Yahoo on Kirk Cameron

Yahoo has an interesting article up on their site on Kirk Cameron’s conversion from child star to Christian preacher today. You can read it here: http://potw.news.yahoo.com/s/potw/41/converting-kirk-cameron. It’s pretty fascinating to read the comments that people have posted on this one. Christianity continues to be offensive to the world. I’m praying that as Christians we do everything we can to make Christ look good to the world around us, while unashamedly standing for truth.

Memorial Day Weekend and The Olsen Family

We had a couple of opportunities this weekend to spend time with the family of Daniel Olsen. If you read some of my previous posts, you’ll read about the special relationship that I’ve developed with this precious family, who lost their son to sniper fire in Iraq six weeks ago. On Sunday we went to Fort Snelling National Cemetery for a special ceremony honoring Daniel. On Monday, we went to Shaina’s (Daniel’s sister) Graduation Open House. Since the open house was on Memorial Day, the local press covered the event. If you watch this video, you’ll see my son Chris at the tail end of it eating some gelato.

http://www.kare11.com/video/player.aspx?aid=48125&sid=255518&bw=hi.

Creation Museum Creates Quite A Stir

Is it just me, or does it seem like Ken Ham’s brand new Creation Museum in Kentucky is creating more buzz than it should?

I have never seen so many news stories about a museum opening. If you haven’t watched news in the United States this weekend, perhaps you’ve missed it. The Internet certainly hasn’t. You can do a Google news search on “Creation Museum” and see tons of stories from all over the world. There were huge numbers of protesters at the museum’s grand opening yesterday. So, why such a huge deal about this? Is belief in a literal interpretation of Genesis really bad science? Can a true scientist believe that the earth was created by God in a literal six days. Would a cataclysmic flood have any bearing on the fossil record? Could God have created the earth with age? He created people as adults and not children, didn’t He? Is it possible that God could have created a earth that appears to be billions of years old but is really only thousands of years old?

I’ve included a CNN report and a Fox News Debate thanks to YouTube. Check these out and then tell me what you think:

The Little Store

When I tell stories about my childhood, I’ll often times talk about The Little Store. It’s a store in St. Charles, Illinois that is right across the street from where I grew up. My buddies and I had a lot of adventures in and around this location. Here’s a picture of the store that my wife took last month while we were visiting my family.

Chris is Going to Guatmala With Me!

I’m pretty excited! In less than 3 weeks I’ll be leading another team of students and adults to Central America for this year’s Operation Central America trip. We have an awesome team this year! They have been preparing for this trip since January and are ready to go. Last week I received the incredible news that my son, Chris (that’s Chris in between Grandma and Grandpa at Grandpa’s surprise 70th Birthday Party last month) is going to be able to join us this year. We have paid to expidite his passport, and he needs to raise a lot of money in two weeks time, but we are confident that he is supposed to be on this team. Please pray that God will work on this trip in a mighty way. We’ll be in Campur, Guatemala City, San Marcos, Solola, and Antigua, Guatemala from June 10-24.

Farewell to Lee Eshleman

I just read that we lost a second major Christian leader this week. On Thursday, May 17, Lee Eshelman (pictured on the right) took his own life after a long battle with depression. I never knew Lee personally, but I saw him perform on a number of occasions as one half of the acting duo Ted and Lee. You may say, “He was an actor, not a major Christian leader.” But, Lee performed in front of millions of people over the past 20 years with her partner Ted. I will never forget the way that Ted and Lee portrayed Peter and Andrew, the brother disciples of Jesus. I’ll miss Lee’s simple lessons that he taught through drama. He helped me awe Jesus in all new ways.

There is a beautiful tribute about Lee written by fellow actor, Curt Cloninger at: http://http://www.youthspecialties.com/lee_eshleman/cloninger.php. Please keep Lee’s wife Reagan, and their children, Nicolas, Sarah and Gabe in your prayers. Keep his acting partner Ted in your prayers as well.

Vacation With A Purpose

So, what are you doing for vacation this summer? For the past several years our family has spent one week ever summer at Maranatha Bible and Missionary Conference in Muskegon, Michigan. Now, I know to some out there, that sounds like a tortuous way to spend a summer vacation, but it’s far from that. I do not think that there is anything that has brought our family more joy, memories and connection time that this particular vacation.

Maranatha is located right on the shores of Lake Michigan. For seven days our family enjoys each other, God’s beautiful creation, and are built into spiritually by some of the finest Bible teachers in America. We’re going August 11-18 this year. James McDonald, Joe Stowell and Martin DeHaan are going to be our speakers. You should consider joining us. You can find out more at: http://www.vacationwithpurpose.com.

Stress, the High School Student and Community

Last night at The Garage we talked about community. And, it was pretty special. News flash time:High School Students Care Deeply About Community. It’s got to be tough to be a high school student today. The demand for their time and attention is constant. When I asked our students how many of them were stressed out, almost all of them raised their hands. Sure, it’s May, and that’s a crazy time for students, but I’m convinced that I could have asked that question at any point in the school year and received the same response. And, that makes me wonder . . .

How can we do a better job of alleviating the stress load that our high schoolers are under?

Why do we push our students to be involved in so much?

How much is too much?

How much should a high school ministry at a church offer?

Do our students have any idea what it means to experience authentic community in the way that they live their lives?

We are in the midst of reimagining what student ministry can be in the lives of high schoolers. One of the things that we are sure of is that living life on the ragged edge isn’t what God has called us to. We are also convinced that we need to live life in community. As we look at the upcoming year, we are getting ready to experience community like never before. Randy Frazee’s book Making Room for Life has been very helpful for us as we take a look at what our future could look like.

We’re imagining small groups that meet in the neighborhoods where our students live. We’re talking about changing the world one neighborhood at a time. We’re talking about the believers gathering daily — and we truly believe that can only happen if the church is local. Imagine groups of teenagers meeting together in their neighborhoods for the common goal of honoring God by making more disciples for Jesus Christ. Imagine this happening as they commit themselves to spiritual growth.

Frazee talks about what all small groups should have in his book. He uses the acronym SERVICE. Our students resonated with these things.

Spiritual Formation
Evangelism
Recreation
Volunteerism
International Missions
Care
Extend Compassion

So, what do you think? How do we help high school students navigate today’s world so that they do not become workaholics who never experience true community?

Jerry Falwell’s Death

I’m sad.

I just found out that Dr. Jerry Falwell passed away. He’s been gone for a couple of hours. I believe with all of my heart that Jerry is in the presence of Jesus right now.

So, here’s the deal. I graduated from Falwell’s Liberty University and Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. I serve on the pastoral staff of a church in Minnesota. Prior to that I served on the pastoral staff of a church in Illinois. Graduating from a school like Liberty means that you carry baggage with you for the remainder of your life. People make assumptions about what you believe, what your political persuasions are, and how you view the world because of where you attended college.

I’m not Jerry Falwell. There are things about who Jerry was that bother me. But, on this, the day of his death, let me say that I thank God for the influence that Jerry had on me.

I went to Liberty as an accounting major. My God was money and Liberty had a great accounting program. My plans when I graduated from college were to work for Arthur Anderson, one of the Big Six Accounting firms, and retire by the time I hit 40. Something happened to me at Liberty. I learned about lordship. I learned about what it meant to really give Christ your entire self. And, my freshman year, I surrendered to God’s calling in my life. I changed my major from accounting to pastoral ministries, and I sat under Falwell’s teaching for the next six years.

From time-to-time I remember getting frustrated in chapel services. I felt like Falwell was being too dogmatic, too political, or too judgmental. But, there were also times when I learned things that I would carry with me the rest of my life.

As a pastor I often times find myself quoting things that I first heard from Jerry. Quotes like:

“If it’s Christian, it ought to be better.”

or . . .

“Our greatest failures are prayer failures.”

or . . .

“The biggest difference between us now and five years from now is the people we meet, the books we read and the places we go.”

I know that there are many more.

Jerry’s biggest impact on my life was the way that he taught me vision. Dr. Falwell was never lacking in the vision department. The guy planted one of America’s first mega-churches – in Lynchburg, Virginia, of all places. And, he did it when his greatest mentors told him not to. He started a school system that he dreamed would go from pre-school to grad school. And, it happened. He dreamed of Liberty being for the Evangelical Christian student what Notre Dame was to the Roman Catholic student or Brigham Young was to the Mormon student – competing academically, athletically and in reputation. It’s getting there. At 7,700 on-campus students and another 20,000 distance education students, Liberty is the largest Evangelical Christian University in America. They boast the number one debate team in America, a law school training constitutional lawyers, a seminary, and high rankings in U.S. News and World Reports annual ranking of America’s best colleges.

I worked in Liberty’s admission department for a two year period following my graduation from the University. It was a turbulent time for the school. We were rocked by the televangelism scandals of the 80’s and couldn’t recover financially. We were $20 million in debt. There was an entire month where I went without a paycheck. But, Falwell’s vision convinced the work force at the school (Professors, Administration, Assistants, etc.) to work for a month without pay. He couldn’t force us to. And, some chose not to work. But, the majority kept going to work. And, in God’s providence, the school came out of it.

For lessons on leadership, faith, trust in God, failing and recovering, and for the passion for evangelism that Falwell helped instill in me, I will always be grateful. Join me in praying for the family, and the faculty and staff of Thomas Road Baptist Church (voted last year as one of America’s most influential churches by The Church Report Magazine), Liberty University, Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, Liberty University School of Law, the Liberty Godparent Home (a crisis pregnancy ministry), the Elim Home for Alcoholics, WRVL (the radio ministry of the church), the Liberty Channel (Satellite Network), Lynchburg Christian Academy (one of the largest Christian elementary and high schools in America), the Liberty Bible Institute, and all of the other ministries associated with this man of vision. I have never met anyone who had as much influence on his community as Jerry Falwell. Love him or hate him, he’ll be missed.

Generation X Is Growing Up

Todd Rhodes writes one of the most influential blogs for church leaders. It’s read by thousands of pastors each week. This past week, Todd blogged on the phenomena of Generation Xers feeling obsolete. It’s worth a read. You can find his post here: http://mondaymorninginsight.com/index.php/site/comments/the_stuck_generation_xers_feeling_a_new_kind_of_obsolescence/.

So, what do you think? Is this just the case of a generation growing up, and not liking the fact that they are no longer the most marketed to generation? Or, is there something more here. I’m an Xer. Our numbers are no where near that of the Baby Boomers who preceded us, and they pale in comparison with the Millennial Generation. We were once the generation that was dubbed the slacker generation. We have become known as a generation that cares much more about relationship than achievement. We’re told that the Millennial Generation shares much in common with the Builders (The Greatest Generation), and that Generation X will always be sensitive about our place in history. Hey friends, let’s get over it, and get about being who God created us to be.