Defining Faith: Belief and Reliance on the Word of God

Faith only works when we believe and rely on the Word of God. Nothing more, nothing less! Pastor John Darnell continues the SUBSTANCE series by building a working definition of what true faith is and how it works.


Homeless to Famous: Thoughts on the greatest week of Ted William’s life, Part 2

Now, this isn’t a Jesus juke, but it seems to me the subtle, unspoken message from this whole event is “How did a guy with such talent end up on the streets?”.

My son, when he was just a toddler, used to love to push the recycling bin around the house.  And every so often, as I was taking the garbage to the curb, I’d look in the bin and notice my cell phone or some other random non-trash item.  It used to perplex me.

How did THIS end up in the garbage?  This has value.  This is useful.  It shouldn’t be tossed out like that.

And when you listen to Ted Williams speak, you can almost ask the same question.

How did HE end up in the garbage?  He has value.  He is useful.  He shouldn’t have been forgotten like that.

But that reveals a deep internal thought that we don’t really want to admit to.

We think everyone else deserves to be on the curb.

If Ted is the exception, than all of the other people with no home and nowhere to go simply become the rule.

I wonder how many other treasures we’d discover if we simply took to the time to not assume they belonged there.



Homeless to Famous: Thoughts on the greatest week of Ted William’s life, Part 1

My life has never been anywhere near as high or as low as Ted Williams.  I’ve had some pretty bad days, but never found myself in his shoes.  And, needless to say, I’ve never been the object of national attention.   But I had some thoughts about what is one of the more amazing turnarounds in a long time.

I think it is too easy to misplace the reason or cause for his sudden turnaround.  Some say that this is what makes America great.  A guy down on his luck can make it if he perseveres and doesn’t give up.  Or some say that it’s a testament to the power of the social web because without the viral nature of his story he wouldn’t have been afforded these opportunities.  Others have pointed to the videographer from the Columbus Dispatch or the paper itself for sharing the story.  All of those things are true.  But they are not the single cause for Williams’ turnaround.

Williams has continually given credit to God as the difference in his life.  The reason Ted Williams was able to have a week like this is because God loves the second chance… and the third chance… and the 839th chance.

Ted Williams didn’t get a lucky break.  He is the result of what God can do in a person’s life.  Doesn’t mean Ted will never do anything wrong.  Doesn’t mean Ted will always make great decisions.  It simply means that GRACE is greater than anything this world has to throw at a person.

“He’d be such a GREAT Christian”

I’ve heard it over and over as long as I’ve been in the church. 

“Man, could you imagine what would happen if <> became a Christian.  They have so much influence and don’t you know that the youths really listen to them.”

I’ve always hated that line of thinking.

One, because it’s an absolute lie.  We make the failed assumption that their influence is inherent within them.  But we know that’s not true.  Influence remains only as long as contemporary culture says they are relevant. And relevance is measured by the ability to cater to particular appetites.  Those are surrendered rather quickly once someone identifies publicly with Jesus.

It seems we’ve convinced ourselves that the reason that the world doesn’t love our videos, and movies, and music, and books is because of our production values.  If we could only be slicker, sharper, edgier, whatever they would give us their undivided attention. 

The truth is our culture only celebrates and gives attention to those things that feed their desires.  In a world carnally driven, the Spirit is not a hot commodity.

The other reason is because it’s a cop out.  The subtle undertone to this train of thought is that we are waiting for someone to show up and make a difference.  We need someone to take the reins and reach the world. 

We all to ready to wait for a white knight to ride to the rescue than we are to be the white knight ourselves. 

We’ve resigned ourselves to the thinking that programs, events, special services and meetings will make the difference in the world of those around us.

Imagine what could happen if we became great Christians…

Food Network, the Cooking Channel, and the progressive development of the Church

In 1993, with a straight forward title, the Food Network was launched.  An entire network dedicated to cooking shows and entertainment.  Makes sense.

And people enjoyed it.  And the chefs and cooks with their “BAM” and their butter and Southern drawl transformed into celebrity personalities.

And then came the competition shows featuring massive cakes, and Iron Chefs, and the whatnot.

But somewhere along the way, the Food Network became more about the personalities and the lifestyles of food than the food itself. It became decreasingly “how to” and increasingly spectator driven.

The Food Network even developed shows like “The Next Food Network Star” and “The Next Iron Chef” that were all about who would be appearing on their other shows on the network.

Somewhere along the path to critical mass and insulation, the network became about so much more than what it was when it started.  As it grew and expanded, the fringe programming became more and more central demanding more time and pushing the tried and true cooking format shows to the edges.

Last year, the network created a second network.  An entire network dedicated to cooking shows and entertainment.  The programming that the Food Network was originally created to provide no longer had a place in the line up.  But the Cooking Channel was created in its place to provide a home for all of those shows.

We’ve seen this happen before.  In 1981, it would’ve been hard to believe that you would ever need more than one cable channel dedicated to music.  I mean, the radio plays the same songs for free.  But inevitably, the popularity of the additional programming kept requiring more space from the music.  The answer – MTV2!

And we’ve seen the same happen within the walls of the church.

I’ve never met a pastor who wasn’t committed to sharing the truth of the Gospel and the love of God with people who need it most.   But, it happens.  In the course of the church growing, so many things become a regular part of the life of that church and they must be attended to.  The fellowships, and support groups, and events, and classes, and outreaches, and services.  The kids, the newly marrieds, the singles, the divorced, the seniors, the youth.

It’s not that there is anything wrong with any of those things.  Just the opposite.  There is great benefit in being able to minister specifically to a wide range of people.

We’re taught to want that very thing.  But we have to make sure we aren’t sacrificing our original design and purpose.

And we can’t be surprised when God suddenly decides that He wants a Cooking Channel to your Food Network.

Open Mind, Insert Thoughts

As this posts, my bride and I should be in the air on our way to Atlanta.

This will be our first time at Catalyst.  I am excited and looking forward to hearing from a variety of speakers from an even wider variety of backgrounds.  Some are familiar and some will be new.  I expect to be challenged in a number of ways.

I feel like it’s the chance to visit a “mental DisneyLand”.

The importance of being poured into cannot be overstated.  So, my question for you… who do you look to for inspiration, challenge, or insight?  Who, where, when do you have to invest towards a better version of yourself?

That can be the difference between innovation/freshness and stagnation/irrelevance.

The waters are stirring.  It’s time to jump on in.

Give Victory a Chance

An amazing thing happened this past weekend.  It helps if I set the stage a bit.

My family has never been accused of being particularly athletic.  The greatest accomplishment I ever experienced on the field of sport was with my high school marching band.

Now, people generally assume that a guy my size had to have played some kind of ball at some point in his life.  When asked what position I played in high school, the answer is always easy.  I played bass drum.

So, it was with a certain mix of trepidation, bemusement, and hope that I watched as my son began his first experience with organized football.  I am not one of those sport parents who imagines that their child is destined for a pro contract.  My interest is to present him with enough opportunities to discover what may or may not click with him.

All of that said, an amazing thing happened this past weekend.

His team won.  His team won and he played a big role in the success.  I saw the light in his head come on and saw him begin to understand the game and enjoy himself.

In watching him play, I was struck by a simple thought.

You can never know for sure that you don’t like something if you never experience a measure of success with it.  You owe it to yourself not to quit without first experiencing a taste of victory.

Sure, it’s easy enough to decide to stop when it’s hard and you don’t understand and it all seems pointless.  But only until you get to a place where you have pushed past the initial awkwardness and difficulty and experienced a little epiphany, you won’t be able to distinguish between your dissatisfaction with the activity/job/responsibility/role/etc and your apparent lack of success.

It may not be that you dislike what you are doing.  It may simply be that you have yet to see what it’s like when you are successful in it.

Give victory a chance.  Then decide if you want to quit or not.