Sunday, March 13, 2011

And Now for Something Completely Different...

Here is some encouragement for you.

Isn't it good to see a young person excited and interested in getting into God's Word.

We showed this video at our youth service last Wednesday. As a part of our current teaching series and our renewed challenge to the young people to start reading more of the Bible, we are highlighting stories of how people are doing.

I hope this encourages you like it does me today! I would love to hear your reactions and also how you are currently getting into the Bible.

God bless!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Was I Just Imagining Things...?

So a few months ago my pastor came into my office, handed me a book, and said, "I think this is more your kind of book."

The book was Imaginary Jesus, the first book by Matt Mikalatos.

Billed as a "not-quite-true story", this wild ride follows Matt as the main character of his own story trying to find the REAL Jesus amid a sea of imaginary ones.

I won't spoil the story much more than that other than to say I really enjoyed this book. It was full of wonderful humor, piercing truths, and challenging thoughts. Not necessarily a book of theology as much as a modern day parable about our approach to our Savior.

As I finished it this week while on vacation, I really identified with Matt and his struggle. The spot that really floored me though was near the end. Matt was walking through a prayer labyrinth when he comes upon a television playing just static. The talking donkey (yes, there is a talking donkey in the story!) comes out from behind the TV and points out that the TV represents Matt by saying:

"I mean that your head is full of static. Stuffed full of television and radio and comic books and noise. You say you can't hear Jesus, but it's because you have earbuds in all the time. You're afraid of silence. You're afraid to let even a strong signal through."

I so identified with a painful level. I say I want to hear from Jesus and yet I fill my life with noise.



text messages.



Even on vacation, I found it hard to make time just for silence and listening. So I have a renewed encouragement to be more purposeful about minimizing the noise in my life.

How about you. Do you have the same struggle as Matt and I? What is the source of noise in your life? What is one way you can reduce your noise this week?

Look forward to your comments. God bless!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Love Wins...?

So coming back from vacation has been a little surreal.

People are talking about all sorts of things as common knowledge that I didn't even know happened:

hailstorms and dirty rain.

accidents and people in the hospital.

and, oh yeah, this Rob Bell controversy.

So I spent a couple hours yesterday trying to sort through what was going on.

Apparently Rob Bell released a promotional video for his new book Love Wins: A Book about Heaven, Hell and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived. (Which doesn't come out for another couple of weeks or so.) And based on the almost three minutes of mostly rhetorical questions a lot (and I do mean a LOT) of people have had some pretty strong reactions. The concern lies at what Bell's stance is on salvation and hell. Many are accusing Bell of being a universalist - that is to say he believes everyone gets to go to heaven (which is not what the Scripture teaches!) However, the book isn't out yet. All we have are a few provacative questions and quotes.

Probably the most helpful and objective information I was able to find is a series of posts reviewing an actual prerelease copy of the book. Even with that I still think the verdict remains out until we can actually see what the book has to say.

But what it did spark with me and my household yesterday was this thought:

Is it okay to ask questions?

Much of what I was able to glean from the video, numerous posts and the excerpts from the book review is that Bell is asking a lot of questions about what salvation is and what the Scriptures really say. Most of the questions I've seen from the book so far are questions I've probably thought at one time.

That doesn't mean I reject the basic foundational truths of the Bible or the Christian faith. It has just been a part of my journey to understand God and His Word.

So tell me your thoughts. Is it okay to ask questions? Are there some questions that we shouldn't ask? Where is the best venue to ask these questions? What are the questions you are wrestling with right now?

Look forward to hearing from you. It's good to be back!

(P.S. 3/9/2011 - A friend of mine just posted a link to this post from another blogger who has an actual review copy of the book. Seems to clarify a lot of the issues and even has some thoughts on some of my above questions.)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Checking Your Status...

So this week my family and I are taking a little vacation.

And that includes from technology and social media as well! (I wrote this post last week before we left.)

So as you read this, we are blissfully unaware of what is going on in the blogosphere and purposefully avoiding checking our facebook pages.

The interesting thing about that is it is not easy! We are a little too connected to our internet connections. So pray for us while we are on detox this week!

While we are gone, I thought I'd share with you a few disturbing looks into social media that I've seen lately:

1. The Social Network. A new movie from David Fincher (director of such revolutionary films as Fight Club and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)! A soundtrack from Trent Reznor (of NineInchNails fame)! An account of the start of facebook! Nominated for just about every Academy Award there is! This movie sounds like an obvious great, but I can't honestly say I would recommend it. It was well made. It was informative. But it was very disturbing. It left me feeling conflicted about whether I even wanted a facebook account anymore.

2. Catfish. Another critically acclaimed film. This time an actual documentary (or that is what they propose at least). But again it left me feeling...well...creeped out. A look into the dangerous and dark place that internet relationships can take us, and in this case all done through facebook.

3. Egyptian Protests. The world has watched with nervous interest as the pro-democratic revolutions have taken place around the world recently. One interesting and alarming fact that I discovered while watching the coverage in Egypt was that much of it was organized through facebook. Wael Ghonim, a Google executive and one of the leaders of the protests, explains in this article how they used facebook and other media technology to start a new kind of revolution.

Now, I don't necessarily recommend the films above. As I've noted there is gritty, disturbing content. I also don't condone the civil unrest that's happening around the world. But each of these matters show us a very real picture of what is happening in our society today: A picture of what social media is doing to our culture.

So I'd love to hear your responses. I'd also love to hear your approach to managing your social media because if we don't manage it I believe it will control us!

God bless.