Did you get up? Did you watch the royal wedding? I can't even get the news today because it's all the media is covering. Instead of having my morning coffee with Robin Meade this morning, I shared my cup of Joe with Frazier and his brother Niles. Some people did get up. Those who wanted to watch it had to set their alarms for 5 am or earlier to catch a glimpse of two people from another country walk down an aisle. If that's your thing, then more power to you. I choose sleep. However there is one wedding day I for which hope to be wide awake.
Scattered throughout the Bible is the theme of the Church being the bride of Christ. Ephesians tells us that we, the church, are loved by our bridegroom, "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church..."(Eph 5:25) One day, our bridegroom will return and sweep us away. We don't know when he will come so we must always be ready. You wouldn't want to miss your own wedding day!
Some people will think me mad for saying this but as a grown man I am looking forward to my wedding day with my savior. THE wedding of weddings. THE royal wedding. THE holiest of weddings. I hope, no matter what time he comes I am ready to be swept away into a new world and a new kingdom that he has built for me. You are invited to come too. But not as a guest, as the bride yourself. If you become a follower of Jesus and a member of his Church, you too become the bride of Christ. Are you ready?
Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready; -Revelation 19:7
Have you seen the Rebecca Black video called "Friday"? Over 122 million others have. It's a 13 year old singing about Friday. In the song she ponders about sitting in the front or back seat of a car, clarifies that Sunday comes after Saturday and is looking forward to partying. I have no idea how a 13 year old parties, but I imagine it includes a lot of video games and Twizzlers.
The song is not that good. The lyrics are cheesy. (Hmmm, I wonder if Chesus is hiding somewhere in them. If that doesn't make sense, read this.) The music is weak. Oh, did I forget to tell you, A THIRTEEN YEAR OLD SINGS IT!
Some people hate it. And somehow they've come to hate Rebecca. She has received a of of negative comments including hate mail. Some people hate her video so much they are demanding it be taken off the internet. Now the Anaheim police are investigating two death threats. You read that right. Two death threats sent to a thirteen year old who uploads a music video to YouTube. When asked about her criticism she said, "At first it sucked. I cried. It's just shocking to see all these random people just hating you when they don't even know you. But they've made me who I am today. I f they weren't there I wouldn't be here so I gotta thank them." (Interview can be seen here on E! Online.)
Am I mad or is this 13 year old far more mature than the people who are criticizing her?
What are your thoughts?
And by the way, her song has led to endless parodies. My favorite staring Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Colbert and Taylor Hicks.
Dr. R. A. Vernon, founding pastor of ”The Word” Church in Akron, OH has declared a new “F” word for his church. He would like members of his congregation to go up to someone who has wronged them in some way and say “F” you. The “F” word he is talking about is Forgive.
What do you think? Too edgy? Is it ok for a church pastor to be edgy? Are you entertained or offended?
Special Edition: This week is National Infertility Awareness Week. This summer, my wife and I will have been married 13 years without children. We’ve tried to get pregnant for almost 7 of those years. Being married 13 years without kids leads to some interesting and uncomfortable discussions. Some of those conversations deal with myths surrounding couples who, for one reason or another, don’t have kids. Today I’m going to share one myth I’ve dealt with that has led to some painful conversations.
I Don't Have a Porsche, Therefore I Don't Like Kids
I have been a pastor for about 7 years now. I currently pastor a church in the Chicago area. Every Sunday we have a children’s message called the Mystery Sermon Surprise. A different child each week places an object in a special box before service starts. Then, during worship, I call all the kids forward and the child who brought the surprise shows it to me for the first time. I have to make up a lesson based on that object then and there. Usually God gives me something pretty good to say and I am surprised at what comes out of my mouth. I love that part of the service. It’s fun to be surrounded by kids.
At my first church I was also surrounded by kids. But it wasn’t during the worship service. Long before I was hired, the congregation rented out most of its facilities to a daycare during the week. Every day that I went to work over 100 kids were on the other side of my office wall. At first I played with them a little bit. One day I picked a small child up and tossed him a few inches in the air, caught him and set him down. Within seconds just about every child was lined up for the thrill of being tossed in the air. I remember standing in one spot for about ten minutes as I picked up kid after kid like a fun-house assembly line. One hot summer day the kids were running through the sprinklers and just for fun I joined them; shirt, pants, shoes and all.
Meanwhile, my wife and I had been married about 6 years and we decided that if I was going to play with little kids, they were going to be our own. Our years of marriage up until then had been spent moving, attending seminary, and changing jobs as a result of layoffs. We didn’t want to bring a child into our lives when so much was in fluctuation. But I had a stable job now and we believed it was the right time to start. As time rolled on we were unable to conceive. We saw a doctor, did the tests, my wife took some drugs, and we had the ever so romantic, timed sex. No we didn’t turn out the lights and start a stopwatch. We timed it with a calendar. Wait; that came out wrong. But it came out wrong in my favor so I’m just going to leave it in the blog. But to clarify, we followed the science of tracking when the optimal day for conceiving was and we both came home early from work that day. This has gone on longer than it takes to graduate high school.
People at that first church and the a few workers at the daycare noticed I didn’t have any kids. And a myth started to reveal itself. One of the elders at my church commented on the fact that I didn’t have children and slapped me with the phrase, “You don’t like kids.” Another day, the daycare owner told me that she and the daycare workers believed I didn’t like kids. I asked her how they could think this when I’ve played with the kids. She informed me she and the workers thought it was all just an act. For a guy who is quick with words, I left that conversation in stunned silence.
This myth that people don’t have kids because they don’t like kids is a painful one. And by the way, to tell that to someone is rude, mean, and ignorant. Several times I have held my wife who is in tears to discover another month has gone by and we are not pregnant. It’s been almost 7 years now. We’ve prayed, we’ve seen doctors, and we’ve shared our pain with our friends who have kids. And to have someone tell you to your face that you don’t have kids of your own because you don’t like them is what the author Phillip Yancey would call a moment of un-grace.
In honor of National Infertility Awareness Week and the myths surrounding infertility, I’d like to bust this myth of not having kids because I don’t like them. So, here is the Mad Pastor’s list of things I obviously don’t like because I don’t have them:
1.A house in the Hamptons 2.A Porsche 3.A winning lottery ticket 4.The ability to fly 5.A bestselling novel 6.Freckles 7.An Oscar 8.A world record 9.A yacht 10.A private jet 11.My very own Home Depot 12.Calorie free ice cream 13.That stopwatch on The Twilight Zone that stops time 14.A hovercraft 15.ESP 16.A teleportation machine 17.My own indoor swimming pool 18.20/20 vision
Some day God just might surprise my wife and me. I don’t know. Our lives and our future are in his hands. But I have to admit, sometimes I think about that mystery sermon box at my current church and all the kids that come forward. Maybe one day the child who brings the surprise will be my own. Oh geez, I hope I like him!
I'm into woodworking. I've been into woodworking for years. Christ was a carpenter and I want to be one too. I'm not great but I've built a few nice things. Recently, I bought on clearance a cordless router. So lately, I've been looking for things around the house and projects that need some nice routing. Maybe the wooden cap on a knee wall separating the entryway from my living room. It's so bland. A nice rounded edge would look good. How about those picnic tables at the park? They're so... what's the word I'm looking for?... square. Let's bevel the edges on those seats. That way they won't dig into the back of your legs while you're sitting on them. Why doesn't anyone else think of these things? It's a good thing I have my cordless router. I can starting fixing them. My trusty router and I can smooth over almost any edge.
Today my church did its annual cross walk on Good Friday. We start at a mall roughly two and a half miles from the church and alternate carrying the cross as we head home. It's always a humbling experience. But one thing has always bothered me a little. The cross is heavy and square. So when you're one of the people carrying it, it digs into your shoulder a little bit. As I went to bed last night I started to think about that cross and how the corners of the post dug into my neck and shoulders last year and I had a thought. I can bring my new router and smooth off those edges. I am a genius!
I told my wife about my moment of brilliance. Every year that cross digs into our flesh, but not this year. I was going to take the pain of the cross away for all those who carry it. My wife looked at me with her beautiful, loving eyes and said, "No you're not." It took me a few seconds and then I realized what she was saying.
The cross has to hurt. The cross hurt for Jesus. He carried it in pain. He was nailed to it. He died on it. The cross is a reminder of the sacrifice Jesus made for us. And here I am trying to find a way to make the cross less painful, maybe even more comfortable.
On this Good Friday, Jesus carried not just the cross, but the weight of the world. Jesus said to all who would listen, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me." (Luke 9:23) Carrying a cross is difficult. It can be painful. It should be painful. That's not to say that Jesus wants us to live a life full of pain. But to expect no discomfort in following Jesus, and even worse try to take it away, misses the point in following him.
It was mad of me to consider routing the edges off the cross. My router stayed in my wood shop as I headed out the door to the cross walk. Some things aren't meant to be rounded over.
For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike down every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both human beings and animals; on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD. The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live: when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. This day shall be a day of remembrance for you. You shall celebrate it as a festival to the LORD; throughout your generations you shall observe it as a perpetual ordinance. - Exodus 12:12-14
This passage leads up to the final plague the Egyptians faced as a result of enslaving the Israelites, God’s people. In the morning every firstborn person and animal was found dead. But the Israelites, who had sacrificed a lamb and placed the blood of that lamb on their doorposts, were spared God’s wrath. The punishment of death “passed over” their homes. Ever since that event the Israelites celebrated the Passover festival.
Generations later, Jesus and disciples were participating in the Passover festival. “Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, "Go and prepare the Passover meal for us that we may eat it." (Luke 22:7-8)
As they were eating the Passover meal, Jesus got the disciples’ attention:
Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me." And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, "This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. - Luke 22:19-20
Later, John, the author of the Gospel According to John, would call Jesus the Lamb of God. Jesus was the lamb that was sacrificed on the altar of the cross. His body was broken and his blood was spilled so that all who accept him as their savior may have death “pass over” them.
It may sound madness to believe in a God that allows himself to receive death in order that death may pass over those he loves. But that is what today, Good Friday and Easter are about. Jesus took upon himself the result of our sin. Romans says, “the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23) We have all sinned. We may not have done terrible things. We may not murder or rape or steal an elderly woman’s pension. We may actually do a lot of good. But God requires that we be perfect. Those who are not perfect miss the mark. That’s what sin is… missing the mark.
Jesus never missed the mark. But he died. He died willingly. And death has passed over us, and taken Jesus, the firstborn over all creation (Colossians 1:15) instead.
It would simply be mad not to live our lives with thankfulness to God who has set us free from death by taking it onto himself.
Do you believe in Cheesus? Turns out a lot of people do. I heard about food looking like Jesus and thought I'd do a quick search online. I found three different stories about Jesus showing up in a bag of Cheetos. Three times! I found another story of him showing up in a cheese sandwich.
It seems that Jesus prefers to show up in food made of cheese. That made me think about a few things.
1. Does Jesus really show up in food? 2. Should I be careful the next time I eat something with cheese? 3. Why cheese Jesus? Why not a bowl of oatmeal? Or one of those giant suckers with all the swirls? 4. Does Jesus eat a lot of cheese? 5. Does Jesus have a lot of Cheetos dust on him like we all do after we eat a bag of Cheetos? 6. I don't think I could lick a sucker that looked like Jesus. 7. If I hug Jesus will I be covered in cheese dust? 8. Why am I thinking about nachos right now? 9. I feel weird when I bite the head off a chocolate bunny, how could I ever eat a Cheesus? 10. Does Jesus find this amusing? 11. If Cheesus showed up in a pizza would the edge be called Cheesus Crust? 12. I'm still feeling a little weird about the Jesus sucker. I wish I could let that go. 13.Does God like to be called the Big Cheese? 14. Will I get in trouble for this list? 15. Will bags of Cheetos show up at my church office? 16. Will angry people show up at my church office? 17. Will they be angry about the cheese or the sucker? 18. Nah, they will probably be angry about the music selection. 19. I once had a cat named Cheezy. (True story!) He's with Jesus now. 20. Do cats go to heaven? 21. What was I talking about?
Oh yeah... Have you ever seen Jesus in your food? If you did, what would you do with it?
Have anything that needs to get done? You better hurry up! The world is going to end on May 21, 2011.How do I know? Because there is a website that says so; www.wecanknow.com. They have all the answers.
What I don’t understand is how do they know more about the end of the world than Jesus? I think they missed the following passage where Jesus himself is quoted as saying “But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Matt 24:36 NRSV)
Now you probably think I’m going to go down the road that mocks this website because Jesus clearly said that nobody knows when he is going to return. It seems like a pretty easy argument to make. But I’m not going to go there. Let me instead share with you what does drive me mad about this organization.
YouCanKnow.com is giving away materials to advertise the end of the world but is asking you to purchase if you require a large amount. The site says:
By God's grace we are able to freely offer these witnessing items at this time. However, due to the cost of printing and postage we strive to make these items available to individuals that understand and agree with the Biblical information being presented on this site and have a [sic] earnest desire to spread this message. We reserve the right to fill requests to those people that will distribute these materials wisely.
This is what drives me mad. If this organization truly believes that the end of the world is coming on May 21, then why are they worried about the cost of producing materials? The world is ending for Pete’s sake! Get the word out! Money should be the last thing on your mind and sharing the message should be number one.
I may be mad, but if this group is truly convinced that Christ is returning on May 21, 2011 and that the end of the world is October 21, 2011(see their mission here) then they should not be concerned about bills in the mail since they will no longer be here to pay them.
Do you believe the end of the world is near? Do you believe we can know the specific date? Does Jesus have a calendar up in heaven with a circle around a specific date? Will our debts follow us to heaven… oh wait, they’re forgiven. Let’s hear your thoughts.
Sometimes people in the Church like to share. Sometimes they like to share about other people. Sometimes they call sharing "prayer requests." If you've been with a church for a while, you've been there. Someone comes to you and says, "I'm really concerned about so and so" or "I want to share a prayer request with you." Sometimes the best place to get a juicy piece of gossip is in a prayer group.
These kind of prayer requests drive me mad. I'd be a hypocrite if I said I've never done it. We justify our own actions by calling it a prayer request. But if our prayer request starts off with, "Have you heard," we've probably veered off the prayer road and pulled onto the gossip on ramp.
Prayer is not about revealing secrets. It's about lifting up those around us to God in order that their lives may be better. Be careful of being around someone who tells a lot of secrets. They're not telling yours only because you are in the room with them. Be careful that you are not telling secrets. "A gossip tells secrets, so don't hang around with someone who talks too much." (Proverbs 20:19)
Which side of the conversation have you been on in the video? I've been on both. I'm embarrassed by that. Who knew that a blond from SNL would help me with my need? How does this video strike you?
When I was in high school I heard a song about Lazarus. It was performed by an artist named Carman. It was a song that told the story of Lazarus from the time in between him dying and being raised to life by Jesus. (Read the story here.) It was a cool song and very inspirational. I still think it's a good song today. I listened to other Carman songs after that and even bought an album.
The other night a friend and I were talking about Carman and out of curiosity Googled him. This is what we found.... www.carman.org.
If you don't listen to the entire introduction, and I'd be surprised if you did, here's a sample of what a very cool sounding voice that belongs on a truck rally commercial said:
For over 30 years there’s been only one person in Christian music that’s been recognized as a cultural phenomenon. He’s had the largest live audiences in history and still remains contemporary Christian music’s only stadium act.
He sold over 10 million records. Created and hosted 100’s of TV shows, made 35 music videos, written and acted in 3 movies, authored books, novels, earned 15 gold and platinum records and videos. And won millions of people to Christ…… the only person who fits all those qualifications is… Carman. [And now an all access pass to Carman can be yours for $4.95 a month.]
I honestly think the website reflects more of an SNL skit than it does a genuine Christian artist. Is Carman trying to glorify Christ or glorify the work he himself has done? I honestly don't know.
But here's what really drives me mad. As much as I look at this "ministry" and cringe, I know it will bring people to Christ. Carman didn't bring me to Christ, but God did feed my faith through his music.
What does the Christian community do with ministries like this? Do we mock them and say they demean the good name of Jesus? Or do we just look like fools when we point our fingers at other ministries? Do we apologize to other non-believers and say, "Oh we believe in the same Jesus, but we're different"?
I'm a little perplexed. Because after I'm done posting this I think I might find my old Carman album and listen to a few songs and remember a time when my faith was growing and I was on fire for Christ. But I'll be sure to hide the record before my wife comes home and sees me 80's dancing to it. (Does that make me a little mad?)
While I'm singing and dancing, why don't you leave your comments?