Archive for June, 2009

We are underway of receiving questions for our Holipedia message series (beginning July 12th) that you might have in regards to Jesus, Bible, Christianity, Faith, etc.  You can submit them to contact@living-stones-church.org

My favorite question thus far was submitted on Sunday.

For 2000 years the church has had important issues that called for the most brilliant minds, the most intellectual thinkers, and the most spiritual of advisers to gather together to debate and discuss.  I can historically think through such councils, conferences and congresses that have been assembled to adjudicate matters and implications of our faith.

Sunday I received one of those historically important questions:

“Can God microwave a burrito so hot that even he can’t eat it?” – Kenny Boyce

Brilliant.  Leave it to doctoral level thinkers in philosophy to stump the best and brightest.

To the Word I go…to find the answer to the possible “Burrito Heresy.” 🙂

[With apologizes to Andy Stanley in whom I was convicted of this principle and am now trying to paraphrase in my own words]

If I want to go to Florida but head west on the 80/90 Toll Road towards Chicago, you know what will happen?  I will NEVER make it to Florida.  If I pray and ask the Lord to get me to Florida; if I’m wearing swim trunks meant for the beaches of Florida; if I am wearing sun screen and have packed a bag ideal for the conditions of Florida – BUT I’m on the 80/90 Toll Road headed towards Chicago, you know what?  I’M NEVER GOING TO GET TO FLORIDA.

The reason…direction ALWAYS determines destination.

We all know this truth in regards to geography, travel, navigating maps, etc.  What is interesting is how there is a complete disconnect between this profound truth (which we know to be true in one area of our lives) and how it applies to EVERY other area of our life.

We like to judge our lives based on intention, dreams, desires, etc.  We intend certain things.  We dream about certain things.  We want certain things for our lives.  We even pray for certain things.  BUT all of those intentions, dreams, desires, and prayers are trumped by one simple thing…DIRECTION!

  • You may intend to have an awesome marriage, but the real question is what path are you on, and is that path going to lead you to an awesome marriage?
  • You may intend to lose weight and be fit physically, but the real question is what path are you on?  And does that path lead you straight to Culver’s Butter Burgers?
  • You may intend to grow in your discipleship to Jesus, but the real question is not about my intentions, but rather about my direction.  Am I on a path that will lead me to growth in discipleship?
  • You may intend to lead a church to be outward and mission, but the real question is not what our hopes, dreams, and prayers are…but rather, what is the direction of your church?  Is it on a path that leads you to be outward and missional (e.g. measured in emphasis, time, budget, energy, resources, etc.)

Anyone can say they want a good marriage, healthy relationships, spiritual children, fitness goals, organization goals, spiritual goals, etc.  We can intend for those things, we can hope for those things, we can dream about those things, and we can even pray about those things.

But if the directional movement of our lives aren’t set for those things…we will never get there.

DIRECTION not INTENTION is ALL that matters when it comes to where you life is heading.

So get the road-map of your life out and take a look.  If you continue down this path, will you REALLY get to the destination you intend, dream, hope, imagine, and pray for?

DIRECTION DETERMINES DESTINATION

True story that just happened:

Caleb (my nine year old son) pulled out his loose tooth.  With the blood coming out of his gums he took his finger and smeared two lines of blood on his upper cheeks…posed for me and said, “The blood of a warrior!!!

For balance, I’m now going to go play dolls with him. 🙂

Good-Bye Michael Jackson

Posted: June 25, 2009 in Uncategorized
Tags:

I miss the Thriller days.

To ALL MEN who are bored with church and want to reject a Christianity that has as its main purpose helping you abstain from certain behaviors…we need you.  To seriously down-to-earth men who live their lives with the appropriate levels of testosterone that God gave you…we need you.  To men who feel uncomfortable singing songs about Jesus that makes him seem to be your “boyfriend”…we need you.  To men who would be willing to follow Jesus in a way that is defined by world-changing, radical revolution full of great risk, challenge, boldness, and danger…here at the Living Stones Church…we need you!!

Here’s why (click on logo):

Questions. Everyone has them.  Big questions, small questions, heavy questions, light questions.  Questions with simple answers.  Questions with complex answers.  Questions that seem to have no answer.  Questions.  Let the search for answers begin!!  We are inviting you to submit ANY question you have about Jesus, the Bible, Christianity, church, faith, doctrine, etc. and then for three weeks, beginning on July 12th we begin a new message series entitled, Holipedia, that attempts to answer your questions from God’s search engine, the Bible.  You may submit questions on your connection card on Sunday morning @ the Living Stones Church or e-mail them to contact@living-stones-church.org

God intended there to be rhythms to life.  It is marked even by the rotation of planets, moons, solar systems.  We have night and we have day.  We have hours to be awake, and we have hours in which to sleep.  We have days to work, and we have instructions to take a day to “sabbath.”  We have seasons in the year.  To not observe the rhythms is neither healthy nor good.

The same is true of churches.  Although I knew this going into my vacation last week, I came back more convinced than ever that there are seasons that should be observed or there are consequences.  Things like:

  • Leaders (especially who serve volunteer) who are burned out with the constant demand.
  • Spouses and children who are neglected (and growing resentful) because of yet another night of meetings or other ministry obligation taking place.
  • Growing exhaustion and fatigue that short-circuits enthusiasm, joy, and creativity.
  • Missed opportunities of relaxation and fun with friends and/or family.
  • Teams who grow agitated with one another, not because of true conflict, but due to frayed nerves from yet another event, another task, and another “to-do” list.

Last summer here at the Living Stones Church , it didn’t feel much like a summer (which in church life normally does slow down to a degree).  It was action packed.  In a span of a few months we had a Vacation Bible School followed-up with a big message series on parenting, followed-up by going to two services, followed up by an even bigger message series on sex.  All of this involved A TON of volunteers, a ton of time, a ton of energy, and a ton of resources.  The result:  the summer was over and our leadership team was exhausted.  I’m not sure we recovered the rest of the year from residual fatigue.

I remember resolving at the end of summer 2008 that we wouldn’t do summer of 2009 in the same manner.

And so…we won’t.

This summer we have made a couple of decisions:

1.  We have asked all of our ministry leaders to observe the summer.  That doesn’t mean everything stops and we take a break from church and its ministries.  But it is to be continually mindful of any additional pressures, demands, and expectations on our volunteers and ministry teams.  Sometimes for leaders to pause or take a break feels like you are going to a) go backwards; b) miss something really important; c) or prove life really can go on without you (trust me…I didn’t take one for the first six months of the year)…and leaders need to be told…it is OK to take a break and rest.

2.  We will NOT be doing a Vacation Bible School this year.  I’m sure this is regrettable to our children and to many parents.  Our VBS has been a big deal to us.  It was the first thing we did in regards to truly turning outward and inviting relationship with our neighborhood and community.  I have LOVED every VBS we have done over the past four years.  But as I have watched our children’s ministry team push themselves to extreme measures to accomplish a BRAND NEW thing with Kid’s Kanyon…new space, new curriculum, new policies, new leadership, new team, and then working out the kinks of a growing ministry in the process…it would be UNWISE AND RIDICULOUS to lay on them the additional task of putting together a massive Vacation Bible School.  I don’t care to say in August of 2009, “Wasn’t this year’s VBS fantastic?  By the way, we are in need of a new children’s ministry team because ours just quit.”

3.  We are suspending Growth Groups for the summer semester (July-August).  We won’t do this every year.  I have some mixed feelings even as we made this decision (especially because by all measurements – statistical and in story – our Spring semester was the best we’ve ever had).  But as we have just come off a BUSY spring with completion of Kid’s Kanyon space, baptismal celebrations, new ministries, growth, etc., the best we can discern…another night in the evening or weekend available for rest, family, and friends seems appropriate.  Having said that, we still want to encourage people to remain engaged in community.  There are A TON of ways to connect within Living Stones Church that doesn’t necessitate a formal growth group structure.  Get together with friends – have a game night, go to a ball game, go to a movie (unless you are a group of guys and the movie is a chick flick), do something fun, etc.  But let it be summer.

(Effective June 21st…it is summer) 🙂

I loved this note from Ed Koczan.  For several reasons – it’s vulnerability (which I got permission from him to put it here), its message that I believe will connect with a lot of people, a unique picture of life as a parent of a special needs child, and of course…Sunday’s sermon ranked in the top 3 :-).  I think you will be blessed by it!

Cheesin’

To understand this note you need to understand a few things about Ed in June of 2009. If you don’t that’s cool, I’ll keep it brief and basic.

You also need to stop right here, and open this link up in a new tab to read before you come back to this:


http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=94327239547

Anyways, if you are too lazy to read that, its a fantastic read about seeing God at work in a developmental disabilities camp. It reminded me of an experience I wasn’t going to put “out there” but I will.

God spoke to me directly today that He loves me. Admittedly I haven’t been focused on God and believing in him very recently. I haven’t been focused on waiting for his answers, but rather trying to impose my own answers, and even making those up in my head when I don’t find the answer I would like to.

Church today was awesome. A UFC themed, call to action on getting men involved in the church (not specifically MY church.. just THE church. We had Bratwursts served to the dads passed out like it was communion bread. The message is one of the top 3 I have heard. I worked the media for the second service, and I feel privileged to have been there to hear it twice. I can’t say enough about the awesomeness, the uplifting, and the hip factor of the people that I have been blessed to meet through my church.

On the way home, a flood of thoughts invaded my head and as I try to reflect on the day being Father’s Day and not being in any way a celebratory day, I got pretty overwhelmed. I start crying and feeling down on myself for a multitude of reasons.

While doing that, I reach to the backseat of the car and asked Dominic for “a five”. Dominic just earlier this month turned four, and because of his Down Syndrome, his speech is delayed. He’s making some progress, but his words are very few. But we ‘get” each other.

When I reached out, he grabbed my hand instead of fiving me. Grabbed it with both hands, pulled it towards him, lowered his head into my hand, and then kissed my hand. Since I wasn’t looking at him (driving- safety first! Eyes on the road!), I was surprised by the feeling. I looked back and he looks at me, pushed my hand back towards me and he had the biggest smile and a cackling laugh that he reserves for moments of his pure joy.

Which makes me cry harder now.. I know!

I can go into a long missive about Downs and what Jenn and I went through finding out, but its not important now, nor is it the point. Being a special needs parent changes a LOT of things. We are blessed that Dominic has few medical or health problems, just has that one pesky extra chromosome that decided to stick around at the very moment we conceived him. On good days it is a challenge, on bad days, it sucks. No lying there.

But God spoke to me today through Dominic at a moment that I needed to. God loves us. Everyone. Especially the ones who feel unloved by any one. In Luke 15 there is a fantastic parable of the Prodigal Son (you’ve at least heard of that term? Yes? Its from the gospel of Luke). About being lost and coming home. The overwhelming joy of the father receiving his lost son who has returned back home again speaks louder than any excuses for the sons behavior that is outlined. The joy. The mercy. The grace. All of it undeserved by the son.

That outpouring of an unexpected amount of joy, love and grace by the Father came to me in the car this afternoon. In a dark, unappreciated time, my son was used by God to show that through his son Jesus, my son Dominic carries the message in an amazingly simple act.

Pulling me close, kissing me silently saying “its okay dad”, then smiling and laughing in an outpouring of graciousness and joy of his own. I will quote it from the link above: “These things all reminded me of truth God has been speaking through His word: When we approach Jesus, excitement cannot be contained in Him”.

That was reflected back to me through a four year old’s act of reaching out to love his father in the simplest way possible that he can show me. He didn’t make me breakfast. He didn’t give me a card. He didn’t do anything other than reflect back the love and the gift that I have of life in my son. And like the prodigal son, I don’t deserve it. But there is no time to say my prepared speech for Dominic about how he is somehow “different”. Because it doesn’t matter.

God is speaking to every single one of us. Every day. Trying to Encourage. Rebuke. Correct. Reach. Change. Free. Bring back home. Restore. Love.

In our imperfect and self-centered lives we don’t hear his message or listen to what he is telling us. So today in my wading pool of self pity, God spoke to me directly to show me where the love is and where it comes from. And when he spoke to me, Dominic didn’t have to even say a word. He gets it.

And so do I.

People were also bringing babies to Jesus to have him touch them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Luke 18:15-17

http://edwardkoczan.wordpress.com/2009/06/22/gods-children/

Transpo Bus Follow-Up

Posted: June 23, 2009 in Culture

Back in May I posted a blog about the controversy with Transpo buses advertising an atheist group.  Now, Transpo and Burkhart Advertising have instituted a new policy that bans an assortment of advertising on all Transpo buses.  Thanks a lot crazy Christians!

You can read the story here.

Now I’m stuck with Burger King ads.

Transpo and Burkhart – you are cowards.