Monday, June 30, 2008

Neighbors: I took this picture last night because I thought it was hilarious that these kids did this by themselves at no prompting. If an adult tried to get 5 kids to sit down and talk it would be a miracle but when it's the kids idea they make it look easy.

Tonight the girls were especially present since I was working outside so I could get some stuff done but still be around for Nathan. At one point the oldest girl (don't want to use their names) asked where Mrs. Heather was? I told them she was at a bible study. They gave me the funniest look and said "what's a bible study?" That thought never occurred to me. I said "they study the bible." She replied "What's a bible?"

It was one of those moments you know doesn't come along often. It's sort of like hearing someone ask "So who's this Jesus guy I keep hearing about."

So I told Nathan to go get his bible books and we'd read them. So there we sat the 5 of us, me reading them Nathan's book Bible stories for kids. It was hard to believe it was the first time they had heard the stories. It was real special for me. They especially like Noah's ark and they learned that whenever they see a rainbow they should know that God loves them. They were looking for rainbows in the sky the rest of the night!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Article Here

America remains a nation of believers, but a new survey finds most Americans don't feel their religion is the only way to eternal life — even if their faith tradition teaches otherwise.

The findings, revealed Monday in a survey of 35,000 adults, can either be taken as a positive sign of growing religious tolerance, or disturbing evidence that Americans dismiss or don't know fundamental teachings of their own faiths.

Among the more startling numbers in the survey, conducted last year by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life: 57 percent of evangelical church attenders said they believe many religions can lead to eternal life, in conflict with traditional evangelical teaching.

In all, 70 percent of Americans with a religious affiliation shared that view, and 68 percent said there is more than one true way to interpret the teachings of their own religion.

"The survey shows religion in America is, indeed, 3,000 miles wide and only three inches deep," said D. Michael Lindsay, a Rice University sociologist of religion.

"There's a growing pluralistic impulse toward tolerance and that is having theological consequences," he said.

Earlier data from the Pew Forum's U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, released in February, highlighted how often Americans switch religious affiliation. The newly released material looks at religious belief and practice as well as the impact of religion on society, including how faith shapes political views.

The report argues that while relatively few people — 14 percent — cite religious beliefs as the main influence on their political thinking, religion still plays a powerful indirect role.

The study confirmed some well-known political dynamics, including stark divisions over abortion and gay marriage, with the more religiously committed taking conservative views on the issues.

But it also showed support across religious lines for greater governmental aid for the poor, even if it means more debt and stricter environmental laws and regulations.

By many measures, Americans are strongly religious: 92 percent believe in God, 74 percent believe in life after death and 63 percent say their respective scriptures are the word of God.

But deeper investigation found that more than one in four Roman Catholics, mainline Protestants and Orthodox Christians expressed some doubts about God's existence, as did six in ten Jews.

Another finding almost defies explanation: 21 percent of self-identified atheists said they believe in God or a universal spirit, with 8 percent "absolutely certain" of it.

"Look, this shows the limits of a survey approach to religion," said Peter Berger, a theology and sociology professor at Boston University. "What do people really mean when they say that many religions lead to eternal life? It might mean they don't believe their particular truth at all. Others might be saying, 'We believe a truth but respect other people, and they are not necessarily going to hell.'"

Luis Lugo, director of the Pew Forum, said that more research is planned to answer those kinds of questions, but that earlier, smaller surveys found similar results.

Nearly across the board, the majority of religious Americans believe many religions can lead to eternal life: mainline Protestants (83 percent), members of historic black Protestant churches (59 percent), Roman Catholics (79 percent), Jews (82 percent) and Muslims (56 percent).

By similar margins, people in those faith groups believe in multiple interpretations of their own traditions' teachings. Yet 44 percent of the religiously affiliated also said their religion should preserve its traditional beliefs and practices.

"What most people are saying is, 'Hey, we don't have a hammer-lock on God or salvation, and God's bigger than us and we should respect that and respect other people,'" said the Rev. Tom Reese, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University.

"Some people are like butterflies that go from flower to flower, going from religion to religion — and frankly they don't get that deep into any of them," he said.

Beliefs about eternal life vary greatly, even within a religious tradition.

Some Christians hold strongly to Jesus' words as described in John 14:6: "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." Others emphasize the wideness of God's grace.

The Catholic church teaches that the "one church of Christ ... subsists in the Catholic Church" alone and that Protestant churches, while defective, can be "instruments of salvation."

Roger Oldham, a vice president with the executive committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, bristled at using the word "tolerance" in the analysis.

"If by tolerance we mean we're willing to engage or embrace a multitude of ways to salvation, that's no longer evangelical belief," he said. "The word 'evangelical' has been stretched so broadly, it's almost an elastic term."

Others welcomed the findings.

"It shows increased religious security. People are comfortable with other traditions even if they're different," said the Rev. C. Welton Gaddy, president of the Interfaith Alliance. "It indicates a level of humility about religion that would be of great benefit to everyone."

More than most groups, Catholics break with their church, and not just on issues like abortion and homosexuality. Only six in 10 Catholics described God as "a person with whom people can have a relationship" — which the church teaches — while three in 10 described God as an "impersonal force."

"The statistics show, more than anything else, that many who describe themselves as Catholics do not know or understand the teachings of their church," said Denver Roman Catholic Archbishop Charles Chaput. "Being Catholic means believing what the Catholic church teaches. It is a communion of faith, not simply of ancestry and family tradition. It also means that the church ought to work harder at evangelizing its own members."

My Life on the Run by Bart Yasso. I've had this one in my cart at Amazon for a while now and I just planned on buying it when I needed some other books to get the free shipping. Well my opportunity arrived late last week.

Bart works for Runner's World Magazine and some excerpts from his book were in one of the issues a few months back. The book is about some of his exploits encountered while running in places all over the globe. He's run a marathon on every continent and has dozens of cool stories (I'm sure many more that didn't make the book).

It was a great read, quick, easy.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Tim Russert: I hate going to funerals but I enjoy what people say at other's funerals. I especially like to hear what is said about exceptional people when they die. I have the idea that I want to glean what I can from exceptional people for the purpose that I can also be exceptional.

This morning I watched a few excerpts from Tim Russert's funeral. You can catch them here

I must admit that I never saw him on his tv show but I did read his books. It was a real special book for me because my father gave it to me for father's day. It was an affirmation to me as a father and was a confession of sorts for me from my father. The book expresses the importance of father's not the importance of perfect fathers. It also struck such a cord with me because I believe one of my God-given callings is to equip men to be men and in turn to equip men to be the best father they can be- when or should the time come.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Oops: 55% of pastors can identify one or more topics on which they would not preach at all or only sparingly, because the sermon could negatively affect their hearers’ willingness to attend church in the future. Among them are politics (38%), homosexuality (23%), abortion (18%), same-sex marriage (17%), war (17%), women’s role in church and home (13%), the doctrine of election (13%), hell (7%) and money (3%).
Your Church 5/6/08

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Shack by William Young. I'm not really sure how to review this book because I don't read many fiction books that I feel the need to review. I guess I'll try for a brief synopsis first and see where that takes me.

A father and three of his children are camping. At the very end of the incredible weekend tragedy strikes and his youngest daughter goes missing. As all the details unfold it is determined that she was kidnapped and killed by a serial killer. (Uplifting read!). For years the family struggles with this tragic loss and most of all struggles with so many questions unanswered.

Eventually the father is drawn to go to the shack where they assume the daughter was last living and the place where they found her clothing and blood. It is at this shack that he encounters God and for the next several days interacts with the three persons of the trinity in an incredible manner. He learns their personalities, their abilities and their divinity. They each walk him down a separate section of his journey toward wholeness and restoration to the life God wants him to have.

It's a story of forgiveness, redemption, theology and a bunch of other things. Well worth the read. The cover dubs it "The Pilgrims Progress" of our generation...

Monday, June 16, 2008

On the Radio

I've been thinking about LOVE lately...

No, this is how it works
You peer inside yourself
You take the things you like
And try to love the things you took
And then you take that love you made
And stick it into some
Someone else's heart
Pumping someone else's blood
And walking arm in arm
You hope it don't get harmed
But even if it does
You'll just do it all again

Monday, June 09, 2008

Grandma: I've blogged about my Grandma before but I'm going to do it again. Yesterday I went over to see her. I knew Granddad would be out shooting pool with my uncle so I figured she could use the company. I usually have Nathan with me and he keeps us entertained and they really enjoy spending time with him. But yesterday I didn't have Nathan so me and Grandma shared some conversation with just us, which doesn't happen very often.

I'm amazed at what she remembers at age 92, almost 93. She'll talk about my uncle, who is at least 56, and how he learned to walk and how he did this and that. She clearly dotes on the boys which is probably why we are so close. Sometimes we talk about church, religion, or politics. Mostly we talk about family. But it's not so much the subject matter that's important to me as is the fact that we're able to share the time.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Happy Birthday!

Yesterday was your 4th birthday. Happy Birthday. You've changed a little over the years. You've gotten some new looks.

Keep up the good work.

Headstand: I could say in a message that to get to heaven you have to do a headstand and people would try to learn how to do a handstand. But if in a sermon I emphasize the gospel of Jesus Christ and that faith is credited to us as righteousness (Romans) and I denounce others that are preaching a different gospel it rattles people. What is it about our human nature that is so driven to accomplish and in our accomplishments we feel God loves us? It's so absurd that that's our logic but we've all been there and most of us live there in that thought. It's as we have security in our accomplishments rather than safety in God's promise. Baffling.

Bum: While on my run tonight I ran into my first bum. By bum I mean someone bumming money. This bum happened to be a 10 year old kid standing in the driveway of his house, in the background I heard the ice cream truck. It made me laugh and I actually appreciated the kids boldness. I told him I don't carry money when I'm out running. The funny part is when I finished my run I was just walking to cool down and stretch my legs and the kid was riding a bike. He asked me if I lived in his neighborhood and I told him just a few houses down. He thought that was the coolest thing...

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Daddy: I'm running today on the trail and there are two women ahead of me walking towards me. I notice they are walking two dogs both of which are very large. I'm not afraid of dogs at all but I respect big dogs and so I remember noticing them a little bit more than normal. As I'm running past the women one of them says "You must be the daddy?" I wasn't thinking real straight so I just gave her a confused look (not so much on purpose). I'm then thinking, is she calling me ugly? Is she saying I look like a dog or that we look alike? She then interjects he's a pre-adoption he'd be great for your home.

I felt better about my self-esteem at this point so I told her the dog was cute and kept on running.

Google: Seems like Google knows me. I just googled my name and I'm 6 of 10 hits on the front page. Kind of freaky.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Funny stuff my kid says.

We were at Busch Gardens on Sunday and I needed to change Nathan's pull up. We head to the bathroom and all of the stalls are gross so we just pick a corner and start changing his diaper. Nathan notices the guys line up at the urinals and says (in his loud 3 year old voice)

Daddy, what are they doing?
They're going pee pee.
(thoughtful look)
Are they pushing their pee pee down?

Let me explain: When Nathan uses the potty if he's not careful he pees all over the place so to prevent this I tell him to push his pee pee down. Turns out he wanted to know if everyone used this technique or just him.

I was putting Nathan to bed the other night and he asked me to read a book. It was an old Sesame Street book so I opened the cover and was looking for the copyright to see how old the book was. Nathan looks at me and then looks at the book and says. Daddy, there, aren't, any, words, coming, out, of, your, mouth. Read the book.