Interactive Sermon

"Those who have the disease called Jesus will never be cured" ~Old Russian Proverb

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

What's On My Mind?

Enter with caution - my mind is a scary place!

Martin Luther ~ I was a guest speaker at MAFA yesterday in the history class. I was tasked with sharing about Martin Luther. In researching, a few things particularly caught my attention: (1) His initial intent was something small, but things exploded into something he hadn't planned or imagined. (2) When things really went sour, only a couple friends remained by Luther's side. (3) Although it was Pope Leo and Church Councils that sought to undo him, Luther saw his struggle was against evil - 'but still our ancient foe, doth seek to work us woe'. (4) He didn't see it all as chance, but rather Luther understood it all to be the hand of God - 'for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us'. (5) The end result was, and continues to be, far greater than Martin Luther had ever imagined. And, for those with ears to hear... thanks.

Britney Spears ~ (How's that for a segue - Luther to Britney?) I was planning to blog some jokes about Britney hearing that 3 Chords decided not to close their gig the other night with one of her songs, but went instead with the Backstreet Boys, and that she became so distraught she shaved her head and went into hiding. Then I thought a bit more about the news stories the last couple of months where Britney is concerned. It's not something I want to poke fun at. This young lady is in a spiral, and I'm very worried that we will be reading Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain or Anna Nicole Smith headlines about her in the future. Kyrie eleison?

Frozen Digits ~ I get to spend this morning doing a brake-job on my van. That metal to metal sound every time I stop tells me it's time! I promise you there is nothing like holding steel wrenches in your hands when it is 20 degrees outside.

Hebrews 8 ~ Oh yeah! At least I have some good stuff to think about while I'm freezing my digits off. My Hebrews crew - see ya soon.

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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Prepare Your Heart

As Sunday approaches, join me in preparing to worship our Lord! Tomorrow has been titled 'Amazing Grace Sunday' by many churches around the world in celebrating the end of slavery, and in anticipation of the theatrical release of the movie 'Amazing Grace' which opens next week.

Jesse and the music team have a great set of songs ready for us to sing. Our study in the word will include a parable in Luke 14:15-24 and a text in Matthew 13:44-46, all having to do with the manner in which we respond to the gospel of the Kingdom.

I look forward to worshipping the Lord together with you!

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Amazing Grace Party

The film 'Amazing Grace' is set to be released next week, February 23rd. The film is based on the true story of William Wilberforce's struggle to end slavery in 18th Century England. It is for this movie that Chris Tomlin was asked to compose a new chorus for the hymn Amazing Grace. Check out the movie's website here, and catch the theatre preview.

I am thinking a movie night party is in order. Anybody up for a trip to the theatre with me next week?

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

My Valentines

Last reminder. I hope you remembered your Valentine!

There's one more on my list of Valentines. She's the original. Mom!
She's going to absolutely love the fact that I've put this picture of her on the internet for all to see - celebrating her 75th birthday last year complete with a bow for her hair made of napkins by our waiter!
I owe Mom a great debt of love and gratitude, after all, she loved me through many challenges, and loves me still. Go figure! That's what Moms do. Mine does it better than them all.
She lost her Valentine years ago, but taught us one of life's most valuable lessons - the show must go on. She allowed God to turn her grief into a ministry of bringing others joy, using her creativity to gather friends often and 'discover' hidden talents that would lead to variety shows, loving roasts and toasts, and good old entertainment. She even had a troupe of her entertainers crash my wedding reception dressed as birds, singing 'We Are Family!' That's Mom. I am proud of her.
I love ya, Ma! Will you be my Valentine? (Oh, and by the way... bet none of your other kids declared their love for you across the World Wide Web! Lots of love... your FAVORITE child.)

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My Valentines

Since the very first time I saw her 24 years ago, I knew that Shari was my lifelong Valentine! After only a couple years of my stalking her, I convinced her that we were meant to be.
Our first date was a Bruce Springsteen concert. Fitting. She started dating the kid described in 'Growing Up'; we struggled to beat odds stacked against us as depicted in 'Prove It All Night'; and our life together have has been a retelling of 'Born To Run' - "One day, girl, I don't know when, we're gonna get to that place we really wanted to go, and we'll walk in the sun... but 'til then tramps like us..."
So, I'm living my fairy tale with the girl of my dreams. One day these other Valentines of ours (as you've met in earlier posts) will all be out on their own. That's when I look forward to Shari and I writing some new choruses together... more like Barry White than Bruce Springsteen.
Shari, 'I love you with all the madness in my soul'. Will you be my Valentine?

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My Valentines

Happy Valentines Day. Have you remembered your Valentines?

Her arrival changed my world. In an instant I went from being a relative nobody to having the most important title in the world - Dad. I remember being absolutely scared to death when the nurse said to me, "Okay, you can take your family home now." I thought to myself, "Don't I get an owners manual or something?"

Amanda is our oldest. I'm very proud of her. She makes wise choices in choosing friends, and she gets the real important things where life is concerned. She will hate that I've chosen this picture that is more than 2 years old, but it's one of my favorites, taken in an orphan school in Namibia.

Amanda loves to dance. She's been assisting younger dance classes for a couple years and talks about a future as a dance instructor. I'm certain that whatever she sets her mind to do, she will succeed. Just don't ask her to eat a sandwich. She likes the bread, meat, lettuce, tomato and cheese - but put them all together in one bite and she's convinced it's the work of the devil.

Amanda, I love you. Will you be my Valentine?

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Friday Night With 3 Chords!

Interactive Sermon Exclusive!

3 Chords & A Cloud of Dust will take part in Friday night's Open Mic at JBeaners in Amherst. The Open Mic will serve as another of 3 Chord's tune-ups before they kick off their World Tour (of Southern New Hampshire) and in anticipation of the release of their debut albums (note the plural!) later in 2007. Darin explained: "Yeah, we want to be different. Anybody can come along and put out one record. But two? Now that would be something!"

You can follow 3 Chords news by visiting the band's website at Concerning the website, Jesse said, "Dude! We have a website? Since when?"

So what will 3 Chords play this Friday night? Jimmy offered this clue: "We've been getting in touch with our harmonic selves. We want to teach the world to sing, in perfect harmony!"

Make plans now to come on over to JBeaners Friday night for the Open Mic. 3 Chords is scheduled to play at 8:45pm. Hope to see you there!

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My Valentines

Have you remembered your Valentines?

This picture says a lot about Katie. She's got one hand firmly anchored on the handle, and the other free to wave! Katie balances a very mature hold on the things that are important in life with a free and fun-loving spirit.

A fine dancer herself, this year Katie began assisting dance classes for the young children at the dance studio, and with her older sister formed their own dance classes for children at the church. Working with the young children brings her great joy. And they love her!

Katie is our family's resident artist. Her creativity with pencils, charcoals, crayons and markers as well as her talents with crochet hooks have caught the attention of many.

Of all of her talents and traits, Katie's genuine care and concern for others is what I've come to be most proud of. She has a gentle spirit and a servant's heart, and a Christ like love for others. I love you Katie, and I'm proud of you.

Will you be Dad's Valentine?

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Monday, February 12, 2007

My Valentines

Continuing reminders - Remember your loved ones this Valentines Day!

Rebecca is my nearly 10 year old Valentine! I love you, Beck!

Becky's nickname has been 'Crash' since she was very young - she's the fearless daughter of the bunch. She learned how to swim by throwing herself in the water. She learned to tube by aiming herself over a waterfall. She looks at life with a reckless enthusiasm that makes us all wish we were more like her.

Becky's latest passion is basketball, and she's thrown herself into it just as you would expect, learning the skills and applying them to her game. One of my highlights as a Dad these days is going to her practices and her games.

I'm most proud of Becky for her spirit. She has the confidence to wear a Yankees hat in New England. She has her own fashion sense and style. She makes friends wherever she goes. She's hip. She's cool.

Yo Beck! What up? Valentine? Peace.

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Saturday, February 10, 2007

Prepare Our Hearts

As you prepare your heart to gather tomorrow as the church and to worship our Lord, give Matthew 13 a read. We will consider together the passage we call 'The Parable of the Sower' in desiring to understand how the message of the Kingdom is received. You might also be blessed to give a quick look to some of the passages in the New Testament where Jesus mentions either 'the Kingdom of God' or 'the Kingdom of heaven' - a concordance can help you locate them. What did Jesus have to say about this Kingdom?

Jesse and the music team are preparing a great acoustic set for the morning complete with a couple of Chris Tomlin tunes, Tomlin's new arrangement of 'Amazing Grace', a Lincoln Brewster tune and a couple more favorites of the congregation. Come with your heart and voice ready to sing praises!

Our friend Brenda Johnston from Hopes Promise Orphan Ministries in Namibia is also here with us this weekend. She will be at both services in the morning, and available between the services and after the second service, for people to meet and greet her and to hear the latest news from HPOM.

As always, I look forward to sharing in worship with you!

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Friday, February 09, 2007

My Valentines

Another reminder to any and all - Valentines Day is less than a week away. Have you remembered your Valentine?

Every guy should be as fortunate as me - surrounded by beautiful girls!

This is my youngest daughter Emily. She makes us all smile with her wonderful sense of humor and her mischievous spirit. She's just about filled my den with wonderful pictures and crafts that she's made - she has quite an artistic flair. She loves to dance and entertains us all with impromptu dances around the house, some of which are destined to become blackmail material when she's old enough to be embarrassed by them. Like her Daddy, she loves good old rock-n-roll. Perhaps you've seen Emily's Bon Jovi imitation in our family video (click to view the Shaw Family World Premier in the right panel). Yep, I'm a proud Papa!

Emily... I love you! Will you be Daddy's Valentine?

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Faith & Football

This article on Colts Coach Tony Dungy and a number of his players mentioning their faith in Christ in connection with their football season is worth a read. The conversation that was certain to be all about race - this Super Bowl featured the first two African American Head Coaches to reach the game - has moved more so the direction of faith. Both Coaches and many of their players are devout Christians.

A few thoughts came to mind as I read the article: (1) Concerning the comment at the end of the article "These people were hired to coach, not promote their private religious values" - I don't hear anyone telling Oprah Winfrey that... or Bono... or Sean Penn... etc. (2) I wonder: Should one separate their personal values from their career? I believe the Irsay family hired Tony Dungy, in large part, for his personal values. (3) I am really thankful for the last few paragraphs of the article. You see, for many the first encounter they've had with Tony Dungy is his post game words about his faith. I am among the many, however, who have seen his faith on display since he became the Buccaneers coach in 1996. I've seen his faith in the midst of the good, the bad and the tragic. That's what's telling to me.

So, what do you think? Is it right for these believers to speak out about their faith? Is Dungy crossing a line? Were you offended?

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The Old '419 Scam'

Good news! Someone wants to give me millions of dollars! Let's see... I want a new Mustang... a football (you know, an OFFICIAL NFL football)... a G.I. Joe... Oh yea, and I'm going to tithe on the money - you know, give a little to the Lord!

Here's a clip of the email I received this morning:

Dearest In Christ,
I greet you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ our Lord, I am Mrs Savannah Jahab from Kuwait. I am married to Mr Alex Jahab who worked with Kuwait embassy in Ivory Coast for nine years before he died in the year 2004.We were married for eleven years without a child. He died after a brief illness that lasted for only four days.Before his death we were both born again Christian.
Since his death I decided not to remarry or get a child outside my matrimonial home which the Bible is against.When my late husband was alive he deposited the sum of US$2.500million dollars in a Bank in Abidjan Cote d'Ivoire.Presently, this money is still in bank.Recently, my Doctor told me that I would not last for the next Eight months due to cancer problem.

Gee, I'm sure glad she doesn't intend to remarry of have a child out of her matrimonial home. A good Christian, she is!

And, yep, you guessed it. This poor, dying, good Christian widow wants me to have her millions! And so she gives me a way to respond. If I do, she will soon tell me that the way to claim her millions is for me to first wire her thousands - to establish the bank account needed to transfer such a large sum of money, or some such rubbish. I decided to run our poor widow and her story through an internet search. I found the very same letter on file as the basis for what they call a '419 Scam' on a number of consumer protection websites, only the names and locations were changed. Seems there are a number of very wealthy widows wanting to give their money away because they were told they only have a year to live!

It must be about once a month that I receive some form of this scam to my email address. My question is: Who is dumb enough to fall for it, so as to keep these con artists running the game? Somebody out there must be wiring away thousands in the hopes of cashing in big-time. I remember my Dad telling me once: "If it sounds too good to be true... it probably is."

So, what Spams/Scams are littering your in-box these days?

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Preachin' Politics pt. 2

Mike Huckabee. Who? The 'other' Republican. You know, the one not named McCain or Giuliani.

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, not to be confused with Huckleberry Hound, though there is some resemblance, launched a 'Presidential Campaign Exploritory Committee' last month. They may as well be exploring if anyone outside of Arkansas has ever heard of the man.

Poking around his website you learn quite a bit about him (contrasting that with the website of Barrack Obama I searched last week - where I failed to learn anything about the man or what he's passionate about).

He gives a very clear statement on his site, for instance, concerning his view of abortion and Roe v. Wade. Then he makes sure to include that the rest of the possible Republican candidates are waffling on that issue. He also includes a strong statement of his position on the Second Ammendment, complete with a picture of him killing something. PETA members won't be voting for him - but then again, doesn't everyone who lives in Arkansas kill their supper?

Huckabee is a Baptist minister. He speaks freely of his faith in Jesus Christ. He has deep ties with Evangelical groups and causes. He speaks very clearly of family values, "We've gone from 'Leave It To Beaver' to 'Beavis & Butthead'."

I'm afraid that Arkansas Mike has about as much a chance of becoming President as Huckleberry Hound. He's got the big three strikes against him: (1) no name-recognition; (2) speaks what he believes - rather than what polls tell him he should believe; (3) he's a real friend of Jesus Christ.

But wait, this just in... the former Governor from Arkansas plays music! Hasn't that been successful in the past? Now that might just help his cause. Look for the Huckster to show up on SNL or David Lettermen, sitting in and slapping his bass, and you just might have a darkhorse contender.

Next up: Hillary (so cool when a candidate really only needs one name)

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Valentines Day Approaches

Always desiring to help, I figured a few articles between here and Valentines Day to help people remember to mark the occasion would be a good thing.

Check this article. A couple who have been entangled in a romantic embrace some 5000 years were unearthed in Italy. They took that 'until death do us part' line seriously, eh? Now that's romantic!

Just a thought... some hugs like this one while you're still alive would be really cool too.

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Monday, February 05, 2007

What A Night!

Great Super Bowl event - even brokenhearted Patriot fans have to agree.

Congratulations Vicki for the winning chili entry! Congratulations Pam for winning the big drawing!

As a lifelong Buccaneers fan, I couldn't lose last night in the actual game itself - two coaches in Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith with Buccaneer ties. In the end, I wound up rooting for Dungy and the Colts - and I was thrilled to see Tony Dungy's post game interviews. What a great guy!

The highlight of the night for me may be Prince's halftime show. Not since U2 truly blessed us all with their 9/11 tribute halftime show in January 2002 has the Super Bowl halftime production been this good. I tried to make out the different pieces of Prince's 12 minute performance (including a dancing marching band... gave me ideas for Easter Sunday at CCA). To my recollection it included the following: We Will Rock You (Queen), Let's Go Crazy, Baby I'm A Star, Proud Mary (made famous by Ike & Tina Turner), All Along The Watchtower (made famous by Jimi Hendrix), and Purple Rain. There was another tune in there I couldn't make out. Anyone remember it? All I can say, it was a knock-out performance in a driving rain.

Unfortunately I didn't manage to catch any of the commercials - I used those breaks to refill my chili bowl, or to get a drink refill to put out the fire from the chili bowls.

What did you think? Game? Halftime? Favorite commercials?


Saturday, February 03, 2007

Ramping Up To Sunday

Great praise and worship opportunities await us as we prepare to gather tomorrow as the Body of Christ. We will be celebrating the Lord's Supper at both services, so come with your heart prepared.

Jesse and the music team have a great set of music ready for us to sing including a couple of great hymns, and favorites by Tim Hughes and Lincoln Bruster.

If you would like an advance look at the text we will study together, give a look at 2 Kings 22 & 23 and 2 Chronicles 34 & 35. We won't be reading all four chapters, obviously, but we will be considering the reign of King Josiah, and looking to learn more about the nature of God's Kingdom and how it relates to us.

I look forward to worshipping the Lord together with you tomorrow morning!

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Friday, February 02, 2007

Prayers For Our Friends In Deland

This morning we've learned of a wave of thunderstorms and tornadoes that swept through Lake and Volusia Counties in Florida, where I have family, and Christ's Church has many friends. My brother Dave's church, Covenant Community Church in Deland, lost a couple to the storms when their home was completely leveled overnight. The couple's teenage son survived the storm and is hospitalized in Daytona Beach with injuries that are not thought to be life threatening.

I took a cell phone call from my brother moments ago. He and a few men from the church have made their way out with chain saws and tools, attempting to help people in the community. They made their way to the home of this church family that perished, and Dave said there was nothing recognizable left of the home. At the moment, they are trying to find and gather any personal items they can for the couple's son.

Please join me in praying for this young man Aaron, and for our brothers and sisters in Christ at Covenant Community Church as they reach out to their community.

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Super Bowl Storylines

As the Super Bowl (and Christ's Church's annual Super Bowl Party and Chili Cook-Off) draws near, the football fan in me is loving every minute of it.

If you've been watching the players press conferences this week, you've no doubt noticed the very different tone. There are zero of the brazen personalities, no arrogant statements, and no self-aggrandizement. There have been no rumors of Colts or Bears players carrying on at wild parties. There have been no arrests. Just respectful and gentlemen players and coaches. It's driving the media crazy!

Make no mistake about it - this is a reflection of the Head Coaches of these two teams. Their demeanor has settled into their entire organizations.

I ran across this story this morning that illustrates my point. It was a painful day for me as a Bucs fan when in Tony Dungy and his offensive staff were let go after the 2001 season. But note the story from Clyde Christensen's perspective. Note how they both see God's hand to have been in this.

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Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Way We Communicate The Gospel

This morning I ran across an article at Christianity Today's 'Out of Ur' site that caught my attention. The article itself really is nothing more than an advertisement for an upcoming Pastor's Conference that CT offers. But, it was the headline (and the premise behind this year's conference) that caught my eye: "Preaching The Word In An Image-Oriented Culture".

For many, all talk about the distinctions between Modern and Post-Modern era, with regard to church and ministry, has become fatiguing. I recently heard someone say, "I am post-Post-Modern... in other words, I'm over it!" This article title, I think, offers something interesting to think about. Follow me.

The Modern era is widely understood to have dawned with the advent of the Printing Press. The era prior to that, scholars (and other annoying people who converse on this) identify as Pre-Modernity. Think on this: the way the gospel was shared and Christianity was communicated changed at that threshold - Pre-Modern to Modern era. Before there was the ability to produce copies of the Scriptures and get them into people's hands; before there was the ability to print theological books and Christian literature in quantities; before there was the ability to hand people gospel tracts, the message was communicated almost exclusively through the arts. In other words, the world was image-oriented. Great works of fine arts, story telling and drama, symbols and icons - you get the picture (no pun intended).

Then, modernity dawns and the world moves into a print-oriented age. Through the modern era the gospel became a message primarily communicated through literary content. Christendom developed systematic theologies and apologetics - and summarily began to dismiss the arts as idolatry. With me so far?

Now, we find ourselves in what those scholars (and boring people) refer to as Post-Modernity. Many associate the threshold from Modern to Post-Modern with the advent of the global community (the internet and other technologies that make the far reaches of the globe a simple mouse-click away). One thing that has happened in culture as this new technology has dawned, I'd suggest, is that we have moved, largely, from a print-oriented to an image-oriented world once again. Not sure about that?

Have you noticed that all your favorite television networks now display their logo in the bottom corner of the screen, and usually interrupt your viewing with visual communiques as you watch your favorite programs? Have you noticed how every news story on the evening news now has its own artwork? "The War On Terror", for instance. Have you noticed that while you watch one news story, three others cross the screen on ticker tapes? Ah, text! No. Images, cleverly disguised as text.

The point of my rambling is this: we really need to consider the manner in which we display (intentionally chosen word) our faith in this image-based age. People today, who do not know the Lord, are not going to be as open to our print as they are to what they see. More important than a tract to clearly articulate the Ontological Argument, they are looking to see if my life and yours articulates that message. More than they will be impressed by Four Spiritual Laws in print, they will be caught by seeing the law of God's grace written upon our hearts and lubricating our interactions. And the arts are back in communicating Christ. The church needs to, once again, look to the fine artists, performing artists and literary artists (yes, that's print, but in an image form - see the word 'artists'?) recognizing their gifts in communicating God's story.

The simple truth is that we live in a different time than when many of us came to faith in Christ. The message of the gospel has not changed, truth has not faded, but the manner through which people are most likely to hear, see or come to appreciate the gospel has.

What do you think?

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