Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Your Wednesday Chuckle

If you've ever wondered what the late Chris Farley would have looked like playing drums for a cover of ZZ Top's Sharp Dressed Man, then you simply have to check out Rick K and the Allnighters' rendition. The band isn't great, but the drummer is worth the price of admission:

Soup Kitchens and Salvation, Part 2 (of 3)

So my first post on this subject stirred the most comments on a post (via Facebook) that I've ever gotten. And I think I may have confused some of my friends into thinking that I'm not the sort of Christian pastor who thinks that doing good in the community is a good thing in and of itself. So I thought, in the interests of clarity, I might just list the ministries we are doing that are more of the "community benefit" variety:
  1. CrossWord Cafe: 10 years ago, our church founded a local hangout for teens called the CrossWord Cafe. It is designed to provide a safe place for teens to come every day after school for music and art lessons, tutoring, and a place for teen bands to jam in front of their friends. The Cafe also provides biblical instruction to interested teens one night per week.
  2. Chillicothe Skate Park: For years, teens in our community had nowhere in town that they were permitted to ride their skateboards or BMX bikes. After discussions with the local park board and a vote by our congregation, we decided to lease a chunk of our church property to the City Park Board for the construction of a skate/BMX park. It has been open now for about a week.
  3. CBC Deacon's Fund: A portion of the offering on the first Sunday of each month (typically the Sunday with the largest offering) goes into our Deacon's Fund, which goes to help both church members and community people with financial issues. Thousands of dollars every year are funneled through this fund to meeting physical needs.
  4. Love-in-Action Food Pantry: Many years ago, the churches in town decided that, rather than compete with one another, they should simply band together to fund and support one local food pantry. It runs out of the local AOG church, but our church members support it with donations and time.
  5. Community Charities Resale Shop: Recently, some of our members have plugged a vast amount of donations and time into getting a resale shop off the ground, the proceeds from which will go to support local ministries and the CrossWord Cafe.
Maybe I should have clarified sooner, so that people can understand where I'm coming from. Again, it's not that I'm against our churches benefit ting the communities in which we're located. What I'm against is prioritizing such things versus the vigorous proclamation of the Gospel. A hot meal, a paid bill, good clothes cheap, and a safe place for community kids to hang out, skate, etc. are all good things. But the best thing is still eternal life in Christ, amen? And to offer the former without offering (or at least de-emphasizing) the latter is to put Band-Aids on paper cuts while the person dies of cancer.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


I celebrated two anniversaries this month. On June 1st my lovely bride Karen and I celebrated 14 years of our committed love affair. I vowed to love her "for better of for worse" and being married to her has been consistently part of the "for better" half of that equation. (You'll have to ask her what being married to me is like!). Surely the Proverb is true that reads "a good wife is from the Lord." She is my treasure and the greatest gift God has given me after my relationship with Him. We celebrated our years together by taking the Herd on a two week trip out west-camping, showing the kids the snow-capped Rockies, the Grand Canyon, hiking in Zion National Park, seeing family, and generally having a ball together in spite of driving some 4600 miles. You can read about the whole trip and even see pictures at the DW's blog.

The other anniversary is much more melancholy. This month it is 20 years since I developed Crohn's Disease. I "celebrated" (if that is the right word) by having a colonoscopy yesterday. I should say that I'm fortunate as far as Crohn's patients go, in that I haven't had any surgeries on my colon yet, and that for most of the past 20 years, I've been able to stay in remission. But the upshot of yesterday's exam was the news that my Crohn's isn't quite in remission now, even if it isn't exactly raging. At my next appointment, the doc wants to talk treatment options, the remainder of which are semi-risky. I'm not sure how to go on this one. Do I stay on the meds I'm taking and risk surgery(ies)? Or do I take the newer meds and risk lymphoma? The Lady or the Tiger?

Anyway, all that has set me to thinking about life in a fallen world. I have more blessing and am more deeply loved than any man has a right to expect. God has sprinkled joy abundantly, yet He does not eliminate pain and suffering, even for His children, does He? C. S. Lewis, as so many times, says it better than I could:
The Christian doctrine of suffering explains, I believe, a very curious fact about the world we live in. The settled happiness and security which we all desire, God withholds from us by the very nature of the world: but joy, pleasure, and merriment, He has scattered broadcast. We are never safe, but we have plenty of fun, and some ecstasy. It is not hard to see why. The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and oppose an obstacle to our return to God: a few moments of happy love, a landscape, a symphony, a merry meeting with our friends, a bath or a football match, have no such tendency. Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home. (The Problem of Pain)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


On early Wednesday mornings, I am reading and discussing The Cross Centered Life by C. J. Mahaney with some fine Christian men. Here's part of this week's reading:
As we watch Jesus pray in agony in Gethsemane, He has every right to turn his tearful eyes toward you and me and shout, "This is your cup. You're responsible for this. It's your sin! You drink it." This cup should rightfully be thrust into my hand and yours.

Instead, Jesus freely takes it that from the cross He can look down at you at me, whisper our names, and say, "I drain this cup for you--for you who have lived in defiance of Me, who have hated Me, who have opposed Me. I drink it all...for you."

This is what our sin makes necessary. This is what's required by your pride and my pride, by your selfishness and my selfishness, by your disobedience and my disobedience. Behold Him...behold His suffering...and recognize His love.