Wednesday, April 29, 2009


It's not the little boy in Juarez Mexico. No, its Marynell Edith Swindell, age two of We love Hogs, Alabama.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Snapshots of where we are

I just finished reading a great article by John Ortberg.  I’m going to post the whole thing here (mainly because I want to know where to find it.

Snapshot: The recently released American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) indicates that faith is going down across the board. The number of people who identify themselves as Christian has decreased by 11 percent in a generation. The single fastest-growing category when it comes to religious affiliation is “None,” which grew from 8 percent to 15 percent since 1990.

The “Nones” are the single biggest group in the state of Vermont, at 34 percent of the state’s population. And “None” was the only religious category to grow in all 50 states.
One of the other fastest growing categories is “Don’t Know/confused.” (You can supply your own mainline humor here. In fact, the “two-party system” of evangelical versus mainline Christianity that I grew up with is collapsing. In an ironic return to Reformation language, in the United States “evangelical” will soon be synonymous with “Protestant.”)

Barry Kosmin, who co-authored the survey, commented that more than ever before “people are just making up their own stories of who they are. They say, ‘I’m everything. I’m nothing. I believe in myself.’” He said that faith is increasingly treated as a fashion statement that serves as a vehicle for self-expression rather than a transcendent commitment which demands costly devotion.

One respondent to a version of the story in USA Today said: “None of my friends believe in God. When the subject of religion comes up around the table, we all just mock it. It’s a source of ridicule.” 27 percent of Americans do not even expect a religious funeral at their death. The survey doesn’t indicate how many are hoping to skip death altogether.

Snapshot: In the entertainment section of The San Francisco Chronicle recently, someone asked Mick LaSalle, the movie critic, what kind of movie will never be re-made. He answered by pointing to films like Going My Way, and forties films that starred Bing Crosby as a young parish priest. Religion is simply no longer accepted as part of the national fabric, he said. The one kind of movie that is most unlikely to be re-made today is one that assumes faith as a kind of national backdrop.

Snapshot: I was talking to some young church leaders recently about how, twenty years ago, if someone wanted to look for a model of what an effective church might look like in the future, they would generally go to a place like Willow Creek or Saddleback. But these younger leaders said it was no longer apparent where they should go to see what church might look like in another twenty years.

Snapshot: Tom Klegg and Warren Bird noted that if the unchurched population in the US were its own nation, it would be the fifth most populated nation on the planet, after China, the former Soviet Union, India, and Brazil.

Snapshot: A religion reporter for the LA Times wrote an article, and later a book, describing how he lost his faith in the process of covering his beat. He said that article brought in exponentially more positive emails than anything else he’d ever written.

All of which leads me to ask: Are we witnessing the process of secularization here in America similar to what Europe experienced in the middle of the twentieth century?

It’s not a matter of new evidence being introduced that makes the message of Jesus less likely to be true. What makes a living faith cease to be a live option is much more subtle and complex. It often has more to do with cultural shifts and attitudes that move gradually over time until a tipping point suddenly reveals them.

The question is not one of Kingdom Anxiety. The Kingdom of God has been doing very well, and will continue to flourish no matter the ebbs of flows from one century and continent to another. Phillip Jenkins has aptly chronicled how the explosion of the church in our day has shifted East and South.

He has also, in his most recent fascinating book, chronicled how Christianity was deeply rooted in much of the Middle East, Asia, and Africa for over 800 years, only to die out over centuries.

I hope what we are witnessing in the United States is not such a trend. I don’t have any magic answers if it is. But it’s a good thing to lift our heads up out of our own churches and projects, and look around the neighborhood.

By the way, if you’re involved in helping to lead a church, and you wonder whether giving it the best you have to offer matters—it does.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A little of This

  • Did you see this
  • Washington Post had this about the devil
  • You may have already seen this, if not, then, you’re welcome
  • It really doesn’t matter if this makes you healthy I’m not drinking it.
  • This is a parable of the state of the church
  • I’ve never been to Grand Rapids Michigan but it might be worth it to get a chance to have 4800 calories when I eat this.
  • This is an amazing story of forgiveness
  • Loved this conversation.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Lest I forget

“Christ dwells only with sinners.” For the sinner and for the sinner alone is His table set. There we receive His true body and His true blood “for the forgiveness of sins” and this holds true even if forgiveness has already been received in Absolution. That here Scripture is completely on the side of Luther needs no further demonstration. Every page of the New Testament is indeed testimony of the Christ whose proper office it is “to save sinners”, “to seek and to save the lost”. And the entire saving work of Jesus, from the days when He was in Galilee and, to the amazement and alarm of the Pharisees, ate with tax collectors and sinners; to the moment when he, in contradiction with the principles of every rational morality, promised paradise to the thief on the cross, yes, His entire life on earth, from the cradle to the Cross, is one, unique grand demonstration of a wonder beyond all reason: The miracle of divine forgiveness, of the justification of the sinner. “Christ dwells only in sinners.”

Herman Sasse

Sunday, April 5, 2009

It was just crackers

So anyway I’m in a Super Target here Denver tonight.  And I can see a small lady trying to reach something on a high shelf.  I ask her if I can help her. She tells me she is wanting the last box of the cheddar flavored pretzels.  I reach over grab them and say “Here you go.” She says, “It takes a village.” 

Must be a Colorado thing.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

It’s why we are here

I’m in Denver, Colorado right now.  I’m looking at snow out of a hotel window.  I’m here to help my sister who is having some health problems.  Yesterday as I sat in the Wichita Kansas airport waiting for a connecting flight, I checked my email.  One of them had the subject line: I thought you should know.   This is how the email started: “Pastor you don’t know me but I thought you should what I know about someone who attends you church.”   The person (who didn’t give their name) then went on to tell about a person who has done a lot of things in their life and has messed up in some spectacular ways.

I’ve read the email now a few times and since they didn’t ask me to do anything I can’t really tell you why the email was sent.  This afternoon I finally sent a response.  Here is what I wrote:

I don’t really know (the name of the person they mentioned) but the fact that he has screwed up in life doesn’t surprise me.  I don’t know whether you know me or not but I’ve screwed up in my past and continue to mess up now.  In fact everyone who attends Community Christian Church is someone who has screwed up in their life.  We don’t think we are perfect, we believe Jesus is perfect and He has chosen to love us and give us grace in spite of our sins.  Now because of His grace we are free to love Him and love others.  Being a place where a guy like (the person they named) feels accepted is why we are here.  We trust that over time the love of Christ will change Him as He is changing us.  Thanks you for letting me know that we are doing our job.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


  • This has some great pictures of spring
  • This article contains my quote of the week.  Here it is if you don’t want to read the article

This is the biggest generational transfer of wealth in the history of the world. If you’re an 18-year old middle-class hopeychanger, look at the way your parents and grandparents live: It’s not going to be like that for you. You’re going to have a smaller house, and a smaller car — if not a basement flat and a bus ticket. You didn’t get us into this catastrophe. But you’re going to be stuck with the tab, just like the Germans got stuck with paying reparations for the catastrophe of the First World War. True, the Germans were actually in the war, whereas in the current crisis you guys were just goofing around at school, dozing through Diversity Studies and hoping to ace Anger Management class. But tough. That’s the way it goes.

  • This may concern someone but I think we have bigger things to worry about.
  • mmmm Pizza Vending Machine – this is awesome
  • This proves that Vermont is the Alabama of the North
  • This is very sad
  • Swainsboro Georgia came up with this creative idea
  • This was an awesome way for Community Christian Madras to celebrate one year of Ministry.  We are getting ready for campus number 3.  To do that we are offering you a chance to go on a “campus mission trip.”  This will allow you to experience what life at a Community Christian portable campus is like.  Sign to go on the first trip April 4 by emailing 
  • This verse has been with me for a bit now.  I often have people tell me that we shouldn’t make plans we should just allow God to make things happen.  I like the Bible.
  • This is what you do for fun in Wales.  It’s cool but illegal in several states.
  • This is one reason Southwest Airlines is great.
  • This is a new way to see Elmo

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

…a thousand words on the recession

One of the blogs I regularly check out is “The Big Picture”.   Here is their take on a what a worldwide recession looks like.

Riddle me this Batman

My friend and colleague Jason Collins sent me a link to an article today.  Go ahead and click on the link then come on back and let’s discuss. 

The article

As you know this blog is called “Scandalous” with the tag line “Grace is always a scandal.”  Would you side with the pastor in taking the guy into his house?  How would you feel if you lived next door?   Is there a correct response for a person who follow Jesus? If so what is that response?

Monday, March 16, 2009

This again

  • This from CNN says we are less Christian
  • I love creativity. Some of most creative things of all time are like this taking a whole bunch of stuff others have done and making something better. 
  • We’ve been talking about what faith means in a Christian worldview in “American Idol”. This article is research on Christian worldview.
  • This is a great story about a great writer
  • Is this a good idea?
  • This offers some great googleing tips

Friday, March 13, 2009

Is this where it’s come to?

Has journalism fallen so far in our country that the only person who actually looks and acts like a real journalist is a comedian? Jon Stewart on the comedy news program “The Daily Show” finally got at what many of us know.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

More Research: Christianity On The Decline In America

The American Religious Identification Survey published its results this week. (Touchstone Magazine has a good summary piece as well, with excellent summary analysis. Be sure and read it.)  It seems that Hispanic that are moving to our country are the only thing that keep American Catholicism from completely going under.  In the Northeast where Catholicism has been so strong – it’s now in in rapid decline.

Protestants are in a free fall. Evangelicals are moving to non-denominational megachurches and away from mainlines and traditional evangelicalism. Non-denominational, highly Charismatic flavored evangelicalism is on the way to domination.

While out and out atheists are still a small sliver of the population, those calling themselves non-religious are growing rapidly. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet in that category. America remains a nation that says it is over 70% Christian, but Christianity as a percentage of the population is shrinking in every category except for Hispanics.

Baptists (who have long been the largest protestant group) are coasting into decline, with growth far behind the total population.   And there is a big generational “horizon” coming with the aging of baby boomers. Most churches in this country are under 75 in attendance and have no younger younger generation.

The need for us to be to pray for the “at least 60,000” unchurched people in our area has never been greater.  The need for you and I to live out our faith in a way that is salt to our community that makes them thirsty for Jesus has never been more needed.  As more and more of our neighbors choose to live in the darkness of life separated from God we must let our light shine so they can see our Father.  We must give our all to reach more unconnected people and together grow to full devotion.  This is our time.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Magnificent God on Letterman

U2 and Bono are at it again.  Even though they have been doing it for 30 years they continue to be seen as one of the world greatest rock bands.  In addition to that the continue to write and sing songs that have lyrics that are overtly worship songs. 

The band has a new album out (you can listen to it free on Lala) and appeared on David Letterman every night last week.  On Tuesday, they played a song called “Magnificent” which reads like Old Testament Psalm.


I was born, I was born to be with you
In this Space and Time,
after that, the Ever-After—
I haven’t had a clue
only to break rhyme
such foolishness
leaves the heart black and blue

Only love, only love can leave such a mark
But only love, only love can heal such a scar

I was born, I was born to sing for you
I didn’t have a choice but to lift you up
And sing whatever song you wanted me to
I give you back my voice
From the womb my first cry, it was a joyful noise.

Only love, only love can leave such a mark
But only love, only love can heal such a scar

Justified till we die, you and I will magnify
The Magnificent

Only love, only love can leave such a mark
But only love, only love unites our hearts

Justified till we die, you and I will magnify
The Magnificent

Friday, March 6, 2009

The foundation of our faith

I read this verse this morning.

And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. (2 Corinthians 5:15)

I know many of you won’t know this but this is the song that came to my mind

O sacred Head, now wounded,
With grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded
With thorns, Thine only crown;
O sacred Head, what glory
What bliss ’til now was Thine
Yet though despised and gory
I joy to call Thee mine.

What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered,
Was all for sinners’ gain;
Mine, mine was the transgression,
But Thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior!
’Tis I deserve Thy place;
Look on me with Thy favor,
Vouchsafe me to Thy grace.

What language shall I borrow
To praise Thee, heavenly friend,
For this my dying sorrow,
Thy pity without end?
Lord make me Thine forever,
Nor let me faithless prove
Oh let me never, never
Abuse such dying love.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I love this quote

Just finished time with my small group (we had a really good group time tonight), we were discussing the lesson from “American Idol” talking about expectations we have for God.  Then I read this quote.  I love it.

From Erwin McManus: "Most of us want God to fix every wrong choice we make without taking from us our right to choose wrongly. We want to make God into our own pooper-scooper following right behind us, cleaning up our mess. [But] God lets us make our bed and makes us lie in it."

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


  • If including Lent as part of your preparation to celebrate Easter this might be helpful.
  • I really like movies (not as much as baseball but a lot) this is a report on what movies were most successful in 2008.  Are you surprised?
  • This is what North Dakota did about abortion.
  • This was my best subject in grade school. Do they still do this?
  • 6473 in one month – this says one girl sent that many text messages.  Do you agree with the author’s conclusions it’s having on our communication?
  • This makes it sound like prepaid is the way to go. Anybody doing that? If so tells us your experience.
  • This aired on a the local TV station I grew up watching in Mississippi. No bacon in heaven? That doesn’t sound right to me.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

How sweet the sound

I’ve been praying this prayer every day this week

Lord, you have taught us that without love whatever we do is worth nothing: Send your Holy Spirit and pour into my heart your greatest gift, which is love, the true bond of peace and of all virtue, without which whoever lives is accounted dead before you.

  • Our goal everyday should be to show to others the same grace and the same mercy that God has shown us. We might not think they deserve it ... but neither do we.
  • Churches ought to be competing to "out-grace" everyone else in the world.  This is different that being more tolerant than everyone else in our world. The difference between tolerance and grace is huge.
  • Everyone is important to God. He loves the man in prison just as much as He loves me. God loves the homeless man just as much as He loves me. God love the unemployed on welfare as much as He loves me. God loves the 3-time divorcee as much as He loves me.
  • Jesus met a woman who had been married five different times and was shacking up with another man. Yet Jesus found her incredibly important and salvation worthy.
  • If God can love me and forgive me of my sins, then I have no right to hold a grudge against anyone.
  • Grace should be Christianity's best gift to the world.  That will only happen in “my little world” if I genuinely allow God to answer my prayer and fill me with His love.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


First, I apologize to those of you who were disappointed that I didn’t post “stuff in my head” for the last few weeks.  Second, I can’t promise I will do that on a regular basis.  So I’m creating a new irregular post called THIS.

  • A church had a store opening near it that it didn’t agree with morally.  They decided to do this.
  • Loved this version of Amazing Grace
  • By making this change Facebook now owns everything you ever posted. hmmmm
  • This is a great idea except for the fact that eventually they would figure out how to turn it around and use it on you
  • I saw this a few years ago and forgot it.  Someone sent it to me again and I just love the story.
  • My friends know that I collect what I affectionately call “Jesus Junk.”  This belongs in a whole other category.
  • This may be longer than some of you will want to read.  It talks in detail about spiritual attitudes in Europe.  The USA tends to follow the trend of Europe by one generation. It could predict our spiritual future unless we turn the tide.
  • If love creative music videos.  I loved this.
  • While I wouldn’t agree with this stimulus it is better than the one that was approved.
  • This was my favorite Super Bowl Ad
  • Hall of Fame basketball coach Kay Yow died recently and she shared this at her own funeral.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

One of the best days of the year

Pitchers and catchers report to spring training today. Happy Valentines Day!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Don’t cover up

If you watch Oprah you saw this a while back.  I don’t watch it but I have a friend who loves the show. Several weeks ago Ted Haggard was on the show.  My friend said, “You need to see that interview.  I’ll get it to you.”  I said “Okay.” The truth is I didn’t want to watch it because I thought I knew the Ted Haggard story  - another fallen preacher, long time fake, etc. I know that’s judgmental but that’s what I thought. Then I watched it.  Turns out I didn’t really know the story.

I was surprised when I  saw him and his family.  The way he openly talked about his issues seemed very honest.  The obvious love his wife and kids have for him and the grace they showed him – moved me. 

Then there was the part that just made me mad.  It turns out that Ted had confessed his same-sex attraction to his wife early in their marriage.  He was abused by a man when he was really young and that messed him up.  But that’s not all that made me mad.  Long before he started acting out on his same-sex attraction he went to some leaders in his church and told them how he was struggling and asked for their help.  Some of them withdrew their friendship from him and left the church.  Others told him just not to think about it and to pray.  He tried but it didn’t help. He desperately wanted the temptation to be gone but now he felt all alone. He felt the pressure to be the “model” parent, husband, pastor, etc. So he never talked about it again.

This is not what the church is about!! We are not about presenting the idea that we are the model anything.  We are supposed to be presenting that Jesus is the model, that He was perfect but He died to pay for our imperfections.  And because of His grace offered to us we don’t have to cover up. 

We have to create a place where all of us can be honest.  A place where honesty is met with love, grace and support.

Friday, January 30, 2009

NBC Turned this ad down for the Super Bowl

A YouTube hit portraying President Obama as an unborn child was rejected by NBC for a Super Bowl advertisement. Here it is

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Stuff in my head 1/25/09

Because of some family responsibilities this week I haven’t had as much time to read. 

  • Do you have a kid that doesn’t want to go to college or you don’ t have a degree? Doesn’t mean there aren’t good jobs
  • Lot of thoughts and hope for the new administration in Washington. I can’t remember an election since the first Regan election that has people as excited/upset.  I’ve written some very positive things this week I will say I was disappointed by this.  It is politics as normal and reeks of the same stuff we’ve been subjected to since the 80’s. I’m still hopeful but it was very disappointing.
  • I’ve never seen anything like this.  You can almost see if something is on Obama’s teeth and Clarence Thomas appears to be asleep.
  • What do you think of this message from the Busch girls to the Obama girls?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

So what do you think of our new president...

It’s the question of the week isn’t it? "Well, what do you thindancek about our new President?" “Did you see the inauguration, what do you think?” Well I didn’t vote for him but there is a lot I like about him.  I also am very proud to have been alive when we elected our first African American president.  There are several important issues that when he described his position during the election I totally disagreed with him.  Since his election I find myself disagreeing less with what He has said.

Let me give you some things I like.

  1. I like that we have a president that knows how to use the power of public speaking to inspire those he is leading.  I thought the 20 minute inauguration speech was awesome.
  2. I love watching him with his wife and children. My wife and I were talking about how much fun it was watch him dance with his wife.  I don’t believe that’s the first time they’ve done that and it appears like they actually like each other.
  3. I love the fact that he is not ashamed of his faith in Jesus. He has said many times that he believes Jesus died for his sins.  We wouldn’t agree on theology but probably most of you wouldn’t agree with me either.
  4. I love the fact that he has been asking us to realize that government isn’t the solution.  That all of us are going to have to be part of the solution.  That’s right in line with what I believe. I know I will offend many of my Republican friends but that kind of talk and his ability to inspire us reminds me of my favorite president – Ronald Regan

Every day I am praying that President Obama will be the best president of my lifetime.  I am hoping that in four years I feel so good about where he has lead our country that I can vote for him.  I’m praying that men I admire like Rick Warren will speak into his life and his relationship with Christ will grow in a time when He needs God’s wisdom.  I’m all behind you Mr. President lead on.

So what do you think about our new president?

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Divine Coincident?

Is it a divine coincident that our first African American President is being inaugurated the day after we remember the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  I grew up in Mississippi in the 1960’s about an hour and a half drive from where Dr. King was killed.  I watched my father serve as chairman of the local school board as they school system desegregated.  I watched as he stood against his “christian” friends who pulled their children out of the schools and started “christian schools”.  So I have long admired Dr. King.  I love his leadership, his courage and his ability to inspire people with hope.  He was an extraordinary person – not perfect but extraordinary none the less. 

I know most people are familiar with his “I have a dream” speech. I have always been intrigued with his last speech.  It was given just hours before he was killed.  I’ve embedded the last part of the speech today as we honor this remarkable man.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Stuff in my head 1/18/09

  • This made me think of my friend Gary. I would go with you in spite of the knees.
  • This phrase about our Father has been with me this week.
  • While this was Not illegal in 1930 you would go directly to jail for doing this now.
  • Can you believe the press didn’t give us the whole story about abstinence pledges? Hard to believe we’d only get half the truth.
  • Loved Bono’s take on this, it made me go listen.
  • Does this have some implication for our starting more smaller campuses?
  • The most romantic country song of all time.
  • Community property?
  • The next  one was sent to me by a “friend” :).  This appears to be a real product. Watch the video she is so excited.  ewwwwww
  • Sent to me by one of my Mac loving friends – The Wheel!
  • This has no easy answer but it’s a huge issue.
  • More stuff I should eat but don’t
  • Jason mentioned this a while back but it is on my mind.  We can not bury our heads in the sand. We can not keep trying to enforce values on our culture we must reach people on at a time and that will change culture. Pray and invite for your paper people – pray for 60,000.
  • I did not vote for President Elect Obama and I’m sure soon there will be things that will upset me, but I am very impressed with some moves leading up to his historic inauguration. I am praying for him to be a great president.  I love the simplicity of this video message from this president.  He seems to understand the importance of inspiring us and leading us.  Love his statement that “the government can’t fix our problems we are in it together.”
  • On the sports side, I am very excited about the new Braves starting rotation. I enjoyed this article about our new Japanese import.