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Archive - February, 2010

Formational Apologetics

Back in December I was asked by Children’s Ministry Magazine to write an article about what apologetics might look like for kids today. This was a topic I was excited to tackle. For a while, I’ve been bothered by premise behind traditional apologetics that takes the standpoint that our faith needs some sort of defense so we guard ourselves and our children by arming them with “the truth.” We adopt a view that if we simply have enough information and can convince people that our information is truer than any other information out there then they will see the errors of their ways and enter into relationship with God. We live in a era where that no longer happens. In fact, the opposite is more true. People want a relationship first. They want to belong. Then if that relationship seems real and consistent and beneficial, they are open to belief. We handicap our children when we simply try to arm them with knowledge.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

When we unintentionally give children the message that their faith in God needs to be defended, we imply a faith that’s wimpy at best and devoid of truth or power at worst. Yes, we’re called to equip and empower children to stand firm in their faith, but the strength and confidence they need comes from a source more powerful than information and knowledge. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses telling people about me everywhere–in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).

You can check out the full article here.

If you don’t already do so, be sure to check out Children’s Ministry Magazine. It’s an amazing resource for those in ministry to children! And I’m not saying that because I have an article in there. It wouldn’t hurt, though, to buy multiple copies of the March/April issue and distribute it freely to friends, neighbors, and strangers you pass on the street :)

And Now, For Something Completely Different!

(picture originally uploaded to Flickr by me’nthedogs)

For those of you who might not know, the title of this post is also the title of a very funny Monty Python movie… that is if you “get” Monty Python humor. I was going to post the trailer for the movie off of YouTube, but ruled against it :)

A little while back, I was headed to the district office for the Central District of the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada (wow, that’s a mouthful!). I had my handy GPS because I have a reputation for taking the scenic route. So, if you ever travel with me then you better have an adventurous spirit and be willing to leave early to get anywhere. Anyway, I had put in the address of the district office. When I got to the road I was supposed to turn on, there was MAJOR construction. I tried following the signs for the detour but ended up in the middle of what seemed like a secret base or something… maybe the Canadian version of Area 51… Needless to say, I got out of there quickly, called the district office and found my way to the office for my meeting.

Life seems to do that to me a lot… OK, GOD seems to do that to me a lot. I am happily going down my path, a path that I know God has me on, and all of a sudden there is a HUGE detour sign. The only thing is that the detour does not lead back to the path I was on… I end up someplace completely different! And that’s what has happened in the lives of the Zonios recently.

Let me go back a year… (cue the flashback sequence music) I was in southern California having attended the Idea Camp. I was on my way to the Pasadena gathering of Mosaic when all of a sudden I had the thought, “I could live in California again.” Immediately, my sub conscience retorted, “Uh, NO I CAN’T!” You see, I grew up in northern CA. When I got married and moved away, both my wife and I said that we really never wanted to live in CA again. That’s just how we felt. Well, ten years later and now I had this random thought that came out of nowhere… OK, maybe it wasn’t nowhere, but I wasn’t all too happy about having the thought.

When I got back to my hotel, I called Erin and told here about the thought. She said something like this, “Um, yeah…” Now, when your wife starts a sentence like that when you’ve told her about a crazy idea you’ve had, then you should immediately stop the conversation and return to your happy life! Well, that’s not what I did… I listened. “Um, yeah… I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that. I’ve been having the same thoughts.” GREAT!

Well, it’s been a year of praying, listening, seeking out wisdom and looking for what God might be up to. This past Sunday, we announced to the congregation that we will be finishing up our time at Redwood and moving to Northern California as the end of June. (Don’t worry, I told my senior pastor two weeks previous.)

The obvious question, at least if it was me hearing this news, is, “So, what will you be doing?” In short, we’re still figuring that out. And the answer to your next question: “Yes, we are crazy.”

OK, there IS more to it than that. As we’ve been seeking out God in all of this, one of the things that has come up is my desire to go back to school. The plan is to pursue a Ph.D. in sociology with an emphasis on children, families and religion. With my growing passion in looking at the mutual interaction between culture and children’s ministry, I’ve found that I really need to dive head first into it. Ultimately, it’s my desire to teach at the university level, do research concerning children and families as related to the religious landscape here in North America as well as in other areas of the world. I would also like to enter more into the different conversations happening about what a missional or third way of doing church and christianity looks like.

Now, this move is more than just about me. God has speaking to my wife and children as well about what this move means for them and the story he is writing for our entire family.

In the meantime, we have MANY unknowns. We are definitely taking huge step of faith in doing this. We have to find a place to live (we’re sensing a call to live in the San Francisco East Bay Area), jobs (for both Erin and I not on a pastoral staff), acceptance into school… and that’s just the beginning! We are sad to leave here, excited about what God has for us, and scared out of our minds about the details. It’s an interesting mix of emotions. Please pray for us in the next few months as now we can begin working through the logistics of moving back into the US from Canada and to an area where we have to start from scratch.

I look forward to seeing what God is going to do. I know that it’s going to be a challenging path, but it’s definitely going to be an adventure!

As for this blog, this move really doesn’t change anything. I’ll still be connected into the CM world just from a different vantage point. And I think CM needs people seeing things from as many vantage points as possible.

Here’s to “chasing The Goose!” (You’ll have to read Mark Batterson‘s Wild Goose Chase.)

12-year-old TED speaker!

Take a look at the above interview of Adora Svitak. She is twelve years old and was a speaker at TED 2010! Wow! She is an accomplished author and speaker.

I loved that she challenges adults to learn from children. I think we can do that about education and about spirituality as well. I think so many times we can get so caught up in teaching children that we forget that God can use them to teach us as well.

I remember one time with the Kindergarten class I am currently leading, as we were praying one of the children spontaneously started thanking God for various things like her house and her parents. I was about to correct her for interrupting my prayer when I almost audibly heard God tell me to shut up… no joke. God used this little 5-year-old to teach me that spontaneous praise and thanks is an important part of prayer. Since then, I’ve tried to allow for that time with the kids. It’s been one of my favorite times!

How about you? What has God taught your through children? What are ways that we can continue to be open to learn from children?

On a side note… my wife and I are loving reading ChildFaith by Don and Brenda Ratcliff. In addition to teaching parents how to pass on faith to children, it also teaches parents how to learn faith from their children. We’ll be posting a joint review on the book soon!

Book Review: Crave by Chris Tomlinson

A little while back I received an email from Chris Tomlinson asking me to be a part of a book blog tour for his new book, Crave. From his bio, Chris is a graduate from the U.S. Air Force Academy and the UCLA Anderson School of Business. He is a businessman and writer who desires to see people realize the beauty and joy of knowing Jesus. It is this desire that motivated Christ to write Crave.

At the opening of the book, Chris talks about a picture of a boy devouring ice cream. It is all over his face and the front of his clothing. This picture happens to be taped to his television to remind him to desire God as much as this boy desires chocolate ice cream. After this beginning, Chris launches an honest account of his journey to surrender more and more of his life to God. He uses many personal stories and illustrations to depict each step of his journey. In so doing, Chris’ desire is for more people to journey along with him and come to desire God above all else.

As I read the book, I appreciated Chris’ honesty and openness at his journey. He doesn’t pretend to be a “spiritual giant.” In fact, some might read the book and find it uneventful. This book, though, is a great encouragement to those who, like Chris, might struggle with what it means to hear God regularly and step out in faith to obey him from moment to moment. If you get discouraged by much of the literature our there on Christian living because it seems unattainable or unrealistic, then you just might resonate with Chris and his journey in Crave.

You can check out more about Chris at http://www.cravesomethingmore.org.

Thanks to Harvest House Publishers, I have two copies of Crave to give away. Simply leave a comment to have a chance to win one of the copies. I will randomly choose a winner on Sunday, February 21.

NOTE: I was provided with two complementary copies of Crave by Harvest House Publishers for review and giveaway purposes. I have in no way been compensated to skew my review either favorably or unfavorably.

Lent Starts Today. What Are You Doing?

(picture originally uploaded to Flickr by akahodag)

I’m usually on the ball with Lent. This year, though, there’s been a lot of things going on and it snuck up on me!

In previous years I’ve given up things like TV or pop (or for those of you who say it wrong… soda, coke, or soft drinks). Since Lent appeared out of nowhere for me, I haven’t really had time to reflect on what would be something meaningful that I could give up as a physical way of being reminded to prepare myself to identify with Christ’s suffering come Holy Week (the week leading up to Easter). I’m also at a loss of what to do to inspire kids and families to observe Lent…

What are you all doing? Personally? In your ministries?

I’m will be going through 40 Days Living the Jesus Creed by Scot McKnight with my family. I’m just not sure what to “give up” for Lent.

Drum Roll Please…..

OK, the moment you’ve all been waiting for!

BTW, if you still want to register for The Orange Conference, you have until February 18th to get THE BEST price for registration. You also get a $50 credit for resources!!! Just click here for more info and to register.

OK, so the winner is…

Emily Gist! Congratualations, Emily!

Thanks to all of you who left comments and furthered the Orange conversation. I hope that it was helpful to you all. If you haven’t registered yet for The Orange Conference don’t miss out on it!

And the Winner is….

(photo originally uploaded to Flickr by Lost Albatross)

OK, so I’m a day late on this. Yesterday was Family Day here in Ontario, and we participated in some of the Family Day festivities. I, then, went to see Lightning Thief with my two oldest kids. (BTW, if you’ve read the books, don’t expect to see anything that resembles the story. It was a fun movie, but completely rewritten storyline.)

“Get on with it! Tell us who won already!” you might be saying? Well, there is a winner. I’m waiting to confirm that winner before officially announcing it. So, all of you will just have to wait in suspense a bit longer. Sorry. Once I’ve confirmed the winner, I will put up another post :)

Happy Valentine’s Day!

(image taken from Indexed)

One of the blogs I read regularly is Indexed. It’s a pretty fun and thoughtful blog. I laughed pretty hard at the above post.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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