Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Aragorn or Boromir?

I had 4 straight days off this weekend, it was great. This post is the last thing I'm doing before getting back to work tomorrow morning.

Over this past weekend, I was able to get my mom to watch the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy - all 12 hours! This was no small feat, especially considering the fact that my mom doesn't watch very many movies. Before the first movie I promised my mom she'd be glad she watched the movies. After the first few miniutes of fellowship, she was hooked.

Aragorn is a Christ figure in the story, he overcomes temptation, conquers death, leads his people to victory over evil and even receives his bride. Aragorn is faced with the tempation to take the ring of power, but he overcomes the temptation. He never seriously considers giving into the tempation.

Boromir, on the other hand, falls prey to the lure of the ring. He rationalizes his desire for the ring by convincing himself he'll be able to use it for good. The temptation overcomes him and he violently goes after the ring, which eventually costs him his life.

As I watched the beginning of the movie, already knowing the choice both characters were going to make, I kept thinking "I wish I were like Aragorn - but I know I'm more like Boromir." I wish I had a spotless past, but I don't. I've given into temptations, I've done things of which I'm not proud.

But although he fell into temptation, Boromir didn't stay in his "sin." Boromir may have stumbled, but he ended well! When he came to his senses, he was able to see the sin for what it really was, turned away from the sin and eventually gave his life fighting for what was right.

I talked about this in my message a couple weeks ago - it's not about whether or not we fall; it's about getting back up and following Christ!

The Apostle Paul wrote this in Philippians 3 - "12 I don't mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it,* but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us."

None of us are sinless, but it's not too late to give the rest of our lives to holiness!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Summer of Faith

Summer of Faith ChallengeJune 1, 2007 – August 31, 2007

One of the marks of a Christ follower at Trinity Family is one who gives sacrificially. We believe the biblical and historical standard for sacrificial giving is a tithe (10% of one’s income). We believe healthy money management and giving a full tithe to God through the local church are two basic disciplines for experiencing God’s best in our personal finances. We believe God will faithfully honor financial obedience by 1) providing for your needs and 2) blessing you in areas beyond financial.

We are extending to Trinity Family the challenge to experience a Summer of Faith by increasing your monthly giving to a full tithe during the months of June, July and August. We are so confident in God’s faithfulness to provide that at the end of the 3 month period we will refund the difference between your full tithe amount and your average monthly giving the 3 months prior to the Summer of Faith (March, April, May). We are asking that each time you give during the Summer of Faith, you write 2 checks. One check equal to your regular giving during March – May and the additional amount necessary to equal a full 10% of your income.

To experience a Summer of Faith and to qualify for the money back guarantee, please fill out the agreement form on the reverse side of this sheet and return to the church office by May 31st. We are excited to see how God will honor this obedient step of faith.

Pastor Donnie Miller and Trinity Family’s Advisory Council:Chris Billings, Aaron Holmes, Areon Kelvington, Vanessa Kumor and Ashley Vance

Conditions of agreement
1) I understand that this form must be completed and received by Sunday, June 3rd.
2) I understand that my household qualifies for the Summer of Faith challenge only if our regular giving over the past 6 months has been less than 10% of our income.
3) I understand that my faith offering must be paid by a check or (if paying by cash) a completed offering envelope, so that my faith offering can be properly credited.
4) I understand that I cannot seek a refund prior to September 1st, 2007 and that I cannot seek a refund for any contributions made prior to June 1st, 2007.
5) I understand that any request for refund must be received by Trinity Family’s treasurer, Ashley Vance by September 30th, 2007.
6) I would like to take the Summer of Faith challenge.
My average monthly giving during the past 3 months: ____________ line 1
10% of my monthly income: ­­­­­­­­­­____________ line 2
Difference between line 1 and line 2 ____________ line 3
My monthly commitment during the Summer of Faith line 3 plus line 1
7) I understand that I need to write two checks each time I give. One check with the amount from line 1 and one check with the amount from line 3. Please write “summer of faith” in the memo of the check for the amount of line 3.
8) At the conclusion of the Summer of Faith challenge, if I am not convinced of God’s faithfulness as a result of my obedience, then I will be entitled to request a refund of my Summer of Faith commitment. The refund shall not exceed 3 times the amount on line 3 and shall not exceed the total amount given between June 1st, 2007 and August 31st, 2007.

Name __________________________

Signature ________________________ Date _____________
Please hand this form to Ashley Vance or mail to the church office: PO Box 185, Gardner, KS 66030

The information on this form will remain confidential

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Jehovah's Witnesses are wierd, too...

Following the tongue-in-cheek theme of my previous post, I discovered that Jehovah's Witnesses are weird, too.

I was watching another documentary on PBS (which I really don't do that often) and this one was on the Jehovah's Witness church. Seems that Jehovah's witnesses take the 7th commandment "You must not murder!" literally. So much so that they refuse to fight in the US' wars. They made a big stink when they refused to fight in the clearly (?) good vs. evil struggle of WWII. Their refusal to join the military on religious grounds lead to some major Supreme Court decisions regarding conscientious objectors and religious liberty.

Look, I realize JW's have some extrabiblical beliefs and that Hitler needed to be stopped, but what would happen if we really obeyed scripture? Why do people that fight over the literal translation of the Bible always seem to explain away or ignore the literal translation of difficult passages?

I'm not saying Christians shouldn't join the military. I'm not saying the US should never declare war. I do know however, what would happen if we refused to kill fellow human beings. The American way of life would disintegrate but Christianity would survive.

Just a thought...

Monday, May 21, 2007

Mormons are so wierd...

I was watching a documentary on PBS yesterday on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons). Mormons have some out there beliefs, one of which being that they're the only true church. You could almost hear in the narrators voice his own thoughts about some of their strange beliefs and practices, but what the documentary presented as one of their most radical characteristics is what they expect of their members.

"Unlike most conservative Christian groups, Mormons expect their members to contribute at least as much as they take." Then the documentary listed these high expectations - tithing and serving.

Where have we gone wrong as Christian churches that those two commitments seem radical? To their credit, the Mormon church has refused to cater to the consumeristic mindset to which most Christian churches have totally sold out.

The Mormon church has some incredibly extra-biblical beliefs and practices, but with this expectation they are right on.

God's will?

I just heard a good line from a message by Rob Bell. He was talking about the risk Mary took in giving birth to the Savior of the world.

"Sometimes people talk about God's will like 'I'd rather be nowhere else, it's the safest place.'
What God are you talking about? God's will is a ferociously dangerous place because you never know where it's going to take you."

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


I recently did a brief survey of the families in our church and found that 1/4 of those who call Trinity Family their church home were not a part of a church before connecting with Trinity Family.

Wow! That is exceptional!

I'm proud of this church!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Resiliency, part II

When I posted this a couple weeks ago, I was feeling pretty down. I was sure that I'd done exactly what God had asked me to do, but the results weren't as I'd expected. I was especially bummed that despite the RSVP's, no one from my neighborhood game to the Love and Logic class. But I did keep the emails from those that had RSVP'd and I forwared to them the invitation to TFC's "Love and Logic Weekend."

And one of my neighbors came to the Saturday night session, what do you know? Had I not knocked on all those doors, I never would've connected with them and been able to invite them to our L&L event.

God, I take back all those mean things I was thinking about you not holding up your end of the deal.

Also, I'm meeting with two new children's pastor candidates today, one via lunch and one via the phone.

Resiliency - the most important characterstic of a church planter!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Tonight's Ipod playlist

I went on a beautiful 3 mile run tonight at 9:00. I feel so alive when I run on beautiful evenings; cool breeze, crickets chirping, the creeks are full of water and you can hear the frogs. I love summer evenings.

Here was my playlist:
Tony Campolo's Across the Pond podcast. Subject - Politics and Christianity. I love TC.

DC Talk: Supernatural
U2: Streets Have No Name - this song makes me want to cry. We played it as the response to the message "Can Homosexuals be Christian". It was in the Frequently Avoided Questions series. Listen.
Ben Folds: Brick - We played this during an Advent sermon, "The Touch of Christmas"
Hootie: Hold My Hand, Gotta love Hootie - at least Cracked Rear View

Monday, May 7, 2007

Some serious hospitality

Mike Lowenberg, Aaron Holmes, Joe Kumor and Brian Roberts acted as the umbrella crew on Sunday, running out umbrellas to people as they pulled into the parking lot. It's been raining for about 5 straight days and Kansas City is flooding.

Super Servants of the Week

David Brush, Brian Roberts, Aaron Holmes, Joe Kumor, Chris Billings and Philip Wheeler - you guys Rock!

They unloaded the trailer in pouring down rain, covered for a lot of guys that were gone, got everything set up on time - even with a half our late start!
You can see that they're still pretty wet in this picture.

And then they got everything tore back down and loaded into the trailer by 12:45. Some serious horsepower right there.

Congratulations class of 2007!

I want to congratulate the four students who graduated from MidAmerica Nazarene University this weekend: Irene Delong, Nate Snider, Andy Phelps and Daniel Brueske. Congratulations!

Driven or Called?

When I was playing linebacker in High School and College, I had a pretty interesting stance. You're supposed to be loose and ready to flow with the play and into the ballcarrier. Well, I was so intense before the snap, that my stance was way too tight. I wish I had a picture, but imagine me crouched halfway down, every muscle tensed, including my fingers. Looking back on my stellar career as a linebacker, I think that pre-snap intensity actually worked against me.

I'm not playing football anymore, but I have the same tendencies. I want to lead and motivate all those around me, willing them toward success, with an emotional energy that ups my heartrate and probably causes those around me to break out in a nervous sweat. If we just want it enough, it will happen!

Well, that type of emotional exertion isn't healthy, as I'm finding out. I can't manipulate those around me or force anything to happen. And trying to do so creates an emotional rollercoaster.

Last night I was sharing a bit of this with a guy who has been a mentor of mine for years, Randy Beckum. I told Randy it's hard to be patient and relaxed when I'm so driven. Randy (in his gentle way) rebuked me and said "but you're not driven, you're called." Wow, I needed that.


The last two weeks I've been running crazy. I've finally had a moment this morning to get some stuff done around the house and to post a few entries. I've been so busy I wasn't even able to mow my lawn, but Scott (my neighbor) didn't mind the tall grass.