Thursday, January 31, 2008
- Asking a person whether or not they have had suicidal thoughts actually helps the person talk about this, and decreases the chances of suicide
- More women than men attempt suicide
- More men than women actually succeed in their suicide attempts
- Alcohol abuse can increase suicidal thoughts and attempts
- Eight out of ten teens who attempted suicide gave clear signals that they were considering suicide
Here are some warning signs:
- Suicide threats
- Previous suicide attempts
- Alcohol and drug abuse
- Statements revealing a desire to die
- Sudden changes in behavior
- Prolonged depression
- Making final arrangements
- Giving away prized possessions
- Purchasing a gun or stockpiling pills
The biggest thing I got from the presentation was the need to talk with the person who seems to be suicidal, confronting them with their thoughts and taking them directly to someone who can provide help.
Do you know of anyone who has tried to commit suicide? What warning signs did you see?
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
This group has had a lot of young adults in it. Many of them are working or going to school right now, or they have moved away recently. But we have been able to help them upon their journey, and have learned a lot from them as well. One of them asked, why can't church be like this? Certainly, the table, communal atmosphere with good drink and fellowship appeals to many in this age group. For suggestions on how to start a Starbucks group, see http://www.storyofredemption.com/page66.html.
Unless your church and community has a tremendous number of young adults, you will probably need some "older members" (40+) to give a group like this (or a young adults class) some stability and consistency. At times we have been packed with young adults, while at other times we haven't had any. And yes, young adults like being around this group, so long as the older members are open, willing to listen, non-dogmatic, and willing to truly befriend them. Many are looking for role models and mentors.
Monday, January 28, 2008
In truth, I find these statistics to be unbelievable. I hope someone can disprove them. But if they are even halfway right, they are disturbing to a reader like me. But his point was that people learn in a variety of ways, and if we just approach truth like it is an academic course to be learned, then we will miss a lot of people. Most people today can read, but they choose to learn in a lot of other ways.
- He played music to introduce the sermon
- He displayed on the screen visual images that corresponded with his sermon topic
- He quoted a poem, told a story from the Bible, and related a personal experience
- He used his whole body, including facial expressions, tone of voice, and drama (acting out the story)
- He used metaphors from the Bible
- He summarized his main points with short sayings and had the audience repeat them
- He encouraged participation by asking the audience, "How many of you have ever felt like this?"
- After the service, food was served as people talked with one another, combining the sense of taste with the need to connect relationally.
This hit people on many levels, and created a memorable message/experience. In my own preaching, I have sought to include a lot of these different elements. I have visual slides. I ask questions. I interview people and have them share testimonials. I use video wherever possible. Many of these things I do not necessarily because they are my preferred learning style, but because it is the learning style of so many others.
We really need to think of communicating the message as storytelling--an experience where we gather around and hear the stories that shape our lives. According to Flavil Yeakley, story is the one type of communication that hits all personality types and learning styles. Stories have structure, details, big picture ideas, and they evoke imagination and emotion.
What kind of learning/communication helps you learn the most?
Saturday, January 26, 2008
We have two showings of our house today. We hope they are swept off their feet!
Thursday, January 24, 2008
My prediction? This will be wildly popular. Since when has giving money away not been popular? And yes, if the government wants to give me a $900 check, hey, I'll take it.
Economists seem to think this is a good thing, so I won't argue with them. I do kind of wonder what this says about our society, though. We are in the middle of a war, people are losing their jobs, and we sacrifice by . . . spending money? I know that spending fuels the economy. It just sounds strange. Back in WWII, people scrimped and rationed and bought war bonds. When are we going to be called to sacrifice? Do we even know how? How about in the Christian life?
But I do vow to do my duty as an American to spend that tax rebate check. What about you?
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
I returned home in the evening and was sitting on our bed. Becki came in and said, "Your daughter spent a lot of time and effort making you that card. And when she went out to the garage, she found it on the floor in a pile of mud." Then Gina came in, with giant tears streaming down her face, crying very hard.
I felt just awful. Awful. It didn't matter that the card had fallen out accidentally. I had crushed her feelings. So I held her in my arms, hugged her, told her I was sorry, and asked her to forgive me. She said she would.
Later that day, she asked me what my favorite colors were. I said blue and red. She said that she would make me another card, in blue and red. The picture you see is the card that she made me. "Dear dad. Your the best dad in the world. I love you so much. Happy Vallatimes. From your datter. Gina Nored. I love you. (heart, heart, heart."
What a sweet, precious child. I'm glad that she forgave me. It also made me think about God's forgiveness. We often take his gifts and throw them on the floor. But he continues to forgive us. And he makes new gifts for us everyday.
What gifts from God do we take for granted? Why does he keep giving us gifts?
Monday, January 21, 2008
Sunday, January 20, 2008
In today's culture, truth is approached much differently. People are more likely to accept truth through experience than through accepting intellectual propositions. This is in part due to the failure of all of this great "thinking" to produce consensus, bring about peace, or engender unity. Experience is all that can really be trusted or believed. "Theories" are just that, theories. No scientific method or "hermeneutic" has produced clear, unequivocal results which everyone can agree upon. So what one is left with is one's own experience.
Many Christians have been afraid to jetison the old approach of "proving" our faith through propositions (three point, deductive sermons, "steps" of salvation, etc.). However, experience is just a valid way to discover truth. Jesus said, "17 If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own."
In other words, we can know the truth of Christianity by trying it out. We can discern God's will by living the Christian life.
So if we are trying to "discover" truth, discover God, then we need to not just sit around and intellectualize this. This might mean that you could:
- Join a discipleship group--and discover the friendship and joy that comes through this.
- Become a sacrificial giver who gives at least 10%--and see if God blesses your life.
- Love and forgive your spouse--and see if this is really a better way to live.
In addition in sharing our faith today, we need to invite people to serve, live, pray, etc., even before they become a baptized beliver. As they serve, their thinking will be transformed, and they will begin to accept the truth of Christianity.
Do you learn more from thinking or from experience?
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Sorry for the delay! We have been working to get our house up on the market. It will be on the market on Friday. Here is a picture of our newly finished media room, a 28x29 foot room. Less than half of the room is shown in the picture. The other half has our pool table. With incredible sound and video (100" screen), it really is a great room.
In addition, most of the house is wired for sound, video, and communication. Here are the specs.
There is 14 and 16 gauge speaker wiring throughout most of the house, including writing for:
- 7.1 Surround System in Media Room/Family Room
- 5.1 Surround System in Living Room
- Audio distribution system in living room, kitchen, master bedroom, media room, stair landing area, front porch, back deck) with audio control knobs at various locations
There is component, composite, HDMI, and RG6 Coaxial (cable/DirecTV) wiring throughout most of the house.
- Media Room (2 locations - plasma TV location, video projector location)
- Kitchen Composite
- Media Room
- Stair landing area
- RG6 Coaxial Wiring for Cable or DirecTV Media Room (2 locations, 2 cables at each location)
- Stair landing area (2 cables)
- Kitchen (2 cables)
- Living Room (2 cables)
- Media Room (plasma TV location)
Cat5e wiring, which can be used for Internet and phone access is found in most of the house, including:
- Media Room (2 locations, 6 wires)
- Stair landing area (3 wires)
- Kitchen (3 wires)
- Living Room (3 wires)
Monday, January 14, 2008
We also had a young couple visit with us on Sunday who was very open. I spoke on following the Spirit of God and his leading in our lives. Becki went and visited them, and they talked about how this spoke to them and how they had a great experience and planned on coming back. It is always encouraging when you are able to help people connect with God. It is hard to make connections with people and then tell them that you are leaving--it is sort of living between times. But there will obviously be a ton of these young couples in High Pointe whom we can try to help.
I met today with Matt and Kevin, working on handing off to them the outreach advertising. They will do a great job on this. Seeing people like this step up and use their gifts for God is so rewarding. Matt also joined us tonight for our Starbucks gathering. Matt and I go together to Sertoma each week, and we have become good friends.
When it comes down to it, the only things that matter in life are God and people. I am blessed to be able to serve God and to have people whom I care about and who care for me.
Friday, January 11, 2008
It struck me that despite the massive changes in our society regarding time, flexibility, and fast pace of life, churches still operate as if everyone always has off Sundays and Wednesdays, and that we must all meet together all the time. Churches need to discover what companies have discovered, that that flexibility is needed in today's world.
So we need to give members our blessing in meeting on "non-church" nights (or days), like a Monday for a book club outreach or a Friday night for a life group, and still have this "count." What we typically do is discount these other times as "extra," and that real Christians meet on Wednesday. This must change.
This kind of flexibility will open the doors to more creative thinking, which has the potential to reach more people. As the article warns, however, those left "at the office" at regular times can feel overworked and stressed. This can be overcome, the article's author states, by meaningful face time when everyone is together at the office.
Would you like the blessing of church leaders to be more flexible in what, when, and where "counts" for a mid-week serivce.?
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
Check it out at: http://dynamic.abc.go.com/streaming/landing. This theme idea would make for a good evangelistic series, wouldn't it?
Monday, January 07, 2008
When the oldest Amish girl, age thirteen, figured out that he was planning on killing them, she tried to protect the other children. She told the gunman, "Shoot me first."
As the father of two daughters, I choked up while reading this. It also made me think about Christ, who died for us, seeking to protect us from our own sin and from Satan's clutches.
Why would someone go into one of our most "sacred" places--an Amish school--and kill children? The Amish are opposed to violence. School are supposed to be safe places, with fingerpaintings, chalkboards, and laugther. Besides the sickness of mind, it seems that this must be in part due to the notoriety that is involved in something this shocking. In our 24 hour cable news cycle with media saturation, this act is sure to gain attention.
We also talked about the Amish way of life. The Amish have diversity, but they have some things in common. They are communal. They help one another. They have a slower pace of life. They are non violent. And of course, they believe that they must forgive, even someone who comes in and kills their children.
Most everyone tonight agreed that a slower pace of life would be attractive. Technology promises to make our lives simpler and easier. But in reality, it increases our pace. We are constantly on call and can work around the clock. Why is it that I cannot imagine life without my laptop? We send messages and we and others expect a return message within hours, if not minutes. We apologize for waiting a day or two. A week is an eternity. Are we made to live live at this pace? Coffee is the drug of choice for American Christians.
I have to admit, I am starting to feel the stress right now. I'm seeking to finish well, training people to take my place and responsibilities, continuing to try to set up Bible studies, praying with people, attending funerals, visiting hospitals, doing Strengths and Spiritual gifts assessments, helping people find connections, and preaching and teaching. I want to try to shore up and have continue as many things as possible after I leave. There is a committed core that very much believes in our direction. In fact, I was talking with one of these committed core tonight after our Starbucks gathering. She wanted to make sure that life groups were geared so that she could invite her non-Christian friends and they would feel welcome. God bless her! I told her, you must be one of the ones to carry on this legacy. And I suggested a group to hook up with that was very much oriented towards making non-Christians welcome.
We are also working on getting our house up for sale. And looking at new houses. And planning for and working on things already for our upcoming ministry in Texas. It is a busy time, and something probably will have to give soon. I have either the blessing or the curse of working however hard and long to get the job done. The problem is, sometimes there is more to get done than there is time. Please pray that I have enough faith in God to trust that he will find others to do what I cannot do.
Do you remember the Amish shooting? Could you forgive someone who shot and killed your son or daughter?
Email is great for information and instanteous communication. It is a good way to share positive ideas. It is helpful in staying in touch with people who are far off. It has a lot of benefits. But email can be misused.
Here are some things that email should not be used for:
- Anything that is controversial or could generate heated discussion. There is simply too much room for misunderstanding. You can't read tone of voice. And it takes much longer to communicate.
- Anything which is hurtful or critical. One line of criticism can stick in a person's mind for days or even weeks. If you get these emails, I suggest deleting them so that you don't read them over and over.
- Anything which you would not be willing to say in person. Some use email as a "dump," telling a person off without having to face the person and see their reaction. This is less than human.
- Anything which will keep people up late at night. For instance, if you have to crush someone's dreams, then do it in person or at least by phone.
I get jittery if I don't have access to my email for more than a few hours, I must admit. I think that many of us are addicted to information. However, I also often dread opening my email, particularly when something controversial is going on. We learned in our leadership circle a long time ago that discussion of controversial subjects by email was not productive. Say it for face to face time, where you can read human reaction and can dialogue in a spirit of trust.
What do you think are the pros and cons of email?
Saturday, January 05, 2008
In fact, the news of Obama's stunning victory over Hillary Clinton, who had been the frontrunner and finished 3rd, was the shot that was heard all around the world. This coverage has been reported worldwide. Here are a few examples.
Many commentators have said that Huckabee's and Obama's nominations are a sign that the country is ready for a change from the divisive politics of the past. They both spoke of bringing political parties together. Obama spoke of a "purple America," not blue or red states. Of course, we have heard this from other politicians in the past who were running for president, but they got to Washington and the status quo remained.
I report on this political event to make a cultural obeservation. One thing is for sure. Young people came out in droves in Iowa. Turnout was about 50% higher than normal. Whether this is sustainable, or will stay in Iowa remains to be seen. But clearly, a message of hope, inclusiveness, and honesty resonates with younger generations. They want someone to inspire them. They want to be color blind. They want to see people who are different holds hands together and serve together. They don't want to bicker about minor matters, or live in an atomosphere of derision and division. We need to remember this as we seek to reach out to the world.
What trends have you seen in younger generations?
This past week, Eloise' mother's long time friend and companion, Charles, passed away. I had met Eloise's mother at Eloise's baptism, and so I called her and offered to help in any way that I could. The funeral was last night way downtown in Kansas City. So I left my parents who had just come in to go and be with this family during their time of sorrow.
It was 8:00 PM. As I walked into the auditorium, I could not see Eloise and her family. So I sat down towards the back middle. I could not help but notice that I was the only white person in the group. I'm sure that Eloise and her family can't help but notice when they worship with us that they are one of only two other families in our congregation that are African-American.
There were many testimonials, and it was clear that Charlie had been well loved. He passed away after a long illness. Then the preacher, who was someone in the family, spoke. He had that typical African-American cadence and sing song type voice--very much like T.D. Jakes. He gave a very impassioned plea for everyone there to accept and follow Jesus. Whereas most times this kind of preaching at a funeral (directly trying to convert people that are there) is off-putting to non-Christians, this one may not have been. It was focused on Jesus as being the source of our hope. Then he closed with talking about Charlie's life.
As I sat there, I thought that it would be good for the different races to worship more together. I experienced this at Wilshire, and I've missed it at Liberty. Our community is 92% or so white, so we are pretty reflective of our community. But Kansas City is nearby, and there is a greater ethnic diversity there. Hopefully Eloise and her family can help us make additional inroads in the racial diversity.
After the funeral, I talked with the family, and they were so appreciative. I hope to be able to serve them more in the future.
I got in my car, and I saw that I was almost on empty. Not good, because I was in an unfamiliar part of town late late at night. But fortunately I had a Garmin with me, and it took me to a gas station.
I got out of the car to get gas, and I saw people staring me down. And--I have to admit--I felt a bit of a surge of fear come up through me. Would I have felt this in suburbia? No. Was it justified? Probably not. I usually deride those who express such feelings. But involuntarily, in that time, that place, and that part of town, I felt it come up. I decided that the need for the church to worship and service together with all races was essential in us overcoming fear and prejudice and becoming one humanity. We all probably have a long way to go. But I am glad I went Friday night. I hope that I was able to bless them, and it is an experience I will not soon forget.
Why do we not worship and serve together more with other races? How can we help change this?
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
I am a bit disturbed by the political trend in our country of every listening to, watching, and reading people they already agree with. It's just not healthy. This applies to the Christian faith as well. Christians need to listen to what people out in the world are saying about us. Those on the left and the right need to listen to people with whom they disagree with as well.
Anyway, Chris had an interesting stat tonight. 92% of Americans say that they are happy. I'm dumbfounded by this. For instance, 90% of American men say that they do not have a single close friend other than their spouse. Weekly church attendance is 18-23%. People are missing both God and community, and yet they report that they are happy? What gives?
I'll have to think about this, but my first instinct is that Americans are living in denial. Their lives seems fine--"happy"--living in their materialistic world, with a lot of stuff. But when tragedy hits, when they really take a break from the rat race and actually think, it all comes crashing down. In studying with non-Christians, I have seen this pattern time and time again.
Why do you think so many Americans report that they are happy? Are they? How do we share the gospel with such a "happy world"?
Tuesday, January 01, 2008
I finished up one of my research papers yesterday on Spiritual gifts and evangelism. I'll post some of the interesting results a little later. It was good to get it done, along with the practical work, Using Your Spiritual Gifts: Serving Like Jesus, which is filled with some great stories of how people at the Liberty church have used their gifts for God and others.
Last night we got together with our neighbors for a New Year's party. We get together regularly with them during holiday times, so it was one of the last times that we would be able to do that with them. We'll miss them, and they expressed how they will miss us as well.
Today I have a wedding to do, and then we'll be doing house things. In the next few days we'll be cleaning up, thinning out, finishing out some remaining house building in the basement, and doing research on pricing. We really have a great house--all fixed up for the next family.
This will indeed be a new year for us. In March, we will have been at Liberty for six years. We will soon be moving to the Dallas area, as you know, to work with the High Pointe Church of Christ. We have been so warmly received there. Many people have contacted us, expressing their joy at our coming and well wishings during the transition. To all of you who have sent us greetings, thank you! You are making us feel well loved already and excited about the upcoming work.
What did you like most about this year? What did you like the least? What are you looking most forward to in 2008?
P.S. Aren't we supposed to have been wearing silver jumpsuits or something in 2008 and have floating cars or something?
- ► 2009 (111)
- Off to Texas this Weekend
- Our Starbucks Group
- Connecting with people today in sermons/worship
- More information on upcoming tax rebates
- Having Friends Over for Dinner
- Tentative deal reached on tax rebates--what does t...
- Happy Vallatimes Day, Dad-I forgive you
- Where did our religious traditions come from?
- Great site for photos
- Discovering truth--Choosing to do God's will
- Checking In, Our media/family room
- Monday Reflections
- Flexibility needed in "church services"
- LOST - ABC's show represents our lost world
- Reflections on Tonight's Starbucks Gathering-Amish...
- When not to send email
- What the Obama and Huckabee Wins in Iowa Mean
- My experience Friday night at an African-American ...
- Hardball with Chris Matthews, Americans and happin...
- Our New Year
- ▼ January (21)
- ► 2007 (176)
Theology and Popular Culture Blogs/Websites
- Churches in coffee shops and homes a growing trend
- Harvard's New Emphasis on Applied Knowledge is Instructive to Churches
- Young Adults want a lifestyle and authenticity, not religion
- My neighbor asked me to bless his house yesterday
- Exiles-Living Missionally in a Post-Christian Culture
- Christianity is about a lifestyle, not one hour a week
- Emotion in Worship
- Death by Suburb
- The Don Imus Firing--Lack of Redemption or Justice?
- Books That I Have Read in the Last Year
Some Other Blogs & Sites I frequent
- James Nored
- I currently am a preaching minister, evangelist, and missional leader at the High Pointe Church of Christ in McKinney, TX. I am working towards a Doctor of Ministry at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA, studying missional church, evangelism, and postmodern culture. I give missional church and Spiritual gifts seminars for churches. I have written an evangelistic Bible study for postmoderns (Story of Redemption), New Members class material, and a work on Spiritual gifts. I am blessed with a wonderful wife (Becki) of 13 years and two beautiful daughters (Gina-age 7, Emily-4), the loves of my life.