Sunday, September 24, 2006

Pumpkin Cupcakes

You never really know what you're going to take away from church when you go, do you?

Five02 is Rachel and my home church community. It's a fledgling community, being launched from within St. Marks UMC and only in its third actual week (after many months of planning and years of prayerful development). It's set up as a post-protestant (the term I like, others might call it post-modern) community, and the teaching is followed by discussion, which usually lends itself to a greater amount of knowledge, at least on my part. Something about hearing from other people and getting their POVs really drives it home for me, I guess.

Anyways, before each community worship gathering, we share a meal. It's a bring-whatever-you-have-in-your-cupboards potluck style meal. Ryan and Andrea typically make some kind of caserole (last week was super yummy apple-sausage-sweet potato), and others fill in with all kinds of deserts, soups, and whatnot. Tonight was almost completely filled with out-and-out dinners. There was a vegetable-ground beef-tater tot caserole, a lasagne, chili, chicken and bean soup ... and these amazing Pumpkin Cupcakes.

And, as we sat around the tables eating our meal, one-by-one it seemed that all of us tried a Pumpkin Cupcake and marveled at how good they were. They were light, but still filling, sweet but not overpowering, deserty enough to satisfy a sweet tooth, but still plain enough to compliment a meal.

So why do I bring this up?

Partially, because of tonight's teaching. We're going through the Lord's Prayer in our worship gatherings, and tonight we focused on "Your Kingdom Come" ... a simple, but loaded question. Ryan chose to focus on the word "Kingdom" and talk about what the Kingdom of God is, and how Jesus used parables to explain it to us.

Through it all, I came to realize that the Kingdom of God is more about restoration than reward. The Kingdom of God is where we are restored to what God's original plan was. That means we go away from the secular and into the spiritual. Our lives become completely Christ-centric. Everything we do is spiritual ... there are no lines between our "Christian" lives and the rest of us.

So, the Cupcakes, to me, brought this point home as I reflected later. How God-like is it to take something simple, add just a little bit of flare to it, and use it for glory? How many times has God done this? He took a sheppard boy, and turned him into a king. He took a fisherman, and turned him into a leader. He took a persecutor of the Church and turned him into a preacher most of us quote today.

And so what do we have? A basic box of yellow food cake, added to it 15 oz of pumpkin, a quarter cup of water and a quarter teaspoon of pumpkin spice.

And it's that simple.

And the way God wants to restore us, to allow His Kingdom to come ... are probably that simple, taken one step at a time.

And I think I'll pray "God, restore me in a simple step this day, so I may take another step towards Your Kingdom coming."


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Internet and The Church

So, recently, I was catching up on Mark Cuban's Blog (one of my personal favorites to read), and he made some good points (as he almost always does). He talked about how the internet hasn't changed, simply the hardware and the price of the hardware we use to connect to the internet has. It's not that there's been a new discovery of ways to use the internet, it's that it's cheaper to do websites like YouTube, and more common to have homes with high speed internet.

And I couldn't help but think that the church is much the same way. Our God hasn't changed. But our means of communications, and the technology and methods we can use have. But are we? Are we using what's developing around us?

Can you imagine how foolish someone would sound if they said "I refuse to use YouTube, because it wasn't around when I bought my first computer"??? Yet, how many times do people in churches (myself included) do similar things? And, often times, it's not a matter of stepping out of our comfort zones, it's a matter of merging our comfort zones. Letting our "Christian" side mesh with the "rest" of us.

And what's the problem with that? Why can't we use what we know about Star Wars, to try to explain God? Why can't we do a combination bible study football game party? Why can't we create "Christian" YouTubes and broadcast them (or video capture the pastor's message and YouTube that???)?

What is it about our faith that makes us want to segregate it?

I just don't get it.

I want to integrate, from here on out.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Hallowed Be They Name

The Lord's Prayer. Most of us know it, in some form or another.

Our Father
Who art in Heaven
Hallowed be Thy Name
Thy kingdom come
Thy will be done
On earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our tresspasses
As we forgive those who trespass against us
And lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from Evil
For Thine is the kingdom
And the power
and the glory
Forever and ever

Well, at five02, we're kicking off our community launch by studying the Lord's prayer section by section. I missed the first teaching/discussion on "Our Father", as I got assigned child care duties (as an aside if you or anyone you know is in the Findlay Area and would like to volunteer to do Child Care for two hours on Saturday nights to help a ministry get off the ground, let me know). But, this week I got to participate.

Anyways, one of Ryan's main points was that part of God having a Hallowed Name is us keeping God's name above reproach (or at least this is what I heard/got out of it). So, the question is, how do we do that?

We can (easily) acknowledge with our lips, and even with our hearts, that God is mighty, pure, holy, above all, and hallowed. Is it our challenge to keep God's name holy and reverant? And if so, how?

I believe the word offers us to places to look:

O people, the LORD has already told you what is good, and this is what he requires: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

We are required to do what is right. Not to attempt to do what is right. Not to try to do what is right. To do it. Just shut up and do it. Not to make excuses when we don't. To do it. (My thanks to Nike and Yoda for some of the insight there).

We are also required to love mercy. Not only to love receiving mercy, but to love giving mercy. Which is difficult. Very difficult at times. It's not fun to show someone mercy. But it's required. A good friend of mine once read this line as "love loving others". And that's stuck with me. It's a philosophy I like to keep.

And last but not least, in this passage, we are to walk humbly with the Lord. God has given us a role to play. But we must always acknowledge that it is Him giving us a role, not Him needing us to play a part. He could recast us as easily as a sitcom recasts a holdout minor character. That's walking humbly. Knowing that anyone else can be called to fulfill your role.

No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love has been brought to full expression through us.

If God has a hallowed name, and is to be our Father, others need to know this. But how will they ever see God? Through our love. When we love others, he is made fully expressed. No longer emulated or simulated, but replicated. We replicate God when we love others. What an awesome power.

And, so, that's my challenge. At least for myself. To keep God holy, to keep His name above reproach. And there's my blueprint. Do what is right, love loving others, walk humbly, and replicate God through my love of others.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Random Items

Fall Television


Alright, so Rachel got me hooked on Survivor a little while back. I think I watched the blasted thing once before we started dating, and now it's a regular part of our life. So, it is what it is, and it entertains me, so it's something I watch now. Watched the unimpressive season premiere last night. Wasn't great, wasn't bad. I'm always amused by the contestants who seemingly have never seen the show and are so surprised by certain "twists" that always show up.

I'm pretty certain that I've never caught a full season. Last season, Rachel and I missed the first episode, and the season before we missed the finale (way to go, miss the finale of a reality tv show). Here's guessing what show we'll miss this season.

Still too early to call a favorite, at least for me.

Dancing with the Stars

This one is *technically* my fault. I wanted to watch last season to see my boy Kenny Mayne and to a lesser degree Jerry Rice. So that opened the floodgates for it to become a staple. I don't care too much for it this year, but it's entertaining to see A. C. Slater on television again (oh, wait, his name is Mario Lopez? Whoops). My money's on him, although we have a conundrum ...

Gilmore Girls

Another show Rachel got me hooked on. This is the first season we'll have a chance to see first-run episodes as they show (just got the WB this summer), but it's on opposite DWTS. So, which do we watch? The Reality Show with a recap/result show the next day, or the sitcom with reruns in a few months?

I guess we'll figure it out, but my vote is for Gilmore Girls, if only because Luke is the closest any television show has come to putting me on tv.

Sigma Theta Epsilon

Working with some guys from my home chapter to try to help out with rebirthing the chapter at Ohio Univeristy. We met tonight for dinner (Rachel made us meatloaf and mac-n-cheese ... yum), and it was a very good meeting. We left with what seems to be a good direction and a good plan. Let's hope God blesses it. Your prayers for it probably wouldn't hurt either.

This is an exciting time of year for the fraternity. With schools starting up for the year, a lot of chapters will start to have new members. It's always neat to meet new guys at my home chapter, and I really hope we get some new guys interested in Nationals who will interact with us on the Bulletin Boards. I guess time will tell.

Of course, that also means my work load goes up there. Which is a good thing. I love working on things for STE. Working on the newsletter, printing shingles, planning meetings, deciding my future plans ... all stuff I love.

Random God Moment

So, I was driving home the other day, and had one of those wierd "God" moments. Where He brings to mind something random and then speaks to me through/about it. What he brought to mind is a television show Rachel sometimes watches on HGTV called "I want that". And it made me think, shouldn't I be reading the Bible and looking for things that make me say "I want that"? Shouldn't I be living a life so that others will see God in me and through me and say "I want that?" So, I'm going to be trying to make a list of "I Want That: Spiritual" for myself, and see what I come up with. But I'd also love to know what's on your "I Want That: Spiritual" list.

I think that's all for now ...

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

I miss simplicity

I miss simplicity.

The days when every question had an easy-to-find answer. Or at least an answer. That wasn't subjective. That wasn't partially right, and partially wrong.

I miss the days of when I was confused, being able to find the answer ... the exact answer ... I was looking for. Without guess work. Without assumptions. Without doubt.

Where have they gone? Why did they leave? Why aren't answers so easy to find? If the truth never changes, shouldn't someone have compiled all the answers by now?

I miss simplicity.

Oh, where, oh where have you gone?

Monday, September 11, 2006


God really does enjoy to make us work our way into His will, doesnt he? I finally publicly admit that I need to be just looking for a tide-me-over job to help Rachel and I get to our careers in ministry quicker, and boom ... I have a retail job Interview Wednesday at 1.

God's pretty sweet like that

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Still Here, Still Not Dead

So, here's a newsflash:

I'm not great at keeping my blog updated.

So sue me.

Nothing really of news to update on. Still looking for a job (more on this in a minute ... I'm going to provide actual thoughts on this), traveled a bunch last weekend (Findlay to Delaware to West Jefferson to Columbus to West Union, WV to Clarksburg to Salem to Athens, OH to Columbus to Findlay). All-in-all, a good, fun, and productive meeting. West Virgina was my family reunion, Athens was to recruit for STE on the campus of Ohio University, and the other stops were to see family, eat, and/or sleep.

Glad to see Pittsburgh off to a good start without Big Ben in the lineup. I'd talk more about that, but instead I'm going to do an all-sports blog, so I'll put thoughts up on that later. Check that out at:

So, on the job front ... it's extremely frustrating that neither myself nor Rachel (my wife), two hard-working, intelligent people ... both with college degrees ... cannot seem to get a job to save their lives. Somehow ... the entire thing seems to be God's plan.

That's right. I said it. I think God wants us to be struggling through right now. But it's more than just the lessons in humbleness and dependence. It's trying to get through our thick (very thick) skulls that sooner, not later, we need to be starting our calls to Ministry. We need to stop looking for and seeking out career-type jobs that we'll hold for years to come, and instead look for jobs that will help us settle our feet, and let us get back on track to get into a Seminary very soon.

So, keep praying for us. Pray that we'll find the jobs to help us stand on our feet. Pray that we'll listen ... intently ... to what God wants to tell us. Pray that we'll accept the calls he placing in our hearts.

On the good news front, bills are paid this month, and the fridge and cupboards are full! God rocks!