If Jack Bauer were a Pastor

I didn’t watch 24 during it’s initial 8 season run. Thankfully I rectified this oversight a couple of years ago by watching all 8 seasons on my Amazon Kindle. It quickly became on of my all-time favorite shows mainly for one reason….

Jack Bauer.

Played by Kiefer Sutherland, Jack Bauer has to be considered one of the greatest heroic characters ever on television. His devotion to his country and his take-no-prisoners approach to bringing down the bad guys caused 24 to be a consistently action-packed, twist-filled hour of television.

Because of this when I heard Jack was coming back I was pretty excited. And 24: Live Another Day did not disappoint. The season finale aired this past Monday and it was one of the best hours of television I ever remember seeing.

In honor of the finale I thought it would be interesting to think about what would happen if Jack Bauer were a pastor. You know, because I’m a nerd. So, without further adieu…

If Jack Bauer were a pastor his congregation would have to….

1. Listen very carefully to his sermons. Jack only said one phrase loudly and I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t use it in a sermon. Most of the time he spoke in intense whispers. If it wasn’t for DVR I’m pretty sure I would have missed roughly all of his dialogue this season.

2. Deal with a huffy secretary. Yeah, I’m talking about Chloe, the sometimes great/sometimes annoying Robin to Jack Bauer’s Batman. Can you imagine having to ask her to put something in the bulletin. *eye roll–“Well, I guess if it has to be in there.”*

3. Expect the worst when called to the pastor’s office. On 24 Jack would often get people to talk by shooting them in the leg or otherwise physically maiming them. I can only imagine what he would do in a Deacon’s meeting.

4. Get used to having one of the most annoying pastor’s kids ever. While Jack Bauer may be the best character ever on television, his TV daughter, Kim Bauer, is in the running for the worst. Bless her heart.

5. Wonder when he goes to the bathroom. Once, just once, I wanted to see Jack look intensely at Chloe and whisper, “I gotta go pee.” It never happened.

6. Be ok with either getting killed, half-killed, or kidnapped. Those closest to Jack tend to get killed, half-killed, or kidnapped. That’s a small price to pay for getting to hang around someone so cool.

On second thought, maybe it wouldn’t be such a good idea for Jack Bauer to be a pastor. He probably wouldn’t be a good one.

You know who could be a good pastor? The one you already have.

Whether you consider your pastor “good” or not, I am sure there are things he could improve about who he is or what he does. Why am I so sure of this? Because (as my Dad would say) I are one.

I’m not perfect; no pastor is. Some may say the best way to get a better pastor is to get a new one. I disagree.

The best way to get a better pastor is to pray for and support the one you already have.

I encourage you to do this.

And be thankful that you probably won’t get killed, half-killed, or kidnapped while doing so.

What else would “Pastor Jack Bauer’s” congregation have to do? What are some ways you can encourage your pastor?



I’m No Joey Chestnut

Last Friday, the 4th of July, I watched Nathan’s Best Hot Dog Eating Contest. Or whatever it’s called. The contest is one of stamina and stomach elasticity where contestants have 10 minutes to eat as many hot dogs as possible. It is both a sight to behold and to become nauseated by.

This year’s contest was won by Joey Chestnut who devoured 61 hot dogs. IN TEN MINUTES. It was Chestnut’s eighth win in a row. After winning his 8th straight title, his stomach reportedly went into hiding.

Thankfully, I ate my hot dogs before watching the contest. If I had eaten after the contest a couple of things could have possibly happened. It’s a possibility I would have tried to eat as many hot dogs as possible to see what my limit is. It would not have been pretty. Another possibility is that I would have gotten sick while eating my hot dogs as I thought about how gross it was seeing that many people eat that many hot dogs. This would not have been pretty either.

As it was, I ate 2 hot dogs. Just 2. I know–that’s nothing compared to Chestnut’s 61. It’s also nothing compared to how many I used to try to eat.

I’m no Joey Chestnut. Let me count the ways:

1. He ate 61 hot dogs in 10 minutes; I don’t want to eat 61 hot dogs in a year. Don’t get me wrong, I like hot dogs as much as the next overweight, American guy. But 61 hot dogs in a year is more than I want to eat. I mean, I eat 2 hot dogs every time I eat hot dogs. If I did that every two weeks, that would be 52 hot dogs. That’s about my limit. Don’t judge.

2. He’s far more romantic. Chestnut proposed to his long-time girlfriend before the contest; no word yet on how many wedding cakes they are planning on for the reception.

3. He’s got a better nickname. His is “Jaws.” Mine is “Big Ugly.” And only 2 people have ever called me that, which means it isn’t really a nickname.

I’m sure there are a lot of other reasons, but you get the point. I’m no Joey Chestnut.

And Joey Chestnut is no me.

If I was supposed to be Joey Chestnut, I would be Joey Chestnut. If I was supposed to be someone who competes in international eating competitions, that is what I would do.

But that’s not what I’m supposed to do. I’ve got a different agenda; a different purpose; a different path.

There was once a time when I would daydream about being someone else. A better athlete; a better looking guy. Maybe someone who never spits when talking. That time, mercifully, is long over. I am what I am because of God’s grace.

And, with His grace, I will continue to seek the path He has for me above all others.

How many hot dogs could you eat in 10 minutes? Are you comfortable with the path God has for you right now?


The Most Interesting Pastor in the World – Part 3

There is over $100k in his church’s annual budget for paint because when people say he preaches the paint off the walls, they mean it.

He knows who wrote the book of Hebrews. But he’s not telling.

No statue was ever erected in honor of a committee–until he was on one.

David Platt thinks he’s too radical.

His church’s softball team has never lost a game. Or cussed an opponent.

Volunteers follow him around with a rolling pulpit–just in case.

At his church, the front row is never empty. And neither is the baptistery.

People are dying for him to preach their funerals.

When he gets pulled over for speeding, he is never given a ticket because he convinces the officer that he’s allowed to “drive by grace and not by law.”

His church voted to celebrate Pastor Appreciation Month. Every month.

Chuck Norris isn’t on his security team; Chuck Norris is his security team.

He doesn’t make phone calls to visitors, they call him. And send him a thank you note.

When people from Israel go on Holy Land tours they go to his hometown.

The ushers at his church don’t use offering plates. They use wheelbarrows.

Every Friday everybody in his church wears a shirt that says “I Love My Pastor!” Everybody who goes to a different church wears a shirt that says “I Love Their Pastor, Too!”

He is….The Most Interesting Pastor in the World.

“Drink of the Living Water and never be thirsty again, my friends.”

What other facts can you think of for the Most Interesting Pastor in the World?

To read parts 1 and 2 click here and here.

The Woo-ification of America

When did “woo” become an appropriate response to positive statements and questions? I don’t remember coming home from school with a good grade and hearing my parents say, “Woo!” They said things like “good job” or “I’m proud of you,” but never “Woo!”

Now, “woo” is everywhere.

Dude one: “Hey, dude–Wanna come over and watch the game?”
Dude two: “Woo!”

CEO: “Your bonus checks will be bigger than expected.”
Employees: “Woo!”

Me: “Kids, we’re having Hamburger Helper tonight.”
Kids: “Woo!” (They have low “woo” standards.)

The “woo” has become so ubiquitous it has infiltrated one of the best songs written: Rocky Top. Yes, there was once a time when there was no “woo” between “Good ‘Ol Rocky Top” and Rocky Top Tennessee.” Ah, the good old days.

Who is to blame for the woo-ification of America?

Rick Flair? You remember him, right? He was the professional wrestler who used to hold up four fingers and shout “Woo!” Could he be the cause of the increase in “woo?”

Probably not.

I think it has more to do with our desire to find different ways to express joy and excitement. I don’t really have any problem with the woo-ification of America.

I just hope we get most excited over things with eternal significance.

Or, as John Piper might say, don’t waste your “woos.”

How do you feel about “woo?” And remember, “Woo!” is an acceptable answer.



Stove Up Fingers

I have come to the conclusion that I broke several of my fingers several times when I was younger. My proof is anecdotal instead of medical.

My oldest daughter has had two broken fingers. Her fingers have been broken while doing normal things almost every other child has done. One broken finger occurred while playing basketball and the other one occurred when she fell down while running to the locker room to get ready to play basketball.

Before taking her to the ER to determine if her fingers were broken I did not think they were broken. I just thought they were “stove up.”

I have no idea what “stove up” means. It was just what I was told about my fingers whenever I hurt them as a kid. It was the terminology every adult I knew used.

Me: “My finger hurts!”

Them: “You’ll be alright; it’s just stove up.”

It wasn’t until I reached adult that I realized “stove up” is not a medical term. So, I’m pretty sure I broke a few of my fingers back in the day.

I never received any treatment for my “stove up”/broken fingers other than a little ice and, on certain occasions, over-the-counter pain relievers. As a result, my fingers are fine; I’ve never had any problems out of them at all. They still perform all of their functions as normal fingers should.

What healed my possibly broken fingers?


Time doesn’t heal all wounds, but it does heal some.

Whatever it is causing you pain may not heal quickly. However, if you have a “stove up” heart, time may be all you need to experience renewal.


Just time.

Have you every had “stove up” fingers?

These Dogs Must Be Stopped!

I saw a dog at the park the other day and you’ll never guess what it was doing? It was walking on all four legs! Yeah, that’s right. ALL FOUR LEGS! Can you believe it? I mean, come on! He saw all of us walkers at the park on two legs, but he insisted on staying on four. It was ridiculous. I yelled “HEY DOG! GET WITH THE PROGRAM AND WALK ON 2 LEGS LIKE EVERYONE ELSE!” but he acted like he didn’t even hear me.

You know what else? He didn’t stay on the normal walking path like everyone else there. For some reason this stupid dog thought it was ok for him to walk anywhere he wanted, like the rules didn’t apply to him or something. It made me so mad seeing him traipsing all over the grass, running around like he owned the place. Someone should really do something. I’m sure everyone else there was as angry as I was.

Yeah–and that’s not the only thing. This dog, the one walking on four legs willy-nilly all over the place, was completely NAKED! You read that right–he was naked. No pants, no shirt, no shoes–NAKED! That our community would allow a dog to roam free with blatant disregard for proper decorum is appalling. What about the children seeing this vile display of nakedness! It’s an outrage!

And just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse another dog came running up through the grass on all four legs just as naked as the 1st one. And you know what they did? THEY SMELLED EACH OTHER’S BUTTS! That’s right, instead of shaking hands like normal people who meet each other they took turns sniffing each other’s hindquarters. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Oh, the degradation!

Now, if that hasn’t gotten you outraged enough this last piece of information should do it. But be aware, it is so vile, so putridly disgusting that I am hesitant to share it with you. Nevertheless–I must.

Right before I left the park in a fury over what I had seen, I looked back and saw both of these naked dogs run right to the middle of the park and they both (there is no genteel way to put it) POOPED! I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t saw it with my own two eyes. It was such a disgusting sight that I almost fainted. Oh–the humanity!

What am I going to do about this besides write this blog post? I tell you what I’m going to do. First, I am going to contact my town’s elected officials and if that doesn’t correct the problem I’ll contact my state’s elected officials and if that doesn’t correct the problem I’m going to contact the President and, so help me, if I have to I’ll notify the United Nations! These disgusting dogs must be stopped!

Second, I’m going to protest. I’m talking about a poster-waving, slogan-chanting, parade-type protest. These dogs and this community must come to the realization that us God-fearing, law-abiding citizens will not put up with this type of behavior.

Lastly, I’m going to do everything I can to make sure my children and my children’s children can live in a world without having to see naked dogs walking around wherever they please sniffing each other’s butts and pooping in broad daylight.

These dogs must be stopped!


How crazy would it be if I really acted this way about dogs behaving like dogs?

About as crazy as it is to see Christians absolutely losing their minds when they see non-Christians behaving like non-Christians.

It’s hard to speak the truth in love while going completely insane over behavior we should be expecting.


What We Deserve

My son played in a baseball tournament this weekend for 9&10 year olds. Actually, As of the time I am writing this it is still going on even though it is no longer the weekend, but I figure if people can call Friday night part of the weekend I can call Monday and Tuesday night part of the weekend if I feel like it.

One thing I saw that I wasn’t expecting to see were a few kids on the other teams either crying or near tears after striking out. Striking out is not a good, of course, but in the grand scheme of things there are about as many more things to cry about in this world as there are people in China. And that’s like a billion or something.

Watching these responses to striking out got me thinking about disappointment.

A girl is disappointed after receiving a 2009 Toyota Camry for her 16th birthday instead of that new Volkswagen she’s been dreaming about. A guy is disappointed because his basketball coach doesn’t put him in for the last few minutes of a close basketball games.

That job you were seemingly in line to receive gets filled by someone with less education or experience than you. That relationship doesn’t work out. That health-scare turns out to be valid. That hope or dream or desire falls flat.

Some disappointments are worse than others, but I think most of them stem from the same root cause: a belief that we deserve something better.

We deserve to get that hit, that car, that job, that relationship. We deserve health and happiness and everything else good. We may not say this out loud, but deep down it seems to be that this is how we feel.

And we are wrong. We deserve the wrath of God.

This isn’t popular, of course. Telling people who like to think of God as all-loving (which He is) that they deserve his wrath (which we do) will never make me popular. But it will make me content with what I receive.

Because if I know I deserve Hell I will be far more content whenever I get anything other than Hell. Which will help me look at life differently. Which will me help fight against disappointment.  Which will lead to greater happiness especially since I will never have to face His wrath because I have repented of my sin and placed my faith in Jesus who took God’s wrath in my place.

So, since all I really deserve is the wrath of God I should not be disappointed when I do not get what I deserve. Instead, I should be thrilled when I get anything other than what I deserve.

What do you think? Agree or disagree?


Five Reasons to Hate the Miami Heat

My favorite baseball team is the Cincinnati Reds. My second favorite team is whoever is playing the New York Yankees. I have long thought people who are Yankees fans would have probably also pulled for Goliath.

I do not dislike the Miami Heat with this same passion, but it is close. And since the Heat are currently in the NBA Finals and since some of you are undecided about whether you should dislike them or not, I thought I would give you a few reasons to do so.

1. Lebron James’ headband. It’s wide. WIDE. Grotesquely wide. Ridiculously wide. So wide it could be used as a tube top on most of the world’s female population. So wide I have written a whole blog post about it. Do I have issues for disliking the wideness of Lebron’s headbands? YES! But I’m trying to get over it.

2. The spelling of Dwyane Wade’s first name. Who am I to say he spells his name incorrectly? Someone who spells his name correctly, that’s who. It’s “Matt,” not “Myatt.” Sheesh.

3. The way they flop. And the Oscar for Best Flopping in a Basketball Game goes to….the Miami Heat.

4. There are rumors that James, Wade, and Chris Bosh are looking at restructuring their contracts to add Carmelo Anthony next season. And if that works out look for them to add a couple of the Monstars from Space Jam.

5. They are very good. There–I said it. Or wrote it. Whatever.

You may not have noticed it, but I purposefully used the word “dislike” instead of “hate.” I don’t really hate the Miami Heat or any other sports team. I don’t even dislike them, really. I just hope the Spurs win. I don’t care that Lebron’s headbands have enough fabric in them to clothe every child in the world. It’s fine that Dwyane Wade spells his name like someone who just pulled out letters from a bag of Scrabble tiles and said, “I’ll just go with it.”

The Miami Heat are made up of guys who are created in the image of God. I hope they know the greatness of the Gospel and have repented of their sins and placed their faith in Jesus.

I used to say I hated this team or that team, but not anymore. It’s hard to hate a team made up of people you have been given a commandment to love.

Mayonnaise, on the other hand, is a different story. I hate Mayonnaise and always will.

How do you feel about the Miami Heat? What is something you hate?

(Note: The stuff about Lebron’s headbands and Dwyane Wade’s name is satire and is not to be taken seriously. Laugh a little, folks–it’s good for the soul.)



Look at Me! Look at Me!

I’ve been looking at them their whole lives. It’s hard not to look at them. After all, they are begging me to do it.

“Look at me! Look at me!”

When any of my five kids say these words what follows is something they are proud of; a new skill mastered, a funny-ish trick, something they want to show off for approval. If it is something dangerous I will tell them to stop. Normally, though, it isn’t anything dangerous. So I’ll either laugh or say “That’s cool” or “Good job” and then normally go back to whatever it was I was doing before they gained my attention. I don’t mind these interruptions at all; I love my children and want them keep me in the loop whenever they learn how to do new, interesting things. Kids will be kids.

The “Look at me!” phenomenon isn’t a kids-only thing, though. At least it isn’t anymore.

There was once a time when a person could have an amazing meal without taking a picture of it for the sole purpose of letting everyone know how amazing it was. Looking at a friend’s or family member’s vacation pictures used to be done in person a few weeks afterward and you never saw the vacation pictures of a guy you knew in elementary school who you wouldn’t recognize if he walked right by you at the grocery store. Good (or bad)news about jobs, kids, church, or health was once something we shared with those closest to us. And we used to make actual verbal statements without feeling the need to check back every few minutes to see how many likes, comments, or retweets they received. (Full disclosure: This paragraph was written by a guy who is going to share this blog post on Facebook and Twitter–and who hopes others will do the same.)

Social media has caused us to revert back to the childhood habit of saying “Look at me! Look at me!”

Is there anything wrong with this new national pastime; this attention-seeking obsession?

John the Baptist would have a good answer for this question. You remember John the Baptist, don’t you? He’s the man Jesus said was the greatest ever to be born of woman. He pointed people in the direction of Jesus and preached so boldly that he lost his head.

John’s followers once pointed out to him Jesus had gotten into the baptizing business and that all men were coming to Him. It’s possible these informants thought John would jump up and start yelling “Look at me! Look at me!” in an attempt to regain his lost popularity. Instead, John gave them a lesson in who was most important and in doing so gave us a memorable statement we can use when we are tempted to exalt ourselves, our families, our churches, our…whatevers.

“He must increase, but I must decrease.”
John 3:30

The “He” is Jesus. The “I” is John the Baptist (and me and you).

A child saying “Look at me! Look at me!” is usually cute and endearing. An adult saying “Look at me! Look at me!” can sometimes be arrogant and idolatrous.

I’m not saying we should stop sharing pictures, thoughts, or good news. By all means–share away! What I am saying is those of us who follow Jesus must guard our hearts against the strange temptations offered to us by the technology we control.

This will require less “Look at me! Look at me!” and more “Look at Him! Look at Him!”

He must increase, but I must decrease.





And So I Rest

It’s 5pm last Friday.

The basketball team my two nine-year-old boys play for is warming up for their 5:30 game at the community center. Our head coach is talking to the opposing coach while our assistant coach is trying to get our players to do their lay-ups correctly. I’m the assistant coach and my efforts are proving to be mostly futile.

It’s 5:30pm last Friday.

The game is underway. Our team, Reno’s Sporting Goods, is playing the Knicks (the ones from Harriman, not New York). In spite of some early travelling calls, we start off strong. As the assistant coach my main responsibilities during the game are keeping up with how many fouls each player has and helping the head coach direct traffic from the sideline. I end up yelling  “get back” a lot.

It’s 6:25pm last Friday.

The game is over. In spite of some late travelling calls, we won. I have previously informed my kids (the two who have been playing and the three who have been spectating) to get to me quickly after the game. I have a funeral to preside over at 7pm and since my wife is working they all have to go with me. I wore suit pants, a dress shirt, and a sweater vest (which undoubtedly was the key to victory) during the game so all I will need to do once we get to the van is put on my tie and suit coat. My two boys who have been playing ball will have to take off their shorts and put on jeans. They aren’t too thrilled about this and, after smelling how they smelled, I wasn’t either.

It’s 7pm last Friday

The funeral is underway with the director leading me to a chair behind the casket. We arrived there around 6:45 giving me enough time to speak with the family and go over the order of service. After an opening song I stand at the podium and seek to speak words of comfort about life, death, and the gift of salvation offered by Jesus their deceased loved one had accepted many years prior. After my message, I sit while another song is played and then rise again to say a closing prayer. During the prayer I hear a distant sound of someone passing gas. I find out after the service that the accidental gas-passer was my 5-year-old. She doesn’t want to talk about it.

It’s 8:05pm last Friday.

We’re back at the community center. My oldest son has an 8:30 game and I am surprised we were able to be here early. The game being played when we arrive is a close one; there is much shouting. I resist the urge to yell “get back.” My son’s game begins on time, but ends late. It goes into overtime. Mr. Clean’s Car Wash, my son’s team, plays valiantly with their three top scorers on the bench after fouling out, but they go down in defeat. I collect my kids and trudge toward the van.

It’s 10:20pm last Friday

My kids are in bed and I’m sitting in a recliner thinking about whiplash of the emotional variety that nights like tonight have the ability to cause. From the excitement of two of my boys winning a basketball game to the sadness of mourning with those who mourn to the excitement of another of my boys almost winning a basketball game, it has been a strange evening.

But I am at peace; I don’t have whiplash. Jesus conquered death and brought life to all who trust Him. Even when it’s strange, it remains abundant and eternal. I can face days like last Friday because of Good Friday; I can face days full of stress because the tomb is empty.

And so I rest.