Wednesday, February 29, 2012

40/40 8 The Season of See What Happens

A while ago I found myself saying a certain phrase whenever I was talking about my current position and my future plans.  I would talk about what I am doing and then throw in the words "We'll see what happens."  It was usually a casual throw away line, but I soon realized that this was an attitude which I have adopted about life, ministry, whatever.

I have spent my life making plans and quazi-determining what I wanted to do and where I wanted to be, or at least beginning on some paths that that seemed right only to find myself not progressing as far down that path as I had previously anticipated.  I am not sure when it happened but I surrendered my will to that of God.  I figured His plan was the best plan and anything that I would have thought would have led me nowhere or into places I did not need to be.  Recently people have asked me what my plans were for ministry and how I was going to progress on the campus of Widener.  I kept saying I was going to try some things and see what happens.  Or I laid out my ideas and my plans and would end up with the statement "We'll see what happens."
This phrase sparked an idea.  Why not turn this into a ministry motto, a mission statement of sorts?

This is what I came up with:  Try God with the simple things He has asked us to do and see what happens.
I launched a sermon series that tackled these things.  Now let me set this straight there is no complicated theological premise in this statement.  It is simply a matter of taking the principles that God set forth and doing the things that we all know we should do, but committing ourselves fully and completely to doing these things.  They are simple, but for those who need lists here's one

  1.   Read you Bible! See What happens-  Commit yourself to reading through the Word of God and see how much God will show you and how interconnected the Bible actually is. God is looking for people who will Read the Bible and have the Audacity to do what it says!
  2.  Pray! See What Happens--It is my contention that prayer is the lifeline of the believer.  Without prayer we cannot hope to have any power in our Christian walk. Why Pray? What could happen? Well here are a couple of subpoints:
    • We  grow closer to God:  Christianity is about a relationship. A relationship is built on communication.  The more we pray the more we talk with God the more we get to know Him. 
    • We grow more like God:  This is the concept of the longer you hang out with someone the more similar you two become.  You start to talk alike, act alike, and dress alike.  Not sure why it just happens.  So spend time with God and become like Him.
    • Things happen:  Connecting to God taps into the power of God.  Prayer produces power to heal, preach, praise, and affect change in the world around them.
    • People get saved:  We start talking to God about our friends, We start talking to our friends about God.  God starts talking to them.
  3. Praise! See what happens--When things are going well--Praise God.  When things are going OK--Praise God.  This is easy enough.  When things are going perfectly horrible--Praise God!  This ain't easy.  Paul and Silas did this when they were in prison and God rocked the house and people got saved.  They were not praising God because they were in jail.  They praised God while they were in jail.
  4. Preach! See What Happens--Start talking about Christ.  Tell your friends the Gospel.  Talk to your friends about the God that you have told about them.  What?  If they never hear they will never know.
These are just the basic premises, but if we can get these things down then God has promised that He will do things that will shock and amaze us.  He will do some great things that will show His greatness throughout the world and give us the honor of participating with Him.  Do these simple things and

Hair the Theolobster

PS> Check out these sermons at  or

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

40/40 day 7 Tired of Lousy service? Remember the Golden Rule

Ever notice how some people never get good service.  You know the people I'm talking about.  They are the ones in the restaurant belittling the waitress while she is off spitting in their food.  The guy who sends his plate back three times.  The lady at the WalMart who is griping that the cashier is taking too long or no one wants to help her finding anything in the lawn and garden section.  These people can be male or female, but they are always the victim of other people's stupidity.

I am reflecting on this today of all days for I encountered one such person today at the McDonald's.  I awoke early for prayer time at Widener and then made my way to WalMart to collect supplies for a care package we are sending to a friend in California.  I was hungry so I went to Micky D's. I ordered a biscuit from the Hispanic woman at the register with no problems. As I was standing there, this hurricane of a woman and her entourage entered complaining that the drive-thru people were incompetent and could not understand her "simple" order.  She was from Philly, and was saying that if she was in Philly then she wouldn't be having these problems.  See we were in Eddystone which is outside of Philly near Chester. (that information is for those who know where that is. for the rest of you it might be worth Googling. if you don't care then it's not necessary.)  Well this woman came in and did not care that A)  I was standing there or anyone for that matter, B) she automatically assumed that everyone that worked at McDonald's was stupid, and judged everyone by what she saw and where they were from. She gave her order again and had the cashier (the same one I dealt with) read it back to her.  There were 2 special sandwich combos, three more sandwiches all had extras and tweaks to the order or sandwich and 2 had drinks and others did not.  It was not a simple order.  There was a mistake in the reading back and the customer was offended.  It was too the point that she got the manager involved.  She did not even show the manager the respect any person deserved.  I was standing there appalled that anyone could treat so many people so poorly.  I tried to step in and give some help, but anything I could have done was small, pointless, and ignored.

It is a matter of respect when dealing with people.  Everyone is a important to God and to someone.  I remember the Golden Rule.  I may have learned it in kindergarten.  It says something like "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you."  In fact, this is a Bible verse (Luke 6:31, Matthew 7:12).  It is the one Bible verse that everyone in the world knows.  It is more popular than John 3:16, and is a lesson that everyone would do well to learn.

You see, I dealt with the same people and had a pleasant experience.  I usually operate in a realm of respect.  I know that it is earned when it is given.  It cannot be demanded and it cannot be bought.  However, it can be lost and hard to get back.    If you go into a situation expecting people to be stupid and worthless then you will get lousy service, but if you go in expecting people to be people and treating them with respect then you will receive the respect you give.

Give it a try and SEE WHAT HAPPENS!
Hair the Theolobster

Monday, February 27, 2012

40/40 day 6: The Forge

It's Monday.  I do not do a lot on Mondays.  It is a Sabbath for me.  I intentionally take time off and do nothing.  As opposed to other days where I unintentionally waste time and do nothing.  Just saying.

I mentioned the Forge yesterday without explaining what that is.  To explain what the Forge is gets into the history of how I became a campus minister.  The Forge is a worship service that meets on the campus of Widener University.  It is technically the evening service of the Foundry Church
We have been meeting on campus for two years now.  The story is that Pastor Chuck Keiffer was talking with the provost of the University and was asking the provost what we as a church could do to transport students to our services which was only a mile away.  The provost suggested that we move one of our services on campus.  They were already doing a Catholic Mass so a protestant service was not out of the question. So we moved our Sunday night service onto campus and called it The Foundry at Widener.

Meanwhile I had been serving at the Foundry for 3 years.  I have been a youth minister, associate pastor, drama director, elder and have filled in whenever and wherever I was needed.  The name "the Forge" had been  in my head and heart for some time.  I offered it as a name for our children's ministry, but did not work.  I had thought about it for the youth ministry, which already had the name fusion.  (the youth ministry was out of control and had to be eliminated in at least in the form that it had existed.) Finally, I saw that the name "The Foundry at Widener" was a little long and complicated, especially when it was held at the Foundry.  Then it became the Foundry at Widener at the Foundry and that just got too complicated.  Plus I felt the name limited community involvement.  So I began to call the service at Widener "The Forge."  A forge is a place where metal is heated shaped and formed into something useful and effective.  I thought this was a fitting name for a worship service on a college campus, a place where ideas and adults are formed and tested.  This is the concept of the Forge.  To form and challenge the faith of individuals and to test their strength in the Word and Spirit of God.  I gave the tag line to the Forge of it being a place where Questions are answered and Answers are Questioned.  Taking the raw elements of faith that the students had been given to them by their parents and ministers and forming a disciple and a faith that can carry them throughout their lives.  This is my job.  This is my ministry.

the theolobster

Sunday, February 26, 2012

40/40 Sunday. Point to Ponder

It is 11:19pm on a  Sunday night and I just got home.  It has been a long day. The Forge went well.  God spoke.  It was a small crowd.  I am tired and have used all my good ideas so I will leave you with a thought to ponder as you travel life's highway.

You are not always going to be the biggest car on the road
So watch out for the big guys
get out of their way and don't get run over
You are also not always going to be the smallest car on the road
So watch out for the little guys 
help them out when you can 
Don't go too fast
Don't go too slow
And always 
Keep it straight 
Between the lines

God bless you all this season
(the Theolobster)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

40/40 Faults, Failures, and Forgiveness

Okay so I failed.   I failed.  I let someone down, and I failed.  I am not perfect and I will never claim to be, but I must be better than I am.  My group was asked to join with a 30 hour famine program which was to begin on Friday night last through the night then on Saturday the participants would go do service projects.  The plan was to have the students who were interested in doing the overnight would make their way to the church and then go to the projects.  The rest would meet up Saturday am and join for the service projects.  I could only get one person to firmly commit to going.  He went to the church Friday night and stayed the whole time.  Praise God. However the rest of the students either had to work or had other committments arise.  So there were no takers for Saturday.

My failure comes about by my lack of participation on Saturday morning.  Since there were no other students going to participate, I slept in and caught up on my dreams.  What I should have done was get in my vehicle and find the church and join the one student that had voluntarily did likewise on Friday night.

I started a sermon series on the book of Ruth.  I took the route that it is a book about Redemption and redeeming people.  Naomi, Ruth and Orpah  were worthless people according to their societal structure.  They were widows and had no direct male relatives there to give them value.  Naomi lost her husband and her two sons to what I like to call sudden male death syndrome.  She was headed back to her homeland where Orpah and Ruth who were Moabites would have even less worth, so Naomi told them to leave her.  Orpah did just that.  Ruth however gave her mother-in-law value by committing herself to live with Naomi:

1:16 But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.”

These words which have been made famous by weddings around the world showed a true commitment to another individual.  By saying these words and committing her life to Naomi, Ruth effectively gave Naomi value and worth.  My challenge to the students on Sunday was to find ways to give people value this past week.  My failure was I did not value my one student who would have appreciated it.  I should have gone this morning, but I did not.  For this infraction I seek repentance. For this lack of valuing a student  I ask forgiveness. Forgiveness from God, from others, and most of all From Carl. He is valuable and worth a lot in the Kingdom of God and LOGOS Student Ministries. Love ya man.

My challenge still stands:  find a way to give value to people by committing time and resources to them.

Until tomorrow
(the Theolobster)

Friday, February 24, 2012

40/40 Thematic Orchestration

I am continually amazed at how God plans things that I seem to simply fall into.  It is as if He orchestrates themes in my life on a weekly and even daily basis.  This week is a prime example of this thematic orchestration.

The student ministry group on Widener University which is called LOGOS has been growing steadily over the past two years.  Our original group began meeting on Tuesday nights.  This remains our largest meeting and collection of students.  However there are several students who cannot come to our Tuesday night meeting due to classes or travel time for commuter students who had to take public transportation which involved 2 hours, 3 buses, a train and several miles of walking distance simply in the attempt to not be late for classes, or the student who have overburdened themselves to the point that they have about 6 hours of free time to spend on personal pursuits (that is of course if they don't like to sleep and can handle being driven by pure caffeine and adrenaline.) In order to accommodate those students we expanded the meetings to include an additional Bible study that meets on Thursdays at and around lunch time.  We call these Brown Bag meetings. To further set up the scenario, last semester we were doing the same book of the Bible (Ephesians(not important that you knew which book.  it is irrelevant in this story, but I'd thought I'd throw it in there anyway))  in both groups.

This semester things worked out a little differently.  Only one student could attend the Brown Bag sessions so I decided to try doing two different books of the Bible.  On Tuesday nights we are working through the book of James.   We are taking it several verses at a time and just working out what it is talking about and what is being said in each section.  In the Brown Bag session the student and I are independently reading the book of Acts in chunks of 3 chapters at a time.  The plan is to be finished with both books by the end of the semester.  (not necessarily fun doing 2 book studies at the same time, but hey it happens)  Are you ready for the cool part. KEEP READING

Here is where God worked his Thematic Orchestration:

James Chapter 2:
1 My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. 2 For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, 3 and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” 4 have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court?7 Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?

These are the verses that we spent a majority of our time working through at LOGOS. We spent a lot of time discussing the need to not show favoritism to people because we deem one group of people more worthy than another. We expanded the ideals beyond rich and poor to topics of class, race, or whatever could be used to set one person above another. At Brown Bag we read the story of Peter and Cornelius in Acts chapter 10-11. There Peter had to look beyond the exterior division of Jew and Gentile into the heart of the individuals. The people were amazed that the Holy Spirit was now available to Gentiles.

As I said doing two book studies simultaneously is not fun, but it is amazing when God makes it easier by bringing me to a similar theme in both. It's almost like He knows what He's doing and lets us stumble upon it at just the right time.


Hair (the Theolobster)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

40/40 day 2: Ash Wednesday Observations

Let me preface this post with this:  I do not come from a liturgical tradition. Some people may say that i come from a "low church" tradition, so I do not see what the perceived power or function of a lot of the liturgies of these "high church" traditions.  Also let me say that as an actor and theologian, I understand how some of the liturgy is a way to reenact moments in spiritual and religious history and explain complex theological ideas i n a way that the common person in the church pew could understand and believe.  However I think the value of liturgy has gone to extremes.  Today I can only focus on the Liturgy of Ash Wednesday.

Yesterday was my first Ash Wednesday experience.  Coming from the South where there are fewer Catholic churches than there are emus (you would be surprised at how many emus there are in South Carolina, but that is another story for another day) and more baptist and non-denominational churches, Ash Wednesday was mostly a couple of words printed in blue on my mom's wall calendar. In fact, I thought Lent was was that white stuff you got on your black pants on Sunday morning.  Anyway I am rambling, but I have a point.

I went to two Ash Wednesday services at Widener University yesterday.  Being an associate chaplain and a Baptist Campus Minister (depending on who you ask) I find it important to examine the faith practices of students on campus.  The first one was in the morning and was led by an Episcopalian priest.  120 people had shown up.  Many of those people were Catholic and some of them had problems with the imposition of ashes by someone who was not a Catholic priest.  In fact, as soon as they got ashes they all left although the priest had more to do. In a later conversation a young lady asked the question "Do my ashes count?" because he was not Catholic.

This brings me to my main point to ponder:  Is the power in the ashes or the priest?
This is a trick question because as I understand liturgy the answer is both yet neither.
Let me explain:

I say neither because the ashes on the forehead does nothing other than place a black spot on your head.  There is no mystical or magical event in placing this on your head.  It is mostly symbolic and does not make you any more holy or set apart in God's sight.

Therefore since there is no power in ashes, then the catholic priest himself does not have any special power to create holier ashes, or empower these ashes with any more holiness or special God power than a priest or pastor from any other denomination.  I, as a baptist preacher, could administer these ashes and have the same effect.
The power in the ashes are in remembrance and action.  The purpose of the ashes is to remind you of the sin and transgression in your life.  Also they remind you that your life is short and you will return to ashes and dust  the saying "ashes to ashes and dust to dust."  Therefore the power of Ash Wednesday lies in the power of acknowledging one's sin and committing to repentance and following after Christ. Therefore you have been marked as a follower of Christ and are therefore commanded to live a holy life.

The power in the priest lies in the authority that you have given him or her in your life.  That is the power in all preachers and pastors.  They can only influence your life as much as you listen and learn from them.  That goes with all teachers and people in authority.  The priest has the added assumption that they do speak for God and teach the things of God.

The second Ash Wednesday service was last night at 8:30 and was led by a Catholic Priest.  This was attended by 50 people, and was more ordered and the people remained for the duration of the entire program.  This priest had power, for the people gave it to him.

Ultimately the true power comes from neither the priest nor the ash, but from Almighty God, Jesus the Christ and the cross upon which he died.  It also comes from our obedience to following Christ and doing what He called us to do.

Hair (the Theolobster)

John 15:10
If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

40 Days 40 Blogs

Okay so we have officially entered the season of Lent.  It is a time when we prepare ourselves for the celebration of the Death, burial and Resurrection of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.

Traditionally this is a time where people give up something like meat or caffeine or something major like television.  One year I gave up carbonated beverages; the most prevalent being PEPSI.  That was a tough 40 days.  I do not know what I would give up for Lent this year.  I choose not to ask people for advice on this subject because I usually get annoyed by people pointing out what they would want to correct in my life.   I know I need to give up frivolous television.  I would try PEPSI again, but I don't want to.  A friend of mine is giving up carbs in his diet.  that would eliminate 3.4 fourths of my diet.  Which would leave me with very little in my refrigerator that would be consumable.  I could also give up Facebook or other electronic wastes of time.  None of these seem as beneficial yet.

So instead, I have heard that another tradition for Lent is to take up something new.  Either a new discipline or helpful hobby or something that would benefit my whole person.  One of my issues in life is keeping people informed about my life.  As a missionary one of my duties is updating supporters, and telling those concerned with me and my ministry what is going on and what God is doing in my life.  So that brings me to this concept: 40 days of blogging.  For each day I will blog once.  By Easter Sunday there should be at least 40 blog entries by myself.  I cannot guarantee that I will always be articulate or say something profound, although this would be my intent, but I hope it is interesting, and I hope people will at least take time to read it and leave good comments.  Perhaps we will all get to know each other a little better and see what God is doing.  So I will blog and see what happens. (I will explain the importance of that last statement later)

Tomorrow I will discuss my Ash Wednesday experiences and observations.  Until then
Waiting to see what God has in store
the Theolobster