Blogger is adding some new features and stuff, so my blog will be using a beta version of what they’re doing for a while…

Sorry if this gets things all jacked up for a bit (like the blog links are gone and the side bar is at the bottom of the page and who knows what else).

As soon as I figure out how to get it fixed, I will.

One feature that I do like will be adding labels to posts that will categorize things a lot better than just what month they were written in. (But it will be a while before I can get through all the posts and get them labeled.)

The Best 6 Bucks I Didn’t Really Spend

Last Christmas, I recieved a gift card for a church bookstore in town. I don’t get over there very often, so I still had a few dollars unused on the card. I happened to be in the area a couple weeks ago with a few extra minutes, so I stopped in to see what I could find. Just before I got to the music area, I found a small table full of clearance stuff. Books, music, CD’s, etc. (They even had some old cassettes!)

“Everything $2.”

The words called to me. I don’t know, maybe I’m cheap, but if there’s a table full of $2 items, surely there’s something worthy. In addition to the book about U2 that I blogged about last week, I got Derek Webb’s “I See Things Upside Down” CD, and Charlie Peacock’s book “At the Crossroads“, which I’ve been reading. For 6 Bucks! For 6 Bucks that someone gave me!!!

This book is about the Christian music industry. Some good points, some shortcomings. Actually it deals with some similar themes as “Walk On” did, but from within the industry itself. Peacock advocates a more complete kingdom vision – God’s story everywhere in everything, as opposed to Christian music being reduced to 3 mentions of Jesus and better days to come when he returns. Living a life that is fully integrated with that kingdom vision.

It’s been a very enlightening book, and a challenge to pay attention to the ever-expanding nature of the Kingdom of God and the beauty of creativity that is a part of the nature of His image bearers.

As he is speaking to the fact that there are so few examples of music from Christians that deal with the broader (but less easily labeled) aspects of God’s Story, he mentions a passage from Song of Solomon: “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth – for your love is more delightful than wine.” This lyric wouldn’t go over so well as a “Christian” lyric in CCM.

But ironically, within five minutes of reading that page, the Derek Webb CD that I bought that day played a song titled “Better Than Wine” that deals with just that theme! And now is a song called “T-shirts (what we should be known for)” is speaking to the same topic as much of the book. Then again, Derek Webb is being seen as somewhat of a rogue element in the Christian Music Industry. But I bet he’s read this book, too.

Either that, or, he and Charlie Peacock are living the same Story…

May I live it too…

And you with us.

Send me a sign…

There are a number of links to church sign generators on the web (click here for example), where you can fabricate a church sign to make whatever ridiculous comment you want it to make. This site, Crummy Church Signs, however is reportedly filled with examples of real live church signage gone amuck. Some of those are trite and cheesy, others are downright wrong. Some are sad and others are just hilarious.

I wonder, though, what is wrong with this picture. This is a picture of an actual sign that I took in front of a business that is located next door to a church facility. What does it say about a church’s relationship to its community? Now, I don’t know anything about the church really except the location of its building and that they have a reputation for free food (soup kitchen type of outreach). But something is wrong here…

Great Message…

Not sure if this is legit or not… but it’s hilarious. If you’re ever running late to something, this may just get you off the hook. It’s great to know in this age of image in communication, some people can still paint a great picture with their words.

(Thanks to Marko for posting this first)

Walk On

Just finished reading this from Irish Presbyterian minister, Steve Stockman. I’d almost picked it up a while back, but didn’t have the money, but I found it at a bookstore for two bucks so bought it last week.

If you like U2, it’s a pretty interesting look into the spiritual depth behind much of their music. If you don’t like U2, this might give you a reason to try again, with fresh ears to hear their message.

The 2001 edition (the one I found) obviously doesn’t include anything past their Elevation tour, but there is a new edition out from Relevant Books that includes everything through How to Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, which some say is their “most spiritually profound” album yet.

The book may make you think about this band (among other things) in a very different way. What does a living/visible faith really look like? Has the church tried so hard to not be “of the world” that we really don’t live “in the world”? Do my actions and my words make the same statement about my self/belief/God?

With Trepidation…

I just dropped off Emily for her first day at school. It was interesting to see her excitement be diluted by trepidation. For weeks, she’s been looking forward to getting back to school and going to her new school. She’s talked and talked about her plans for the playground and the kids she’ll get to see.

This morning, she excitedly slung on her backpack, loaded up with all the supplies she’ll need for the year (which apparently was very heavy). But as we entered the school, full of anxious parents slipping away from their kids, I felt her little grip tighten. As we dropped off her stuff by her desk, I could see her wondering, “I don’t know anyone… what am I supposed to do now?”

The uncertainty of the new was tempered a little when I led her to the playground to wait. A quick hug and a beeline for the slide seemed to put the world back in order for her. But then she discovered a new rule… most of the playground is off limits until the regular recess. Back to dad’s side and ‘what am I supposed to do now?’

I know my kid well enough to know, she’ll be great. Today when I pick her up, her fears alleviated, she’ll have a thousand stories to tell. So I left. She’ll be ok. She’ll figure out what to do.

So will I. So can you. No matter what uncertainties we may face in life, we know Someone’s coming back to pick us up when the time comes. Regardless of the fears that steal the excitement of life from us, we know our Father’s love is stronger than those fears. And that’s enough to get us through…

Step into Disaster

It was just after Christmas, 2004. Do you remember? A small wave flooded the beaches just moments before a mammoth wall of water brought the world’s attention to Indonesia. In the wake of that disaster, walls crumbled… spiritual walls. Last night, our students got to hear from a couple who stepped into that disaster to bring hope.

They told us how the people of Indonesia, which is the most populous Muslim majority nation (almost 90% of its over 200 million people claim Islam), had been very resistant to the message of Christ. But that changed. When Christians rose up to pour themselves into helping the Acehnese to rebuild their homes, their city, their lives… the wall of hostility toward followers of Jesus began to crumble.

It was a great picture of living, active faith. By making the world a better place for someone else, these missionaries are able to love those who are lost. Working with Team Expansion and IDES, they’ve built over 300 homes, helped establish brick factories, and accomplished so much more. As they build, walls come down. (I read an article today that was an imam lamenting the fact that Christian missionaries were making headway in the Muslim world.)

Pray for followers of Jesus to show this love that rebuilds lives and tears down walls.

Interesting Article

Just read an interesting article in the Washington Post called Ministering With New Maturity. Some really good thoughts about how youth ministry has ‘grown up’ over the past few decades. It was nice to see a positive perspective of youth ministry from an ‘outside source’.

–for more insight into the world of youth ministry, you might check out Marko’s blog (where I found the link to the WP article).