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Showing posts from April, 2012

Reproducing Preachers

While walking the dog I got to thinking about how to reproduce preachers for growing churches. I've written before about my alternative to video campuses. But I started to think about how to teach preaching. Lately, I've changed the three questions in my simple high school Bible discussion group from What do you like? don't like? learn about God? to the questions used by Cityteam in their successful organic church plants in Africa; What do you learn about God? What do you learn about humanity? What is God telling you to do in this passage?

I'm wondering if preaching is modeled on these questions, the focus of the congregation is kept on the text, and eloquence is not required. Read the passage. Observe the answers in the text to question 1. Then observe the answers in the text to question 2. Then list some of the options for question 3 as homework. This simple format not only empowers developing preachers, but also empowers congregants to apply a simple, but profound, …

introspective adolescent books: guys vs. gals

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This is about Hunger Games vs. Tolstoy. I am no expert here, but I've been reading Tolstoy's fictional memoir, Childhood, Boyhood, Youth, about a wealthy young Russian. Then I watched the Hunger Games movie, which I enjoyed. My kids who have read the series told me I need to read it as well. But the wait times for the reserves at the library are very long now. Subsequently, I came across Wendy's post on the Hunger Games book series in which she spoke of the strongly feminine perspective in the series. After all this, one of the kid's reserves for the 2nd book in the series, Catching Fire, came in on reserve like the last ping pong ball for the Bingo win.
With all of this furrowing of my mind, full of all this literary compost, I plunged into Catching Fire and read it in a day. It moved along very quickly, except for the morasses of Katniss's inner dialog. For me, it was like walking through molasses. I didn't get it. I didn't care. It seemed stupid. It fe…

who is the "disciple Jesus loved" in the gospel of John?

One of our other discussions at our high school Bible discussion group as we finished up the Gospel of John was about John's other #humblebrag, the title "the disciple whom Jesus loved" which he uses twice in the last chapter 21:7 and 21:20. The students enjoyed piling on John a little bit for that. But then I asked them, are their any disciples Jesus doesn't love? If not, aren't all of us who believe on Jesus and try to follow him disciples whom Jesus loves?

That is so cool.

Peter had denied knowing Jesus three times a few nights before the events of this last chapter. Perhaps his leap of faith into the lake that he may have hoped would have been a walk instead of a swim (see the last blog post) was an attempt to prove to Jesus how much he did believe him, despite his lame showing at Christ's trial. That didn't pan out. He probably felt even more ashamed when he finally got to the beach with Jesus. Jesus knew that Peter was ready to restore his relations…

Why did Peter put his coat on before jumping in the water? John 21:7

I have the great pleasure of facilitating every week a Bible discussion group with several high school students. We've been discussing the Gospel of John  this past year, and we finally finished tonight. We enjoyed the humorous scene John writes about in this last chapter. The great apostle John can't help himself when it comes to embarrassing his fellow inner circle apostle; the denial of Christ, his slowness in getting to the empty tomb, and this event in the last chapter.
John 21:7 That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. What's the joke? Well John is the first to realize that Jesus is on the beach, #humblebrag, but then Peter puts ON his coat before jumping out of the boat? I've seen some academic ink spilled trying to explain this weird behavior on the part of this fisherman (good one her…

we're all the Bad News Bears

First off, if you don't know who the Bad News Bears are, go read about them here. In summary, they are a Little League team of losers who gain hope and start to win. My premise is that every religious or philosophical team is a team of losers. But, because we are in teams, we support each other and tease the other teams, even if our coach wants us to recruit other losers to our team. Personally, by similar analogy, I can't imagine someone trying to convince me to become a Duke basketball fan. I hate Duke. And I'm not alone. Also I'm a UConn Husky fan and was there when Laettner ended our first NCAA run.

Wait, I need to cool off....

I don't hate people who like Duke, I just hate the Duke basketball concept. So I can relate to this atheist's feelings towards Christians.

The “hate the sin, love the sinner” line, especially when used in connection with LBGT rights, infuriates me. So now I just copy and paste the comment below. It always seems to piss them off for…

book response: The Big Burn by Egan (2009)

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Cover via AmazonI enjoyed Timothy Egan's previous book, The Worst Hard Time, about the American Dust Bowl and other, later president Roosevelt. This book, The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America, has been on my "to read" list since it came out, but it's availability for my Kindle from the public library moved it to the top. Although the great fire of 1910 did not bring haze all the way to Washington D.C., the parallel political story was just as fascinating as the Dust Bowl.


It was thrilling to me to learn of Teddy Roosevelt's plan to liberate the Republican party from the robber barons. The "back to the future" political aspect of this book was especially poignant in light of today's debates, which are essentially the same 100 years later. The only way the radical Republican became president was because he was vice-president when the president William McKinley was assassinated.


Though he said publicly that little would change, …

book response: The Last Stand: Custer, Sitting Bull, and the Battle of the Little Bighorn by Philbrick (2011)

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Cover via Amazon I thoroughly enjoyed Nathaniel Philbrick's history of the Pilgrims, Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War (see my previousmulti-part book report) and was more than willing to learn again from him about an historical subject I know nothing about, The Last Stand: Custer, Sitting Bull, and the Battle of the Little Bighorn. This book was available for a Kindle loan through my local library and a great read on the Kindle, but I have the same complaint with all the Kindle books that include maps; the maps are very hard to read.

The short summary is this book is excellent. Philbrick credits Sitting Bull's success to prophecy and Custer's defeat to his own hubris, his fellow officer Reno's cowardice and drunkenness, and his fellow officer Benteen's passive aggressive attitude. This way he can appease all the hard-core amateurs who like to single out a single reason for the loss of over 200 US soldiers at the Little Bighorn River. This book was …

book response: Miraculous Movements: How Hundreds of Thousands of Muslims are Falling in Love with Jesus by Jerry Trousdale

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I've been greatly encouraged by this complementary Kindle review copy from Booksneeze of Miraculous Movements: How Hundreds of Thousands of Muslims are Falling in Love with Jesus by Jerry Trousdale. It was even more profound for me as I read it over this past Easter weekend. This book is a report on the success of a church planting movement (CPM) among African Muslims as simply strategized by Cityteam, originally an outreach to the down and out in San Jose, California.

Their methods are simple, and familiar to anyone, like myself who has studied the simple/house/organic church movement. Here's the process. Love your neighbors. Find the "son of peace," (Luke 10:6) by depending desperately on prayer. Read the Bible together with those who are interested and let the Bible change them. As they read it, ask them what they learn about God, about humanity and what God wants them to do with what they've read. Next time you get together, ask how it went. Read some more. T…

1st barefoot run of 2012

It wasn't even half a mile, but I'm trying to learn from my past couple years of injuries due to going out too hard too soon. As Barefoot KenBob says, it's all about good form and you learn the best form from surfaces that give your body immediate feedback, not the beach or the golf course. So I set out on some macadam and then some concrete sidewalk in the low 40's this morning. The cold helps with the desensitization. The short distance allows me to concentrate on form. I plan to keep it real short this week.

Good Friday: No matter how bad we screw it up, even in his name...

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Good Friday is so good because it shows that no matter how bad we screw it up, even in his name, Jesus still wins. Jesus threatened the religious leaders of his nation, and in their narcissistic views, he was threatening God himself and his chosen nation.
I call them narcissists because that's how Jesus describes them.
Matthew 23:4-7 "Instead of giving you God's Law as food and drink by which you can banquet on God, they package it in bundles of rules, loading you down like pack animals. They seem to take pleasure in watching you stagger under these loads, and wouldn't think of lifting a finger to help.  Their lives are perpetual fashion shows, embroidered prayer shawls one day and flowery prayers the next.  They love to sit at the head table at church dinners, basking in the most prominent positions,  preening in the radiance of public flattery, receiving honorary degrees, and getting called 'Doctor' and 'Reverend.' The Message After Jesus raised a ma…

Grain bin homes for Haiti and the U.S.

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First of all the credit goes to Owen Geiger and his EarthBag Building Blog for, yet, another great find. Second of all, I like the idea of repurposing grain bins into homes. Third of all, I was thrilled to see that this business, Sukup, is donating these houses to Haitians in Les Cayes, map, and Croix-Des-Bouquets, map, through Haiti Relief Fund, Inc. This video shows a representative excitedly looking over a demo house at the Sukup factory.

This is Sukup's explanation of the house.
Sukup Safe T HomesTM are engineered structures that are suitable for all phases of recovery effort. They are quick and easy to construct, making them ideal for emergency situations. The all-steel construction makes the Sukup Safe T Home perfect for longer-term use, since they are weather-, fire- and termite-proof. They are also movable, making them well suited to transitional shelter needs. The round shape of the Safe T Home allows the unit to withstand high winds. They are also virtually earthquake-pr…

the pre-school theory of the atonement

The means of Christ's atonement was not an issue decided by the early church in a creed, so we are left to view it from it's many angles. Here is my analogous contribution.

I sometimes think of God, metaphorically, as a teacher in a pre-school orphanage. Some of the three year olds are rotten, and some are nice, and some are trying to be helpful. Some in the class want to please Him and some want to please themselves. Some are beating on other kids. Some are mixing the water colors and making them all brown. But He has a plan. He'll pull the fighters apart. He'll play follow the leader with them. He'll hang high their works of art done in brown water colors. He'll put stickers on their shirts. All of them think they have the key to his heart because He loves on each of them so well. One year, he enrolls his own Son to the pre-school. Coming from the teacher's home, the Son knows all about the Father's ways and His love. His dad has sent his Son to scho…