Quest is a comedy that is founded on spoofing those Star Trek Conventions where nutty people (no offense - we're all a little "nutty" about something) dress up like Klingons and stuff. These people live and breathe Star Trek. But Galaxy Quest takes the spoof and makes a funny, but interesting movie.

In the movie, the television show Galaxy Quest ended years ago and the actors can only get decent jobs "working" the conventions. Meanwhile, a race of aliens have been watching the tv show and believe it is real. Having been oppressed by another evil alien race, representatives from the first alien race come to a Galaxy Quest convention on Earth to enlist the crew's help. The aliens have no idea that the crew (actors) are not the real thing.

I could go on, but this much sets up my comments well. Quite honestly, I'm not sure where all the spiritual themes are. Of course, as mentions, there is the examination between reality and myth. But I was looking deeper.

What fascinates me in the story is the first alien race's innocence and naivety. They truly believe in the Galaxy Quest crew. At first, it is comical but later becomes heartbreaking. Things eventually get really bad - the crew is forced to tell the aliens that they are "pretending and lying" on tv. The aliens then struggle with experiencing the same characteristics from the crew as with their enemy.

As I recall my thoughts regarding The Church and faith lately, I can't help but see the parallel with churches. It is difficult enough for people to find Jesus at many churches, but when they do they are presented with a fake Christianity. One that is made up, and it has had disastrous consequences on the church in America.

So, I'd like to open up this discussion. What do you think? Have you seen the movie? What do you think are some of the spiritual themes or parallels here?

Why Church?

I have been thinking about the reasons I belong to a church. Often, my calling to lead others in a life of worship makes me stay somewhere a lot longer than I probably should - especially as I try to discern what God wants me to do. When a particular church falls short of these things I start to wonder if I or my family belong there. I think to myself, "if I were not in leadership, would I stay?" Often the answer is no.

Keep in mind that while these are not comprehensive, they all contain the key ingredient of the church: other people. One person is not a church or THE Church - and one person cannot adequately grow, worship, or serve without the proper influence of a community of believers.

BELONGING - Churches exists so that people can belong, interact, and bond with others. We are adopted by God and we are to adopt others in His name.

WORSHIP - Church must put Jesus first. He will be who we talk about, who we sing about, and who we think about. We will meet with Him as a community because scripture promises His blessing when two or more are gathered in His name. All we do is for Him.

LIFESTYLE - Churches exists so that in community, lifestyles can be transformed by Jesus through others. We grow closer to each other and to Jesus when we are in true community.

ACTS OF SERVICE - Jesus prayed for things to be on earth as it is in heaven. We must serve our community outside the church. As THE Church continues the ministry of Jesus as His body, we do so through acts of service with our fellow believers in a local church.

SHARING - We have been given life through Jesus - a wonderful gift. It is only natural (or supernatural) that we would want to share that life with others. It is not just for us. A church has no right to exist if it hoards Jesus and hides from the world. Much like a gardener we can plant and tend, but it is God who causes the growth. Let us share Jesus, let us remain "in Him," and he will produce the fruit.

Having called these elements out. I often wonder how much we have added to "church." I am sure I cannot count the number of "traditions" we have burdened people with, in order for them to be a part of a local community. Have we forgotten Jesus? Did we miss our purpose?

"These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far away. Their worship is a farce, for they replace God's commands with their own man-made teachings." -Mark 7:7

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Quotable Quips - Why Blame The Dark?

"We reclaim the church as a blessing machine not only because that is what Jesus intended from the beginning but also because serving people is the only way their perceptions of church are ever going to change.

This is why it is so toxic for the gospel when Christians picket and boycott and complain about how bad the world is. This behavior doesn't help. It makes it worse. It isn't the kind of voice Jesus wants his followers to have in the world. Why blame the dark for being dark? It is far more helpful to ask why the light isn't as bright as it could be."

Rob Bell, Pastor of Mars Hill Church in Grandville, Michigan - as quoted from his book Velvet Elvis

Monday, August 14, 2006

Looking Deep Into Who I Am...

Recently, I've been examining the things I value as related to the church community and leadership. It's important to do so from time to time because 1) our values develop over time and 2) we take them for granted so they tend to be difficult to identify. This is not an exhaustive list of values, but rather specific values that I have found to be at odds with those of other church leaders I have worked with. These values also seem to be at odds with what is taught in seminaries. I am curious what you think?

Jesus (the foundation, the root, the rock)
We need to offer people something they can't get anywhere else in the world - Jesus. Jesus needs to be at the core of our every breath, thought, word, and action. We need to constantly ask "How does this relate to Jesus?" He is often not mentioned in most that we say and do. We mention God, but that is not enough. Jesus is personal - He is the personification of the love, grace, and mercy of God. And without love, grace, and mercy there is no salvation, no faith, and no church. People are much more interested in following Jesus than any religion, institution, doctrine, organization, or personality.

Spirituality & Faith
People are hungry for the deeper, spiritual things of life. An abundance of surface level information is what the world offers. We need to offer more. We need to embrace mysteries of God - not having to explain everything scientifically. (Because we can't, why do we try?) This also means embracing the work of the Holy Spirit along with faith itself because it is only in surrendering to the Spirit that we can be empowered to live our life in Christ. We aren't brought to God by the strongest rational case for His existence, only by experiencing Him, only by His personal influence.

Experience & Passion
Experience is personal. It's related to telling (and listening to) stories, art, senses, audio/visual. Experience can often be subjective, but it is not unimportant. It is heart-knowledge in addition to head-knowledge that gets people's attention. "People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care." It is from personal experience that passion grows, and from passion comes commitment (because you can't force commitment).

Native Communication
We need to tell stories. People are captivated by other's stories. Stories are more convincing real, authentic, and personal than data. We also need to listen to others and be respectful. We should not make fun of other beliefs but show that ours are true. We need to communicate to people using a variety of cultural languages including art, music, literature, film, drama, and technology. This is the way people are being communicated to all the time. It is their (our) language.

Community & Belonging
In a genuine community, we focus on what draws us together rather than on what separates us - And that is Christ. The body of Christ is essentially a group of people called out by God to continue the ministry of Jesus to "seek out and save" what was lost. WE (the Church) are ushering a dying world into the Kingdom of God. Togetherness and belonging are a rare, precious, and elusive experience in today's world. Therefore, community is more important than denominations, organizational structures, and physical buildings.

Like I said, I would love to hear your comments...

Friday, August 11, 2006

New Photos!

First of all, I've put up a new Featured Photo on the main blog page here.

Also, I just set up three new photo galleries in the e|Photos section. The first is photos of our road trip down to California last july. The second is photos I took of Saddleback Church while Andrea and I were at the Purpose Driven Worship Conference. And finally, I have a potpourri of photos taken with my new phone camera thoughout this Summer.

The galleries can all be found here.

Monday, August 07, 2006

More Evil Dancing

Well, since I've been doing some posts on dancing lately, I thought this one might fit. (begin sarcastic voice) After viewing this video, I think we can all see how 'evil' dancing truly is. (end sarcastic voice)

Really, I thought these guys did a pretty cool thing. Notice that there are no cuts - they did the whole thing all the way through. Can we do this sort of thing for the glory of God?

Friday, August 04, 2006

Is Your Church Playing It Safe?

I think we grossly underestimate just how unconventional Jesus was. And the question is this: are we following in his leadership footsteps?

Check out this whole article here.

Short, But Profound Story

I really don't know Richard Foster and his material very well. Some of his books were on the reading list when I was getting my M.A. at Hope International, but I only ended up reading one.

Anyway, I came across an excerpt from an article with him and Henri Nouwen from Christianity Today. This is a short, but amazing story...

Back in my earlier years of coming to God, I was very intense. I once spent three days fasting and praying. After doing so, I felt an urging to call a man I had confidence in for his spiritual guidance. He lived quite a distance, but I called and asked him if he would come and pray for me. He came, and I was all ready to place myself before him and let him minister to me. Instead, he sat down in front of me and started confessing his sins. I thought, I'm supposed to do that to you. After he finished, and I had prayed forgiveness for him, he said, "Now, do you still want me to pray for you?" (read the whole interview here)

It would do us good to remember that we are all equal at the foot of the cross.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Quotable Quips - Celebrate Out Loud!

Okay, I'm starting a new, recurring feature in my blog. You guessed it, it's called Quotable Quips. I run across so many great stuff on the web and more, it would be great to share a tidbit or two. So here's the first one:

"... we have two choices - the first is we can be silent. We can choose to “celebrate in silence.” We can give God a mighty “golf clap” every time He moves in an undeniable way. We can seal our lips out of fear that someone may get offended at the words we speak. And if we do this ... then people around us will be pleased ... and the Lord will be dishonored.

The second choice is that we can boast in the Lord! If you read Scripture you will discover that when God moves in an awesome way - people rejoice - OUT LOUD ... and they BOAST in what HE has done...

... I mean, people boast all the time ... you see athletes boast about their abilities ... you see rich people boast about their money ... you hear movie stars boast about their accomplishments ... and that is all fine and well. BUT for some reason a person who will accept this will not tolerate someone talking about all that God is doing in their church? That doesn’t make sense. I will continue to boast in the Lord."

Perry Noble, Senior Pastor or NewSpring Church in Anderson, South Carolina - as quoted from his blog at (July 27, 2006)

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Superman Returns: The Gospel Story?

SPOILER WARNING: This post contains info about the plot and/or ending of the movie. If you haven't seen the movie yet, reading this post may "spoil" your movie-going experience.

Originally, I was not at all interested in seeing Superman Returns. I think I misunderstood the commercials as portraying the new movie as a remake of the 1978 Superman: The Movie with Christopher Reeves. Although I figured the plot line might be a little different and the CGI would be much better, most everything else would be similar (even the music).

While browsing Google reviews, I read that the movie was actually a sequel to the original Superman movies - a Superman 4 if you will. At that point, I was much more eager to see the movie.

First of all, I guess with this Superman movie I was hoping for something a little more realistic and less "fairy tale" than the earlier movies. For instance, I really hated the original Batman movies, but loved Batman Begins. I wasn't looking for a gritty Superman at odds with "truth, justice, and the American way," just something real and authentic. Here are my thoughts...
  • Overall, I liked the Superman Returns. I thought it was a little slow in the beginning (and a little long overall), but the end really worked for me - I'll explain later.
  • I know that John Williams' original theme score to the first Superman movies is great. But I was ready for a new, yet worthy theme score. Superman Returns comes back with a music score very similar rendition of John Williams' original score.
  • Through much of the long beginning of the movie, I kept noticing how much I was reminded of the original Superman movie. Even Brandon Routh reminds me of Christopher Reeve.
  • At the same time, I really felt the film had an unbelievable feeling to it. How come Superman looks so young now? How come no one has noticed Clark Kent has been gone at the same time as Superman? How come Lois Lane looks younger now that she has a kid (I swear she looks about 19)? How come Superman can fly and hover? Not in the films, of course, but originally Superman didn't actually fly. He made very big leaps. You know, "Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound."
  • So midway through the movie as I was watching, I was becoming disappointed in the movie. Somewhere however, things started to change - I think it was about the time Lois decided to track down the source of the EMP pulse (leading her to Lex Luthor).
  • First, Kevin Spacy played a great Lex Luthor. A little crazy, a little sane. Very believable and not as comic a Gene Hackman's.
  • We get to see the "seeds" of another Superman sequel. That could be really great depending on how they deal with it.
  • We also get to see Superman suffer and actually need help from someone else. He gives all he has and almost dies. He's in coma. He needs to be hospitalized. And then he comes back.
As we got to this point in the movie, my old understanding of successful film formula kicked in. You see in every successful, popular film we see the vague rendition of the Christ story...
  • The Good guy starts in normal life (Jesus is born, grows up)
  • Something changes and that life is disrupted (Jesus' ministry)
  • skinflint comes (Jesus' conflicts with religious leaders)
  • A final struggle ensues with a climax (Jesus' struggle on the cross)
  • The bad guys seem to have won (Jesus dies and is buried)
  • The good guy comes back and gains the strength for a final victory (Jesus' resurrection)
  • Things have changed forever; a new world begins (Jesus appears to many)
  • Normal life returns, but character is different (Jesus ascends)
So then it hits me hard , I'm watching the Christ Story. Yeah, I know it's different and all the points don't line up - but it's a lot like the Gospel. (Another warning: This is a major spoiler)
  • God dwelt with Adam until the Fall separated them; Superman had to go away
  • People got used to not having God's presence around. They didn't need God; Lois wrote an prize-winning article "Why the world doesn't need Superman."
  • Jesus came and was God made flesh. He ministered performing miracles; Superman returned and began catching bad guys and saving people again
  • Jesus was betrayed by a man and died on the cross saving humanity; Superman is betrayed by Lex Luthor, but battles to near death saving humanity.
  • Jesus lies dead in a tomb for three days; Superman lies in a coma - no one knows if he will return to life
  • Jesus raises from the dead, and gives the great commission to the disciples telling them to be His hand and feet - His body; Superman recovers and visits Lois' little boy. He passes on the Superman legacy, "The father shall become the son, and the son shall become the father"
There is some dialog between Superman and Lois Lane that goes something like this. Upset that Superman went away for some years, Lois came to the conclusion that "The world doesn't need a savior?" Hmmm... Then Superman takes her up in the sky (yes, kinda like the first one), and responds. He says, "What do you hear?" She says, "Nothing." He replies, "You hear nothing, but I hear a million voices crying out for a savior." (He has "super" hearing.) Wow! That is a definite parallel with the world and the true Savior!

THE POINTI'm hoping you're getting my point here. My point is not whether I liked the movie or not. We can and should use popular culture as a common ground to share our faith. With the story in Superman, you could talk to a child about what Jesus has done!

There are many Christians that shelter themselves from the world and it's culture. It is one thing to not be conformed to the culture, it is another to not even be aware of or understand the culture. Jesus didn't hide in the synagogue during his ministry years. He walked among the people, even quoting lines from common plays of the day. We can do the same.

So get out there. See a few movies. Take a friend, share a lunch, and talk about Jesus. Don't forget to visit to help you scope out this spiritual themes to discuss. The world does need a Savior!

Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

SPOILER WARNING: This post contains info about the plot and/or ending of the movie. If you haven't seen the movie yet, reading this post may "spoil" your movie-going experience.

Yes, we are one of the many that have helped this sequel break so many box office records. As for the movie itself, I really enjoyed it. I think it really delivered with swashbuckling sword fights, love, and adventure (until the end).

As far as spiritual themes (I have not yet consulted, the clearest seems to be those of purpose and choice. The character Captain Jack Sparrow struggles with both in the movie. Sparrow possesses a "magic" compass that will "point you toward what your heart most desires."

Unfortunately, whenever Sparrow consults the compass, it spins around without giving any direction. Even from the first movie, Sparrow struggles between being a typical "bad" pirate, and choosing the "good" path. In the end, he does not know what he wants. Like so many of us, we have a choice. The world tells us we have a certain path, that certain things are okay - but inside we know there is another choice, some of us finally choose that path and become children of God.

A big (really, really big) disappointment for me was the film's end - it didn't. Apparently there is a third movie to be released. I actually understand that they filmed both at the same time, much like the filming of the Lord Of The Rings (LOTR) trilogy. However, it didn't work for me in Pirates. Every single plot point is unresolved like they just stopped and saved the rest of the footage for the next film. It worked for LOTR because it already was an established trilogy. But it does not work for pirates.

Hollywood Jesus - 8 Below

It's time for some movies updates. In the following posts, I'll give you my impression of two big summer hits: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and Superman Returns. If you have not seen the movies, you should probably skip the posts because they WILL contain *spoilers*.

In the point of films, a great site to look at the spiritual themes found in popular movies is I really like the site, because it takes movies at face value. Instead of expecting every movie to boldly present the Gospel message (which Hollywood is just not going to do), reviewers on the site find the spiritual themes in movies that the makers may not even be aware of. It's a great way to start discussions of faith with friends.

Let me also say that Eight Below is out on DVD. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it. Check out my previous post on it when we saw it in the theater.

Where The H*** Is Matt?

I came across this video on YouTube (as have many others). At first, I thought it was a hoax, but it's not. Check it out. Also check out his website here. If you've ever thought of quitting your job and heading out to see the world, here is your inspiration.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Praise Him With The Dance

Hey, isn't this great! The software company Digital Praise has come out with Dance Praise. A video game with a dance tablet similar to the popular Dance Dance Revolution home and arcade games that have been so popular. I think every youth ministry should have one of these!

However, I realize that dancing is still a difficult "doctrinal" point for some churches (another example of how our "doctrines" tend to tear us apart, rather than bring us together).

How is it that we feel we need to follow some of the instructions from God's Word and not others?
  • You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, (Ps. 30:11)
  • Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with tambourine and harp. (Ps. 149:3)
  • praise him with tambourine and dancing, praise him with the strings and flute, (Ps. 150:4)
Granted, we humans can take any expression and pervert it - watch any music videos, lately? Does that mean we remove the expression altogether? If so, we may soon gather together in silence while sitting motionless (or should we be standing?).

I say let us passionately praise Him with the dance!

The Theology of Pews

One guy I love to read is Dan Kimball. There is an interesting post on his blog Vintage Faith. Moving into a new building, their emergent congregation was faced with a new fixture, pews. Read his thoughts regarding the theology of pews here. (He recently added another related post here.)

(You can consider this related to my last post on misguided passion.)

God's People are Passionate...

One thing I've noticed in my time in ministry. Many of God's people are passionate. Unfortunately, they are passionate about things like...
  • the color we paint the church
  • the kind of seating we have in our gathering place
  • the coverings we have over the windows
  • the style of music we play
  • our expectations of non-believing visitors (we expect them to act like believers even though they are not).
As one who is called to lead worship, my heart breaks when we are so passionate about so many things without being passionate about God. When we gather to worship God together, our worship is often anything but passionate for God. It could often be described as apathetic, uninspired, lacking heart, done out of duty. The atmosphere is more akin to either attending a lecture or a funeral.

If we were only half as enthusiastic, outspoken, and passionate in our worship of God as we are about the petty things, then I believe that 85% of the churches in America would not be dying and over 4,000 churches would not be closing their doors each year.

It's clear, we're passionate, all right! Only we're passionate about the wrong things.

My encouragement to you is to look past all other things and keep your gaze upon Jesus, for "Those who look to him are radiant" (Psalm 34:5a)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

King of the Jews...

Check this out....I just think it's funny. Apparently there's some people in Houston that have a little too much time on their hands. Another blogger said it made them "thirsty" for Jesus. I'm sure there are some spiritual parallels here, but none come to mind.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

20 PDW Takeaways For Worship Team Members

  1. There is no sacred music, only sacred words.
  2. In our gathered worship we are not performing, we are expressing our hearts together to the God who loves us.
  3. We need to learn to not be bound by the head-knowledge, but consider the heart-knowledge.
  4. We need to learn our songs well enough that we can communicate the heart of Jesus in the song – simply delivering the info is not enough.
  5. Are people convinced that we believe what we are singing/playing? Is God?
  6. People come to church to meet God, not to see people perform.
  7. The words coming out of our mouths and notes coming from instruments should change the atmosphere of worship.
  8. Smile when you sing; it changes your tone.
  9. “Whatever you’ve got, you better spend it right now in worship!”
  10. We need to integrate relevant elements from popular culture to make it easier for our people to participate in worship.
  11. It has been said that black folk play by emotion while white people play by note.
  12. Sheet Music gets in the way
  13. Sing like you speak; sing sideways, shave consonants, accentuate vowels, mess up rhythms, etc.
  14. There is too much harmony singing in church.
  15. Our job description is in Psalm 33:3, “Sing him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.” – Creativity, skill, and fun!
  16. The more instruments on the stage, the less each needs to play.
  17. We are to use music for the heart, not the “Art.”
  18. God is more interested in our heart in worship than our artistic ability.
  19. God is not looking for worship, He is looking for worshippers
  20. Worship is not for us, it is FOR GOD – He is the goal.
(Gleened from the 2006 Purpose Driven Worship Conference + Festival)

**UPDATE: See all the PDW posts listed here...

Taking Risks

It's official, I am adding another blog to my links list. Perry Noble is the Senior Pastor of New Spring Community Church in Anderson, North Carolina. His church along with Tony Morgan's Granger Community Church in Granger, Indiana, and Crossroads Christian Church in Corona, California are all worth keeping tabs on. They are each reaching people for Christ in big ways.

So okay. I'm really not taking any risks in do this. But taking risks IS important. Check out what Perry thinks about taking risks.

Time For A Garage Sale!

Okay, okay. I admit it. I actually shared that last post about serving the community just to provide background for this one. You see, I was captivated by Pastor Dave's vision (see here) for serving the community. For me, it was one of those "duh!" moments.

The problem, of course, is figuring out a way to serve that is authentic and specific to your community. While I have been continuing to think about it, I received a postcard in the mail from another local church. Oh my gosh, they figured it out!

East Valley Foursquare Church
here in Helena is having a community garage sale. They are inviting individuals in the community to come and use their church parking lot - for free. Anyone can sell their own stuff. East Valley is doing all the advertising. They are providing the space. AND they are providing a free BBQ after the sale.

If you are not getting it, yet. Garage sales are so BIG here in Helena - we have a "garage sale season." (Remember, we're multi-season around here, so once Spring rolls around the garage sales are on!) Even entire neighborhoods have garage sales at one time to bring people in.

Perhaps we could use the comments for this post to come up with sopme other great ideas to serve our communities. Please post an idea.

Finally, I say "Good Job" East Valley. You nailed it. And thank you for loving our community.

What Is Your Church Doing To Serve Your Community?

I could ask the same question of my church and give the very same pathetic answer. Recently at the Purpose Driven Worship Conference, I attended a worskshop entitled "Drawing a Crowd to Worship." While I thought the workshop would be more about drawing people into His presence, it was more about simply getting people to come to church. (I know that the two can be the same in the end.)

The workshop leader was Dave Holden, pastor of Lake Gregory Community Church in Crestline, California. Their church grew from nearly 100 to over 800 - in a community of only 8,000! And he basically told us how - They served their community without expecting anything in return.

The church was celebrating it's 70th anniversary and instead of giving itself gifts and accolades, the church gave to the communuty. Each week for 7 weeks, the church gave away 70 gifts. The first week, it was 70 baseballs to the local little league. The next, they gave 70 brand new books to the city library. Another week, they donated, planted, and installed irrigation for 70 flats of flowers at the local Post Office. With 7 weeks of this the local newspaper caught intrest, and before long, everyone wanted to know what this church was all about - This church that gave without asking anything in return.

That is the key, I think - too often we do stuff for other people with an ulterior motive. We want them to come to church. We want them to know Christ. These are not bad things, but we need to realize that Jesus served people simply because He loved them.

Think about this. When is the last time you held a "Harvest Festival" without expecting kids to learn any verses, making them watch some kind of the Gospel message, or at the least, giving them a tract? Can't remember? Me either.

How about a Christmas event simply to provide entertainment for the community? How about a youth basketball tournament where we did not make the participants listen to a gospel presentation or come to a Bible study?

The point is that Jesus served people's needs. He healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, and made the lame walk. He did it because He loved them and because they needed it, not because He wanted to convert them. (Although God's love is ultimately what draws us to Him.)

If we love people in our community, I think we need to start looking for ways to serve them unselfishly and out of Christ's love.

**UPDATE: See all the PDW posts listed here...

Do Not Click!

Being somone who has worked for years in marketing, advertising, and PR, I enjoy reading Seth Godin's blog. He has a gift pointing out thing we should see when we are tying to make ourselves, our products, or our organizations known (or Jesus known, if you are in a church context).

Recently, I came across this on his blog. While there may be a deeper lesson about clicking, I just had a bunch of fun. Check out the link...


"LOOK at it burn," Hezbollah's chief declared as a missile struck an Israeli warship, hours after his stronghold in southern Beirut was bombed.

"You wanted open war. We are going to open war," Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah told Hezbollah television.

Israeli aircraft last night fired rockets at targets inside Beirut's southern suburbs, a Hezbollah stronghold. Earlier, planes blasted roads and bridges in south, east and north Lebanon...

(Read the rest here.)

I have been watching what's going on in the Middle East with great interest over the past few days. Of course the news has been following it, but I don't know if people here really see it as significant. I mean, although I already believe we live in the "end times" (I believe we have since Jesus came), these events could signify some of the later stages of the end times. Then again, it could die down after an intense couple of days (or an intense war), and everything would seem to be back to normal.

Which brings me to my point. Where is your relationship with Jesus? Do you know Him? Do you spend time with Him? Are you living for and "in" Him? Is He living in you? How about those in your circle of influence? Those you work with? Shop with? Play with?

I don't know when "the end" is coming, but I do know that it is. And I plan on living like it is.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

I Would Shave My Head

I came across this on Shane Yancy's blog A great question to ponder...

Erwin McManus asks, "If you were afraid of nothing, what would you be doing?"

How about you? Leave a comment for some dialogue...

Saturday, July 01, 2006

God Is Great!

Just a quick note about how great God is. He has a plan. He is intimately involved in our daily lives. He changes us.

We have been here in SoCal since Monday evening and have been driving from Fontana to Lake Forest every day. It's over 150 miles round-trip. We got up about 5am each day to get there in time for the first general session at 8:30am. It was also a long trip back. We usually got in about midnight.

Through all of it our van worked great!

When I got up this morning (it is the first day after the conference), the van did something very strange. We walked up and I unlocked the doors with the remote. I opened the automatic side door with the remote. All was normal.

Then, I put in the key.

At that point, the dials went crazy and the windshield wipers went on. It was possessed! Everything was working crazy EXCEPT the engine wouldn't start. Now, as much as we love SoCal, we have a new home in the Big Sky Country and we intend on coming back some day. Besides, we'd like to see some friends and family while we're here.

Although a dead battery came to mind, this was strange behavior for a vehicle with a dead battery - something was powering the accessories. What could be wrong? We tested the battery...12 volts. We tested the fuses...they were all okay. We decided to take out the battery and take it in to be test and buy a new one anyway.

When the battery was tested, the tester confirmed that it needed to be replaced. The attendant looked at us funny when we said "fantastic!" We bought a new battery, installed it, and the van works great again!

There are multiple levels of God's provision here. 1) Our van works. 2) It wasn't some deeper, more difficult, more expensive problem (we hope). 3) The van worked all week during the conference. God wanted to make sure we made it to every session and every workshop. That simply wouldn't have happened if the battery went our any earlier.

So not only did God provide, he gave a story to share with others. He also infused us with confidence that He is involved with our daily life. He has spoken this over us, and by doing so He changed us. I know Him more intimately. He has confirmed once again that He cares and loves us.

How will we respond? Will we remember this tomorrow when we worship with other believers? I think so...and we will worship from a grateful and joyous heart!

God is great!