Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Beck, the two year old worship leader

He'll be three in about a month- and a lot can change in 10, 20 years. Just because a kid likes to worship and sing at age 3, doesn't mean he will at age 30. So I'm left to model a growing relationship with Jesus, Leatha, and to beg God to capture the affections of my kids.

Here Beck is singing into the mic at our Anthem rehearsal.

Get a leg up, Beck (John Cougar Mellancamp would be proud)

So my prayer over my kids tonight, in keeping with the prophetic word given to me 6 years ago- (click here for more on that), was from Psalm 9:10 "LORD, help Ava, Cameron, Beck and Makai to know your name. May they trust in you, LORD, for you have never forsaken those who seek you."

Beck rockin' out with Nick Brannen, one of our Anthem electric players.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Thoughts on Worship

As Anthem approaches this Friday night, I have been thinking a lot about worship.

Here are a couple statements that I think the church needs to hear. I hope the next generation will get closer to God's intent for our worship of His great name.

1. We are not nearly as physically expressive (i.e. clapping, raising hands, kneeling, etc) as we ought to be in worship.

Consider the following...
- We've all inherited the unfortunate Greek view of our bodies as unspiritual.
(For the smart version of what I'm saying, click here for the article by George Eldon Ladd)

- The Psalms are laced with examples of lifting hands in worship, bowing in prayer, clapping and on it goes. I'm pretty sure the Psalmist wasn't "clapping the hands of his heart" or "lifting the hands of the soul"... Here are just of few of the many examples I'm talking about...

Ps 77:2 When I was in distress, e I sought the Lord; at night f I stretched out untiring hands g

Ps 88:9 I call r to you, O LORD, every day; I spread out my hands s to you.

Ps 119:48 I lift up my hands to 212 your commands, which I love, and I meditate v on your decrees.

Ps 134:1 Praise the LORD, all you servants r of the LORD who minister s by night t in the house of the LORD.

Ps 134:2 Lift up your hands u in the sanctuary v and praise the LORD. w

Ps 143:6 I spread out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land.

- C.S. Lewis says it this way in Screwtape Letters (two demons having a conversation)...

At the very least, they can be persuaded that the bodily position makes no difference to their prayers; for they constantly forget, what you must always remember, that they are animals and that whatever their bodies do affects their souls.

- The various Hebrew words that are all translated as the one word "praise" in our Bibles...

Barach- to kneel

Halal- shout, cry aloud

Ranan- shout for joy, give a ringing cry

Yadah- to throw or to cast- declaring the attributes of God (i.e. palms out toward God)

Towdah- extension of hand- thanksgiving

Zamar- to make music

Shabach- to address in a loud tone; loud adoration; to cheer and make your boast in God

2. The worship of the modern church is often boring, unengaging, shoddy, stoic, and not nearly as passionate (dare I say, "emotional") as it ought to be.

Don't get me wrong, I agree wholeheartedly with Stuart Briscoe that "anything worth doing is worth doing poorly." If all your church (or you personally) can do is a poor job of worship (out of tune, out of pitch, monotone- whatever) it's still worth worshiping God.

But I'm talking about the pathos of our worship. It's languid and lame, when it should be alive and compelling.

I think there are theological reasons for our present state. The Copernican Revolution of my soul happened after hearing John Piper speak for the first time at the first Passion conference in 1997. It was like drinking out of a fire hydrant. Desiring God is his most definitive work. An example of something Piper might say... Psalm 37 commands us to "delight ourselves in the LORD"- how can we be commanded to feel something about God, namely delight?

But practically, over 80,000 Nebraska fans gathered in a sold out Memorial Stadium (tickets were going for $100) to watch a spring game. That's a glorified practice. A scrimmage! To be sure, I would've been there if I could've.

But seriously, isn't passionate celebration of God's glory more warranted than the passion that goes into an athletic event?

I often hear "high culture" Christians say, "With all the repeated choruses, simple and often repeated chord structures, it's obvious contemporary worship plays too much off the emotions."

I think there's some theological snobbery in this statement. Have you heard what the Israelites sang in 1 Chronicles, "The Lord is good. His love endures forever" or in Revelation "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD God Almighty..."?

I hate to state the obvious, but I think that's why God gave us music- to evoke emotion (One note can change the whole emotion of a chord...get a guitar and play an E major, then remove your pointer finger and it's an E minor. In one note you went from Psalm 100 to Psalm 42 (or worse, Psalm 89).

I think music is to the emotions what sentences are to the mind.

Therefore, we should use it to the best of our creative abilities to compel the soul Godward.

Cicero said there are three functions of rhetoric: To motivate, delight, and teach (Motivere, Delectere, Docere). St. Augustine would later add the "amen" to this pagan philosopher's conclusion. I would apply this to our worship. (I often add this bit about Cicero just so I can feel good about the thousands of dollars I spent getting a degree in speech communication)

Our worship needs to move people toward action, bring delight in God, and say something true about our God, who reigns in majesty unbounded.

So with Anthem coming up on Friday, I believe that now, more than ever, we need to use the God given musical expression as the means to connect truth with the soul longing of the next generation- a culture of emotional and spiritual orphans.


One of Cameron and Beck's favorite things to do at night is to dress up in their spiderman costumes (i.e. pajamas for Beck) and have an epic good vs. evil war in the basement.

As you can see, Beck is a little slow on the draw for shooting his spider web. Moroever, as a superhero, there is an obvious chink in his armor...the shirt doesn't provide adequate protection, leaving an open belly susceptible to my Chinese tickle torture.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Anthem 2008

A couple years ago we started a worship event called Anthem, which is a sort of picture of my life calling- to make sure Jesus Christ becomes central to the affections of the next generation. It's growing into quite a movement. Youth from all over (not just our church) are welcome to pack into our gym to seek the Lord with us through worship and prayer.

We'll be recording a live DVD, which will include 6 of our original songs (they are very cool). The Anthem website is up now- click here.

If you're within driving distance, you should come join us on May 2nd. Our target audience is the teen to 20-something crowd, but adults are welcome.

Friday, April 25, 2008


Leatha is a granola mom.
Mark is a fruity pebble dad.

We make a great team.

Against her will, I made Leatha purchase the "Fruity Dyno-Bites" with her "Malto-Meal" coupon. That same day she brought home a 50 lb. bag of oatmeal from her food co-op. Maybe sometime I can get Leatha to post on her co-op, how she got 2 free bags of cereal, and what in the world she does with 50 lbs of oatmeal!

But it wasn't without bargaining that I managed to get this poison into our home. I assured Leatha that we wouldn't use the Dyno-Bites for the main course of a breakfast meal. We would only use it as a "dessert"... (which usually amounts to Mark eating it whenever he wanders into the kitchen).

I figure that just by marrying Leatha she has added at least 4 years onto my life (healthy eating and living habits). But I have not contributed quite as much to the marriage- fun and fruity pebbles.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Postal Service

They are a sweet chill band. Great to have in the headphones while studying at a coffee shop.

BTW: I subscribe to Yahoo Music, which allows me to download all Yahoo's songs on my computer and mp3 player (it must be compatible with subscription music. I.e. it won't work on an ipod). It costs $10 bucks a month. Individual songs can be purchased for .79 if you want to own them for life. Rhapsody is another popular music subscription service. This works well for me, because I like to listen to a wide range of music. For example, in the last 2 hours at this coffee shop I've listened to Enya, John Coltrane, Yanni, The Postal Service, and Guns 'N Roses ("Sweet child o mine" happened to be on my playlist, and we all know you can't stop that song once it starts- that might be the best guitar hook of all time.)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Band of Brothers 2

Here are a couple pics from our men's conference last weekend. One of the highlights- we had over 300 men participate in an all out paint ball war. I learned so much being in my 5 person squad, and having to submit to platoon leaders, company commanders, and ultimately, our general.

I learned I'm a poor listener and a bad follower. That shouldn't have been a revelation (my wife could've spared me the weekend and just told me as much), but there's something about going through a 4 hour war that will teach those things.

There are so many books on leadership, but not everyone leads. More people follow. Maybe there should be more books on following. All of us have to be followers. We don't lead God. We follow him. I've got a long way to go.

What was I thinking leading worship in this bandanna? I never did care for Willie Nelson. Oh well, it was Saturday morning and I had just rolled out of bed. This weekend I had the privilege of leading with two other great worship leaders- Todd Wallace and Jesse Antelman. "Team worship leading" is so much fun, and in my opinion, very effective.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A couple thoughts from today...

I talked to my dad tonight and he shared a quote from John Eldredge's new book,

"The Bible is not a book of exceptions, but a book of examples."

This strikes a chord with my longing to hear from God daily, and to experience the power of the kingdom. Too many Christians think God can't use them as he did the "superheroes" of the Bible. First, they weren't superheroes, and God not only can, but wants to use you! As James says, "Elijah was a man just like us." Since high school, when God first ignited my heart toward Christ, I've lived with this longing.

I have also been giving more thought to the issue of spiritual gifts. Our elder team will be reading through J.P. Moreland's new book, The Kingdom Triangle. In light of this, I listened to Mark Driscoll's message on 1 Corinthians 12-14. The dude went yard with those talks (Part 3 and 4?). It's the closest thing I've heard to where I'm at on the issue. Funny quote, "People ask me what our stance is on demons...we're against them! We believe in them and we are firmly against them."

My problem on some of these issues seems to be my praxis. Whatever I believe about these things may be true, but I don't see it in my life as much as I'd like. Moreover, when it does happen (i.e. demonic oppression, prophetic words, etc) it weirds me out. I'm quick to judge and rationalize ("that persons problem can't be demonic- they're just playing mind games with themselves").

Now I must get to St. Anselm's "Why God Became Man" for a book reading group on Sunday...

Monday, April 21, 2008

Into the wild and I am legend

Last Monday and Tuesday I was sick, so I treated myself to a couple of movies: Into the Wild and I am Legend. It's amazing how much these stories connect with God's Story (of Redemption).

I am legend: I was told the original version (1954 with Charlton Heston) ends with an even more blatant "Christ" figure. I'm not a "sci-fi guy," but wow, what a powerful movie this was. From what I remember, it's a pretty "safe" watch for an adult.

Into the Wild: This book intrigued me when I read it about four years ago. I'm fascinated by the power of nature to connect us with transcendence. I love spending time with God in wooded areas in central Iowa, and using nature to tell stories (click here for a video I wrote for an intro to our minor prophets series last summer) As John Piper said, "No one goes to the Grand Canyon or Yosemite to see how great they are." No doubt- nature is powerful. "And when you look up to the sky and see the sun, the moon and the stars—all the heavenly array—do not be enticed into bowing down to them and worshiping things the LORD your God has apportioned to all the nations under heaven." (Deut. 4:19-20)

Also, since I work with college students, Chris' (the main character) idealism is something I see a lot of. The desire Chris has to escape this life of being another ant marching, and the bitterness toward his family is not at all uncommon among 19-24 year olds. As my friend Kevin Scheibe says, "Every 19 year old is a Marxist." It's so true. On paper, it sounds like a great idea. But then there's reality. Most college students don't have any problems a wife and kids can't solve. But it's also why they change the world.

(spoiler warning) The most powerful part of the movie for me was when the emaciated Chris struggles to write in a book, "Happiness only possible if shared." Wow. There is so much packed into that statement. It shows how he passed up a multitude of meaningful relationships to selfishly escape the world. It can't work. It's the inherent weakness of a monastery and total ascetic life. There's no one to share it with.

I'm currently studying Unity of the Bible by Daniel Fuller in a biblical theology class at our church. It connects well with a Jonathan Edwards' treatise I studied in college- The End for Which God Created the World. Here's the basic summary of why God created us (according to these books)- his infinite happiness and glory overflowed into a creation and created beings designed to receive happiness from Him. This is why joy is a central virtue to the Christian faith- it's a barometer of how you are relying on the Source to be your all in all. Lack of trust will lead to a lack of joy. Another way of saying it, as the aforementioned Piper, who was shaped by these two books, summarized it, "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him."

All of these thoughts converged for me in this movie. I skipped through quite a bit of the movie because it was long, some parts were blatantly inappropriate, and I was tired. Although I'm not commending it to you as a must see, it made a soulish connection with me.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Why we blog

One of the comments under the "hair debacle" post, though a little antagonistic, was thought provoking.

Our metropuritan blog is a unique blend of the practical and theoretical, earthly and spiritual, meaningful and inconsequential. One post you may have Leatha dropping some awesome recipe, and the next might be Mark getting all of her friends mad about his views on schooling. It's about a family trying to love Jesus in a complex world. That's what our blog is, but here is why we blog:

1. Relational

We have friends spread out all over the U.S. and world, and blogging is a way to stay connected. If we only posted deep thoughts about God and the world, that wouldn't be a complete picture of what's going on in our lives.

2. 1 Corinthians 11:1

Leading a large ministry, there are more people that know me than people that I know. Of course, I want to know them all, but it's just not realistic. I know that I'm not as spiritual as most pastors (if I were I probably wouldn't post about hair, movies, my family, etc), but I would like to think I'm living a life that people should emulate.

If not, I should be fired.

If I don't have an exemplary relationship with my wife, kids, neighbors, etc, what business do I have telling other people how to live according to God's word? I think any follower of Jesus should all be able to say, "Follow me, as I follow the example of Christ."

We always strive to be as authentic as possible in our blogs. Always leading you to believe we're only reading the Bible, deep theological books, classic novels and the Wall Street Journal may make us look good, but it's ultimately self-righteousness. I find that easy to come by in the blogosphere.

At the end of the day, we're trying with all of our hearts to follow Jesus and we hope others will follow that path. And I don't think it will take much reading before you'll see how flawed we are, just like you. Hopefully you'll see the authentic struggle of life and faith, and have hope. Or maybe you'll just plain feel better about yourself after reading...(I can't believe they watched that movie...or Mark said that to Leatha...)

3. Writing and Thinking

In addition to God and people, there are two other things I love: words and ideas.

I enjoy writing, but since I'm not a journalist or author, I don't have an outlet for that. Writing skills are challenged when you need to make the mundane interesting, or a story compelling, or an incident funny for your readers.

Blogging also sharpens my thinking skills by forcing me to communicate with clarity.

4. Journal/Book?

If you're like me you've thought at one point in your life, "I'd like to write a book about that." But of course, you never do.

It helps me systematize my thoughts. If an idea, metaphor, or life illustration comes to mind, it's not lost in the mind abyss- I can write it out and actually remember- "yeah, that was a cool thought."

As Jonathan Edwards would say, "Happiness is inclined to overflow." Our greatest joy would be to know that in some small way our happiness in God has spilled over to you through the blog.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Parenting Mistakes

I thought this was a great article by John MacArthur, a man we are all indebted to for pushing us to treasure God's word more. Click here for the 8 ways we often exasperate our kids. If nothing else, scroll to the bottom paragraph of the article and read one parent's regret.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Hair Debacle

Everything was going just fine, until Meg, the professional hairstylist left our house.

I said, "Leatha, let's try it once without the cap- it's not quite as blond as I want it."

One thing I've noticed about men and their hair- most men resist changing their hairstyle after about age 26. No more risks after 26. That seems to be the age you're no longer eligible for "immature college student" status. I'm not sure why women are more open to exploring new styles after age 26, but they are. But who says a man has to settle on his hairstyle (or hair color in this case) by age 31?

Maybe I should after this mess.

I knew there was a risk, but why do any of us take risks? It just might work out for the best.

Or not... (told in third person as we recounted the story together...)

3:30pm Meg uses a professional highlighting mixture

(No Pics of Round 1, which was my natural brown color with some mild highlights)

4:30 Meg leaves, Mark doesn't think it's quite blond enough, so he suggests trying it without the cap.

4:45 Leatha says, "I think I could be a hairstylist, this is easy (as she cakes my hair with this toxic concoction)." Meanwhile, she refuses Mark's advice to do the whole thing (even the bottom of the back).

Round 2... Most of Mark's head a pathetic orange color

6:00 p.m. Round 3- Leatha goes to the store and gets a stronger coloring kit to make it more blond. They paste it on and it fries Mark's hair some more... A lighter orange (almost yellowish) color results...

They surrender the idea of getting a nice blond color. Meanwhile Leatha stumbles on some of this in her Walgreens stash (I'll explain what this is in some other post...)

Mark thinks, "If this potion can make me look half as good as this guy, it will be an upgrade." Notice the small print, "Lets you keep some gray" (or orange in Mark's case)

8:00 pm- Round 4- Not bad. The touch of gray seemed to do the trick.

9:00pm- Until it dried... still orange.

They cut their losses and watched "Dan in Real Life," which helped Mark forget about his stupidity for awhile.

11:00 pm- While Mark takes out his contacts he sees his orange head in the mirror and gets depressed again.

But not too depressed, because he's the eternal optimist. He thinks everyone will be coming to him for advice on how to dye their hair orange.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Movie suggestion

We watched Dan in Real Life last night, and it was a great movie... ironic, fun, clever, happy, and clean (it's PG-13, as it should be, however. Check out here for more info).

Great for a movie night with your spouse or roommates...

Friday, April 11, 2008

Training Makai

Tonight I spoke to about 600 college students on "the fear of the LORD." Parenting was one of my illustrations of what it means to fear God.

Parenting 101: You must establish yourself as the loving authority (you can't wait until they're a teenager to establish this...)

Here's why we have rules (and consequences) in the Arant house. Here's the progression...

"Makai, do not go off the carpet" (so he makes his way toward getting off the carpet)

He's thinking, "It looks fun over the carpet, where dad told me not to go."

He comes to the edge of the carpet area and thinks, "Should I stay or should I go? All that fun to be had over the carpet."

"Here I go, I hope no one sees me. This is already fun! Why is daddy so restrictive and such a killjoy? This is a the carpet"

[Oh crap, it's daddy down there, taking my picture of all things]
"Hey, what are you doing down there, taking my picture? I was having a really good the carpet. I suppose this is the part where you ruin my fun and spank my leg."

In his 10 month old mind, he has no concept of the danger called "stairs." But Leatha and I, being well ahead in years, understand the hazard.

I know we'll get past the carpet rule soon. But it won't be long and it will be, "No, you can't stay overnight at their house" or "you need to be home by 10" or "No, you can't watch that movie" or "you shouldn't date him" or "you can't wear that swimsuit"

Teenagers...remember your parents don't have rules just because they like making rules. They see the "stairs" that you may not see. When they say "No" they mean "No...or you'll hurt yourself."

"The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it." Proverbs 27:12
"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; but fools despise wisdom and discipline." Proverbs 1:7

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Gardening, Composting, and Dryer Lint

Last spring I checked out from the library the book Lasagna Gardening. Where we live the soil is very poor and by implementing some of the author's ideas of composting and layering organic matter, the soil has improved. How do I know? My garden actually produced vegetables, unlike the year before. I'm constantly on the look-out for things to throw in my garden. A friend recently gave me 7 bags of leaves which I gladly took and threw on my garden.

Another friend sent me this link about dryer lint and its many uses. Now this might sound pathetic, but I was so excited to learn I could use dryer lint in my garden as compost and around plants to help retain moisture. And, if I get real ambitious I could make clay out of it for the kids!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Life is a windmill

Have you heard of "the Wheel" that the Navigators use to explain the Christian life?

I think the following illustration makes more sense to me...

A couple months ago I was driving to Northwest Iowa and I noticed many high powered windmills. What made them high powered is that they were masterfully engineered and perfectly placed in "wind zones" to catch wind to turn the blades.

As I drove further, I noticed an old rusted out windmill by an old farm. I noticed this windmill had no blades, just the red metal flag. Here's a windmill that lost its purpose.

Windmills don't power themselves, they rely on the wind to propel the blades, which creates energy, pumps water, etc. Without the blades, there is no power.

And so it is with the Christian life.

The thing I like about this illustration is that it incorporates the dynamics of the Holy Spirit empowering our lives. Here's an important concept: God is in charge of our relationship with God, not us (thanks, Ed, for the insight). We don't determine the wind speed, direction, or whether or not it's blowing at all. All we can do is make sure our blades are all there and in place, ready to catch the wind. The Christian life is less like a wheel where if all the parts are there it should roll right, and more like a dynamic relationship that changes everyday.

Let's face it, do you always read the Bible and get epiphanies?
Am I alone in often feeling distant from God even when I'm reading the Bible? (like this morning, it was like pulling teeth...and I have an inside track with God since I'm a pastor, how must you feel?!)
Do your prayers always feel like Acts 2-ff?
Is your teaching (or small group leading, etc) always like Peter's in Acts 4?
Does every church service feel like Pentecost?
Does every communion feel like the last supper?

But let's also face the reality that many of us get about as much of God as we are seeking...very little. Too many Christian lives look like a rusted out windmill on some deserted dirt road in rural Iowa.

We can't control the wind, but we can the blades.

What are the "blades" that energize your life with Jesus?
Another way of saying it- if you don't incorporate _________ into your Christian life, you will probably rust out.

Moreover, some of you who actually know something about windmills might be able to take the metaphor to the next level...

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Are you a Bible deist?

Let's find out. First I'll give you a little quiz, then some background. Keep track of your answers (All true or false)

1. God gave us the Bible and now through careful study and application of the Bible, we have all we need for the Christian life.
2. It's very uncommon for the Holy Spirit to speak to Christians.
3. God desires to heal more people, but our lack of faith often keeps it from happening.
4. The gift of prophecy and tongues are no longer in use the same way they were in the new testament.
5. We should rely solely on our understanding of the Bible- Emotions should not be a major factor in our relationship with God.
6. God had a unique plan to work miracles in the New Testament that should not be expected for today.
7. When I first realize I'm sick, I pray to be healed.
8. When I hear a family member or friend is sick, my first response is to ask God to heal them.
9. During corporate worship, I expect God to speak to me.
10. Bible reading is the most important aspect of time with God.
11. Subjective, revelatory experiences threaten the validity and authority of the Bible.
12. It's more important to know the Bible than experience its truth.

Here's how a Bible deist would answer those questions:
1. T 2. T 3. F 4. T 5. T 6. T 7. F 8. F 9. F 10. T 11. T 12. T 13. T

If you got 13 out of 13- You're a Bible deist.
If you scored 0 out of 13- Congratulations, you're not.

Deist- n. The belief, based solely on reason, in a God who created the universe and then abandoned it, assuming no control over life, exerting no influence on natural phenomena, and giving no supernatural revelation.

Many (most?) of the founders of our country were deists. Their belief in a Creator God brought reverence for the "Almighty," but like a watch maker, God designed the cosmos and now leaves it to "tick" without his intervention.

I think churches (esp. fundamental or evangelical) are filled with "Bible deists." These are people who believe God gave us the Bible, and now there is little need for supernatural interaction/intervention of the Holy Spirit.

Intellectually, I renounced my Bible deism around 1998, but I'm still working toward a faith that believes in the power of the Spirit of God to work on my/our behalf.

Two books I commend to you: Surprised by the Power of the Spirit and Surprised by the Voice of God. Both books are by Jack Deere, a former professor at Dallas Theological Seminary. They are eye opening. I borrowed the "Bible deism" idea from his latter book. An acquaintance of mine was discipled by J.P. Moreland, one of Christianity's great thinkers/apologists. Moreland has gone through a similar "renunciation of Bible deism," and he had them read through these two books for their discipleship group. Moreland recently wrote a book that I'm anxious to read, The Kingdom Triangle, where he discusses our tendency to minimize the work of the Spirit in our lives.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Parenting Fear- Raising Christian Buttheads

As a parent, there's one thing that scares me more than anything.

It's my fear of raising a Christian butthead.

This is the kid who has all the right answers. They think they're going to heaven because they cried around a campfire and prayed with a camp counselor to "accept Jesus", but there's not a whole lot of fruit to show for their conversion.

They don't have a heart of worship. And if they do, it means raising hands one moment and being immoral the next.

They don't share Jesus with their friends. And if they do, it means speaking about a truth they're not living.

They pursue popularity and the approval of peers more than God. But God gets plenty of lip service on Sunday and Wednesday.

They are unwilling to participate in God's global agenda. If they are, they think their junior/senior high trip to Mexico will suffice as their missions experience for life.

They care more about sports, music, video games, work, _________ than God.

The list goes on...

One thing is for sure: Christian buttheads fill youth groups and college ministries all over the U.S. I've seen it firsthand. And it's no wonder, as parents set the example for their kids. All things being equal: As the parents love Jesus, so will the kids.

The apple doesn't fall far from the apple tree.

Moreover, as my friend Ed says about most parents of teenagers: "Most parents want their kids to have just enough Jesus to keep them off drugs and give them good grades."

Most parents don't want the radical faith that could get their kids mocked, mistreated, or killed.

As a metropuritan parent, one of my parenting goals is to raise kids as prophets to their culture, and not products of it.

BTW: I'm well acquainted with the ways of a Christian butthead, because I was one of them. Until, by God's grace, I met Jesus. Then everything changed.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Cameron learns to ride a bike

It was so cute. The whole time he road down the bike path for the first time on his own, he was saying to me, "I can ride a two-wheeler! I can ride a two-wheeler! If I can learn how to ride a two-wheeler, I can do anything!"

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Other blogs and quotes

I feel a need to reference a couple blogs I enjoy. As you'll notice, I just added Brent Thomas' blog to my favorites. He's a sharp thinker, a great friend, and a sort of ministry mentor. I have a lot of respect for him and I enjoy his thinking. He recently linked to an interview with Karl Rove that I found interesting.

Here are a couple quotes, one is insightful for every teenager/college student to consider, and the other rocked my often microscopic view of God.

Family bike ride

Since the weather has been warmer, we have been doing family bike rides in the evening. It's fun to see neighbors we haven't seen for 5 months out from hibernation.

If it were Beck's choice, we'd skateboard instead of ride bikes. Pictured below are his skate shoes. They're too big and straight out of the 50's. When you think of the word "shoe," these are what probably come to mind. I'm not sure why he thinks they're like my skate shoes, but he insists on wearing them.

Check out the difference- Beck has dark deer eyes (as my dad says) and Makai's are bright blue.

Poor Cameron. He looks like a home school kid. Technically he is for another year, so I guess it's okay. I rigged the training wheels from Ava's girl bike onto his. The bike is way too small, but my parents brought a new one out for him this weekend. "New" for us means it came from a garage sale. And the helmet...

Here are the boys in the trailer. Every once in awhile I look back to see Beck pinching Makai's cheek or elbowing him. Also notice the basket on the back of my bike. Yes, I said my bike. (As opposed to my grandma's) It's tough to be cool sporting a basket, but I just tell myself I'm going to stay strong and bring it back. Or just bring it in for the first time. I'll be sure and post a picture of that whole bike/basket scene later.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Our suffering friend

I often hear pastors and other really spiritual people say we shouldn't pray for physical protection, because suffering is a part of being a Christian, and especially part of being a missionary.

The Apostle Paul must not have been quite as spiritual as these modern preachers (mostly radical missionary types), who propagate this. Consider, for example, Romans 15:30-ff, "...join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. Pray that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea..."

Here's how it intersects my little world. For safety reasons, this will be frustratingly vague...

My relative just saw an international woman come to Jesus through the miraculous work of God (dreams, revelation from the Scriptures, etc). Since that time, her family has hunted her down, her brother back home was stabbed, and just last week two of her younger siblings were kidnapped and are being held ransom. All of this (and much more I cannot speak of here), because she is an "infidel."

Imagine your brothers and sisters suffering for your faith.

I asked her once what would happen if she went home. She said, "They kill me in the airport." Nonetheless, she desires to go home someday to share the love of Jesus with her family. She is ready to die, no doubt.

And as I pray with my kids about this situation, I want them to pray radically Jesus centered prayers for her. I don't want my kids to be cultural American Christians, who regard suffering as a strange anomaly to the ordinary life of following Jesus.

My kids often pray that God will keep her safe. Before today, as one of those really spiritual, radical missionary pastors, I would encourage them rather to pray for her faith and family, not safety.

I can hear our pastor Tom Nesbitt's booming voice, "Safety is not a place, it's a person." True enough.

But I'm encouraged today to pray for God to protect her from suffering at the hand of barbaric, evil men and women. I still pray that God would not allow her to be burned by flames (i.e. Shadrach, Meshak, Abednego), or injured by stones if it comes to that. I join her "struggle" by praying to God that she will be "rescued from unbelievers."

I've always tried (and often fail) to obey the imperative of Hebrews 13:3 as much as possible, "Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering," by letting myself and family get to know someone who is experiencing the reality of suffering.

Will you join us?

P.S.- I still aspire to be a "radical missionary-pastor type"

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Narnia is back

Prince Caspian is coming May 16th. Check out this blog for a link to the trailer and other discussion about the movie.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Worth thinking about

My friend Alex Tuckness is a political philosophy professor at Iowa State. Alex challenges me toward holy passion perhaps more than any other human being. Here are a couple interesting posts I read tonight (His wife, Anastasia, also has some thoughtful posts about literature on their blog):

Peter Abelard- thoughts on sin

Thoughts on technology (esp. the paragraph on Pascal)

Cameron Van Gogh

Cameron loves to draw. Pictured here are some of his Veggie Tale characters, which he drew in literally less than one minute. (left to rt: the Peas, Bob, and Larry Boy). He's also got a sharp mind, as he reads well, and has quite an imagination. His dreams are vivid, and he can recount crazy details to Bible stories (any story for that matter). His middle name is David, named that so by God's grace, he will have the passion of David the shepherd boy and king- a man after God's own heart.

Beck's guitar solo

Here's how the guitar solo progression goes for Beck...

It starts nice and easy- he's getting a groove on.

Now he's starting to feel it- getting into the "pocket."

Oh yeah.

Showing off his guitar skills- he decides to tune mid solo. An impressive feat for a two year old to have the presence of mind to hear the guitar was slightly out of tune.

It's one thing to have good distortion coming from the amp. But more importantly, something every 80's guitar prodigy needs- face distortion.

Out with a bang. Rockin' for Jesus!

Ava's Tooth

Ava is so tough. She wanted me to pull out her tooth but I couldn't get it (I was kind of being a panzy). Enter Leatha, the nurse. She grabs it, pulls, and couldn't get it with the first jerk. Amazingly, Ava lets her go round 2... Leatha yanks it harder and rips it out. These women are amazing.

After seeing all this go down in the kitchen, Cameron said he wants his baby teeth for life. And Beck says he has a loose tooth...