June 28, 2008

Brand Loyalty

Here's a 'sneak-peek' of the sermon I'm preaching tomorrow. Maybe some of you will see it in person and if you're not in the Indianapolis area and you want to watch/listen to it online or podcast it, you can check it out on the church's website here.


And now, to be honest with you, I’ve started wondering and asking myself in the last couple months if we as Christians have become more loyal to the brand or label “Christian” than to the person and message of Christ. In becoming a little uncomfortable with the “Christian” brand I have found myself now adding a description like “a follower of Christ” or “someone trying to be like Jesus” in an attempt to clear up any confusion around what a Christian is really all about. Many of you probably read or saw the article in the Indianapolis Star talking about the survey from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. The survey found some pretty interesting statistics but needless to say, one thing was clear from their research, there are a lot of people that have either gotten the wrong message of what a Christian is or have no idea what that really means or looks like. I would imagine that a number of us at one time or another have been burned by another Christian that someone else has met in the past because the brand of Christianity they got from that person was not the Christianity of Christ.

The sermon series over the past two weeks has been on becoming a contagious Christian and we heard Mac talk about the story and how we are to be the story tellers. How timely as we hear more and more about a brand of Christianity that seems to be spreading a disease of fear, hopelessness and division rather than being the remedy of those ills.

C.S. Lewis said that every Christian is to become a “little Christ” (kind of like we take ourselves off, our desires, wants, attitudes and put on those of Christ) this “putting on of Christ”…is not one among many jobs a Christian has to do; and it is not a sort of special exercise for the top class. It is the whole of Christianity. Christianity offers nothing else at all.

And so this morning I would like to take a look at Paul’s letter to the believers in Ephesus and pull out a couple things that speak to what a Christian or “little Christ” is. Ephesus was a thriving city with tens of thousands of people traveling through the city annually. It was an important city in Paul’s missionary journeys and the churches in the area were experiencing significant growth in their congregations. Paul is writing this letter to these churches to encourage them in the faith but also to explain the purpose of the church and how a Christian should live. Read Ephesians 4:1-6

Christians are humble.

-We don’t have it all figured out, we’re not perfect and shouldn’t pretend to be

-We remember how we have been humbled by life and how Jesus stepped in to show us His grace in those moments humility

-But most importantly because Jesus was humble…read Philippians 2:5-8

Christians are gentle.

- Vs. 2 gentle = humility, courtesy, of being considerate

-When I think about the character of Jesus, I can’t help but think about how gentle He was

-I’m reminded of the story in John 8:1-11 when a woman caught in adultery is brought before Jesus…

-He still challenges her, calls her to something better but does so in a gentle, loving way, there was a gentle accountability

-If we are to be Christians, then we must be gentle

-We are gentle because “God works through all”

Christians are patient.

-Again this speaks to humility, an understanding that Christ has been and continues to be patient with us and so we must be the same with others

-Vs. 2 bearing with = “to put up with”, to exercise self-restraint & tolerance, endure patiently

-Think of the countless times Jesus shows patience with His disciples, or with the crowds of people that were constantly following Him around, or even the social outcast that was a cultural taboo to even interact with

-There are times when we have to “put up with” people because it is the Christ-like thing to do and if we’re honest, there are probably more times when others have to “put up with” us

-We are patient because Christ is patient

Christians are united.

-And when Christians strive to be humble, gentle and patient with one another then we are able to be united in a way that cannot be broken through a bond of peace

-Just as Jesus was united to the Father and us as believers to Christ, so too you and I with one another

-this is not a unity of “us vs. them” but rather an “us for all”

-Paul is emphasizing a “Oneness” with other believers, he is not saying that all religions are one in the same but that Christians are to be united with each other in Christ

-When Christians fail to be united w/one another, we fail to be like Christ

-This forces us to ask the question of why anyone would want to be part of faith that is divisive

Humility, gentleness, patience and unity are four characteristics of what a Christian is but don’t forget that you have to know the story in order to tell it. To be a “little Christ” you need to spend time in the Word, in prayer and in community to get to know THE Christ.

June 23, 2008

We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things.

I have to say from the get-go that I have never been a big Jason Mraz fan but I also haven't listened to much of his stuff so I thought I would give his new album We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things. a try.

I must say that throughout the album I couldn't help but think that there was an eerie resemblance to Jamiroquai but not nearly as good or smooth. While I think Mraz's voice is pretty good regardless, it seemed like the more "pop" style songs on the album like the single "I'm Yours" or "If It Kills Me", which also happen to be my two favorite songs on the album along with track #3 ft. Colbie Caillat entitled "Lucky" mostly because I think the duet of Caillat and Mraz's voices go so well together, the song itself is ok. Track #4, "Butterfly" was hands down my least favorite song on the album for a couple reasons: 1) I've never really been down with "sexy" songs simply because they are played out and 2) this is a perfect example of what I was talking about before with the whole Jamiroquai thing, it sounds like the 70's disco-funk thing that Jamiroquai can do so smoothly and unfortunately for Mraz, in my opinion, not so much.

I would guess if you consider yourself a Jason Mraz fan you are enjoying the album already and if you're not, I'm not sure this is the album to bring about your conversion as one. I do however like the album artwork and I think the title is kind of catchy. On a scale of 1-10, I would give this album a 7.5 but I've been known to be a pretty tough critic.

June 22, 2008


It has been a bizarre few days to say the least but I have finally reached the point where I can talk about the loss of our dog Otis. Everything happened so quickly that it all kind of seems like a blur...one moment Otis is being Otis, then next he's sick, then really sick and then gone. When I took him to the vet on Thursday morning I had no intention of coming home without my dog but after seeing the condition he was in and talking with the vet the best option became quite apparent. We have been fortunate to experience a peace about the decision we made and honestly, I have no regret about it but man it is still a bummer.

I am thankful that God is willing to meet us where we are, giving us a sense of His presence and peace despite what may seem like an insignificant situation in comparison to things happening in the rest of the world. I also feel like I'm learning more and more about perspective and what it means or takes to get it and keep it. It was not more than a day after my dog passed away that I attended the funeral of a dear man that was the landlord/neighbor of our first home, not to mention a husband, father, grandfather and all around blessing to a lot of people. God continues to be faithful in helping me keep things in perspective.

On top of God's attempts at shaping my perspective, we have been trying to stay busy to keep our minds off of the initial awkwardness of our house without Otis and so we've been finishing up a major project on the backyard and I've been checking out some new cds, both of which I'll write about in the coming days (and maybe even add a pic or two of our work). Thanks again to everyone for your thoughts and concerns about Otis, they are much appreciated.

June 19, 2008

And Then There Were 2

My wife and I said goodbye to a good friend today...our dog Otis was put down this morning or at least what was left of him as he had not really been his energetic, curious, happy self for the last couple weeks. That's really all I can write for now as it's been a really long and bizarre day but thanks to everyone for the thoughts, concerns and prayers.

June 17, 2008

There's Always Something

There's nothing I would have enjoyed more than to come home after a week away and be able to hang out with my wife and just relax but life seldom works that way. It seems like there is always something to deal with. When I got home Friday my dog Otis was in pretty bad shape. All four of his paws were swollen as well as his mouth. I knew he was really sick when he didn't or couldn't get up to see me when I walked in and as a result of this, I didn't sleep at all Friday night worrying about what to do with our sick dog. After 2hrs and a couple hundred bucks at the vet we still didn't know what was wrong with him so now we're just waiting and hoping that the antibiotics will do their thing, if we can actually get him to eat them which has been a challenge in and of itself. Here are a couple pics of the sick puppy...

(Not to mention we're also working on some major home improvement projects on top of everything else going on. Pictures will be up soon.)

2 things I have taken so far from this ordeal with Otis:
1. In life it seems like there is always something to deal with, stress about, pay for, etc and yet in comparison with some of the obstacles and struggles others face mine seem pretty small.

2. Otis HATES taking his medication and we have tried everything so far (my wife is actually stopping to get him a cheeseburger from Wendy's as I write this to see if that will work). He obviously doesn't realize that even though they might taste awful, they are actually needed to make him feel better. Which makes me think about how often the things we need to make us better whether spiritually, emotionally, physically, socially, etc are things that are not easy to take (ie. staying disciplined in prayer or time in the Word, exercising, eating right, breaking off an unhealthy relationship, taking a step back from an unbalanced friendship or job and the list can go on and on....). Sometimes the things that bring healing hurt a little bit at first.

June 13, 2008

Thanks for Visiting Wilmore

Day 6
We only had a half day today, which was sweet! We started our morning with a time of Communion and prayer, which was pretty cool. Afterwards we watched a video from the Leadership Summit held at Willow Creek of Jim Collins talking about leadership. Before the video started I was somewhat skeptical but ended up really liking some of the things he had to say. Once class was over I had the chance to grab some lunch with a couple really cool people I met and then it was on the road again for me.

Now, I'm guessing that it has something to do with a more southern culture and the fact that I am not, in any way, from the south that makes me go crazy when driving in the south. It seemed that everyone drove SO SLOW!! I know that I tend to have a "lead foot" but come on seriously, who actually drives the speed limit?!? Other than that, the 3 & 1/2 hour drive home wasn't bad until I hit the Ohio River on I275...it was like God had taken the entire content of the river itself and dumped it on those of us in the area at the time. I have never seen soooooo much water on the interstate, both falling from the sky and sitting on the road. And don't get me started on those giant semis that come flying by in the left lane as if it wasn't already hard enough to see the road in front of you.

Needless to say I made it home and am actually sitting out on my porch as I write this. Overall I had a good week on campus, really enjoyed my class and my prof and felt like I not only learned a lot but was challenged personally and spiritually in the process. I'm sure I'll share more in-depth in the upcoming days but for now I'm going to go see if Otis is feeling any better.

June 12, 2008

Wilmore: Day 5

Day 5
Another day of class & lecture from 8:30am to 4:30pm. We did some small group work today which I thought was pretty cool, we did an exegete of Mark 9:33-50 and came across some cools things. Our prof gave us 1.5hrs for lunch today which fit in perfectly with my lunchtime-nap plans. I was able to pick up my paper that we had to turn in on the first day of class and I scored a 9/10 so I was cool w/that. We have a 10 page paper due by the 27th of June, I don't think it will be too bad though.

This evening brought my daily after-class-nap (of course) but tonight I had plans to grab some sushi with a classmate but that didn't pan out but don't worry, I went and grabbed sushi solo. I can't get my hopes up for sushi and then not actually get some, so peeps or not I'm going to hook up some sushi. The sushi was ok, not amazing but not awful.

This is my last night in my dorm room and if you'll allow me a moment to reflect on the experience as I'll deeply miss this dorm room flashback and the relationship I built w/my "roomie" (whom I have not seen ALL week).... *pause* ....ok, I'm good now. I think on this note I'll call it a night and lie in bed thinking about all of the great memories I have in this room.

June 11, 2008

Wilmore: Day 4

Day 4
Morning lecture today went from 8:30am to 11:25am because chapel was at 11:30am. It's been a while since I've been on a Christian school campus as a student and completely forgot about chapel, which almost seems hard to do considering we had it at TU 3 times a week. The service actually ended up being pretty decent with some good worship and a pointed yet short message. After that it was lunch time.

Our afternoon consisted of going out into the community in different ways to live out servant leadership. We had 4 service groups that went out: one did yard work for an older lady, one painted a house for a nearby ministry, one helped setup for the Ichthus Festival and the other went to do some cleaning at the Salvation Army in downtown Lexington...I was in the last group. We had a good group and ripped through deep cleaning the kitchen and dining room in less than 3hrs. This was the first time I felt like I actually got to know some of my fellow classmates, so that was cool.

The evening brought nothing exciting really. I decided I would go to Panera again and this time bring my laptop, books, etc so I could just chill there for a while. I got back to my room probably close to 9 and decided to go for a run around Wilmore. It was a good run but tough as there are a lot of hills, it ended up being almost 1.6 miles...not too shabby.

Here are a couple more random pic highlights...

The building next to the building my class is in...this one looks way cooler than the one I'm in hence the pic

I'm not sure you can really tell what I'm holding but just it's a Cicada. It would seem that they have taken over the world or at least campus. They are literally EVERYWHERE. It's pretty crazy...and LOUD!

fyi...this is a good cd. I had no problem listening straight through w/o skipping a single song. I've actually made it all the way through 3x now.

June 10, 2008

Wilmore: Day 3

Day 3
I went to the local grocery store last night and picked up some things for breakfast so I didn't have to get up as early today. I think it was about 10 to 8 by the time I actually got out of bed. Supposedly we had some decent storms come through last night but I only remember hearing a couple peels of thunder and seeing some lightening before I was out.

Nothing too incredibly exciting happened today. The lecture hall where my class is being held was FREEZING today! I wouldn't be surprised if the thermostat said something close to the 50's because I think at one point my toes and fingers were actually numb. Today's theme was the "Shadow Side" of servant leadership. We discussed how any selfish motive to lead others will only result in disaster and how easy it can be to abuse positions of leadership. It was a long day but important to bring up and discuss the abuses of leadership that unfortunately happen all around us.

Class got out a little before 5pm today so I headed back to my dorm room for a little after-class-nap session. I got up and for some reason was ready to go, I wasn't really sure where I was going but I was ready to go nonetheless. So, I decided I would venture toward Lexington and see what I could find...I ended up at a mall, walked around a little, hit up a Panera for dinner on my way back and called it an 'adventure'.

Now I'm back in my room with a lot of thoughts and ideas swirling around in my head, which I guess isn't necessarily a bad thing considering I am scheduled to preach 3 Sundays in-a-row at the end of June into July. I'm hoping that I can use some of these thoughts or ideas for my sermons if I can formulate them to make sense somehow. While thoughts are floating around the room I decided I would check out a couple new albums: Wanderlust by Gavin Rossdale, 3 Doors Down by 3 Doors Down and We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things by Jason Mraz. I'll let you know what I think if you're interested.

June 9, 2008

Wilmore: Day 2

Day 2
The alarm went off at 7:30am and I was up and at 'em ready for my first classroom experience in some time. I decided I was going to kick it old school and leave the laptop in the room and take notes with pen and paper (remember those days?!?) because I didn't want to be "that guy" taking notes with a laptop. What's funny is that I ended up being "that guy" because about 90% of the class had their laptops out taking notes, which ended up being a double whammy because the morning lecture's powerpoint was online. Needless to say, I ran back to my dorm room to grab my laptop during the morning break. It's probably a good thing that during my undergrad I a) didn't have a laptop and b) my school did not have WiFi because that would have been a deadly combo for my grades.

The word of the day is kenosis, a Greek word for "emptying self" or "making self nothing" or "pouring out self". This idea is exemplified in Philippians 2:7 and is one of the foundational points of servant leadership. An interesting concept to think about as it relates to Jesus and what it means for those of us trying to be like Him.

Lecture today went from 8:30am to about 5pm with a break in the morning, 1hr lunch break (which I hit up Subway half a block away), and a break in the afternoon. I was back in my room by 5 after 5pm and decided I would take a little nap. Got up about 6:30pm and decided to checkout downtown Wilmore to see what kind of food options I might find. In case you haven't been to downtown Wilmore, like I hadn't before this evening, I will let you know that it is in no way large. The only place open (on a Monday at 6:40pm?) was La Casa De Jose, which I admit was pretty good. I had potato tacos, I know it sounds weird because it sounded weird to me as well but they were actually "muy bien". If nothing else, it gave me a reason to leave my dorm room.

A couple of pic highlights so far (these were taken w/my iPhone so bare w/the quality)...

drink of the day



June 8, 2008

Welcome to Wilmore

Day 1
I arrived at Asbury Theological Seminary located in Wilmore, KY about 2hrs ago. I am taking a week long class on the theology of servant leadership and must admit I'm actually looking forward to being back in the classroom after 7yrs since finishing my undergrad.

The drive down was nice, about 3.5hrs. Great weather and not a lot of traffic. I don't know about you but I don't mind driving longer distances by myself. I'm a big music guy so when it's just me in the car, I crank up the tunes and pretty much let it go. No doubt I'm entertaining for the people I pass by as I leave my heart on stage...or in the driver's seat.

Talk about a crazy flashback to dorm life. I am staying on campus for the week in one of the student dorms and am quickly reminded of the good and bad of dorm life. I originally requested a single room but that didn't work out so I arrived anxious to meet my new roomie...who happened to be working the desk where I needed to pick up my housing paperwork so that was cool. My first flashback came when my roomie told me "there is an empty box and some clothes on your bed, just throw them on mine." The week has officially begun.

So now I'm sitting here with a mini-fridge to my right topped with dishes that have remnants of, what I'm assuming was, their most recent meals while I take a break from writing a paper that is due at 9am tomorrow. Man, those were the days...

....dishes crusted with Ramen noodles
....community bathrooms
....video games 24/7
...."open house" hours
....last minute late-night studying
....an occasional fire alarm as the result of a water balloon, firecracker, axe bomb, playing frisbee in the hallway, etc etc

June 5, 2008

A Blogging Slacker

I know I have been slacking these past couple days and I apologize but it has been one of those weeks for me...

Monday & Tuesday was spent backpacking and camping in the hills of Southern Kentucky. I went with a couple of guys involved in my college group and we ended up having a great time. It was a quick trip but a good time none the less.

Lots of things going on at church have been keeping me busy over the past couple of weeks, most of which are kind of exciting. On top of this stuff, I have been planning a camping trip for our young adult group for this weekend while getting ready to head down to Wilmore, KY for my first class of the summer. For those of you unaware or forgetful I'm working on my MA from Asbury Theological Seminary and have been trying to read the 7 books required for the class Theology of Servant Leadership which I'm taking next week. Not to mention I have a paper due on Monday, the first day of class.

Despite all of this, I have to admit I'm pretty excited that the race for the Democratic presidential nomination seems to be over...and it's about time. I feel like the longer this goes on and the more things Sen. Clinton (or her husband) say, the more and more it is like watching a train wreck.

p.s. - Don't forget about TRL