Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Church Revisited

A while ago I was talking to one of my professors at Multnomah. I told him that I'm on staff at Good Shepherd, and he replied, "Good Shepherd? That's Stu Weber's church, right?" I remember replying, "Stu would hate that you just referred to it that way." And I was able to say that because it is true. Stu is always greatly thrown off when people refer to our church as "Stu's church." His reply is, "There is only one Good Shepherd, and it isn't me."
Some might say that this is just a matter of semantics. What my professor meant was that Good Shepherd is the church that Stu Weber pastors. Still, there is something powerful about the words we choose. They reflect our (sometimes unconscious) thoughts. When I refer to Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minesota as "John Piper's church," I am reflecting that I think Bethlehem Baptist Church is about John Piper. That is sad (and I know that John Piper would agree with that).
No church belongs to any one person.
Things brings me back to the issue of how we relate to the churches we attend. I mentioned in a previous post that sometimes we say things like, "I didn't get anything from the sermon," or, "I didn't have a good worship time." When we say things like this we reveal that we really think the church is all about us. The perception is that the church exists to equip me to go out and live my individual Christian life.
Here is another one.
Sometimes churches go through changes and adjustments. One thing that might be spoken by long-term members is, "This just doesn't feel like my church anymore." This is troubling.
This phrase could also be spoken by us when we visit churches. "That church just didn't feel like a place we could call home. It just didn't feel like we could call it 'our church.'"
Is this semantics, or is this revealing our thinking. If someone says, "This church just doesn't feel like my church anymore," they often mean that they don't feel at home with the worship, the style, or the people involved. The fact is, if one of us says, "This church doesn't feel like my church anymore," the rest of us ought to reply, "Good. It's not your church. It belongs to Jesus."
Are we splitting hairs here? I really don't think so. We often believe that it is valid to say, "I just don't feel at home at this church, so I am going to look for a new one." This is not right! God has not called us to look for a church in which we are comfortable. If we are comfortable in our churches, that might be a bad thing. Comfort can stunt our growth and cause us to become grossly complacent.
Is Good Shepherd my church? No. Good Shepherd doesn't belong to me. Jesus is the owner of the church. He is her Savior, her Head, and her Bridegroom.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Congratulations, Merge Makers

Well, while we did lose Sherea (tear), we didn't lose any of our competitors because she was part of Dan Stump's field. He still has Courtney (who apparently hails from Meltdown City) and PG.
Interesting week. Amazing twist with James having to try (in vain) to lose. Either way, the result was good for Dave (who picked James). My favorite moment was when Todd gave him to idol and James hit him to thank him. Then Todd replied by saying, "James, you almost killed me just now."
Congratulations for making the merge: Karina Franklin (Denise), Eric Wood (JR), Dan Stump (Courtney and PG), Angela Stump (Frosti), Dave McAllister (James), Greg Moffat (Jaime), Andrea Moffat (Amanda), Ami McNay (Erik), and me (Todd).
I still think Toddpretty much rules.
Now that we are at the merge (at least that's what the preview for next week seemed to indicate), here are the new over/unders:
James: 6
JR: 8
Amanda: 2
Jaime: 9
Erik: 8
PG: 7
Denise: 5
Courtney: 6
Todd: 3
Frosti: 5

I would like to think that Todd and Amanda will be the final 2, but I am much more convinced that, either way, Amanda will be in the final 2 and that she is likely to win. That's just what I see.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Greatest Show Ever

The 24 Season 7 Trailer is now on the website. You can click here http://www.24trailer.com/ to check it out.
Four Words:
1) I
2) Told
3) You
4) So


Friday, October 19, 2007

Down to 11

So, if you had told me that E-Wood (JR) would outlast his wife Meagan (Aaron), I would have thought you were crazy. But Meagan fell victim this last week to the tribal mix-up. I think They did the right thing in voting him off, but I hate the fact that they dropped the challenge on purpose. Totally lame.
So, here's the update.
1. Ami McNay: Erik benefiting by getting rid of Aaron (and likely James next week). And he also wasn't lame like the girls. He really could go all the way.
2. Ang Stump: Frosti is not next on the chopping block even though he was in the mix-up. Now he is likely to have some options going into the merge.
Slightly Down:
3. Me: Todd is hurt a little bit by having Aaron voted out. However, in the long run it will help him to have immunity hogs out of there.
4. Andrea Moffat: Amanda is in pretty much the same position as Todd.
5. Karina Franklin: If James gets voted off (more in this later), she loses her closest ally.
Bad Form:
6. Greg Moffat: Lost respect for Jamie. Lame for dropping the challenge and for not telling Erik about it.
Even Strength:
7. Dan Stump: Sherea is in trouble if her tribe loses. Although, they may jsut vote JR off. Courtney's position is probably improved. PG took the lame dive with Jamie.
8. E-Wood. Je is in trouble, but if the other tribe is successful in dropping the next challenge, he should make the merge.
9. Dave McAllister: Brutal man. Poor James. I want to now list off the remaining ways that James could end up not getting voted off next week:
* A merge (his best hope)
* Jamie and PG have a change of heart and decide to actually compete
* Erik turns on the challenge-throwing chicks
* Todd convinces his tribe to try even harder to purposefully lose the challenge so that he can get rid of JR
* James convinces Jeff to let him compete one on one with someone from the other tribe for immunity

Sorry, Dave. Don't see it happening.

New Over/Unders:
Todd: 3
Amanda: 3
Erik: 3
Sherea: 7
Courtney: 4
James: 11
Jamie: 4
PG: 4
JR: 9
Frosti: 5
Denise: 6

Those who can win:
1. Todd
2. Amanda
3. Erik
4. Frosti

I don't want to put anyone else on the list.
Courtney: Won't convince people to vote for her.
PG and Jamie: Lost votes because of the flagrant throwing of challenges.
Denise: Won't be strategic enough to go all the way.
JR: No one likes him.
James: Screwed.
Sherea: No one likes her.

See you next week.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Modern Ecclesiology

I've been thinking a lot lately about the church. When I say "the church," I don't mean Good Shepherd Community Church (the church I am a part of). I mean the church in general, and all churches of Jesus Christ. How is it that we approach the church, and how is it that consumerism plays a role in our perspective?
I bring up consumerism because of a class I have been taking at seminary. This class has been very revealing when it comes to how we approach church, the Scriptures, our relationship with God, our relationships with one another. We often approach all of these by asking this question: "What can I get out of these?" For example, "What did you get out of the sermon?" "What did you get out of your time in the Word this morning?" "Did you have a good worship experience at church?"
We might even look at relationships that we have with others and say, "I'm just not getting what I need from this friendship."
We are all on a slippery slope with these things. There are extremes, like a drive-thru church (seriously): http://www.churchmarketingsucks.com/archives/2005/05/drive-thru_chur.html. This might seem kind of out there, but then a step away from that we have those who watch church at home, or those who listen to church on the radio. A couple steps away from that, though, we have those of us who say, "I go to church because it helps me in my personal relationship with Jesus."
Now how different is someone who attends a Drive-Thru Church and someone who goes to a church because it helps them in their personal relationship with Jesus? Are they different in kind or just in degree?
What holds all of this together? It seems that the common bond is that both are saying, "I need certain things, and so I will go somewhere that I can get it. If that means that I just go to a Drive-Thru Church, complete my requirement, and get served communion, so be it. If that means that I attend a Bible-believing church each week, serve in a ministry, and host a small group, so be it. Bottom line, though, is what this church does for me in my personal relationship with Jesus."
At some point in our lives we might say, "I don't know if I can stay at this church because I just can't worship to this music." Or, "I don't know if I can stay at this church because I just don't get anything out of the sermons." Or, "I don't know if I can stay at this church because my kids aren't getting what I want them to get from the children's (or youth) ministry."
All of these things are convicting because we normally approach church (and God) with the mindset that it (or He) exists for us. This church exists to help me and to equip me to be a light for Christ. Biblically speaking, though, this just does not seem to be true. Does church really exist for me? Is church for Dan Franklin? Is the sermon there so that Dan Franklin gets something practical by which he can live his life? Is the worship there so that Dan Franklin can have a great time of worship?
The church is so much bigger than we tend to think. Jesus said that He was going to build His church, and that the gates of hell would not prevail against it. The Apostle Paul said that God intends to demonstrate His manifold wisdom to the spiritual authorities through the church. Through the church?! Not through individual Christians who are equipped by the church. But through the church. Through the body of Christ, as a body, moving for Him and demonstrating His greatness, His love, His mercy, His power, His gospel.
Is the church for Dan Frankin? Is your church for you?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Sarah Blomquist Joins Her Husband

Well, to absolutely no one's surprise (except, apparently, his own) Dave was voted out of Survivor. Sorry Sarah. When you made the pick after episode one, I thought it was a really good one. I thought he had a good shot of winning. You and I grossly misjudged him. Last week my sister Ami commented that poor Leslie might have lacked a bit of self-awareness. But now we all know that Dave has the marked cornered on that one.
One Step Forward:
1. Ang Stump: Frosti is great. He didn't BS Dave and he is great in both the challenges and in the camp life. I still don't think he can win it all, but I really like him.
2. Dave McAllister: James is in trouble strategically, but, man, he ruled again in the immunity challenge. It is just that he will be such a big target after the merge, and he is a poor strategist.
3. Me: Todd got ANOTHER clue to the immunity idol. Unbelievable. So happy about my pick. Todd rules.
4. E-Wood: I hate to say it, but JR did great this last week. He is starting to scare me because he is a threat to Todd. I need the tribe to lose again so that Todd can make a run at getting JR out of there.
Two Steps Back:
5. Dan Stump (The Field): Not really the whole field. PG and Courtney are sitll fine. Sherea, though, almost choked away the episode. She just collapsed. She is great in the challenges, though.
Tolding Strong:
6. Karina Franklin: Denise actually spoke in this episode (that was for Mirranda).
7. Greg Moffat: Jaime is still really cool.
8. Andrea Moffat: Amanda too.
9. Ami McNay: Erik too.
10. Meagan Wood: Aaron is doing well. No upward movement, but not a ton needed. Still don't think he can go all the way, though.

I would like to strike Sherea from my previous list of who could possibly win. I will put in PG in her place (just so that Dan has some hope).

See you all next week.
Feel free to complain if you feel like my rankings are wrong.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


One of the really fun things about having two kids is seeing the beginning of the "brothers" interaction between Matt and Jack. Of course, most of the interaction is being done on the part of Matthew. He is the one who is able to engage. He has been a little bummed at times that our attention is now divided between the two of them, but he has never yet acted out against Jack. He has always been really tender and affectionate. He sometimes sings to him, hugs him, and kisses him. He also really wants to help when Jack is crying, and sometimes we have to actually tell him, "It's okay, Matt. We got it. No, don't try to give him his pacifier. No, he doesn't need that blanket." It's good-natured, though, so it is fun to watch.
I can't wait until the boys are older and can do things together more. I am sure there will be lots of fights (like there were between Chris and I), but I am also sure there will be a lot of joy. They will get to share great moments with each other, and I hope that we as parents can foster an attitude of rejoicing with one another instead of competing with one another.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Farewell to Daren, and Week 3

Daren Blomquist is the first out of Survivor Pick 'em. Sorry, man. Leslie just didn't seem to interested in playing a strategic game. Great person. Just not a great player in this game.
Who's Stock Went Up?
1. Greg Moffat: The Jaime pick is looking better and better. She is awesome, and she has the clue. Good late round pick. You and Andrea (who picked Amanda) are like the Pats picking up Brady in round 5, or the Dodgers picking up Piazza in round 62.
2. Ami McNay: Erik did great in the challenge. Good guy.
3. Angela Stump: Frosti is a really cool guy, and he also ruled in the immunity challenge.
4. Meagan Wood: Aaron is large and in charge.
5. Dan Stump: He kept all three of "the field." Sherea ruled in both challenges. Courtney survived and is in with todd and Amanda. P.G. seems to have become less annoying.
Who's Stock Went Down?
6. Dave McAllister: James is on the outs. He's a stud in the challenges, but not great in the social game. Getting tied in with JR was a big mistake.
7. Sarah Blomquist: I know you thought it couldn't get any worse, but it did. Dave is in big trouble.
8. E-Wood: JR is next if his tribe loses. The loner gameplan does not seem smart.
Who's Stock Held?
9. Andrea Moffat: Amanda is still awesome.
10. Dan Franklin: Todd is still in a good position, but he certainly did not have as good a week as he did last time.
11. Karina Franklin: Denise is just there. Not doing much, but everyone seems okay with her.

Now my opinion list of the remaining players who can possibly win:
1. Jaime
2. Amanda
3. Todd
4. Frosti
5. Erik
6. Sherea (why not?)

Sorry to the rest of you.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Nana Patti

We got to have a visit from Nana Patti (a.k.a., my mom) this past weekend. It was her first opportunity to meet Jack, her third grandchild (with a fourth on the way soon; not with us, but with my sister Ami). It was great having her around, and Matt was just thrilled. Jack took to her really well also.
Thanks for coming, Mom. You were such a great help, and we loved having you here.
Here are some pictures. The last one is in there because Matt is in garb provided by Nana Patti, compliments of a recent trip she took to Disneyland.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Skateboarding or Jesus

I really vividly remember being with Karina as a large Christian gathering while I was a youth pastor in Southern California. It was a sort of youth rally/evangelistic crusade. One of the main appeals of the gathering was skateboarding. And one of the main things that kept being communicated over and over again during the gathering was the message, "You can be a Christian and still be a skateboarder."
I remember thinking this was strange.
It's not that I don't like skateboarders. I think Christians can be skateboarders, and musicians, and businessmen, and athletes, and authors. But what are we saying when we say to someone, "You can be a Christian and still. . ."?
More importantly, what is someone asking when they ask, "Can I be a Christian and still. . ."?
Well, it depends on what they still want to do, right? If they still want to play video games, date, watch TV, or become a stockbroker, then we would say, "Sure." After all, there is nothing in te Bible forbidding any of those things.
On the other hand, if they still want to sleep with their girlfriend, smoke pot, get drunk, shoplift, and sacrifice cats, we would say, "No." After all, the Bible forbids those things. Maybe it does not forbid us to sacrifice cats, but there might be a law in our country against it.
Again, though, I have to ask, what is it that is being asked. In both cases it seems like the person is asking, "Do I still have some control over what I get to do?" This should cause us pause. Are we unintentionally telling people, "Come to Jesus, and you can still do whatever you want as long as it is not forbidden in the Bible"? Is this the gospel?
Christ calls us to abandon all and follow Him. Leave everything behind. He didn't want one man to go back and bury his father, and He didn't want another one to go back and say goodbye to his family. I know that we have exegesis that tells us that both of these men were asking to go back for extended amounts of time. Still, the point is that Jesus was calling for absolute devotion from anyone who wanted to come and follow Him. No exceptions. No part of our life remains our own.
Can I still skateboard if I become a Christian? When we're asked this, we should pause. We need to probe and find out what is behind this question.
Also, we need to ask ourselves how much we are to blame for this. How are we presenting the gospel as a call to bring Jesus into our lives instead of leaving all behind to orient our lives around Him?