Category Archives: Thoughts

What’s Wrong with the World?


When The Times invited several eminent authors to write essays on the theme “What’s Wrong with the World?” Chesterton’s contribution took the form of a letter:

Dear Sirs, I am. Sincerely yours, G. K. Chesterton

source Wikipedia
HT Heath Davis

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Kids and the Gospel (video)

I’m a children’s pastor, so I’m supposed to emphasize the value and importance of children in God’s kingdom. But I’m in good company. Jesus did as well (actually, I did as well, Jesus was first!).

via Ministry-To-Children
source YouTube

Digging Up the Philistines

The annual digging season has begun in the city of Gath (a former Philistine city). They are unearthing some interesting things that tell us today what the Philistines were like. An article @ msnbc.com tells some of the discoveries and connections that have been made in reference to this ancient people group and their affiliation with the Israelites as mentioned in the Hebrew Bible.

In Israel, diggers unearth the Bible’s bad guys

It’s interesting to me that archaeologists seem to start with suspicion of an ancient text (i.e. like the Bible) and seek to go all out to disprove the claims and the stories contained within (and they are super-surprised if the stories appear true). I don’t know, maybe these findings and the resultant articles and theories that are written paint the discipline in a bad light. Not because of the stellar work archaeologists are doing, rather they appear to be written with a particular slant toward continual suspicion of the biblical text.

It seems, at least to this amateur theologian, that if one thinks that the Bible stories are true and view archaeological conclusions at this point are premature are definitely in the minority of scientific opinion and labeled at best ignorant, but at worst uninformed and out-of-touch with reality.

Regardless of who is right or wrong, the point for me at least, is to hold down the side of the debate that isn’t getting the most press…

Are We Doing the Right Things? (video)

Wow… convicting. I was talking with a friend the other day about the evolution of my thinking as a pastor. More and more I’m asking myself the question: “Is what I spend the majority of my time doing, what I should really be doing?” I spend a lot of my time planning events, curating and studying content and resources for teaching venues, archiving and linking video, curriculum and graphics, and other “computer” stuff. It seems to me that the organizational beast needs to be uniquely fed to continue to work. Most of the articles and thinking out there is on how to feed the beast, rather than asking: “Should we be feeding the beast?” Or “are we feeding the right beast?”

Another question: “Is what we are doing in children and youth ministry helping to disciple kids and teens?”

Hmmm…

via Ministry-To-Children
source YouTube

The Song of Solomon Illustrated Literally


When I was in college, one of my professors shared this picture with the class. It is a depiction of a “literal” rendering of what Song of Solomon (or Songs) 4 and 7 says. His point was that while we like to say we take the Bible “literally” it is not what we really mean. We have to be careful when we take literature “literally”. Words, metaphors, language, allusions are all literary devices meant to communicate a divine point (or rather, story) using a human instrument. Human devices will always fall short, but we need to seek out the intent of the author rather than the “literal” rendering.

This example is a no-brainer, right? So what do we do with the other word pictures scattered throughout the Scriptures that are not quite so simple to decode? For me, these applications chasten me to keep learning and interpreting and discerning what the Holy Spirit wants to teach us through the Word of God. Coming across this satirical graphic again reminds me to interpret and teach cautiously and humbly.

Am I Prejudiced?


“All of us have inborn prejudices. What are they?” – Dr. Jo Anne Lyon

Under the topic of “ethnic diversity”, Dr. Lyon asked us (WI Wesleyan District Conference) this question. It struck me because I don’t think I have prejudices, but I probably do. In fact, I’ve often prided myself on being ethnically diverse and non-prejudicial. But maybe I’m judgmental in my attitude and ignorance more than I realize.

I wonder what my “inborn prejudices” are? I wonder what I am ignorant of? What about you?

Successful Tweeting


So tweeting updates @ Kids Camp 2011 was a huge success! The parents loved it! I didn’t tweet a ton like I had wanted to (I ended up only doing about 4-5 tweets a day), but the parents thought that was an incredible way for them to stay connected and “see” them involved and know they were having fun!

Also, I normally use animoto.com to do our ministry videos @ Hayward Wesleyan, and I used it @ camp and it worked great! The great thing about Animoto is that the videos are created online and are obviously viewable online and are able to be exported to YouTube and downloaded as well. So not only were the Twitter updates awesome, so were the videos that we produced each day!

Why Do I Blog?

I’ve written over 250 posts on this blog since June 2010. And, as I’ve discovered, blogging consistently takes time, effort and energy. So why do I do it? Why do I blog?

Well, what I have discovered in teaching youth and children every week in various venues is that using media is important. There is hardly never a time that I am not showing a video or pictures or graphics on the big screen. I am a media collector… particularly when it comes to Bible stories. I am always looking for great ways to help the students “see” (possibly in a different way) a particular story and media generally helps broaden the exposure and communicate using a variety of perspectives (not just mine). I am amazed that what might take me 15 minutes to communicate and navigate (i.e. a Bible story), a 3:00 minute video can do equally as well. I am not advocating just using media all the time to teach. I am advocating using media to augment your teaching. For better or worse, the students I regularly teach are constantly being shaped and interacting with media. So it is necessary (for me at least) to stay current and constantly fresh in regard to connecting the timeless truths and storyline of Scripture to our current world today (in wisdom of course).

That is one of the reasons why I blog. Most of the media that I come across is found (and linkable) online. As I curate media across the web, I wanted to be able to keep track (and share) the media and such that I come across. A blog is a great way to “post” and “categorize” and “search” these things.

Another reason is exposure. As a children and youth pastor, father/parent, and husband (and all-around good guy!) I come across lots of stories and thoughts related to those arenas of life. Having an online space to share those thoughts and stories that might be relevant to people is helpful. I’ve tried email newsletters, but I don’t like the idea of “invading” people’s inboxes on a consistent basis. This blog is a vehicle to write articles, thoughts, and stories and if people find them helpful then they will come back to this space on their own. There are also a lot of great content out there on the web and other blogs that I love to share with the growing audience on this blog. Again, if people find this helpful, great. It is just another easy way for me to keep track of all the articles and thoughts I write as well as all the ones I find across the internet.

So that’s about it. That’s why I blog. I’m trying to keep it simple. As all things go sometimes, it might grow into more things (as I, personally and professionally, grow into more things) over time. We’ll just have to see, won’t we?

In the meantime, I’m working on some more blog posts about parenting… and as I head into Kids Camp 2011 this next week, I’m sure a few thoughts and posts will come from a week spent with 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students!

Seth Godin & Tom Peters on Blogging (YouTube Link)

The Gospel Reorients All of Life


One of Heath Davis‘ passions is helping reorient the church to the overarching implications of the Gospel. Here is a recent post from Heath:

What is the gospel?

Social justice, community reform, personal morality should never be mistaken as the gospel itself. They are actually the IMPLICATIONS of the gospel fleshed out into our life and world. Social Justice, for instance, is a tentacle, an extension, an outworking of the gospel of Jesus Christ. A tentacle is an attachment…something that grows out of the core substance of something. Like we find on a jellyfish. . .the tentacles grow out of the core and are connected to the core, but only represent a part or an extension of the whole.

I think the same is true of the gospel. When we trace our behaviors, values, choices, thoughts back to their source, everything should be sourced in the essence of the gospel: that God is rebuilding his Kingdom precisely through His own incarnation, suffering death and resurrection on behalf of mankind.

So, feeding the poor, helping a handicapped person, saying “no” to sexual temptation, attending church, handling personal rejection, or spending money…all of these things become natural implications in our lives of coming into a right relationship with the living God through Jesus. All of these things are the implications, the tentacles, of the all-encompassing gospel of Jesus, but they are NOT in themselves the gospel. Historically, liberal Christianity has mistaken the gospel for social justice. Conservative Christianity has mistaken the gospel for personal morality. Both sides have drank different flavors of the same poison. Neither social justice, nor personal morality are the gospel. Both, however are both implications of the gospel at work, and should be tentacles in a gospel centered life. But, they are not the gospel themselves.

Our problem today, whether on the left or the right, is the need to embrace the gospel and then think through the profound implications of the the gospel. As, Tim Keller’s quote below goes on to say…a central problem in our lives stems from not thinking, perceiving, contemplating how the gospel reorients all of life. He writes:

“The main problem, then, in the Christian life is that we have not thought out the deep implications of the gospel, we have not “used” the gospel in and on all parts of our life. Richard Lovelace says that most people’s problems are just a failure to be oriented to the gospel–a failure to grasp and believe it through and through. Luther says, “The truth of the Gospel is the principle article of all Christian doctrine. . . . Most necessary is it that we know this article well, teach it to others, and beat it into their heads continually.” The gospel is not easily comprehended. Paul says that the gospel only does its renewing work in us as we understand it in all its truth. All of us, to some degree live around the truth of the gospel but do not “get” it. So the key to continual and deeper spiritual renewal and revival is the continual re-discovery of the gospel. A stage of renewal is always the discovery of a new implication or application of the gospel–seeing more of its truth. This is true for either an individual or a church”.

via A Northwoods Life

In a Perfect World…

Is Living Like Jesus Second Nature?

Jesus calls disciples to keep entering into this shared life of peace and joy as it transforms our hearts, until it’s the most natural way to live that we can imagine. Until it’s second nature. Until we naturally embody and practice the kind of attitudes and actions that will go on in the age to come. A discussion about how ‘to just get into heaven’ has no place in the life of a disciple of Jesus, because it’s missing the point of it all.

Love Wins: A Book about Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived
by Rob Bell on page 179

Top 5 Posts from this Past Year

I’ve almost had this blog for one year. It’s been fun. As a matter of form, I usually don’t like to talk about the function of blogging (self-promotion) in that I think that content speaks for itself whether it is useful for readers or the internet community at-large. However, I do like to look at trends. So for none other than to give my readers insight into what gets read the most on “jeremymavis.com” here are the top 5 posts from the last year:

Wheel of a Deal | Minute to Win It (video) (533 views)
Adam Meet Eve | The Skit Guys (video) (469 views)
David and Goliath (story & video) (466 views)
Breakfast Scramble – Minute to Win It (video) (292 views)
VBS 2011 @ Hayward Wesleyan (178 views)

The Thermostat


There are two important and influential devices in every home. Whoever controls these devices wields great power and influence. They have the potential to bring great joy and excitement as well as tension and discord.

The second important and influential device in the home is the thermostat. In contrast to the remote control, no one can have the thermostat—it’s attached to the wall. Results of the thermostat being changed aren’t realized until later. Are you cold? A quick fix is to grab a blanket or put some warm socks or cozy slippers on. It’s interesting, though, just grabbing a blanket or slippers for yourself will not help anyone else in the house (who might be cold) get warm. The thermostat has the ability to warm everyone up in the home.

I live in the Upper Midwest so it’s more appropriate for me to talk about getting heat into our homes. For those of you who live in the south, it would be more appropriate to speak in terms of cooling and taking clothes off (although you can only take so many clothes off)!

By implication, whoever sets the thermostat is setting the temperature for the environment of the home. In other words, whatever the temperature is set at, the environment adjusts to the temperature of the room.

I am speaking in obvious terms, but think in relation to setting the tone of your family. What does the environment of your home feel like? Is it positive (warm) or negative (cold)? Is there tension or freedom? Do your children walk on eggshells around you (parents) or do they have the freedom to make a mistake and be gently guided to understand how NOT to make those mistakes again? Does your home exude love and laughter? Or does your home environment radiate judgment and apathy? Do your kids smile because they have something to smile about? Or do your kids mope around the house because their families don’t do many activities or play with them?

What does the spiritual environment of your home look like? Do you read your Bible and pray? Or does the word of God collect dust on a shelf and petitions to God remain unasked?

Who sets the tone of your home? Who adjusts the temperature as needed? Or does no one care about the thermostat, leaving each individual to work out their own environmental conditions?

While most of us as human beings care about the remote control (usually because it’s of more immediate concern), we should equally care about the type of environment or culture we are raising our children in. We don’t realize environmental issues until it’s too late: why does my teenager want nothing to do with me? Well, it may be the fact that they are a teenager and don’t want anything to do with adults, but perhaps it has more to do with the fact that you as a Mom or Dad (Uncle, Aunt, or even Grandparent) did not take time to develop and nurture a relationship with them when they were younger. At least make the fact that they don’t want anything to do with you not about your lack of relationship, rather your continual pursuit of an active relationship with them.

Don’t let environment issues surprise you. Adjust and care for your environment right now.

Setting the tone of your home is one way to use the thermostat principle well. Perhaps thinking in terms of a community of homes (a city, town, or suburb) or a community of faith (churches and small groups) is an appropriate application of caring for the thermostat. What does the culture of community feel like? Are people supportive and encouraging or are people individualistic and rude? Are you welcoming? Or do you slam the door in people’s faces? Do we welcome tourists in Hayward, WI because they need a break from their hectic, city-based lives? Or do we want to “shoot them because it’s tourist season”? Are we open to new people visiting our faith community? Or are we a closed group?

What is the temperature of your community? And, more importantly, who are you (as community members) letting control the temperature of your community?

Thanks to Steve DeNeff for the inspiration for these two metaphors!

The Remote Control


There are two important and influential devices in every home. Whoever controls these devices wields great power and influence. They have the potential to bring great joy and excitement as well as tension and discord.

The first device is the remote control. Oh yeah. Whoever has the remote control determines what everyone else in the house watches. Have children? Little ones? I do. They don’t like the news or what Mom and Dad want to watch. At the same time, Mom and Dad don’t want to watch Dora, Little Mermaid, or Enchanted all the time! Take your attention off of the remote and you might lose it. Go to the bathroom and when you return someone might have grabbed the power and have already succeeded in exerting their influential role as king or queen of the remote control. This device is aptly named “remote control” because whoever has it has “control” of everyone else!

If a family serves each other well and wants what each other wants, meaning they exercise the kingdom of God in their home, the allure of the power of a remote control is less about individual control, but more about mutual control. What would it look like in our home if we were not selfish rather we were selfless? What if our families (and the individuals in it) are more concerned about the interests of others rather than themselves? Homes where there is great conflict or underlying resentment is a home where power fought over and the interests of others are stepped on. If you give up control you are weak. If you care about someone other than yourself, well, yourself might never get taken care of.

It’s a wonder that the enacted vision of God’s kind of world (aka the Kingdom of Heaven/God) actually brings about a REAL humanity instead of a FALSE humanity. REAL humanity realizes love, mutual submission, selflessness, and a concern for the interests of others. FALSE humanity realizes selfishness, a hunger for power and control, and concern only for your own personal interest.

The remote control in and of itself is a neutral party. It does not choose sides. The metaphor serves to illustrate how we as human beings use things well or poorly. And often, how we use things reveals whether we care more about God’s kingdom or our own kingdom.

Tomorrow, I’ll write about the second most important device in the home…

Thanks to Steve DeNeff for the inspiration for these two metaphors!

Doing the Opposite of What’s Expected

Quite often it is difficult to pin down the ethic of the kingdom of God in our everyday lives. Giving concrete examples of living out the Gospel that go beyond the obvious (reading your Bible and praying everyday and being nice to everyone) are hard to come by. Every now and then, I come across examples in our culture that touch us in profound ways and model to us what living out the Gospel of Jesus Christ means.

Below is one such story. You can read about the Gainesville State High School football team and/or you can watch it unfold below: