Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Hey Man…wanna get high?



I was talking with a friend the other day.  We were catching up about various things God was doing in our lives, places God was sending us, and the really big changes God was putting us through.  I talked about my job and how we’ve made a shift in our church’s youth ministry.  I talked about the mission trips to Costa Rica and Canada with my church in the coming year.  I talked about the birth of Melody and everything that goes along with being a dad and how it’s the best job ever.  He talked about some big Christian event that he’d been to this past year.  He talked about a pilgrimage he’s thinking about doing in the next year.  He talked about possibly moving to another state because of the “Big Things” God was doing in that area.  When our coffee cups were dry, we’d talked for a couple hours and, to be perfectly honest, I was a little jealous of the things he was doing or wanted to do.  Now I know that going to Costa Rica isn’t anything to shake a stick at, but still—it seemed like he was going to do “Big Things” with God, and I felt a little left out.

Well, a couple days passed and our conversation ran through my head over and over and over again.  I finally asked God, “Why can’t you let me do big things like him?  Why am I stuck here in Southwestern Minnesota?  Nothing’s going on here except potlucks and lutefisk.” 

And that’s when God said something to the effect of, “Aren’t I here also?  Isn’t my church here in Minnesota?  Can’t I do big things here?” 

Mark one up for the big guy—he’s right…again. 

So I started thinking more about the big things that my friend was going to do.  Each different thing that he had talked about would cause him to travel.  Each event was in a different state at a different time.  Each different thing promised “Big Things” from God.  And they did sound pretty sweet.  But why did my friend feel the need to do each of these things?  He would need to go to an event that claimed, “God is moving in (insert state here)!” in State A.  Then he’d have to go to State B that was claiming that God was doing the exact same thing there.  And then during the summer go on the pilgrimage in State C that promised that you’d find God over there.  All the while I was thinking, “If God is moving so much, God must be sponsored by U-Haul but doesn’t own a map since he ends up alone in the foothills of Appalachian Mountains.”

So why did my friend decide to try and find God all over the country?  My best guess is because he’s addicted.  That’s right—he’s addicted to the high he receives when he goes to these big events.  Now I’ve been to a few of these big events - they are cool and you do feel a huge emotional connection to God in the sea of Christians all worshipping together - but I believe that it’s this massive rush of emotion, that is largely addictive. 

You may be thinking, “But doesn’t God call us to worship as one?  Weren’t we created to worship?”  Well, yes. But we were also created to love, serve, and disciple.  The issue of going to all of these places to find the next best thing is that while you’re on the road, going from place to place, where’s your ministry?  Sure God might be doing big things with you, but what about the big things God could have been doing through you if you’d stayed home?  They’re not there.  The Big Things never happen.  And because they never happen, something else has been allowed to creep in. 

This “Next Big Thing” trend is really coming down to Christian Consumerism.  Instead of approaching church as a community we can contribute to, church has become a large event that is going to give us something, but eventually, the high will wane.  Due to the Law of Diminishing Returns, eventually you won’t be able to even FEEL like you’re worshipping anymore.  And where does that leave your faith?  Picture yourself at the end of the road called life after spending the entire time growing to BE something, but never DOING anything.  If I remember correctly, Jesus tells us to BE love and also to DO love.

Do I think that things like the “One Thing” or “Dare 2 Share” are wrong?  No, they have great ministries.  But when your faith revolves around these big events, there is no relationship, no intimacy, no charity.  If we truly want to worship freely and see God do Big Things, we should stay put.  Take up residence.  See what you can do for your town.  BECOME part of your community.  If you want to truly see the face of God, you need to invest yourself into your church instead of searching for your next big emotional high.

My 2¢.
-Kyle

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Greatest Anti Depressant


The other day I was bummed.  I think it was the combination of a long, busy weekend, short nights and many other life happenings.  Things that, when confronted, are easily dissipated, but emotionally taxing when combined into one weekend.  The weekend was one I'd known would be busy.  I'd know there would be a lot responsibilities, but other things happened that pushed my stress level to the max.  So there I was, lugging myself into work: tired, worn out, and slight depressed.  Since I’d gotten through the long, dreaded weekend, I could finally take a breather.  Well, I looked at my schedule and found it somewhat full of planning, rescheduling, odd jobs, and of course…Meals on Wheels.

It’s not that I didn’t want to do Meals on Wheels.  Rather I wish I hadn’t volunteered for it THAT week with everything that’s on my schedule.  When you sign up, it’s a full week of delivering meals.  I thought to myself, “How am I supposed to drop everything and go do these meals now?”  Well, to get to the point, I will never ever try and get out of Meals on Wheel again.

I’d had a bummer of a week ahead of me, but after the first day of delivering meals had brightened everything up.  You see, delivering meals to the elderly gets you out of your office and with people.  And these people aren’t sluffs that waste your time.  No, these people are the gems of God’s kingdom.  I love delivering meals to the elderly.  It was just the thing to get me out of my beginning-of-the-week funk and refocus my goals for the week.  AND, it only takes roughly a half an hour. 

So I wonder, why did delivering meals turn my week around?  What makes life so much better now as opposed to an hour ago?  The only conclusion I can come to is this: we were meant to be relational beings.  Sitting in my office, getting the “work” done, doesn’t necessarily accomplish anything.  Especially as youth pastors, it’s easy to get lost in the planning of programs or trips or whatever else we fill our schedule with.  Without taking time to get out of your office and meet with people, you’re driving yourself further away from what ministry really is.  No, I’m not the best at this, and yes I spend way too much time in my office.  But I think it’s something that we almost have to plan for…to get out of our offices.  And if you’re going to get out of your office, why not volunteer somewhere?

My advice is this: get out of your office and volunteer.  I know not everybody has the luxury of a Youth Pastor’s flexible schedule, but if you’re in a job where you can take a little longer lunch breaks, maybe Meals on Wheels would be a good addition to your week.  And it will get the grumps out.

-Kyle

Monday, November 23, 2009

Why Do Fundamentalists Hate Rob Bell?



From the title of this post, I probably have alienated all of my Fundamentalist reader(s), but that wasn’t my intension.  If you’re a Fundamentalist and still read my stuff, you must really hate me.  I imagine you are taking notes on everything that I’m wrong about, and you are waiting for the perfect time to spew many comments of disapproval all over my blog.  Or perhaps you are a Fundamentalist with an open mind and, therefore, a walking contradiction.  And so, if you are still reading this post, let’s get onto the meat of the subject: Rob Bell…the heretic?

What you shouldn’t expect from this post: the equivalent to a Rob Bell TeenMag article stating, “Rob Bell is SOOO dreamy… and available! XOXOXO”; statements why he is theologically superior to everyone else; or any claims of “Modern Day Prophet” or the equivalent. 

I like Rob Bell, I like Nooma, I like Rob Bell’s books, and, Lord willing, I hope to someday attend a service at Mars Hill Church in Michigan.  Now I’ve liked Bell for a while.  I was first exposed to the Nooma videos at the National Youth Workers Convention in Anaheim in 2006.  What was presented was Nooma Video 14, “Breathe”.  What struck me were the compelling implications of such a simple idea.  It’s like the message was there the entire time and was just waiting to jump out and grab me.

Since I’ve been working in the church, I have used a few Nooma videos on occasion.  What follows are deep conversations about aspects of faith, what it means to love, what it means to serve, and other topics that sometimes get swept under the carpet or not fully explored.  I’ve had youth ask when we’re going to do more Nooma videos.  So not only do I enjoy the videos, but the youth enjoy them AND the deep conversations that follow.

Enter Nooma video #9, “Bullhorn”.  I was screening the video before youth group sometime last year.  I liked it; Bell made some good points.  Just for fun, I decided to do a YouTube search for Rob Bell videos.  What I found was a bunch of copycat videos done to look like Nooma videos, but they were avidly against Bell’s videos.  No problem—everyone that “creates” is due some critics.  But then I got reading the comments—some funny, others disturbing, and yet others made you wonder how they figured out how to use a computer...  Upon further research, I noticed more and more people exclaiming their dislike of Bell’s teachings, even going as far as to say he’s a heretic.  One particularly funny comment I noticed on an iTunes audio book review for Bell’s book, Sex God, went on to say, “Rob Bell is a heretic.  He takes away and adds to the truth of scripture to make his point…” But yet the reviewer still must have liked the book enough to give it three out of five stars.  So he absolutely hated the message; but it was still an above average book?

My question is this: Is it really that easy to throw around the H-word in Christianity?  Just because someone disagrees with your theology (but probably not so much your theology as your implementation of your faith), you feel obligated to drop the H-bomb on someone?  Really?  My question is what gives you the right?  Where in anyone’s understanding of Christianity is arrogance and pride-filled name-calling acceptable?  Is calling someone a heretic really focusing on the things above?  Is getting the courage to write a poor review of his work really working towards the Kingdom of God?  Have you ever wondered how even the Evangelical Champions haven’t called Bell a heretic?  Do you ever think that maybe, just maybe, calling someone a heretic isn’t the best first step?  Moreover, perhaps there’s a small possibility that you misunderstood their words?  Do you think that possibly the reason that you have no credibility is because you’ve allowed yourself to fall into the 3rd grader-mentality of name-calling?

Doing a short Google search, I found a small quotation that will sum up probably 90% of the arguments against Bell.  I found it here.  And I quote:
Here’s a sample of Rob Bell’s heretical theology taken from his book, Velvet Elvis:
Heaven is full of forgiven people.
Hell is full of forgiven people.

Heaven is full of people God loves, whom Jesus died for.
Hell is full of forgiven people God loves, whom Jesus died for.

The difference is how we choose to live, which story we choose to live in, which version of reality we trust. Ours or God’s.
So there you have it, everyone is forgiven! All you have to do to go to heaven is live in God’s story (whatever that means).
See?  Do you see it?  You have decided to take an active stand against something when you don’t fully understand it.  You have decided to pick a side without fully knowing what the opposing side stands for.  But I would argue that there IS NO opposing side.  I ask you to do this: Desperately seek out the meaning of the message before you make your judgment.

So there it is—the answer…whatever that means…

My 2¢.                                                                                                                                                      
-Kyle



Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Narcissism In the Church and Other Ways to Be a Hypocrite




*SLAP* Did you feel that?  *SLAP SLAP* How about that one?  *KICK SLAP* Hello?  You there? *PUNCH PUNCH SLAP PINCH KICK ELBOW PUNCH* There you’re coming around.   I can see the life coming back into your eyes, the thought processes starting to compute, and a realization that you’re not the only one on this planet.  Welcome back to the real world…or is it?

Recently I submitted an article to our church newsletter.  And as usual, I didn’t have an article ready, so I did what I usually do in this type of situation and submitted a blog entry.  When I’m in a pinch and getting a death glare from our Office Manager Duane, I usually find the most relevant, non-ranty post that I’ve done and send that to him.  Well, I picked the article about the first week of youth group this year.  It chronicled the events and my inner struggles that surrounded that evening.  Also, it talked about how I was going to refocus my group to be more of a service oriented youth group.  I thought, “Hey, this is good stuff.  I’ll submit this so the congregation knows what’s going on.”  Seems innocent enough, right?

Monday morning I come into my office later than usual.  Then Pastor Gordon comes in to my office.  Usually when Gordon comes in, it’s no big deal.  He usually just needs to blow off some steam, chat a little bit, or he needs help with his computer at home (I know, I didn’t see that one in the job description eitherJ).  So Gordon sits on my couch, we talk a little small talk.  Then he says something to the effect of, “Your letter in the Key has had a BIG response.”  Now realize, what I submitted was written about two months earlier, having quickly gone through and attaching it to an email.  I haven’t actually read it in almost two months.  So I’m trying my hardest to remember what he’s talking about, coming up blank.  Gordon continues to talk about this response to my Key entry and I’m slowly gaining insight.  Turns out that some parents, whose kids don’t come to youth group, read the article.  Whoops!  Forgot about them.  But I’m not too worried.  The parents were talking about how there are two teachers that hand out loads and loads of homework for Wednesday nights.  Ok, I can understand that, no problem. 

Now here’s the part that hit me.  I went back and read what I had written and my intent in writing it.  It was an encouraging post meant to discourage people from playing the numbers game (bigger is better) and encourage people to do great things with what they have.  It was a post about my reaction to what happened when I bought into the numbers game, and my subsequent revitalization and refocus to do big things with the youth that come.  What the post wasn’t, was a post complaining about youth not coming.  What it wasn’t, was a post complaining about parents not encouraging their kids to come.  What it wasn’t, was me lamenting about the yesteryears of youth ministry when everyone in town would come.  And because it wasn’t these things, I got kind of annoyed at the parents’ response.  The article wasn’t about them.  It wasn’t intended to be about them.  And it continues to not be about them.  So why did they think it was?

The answer: because Adam and Eve ate the fruit.  Yep that’s right, narcissism is almost as old as the world and mankind.  You may be asking, “How so?” Well, take a look at why Adam and Eve ate the fruit.  It wasn’t because it was better than everything else.  It wasn’t because the serpent tricked them.  It wasn’t even because Adam was a passive man and Eve wasn’t barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen.  It was because (Genesis 3:5-7) ““For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. “

You see the very first sin was that of selfishness.  Adam and Eve made it all about them.   They wanted to be like God and therefore ate the fruit.  Isn’t this what we continue to do?  Isn’t every fight you’ve ever had been because of some selfish act?   What about church splits?  What about Bible translations?  The Crusades?  Aren’t selfishness and narcissism the foundation of political parties?  Both sides think that they’re right and the other is wrong.  Both sides think that they have all the answers.  Both sides think that if they were in charge we’d somehow live in a utopian society.  On the far left you have people who want everything handed to them.  They have a certain sense of entitlement, due to their possibly less-than-desirable circumstances.  They think that because they weren’t given the same opportunities as the others, they deserve everything.  On the right you have exactly the same thing, but instead of wanting hand-outs, they want to hold on to everything.  They “worked hard” for what they got and it shouldn’t be taken from them.  It’s theirs and no one else has any right to it.

So now we’re left with the great divide that is tearing our country and our church apart.  It’s a great battle of will between those that have none and those that have some.  So what are we to do?  Do we vote against any tax increase?  Do we vote for every tax increase? 

To those playing the entitled victim, read Matthew 25:14-30.  To those playing the entitled hoarder, read Matthew 19:16-30.  I say neither side, left nor right, are correct.  God commands us to “Love your neighbor.”  How is focusing on ourselves anywhere close to loving our neighbor?  If we truly loved our neighbors as ourselves, we’d buy them the nice car, clothes, house, and food.  We would fight for their rights, and battle injustice against them.  We’d make sure that they’re taken care of no matter what.  If we truly loved our neighbor, instead of being people of entitlement, we’d be people of charity.  Maybe, just maybe, if we as a church were people of charity instead of making every little thing about us we wouldn’t be looked on as hypocrites.  Think of it, a world where people are helping people because they are simply…people…well that sounds like heaven.

My 2¢.
-Kyle

Monday, November 2, 2009

If you don’t read…



You can’t lead…

It dawned on me this morning during my drive to work: there might be a sudden influx of new readers to my blog.  Almost all of them will not know me except through the blog.  I was thinking about how I can build my credibility.  Maybe it’s better stated that I was wondering how I can explain myself and my beliefs without the luxury of meeting everyone face to face for some Taco Bell.  So I decided to put together a list of favorites—authors, musicians, movies—so people can gauge where I’m coming from with some of the stuff that I write.  I know some people will immediately write me off because of their view of a particular author that I read, but I do hope this list will inspire people to read some of these authors, listen to some of the music, or watch some killer movies. (NOTE: “Killer” is not a reference to film genre, a.k.a. horror movies; it’s a reference to the quality of the movies.)

So without further ado, here are some of my favorite authors and why they are my favorites:
Tony Campolo – I read Tony Campolo because, to put it simply, he’s not crazy.  Before I started reading Campolo, I had some reservations about mainstream Conservatism, Evangelicalism, and the Religious Right.  Now I’m not saying I’m the opposite of any of these, but before I read Campolo (especially Red Letter Christian), I was skeptical about many of the “Church’s” political views.  Campolo drew me in with Carpe Diem and his flirting-with-but-not-fully-committing-to Christian Existentialism and furthered my interest with Red Letter Christian and Letters to a Young Evangelical.  Simply put, reading Campolo will inspire thought and provoke contemplation.

John Eldredge – “WHAT?!?!  Really?  You’re going to follow Campolo with Eldredge?”  Yep, it seems to be that way.  I love reading Eldredge and here’s why: He was the first author I read that wrote about Christianity and the deep spiritual wars we fight with our hearts.  He was (for me) the first author that made it seem normal to be battling the internal wars without coming across as having it all together himself.  Plus, the way he writes makes each page a beautiful journey.  I started with Wild at Heart and continued with Captivating and Waking the Dead.  The last that I've read is The Journey of Desire.  His writing will lead to thoughts about personal change and improvement without making you feel condemned. 

Donald Miller – Another narrative writer, Miller’s books encourage questioning the accepted Christian norms and methods.  He takes his personal search for a “Bullet Point” God and gives it a story.  I love reading Miller because he gives life and a sense of reality to God.  All of his books were page-turners for me.  Start with Blue Like Jazz and then read everything else by him.  Through Painted Deserts will make you want to buy a VW Bus and go on a road trip, so unless you have the cash I’d save it for last.

Mike Yaconelli – Sadly Yaconelli passed in 2005.  But his books Messy Spirituality and Getting Fired for the Glory of God will encourage anybody to be okay with not being okay.  He talks a lot about innovation within the church through meeting people where they are instead of making them come to you.  He writes about his church and how it’s, “The slowest growing church in America.”  He highly encourages the “quality over quantity” mindset in both youth ministry and your personal relationship with Christ. 

C.S. Lewis – I know clich√©, right?  Well the simple fact is that without C.S. Lewis’s books, it would have taken a lot longer for laymen to start thinking theologically.  Plus, you can’t deny the impact that Lewis has had on Christianity as a whole.

Rob Bell – Bell has written a few books—Velvet Elvis, Sex God, Jesus Wants to Save Christians, and Drop Like Stars—of which I have read none.  So why is he on the author list?  Well, Rob Bell and his team are the creators of the Nooma videos.  In the Nooma videos, Bell explores various ideas and commonly-held beliefs about various aspects of each Christians’ personal life and he challenges them.  Bell has come under a lot of fire (mostly from the Fundamentalists) because he interprets the Bible differently than most people.  Of that interpretation, I can grasp that he seeks context from within the scriptures and then applies it to today’s life. He challenges each of us to put meaning behind what we do with our faith.

Andrew Schwab - Schwab is the lead singer and song writer for the band Project 86.  Schwab is another author that will challenge the basic accepted norms within the church.  Although he’s only written three books (two of which are poetry)and has another coming out soon, he is a blog writer for Relevant Magazine.  He challenges his readers to be authentic, to be honest to oneself, and to fight social ecclesiological norms when needed.  The final chapter of his book, It’s All Downhill From Here, is quite literally one of the best chapters ever written and could very well bring a tear to your eye.

Other books that have made an impact on me:
Youth Ministry 3.0 by Mark Oestreicher – Youth Ministry 3.0 takes a contemplative look at the current trends of youth ministry.  This book will help you refocus your youth group and challenge you to think communally about youth ministry.

Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris – Do Hard Things is mostly written for teenagers and young adults.  I was 25 when I read it and it still encouraged me to take on harder things.  If you’ve been outside of the adolescence bubble for some time, it’ll give you context and encouragement to challenge your teens/youth.

The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel – The Case for Christ helps make the irrational, scientifically plausible.  It’s a great book to reaffirm your faith when your reason seems to eliminate the possibility of miracles in today’s world.

The Universe Next Door by James W. Sire – The Universe Next Door was a book required in my Worldviews class in college.  The tag line for the book is: “A basic worldview catalog,” which it is.  But it will help you better understand the world we live in and why certain people think the way they do. 

Other classic writers that I read from time to time include John Wesley, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, George MacDonald, and Thomas √° Kempis.  So these are the major authors and books that I’ve read that have influenced my thinking and theology the most.  If you have some authors and books that you recommend, let me know.  I’m always up for a good read!

-Kyle

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Catch-22


I received an interesting link the other day from a colleague here in Worthington. Part of me thinks I received this link because she read my blog about Abstinence Only classes, but also we’re both members of the Worthington Area Youth Ministry Association, which teaches part of a lesson in the High School and Middle School sex education class. Maybe it wasn’t just a friendly prod.

Anyways, the full article is here. And actually, nothing about the sex/abstinence aspect of this article really struck me given the source. But the parts that did strike me, are the parts where they talk about a teenager’s development. More specifically the female teenager’s development:

Georgene: You mentioned that students are being told they have certain rights that relate to their sexuality. One of the things that they’re not taught is what neurobiologists are now saying about the brains of young people. The presumption has been that they’re fully capable—that they’re really just little adults—and they have the capacity to think through the implications and consequences of their actions when, in fact, neurobiologists are telling us otherwise.

Grossman: Absolutely correct. Parents and kids need to be made aware that this is not happening in sex education because it goes against their agenda of sexual freedom. The biological truth is that the teen brain is immature—in particular, that area of the brain that makes rational decisions. It will take until they are well into their 20s for that area of the brain to fully mature. So teens more than ever need the guidance and the rules that adults will place before them. In my research, I found that rental car companies and auto insurance companies have known this for years. Auto insurance rates go down after the age of 25, and you can’t rent a car unless you are at least 25, and this simply reflects the common-sense wisdom that younger people do tend to make irrational decisions, especially when they are in highly stimulating situations.

Now, I’m not disputing Dr. Grossman’s claims, or that she’s wrong (she is the Ph. D., I’m not). But I DO find it a little confusing when we hear reports of the adolescent longevity stretching to age 28, but then read books that talk about the origins of the terms “Adolescence” and “Teenager”.  We are left to believe that the whole ideal and understanding around these terms is some sort of social pigeon hole, which only leads to low standards. So we think, “Okay, treat them like adults. It’s how it was done 100 years ago.” But then we get studies like Dr. Grossman’s and we are led to believe that, “They’re not mentally capable of adult responsibility, treat them differently.”

But there’s also more questions; could it be that the adolescent brain doesn’t develop as fast because the youth generation is only challenged by low expectations? Could it be that the mere act of labeling a person a “Teen” or “Adolescent” gives us a reason to treat them differently and not hold them to high expectations; thus ultimately delaying neurobiological development? Could it be that our society has systematically and passively set our teenage generations up for failure due to how adults treat them?

If 100 years ago people were considered adults based on how they looked, given full family responsibility, and didn’t end up crazy head cases, then what happened between then and now? What’s different? It would seem to point to the lowering of expectations, which causes delayed development.

So my question is: how do we approach our youth with the understanding that they are not mentally developed to handle adult-sized responsibility without lowering and limiting our expectations? Or maybe they ARE capable of handling adult-sized responsibility and it’s up to us adults to guide them through it. Please discuss, let’s shoot for more than 5 comments!

-Kyle

Monday, October 12, 2009

Tank's on E...Must...Kiss...Baby...


Last Wednesday was a desperately exhausting day. It started out like any Wednesday—checking Facebook, personal email, work email... and then BAM! I received an email from YMToday.com saying that they wanted to publish some of my blog posts on their website (which I think is largely due to Brian down in Missouri, thank you). Wow...wasn't expecting that one.

Ok, so now I have to go through the day with this big news, trying to stay focused on what I have to get done— preparation for various church meetings, a Middle School Kick off, and an area youth gathering. For each thing I'm preparing, I get about 75-80% comfortable with where I'm at. However, they all come through and things work out in the end… like they always do. I get home around 11pm, and I collapse on the couch with my daughter in my arms for the first time of the day. Then I realize something—a change in my life and focus.

If you would have asked me four months ago what I looked forward to throughout the week, I would have said something like, "I love spending time with my wife, but hanging with youth is a lot of fun. I look forward to lunch and Halo with my youth each week."

Now this sounds kind of bad, but I'll admit there were times when I would choose the youth over my wife. It just so happened that she would work a lot, so it gave me more time with the youth. But over the course of the last few months, I have re-evaluated what's important to me. Yes, youth ministry is important to me. Yes, I will be available to youth. Yes, I will continue to be relevant and authentic to the youth. But, no, I will NOT choose youth over my family anymore.

I went to a lot of chapels when I was at Oak Hills Christian College. I heard a lot of messages and teachings, but the only one I remember explicitly is when the then-president Dan Clausen talked about priorities in ministry. The statement that was cemented in my mind was the story of when he started in his first church. The church was excited to have him, and they were encouraged by the great things they could do together. After the welcoming service, one of the elders in the church came up to him, pulled him aside and said, "You know, there's going to come a time where you're going to have to decide between the church and your family, and the church has to win every time."

Now he thought it was bunk back then, and he said if he would have had the guts, he would have put this gentleman in his place. He didn’t, but for some reason this statement has always stuck with me. I can vividly remember Dr. Clausen saying it, so it must be important, right? RIGHT! But I’ve come to find out that it’s very easy to put work ahead of family.

Four months ago, I approached my schedule by planning things in between work and church. Now I plan things in between family time: my family takes precedence over work. Sure Wednesdays and Sundays will forever be big days for me as long as I'm in ministry, and my lovely darling Corrine understands that. But that gives me five other days to enjoy my family and with some work in between.

I'm no family counselor or expert, but maybe this has implications as to why adolescence can extend to age 28. Maybe because parents are choosing to work, and work, and work, and then be parents, our children are missing out on valuable life lessons. Maybe if we re-evaluated what's important to us (family instead of money), the developmental problems we see in our younger generations would more than likely tail off.

I think one of the biggest lies in our society is the ideal that, "I work 80 hours a week so my family can have anything they want." The only problem is that YOU'RE EVERTHING they want. Do you really think a $500,000 house, the new car, or the new whatever is actually what they want? They might say that, but in reality all they want is love from their mother or father. When we have this "80-hour" mindset, it just adds to the materialism within a family. They always want more because for a short period of time after they get a certain thing, they're happy...but then they don't feel the same about it. The enchantment wanes, and all of a sudden, they want the NEXT best thing. What does that mean? An extra couple hours at work to afford it and—TAH-DAH!—the cycle continues.

If we focus on loving our family (which just so happens to fall into Jesus’ Commandment 2 of 2), we are able to cultivate our relationships. We are able to grow in a deeper understanding of each other. The greater importance we place on family development as professionals, the better off we're going to be. Besides, in the end, we all end up in a hole... And who's going to be there? I can guarantee you your Geico money can't give the eulogy.

My $.02.
-Kyle

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

YM as a MT?


I admit it. I am guilty, 100% guilty. I fell for it, I bought into it, I totally invested into it and was completely and utterly emotionally destroyed last week when I had a killer evening planned for youth group. I planned for 15 (which is a high number for our church) and was completely ready just in case I had a couple of extra people come. I was excited to redeem myself from the previous week's flop of an evening (it's hard to make pizzas when it takes an hour to cook them...and then enter the constant white noise in the fellowship hall and you have a group of chaotic hungries that ooze frustration for two hours).


OK, so my plan was great, a fun, active game, an active lesson, time for discussion and then bring it home with prayer and hangout time. Sounds good right? Now remember when I said I was prepared for 15? Well, it's hard to do a large group lesson/game when only 4 show up...and one of those was a half hour late. UGH! (((heart slowly breaking))) I dragged myself home that night defeated. I had taken extra time planning the night, even rushing through a meeting for another church ministry so I'd have extra time to fine tune things. I even called a couple youth to come in early and help me set up...they were one half of the total group that night. I fell for it, I bought into it...and I failed...I failed at the numbers game. I bet Louis Palau would laugh at my small, teeny, tiny little spec of youth ministry in my church.
So the next morning I dragged myself into my office thinking that I was on the fast-track to a firing..."how can a church financially support someone who's only having 4 youth show up at YG? My church needs results...these aren't results...they are results of failure..."
Enter Pastor Gordon..."Do Hard Things"...and a return to what I know.
Ok, after a long talk with Pastor Gordon, I'm rethinking my ministry with the youth. So apparently I was the only one that was super upset with the turnout last week. From the mouth of Gordon, "Don't worry about numbers, worry about quality ministry." And he's right. It's what I've been taught all the way back to my first week in a YM class at Oak Hills...it's not a numbers game...and I shouldn't have let it become one.
So, what's "Do Hard Things" have to do with it? Well, I'm sure many people have heard of the book written by the Harris twins. Well, it's been on my "To be read" shelf for quite a while and I finally pulled it into my "Reading" group of books. I got four chapters in and had a revelation (most people would call it God speaking to me...which is probably more likely the case). "Ok, if I'm only going to have 4 youth show up...we're going to impact our community. What if we approached youth ministry as a mission team?" So here's what we're going to start doing. Each month has roughly 4 Wednesdays. The first Wednesday we head to the High School to engage in the Worthington Area Youth monthly gathering. It's a monthly gathering of all Worthington youth groups to worship, learn, and grow in community. That leaves 3 weeks to Do Hard Things. I'm going to be devoting probably about 90% of our youth programming to prayer and service. I received a globe donation last year that I was going to utilize for this. But then I had a different idea. In order for the youth (which is a small group) to see what sort of impact we can have globally through prayer, I got some Post-it flags. I'm going to have the youth watch the news for things they feel led to pray about (like the tsunami in Samoa or the earthquake in Indonesia) and write the prayer request on the flag and point it at the location of the event/request. Then we'll devote time during the meeting to praying for these events/requests. Over the course of the school year the globe will be covered in flags showing the breadth of our prayer, but also God's presence across the globe.

Now I know there's not much mission in just praying, so in order to impact our community as a group, I'm going to get a hold of the Catholic Charities director in town and see how we could best volunteer in the community. Then the bulk of the extra three weeks each month will be us out in the community volunteering. Who doesn't learn best by learning? Doesn't this fall into Paul’s, "Work out your own salvation..."? Or how about, "Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin." (Zechariah 4:10 NLT). I'm excited to see these youth grab onto this! I'll try and keep everyone posted on how things are working out with it. But first we're going to do a 6 week study through the book, "Do Hard Things" to hopefully empower the youth and motivate them to take action! Watch out Worthington, FMY IS COMING!!!

-kage

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Donations Welcome!


Ok...I never really thought I'd have to pick a side. I never really thought that I'd be put into a situation where I'd have to choose one or the other. I thought they were equal in performance, productivity, and overall value. Sure, you'll pay a little more for one than the other, but you also get a slightly less nuanced product with a little more cash. I've thought the ads for both were equally clever and insightful. But I never thought that I HAD to have one over the other. I made sure not to let myself fall into one camp or the other because of the image that would be projected upon me because of the equipment I used. I always just thought that I was an equal opportunity user. Whatever was present, that's what I'd use. But alas, after the last week of torment...I'm proud to announce that I'm...a Mac.

That's right...I have chosen, made up my mind...I will not buy another PC until they get their poop in a group. Here's the low-down for the past few days.

It all started late last week, when I decided to update my computer. Things were running a little screwy, and I knew that I had some software updates to download and install. So I decided to take Thursday and update my computer. Now the church has a decent PC for me to use. It's not the fastest, most powerful, or even the best equipped, but it gets the job done. So I'm in the process of installing Service Pack 3 for Windows XP...it gets all the way to the end and then says, "Cannot complete Installation of Service Pack 3, Uninstalling all updates." (or something to that effect) and then continues to uninstall all the service pack. Well, the kicker is that after it had uninstalled everything another message pops up, "Windows was partially updated, it may not run properly"...boy were they right. After the mandatory restart nothing would open. Not the internet, not Outlook, not even the calculator. So...it went into the shop.

During college I had a laptop, bought brand new in 2002. It's completely outdated now, but at the time it was top of the line. Windows XP, Pentium 4 processor, 30 GB hard drive...I know, top of the line...in 2002. Well when I got married, we decided to use Corrine's desktop as the family computer and my laptop got set in a box to be used in emergencies. Well, I pulled that old laptop out of the box when my work computer crashed, thinking that I'd be able to take a day and update Windows to current and be on my marry way, back to work. I figured it run slower than what I was used to...I mean with only a 30GB internal memory and various other specs that are very very lackluster these days, I figured it'd be slower...but I'd still be able to work.

So yesterday I started the updating. It was running smoothly. I got through the first 40 (yes, forty) updates with ease. It took some time, but I got it done. I defragged it overnight and was ready for another day of updates! I got to work this morning and noticed there was only one update to be had. So I went for it, thinking that in my excitement to update I'd be past it by 10am and onto possible other updates soon after, and maybe, just maybe be completely updated by the end of the day. I saw that it was Service Pack 2 for Windows XP. I thought, "No problem, I didn't have any problems with SP2 with the other computers, it'll be a breeze." So I started the download/install. Downloaded just fine...now it started the installation. An hour later after I've been sporadically watching the progress bar and it's well past the 50% marker...BAM! "Windows XP SP2 failed installation. Starting Uninstall Wizard" "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!" (Head-desk) So I thought, maybe if I try it again. So I wait for the Uninstall Wizard to finish (another hour) and try again. This time I sit patiently, watching intently, thinking that maybe I missed a box or window that needed an "OK" click. Yeah, that's probably it...I just missed a box that eventually timed out and therefore SP2 couldn't finish the install. Simple, I'll just sit, watch, play FreeCell, and show this SP2 update who's boss.

After an hour and a half of me intellectually and strategically dominating FreeCell, watching the program update like a hawk..."Windows XP SP2 failed installation. Starting Uninstall Wizard"...AAARRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!

So, it's now 2:17pm, I'm no closer to updating my computer than I was at 8:15 this morning and am ready to throw in the towel. I will use the church's PC, I will use my old laptop...but I will never...EVER buy another PC.

In unrelated news...I'm taking donations for the "Mac book for Kyle" campaign. You know how to get a hold of me to make donations.

-kage

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Why "Abstinence Only" classes DON'T work...(sex has nothing to do with it).


Ok, so now that I've opened up the can of worms that most Christians don't want to touch, I'm going to go out on a limb (a limb that's been silenced by the greater Conservative Christian church) and say that I don't like Abstinence Only classes...even though there's good information and important issues discussed...they just don't work.

Now you may be thinking (especially if you're a parent), "What the crap Kyle? My kids aren't going to have sex until they've got three kids and half-way to retirement!!!" Well, I'm sorry to say...probably not. We all know the statistics around premarital sex. So why should we be telling people to not have it? Disease, unwanted pregnancy, etc...Oh yeah, and there's that whole purity thing.

But you know what? This little rant isn't about sex at all...I know, an Abstinence Only post not about sex? Nope, not about sex at all. This post is about marriage.

In almost all Abstinence Only curriculum, somewhere along the line someone will talk about saving sex until marriage. Sounds good right? Marriage, the land of milk and honey and endless amounts of wall thumping, primal screaming, and passion! You can get it whenever you want to...right? Well, probably not. But that's beside the point. Look at marriage in our society. Look at it! What's the divorce rate at these days?

But this post isn't about divorce either...rather it's about how youth see marriage. It doesn't take long to pick the happily married couples out of the unhappily married couples. You can tell which couples still talk to each other, value each other, and love each other and which ones don't. Youth can see this! Youth are some of the keenest observers on the planet and couples that don't like each other are easy to pick out of a crowd. And it doesn't take much to make the connection to presume that marriage isn't as great as Abstinence Only curriculum makes it out to be. Youth see miserable married folk and think, "Are you kidding me? They hate each other...and if they hate each other they sure as heck aren't getting it on! I'm not waiting...screw that!"

So, the answer? Well, how about this...how about a call to romance? How about the men take intentional steps to win their wife’s hearts back. How about the women let the husbands be the heroes. Why don't we all take a step back and remember why we got married, how great it was right away, and what we did then to win each other's hearts and why we aren't doing it now. I think the most poisonous idea that we get as married people is that we are entitled to each other's love. "I earned it and I'm not going to do anything until they give me what's due!" WRONG! Each day is a new adventure. Why do you think Paul writes in Ephesians 4:26-27, "In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold."? If we cannot deal with the supposed wrongs that our spouse's commit, how are we going to live out our oaths and vows that we made in our wedding? We can't! It is only through the continuing devotion and commitment to love our spouse that we can live out our vows. And if (and I realize this is going to be a slow process) each work on our own marriage and fight for our spouse's heart, then I assure you marriage won't be looked upon by society as ~10+ years of torture that almost always ends in divorce. The only way that Abstinence Only curriculum will work is if we can fix the miserable marriage problem we have in America. Otherwise we might as well be handing out condoms and birth control pills.

My $.02.
-Kage

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Right now I'm at about a 5 lb test...


Ok...today's post has to do with anger, frustration, and all out rage.

Right now I'm angry. Very angry. Someone said something today that absolutely made me livid! Now I'm not going to go into too many details, but basically someone that I don't even know, said some very horrible things about a very close friend of mine. I'm not one that usually lets my anger get the best of me...I'm married, I don't have that luxury. But if I would happen to meet this doorknob on the street sometime in the next 24 hours, let's just say no amount of restraint from my wife would keep me from verbally and probably physically confronting this guy.

Long story short, I have a close friend that made the paper. Online newspapers usually have a comments section. Some dude that apparently was browsing the MN newspapers from Florida makes a very narrow-minded, uninformed comment about my friend. The end result is me being mad. The worst part about it is that my friend cannot even defend himself. Which makes me even more mad.

So, the topic today is anger...biblical? Sinful? I've heard both sides of this argument before. But I seem to recall Paul saying somewhere that anger about injustice is permissible, it's just the actions that come from the anger that is the sin...doesn't it go like, "...and in your anger, don't sin."?

I don't know, through this whole ordeal my prayer is that this dude in Florida somehow sees his error. My heart wants this dude to meet the same lack-o-grace that he apparently lives by, but my head says pray for this dude...or maybe that's God trying to knock my upside the head with a 2x4 again. Either way, God's grace will prevail, God's justice will prevail, sins will be forgiven, and truth will reign.

-kage

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Why Steven Colbert should change his name to John Lennon...


Ok...so we've all gotten them. We've all gone to our Facebook pages and had the group requests. And then, if we have REAL friends, we get invited to some sort of cause group, or common interest group. Because hey, what better way to cure cancer than to join a group of 300 other people that think they're going to find 1 million people to stand with them to cure cancer. The really ironic thing about this whole group thing is the social implications you can find by comparing the titles of groups. Just in this little "1,000,000 strong...cancer" niche, you have ~300 people that want to cure cancer, but almost 1.5 million that hate cancer. Basically, out of those 1.5 million that have somehow been wronged by cancer, only 300 want to cure it. And what can we draw out of this? Well it seems that this may be our society's Freudian slip. Basically we can all see the pain, the sickness, and dislike it very much...but when it actually comes to doing something about it..."Well, ummm, I don't really have the time or want to get THAT involved." Basically our society wants to take a stand...but not an active stance. Maybe this is why so many people are against the war in Iraq, National Health care, tax reform, or really anything that means things are going to be messy for a while and may require a little more effort on the part of our citizens.

Now when I started this entry I was going to write about how Jesus will never have one group that has more than a million strong in his favor because the church would rather split over unimportant theological smears than unite under the one love, one Christ, and one God which happens to put all things into motion. I was also going to point out that Steven Colbert has more than a million strong for him...which would mean that he's more popular than Jesus.

But rather this post has been turned into a call to action...no whining. We can see how our nation is, we can see the injustices of the medical industry, injustices of tyranny overseas, and the injustices of poverty. We can hold protests for either side of any topic and have a grand ole time waving our flags, getting mad, possibly getting arrested only to complain about the police force doing their jobs...but what will really come out of it? The problem with speaking out is that everyone has the choice to listen or not. Now with the speed of technology, silencing a protest is a matter of turning the channel from CNN or FOX News. But the real protest is one that is an active process of changing the current situation. If you are against the War in Iraq or National Health care or tax reform, don't just complain, get involved in letter writing campaigns or better yet, work to get a position in the government and work to make changes from within. It's only when you take an active part will your voice ever be heard, otherwise you just remain a loud cymbal...annoying, but through the noise, eventually muted.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I'm going to run a 5k...next year.


Ok, there's no biblical point to this post, more of a personal one. But I'm announcing that I'm going to be running a 5k next fall...2010. Now if you know me you know that I'm not in running shape...heck I'm not in jogging shape...I'm in couch potato shape. So this is a big step to actually training for an event. Over the course of this summer I had taken up running and knocked over a minute off my one-mile time. But when baby came, running went out the door. So now I'm a month and a half removed from my running, back in the same shape I was before I started running...and announcing I'm committing to a road race.

Ok, here's the whole story. Last night Corrine and I were over at some friends of ours, Brian and Betsy's. We were talking about working out and different things we were going to try and accomplish with all of our new baby's. We are currently slowly creeping towards Turkey Day here in Worthington, and the 5k race came up. Then, from our wives, Brian and I were challenged to a race. Boys v. Girls, Turkey Day 5k 2010. So, as men with our pride on our shoulders, we accepted. There's a few rules that we agreed on, and the challenge was ON! So now I find myself just 12 hours after this challenge, more motivated to get out and run than I've ever been. 12 hours ago if you would've asked me to go for a run I'd whine and complain...but now ask me and I'd beat you out the door.

So the challenge is on...I'm going to try and conquer a personal feat larger than I've ever conquered...this is day 1.

-kage

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Why Don Draper would be the best Youth Pastor in America...




OK...so I'll admit it. I've been watching Mad Men Season 1 the past couple of days. And my synopsis of the show is just a little above, "Meh." It's just interesting enough to me to keep me watching. It's not like the two season Lost marathon that Corrine and I did when we got home from the hospital with Melody. No no, THAT was almost feeding an addiction, Mad Men is like drinking Diet Coke. You want something to drink and there's nothing in the fridge except your mom's Caffeine Free Diet Coke...so you drink it as a last resort.

Anywho, Mad Med is a show set in the 60's about a particular advertising agency in Manhattan...on Madison Avenue...that's where they get the name, Mad(ison Avenue) Men. So it's interesting enough (mostly cause I like old stuff and this period intrigues me).

The characters' goal is to get clients to buy into and utilize their advertising...thus keeping them in business, paying their bills, and continuing their ploy. Don Draper is the main character that seems to be an all star on the creative team...basically he's in charge of coming up with the tag lines and bases for the campaigns. It's his job to "Get them involved."

So I was thinking about this concept this morning and it was sounding really really familiar. Then I watched the YS Podcast for this week where Wayne Rice said many good things and went over some of the history of YS and where they've come from and what they've done. But then towards the end of his talk he mentioned (mostly in passing so it wasn't a main point...but it clicked), "...getting the parents involved..."

So I'm sitting here thinking about YM as a whole and how we have this mentality (although I think it's in the early stages of its way out) that as churches, we need to get people involved, we need to sell ourselves to get people interested. And then I asked myself...why? What are we selling? Why do we have to get people involved? What is our main purpose in getting them involved? Is our main focus on relieving ourselves of an overcrowded schedule to ease our stress while adding something to their already full schedule? Is it to fill the pews and sustain our church building? Is our main goal sustaining the life of the church? Or is our main goal in getting people involved to minister to them because they ARE the most important part of our church? Are we doing all this programming and event planning and whatnot to minister to the people that come, or to have a good attendance?

I know the substance over attendance idea is not new and I am not reinventing it whatsoever. But I know, as many other people that work in churches know, that donations and giving to the church is down. With everyone strapped with their finances it seems important to them to pay their own heating bill before thinking of the church's...and I don't blame them for it at all. But the simple truth is that this poor economy is going to end eventually. We will be back where we were in 2002 (but hopefully without all the debt). Jobs will open up, businesses will flourish, new ideas will prosper. BUT, why should we expect giving to continue after all that happens if we're not supporting them when they can't support us? When this storm is over, who's going to come out on top, the church that wanted to get their bills paid and fill their pews? Or the churches that sat with the people and weathered it with them? There is NO substitute for the Word of God. There is NO substitute for compassion and love. And the best part about it all is that it can be freely given and freely received...but we need to have people that are willing to give to those that have none.

-kage

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Funnier than Bill Cosby...


OK, so as I've been back I've been catching up on my blogs that I've neglected to read since becoming a Daddy. Some of them are funny Christian blogs that have equally funny comments on them. As I've been reading I've come to realize that there are some verses in the Bible that when taken at face value and out of context are actually really really funny. My favorite is Deut. 23:12-13, "You shall also have a place outside the camp and go out there, and you shall have a spade among your tools, and it shall be when you sit down outside, you shall dig with it and shall turn to cover up your excrement." Now I know it's a little sophomoric...but it makes me laugh every time because throughout the entire Bible you have endless amounts of verses discussing the deepest aspects of theology and God...but here in Deuteronomy we have God telling his people how to use a latrine! HAHAHA! Take that eschatology!

What's your favorite, humorous verse and why?

-Kage

Monday, August 17, 2009

BACK LIKE A HEART ATTACK!



OK, so the day has come and gone and I am now a NEW DADDY!


For those of you that don't know, my daughter was born July 28th at 1:30pm in SU FU.

She eats approximately 30 gallons of breast milk/formula each day, dirties 97 diapers an hour and sleeps for 16 hours each day...usually when the sun is up. SO, my three weeks of paternity leave has come and gone and now I am back in the saddle at work ready to attack the new year!

Things I have learned since joining the Daddy Club:

a) After the birth of your child...you will spend the next fifteen hours on the phone talking to friends, family, and friends that have heard from your other friends or family and thought they'd give you a call. Advice: get a comfortable chair, a cell phone charger, and a packed lunch because even though you make hundreds of phone calls that day, the story never gets old!

b) The days are no longer divided into "Work", "Eat", "Sleep", and "Misc" time slots. Rather they are divided into 2-4 hour stretches that are filled with projects that can be completed inbetween feedings. Now I know what you're thinking..."Kyle, you're a dude...you can't breastfeed!" Which is correct. But we have to do half Mom's Milk, half formula...so guess who gets to do the formula...that's right it's ME! (not complaining...just saying)

c) Babies don't break...usually. The drive home from the hospital (usually 1.5 hours or less depending on how I'm driving) will take an ETERNITY!!! It's not because you have to go farther, or because you have to make more stops...rather it's because all of a sudden there is fragile merchandise in the car and you will drive 10 MPH below the speed limit and avoid each and every bump so as to not disturb the fresh little ball of cuteness strapped in behind you. But you will always make it home safely...and in fact your driving skills will improve drastically. You will be come a defensive driver and will no longer roll through stop signs.

d) No matter what time your little one decides to wake at night...the sun always comes up the next day. There's always time to catch little cat naps here and there...but the baby's only a baby for a little while. Go ahead and pick her up at 4am when you were fast asleep. Sure it'll seem like you're turning into a zombie at times, but look on the bright side...soon you'll have to go back to work...you can always catch up on sleep there. PLUS, you'll be able to out-do your youth when you go on an all night Ride-a-thon at the local amusement park!

Overall being a dad has been great! I am going to enjoy each and every day...until she's 14 and wants to date boys...then I'll buy a gun.

-Kage

Friday, July 24, 2009

Indexed


OK, so I've been following the blog "Indexed" for a little while. And although not every card is life-changing...most of them are funny, and do inspire some thought. This one today is pretty basic, but the discussion in the comments is worth reading in lieu of today's Health Insurance debacle. And I know that most of you that read this like to linger to either the right or the left...and that's fine...but I'm not looking for political debate. I found out political debates are worthless after the Palin/Biden debate...or lack thereof.

See the card and read the comments here.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

My own little Jedi Academy...


So when I started my job in October, I moved all my books from school and other various books that I've collected over the years into my office. On my bookshelf in my office there were already books there from the previous person, some good, some a waste of money, some I didn't even read the spine on. This book falls into the last category.

I was perusing my books this morning and found the book, "The Lost Books of the Bible and the Forgotten Books of Eden" I know, long title. It piqued my interest. What's more interesting is that it's from the church library...and printed by The World Publishing Company and copyrighted in 1926. The introduction and preface were written by Dr. Frank Crane. At first I had reservations with having this collection of books on my shelf. It has various books in it like "The Gospel of the Birth of Mary", "The Protevangelion", and "I & II Clement". I know some of the excluded books weren't that bad, it's just they were excluded because their subject matter wasn't as universal as what was accepted. Also, there's the conflict of Gnosticism in most of the books written in the second, third, and fourth centuries and as Christians we're told to stay away from those heathen excluded books that may be the words of Satan himself! But then I read the Introduction and the Preface. Dr. Crane never had the books translated and published to push a Gnostic faith, rather he states in the Introduction:
As a believer in the authenticity of our accepted Scriptures I have no hesitancy in saying that I am perfectly satisfied to let the common sense of the world decide upon the superiority of the accepted text.

The publication of this book will do good because it takes away the veil of secrecy that has hidden for many years the act of the church in accepting certain Scriptures and rejecting others. All of the grounds are rendered perfectly intelligible to the common man.


So after reading this I thought, "Hey, I'll read some and see what it's all about."

Now I'll be perfectly honest, my Bible study times as of late have been a little sparse, and I'll admit I felt a bit guilty that I was so willing to read these other books written around the same time (supposedly about the same topics) of the "accepted Scriptures" and thought, "Why is it soooo easy to dive into this, but getting myself consistently in the Bible is like pulling fingernails?"

Sure I could chalk it up to the increased stresses of the new baby's impending arrival. I could even blame various events/people I've talked to/radio stations I listen to/things I read and say, "I'm getting my Bible through these various media..." But in all reality these pothole-crap-shoots of Bible aren't like really getting INTO the Bible. When I think of Bible study, it's not like studying the back of the Cap'n Crunch box at breakfast (read: lots of random messages all strewn together in a crappy version of Where's Waldo...how many Cap'n Hats Can YOU Find?). No no, studying the Bible should be like reading a good book...but then applying it to your life (like all those Star Wars books I've read...I'm THIS close to mastering my Force Push ability). Studying the Bible is reading the Bible, grasping the underlying concepts and themes, figuring out how they were applied back in the day, and then thinking, "Hmmm...I could do that!" and then DOING IT. You see, studying the Bible is the most active studying you can do. It's hands on. The Bible has countless lessons to be learned...and we can know them...but unless we're living them, they're worthless (like High School calculus). Come to think of it...studying the Bible is more like training to be a Jedi than getting an A in History. Our ENTIRE lives change when we study the Bible...and if they're not, put down your concordance, your parallel Bible, and cancel your subscription to Jesus Seminar Weekly: "Putting the Crazy in Exegesis" and get out and LIVE like the Bible tells us to. Bottom line, the person that knows it less but lives it more is closer to heaven than the person that knows it all but never takes a step.

-kage

Thursday, July 16, 2009

EXCITING! SCARY! AWE-INSPIRING!

OK, so as we speak, this may be my last post for a little while, and i know what you're thinking, "You only post like once every week and a half or so, and sometimes it's some silly video on YouTube..." Right, well, sorry about that, but I can't be intellectual and write something relevant and worth while every day...what do you think this is? Stuff Christians Like? No no, that guy has like four people that write for him and has an endless subject matter...I only have me, myself and I, and random spurts of inspiration...so back off!

Alright. Moving on.

Today is Corrine's birthday, and the reason that I may not be posting for a while is because we are one and a half weeks away from her due date...soooooo...instead of writing short essays strewn with dry-backhanded humor that are funny yet carry a life-lesson at the end, I'll be changing diapers, helping my recovering wife, and honing my daughter's Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skillz.

As I enter into this new endeavor of fatherhood, I feel a sense of excitement, fear, and anticipation. First the excitement...I love kids, I love playing with kids, I love talking with kids, I love kids...period. I love watching my good friend be a good father to his kids; wrestling with them, putting them to bed, spoiling them rotten with desserts when they're supposed to be in bed...you know, the things that all good fathers do. A lot of times (when he doesn't know it) I'm observing him...not really what he's doing or what he's not doing...but rather the facial and emotional reactions that I see. Now keep in mind...these cannot be faked, cannot be learned, and are the foremost indicator of someone's heart. I see it also in talking with my brother about my niece. My brother was a popular, cocky jock in high school and college; and to see his true colors come out helps me understand him even more. It's the same reason that fathers cry at their children's weddings, graduations, and individual achievements...pure, unadulterated love...THIS is what I'm excited about. I'm a sort of softy...I don't show it on the outside that much, but my heart-strings will be a chiming and my eyes will be leaking (cause men don't cry...right?) when Melody Mae gets here. But you know what, I'm okay with that. I'll be a blubbering idiot as she grows up, and as I help raise her. Which brings me to emotion #2: Fear.

Now I'm not afraid of my soon-to-be newborn. I'm not afraid that I won't be able to take care of her, provide for her, or help her as she grows up. But what I'm afraid of is her being taken from me. I'm afraid of being taken out of the protective role. I'm afraid of the day I have to give her away at her wedding (I know, that's like 25 years away...looks like a quarter-century of torture to me). I'm afraid that I will not be able to fulfill my fatherly duties. Don't get me wrong, if it's up to me I will raise the snot out of that child...but if something were to happen that would take me (or her) out of the picture and she had to raise herself it'd be close to unbearable. Okay...that may seem a little extreme...but think about having all of your power and responsibility stripped from you...it's scary isn't it?

Now to emotion #3: anticipation. I expect each and every call from Corrine to be that of, "KYLE, COME GET ME!!! THE BABY'S COMING!!!" They haven't yet, but it's an anticipation that is crippling as each day passes. It seems like only last week that we found out she was pregnant. And I don't think it's actually hit me that I will have to help coach Corrine through labor. It's like preparing for the return of Christ...it's something that's going to be awesome and amazing...but you have no idea as to when it's going to happen. At least with pregnancy you have a timeline. The only thing you can hope for is that the labor is as humorous as Bill Cosby explains it but not as terrifying.

All of this to say, I totally agree with my friends that say, "It will change your life FOREVER!" I know it will...but I'm excited for that. I can't wait for it to happen, yeah it's scary, but each and every moment up until this has prepared me for it. I know I know, how does Little League Baseball prepare you for fatherhood? I don't know...but I do know this. Each and every day we're confronted with lessons. Lessons that shape the very fiber of our humanity. Some shape us for the better, others worse. Some bless us, some taint us. But what if we approached life thinking that each and every situation has the capacity to change the course of time? What if we lived our lives as though the outcome would affect millions of lives? Think about it, you're walking down the sidewalk and come across a piece of litter, you bend down to pick it up and throw it away. At that exact moment, Little Jimmy who's playing outside across the street sees you and emulates you. Later that day Jimmy picks up litter in his back yard, his parents see him and all of a sudden a family is changed. Jimmy's family then starts branching out, getting an Adopt-a-Highway section. Jimmy's family's reaction to litter then inspires their neighbors to do more to clean up their community. All of a sudden you have an entire city changing city-policy around litter which then inspires the county to do more. You can see how quickly things can escalate! Do they always happen this way? No...but it's not outside the realm of possibility...or even probability. This is why I say we need to live like we're going to change the world...because there's always someone watching us (not in the Big Brother way, but the being in public way). And how we act and react to certain situations will either bless or taint the observer. I DO have faith in humanity, sure some of us are nutcases, but that just means the rest of us need to pick up their slack! So go out, be a blessing to others! Greatest Commandment #2: Love your Neighbor!

-kage