Monthly Archives: February 2007

JesusPets.com

I ran across the JesusPets website, and it gave me some laughs. The line at the top asks: “If Jesus returns tonight, who will feed your pets tomorrow?”

Well, that got my attention. I clicked on the “About” link to learn more.

Who is going to care for your pets after you are raptured into heaven?

If you have a non-Christian family member, they might take care of your pet, but if not, have you made any plans? Imagine being taken to streets of gold while your dog starves to death walking around in his own feces trapped in your small house or apartment, subject to fire and earthquakes or even being eaten by heathens searching for any remaining morsel of food. Do you want that to happen?

That’s what JesusPets is for. We are assembling a community of heathen pet-lovers to care for pets that are “left-behind.” We are coordinating with feed mills and kennels in preparation for your post-apocalyptic pet care needs.

I love that last line–my “post-apocalyptic pet care needs.” I browsed around other pages and got a number of laughs. The site has a lot of funny stuff on it. It’s most likely done by a non-believer with a great sense of wacky humor. Whoever it is–thanks for not taking us Christians too seriously.

And I’m wondering: who will take care of Jordi and Molly if we’re raptured?

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Getting Acquainted with Our Fellow Churches

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The crowd in our fellowship hall Sunday night.

Last night at church we did something intensely cool. We held a joint get-together with four other churches in our neighborhood: Grace Presbyterian, Trinity United Methodist, First Mennonite, and North Highlands Church of Christ. To make a difference in our neighborhood, it makes great sense, from a strategic standpoint, to join forces with other churches which want to make a difference. This is a baby step in that direction.

Actually, the first baby step came last spring, when Pastor Tim sent a letter to these pastors inquiring about working together. We held a joint Vacation Bible School last summer. And now, we’re going further during Lent.

For five Sunday nights, starting last night, we are holding a joint service at a different church. Anchor got things started last night. With the icy weather, the Oscars, and the big Chris Tomlin-Matt Redmon concert at Blackhawk Baptist Church, we didn’t have high hopes. We figured 50 would be a good number. But we ended up pretty much filling our basement fellowship hall with 75-80 people.

TimBarb_300.jpgGrace Presbyterian, led by the delightful Pastor Barb (that’s her on the right, taking photos, beside Pastor Tim), sent a big contingent. I spent a lot of time with them, and thoroughly enjoyed them. One young man, Steve, is a former atheist who became a Christian and, this summer, is headed for seminary. He hopes to eventually work in campus ministry, perhaps with Campus Crusade or InterVarsity.

Honestly, I don’t know much about Presbyterians. Haven’t had much contact with them during my 50 years, and have heard labels like “mainline” and “liberal” thrown their way (as if all Presbyterian groups are alike). We conservative evangelicals are adept at creating labels to separate us from other groups (though fundamentalists can be downright diabolical at it). We want to avoid contaminating our pure theology, I guess. I don’t think Jesus is too crazy about separatist attitudes.

The pastors agreed on a format for each evening. So last night, we started with a soup and dessert meal. Then we sang three songs which come out of our church’s tradition–in our case, “Take My Life and Let it Be” (though we Anchorized it with the Chris Tomlin version), “I’ll Fly Away,” and “This Little Light of Mine.” For the latter, when we got to the verse which says, “Shine all over Third Street” (where Anchor is located), we had each church insert their own church’s street. That was neat. Tim and Terry played guitars and sang, I played the piano, and Marsha sang.

After those three songs, Tim spoke informally and with lots of humor about Anchor and our denomination–theology, ministries, history, etc. It set a great tone.

Next week we’re at North Highlands Church of Christ. I can hardly wait. In reaching our neighborhood, the most strategic relationships we can develop are not with other United Brethren churches in Fort Wayne, but with other churches, regardless of affiliation, located in our neighborhood. We’ll discover which ones share our heart for really making an impact. This can only lead to good things.

The United Brethren church began when a Mennonite minister and a German Reformed minister, discovering that they shared the same spiritual passions, declared, “We are brethren.” I think they’d be pleased with what happened last night at Anchor.

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The Fluff Report: American Idol

Time for an American Idol fluff post. Yes, Pam and I watch the show. Started last year, got hooked, and now we’re back. I will be posting about American Idol, but as far as I can tell, the show in no way contributes to the ministry of my church or to world evangelization in general (though I’m sure numerous contestants will find reason to thank God for something). In short, the path to heaven does not pass in front of Randy, Paula, and certainly not Simon. And yet, I am compelled to obsess over the show.

I find this year’s contestants pretty boring, especially compared to last year. Most of the guys sound alike. Only Blake Lewis, Chris Sligh, and the too-young Sanjayah are interesting. But it’s early, and I can see Sundance and Phil breaking from the pack. I liked Rudy, who was dismissed from the show last night; a good performer.

The women are similarly boring, though a bit more diverse. Melinda Doolittle is my favorite, and I like Sabrina. Beyond that–I don’t really care. We desperately need a Kelly Pickler.

Last year’s crew was so much more interesting. Where is this year’s Taylor Hicks? There are no country reps this year, like Kelly and Bucky Covington. No Elliott Yamin. Chris Sligh can only pretend to be Chris Daughtrey’s succesor. Several women could perhaps take Kat McPhee’s place, potentially. Lakisha is certainly Mandisa, and Stephanie Edwards can stand in for Paris Bennett and Lisa Tucker. A couple guys can do a lesser version (complete with lesser falsetto) of Ace Young. And where, oh where, is this year’s Kevin Covais? Overall, the calibre definitely took a hit this year. At least, that’s my early diagnosis as a highly trained evaluator of vocal talent…not!

I find myself despising Antonella Barba, simply because of her friend who got dismissed in Hollywood. An early feature showed them as two pretty, stuck-on-themselves, aren’t-we-beautiful dilettantes, like so many Valley-Girlites I knew in high school. Now that Antonella is by herself, she actually comes across as likable, and she’s certainly pretty. But I still hate her because of baggage I still carry from my adolescent years. Interesting that I can muster up such strong emotions over this TV show. Such is the state of my shallowness.

Now I need to go see what’s happening with Anna Nicole.

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Celebrating No-Presidents Day

The third Monday in February is always Presidents Day. That means it must occur somewhere between February 15 and 21. We think of it as a combination of the birthdays of Washington and Lincoln.

But–this is interesting–their birthdays don’t fall in that span. Washington was born on either February 11 (according to the old-style Julian calendar, still being used) or February 22 (the newly-adopted Gregorian calendar). Lincoln’s birthday is February 12. Two other presidents were born in February: William Henry Harrison on February 6, and Ronald Reagan on February 9. So Presidents Day will never occur on an actual president’s birthday.

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Most Dangerous Roads

One morning last week, while snowed in, I watched a History Channel feature about Bolivia’s North Yungus Road, a 70km horror that connects the capital city, La Paz, with the city of Coroica. It is hands-down the world’s most dangerous road, claiming 100-200 lives every year. I’m fascinated by this road. A History Channel reporter drove the entire road with a film crew. Incredibly, I found this more interesting than the Anna Nicole Smith saga.

I came across a web article about the five most dangerous roads in the world. The Bolivian road heads the list, but the others are quite interesting, too. Lots of pictures.

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Athletes Vs. Golfers

A few weeks ago, Sports Illustrated let two guys debate who was the better athlete: Tiger Woods or Roger Federer. Both are probably the greatest to ever play their sport. But who is the better athlete?.

The pro-Federer writer (I don’t remember the guys’ names) pointed out that Tiger’s physical demands don’t go beyond walking and swinging your arms (though swinging with great practiced precision). Federer, on the other hand, must actually run, jump, spin, fight fatigue, and draw deeply from gutsy reserves when things aren’t going well. He must swing his arms hundreds of times more than Tiger does. And he must adjust for and out-think each opponent (whereas Tiger competes against the course, not an opponent).

So I don’t think there’s any doubt that Federer is the better athlete. But if you start playing this game, you could argue that many mediocre NBA players are better pure athletes than Federer. But I don’t want to go there.

Are Jeff Gordon and Daryl Waltrip athletes? Auto racing has all the trappings of a sport–competition, big crowds, Vegas betting. But I have trouble seeing these guys as athletes any more than I see video-gamers, chess players, and archers as athletes. To be an athlete, you need to do something that truly taxes you physically. So, does that mean ballroom dancers and synchronized swimmers are athletes, but Jeff Gordon isn’t?

Okay, I need to think about this some more. Or maybe not. I don’t know why I’m even writing about this. I should go outside and do something physically demanding and therefore athletic, like shoveling snow. On the other hand, considering all the finger movement necessary to type, how about advancing blogging as a sport?

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The Fluff Channels Vs. CNN

Every time I check, MSNBC, Headline News, and Fox are all talking about Anna Nicole Smith. Meanwhile, CNN is always doing something worthwhile. Like tonight, Anderson Cooper is in the Brazilian rain forest doing a report on the climate. I’ve noticed this night after night–three channels lazily doing fluff, while CNN tackles substance. It’s not a difficult choice deciding which channel to watch, even though James Dobson and the other Christian-culture elites would be terribly disappointed with me.

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Skipping the Teenage Years

Eighteen years since I proposed. Nothing special about 18, I guess. Except that we’re still together, so we seem to be fighting the odds just fine. I proposed the day after Valentines Day. I refused to be stereotypical. I was ready to propose on Valentines Day, but I stubbornly waited an extra day.

Tonight we went to Bandidos after music practice and shared a medium nachos, just the meats and cheeses (no beans). Pretty boring for an anniversary meal, I suppose, but it suited us.

After 18 years, we could have a kid ready to graduate from high school. Instead, we’ve got a 20-year-old and a 20-something, and their baby. Went straight to Grandpa and Grandma. That’s what people are calling us. I never minded. Pam wasn’t sure about it at first, but now she has embraced her Grandmahood.

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Ain’t That Ironic

This just in: a Congressional hearing on Global Warming was postponed because of an ice storm in Washington DC.

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Totally Confused About Worship

For many years now, “worship” has been the in thing in churchdom, the thing we do which is supposed to be paramount, more important than anything else. Evangelism, obedience, faithfulness, discipleship, missions, spiritual gifts–they had their day. But today’s United States church says it’s all about worship.

I confess that I’m totally confused when it comes to worship. I’ve heard so many definitions and general proclamations about worship, with so many contradictions and inconsistencies, that I’ve given up. I think I helped craft one definition, as part of a music team exercise, along the line of, “Worship is giving all of myself to an infinite God.” Or something like that (am I close, Chris?). It was profound, as everything about worship must be.

We hear that worship isn’t what we do on Sunday morning, but how we live throughout the week. That worship is a lifestyle. I’ve heard that everything we do is an act of worship. That we worship by teaching Sunday school, by eating right, by driving within the speed limit. That world missions is, in fact, an act of worship (rather than an act of obedience to the Great Commission, which I was errantly taught as a kid by non-worship-minded adults). When I send my wife flowers or do the dishes or get to work on time–more acts of worship.

But then, we do some kind of elevated worship on Sunday, when we hold worship services. But what part of the morning is worship? When people say, “I really worshipped this morning,” they’re usually talking about the songs. Nobody says, “I really worshipped in listening to that sermon,” or when the offering was taken, or during announcements.

As a worship team, we lead the congregation in worship. But if it’s a lifestyle, and not something we do on Sunday morning, then what exactly is our role? If what we do inspires positive emotion, people will say it was good worship. If the pastor gives a knock-em-dead sermon, people will say it was a great sermon, not a great act of worship.

I read today someone’s thought that, “Quite often worship is simply a baptized version of our culture. In our worship we simply mirror what is all around us–worship of self.” Wow, there’s something to think about. But that person is confining worship to what happens in worship services.

Our new Christian rock stars are worship leaders like Matt Redman, Chris Tomlin, Darlene Zschech, and Tommy Walker. Instead of going to hear them “in concert,” we go to hear them conduct musical worship. During my childhood years we had fulltime evangelists, and they emphasized that winning the lost is more important than anything else we do. Well, few fulltime evangelists are still around; it’s just not a marketable skill, I guess. But we do have thousands of worship leaders who tell us that worship is, of course, more important than anything else we do. Since I’m a Communications Director, I’d like to tell people that nothing is more important than communicating clearly, but you can’t pack an auditorium with that message.

So anyway, I’m confused, and I’ve been blissfully confused for many years now. And I wonder how many other people share my confusion, but don’t want to admit it and thereby show themselves to be spiritually unenlightened. When I hear new definitions or profound pronouncements about worship, I just nod my head with severe understanding and privately look forward to the day when some other Christian concept becomes in vogue, something that people can explain with a little more consensus and less starry-eyed abstract prose.

To me, it’s not all about worship. It’s all about obedience and faithfulness. Those are concepts I can wrap my mind around. Is God pleased with what happens at my church on Sunday morning? If he’s pleased, then I’m pleased, and I don’t get my shorts bunched up about whether or not worship occurred.

(This is what happens when I’m snowed in.)

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