Friday Fun-Day: Living in the Metro

Another quite random “Friday Fun-Day” post.

Today: where we live. Last weekend my family and I went to visit Mt Rushmore and stayed in Keystone, South Dakota, which in October is starting to shut down, literally. It seemed like 75% of the places where “closed for the season”. This prompted a discussion on where we could live in the country. After 3+ days in the small towns with limited dining choices and no grocery store for miles we decided to drive into Rapid City, SD where we had an awesome meal at Olive Garden and some great coffee at Seattle’s Best (I needed some civilization!!!). So, as we discussed, I thought, I could live in a place like Rapid City, SD but I don’t know how long I could. What I mean is the nearest anything after Rapid City was several hours away. I lived in Rockford, IL which was a city itself, but after about 8-10 months, we started journeying out of Rockford for a “change in scenery”. We used to drive 45 minutes to go to the nearest Caribou Coffee (partly for the coffee, partly to just get away). And we even took some trips to Chicago which was a little more than an hour away. But South Dakota?? I don’t think I could do it. I mean, if that’s where God called, of course I’d be there, but if I had a choice? Well, I would want to be near a city. I grew up 20 minutes from NY City, one of the best and biggest cities in the world. I feel a little like a snob even saying this. I know some people love the small town, enjoy the coziness of knowing everyone etc etc. But since I grew up quite different, I would have a hard time living anywhere far from a true city. I mean even in Rockford, IL it was over an hour to any airport — it was crazy for us (especially since our families both live out east so trips to the airport to travel or pick up people traveling to see us was a frequent occasion).

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Is Church the problem?

I have a nagging question that has been bothering me for years. Not sure why I choose now to ask it aloud or even to think about it — but I need to get the question beyond me. For too long, I think I’ve been afraid to ask the question aloud because I wonder if we, the church could be contributing to the issue instead of being a help. Okay, enough preface, let’s get to the question…

Does the church provide a convenient “out” to keep Christians from engaging in evangelistic efforts? You see, when I was in high school I was active as a student leader. Therefore at many of the “big” events I had to be there early and so I had a “spiritual” excuse for not inviting friends to these events. I justified it because I couldn’t be with them and couldn’t bring them because I was “helping”. To the average onlooker I was being a good spiritual leader in the church, but deep down I knew I was neglecting a huge aspect of what it means to be a Christian. In fact, I believe it’s one of the top 1-2 things all Christians should be engaged in and yet it seems to be a rarity in churches today. Are we as Christians involved in the lives on non-Christians? Are we involved in an intentional way? What I mean is are we actually asking questions, understanding their belief systems, sharing our story and God’s story with them? Are we looking for intentional, tangible ways to invite these many friends to services and events that are geared for them?

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Friday-Fun-Day: Time Off-Recreation!

Welcome to another installment of the weekly: Friday-Fun-Day post. I attempt to comment on random stuff from life, popular culture, sports, coffee and whatever else I think about. Sometimes more serious, sometimes more fun – always random though!

Ok this week, since it’s M.E.A. weekend which means the kids have off school for a few days and some people choose to take a day off or two, I figured I’d chat about what we do with a day off. There is obviously more to be done in most of our cases than we have time to do, but I would propose to you that when you have a day off, you take time to be “off”. The word is “recreation” which if you break it down is about “re-create-ing”. We need to take time to re-create. What is it that refreshes you? How can you put yourself in a position that you re-create and are ready for more activity? I think too many of us push and push and never recreate and then wonder why we burn out or blow up. I can’t really tell you what your “re-creation” looks like, because all of us do it differently.

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Christian Maturity — part two

We started this two part blog post by talking about what maturity isn’t and what areas it does begin to show up in. Today, let’s examine some practical steps we can take to move towards spiritual maturity.
First off, I would say keep the three key relationships handy. By allowing the 3 dimensions of relationship with God, relationship with other believers and relationship with unbelievers to form a type of grid in your thinking, you’ll already be well on your way to evaluating and beginning to take steps in your spiritual life.

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Christian Maturity — part one

Our current series through the book of 1 Corinthians has been revolving around a lack of growth and spiritual maturity in the church in Corinth. They had begun to look more like Corinth than Christ. While all of us at one point (the beginning of our faith journey) begin at a place of immaturity the real tragedy comes when a person has been a follower of Jesus Christ for a long time and still shows the same signs of immaturity as a newer person to faith. Unfortunately I have seen many people you’d think would be mature by now, still wallowing in high levels of immaturity. The other thing that is interesting is that sometimes we show signs of maturity in some areas (like our level of discipline and commitment to Christ) but immaturity in other areas (like relating with people) and both in the same person. So I’ve come to believe that Christian maturity is not a either you are or aren’t kinda thing since it can be one area of life and not another. Christianity maturity, secondly, is not an age thing since I’ve seen people who were believers for 40 years and still show strong evidences of immaturity. And thirdly Christianity maturity isn’t about how much you know. I’ve known many believers who knew the Bible very well and yet were applying it very sparingly.

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Friday-Fun-Day: Be Funny!

Welcome to another edition of the Friday-Fun-Day, the blog post each and every week where I seek to comment on popular culture, random stuff from life, sports, coffee etc. In other words, the non-biblical/spiritual stuff that has become the only thing you people read here (just kidding).

So when I was in college I was drawn to the more “humorous” types. There was a professor named Roger Petersen who I traveled around with a little, a really funny storyteller and “pun”-champion of the world (I’d love to see him and Pastor Bob go head to head). Then there was my good friend Wes Coddington who was hilarious and always fun to be around. And I remember on different occasions with both of these guys, people would come up to them and say, “be funny” and I think it was Mr. Petersen who would say, “I’m not a humor vending machine to get laughs on demand.” That always stuck with me and is what I’m feeling today. It’s Friday-Fun-Day on my blog and I’m feeling the pressure to “be funny”. But I got nothing. I mean what was I thinking? Trying to be funny every week? For those of you who listen to my sermons, I’m funny about once a month if I’m lucky and even then, I’m the only one who usually is laughing! (sometimes a kind person full of charity may give me some polite giggles or chuckles)
So, it’s Friday-Fun-Day, “be funny, Jason!” Ummmm…. ahhhhh… Hey, I’m not a humor vending machine, give me a second here….

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Does Church Require Christ?

I made an unplanned statement in my message this past Sunday…I said, “if you can do church without Christ, it’s not church.” I began to think about the implications of that statement and I agree with myself wholeheartedly (ha)– but let’s think about it… in order for the kind of diversity that Jesus calls there to be, my world-system pushes against it, to be able to love people like Christ calls me to love (not just the people I like or the ways I like) it would require something supernatural. And the list goes on of Biblical ideals impossible without the Spirit of Christ in us. I think a lot of my Christian life has been me trying to “pull off” Christianity in my strength. How stupid am I? Or maybe it was arrogance to believe that I could live like a Christian without Jesus.

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Friday-Fun-Day: Transplanted sports fan

So it’s kinda weird growing up on the East Coast (20 minutes from NY City) and living now in Minnesota, especially when it comes to sports. Last Sunday my NY Giants beat the Chicago Bears — I kinda liked that. This week my NY Yankees took on the Twins (and are doing quite well). I know I know, I’ve heard it all about the Yankees – they “buy” their championships, they’re cocky etc etc. But I grew up going to Yankee stadium with my dad, enjoyed some Sabrett hotdogs (the best hot dogs on the planet) and usually left smelling like beer (not because any of us drank but because it would always be splashed on us from the “beer man” or the guy sitting behind us). So I can’t just walk away from my Yankees, because in a sense it’s like walking away from my childhood, my heritage. Won’t do it. Now that being said, I’ve enjoyed the new Twins Stadium and liked going to the game. But it’s Yankees that I must root for.

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Friday Fun Day Topic: Gadgets.

Ok here’s the second: “Friday-Fun-Day” entry (this is a new thing I’m doing every Friday to talk about something random, often ridiculous on pop culture, TV, movies, coffee, life observations. A less than serious weekly blog post.

So today, let’s talk about gadgets. I love gadgets, I really do. For example, I’m the proud owner of an ipad and I really do enjoy it. But one thing I’ve become very much aware of with gadgets – they often try to “fix” problems you don’t really have! The pitch often goes on to blow your mind with all that you can do with gadget X — but when you really stop to think about it, you may begin to wonder, “do I even do any of those things now?” Sure, I’ll be able to do those things with your gadget, but I don’t do them now, so what you’re really saying is here’s something to give you more work to do! No thanks! Be aware of the gadget promise!

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