Saturday, August 30, 2008
At least they should be. Mars Hill is a famous place in Athens Greece. It was there that the parthenon presented the world with many great ideas; it was there that Socrates was tried and drank hemlock as a death sentence; and it was there that the Apostle Paul presented Christianity to the greek people.
But it was very different from Peter’s preaching to the Jews on Pentecost. Why?
Well Peter could take a bullhorn and yell at the Jews because they had witnessed the events around Jesus life for themselves and they were familiar with the Bible and the stories of a coming messiah [rescuer] So he could tee-off in a religious rhoid rage like any good flipped-out Old Testament prophet and the people understood.
But try that in Tokyo…or New York City…or Ashland. And what do you get?
Paul on the other hand is a much better example for our situation. He uses a poem about Zeus written by a famous stoic “in him we live and breath and have our being” and sets the stage for talking about God with pop-culture. On Mars Hill he uses what they know to explain what they don’t know. Just like if we use u-tube; films; music etc. This was Paul’s style…but the substance was the same as what Pete talked about at Pentecost. The substance was still Jesus.
So here’s the gig for you. What is your evangelism style? Do you really wanna act like a used car salesman shouting through a bullhorn?! Probably not. How about instead inviting people over for dinner…or making a video testimony…or some graphic art…or a short film…or baking some cookies…or…
This is the martian way of evangelism. And everybody loves martians because they are just strange little people from another world usually with cool powers. And yes our citizenship is from another world. Heaven. But while we are still here we have a job to do for Jesus. We need to tell people about him. The trick is to tell it in a way that provokes the response Paul got when they said in my paraphrase “freaky dude, let me mull it over…come back tomarrow and we’ll pick it up where we left off.”
“count conversations NOT conversions”
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Go to all orientations. Do you really need to go on yet another campus tour? Yes. The faster you learn your way around campus -- and around all the red tape -- the more at ease you'll feel and the better prepared you'll be when issues arise.
Get to know your roommate and others in your residence hall. The people you live with, most of whom are going through similar experiences and emotions, are your main safety net -- not only this year, but for all your years. You may change roommates after the first semester or you may stay roommates for all four years -- just take the time to get to know your fellow first-year students. If you can join a 242 group through the center for religious life. These friends and a mentor make all the difference in the world.
Get Organized. In high school, the teachers tended to lead you through all the homework and due dates. In college, the professors post the assignments -- often for the entire semester -- and expect you to be prepared. Buy an organizer, a PDA, a big wall calendar -- whatever it takes for you to know when assignments are due.
Find the ideal place for you to study. It may be your dorm room or a cozy corner of the chapel, but find a place that works best for you to get your work done -- while avoiding as many distractions as possible.
Go to class. Obvious, right? Maybe, but sleeping in and skipping that 8 am class will be tempting at times. Avoid the temptation. Besides learning the material by attending classes, you'll also receive vital information from the professors about what to expect on tests, changes in due dates, etc.
Become an expert on course requirements and due dates. Professors spend hours and hours preparing course syllabi and calendars so that you will know exactly what is expected of you -- and when. One of the lamest excuses a student can give a professor: "I didn't know it was due today."
Meet with your professors. Speaking as an instructor at the Seminary, I can assure you there are only upsides to getting to know your professors, especially if later in the semester you run into some snags. Professors schedule office hours for the sole purpose of meeting with students -- take advantage of that time.
Get to know your academic adviser. This is the person who will help you with course conflicts, adding or dropping courses, scheduling of classes for future semesters, deciding on majors and minors. This person is a key resource for you -- and should be the person you turn to with any academic issues or conflicts. And don't be afraid of requesting another adviser if you don't click with the one first assigned to you.
Seek a balance. College life is a mixture of social and academic happenings. Don't tip the balance too far in either direction. One of my favorite former students always used to say her motto was to "study hard so she could play hard."
Get involved on campus. A big problem for a lot of new students is a combination of homesickness and a feeling of not quite belonging. A solution? Consider joining a select group -- and be careful not to go overboard -- of student organizations, clubs, sororities or fraternities, or sports teams. You'll make new friends, learn new skills, and feel more connected to your school. Go to 5 stones community church on Sundays and find a midweek service like the well, FCA, or Newman to attend as well. It will recharge your batteries.
Strive for good grades. Another obvious one here, right? Remember the words of the opening paragraph; while good grades could have come naturally to you in high school, you will have to earn them in college -- and that means setting some goals for yourself and then making sure you work as hard as you can to achieve them.
Take advantage of the study resources on campus. Just about all colleges have learning labs and tutors available. If you're having some troubles, these resources are another tool available to you. Another idea: form study groups.
Make time for you. Be sure you set aside some time and activities that help you relax and take the stress out of your day or week. Whether it's enlisting yoga techniques, watching your favorite television shows, or writing in a journal, going to the chapel prayer room, be good to yourself.
Don't feel pressured to make a hasty decision about a career or a major. It doesn't matter if it seems as though everyone else seems to know what they're doing with their lives -- believe me, they don't -- college is the time for you to really discover who you are, what you enjoy doing, what you're good at, and what you want to be. It's not a race; take your time and enjoy exploring your options.
Take responsibility for yourself and your actions. Don't look to place the blame on others for your mistakes; own up to them and move on. Being an adult means taking responsibility for everything that happens to you.
Make connections with students in your classes. One of my best students said his technique in the first week of classes was to meet at least one new person in each of his classes. It expanded his network of friends -- and was a crucial resource at times when he had to miss a class.
Find the Career Services Office. Regardless of whether you are entering college as undeclared or have your entire future mapped out, seek out the wonderful professionals in your college's career services office and get started on planning, preparing, and acting on your future.
Prioritize your life. It may have been easy in high school to wait until the last minute to complete an assignment and still get a good grade, but that kind of stuff will not work for you in college. Give yourself deadlines -- and stick to them.
Stay healthy/Eat Right. A lot of problems first-year students face can be traced back to an illness that kept them away from classes for an extended period of time that led to a downward spiraling effect. Get enough sleep, take your vitamins, and eat right. If you haven't heard the jokes about college food, you soon will. And without mom or dad there to serve you a balanced meal, you may be tempted to go for those extra fries or cookies. Stay healthy and avoid the dreaded extra "Freshman 15" pounds by sticking to a balanced diet.
Learn to cope with homesickness. It's only natural that there will be times when you miss your family, even if you were one of those kids who couldn't wait to get away. Find a way to deal with those feelings, such as making a phone call or sending some email home.
Stay on campus as much as possible. Whether it's homesickness, a job, or a boyfriend or girlfriend from home, try not to leave campus too soon or too often. The more time you spend on getting to know the campus and your new friends, the more you'll feel at home at school. And why not take advantage of all the cultural and social events that happen on campus?
Seek professional help when you need it. Most colleges have health and counseling centers. If you're sick or feeling isolated or depressed, please take advantage of the many services these offices provide students. You don't have to face these issues by yourself.
Keep track of your money. If you've never had to create a budget, now is the time to do so. Find ways to stretch your money - and as best you can, avoid all those credit card solicitations you'll soon be receiving. The average credit card debt of college grads is staggering.
Don't cut corners. College is all about learning. If you procrastinate and cram, you may still do well on tests, but you'll learn very little. Even worse, don't cheat on term papers or tests.
Be prepared to feel overwhelmed. There's a lot going in your life right now. Expect to have moments where it seems a bit too much. As one student says, be prepared to feel completely unprepared. The trick is knowing that you're not the only one feeling that way.
Top 10 Reasons College Students Leave/Drop-Out
Too much fun at the expense of classes and grades
A sense of not belonging; a sense of isolation, homesickness
Academically unprepared; burned-out on education
Financial constraints; low on funds
Personal family issues
Choice of wrong major; major not offered
Lack of advising, guidance
Demands from part-time or full-time employment
Move to a different geographic location
I dated my wife Amy for 7 years [she was 14 when we started!]
we have been married for 19 years
and 364 days
wed it will be 20 years of marriage
27 years of relationship
with that in mind i thought i would give some of you singles a few things to mull over at the 20 year point.
- attraction is VASTLY over-rated. 3 things are real. 1 we all make-love in the dark! 2 making love is an act of intimacy with the whole of a person. 3 getting wrinkled, gray, and fat is a wonderful sign that vogue magazine and GQ are no longer your slave-masters.
- having a mutual MISSION is more important in terms of compatability than you can imagine. Enjoying the same music, tv shows etc will seem crazy when you are up to your ears in diapers. But having the same mission in life will keep you drawn together.
- FEELINGS are the product of actions and attitude. Feeling like you are in or out of love is funny to married people. We see each other sitting on the can...we do things that drive each other nuts...our emotions are all over the map. Covenant and committment are driven by a choice of attitude and a set of consistant actions. Feelings will follow.
- ROMANCE matters and people want to feel pursued. BUT, learning to trust and feel comfortable with each other is really, really nice and losing the competative nature of neurotic pusuit is one of the great things about staying married. ENTITLEMENT attitudes suck...but so does Conditional love.
- You will fret and fight over MONEY, SEX, and Child-rearing more than you think. Have a good plan for handling these things. and understand you are not alone, each decade will have new challenges which can be met with good communication, regular couselling, and a lot of faith.
- The ability to give GRACE and COMPASSION for your spouses weaknesses and immaturity cannot be over-exaggerated.
- This won't sound hip, in fact it will be VERY old fashioned. But men thrive and grow in ADMIRATON and RESPECT and women love to have true INTIMACY and nourturing PROTECTION.
- He will never be JERRY McGuire, and she will never be ANGELINA Pitt. Get over it.
- Having a sense of HUMOR and an ability to laugh at yourself and roll-with-it will get you through the hard times far more than skill, reason, etc.
- Your spouse is the most dangerous person in the world, and the safest. Nobody will ever have the keys to your heart that they will. Marry somebody that is TRUSTWORTHY.
- PS: Girls...try not to marry a boy...guys, frigin put down the PS3 controllers and grow up!
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Monday, August 25, 2008
"There was once a Father who had two sons. The younger said to his father, 'Father, I want to go to college and have a limitless Visa card while I’m there, and a Mustang convertible. "So the father cashed in his portfolio and most of his retirement. It wasn't long before the younger son packed his bags and left for a distant universe-city. There, undisciplined and dissipated, he wasted everything he had. After he had gone through all his [dad’s] money, there was not as generous a bell curve as he had expected, and he flunked out as well. He signed on with a local citizen who assigned him to clean at his farm. He was so hungry he would have eaten the corncobs in the pig slop, but no one would give him any. He even missed Convo... "That brought him to his senses. He said, 'All those union guys working for my father sit down to three meals a day, and here I am starving to death. I'm going back to my dad. I'll say to him, dad, I've rebelled against God, I've taken advantage of you; I don't deserve to be called your son. Take me on as a hired hand.' He got right up and went home to his dad. "When he was still a long way off, his dad saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, wrestled him to the ground and kissed him. The son started his speech: 'Father, I've rebelled against God and you; I don't deserve to be called your son ever again.' "But the dad wasn't listening. He was calling to the servants, 'Quick. Go to American Eagle and dress him. Put the family AMEX in his wallet and Adidas on his feet. Then go down to the BBQ and fire up some ribs. We're going to feast! My son is here—given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found!' And they began to have a wonderful time. "All this time his older son was out in the field. When the day's work was done he came in. As he approached the house, he heard Death Cab for Cutie playing and dancing. Calling over one of the caterer’s, he asked what was going on. He told him, 'Your brother came home. Your dad has ordered a feast—barbecued beef! And brewski’s—because he has him home safe and sound.' "The older brother stalked off in an angry sulk and refused to join in. His dad came out and tried to talk to him, but he wouldn't listen. The son said, 'Look how many years I've stayed here serving you, never giving you one moment of grief, but have you ever thrown a party for me and my friends? Then this son of yours who has thrown away your money on whores shows up and you go all out with a feast!' "His dad said, 'Son, you don't understand. You're with me all the time, and everything that is mine is yours—but this is a wonderful time, and we had to celebrate. This brother of yours was dead, and he's alive! He was lost, and he's found!'"
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Every time you move, this question will jump up into your heart for at least a few seconds. If you indulge it the other questions will follow: “Will I make friends; do I have what it takes; was this the right decision?”
Nobody can answer all the questions that will creep into your heart and mind, but I can answer one with extreme clarity. The question might come in a lot of forms but the answer is “you will be loved and accepted…just the way you are.”
Our church is a sanctuary. A place of grace where “you can belong, even if you don’t believe” and “no perfect people allowed” are part of our spiritual DNA. You can be exploring faith; asking the question ‘church, why bother?’; or simply asking God how to be transformed more into someone who looks like Jesus-and how to teach and serve others as he did. We are passionate about being servants to the university and the community.5 stones community church exists to love God by helping others to become fully devoted followers of Jesus. It’s a tall-order, and none of us have it all figured out. But God is leading us into transformation; a world-wide revolution of love; spiritual experiences; moral grandeur and soulish audacity. We learn from each other and we love. We laugh and we cry. We ask questions and when we don’t have answers we don’t barf cliché’s and platitudes on people. Super ‘religious’ people don’t understand us; we are into relationships not religion.
And I’m the leader of this rag-tag group of misfits. Expatriates from heaven who are more than we were and less than what we will become. And we have made a few choices. 3 actually. 1 we will love God, because we choose to and because he loves us; 2 we will love each other, because we choose to and because God has shown us how; and 3 we will love YOU because we choose to and because this is part of the mission of our church family. So when you’re ready come see us. We will love ya, feed ya, cry or laugh with ya, answer questions as best we can, and in general just be that “safe place” you can go to if it is time to explore faith; come home to God; or need bail money after way too much drinking and assorted unsavory behaviors catch-up to you J And yes my teaching is full of Bible verses, sarcasm, and movie clips. I get paid to annoy people…it’s the greatest job in the world. I comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable.
We meet at Miller Chapel on the A/U campus every Sunday at 10:30am. Bring your doubts, hangovers, desire for God etc. and join us. I have an office in the building right next to common grounds and I am available 24/7 for you as well. My cellphone number is 419-554-1447 and the e-mail is email@example.com.
PS: believe it or not God loves you more than you can even imagine. And you are never really alone; he is just a prayer away!
10 Reasons Not To Invite People to Follow Christ at 5 stones
we are afraid of rejection.
we think everyone at church is already a believer.
we wouldn’t dream of offending someone. [ya right]
we don’t really believe the gospel changes lives.
we are so busy preaching about “sex” or “how to have a better life” that you don’t have time to present Christ.
we would rather tell another joke than spend time explaining the gospel.
we don’t want to be criticized for being narrow minded.
we care more about everyone feeling welcome than about their eternity.
we are embarrassed to talk a lot about Jesus.
we don’t really really believe the gospel ourselves, or we've gotten so used to it we are bored by it and have forgotten the joy and wonder of rescue and transformation
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
10 Reasons to Invite People to Follow Christ Every Week At Church
1. Someone may be at church only once.
2. The Holy Spirit may have been working on them for months or years.
3. Even some churched people don’t understand the gospel.
4. Many trust in the church for salvation instead of trusting Christ.
5. Seeing others saved gives believers another reason to worship and motivation to witness.
6. New Christians can “light a church on fire.”
7. Angels in heaven get to party when one person meets Christ.
8. Hell is a real place.
9. You care deeply about people.
10. Families, workplaces, neighborhoods, cities, and generations could be different when one person meets Christ.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Mandatory meeting for anyone who has leadership responsibilities and is in
charge of a budget:
This will be the most important leadership summit so far..
Because we are going to officially end the season of surviving and getting
healthy and start to grow.
Our long term plan is
This year: grow: start to be a good church
Next year: develop: move into being a very good church
The following year: deploy: being a great church
This year as we grow there are 3 things we want to get very good at:
Loving each other
Loving the unchurched
1-3 pm in Bixler [on a/u campus] 3rd floor...THIS SUNDAY
1-1:30 Budget stuff with Sue and Sarah
1:30-2 DVD of "they like Jesus but not the church"
2-2:30 vision and worksheets. Calendar for the fall re-start
2:30-3 presentations, dialogue and metrics for 2008-2009
Also: Mario is joining Dan Stephenson's team for men's ministry
We are starting to look for a women's ministry coordinator [BUT...they
cannot be point person for anything else] and we will help form a team
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Top 13 Reasons that Unchurched People Choose a Church
(research conducted by Ranier)
90% - Pastor/Preaching
88% - Doctrines
49% - Friendliness of Members
42% - Other Issues
41% - Someone Church Witnessed to Me
38% - Family Member
37% - Sensed God’s Presence/Atmosphere of Church
25% - Relationship Other than Family Member
25% - Sunday School Class
25% - Children’s/Youth Ministry
12% - Other Groups/Ministries
11% - Worship Style/Music
7% - Location
Top 9 Reasons that Church-Attenders Choose a Church(research conducted by the Barna Group in 1999)
58% - Doctrine/Theology
53% - People Caring for Each Other
52% - Preaching
45% - Friendliness
45% - Children’s Programs
43% - Helping the Poor
36% - Denomination
35% - Like the Pastor
26% - Sunday School
Top 6 Things that Keep the Formerly Unchurched Active in the Church(research conducted by Ranier)
62% - Ministry Involvement
55% - Sunday School
54% - Obedience to God
49% - Fellowship of Members
38% - Pastor/Preaching
14% - Worship Services
The statistics speak for themselves. Overall, doctrine, the pastor and his preaching, and the friendliness and fellowship of the congregation are the most influential qualities.
Friday, August 1, 2008
a little backstory: 4 years ago i was a finalist to be pastor of a church in michigan. [pipe down with the boo-hiss you ohio freaks!] anyhow, i exited the process when i was a finalist with one other person. But i have prayed for this church for 4 years and finally visited it 2 weeks ago. Anyways, I am friends with a person on staff and we have been e-mailing since my visit. This is from an e-mail to her and from my journal. it is about sitting in the pastors office when i visited there...and...i suppose it is about how weird my prayer life is, and the fact that you pay me to write things like this to encourage other pastors, churches, etc that you have no reference point for. I thought in light of 1-service this last weekend...this might be interesting for you to read. The former pastor's name was Ron.
A journal entry: about being in the room for the pastoral team.
“I was in that room a long time ago, even though I have never been there. Walking in was like walking into a familiar place, but there was a definition to it that I hadn’t experienced before. I saw the shelves that had held Ron’s books, now held other ones, and might have held mine. The desks were messy and the OCD part of my brain cringed a little and wanted to tidy things up. Even the colors were what I expected, right down to the lights. But what was really shocking to me was what was unseen. The ceiling was dripping with ideas and plans for the church and kingdom. Like stalactites they jutted down and some were Ron’s, Dave’s, Randy’s, John’s…even mine. Some had fallen to the floor, some were still dripping and growing, and some were cracked and about to fall. And the carpet was full of salt-stains nobody will ever see. All those prayers, the rushing gushing torrent of dreams, frustrations, pain, abandonment, whiplash, and exhaustion. There was even some knee-grooves in the carpet pattern, like the smooth grooves in the wood of the old prayer shanties of the pietists…worn down by knees dug into ground raising voices to that great throne which thunders over us. And the walls…the walls that have seen things and been imprinted by them in ways nobody will fathom. The day things were first moved in; the day of the resignation letter; the long hollow wait; the new team; the anguish of cancer; wanting to leave…called to stay… But there are windows here too, even if nobody can see them. Windows that gush forth new days…over and over again. Glints of sunlight that stream in from heaven; tides that wash down from the ocean of God; and snow and rain which are Jesus own tears of intercession. And Jesus visits this room a lot. I can smell him there…thick…like gardenia’s from the neighbors garden. His hands touch the books, and his finger linger over the desks…bottles of wine…and more. He comes in like a janitor, late at night. He fixes some things, replaces light bulbs, and carefully pulls each tear from the carpet with an eyedropper and saves them in an urn. He touches the walls and they repeat all the prayers of the day both the ones aloud and the silent deeper..groaning ones. He falls to his own knees and his shadow touches everything in the room, leaving some weird residue…mist…anointing holy mist that will stay stuck to everything…subtly…for another day. And he posts angels around the room…over it, in it, sitting on the cables that run to the computers…strange creatures full of light and mystery that keep those other strange dark brothers from coming in with their temptations and torture devices. Finally Jesus says something and his breath like rolling waters fills the room and drowns it in his will. It dries up quickly, but oddly, is still there. As he leaves the room seems somehow like an aquarium more than an office. A place of cool, deep-dark, mysterious and foreign waters. A world within our world that we don’t understand. But by far the weirdest thing to me is walking around this room and seeing my own graffiti plastered on the walls. 4 years of intercession, like layers of ethereal wallpaper strangely asking things…protecting things…nurturing things…carrying things…long after Jesus made it clear I couldn’t go. In the weirdness of my life I have no category for this. I pray for all sorts of odd things and people…but late at night when I call out to the kingdom, my Google earth voice still often hovers and breaks-and-enters this place to sit in the ruins…and…to see the new Jerusalem Jesus is building. The old temple is gone…the new temple rises up from pieces of it…and who’s to say which one will be filled with the most glory? Ron’s dream is shattered…the new dream of the new team is slowly sputtering forward…and Jesus seems fine with all this. As if he were cleaning up one dream he had, and starting to build the next one…it seemed seasonal more than tragic. Natural more than nightmarish. But this place will remain an odd hermitage of prayer for me it seems…and when John and Dave walk into this room it will always be far more crowded than they suspect. Jesus, angels, my prayers, the prayers of all the people in the church…the aquarium of prayer and spiritual reality is simply teeming with life in this place. It may not be “morph” but it may be…becoming an Atlantis for Christ.
And so Jesus I would ask that they simply know that it is your shadow that fills this place…not Ron’s. That they are far…far…far from being alone in their choking thoughts, swirling thoughts… That healing words are splattered all over this place night by night, and that the Spirit is the very water of saturation that they swim in while in this room. May this room become truly creepy and haunting in that it is unlike other places….sacred space…and stargates into realms that imagination can not define or explain. May the dust of former dreams be blown out the windows unseen and may the seeds and sunshine of the new creation flow and grow in this place. And let a great hush of wonder and majesty fill this place with your two comforting hands of peace and rest. Wipe away tears; slap people awake; give them blueprints to work on…
And I’ll be back, to write my graffiti prayers here from time to time. And if you listen really, really hard you will hear my tears hit the carpet as well as your own…and my laughter echoing in the canyons of candles in the sanctuary.”
I wish I could sneak in and drink the wine!
Stranger than fiction, is the spiritual friction of my existence