Mar 28, 2013

You Wanna Cut Off WHAT?...Circumcision

"A foreigner residing among you who wants to celebrate the Lord's Passover must have all the males in his household circumcised; then he may take part like born in the land. No uncircumcised male may eat it." - Exodus 12:48.

What's the big deal about circumcision?

Why was it that no uncircumcised male may partake of the Passover meal?

How did anyone know? Did they have the circumcision police check?

Circumcision was not something one went around proving "publicly". It was a reminder to the individual that he had made a vow to be a God-follower in the midst of an ungodly society. It was a constant reminder to the individual of his set-apartness. It was a way of saying that no matter what everyone else was doing and how everyone else was living that he has vowed to lived as a God-follower.

Anyone who made their circumcision public...well, that would be a problem for everyone. That's the thing about circumcision as one of the clearest ways for the Jews to set themselves apart. It wasn't ever meant to be a public display.

I wonder what our modern day equivalent to circumcision might be? What would be the thing that truly set the God-followers apart from others in society?

I wonder if one of the clearest ways in which today's God-followers can set themselves apart is in our ethics - sexual, moral, financial ethics.

What would be a better constant reminder to the God-follower that they have made a commitment to follow God than doing sex, morality, and finances according to God's ways rather than the culture's ways?

And I think the key is that we ought not shove our set-apartness in other people's face. That's obnoxious. That's offensive.

This ought to be what reminds God-followers on a daily basis that we are set apart.

Perhaps, what needs to be cut, eliminated, and circumcised for modern day God-followers is our obsession with needing to be politically correct. Perhaps, what we need to do is determine to be a God-follower by following God's word when it comes to our ethics. 

Mar 27, 2013

One of the Best Letters Ever in the History of Humankind!!!

One of the best letters ever in the history of humankind!!!

That's right.

The Little Church on the Prairie had the privilege of receiving one of the greatest and most encouraging letters ever written in the history of human kind.

No...I am not exaggerating.

This letter, in so many ways, exemplifies why the Little Church does what we do.

We have committed to making Lakewood a better place because Jesus is Lord. We are not interested in building bigger monuments to the Little Church for we don't believe that makes much of a Kingdom difference. We have committed to investing ourselves, our finances, and our talents to being a part of establishing God's kingdom right here in Lakewood as it is in heaven.

One of the coolest things we do is the Thanksgiving Baskets. We provide boxes of food with all the fixings that a family needs to have a Thanksgiving feast in their own homes. We believe that families ought to enjoy Thanksgiving in their own homes rather than having to come out to church or anywhere else to get food.

We believe there is more dignity for parents to provide the Thanksgiving meals in their own homes for their children.

We prepare baskets full of food - turkey, yam, corn, bread, stuffing, veggies, salads, dessert, etc. Last year over 1,450 people were able to celebrate Thanksgiving in their own homes because of this ministry.

A while back we received a letter from one of the kids who's family received a basket.

Here's what he wrote:
"Thank you for helping others, donating, and more. If you didn't donated, we will be ful of hunger."


That's why we do what we do.

We want to see God make a difference through the Little Church because Jesus is real.

This is what it's all about!

Mar 26, 2013

Our Purpose is Like Stained Glass Windows

This past week, Pastor Brad, Pastor Cheryl and I were at a presbytery meeting at Lacey Presbyterian Church. In front of the sanctuary, they have a set of beautiful stained glass windows.

Here's the thing about stained glass windows.

  • From the outside, it's nothing to look at. 
  • From the outside, you know something is there, but the image is difficult to see, and it's a jumble of blurred colors.

But once you come inside the church, POW!!! the colors and the images come alive. They are brilliant. Everything comes to focus.

You know it in your can't quite articulate it, but you know it to be true as if anything on earth was true.

You were created for more than this. Your life has to mean more than making ends meet. Your life has to be more than living for the weekends or the next vacation. There's got to be more to life than the accumulation of things that will all end up in the junk yard one day.

This can't be it.

Even though you don't even know how to articulate it, you know it.

It will always remain a mystery until you step into the family of faith. You've got to come into the church to see what the image is all about.

This fuzzy sense of something more crystalizes once you come into the family of faith. Once you see life from God's perspective, POW!!! everything becomes clear! The life images and purpose becomes clear! And it's brilliant.

But you need to be in the church to see things clearly. All these things that you have been sensing are things that God has written about since the beginning of time.

God created us to need him. God created us to desire him. God created these yearnings because it's in him that we will be able to discover our purpose for life.

Are you ready for some clarity?

Come check out one of God's churches this coming Easter Sunday!

Mar 17, 2013

Saint Patrick

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Have you ever wondered why we celebrate St. Patrick's Day? Who was St. Patrick anyways?

I'm glad you asked. In my devotional reading this morning, here's what I came across at

Patrick of Ireland (389-461)

At the age of sixteen Patrick was kidnapped from his home by Irish marauders and taken to Ireland, where he was sold as a slave to a chieftan and forced to herd livestock. After six years of slavery, Patrick escaped to his native Britain. Because he believed that his captivity and deliverance were ordained by God, Patrick devoted his life to ministry. 

While studying for the priesthood, he experienced recurring dreams in which he heard voices say, "O holy youth, come back to Erin and walk once more among us." He convinced his superiors to let him return to Ireland in 432, not to seek revenge for injustice but to seek reconciliation and to spread his faith. When he was not engaged in the work of spreading the Christian faith, Patrick spent his time praying in his favorite places of solitude and retreat.

And that is why we celebrate St. Patrick's Day.

We close this entry with a prayer attributed to St. Patrick:

Christ be with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!

Mar 16, 2013

Sir, I'd Be Willing for this Whole Presbytery to go to Hell for the Glory of God!

Dr. Bill Carl, the President of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, shares the following story.

I remember when I was going through seminary and then was a candidate for ministry, we used to be examined extensively on the floor of our presbytery. Now, when a candidate is examined before a presbytery, that candidate may get a couple of questions and then gets passed through for ordination. But back in the day, a long time ago, when we used to go for sometimes two or three hours, they could ask you any question they wanted to. They could ask about theology or church history or Bible - anything from the Bible, Hebrew, Greek, philosophy, it didn't matter. Systematic theology, philosophical theology - they could ask you any question they wanted from the floor.

At the end of one of these three-hour exams, when a student was just totally exhausted, an elder stood up on the back row and said to him, "Young man, I have one more question: Would you be willing to go to hell for the glory of God?"

The young man answered, "Sir, I'd be willing for this whole presbytery to go to hell for the glory of God."

Mar 15, 2013

Technology and the Church

This is an Instagram picture shared by the Today Show on NBC of St. Peter's Square at the announcement of the new Pope.

A sea of people, but look at the difference. One person with a smart phone or tablet in 2005, and 2013...well, the picture speaks for itself.

The question facing anyone in leadership, and particularly the church, is how will we incorporate new technologies in sharing Jesus and being the church?

If the church doesn't find ways to incorporate changing realities, we will miss out on a tremendous opportunity.

I don't have answers yet, but I find the challenge intriguing.

Here are some questions to consider.

  • What is your web presence? We are finding that most new visitors to LCOP have already checked us out and listened to numerous sermons prior to visiting in person. Your potential visitors will first visit your church through your web site.
  • How are you using Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Instagram, Yelp, etc. to share your story?
  • How can we use new technologies to communicate, hear, and listen to our community?

Mar 14, 2013

Read "The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert" by Rosaria Butterfield

The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert is the story of Rosaria Butterfield.

The book is a fascinating story of God's redemption, how the church can be the church, and why sound theology matters.

Without giving too much away, the context of her story is that of a lesbian professor who's life was changed because of her encounter with the living Christ through the church community.

The book is is a brilliant, uncomfortable, honest, challenging read.

One of the best books read in a while.

Read it.

Mar 12, 2013

Lessons Learned from One of My Not Best Moments

To say the least, it wasn't one of my best moments.

Yesterday I was on a tight schedule to pick up Kaitlin from track practice, drop her off, pick up Kailey and Kaleb to take them to swimming. I was a wee bit frustrated when Kaitlin wasn't ready to go when I told her we needed to go.

As we were driving out of the Lakes High School parking lot a guy was riding his bicycle right down the middle of the road. There wasn't enough room to pass to the right or to the left since he was literally right down the middle of the road.

When he finally moved over to one side I passed him. But as I was passing him, he yelled something at me.

On any other day I would have just kept driving. But not yesterday. I was already frustrated and when he yelled I lost it.

I slowed down, rolled down my window and screamed at him to get out of the middle of the road.

And then he did it. He flipped me the bird.

I really lost it then.

I stopped the car, jumped out, screaming at him and had every intention to deck him.

By this time, Kaitlin was a wee bit freaked out and she yelled, "Don't daddy!"

Not one of my best moments.

Imagine if I had decked him.

How stupid. In a moment of anger and frustration, I would have done something really stupid...something that would have impacted my ministry, landed me in jail. Just stupid all around.

As I've been reflecting on this, I've been trying to process why I lost it for that moment. I've been wondering how I could have done things differently, how I could have avoided that entire situation.
  1. Take a deep breath. I needed to chill. I was running late. It already was what it was. 
  2. I compounded that by adding my frustration. And then the bike guy came.
  3. I should have taken another deep breath. Just let him do his thing. I did not need to press him. 
  4. I should have kept driving. I should not have allowed a jerk to impact my life. I let him tick me off and in return I acted like quite the jerk myself. 
  5. Biggest lesson - don't let a jerk make you a jerk.
Thank God I didn't do anything stupid. I've since apologized to Kaitlin for losing it in front of her. 

Not one of my most proud daddy moments.

Mar 11, 2013

In God, Allah, Buddha, Krishna, etc., We Trust

In God We Trust...

That's about as American as you can get.

It's on our money. It's in the very fabric of our constitution and in our psyche.

At one time, everyone knew what this phrase meant. It meant that we believe and trust in the God of the Bible - God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

No longer can this said of America.

The reality is, in today's world, this phrase means something like, "In God, Allah, Krishna, Buddha, Kabbalah, goddess, spirit, etc. we trust."

The question for the church and Christians is not why it is this way. The church has to come to terms with the reality that this is the way our pluralistic world is.

The question for the church and Christians is how will we live out our faith and how will we will share our faith in a pluralistic world without coming across as arrogant or naive?

That's the question.

Mar 6, 2013

Our Brains: Created to Think the Thoughts of God

No matter how fast, how powerful, how advanced our computers become there will always be something that no computer will ever be able to computer will ever be able to think the thoughts of God or discern the heart and will of God.

Only the human mind is capable of this.

In fact, we can make the argument, the human brain was created for this.

The question is, what are we doing as Christians doing with this amazing gift?

The unfortunate reality is that when it comes to how we steward the gift of our minds and thinking, we are no different than how those who do not know Christ treat the mind. We watch just about the same shows, listen to the same songs, and neglect reading the Bible just as much as non-believers.

Christians, here's the thing - We will never have Christian minds, minds that are profoundly impacted by the thoughts of God, without reading the mind of God revealed in the scriptures.

Simple fact is that we cannot be profoundly influenced by that which we do not know.

We have been given an amazing gift. We have the ability, in fact, we were created for the purposes of thinking and discerning the thoughts and will of the Creator of the universe in order that we would join him in doing his ministry.

So what is your plan for reading and filling your mind with God's word?

If you do not have a plan, please go check out Here you will be able to find multiple reading plans that will fit your time and needs.

Mar 1, 2013

Missing the Point

Why does the church exist? What is the purpose of the church? What is the church supposed to do? produce?

I guess you can answer that in many ways. But, not all views on that would be correct.

I have some ideas of about why the church exists, but I can tell you with absolute certainty what the church doesn't exist for.

  • The church does not exist for denominations, institutions, and structures. 
    • All three are to serve the purpose of the church. 
    • They are never to be an end in themselves. 
    • The church of Christ was doing fine before denominations, institutions, and structures, and will continue to thrive without such. 
    • Denominations, institutions, and structures are only valuable and needed as they serve the mission of the church.
  • The church does not exist to make sure that a particular localized expression of the church exists. 
    • When a particular church fails to live out the mission and the ministry of Jesus Christ, there is no loss to the kingdom when it closes its doors and ceases to exist.
  • The church does not exist to meet your needs or mine. 
    • While a Christ affirming, Jesus ministry-doing, Holy Spirit mission accomplishing church will make a difference and impact lives, the church of Jesus Christ doesn't exist solely for me, or you. 
The church of Jesus Christ is Christ's body - we exist to carry out the mission and the ministry of Jesus Christ. This is demonstrated when new Christians are born as a result of the ministry of the church, and when those new Christians are equipped and inspired to mature into becoming fully-devoted disciples of Jesus Christ.

There are many days when I cannot help but wonder if my denomination gets this, because there are too many days when my denomination acts as if my church and my ordination exists to support its on-going viability. 


Not me. 

I belong to Christ. My ordination is in his church. Of which I happen to be in the PC(USA) family for now. But should my denomination fail to be about the mission and the ministry of Jesus Christ, it doesn't mean my faith nor my ordination ceases have a home. It still belongs to Christ.