The President Writes Back!


Since this is the President George H.W. Bush week, I thought I’d re-post this.

He and Barbara have done some things for the Children’s Cancer Research Foundation. Since the proceeds from Bizarre Bible Stories 2! go to the CCRF, I sent them a book.

But he wrote back, and that I think, is really cool.

I’d vote for him now!



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Holy Sexuality Batman!

HolyMarriageTitleToday Jon, my awesome son-in-law, and i started a 3-week series called Holy Sexuality. Our topic today was Holy Marriage.

His better be.

The next two weeks – if i don’t get fired – will be Holy Relationships and Holy Response.

I thought it would be fun and helpful to post some of the thoughts on my personal blog. Maybe a healthy conversation can result. I’ll put my church blog about the topic below, then a few slides from the sermon below that. The sermons should get uploaded here.

OK – now for the blog and the slides.

In 2008, when then candidate Obama was interviewed by Pastor Rick Warren; he said he believed marriage was “between a man and a woman. I am not in favor of gay marriage.” He added that, as a Christian, he believed marriage was a “sacred union – God’s in the mix.”

But opinions change, and other’s opinions become taboo.

Sexuality isn’t a subject covered often in the Bible. That doesn’t mean it isn’t in there, it just isn’t the focus of Scripture. You won’t find much on homosexuality or incest or even if courting will save you from the horrors of dating. However, there is a LOT of information on holiness. This Sunday, we’re launching into a 3-week series on Holy Sexuality: Holy Marriage. Holy Relationships. Holy Response.

It’s my contention that candidate Obama was correct. Marriage is a sacred union. God is in the mix. It’s purpose is to bring God’s culture to earth. You can have a heterosexual marriage, you may have a Christian marriage – and not have a Holy Marriage.

So, come this Sunday for the beginning of a conversation. Holy Sexuality should never become taboo.




My Top 6 Pastoral KID Pet Peeves

A response from my daughter after i wrote My Top Five Pastoral Pet Peeves.

Since I’m both a pastor and a pastor’s kid, i’m really peeved. Enjoy.


My dad wrote a blog, “My Top 5 Pastoral Pet Peeves.” He thinks his life as a pastor is so difficult. Whiner. The real ones suffering are the children.  MY blog has not 5 but 6 pet peeves. Here’s what it’s like growing up as a pastor’s kid.

1.You are THE Candidate!
For Out Loud Prayer and Bible Fact Regurgitation.

The pastor’s kid is the perfect person in a Sunday school teacher’s moment of panic. The group maybe dead but if you have a PK, apparently you’re golden.

No one willing to open in prayer? The pastor’s kid will. Mine usually went something like, “Thank you, Jesus for this day’men.”
No one was listening to the questions about Corinthians? The pastor’s kid should know.

And I usually didn’t.

Anyone else remember Sword Drills? It’s a “game” where you race to see who can find the book, chapter and verse fastest. I never won, but by the…

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The Stinky Visitors

shepherdI was wanting to do about 5 Bizarre Christmas Bible Stories. So – i started working on one. My first drafts are pretty rough, so if you have suggestions send them on. If you can read it to a kid and send their suggestions, even better!

The Stinky Visitors
The Passage: Luke 2:8-18

If God told you He was going to meet you for lunch tomorrow, how would you prepare? What would you wear? Would you take a bath that morning? Would you read your Bible?

Let’s go back in time and listen in on a shepherds’ conversation. Oliver is a shepherd’s apprentice, and Emerson is his big brother. They should be asleep, but the ground is cold and hard this night, so they are sitting up talking.

“So Oliver, it’s almost the end of your first year of being an apprentice. You will be ready to work alone soon. What do you think? How do you like being a shepherd?”
“I don’t. It stinks out here. We don’t make much money, and people make fun of us.”
“Wow, you woke up on the wrong side of the sheep pen. I had no idea. You do know this is one of the most prestigious jobs in history!”
“Right. I bet all those people in Bethlehem are jealous of us. We get to sleep on rocks while they have to sleep in comfy beds.”
Emerson felt awful. He really wanted his brother to enjoy being a shepherd like he did, and his father before him. So, he decided to give Oliver a little Bible lesson.
“I’m curious Oliver, do you know what Abraham’s job was – Abraham from the book of Genesis? Go ahead you can say it.”
“A shepherd.”
“Right, and he was rich! And Isaac, what did he do?
“Yeah, I know, he was a shepherd too.”
“Right. And his son Jacob, what did he and Rachel do?”
“OK, I get it, they watched sheep. Big deal.”
“But it doesn’t end there, how about Jacob’s 12 sons? Shepherds, every one of them. And who was the greatest leader Israel ever had? Moses. What made him so great? Not growing up as some rich mansy pansy Egyptian wimp. Nope, it took God forty years of having him work as a shepherd to make a man out of him. And – see if you know this one – who was the greatest King who ever lived?”
“Well, Solomon was the wisest, but I like David best.”
“David, you bet. He is the one who put the kingdom together. And what was his first occupation? A shepherd. We were the best, the top of the social ladder – rich, rugged and important.”
“Right Emerson, I know all those stories – well most of them – but being a shepherd isn’t fun anymore. It’s been 1000 years since David was king. Now someone else owns the sheep, and we are stuck out here homeless, living outside, no chance for an education or a future. What’s so great about that?”
Emerson was stuck. It had been 1000 years since David was king. Rich people in Jerusalem did own the sheep – the shepherds just managed the sheep for the owners. Oliver was starting to wonder what he liked about being a shepherd, and then he remembered.
“Sure, we’re homeless, but no one can tell us what to do. We have the tower of Eder to take refuge in, used for over a thousand years! We get to wrap up the new lambs there in swaddling clothes to make sure they stay spotless for Temple sacrifices, and lay them in the mangers until they calm down. Of course, we also have the sweet smell of sheep, uh, droppings.
I’ll admit, our language is a little rough, just because those city slickers don’t have the guts to say what they really mean. And we’re not all thieves either. Just because we get convicted for every theft in town doesn’t mean we’re guilty of ‘em. If they paid us what our sheep were worth, we wouldn’t have to steal so much! It’s their fault. Idiots, unfair jerks – let me tell you what I really think!”
“Sorry. It’s hard for an old shepherd to watch his language. Anyway, I like having no boss looking over my shoulder, paying no taxes. . . “
“That’s because we have no money to pay taxes with!”
“Well, I love sleeping out under the stars.”
“That’s because we have no house to go to!”
“OK then, at least we don’t have to go to church.”
“Right – that’s because they wouldn’t let us in the Temple if we wanted in!”
“So tell me Oliver, little shepherd, what would you rather do?”
“You don’t want to be a shepherd? Why? How can you say that? What’s bothering you little brother?”
“OK, here’s the truth. I hate sheep. Roman warhorses are cool. Dogs can herd sheep. Cats can catch mice. What good are sheep? They continually get lost, they will eat themselves sick, they stink, they’re stubborn, and they’re dumb enough to follow each other off a cliff.”
“Well, there’s that. I just always figured it was job security, them being too dumb and stubborn to make it on their own. They need a shepherd to feed and protect them. Then they are OK!”
“No, then they still stink.”
“Mercy, you’re a hard case. Yes, sheep will always stink. Nothing we can do about that. Once you’re my age though, you get to appreciate the smell. It’s an acquired taste – like coffee and dirty socks. A shepherd has to get down and dirty with his sheep. He has to love them and hold them – dirt, blood, manure and all.
So you don’t like sheep. We can deal with that. Any other reason you don’t wanna be a shepherd?”
“Yeah, there is. Don’t laugh at me Emerson, but I’d like to go to the Temple. Just once, I’d like to be able to worship with everyone else. You remember bringing the lambs to Passover last spring, don’t you? That priest was such a jerk. All we asked to do was to go into the Temple outer courts after selling him the lambs. ‘Oh no, I couldn’t let you do that,’ he whined, ‘you shepherds are unclean. All of you are. God would be furious if I let your kind into the Temple. God is pure, and you people are unclean! You can’t come into the presence of God.’ I’ll never forget him telling us that.”
“Right – but do you remember what I did then? ‘You’re dirty too!’ I shouted, and slapped him in the face. He couldn’t enter the temple for the entire Passover season because he was touched by an ‘unclean shepherd.’ Pompous idiot. It served him right.”
“Yeah, that was great! But, I’d still like to worship – I’d like to see what the Temple looks like on the inside – to smell the incense and hear the music.”
“You’re right, being a shepherd makes us outcasts. Maybe the priest was right too, maybe we’re not good enough to come to God. But when you’re out here, under the stars, it seems as if God has already come to us. Maybe we’re as close to God here as we would be at the Temple. Our prophet Isaiah says that God knows how many stars there are, and He has named every one of them. I use to count the stars at night, and I think there’s at least 300 of them! If God cares about stars, maybe He cares about shepherds too.
There’s another thing shepherds get that priests don’t. We get the stars, and we get the angels. The priests think they are so special, but the angels came to us! You remember, don’t you? We were camping by the Tower of Edar, by Bethlehem. We found that baby in the bottom of the tower. He was wrapped up in priests underwear, just like we wrap up the lambs so they can be a spotless sacrifice at the Temple. Tell me what you remember.”
[Genesis 35:19-31 the tower, “Mig-dal Ay-dar” in Hebrew, was there at the time of Jacob. From Micah 4:8 and 5:2-5, it seems this was the likely birthplace of Jesus. This view has come and gone, revived by Alfred Edersheim in The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, chapter 6. Edersheim also talks about the swaddling clothes. Priests would donate their undergarments after the feast days to the poor, who would use them as swaddling clothes. Shepherds would wrap up the lambs that were bred for the Temple sacrifices in the free garments to make sure they stayed “without blemish.” Since Jerusalem was only 4 miles away from Bethlehem, and since this area was used to raise temple lambs, it seems likely that Jesus, our High Priest was wrapped up in discarded priests undergarments as an infant.]
“Well, that night we were in the fields outside the village, guarding our flocks of sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among us. God’s glory blazed around us. We were terrified.
But the angel reassured us. ‘Don’t be afraid!’ he said. ‘I bring you good news of great joy for everyone! A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. And this is how you will recognize him: You will find a baby lying in a manger, wrapped snuggly in strips of cloth!’
Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God: ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to all whom God favors.’
When the angels had returned to heaven, we said to each other, ‘Come on, let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this wonderful thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’
We ran to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. We told everyone we met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard our story were astonished!” [Adapted from Luke 8:8-18]

What do you think it would have been like to be there that night? To see Mary and Joseph? To see Jesus?

Emerson was amazed. “Wow Oliver, you are a terrific story teller. You should wrote that down!”
“Nah, it would never sell”
“What I remember best is kneeling down next to that manger. I felt closer to God there then I’ve ever felt before, even out here under these stars. You see, when I’m out here, I know God is out there somewhere. But kneeling by the manger – it was like God was down here, with us, right inside that little kid. Then – you must remember Mary offering for you to hold her baby, and He reached out to you? It was as if He loved you, sheep stink and all. That Priest, he wouldn’t let us touch him, but this Baby, He reached right into your heart.”
Oliver looked down. The hardest thing ever for him to do was to admit his older brother might be right. But he was getting sleepy now – sleepy enough to crash on cold rocks. So he admitted, “Sometimes, you’re right. As much as I’d like to worship in the Temple, I wouldn’t change that one night for a lifetime of temple worship. And it didn’t end when we left the manger. Do you remember telling everyone we saw about the angels and the baby? That was cool. I can’t imagine anything being as exciting as telling someone else that you have met the Messiah! Can you imagine knowing Jesus and not telling others about Him? Now that would be insane. Even shepherds know better than that.”
“I’ve one more thought for you Oliver, before you give up being a shepherd. That night the angel said, ‘Unto YOU a savior is born.’ This baby with God inside didn’t come to some smart mouth pompous priest. The angels didn’t go to the Temple, or to Herod or Caesar. They didn’t even go to the closest Rabbi. They came to us. Maybe God doesn’t see us as unclean. Maybe God our Shepherd loves us in spite of our dirt.
So, What Should I Do?
Don’t argue with your big brother – he will almost always win anyway.
Don’t slap a priest. They sometimes slap back.
Don’t ever let your sin keep you separated from God. Turn from it and go to God, He can handle it.
Where Else Is This Taught?
The Lord is my shepherd; I have everything I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the dark valley of death, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You welcome me as a guest, anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever. [Psalms 23:1-6]
The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” [1 Samuel 16:7]
Jesus said: “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep.” [John 10:14-15] 

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My Top 5 Pastoral Pet Peeves

Pet-P-Toilet-RollHere are my top 5 Pet Peeves. Any you would want to add?

#5 Slogans
I’m talking church marque signs. And bumper stickers. And matching mission team t-shirts. I once saw a team in a Florida airport heading to Haiti with shirts boldly declaring, “WE HELP THE POOR.” The shirts were complete with a Haitian map so all the Haitians would know they were talking about them.

Can you imagine Jesus writing, “I Help the Poor” in the sand? Or “Choose the Bread of Life or You Are Toast,” or “Prevent Truth Decay, Brush Up On Your Bible,” or “Why Pay for GPS, Jesus Gives Directions for Free.” It’s embarrassing.

And to think – we could be posting Scripture.

Or posting nothing.

And wearing normal t-shirts.

Or wearing – skip that.
#4 Blindsided Before Church
I made the jump from Youth Pastor to Interim Pastor when our Senior Pastor left. It was one of my first Sundays in that role, and I was preaching. I was walking up to the front of the church during the prelude, as someone pulled me aside. Then they unloaded.

“I hate to bother you with this, but Buddy just said they are leaving, and you know they are related to half this church. I’m not sure we will make it through this interim, certainly not with your leadership. We’re down to just 2 weeks operating expenses in the bank, and it’s draining fast. And Elmer – you know, the chairman of our elders – he just came out as a past member of the KKK, and will be on TV tonight explaining the burnings. Oh – the music is starting. God bless your message today, Pastor.”

OK, I don’t remember what they said, I just remember trying to wrap my head back around a sermon after being blindsided on the way to my seat. Now I’m ready with evasive action.

I’ve founds these answers helpful. “Sorry to interrupt, but we will need to talk later. I’m getting ready to speak.” Or, “I’ve made it a policy not to talk church business on Sunday Mornings. Can you call me tonight?” Or, “Does Satan use you often?”

Lighten up – I’d never say that. Outloud.

I wonder if the evil powers haven’t used all of us in a wicked role like that a time or two.
# 3 Spiritual Gifts Tests
I’ve had my share of birthdays. And, even at my current state of senility, I can usually recognize the gift once I tear the wrapping off. Ah, a new shirt, a new laptop, a new set of teeth.

If God gave us something, why do we need a test to figure out what it is? Did He disguise it in some cosmic game of hide and seek? It seems to me we are simply confusing talents with gifts. Here is a novel idea – what if God’s “new birth” gifts aren’t the same as our birth talents? What if He really does make us strong where we are weak, rather than stronger where we are already strong?

Nah, couldn’t be. If that were the case. . .

• We’d see some Jewish trained PhD become the great evangelist to the . . . gentiles. I’d have advised Paul to join Jews for Jesus.
• We’d see a selfish scared missionary who wanted people to go to hell leading the greatest revival in history. Would Jonah have been supported by your missions committee?
• We’d see some spindly teenager become the Hulk, but no one would know where his strength came from. If Sampson really looked like our Sunday-School drawings, why did they keep asking what made him so strong?
• We’d see an old stuttering, fugitive free a nation. I might have let Moses lead our nursing home ministry – but only if he first had a life insurance policy with our church named as a beneficiary, a “Help I Can’t Get Up” medical alert necklace, and a “The Church Can’t be Sued for Past Actions” release signed.

If God gave spiritual gifs, we’d see a shepherd fight giants. Fishermen start a church. Old people have babies. Shadows heal. Maybe if we trashed the test and got out of our talent / comfort zone we’d discover Something greater.
# 2 Pv 29:18 Vision Statements

It seems like every book on leadership uses Proverbs 29:18 “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” KJV.

The insinuation seems to be that if we have no vision statement, we will all perish. Is that like Jn 3:16 Hell perish, or just die perish? If it’s Hell perish, could we say a vision statement is damn important?

An entire book will use a modern translation (NIV, NLT or whatever), until they get to this verse. Then it is KJV every time – and only they only quote this portion of the verse. Come on, those of us reading know better. The authors know better.

This verse isn’t talking about vision.

The complete verse in the New King James reads, “Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; But happy is he who keeps the law.” It’s similar in the NASB, NIV, NLT, etc. English has changed meaning since the 1611 KJV. When the entire sentence is read, it’s clear this passage is about divine revelation, not vision. It’s a great passage to illustrate why the USA is headed where it is – we’ve rejected divine revelation so are casting off restraint – but it doesn’t have much to do with my church vision statement.

That doesn’t mean I’m peeved when people teach vision-casting and planning from other passages of Scripture, or even from other passages of Proverbs. It’s not the teaching, but knowingly messing with scripture that bugs me.
# 1 Wanting to be Fed

I LOVE people that want to grow – but often wanting to be fed is different.

I see a red flag when someone new comes in the door and tells me, “We just weren’t being fed at that other church.” We all know some months or years from now they will be at some other church saying the same thing, talking about us.

The odd thing is, I hear it from people who have been believers for years. I so want to ask, “22 years you’ve been a believer, and you still want to be fed? That’s a LONG time to be in a high-chair crying for smashed peas. What do you think is wrong with you?”

So, when I become church dictator of the world, five of my commandments will be.
1. If you feel compelled to advertise your Christianity in neon – post Scripture not slogans.
2. Honor the worship service as a time for worship – no exceptions.
3. Find your gifts by doing outlandish ministry in the body of Christ – not by a test.
4. Don’t manipulate Scripture to fit your proposals – we’re servants, not prophets.
5. Grow up, reproduce, and feed others – getting spoon-fed is for babies.