Do You Dream of Puppets Too?

Dreaming of a full size puppet theater in the basement of our church – performing character-building and Bible-lesson puppet shows for kids and families in our city. Wednesday morning storytimes, Friday evening family nights, all sorts of applications. Widely publicized to maximize community participation. Even kids can learn and perform the puppets.

Sketches are next, then fund-raising, then building, then recruiting. I love my job.

Knife Juggling and the Bible

Tomorrow morning, the Scripture lesson for Godz Kidz at Commonwealth Chapel is going to be the same as what the adults will hear in the adult service – 2 Timothy 2:14-21. I’m going to focus in on verse 15, which says, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”

Part of my juggling show (which I’ll show the kids tomorrow) is juggling knives. Now, a knife is an interesting object. It is sharp, deadly, and dangerous. At the same time, a knife is also useful, helpful, and life-saving. The Bible (which metaphorically refers to itself as a sword) is the same way. It can be used for harm or it can be used for good.

Many people wrongly judge others using Bible passages taken out of context. Many cultures throughout history have used the Bible to justify evil and hatred. On the same hand, the Bible, when properly handled (like a scalpel in the hand of a surgeon) brings life, hope, peace, and justice to a world full of darkness and hatred.

Tomorrow, we’ll talk about rightly handling the Word of Truth. That means reading it, studying it, interpreting it contextually, and asking the Spirit of God lead us in understanding it.

Lord, help us to properly understand your Word and always handle it in ways that bring the resurrection power of Jesus Christ to this world. Amen.

The Canterbury Cathedral Choir

Sarah and I had a surprising date tonight – a free concert at St. James Episcopal Church in Richmond for the USA tour of the Canterbury Cathedral Choir. This world-renowned choir of men and boys is on their first US tour in 10 years and is making stops in NYC and DC, among other places. They stopped here in Richmond for a concert tonight, which was superb.

They sang a beautiful French piece called Cantique de Jean Racine by Gabriel Faure, which I had sung as a senior in High School. They also did the magnificent Zadok the Priest, which is often sung at coronations and other royal events.

Afterwards, there was a reception full of yummy foods. Sarah and I got to meet some of the young choristers and ask them questions about their lives. I found out that thousands of boys audition for a few dozen spots. They board at Canterbury for school, and they practice their singing every day. This choir has a 1400-year tradition of performing.

After watching Bill Maher’s movie Religulous earlier in the day (his “treatise” on hedonism and why theistic faith is delusional and destructive), I was struck with the thought of the wondrous beauty in the music of human voices (just listen to a clip of this choir on iTunes). Could such sounds really be the result of godless chance? I seriously doubt it. And that’s what Maher wanted me to do as a result of watching his movie – doubt. I just don’t think he had that type of doubt in mind when he produced the movie.

The Disconnect Between the New Testament and Today

If we really read the stories of the New Testament and look around today…does anybody else see a completely different world, even a vastly different form of Christianity? Jesus and his followers administered physical healings, demon exorcisms, prophetic utterances, prayers in unknown languages, etc, etc. They lived communally – sharing their resources among themselves (at least the community described in Acts 2 did so). I wonder how much of the New Testament we should expect to live out as Christians today and how much of it is “cultural” and “only pertinent to that time.” This is a discussion that has already split churches into denominations, but it is still a relevant topic on which I wish to ponder (and seek the Lord’s guidance on). There’s gotta be more to Christianity than what appears to be “Christianity” today. On the journey, humbly…Jesse.

Christmas Sunday Services

Here we go. There’s a ton of blog talk right now about why many churches are closing their doors on December 25th this year. The last time Christmas landed on a Sunday was 1994 (and I think I remember going to church that year on Christmas Day). Many say it is a travesty that the doors are closed since it is a Sunday and it is also the second most important Christian holiday (second only to Easter). If churches usually meet on Sunday, why close it on such a “high holy day”? The critics say that churches are bowing to consumerism and the need for families to open presents around a tree.

Others, though, say that no day should be regarded as more holy than another. And each person should make up their own mind about how important they make holidays (see Romans 14 in the Bible). Furthermore, there is talk that family time is a time of worship for many Christian families, so why assume that churches are restricting worship just because they meet on Saturday night?

This is Tradition versus Tradition. There is the Tradition of the church meeting on Sunday, the Lord’s Day. This is the first day of the week, the day Jesus rose from the dead (although I’m not sure if the Gregorian calendar can prove that Jesus did in fact rise on a Sunday). All we know is that he arose on the third day, and we remember his crucifixion on a Friday.

I side with the second view – that it’s OK to celebrate Christmas as a church on Saturday and with your family on Sunday. For a good explanation of the first view, see Ben Witherington’s blog ( Go to Ben’s Dec 4th blog. For someone who supports the second view, see Scot McKnight’s Blog ( Go to his Dec 8th blog. Tell me your thoughts.


ps-there will be some juggling information on here someday!