Wednesday, August 27, 2014

WEIRD Values (a blogpost for a sermon on August 31, 2014)

Are your values "weird"?

Do you look different, act different, talk different, think different, dress different, buy different, budget different, parent different, ___________ different?

Do you?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

WEIRD SEX (I can't believe I am actually using that title) a blogpost for a sermon for August 24, 2014

OK, I know what you are thinking?  This sermon is not about "weird" sex as in perversion, fetishism, or kinky things.  This sermon hopes to put a weird spin on sex by helping us to not be "normal" as our culture would define that.  Sex, like many of the beautiful creations of God, can become unhealthy, destructive, and burdensome when allowed to fall outside of the will of God.

Our culture is over-saturated with sex in every form.  Visual, insinuated, suggested, video, perverted, print, movies, commercials, before marriage, during marriage with someone other than our spouse, sexting, phone sex, prostitution, pornography, swinging, virtual affairs, etc. and etc.

It's amazing that something so beautiful can become so common place and trivial.  Sex in its pure (God intended) form is certainly weird in our world today.

We need weird because normal isn't working any more.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

WEIRD RELATIONSHIPS: We survived "Skunkmageddon" (a blogpost for a sermon for August 17, 2014)

You know those uncomfortable moments when you just know something bad has happened, but you see no evidence.

Last night I took some garbage to the street and let my dog go with me.  As we headed out the front door, Buddy (our all too cliche-ly named Golden Retriever) ran around to the garbage cans on the side of the house at breakneck speed.  After a little banging of cans, I called for Buddy, but he did not immediately return like all good Goldens do.  When he came from the shadows, I saw a frightened dog seemingly trying to finish off something he was eating.  Then I had the terrible revelation that he was trying to get a bad taste out of his mouth.  You know.  That "I can't believe that something so bad could be in my mouth" look complete with lip smacking and spitting and spewing.  He hadn't eaten anything; he had tried to bite a skunk and got a big dose of skunk smell right in his mouth.

In less than two minutes, I had called for my wife to join me and Buddy in the upstairs bathroom.  Paula came from the basement but figured out the problem long before she made it to the top floor.  I traded with her and ran to the pantry to get the tomato juice.  (This is one of those times that you want the old wive's tale version of life to work out.)  After tomato bathing, shampooing, conditioning, drying, and pampering, our wonderful Golden seemed to be no worse for wear.  Although he was a little upset that we wouldn't let him go back out and defend his honor.  With the whole thing in the rear view mirror, the only hold over is the smell on my hands as I type this blogpost.

Skunkmageddon is not really that big of a deal, but how two people who have been together for 25 years can seamlessly work together to tackle any and all problems is a huge deal.  In a strange way, the whole experience was really kind of nice (not the smell of course).  We rose to the challenge and slayed the dragon.  We demonstrated our effectiveness together.  We came.  We smelled.  We conquered.

Weird, I know.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

TENDING THE GARDEN: Keep the love affair going (a blogpost for a sermon for August 17, 2014

Almost 10 months ago, my wife suffered a concussion from a "pedestrian automobile accident" where she was hit by a car on a sidewalk as she was walking our dog.  For the past 295 days, we have worked at rediscovering each other.  Her tastes in food, her sense of humor, and many other preferences have changed since that October 22, 2014.  One of the remarkable changes has been her new found love for all things gardening.  She loves her flowers, vegetables and herbs.  With my muscle and her passion, we have transformed our backyard into a Garden of Eden.  This new interest has opened my eyes to the importance of "tending the garden" as Craig Groeschel says.

We must keep the garden watered, pruned, fertilized, harvested, weeded, and everything else that has to be done to maintain the homestead.  My relationship with Paula doesn't really differ that much.  I need to "tend the garden" by paying attention, caring, adjusting, and working on the relationship I have with Paula.  I need to care for her- the one who is far more important to me than any flower.

For too many years, we had started to become normal.  Life was hectic.  The demands of work pulled us in different directions.  The challenge of a teenage son frayed our patience.  We were becoming just like everyone else . . . normal.

Fortunately for us, we made some important changes in 2011 to move away from normalcy.  Through hard work and dedication, we have become weird once again.  In fact, 2013 was the best year of our married life up until Paula's accident.   Ironically, our marriage is probably better today than it was before the accident.  Don't get me wrong.  We have struggles every day because of the accident, but we are now at a place where we can enjoy and experience one another in an absolutely un-normal way that I am grateful for.

Since the accident, I have tried to spend more time tending our garden.  In some ways it reminds me of when we first started getting to know each other.  Those were good times.  These are good times.  

Monday, August 11, 2014

WEIRD RELATIONSHIPS: Because Normal Isn't Working (a blogpost for a sermon to be preached on August 17, 2014)

I do not want to have a normal marriage.  In my opinion, as a minister who does marriage counseling, I want to stay as far away from normal as possible.  While relationships offer a depth of life and love that cannot come from any other source, it seems that the norm is for people to be unhappy, dissatisfied, and downright bitter toward those people closest to them.

The message for August 17 is going to focus on weird relationships.

Paula and I (my wife of 22 years) started out with a very weird relationship.  After knowing each other as good friends  for many months, we finally decided to try dating, but not before the weirdness.  Our first date, was a Bible study at Druthers across from the campus of the Bible college we attended.  Our first priority was our commitment to God and that came before any love affair.  In that booth with Bibles, commentaries, and two seriously committed weirdos, I fell in love with my soulmate.  She was unlike anyone I had ever known, and I knew that God had made her weird just for me.  We were a matched set.  We even gave away the coats from off our backs to a local "bum" before we made it back to the dorms.  That's pretty weird for a first date.

I think we are as weird today as we were back then, but I must admit that we have allowed normal to creep in some through the years.  I will be honest and say that I do not care at all for normal.  Weird is where it's at!

So, Babe, if you are reading this, I renew my commitment to weird just for you.  I love you.

Your man,


WEIRD: a spontaneous giving challenge

In my August 10 message, I challenged our church family to share, through this blog, the opportunities they have this week to be generous through spontaneous giving.  I hope these stories encourage you to see the opportunities around you.

WEIRD-The last two weeks have been crazy

My wife continues to see doctors due to her pedestrian auto accident from last October.  The past few weeks have been especially crazy, and I have dropped the ball on keeping my blog updated.  Here is a post to catch us up to date.

Two Sundays ago I started a new series, Weird: Because Normal Isn't Working, based on the book by the same name by Craig Groeschel.  This series challenges us to move from being normal (like everyone else) and shoot for weird (like someone who follows the beat of a different drummer, Jesus).
Two Sundays ago, we looked at how we spend our time.  In this world, normal is a helter skelter rat-race that has no beginning and no end.  Priorities have vanished.  Sabbath is an antiquated idea.  Families pass themselves on their way in and out of the door.  Weird puts boundaries on the craziness, makes priorities out of options, and sees rest as a legitimate goal.

Last Sunday, August 10, we talked about being weird with our wealth.

Did you know that if your family makes $40,000 per year that you make more than 99% of the families on this planet?  We in America are so blessed.  We throw away more things than most people will ever own.  My pantry has more food in it than many families will have in six months.  Paul commanded the rich to "do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share" in 1 Timothy 6:17-19.

The challenge with wealth is to make sure that we keep ourselves in check.  Paul again tells Timothy that"godliness with contentment is great gain" (1 Timothy 6:6-8).  The issue with wealth is a spiritual problem, not a financial one.  Our contentment must come from God.  If it comes from any other source, there is a price to be paid.  Only the contentment that God offers is lasting.

I challenged our congregation to be even more generous than they already are.  That's a touch task a week after we gave away 15,000 items to the community at our Free Stuff Giveaway.  The challenge had 3 parts: giving spontaneously, giving strategically, and giving sacrificially.

Spontaneous giving is strange in our cynical world. "Everyone holding a sign by the road must be a con man." "People are just trying to use the system." "They must deserve where they are in life."  These are all convenient beliefs that keep us from helping others.  We need to respond spontaneously to the needs that we see.

Strategic giving is nothing more than saving for someone else's moment of need.    Many of us give to our congregation, but do we put aside money so we can be a blessing to someone who needs help.  Planning goes a long way in helping.

Sacrificial giving is what God is shooting for in our lives.  When we give from our surplus, we are only sharing in our abundance (which we should do).  Giving from our need is a true act of faith.  God is pleased when we step out on faith.

While the world is clutching onto their wealth or throwing it away, we should be "weird" and live differently with the wealth God has blessed us with.