Thursday, September 25, 2008

Do You Have A Daddy?

Yes, you have a daddy. That was Jackie's silent response to an unasked question. As a maternal child home care nurse, she travels throughout the community caring for her patients and often notices when she does there is no father present in the life of the child.

One mother admitted to her that she felt guilty and depressed because she had wanted something better for her children. So Jackie wrote a poem in response to her feelings that she hopes will be published as a childrens’ book she could pass out to her clients bringing hope and love to fatherless families. Does anybody know a publisher? In the meantime, she is collecting new and gently used Christian children's books to hand out to her clients. Her email address is: if you'd like to help or encourage her too!!!

Yes, you have a Daddy who loves you tenderly, and though you may not see Him, He’s as real as real can be / Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart. Jeremiah 1:5 NIV

Yes, you have a Daddy who calls you by your name, He knows everything about you and loves you just the same / Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. Isaiah 43:1 NIV

Yes, you have a Daddy who gives you gifts galore. Love, joy, peace, and happiness and life for evermore / For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 NIV

Yes, you have a Daddy who will be with you when you’re sad. He can mend your broken heart and help you to feel glad / The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18 NIV

Yes, you have a Daddy who has a listening ear. And if you need to talk, He is always near / Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear. Isaiah 65:24 NIV

Yes, you have a Daddy who can show you the way. He will give you wisdom and knowledge every day / The love of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow in His precepts have good understanding. Psalm 111:10 NIV

Yes, you have a Daddy with shoulders to carry things. And when he lifts you up you’ll feel like you have wings / But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles: they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31

Yes, you have a Daddy someday His face you’ll see. Then He will hold you close and say, “Come home with me” / And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am. John 14:3 NIV

Do People Choose To Be Homeless?

Luke 9:58 implies Jesus did. Even though he had a job [as God according to Philippians 2:7] and later as a carpenter [according to Mark 6:2-3]. But the working poor of Ohio have not made that choice. They did not choose to be homeless. Two out of three of them are working right now. But can't afford to buy bread. Seventy percent of them are Caucasian. Which means issues of homelessness and poverty aren't about lazy people or race [if they ever were].

That's why I drove down to the Poverty Summit last week in Findlay where I heard the sobering statistics above which blew my mind. Yes, Jesus reprimanded Judas in John 12:8 saying, "The poor you will always have among you." But He didn't say that so Christians would do nothing to help them. Or so we would consistently vote for the presidential candidate who will save us the most in taxes.

The bottom line is the poor need the church more now than ever before. Click the pic to download the "The State of Poverty in Ohio 2008" as a PDF. What is your faith community doing to help the homeless and the poor? Stay tuned next week for a list of Top Ten ideas to do so.

Is Sharing Stupid?

Saw this ad recently. Reminded me of our most recent field trip to Cherry Street Mission. Normally, we [and by we I mean the women's Monday morning Circle Group] prepare turkey sandwiches. Then we [and by we I mean the 8th graders @ Toledo Junior Academy] serve them. This month we decided to share our frozen leftouveurs from the car show.

Little did we [and by we I mean me] know how significant that would be!!! Sometimes, they only have enough food there to give everyone 1 hot dog. But that day, they got 2 [along with sauerkraut, juice, chips, AND a Reeses peanut butter cup.]

In Mark 4:30 Jesus asks, "What shall WE say the kingdom of God is like?" And then He goes on to compare it to the only Christian condiment in Scripture—mustard!!! Today, I think we'd say, the kingdom of God is like two hot dogs and a Reeses. Because sharing is neither stupid nor a gesture. It's the new normal. It's what growing kingdom seeds look and taste like today.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What Will We Say To Ray?

One of my fave Christian artists growing up was Ray Boltz. The lyrics to "Thank You" and "Watch the Lamb" from his Moments of the Heart album can still move me to tears [check the playlist to the right or click CD pic to hear why]. But this week, I cried for a different reason. Not because he announced he is gay [one could be a struggling heterosexual fornicator or adulterer too]. But because he has been asking God to remove these feelings for 30 years [click top pic for more from his website]!!!

When discussing what commentators believe was a life long vision problem, Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:8, "Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take away it away from me. But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'"

Do you think the church will abandon Ray Boltz? Or will we say God's grace is sufficient for him too? I don't know. What I do know is when somebody hurts, everybody hurts. "God has combined the members of the body so that if one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it."
—1 Corinthians 12:24,26 NIV. I also know that
God often works some of His most miraculous miracles through some of His most broken vessels as the following list reveals:
  • Adam: Good man but problems with his wife.
  • Noah: Prone to unrealistic building projects.
  • Abraham: He never slept with another man's wife, but did offer to share his with another man. Twice.
  • Joseph: A braggart with a prison record.
  • Moses: Prone to stuttering and murder.
  • David: Had an affair with his neighbor's wife.
  • Solomon: Wise preacher but parsonage could never hold all his wives.
  • Elijah: Prone to depression. Collapses under pressure.
  • Hosea: A tender and loving pastor but married to a prostitute.
  • Jeremiah: Emotionally unstable, alarmist, negative, always lamenting things.
  • Isaiah: Claims to have seen angels in church. Has trouble with his language.
  • Jonah: Runs away from God. Moody. Cares more about plants than people.
  • Amos: Backward and unpolished. Might fit in better in a poor congregation.
  • John: Says he is a Baptist, but definitely doesn't dress like one.
  • James & John: Ego problems. Jesus came to save. They came to destroy.
  • Peter: Bad temper. Salty vocabulary. Confrontational with other leaders. A loose cannon.
  • Paul: Killed Christians. Short on tact. Unforgiving with younger ministers.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

What Can One Do?

I didn't write the following poem and don't know who did. But I really like it. Ten church members all in a line, one got an attitude and there were nine / Nine church members standing tall and straight, one got disillusioned, then there were eight / Eight church members on their way to heaven, one got discouraged then there were seven / Seven church members ready like wicks, one got burned and then there were six / Six church members well and alive, one got cancer, then there were five / Five church members to greet you at the door, one committed adultery and then there were four / Four church members as Holy as can be, one got self-righteous and then there were three / Three church members, what will they do? One moved their membership and then there were two / Two church members with a lot of work undone, one stopped trusting God, then there was one

One disciple, sitting on a pew, called a friendly neighbor and then there were two /Two disciples, reaching out for more, they each called a friend and then there were four / Four disciples, at the church gate, welcomed the homeless and then there were eight / Eight disciples, with zeal unseen, talked more and more about Jesus and grew to sixteen / Sixteen excited disciples, with plenty of work to do, kept serving others, then there were thirty-two / 32-64-128-256, with the dedication of one, there's nothing God cannot fix!!!

The license plate is real. It belongs to my neighbor in Canton.
Click pic to listen to the MP3 I used it in.

What Is Important?

I joined a pastor peer group last week. There's five of us from a bunch of churches and one campus ministry. We found the following paragraph from Henri Nouwen thought provoking. What do YOU think about it? "We belong to a generation that wants to see the results of our work. We want to be productive and see with our own eyes what we have made. But that is not the way of God's kingdom. Often our witness for God does not lead to tangible results. Jesus himself died as a failure on a cross. There was no success there to be proud of. Still, the fruitfulness of Jesus' life is beyond any human measure. As faithful witnesses of Jesus we have to trust that our lives too will be fruitful, even though we cannot see their fruit. The fruit of our lives may be visible only to those who live after us. What is important is how well we love. God will make our love fruitful, whether we see that fruitfulness or not."

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Where Were You?

Normally, I take Mondays off. But seven years ago today, before Lydia was born, when Joshua was teething and I wasn't sleeping, I took a Tuesday too. I had crept out of the house early that morning to meet a friend at the golf course. We were half way through our round when back at the clubhouse we noticed a bunch of golfers peering through the windows at the TV in the bar. The Twin Towers in NYC had been hit. By something. Someone. Nobody knew who.

Our immediate reaction was to skip golf and go home to see if we still had one and if everyone in them was safe. Dates like July 4, 1776. December 7, 1941. June 6, 1944. November 22, 1963. And September 11, 2001 all evoke a powerful emotional response when simply mentioned. Where were you on 9/11? What was your response? What image has been permanently tatooed into your memory?

What's A Path Finder?

A Path Finder is a young person in grades 5-8ish who loves Jesus or wants to know why others do. They are willing to trust God to help them find their path way at school, work, and their ordinary lives.

Similar to Boy Scouts [except girls are welcome too!!!], this Christian youth organization meets the 1st and 3rd Saturday of every month from 2:00pm to 4:00pm and the 4th Sunday of every month. Most meetings are in the Fellowship Hall of the Toledo First church. Please pick up a blue invitation card to share with your friends and family this week in church. What a great ordinary outreach!!! You do not have to be a member of Toledo First to participate.

What's Your Sign Language?

Last week in church I used a few minutes of Alonso Alvarez Barreda's short film entitled "Historia de un Letrero" [The Story of a Sign] from the 2008 Online Cannes Film Fest to talk about some of the things that blind us from seeing people [including ourselves] the way God sees them. Enjoy!!!
Click the green pic to listen/download the MP3 of my entire talk that followed based on the 2nd of 3 kingdom seed parables Jesus told in Mark 4. I called the series "Things Remembered" and the talk "Growing Things Reproduce." You could also type Toledo First into the iTunes music store for more info or to subscribe to the Toledo First podcast.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Is Cars 4 Kidz Over?

Yes, this year's car show is over. And because a non-profit organization exists by the same name, we have to choose a new name for next year. So far we've got Kruizin' 4 Kidz, Jesus Loves Wheelies, and Smokin' Wheelies Car Show. Like any of those? Comment below to add your own name and in a few months we'll have a contest and let you vote on your fave. Click any of the pics below to see even more cool cars, guests and volunteers, burnouts, and awards.

Labor Day 2008 dawned with the promise of cool cars, great music, hot dogs, fresh-squeezed lemonade and most importantly, raising $3k to purchase Webkinz to comfort kids with cancer.

The abundant sunshine, willing volunteers who arrived @ 7:30am [to truly Labor on this day!!!], and generous guests made this event a resounding success. Forty-nine cars were shown at this year's car show and they did not disappoint.

Johnny Rodriguez kept the 50's and 60's hits rolling until 3pm and then it was time for some burnouts! The Hot Wheels truck did some wheelies across the Toledo Junior Academy parking lot which got the crowd fired up. Then Greg LaPoint pulled out several of his cars and put on a smoke filled burnout show!

The car show spectators circulated through the lot with their voting cards and listed their top 3 choices. The children also got to pick their favorites and separate awards were given. Finally a group of judges that are highly knowledgeable about classic cars made selections for several categories. Special thanks to Hugs the Hippo from our sponsors at St.V's Mercy Children's Hospital. And BIG thanks and WTG to all the TF volunteers who served!!! Save Monday September 7, 2009 for our car show next year!!!

Which Picture Will We Take?

We've been known as a church that worships on a different day and that doesn't eat certain kinds of food. But we at Toledo First are creating a new normal Adventist church—one known primarily for making the cross and Lord of the Sabbath who died on it central in our teaching and in our lives as illustrated in the pictures below. The first one, commissioned in 1876 by James White [one of the founders of the Adventist Church] emphasized the law and was entitled "The Way of Life, From Paradise Lost To Paradise Restored."
It is a picture of the plan of salvation and mission of the church from Eden to Eden. You see Adam and Eve exiting the Garden of Eden. There is Cain and Able, the sacrificial service. Over on the right of the picture is the baptism of Jesus, the Lord’s Supper, and the New Jerusalem. But in the middle is a huge tree with ten branches, one for each of the Ten Commandments. Jesus is on the cross. But it is the law that is the dominant motif in this picture.

But James White died in 1881. And after he did, his wife [and co-founder of our church] Ellen White commissioned a new picture to illustrate the plan of salvation and mission of the Adventist Church.
This new picture was completed in 1883 and was entitled "Christ—The Way of Life." The same elements are there but note the big change: The law has been moved to the foothills of Mt. Sinai behind the cross pointing people forward toward it. What were the ramifications of this paradigm shift? Have they been realized today? Which picture do you like more? Join the conversation as we discuss the implications of these pictures at our upcoming fall business meetings.

Click the top pic to download the latest draft of our Toledo First Assimilation Manual as a PDF or the bottom for the same file in Microsoft Word. No logins or passwords are required. Big thanks and WTG to Pastors J.David Newman, Kumar Dixit, and Ann Roda at the New Hope Adventist Church in Fulton, MD for giving us permission to use much of their content. Which picture do you think we will take?

What's an Adventurer?

An Adventurer is a child in grades 1-4 who loves learning about Jesus and working on awards similar to Cub Scouts. Parents or Guardians of Adventurers can accompany their children in family friendly activities every TUE night @ Toledo First starting September 9 from 6:30pm to 8:00pm. Admission is free but some school supplies are required [see below]. You do not need to be a member of Toledo First to participate.

Be sure to pick up the invitation cards at church to share with all your neighbors, kids, grandkids, and friends this weekend!!! What a great family friendly ordinary outreach!!! Here's the stuff each child accompanied by an adult [18+] will require:

Stick glue
Colored pencils
Duct tape
Masking tape
Set of measuring spoons
Needle nose pliers
Flashlight with batteries
Mosquito repellent
Bandaids & ointment