Just when I thought this election was going to start getting boring…

Palin_sarah_081Gutsy move John!  Smart, young, family oriented, articulate, courageous, value-centered, and (yes) inexperienced to a point.  Mmmmmm…things are getting really interesting! 

All I can say NOW is this…I will make more comments as time goes on…but for NOW, all I need to know is that she is a "hockey mom".  That alone will almost get my vote.  I love hockey…she’s from Alaska (which is a hockey state).  Her husband is a commercial fisherman (which will make my friends happy) AND she is the mom of a down syndrome baby (a vast majority of which are aborted once diagnosed).  Oh my! 

BUT, back to the hockey thing…if you love hockey, imagine a NATIONAL movement promoting hockey?  Tax-breaks for new hockey teams…tax credits for new skates and sticks.  A new Cabinet Position, "The Department of Puck" with Chellios or Roenick as the Secretary of the Department.  Man, I am ready to vote NOW!  And think about how she’s going to go over with all my Canadian buds…hockey and Alaska and fishing and she hunted moose with her dad when she was growing up…man, the Canucks are going to appoint her to be their Associate PM!  Not only that, but she is a SPUD!  Yep, born in Ida-HO and graduate of the University of Idaho (Vandals…I’m a BSU Bronco fan, sorry!).  But people here in the great Gem state are going to be bonkers on that…the first potato to hold a National Office.  I’m in!  Pass the chips!

Seriously…election politics are like a chess game.  I was watching Obama and the Dems last night…they putting ole Johnny and the Repubs in "check".  It was a HUGE night last night…historic, visionary, inspirational.  Today, McCain not only got out of check but pulled a great move and put Obama and team in "check".  Like I said above, this is a smart and bold move that is historic, visionary and with a person who is inspirational.  The game isn’t over though…no one has "mated" the other…it is a long contest and the moves are now just getting provocative.  What’s amazing to me is that this race is now going to be an "evangelicals" nightmare.  On both sides of the "board" there are values and beliefs that are unapologetically biblical and honoring to God.  I wonder how long it is until the next big move takes shape.  The clock is ticking fellas! 

 

All joking aside, NOW things are really interesting…I wonder what Brian McLaren is going to say?  Oh, somebody please stop me!  More to come…

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On the lookout – for the leading Holy Spirit

MeerkatNow that my dissertation is finished and I am awaiting final comments from my faculty advisors at the Haggard School of Theology, I am turning my face toward the Lord in a new way.  It’s new in the sense that it is something that needs an increased urgency because of the "tyranny" of the realities that everyone has to face in life – finances and responsibility.  Add to that the complexities of denominational churches that have many hoops for a leader to see and jump through in order to simply serve within their context.  That’s part of a much longer story…but suffice to say, that’s about all I’m going to say on that subject.  I’m massively enjoying my part-time, adjunct teaching at APU for the Biblical Studies department…but it is only a part-time job that accompanies a part-time salary…so there must be more.  So, I’m on the lookout…the Spirit is moving in the world…my world…our world.  I want to simply catch the wave of what God is already doing and see how the gifts and passions I have can contribute to that movement.  So, if you would honor me with your prayers that I would have ears to hear and eyes to see and a heart that is patient and trusting.  Yep, there is definitely more to come with this…stay tuned!

My Doctoral Dissertation is FINISHED!

Term_paper
Woopee!  That’s all I can say.  400 pages…171 books…over 375 footnotes.  That’s all it takes to give you a taste of it.  After MUCH encouragement from my community and family, I decided to take the month of August to finish the project.  It was about 1/2 way through before August…now, I’ve crossed the goal line.  The paper gets shipped out today to Dr. Sarah Sumner (Theology professor @ APU), who is my Mentor through this process.  She will, most likely, have a few "comments".  Then the paper gets shipped off to Dr. Keith Reeves (NT professor @ APU) and to Dr. Paul Alexander (who is the Doctoral Coordinator).  So that’s the process. 

My thesis will be explained more later…all I can say now is that it is over!  Woopee!  The topic is Adolescent Leadership Development and Spiritual Formation through a Variety of Praxis.  To give you a taste for it, I’m going to attach the Conclusion of the paper which is a "homeletical" approach to summing up my arguement.  The paper includes a look at "The Playing Field" (Postmodernity, Post-Christendom, Missional Paradigms, Liminality, the Historical realities of rabbinic discipling and the novitiate from the monastic movement).  Then I move on to the "answer" to the presenting ministry problem that I addressed.  That section is more complex to summarize…so I’ll let you look at the concluson and draw your OWN conclusions. 

CONCLUSION

When I beginning to see the finish line of the Doctor of Ministry journey, friends of mine began to inquisitively and persistently nag me regarding my final project.  They knew that I was a practical individual…someone who was not necessarily wired up for writing something that was only going to sit in some computer file, library shelf, or academic data base.  I kept hearing the same questions, “what is the gist of your final project” and “who will want to read it?”  Good questions for anyone dipping their toes into the waters of literature of any genre.  I put those questions to intense thought.  I simply do not want to impress (if that is even possible) people whom I admire and respect in academia that need to accept this project as a means of completing a degree program.  I would be humbly pleased if that were to happen but my expectations are a bit more realistic.  Yet, I would hope that someone outside of the University system would see that there are some issues that are being raised in this project and my attempt to “take the ball” of the conversation regarding youth ministry praxis to another realm.  I deeply desire to put some “fuel on the fire” and to contribute to what is occurring across churches and programs throughout the United States, Canada, and other countries that are facing similar matters. 
Download Conclusion.docx

Download Conclusion.pdf

 

Saddleback’s Faith Forum – a couple of thoughts

My "blog friend" Bob H weighed in on a couple of things that I agree with…you can check it here.  I especially liked his posting of Rick’s pictures…as a man who is aging as gracefully as possible, it is a bit maddening to see someone use a "cliche" of SoCal "nips and tucks".  Oh well…

As far as the Forum…as I said, I have my suspicions of the whole thing..but I’m going to be a nice guy today.  So, cynicism has to take a vacation.  As I watched, I tried, I mean…really tried to give Barack the benefit of the doubt.  But he is verbose…more words, more hiddeness and lack of clarity of his opinions.  He is too young and too inexperienced…McCain has him there.  McCain came across as the sage…Obama as a pup with a good stage presence.  As far as worldview goes, the questions were all "issue related" and didn’t get to the core of worldview…but you have HUGE implications when you go in a "pro-choice" direction (death penalty, bio-ethics, euthenasia, stem cell research, value of life, etc.).  It is hard for me to see anything else but a total pro-life view for a person who follows Jesus.  Maybe it is just me…but that’s the way I see it.  You want reasons?  Email me.  McCain was succinct and clear.  I may not agree with him on everything but he is wise, experienced, and very clear about his views.  I don’t want to call a "winner or loser" because this wasn’t a debate, per se. But it was clear to me after the two hours who I will vote for…it still confuses me why the Matthew 25 organization (e.g. McLaren) is going so strong for Obama.  I don’t know..I guess I’ll just have to take a pass on that one!  More to come…

I’m not sure what I think about this…

Saddleback_civil_forum_2 You can check this out on your own…click on the photo and you will be at the website for the event.  I had heard about it a few days ago.  My first reaction wasn’t good.  As someone who has had to make several difficult decisions about whether to use church property that is tax-exempt for essentially "public" events, I find it amazing that Saddleback is getting away with this…but then again, it IS Saddleback.  When I was making the calls about hosting any event that bordered on something overtly or subtly civil, I was cautioned. 

Beyond that issue…I have other thoughts…I am attempting to discern whether they are God-honoring or not.  That’s the issue on my heart.  I’m going to check out some of the conversation on Sunday…at least, at this point, I think I am.  My question, what do you think?

China’s action very repulsing but looks a lot like what we see regularly!

ChinaflagLast night on the national news, it was revealed that a bit of "lip synching" was going on at the spectacular Olympic opening ceremonies.  Of course, that is not too suprising until they said why it happened.  Apparently, the little girl who sang was not "cute enough" for an international to see.  She was not "flawless in image" (their exact words, not mine) and so sang "back stage" while the cute girl got the camera time.  Now, I don’t want to go "off" on this…but we see this all the time.  Image is everything…we’ve heard that now to the point where it is embedded in our collective psyche. 

Yet, before we start tossing salvo’s of critique China’s way, it is time we look at how we do this regularly even in within the walls of the church.  I remember going to several conferences a few years back where it was made very clear that the people who were "on the platform" in front of worship experiences had to "capture the image" of who the church was trying to reach.  They had to have coordinating clothing, smile nicely and look just right in order to be allowed to be on the "up front" teams. 

You want more, you ask?  Many churches look for that "smart, youthful looking leader" because he/she has the right presentation and personality to attract a crowd.  Like I said, "image is everything".  And what about "video venues"?  Why are we in American church seeing more and more of that type of strategy?  Because of image…people apparently can’t have live teaching/preaching or even music because it is not "as good" as the "flawless image/presentation" of the "man behind the curtain". 

I was thinking something a bit "over the edge" yesterday but I’m going to put it out there for your collective consciousness…what if one day we regard good religious faithfulness in these type of church expressions like we see good nutrition at McDonalds?  Just thinking out loud!  When will we stop idolizing image?

Must see DVD series! John Adams

John_adams_ver2Last night we slipped the first disk of this DVD series into our Bose system and hit "play".  I had heard about the book that this series was based upon but had to see it first hand.  I am starting to LOVE history…I’ve always had a hankering for it but now it has almost become an obsession.

To make this perfectly clear – this is a DVD series that you should watch, share with your "age-appropriate" children (there are some violence related scenes that are tough, I would definitely see it with kids who are over 12 and who have begun to study US history).  This is a well made series…not only that, but it vividly shows the struggle, politically, morally and physically, to bring the USA into being.  Our freedom cannot be taken for granted…these historical snapshots are vital for people to see and take seriously.  So, you will have to make a commitment to this series…each episode is around 90 minutes long.  BUT without a doubt, every moment is worth it.  Paul Giamatti is absolutely incredible in this series.  So, rent it or better yet buy it and watch it.  It is moving and inspirational!