There’s a brouhaha going on in our Denver metro area over a public charter school that organized a gift drive with “Operation Christmas Child.” The school decided to cancel this year’s project because of concerns from the American Humanist Association.
You can read more about the story here.
I will try to be wise about what I say because some of the parents organizing this drive are from a church that I used to work at. Also, I would like to point out that we as a family have participated in Operation Christmas Child before and it helped to focus our kids on giving instead of getting over the holidays.
Here are some of my concerns with a public school sponsoring a project with Operation Christmas Child:
Our country is based on religious freedom for all religions. In my opinion, this means that we need to create equal opportunity for all religions in the public square. For this reason, public schools stay away from religion because if they go down that road, they have to provide equal access for all religions. For some reason Christians push their religion in public schools, yet don’t provide equal opportunity for Muslims, Jews and Buddhists.
Operation Christmas Child and its parent organization Samaritan’s Purse are unapologetically Christian. Their website states, “Gift-filled shoeboxes are a powerful way to introduce children to God’s greatest gift, salvation through Jesus Christ.” As a follower of Christ I don’t have anything against Samaritan’s Purse. But Operation Christmas Child is clearly evangelistic and to use the secular word “proselytizing.”
Therefore, I don’t think it’s appropriate for a public school to partner with Operation Christmas Child.
This issue is very important to me because we have friends at our daughters’ school who come from different religious traditions. As followers of Christ, we need to be aware of those who view the world differently from us. Fighting for our religious rights and pushing our beliefs into the public schools does not build bridges. If anything it pushes people away from Jesus.
If you want to participate in Operation Christmas Child, join with church members or other believers. Just don’t bring it into the public school. And if you really want to protect your religious “rights,” enroll at Front Range, a great Christian school right up the road in Littleton. They offer an excellent Christian education for elementary and high school students.
This past Sunday I preached my final sermon at Mountair and explained what our family is stepping into with Edgewater Collective. Though the organization is not faith based (find out why here), my work with Edgewater Collective is faith motivated.
You can listen to sermon below:
Listen to this episode
Dads, do you have a chair in front of the TV that your kids don’t dare sit in?
I spent Monday through Wednesday going through basic chaplaincy training with the Colorado State Patrol in preparation for my new role as a volunteer police chaplain with Edgewater Police. Police officers have unique stress that can have a destructive role on themselves and their families. One of the ways they cope with this stress is zoning out in their “magic chair” and tuning out what is happening around them.
I don’t think this is unique to police. I do it. Just last night Hillary bravely told me to turn off the World Series and be present with our girls.
And boy was it worth it last night.
We found out that Apple’s GarageBand app for the iPad is free and we had a family jam session on our iPads. Then we found out that there is a vocal recording part of the app that allows you to record your voice and then make it sound like a chipmunk or a monster.
The sounds that we made together were hysterical. At one point I thought Norah was going to wet her pants she was laughing so hard.
All it took was me getting out of my “magic chair” and engaging with my family.
When I took the Associate Pastor position at Mountair Christian Church, we knew we would take it one year at time. The church was taking money out of savings to fund my position and we didn’t know how the ministry at the church would change. This summer, Trevor Lee, the Lead Pastor at Mountair felt called by God to transition to the Lead Pastor position at the church in Littleton called Trailhead Church.
So I transitioned into the Interim Pastor role at the beginning of August.
Over the last year, I have spent a good amount of time in Edgewater building relationships and learning about the needs and assets in the community. As I have developed relationships and built networks, I have realized the need for an asset based community development organization. Instead of just rushing in to meet needs, an asset based organization looks to connect the assets or strengths of a community with its needs.
So we started Edgewater Collective as a way to connect these assets and needs in seeking the common good of all in Edgewater.
I love doing community development. Ironically my senior paper at Taylor University laid out of dream of mine to do community development in a neighborhood just like Edgewater just south of where we are now. It took 11 years to get where we are now, yet this is the position I believe I am uniquely created for.
Our family is ready to jump into this new role in Edgewater.
Mountair Christian Church is starting to look for a new Lead Pastor and I will be transitioning to leading Edgewater Collective at the beginning of November.
You can read our letter to the Mountair congregation here.
We are excited to step into this role within our community. The open doors to invest in our community are amazing!
- Today I began serving as a volunteer police chaplain with the Edgewater Police Department.
- We are launching the Edgewater Literacy Initiative and sending trained volunteers to help K-3rd grade students read at grade level by the end of 3rd grade.
- This spring I will be leading our community garden at the local high school and helping students sell their produce at the local farmer’s market.
- We are working with the local high school to connect local business owners and students every Thursday morning later this fall. Our dream is to offer up to a $1000 Innovation Award to a high school student to develop a business idea in the community.
- Hillary is a paraprofessional (teacher’s aide) at our daughters’ school and is learning first hand the needs in our local schools.
- I am now a Planning and Zoning Commissioner in Edgewater and am learning more about how our city operates.
- I also represent our area on the Jefferson County Schools Strategic Planning and Advisory Council.
As you can see this is quickly becoming a full-time effort! We need your help as I step into this new role with Edgewater Collective.
Here is how you can help:
If you live in the Denver area, here are some ways you can serve in Edgewater.
We are looking to raise $14,000 by 2014 to launch these initiatives in Edgewater and allow me to work full-time in the community. You can donate to Edgewater Collective here.
I blame over five years as a youth pastor and endless pieces of pizza for my weight gain. I tried to exercise and even ran a marathon but losing weight was virtually impossible. According to my BMI(Body Mass Index), I was overweight and it really began to bother me.
My last hope was to change my diet.
I had heard friends talk about the Paleo Diet so I did some research. The idea of the Paleo Diet is to mimic the diet of early hunter-gatherers to optimize health and lose weight. So here is what this means:
- Grass-produced meats
- Fresh fruits and veggies
- Nuts and seeds
- Healthful oils (Olive, walnut, flaxseed, macadamia, avocado, coconut)
- Cereal grains
- Legumes (including peanuts)
- Refined sugar
- Processed foods
Once again Pixar has hit a home run with a new summer animated movie. And this time, the element that impressed me the most was the values running through the movie, not just the visual beauty that Pixar does so well. We took the girls to Monsters University on Saturday and all of us enjoyed another great Pixar movie.
Without giving away too much of the plot, here are the elements we enjoyed most:
- One character really believes that his dreams will come true if he works hard enough. We’ve all heard the Disney lie before: “If you believe it, you can achieve it.” Amazingly Monsters University tosses this lie and the character realizes his dream won’t come true because he is created for another reason. He finds amazing contentment and consolation in this.
- Another character cheats and lies yet deals with the consequences of his actions. There is no easy way out. He is punished for his mistakes and has to work his way back up.
- Uniqueness is valued in this movie and people are honored for who they are, not who they try to be. Sully and Mike find amazing community in a group of misfits who everyone else overlooks.
- Make sure you catch the Pixar short before the movie called “The Blue Umbrella.” The animation is so incredible that you actually think it is reality. It is amazing how far technology and Pixar have come since the first Toy Story!
With a title like “Monsters University,” I wondered if our daughters would be scared of parts of the movie. They were scared during the original Monsters Inc. Amazingly in a movie about monsters our girls were not scared at all. After last year’s Brave, we were excited that the girls could enjoy this one without being afraid.
Monsters University, the sequel to the successful Monster Inc, is definitely worth packing up the family and spending a few hours caught up in a great story!
Need a great Father’s Day movie this weekend? Catch the new Superman movie Man of Steel and be inspired as a father!
Instead of giving you a long drawn out explanation of the story and give away too many plot surprises, I thought I would just layout some of the elements I loved about the new movie.
- Inspiring performances by Russell Crowe and Kevin Costner as Superman’s alien and earthly fathers. The self sacrificing nature of both of these characters is inspiring for fathers. Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent was perfect casting and provides some great quotes on self-restraint.
- Amy Adams as Lois Lane exhibited strength and great chemistry with Henry Cavill as Superman. She wasn’t a damsel in distress and could stand up on her own two feet.
- Henry Cavill as Superman was the perfect mix of strength and down home Kansas kid though his man boobs might have been a little too big in the beginning.
- As a follower of Jesus, I couldn’t help but see the messianic undertones throughout the movie. As Clark Kent (Superman) grows up he struggles to understand his strength and when to use it. In numerous flashback scenes from his childhood, I couldn’t help but imagine Jesus growing up and having those same struggles with his divinity.
- Soundtrack by the master Hans Zimmer was perfect, lofty and inspiring.
It was hard to watch Superman and not compare it to Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy though they shouldn’t necessarily be compared. Bruce Wayne (Batman) is human with technology that makes him a superhero while Clark Kent is an alien that is inherently a superhero. Man of Steel focuses on Superman’s alien nature and his struggle with the alien General Zod. An alien war on Earth brings total devastation while Batman’s struggles with his enemies weren’t as devastating. The panoramic action sequences in Man of Steel dwarf any of the scenes in the Batman trilogy.
I thoroughly enjoyed Man of Steel as a stand alone Superman movie and hope that we get a second movie in this series. Throughout the movie there are references to Lex Luther and Lexicorp so it sets up well for his character in the second movie. I’m also holding onto hope for a Justice League movie (try and catch the reference to Bruce Wayne in Man of Steel – look for the logo on a satellite in space).
So dads, catch Man of Steel this weekend for Father’s Day and you won’t regret it!
For a week and a half, our kids are staying with their grandparents and my wife and I have time to just relax together. This past weekend, we were in Seattle for a wedding and a number of times I felt like I was forgetting something. My greatest fear is losing my daughters somewhere. So as Hillary and I explored Seattle there were definitely times where my thoughts jumped to, “Where are my daughters?”
It is hard to shed our roles as parents but it is a healthy practice to spend time away from our children so we can concentrate on our more important roles as husband and wife.
Our role as spouses comes before our role as parents. I dive deeper into this here.
So it is important to find a babysitter or a grandparent or a friend to watch our children on a regular basis so we can concentrate on our role as spouses and strengthen our marriage. This is most important when our children are young because they demand more of our time and energy.
So get away from your kids on a regular basis.
Make time for regular date nights.
Play hooky from work and go out for breakfast.
Take a vacation without the kids.
Find a group of parent friends and alternate who watches the kids so you can each have a date night.
But most of all, make your marriage a priority and you will be a better parent.
I applaud companies who highlight role of dads. Here’s a great commercial from Oral B about the “Power of Dads.”
Over the past couple of months, I have been investing a good amount of time in launching our grassroots community development organization, Edgewater Collective. Thankfully, the mistakes and lessons learned from starting, maintaining and closing a coffee bar has helped me in starting this new venture. This time around I am seeking advice from those who have gone before me and done the same type of community development organization.
One of the big questions from the start has been, “Are we a faith based organization?”
I sought advice from others, talked with our board and came to the conclusion that some of our board members might be “faith-motivated” but our organization will not be faith based.
Wait! What?! Why would a seminary trained pastor with over ten years of experience in the church not start a faith based organization? Read the rest of this entry