You’re Too Old For VeggieTales

My daughters are in full rebellion — against VeggieTales!

Monday afternoon my girls found themselves looking for a movie to watch as a reward for hard work completed. My suggestion was Veggietales. I love Veggietales and our girls were raised watching the movies. They loved them. So, imagine my surprise when my 8-year-old looked at me, with incredulity, and said, “We’re too old for Veggietales.”

I didn’t think at 5 and 8 they could be too old for Veggietales, but what do I know?

This was her position and like a political party falling in line, she was quickly joined in agreement by her younger sisters. “Yeah. We’re too old for Veggietales!”  I didn’t fight it. We kept digging, finally discovering “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe”  – a story I’m certain no one could be too old for.

I understand why they thought they were too old for Veggietales. It has all the trappings of early childhood and is marketed to children and the parents of young children. It’s not that the stories aren’t good and useful, it’s that there’s a basic childishness about them. And not childish in the child-like sense — pure, innocent, open to experience. Rather, they’re childish in the sanitized, not-quite-true, sheltered sense.

For instance, when Veggietales tells the story of Esther, Queen Vashti is dismissed for her failure to make King Xerxes a sandwich. In reality, she refused to give Xerxes and his friends a lapdance.

My oldest daughter on her way to VeggieTales Live in 2006. Good times.

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All God’s Children: Loving our LGBTQ Friends As We Love Ourselves

Tuesday I posted a review and giveaway of Sally Gary’s, Loves God Likes Girls: A Memoir. The response was tremendous – morseo personally than even in cyberspace (if anyone says “cyberspace” anymore). Below is a repost of a previous blog post concerning gays and the church. It’s one of my most read posts of all time. Enjoy

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I love gay people.

For many, it’s surprising to hear a Christian minister say that — especially an evangelical minister from a fundamentalist background and with fundamentalist theological training — but I do love them. I can’t help it really. And I don’t love people because I’m a saint. I love them because I know so many by name.

I know Jesus asks me to love everyone, but I must be honest; I have trouble loving people I don’t know. A plane crashes in Asia and I’m saddened for the families of the dead, but I don’t grieve. I don’t love them as Jesus does because I don’t know them. Jesus knows them.

I know many gay and lesbian people. I love them.

For a decade and a half I was a youth minister. I took teenagers to Six Flags, to summer camps, on mission trips, to countless retreats and rallies, and I loved every minute of it — well, most every minute of it (I could have lived with better sleeping conditions on many of those retreats and mission trips). But I never complained because I always loved my kids. And they were my kids.

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“Love God, Likes Girls” Giveaway

I’m giving away 3 copies of Sally Gary’s new book, Loves God Likes Girls: A Memoir.” You can scroll to the bottom to see how you can grab a copy, or you can read my reflections – which can’t possibly do Sally’s book justice.
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I met my friend, Sally Gary, several years ago when we were panelists discussing a topic I now can’t recall. A few months prior to the event, we met at an Abilene restaurant to discuss whatever it was that I now can’t remember. In a our first meeting, I knew Sally was a deeply wonderful woman of God. Throughout the years, I’ve never second-guessed my initial perception.

Sally is just the kind of person the Christian community needs to be writing, speaking, and leading us into the tremendously important conversation on LGBTQ issues. Through her work at CenterPeace, Sally has given countless Christians and their families a safe place to discuss and understand issues of same-sex attraction. Now, she has blessed the church and her leaders with another gift, her memoir, “Loves God Likes Girls: A Memoir.”

Over 239-pages, Sally shares her life and her heart. It is tender, sweet, sometimes sad, and seasoned with God’s activity in her life and the lives of her family. It is also Sally’s story of how she has tried to understand and deal with her attraction to women; an attraction to women neither she, her family nor her church knew how to deal with.

And Sally is not alone.

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5 Strategies to Get More Out of the Sermon

You have a role to play in helping your preacher preach better. At the top of the list are time and prayer.

A sermon, like any form of communication, can go in one ear and out the other. Worse, a sermon can find hospitality in the head and hostility in the heart. Many of us struggle with the weekly homily. We struggle applying it, remembering it, living it out, and making sense of it in a world wherein we hear so many messages all the time.

Try theses 5 Strategies to “Getting” the Sermon.

1. Dwell In The Word. If Sunday morning is the first or only time you’ve spent in the scriptures this week, you’re bound to miss a great deal. Understanding God means encountering him in the scriptures. Knowing the scriptures will give  the sermons a depth and richness that only accompany knowing the Bible.

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Practically Speaking: Further Thoughts On Speaking the Truth in Love

Several readers asked me to offer some practical suggestions following-up on to my post about “speaking the truth in love.” So here goes.

I actually believe it’s vitally important to speak the truth to people we love. Each of us carries a truck load of troubles and dysfunctions simply because no one dared tell us a truth we desperately needed to hear. Speaking the truth to those we love can be healthy, powerful, and transformative.

Unfortunately, as I pointed out in a previous post, we’ve shaved the glory off truth and exchanged it for personal opinions or an amalgamation of other intellectual, emotional, and political opinions and commitments and called them “truth” because we wanted them to be. This had made it difficult for others to know when the truth we speak is delivered in their best interest or merely our own attempt to force our opinions into their lives.

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A Quick Story:

Two years ago, I walked into the doctor’s office after years of avoiding it. I wasn’t against doctors, but I was rarely sick and didn’t feel badly enough to go. At the urging of my wife and a family friend, herself a doctor, I made an appointment. The doctor took a lot of measurements and blood and then came in and said what no doctor had ever told me. I needed to make some changes. Big changes. Huge changes. My choices were to make the changes or have a tired, miserable, medication-filled life that would lead to a early death.

He explained to me, given my numbers, that he should put me on medication for high-cholesterol and that I was pre-diabetic.

My doctor was honest, straight-forward, and clear. But it was ultimately my decision. He’d given me the all the information with the best of his knowledge and suggested we check everything again in 3-months. He then said, “Your paperwork says you’re a Pastor.”

“Yes.”

“I bet you’re terrible at taking care of yourself.”

“I dunno.”

“If you don’t do anything else,” he said “read this book.” And he gave me The Self-Compassion Diet: A Step-by-Step Program to Lose Weight with Loving-Kindness.’

So I made the changes and read the book. I dropped 71lbs, using the greatest system in the world and have enjoyed two of the best years of my life. Now, I’m helping other people make the changes that have been so valuable to me and achieve their dreams. And it all happened because one man decided to speak the truth in love.

Good Advice:

Speaking the truth in love has  a formula, ingredients. My doctor knew them, used them, and I’m the better for it. If you want to be the kind of person who actually speaks the truth in love rather than the hot-head known for advocating your opinions, badgering others who disagree with you, and generally being a the kind of person all your friends secretly wish to block on Facebook, you might want to pay attention to the 5 ingredients necessary to speak the truth in love.

1. Irrefutable Data: My doctor didn’t give me his opinion. He gave me data that was clear and compelling. Many Christians believe when they quote scripture they’re offering irrefutable data, but we aren’t. Not in the way we think, anyways. I hate to be the one to tell you, but when we speak of the Bible, we’re speaking of our interpretation of the Bible. None of us reads scriptures in a vacuum. Our Bible reading is the product of many, many forces, therefore there are lots and lots of interpretations and we can’t possibly be right about every jot and tittle. That’s why the gospel – as I understand it – means we are saved by grace not exegesis. We offer our interpretations of scripture and God-loving, well-meaning people will disagree with us. Either that or we have to believe that everyone who disagrees with us is either insincere or stupid.

2. Clear Outcomes. When you outline irrefutable data it typically lead to clear outcomes. One of the ways you might want to test the truth you wish to speak is whether or not the outcomes are inevitable. Christians often get this wrong because we take anecdotes as evidence. If a few stories match up nicely with our faith commitments we accept them without examining the evidence to the contrary or how universal those stories can be applied. For instance, while trying to convince your friend to not live with her boyfriend, saying, “You won’t be happy,” won’t be interpreted as a solid argument. Likewise, you can’t suggest to teenaged girls that they refrain from premarital sex because, “No good, Christian man would want you.” That’s simply not true (besides being horrifying theology and a tad bit abusive). Those outcomes are not inevitable. Before you unload your truth claims, you need to make sure they’re actually true and not the straw-man arguments you heard your favorite preacher or TV or radio-show host say. If the outcomes aren’t clear, you may want to stay quiet. You risk losing credibility if you don’t.

3. About Me Not Him. My doctor’s advice to me was about me feeling better not just him feeling better. Several years ago a Godly woman invited me to coffee. She had something to tell me. For 30-minutes she downloaded what “God put on her heart” about me. When she was done, she told me, “That’s all. I thought God wanted me to tell you that.” I started to respond. She shushed me, grabbed her purse, and left. Here’s the thing: Her words were meant to be comforting to me, but I don’t remember any of them. What I do remember is that conversation was completely about her. She said what she wanted to say and left. The meeting was about her. Oftentimes, when we get around to truth-telling, it’s really about us listening to ourselves talk. I learned that day that the next time I want to spout off about other people’s lifestyles choices, politics, or whatever, I need to pull back and ask, “Who am I saying this for?” Trust me, my “blog drafts” folder is loaded with posts I wrote that I later determined were just me venting and completely unhelpful to others.

4. At A Personal Cost. My doc made it clear that, given his medical groups policies, he should write me prescriptions. He didn’t. He trusted that within the next three months I could get my numbers down. Too often, our truth-telling costs us nothing. If you’re not invested in the life of the person you’re talking too, you’re probably not friends enough to say anything at all. If you risk nothing personal, people will notice. You’ll just become a talking head.

5. Let The Other Decide. The most impressive thing my doctor did was allow me to decide for myself. He laid out the information, and asked me to primary agent in creating change. The changes were completely up to me. I’ve seen too many people have tough conversations with people they loved. Often the situation was handled well until after the conversation when someone couldn’t let it go. They kept badgering, cajoling, and bothering people. Don’t do that. If we’re not talking about your underaged children, you’re gonna have to learn to let adults be adults, even if they make poor choices. It’s easier to be a clanging gong than we think.

My doctor changed my life that day. He spoke to truth in love. 3-months later, when I had my return visit, both of us were all smiles and as I walked out of his office, he gave me a high-five. That’s what can happen when we’re thoughtful when speaking the truth in love.

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