Small Talk(ing)

If you’re a fan of comedy you might enjoy watching comedians talk about the craft of comedy. I always find it interesting (and entertaining) to hear the thought processes that go into writing a joke or bit or even a set of jokes. In Jerry Seinfeld’s web series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, as the title implies, Seinfeld picks up a fellow comedian in some unique car and they simply go out for coffee. It’s usually entertaining because comedians are typically funny and it’s often fascinating because you get a behind-the-curtain look at how comedians think.

In a recent episode Jerry’s guest was comedian/actor, Kevin Hart. During their discussion something stood out to me that I think has striking implications outside of comedy. Seinfeld began professing his disdain for the use of pyrotechnics, flash, lasers, stunts, etc. before a stand-up comedy routine. He mentioned it might work for some people (like guest Kevin Hart) but he preferred a much more yeoman-like approach, similar to Mike Tyson’s approach to a boxing match. Tyson went against the grain of the flashy, bombastic performances that many prize fighters were known to embrace by coming out in a simple terry cloth “poncho” instead of a silky long, embellished robe. As Seinfeld remembered, “He would cut a hole in the hotel towel… no socks… so stool… he came ready to fight… It’s a reduced essence.”

Seinfeld’s reasoning? Too much lead up to the actual stand-up routine “makes the talking seem small.” I couldn’t help but to transfer this assessment to modern church culture. A lot of churches with vast resources create fantastic events which help to raise attendance and interest. The danger, though, is what Seinfeld fears about his shows: that the talking (sermon) might be made to seem small. The message from God’s Word is meant to be the centerpiece of a worship gathering. If there is more emphasis placed on creating an exciting environment or attractive event than on hearing from God, we’ve missed the mark. There is an adage in ministry that says “what you win them with is what you when them to.” The idea here is that if people are “hooked” by hype then that is what they will desire and will often find themselves dissatisfied and unfulfilled.

A similar scenario unfolds in Mark 8. After we read about Jesus miraculously feeding a multitude, some Pharisees demand a sign from Him as a test. But Jesus questions their desires, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.”

NOTE: I am not saying Jesus’ miracle is empty hype. I am simply pointing out that people are often attracted to the fantastic and then err by letting it distract them from a richer truth.

If we are truly longing to know and follow Christ we will, like Paul, keep the Gospel as our top priority (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). This was Jesus emphasis, too, when asked for a sign in Matthew 12. He replies, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” Knowing that the people were testing Jesus out of curiosity as a test and wanting to simply see something amazing, Jesus responded with a prophecy about His resurrection from the dead!

Stay alert, folks! Let’s not be considered an evil generation that only longs for a fantastic event and dismisses the message of God’s truth as it gets overshadowed. God talks to us through His Word. He talks to us through the Spirit. He talks to us through faithful preaching.

Let’s avoid anything that makes “the talking seem small.”

Christ Is Risen, He Is Risen Indeed!

Hallelujah, the tomb is empty! I hope that if you’re reading this, you’re able to celebrate your risen Savior today. If you cannot, I pray you would turn to Him in faith.

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

Romans 10:8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”

“The power that raised Him from the grave now works in us to powerfully save! He frees our hearts to live His grace; Go tell of His goodness!”

Happy Resurrection Day!

Ramblings from a New Mama

Let me start by saying that these last few weeks have been the wildest, most rewarding, challenging weeks of my entire life. I am completely in love with our sweet baby boy, and I really can’t imagine life without him. As much as I’d love to write out an eloquent post about the last three weeks, I’m having a hard enough time stringing together coherent sentences these days! So for today, I’ll stick to the highlights :-)

Most surprising part of being a new mama…

How natural everything is in the beginning. The Lord is so gracious in His design, starting us new mamas off with basic needs that we can meet… Even in our sleep deprived state :wink:

Most fun part of being a new mama…

Watching our little guy explore and grow. It’s crazy how different he is after 3 short weeks!

Scariest part of being a new mama…

Everything. Being responsible for another human life is terrifying. I’m extra thankful for God’s grace and provision these days.

Most challenging part of being a new mama…

Trying to figure out what I’m doing, why he’s upset, if I should be doing something different, etc. While things do come naturally, it’s hard not to second guess myself and wonder if there is more I could/should be doing.

My favorite part of being a new mama…

Getting to snuggle, kiss and love on my baby boy. I know the days of him falling asleep on my chest are limited, so I’m soaking it up! He is such a treasure, and I still can’t believe the Lord has allowed me to be his mama. Having Deacon here brings new meaning to James 1:17.

And now for the best part, pictures of our little guy!

take courage and work, for He is with us

a couple of sundays ago, our pastor preached from a passage in haggai which contained this verse:

‘But now take courage, Zerubbabel,’ declares the LORD, ‘take courage also, Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and all you people of the land take courage,’ declares the LORD, ‘and work; for I am with you,’ declares the LORD of hosts.’ Haggai 2:4

what struck me the most was “and work; for I am with you.” the passage in context is an exhortation to the discouraged builders trying to bring the temple back to its former days of glory. what they’re working on doesn’t compare to the past, but God promises a better future. and during their doubt and discouragement, God tells them to keep working and promises His presence.

this reminded me of the great commission in matthew 28:

“Go therefore and make disciples…and lo, I am with you always” Matthew 28:19-20

which also got me thinking about God speaking to moses in exodus 4:

“You are to speak to [Aaron] and put the words in his mouth; and I, even I, will be with your mouth and his mouth, and I will teach you what you are to do.” Exodus 4:15

in these passages, God/Christ tasks his people with a great mission and the trump card He equips them with to leave them without excuse is His own presence. every excuse we can come up with is a weakness in ourselves or someone else or the perceived strength of our opposition. God eliminates these “obstacles” by reminding us that He is with us. and if we’re walking in obedience to Him, we’ll remember that there is no greater power than that.

remember that, brothers and sisters. take heart, be strong and continue the work He has called you to. because our God is “with us!” not simply “for us.”

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

“whoa-oh, we’re halfway there…”

“whoa-oh! we’re living on a prayer!”

as i’ve posted, tweeted and “statused,” i started a wednesday night prayer time at our church. it sprang up from a personal conviction that i needed to pray more as an individual and realizing God has called us to pray corporately, too. i just couldn’t ignore any longer the presence and power of prayer throughout Scripture.

a quote from jim cymbala also resonated with me. i don’t have it in front of me so i’ll paraphrase. he said something like, “if you don’t enjoy prayer, how do you think you’ll enjoy heaven?” or something along those lines. the point being, prayer is communing and communicated with God. basically what believers are set to do for eternity!

anyway, i originally planned on this prayer time being for college and young singles (CYS), the ministry i oversee. but i quickly realized that there was no reason to not offer it to anyone in our church.

the first night we met, we had three people. the second week, two of those people were out but two new people showed up, last week we had four and tonight we had six!

i don’t know how well attended prayer meetings/gatherings are in your churches, but i’m encouraged by the six we had tonight! granted, there are lots of other activities on wednesday nights going on, so we’re not the only group meeting, but there is still plenty of room for growth!

what do your churches do by way of corporate prayer time?

oh, and if you think about it, please pray for our prayer ministry:

Before the Throne


twit happened one night

so… i got a twitter account. can i say, “i got a twitter?” i feel like that’s acceptable. do i “tweet” or “twitter” things? i’m afraid of misusing “//” and “#” or not using them when i should, etc. it’s all very new to me still.

it’s kind of funny, because i feel like i can never think of things to blog about, but when i go to tweet i have trouble confining myself to 140 characters! should be interesting. i hope to not neglect either medium (blog or twitter) and i’m a little worried about that because the semester starts in a couple of weeks and i’m gonna be BUSY!BUSY!BUSY! hopefully that will give me more to blog and microblog about.

anyway, just thought i’d share!

you can find me at

in case you missed it

3 So also, when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world. 4 But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, 5 to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. 6 Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “”Abba”, Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.

Galatians 4:3-7

yes, christmas is a reminder of the extreme humility with which the Lord engaged our world. subjecting Himself to humanness wasn’t JUST a means to sympathize with us more fully, though. (but that is kinda ridiculously awesome icing on the cake)

christmas is a celebration of the incarnation. and the incarnation is the sunrise of God’s great redemptive plan. the fall in the garden cursed mankind, so the redemptive plan couldn’t simply consist of sacrificing the divine Son. a man had to pay the price to satisfy the penalty of sin. enter the incarnation. fully divine, fully man. fully divine in order to forgive, judge, and save. fully man in order to pay the price and be tempted in every way that we are.

incredible. ridiculous. i’m so grateful that God is God and i’m not! that He didn’t change the penalty of sin or set aside any of His attributes to redeem us. rather, in His passionate pursuit of us, He engineered an amazing plan of reconciliation. and though He didn’t cancel the penalty of sin, He did trump the snot out of it!

it’s in understanding this great truth that we can echo the song of the angels and say, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased.”

*note the peace of christmas is the peace among men with whom God is pleased, and without faith it is impossible to please God. you do the math. it’s no surprise that “christmas cheer” doesn’t bring lasting peace.

farewell, ken ober

ken ober

ken ober died over the weekend.

even though my brother (the only person, i’d guess, who reads this AND knows who ken was) probably already knew of ken’s passing, i decided to mention it.

he hosted remote control on mtv back in the day. great pop culture game show that helped launch guys like adam sandler and colin quinn.

(oh, bird probably knew of ken, too.)