January, 2016

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Monthly Archives: January 2016

Zika Virus: Travel Warning

zika-virus-mosquit_3561555kNews about the Zika Virus hit major press outlets this week after WHO officials warned Thursday Zika is “spreading explosively” in the Americas. It is estimated to have infected 3-4 million people in the Western Hemisphere in the last 12 months. Some are wondering what all the fuss is about and whether it should impact their mission trip plans.

We recommend concerned travelers contact their physician or travel clinic with specific questions. The CDC has issued travel warnings urging pregnant women and those who are trying to become pregnant to avoid or delay travel to a growing list of countries in Latin America and The Caribbean.

zika-virus-baby-ki_3561556kZika is an especially concerning viral infection for pregnant women because studies have linked it to a dramatic rise in cases of microcephaly (small head) a birth defect thought to occur in babies exposed to Zika while in the womb.

Getting Ready for Sunday January 31st at The Crossing

Prepare

This week Shay Roush preaches from John 7:53–8:12 in a sermon entitled, “Ashley Madison Meets Jesus.” The Scripture reads,

53 Then they all went home, 8:1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.

2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

11 “No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Is It Okay For Sunday Morning To Be Segregated?

Martin Luther King, Jr. famously said that Sunday mornings at 11:00 is the most segregated hour in America. Are you okay with that? Would it surprise you to know that most churchgoers are?

I get why it’s easier and more comfortable to attend churches in which you are in the cultural majority. A couple weeks ago I was able to slip out and attend a church in town that is predominately black. It was a great experience for me as it put me in a position that I’m not used to at church–I was the outsider. Beyond the basics of just being a first time visitor and not knowing where to park, it was a little uncomfortable being in a full room but being only one of a handful of white people.

Of course the music and preaching were different than The Crossing. You’d expect that if you visited any new church regardless of it’s cultural identity. But while I was trying to worship, I admit that I was wondering if it was okay for me to be there. I felt like I stuck out in the crowd making me so self-conscious that I was more focused on me than God. What makes all this even weirder is that everyone there was as friendly and nice as they could be. I hope that people at The Crossing treat new people as well as I was treated at that church.

All that to say I am just starting to get a personal education on why churches tend to draw people of the same cultural and racial background. I have a decent understanding of the historical issues and the sociological reasons but my visit to another church taught me things that I couldn’t learn in books.

Knowing that it’s a lot easier to attend a homogenous church, is it okay if Sunday morning remains segregated? If there are good churches out there made up of primarily black, white, asian, etc… Christians, is it okay for us to worship with people who look like us and share our cultural values?

I don’t know.

Here are 4 reasons that it might not be okay to be content with racially homogenous churches.

What the rest of us have in common with an underwear model

picture of cameron russellI have never met a woman who hasn’t struggled with body image. Never. Not all the time in every way, but always in some way at some time. And that includes me.

And wider statistics seem to bear this out. 78% of 17-year-old girls in America don’t like their bodies. Even by the age of 13, over half of girls in America don’t like their bodies.

This obsession with body image that plagues most modern women is what made this TED Talk by Cameron Russell so fascinating. Russell is a model – and a very successful one at that. She is known for her work in Victoria Secret, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Ralph Lauren, etc. Her TED Talk is definitely worth the nine minutes it takes to listen. After watching this, I came away really liking Russell. She gets a lot right, and I admire her for being brave enough to say things publicly.

Perhaps the most striking moment is Russell’s admission, “I am insecure.” She even confesses that she’s never publicly admitted that. One of the most beautiful women in the world, who’s famous and rich because she’s beautiful, has struggled with body image. She feels insecure. Maybe that’s disheartening, because we think if she can’t be secure, then what hope is there for any of us? Maybe that’s comforting, because we realize no matter what we look like, everyone feels this way. But for sure this shouldn’t come as a surprise.

A Few Things I’m Learning From My Kids’ Confiscated Toys

IMG_2409Water balloons. The missing ear of a stuffed animal. A Pez dispenser. A doll (inevitably) missing its clothing. Two old iPhones. And both medieval* and futuristic toy weapons. What do all of the things in this picture have in common?

Taken together, they look like either (a) the evidence room in the kid version of a hard-hitting cop drama, or (b) they’re waiting to board a boat heading for the “Island of Misfit Toys.” But the truth is they’re actually all items that my wife and I had recently confiscated from our three kids, who range from 5 to 9 years old.

If you’re a parent, you’ve probably been there. The kids are fighting, or they’re not listening, or they’ve unleashed enough raging chaos that you fear for your hearing and/or sanity. You eventually diagnose that the problem is related in some meaningful way to a particular object. And since you’re determined to prevent your home for descending into a real-life version of Lord of the Flies, you decide to remove the object from the equation.

Marriage as God Intends

Selfish individual that I am, the very first thing I did after learning that The Crossing was planning to simulcast Matt and Lauren Chandler’s Mingling of Souls Conference was to lock down mid-Missouri’s coolest sitter, my daughter Claire. Because “CB” is in high demand in the Columbia-area babysitting market – she drives her own car,

Songs and Scenes: January 24, 2016

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Songs and Scenes is a weekly blog review of songs, readings and prayers featured in The Crossing’s Sunday morning liturgy. You’ll find links in the song titles that will allow you to purchase recorded versions of the songs when available. This week’s liturgy review features photos by Scott Myers.

Winter Guatemala Mission Trip Leaving Soon

2015 Team with Pastor Miguel Ángel and FamilyThe Crossing’s Winter Guatemala Mission Trip to serve with ASELSI in Chichicastenango is leaving soon. Pray for them both as they prepare to go and for the entirety of their trip.

Dates of travel: January 30 – February 6, 2016

Itinerary details:

  • Two days of travel from Columbia, MO to Chichicastenango, Guatemala.
  • First day:  Orientation to the ASELSI Mission in Chichicastenango, visit patients in the state hospital in Santa Cruz del Quiche’ and prepare for the ASELSI/Crossing Discipleship Conference which the group will help host with Pastor Miguel Ángel.
  • Second day:  Continue preparing for the discipleship conference in morning and participate in the conference in the afternoon at the ASELSI Mission with over 80 pastors from towns and villages from northern Guatemala.
  • Third day: Participate in the discipleship conference.
  • Fourth day:  Help with Clinic Day at the ASELSI mission in the morning and do home visits in the town of Choybaj in the afternoon.
  • Two days of travel from Chichicastenango, Guatemala to Columbia, MO

Team demographics:
The team is relatively small this trip and as in years past is headed up by Bill Penkethman and Chuck Worstell, who have been sharing The Navigators High Quest Discipleship Program with local Guatemalan pastors for approximately 12 years now.  Also co-leading the team this year are Michelle and Chris Woodson, four year veterans of the winter trip to the ASELSI Mission and the ASELSI/Crossing Discipleship Conference.  Other participants include Bill Penkethman’s wife, Debbie Penkethman, Bob Boone, Trent Poage and Joey  Schenz.

Target populations: Who do you hope to serve? What specific struggles and needs do they have?

Getting Ready for Sunday January 24th at The Crossing

Prepare

This week Keith Simon preaches from John 7:1–5 and 6:44 in a sermon entitled, “Why Do Some Believe and Others Don’t?” The Scripture reads,

1 After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him. 2 But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, 3 Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do. 4 No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” 5 For even his own brothers did not believe in him.

44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

Chicago, Heaven, and Race

Christine and I lived in the Chicago area for 4 years while I went to seminary and briefly worked at a church before coming back to Columbia to work with a team to start The Crossing. Now, with 2 of my boys being Cubs fans (my greatest parental failure), we make it back to Chicago fairly often.

One of the things that I’ve always noticed about Chicago (and maybe this is true of all big cities) is how segregated it is. I don’t mean that people of differing races, politics, etc… don’t ever mix nor am I referring to some sort of government imposed segregation. Instead I’m talking about the segregation that appears to me to be at least somewhat natural and by choice.