Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Mormon ... and His Dr. Pepper

"Remove God and your life is as meaningless as a can of soda."
Curtis is a 17 year old convert to Mormonism who my pastor George met in the park next to our church. He's been in the foster system since he was five and has been bounced around between 30 homes over the past 12 years. He's understandably a mixed up young man. George has had conversations with Curtis about Christianity over the past few weeks but Curtis has been fairly combative.

This past Sunday George saw him sitting alone on a bench again and so we both walked over and engaged him in conversation. After a few minutes George had to excuse himself from the conversation but it continued chugging along at a pretty fast clip with Curtis zealously articulating Mormon doctrine.  

All of a sudden he hit the conversational brakes and turned down a side street (there were no blinkers to warn me). It happened so fast I almost missed it. "I'm about this close to leaving the church anyway" he casually blurted out. "Huh???" Was my reply. Not very articulate I know, but I was confused. He explained that since his conversion six months ago he'd had doubts. "I think I'm just going to go back to how it was before. Just my own ideas about God."

"Really?" I inquired. This struck me as ironic. "I'm not sure that's such a good idea. If you go that route you'd be making the same mistake that Adam and Eve made and that resulted in the huge mess we're in today. They wanted to rebelliously try to mold God in their own image too. They wanted to figure out right and wrong on their own. And what resulted is the self-centered sin that ultimately bounced you into 30 homes over the past 12 years and that has resulted in all the other evil that has plagued the world since. You'd be falling into the same trap that they fell into and into which we all now fall apart from salvation in Jesus Christ. You'd be advocating the philosophy of idolatry that got us into this ugly mess."  

"But I'm not even sure I believe in God." He lobbed back.

I'd been eyeing his Dr. Pepper covetously the whole conversation. Suddenly that Soda seemed to be more than just a delicious beverage and source of my personal sanctification, it became a good object lesson. Taking my cue from Douglas Wilson in his debate with Christopher Hitchens (go to minute

Leadership Practice ... The Camporal

Each year in the spring young men in junior high and high school in our battalion ministries have a chance to practice the skills of leadership in the context of competition.

This is always a wonderful event to watch, as young men learn to lead and to follow. Where they see their strengths blossom and God shows them areas of weakness.

Examples from my own experience 20 years ago:
  1. I learned to listen to wise counsel the hard way as a 13 year old when I cut the tip of my finger off with a hatchet during a fire building competition because I thought I could dismiss the counsel of an older man.  
  2. I learned my tendency toward impatience in the midst of hardship as the 5 guys on my squad were trying to race around a course all standing on the same two 2X4 wooden boards. That required teamwork and my attitude didn't help.
  3. I learned the importance as well as some of the finer points of hospitality in the life of the Christian as we cooked and served adult leaders as a part of the competition.  

To view some more pictures click here.

COOL READS ... Redemption -- Freed by Jesus from the Idols We Worship and the Wounds We Carry

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. 

The theme of redemption stretches across all the pages of God's story. Jesus came to redeem his people. To free them from slavery to sin. But how should we understand and respond when certain sins seem to maintain a hold on us that we can't shake?

In this book Mike Wilkerson weaves together the story of Israel's exodus from Egypt with contemporary stories of people's redemption from sin. He does a spectacular job of maintaining constant contact with the Gospel while at the same time challenging us to respond to the freedom purchased for us by Christ in worship. Worship is after all the very purpose for which we were created.

It's a refreshing and challenging approach to killing our hangups without appealing to modern secular psycho-babble or the all to common warmed over christian versions of that same babble.

To read other reviews of this book and to purchase click here.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Prayer Requests 5/23/2012

Thank you for praying for  our family's ministry. Here are some things that we'd love for you to remember in prayer for us:

I met with a pastor in the Sacramento area who is interested in how we can help them disciple the boys and young men in their congregation. Please pray for the pastor as he meets with the key men's leadership team to cast the vision and to plan.

I had a great meeting with a church in the Modesto area that we already work with but they have some great ideas for growing their discipleship ministry. Please pray that God blesses their work over the next couple of months.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Kindness Of God

It is a good thing when we prepare to come to the Lord's table that we take a moment to reflect on the character of the God who has set the table before us.

We often times have a really difficult time seeing the world clearly. Actually, the problem is worse. We usually get everything backwards. We emphasize what ought not to be emphasized. We identify problems where there really aren't any and miss the real issues. We do this because we still look at the world through eyes affected by sin. We do this because we lack eyes of faith. We do this because perfect clarity will only come when we can finally look back on the world from the perspective only the finish line provides.

So seeing life properly takes some shaking off the faithless scales of the flesh. And when we do, suddenly we realize just how backwards we've been. We see this in our doubts about God's existence. In our pride we look around at this world and we suggest that God should provide just a bit more evidence for his existence. The irony is that the problem is NOT that there is not enough evidence for His existence, quite the contrary, the problem is that He's provided far too much evidence. We get so used to the marks of his artistry popping up everywhere that we seem to think they are nowhere. Instead of being floored by the marvelous complexity of the human eye, instead of falling to our knees each time a sunset paints the sky, instead of the beauty of a rose (or even better a rose garden) causing us to cry out in worship, we look over all of this and cry out for evidence. The evidence confronts us in every moment and every crevice of our lives. In the tiniest details and those painted

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Learning from Leia

Sometimes we forget that Christ changes everything. Nowhere is this forgetfulness more apparent than when we forget that the beauty and indispensability of grace is only beautiful and indispensable because we have been the recipients of that gratuitous grace. This grace changes everything. It changes our view of the world, our affections, our idea of what is beautiful, good, true, just, normal, interesting, and possible.

So we must not wonder at those who are still yet strangers and aliens to this grace, that when they hear us talk about salvation by faith apart from any effort of our own they often look at us with confused stares or explode in incredulity at the foolishness and injustice of this scheme.