Thursday, February 28, 2008

Thursday afternoon update

The forecast for today: peanut butter. The jars keep rolling in. Here is the count:

Peanut Butter Update

John Schneider's column in the Lansing State Journal highlighted our peanut butter battle. We've been getting phone calls and visits all morning! One nice older gentlemen from Okemos called to say he bought a jar, but was reluctant to drive in to the city, so could we send someone to pick it up. We sure will! Here are the totals as of 11:46 AM today.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Peanut Butter Challenge Update

Southies (the folks who attend South Lansing Christian Church) have been involved in our first ever peanut butter challenge. The goal: to collect a truckload of peanut butter for the children of Northwest Haiti Christian Mission. The reward: hungry kids get some badly needed nutrients and one or more SLCC staff people get a peanut butter pie in their face(s).

Here's the deal. The youth and children are squaring off against the adults. If the kids collect the most peanut butter, yours truly gets the pie. If the adults collect the most, the rest of the staff all get the pie.

This competition has really got some Southies fired up. I've heard talk of conspiratorial whisperings in hallways after elders' meetings. I've seen people eyeballing the growing piles of PB on Sunday mornings and talking about switching jars from one pile to the other. (Good luck with that, by the way, we labeled them to prevent such trickery.) I've even heard someone is planning to bring in a palate - that's right - a palate of peanut butter just before the March 9 deadline. Not to worry.

Preacher Frank has a trick or two up his sleeve, too.

Here's the count so far, in case you're wondering:

Friday, February 22, 2008

Cheat once . . . get a new job. Cheat twice . . . get $750,000

Sampson is out at IU. The whole thing turns my stomach.

One of our own, Dan Dakich, will be leading the Hoosiers the rest of this season. As one of Coach Knight's players, I can't imagine Dakich disgracing the Hoosier Hoops program the way Sampson has done.

As my dad, Larry, would say, "let's analyze this." Myles Brand fires coach Knight because he puts his hands on some players (one was his own son) and later a smart-alack student. Should Knight have choked Neil? No. Was he in the wrong? Yes. But Knight didn't cheat. Ever.

Brand and his toadie Greenspan cut coach Knight loose. Then who does Greenspan hire? A cheater. A one-time loser who promises to go straight but doesn't deliver. Great call, Greenspan. Super legacy Myles.

I heard Isaiah Thomas is available. And he promises not to hit on the gals in the front office.

I'm sure there is another anonymous donor to pony up a half million dollars when the next cheater Greenspan hires has to leave town. As for the other quarter mil that Sampson gets in his settlement, ESPN is reporting that the money is coming from "university funds." Translation: Indiana tax-dollars. Since IU is a state college, it appears that the hard earned of Indiana citizens is being used to pay off a cheater who should never have been hired in the first place.

I know, I know, I sound bitter. You have to be an Indiana boy to really understand my outrage. Trust me, my little tirade is bland compared to the vitriol they're hearing in the Hoosier state right now. And rightfully so.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Even a broken clock is right twice a day . . .

Our youth minister, James, emailed me today to find out if he could write a purchase order for the t-shirt you see pictured here. I'm pretty sure he was kidding.

Theologically, though, the shirt isn't that far off. Paul wrote about the nature of the church, which he compared to a human body in 1 Corintians:
But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!" On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. (1 Corinthians 12:18-25, NIV)
I doubt that the makers of this t-shirt had this passage in mind. I suspect the folks at The Church You Know website are bloviating about the state of the church in America (or their perception of it, at least). In any event, it's pretty satirical stuff. They even have a Wally the Worship Leader android for sale.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Gamble Chocolate

I came home tonight to find a heart-shaped box of chocolates lying open on the table. They had all been cut in half and otherwise eviscerated to reveal their innards. The kitchen resembled a chocolate slaughter house.

I asked the boys what happened, and they told me about "gamble chocolate." Gamble chocolate is the stuff that comes in the box every Valentine's Day. While Whitmans Samplers come with a little card that shows what the chocolates are, gamble chocolate does not. Its the stuff about which Forest Gump said, "Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you're going to get."

Anyway, it turns out that Mrs. Frankly performed a little surgery - okay a lot of surgery - looking for a particular piece of candy. She's never been a big fan of the stuff with the fruit flavored fillings. Coconut is definately out! Its usually caramel covered chocolates for her. Funny thing is, they all look the same on the outside. You've got to get to the center to see what they're really all about.

Kind of like people . . .

Friday, February 15, 2008

From Myles Brand to Kelvin Sampson: The decline of Hoosier hoops.

Twenty-two years ago my buddy Jason and I sneaked off our conservative Christian college campus and broke curfew to go sit in the bar at the Sheraton Inn down the road. Why would two Bible college students risk reprimand and possible expulsion? To meet Bobby Knight, of course.

Someone told us that the Hoosiers stayed at the Sheraton when they were in town to play Michigan State's Spartans, and we wanted a chance to meet the man all us Hoosier boys simply called, "Coach." The team was in a meeting for most of the evening and, by the time they got out we were nearly drifting off in sleep. We looked up just in time to see coach disappearing into an elevator. Disappointed that we missed him, I left a note for Coach at the front desk asking for an autograph. Sure enough, the man who everyone said was a notorious hard case mailed me his signature the next day.

Growing up in Indiana, meant being immersed in the culture of crimson and cream (aside from a few miscreants who preferred the black and gold). Every basketball player I knew dreamed of wearing the red and white striped warm-up pants before sell out crowds at Assembly Hall. A trip to the barber shop meant seeing the new calendar that Indiana printed every year with head shots of each of the players and coaches. Every boy I knew dreamed of playing for Coach. His tantrums were legendary. He would strip the hide off his best player if he missed a back screen, or if he was careless with the ball. It wasn't unusual for him to park his most productive scorer on the bench if they didn't hustle on defense.

Moms shook their heads when they watched Coach. Dads simply nodded their silent approval. I heard more than one say, "I wouldn't mind my boy playin' for him." Sure he was hard. Yes, he was tough, but by golly he graduated his players and paid attention to the rules. Oh, and he won national championships along the way, too.

When Coach got fired several years back for violating Myles Brands, "no tolerance policy" the namby-pambies got what they wanted. Coach was out. Foreigner Myles Brand was rewarded with a coronation to the throne of the NCAA, and Mike Davis, a talented but star-struck young coach inherited a team that made a deep run in the NCAA tournament.

The kinder, gentler Mike Davis lasted just long enough for Hoosiers to figure out he wasn't Coach. He was a nice guy. Like Knight, Davis gave a lot of money away, but unlike Coach, we couldn't get it done in the "W" column. Davis was out.

Better informed Hoosiers than this old boy wagged a knowing finger when Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson made the move to Bloomington. A rule breaker in the house that Bobby built? How could it be? Now it looks like Sampson is going to be canned for repeated recruiting violations - something that would never have occurred in the Knight years.

Two yeas ago I got to meet and visit with Hoosier legend Kent Benson. As part of the Hoosier's undefeated national championship team, Benson is a minor god in Indiana. When Kent Benson speaks about Indiana basketball, people listen. I'm told that Benson said recently that he would not attend another Indiana basketball game as long as Sampson is on the bench. Looks like he may be back at Assembly Hall pretty soon.

The two questions that occupy the minds of the Hoosier faithful this week are, with Sampson almost assuredly out, who will be directing traffic courtside? And, can the tarnish be wiped off a program with a pristine past?

God+Prayer=Power for LIFE

John Smith from Pastor Care passed this along to me in his weekly prayer email. It is so inspiring that I wanted to share it with all of you:

Steve Seaberg and I are connected because his son Aaron is married to my daughter Sarah. On Friday 2-8-08 Steve woke up with chest pains. A friend drove him to the hospital and Steve had a heart attack in the car on the way to the hospital. He was pronounced Dead on Arrival at Saint Mary’s Hospital in Grand Rapids.

When Aaron and his sister Amy arrived at the hospital they were informed that their Dad had died. While Aaron and Amy were saying their goodbyes, Aaron poked his Dad. One of the attendants asked why he did that, and he said, “I don’t know. I just want to make sure he isn’t messing with us.” A few minutes later Steve began breathing again and there was a pulse. Aaron and Amy were asked to leave the room immediately while the attendants began to work on Steve. His vital signs came back and they were able to stabilize him. When the blood rushed back into his brain it spiked a very high fever. They had to begin a full body cooling procedure that will take at least 24 hours. They were in the room with him when 24 minutes later, Steve began breathing again and his pulse returned.

Steve never regained consciousness during that time and he was not responsive to anything. But the doctor’s and nurses did a wonderful job of caring for him and maintaining his vital signs as they cooled down his body to reduce swelling in the brain and then warmed him back up again.

Steve’s family and friends never gave up on him. They continued to tell him they loved him and they were there with him. We had no way of knowing if there was any brain activity because the numerous complications would have rendered any of the tests inconclusive, so they didn’t run them.

We continued to hope and pray, while preparing our hearts for the truth and reality we preferred not to accept. The weight of being the one who would have to make the very difficult choices was resting squarely on Aaron’s shoulders. I listened to Aaron talk about it for quite awhile while I was at the hospital Wednesday afternoon 2-13-08.

Then I had to leave to meet with a pastor in Rockford. While I was meeting with this pastor a call came through on my cell phone from my wife – so I took the call. Sarah had just called her with the most amazing news! Steve opened his eyes and called Aaron by name, called his daughter Amy by name, and called his sister Chris by name. He was surprised that Chris was there because she lives in Texas.

There in the ICU of Saint Mary’s hospital, the Seaberg family witnessed an absolutely amazing miracle! And we want to give You all the praise and the glory!!!!!!

Thank You Father!

Praise You Jesus!

Bless You Holy Spirit!
Perhaps an appropriate response might be to leave a prayer in the "comment" section. I'll pass along to the Seaberg family that Frankly readers are praying for Steve.

I'm too sexy for my church . . .

Pastor Paul Wirth at Relevant Church in Tampa Bay, Florida says Christians are not having enough sex. That's why he has challenged the married members of his congregation to have sex every day for thirty days. In other news, church attendance by men increases dramatically.

Seriously, though, Wirth and his church are making an attempt to restore sex to its rightful place. Along with his challenge to married couples, Wirth is urging single members to abstain from sexual contact for thirty days, too.

I've asked the Southies to pray every day for thirty days. I recently urged them to begin tithing, if they're not already doing so. Am I missing something? Is this the next logical step for South Lansing Christian Church?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Lightning rod or lightning God?

The giant statue of Jesus that overlooks Rio de Janeiro, Brazil was struck by lightning during a storm on Sunday. What does it mean? Our more superstitious Christian brothers and sisters the world over speculate it is an omen. They're trying to discern hidden meanings. They suspect a deeper reality is at work here.

Me? I suspect that this means the steel-reinforced concrete statue is . . . really, really tall.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Restoration Movement . . .what's that?

I get that good people disagree on the subject of baptism. I understand that.

For the record, I believe that the Bible teaches the following about baptism, as experienced in the first century:
  • It is by immersion. No serious Bible scholar believes otherwise.
  • It is of a believer. Infants were not immersed in the early church.
  • It is for the remission of sin and the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38)
  • It is the time and place where we die, are buried, and raised to new life in Christ (Romans 6:1-8)
  • When we are baptized, we are clothed with Christ, and identified with His body, the church. (Galatians 3:27ff)
  • It is the point at which we are saved. (1 Peter 3:21)
I realize that there is a significant segment of the Christian community that disagrees with that last point. For as long as I can recall the debate about the timing of baptism in the salvation experience has raged. Are we saved and then baptized, or are we baptized and then saved? I get all that.

I even get that some people, having experienced four years of a Christian college education at a "Restoration Movement" institution of higher learning will disagree with that position. Our best schools have never turned out mind-numbed Christians cut with an Alexander Campbell shaped cookie cutter.

What I don't get, though, is how a graduate from one of "our" colleges can write to me, as one recently did when applying for the youth ministry position at our church:
I am unfamiliar with the Independent Christian Church. I will have to do some research. Obviously, I didn't learn anything about it at [Nameless West Coast Christian College]. With all the different denominations represented there, I figured the school was non-denominational.
Okaaaay. He was concerned about our church's view of baptism. I told him, essentially, what I wrote above. His response:
Thank you for taking the time to share with me a little bit about your church. However, I will respectfully withdraw my resume from consideration for your youth ministry position. Although I do respect your belief about baptism, I believe the way forward for the future of the Church is to side step dogmatic theology and make room for everyone who accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior of the world in spite of our theological differences as long as they maintain the basic tenants of the historical faith.
Again, I understand that we might disagree. What I cannot fathom, though, is how this young man could graduate from [Nameless West Coast Christian College] and not understand that, for Independent Christian Churches, "the way forward" is all about finding the way back to our New Testament roots.

I am thankful that a person cannot matriculate from my alma mater without understanding this concept. Do my fellow alums always agree with it? No. But they do learn it and understand it. I realize that this young man does not represent the majority of Independent Christian Church college graduates. Perhaps he doesn't even represent his own alma mater fairly. But if he does, if I'm wrong and today's graduates believe that baptism is just another dogmatic doctrine to be side-stepped on the road to an I'd-like-to-teach-the-world-to-sing-in-perfect-harmony sort of theology, in the words of one old professor of mine, "I fear for the brotherhood."

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Rules for Raising Children

I came across Susannah Wesley’s Rules For Raising Children today during my sermon preparation for Sunday. The mother of nineteen children, Wesley has often been called the "Mother of Methodism" because of the influence she had on her sons, John and Charles Wesley.

If every parent took these six rules to heart, I suspect all our children would be better off:

1. Subdue self-will in a child and thus work together with God to save his soul.
2. Teach him/her to pray as soon as he can speak.
3. Give him nothing he cries for and only what is good for him if he asks for it politely.
4. To prevent lying, punish no fault which is freely confessed, but never allow a rebellious, sinful act to go unnoticed.
5. Commend and reward good behavior.
6. Strictly observe all promises you have make to your child.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Sin is expensive

I'm slogging through Leviticus again this year, two months into a reading schedule that will see Jesus returning about Christmastime. I'm reading the New Living Translation (thank you very much, Mike Kjergaard), and am being blessed in spite of all that grossness and gore.

Every sin demands a sacrifice. Cheat on your neighbor, gotta kill something. Refuse to testify in court, somethings gotta die. Commit an accidental sin? Nope, you still gotta slit some poor critter's throat (unless it is a bird, in which case you ring its neck - a nastier reality as far as I'm concerned.)

Its a good think I didn't travel with Moses. Methinks that my flock - I was a shepherd back in high school you know - would have steadily dwindled. Sin was a pretty expensive
proposition back then, but then I guess that is the point. God wanted His children to know that sin is not consequence free. I'm guessing He also wanted his sons and daughters to develop an aversion to sin. Once you've slaughter your kids' pet goat, I suspect that when you get back from the tabernacle and look your children in the eyes, their faces muddied with tears and dirt, you begin to get a more godly perspective on sin - and probably also the desire to avoid it in the future.

Sin is still expensive. According to a Forbes magazine report, Americans spent $14 billion on porn in 2001. By comparison, we spent $18 billion on generic drugs just three years later. One wonders if some of those weren't antibiotics. Billions more were spent on illegal drugs, fast-food binging and boozing it up.

But the cost of sin isn't demonstrated in just dollars and cents. I see it every day. Sin cost Tammy and Dave their marriage (not their real names, of course). Unsatisfied with his marriage, Dave "fell in love" with a woman he met on the internet. The cost to their children was immense. Their marriage dissolved, and their family fractured.

Jim meets with me regularly. He is addicted to internet porn. It's too soon to know if he'll be able to save his marriage, but already the cost has been high.

Melanie is a drunk. The cost of her dissipation has ran into the thousands of dollars. Her sons stand on the sidelines and watch their parents slog through a messy divorce. Who will get the house? Where will the kids live? And those are just the easy questions. The harder ones: Will anyone want me now that I am divorced? Can God forgive me? Can I forgive myself? Those questions stare back at them from their bedroom ceiling each night as they wonder if their lives will ever stop spinning like the $300 Hunter-Douglas they just installed in the house that one of them will have to move out of.

Yes, sin is expensive. Always has been.

Moses and the Israelites paid for sin with the blood of sheep and goats. God paid for sin with the blood of His Son, Jesus. Because of Jesus' sacrifice, I can be forgiven. But that doesn't mean there isn't a tab to pay in the here and now. There is. There always will be. And although we may not have to carry a yearling on our shoulders to the tabernacle, we do well not to forget that sin costs, nevertheless.

Monday, February 04, 2008

New, from K-Sell Records

Need your help . . .

Hey Frankly readers! I am leading a book discussion next month on the topic of building healthy relationships. The suggested book to read is John Maxwell's Be a People Person. Frankly, the guys in the group are "John Maxwelled" out. Can you suggest another book that will challenge them to develop godly relationships?

I had considered Hybels' Just Walk Across the Room, but I already have an "evangelism" title upcoming this year. What suggestions can you give?