A Faith That Lives in the Bones

A visitor to the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum was deeply engrossed in looking at the bones of a rather large dinosaur. After spending close to 45 minutes looking at them, she broke away and, not seeing any of the museum’s curators, went over to the guard. “They’re amazing, aren’t they?” she said, “Do you have any idea how old they are?” The guard thought for a moment and then said, “They’re 103 million, two years and three months old.” “Wow!” said the visitor, “That’s very precise. How can the museum be so sure?” The guard replied, “The museum gave me a tour when I first started working here and they told me the bones were 103 million years old and that was two years and three months ago.” So far, we’ve presented five of the six stages of faith; and we’ve done so with exacting precision. I wish it was

Straightforward Isn’t Always So Straight

Headlines should be straightforward. When they are not, there is work to do. Take these headlines, for example. See if you can untangle their intended meanings. March planned for Next August Farmer Bill Dies in House Stolen Painting Found by Tree Complaints about NBA Referees Growing Ugly 2 Sisters Reunited After 18 Years at Check-Out Counter Man Minus Ear Waives Hearing Grandmother of Eight Makes Hole in One Lingerie Shipment Hijacked—Thief Gives Police the Slip Hospitals Are Sued by 7 Foot Doctors Squad Helps Dog Bite Victim Faith should be straightforward. When it is not, there is work to be done. That is what happens in Stage 5. Now, I would guess that most people, if they reach stage 4, remain there. After all, it is quite an accomplishment. They have defined their faith, left the comforts of their own community and set out on a course of unknown waters

When You Can’t Just Mail It In

How much are postage stamps these days? My guess is that they cost less than the greatest honor of your life. Let’s go back to 1848. It’s an election year. The issue of slavery is splitting the nation, and everyone is looking for a candidate who will forge a mediating position. Enter Zachary Taylor. Taylor was the perfect choice. He wasn’t a career politician (always a good thing). In fact, he wasn’t even political (even a better thing!). How can I say such a thing? Two reasons. First, he never once voted in any presidential election. That’s not quite true. He voted in one. He voted in 1848 – for himself. Second, any political opinion he did hold was ill-defined and almost incomprehensibly vague.  He was, however, a war hero. And thanks to his exploits in the war with Mexico (a feat that earned him the nickname, “Old Rough and

Warning: It Happens Fast

Let’s play “Famous Firsts”! I’ll give you 10 questions, and you give me 10 (right) answers (or as many as you can!).  Who was the first African-American Supreme Court Justice? Who was the first runner to break the four-minute mile barrier?  Who was the first actor to speak in a “talking picture”?  Who was the first president to appear on TV?  Who was the person who developed the first diesel engine?  Who was the first person to win two Nobel prizes?  What was the first food ever microwaved?  Who was the person who first reached the South Pole AND the North Pole (that’s right, the same person was the first to reach both poles!)?  Who was the first person to reach the summit of Mount Everest? Who was the first pedestrian hit and killed by a car?* About question 10. . . . You’ll have to excuse me for asking

Of States and Stages

I’ve never been to Idaho, and I’m not sure I ever want to go to Idaho; but ho-ho-ho, you never know.  That’s what good stories do; they change our perspective! Here’s the story. Back in the day, the territory around Denver (called the Pike’s Peak mining area) wanted to become a state. But before they could do that, it needed a name. Now, not just any name would do. It had to be a state-worthy name with a nice ring to it. Thankfully, the dull boys at Pike’s Peak mining area didn’t have to come up with a name. A Congressional committee would do that for them. After weeks of deliberation, the committee narrowed the future name of the state down to two finalists. A lobbyist named George Willing had suggested an old Indian word, "Idaho," which meant, “Gem of the Mountain”; and someone else had proposed an incredibly dull

You Can’t Trust George, But You Can Trust. . . .

Fred looks up and sees his friend George walking down the sidewalk towards him and immediately is overcome with bewilderment. “George,” he says, “I heard you had died!” “Hardly,” says George laughing, “As you can see, I am very much alive.” “Impossible,” says Fred, “The person who told me is way more trustworthy and reliable that you!” Think back when we were very young children. No one was more reliable or more trustworthy than our parents. If they said it, we believed it. In fact, they didn’t even need to say anything, we automatically grew up like them. Yes, they taught us things, but we all know we caught far more than they taught. Children are like that. They absorb all sorts of things, including their parents’ faith. In this series, we are talking about the six stages of faith. Stages are distinguishable periods of growth and development that take

Preschool Wasteland

Excuse me, but I need to rant. Recently, I have become extremely frustrated with the River Kid’s Sunday school curriculum for preschoolers. It is more than frustration. It is close to rage. How hard can it be to teach preschoolers? See, we have a holy charge to teach our kids; but instead of fulfilling our obligation to God and to the parents of these kids, our teachers do nothing but share Bible stories with our kids. That’s not quite true. They also sing cutesy songs to them. When did we give in to the spirit of our age? When did we decide that we needed to dumb down our faith? See, I have looked through our curriculum extensively, and I have yet to see one lesson (no not one!) on divine timelessness, unlimited duration and the foreknowledge of God.  Nor has there been one discussion on Modalism, Docetism, Adoptionism or

All the World’s a Stage: An Introduction

Shakespeare was right: all the world IS a stage! Think about all the things in our world that utilize stages. Rockets come in stages. Butterflies come in stages. Even the common cold comes in stages. There are stages in the consumer buying process, in how to buy a home and in how injured toenails grow back. There are stages in how we form our relationships and in how we break-up. There are stages of life, stages of sleep, stages of depression, and stages of labor and delivery. Almost every disease progresses through stages. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross gave us the five stages of grief. Jean Piaget gave us the four stages of cognitive development. Erik Erikson gave us the eight stages of psychosocial development. And Lawrence Kohlberg gave us the six stages of moral development. And I didn’t even mention Prochaska and DiClemente’s six-stage theory of change (but I think I changed

Happy New Eyes to You, Two

Here’s the truth: the world is a dark place, especially when it’s night.  Most years, when I went to visit our teachers in Asia, I stayed in the nearby hotel. It was very convenient, except on the nights when fights broke out in the next room or when parties broke out next door or when toxic fumes filled the building. Other than that, it was great. But then a more convenient option arose. Chris and Debbie had an apartment in the same complex as our teachers, and their tenant had moved out. So, for the two weeks I was there, I moved in! Now later, I was informed that what I was doing was technically “illegal” because all foreigners are “required” to stay in hotels; but as I read the Bible, it is only illegal if there is a verse against it (?). So, I stayed in Chris and Debbie’s

Called to Grow

This sermon is based on 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. SERIES OVERVIEW: Once upon a time there was a church that changed the world, but that was a long time ago. It was a church characterized by love, by unity, by compassion, by prayer and by social engagement. It was the place where God’s grace was always on display and quite tangible. Today, church is different. Shane Claiborne once said, “The church is like Noah’s ark. It stinks; but if you get out of it, you’ll drown.” I think many people would agree. We need the church, but it’s hard to love the church. How did we get so far off track? More importantly, how can we rediscover those principles that made the New Testament church so vibrant and alive? REthinking Church asks us as a church to evaluate our spiritual health and hopefully will give us a vision to hear God’s call anew to be his people, his church in our

The Last Blog I’m Giving on Giving

Giving advice is all around us. Some good.  Some bad.  Some terrible.  Consider: “The Lord loveth a cheerful giver. He also accepteth gifts from a grouch.”  --Catherine Hall “You should give according to your income, lest God make your income according to your giving.” --unknown “Blessed are those who can give without remembering, and take without forgetting.” --Elizabeth Bibesco “Do yer givin’ while you’re livin’, so you’ll be knowing’ where its goin’.” --unknown “There is no grace in a gift that sticks to the fingers.” --Seneca “You’ll never be as lazy as the guy who named the fireplace.” –unknown Okay, the last quote wasn’t about giving, but I found it encouraging.  And when you talk about giving, you want to be encouraging.  Today, I want to encourage you by answering the question, “What does giving do for us?”  As it turns out, it does all sorts of things. First, giving,

State of the Ministry 2016

As we celebrate the 14th anniversary of our church, it is a good time to reflect on God's blessings of where we've been, where we are and also to consider the challenge from God's Word (Galatians 6:9-10) for where we are going in the year ahead. To hear the accompanying "Out on a Limn" and to learn more about this part of our worship, click here:  

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