Thursday, January 31, 2008

When Religion Becomes Disturbing

This week in the series, Life's Toughest Questions, I will be addressing human sexuality and its effect on our relationship with God and with others. I am nervous about dealing with these issues because their is so much emotion wrapped up on both sides of the discussion. To me, the concept of sexual morality is far deeper than homosexuality, yet that is inevitably what is brought up during any conversation involving human sexuality.

One of the reasons there is so much emotion regarding this issue is because of the negative way the church has portrayed itself to the world as it speaks about this issue. For some reason, the dominant theme that people hear from the church is one of condemnation and sometimes hate. That is incredibly wrong coming from a community of faith. Take this story as an example.

Basically, an extreme group picketed Heath Ledger's memorial service because of his role on Brokeback Mountain. These are the same people who picket the funerals of returning soldiers holding signs that say, "You deserved it." Incredible callousness and honestly, evil. Regardless of your feelings about that movie, I hope that we all see that such activity only spreads a message of hate that is destructive to people. Click on that link, search for the church name on Google, then look at the web address. Is that the message that is intended to be sent to a broken world? This is what happens when people use religion as a weapon to hurt and destroy.

Does God hate people who disagree with him? I don't think so. 1 Peter says that God is patient with all of us because He doesn't want anyone to be lost. Ezekiel 18 tells us that God finds no pleasure in the punishment of even the worst people. Of course, the famous verse John 3:16 tells us that God's driving motivation in sending Jesus was his love for everyone. Everyone!

That tells me that we have an incredibly important responsibility as the church here on earth. We are to be ambassadors for God, sharing the good news about the love and compassion of God. If you are reading this, chances are good that I have no clue about your beliefs on sexual morality. I want you to know that I do have beliefs regarding what is pure sexual behavior, and I will share those on Sunday at Higher Calling and here as well. If you are a follower of Christ, know that truth and compassion CAN exist together. Being right does not mean you lose compassion, and being right is not the highest goal in faith. The highest goal, as always, is love. Without love, all of the knowledge, passion, intellect, and faith in the world is meaningless.

I feel fortunate to be a part of a community of faith that realizes you can believe in the truth and yet show compassion for everyone. I hope to see you on Sunday!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Top Ten Manning Commercials continued

Number four on our list is actually a series of commercials, the Peyton's Priceless Pep Talk Series. The pinnacle of sports commercials in 2007.

4. Rock Hard Abs, Dance Moves, Bad Haircut, Minivan

Enjoy, we wrap things up tomorrow with the top 3 Peyton Manning commercials of all time!

Top Ten Manning Commercials; Numbers 7-5

And the list continues....

7. Check it to pancakes!

Enough said.

6. Old school

Going way back here, and we learn that Peyton is about much more than just football.

5. Sibling Rivalry

Some things never change.

Moving into the elite categories next. Fun stuff!

Top Ten Peyton Manning Commercials; Numbers 10-8

I know you have all been eagerly awaiting this, so without further ado, here is my list for the 10 best Peyton Manning commercials of all time. Starting with number 10....

10. Manning's Mind.

This one got a bit old after the 9,000th viewing but it is still solid. Another weird one, apparently Peyton has a small boy dressed in a generic Colts uniform in his brain that tells him where to throw the ball. I'm telling you, the man needs help! Someone needs to reach out to him.

9. Betrayal!!

Archie Manning always wanted one of his boys to be a lefty....

8. Mooooooovers.

A great ad featuring Peyton giving encouragement to people that make mistakes in everyday jobs. For some reason, the scream from the coffee maker just kills me. Rub some dirt on it!

Just click on the links and enjoy, the top ten continues tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Life's Toughest Questions; Expanded

One of the best things about this series so far has been the incredible conversations I have had with many at Higher Calling. It seems that every week we tackle one issue the conversation expands to include many other topics. I think that is very cool. Last week we discussed the topic of life after death, you can read more about it by scrolling down the blog, and this Sunday we will be discussing human sexuality and what God's ideal is for us.

In the meantime, I will be addressing other questions on here that don't really fit into the topics we have so far but are important and require a response. Those will be coming throughout the length of this series which will take place until March 9th.

If you have something to add to the discussion, leave a comment on this post or email me. Later.

Superbowl Week Fun

It is finally Superbowl week, and since the Colts are out and the Pats are still in, I figured we could celebrate this week in sports by focusing on Peyton Manning and completely ignoring Tom Brady. Sound good? Awesome.

My idea is to go through Peyton's Top 10 commercials. We are going to review the career of our favorite actor/QB and I am going to list my favorite commercials. Today, we are going to start with some honorable mentions.

Honorable Mention: The DSRL Press Conference.

Good stuff all around, but it doesn't make the top 10 because I hold this ad completely responsible for the Colts loss to San Diego. We were cruising until this spot came on, then we fell apart. Meanwhile, Eli Manning was playing at an insanely high level and led his team to the SB. In this commercial, Eli beats Peyton in the DSRL. Coincidence? I think not.

Honorable Mention: Sony HDTV

This commercial is weird. Peyton is walking around and inserting himself into every area of the Sony TV process. Honestly, this makes me think Peyton needs psychological help. I have more questions than answers about this commercial, and I'm not any more inclined to by a Sony HDTV than before. How far did Peyton walk to watch TV with those guys? Isn't their reaction a bit odd? What exactly would you do if Peyton just walked in your living room and sat down on your couch? Crazy. Top 10 starts tomorrow.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Introduction to Blogland!

Since we have been online here for a little over a week I thought I would put out my view on what this blog is and what it represents.

To me, the internet represents the ultimate venue for communication. A person can log on and get almost any type of information at anytime from anywhere. Many followers of Christ feel hesitation about the content on the internet and stay away, fearing a corrosive influence. However, I would rather use the medium for a positive effect instead of staying away from it entirely. We can use the internet as a tool to make a difference in elevating the conversation online, even if it is in a small way. I am glad to be serving a community of faith that encourages this type of communication and isn't afraid to try new things.

Here are my beliefs on this forum.

1. Everyone is welcome here.

I am not necessarily viewing this as a Higher Calling blog. I want the range of communication to be much more far reaching than that. If you are a visitor here, we are glad to have you on board and I hope you bookmark this site and keep returning. Bear with us because I will use this site to communicate with Higher Calling Church at different points. I want to use this forum to address what is going on in our local community and around the world. Feel free to engage in conversation in the comment section, and try to keep it civil. Don't make me pull this blog over!

2. Feedback is welcome and encouraged.

I want to hear from you! More than anything, I want to discuss things that are important and relevant to what you are going through. The internet isn't just merely for information spreading, to me its true potential is in its capacity to support a conversation. There are easy ways to communicate with me directly here. One, you can leave a comment on the blog. Click on the comment section at the bottom of every post and follow the directions to post your comment. I would appreciate you leaving a name or some way for me to know who you are, but it is not required at this time. Two, you can send me an email at

I will tag posts so you can search through the archives. Every post is saved so you can go back and look at them at a later date. You can click on the tags on the right hand side of the page and see every post under that tag.

Are you ready? Let's have fun!

Life's Toughest Questions; What Happens When We Die?

This is one of the most pressing questions that humanity can ask. The answer can lead us to drastically change the way we live.

I believe you are an eternal spiritual being. Even though you took your first breath here on earth; I believe you were meant to exist forever. God put an eternal spirit into each one of us and this spirit is what makes us unique. I also believe there are only two eternal destinations for the human spirit, heaven and hell. Hell exists because God will not force us to love Him because love cannot be forced. He also will not override your will. You were created with the ability to choose your path and God honors the way He made you even if the choices we make break His heart.

So many times, we strain for the wrong things in life. We think we are alive, but we are simply existing. We think we are holding onto life, but God sees us as holding onto our death.

You see, it isn't when you die that you find out if you will live forever or not, but if you are truly alive when you die, then life will overcome death. That is why it is important to choose life now, and that only comes from choosing Jesus.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Fueling the Fire; Ignition

When we move past inspiration, individualism, innovation and then we begin to implement the vision that God has for our lives and our church, we move into a really cool zone. This is where God begins to act, unleashing his divine timing and power into our efforts.

God is described as a fire many times in the Scriptures. I love this image because God consumes just like a raging fire. Can you call to mind the forest wildfires that burn on the West Coast? We are the most advanced society in world history, but when these great fires rage, the best we can hope to do is to contain the damage.

You know what it really neat? Our God is a God that cannot be contained by any force. When he burns, nothing stops it. Do you know what really gets God involved in situations, what makes him burn? It has been and will always be the faithfulness of his people. When there are men and women that are following God and seeking to obey him, God moves in their midst and he ignites supernatural reactions that are uncontrollable.

There is no predicting it. There is no stopping it. The only thing you can do is hang on for the ride. Are you ready to trust God this year?

Fueling the Fire; Implementation

Implementation is about walking the walk and not just talking the talk. This is the most important step and value because without it, nothing gets done. We can dream great dreams and have God-honoring visions but if we do nothing about them, we are the worst kind of failures. I truly believe that those of us who know the truth and choose to do nothing will have a lot to answer for in front of God.

The book of James tells us not to simply listen to the Word of God, but to do what it says. Listening to something can be a great deception because we can confuse our hearing of something with action. You can hear a good sermon, but it does nothing unless you make the principles a practical reality in your life. You can watch a TV commercial about needy children overseas, but simply watching it does nothing to alleviate suffering. We know all of this, yet we can be satisfied by simply going to church and thinking that we have done enough.

Wrong! Remember, church is not something you go to; it is a family you belong to. Because of this, what we do together is much more important than the things we hear together. We must take the principles listed previously here and put them into practice.

Our goal, as always, is to follow through with what we say we are going to do. We are a church with a great story, but stories are essentially worthless if they are not told. Who will tell this story? How many of you have been changed by God here at Higher Calling?

Will you tell about your experience? Will you act on what you know? The answer to this question is the key to implementing your God given purpose.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Fueling the Fire; Innovation

One of our values at Higher Calling is innovation. We are committed to trying and risking new things for God. Innovation is all about the pursuit of newness.

The church is seen by many as the defender of the status quo, and is often criticized as being 50 years behind the curve. I am glad to be at a community of faith where newness on stage and elsewhere is accepted and not fought.

How can we ever look at the world around us and think that God is the defender of the status quo? The heavens and earth scream out a song of newness and celebrate a God that creates something from nothing. The entire Bible is a story of God doing new things. In the book of Isaiah, God tells his people that he is going to provide for them in a new way. When Jesus walked the earth he confronted many people who loved their old traditions more than people. He strongly criticized such people because he came to break the hold of tradition on our lives and instead create a model where love and compassion flourished. When Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper, or communion, he called it the symbol of the "new covenant." And in the book of Revelation, Jesus sits on the throne of God and says he is making "all things new."

God is the original innovator. The Bible also tells us that we are made in the image of God, so we can reflect parts of his nature. Just as God is creative, we are creative. I believe that when we try new things we honor God. By the way, that is why we are pursuing this blog. I truly believe that every church will have a blog within just a few years, it will be seen an necessary and people will wonder how we ever got along without this type of communication.

We will always seek to try new and exciting things. If that scares you, its ok, but know that God is in favor of our risking on his behalf. I am excited to hear your ideas as well.

What do you say about this value of innovation? Do you have something to add to the discussion? Leave a comment and share any thoughts that you may have!

Fueling the Fire; Individualism

Another value that is absolutely essential to success in our world and culture today is the idea of individualism. This is about personal uniqueness. We believe in and affirm the uniqueness of every person. We believe that God created us all to be unique, and that he wants us to use that uniqueness to shine for him. This does NOT mean that life is all about you. It isn't. You see, if you live a selfish life, only looking out for your interests, you may think you are living a life that is unique, but you aren't. There is nothing unique about living for yourself; we are all naturally wired to be selfish. If you want to be truly unique, it only happens when you lay down selfishness and decide to be a part of a community. True uniqueness is only seen in the context of a community.

All too often, the church is seen as the organization that creates standardization. We celebrate the idea of discipleship so we can become a disciple, and that has the same base as the word "discipline." We have a very military image of the word discipline in our minds, it projects an image of people looking the same, marching in lockstep. This is not a flattering image, but more importantly, it is also not a biblical image.

God did not make us all unique so that we could find ourselves in church one day so we could then be made all the same. Uniqueness is something to be treasured and celebrated, not fought against and hidden. Throughout the Bible, people make reference to how God made us in a special way; the Psalms talk about how we are "fearfully and wonderfully made" and how God delicately knit us together in our mother's womb. Ephesians 2:10 calls us God's "worksmanship," another word for that is "masterpiece!" You are the unique masterpiece of God, and just how we would never take great sculptures or paintings and try and make them look the same, the church should never attempt to standardize humanity.

We are created to become like Christ in our character. That means we lose the hateful, mean-spirited and evil parts of ourselves to take on a character of love, peace, courage, and gentleness. Keep in mind here that our character has nothing to do with changing our uniqueness. It doesn't matter if you are outgoing or introverted, athletic or a bookworm, loud or quiet, all of those personality traits can remain as you change your character.

God doesn't want to change your personality, he wants to change your character! And remember, we don't ever want to make you look just like us, we want you to look like what God truly created you to be.

Maybe you are searching for who you are. Let me tell you this: If you truly want to find your unique self, you must be where Jesus is. Where He is the where true uniqueness is found and celebrated. We would love to have you on the journey with us.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Fueling the Fire; Inspiration

This is the start of all good things in the church. Ultimately, we are to be a body that gives hope and inspiration to the entire world.

Many people forget the primary message of the Bible is gospel or literally, "good news." We lose that meaning in all of the negativity that is thrown around by many in our faith. The reality is that faith in the one true God is all about inspiration. God said in Jeremiah that he knows the plans for us and they are good plans, plans to prosper us and give us hope and a future. That sounds like inspiration to me!

Because the message of God is one of inspiration, we need to be men and women of inspiration in our daily lives to reflect the truth that we know. Do you actively seek to inspire those around you in your daily life?

My promise to you in 2008 and beyond is to continue Higher Calling's tradition of inspiration on Sundays and every other day. Your part is to contribute to the healthy, healing, and accepting atmosphere in our community. We must continue to reach out every single day in as many ways as we can.

Never forget: the church is not here for you! We ARE the church, and the church is here for the world. Be a part of inspiring your world today.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Vision Sunday 2008: Fueling the Fire

I believe that we are at a pivotal moment in the history of our church. At this moment, we are faced with a decision on who we are going to be as a church, and what our identity will be.

The question posed to pastors for years has always been, "Where are we going?" Now that question has been replaced with, "Who are we becoming?" Higher Calling must decide as a community on who we want to be. My choice is to take the road that is less traveled and pursue the dangerous path of outreach into a world that desperately needs Jesus.

So what defines us on this journey? Our mission statement has been the same since our founding, "We are dedicated to helping people discover and experience God's higher calling for their lives through the pursuit of God's purposes." That says a lot about who we are as a community. We are not a country club, where a select few get together and share quality time every Sunday morning. We are not a psychology department that seeks to understand the inner workings of the human psyche; we do not believe that the answer to life's most pressing issues is found within the mind of people. We also are not just a charity organization, simply trying to do good works in the community.

No, we are part of the Body of Christ. Never forget the church is not here for you! We are the church, and the church is here for the world. Our mission is people. All people, everywhere. And our message to them is Jesus. We believe and affirm that God has a high calling for everyone in Jesus. He is the one who is our creator, our leader, and He is the giver of life to the human spirit.

We also have a plan, and our plan revolves around teaching people that God has a purpose for their life and true meaning and fulfillment is only found through seeking that purpose.

The real question remains, "Who are we becoming?" There are two choices to be made. We can choose to take the path of least resistance where we focus inward and choose to ignore the needs of the world around us. We can choose apathy over action, comfort over compassion. Or we can choose to grab hold of the vision that God first put in front of His followers; a vision to go into all of the world, telling people the good news about Jesus. It is a call to a life of adventure and danger, a life that challenges tradition and shakes off the chains of legalistic religion. It is what you were made to do! This all awaits you, but you first must choose to take this path or settle for something far less. What do you choose?

If you are ready, let us together venture deeper into this vision, and the values we must uphold if we are to be a church that seeks God. I will be posting on this and other items throughout this week. I hope you participate!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Vision Sunday

Hello everyone! I wanted to get in touch with everyone this week to remind you about this upcoming Sunday’s service. We will be laying out the vision for Higher Calling in 2008. Our goal during this service is to communicate to you what our key values are and how we plan on practicing this values as a community in this coming year. We can never become complacent; we must always strive to reach higher for what God is calling us to become.

We can never forget that vision that does not become reality is merely a good idea. The challenge we all face is taking the imagined and the visionary and turning it into reality. I am looking forward to partnering with all of you as we work together to take Higher Calling to the next level. Please make it a priority to be in attendance on Sunday, January 20th. Let’s join together and accomplish something together that would be impossible by ourselves.

Monday, January 14, 2008

How to Bounce Back

If you are a Colts fan, you probably still have a bit of a bitter taste in your mouth this morning after the game last night. I have pretty much decided to watch anything but sports TV this week because I don't want to see a single highlight of the game. A bit extreme? Perhaps.

Toward the end of the day yesterday, I began thinking about how the Colts could respond to this loss next year. We still have a good team, and other teams like the Pats and Chargers are unlikely to get any better, and could actually get worse as their players continue to age. Basically, I was wondering how our team could bounce back.

That got me to wondering about how people can respond to life's most pressing challenges. Football, of course, is fairly unimportant compared to difficult situations and tragic circumstances that we all go through at different points in our how can we bounce back from the truly disappointing times?

Jeremiah was a prophet in the Bible who went through some difficult times. You can read the book named after him to get his story, and he is also credited with writing the book of Lamentations. He was a prophet during the time when Israel was invaded and destroyed by a foreign army; he saw his beloved city, Jerusalem, completely destroyed and he himself was carted away into exile in a foreign land. This was humiliating for the people of Israel, and Jeremiah spends the book of Lamentations complaining and weeping about the tragedy he had seen.

How did he ultimately respond? It is fascinating to hear his words in Lam. 3:22-23

Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Did you catch that? Read the book of Lamentations to that point and you will see Jeremiah's point of view and hear the extent of his sorrow. Despite all of that, he still responds to God with praise and TRUST. He affirms the goodness and love of God, saying they are new every morning. Our God is a God of great faithfulness, and he is faithful to us even when no one is faithful to Him.

When we go through difficult situations, we know we can still trust God because he is full of love and compassion. If you choose to respond to tragedy or adversity in this way, you will be greatly benefited by it. So don't worry about the Colts, they will be fine! And if you are like me, remember, only about five weeks until spring training!

Sunday, January 13, 2008


Colts lose in their last game in the Dome.....enough said. I feel sick. In other news, baseball season starts in less than 3 months!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

I told you so...

The Patriots just punched their ticket to the AFC Championship, beating the Jags 31-20. That officially means that tomorrow will be the final game for the RCA Dome. Brady was impressive, Maroney was impressive, the O-line was impressive, and honestly, the Jags didn't play poorly...they just aren't nearly as good as the Pats.

Now we have to keep our end of the bargain to set up the apocalyptic AFC title game in Foxboro. We can beat these guys, we just have to take care of business tomorrow first.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Playoffs are Here!!

This is an exciting time in Indianapolis as yet another Colts playoff season begins. The Colts are coming off their 2006 Superbowl victory as one of the few teams that actually improved their record following a title. The Colts 13-3 record earned them a first round bye and now a shot at revenge against one of the teams that beat them in the regular season.

The Chargers beat us by two points, despite our team playing the team without Marvin Harrison, Dallas Clark, Anthony Gonzalez, Tony Ugoh, and losing Dwight Freeney during the game. The Colts also gave up TWO returns for TDs, Peyton threw SIX INTs, AND Adam Vinateri missed a 29 yd FG at the end of the game.

That's right, those are the breaks the Chargers got in order to beat us by only two at their home stadium. I think we can handle them at home. Let the Colts AFC revenge tour begin! By the way, this will probably be the RCA Dome's last game, so I think everyone will want to send the old gal out on a good note.

My prediciton: Colts 38 Chargers 16

---> And by the way, I just don't think the Jags have what it takes to beat the Patriots...they lose to us twice, but everyone thinks they will beat the Pats? I don't think so. The Patriots thrashing of the Jags should set up a rematch in the AFC Championship next week in Foxboro between the Colts and Pats.