Thursday, April 28

Clarification on Sun Tans and Seat Jumping ...

Thoughts Along the Way

When I was a senior in high school in 1977, I weighed about 170 pounds. The "Fat Man's Relay" just referred to those who were only in field events and not in running events. It wasn't necessarily a physical description of the participants!!! "You are only big boned ..." hrmmmph!

Now, 2005 might be a different story ...

Tuesday, April 26

Makes My Heart Glad ...

Thoughts Along the Way

Some of the reasons that I love what I do ...

* Shelley, her heart for service, and her efforts in putting together a "service small group", as well as her and Samantha's leadership in the campus Habitat for Humanity chapter.

* All of those who give their Friday nights to run the 2:00 AM Grill - Brio, Travis, Erin, Becky, Woody, Joey, Bill, Thomas, Clarkie, Valerie, Lance, Eric, David, Kristin, Shelley, and others that I don't know about ('cause I'm not usually up at 2:00 AM). Last Friday night they served hamburgers and hot dogs to about 300 (mostly intoxicated) college students - sharing God's love in a practical way and starting conversations and relationships that can be bridges for the Gospel.

* Kristin, Felicia, Gilia, Brio, and others who fix lunch a couple of times each month for the Seven Hills Shelter.

Watching people take their faith and put it into practice in ways that touch the lives of people just makes my heart glad.

"Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:16

Monday, April 25

Looking Behind the Curtain

Thoughts Along the Way

Being a native of Kansas, one of the unfortunate associations that people have with you is the Wizard of Oz. (Apologies to my family in Liberal, the home of Dorothy.) Even in 2005, it is not unusual to hear comments about Toto or tornadoes or Dorothy. I guess it's part of the price I pay for everyone's jealousy over my birthplace.

The Wizard of Oz is a piece of cultural lore about which virtually everyone knows. I'm sure that you're familiar with the story and the "mighty Oz" whom Dorothy and her companions seek out to help with their problems. But at the end of it all, the curtain is pulled back and the mighty wizard is revealed as an imposter. Not a mighty wizard, but just a trembling little man hiding behind a curtain and a loud voice.

That scene came to my mind today as Jason and I were reading from II Timothy. In the passage, Paul is talking about what life will be like in the "last days" - especially the attitudes among those who would consider themselves religious people. He uses three phrases that jumped out at me. And troubled me. In II Timothy 3:1-9, Paul writes about those who are:

"lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God"

What a description of our times! How often do I choose pleasure over God? The pleasure of my bed over time with God? The pleasure of watching TV over reading God's Word? The pleasure of some mindless entertainment over giving of myself or my resources to the things that are important to God? The pleasure of pleasing another person rather than God? How many different ways do I choose my pleasure, my comfort, my will, my wants over what's important to God and what honors God?

"having a form of godliness but denying its power"

Outside of attending religious meeting, is there any evidence of God in my life? Can people see something of God in how I live and act and speak? Do I talk about how God can make a difference in life and yet have no evidence of God's difference in my life? Does my life show evidence of God's power? Am I being changed? Am I demonstrating power over sin? Fear? Worry? The need to impress? Can people who interact with me tell that God has touched my life? I remember the words from Acts regarding those who were followers of Jesus:

"When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus." Acts 4:13

Can people tell that I have been with Jesus?

"always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth"

A great description of a university campus - people always studying and learning, but not always looking for the truth. Many times, the pursuit of knowledge is more important than finding the truth. And so you have a campus full of smart people who know a lot of facts, but have somehow missed the point.

But you have churches (and campus ministries) like that, too. We can become great Bible scholars and never let what we learn intellectually influence how we live practically. Can you tell me one way that your worship or study of God's Word has changed your life in the last three months? If not, why not?
What if someone pulled back the curtain on your spiritual life? What would they find? Would they find a lover of God? A life of power? A practitioner of truth? Or would they find an imposter?

Thursday, April 21

He Changed His Mind

Thoughts Along the Way

Antony Flew was raised in a Christian home, the son of a Methodist minister. But at the age of 15, he became an atheist. He studied at Oxford, where he won the John Locke Prize for Mental Philosophy. He taught at Oxford and three other universities. He has written 26 books. He lectured in classes taught by CS Lewis and debated many on the existence of God. The Times of London called him "one of the most renowned atheists of the past half-century, whose papers and lectures have formed the bedrock of unbelief for many adherents."

And he has changed his mind.

Last year, Anthony Flew - one of the world's prominent atheist philosophers - decided that he had been wrong. He decided that, in fact, there must be a God. Some argue that the change came because Flew is getting old (he's 81). But, according to Flew, the reason is simple: The evidence demands that there must be a Creator. After examining the evidence of Intelligent Design, he has concluded that there is indeed a Creator. It should be noted that Flew's move is just to deism (he calls himself a Jeffersonian Deist) and not to Christianity. The April 2005 issue of Christianity Today contains an article by James A. Beverley about Flew and his change of mind. It is worth reading. At this time, it's not online, but I'm sure it will be soon. You can check at

Two thoughts struck me after I read this article. The first was an admiration for Flew. He had built his career and reputation on defending the position of the atheist. Yet he was honest and humble enough to publicly admit that he was wrong and change his position. How many times do we let our pride keep us from responding to what we know to be true and right because it might involve admitting we were wrong? Or because it might be embarrassing to us?

The second is that often on a university campus it is easy to feel that those who believe in God are in the minority and are not taken seriously by "real" scholars. Though there are thousands of Christian students on campus and many Christian professors, there is often a sense that those who believe in God and follow Christ aren't quite "up to snuff" intellectually. Yet I'm convinced that there is a solid foundation of evidence for the things that we believe. We aren't just making this up off of the top of our heads. When you see a prominent opponent of God examine that evidence and change his mind, it just reaffirms the truth of what we believe and the evidence that supports it.

I don't need Antony Flew's agreement for me to believe in God. But it is good to see that the evidence that points me to God is strong enough to also convince him.

"For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." Romans 1:20

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge." Psalm 19:1-2

Wednesday, April 20

Sun Tans and Seat Jumping

Thoughts Along the Way

Yesterday afternoon I slipped out of the office for a little while to watch a high school track meet. I wanted to watch some of our SHS FCA guys, touch bases with some of the coaches from Springdale and Fayetteville, and see some other kids I know. I don't go to many meets just to watch, but being at this high school meet brought back some memories ...

When I was in high school, I played football (intense, serious business), wrestled (hard work and I was bad), and "ran" track (a chance to get out of school early). I was a shot putter - which was the best event! Practice consisted of jogging a couple of laps, maybe running up and down the bleachers a few times, and throwing for about 30 minutes. On some days, we would then head out to the lake to ski. Not a bad life. But on meet days it was even better! Meet days went like this:

1) Get out of school early, grab a blanket and a Coleman cooler full of sandwiches, candy bars, and Cokes, and go to the meet.
2) Throw the shot (usually the first event) and be done in 30 minutes.
3) Sit on the blanket in the infield, work on a sun tan, eat sandwiches, drink Cokes, eat candy bars, talk to girls, and make fun of the runners who were working so hard they made themselves sick.
4) Go to the bus for some competitive "seat jumping". Seat jumping was a contest that we invented where you would stand a one seat on the bus and then dive (head first) to see how many seats you could jump over. It was never an official track event - but a regular part of our trips.
5) Do more of #3.

Now, once in a while I did have to take part in a running event. Some meets would have a "Fat Man's Relay." (How politically incorrect!) It was just for those who only did field events and I would run in it when the event was held. Sometimes - especially in smaller meets - I would have to "run" the 2-mile. But I had a very specific purpose in that race - to take as much time as possible so that the real runners would have time to rest before the mile relay. My instructions were to "jog the straights and walk the curves." And go as slow as possible.

No wonder I love track and field so much!

Sunday, April 17

Thoughts Along the Way

Thoughts Along the Way

Welcome to my blog.

As I sit on my deck, looking at a sky full of stars, listening to the waterfall in the background and the Phillies/Braves on the net, I'm wondering what I'm getting into. I never really thought I would be doing this. Blogs always seemed to be a little pretentious. Or for those who were more tech-savvy than me. Or more poetic. Or deeper. Or funnier. Or at least thought they were those things. I just never thought of myself as a blog kind of guy.

But over the past few months, the idea has been growing on me. Hopefully it's a God-thing. And through the help of Jake, "Thoughts Along The Way" came to be. But what will it become? That is the question. And that's also where you come in. In my "vision" for this thing, I wanted an interactive forum that can keep the discussion going about God, the spiritual life, the world, and whatever else comes along. In trying to make things as complicated as possible, my blog has three parts:

1) The Blog Itself - The space where you get to "hear" me rant or ponder or think out loud. It's the place where I'll get to develop more fully things I've been thinking about or talking about. It's the place where I'll get to comment on things I see and experience. I don't think it's going to be anything "preachy" - just thinking out loud. My hope is to be able to do this two or three times a week. One of my big fears in doing this is that I won't have anything to say. But after reading a bunch of blogs, that doesn't seem to stop anyone else - so I guess I can do it too! But I'll want your comments and feedback to hone my thinking and understanding. And I want to add this disclaimer: It could be that much of what I write will be "thoughts in process" and shouldn't be taken as my final position or that of Christ on Campus or anyone else related to me!

2) Ask Mike - One of the favorite ConC traditions over the years has been our "Ask Mike Nights" where students can anonymously ask whatever questions they have and I get three minutes to answer them. We're going to continue that on here. Feel free to email me any questions you would like a response to and I'll give it a shot. But I do reserve the right not to publish every question!

3) Bible Discussion - I would like to have an ongoing, online discussion on a Biblical text. I'll pick a book, publish a section of it on the forum, and we can spend a week asking questions, sharing insights, and finding applications.

I guess I'm asking a lot of this. But I do think the title kind of catches where I want to go. We are all trying to figure out how to best live our lives in a world that is often confusing, amusing, disgusting, heartbreaking, beautiful, and more. For those of us trying to live our lives in relationship with God, the world can often be antagonistic - or at least apathetic. Along the way, we struggle with fears and questions. But it is wrestling with these tensions - our thoughts and prayers and doubts and convictions - and our interactions with God and people along the way, that shape our lives and the path we take. Hopefully, this will be a place where we can sort through some of those things.