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What’s Wrong with Me? — Facing my problems again.

Front Page My Spiritual Life

Warning: self-critical blog alert.

NWBC Update

It has been a few months since I left Northwest Baptist Church, and in the intervening months, NWBC has been going through a process of evaluation with a church consultant.

From what I have heard, the process has been challenging and helpful. The bottom line is that the consultant reported on some key spiritual problems in the church and asked the leadership of the church to seriously consider what the future would hold. Basically, the question boiled down to this, “Do you currently have the emotional, financial, and spiritual resources to address these problems as a church?”

The answer was, “No.”

So, the only other option for the church was to seek the help of the denominational district (The Midwest Baptist Conference) and to initiate what has been called a “restart.”

The process of a restart boils down to these things: The district identifies a church planter to be the new pastor; then the congregation affirms him; finally, the congregation hands over all assets (name, constitution, property, bank accounts, etc.) to an advisory team comprised of a district representative, the new pastor, the pastor’s coach, and a few members of the congregation. From that moment on, the previous church is officially dissolved, and the assets are used in the formation of a new church fellowship.

This model has had great success in the transformation of dead churches into living and active churches, but there are of course difficulties along the way.

Last week, the congregation voted to do a restart, and I’m glad they did.
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Explaining the Whole Bible

Explaining the Bible Front Page VIP

As I have spoken with people about the Bible, I find more and more that people aren’t really familiar with the “plot” or the overall story of the Bible. Therefore, I’m going to try to go through the entire story of the Bible in a very brief overview fashion. The challenge is that I don’t want to leave anything out, but I want to make sure I’m not spending too much time on less essential things. To that end. I hope to actually split this up into two projects. One will be my brief commentary on each book of the Bible—that will help me feel like I’m covering everything in enough detail. The second will be my narrative summary of the whole Bible. Read More on this Topic

I’m not sure how this is going to work, so I’ll just get started.

If you subscribe to my blog by email, this is the only post you’ll be getting about this project. If you want to read my posts on the Bible, you will need to visit my site regularly, subscribe by rss, or update your email settings through the link in your email.

God bless.

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Log for May 10, 2006

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My day:

Connecting

  • Meet with Kerry Bowman, lead/founding pastor of Eagle Church in Zionsville, just north of Indianapolis.

    • Kerry is going through a process right now of trying to recover his “strategic” focus in the church and beyond the church walls considering that he has been so wrapped up in the work of that particular church for a long time.
    • He said that they wouldn’t be able to offer us any financial assistance, but he did recommend to me that we stay in touch.
    • He will also put me in touch with the CMA director of church planting because he is a great guy that I could learn a lot from.
    • He asked me some pretty big questions about how I was staying strong. It was a good time.
  • Call local churches including Mark Dutton over at Faith to set up more vision-casting meetings.

    • I finally got an email out to Steve Viars, but I still haven’t talked with Mark Dutton.
  • Call local contacts to invite them to a new Bible Study.
  • Contact potential office locations.

    • I called three potential office locations on 350S.
    • the Shook agency (742-5096) manages a couple storefronts behind subway and behind the boiler express gas station. They have 1400-10000 square feet and go for about 13 per square foot per year including the common fee.
    • bar barry (412-2400) owns three store fronts that can be configured separately or together for 1200-5400 sq. ft. – 14.50 per square foot per year after common fee.
    • Regal place (george 447-6270) has two storefronts next to a cingular store. Each is 1620 square feet. The one on the corner is $14 per, and the one in the middle is $12 per. Common fees are $2, but should be significantly less.
    • Valley Lakes center / 900 sf @ $7.00 per + $2 common
  • Write SOUTHSIDE newsletter.
  • Write Prayer Letter & bookmark.

Limcast

  • Boil down the limcast audio of my interview with Marque Azrael.
  • Time-lapse the chess game where he beat me.
  • Set up meetings with other local artists — LeeAnna Atwell, lafayettemusicleague.com

Thoughts:

  • I’d like to develop an overall theme/philosophy for the a41 website (a41.us) to be the “connecting point” for all things community-oriented in our church.

    • Bible Studies, and online/emailed devotionals.
    • Blogs (work like myspace? link to myspace?)
    • Downloadable small group materials (lessons, video, audio, songsheets)
    • Forum (with a special consideration for small group leaders)
    • Events Calendar (Every group gets an iCal compliant calendar, and the frontend allows people to subscribe to different ones.)

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Trials and Tribulations with Ashley Furniture

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UPDATE January 25, 2010: For nearly four years, this has been my most popular post, so I wanted to add a disclaimer right here. The intent of this post is not to rant against Ashley Furniture as a company or even the local expression of it here in Lafayette. The local Ashley Homestore owner is quite a good person according to all the people I have met who know him. However, I still think this story is worth sharing for two reasons:

  • This is one of my first experiences with Lafayette area businesses, and it raises the questions of how a church planter should approach relationships with those businesses that operate with apparently unfair practices.
  • This is also a post that addresses the basic question of how Christians should respond when they are wronged.

If you are unsatisfied with this post or offended by it, please write me and interact with me about it or post your own comment, but know that in the end, I simply went along with the demands of the company even though I thought and still think they were unfair.

Here’s the rest of this post as it originally was.


Where do you draw the line between being a loving, self-sacrificial Christian and a pushover who doesn’t mind getting ripped off?

My natural tendency is to make concessions a little more easily than needed probably because I want people to like me, but when I get pushed over the edge, I don’t hesitate to get firm with people. I’ve heard that is a standard characteristic of people who have ADD (which my wife suspects I have).

Here’s my story…

A couple weeks ago (April 15 to be exact), my wife went to Ashley Furniture in Lafayette and decided on a particular set of furniture that she wanted to get for our new house. Now, the pieces in question weren’t her favorite of all that she saw at the different furniture stores in the area, but they were the best of the cheapest, and she signed the paperwork to buy four pieces of furniture for a total cost of $1442.66

Their policy at that store is that all sales are final, there is a non-refundable deposit of 50% due at the time of purchase and the rest is due 48 hours before the stuff is delivered. So, she gave them our credit card, and they charged us $721.33. She signed the invoice and came home.

A couple days later, they left a voice mail message for us saying that they had “undercharged” us by accident and the real price of one of the pieces of furniture was really $70 more than what they wrote on the invoice, and therefore, before we would be able to have the furniture delivered, we would have to pay the new balance of not $721.33, but something like $790.

This is where it gets sticky. The price on the invoice is truly $70 less for the couch than what it should have been. I was feeling that if Jen really wanted the couch and they honestly mischarged us, then I was willing to give them the difference, but Jen felt otherwise. Her position was that she signed a document with the prices and the items listed clearly, and she felt that document was binding. Not to mention, she actually liked some other furniture better, so if they weren’t willing to abide by the signed invoice, it should be considered void and we should get our deposit back. Mostly she was mad because one of the sales agents made it sound like they had already charged us the extra $70 without our authorization.

Ok, so I chose to defend my wife, and I called the store that week. I spoke to the sales agent and later the sales manager and said very simply that if they wanted to uphold the original sales agreement, we would too, but if they weren’t willing to do that, we wanted our money back. They had made the mistake, and so it was their problem to deal with their salesman about not ours. The sales manager wasn’t interested in working with us at all, so I asked to speak with her supervisor.

She told me the supervisor would call me back, and a few days later, we got a voice mail indicating that the supervisor had called back.

Now, I’m not interested in ripping them off. A few weeks ago, I was in Circuit City, and I bought a video game. It said $9.99 on the label, but when I gave it to the lady at the counter, it rang up for $1.99. Surprised, I made sure to double-check the price with the clerk before I left the store. Yesterday, I left a store and noticed that a clerk had mistakenly not charged me for something in my cart, so I went back in and had him ring it up. I’ve heard the story of Abraham Lincoln walking miles to return a penny. I value honesty. But I also know that stores that deal in high ticket items regularly negotiate prices, and if a fellow at the Guitar Center rings me up for $70 less than the list price of a product, I say thank you and don’t sweat it at all.

So today, I called Ashley again, and this time, they were willing to make a deal with me. They offered to give us a different couch (different color, style, etc.) for the same price as what was on the invoice so we wouldn’t have to pay the extra $70 or they would cancel the contract and charge us a 20% restocking fee.

I told the sales manager (the supervisor was unavailable again) that such a deal was unacceptable to us and we either wanted them to abide by the invoice, or return our deposit. She was resistant to either of those options, wouldn’t even acknowledge them as a possibility, and so I clearly said that I was disappointed with them and didn’t want to do business with them ever again. I told her that I didn’t think her store needed to have the negative publicity of a disgruntled customer giving them a bad name, and that I was willing to make use of whatever legal means I had to get my deposit back. I have disputed fraudulent charges on my credit card before, and I know how the system works.

She told me that she would no longer talk with me about it and would only talk with my wife since she was the one who made the purchase. So I had Jen call her back and she told her basically that she needed to pay attention to me, and the last phone call ended with her telling me she would have one of her supervisors call me back.

I have not heard from her supervisor yet, so I have filed a complaint with the Ashley Furniture headquarters in Wisconsin, and I have left a voice mail with the owner of the Lafayette store.

I can fully understand them not wanting to give us a piece of furniture for $70 less than their list price, but if there was a mistake like this, why won’t they give us our deposit back? $1442.66 is a lot of money to give to a store you can’t trust.

What would you do?


Update:

I just called Suzanne at the store and she said I only have two options. Either we pay the $70 extra and schedule a time for delivery, or we cancel the order and get our deposit refunded minus about $180 in restocking fees. She says the 20% restocking fee clause is clearly described on the back of the receipt we signed, but she still maintains that their store is not bound to uphold the front of the receipt we signed.

I’m so irritated by the whole mess that I wrote a letter to the editor of the Lafayette Journal and Courier.

Have you ever felt ripped off from a company you thought you could trust? Of course, we all have. In most cases, though, it’s just a simple mistake that is easily settled by a brief conversation with the manager or the sales agent responsible for the transaction.

I’ve been on both sides of the issue before, and I know how important it is for businesses to maintain good faith with their customers.

Recently, though, I’ve lost my faith in Ashley Furniture. Sometimes, it’s the simplest things that cause you to lose your trust in a company.

My wife bought some furniture from the local Ashley Furniture store here in Lafayette, and according to their practices put down a 50% deposit. The remainder would be due when the furniture was ready to be delivered.

It’s now two weeks later, and the furniture is ready to be delivered, but the store is claiming we owe them the 50% plus another $70 because the sales associate who wrote up the original invoice made a mistake on the pricing of one of the items.

Now this is really not that big of a deal, but we don’t have $70 extra dollars to throw around, and we don’t want to buy some of the pieces without getting the whole set, but the store managers won’t void out our order unless we pay them a 20% restocking fee which would amount to about $180.

The manager told me that the 20% restocking fee is clearly described on the back of the pink sheet my wife signed. My problem is that they want us to abide by the back of the signed invoice, but they don’t want to abide by the front of the invoice.

I understand that businesses have policies and products have prices, but when something goes wrong in the process of a transaction, shouldn’t there be some manager somewhere who understands when circumstances require special consideration?

So now, my options are to pay the restocking fee and end up with nothing, pay the extra $70 and get the furniture, or pay a smaller amount and get just the part of the order that was correctly represented on the invoice. Either way, I feel I’m getting ripped off by a company that should care about its customers. Why should we be forced to abide by the back of the signed agreement when the store won’t abide by the front of the same paper?

Give me some feedback here.

Am I completely out of line asking for them to honor the prices on the front of the receipt or void the whole transaction? Should I just pay the $70 and be done with it? Should I pay the $180 restocking fee and move on to a better company? As it stands right now, they are holding on to $721.33 of our money, and I feel I need to do something about it.

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We have a house!

Front Page Lafayette Prayer Requests

I’m just posting this as a quick note to all of you who care…

We have a new house!

This morning at 9:30, we signed the final paperwork to close on our new house. There still are some things the builder is doing to put the finishing touches on it, but we have started moving things over!

Please join us in prayer that God would make our new home a central point for fruitful ministry in Lafayette.

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How the world sees us and our Christianese…

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Do you ever wonder about the Christian language that has developed through the years? Do you ever think about how inappropriate it is to talk the way we do about certain things?

A number of years ago, I was in Denver at a homeless shelter playing some music and doing some teaching for the “church” service the men were supposed to attend before they could be fed. I recall singing a song that was brand new on the Modern Worship scene called “King of Love.” It was a really cool song, and it pulled some images out of Song of Songs that were fresh metaphors for the Christian experience.

The King of Love is my delight
His eyes are fire, his face is light
How can a sinner know such joy?
Because of Jesus.

I played my guitar and sang it with all my might, and then I got to the second verse:

My lover’s breath is sweetest wine.
I am his and he is mine.

And as I sang that, I realized that I was singing to a room full of men from the streets of Denver who just might possibly have mistaken that for some homosexual kind of comment if they had actually been paying attention.

While I was singing that song, my heart skipped a beat and I realized that some Christian language is just out of place.

Oh, and if you think that I’m just talking about Christianese like “justification,” “sanctification,” “propitiation,” and the like, you need to check out what this site has to say about “Love Offerings!”

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Is there “Recovery” for the homosexual?

Front Page Tough Questions VIP

In the living room of my in-laws’ home I watched an episode of Law and Order that I haven’t seen before, and it bothered me quite a bit.

The victim was a young man who had tried unsuccessfully to “recover” from homosexuality through the counseling and support of a religious group called Regenesis. One of the supporters of the organization was a local doctor who had been promoting research that homosexuality was a reversible condition.

Along the way, the show took a few cheap shots at moral conservatives. Here are the two things that offended me the most:

  1. They connected the concepts of “Regenesis” and homosexual “recovery” to the attitudes of the vicious anti-gay religious protesters such as the infamous “God Hates Fags” pastor Fred Phelps. In so doing, they were trying to say that whether your methods are “acceptable” or not, a negative perspective of homosexuality in any sense is “unacceptable.” It’s the basic TV belief that tolerance is paramount (of course, the exception to this rule is that we must be intolerant of the intolerant).
  2. They directly attacked the efforts (not the research or the results as much) of the homosexual recovery agencies. In fact, they basically said that it was stupid for anyone to think a homosexual could “change.” I think they presented the “Regenesis” group in a good light but then quickly tore them down as being just as unaccepting, bigoted, and irrational as the Fred Phelps types.

I’m offended by these things because I feel they are dealing with a religious / moral issue as if it were a rational one. They are downplaying the heart of love many Christians have for homosexuals if it is ever combined with a belief that homosexuality is, as the Bible claims, an unnatural behavior. They are basically saying that people have to be idiots, bigots, or something worse to think that homosexuals can change or even control themselves.

I for one, have a higher view of both God and people than that. Yes, I unashamedly believe that people can change. I am a sin-aholic. My body is addicted to so many sins that I can’t even get into it all here. But I am undoubtedly addicted to sin. However, an amazing thing is true for me. My love for God oftens outpaces my desire to sin. There have been times in my life when I have been strongly tempted to sin but have instead resisted and claimed the promise God gives me—resist the devil and he will flee from you!

My point is simply this: We are all sinners. Each of us struggles with different sins with different levels of consequences in this present world. So what if the jury is still out on the present-day consequences of homosexual behavior? The jury is still out on the present-day consequences of coveting too! But that’s why God didn’t tell us to decide these things based on a jury. He’s simply told us what he wants, and we need to find our place in his will as we are set free from sin by the power of the cross and bound to righteousness by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

I’d love to hear your comments on this one. Is there recovery for homosexual people? Do you know anyone? Have you experienced it yourself? Please write some thoughts and help me make this blog entry a helpful one for others too.

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How would you defend the authority of Scripture?

24 Theological Questions Front Page

Theological Question #2

One of the most foundationally important issues when it comes to any religious or theological belief system is the understanding of where the authority for one’s belief originates. Catholics look to the traditions and history of the church, but Protestants (and more specifically, Evangelicals) recognize the Bible as the sole authority for matters of faith. Here are a few key reasons I personally believe in the complete authority of Scripture over every other human or institution.

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Time in Crown Point went well

Front Page Lafayette Prayer Requests

Jen and I had a good time at Hillside Community Church in Crown Point this past weekend. They were having their missions conference this month, and I was the featured guest this weekend. Since their theme was “His passion, our purpose; his purpose, our passion,” I dealt with the question of what was the number one thing on the heart of Jesus himself.

It turns out that the number one thing on the heart of Jesus was submission to the will of his Father. So what does it mean to share the same passion as Jesus? What does it mean to be passionately submitted to the will of the Father, and why do we find it so hard? I’ll deal with that in a later post (I hope to get my sermon uploaded to my podcast soon.)

Anyway, the church is pretty healthy and is raising money to support their missions budget for this next year. Last year, they raised over $20,000, and this year they are hoping for $30,000!

Thank you for your prayers for us. It looks like we will soon be having a new church partner and perhaps some individual supporters as well!

Praise God!

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000-009 — His Passion Is Submission (video)

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SCRIPTURE: Various

The number one thing on the heart of Jesus is the will of his Father in Heaven. If we are to share his passion, then submission to the Father’s will is paramount.

  • Hi Res Video:
    MP4
  • Lower Quality Video:
    AVI

  • Subscribe to all sermons by dragging this link to your podcast software or RSS reader. All Sermons.

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