Monday, June 28, 2010

wedding season

Well, June is winding down and man are a lot of people getting married. Maybe it's just that i'm in a stretch of 7 weddings in 8 weekends, but it is the season for weddings. Now, just a disclaimer here, I've done so many weddings (two to three hundred) by my estimation; that the mystique has slightly worn off. I could do the wedding vows backwards, in my sleep. But there are some things about current wedding ceremony scene that really ruin the whole sacred experience for me. So today I offer my top five favorite and most disliked things about weddings.

1. Moist, white wedding cake (were you expecting something more spiritual?)
2. The Bride walking down the aisle. Seriously, there is nothing more beautiful than this moment in a girl's life as she presents her most beautiful self to her husband in public. It is an incredible picture of the Bride of Christ the church - we are beautiful like that because of Jesus love for us.
3. People dress up. I like dressing up. I like casual too, but I'm afraid that our culture may have become too casual, not only in dress, but in attitudes, morals and thinking. Guys may look cool casual, but they look good in suits and ties - end of story.
4. Pictures of the bride and groom growing up set to a music video thingy. It's great to see the journey of people from birth to marriage - also it makes everyone cry and that's good for us once in a while.
5. The idea of making a covenant before and with God! This is unusual - when's the last time you said, to God - "I promise". IT happened in the Bible all the time and as Christ followers, we are in covenant (we promise) with God. I like the solemnity of it all and how serious God must take all these vows. And how serious he wishes we would take them.

Dislikes (and now for a list that honestly, I had to whittle down - but will give some insight to a pastor's perspective)

1. The money spent on really wasteful things and not spent on really important things. Brides will spend thousands on a dress and will balk when we require them to spend $500 for pre-wedding counseling! C'mon one will get your marriage off on the right foot and the other will probably not fit in ten years.
2. The idea of the perfect ceremony and that causes one or two participants (usually mom's - sorry) to drive everyone else completely crazy - stressing out on important things like where exactly on the lapel the flowers should be pinned!
3. Animals as a part of the ceremony. Any further comment at this point will only get me into I'll stop here.
4. The fact that we can't throw rice anymore. Now it's bubble's or butterflies or sparklers - whatever. I know, I know - it's harmful to birds supposedly - they expode if they eat rice? Is that true or myth? If it's true - that would be pretty wild to witness. If it's not true, let's bring back the rice!
5. The two hour wait at the reception while the bridal party to finishes their pictures. C'mon cut the cake -that's what everyone is waiting for!
Runners up: The bridal party introduction to the old Chicago Bull's introduction music, 50 year old moms wearing a dress made for a 20 year old, people expecting me to dance at the reception, men who have no rythm and dance anyway (I think alcohol is involved a lot of the time), the entire love chapter (I corinthians 13) read when really only about 4 verses poetically describe love. Photographers who hang upside down from the rafters trying to get that creative shot... There's more, but again, I'll stop.

Monday, June 21, 2010

growing deeper

the ever elusive desire for people who are followers of Christ - "i want to grow deeper". Of course, this is a very good idea, but what I fear me and many people are really asking for when we make this statement is that we want God to give us some jolt of instant wisdom or for our preacher to stretch our faith more in his allotted 30 minute segment. I've said it before, and I'll say it here, if you are depending on one 30 minute sermon a week alone to grow you deeper - it's gonna be a slow process. Make no mistake about it, I approach the privilege of preaching every week with the idea that the Holy Spirit just might use the Word through my lips to change eternities - pretty amazing. it's just that It's been my experience that to grow deeper (in my faith and walk with Jesus) I'm going to have to make some kind of effort and commitment to growing deeper.

Some growing deeper happens because of life. God causes or allows stuff in our every day that puts our faith to the test. I think we fail and pass hundreds of these tests every week. Some are big, some are small (the big ones catch our attention more and try our faith more), but these life experiences God brings our way so that we can grow deeper. This is only a very small part of "why God let's bad things happen to good people" (please don't over react to this) - He is answering our prayer to grow deeper. Your faith will only be as big as the challenge you trust God in. Small obstacles in our life will require small amounts of faith. Large, life altering challenges demand large faith and therefore help us grow. Next time you are going through some tough times, thank God he's helping you grow deeper!

But some growing is about our effort. You can't grow if you don't read your Bible. You can't grow if you aren't plugged into the Body of Christ (the church). You can't grow if you don't have an intimate interaction with other Christians you trust. You can't grow if you don't take at least some small faith steps. As you may guess, much of my job (and all the pastors on our staff and other staffs) is to give tools you can use to help you grow spiritually. So at the end of a long and tiring Monday - here are three tools I think might help you:
1. Spiritual Formation Classes through the Hargrove school at Lincoln Christian University ON THE CAMPUS OF EASTVIEW CHRISTIAN CHURCH! A dream come true for us - this fall we offer college level courses to help you develop spiritually (grow)! Get on Lincoln's website for more info. This is a master's level course for those with undergrad degrees, but (HERE's the BIG Kicker) you can audit these classes for $150 a class. That means you can get Seminary level education at Eastview and you can grow deeper.
2. Next May, JK and I are planning on taking a teaching trip to Turkey and Greece to follow in the some of the apostle Paul's footsteps. We will share teaching each day as we stand in the ruins of the first century cities where the church first took root. This will change the way you read the Bible. Great fellowship and great learning - growing deeper in your faith. More info to come. Questions, email
3. Finally, reading a very good book right now called "Doctrine: What Christians should believe" by Mark Driscoll. Very easy theological read. I don't land exactly where Mark does in all the book, but it covers dozens of things that every Christian should be convinced of. This may be a tool to help you grow deeper.

Monday, June 14, 2010

details for an all-church study

I'm excited to be close to finishing my part of the project that will become our next "all-church" campaign for small groups. Last time we did this we studied "The call" and around 2,300 people from our church participated in a six week small group/video study that accompanied each week's sermons. We're going to do it again in January 2011 and hope for over 3,000 people in 300 small groups! Curious as to what goes in to this? Read on. Not curious? You're gonna be bored with this blog.

We talked about this particular study in May of 2009. It was an idea and we liked it - high fives all 'round - thank you Holy Spirit for putting this in our minds..and then our team did some individual reading, research, Bible study on the topic (this really means that it became a back-burner item because it was over a year away).

In December of 2009 the writers took a one-day retreat to plan out the course of study along with the preaching themes that will go with it. About 12 hours of figuring out, debating, etc...which scriptures were the best ones (I love this process).

Shortly after we came up with a project timeline and my job was clear - write the script for the teaching video by mid-June 2010. So I've been writing on and off (and now JK is joining in the writing) for about five months and the rough draft is done - six lessons. We'll finalize this next week and then Scott (our staff video guy) will set up his gear in a local coffee house and we'll shoot this thing (two days of intense talking into a camera - my biggest worry - what six shirts to change into for each of the six lessons :-). It's really not as easy talking into a camera as you'd think. Camera's are expressionless, don't give feed back, don't make eye contact, and don't miss mistakes. Even though the teaching is similar it's a totally different gig than preaching. So by the end of June we'll have this thing on video.

Then mega-hours of editing. Then graphic designs that will go with it. A book written by JK (editing, publishing, etc...). Then a small group study guide. Then the dvd goes to publication. Then we'll start getting people to sign up for this important study. Then it will be Christmas and then two weeks into January we'll start. All this for six weeks out of 52 to help our church become more intensely dedicated to Jesus. That's our goal and my prayer - and it wouldn't hurt if you offered some prayers for this too. We really think God is going to do something great in our hearts through this teaching.

Then we'll probably be in the middle of the next big writing project.

Monday, June 7, 2010


Situation last Monday was that I didn't have access to a computer so I couldn't blog plus I was busy (see relaxation below) - sorry to you who have commented that you missed my usual Monday morning blahs!
Graduation weekend was a really cool experience...tiring but cool. As usual, the sara and mike experience was to pack hecticness into our already hectic weekend (her parents in town and staying at our house, my sister and brother and their families in for graduation and memorial day), plus Caleb's ceremony on Saturday, plus setting up tents and chairs and stuff in our backyard, plus packing for a trip, plus hosting a couple of hundred in our backyard after church for the actual party, plus tearing it all down before it began raining, plus getting the food, plus it was sweltering....oh yeah and I have this preaching thing that I do every Sunday. No lie, it was so crazy at my house on Saturday night I spent the night with our next block friends, the shifflett's!
Relaxation was five days of vacation in a southern state at a place owned by one of our church members. Really am grateful for the place and generosity of our good friends for letting us hang out there. It was sunny and hot and I laid by the pool and thought and read. I ran every day in the heat because I'm neurotic that way - you've got to do something when you eat that vacation menu.
Celebration came in the second day of our vacation because it was June 1st. Do you know what that is? It's my Sr. Pastor anniversary. Believe it or not I celebrated three years in this role last Tuesday. Amazing how it seems like forever and how it seems like just yesterday. I really do celebrate this...still the most blessed man alive to be here, now, with the people of Eastview.
Invitation time after yesterday's sermon was thrilling. I know if you don't go to Eastview you think I'm making this stuff up, but God is just really moving in cool ways right now. We are seeing more really messed up situations, really redeemed by a God who is good at spiritual cleaning! Seriously, it's not perfect, but the tears and the prayers and the desperation for God and confession I'm experiencing at these special times are really life changing for me these days.
Congregation is really remaining faithful to keep up with this year long (we're a month past half way now) study in the book of Luke. Several of you have told me that you are using your "follow me" journals on a regular basis to keep up with your Bible study and other spiritual disciplines.
Innovation that our tech and creative team continues to display at church with the lights, sound, and stage for our weekly worship time together. This week we start our summer of parables series with a 60's (summer of love) theme and look and the stage is absolutely amazing.
Revelation is the last book in the Bible
Exclamation is the last symbol of an excited sentence
Consternation is the feeling you get when the blog is really stretching it
Amalgamation is a word I know, but can't really use in a I'll stop - but this blog did take some imagination

NOTE: No "ation" words were harmed in the writing of this blog. The following "ation" words were invited to appear on the blog, but refused comment: Consideration, Obligation, Litigation, Fascination, and Pixelation (which may or may not be a real word). Go ahead and respond with your own "ation" words

Non "ation" NOTE: Did you catch my humorous attempt to say "familial" in my sermon on Sunday?