Friday, May 31, 2013

Giving and Grieving (Team Patrick)

They're selling mugs and doilies between sniffles and memories.  
This past January Patrick Renehan lost his battle with cancer.  As part of the grieving process his family is raising money for the American Cancer Society through Relay for Life Team Patrick.  Today and tomorrow, Patrick's family have gathered in our church to host a garage sale, raising funds to prevent and to cure cancer.  (
What strikes me today is the essential healthiness of this as a step in the grieving process.  Instead of wallowing alone in grief, they are allowing their grief to motivate them toward good.  Each time a customer asks what Team Patrick is all about, they are able to recount a bit of his life and death.  As painful as that retelling is (evidenced by the kleenex box on the table), each time they voice that loss and connect with a forward looking good, a little piece of their heart heals.  
So for all of the Renehan crew out there today, my heart goes out to you (along with a few stray dollars as I keep finding new things to buy).  But more than that, I want to commend you for such a wise choice of how to grieve.  I pray that God comforts you and teaches us all through your example.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Sensitivity Sermon Audio

What does it mean to be spiritually alive?  Spiritual sensitivity is a huge part of that.  A life of spiritual sensitivity is a life of observation, reflection, and repentance.

Proverbs 8:32 - 9:12

32 “Now then, my children, listen to me;
    blessed are those who keep my ways.
33 Listen to my instruction and be wise;
    do not disregard it.
34 Blessed are those who listen to me,
    watching daily at my doors,
    waiting at my doorway.
35 For those who find me find life
    and receive favor from the Lord.
36 But those who fail to find me harm themselves;
    all who hate me love death.”
Wisdom has built her house;
    she has set up its seven pillars.
She has prepared her meat and mixed her wine;
    she has also set her table.
She has sent out her servants, and she calls
    from the highest point of the city,
    “Let all who are simple come to my house!”
To those who have no sense she says,
    “Come, eat my food
    and drink the wine I have mixed.
Leave your simple ways and you will live;
    walk in the way of insight.”
Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults;
    whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse.
Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you;
    rebuke the wise and they will love you.
Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still;
    teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.
10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
    and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
11 For through wisdom your days will be many,
    and years will be added to your life.
12 If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you;
    if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer.

Click here to listen.

(This is the third sermon in our series on the signs of life: movement, respiration, sensitivity, growth, reproduction, excretion, nutrition.)

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Temptation to Take Over - Audio

Here is the audio for my first sermon at Duneland Community Church.  I had a fairly long intro with jokes and introductions, so it picks up as I'm explaining the significance of the word "Hosanna" in John 12:12-33.

12 The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Blessed is the king of Israel!”
14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written:
15 “Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion;
    see, your king is coming,
    seated on a donkey’s colt.”
16 At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him.
17 Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. 18 Many people, because they had heard that he had performed this sign, went out to meet him. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!”
20 Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival.21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.
23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.
27 “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!”
Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.
30 Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. 31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up  from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.

To listen to the sermon, click here.  To read the full text, click here.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Valparaiso Never Tasted So Good

Tri Kappa welcomed more than a thousand guests Thursday night into a taste bud extravaganza to raise funds for college scholarships. Forty-one area restaurants put their best quiche and panini forward for Taste of Valparaiso in the Porter County Expo Center.
Taste of Valparaiso also features a silent auction of everything from sports tickets to original art to a ready made “date night basket.” New this year were the central red tables for sponsors, the private dining in the Red Ticket Lounge, and the Wine Pull with a wide range of wines.
Tri Kappa is a philanthropic organization made up entirely of Indiana women. The Valparaiso chapter started in 1906 and exists solely to support the community. Last year they gave away $16,000 in scholarships, in addition to giving sizable donations to the YMCA, the Boys & Girls Clubs, and several other groups.
To continue reading, go to the NWI Times.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Multiplying Missional Leaders - Review

You know how things tend to fall apart after the key leader leaves?
I've been there and done that, and ever since I've been trying not to do that again.
This book is about how to change that.

You know how church folks tend to develop this myopic vision of their world?  We lead and serve and play within an increasingly small space, while the wide wide world is left unexplored and unserved.
This book is about how to change that.

You know how discipleship has taken on the meaning of understanding some basic information and becoming moderately faithful in a bare minimum of personal spiritual disciplines?  We still think following Jesus is all about us.  Somehow we have separated discipleship and mission.
This book is about how to change that.

You know how your small group sometimes gets this itch to change the world but doesn't know where to start?  We don't have enough people working together with a common vision to accomplish much of anything together.
This book is about how to change that.

You know how the biggest problem in Christianity is that Christians aren't actually living up to our own ideals?  We have all kinds of information, but not much follow-through.  We are happy for someone to teach us to DO something better, but we chafe at anyone's suggestion that they can help us BE someone better.
This book is about how to change that.

You know how the Church seems to be one more machine in our consumeristic society?  We are all producing what the customers want and consuming what the customers are willing to pay for the religious goods.
This book is about how to change that.

You know how Christian community often seems to stop at the doors of the church?  Maybe you even have a small group with a few prayer requests, but everyone is left longing for a deeper level of community that we just don't know how to get or even how to name.
This book is about how to change that.

You know how our experience of Church so often leaves us disappointed and longing for more?
This book is about how to change that.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

God's Chisel

Here's a tremendous video from the Skit Guys.

Friday, May 17, 2013

What the Church Can Learn from Hooters

Showing wrinkles and missing a few steps, Hooters is in a midlife crisis.  USA Today ran a story last month on Hooters' CEO Terry Marks's work to help Hooters become more relevant for a changing culture.  Surprisingly, this story carries a boat load of learning lessons for the Church - which is also in its own life-stage crisis.

Hooters is the established leader in the "Breastaurant" industry.  And yes, that's a real thing.  Hooters pretty much invented this market niche when it started in 1980, but as they have failed to change with the times, they are quickly losing ground to competitors like Twin Peaks and Tilted Kilts.  Every Hooters restaurant still pretty much looks like the first ones in 1980!  They are dark, slightly dingy, and serve greasy prepackaged foods.  Sales are down, and last year, they closed about 50 restaurants.

Hence the need for change.  Hooters has identified several needed areas for change.
1. The uniforms.  Those well endowed women are still dressing like they're in the 80's, complete with dark hose and leg warmers.  Hooters is hoping to have a social media powered vote on the finalists for new uniform styles.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Valparaiso Police Memorial

I'm now writing part-time at the Northwest Indiana Times.  Basically, I'm just filling in when their normal writers can't make it to an event.  Here is my first article with them.  Valparaiso is about 10 miles south of Chesterton, where I live.

The men and women who keep Valparaiso safe lined up Wednesday morning to be honored and to remember their fellow officers who have fallen in the line of duty.
Chief Michael Brickner opened the Valparaiso Police Department's annual memorial service with an account of Ranger Margaret Anderson, who was shot and killed at Mount Rainer National Park during a routine traffic stop on Jan. 1, 2012. She was the first of 120 law enforcement officers killed in the United States in the line of duty in 2012.

To read the rest of the article, please click here.