Tuesday, March 31, 2009

An Inspiring Poem

While listening to last Sunday's message on sex and, more specifically, while thinking about the lady caught in adultery in John 8, Rachel Olson penned this poem. Quite the poem!

I'm caught
naked, trembling
in the midst of a circle of self-righteous hate
thrown to the ground
like the piece of trash that I am
I know it
they know it.
But, oh God,
that transient feeling of true love
before being used up for his gain.
That feeling was almost worth this.
A Man in the middle of the others
their eyes say they hate Him
more than they hate me.
And yet
they ask Him what they should do
with me.
He bends to the ground.
My skin flinches in anticipation of
the crush from the stone that I know
He will cast.
He writes with His finger.
I see THEIR sins in the words on the dirt
not MINE.
Self-righteousness drains
and they slink away.
One by one by one.
The Middle Man lifts my head.
"Where are your accusers now?
Go and sin no more
(live in freedom)"
He covers my naked shame
with His own
(of righteousness)
I am Free.

Thanks, Rachel, for sharing.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


There's a lot that goes into an adoption, including a lot of legal work. The day after his birth, Dawson's birth mom signed over her parenting rights to Erin and me. That court-ordered decree lasts for a bit over 30 days, before another hearing in which the adoption is made final and irreversible.

So yesterday, I sat on a witness stand for the first time in my life. Questions like "are you ready, willing and able to fulfill the duties of parenthood?" Yes.
"Do you realize that from now on, this child is your responsibility?" Yes.
"Do you realize that if he were to become sick or handicapped in some way, he's still your responsiblity." Yes.
As well as "What is your address" and some other basic questions.

After Erin testified, the judge read the final decree. Here's the last part of that decree.
The Court further finds that the said minor child is in the physical custody of the petintioners, and that all investigations, reports and all other things necessary and proper to be done for the legal adoption of said child, and all requirements relative thereto, have been fully complied with.

The Court further finds that the Petioners are persons of good moral character adn reputable standing in the community, and are possessed of suficient means and ability to maintain and educate said child properly, that said child is suitable for adoption, and that it is for the best interest of said child, that said petition be granted and that the child be adopted by Petioners as their own, and that the Petioners herein are entitled to a final decree of this Court for the adoption of said child and that the neame of the child should be changed to Dawson Patrick Miller and that said petition for adoption should be granted.
IT IS THEREFORE BY THE COURT ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that the consensts to the adoption by the Petioners be and the same are herby approved.
IT IS FURTHER BY THE COURT ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that the petition of Donald Levi Miller and Erin Kathleen Miller, husband and wife, for the adoption of Baby Gordon, a minor male child, as their own child, be and the same is herby granted, and that the name of said minor child be changed to Dawson Patrick Miller.

I had to fight back tears as I heard that decree read.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Going to bed hungry

I've been consistent with my commitment to fasting one day a week throughout 2009. Although, last Monday I was deathly sick and accepted the grace of chicken noodle soup at 9 PM.

With my newborn's need for every two hours of feeding, changing, burping my sleep hours are all screwed up. Usually one of us stays up till after midnight to feed Dawson. Although last night was a wonderful exception, he's usually most awake from about 10PM - 2 AM.

So I'm sitting up on the nights of my fasts, wondering whether I should eat since it's technically the next morning. The pull is strong, let me tell you. But really, fasting is a mental discipline more than anything, so I've set myself a boundary to stay true to the fast. My guideline is to go to bed hungry. Even if I wake up a couple hours later and have some breakfast (as I did at 3 this morning), I've got to fall asleep the first time with an empty stomach. My hope is that this becomes an act of solidarity, connecting me to those all across the world who go to bed hungry every night, though by no choice of their own.

Prayer Support

I spent last week pretty nervous about my sermon, "Sex is Good (very good)." I don't know why I was nervous, I've preached on sex lots of times. But over the years, both my approach and our congregation has changed. We've got more people from completely irreligious backgrounds, so I realize I can't pull the "Sex is for marriage and that's the way it is" approach anymore.

On Friday, I sent an email to the entire church asking them to pray for me as I prepared the message. I wanted God's guidance as I sought to stay faithful to God's plan for our sexuality while also being full of grace and respecting the process of turning over your entire life to Christ. I think I did a pretty good job. Erin said it was actually one of the best messages I'd ever preached, which is really saying something :)!

But the coolest thing was the power I could feel as I was preaching. Sometimes I can just sense that the Holy Spirit is speaking through me and Sunday was one of those times. It's amazing what happens when people pray, huh?

If you'd like to read or listen to the message, click here. You could also subscribe to our podcasts here.

Monday, March 23, 2009

National Champs - Again

For the first time since well, last year, the Iowa wrestling team won the National Championship. For the first time since 1978, they won the team championship without winning any individual championships. In the upset of the century, Brent Metcalf was beaten in the finals. It happened with some dubious tactics, however. His opponent, Darrion Caldwell claimed back spasms, allowing him to take a 1:30 break. This break negated Metcalf's regular strategy of wearing out his opponents. Caldwell's back recovered well enough however, to do a celebratory back flip during the final seconds of the match. Metcalf didn't appreciate this too much and drilled Caldwell in mid-air. This cost Iowa a team point but the Hawks still edged Ohio State for their 22nd National Championship.
I found the match on Youtube, part 1 and part 2.

If you'd like to watch Metcalf drill Caldwell in mid-air, just watch this video.

Now, I'll admit, I'm not much of a wrestling fan. In fact, wrestlers freak me out. But I do know two things related to this sport; 1) It's my only chance to see University of Iowa and National Championship in the same sentence and 2) Iowa State has a consistent habit of coming in 2nd to the Hawkeyes. For those two reasons, I like wrestling.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Dawson's Newborn Photo Shoot

Last week, we took Dawson to a lady who's very well known for her newborn portraits. She's not cheap and she has a two month waiting list, so she's got quite the reputation. But, wow, is she good!

Not only are the pictures incredible, but her skill at keeping Dawson asleep even though he was laying in the open air completely naked, was simply amazing. I have to say, my arms were getting quite tired and I was constantly worried about getting pooped on or dropping Dawson.

To see the pictures, follow this link. Enter "Miller" as the password. Then be amazed...

Dave Ramsey is coming to Kansas City

Total Money Makeover Live is coming to Kemper Arena on Saturday, May 2nd, 1:00-6:00.
I believe in Dave Ramsey's methods and teaching! And here's why:

6 years ago, some good friends of mine convinced me to join a group of people road tripping down to Oklahoma City to see the Dave Ramsey Live Event at Bethany First Church of the Nazarene. I'd heard of Dave Ramsey once but was mostly interested in the road trip with friends. I drove down late after work on a Friday night and we drove back late Saturday night through an ice storm. But that Saturday's event set Erin and me in the right financial direction.

At the time of that event in January of 2003, Erin and I had $22,000 in school loans and $6,000 in a car loan. I was working part-time and going to seminary full-time and Erin was in her first year of teaching. We realized we needed to get serious about paying off debt.
In the past 6 years, we've worked hard to build a 3 month emergency fund, pay off the 20% loan of our 80/20 home mortgage, pay off my Corolla and all of our school debt. I can't tell you what a wonderful feeling it was to kick Sallie Mae out of the house two weeks ago.

That Dave Ramsey Event changed the financial direction of our life. I believe in what Dave teaches!

Now that Dave is coming to KC in May, I'm going to do all I can to encourage EVERYONE in TFC to attend this event. The tickets are $27 each and you can sign up at the Welcome Table on a Sunday morning, or you can send me an email. The last day to sign up will be Sunday, April 19th. We'll be buying all the tickets together, so please make your checks out to Trinity Family.

Erin and I believe in this so much, we personally bought two tickets and will give them to two families who need them.

To learn more about Dave Ramsey, check out his website, http://www.daveramsey.com/

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Can I get an "amen"

Here's a great article from the director of New Start for our denomination. To see the article in it's original online context, click here.

I'll bold the part that jumps out to me the most. Jim has had me come teach some classes about how we do this at TFC.

The Outside - In Principle
Dramatic paradigm shifts have occurred in evangelism methods over the last two decades. Many in church leadership seem unaware of these seismic shifts, since some things never change in advancing the Kingdom of Christ. The gospel message does not change. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. Bringing people to faith and discipling them in God’s family remain priorities for fulfilling the Great Commission.
But some have confused the unchanging message of the gospel with continually adapting how that message can be delivered most effectively. One of the key objectives for GROWrow Magazine includes communicating these ever-changing methods and delivery systems for the Good News.
By reading these stories of innovation in each issue and actually seeing these ministries in a photo-journalistic style, our prayer is Christ’s mission for us becomes more contagious. As other leaders and churches catch this spirit for evangelism, they find new hope for effectively sharing the Good News within their mission area — and even beyond.
Yet these feature stories are only descriptive in nature. The days of one size fits all are gone, never to return. The effective approaches in one ministry context are not a prescription for every other congregation in the Church of the Nazarene. Each pastor and congregational leader has to filter through the options, based on what works best in their particular assignment. You must become the resident expert in what works best for evangelism for your ministry context: not what you prefer, but what works best.
Sometimes the best methods in evangelism recycle back to ministry approaches of previous generations. Almost like the swing of a giant pendulum, methods can move back and forth, tracking the receptivity of the unreached. Some churches and leaders lock into one methodology that worked for them in the past, while waiting for the world to change back to their preferences. Unfortunately, that’s not really an option. Thousands may go unreached while some churches wait for their agenda to work again. Methods shift and change; methods are not sacred. Only the gospel message is changeless.
Some overriding principles for effective evangelism seem to transcend time and culture. These guiding truths help connect the timeless message with the most fruitful methods. When we can find these guiding principles in another ministry, others are able to apply it for the benefit of the Kingdom. They match the examples found in the scriptures, connect with basic human need and stay relevant for each generation. The wise watch for them.
One such principle we continue to find in growing churches in the USA and Canada is “the outside-in principle.” You can clearly see this concept throughout scripture, and find it at work in the most effective evangelism ministries today. Basically, “outside-in evangelism” reaches out beyond an existing community of faith to connect and guide people into the Kingdom, welcoming them into their community of faith.
For too long, many congregations have completely reversed this concept. They have assumed that by teaching, feeding and strengthening “the already convinced,” the work of evangelism would naturally overflow from their lifestyle and influence to those who might need it.
They seem more preoccupied with only the content of their message. They can go for weeks without considering how they might better connect with others who desperately need to hear the message. Their perspective for evangelism is from “the inside-out.” While it may sound good, and many of “the already convinced” like the concept, there is one glaring problem. It just doesn’t work.
Unfortunately, “the unconvinced” around us need more than just a polite and proper invitation to come and see what we do at church on Sunday. They need someone, like the lame man said to Jesus, “to carry me to the place of healing.” Or, like the parable of the wedding feast, when the Master urged the servants back out another time. He urged the servants to bring people back, wherever they could find them, from the roadways and off the beaten paths. He commanded them to go to find those who were more receptive and hungry. Who might be waiting in your area for someone to find them where they are?
This issue of GROWrow Magazine shared a variety of stories about congregations who were unwilling to keep the Good News contained within their four walls. For these pastors and churches, the hurting and needy in their community were first found and then welcomed into their fellowship, to experience the gospel up close and personal. These churches have illustrated again this Kingdom principle of “the outside-in” evangelism. It feels a lot like the story Jesus told of the prodigal’s acceptance by his Father, doesn’t it?
Until we take them into our hearts and fellowship, the spiritually disconnected may never listen to anything we have to say. For most of “the unconvinced” around us today, the sense of belonging in your community of faith will come before their believing.
Jim DorseyEditor, GROW

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

City of Refuge

In his sermon on Sunday, Joshua Vance gave a great picture of what the church is to be about using the idea of a City of Refuge from the Old Testament. It was a really powerful image and it reminded me of this blog post about TFC being a safe place.

You can listen to Josh's sermon here. He talks about the City of Refuge at the 23:56 mark.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Read with Discernment

I had to step into a Christian bookstore today, I usually try to avoid ghettos of Christian subculture like Christian bookstores, but I needed the book The Reason for God immediately. While I was perusing Don Miller's titles I saw a warning label sticking out of his book Searching for God Knows What. The warning label read "Read with Discernment" and listed this website, http://www.lifewaystores.com/lwstore/discernment.asp. Of all the books to get a "warning label" I couldn't believe they picked this one. Some people just don't like to be stretched intellectually or theologically.

Just for fun, I looked up some BS (biblical stupidity) books about "end-times prophecy" that all Christian book stores have, books about how the Revelation "proves" the end of the world is coming and even though the books are out-of-date in a few years and their "biblical prophecies" never come true, they still sell for some strange reason. One of these books was about the coming of WWIII by John Hagee. Hagee has been known to say publicly that we need to start WWIII to help the rapture come sooner. Link

There was no "read with discernment" warning label on Hagee's book.