Archive - December, 2008 Best of 2009

Best of 2008

As is the case with just about everyone in the blogosphere, we’ve decided to put together a “Best Of” list for 2008 here on Here’s some of the things on the site that have been a lot of fun to experience:

5. I asked the question, “What’s something you feel like you can’t say in church?” Some of you responded with answers like, “That sometimes when I read the Bible, I think you have to ignore a lot of scripture to not be a Universalist Christian.” And my favorite, ” I am tired of talk. I want to see the all the words put into action and it truly be meant.”

4. I talked with Bradshaw on 98.3 WOW-FM about the seven reasons why I don’t like most Christians.

3. Ever been stiffed on a tip by a tract-toting, Jesus-fish car driving Christian? You’re not alone. The best part of the whole post was what you all wrote! Your observations and experiences were humorous, heartfelt, and sad all at the same time.

2. Can you vote for Obama? Many could and did. And he won. This was one of the most talked about posts on the site, complete with insightful and intelligent conversation in the comments. A rarity these days when it comes to politics!

1. Have you ever poked a hornet’s nest with a stick? Jammed a twig deep into the hive, jostle it around, and then wait to see what happens? When I described a situation at a local coffee shop where I believed I was witnessing an affair, it was kind of like that; like punting a bee hive. People talked and they read. Boy did they read. This post brought the most single-day traffic to the site to date.

Goals for 2009

1. A daily readership of over 500 (currently at 100 unique visitors per day.)
2. A Twitter follower count of 600+ (currently at 360.)
3. Implement intentional paid advertising on (I don’t want to simply throw up any old ad on the site just to make a few cents here and there, but strategically partner with individuals and businesses that share the same mission as this site.)  

Thank you sincerely for such a great year! I’ve gotten to meet some of you, form amazing relationships, and develop an ever-growing hobby and newfound passion in writing. Peace to you and yours. Here’s to 2009!.

Do You Have Regrets?

The following is a powerful video. It talks about regret and the things we do in life that cause it. Regret is one of the only emotions that you cannot rectify. If you regret something it’s because you have already done it (or not done it, whatever the case may be). No one regrets something they’ve yet to do.

What do your regret from this past year? What caused regret in you in 2008?

Me? I regret squandering opportunities that were right in front of me. Laziness is the mother of all pacifiers, isn’t it?

I regret believing that I can’t do something when deep down, I know I can.

But here’s to a regret-free 2009. Here’s to a year filled with God-breathed moments of redemption from the past year’s regrets. Take a look … What are your regrets?

HT: Regrets via Dave Sandell.

A Simple Christmas.

Our church, Lutheran Church of Hope, just finished up some amazing Christmas Eve services. Truly. Here’s a link to one of the videos Pastor Mike used during the message. “Powerful” doesn’t do it justice. Lives were changed and God opened eyes.

In the midst of this, I’m finishing up “Simple Church” by Thom Reiner and Eric Geiger, a must-read for anyone in church leadership. I’m on the chapter entitled, “Focus: Saying No to Almost Everything” where the authors drop this little, challenging gem:

“[In an effort to simplify your church] Christmas services [could be] combined with weekend worship services to maximize the potential of the holiday season. Instead of having a separate Christmas Eve or Christmas Day service in addition to a regular weekend service, churches have offered one special Christmas service multiple times over several days. By doing so, more people are exposed to a typical weekend service. In addition, all energy and publicity are focused on the one service that is offered multiple times.”

At Hope, we did not use this approach. We had separate Christmas Eve services and weekend services that finished up Sunday night at 5 pm. This is one way to do it.

I’m curious to see if anyone goes to a church and/or works at a church that tried the “combined” approach this holiday season, as referenced in “Simple Church”. Did your church have separate Christmas Eve and regular weekend services, or did you combine them? What was it like? What was the feel? How did the congregation respond? The staff?

I’m curious to see what the results are. Please share. Focus, I’m finding, if fast becoming the theme for 2009. (And all the while, I remind myself that “different” is not “wrong,” “different” is just “different.”)


Merry Christmas, Geek Style!

Merry Christmas from! Enjoy some “Jingle Bells” while you drink your egg nog, open your presents, and dump everything onto your iPod.

“Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth.”.

List-O-Mania! Christmas Eve Edition


We’ll do things a little differently for this Christmas Eve edition of the List-O-Mania. Here’s a “list” of things that I’m hoping to get for this Christmas and for 2009. Here we go (in no particular order)!

A mug warmer: There’s nothing worse than cold coffee. I like my java juice to be borderline scalding, so a nice little mug warmer will keep this dude’s coffee bubbling ’til the last drop.

The release of my loans: When I started seminary in 2006, I took out some loans. Turns out, you have to pay those things back. My wife and I are working on paying off all our debt, 2009 could be the year we nail everything down. Once we pay in full, they give us a letter saying we can have our firstborn child back.

Copy/Paste, group text message option, pic messaging for the iPhone: For such an advanced device, the iPhone has some features that are glaringly missing. iPhone users know what I’m talking about. Maybe Steven will have a change of heart and give us what we want.

Logos for Mac: Apparently this program is like having thousands of years of biblical scholarship at your beck and call. It’s like a butler made up of Scripture. *Bell rings* “Come, Jeeves – tell me what the context was for Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. And prepare my coach, while you’re at it!”

A stage: I was in bed reading Scripture one night and I was hit with the distinct need to pray for a stage from which to communicate from. I believe the Lord has given me something of his heart to share and he wanted me to boldly ask for a stage from which to communicate it from. Preaching at Immersion, this beautiful blog, and my Juice faith blog are great starts, but I can’t help but think there’s something more. That’s my prayer.

What about you? What are you wishing for? Hoping for? What’s on your list?.

Rick Warren and Barack Obama


The inclusion of Pastor Rick Warren in Barack Obama’s inaugural day activities has caused quite a stir. Warren will lead the inaugural day prayer on January 20th, 2009 as Barack Obama becomes the 44th President of the United States. This has a lot of groups up-in-arms primarily because of Warren’s position on gay marriage: He doesn’t buy it.

Warren was a vocal proponent of Prop 8, the amendment to California’s constitution that solidified marriage in the state’s eyes was between a man and a woman. He’s also compared gay marriage to adults marrying children (some call that incest), and this has gay rights groups very, very upset about his involvement in anything Obama-related. “He doesn’t think like us!” they cry. “He’s a bigot – he doesn’t agree with our way of life! He hates gays!” This is, by and large, how Warren has been portrayed by the media.

On the flip side, we have Christians in this country who openly called Barack Obama “Hitler” during the past campaign season and likened his election to the coming of the antiChrist. I was forwarded numerous emails (as I’m sure you were to) from people of faith declaring that Obama was a closet Muslim and that once he became President he would reenact Sharia law. He also was a closet homosexual, a closet crack addict, and a closet black liberationist theologian, as evidenced by his attendance (for 20 years, don’tcha know?) at Jeremiah Wright’s church. It seemed no matter what Obama did, he was always doing it under a shroud of secrecy and could never keep the Christian population happy.

Ultimately, here’s what I don’t understand: Proponents of gay marriage say, “Accept our opinion … Or else!” Opponents of gay marriage, essentially, say the same thing, “Accept our opinion … Or else!” Each side attempts to intelligently argue their rationale for holding their respective position (i.e. “it’s not a choice to be gay, I was born like this” and “the Bible says marriage is between a man and a woman.”) But when push comes to shove, each end of the argument breaks down to a grown-up version of “I’m taking my ball and going home.” In a word: Whining.

God bless Barack Obama for reaching out to Rick Warren. God bless Rick Warren for reaching out to Obama. I like what openly gay columnist Bob Ostertag said in the Huffington Post, “I am delighted that there is a new generation of evangelicals that thinks the biggest issue isn’t homosexuality but global climate change, AIDS, and poverty […] I am so ready to make common cause with them. I couldn’t care less about what they think of gay marriage.” Amen.

When did disagreeing with someone start to mean the same thing as hating them?

Update: Want to hear a lively discussion about this very topic? Tune in on 12.22 to 98.3 WOW-FM from 2 to 3:15 pm CST. I’ll be on Bradshaw’s show in the Des Moines metro area. Otherwise, check it out online here.


Keyboards Are So Yesterday…

Are you using a keyboard right now? Did you peck away at letters in front of you to navigate to According to some people who use the Internet a lot, keyboards and laptops will be a thing of the past in as little as four years. From Yahoo! News: “Step aside, keyboards, laptops, and 9-to-5 jobs. A survey of more than 1,000 Internet activists, journalists, and technologists released Sunday speculates that by 2012, those quaint relics of 20th century life will fade away.” Read the rest of the article here.


A Means to an End.


Social media is great. I love networking via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, GChat, and AIM as much as the next person. As I’ve moved deeper into the world of social networking, I’ve learned something: It is a means to an end, not an end in and of itself.

As much as possible, social media networking must always end in face-to-face contact. If you have the means to connect with someone in person via social media, you need to do so. Otherwise, it’s just voyeurism. There are, of course, geographical limitations that will never allow you to meet in person with someone you’ve connected with, which is both the beauty and the curse of social media. You can connect with people you never would have otherwise (@rhetter, @flowerdust, @tonysteward for me, for example), but your ability to meet with them on a tangible level is low.

Let me give you two examples of what I’m talking about:

  • I found out about Andy Drish after he was in an article in Des Moines Juice. Then I visited his blog. I found something I really liked, so I re-posted it on He commented on the post. Then I found him on Twitter via the “Meet Your Commenters” plug-in for WordPress. I followed him, he followed me, we exchanged tweets, and finally met for coffee yesterday in downtown Des Moines. All through social media. It served as a means to an end.
  • I started following The Lutheran magazine on Twitter not too long ago. They posted a few tweets while they were were at a social media conference, I asked them some questions, they answered, it was a good time. A few weeks later, I got an email from Amber at The Lutheran asking me to reformat a post from this site for their e-newsletter in January. She had found my blog after following me on Twitter, read some posts, and thought that some of the content would fit well with what they’re doing. I sent the final article in yesterday and a connection between Amber and me was made.

I set out a challenge a few months back to have coffee with every Des Moines tweep (a “tweep” is a person on Twitter) that I’m following or who is following me. I want to use social media as a tool to connection much like a pencil is a tool for drawing.

Social media in and of itself is okay, just like a pencil in and of itself is okay: Yellow, long, sharp on one end and dull on the other. Not much to look at really. What really gets exciting is when you look at what a pencil can create: A sketch, a life story, a poem for your wife, etc. In the same way, what really gets exciting with social media is not what it is but what it can create: Relationships, connections, friendships, websites, business ideas, ministry opportunities, and on, and on.

So, if you use social media tools, what are you creating? What relationships are you building? What lives are you influencing and allowing to influence you?  


7 Reasons Why I Don’t Like Most Christians


Full Disclosure: Before I get started, you need to know this is a blatant rip-off of Tony Morgan’s post by (almost) the same name. Kudos to him for thinking of the idea. Now I’m going to steal it and put my own spin on it. /Full Disclosure.

Usually I like spending my time thinking of a solution rather than the problem. I am, to use a theological term, a “critical realist.” A pessimistic optimist. For me, the glass is usually half-full.

This post will be a little different. I think those of us who follow Jesus need to own up to the fact that we’ve really blown it. Not blown it in a, “we’re all sinners saved by grace,” kind of way, but in a “you’re an ignorant jerk” kind of way. This list is my best attempt to pull the skeletons out of our church closet. Here’s why I don’t like most Christians:

1. We shoot our wounded. Christians should be the most tender and merciful to their own brothers and sisters, but too often fallen Christians are the ones we’re quickest to demonize. Look at how we’ve treated Ted Haggard, Todd Bentley, and Jimmy Swaggart, to name a few. Maybe it’s to save some face. Maybe it’s to gain clout with an unbelieving world. Maybe it’s because we think we could do better. Whatever the reason, it bugs me. (And keep in mind, I’m as guilty as anyone. I’ve done it, on this blog even.)

2. We put spiritual sounding language on things to make them sound better.
What we say: “I’ve fasted and prayed really hard about this, so this is what I think we should do.
What we mean: “I’m unsure about my decision and too scared of conflict to state my wishes plainly, so I’m going to use power language so you can’t argue with me and I get my way.” I’ve seen it a thousand times. I’m sure you have to. This undermines the times where God does truly speak to us in profound ways through prayer. Stop it.

3. We divorce each other. A lot. The Christian divorce rate is no better, and in some cases higher, than those who don’t consider themselves Christian. This makes Christians look silly and our beliefs paper thin. If you’re married, stay married. Die to yourself. Don’t quit.

4. We are lousy tippers. One of the most popular posts on this site is called “Christians Are the Worst Tippers Ever.” It’s popular for a reason: It’s true. Read the post, but more importantly, read the comments. They’re filled with servers, Christians and non-Christians alike, who can attest to the fact that followers of Jesus are tightwads. Prove them wrong. Tip more.

5. We belittle people and then expect them to listen about Jesus’ love for them. There is a local talk show here in Des Moines that has a “Christian” conservative on as a regular guest. In one breath, he will berate one of the hosts of the show because he doesn’t lean the same way politically, and in the next breath he will talk about what he did at church the past weekend. It makes me irate. Disagree with people, fine, but please treat them like they’re a human being.

6. We copy, we don’t innovate. As Christians, we have the living Spirit of Christ within us. Suffice to say, he’s pretty creative. If the Holy Spirit ever took high school art, he would get an A+. So why do we spend so much time aping what the world does instead of asking that same Spirit to breath through us to create something that’s never been created before?

7. We think we know everything. This one could take all day. I’ll save you, though. The more I know Christ, the less I am sure of. And not just spiritual things, everything. That’s why I don’t understand why cranky Christians think they have a lock on everything from who’s going to hell to who’s going to win the election (or who should win the election) to what day we should hold services on. God is great and knows all. We do not.

What do you think? Do you have anything to add to this list? I do not intend for this to be a bash session, but somebody’s got to say it. Let’s clear the air. Discuss..

Loyalty v. Responsibility

For those of you not in the Des Moines area, Principal Financial Group (one of the city’s biggest employers) laid of 550 people yesterday. Andy Drish, a Gen-Y blogger and Principal employee, put it best when describing the lay-offs: “Companies tend to think that Gen Y isn’t ‘loyal.’ Now maybe they’ll understand why we keep our job options open. We’d be foolish not to.” Wow. Well said. The days of corporate America “taking care” of their employees are long gone. Take note.


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