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hmm... thoughts light force

Paying your dues

DuesThis morning in Sunday school we talked about jobs. And this got me thinking about the idea of "paying your dues." On the one hand, paying your dues and earning what you’ve got makes perfect sense. But in light of both Matthew 20 and my own experience I know that sometimes good stuff is handed to some people for no good reason.

I am who I am today, and where I am today, largely because I paid my dues while being patient and diligent. The other day I was thinking about my senior year of high school and how during the last weeks of school the newspaper published where each senior was headed off to for college. I remember seeing tiny Moody Bible Institute surrounded by places like UC Berkeley, Penn, Notre Dame, Northwestern, DePaul, Cornell, MIT, Rose-Holman, Columbia, UNC, and of course IU, and Purdue. As my friends saw my declaration and my selected major of youth ministry instead of something "prestigious" like engineering or medicine or journalism. I looked at that list and felt really small. I felt like I was a loser among some great people. Yes, our class was extraordinary academically even though we’ll only ever be remembered as a great athletic class.

More importantly, I was well aware I was entering a world I didn’t know. The world of "church."

As I thought back last week, I wondered about that list and really how many of those seniors finished at their schools and how many are as doing what they intended to do back then? It really is pretty remarkable that I am doing now what I set out to do 12 years ago. I am proud of what God has done in fulfilling that punky kids dream.

I paid my dues in a lot of ways. I took crap jobs and just did what I had to do. Academically, I paid by catching up and competing with Bible Nerds who had done church their whole lives and seemed to know everything about the Bible while I knew very little, to my itty bitty view of the church and even my intended career. I did hard classes, I found a place to fit in, I worked hard to prove myself "worthy" among both my peers and those I worked for and with.

Then in class today I thought about all the crap I did to get here and it just made me look back on what I have in a whole new way. I know I had to do more than most of my peers. My parents didn’t have a college fund to pave the way. My daddy wasn’t a big shot pastor who could get me a "first job" and I didn’t know anyone. No one was "looking out for me" or making my path easier. I don’t say that to belittle those who did or to take any credit away from God… it’s just that I know that I had to endure those lumps to get somewhere.

Lumps? Yeah, as I like to joke… being a past (pastor is a shepherding term) has taught me over and over again that sheep bite! But I’ve also endured lumps from family and friends along the way. Most importantly I’ve had to sit through, work around, and scratch my way to the point that if something is easy I wonder "What’s going wrong?"

Paying my dues, while painful, has made me appreciate the journey. I know I’ve not "arrived" in youth ministry (How do you do that anyway) nor do I think one day people will think highly of me, but I am appreciated, in the end paying my dues has reaped rewards. I’ve got a long way to go, I know some of my "big goals" and I’ve put a lot of those goals in motion… now it’s just more of the same as I’ve always done… pay dues, accept lumps, endure, press on, be diligent, and a fair amount of stubbornness along the way.

At the end of the day, I just want to be labeled "Good kid, lot of problems… but a good kid."

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hmm... thoughts

Little known fact about Moody

Mbi_logoI was chatting with a friend online last night. In the course of chatting about women, ministry, and my alma mater, we did a little research and quickly found somet hing interesting.

It turns out that Moody wasn’t started (effectually) by DL Moody but by Emma Dryer. Emmadryer That’s right boys and girls, the "name you can trust" was started by and for equipping women for ministry.

In early 1873, a few months before He was to return to England on an evangelistic campaign, Moody convinced Emma Dryer to open a school to train women who wanted to enter home or foreign missions or evangelistic work. This school would give needed training in Bible, theology, and practically ministry to fulfill Moody’s primary goal of getting trained women evangelists and personal workers into the homes of unchurched residents of Chicago. While the school began with training women, Moody had a much larger vision and intended it to eventually include men as well.

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hmm... thoughts

New church name

Church_1

My mom sent this to me. This is a real place of worship in Las Vegas. 

What do think, good name for Romeo?

Update: So, it’s my day off and I simply had to find the back story for this "funny named church." I mean, who really names a church Thomas Paines Church of Christ and Common Sense?

Well, I found the backstory on a Las Vegas news site.

"The last temptation of Larry"
Sept. 8

The story: This was just another story about a strip club owner who became obsessed with Thomas Paine and decided to open a church in his honor.

In 1972, Larry LaPenta opened a piano bar called Larry’s Villa at the corner of Rancho Drive and Bonanza Road. At the urging of a bored customer, LaPenta turned the bar into a topless joint. Since then, he said, Larry’s Villa has expanded three times. And while not as big as Sapphire or as crowded as Club Paradise, it does pretty well.

When asked exactly how much money the Villa makes, LaPenta balked. But noting that he owns land and other businesses in the valley, he said he is worth about $15 million.

So what does the 83-year-old strip club owner do with all that money? How does he give something back to the community? What’s his last wish?

To open a church, of course.

In the summer, LaPenta leased a space on West Charleston Boulevard for Thomas Paine’s Church of God and Common Sense. He planned to use the space daily. Activities were to include self-improvement meetings, a Toastmaster’s (or public speaking) night and current-event debates.

"It’s going to be a church for patriotic Americans," said LaPenta. "It’ll be nondenominational, nonsectarian. Basically, we want us all to be better Americans, to unite and to do what we can to improve our lives and our country. The way things are going now, it looks like America is really going to need good, supportive citizens."

The update: Since opening, the Church of God and Common Sense has hosted only a few meetings. It has not been open on a regular basis and its future seems uncertain. This is due, in part, to LaPenta’s poor health.

Shortly after the church opened, LaPenta caught pneumonia. Recently, he caught it again and checked into a local hospital. He is expected to be released shortly, said Larry’s Villa manager Ron Lenox, and hopes to continue to promote the church.

"He’s a very well-to-do gentleman," said Lenox. "And I imagine that church is going to get everything if something happens to him. He’s going to keep that church going perpetually, whether he’s with us or not."

MATT O’BRIEN

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Film hmm... thoughts light force news item YMX

At the Starbucks

StarbucksI spent most of last night at the Starbucks on Hall Rd since there were a gaggle of high school females at my house. I ended up staying there for about 5 hours. During which time I watched a movie, Omagh, and mostly just chatted online with friends, worked on some stuff for YMX and people watched.

Omagh On Omagh. This was a town fairly close to where I spent my summer in Fivemiletown, Northern Ireland. We went there on our day off, and I knew that it had a severe bombing. I had no idea that this is a lot like visiting the WTC area of New York. On October 15th, 1998 a bomb went off in the central shopping area of Omagh while children were going to and from school, people shopping, on and on. It was eery to see places and realize that I was there. I don’t know if the film was shot in the exact location, but it if was I stood right there, and went in that shop where the bomb went off.

On people watching. This was a big eye opener for me. When we were in Fivemiletown we marveled at the way students congregated in key areas. As we tried to draw a parallel to this in the States the only thing we could come up with was football and basketball games. Now I know another place… Starbucks. For hours and hours tons of high school students filtered in, hung out, and filtered out. I have to look into that more. Wow. But more than that, there were all sorts of characters to watch. People like me on laptops. Ladies reading books about mystery. Young workers collecting checks. First dates. Business meetings. Old friends spotting each other over mochas. The occasional panhandler. And swarms of people either just going to or just finishing a movie. It is weird that I can concentrate so well among the noise of those places, but I can get more done in a few hours there than I can in an entire day in my office.

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hmm... thoughts

Student Leaders… How do you “make them?”

Studentleader I’ve published an article on YMX. I can’t take any pride in getting published since I am the publisher of the site and all… but I thought it was good enough to deserve the billing. [Read the article here] I originally did this as a project for a grad school class… but I always hoped that it would lead to both a larger reading and begin, in me at least, a broader examination to the question.

Here’s an excerpt: For student ministry, the question is not, “should we create an environment like Jesus did for training and mentoring student leaders?” But rather, “In our context how do we go about this and when do we know the groups we lead have arrived at a place where student leaders can be fostered?”

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hmm... thoughts

reaching dark kids through a light model

I had this thought as I drove from the church to my house today. As I sat in the turn lane waiting for a green light I looked to my left and there was a clean cut kid sitting on the barbers chair getting primped up. Anyone looking at him would think he was a good kid. I have a feeling that if I talked to him I could probably get him to think about coming to LF pretty quickly.

As I looked to my right I saw a kid, probably the same age, wearing a black trenchcoat with half his head shaved and the rest of his head died red and pulled back in a pony tail. Everything this kid emitted said "leave me alone and I don’t want anything to do with you." If I am honest with myself, I don’t think that that LF would be attractive to this student.

Those two young men made me think of this.

How can I reach those who want darkness with a ministry that is light? I mean, it wouldn’t be authentic for me to learn a bunch of "goth" stuff or whatever… but that doesn’t mean I don’t care about students who are into that.I just don’t know the answer here, but I do know that when I look at those two students I just wonder… can I just reach them both?

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hmm... thoughts

Interesting article about creation/evolution

DarwinHere is an interesting article about those who hold to "theistic evolution" that appeared in the Seatle Times recently. [click here]

Despite this scathing article that basically claims that theistic evolution is a viable theory for hte creation of the world, I keep it on my list of acceptable positions. (Let me be clear though, I hold to a 7 day creation, 24×7)

Here’s why I am not going to blast theistic evolution as other so readily do. My big point is always the same, you don’t have to be a 7 day creationist to be a Christian! (Doing so would be a work, wouldn’t it?) I beleive that we need to respect people’s positions as they grow. For me, it took a long while of examining the evidence for myself to accept the creation story. In fact, it wasn’t until I read a few books on the subject itself that I really grasped how much crap evolution is based on. (In fact, it is my beleif that evolution is just as much a religion as Christianity and if there is a seperation between church/state that evolution shouldn’t be taught either. I find it easier to have faith in Santa Claus than macroevolution.)

Here are a couple of books that helped me along the way.

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family hmm... thoughts YMX

Looking forward and not backwards

VisionaryThis week is a big "looking back" week. It’s in my nature to be reflective on the past. I want to get hung up on what I’ve been up to, what God has done, and what could have gone better. In fact, I tend to worry about yesterday more than I consider right now or tommorow. I want to spend my time looking forward. Forward for my family. Forward for Light Force. Forward for YMX. It’s my hope to make this a week of dreaming and visioneering. In the days to come… as I do this, I’ll post some of those dreams here.

But don’t think I’m going to be tied down to this on my week away from the office. I’ve got a lot planned for fun as well.

Sirius_xmas Everyone seems to want to talk about Christmas presents. Well, this is the big thing I got. I’ve wanted to have satelite radio for a while and back a few weeks I decided that Sirius is the one I wanted of the two. (It helps that I own their stock, eh?) So far I really like the radio and the service. The one we bought connects to our home stereo in it’s cool little cradle and of course works nicely in the car. Another benefit of the membership is that I can listen online. That will come in handy at the office.

Fordfield

Later today, we’re off to Ford Field and the Motor City Bowl. Even though Detroit+December=COLD we still host a bowl game. I’ve never been to one and I’ve always wanted to go… so we’re going to watch Memphis take on Akron in the "Who Cares Bowl." But, like a lot of things, the company you go with is as much fun as the event.

P.S. There have been some excellent member submitted articles over at YMX. I know I am completely biased, but some of these are great and it’s my pleasure to feature them.

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hmm... thoughts

Pastor Scrooge?

ScroogeIt’s been well documented around the church that I am not the biggest fan of Christmas. Too much commercialism, bad memories, and not enough Jesus for me. This year it has been amplified by "the megachurches" who have decided to call off church this Sunday because of the holiday. [See story]

So, just to prove that I really do enjoy some aspects of Christmas here are some selections from a talk I delivered here in Romeo 2 Christmas’ ago.

Perhaps between a man and a woman there is no higher manifestation of love and romance than the gift of a child. Though not all couples will or even can experience the gift of a child it is safe to say that it is ultimately in God’s design for marriage that a child or children would be born. It is a joyous gift shared between God and His beloved mankind.

This is why we are here tonight. This is where my story has ended. On my road through pessimism and disgust I have found these truths. These are the themes of Christmas that stand the test of time, that make it all worth it. This is why I can once again say “I love Christmas.”

Let me share some insights with you as we close.

         God has given us Christmas out of His love for humanity.

         It may not be taught in Scripture that we have to celebrate it, but it’s the best we can do.

         It is God’s expression of romance between Himself, holy and just, angry and loving… this is why we like to be with family this time of year… it is an expression of our inward-born romance.

         Christmas is God’s gift to all man.

o       Have you ever noticed something? Christmas is by far the most recognizable of all celebrated holidays in the world.

o       It’s celebrated in places where you will hardly ever hear the name of Jesus… where you can hardly imagine Christ being.

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hmm... thoughts

Does being right make you arrogant?

CorrectThis morning as my Bible Study group got to Hebrews 11, we came to a very famous bit of Scripture. This has been called "The Hall of Faith" in the Bible.

This is a laundry list of people, who at some point in their lives chose to follow God’s way faithfully instead of what made sense to everyone else. Despite everyone screaming at them in the rough waters of life, like John Candy in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles "You are going the wrong way," they continue to listen to the voice of God.

Wrong

The author closes out this "Hall of Faith" by answering the big question, So what made these people so great? Why should I care about them? "And all these [faithful ones in Hebrews 11], having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect." (NASB)

The point in their being right is that God fulfilled His will, not that we can look back in history and say "nanana booboo." He allowed those people to do that to accomplish His higher plan in providing Christ. Remember Moses, whom the Jews highly revered failed God and proved himself to by imperfect. Even in that fact, perfection points to Jesus.

Here’s where it relates to my students. There are smart people at school who hate to be wrong. In Arrogance fact, they are so arrogant that they don’t care if they are right or wrong, so long as they are viewed as being right. Despite the sign that reads "keep right" they veer to the left to follow the path because that seems to make sense to them. And here’s the deal that is deadly, some will be willing to have faith and hope in "what makes sense" all the way until their death. (This morning we talked about those who put their hope in the flawed science of evolution. Despite basic laws of science which make the theory impossible to be more than a theory, many have put their faith and hope in it.) Their hope and trust is in what they can see and observe. They accuse people who are correct of being arrogant out of their vanity. They’d rather save face and be separated from God in their arrogance to remain "right in their eyes" than admit they could be wrong.

But where is their faith? It is in what is seen and observed from their eyes. They call us arrogant when in fact it is through their arrogance that they are blind.