Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Office Rolls On...

I'm not sure how many of you are actually getting some dynamite enjoyment out of reading these, but I'll tell you...with all the twists and complications of The Michael Scott Paper Company, I don't know what to believe anymore. So, for the moment, I'm resting in the daily funnies of my 2009 calendar. Enjoy!

April 9 - "All right, let me ask you this. Tell me if you think this is creative. When I was five, I imagined that there was such a thing as a unicorn. And this is before I even heard of one or seen one. I just drew a picture of a horse that could fly over rainbows and had a huge spike in its head. I was five, five years old...couldn't even talk yet." (Michael)

April 10 - "I keep various weaponry strategically placed around the office. I saved Jim's life with a can of pepper spray I had velcroed under my desk." (Dwight)

April 13 - "A woman shouldn't have to be hit by a car to learn that she might have rabies. But that is where we are in America and that does not sit right with me. And that's why I am hosting a fun race for the cure of rabies. To raise awareness of the fact that there is a cure for rabies. A disease that has largely been eradicated in the United States but not many people know that. (Michael)

April 14 - "[Monopoly] is nuts. Nobody just picks up 'get out of jail free' cards. Those things cost thousands." (Creed)

April 15 - "Ryan thinks that technology is the answer. Well guess what? I just drove my car into a lake...Why, you might ask, did I do this? Well, because of a machine. A machine told me to drive into a lake and I did it. I did it because I trusted Ryan's precious technology, and look where it got me." (Michael)

April 16 - "When I was younger, I always wanted to be an actor in commercials. Then I realized I had a brain." (Oscar)

April 17 - "You cannot take the hilarious black guy from the office. Stanley is a part of what makes the office so extraordinary. The bluesy wisdom. The sassy remarks. The crossword puzzles, his smile, those big watery red eyes. I don't know how George Bush did it when Colin Powell left." (Michael)

April 19 - "Every time Michael's in a meeting, he makes me come in and give him a Post-it note telling him who is on the phone. I did it once, and he freaked out, he loved it so much. The thing is, he doesn't get that many calls, so he has me make them up every ten minutes." (Pam)

April 20 - "What am I doing? I am blowing Dodge. I'm getting out of town. Whatever you call it, I am running away from my responsibilities. It feels good." (Michael)

April 21 - "I know you are probably scared of people seeing your fat legs in shorts...Well, back in olden times, a large, fat person, like this, was a person of power, a person who had money and could buy food. A person of respect like the regional manager of the day." (Michael, to Kevin)

April 23 - "I'm excited about doing the ad, but I'm not really used to doing videos with so many people around." (Meredith)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Applauding vs. Obsessing

You know, one of the things I've noticed in ministry and the interconnectedness of churches is a struggle with cheering someone else's success, wanting to duplicate it, and literally being envious of it. I see this played out here in my own city as the church where I serve is smack in the middle between 2 of the largest growing Evangelical churches in America. They, along with others in the area, both have great TV telecasts, multiple Campuses, and occasionally the traveling worship/meeting experience. Oh, and did I mention the larger than life pastors/preachers/evangelists which lead these bodies of Christ?

I've decided it's truly a humbling, daunting, and IMPOSSIBLE task to try and keep up with what these churches are doing in ministry, innovation, and advancing of the Gospel. Don't get me wrong, that in NO WAY allows for laziness and defeat when it comes to getting after in your faith, ministry, and service to others. I absolutely love creativity, clever implementation, and fresh ideas. But I guess what's a little weird is when you're at conferences or just in conversations with folks and it's as though they're obsessed with what THIS church or THAT church is doing next. There's an air of jealousy, a longing for replication, and a muted sadness that THOSE things aren't going on in their current church.

God gave me some PEACE about this recently. And it came in the form of "Spring Cleaning" and my sweet wife's initiative to sort through some of our old/nasty keepsakes in the church's nursery. The goal of each church is not to keep up with each other, or replicate programs/ideas, or compete with anyone else for the same's not about what's the "best" or the "nice-est"or the "coolest." Rather, when churches achieve great things for the Kingdom, when they offer unique services to specific folks, when they embrace the unique niche in the broad scale of being Jesus' hands and feet, and when God blesses them in various ways...GREAT!!! Let's applaud and celebrate what God is doing and how He's choosing to go about it.

And I'm starting to believe and understand that God opens our eyes to how He's working in other places so we can embrace the very difficult statement: "We can be better, we can do better." This simple and haunting phrase strikes me at my core, and it's got nothing to do with guilt on what I am not yet or where I am lacking. I'm actually refreshed and challenged and inspired to "get after it" for Jesus when I get snapshots of God's goodness to other places...and it's not manipulative or something, like I want Him to bless my place in the same way. I'd like to think my motives are purer than that. Rather, it's a faith step and a piece of humble pie and a realigning of my life to the way of Christ. There's no cut-n-paste formula to it.

May you applaud what God is doing at your church. May you embrace this idea of cheering for other churches as they strive to advance the Gospel in the same ways you are. May we wish the body of Christ success in all its many endeavours. And may we all learn something along the way as we walk with our Father who loves us.

Monday, April 6, 2009

My target audience

The Children's Bible in a Nutshell

In the beginning, which occurred near the start, there was nothing but God, darkness, and some gas. The Bible says, 'The Lord thy God is one, but I think He must be a lot older than that.

Anyway, God said, 'Give me a light!' and someone did.

Then God made the world.He split the Adam and made Eve. Adam and Eve were naked, but they weren't embarrassed because mirrors hadn't been invented yet.

Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating one bad apple, so they were driven from the Garden of Eden....Not sure what they were driven in though, because they didn't have cars.

Adam and Eve had a son, Cain, who hated his brother as long as he was Abel.

Pretty soon all of the early people died off, except for Methuselah, who lived to be like a million or something.

One of the next important people was Noah, who was a good guy, but one of his kids was kind of a Ham. Noah built a large boat and put his family and some animals on it. He asked some other people to join him, but they said they would have to take a rain check.

After Noah came Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jacob was more famous than his brother, Esau, because Esau sold Jacob his birthmark in exchange for some pot roast Jacob had a son named Joseph who wore a really loud sports coat.

Another important Bible guy is Moses, whose real name was Charlton Heston. Moses led the Israel Lights out of Egypt and away from the evil Pharaoh after God sent ten plagues on Pharaoh's people. These plagues included frogs, mice, lice, bowels, and no cable.

God fed the Israel Lights every day with manicotti. Then he gave them His Top Ten Commandments. These include: don't lie, cheat, smoke, dance, or covet your neighbor's stuff.Oh, yeah, I just thought of one more: Humor thy father and thy mother.

One of Moses' best helpers was Joshua who was the first Bible guy to use spies. Joshua fought the battle of Geritol and the fence fell over on the town.

After Joshua came David. He got to be king by killing a giant with a slingshot. He had a son named Solomon who had about 300 wives and 500 porcupines. My teacher says he was wise, but that doesn't sound very wise to me.

After Solomon there were a bunch of major league prophets. One of these was Jonah, who was swallowed by a big whale and then barfed up on the shore.

There were also some minor league prophets, but I guess we don't have to worry about them.

After the Old Testament came the New Testament. Jesus is the star of The New. He was born in Bethlehem in a barn. (I wish I had beenborn in a barn too, because my mom is always saying to me, 'Close the door! Were you born in a barn?' It would be nice to say, 'As a matter of fact, I was.')

During His life, Jesus had many arguments with sinners like the Pharisees and the Democrats.

Jesus also had twelve opossums.The worst one was Judas Asparagus. Judas was so evil that they named a terrible vegetable after him.

Jesus was a great man. He healed many leopards and even preached to some Germans on the Mount.

But the Democrats and all those guys put Jesus on trial before Pontius the Pilot. Pilot didn't stick up for Jesus. He just washed his hands instead.

Anyways, Jesus died for our sins, then came back to life again. He went up to Heaven but will be back at the end of the Aluminum. His return is foretold in the book of Revolution.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Office meets Shiloh

I'm so disappointed in what's going on with The Office right now. I mean, are they trying to frustrate people with the possibility of Michael Scott no longer being apart of the show? Ri-dunk-ulous. In lieu of the absence of quotable stuff, here is the usual selection of goodies, followed by a few contributions from my ever-growing daughter. Enjoy yourself and live well.

March 24 - "I know a lot of you are very upset with me for endangering Meredith's life by hitting her with my car. But it may make you feel a little bit better to know that before that happened, Dwight endangered her life by putting a garbage bag over her head with a bat in it...Turns out, Meredith has been exposed to rabies, which is like ten times worse than a little crack in your pelvis. Thanks to me, she went to the hospital and I saved her life." (Michael)

March 25 - "Oh yes, I will work out today. I will work out a way to avoid running for a stupid cause." (Stanley)

March 27 - "You people need to educate yourselves. Myth: Three Americans every year die from rabies. Fact: Four Americans die every year from rabies. How many of you know someone who has been afflicted or affected by rabies? Show of hands. One, two, three...too many to count. It is truly the silent killer. No, it is the foaming, barking killer." (Michael)

March 29 - "You know, I just realized, this is Pam's and my first night away together...I used to play it over in my head and it was just a little bit different. Maybe a nice hotel. Or a romantic dinner...Wine. But wine that wasn't made out of beets. Didn't think Dwight would be involved at all. (Jim)

March 30 - "Because you know what they say in the Bible about forgiveness? Forgiveness is next to Godliness." (Michael)

March 31 - OSCAR: "Michael, this is a presentation tool." MICHAEL: "You're a presentation tool if you think I'm going to tell Jan about this."

April 1 - "I kind of know what it's like to be in commercials. My nickname in high school used to be 'Kool-Aid Man.'" (Kevin)

April 3 - "Is there a God? If not, what are all these churches for? And who is Jesus's dad?" (Michael)


-"Daddy, I don't want to marry some boy one day. I want to marry Deacon!"
-"Mom, the checkbook is SOOO cool! You want to give it to me?"
-"Look at your mustache, Daddy..."*
-"Daddy, you have flies on your face."*
*after 1.5 days of not shaving...unbelievable!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Asking vs. Convincing

I was listening to an ESPN Sports Talk Radio Show the other morning, and the host was talking about the differences in recruiting and hiring among colleges and various sports organizations. The best way I could summarize all this discussion is this: if you're important, if your program and tradition has an aura about it, then you'll never have to convince someone to play for attend your join your company. All you do is ask. Your position is one of confidence, security, comfort, and foundation. People want to be a part of what you're all about.

The flip side of that coin is the convincing part. This sportscaster suggested that every other group who's not steeped in tradition, mystique, heritage, and prominence has to convince folks to be join up with them. It's like they're not good enough and they know it, but they don't necessarily want you to be made aware of that. So, you dress it up, you schmooze, you over-hype, you make unrealistic promises, and cast impossible dreams/goals. You see where this is going, yes? I haven't even attacked the notion that depending on loyalties and how you grew up, your perspective and opinion will be compromised. But what does that have to do with Jesus and the Gospel?

Jesus is not a "convincer." Jesus is an "asker." His message, His roots, His Lordship, His Heaven, His grace; it speaks for itself. There's no reason to try and dress it up, although if it's going to be done, sadly I suspect it's done by us! What would His Church look like if we asked more and convinced less? The deep-down, dark reality is that we've got to embrace His grace-filled life and way of living as enough--no additives or special upgrades needed.

May we commit to ask Jesus for all we need, and may we be receptive to the things the Holy Spirit asks of us. May we not need convincing. And God help us with the most basic of human communication for our world around us--meeting their needs, listening to their pain, encouraging their souls, pointing them to Jesus' salvation. MAY WE ASK.