And Another Thing…


Not Like Riding A Bike At All

This summer the church that I attend is having devotionals on Wednesday nights in lieu of classes since, like most churches, our summer attendance is spotty at best and we have a hard time rallying teachers for this season. Because of our preacher’s absence this week I have been asked to speak this coming Wednesday night. It has been about nine years since I have had to prepare a sermon (not counting weddings) and I have one thing to say: It’s not like riding a bike. Not even close. The past two weeks of preparation have been a serious struggle for me.

That said; I am still looking forward to it. One of the few things that I miss about full-time ministry is preaching, even if all that I ever did was fill-in or pinch hit. Any believers who are reading this: I sure would appreciate a prayer for my message sometime before 7:30 PM Wednesday night, Eastern Time. Many thanks.


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Getting What We Pay For

I’m going out on a limb here, but I think maybe this woman missed the point, despite all that church-going.


Disabled Man’s Ordeal Leads To Bus Matron’s Arrest

Family Furious After Man With Cerebral Palsy Was Left Alone In Frigid Brooklyn Yard For 19 Hours

NEW YORK (CBS) – He could have frozen to death.

On Thursday night police charged a 51-year-old woman for allegedly leaving a mentally and physically challenged man — overnight — on a bus for 19 hours.

Ed Rivera, who has cerebral palsy and the mental capacity of a 2-year-old, survived alone, trapped in a parking lot Wednesday night, as the wind chill hovered near zero.

Rivera’s New York City family was in disbelief Thursday night following a day of uncertainty.

Rivera didn’t arrive home Wednesday night. His special needs bus, ironically named Outstanding Transport, should have dropped him in East Harlem, but investigators found him almost a day later — miles away in a Brooklyn bus yard. Sources tell CBS 2 HD Rivera was strapped in his seat directly behind the driver’s seat. How the driver missed him is not known.

However, late Thursday sources told CBS 2 HD police were talking to the bus matron Linda Hockaday, the assistant to the bus driver. The source said Hockaday admitted to knowing that Rivera was still on the bus when it was locked up on one of the coldest nights of the year. Her rationale for leaving? She apparently didn’t want to be late for church. [Emphasis mine]


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A warning to preachers

I have always had a very low tolerance for church-hopping, and little patience with people who make a habit of it. You know the type: the preacher said something that made me uncomfortable, or I didn’t like that song, or [insert the excuse of your choice here] so i’m leaving!

Preaching is a rough job and all of us need to exercise some patience with the (mostly) good people who get up in a pulpit every Sunday and try to bring the Word to us.

But if I am ever sitting in a church auditorium and the preacher does something like this, I will walk out on the spot. And maybe hit him with a blivet afterwords.

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I will never complain about worship again

In the tradition of how to pee like a Christian and Brother Barry (woo-hoo!), I offer the auditory/visual experience below. I have turned a corner, seen the light, responded to the wake-up call. As long as I never have to set through something like this at church, I will never complain about the song service again. You have to click below for the goodness, but I promise you it’s worth it.

The Renewed Mind Is The Key

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Jesus, School My Heart

 Those who know me know that I have mixed feelings about contemporary church music. I do believe that it is essential for believers to always be writing and singing new songs. At one time, all of the classics that our more traditional brethren prefer were new songs, and came from some surprising sources. For instance, Martin Luther “borrowed” the melody and tempo for “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” from a popular German beer-hall sing-a-long. And it worked. The people knew the melody and the lyrics just fell into place. By all means, we should use the language of the day. It is a waste of breath and energy to sing a song whose language is so esoteric that 75% of the people singing it have no idea what they are expressing.

On the other hand, I also believe that songs written in devotion should demonstrate our best efforts. Nothing less than our deepest reflection, our best choices of language, and our most creative, moving, and poetic thoughts should find expression in congregational singing. Songwriting, much like preaching, is both gift and discipline, and only those who have the inborn talent and the discipline to hone that talent should try to pass their songs onto the church.

This is why I am sometimes left stunned or snickering at some of the language of devotion that we employ in church singing. For instance:

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The stupidest thing I have heard this week

“Free pizza and dilly bars? [The Apostle] Paul spoke of this in weeping. This is certianly not following his example!”

If you want to know where this little gem came from, click here.

And I am offering a no-prize to whoever can find Paul’s condemnation of pizza and dilly bars in the New Testament.

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Some Kind of Hero?

HOUSTON, Texas (AP) — The youth minister who confessed to a 1994 killing is being widely forgiven by members of his former congregation, who say they admire his courage in finally surrendering to police. Calvin Wayne Inman, 29, remains jailed without bail since he was charged Wednesday with capital murder in the stabbing death of a convenience store clerk during a robbery. He was 16 at the time.During Sunday’s service at the 800-member Elim Church, congregants praised the recently ordained Inman as a born-again role model taking responsibility for his sin.”He’s a hero, really,” said Kelley Graham, 24. “I don’t know how many people would do what he did. The Bible says you just need to confess to God. Calvin took an extra step.”

Inman went to authorities on February 5 and admitted that he stabbed Iqbal Ahmed, 64, nearly 14 years ago in suburban Pasadena.

According to police, Inman said he and a 13-year-old friend planned to rob the convenience store. When Ahmed asked to see identification before giving them tobacco, Inman stabbed Ahmed in the chest with a kitchen knife, police said.

Inman resigned from the youth job in December.

“The debt he’s paying to our society is teaching our young people to do the right thing,” said Cheryl Ellis, a member of the church’s youth staff. “To lock him away someplace and say he owes it to society is robbing the next generation of a mentor.”

Robin Thac said her 17-year-old son was active in the youth group that Inman led.

“I am thrilled my son has a role model to accept responsibility the way Calvin has,” Thac said. “There are way too many men who don’t accept responsibility.”

Police have said Inman’s friend, now 28, has acknowledged being involved in the robbery but not the stabbing. Because of 1994 juvenile laws preventing prosecution of people 13 or younger, police said they could not charge the friend. [Source]

This story disturbs me on many levels. Its always disturbing to imagine children or teenagers being capable of murder. Its also disturbing that Inman sat on his crime for 14 years and went through the process of becoming a minister with this on his heart.

But the part that disturbs me the most is the response of the congregation. Not the part about forgiving him, but holding him up as a “hero”. In what way is Inman a hero? Because he couldn’t live with the guilt any more? That just means he is not a sociopath. Is he a hero because he decided to take responsibility for his actions? That just makes him a man.  I can’t help but wonder if any of the parents of the teenagers (or the teenagers themselves) in this congregation are horrified about this.

I am not making light of the courage he must have had to muster to go to the police and confess; in fact, I commend him for it. Furthermore, I hope that he finds the redemption that he so desperately needs in Christ. And we should all rejoice that the family of his victim will finally have some peace.

But Inman is no hero or role model. A hero would not have robbed anyone. A hero would not have committed cold-blooded murder. And a hero would not have masqueraded as a servant of Christ with blood on his hands.

Feeling guilt for an action does not make a hero anymore than taking responsibility for an action. Believers, we need to be careful about who we hold up as role models.

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Where in the World…