Tuesday, February 26, 2008

internetmonk.com » Blog Archive » Sermon: The Longest Journey is to Samaria

internetmonk.com » Blog Archive » Sermon: The Longest Journey is to Samaria
I love the title to Michael Spencer's sermon on the woman at the well. He challenges God's people to take the longest journey of your "stay-in-my-comfort-zone" life. Reach out to the people nearest you on your journey.

I think the challenge is to just begin. Mark Cahill said in sermon over Spring Break in Sanibel Community Church that the hardest one to reach out to is the first one. He's right. So just start a conversation rather than worry about your presentation. Consider how you could move the conversation to bring God up. I'll share my journey with you as I start conversations with those around me.

Pastor Daron

Religious Tolerance

The Christian Post, on February 15 reported movement in religious tolerance. "ESPN recently released a public statement in which the network promised to work toward building religious tolerance in its workplace and encourage its employees to use language consistent with that commitment."
"Diversity and communications are important to ESPN and we have existing programs in place for both," read the ESPN statement. "To bring focus to the issues of religious tolerance and language as part of these efforts is totally appropriate and we will do so."The statement continued, "With regard to language in the workplace, we do not have a list of forbidden phrases, but we do require appropriate workplace behavior. We will raise the profile of this issue as part of our internal dialogue and will be emphasizing to employees the importance of using language that is appropriate in the workplace."
The protesting Christian groups commended ESPN on Thursday. The Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition, the group behind the protest, called the statement by ESPN "the first powerful step toward building a culture of religious tolerance."
"Religious intolerance and discrimination should have no place in the American workplace," said Mahoney. "Employees should feel that their faith traditions, beliefs and value systems will be respected and honored."
Religious tolerance may lead to the crossroads that one may not be able to speak his deepest and moral convictions anywhere. I am concerned that religious tolerance may lead to a "don't ask, don't tell" policy for religious convictions. I wonder if respect will lead to censoring what you believe for fear that your convictions may disrespect others. As a Christian, I am going to pray for more wisdom as I engage this society today. May God grant His discernment as we boldly proclaim the truth of Jesus Christ.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

How to Share Your Faith Using Amy Winehouse's Rehab - Dare 2 Share Youth Ministries, International

How to Share Your Faith Using Amy Winehouse's Rehab - Dare 2 Share Youth Ministries, International
This resource may give you an opportunity to be bold witness for God. I trust you can reflect on the article's questions. I find it challenging to consider how to use the culture as a springboard to bring God up. May this article help you in your quest to being a fully devoted follower of Christ.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Jeopardy Question

I came across this video from my newsreader, NewsGator. I thought you could try to answer this question from Jeopardy. The question. Your answer?

Here is the answer and video to prove it.

Play is Good

In an article in the NY Times (Feb 17, 2008), Robin Marantz Henig writes about the need for play in anyone's life. Her article entitled, "Take Play Seriously," offers a great overview of play. I know in my own life. I need play. I need a break from my tasks and appointments. I need physical movement even as an adult. So take a half-hour and go play today.

Henig concludes her article with these thought-provoking words, "children would suffer if free play really does turn out to be a thing of the past. It seems almost ludicrous to ask such a question. Of course play is good for something; it is the essence of good. Watch children at play, and the benefits are so obvious: just look at those ecstatic faces, just listen to those joyful squeals. Stuart Brown (president of the National Institute for Play) alluded to it in his library talk last month. ‘‘Look at life without play, and it’s not much of a life,’’ he told the audience. ‘‘If you think of all the things we do that are play related and erase those, it’s pretty hard to keep going.’’ Without play, he said, ‘‘there’s a sense of dullness, lassitude and pessimism, which doesn’t work well in the world we live in.’’

In the end, it comes down to a matter of trade-offs. There are only six hours in a school day, only another six or so till bedtime, and adults are forever trying to cram those hours with activities that are productive, educational and (almost as an afterthought) fun. Animal findings about how play influences brain growth suggest that playing, though it might look silly and purposeless, warrants a place in every child’s day. Not too overblown a place, not too sanctimonious a place, but a place that embraces all styles of play and that recognizes play as every bit as essential to healthful neurological development as test-taking drills, Spanish lessons or Suzuki violin.

I wonder what you think about play in your life? The Bible says, "There is an appointed time for everything. and there is a time for every event under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1)." So there is a time for play. So get up off your couch, chair, or seat and go play. It is good for you.
I play with my children. With my boys, I am the designated goalie for indoor hockey. For my girls, I am the "horsey." Both forms of play really wear me out. But I love it. Yeah, even when my knees hurt or when my shirt is sweaty, I enjoy playing with me children. I need to play. So do you.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Social Justice Emerging

I came across the Fuller Center for Youth and Famliy Ministry webpages where I can advance my thinking and inform myself about social justice issues and what others are doing and thinking. Here is a web portal with resources for impacting students "to do justly, to love kindness [in this world], and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8)." I need to do more reading, reflecting, thinking, praying, and strategizing. I just came across this recently. So peruse the resources and discover the path God wants you to take.

Social Justice and its Implications

I came across a video regarding a student's journey to Darfur. I am uneducated in the depth of the injustice. I wonder how the student has harnessed his engagement with Sudan as a catalyst for making a greater difference in the world. Check out Nick's video on what he did last summer...in Darfur (please note that I do not condone or approve of everything on YouTube).

Nick went with OxFam America. Oxfam America "is an international relief and development organization that creates lasting solutions to poverty, hunger, and injustice. Together with individuals and local groups in more than 120 countries, Oxfam saves lives, helps people overcome poverty, and fights for social justice."

What is our role in relieving poverty, hunger, and injustice? I believe we need to answer this question because our young people want direction on how to reconcile poverty's end, see hunger fed, and right all wrongs. I wonder how the Church can disciple believers to consider what to do or not do.

The Stirrings of the Spirit

One of my growing responsibilities is to shepherd, to encourage, and to partner with the missionaries we support worldwide. One area of focus is Europe. I am excited about what is occurring among the team in Europe. Tim Hawkins shared this link to Paul Klawitter's blog. I read with anticipation of what God could do among His people as we embrace unity and seek His face. May God advance His kingdom!

The Lord Reigns

As I traveled early this morning from Columbus to Wooster, Ohio, I thank God for traveling with me. It was starting to snow and to accumulate on the roadways. Yet God helped me stay alert and to keep the car on the road. All praise to God!

I marveled at the snow. The precipitation honors God. Although I may desire that Spring begin soon, this snowfall praises the Lord. I forget that. God created the snows for His glory. Yes, it may aggravate me as I travel through it. But God reigns. He rules over all. He set the boundaries of nature. The psalmist in chapter 96 says these words about the Lord's sovereingty, "Say among the nations, 'The Lord reigns; Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved; He will judge the peoples with equity.' Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice..." Even when the snow flies, the Lord reigns. I believe the Lord releases the flurries and snowfall to honor Himself. He controls everything in creation, especially precipitation. He rules over it all. He reigns.

Because God reigns, I can praise Him. I will honor Him. May you take a moment to reflect on God's sovereign power over you today as you act like a child for a moment--gape wide and "taste" a snowflake or catch a flake and marvel at its uniqueness. Creation reflects the Creator. I choose to honor the Creator today!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

You are loved

"My love endures forever." Wouldn't that be a great valentine quote on the inside of a card? It would be a great sentiment. Yet its lasting impact would be contingent upon who signs the card.

In my case I see God's signature at the bottom. A ministry teammate for our Sowing Hope team, Celeste Kern, directed us to Psalm 136 where the phrase His love endures forever is repeated after each declaration is given. God's love endures forever. No matter how vile or evil my life, God's love endures it forever. He loves me.

I read in I John 4:10-11, "In this is love, not that we loved God , but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation of our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another." The Message paraphrase puts it another way, "This is the kind of love we are talking about--not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they've done to our relationship with God. My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other."

I can love others because God loves me. I have the power to love others even when I feel that others may not deserve any love at all. I can love because God first loved me.

Now for those who see this day as awful, lonely, and a day of despair. God extends His love to you. No matter how terrible the breakup was, how wicked the person acted, how vile the situation is presently, or how hollow and lonely you feel, God loves you. In fact, he's prepared a place for you. In Psalm 68:6, the Bible says, "God makes a home for the lonely." God invites you to come to His house when you feel all alone. He's prepared a place for you. He loves you. As you let that thought slap you in the face, don't react with aggression, but stop and take a deep breath and repeat this phrase, "God loves me." Say it again, "God loves me." Cry out to God and ask Him to make that real for you. Scream out to Him and ask Him to show you His love. As you journey on in your life, you will discover His love. Look for Him. Discover God's home for the lonely. You can live through the pain of love-lossed. You can triumph over despair. Ask God to reveal His love to you and consider how you'll embrace it. God loves you. How do I know? Because I have experienced His love for me. Find out for yourself. Take the step of faith to cry out to Him. He will answer. He does care. He truly loves you.

You are loved!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Sowing Hope

Tonight I helped throw a party! Our church at Wooster Grace is focused on outreach. We have targeted a apartment complex where single moms and the working poor live. We extend to them God's love. The name of this outreah is Sowing Hope. Tonight we threw a valentine's party. Yeah, I know. It's not Valentine's Day yet. But we did something cool.

This is the second year the outreach team mobilized believers to throw this party. The church gathers valentines, a meal, a gospel message, and people to love-on the children and adults. The kids who attend create take-home boxes which they decorate. We purchase for them valentine card sets for them to take home so that they can prepare them for their friends at school or in the neighborhood. Most of these children can't afford to buy valentines, so we provide them. Then they can share them with their friends. We don't rubber stamp the valentines with our logo or church name. We just let them take 'em home to give out to their friends--no strings attached.

I can't tell you how amazing it is to learn names of new friends. Little ones who want to feel loved. You see the glee in their eyes as they receive the valentine cards. Their beaming smiles shine out the smell of body odor (some kids don't bathe too often). Still, God loves each of them very much. I know this pleases God! He wants us to love others as we have been loved. God is great God. He can do amazing things through us. May God give you the prompting to love others around you in His name, attribute your acts and words of love to Him. Bless people with God's love through you!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

How to be the best dad

In the above link, I am reminded how incredibly responsible I am as a dad. I spent the first two days of my week with my oldest daughter. She is the third child in our family. I admit that it is easier to be with my boys than with my girls. But I intended to spend time with her. We traveled to Indiana to visit with her cousins while I helped provide perspective on Native Americans to sophomores at Grace College in Winona Lake, IN.

My daughter and I enjoyed more than time together. She is so unique. I loved hearing how she views things. I marveled at what caught her eye on the trip out her window. In fact, she saw things that I missed.

She also is my princess. Yet I could jeopardize my influence in her life. I need to shore up accountability in my life. I am glad that Jim Burns' article and list of accountability questions will spur me on to make sure my walk with God lines up with my talk of my relationship with God.