Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My Apologies

Sorry I haven't been blogging lately. For those that don't know, Lorie and I moved last week and that has taken up the bulk of our time (not to mention finding the things we need in boxes, so much fun). Add to that our Real World Retreat next week, preaching next Sunday and the pumpkin patch and I'm a little behind, so next week I should be back on blogging.

Thanks for your patience!


Monday, October 19, 2009

Lessons From Cooking - Part 3

Sorry it's been a few days. Moving + pumpkins = no time...

Anyway, another lesson from cooking. Do it right the first time.

I know that can't always happen, mistakes are just part of living life, but there are times where we choose the cheap/easy/quick path instead of taking the time to do things properly the first time.

The problem with doing that with cooking, generally there are no second chances, either you don't have time to start all over or you don't have extra of every single ingredient. Instead of skimping on an ingredient thinking it's not important then having a bland meal later (or worse, whatever it was sprinkled on top), why not just do it right the first time?

It's kind of like the last one, follow directions, but anyone can follow directions and still do a sloppy job. If we do it right the first time, try our best at least, it makes things go much smoother.

I was reading this morning from a guy who was re-doing his house. This guy is a park planner so he knows about making sure everything is thought of and taken care of. When he got to remodelling part of the house the contractor not only gave him a quote, he gave him a discount! Why? Because he had already thought of everything and had the plan done. The contractor told him stories about people who have a "rough idea" then in the midst of the construction change their mind or try something different (and those same people can't understand why the cost of their project is higher than originally anticipated).

So instead of doing things so-so then trying to do them well after, or worse yet, fix it, just do things right the first time. It works way better in cooking, trust me (I've made a few mistakes).


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Lessons From Cooking - Part 2

Another valuable life and faith lesson from the Food Network:

Follow directions.

This weekend my brother-in-law Steve and I were doing work around the house, and he made the joke that real men don't use directions. That was until we couldn't get the microwave to fit or the water to the fridge, the wiring for the fan to work, etc. Usually, if for any reason you are given directions, they probably have a purpose.

Cooking is all about directions. Add the right things at the right time in the right amount then cook for the right period of time at the right temperature. If any one of those is off, forget it. You get burnt mush (trust me, I know).

God has given us directions for life. Not just general good ideas, directions. When I'm cooking and it says to add more milk than I usually do for mashed potatoes (which happened the other day), I can either look at that as a suggestion, or as you need to do it even though it doesn't make sense because someone smarter than you wrote it down. Luckily I did it, even though I didn't understand why until 40 minutes later. With the Bible, the rules for living are not suggestions. If you do them, life turns out better because Someone wiser wrote it down for us. He made the recipe for a good life.

There's a verse in Joshua I hear all the time about reading your Bible. But so many people skip the second part:

Always remember what is written in the Book of the Teachings. Study it day and night to be sure to obey everything that is written there. If you do this, you will be wise and successful in everything. ~ Joshua 1:8 (NCV)

We are to study the Bible why? To do what is written in it!

You don't have to follow the directions, but if you don't, be ready to eat some burnt mush...


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Lessons From Cooking - Part 1

A little while ago Lorie and I moved out of the dark ages and upgraded from our rabbit ears for the TV. Since then one of our favorite networks has been the Food Network. I don't know who likes it more, me, or Lorie because it gets me to cook. But in watching I've learned a few things I wish more people would get about their faith. Like:

A little goes a long way.

I know I've been harping on this for such a long time, but if people would realize just doing a little would help out so much, I think we would be doing more. Like in Hope Lives, our sermon series on World Poverty we just finished, if all the first world people would give $10, world poverty would be gone.

Well, in watching cooking I've noticed how just a little bit makes a big difference. A little bit of a certain spice. A little less water. Hey, even doing the little things like taking an extra 20 seconds to make a nice design on top of a cake, that little bit goes a long way.

It's the same way with God. A little can go a long way. Do things a little better, a little more prayer, a little more time with God, a little bit more patience, just a little bit can make a huge difference.

Jesus understood this. After all, you only need a little bit of yeast to make bread rise. As long as it permeates the dough...

“The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and hid in a large tub of flour until it made all the dough rise.” ~ Jesus (Matthew 13:33, NCV)


Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Dogma Breeds Extremism

It's a quote I read today from Pete McGrath, one of the people in charge of show quality standards at Disneyland Paris (what, you don't read books about French theme parks?) Anyway he was talking about how he builds a show for Disney and how flexibility is most important. Without flexibility, you get stuck in doing things the way they've always been done. He even balances it out by saying "One can have extreme thoughts and inspirations if they are tempered with flexibility."

I don't think he was using the term Dogma in a religious sense. The term can also mean "a settled or established opinion, belief or principle." But I think too often we've turned that into religion. Religion sometimes seems to be more about doing it the way it's always been done, not about new and fresh ways to convey the same (or sometimes extreme) message.

Yes new is harder, different, and involves change, all things people say they hate. But generally, once started, it's amazing how often someone finds out there is an easier, better way once they break from the old mold.

So what do you need to do differently to still discover the same God and convey the same message that He loves you to someone?


Monday, October 05, 2009

If Dan Brown Had A Youth Pastor...

Dan Brown is the guy who wrote "The Da Vinci Code" and all sorts of other fiction that for some reason causes people to think the Bible isn't true (I mean, after all, if someone writes a fictitious story that goes against the Bible, we should question the Bible and believe the fiction, right?). Anyway, this is a quote from Brown talking to Parade Magazine about how he gravitated away from God.

I was raised Episcopalian, and I was very religious as a kid. Then, in eighth or ninth grade, I studied astronomy, cosmology, and the origins of the universe. I remember saying to a minister, "I don't get it. I read a book that said there was an explosion known as the Big Bang, but here it says God created heaven and Earth and the animals in seven days. Which is right?" Unfortunately, the response I got was, "Nice boys don't ask that question." A light went off, and I said, "The Bible doesn't make sense. Science makes much more sense to me." And I just gravitated away from religion.

Now the questions about creation versus evolution will go on and on simply because we don't know enough about either one (trust me, for some reason it seems that's all I read about the past year), but look at how old Brown was and who he was asking. An eighth/ninth grader asking a pastor who apparently didn't seem to care that much...

I don't know. Maybe youth pastors around the world are inspiring people like Dan Brown to be people who help others embrace Jesus rather than question Him. Food for thought.


Saturday, October 03, 2009

Faith Can Be Unstoppable

For a while the NHL has been doing commercials showing teams and their players asking the question "Is this the year?" This year there's a new one.

The tagline is what caught me. "Faith can be unstoppable." It's amazing to me how a sports ad agency gets it, but we seem to struggle with that idea in the church. After all, we should have more faith than anyone, and the Source of our faith is greater than anything. So if that's true, what's stopping us?

I know you know it...

"I assure you, even if you had faith as small as a mustard seed you could say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it would move. Nothing would be impossible." ~ Jesus (Matthew 17:20, NLT)