Halloween and Pseudo-Transformation.

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I have been thinking a lot about the whole Halloween debate. The difficulty with these types of debates is the Bible doesn’t address them so we pick sides and dig in. I know he did a lot of things that angered the “evil” Pharisees. It is easy to point to the Pharisees and say how they represent all the things we disagree with and our position is represented by Christ. But you know what, sometimes I find myself being a Pharisee. I find that I often seek my value in myself by rule keeping alone, actually one of the more scary realities is that it’s generally when I feel I am not a Pharisee that I am most in danger of being one.

A Pharisee to me is someone who has the outward appearance of the values that Jesus came to model with none of the inward convictions he lived out.

I think we need to take a hard look at what is meant when the Bible calls Jesus a friend of sinners.

In his book The Life You’ve Always Wanted John Ortberg talks about Pseudo-Transformation. It is powerful. I think to some people Halloween has become a “boundary marker of salvation.” Here is a short excerpt from his book, powerful stuff.

The great danger that arises when we don’t experience authentic transformation is that we settle for what might be called pseudo-transformation. We know that as Christians we are called to “come out and be separate,” that our faith and spiritual commitment should make us different somehow. But if we are not marked by greater and greater amounts of love and joy, we will inevitably look for substitute ways of distinguishing ourselves from those who are not Christians. This deep pattern is almost inescapable for religious people: If we do not become changed from the inside-out – if we don’t morph- we will be tempted to look to external methods to satisfy our need to feel that we’re different from those outside the faith. If we cannot be transformed, we will settle for being informed or conformed.

Here is where the gospel meets our messy reality.

Is your life primary marked by Love and Joy or by what you do or do not do? When we understand that Jesus kept the law perfectly for us, something we could never do and is not doing, it changes us. We move from law-keeping to be righteous to a thankfulness that Jesus paid it all on our behalf. That gratitude pushes us to live a life of devotion and holiness not because we are better than everyone but because we are painfully aware of our deep need for daily grace. It’s the gospel that frees us not to be absorbed into what Paul calls “meaningless debates.” My advice as someone who has been a kids pastor for nearly two decades, a parent for over a decade, and a sinner saved by grace for four decades, is this go: trick-or-treating or stay home. Do what you feel that you should do for your family. If you feel, you should go then do that. If you feel you should stay home, do that. Neither is wrong, but both can be. How is that? By treating those who don’t participate as weird or thinking you are better because you don’t participate. Both show a failure to live in humility.

5 actions every preschool teacher needs to take.

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When I first started leading elementary and preschool environments, I had no problem leading and recruiting elementary volunteers, preschool was a different story. It wasn’t until I came understand what makes preschool ministry so amazing. The biggest game changer in preschool ministry and recruiting people to help in preschool ministry comes when you understand that you may be the first person to introduce a preschool to Christ. It’s a huge honor to serve in preschool ministry. To help shape a child’s first understanding of who Christ and what he did for them is amazing.

Here are 5 actions every preschool teacher needs to take.

1. Smile, love the kids you serve. Let them see in you the fruit of the Holy Spirit that is a result of a Christ-centered life.

2. Make sure the snacks are good. – Two things no preschooler ever needs is stale goldfish and stale faith.

3. Use snack time to drive home truth. Preschoolers don’t move and don’t talk and listen most while they are eating. Use those few moments well.

4. Remind kids – 1. Jesus loves them 2. We love you. 3. We all need God’s help

5. Practice consistency and flexibility they are your two greatest friends when working with small people.

10 Things Back To The Future Got Right.

Happy Back To The Future Day!

One of the things about getting older is every day something happens that makes you feel older. Today it’s the reality that I was a teenager wondering about how amazing life would be like in 2015. I remember adding up and realizing that I would be 40 years old and thinking “That’s old.” The future is here and as Marty would say it’s heavy. It feels weird that we are living in the day that Marty only spent a short time exploring and trying not to mess up. So today being Back To The Future Day make sure you watch out for a silver Delorean materializing out of nowhere. One of the things they missed in 1985 was the massive popularity of infographics as well as the insane power of beard toting hipsters that being said here is a great infographic on 10 Things Back to The Future Got Right. Enjoy.
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Via Glow New Media.

What do I tell my kids when bad things happen?

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Question One of the Heidelberg Catechism

Q. What is your only comfort
in life and in death?

A. That I am not my own,
but belong—body and soul,
in life and in death—

to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.
He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood,
and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil.
He also watches over me in such a way
that not a hair can fall from my head
without the will of my Father in heaven;
in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.

Because I belong to him,
Christ, by his Holy Spirit,
assures me of eternal life
and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready
from now on to live for him.

Starr Meade in her devotional based on the Heidelberg Catechism called, “Comforting Hearts, Teaching Minds,” she rightly points to the place we must go in the midst of tragedy.  How do we deal with the pains and heartbreaks of life? In her devotional she says the following.

Do you ever imagine “what if-?” What if things went horribly wrong? What if you were seriously ill and were not going to get better? What if something happened to your home or to your parents? Because of sin, all kinds of bad things can happen in our world. Is there anythings that is big enough to comfort us if the worst “what if’s” should happen?

The psalmist imagined “what if” in Psalm 46. He imagined: what if the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the sea? The psalmist comforted himself by remembering that, even then, God would still be our refuge, the place where we can go to be safe. God would still be our strength, and our “very present help,’ even in the greatest trouble.

We aren’t ready to face life unafraid and live it fully until we know we have something big enough to comfort us in any “what if.”

So true thank you Starr for putting into words what my heart needed to hear today.

Psalm 46:1-3English Standard Version (ESV)

God Is Our Fortress

46 God is our refuge and strength,
    a very present[b] help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
    though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
    though the mountains tremble at its swelling.     Selah

Why Apple is slowly losing me

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I am not sure if there could be a bigger fanboy of the Apple universe than me. I love all things apple, but the grip Apple once had on me is lessening, Apple is slowly losing me.

I have never owned a PC every computer I have owned has been a Mac. I used to wait for Steve Job’s keynotes like a small boy waiting for Santa, who fell asleep on the stairs and woke up magically in his own bed. Only to head downstairs the next morning to be wowed by the amazingness under the family tree. I am no longer that boy. I am now the boy that was told by his best friend that Santa Clause is mom and dad. The presents are fine, but the magic is gone.

This year I switched to an Android phone mostly because I save 120.00 a month on my phone bill and other than the texting being a nightmare I prefer the phone. This week I switched from AppleTV to Roku for a two reasons. Control and innovation.