Monday, May 30, 2005

New Look: I had to go with a new look for the old blog. It's not that I didn't like the old one, quite the contrary but I was having a permanent problem with the archiving and what good is a blog if you can't go back and read it. So I went with the new look...same content and just a new kind of ugly.

Clap: Richard and Elisa Brown told a story last week that is deserving of being published in books. Since I can't do that I thought at least I can put it on my blog!

They were on vacation at their parent's house in Argentina along with Elisa's Sister's family. So in all there were many kids and they decided to go for ice cream into the city. The streets happened to be crowded, unusually crowded so crowded in fact that once the group of adults and children go inside the ice cream shop they realize that they will never make it out of the same door they came in due to the crowds. Luckily there was a side alley that they group made it out of and the alley was filled with stores and shops. After window shopping for about and hour Elisa counted children and instead of counting 9 she only counted 8. She counted again and then realized that it was her little 3 year old girl that was missing. They quickly retraced their steps in the stores they had visited.

They went back to the ice cream shop and asked if the owner had see the little girl, he hadn't. The father then ran outside. His mind is racing, he is trying not to think about what happens when a child gets abducted but his mind keeps going there. He runs and runs just calling his daughters name, louder and louder. He pushes through the crowd frantically searching, just calling and calling. Suddenly he hears clapping. He thinks it odd that such a large crowd is clapping so he takes notice. He follows the clapping and in the center of a circle of clapping adults is his daughter. In Argentina when a child gets seperated from their parents adults gather around the child and clap to draw attention to the child. They clap and clap until the child and parent's are reunited.

I think that's what a pastor does. We surround our students, our friends, our family and those we serve as shepherd. We clap and clap and clap because we want them reunited with their heavenly father. Clap loud and clap long!

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Undignified: To the man that sat 5 rows in front of me tonight. Thanks for being willing to be undignified, your ability to worship was so freeing for me. Especially seeing as you are at least 60 years old and I had you labeled as an old fundie.

Boat: John Ortberg spoke yesterday morning and I'm sure this quote is in his book but I'd like to draw attention to it again. He spoke on Matthew 14 when Peter walked on water. He asked "did Peter fail?" Of course Peter failed. John then asked "was Peter a failure?" Nope Peter wasn't a failure. His point was that people bust on Peter for getting out of the boat and then loosing faith but we often overlook that Peter ACTUALLY walked on water. You see there were 11 other guys that never even got out of the boat and Peter had the guts and FAITH to get out of the boat. Peter walked on water, he failed but is not a failure. The other 11 failed to but they failed without even trying Peter failed and got to walk on water. The only just-human to ever do so.

Friday, May 27, 2005

The Cerda Theory of Self-Limiting Success: I can't get my archives to work but if you look under March 9, 2005 you will find my first comments and theory ideas of self-limiting success. Tonight I was at the Reds/Pirate's game. First of all what a great game! Second I'd like to say that two, count em' two homeruns that ONLY hit the yellow line at the top of the fence. I'm telling you there is something to that theory.

so what of the church? Since I believe this theory is a restraint of the human mind I suppose I should believe that it does apply to the church. So the fact is we're aiming for the fence when we should be aiming to the river or really well past the river and just do it with all of our might. Afterall don't we believe there is NOTHING God cannot do? I believe that...

Jesus: the past couple days I hear David Bryant preach 3 times about the Supremacy of Christ. That was pretty much it, but 3 sermons were dedicated and he probably could have preached 6 more I think if you asked him he could preach the rest of his life on this subject. I gained much out of the sermons and it really helped me focus and remember that afterall Christ is what it is all about. He is why I am, he is what I am and he is all I live for. Jesus Christ name will come from my mouth because he is Lord of my life and I know that by others making him Lord of their lives their lives will be forever changed, forever altered and forever altared.

OUR new logo. Let's do it. Posted by Hello

Amazing: Tonight as my best friend JB and his wife Iris ate their dinner I had the incredible opportunity of holding their 4 week old son Gavin James! God is amazing and good and amazingly good to me!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Me and my boy! Posted by Hello

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Rip-Off: I got to admit to all my regulars. As my blog emits highly potent jabber throughout the world I need to make one thing clear, most of my thoughts that I post on this blog are my own but the original idea came from someone else. Whether in a book I’m reading, a conversation I’ve had, a blog I’ve read or from falling down the stairs; the thoughts are mine but the origins are not mine. I do make sure I note when I am quoting and my source.

Emergent: I have never professed to my emergent status or my being the pomo hoe we all secretly hope to be. So I’m not defensive I just see the horrible slippery slope of being trendy rather than starting a movement. I have fallen upon further conviction or further conviction has fallen on me, I think the latter to be true or both, heck, I don’t know!

So regardless of the path this stop on the journey has brought me to the fact/conviction that we don’t need to give ourselves a label. Sure for conversations, dialogues, monologues, books and magazine articles we need a label, people need to call the wackos that are stuck between conservative/liberal, right/left, Jesus/church(…Did I just say that?) us something. But when talking with ourselves when attempting to broaden the thinking of our brothers and sisters in ministry, those in our churches and those in our neighbor’s houses, we just need to say we are relevant. After all the whole world is not postmodern. All of America is not post modern. All of the mosaic generation is not postmodern but all of the above people mentioned DO hunger and thirst for several things

1. authenticity (hence the ability of our church predecessors to hang on to life for such a long time even when totally culturally relevant, people still value authenticity or perhaps desire it more than ever)
2. cultural relevant (speak my language and say stuff I care about, Jesus did a good job at this)
3. truth (in our pluralistic society truth is still wanted)
4. service (to serve and be served)

I know the lingo won’t change because of a blog entry made from a dell notebook in the Dulles-Washington terminal but perhaps a few thinkers will glean something. In a world filled with labels we should refuse to be labeled and yes, being emergent is a label and one I am afraid of. People can build defenses against labels but have a much harder job when we give them tangible characteristics that are scripturally grounded and relevant to them!

Monday, May 23, 2005

Star Wars: Oh man! Episode III is simply the best movie of the newest three and I'm not ready to make my ruling tonight but I might even say of all 6 of the movies three was the best! It was outstanding! Some might say predictable but no way. I mean sure you know Ani becomes Vader but the movie was outstanding.

Missional: I'm reading a book by Ed Stetzer and the little I have read I recommend strongly. The book is written for Church planters but I think it is applicable to anyone seeking to do effective ministry in a postmodern culture...our culture.

The new buzz word for the ultimate in church mission is being "Missional" basically meaning are believers and bodies of believers (churches) poised, prepared or even attempting to take the message of Jesus Christ to our culture. It seems by the declining numbers of churches and believers and the fact that we aren't even reaching our own children with the gospel that the answer to that is painfully clear...NO!

So being missional means that we are taking the message to our culture without making it relative but rather relevant. Quite a hard task but one that MUST be completed...I'll settle for strived for!

So Ed asks the question do we need to get back to being missional? Then he proposes that we have never been missional save the early church. Even though the reformation did great things, it spurred out of a movement that was reactionary rather than missional and proactive. It put protestants on the defensive while the catholics conquered new lands by colonializing them protestants huddled together. Really if you think about it the rise of protestantism only occured in a modern mindset when formula was key and the guarantee of 4 spiritual laws were present.

Our culture now knows that guarantee is gone so being missional is required, God was missional, Jesus was missional, he commands us to be missional.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Hughes Scale from Planting New Churches in a Postmodern Age by Ed Stetzer Posted by Hello

I thought this scale was very interesting and quite a valuable tool for people in ministry. This scale was generated for an assessment of churches. I won't go much into it but rather explain the chard.

Content: On the left you see the content value of a church or believer meaning that "A" is high on Biblical content and on the converse "C" is very low on Biblical content. "A" will be driven (make decision/actions) by what is exclusively in the Bible while "C" will stick to tradition. "A" sounds like a pretty good option for a post conservative like myself that believes in the inerrancy of scripture. But strong content that never reaches culture seems like a bungie cord that is 6 feet too long; not very practical and down right dangerous...even lethal

Culture: Model "C" is very low on being culturally relevant and combine what with being low on driven by Biblical content they are a church driven by tradition, neither being true to the Scriptures or relevant to the culture. Model "D" on the other hand is very culturally relevant and excells in reaching the current culture BUT with very little Biblical content or conviction.

So of course we are to "B" being both strongly grounded in the biblical content and relevant to the culture. So that's it model "B".

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Star Wars: After hearing some reviews I have decided to wait until after opening weekend to go see Revenge of the Sith. I've heard it's just not that good and figured why should Lucas get my opening day ticket sales for a mediocre movie? and is it just me or is Lucas being far less selective on what endorsements he's making; Burger king, Pepsi, t-mobile. I think he knows that if he doesn't get the bucks right now he may least off Star Wars.

Friday, May 20, 2005

British Invasion: I have been silent long enough! First of all this Nanny 911 crap they play on TV, it really bugs me. Do we really need brits coming here telling us how to raise our children? Granted someone needs to come here and help people raise their children must it be the snotty, snobby british? Have you ever seen a kid from the UK or Europe? They are horrible and don't know how to behave, but of course we all know if you are British you must be good at raising kids because Mary Poppins is your great great grandmother. It's not that I have anything against the British I just think it's silly to pigeon hole a nation.

Maybe we're just a bunch of British rip-offs though: The weakest link, Trading Places, Queer Eye...the list goes on.

Earthquake: So the earthquake on December 26, 2005 actually shortened the day by 2.676 millionths of a second and shifted the earth's axis by 1 inch. Wow!

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Hunger: I was hungry this morning. The weird thing was I was spiritually hungry. I just HAD to read my Bible and spend time with God. So I did. I try to be disciplined and read the word every day and spend some sort of time with Him and normally I do pretty good with it, my daily bread. But this morning the daily bread was not near enough, I just had to keep reading and reading and God was just speaking through his word.

I began to feel myself get full and then I ate a little more and then I ate until I became stuffed and had to stop. I leaned back after and just thought, I was so hungry and now I am full.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Have you found Jesus yet, Gump?

I didn't know I was supposed to be looking for him, Sir.

The top 100 High Schools List was released today. I am sad to report that Padre's school for the gifted that all of you have been contributing to did not make the list. Posted by Hello

A Youth Pastor Gripe: We were with some great friends last night for a birthday party. Most if not all of them are youth workers with a local ministry here in town. They really are great friends and a ton of fun to be around. You have to understand me to understand my beef here. I am a pretty laid back guy, I love a good laugh and can really keep a party going. I'm not quiet at all and very confident. BUT when working with my students I am very laid back and fun loving but we never ever ever play games where we embarass students. I feel they are awkard enough with their own bodies and just don't feel right in their own skin why should I add to it. So back to my friends; they were telling me about a game they played at club on monday about an icecube that started at the beginning of the line (guy, girl, guy, girl) went down the guys shirt and pants and then passes to the next person and then up her pants and don't we just have our students take off their close and touch each other inappropriately.

I'm all about games but I'm not sure games like this are achieving the concepts we want our students to learn.

Next week at youth group Free beer and live nudes!

Friday, May 13, 2005

Faithfulness is Fruitfulness:
I realize that there are instances like Jeremiah (or one of the other prophets) when they were obedient to God and his calling and still never saw results. So I know not every minister is going to be "successful". Paul even had his share of failures!

BUT my point is if a pastor says he has a calling then all of a sudden he's off limits and untouchable and unaccountable for his work ethic and results then that is a problem. Some of the laziest people I know are pastors, some of the most dishonest people I know are pastors (taking full time wages for half time work) and unfortunately I think that is the rule not the exception. We need to stop overspiritualizing. When results don't come and there is genuine effort then we can say God is in it, and he is pleased. When results never come because we are lazy then we are a tool of Satan. If you have been a pastor for 20 years and have never grown a congregation then perhaps you missed God's calling and need to go sell insurance! If people fall asleep during your sermons every week then perhaps you need to face up to it that you're not a preacher OR just not spending enough time preparing. If you don't have friends then perhaps you need to realize you're not friendly OR not willing to work on new skills.

But I blame the church. At some point we began to elevate people with lots of biblical knowledge into the pastorship not those with a shepherd's heart. Biblical knowledge makes you no more a pastor than knowing what type of car it is makes you a mechanic.

I say all this not just to get loud, not just to rock the boat but because the current system we are working in (the North American Church) is not working. You can't agrue that. The facts are clear and plain as day. But yet still we continue on the same path of mediocrity and the same ole same ole and willingly send millions to hell.

One of these days I'll stop talking and do something about it, pray for me!

Pronounce this!: I lived most of my life in Hampton Roads, Virginia. Hampton Roads isn't a city but rather a group of cities that make up the Tidewater area of Virginia. Down on the coast in Tidewater we have a certain way of saying things. For instance I grew up in Portsmouth, locals pronounce it Portsmith, others- normally know it alls like to call it PortsMOUTH, making them look silly. Well it's not only one city but several, namely Norfolk and Suffolk. It is said if you are from Hampton Roads you can pronouce those names without sounding like a moron or like you're saying a swear word.

I can't tell you how many times in my life people have asked where I grew up and I tell them Portsmouth (Portsmith) and they say you mean PortsMOUTH. Normally I put my hands in my pocket so as not to smack them. I'm from there, I'll tell you how it's pronounced!

MTV: Alert! This morning on MTV...I saw a music video!

Thursday, May 12, 2005

What are we doing?: I know the church is good intentioned. I really think many pastors are doing there best but sometimes I just wake up and think, or sometimes it's brought about by conversations and I just wonder...What are we doing? and when we figure that out maybe we'll figure out what we are doing isn't working.

I have pretty much decided that the next person I hear "yeah we just need to remain faith and get back to..." at about the "get back to..." part I'm going to smack them right in the head. I sure they are good intentioned but if we open our eyes for 30 seconds we will see what "we" (the North American Church) is doing is not working. We aren't even reaching our own children. We are the 3rd largest mission field in the world. So I'm not sure we need to get BACK to anything we need to get moving and at least try something new.

My father once gave me a tiny piece of paper that had a quote from Theodore Roosevelt:

Far better is it to dare many things and win glorious triumphs than to live in the gray twilight where one does not suffer much nor accomplish much.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Vast Knowledge: I really thought that college would be the pinnacle of my learning experience. I’m not sure what kind of cheap crack I was smoking in college but I really thought I was a fart smeller, um…I mean smart feller. I guess I thought that would be it, I would learn those 16 years, 12 of public school and then 4 of college and I’d apply what I learned the rest of my life. Well that would have really been boring. I have learned so much in the past 4 years since getting out of college and I know that the learning has only just begun. It’s exciting to be growing; it’s exciting to learn applicable stuff.

Butt Crack: Hey girl in the bagel shop that sat two tables in front of me this morning. PULL YOUR PANTS UP no one, I repeat no one wants to see your butt crack.

Gross Coffee: Yesterday I was at a meeting and now bear in mind that I’m no coffee connoisseur but I do enjoy a good cup. Coupled with that fact and the fact that you don’t need to be a genius to know nasty coffee when you drink it. So yesterday I was at a meeting and thought a little java would be a nice treat so I poured myself a cup added the desired cream and sugar and went back to my seat at the table. I put the hot coffee to my lips and took a sip…ass coffee. Now I’m not kidding. It repulsed me. I really think that they took the water poured it over a big hairy ass and then put it in the coffee maker. I didn’t want to be rude because the coffee maker person was at the table so I thought I’d better drink it. So I did and loathed every minute of it. I almost yacked twice. Ass coffee, never recommended!

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Monday, May 09, 2005

Finished: I finished Traveling Mercies. I have heard for years that the book is worth the read and I must say I was NOT disappointed. If you're looking for a pat you on the back Jesus book then this book is not for you. If you're looking for someone who grapples and struggles with life, faith, spirituality and even Jesus then this book is for you. It restored in me the idea of messiness in our lives. The idea that like in Luke 7 the woman who washes Jesus' feet with her hair then Simon the Pharisee starts to question Jesus integrity and holiness. So Jesus asks "if you forgive a $5 debt and a $5000 debt who has more to be thankful for" Duh Simon says the one who had $5000 forgiven and then Simon just shut up. He realized that those in need of a savior, I mean desperately in need (isn't this all of us) recognize the love of their savior than those that lead a "good" life.

Sometimes I think we're so "sin-free" that we really think we can save ourselves. Sure we don't say that or tell people that but I think deeeeeep down inside we really think it and then we sin against the cross because we are trying to be self suficient.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Anyone want a cat? Posted by Hello

Friday, May 06, 2005

Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott: I've heard about this book for sometime and I've even owned it since the winter and I am just now getting around to reading it. I do that, I'll buy a ton of books at one time and then just kind of let the current book I'm reading decide what comes next. Normally the books are different enough to keep me interested and diverse but similar enough so that the books seem to be one cohesive conversation. I digress.

This is perhaps the most raw, authentic, real author I've ever read. The refreshing thing is I don't think she is capable of being any different. I'm only 100 pages in but I can tell you already I'm glad I picked this one up. Simply a narrative of her journey into spirituality and what she calls Christianism, well her friends not her. Anne defends herself by saying she's a christian just not a very good one.

Amen to that!

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Not Needed: So we just got back from our annual District Youth Retreat. Really the year hinges on this retreat, it is often used as a launching pad for the summer and then the next year. I don't mean to put too much value on it but it really does serve as a major event.

So the "come down" off retreat is always hard and always so drastic for my students. This year they didn't quite get into retreat like they have before one reason because they are getting older and the second is that it is mainly the same thing they do every year. So last night I prepared my message to help them out. To help them realize that it starts with retreat and continues with themselves the rest of the year.

Before I even started I heard a guys conversation with a group of guys about starting a student led bible study and a girls conversation with a group of girls about a girls accountability group. I was so stoked. After they heard my message I could tell they were relieved. Relieved that they were wacky for not "feeling" it and relieved that they had a group that was dedicated to growth year round.

Now the hard step putting it into action. But hey if that's all this youth pastor has to do, help soem student led stuff keep moving them I'm all over that like stink on a buffalo fart. I think I'm working myself out of a job, GOOD!

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

big thugin' Posted by Hello

A Journey: My friend Tim and I were talking the other day on our way home from Retreat. My friendship with Tim has been so unique because we literally have journeyed together from the conservative stance of our denomination to what I would label (with the Help of Brian McLaren) Post-Conservative. Riding in the car Tim said "Nick, I think we're crazy". You have to understand that our conversation generally consists of ranting about the church of america today and our longing for something more, something more unique, something more genuine. I replied "I think you're right, but is that a bad thing?". As we carried on we realized that we first became friends when we were still good denominational boys and now we feel as if we have a secret to keep, an emerging secret. (yeah that's corny I know)

I encouraged Tim and Tim encouraged me to continue on in our quest. There is much right about it. We had to recognize and I think we both made a committment to stick to our denomination as best we can. But we have had to face the stark reality that in order to get anywhere for the kingdom we may have to leave what we have always known in the C&MA. I think we both genuinely hope and pray against that but have had to face that it may happen one day.

So what's so great about Tim is that he listens. When I go wacko and share some heretical view he asks me questions that makes me think. He speaks his mind and he learns and teaches. I value our time, I wish I could keep him with me no matter where I go because everyone needs someone like that. He has such a great 3rd person point of view. Being out of active church ministry and into para-church camping ministry he's fresh. He says he respects me for being able to be constructively critical of the church while still in it, I say I respect him for being able to call it quits.

I know secretly he hopes to get back into full time church ministry. He love people, mainly the lost, he loves God, I hope that God gives him the desires of his heart. God has blessed me, he has stirred me, he works in me. How blessed we are!

Writing: Posting has been hard lately between being busy with work and then with my hands full at home I have missed posting. It's not that I have a ton of readers but that I love to write and I think writing helps me out more than it will ever help anyone else out.

Writing helps me understand and recognize more of the earth's beauty. It helps me understand grace and God's love. It helps me stop and realize things that I normally miss. I guess I need to make it a priority.

My son: Every morning I get up with him between 6 and 7. We sit on the couch together, have coffee (he likes his heavy cream), check the email, smile at each other, just normal morning stuff. It's pretty routine but with a baby smiling for the first times in his life none of that is routine. Yesterday I was holding him and I looked down and...felt such a wave of emotion. It's not that I'm thick headed but I realized once again that I had a hand in "creating" this baby. It was such and awe inspiring time. He is mine in the purest sense of the word. He is my child, I love him with a love that is not generated but that is inherent. It was such a wonderful feeling.

Ghetto Mart: I was in Wal-Mart yesterday and there was an unhappy customer. The culprit was a older teen/young adult. An older employee came up and was reassuring the customer that he would take care of it and make her happy. Well the disgruntled customer left and the next customer, with her teen daughter in tow, said to the older employee "it's just this generation, they don't know good manners or customer service." Her attitude was harsh and "know-it-all". I looked at her, looked at the older employee, looked at the teenage daughter and almost said out loud. You're the one that raised this generation so in reality it's you and your generations fault.

I hear that alot, adults complaining about teenagers and young adults...when in reality the one who could change or have prevented it is...them.