Tuesday, March 30, 2010


As part-and-parcel with my position as a youth director at my church I am now the proud steward of my very own box! You know, the box. As in, "Just put it in my box and I'll get to it later", or "Oh look, a memo in my box." THE box. I never realized till just now that somehow I've managed to go my whole life without a box. How did I ever survive such an injustice?

*play trippy time-warp music*

At this stage my only interaction with mail looked something like this.

- Mom: Jonathan, can you run out and grab the mail?
- Jonathan: O.K.

Basically, I handled mail, I didn't receive mail.

Adolescence and Teen years:
Repeat the above scenario but occasionally throw in a random credit card advertisement. These, while meaningless and not applicable to my lack of adulthood, made me feel like I was almost there.

Adulthood (at college):
Now I get more credit card applications, bank statements that remind me how little money I have, and catalogs in which to spend the money I don't have. And I didn't even ask for the catalogs. They just say, current resident - as if I don't have an identity or interests of my own! (A special thanks to Eastbay and Lands End and CosmoGirl) The only highlight of the last few years has been getting other people's mail on accident and then having to give it back to the campus mail people.

*play trippy time-warp music back to the present*

Nope. Now I have a real job and get real mail in my box :) Real mail. Except that every piece of mail that has slipped into my box hasn't had my name on it. It has been addressed to  "Youth Director", or "Youth Pastor". (Apparently they didn't get the memo that in the PCA you have to be ordained to be a pastor, and I am not.)

All this to say, I get a lot of mail addressed to whoever is doing what I do, and I sometimes get mail and think, "if this organization knew anything about me or this church or denomination or the type of kids in our youth group there is no way they'd send me this."

Case In Point:
I received letter the other day from an organization that will remain nameless. (it's not that I want them to remain nameless, but I already threw the letter away and I'd have to dig through coffee grounds and banana peels to get it back.)

It was a letter on one side and a color picture and info on the back, all espousing the greatness of this team's evangelistic powers. Included in the troupe is one (1) outstanding illusionist, one (1) professional skateboarder, one (1) BMX Stunt Team, and two (2) rock bands. (If there was a pastor somewhere in the mix, he didn't stand out. I guess he just didn't have enough pieces of flair.) All this and more, center stage and in full technicolor, at the unbelievably low low price of fifteen thousand dollars!!! (yes, count out your pennies, break the pig. $15,000. Or 1,875 Spanish doubloons for the 18th Century pirates among us.)

I mean, seriously. Did the ESV make a bad batch with a few glaring misprints? Or was this just part of the Message Remix?

I don't know about you, but I would be very timid about evangelism if Romans 1:16 read something like this: "For I am not ashamed of entertaining people, for pageantry is the power of man for salvation to everyone who is dazzled, awed, and has their autograph book ready."

No. Jesus died a gruesome death. He humbly took on himself the torturous agony of the cross. He extinguished his life so that we might be resurrected from the dead. He took our sin and declared us righteous. He took our filth. He died our death. He severed his perfect unity with God the Father so that we might be adopted as sons and heirs with himself, the risen Christ. All for the glory of God. We did not and still don't deserve it. His grace is just that great.

I went to a few of these extravaganzas when I was in high school and I remember there being some kids who said their lives changed as a result. To this I humbly admit that God works in mysterious ways and is somehow able to make his still, small voice heard, even in the midst of razzle dazzle bang whiz pop. I can't claim to know who these people are who put on these events. I'll never know their hearts. I'll never know how effective their ministry is. But I'll also never know how effective my own ministry is either. It's all in God's hands. And for that I'm thankful.

Hopefully, when all the speakers and bandstands and microphones are packed up that group is able to say that the word was preached, God was made great, that our sin and depravity we not rationalized or played down or excused, that Christ was faithfully represented, and that the gospel was given out to all who would receive it. Hopefully, that can be said of all of us.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The news that doesn't make the headlines

Although I am tempted to adopt the mindset of Chicken Little following the recent advancement of Obama-care, a second and more insidious threat looms on the horizon. It pertains to a battle that started between students and their administrators (my favorite) about five years ago and has steadily worked its way through the lower courts and has now arrived on the steps of the hallowed halls of the U.S. Supreme Court itself. The best part, in my opinion, is that the students picked the fight!

Problems began "when leaders of the CLS (Christian Legal Society) chapter at Hastings (College of Law) asserted the national policy of the organization, which states: “In view of the clear dictates of Scripture, unrepentant participation in and advocacy of a sexually immoral lifestyle is inconsistent with an affirmation of the Statement of Faith.”

As I read that portion of Al Mohler's blog I was stunned for a few reasons:

1) As a student at Moody Bible Institute I regularly forget that God is at work in more places than my little school. He is present and powerful in the lives of his people all around the earth - Christian schools do not hold a monopoly on the God of the universe. 

2) These students are not ignorant. They know their God, they know their bibles, they know their faith. A nominally Christian student group would never push for that kind of language in their statement of faith, nor would they have the endurance to fight it for five years and take it to the U.S. Supreme Court. These men and women have more courage and tenacity than some pastors I know. 

3) This will not end quietly. Not every case that goes before the supreme court is foreseeable as precedent maker, but the outcome of this case will answer many many questions that have been a long time coming (also attended to by Al Mohler) : Are Christian organizations to be allowed to remain Christian, or must they all morph into secularized associations?

Must the Christian Legal Society surrender its biblical convictions in order to remain a recognized campus organization? Does religious liberty now stop at the law school door? Can Christian organizations remain Christian in an age of ideological “tolerance?”

Read Mohler's post. Pray for the students. 

Also, check out the CLS Purpose Statement, Statement of Faith. They deserve our thanks.

Floating White Stuff

Nothing ruins the arrival of spring like a crotchety snow hag shaking her dandruff collection over the earth in a series of guerilla raids. It's like she hasn't gotten the memo! True, some days - if you didn't know better - are fairly indistinguishable from fall. But over the last week my fiance and I have been excitedly marking the growth of the tulip stalks in the sidewalk planters of our neighborhood, and though it han't broken the seventy degree mark yet (the forecast says next Wednesday) the air has definitely changed.

Granted, I wouldn't normally be yakking about the snow hag except that as I crawled into bed I noticed that the parking lot within view of my window was a lighter color than usual, and some of the lines in the lot were a little blurry, too. Why? Hag dandruff. Little sheets of it. Everywhere. 

For the record, I love snow. I love playing in it, throwing it, hiking and rolling and snowboarding in it. I even like eating it (well, the fresh stuff). BUT. When it interrups the triumphal entry of spring and threatens my tulips, it immediately is demonized to the status of "hag dandruff". I mean, dang it. The Twins are in Spring Training, not "the last vestige of winter" training. Ugh.. and now I've lost sleep to a snow hag...

So. Floating white stuff. Please make your exit. Do not bow. Do not make a curtain call. Do not peak. You'll get your cue in eight months. 


I wrote that at three in the morning. I may have been hallucinating about the snow. But I sure thought it was real at the time...