Thursday, December 20, 2007

From Death to Life

We had a youth retreat a couple of weekends ago. Here are the highlights:

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Browns and Hope

This past summer I got to go to Ohio. I saw the Indians get beat by the Tigers and then the next day a dream came true. I have been a Cleveland Sports fan for as long as I can remember. Particularly I am a Browns fan. We are hard to come by in Alabama, which I now call home. The dream was going to the Pro Football Hall of Fame with my Dad and then to Browns training camp. I have been to the HoF before and it is pretty cool. But there is something about seeing the team that you grew up cheering for, the colors, the logos on everyone and everything. There was a sense of belonging. There was the feeling that I wasn't that crazy - rooting for a team that hasn't played for a championship in over five decades leaves you with thoughts that you ought to be locked up. We aren't supposed to be 8-5 this season with the potential to go 11-5. It is kinda scary. It's like that wonderful terrifying experience of being on the roller coaster and climbing to the top of the hill - you are not sure which way this could end up - in the Lake or a thrilling, screaming, ride o' death.

Being a Browns fan has taught me a great deal about the spiritual disciplines. I truly believe that. God is growing His Fruit in me through patience, faithfulness and self-control. Patience to stay with them through the lean years and the non-existing years. Faithfulness to not be dragged away by other charming suitors (Colts, Packers, Jaguars). And self-control by not punching or cussing when they lose big.

I am a Browns fan and I have hope. I hope that we win Sunday.

Thursday, December 06, 2007


We have been dialogging on Wednesday Men's Lunch about the church. Most recently we spoke of the church and culture. There is this interview that Mark Driscoll does with Dick Staub on youtube. I think the guys would profit from watching it.

This is Part 1a -

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

I {heart} books.

I love books. These books I purchased or received while attending the National Youth Workers Convention in Atlanta.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

From Death to Life and On Being Obese...

We made it back from the Elk River Lodge in one piece. I have to say that this was a very rewarding retreat. We were well fed, both physically and spiritually. The theme was "From Death to Life" - Awakening to Our Lives in Christ. I think that the retreat was really great. I was excited about our students being exposed to my friend, Jason Minter's teaching and the opportunity for all of them to worship. We have a student led worship team and I love it - so it is good for those students to be led as opposed to having to lead. It was a plus that Wesley and his lovely wife Monica - whose name I kept forgetting, are exceptional worshipers. They led out of their own worship. Jason's teaching was very rich and challenging. He challenged our students from the very beginning. Either you are a follower of Jesus or you follow Satan - it was pretty cut and dry. I think that the students were captured by that thought. It was powerful.
Saturday moved to a more light hearted joyous (Life) approach. We were still contemplating Jesus' death for us but, it was out of that death that we have life and it was resonating with most of us. The worship sets that Wes put together were right on line with the teaching. It was so awesome to see God's handy work in that. The songs were well done and the students really got into the worship. After the third session we watched "Invisible Children". It was powerful and moving. I think that some of our students were convicted about their apathy towards things. It was a great challenge for them to move out past being "good" and into a role of activism. Owning their faith in order to make a difference here and now with those who are created in god's image. Invisible Children is gripping and graphic. It follows three young Californians as they search for a story in the Sudan and wind up with one in Northern Uganda. You can check it out at their web-site. We hope to get more involved in the coming year.

We had lots of fun playing the games James had for us. There was a little too much nature that Joel Bridges stumbled upon in the woods near us - thank God that the students did not do the stumbling. We had a couple of minor pranks but nothing earthshaking. They were actually well behaved and our guys and gals were cooperative and engaging. We wrapped up on Sunday and headed home. It seemed like everyone had a spectacular time.

On Being Obese.
Yeah I said it. I am obese. I looked at some recent pictures of me and I am ashamed of myself. I guess I really ought to cut back on the Cheeseburgers, oh and go run. Do NOT FEED the BEAR!

Monday, November 26, 2007

NYWC - from the eyes of METZ

National Youth Workers Convention in Atlanta has been blogged about in several places. It has had a thorough going over by those close to it and those from a distance. So my take shall be a bit more personal. When I arrived in Atlanta, I couldn't believe how easy it was to find my hotel. When I found the DAYS INN downtown, I called up my good friend Mike Godfrey. He had already checked us in and was eager to head on over to the Georgia World Congress Center in order to check-in at Youth Specialties and begin perusing the exhibit hall's booths and attractions. The walk is several blocks but worth it because they were charging 20 bucks to park near the GWCC. The exhibit hall is full of well meaning and sometimes over zealous "ministries". They all seem friendly and helpful but it smacks of consumerism and salesmanship. There are several "adventure" missions, urban missions, rural missions, beach missions, hell missions, - you name it they have a way to organize your team to "GO!" There are publishers there, and they are all trying to sell you there Bible study or there curriculum. Some of this is a good thing, in that we get better studies each year as the competition mounts. However, I wonder if these brothers and sisters would do more good if they joined forces. But whatever. We ended up at Jock's and Jill's Sports Bar and Grill near the CNN Center (Excellent pulled pork sandwich). We chatted about sports and things and began casually talking about the Emergent vs emerging debate. We laughed about silly things and reminisced about college days. We ended up staying up too late talking about the past couple of years that we hadn't seen each other.
You have to understand something, Mike and I are the type of friends that pick up as if we haven't been away from each other. We just needed to fill in some blanks. I honestly, laughed harder and longer than I have for some time.
We woke up the next morning eager to see what the day was going to bring. I woke up without the alarm, which if you know me at all is unusual. I woke up thinking about the journey. The word kept rolling over in my mind until I couldn't sleep anymore. I woke up and took a shower and I couldn't get it out of my head. Journey is a big word for me. Ever since I read Alister McGrath's out of print book, the Journey. I identified so well with the book's theme of the Christian's life as a journey. One that we take not alone but together. From the Exodus to the missionary journey's of Paul, I just see our life's journey being lived out with each other and not alone. But, back to Atlanta. Mike and I got dressed realized we were running late and headed off for our morning jaunt to the early break out session. We made it in time for me to run into an old professor of mine. Dr. Allen Jackson, is the professor of Youth Education at NOBTS. I took a class with him at Graceville where I went to college. I could not believe he remembered me. He remembered my situation at the time (I was working at a UMC in Dothan, AL). He remembered that I was struggling with the idea of working at a Methodist church. That was weird. He's a great guy, and actually asked if I was ever going to go to seminary.
Friday, had Andy Stanley at the first General Session with Desperation Band. It was ok, but nothing really earth shaking. Flatfoot 56 could have gone on longer and it would have been a better first general session. The comedians and entertainment was decent but it seemed out of place even at the YS convention.That evening was powerful however. I gained a renewed appreciation for Third Day and Shane Claiborne was outstanding. He nailed an indictment on the wall with his fire breathing, back flip and then reading of the "greatest sermon ever given". I was stirred by Jesus' words - so clear and yet so twisted in our culture. Shane read it in his slow draw that made it seem authentic and genuine. It wasn't Bible for show, it was Bible for Bible's sake. Beautiful and scandalous - Tic Long gave space at the end and actually prayed what I thought - "is this guy 'just' going to read the Bible?" OUCH. Why did I think that? Did he really have something better?

Saturday, I did what they say to do - I stayed in my room and relaxed - for the most part (Andy texted me about him watching the Buckeyes game - he watched the Illinois game with me which we lost). I watched Ohio State boringly kick Michigan's tail. Four straight years of Tressel triumph. It felt good. We were joined by our good friend Billy Poyner. Who livened up the day with his wit and gruff voice. Mike made it back to the room for the second half. This being his first NYWC he actually went to the General Session and breakout time with Studentlife. Of course there was controversy in the General Session with Phyllis Tickle representin'. I wasn't there so I really can't speak of the craziness that people have already jabbered about. But I heard it was no different than the article posted at Out of Ur in March of this year. After a nap, Mike and I headed to the GWCC. This time to meet back up with Billy and to see if I actually had won some CD's (I did).

Mike ended up winning two trips down the Nantahala. Sweet for him. General Session 4 was by far the best for me. Louie preached passionately, Chris Tomlin was at his best and Family Force 5 well, they were Family Force 5. Louie's message hit home for me. The thought that Jesus has brought Peace and yet there is trouble is this wonderful paradox that my life has been soaked in.

Sunday gave us the inspiration of Doug Fields. He spoke on something that you just don't hear about at most youth minister's gatherings but it is a culture that is soaked in it; ENVY (no not Jack Black and Ben Stiller's not so funny comedy of the same name). He delivered a message that challenged and provoked my thinking and had been the theme for some of Mike and I's talks. It was so good I purchased the CD to listen to it again. Doug spoke about Joseph's brother's and Joseph's coat of many colors. How the brother's envied Joseph and their father's love for Joseph. It hit me hard because I had been struggling with all of the ways I feel like I don't measure up and our youth ministry isn't as flashy as some others. It was refreshing to hear a guy like Doug, who has youth pastored with Rick Warren. He said he didn't struggle with Warren's popularity but he struggled with being envious of other youth ministries. He illustrated the whole thing with a coat that he turned inside out to reveal that it was white and he then he spoke of our robes of righteousness that God will give us - that it is about doing your best for Him and not for others. It was a great session for me. David Crowder then lead us in worship. I always feel like I haven't gotten enough Crowder when he does YS. He and the band are so good. He encored with the Fox NFL theme. Which of course led me to desire to go watch my Browns beat the Ravens! It was dramatic with a bizarre field goal by Phil Dawson and then and awesome overtime performance by the Browns. It was a great day.

I spent some time with my friend Dusty and his wife Stephanie. Our other friend B.A. Waters came to dinner with us at this very ritzy southern cooking restaurant. It was weird. I mean, I can get Fried Chicken cheaper and with a much more country style atmosphere than what they offered to us. It was different which is what Dusty likes! We walked to the hotel to get Mike and then strolled to the GWCC for General Session 6. Marquis Laughlin was amazing. One of the camera guys fell down during his performance but was ok. Leeland stole the show. They were brilliant musically and very genuine in there spirituality. Steve Fee lead a worship set. The Skit guys were hilarious.

One thing that stood out about the General Sessions was the sign language interpreters. There was one in particular who helped even those with hearing to worship passionately - she really got into it.

Sunday's last General Session gave us Marko. I have to admit that I went into the weekend skeptical of Marko. He is a board member of Emergent Village. I find myself closer to Mark Driscoll on things about the Emerging Church. But I prayed and asked God to give me a discerning spirit and keep me from a critical one. I was challenged by Marko's talk. It was a good observation of Youth Ministry and I appreciated his insights. Well, we left early to get a head start and Mike and I walked back to our cars reflecting on the weekend and pacing ourselves as to milk as much time as we possibly could. We prayed together and then headed out.

My time with my friend Mike was uplifting and encouraging. It was good to be around him. He has such a wealth of knowledge regarding music and the Word. I believe he is going to have great success in youth ministry. He is passionate and loves Jesus. Mike also knows how to discern his culture and dissect the Scriptures in his life and ministry.

Another good NYWC. It was fun and relaxing. It was challenging and at the same time enjoyable.

LOST in the sickness

I have been sick for about two and a half days. In those two and a half days I have been in and out of consciousness. Kimberly and I have been re-watching LOST Season 2. I rediscovered why I like LOST so much. There was mystery and there was personal connection with the characters. Even the o' so long jaunt with the tailies was fun and adventurous. It was weird watching "Henry" (Ben) lay his weirdness down, when you already know who he is. It made me sad to think that at the end of season 3, our Charlie dies. His role in Season 2 was humorous and fun loving and yet he was dealing with the heroin issue. He was dealing with the loss of relationship with Claire and had some weird dreams. Season 2 brought us closer to Hurley and what makes him so complicated and not just the "fat guy". Hugo is my favorite. He says 'dude' a lot, which I identify with.

Locke is LOST's most intriguing character to me. He is complex and you often come away thinking that you have no idea what he is really going to do next.

I really am sad that this show will not be on until next year, if then due to the writer's strike.

Being sick stinks. I lose track of the time and what day it really is. I fall asleep at random times and I just do not want to get out of bed. But then bed becomes unfriendly and uncomfortable. Coughing and sneezing and wishing I had a Sonic Strawberry Real Fruit slush, I hope to get lots of work done tomorrow on the retreat that is this weekend.

Monday, September 24, 2007

0 Comments and Still Going Strong...

Read some books. And comment on my site. Would it kill ya?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Tent

I have been camping a few times in my life. I have camped in the back yard, I have camped in the forest, I have camped in the woods (which is quite different then the forest) and I have camped in professional camping areas (camp grounds, with electricity hook ups and bathrooms with toilets). I have camped. I have slept in tents, RVs, just the sleeping bag, outside under the stars, with tons of people in one tent and with just me in a tent. As a kid, my cousin and I would drag almost all of his toys out to the backyard tent and try to sleep with the G.I. Joes doing battle all around us.
Sleeping in a tent is fun for a night, maybe even a couple of nights. But soon you begin to feel awkward and dirty. Usually you get sweaty and gross because you can't sleep past sun up. Then there is the fact that you have to keep the rain cover on because you don't want to be caught with out it.

I like camping in a tent. I don't love it. My wife thinks it's the greatest thing since hammocks. But, that is another blog for another day.

The point to all of this is that in the New Testament book of 2 Corinthians, Paul writes this:
Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

The Tent therefore is not a permanent thing. It is not designed for permanency. However, as Paul is so eloquent in pointing out, there are things that are permanent.
Only one life, Twill soon be past;
Only what's done for Christ will last.

Our bodies are made for the Lord and so therefore we must glorify God with our bodies. Yeah, that means me the fat kid needs to pay attention to what I eat. I need to exercise, all of that. But more importantly I need to fill my mind and my heart with the Word of God. With the teachings of Jesus. To have a more abundant life, I need only to spend time with Jesus.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Struggle of Being in a Family

My mom's dad and husband (my grandpa and my step-dad) were both killed in an accident a little over a year ago. That accident changed a lot of people's worlds. Since that accident, Kimberly and I have left Boston, lived in Tennessee, Irving, Texas and now in Madison, Alabama. Beyond geographical locations we have been changing as well. This blog isn't about me though. It is about my Mom. She is lonely. My Mom is 51 and she is alone. She and my sister are not on good terms. Mainly because each wants something from the other without real consideration of the other's feelings. My mom has just recently been calling me and ranting about how no one cares about her. She goes on, very angrily about how her family (I am included) has left her and does not want anything to do with her. She has stated over and over again that a person who says they love her would not leave her the way she is. One problem is that my Mom thinks that she has changed. She thinks that because she has read some books on forgiveness and understands those words she has forgiven. She also, functions out of a need to be right. Now, I admit some of that comes from her very German background but, mostly it comes out of the unredeemed flesh. I am writing all of this because I do not know what to do. My heart longs to make things right for her and with her. My desire is to see her healthy and able to function. However, day after day she keeps doing the same things expecting different results. She doesn't listen, she only talks and if you disagree with her she thinks it is you that has the problem. I want the Lord to change her heart. I desire for Jesus to be real to her. But, I know that I can not be the seed planter. I know that my watering attempts are futile. So, I pray for other laborers. Please, Jesus send my Mom some believers!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


It seems that I am too uptight. I worry too much and I basically don't need to. I guess I am too serious as well. I don't know why. I mean I have fun but it seems like others say I am really distracted and often come across like I don't care by not listening to them. I think all of it stems back to the fact that I am lazy and do not get the things I need to get done, done so I end up worrying needlessly about things that usually aren't that big of a deal. So now I think I will just learn to relax. I am weird, I know.

Relaxing isn't easy when my mind is in 50,000 places. I think about different scenarios in my head on if I say a certain thing to someone, what would be the possible outcomes. Or, if I do this or that I will not be doing this or that and what are the consequences or drawbacks or goodness that can come from things. I am lame, but that is me. And hopefully I am constantly changing and growing and become something else. Hopefully.


Friday, June 22, 2007


I am a consumer. I consume things. I am not much of an artist, a creator, or whatever. I mean I have some creativity. I like to think that I can draw or create some poetry or write but when it comes down to it, I consume. I eat movies. I swallow up music. I buy books and sometimes glance at them on my IKEA bookshelves. I want to make time to give back. I want to write heavy, weighty, and intelligent things, I do. The problem is that I usually just write about internal struggles and the dilemmas I have. Like now, this little observation of myself being frustrated with being a consumer. I think some of it comes from being slothful. My head is full of so many things I want to do. Things in youth ministry and things with the church. Things with my wife and many things that I want to have time to do myself. I get so busy thinking about these things that often times I lock up and don't do anything. It's like I can't focus my mind on tasks and therefore I keep getting frustrated because I don't accomplish the things I want to get done. It's weird. I know, it sounds like I need meds. I don't think I do, I just gotta get things done. Speaking of getting things done, I have to finish watching this movie.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


We are in Madison! Well, we made it. I have been gradually been working at the church getting things set up there and Kimberly is setting up our apartment (again). We are so ready for some rest from moving. It seems like we just got used to Irving and now we are having to re-learn how to find things and build new relationships. We are so excited about that. I don't think the idea has caught up with us. This week has been the down load info week and I am still adjusting.

It is good to be mindful that I don't have to talk to Andy (pastor) about everything all at once. And that our relationship has grown naturally. More to come...

Monday, March 26, 2007

Youth Ministry Redux

To all of you who actually read this. Thanks.

Well, we are back in the grind of latte pouring and tutoring. We had an excellent trip to Madison, AL a town just outside of Huntsville - home of the NASA space camp. We really enjoyed the experience. I wrote about the busy schedule on my myspace blog. I am not going to go into the details of the scheduled visit. I will instead blog about what Kimberly and I are going through.

Ever since we left Boston to help my Mom we have been asking God - "why?" and "what are going to show us now?" Because for us Boston was just as much about the things God was doing in us as much as it was about the things God was doing through us. On this side of Boston and the Church Public and the CCPC and the wonderful friends and the beautiful experience that was a year of our lives - we thank the Father for giving us the gift of ever increasing our faith. In walking the Proverb, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight." When it seemed like our path was crooked or not really fitting our definition of what we thought was "right" Jesus showed us His way.
And even now, living with friends, being humbled by His mercy and knowing what it is to be content in all circumstances we have discovered that we desire to live our lives in passionate pursuit of Jesus. And to live such a life in the midst of teenagers and young adults and adults for that matter for His renown. I am still learning that whether I am at Starbucks or working in a church, that I need to live a life fully submitted to the cause of Jesus and to the will of the Father. I believe that though I am often times a failure at this purpose - I do not lose hope because God is already causing me to love Him even more because of His amazing beauty and majesty.

Why write this?

Well, we have known dark times in the past two years. We have known moments of triumph and the ugliness of sin. the one thing that has remained constant is the grace of Christ in our lives. And it is this grace that continues to beckon me to be in vocational ministry. Being on a church staff seeking to do God's will and to be a servant. Rob Woodrum has always quoted the words of Jesus to me in saying, "no matter what happens, we are still unprofitable servants." I do want to make a difference in young people's lives for the sake of Jesus' name. But it is for His name that I desire to see Him lifted up. As for me and anything that I would consider "mine". I am unprofitable. May Jesus be glorified in all things. May people see and be brought to joy because of it.

With that being said, my hope is not for Kimberly and I to go to Hope Church for the sake of Brian and Kimberly or even the sake of Hope Church. I do hope that no matter what happens that the glory of the Father will fill our hearts and our heads as we continue to trust Him. That if we remain and Hope finds the person God has for them - that our journey with Jesus will be united in the victory of the Son over sin and death at the cross of calvary. If we go to Madison, then I hope that the untamed Son of God will show us His way and lead us to His cross so that we may lift Him high in that place among those people. Jesus be Jesus.

That is my hope.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Jesus Camp

Well, I watched Jesus Camp, a documentary about a Charismatic Kid's Camp in North Dakota. There was a great deal of media buzz about it last year when it opened in select cities across America. And now that it is on DVD and is more widespread people may start talking about it. It's been reviewed positively and negatively, in regards to content. Both Fundamentalist Christians and Leftist Secular Humanists hold it up for their "case".

I want to address some of the content of the movie and some of the "backlash" that this film has generated. As a Evangelical Christian youth pastor, I can relate to some of the statements made by Becky Fischer, the children's minister. She articulates her beliefs passionately in the film.

The directors have claimed that they in now way edited the content to be bias or prop up an agenda of any kind, but I disagree with their claims.

Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady

First, there is an overwhelming sense that a political message is being droned into these kids. Over and over in the film there is a "war" rhetoric that the Christians in the film use. "This means war!", Fischer shouts over and over to her kids at camp. There is a scene in which some kids are doing an interpretive dance presentation in war paint. The kids themselves talk in warrior metaphors and claim that they would gladly die for Jesus. Once or twice it is put into true biblical perspective.
" For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." Ephesians 6:12
There are several scenes in which a political slant is given to all that the camp leaders do. The intent I believe was to focus on the portrayal that religion is evil indoctrination and brainwashing done to children. They allow the audience to view Fischer's statements about Islamic fascists training their children to be suicide bombers as the same as Christian's training their kids at Bible camp. There is a major difference from praying about our leaders, judges and nation, than blowing people up in the name of Allah. Yes there are Christian extremists who bomb abortion clinics, and shoot abortion doctors. But, that is not being taught by mainline Evangelical churches, nor I believe the intention of Fischer and her camp leadership.

There is a lot of speaking in tongues in this movie. There is one scene in which one of the girls is crying and praying and speaking in tongues uncontrollably. There is no way any of the non-Christians watching this film are going to understand that. Speaking in tongues is a hotly debated issue in Evagelicalism. Charismatics let it rip. While others believe that this is a private thing between the believer and God. Speaking in tongues is debated so many places that it's not worth the time here to talk about it. This is a secular film that is freely watched by anyone and I don't think that aspect of worship is going to be understood by unbelievers.

1.a method for systematically changing attitudes or altering beliefs, originated in totalitarian countries, esp. through the use of torture, drugs, or psychological-stress techniques.
2.any method of controlled systematic indoctrination, esp. one based on repetition or confusion: brainwashing by TV commercials. instance of subjecting or being subjected to such techniques: efforts to halt the brainwashing of captive audiences.

The protagonist is a radio talk show host on Air America. Mike Papantonio, host of Ring of Fire, claims to be raised a Christian in the film, but takes an issue with the kid's camp. He has obvious political leanings himself and on a Good Morning America interview comes down on Homeschool Moms who teach their kids that Global Warming is a myth and the earth is only 6,000 years old. Global Warming is something that in the year that the doc was made probably did not have the coverage or information as readily available as it has since An Inconvenient Truth came out. As far as young earth creationism is concerned, well Christians debate that as much as we debate Speaking in Tongues. In Part 2 of the interview, Fischer claims that the Disney company, parent of ABC in which GMA is on, promotes witchcraft and indoctrinates in a more subtle way. It is about the minds of kids. Impressionable kids. Whether kids should feel grief over sin. At one point Papantonio suspects whether or not a five year old knows what sin is or has even commited a sin. In the interview both he and the GMA host, snicker over stealing a cookie from the cookie jar as a five year olds sin. This is obviously the problem with most people. There is no concept of what sin really is. Sin is not something that only makes you feel guilty or shameful. They believe that is is about feeling bad. If something makes you feel bad, then it is sin. If it makes you feel good and isn't hurting anyone then it's not really a sin. One review of the film, says, "I cringed at every tear these children shed for sins they never committed." (Emphasis mine). The truth that Christians cling to and are responsible to teach children is that sin is something that grieves God's heart and does not meet His standard of holiness. His standard - not ours. The "emotional" response then that the children have over repentance in the film is not guilt or sadness. In most cases if they were asked, the children would probably have said that they are weeping because they love God and want to please Him because of His great love for us.

Some claim this film exposes Christian child abuse and manipulation. That Christians are brainwashing kids to follow doctrine. "Brainwashing" carries such a negative context doesn't it. How do we teach at school's without a little "brainwashing"? How do we teach kids to follow common laws without a little "brainwashing"? Thinking for ourselves is something we Westerners hold dear. But, are we really comparing Bible camps to Sudanese militant camps? People are saying that it is no different than to Islamic fundamentalists teaching their kids how to kill in the Jihad. Is it really? I have done several Christian summer camps. I have never experienced a time when we told kids to kill people in the name of Jesus. Quite the contrary happened. We asked kids if they were willing to lay down their lives, literally and symbolically for Jesus. Were they willing to die to share the love and message of Jesus? Because, believe it or not there are people who will kill them for being Christian. And there are aspects of our life that we are to "kill" for Jesus - attitudes and actions that do not glorify Christ in our lives.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

Ad Hominum
There have been several immature reviewers that attack Fischer. Not because they disagree with her message or even her methods. Rather, they have chosen to attack her personally. One message boarder at IMDB writes, "there's a secret footage that explains why she eats so much and why she hates herself so much." It's sad really.

Documentaries recently, have agenda's and have point of views that they are trying to get out. And that comes through in this film. It is easy to see that the film makers had a particular way they wanted the audience to see the material. They gave you the conclusion by showing images that looked extreme and situations taken out of context. Bottom line, they did not want you to come away from this film with a good feeling about Evangelical Christian Kid camps. They led the viewer to believe that political indoctrination was supreme and that loving people was somewhere down on the list. They may have with all good intentions desired to show an unbiased look at "Evangelicalism". There is no mention in the film that Fischer and her bible camp have a charismatic slant. For those unfamiliar with Christianity they will undoubtedly come away from this film shocked and dismayed. Quite frankly, those Christians that do not "speak in tongues" this film will be a little weird. It all reminded me of Bowling For Columbine, how Michael Moore lays out his America's afraid and the government is keeping us that way opinion. And then he rode it all through the film. This little doc does the same thing - "Evangelicals" are indoctrinating their kids in religious right wing politics and they ride it all the way through the film. Fischer's passionate speeches are edited in such a way that the viewer has to come away with a feeling that she is a crazy radical brainwashing child abuser, especially if the viewer has no idea what any of the Christian rhetoric is about.

Watch Jesus Camp and think about it's content.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

There is a light up ahead.


I hope that in the up coming months there will be clear direction on where this life is sailing us. Pray for me. Ask the Lord to make me lean on Him and thus make my path straight.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Discipline of Grace

Preaching the Gospel to myself.

Taking off the poser mask and realizing "I am Not, but I know I AM".

Well, I have been reading "The Disciplines of Grace" by Jerry Bridges. He is one of my favorite authors on holiness, grace and the pursuit there of. I am confident of one thing: Jesus died for me. Yeah, I know - "Wow how cliche. Maybe we ought to put that in a CCM song or perhaps on a Christian T-shirt." I can hear the moans of, "is he still on this?"
Yes. I am still on this. This, being: Jesus died for me. I mean He freed me. I really get it. Mr. Bridges is bringing back to my mind the good thought patterns that I am a man in need of the Gospel and the Gospel is GOOD NEWS. REALLY GOOD NEWS. Focusing, meditating this new year solely on that one thing: Jesus paid it all. Done. Finished. And I am crucified with Christ so it is no longer I who live but it is Christ who lives in me. I have been walking around touting on and on about Faith Alone and I myself wasn't smoking what I was selling. I mean I believed it, but I did not own it and live it. I did not walk in the Truth of the Lord Jesus' penal substitutionary atonement to release me from the grasp of sin. The enemy doesn't want me to think about it. My flesh certainly does not want me to write about it. To tell the world that Jesus set me free.
Two Sundays ago, Kim and I visited Deliverance Bible Church in Hurst, TX. It's a church for punks and outsiders. The kind of church that adults wouldn't appreciate and the "in" Christian kids would feel uncomfortable attending. The pastor, gave a message about forgiving sin and then confessed some sin that he has been dealing with. He then invited anyone who wanted to confess to the church their sins, to come up front and well, confess. The line formed immediately. Intentions and motivations aside, the Holy Spirit moved the people to come. Some didn't get it. Others, sold out to the idea of sensing the freedom from just being naked in front of everyone with everything exposed (not literally of course). My heart was pounding in my chest. I was conflicted - do I go confess? Or do I sit here too afraid of what my motivation might be. Meanwhile, others were confessing their deep dark hearts. Liars, lustful men and women, thieves, perverts, homosexuals, junkies, addicts, idolaters, God-haters, murderers, everyone had a representative. My sin was now fearing man. I was afraid of what others would think. Even though almost everyone got up and confessed something. As I sat there I prayed, God make my intentions and motivation pure, no pride and no fear. And of course the Lord was gracious to answer. When I got to the front where the mic was, I was still afraid and tried to be humorous to make up for it. I wasn't afraid of being in front of people, I was afraid of what was going to come out of my mouth.
Like a movie of the past couple of months, I shared how I didn't trust God. I went on about how I envied other pastors and worried profusely about being in a position. I confessed that I had been angry at my wife - not because of something she had done, but just that I was angry with her. I was frustrated and wasn't following Christ with all of me. I was prideful and arrogant and I had to confess that too. I confessed to loving sleep over loving the Word.

As I went to set down, I knew I was in good company when others looked me in the eye and nodded the "I've been there, bro. Keep running." I didn't see thee before mentioned "sinners", I saw saints who feared God and loved Him. Disciples seeking the Rabbi, Jesus. And He was eager to be found. When we got in the car Kimberly confessed somethings to me. It was the first time in awhile I didn't get angry or resentful. And that is because some healing took place in my heart. Grace came in. Jesus showed Himself marvelous again. Just like Jesus.

So being disciplined by Grace - I am learning (again) - is a sign that I am in Christ. That He abides with me and I abide in Him.

Jesus is still setting me free and Jesus has set me free. Sweet.

Thank God for the book of Romans and for the apostle Paul.

More later.

My friend Bradley

Check out this ingenious fellow. His name is Bradley and he is HILARIOUS.