More stuff from Mary’s Trip to Nigeria

Embedded Video

This just popped into my browser today. Luke Chaffee, who was on the mission trip to Africa with Mary, just released some new video on his YouTube site.

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Hearing God…an explanation

Here is a remark I made yesterday on Twitter: 
Second time today that God has said don’t look at your feet while listening to a sermon.
Where upon my brother-in-law responded:
Without context, may I gently point out just how crazy this makes you sound? – Brendon

I agree it sounds quite weird. However, after working my 9 hour shift, I don’t always communicate what I’m thinking in a clear way. Not to mention that I’ve always had a bit of a crazy streak, just ask my sister, my wife, my kids, and former roommates.

Okay, the explanation.

Toward the end of the shift, I was listening to Rob Bell on the Mars Hill Bible Church (Michigan) and he mentioned that there is a rabbinical tradition that says and I’m paraphrasing, you need to keep your head up and see that God has parted the sea for you, or else if you constantly look at your feet you’ll begin to complain that the mud is getting all over your feet.

Then while I was in early service at Gaylord Community Church, Pastor Steve made a remark that you need to keep your head up and not stare at your feet.

I took that as a gentle reminder from God that I need to remember to keep my head up and look to where God is taking me, rather than looking down at my feet, i.e. my current situation and grumble about it.

Actually, now that I thnk about it, I’m supposed to tell that to somebody else, but that’s another story.

So no, I’m not hearing voices in my head.

Showing mercy…with Rock Band?

I was listening to Brian Zahnd at the Word of Life church podcast from a couple of weeks ago and he was doing a series about showing mercy. Pastor Brian had pointed out any interesting thing, that the Pharisees said to get your act cleaned up and then come to the table to eat.
However, Jesus says come to the table to eat and I will help you get
cleaned up.

I guess I am wondering aloud, how do you reach out to show mercy? If you have read Mary’s Rock Band Post then you know that there has been a little thing about Rock Band and using it as an evangelistic tool. The thing I see is that most kids that walk into our church come from families that don’t know love and aren’t clean in one way or another. So if we can show them that we aren’t that different, that a lot of us like to play Rock Band or on the Wii or any other video games, won’t that let them open up so that maybe they will see that they can sit at the table and we will help them get clean?

One other point that I need to say as well. One of the objections was that there is a screen that shows skulls with wings coming out of them. I thought about it a bit, and this is what I realized…Didn’t God create the skull? wings? How did these things get associated with evil? I think that while God creates, we as humans use them to worship them for other purposes. Well, I remember that God had Ezekiel prophesy over the bones and they came to life. Didn’t the apostle Paul use the altar to the “unknown god” and quote poems from Greek poets while preaching at Mars Hill?

So if we can invite some kids to come into our midst, to show them mercy, compassion, and love, then do you think that maybe we can use Rock Band for a good purpose?

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Low Self-Esteem of Girls

New National Report Reveals the High Price of Low Self-Esteem

Being an adult youth leader, I am always looking at youth culture articles and studies so that I can get a glimpse of what is going on in the culture. This was an interesting article with some interesting statistics:

— 67 percent of girls ages 13 – 17 turn to their mother as a resource when feeling badly about themselves compared to 91 percent of girls ages 8 -12

— Only 27 percent of girls ages 13 – 17 will turn to their father for help when feeling badly about themselves compared to 54 percent of girls ages8-12. Interestingly, at 16, girls become more likely to seek support from male peers than from their own dads.

We are seeing this in the girls in the youth group, and as much as we try to encourage communication with their parents, most still think that their parents don’t know what they are experiencing. Read the whole thing.

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Ezra and the Current Church situation

I thought that maybe Mary touched on this, but I looked on her personal blog and she hasn’t yet. I know that she has talked about our church and the problems we have had with getting into the new part of the building. Well that took a new twist this last week when the bank out of the blue, the bank foreclosed on the church and gave us 6 months to get out.

I say out of the blue, because, we were ahead in the mortgage payments, had paid off all of the contractors with our capital campaign last year, and were working with them to redo the original loan. The reason that we were redoing the loan, was that the type of mortgage we had, meant that we had to be in the new building after a year. Of course, we couldn’t do that, due to the design flaw that wasn’t discovered until a few weeks before we were supposed to inhabit the new part of the building.

A lot has been happening this week at the church due to this, most of it sounds positive, so I won’t speculate on what we could see in the next 6 months. In fact I don’t think that it is that important right now. However, as I was listening to the Lifespring Family Bible podcast, which is reading through the Bible in a year. The last couple of days was on the book of Ezra. This is the book during the Babylonian exile that the Jews were given permission to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. A new king told them to stop, then they were given permission to build again. As I listened, it seemed like it was a promise, that we too, will be able to to fix the building and continue.

After Christmas thoughts

I feel like a nearly drove Mary over the edge this year. A lot had to do with the fact that by the end of November, I was feeling a deep sense of conviction with the whole Christmas thing. It started around Thanksgiving when we were buying the food for the feast. We were in the Wal-Mart parking lot and somebody was beeping their horn for some unknown reason and I began making up some song about consumerism to the tune of “Silver Bells.” Mary started to call me Scrooge. I then started having flashbacks to a time in my childhood, when Dad would make remarks and Mom would get on his case by calling him Scrooge.

I tried to explain that Scrooge in “A Christmas Carole” didn’t believe in Christmas. I believe in Christmas and Christ for that matter, but I feel that we are getting so far away from the meaning of what this time of the year is supposed to mean. As Rick McKinley, pastor at Imago Dei church in Portland, OR, said in one of his sermons, imagine you are at your birthday party and everyone is giving gifts to everyone else. As I listened to various sermons, from our local church to Mars Hill and Imago, the more I felt convicted.

It’s not that giving is wrong, but with all of the money that we have here in the US, I think we still do a poor job at helping others in need, whether they be here or overseas. The commercialism and the consumer mentality of the season has been making me realize that our focus is on ourselves and not on who Christ said that we are to help: the poor, oppressed, widowed and orphaned. It is there in the Bible from the Old Testament to the New.

My biggest problem was that I felt that it would be nearly impossible to bring the family on board and I grew increasingly frustrated. Well, I came to terms with the conviction after talking with Mary several times. We are going to try and do something different for next year.

To see some ideas for next year check out the Advent Conspiracy page.

Church building project

Be sure to read Mary’s blog regarding the Capital Campaign at our church!!!