Making a Name

Each day this week, when I turn on the news (daily) or Christian radio (which isn’t very often) one of the stories I hear most often is about the Miss America runner-up.

The big news is that she shared her personal feelings about a question Perez Hilton asked concerning gay marriage.

First, I think Hilton fully knew what he was getting into. And, in all honesty, I think he got the answer he wanted because her conservative answer provided a soap box for him to stand on.

Second, I think her answer that has some upset has actually turned out to be the best PR she could have received. Most people cannot tell you the name of any Miss America runner-up from years past. Most people cannot tell you who actually won this years pageant. But, this runner-up is all over the news.

Third, I heard today that she is a student at a small, evangelical Christian college. She keeps saying that she has these conservative values that have shaped her stance on gay marriage. I guess modesty would not be one of those. I mean, in these pageants the girls basically parade their outer beauty in skimpy outfits in order to be told “you’re beautiful.” So, gay marriage is wrong…but parading around in a bikini on national television is okay??? Maybe that’s a poor comparison, but I think you get my point.

Fourth, I would say “good for you” to this young lady for actually being honest. She answered the question truthfully. She could have lied and given Hilton the answer he wanted. Instead, she gave the answer that she really holds in her heart and mind. And, it’s been a major PR payoff. Would she have been on the “Today” show if she had just come in 2nd place? I’m not saying I agree or disagree with her answer. I’m just saying that I applaud her honesty.

Fifth, I truly don’t understand the debate on gay marriage. I know that it’s not for me. However, I believe that it’s an issue of civil rights. I believe that all couples, regardless of race, orientation, or age should be granted the same civil rights. Many in the Christian circle talk about gay marriage being a threat to the sanctity of marriage. I’ve got to be honest…if two men or two women get married, it’s has absolutely no effect on the sanctity of my marriage. I sometimes wonder what’s a bigger threat…gay marriage or Christians divorcing??? And, as Christians, I really believe we have things that should take more of our time, energy, and focus (like feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, caring for the orphaned, widowed, the least of these, etc).

It’s a difficult issue. I know that the United Methodist church has open doors for those in the homosexual community. At the same time, we define marriage as the union between one man and one woman. We do not support gay marriage. However, this is an issue that we continually wrestle with…and I think that’s healthy. I think it is a good sign that we are at least having the conversation. Looking at Scripture, tradition, experience, and reason…this is what we’ve come to. But, we continually re-visit these issues to make sure we get it right. And, that is one of the reasons I’m proud to be a part of the United Methodist church.


This weekend, I decided to watch a couple of movies that have been somewhat controversial (at least in conservative Christian circles). The main argument surrounding both movies is that they are somehow sacrilegious. I’m not quite sure I’d go that far. 

The first movie I watched was the documentary Religulous by Bill Maher. To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of Maher. I think he is quite arrogant and annoying. And, throughout the film he only proved my generalized judgment of him to be correct. However, in the film, he brings up some very important questions that the church needs to wrestle with. He basically went to speak with fundamentalist Christians, Jews, and Muslims to ask them why? Why believe in God? Why have faith? Why have your particular faith? It was very interesting, thought-provoking, and challenging.

My only complaint would be that he was very wise in choosing those he interviewed. He made sure to interview people who would have difficulty in providing thoughtful answers. He really went to extremists in all circles. As a Christian, I would have loved to have seen him interview someone we’d all be familiar with…Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Shane Claiborne…heck, even Driscoll, Osteen, or TD Jakes would have been better at providing decent answers. But, he knew what he was doing.

At the end of the film, I found myself thinking…”Yep, these are the questions people are asking.” And, “do we have any answers?”

Last night, Emily and I viewed the second of the so-called sacrilegious films. That’s right, last night we watched Hamlet 2. It was entertaining. It was funny. The “sacrilegious” part (Rock Me Sexy Jesus) was actually hilarious and bared some truth. The whole idea was that if Jesus wanted to make a difference in the world today, he would have to use different methods to get his point across. I find that line of thought not to be too far removed from all of the “new” stuff out there in the church. Also, let’s just think about some of the latest contemporary Christian hits…they aren’t all that different from Rock Me Sexy Jesus

It was funny. And, we have to be able to laugh at ourselves sometimes. I’m awfully cynical and liberal….So, I found myself wondering, “What’s the big problem with either of these movies?” If it’s offensive to you…don’t watch it!

Maybe as Christians, we should spend less time getting upset about movies that seem sacrilegious and spend more time living out the lives that Jesus calls us to. Maybe we should spend less time standing against things and more time standing up for something.

Miserable People

It happens all the time…you run into someone and politely ask him how they are doing. Then, within fifteen seconds of his answer, you are deeply regretting having shown any kind of interest. You have just opened the door for Mr. Negativity to begin his long lists of complaints, worries, problems, and so on. While trying to listen, you are rapidly (yet silently) exploring ways to get out of this uncomfortable conversation. I often find myself wondering, “doesn’t this person have one thing to be thankful for today?” Then I begin to think, “why couldn’t he have just said, ‘oh, I’m doing fine.'”

There are just some people who have a negative outlook on life. It is difficult for them to focus on any thing positive. All of the negative things in the world just heavily weigh them down and they are incapable of seeing just a small beam of joy, pleasure, or happiness. There are just some who can’t (or simply refuse) to see the good in life. 

Sure, the newspapers and media outlets overwhelm us with negative stories. But, we don’t have to focus on those. In fact, if you are a person who is easily drawn to the negatives and quickly become a “Debbie Downer,” let me suggest that you take a break from reading, watching, or listening to the news. Instead, take that time to invest in something positive that will bring you joy.

If you are a Christian, you should always be able to find something positive…even in the midst of life’s greatest struggles…because for those who believe…this isn’t the end of our reality. There is a better world, a better day ahead. 

So, the next time I ask “how are you doing”, please don’t begin a list of all the things that are wrong in the world. If you can’t find something good to say, just give me a “Oh, I’m doing okay!” Of course, I guess it’s my fault for even beginning the conversation in the first place.

“…if we have hope in Christ only for this life, we are the most miserable people in the world.” (1 Corinthians 15:19, NLT) 

That Thing

that-posterThis summer, I will be speaking at a new senior high camp…That Thing! From July 5-9, I will be speaking to a group of senior high youth, along with their leaders, pastors, and camp staff. It is a great honor to have been invited to speak. It is a great privilege to share the Good News in this capacity. And, it is a huge responsibility. I will be speaking once on Sunday and then twice a day Monday through Thursday. They have designed a powerful curriculum for the week. The worship sessions are going to be amazing. For the most part, all I have to do is show up…they have so much great stuff already planned out!

As I begin to prepare to outline each days messages, I am getting more and more excited. At the same time, I realize how draining this will be…physically, spiritually, emotionally. After preaching, I’m usually spent because I tend to pour every thing I have into delivering the message. Don’t get me wrong…I find great joy in preaching…it is one of my favorite things to do. But, it requires a lot! Doing this twice daily will definitely be a challenge. And, the greatest challenge will be bringing God’s message to this gathering in a way that will engage, empower, and equip them (to go home and live out their faith).

So, I would like to invite you to pray for me…in the days leading up to July 5-10th- ask that God will cover my preparations…during the week of camp, ask that God would reveal Himself to all involved (students, band, staff, leaders, me, etc) and that we will all leave the week of camp changed, challenged, and prepared to put our faith into action…and that I would be sensitive to His leading.  

I’ll keep you posted on my preparations as we head towards this incredible week! To learn more about That Thing, visit their website HERE.

Where Are Your Feet?


Frederick Buechner, in his book The Alphabet of Grace, writes

“I say that feet are very religious too. She says that’s what you think. I say that if you want to know who you are, if you are more than academically interested in that particular mystery, you could do a lot worse than look to your feet for an answer. Introspection in the long run doesn’t get you very far because every time you draw back to look at yourself, you are seeing everything except the part that drew you back, and when you draw back to look at the part that drew back to look at yourself, you see again everything except for what you are really looking for. And so on. Since the possibilities for drawing back seem to be infinite, you are, in your quest to see yourself whole, doomed always to see infinitely less than what there will always remain to see. Thus, when you wake up in the morning, called by God to be a self again, if you want to know who you are, watch your feet. Because where your feet take you, that is who you are.”

Our feet take us places. The places our feet take us say a lot about us. I wonder where my feet will take me today???

When our feet stop working, it gets harder to get around. Yet, I have friends whose feet no longer work, yet they are being led to great places. For instance, I have a friend whose feet no longer work that visits people in the hospital and nursing homes on an almost daily basis. His “feet” are taking him great places. I have a friend whose feet don’t work as well as they used to and yet he is always there to help those in need.

And, this morning, my feet are comfortably propped up on the coffee table as I type words, read the paper, watch the news, and sip my third cup of coffee. Yes, our feet definitely say a lot about who we are!

Isaiah 52:7- How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns!