BY KENT BUSH
Sheep are dumb.
They will eat themselves to death if someone doesn’t stop them. Honestly though, I’ve been at a Golden Corral a few times when I wondered if we were going to need a good shepherd to use his crook to pull some folks away from the roast beef.
I saw a modern day shepherd one night when I was going to cover a small-school basketball game for my newspaper.
In more than 45 years of life I had never seen a scene like this. I looked on the side of the road and saw a young man walking two sheep down the shoulder of the highway.
I think it is an Oklahoma law that you have to change lanes to allow livestock plenty of room to roam. I had no problem making room for a young man and his sheep.
They seemed rather content to be enjoying the evening breeze. You could say they had a great “relationsheep.” You probably wouldn’t, but you could.
I couldn’t help but think what would happen if something changed that peaceful scene. What if a dog barked at them or something else spooked one of them? What if one stayed with him and the other bolted into the southbound lanes of the highway?
What would this young shepherd do?
Kyle Bueermann | @KyleBueerman
Oh, muse: sing to me the song of my childhood.
My inner 10-year old is rejoicing. Thanks to the wonders of the interwebs and Netflix (seriously, you should check these things out), TGIF is slowly being brought back to life. My family and I recently binge-watched the first season of Girl Meets World. I felt a certain sense of accomplishment by being able to show my kids the new adventures of Corey, Topanga, and of course Shawn.
Then, this past Friday, the much anticipated first season of Fuller House was mercifully unleashed on a waiting world (Confession: I’ve only watched the Pilot episode of Fuller House, just before our internet was switched off for our big move). Just the mention of Boy Meets World and Full House bring back many memories of our family huddled around at TV on Friday nights. Sure,they were cheesy. Sure they went for cheap laughs. And I will forever argue that those things are greatly under-appreciated in our world today. Those shows showed us strong families front and center in Prime Time. They certainly remind me of simpler times in my own life.
But, of course, we can’t live perpetually as pre-teens. And the reboots of these shows remind us that sometimes life doesn’t end happily-ever-after, but it can still turn out alright with the support of family and friends. Perhaps I’m just being nostalgic. However, this has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that an episode of Fuller House brought me to the point of sobbing as an adult. Nothing, I tell ya. Don’t judge me.
Anyway, I’m thoroughly enjoying these reboots of some of my favorite shows as a kid. Maybe some more are on the way. Your move, Urkel...
Kyle Bueermann is a New Mexico pastor. He has been married to Michelle since 2004 and they have two kids who are far cooler than he will ever be. He takes his ministry, but not himself, seriously. In addition to his family and ministry, Kyle loves Johnny Cash and the Texas Rangers.You can contact him on Twitter at @kylebueermann.
James Daman | @jdaman04
As I mentioned in Ministry Buzztrends - Acronyms and Acrostics, I love self-deprecating humor, probably because there is so much I can laugh at myself about. I love being involved in ministries that are authentic and I especially love it when people in ministry don't take themselves so seriously.
In this part two, I'd like to look at how ministries use assessments. Churches are increasingly using assessment tools to help people identify their spiritual giftings and to determine where people should serve.
I recently took a seminary class called Assessing Life and Ministry and I took five assessments on my spiritual life. I was analyzing my thoughts, spiritual experience, likes and dislikes. My first thought was how bad a test taker I was and I was prepared to be the first person to fail one of these assessments. I expected the teacher to look at my results and say, we knew you weren't supposed to be here and ask me to leave.
But, then I realized something, we all fail any assessment that compares us to Christ, because we have all sinned. But, he has died for us, Jesus gave the ultimate spiritual assessment test that no one could pass when he said 'Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone'.
Since we all fail that assessment, let's take a lighthearted look at assessments by coming up with the first ever Back Row Assessment Tool!
Kent Bush | @KentBush
Nothing makes adults at church squirm more than hearing a pastor tell them to turn to Malachi 3:9-10 ("You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need." As soon as they hear it, they know the collection plate has been a little light lately and it is time to hear the tithing message.
But as a 10-year-old, the Malachi sermon never scared me. My tithe was a quarter and dad gave it to me on the way to church. That’s a good deal and if we could figure out a way to do it as adults, tithing would be a lot easier.
But as a kid, I can tell you I knew about stress at church. It wasn’t tithing. It was that Sunday night service when you walked in and saw something stacked on the table up front with a sheet draped over it.
Robert Stevenson | @ap_527
Due: February 7th; to post: February 9th.
This was the mandate for my first contribution to BackRowOnline and I was not looking to disappoint. Other ministry commitments demanded that I have the article in earlier than the due date, so I got to work as soon as I could. I wrestled over which type of article to write, decided upon a Twitter Spotlight, and then spent more hours combing through tweets than a Spaceball with a broken afro pick. It was not until the night I ultimately submitted the article that I realized *I* would have the last humor piece posted before the Lenten season began. There are many Christians who would forego social media and/or pinch down their web browsing altogether during the next forty days; I would get to be one of the last voices they read before turning the faucet down or off completely. Looking to backtrack my missed opportunity, I thought to myself, “I should write something profound, yet laughter-producing. Deep, yet dedicated to a smile. Soul-searching, yet side-splitting.”
“Nuts to that. I’m almost done with this article and I ain’t startin’ over. I haven’t even finished my Sunday School lesson yet!” **SEND**
I am not discounting the Twitter Spotlight, nor the hilarious The Sarcastic Pastor (@RevSarcasm) who we showcased. But I was stuck with this question: How did Lent slip by me?
As my wife is fond of saying about holidays in general, “It comes at the same time every year!” Our church has done a forty-day corporate “Daniel-fast” every year for the past nine or ten years. From the beginning of Ash Wednesday till the end of Easter Sunday, we are in God Mode. No… no, not “God Mode” like invincible, code-bending, unlimited power-up having… no. Like, “focused-on-God” Mode. Dedicated-to-the-Lord Mode. Jesus-take-the-wheel Mode.
The pastor had already prepped us about fasting from the pulpit. I had discussed Lent season sacrifices at length during a Bible study not even a week prior. My body is already pre-trained to say “so long, lasagna; praise the Lord, cantaloupe!” Yet, and still, the fast seemed to sneak up on me. I was still pondering these things after the fast started when the answer became loud and clear while going through Francis Chan’s “Crazy Love” audiobook.
You’re lukewarm, homie.
You are not hotly, fervently seeking God during this time. You are religiously box checking. You are not cold either. You did not say “I ain’t doin’ the fast this year.” You said “eh… I’ll think about it.” It was kind of a given, but not given much thought. “Yeah, I guess I’ma do it. I mean, everyone else is too, right? The guys at work know I’m Christian, so shouldn’t I be walking in the cafeteria with cashews and a veggie burrito bowl? I mean, if wifey’s fasting I guess I will too. She does the grocery shopping after all, right?”
Lukewarm people ride the fence, but I have yet to meet a man that can comfortably straddle a picket fence. Lukewarm Christians make Jesus want to puke (Revelation 3:16). Do you know what IS lukewarm? Boiled hot dog water that has that film over it because it has been sitting on the stove for six hours. Now picture yourself drinking a 20oz. bottle of that (my apologies if you hurled all over your device).** Gross, right? If we would not drink that, why would we expect God to drink that?
Kent Bush | @KentBush
Remember when the biggest controversy in Christian music was whether the kiss when heaven met earth was sloppy and wet or merely unforeseen?
Those were the good old days.
As Christians we deal with serious and life altering issues. I wish we didn't deal with them in such silly and cynical ways.
Because most Christians have faith that is as narrow as their own minds and as deep as a summer puddle, it is much easier for them to judge others and cast aspersions than offer any degree of kindness or understanding.
People of faith really need to stop looking through the walls of their glass houses and put down the magnifying glass that they use to inspect the actions and motives of others’ beliefs. We would all do better spending that time looking in a mirror, but we don’t.
Facebook is filled with blogs about “why people don’t sing in church anymore” or articles critical of singers who perform rather than leading worship in a church services.
Kyle Bueermann | @kylebueermann
Our family is getting ready for a move at the end of February to take on a new ministry adventure. This causes all kinds of fun experiences. Last week we signed the papers on our new house, and we took a trailer with us. So, my wife and I spent a couple of nights in our new house with about 1/8 of all the stuff we own. Basically, this means that we had just enough of our stuff to feel like we were camping in a house that wasn’t ours.