Monday, August 20, 2012

Tim Tebow is Courageous!

I love ESPN Radio. I listen to Mike and Mike in the Morning, The Herd, and The Scott van Pelt Show on a pretty religious basis. However, I get annoyed frequently by the fact that there are certain teams which could be considered 'favorites' based on the amount of time they spend talking about them. I tweeted this annoyance a while back with regards to the Boston Red Sox. Now that it is football season, my annoyance has moved to the New York Jets.

The fact that they spend an inordinate amount of time talking about the Jets means that they also spend an inordinate amount of time talking about back-up quarterback Tim Tebow. Note: I wrote 'back-up.' He's not even the starter, and yet he gets more air time than arguably ANY of the starters in the NFL. Now don't get me wrong, I like Tim Tebow. And that's difficult for me to admit, considering I am an Ohio State fan (see the 2007 BCS National Championship). He's a great guy and seems to be a strong Christian, which I think garners him the amount of press that he receives, but by most accounts, he is a below-average QB. And yet, he gets way more attention than just about everybody else in the NFL.

I think it's similar to 'Christian' movies. Several movies have been produced by Christians in recent years and have been released in mainstream movie theaters. They tend to garner a lot of press and conversation in the circles I find myself in because they are 'Christian' and promote good values. I remember someone talking about one such movie, Courageous, calling it amazing! So I watched it with high expectations. And while I valued what the movie promoted, it was NOT a good movie (if you think I'm being harsh, it currently has a 32% rating on, which qualifies it is a rotten tomato). It simply promoted good values, but as a work of art, it was subpar.

I think in many ways, Tim Tebow is Courageous. We like to talk about him because there is a large group of people who like what he stands up for. As a result, they are unable to see the fact that he can't throw an out pattern to save his life. I'm all for putting forth good role models, but let's not talk about them like they are relevant or outstanding in a particular field when it is clear that they are not. I'm all for promoting good morals, but do we have to use bad art to do it? Let's discuss things in their proper context. Let's not call a movie 'amazing' because it has good morals, and let's not discuss endlessly on sports talk radio a back-up (at best) QB because he is a nice guy.

What do you think? Does Tim Tebow get too much press? What is your take on 'Christian' movies?

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

It doesn't feel like a Chick-Fil-A day today

I love chicken. I love it just as much as the next guy. And when Chick-Fil-A opened in The Cape, I was ecstatic! Some might say giddy. Some joked that I would have my office and a personal phone line moved there. (I'm still trying to convince the powers-that-be that this is a good idea)

All that being said, I will not be eating at Chick-Fil-A today.

I know, I know, it's Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day, or something like that. If you are on Facebook and you didn't know that, then you haven't been paying attention. Apparently it's a pretty big deal. but I won't be taking part.

The flap occurred when Dan Cathy, President of Chick-Fil-A, came out (no pun intended) and said that he was "very much supportive of the family - the Biblical definition of the family unit." It got bigger when it was uncovered that he and his family had given millions of dollars to "ant-gay" causes. This blew up bigger than when the McRib went away. People on one side of the fence started screaming, "How could he?! What a jerk! I'm never eating there again. As a matter of fact, let's go stage a same-sex kiss-in to show him who's boss." On the other side, people screamed just as loudly, "WOO-HOO!! You go, Dan! Stand up for what's right, and that ain't homosexuality. Let's have a day where we all eat at Chick-Fil-A to show our support for Dan and how much we disagree with those other people."

Which brings us to today, Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day. And I'm not going. Why not? It's not because I don't support traditional marriage, because I do. It's not because I don't value free speech, because I do. It's not because I hate chicken, because, as already stated, I LOVE me some chicken (especially from Chick-Fil-A, with their waffles fries and sweet tea ). I am not going to Chick-Fil-A today because of how this can potentially be viewed by those who are homosexuals in the midst of my community. Well-meaning Christians say that they will be going to support Dan Cathy and his right to speak and traditional marriages, but I'm afraid that it would be viewed a little differently by anyone who happens to be a homosexual. Instead of them seeing, "Those people are supporting this particular viewpoint," I fear that they will see, "They are against me." And that is something I want to steer very clear of.

Let's say a Muslim opened a burger shop. It was so yummy that it grew to epic proportions, so much so that there were franchises all over the country. One day, the President and CEO came out and said that his desire is that this would be a Muslim country. CNN reported on the comments and blogs were written. Then someone started a campaign to support his right to free speech by setting aside a day to eat there. Muslims were posting the messages on Facebook for all to see. Would we as Christians support their right to free speech, or would we feel, in some way, threatened. I think we would feel threatened.

And I don't want people who need Jesus - just as much as I do - to be so turned off by my political action that they will never see the Jesus in me.

Jesus said that the 2nd most important commandment was to love your neighbor as you love yourself. That's higher than the Bill of Rights, in my estimation. I want my life to be dictated by the question, "What is the most loving thing I can do in this situation?" Am I loving my homosexual neighbor by making a stand by eating chicken on a particular day to tell them that our beliefs are right and theirs are wrong? I don't think so. I think that might communicate something other than love for them. So that is why I am not eating at Chick-Fil-A today.

On a side note: Perhaps the most loving thing would be to show up where they are staging same-sex protests and hand out cheeseburgers. Just a thought.

Will you be eating at Chick-Fil-A today? Why, or why not?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Unforgettable. Are You?

I heard a great story two weeks ago while attending the Storyline Conference with Donald Miller. (Did you hear that crash? That was me name-dropping.) He spoke about a guy he knew who walked into an elevator at his hotel and realized that he was on the elevator with only one other person.

Bill Murray.

As any of us would have been, he was overwhelmed with the magnitude of the awesomeness of this moment, so all he could say was, "I'm a big fan!" Bill Murray, in his understated, humble way, simply said, "Thanks." That's it. End of encounter.

When the elevator got to the ground floor, this guy and Bill Murray walked off and out the front doors of the hotel and walked separate directions. When they got about 30 yards apart, Bill Murray turned around, sprinted at the guy, and tackled him into a bush in front of the hotel. As the guy lay sprawled in the bush, stunned, Bill Murray pointed at him and shouted,


I agree with Donald Miller who said, "Man, I really hope that story is true," because it is one of the best celebrity stories of all time. And you know what? That guy truly will NEVER forget that encounter.

I wonder what we do as leaders or as Christians to make an experience unforgettable for someone else. The majority of sermons are forgotten within days of delivering them. Are we doing what it takes to make them unforgettable? Most churches or businesses you walk in are completely forgettable, but there are some - Google, Kirk Originals Eyewear, Nike Stadium, to name a few - who are doing it well. Are the experiences we give people at church unforgettable like these? And what part does our effort play? Is it solely the work of the Spirit, or the work of the Spirit through our creativity and ingenuity?

The same thing goes for our youth/children's ministries. What can we do to make their experience unforgettable? The goal is not so they will remember us and think our ministry is so great, but that they will remember God and His story and know that He is great.

What about our families? I want my kids growing up with lots of, "Remember when...?" moments. I don't want my kids to have a boring, mundane experience as it relates to their family. At the end of their lives, I want our family to be a prime source of unforgettable experiences.

The thing is, when Jesus walked the earth, I don't think that He didn't make an impression on people. His life was so unforgettable that we are still talking about Him 2,000 years later. And we have that same Jesus inside of us, so shouldn't the impact we have on the world be unforgettable as well?

How are you making an unforgettable impact on your ministry? Your family? The world? Comment and let me know your thoughts...

UPDATE: Here's one guy who made an unforgettable memory for his daughter...

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Keep Chipping Away

When I encounter people these days, I usually am faced with answering a question. Well, if you count, "How's it going?" then there are two questions I am posed with. But we'll skip that one. The question everyone seems to ask is:

How's Bontu?

We've been on this adoption journey for well over a year, and we've had lots of people who have been involved in and concerned with it. And since we have been largely 'cocooning' with her, not many people have had significant exposure to her and their curiosity naturally comes out. The way I have been answering part of the question - particularly, her relationship to me, her Daddy - is by saying:

It's like her heart is in a giant glacier. And I have a tiny pick axe. And I just need to keep chipping away at the ice. Eventually we'll get there, but it will take some time.

You have to understand, her only exposure to white men in the 16 months of her life before I brought her home as my daughter was with other adoptive dads. This means that every white man she's ever known has shown up, stayed for a couple of hours or days, and then left. Think about that for a minute. She has been abandoned by countless white men. Regardless of your age, that would do a number on your psyche. And it has to hers.

So while I am taking a hit emotionally - I REALLY want her to like me - I have to recognize that I simply need to keep chipping away at her glacier for that to happen. It won't happen overnight. And so I will make funny faces at her. Chip. I will make clicking and popping mouth noises with her. Chip. I will feed her. Chip. I will put her to bed (because she doesn't let Mommy do that, which is another struggle altogether). Chip. I will give her kisses while she is strapped to Mommy's back. Chip. I will build block towers with the hope that she will knock it down. Chip. I will take her for long walks in the stroller (she lets me do that). Chip. And in time, we'll get through that ice and she will let me have her heart.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Why John Piper Hates Movies

I have never listened to a sermon by John Piper. I have never read one of his books. I have heard his name tossed around quite a bit but haven't taken the time to explore him and what he has to say. I do know I was quite turned off by his farewell of Rob Bell in the days leading up to the release of Bell's book on Hell, but I don't have anything for or against Piper.

I read with interest the transcript of an answer that John Piper gave to a question about preaching. Specifically, he was asked, "What are you thoughts on drama, movie clips, and the like in a church service?" You can see the whole response below, but the bulk of his answer can be wrapped up when he said:

"I think the use of video and drama largely is a token of unbelief in the power of preaching. And I think that, to the degree that pastors begin to supplement their preaching with this entertaining spice to help people stay with them and be moved and get helped, it's going to backfire.... It's going to communicate that preaching is weak, preaching doesn't save, preaching doesn't hold, but entertainment does."

I have not been preaching for nearly as long as Piper has. Heck, I probably haven't been alive as long as he has been preaching, but I have to disagree with his stance. The way I see it, the video clip is the modern-day story which is available to be used for illustration purposes. It doesn't take away from the power of preaching, but rather enhances it. To say that it detracts from the power of preaching assumes that preaching can only be done with the spoken word, when in reality communication is much broader than simply speaking. Communication is body language, visuals, stories, and so on, along with the spoken word. I don't know if Piper uses spoken illustrations when he preaches, but if so, what is the difference? By using video clips one is simply communicating to different senses and emotions which can't be a bad thing.

Jesus frequently used the means that He had available to Him to communicate a truth. If there was a flower close by, He would talk about it. If there was a sheep close by, He would use it. If there was a small child, He would discuss children in light of the kingdom of God. I would venture to say that if there was a movie that everyone knew and could relate to, Jesus would have used it as a means to communicate His truth to those who were listening. Let's face it: all truth is God's truth and should be used to communicate what He wants to say to His people.

What do you think? What part do video clips play in modern-day preaching?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Why We Are Acting Weird

Guest Post by My Lovely Wife

Dear Friends and Family,

We are so thankful for the outpouring of love and support during this long and difficult adoption journey. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that all the paperwork, fundraising and waiting will have been the easy part in comparison to actually parenting our sweet Bontu. As international adoption is not familiar to many of you, we thought it would be helpful to give you some information on what the next several months will look like for our family.

If you can put yourself in Bontu’s little shoes for a minute, you can imagine how difficult this transition will be for her. She is going with strange people to a very unfamiliar place with different smells, unknown foods, an unrecognizable language and a whole host of stimuli that she has never experienced before.  She will be dealing with the pain and uncertainty of being taken from her home and her caregivers for the fourth time in her short life. We will be doing everything we can to ease this transition. This includes “cocooning” for several weeks after she arrives home. This means you will not see us much. We won’t be having people over or going out. If you stop by for some reason our visit will be short.  This will be disappointing for us and perhaps some of you too, but it is important for Bontu and we really appreciate it.  And we cannot wait to share her with you when the time is right!

Mike and I will be the only ones who hold or feed Bontu for the first several weeks and longer, if necessary. You see, she has come to think that any adult might be able to meet her needs. With so many different people who have cared for her, she has no framework to connect to us as mommy and daddy. Frankly, she doesn’t even know what that kind of relationship looks like. By having Mike and I be the only ones who meet her needs, she will begin to see that we are different from the many other caretakers who have come and gone in her life. Please know that we mean no offense if we ask you to refrain from holding or hugging her or giving her a snack. These limitations are an important step in helping her to bond to us.

We have always been blessed by the love and kindness that our friends and family have shown to our children. There is, of course, a natural drawing of attention to any new child who joins a family. This is amplified in Bontu’s case. After over a year of giving, praying, waiting, and working to bring her home, people’s hearts are invested in this little girl! Investing this time into our relationship with Bontu as a family is essential to her attachment to us, and will also help her develop healthy relationships with all of you. Also, we want to be careful that Colin and Hanna do not feel an overwhelming displacement by Bontu’s arrival. To this end we would encourage you to continue show the same interest in them as you have in the past. They would surely appreciate conversations that don’t center around Bontu as they are individuals with their own interests, thoughts and feelings. We know that with your help they will continue to feel loved and secure during this transition.

We appreciate your prayers and thoughts for our family as we make this very dramatic transition. We know that God has led us this far and trust that He will guide our steps as we begin the actual journey of becoming a family.

Marcy and Mike

Saturday, March 31, 2012

It's Your Duty!

As many of you know, 'duty' is my favorite word in the whole wide world. It makes me giggle just typing it. It brings out the inner junior higher in me as I think about bodily functions and how funny they are.

However, doody is not as much fun when I encounter it on my morning walk. (Did you see what I did there? I know, I'm clever)

Attie and I were taking a morning stroll when we happened upon some dog doody on the sidewalk. First of all, who doesn't clean up after they take their dog on a walk? I mean, grab a stinking WalMart bag and do your duty! (I did it again) Number 2 (get it?), what dog poops on a sidewalk?! You have all that luscious grass around and you choose the place where I want to walk? That's just rude, Socrates! (I always thought that would be a cool name for a dog) Now, I want to be clear about one thing: I did NOT step in it. I am far too agile, even at 5:30am. But I was offended.

This whole encounter brought to mind some words of Jesus. I know, it sounds like a stretch, but stick with me:

Treat people in the same way that you want them to treat you. (Luke 6:31 CEB)

If you got the owner of Socrates alone in a moment of transparency, he would likely agree that it would not be cool to step in dog poop that someone else refused to clean up. I think that's a fairly safe assumption. Most people just don't want to step in the stuff. So if said owner had thought, "How would I want to be treated with regards to my dog's doody?" he would have cleaned it up.

It just goes to show you: Jesus just makes sense. You can take away the whole Son of God thing (I am NOT advocating doing that) and simply look at what He taught and see that life would just work better if we paid closer attention to the things He said:

  • Jesus said that the greatest love of all is not a Whitney Houston song, but rather when someone lays down their life for a friend (and then He backed it up). Our love for each other would be more pure, real, and true if we were more self-sacrificing and less self-serving.
  • Jesus said that how you look at a woman who is not your wife is the same as committing adultery. Consider how many marriages fall apart because of porn or 'harmless' office friendships, and you see how much His words just make sense.
  • Jesus had some strong words about money, including the interesting metaphor that it is harder for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to go to Heaven. Judging from the number of people that I saw buying Mega Millions lottery tickets the other day, it goes to show you how money can take a level of importance in people's lives it was never intended to hold.
  • Jesus said that when you hate someone, it's the same as murder. When someone really torques you, don't you have the tendency to assassinate their character?
Jesus' words should be heeded because He is the Son of God. But we should also pay attention because they simply make sense. Even with regards to dog poop.

What words of Jesus have you found to 'just make sense'?