Wednesday, August 31, 2005

WOW! The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few

There are 51 Million children under the age of 18 years old
80% of all children in the US do NOT have a relationship with Jesus Christ.
40 Million Do NOT know Jesus

Before I am 35 (10 years) the US will no longer be able to consider itself a Christian nation.

A persons moral foundations are generally in place by the age of 9

Most American Christians have accepted Christ by age 12

What person believes by age 13 is what they will die believing.

85% of Parents in the US believe it is their job to teach their kids about Spiritual Matters and Moral beliefs.

Only 11% said they believed it was the Churches job to teach children about spiritual matters.

In the Protestant churches across the US only 1 in 5 parents were given any instruction on how to Teach children about moral beliefs and Spiritual matters.

In most typical US Churches 4 of ever 10 people a church ministers to are children. Yet 7 our of every 8 dollars are spent on adults.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Why I wish church was like our NEW SUPER WAL-MART

Praise the Lord, Super Wal-Mart opened it’s doors in my town at 7:30am yesterday morning. People were rushing in and out of the coffee shop to see it. I found myself feeling anxious as I waited for Danielle to get off work, so we too could zip over and see the Materialistic Temple.

Super Wal-Marts (SW-M) are very hard to find in Wisconsin. Only one in the Greater Milwaukee area, unlike Indiana where we have migrated from. In college we would spend hours just wondering the aisles see all the pretty things we will own when we were out of school. And today, I bought speakers, and a sub-woofer…why? Because I like loud music. And as I sit here and reflect on my present location in my journey through life, Black Eyed Peas, “Where is the Love” is rumbling through my speakers.

So back to my title of my reflection…why I wish church was like the Materialistic Temple we call Super Wal-Mart?

I have a few reasons:

1. They remember the ONE THING: No matter what day you walk into SWM you will know what the main thing is…the price-the cost—the MONEY! That’s right, SWM open all across this red white and blue nation with the one goal in mind. Make money! Sure they ALWAYS (which they now own that word) want the lowest price for you and I. But the truth is, they want our hard earned money.

Church is a little different, and when I say church I am talking about your church, and my church, and that church on the corner where your grandma used to go, before the young preacher came in, and that church that sits in circles and guy with dreads sings with a guitar, while we try to figure out the tune. And I am talking about the church where everyone wears a suit on Sunday, and have like a billion kids in every family. Church has lost it’s ONE THING. I bought a book a year ago called “THE ONE THING” great book, as it explores Martha and Mary and sometimes we need to be a Martha in our work, but most times we need to be a MARY and just chill and rest at the feet of Christ.

I am reflecting on the church as a whole, so I am making big generalizations. Buti feel today, that the church has lost it’s one thing. We are so caught up in ministry we forget what the ONE thing is. We forget what every person that walks through our doors want and need.

The one thing: GRACE: Salvation Grace, Discipleship Grace, Evangelistic Grace, Servant Grace.

2. Wal-Mart figured it out…it takes more then one product to get your money. They know they could not have a SWM only selling clothes, or just food, or just oil changes. They have figured out that, to make the most money, they need to have products for everyone of our needs….and most of all WANTS

Wal-mart feeds to our nature to want things we don’t need. Maybe the church can learn something from this. Except turn it around. Feed to the need, not to the wants of the people. Yeah people want to be entertained, but seriously, where in the Good Book does it show eternity as entertaining. And if Children’s ministry is so important in today’s church life…why are we so bent on entertaining the children and not feed the family’s need for deep relationships, practical virtues, and honest communication?

The church needs to simplify, cut out the fluffy fat that’s been holding us back from truly running the race for the prize. As a preacher, I want to give people what they need, not what they wanted.

Do people like it? Not really, seriously, I am sounding like I like it. But I am the first who wants to be entertained, the first to be spoon fed the message every Sunday. But the truth is, people stopped following the message of Christ because it was to hard. It required so much, it required all of us.

Well, it’s 9:46am and I need to get back home to my beautiful bride, she is probably sleeping in…I love that about her. She knows how to enjoy the mornings. This is my day off…why am I here?

Any way, I will probably swing by the new 3rd largest in the country SUPER Wal-mart on the way home. It is right across the street from my 800 sq. ft. apartment. What a beautiful world. What a beautiful Mukwonago!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Times are ALWAYS changing...

Today I read an article over a new cup of coffee. I don’t know which one I enjoyed more, the Carmel Mocha Freeze or the article on the new in coming college freshmen. Now it was only 6 years ago that I was a college freshman at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Indiana. Some of you remember my freshman year…and I again apologize for all of that. I am definitely like a fine wine…am getting more enjoyable every year. But anyway on to more important things that me…this coffee freeze was amazing. As you know my wife is a professional barista…for a coffee drinker, that is like an alcoholic owning a bar…it is a beautiful relationship. Any way, I was enjoying this coffee when I found this article on 7B of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which by the way is a horrible paper. But it is all we have in these parts. So if I am going to read it, I read the good stuff with a good cup of joe.

This article was really interesting. I guess every year the Beloit College publishes the Beloit College Mindset List, an annual compilation that offers a glimpse of the worldview of each incoming class. And it came out today!! Yeah!! And the paper thought it would publish a few of it’s findings. I have listed them here for you to enjoy with me…but wait….get that coffee I had…it is so good…

The Culture of the College Freshman

1. Born in 1987
2. America’s Funniest Home Videos’ has always been on the air
3. A man named George Bush has been the president for more then half their lives.
4. They grew up with pay-per-view, voice mail on their phones, dirty dancing at school dances, and the United States as the only superpower.
5. The class of 2009 has never known Andy Warhol
6. They have never seen Jimmy Swaggart preach on TV
7. They have never seen a show of Arsenio Hall.
8. They all grew up with home computers
9. They have never known life with out a digital camera
10. Souped-up car stereos is not new to them.
11. Television has always blurred the lines between news and entertainment
12. This freshman class has no concept of the 6 o’clock news
13. Most freshman guys do not know how to tie a tie, let a lone own one
14. My favorite: They have always had “Starbucks”

I found this article intresting, and felt led to add some of my own. Since I do work with youth at many diffrernt level I thought I would add what I have picked up:

The Culture of a High School Student…

1. They have never known life with out a Wal-Mart in their town
2. They have never had basic Nintendo as their only game system
3. MTV has never played Music video’s
4. They have always had 3D video games
5. Sad but true…Dumb and Dumber (the original and only funny one) is too old to quote. They don’t get it…it is so so so sad. Does anyone want to hear the most annoying sound….blank stares….that is all you get…blank stares…so sad.
6. They have no conception of a military draft
7. They want to be around people who are different
8. They respect adults more than previous generations
9. Rebellion comes in different forms then just smoking, drinking, or sex, Rebellion is done publicly and openly
10. Homosexuality, has always been accepted
11. The church has always been for their parents
12. Coffee drinking is cool
13. They don’t know life with out email, or cell phones
14. AOL has always been around
15. AOL Instant Messenger is a primary way of communication
16. Text messaging is growing fast then a 30 year old trying to text “fast” on his or her phone.
17. Returning bottles is a foreign concept (except in Michigan where I am from)
18. Having a paper rout is so Andy Griffith…wait….they don’t know him either.
19. DVD players are old hates
20. They have always known school with shootings and open drugs.

WOW, as a person who invests His life into youth, I really have to be on the watch more then I am today, or the changing culture that is around me. If you have any more…please email me and let me know.

I got worms……….blank stares….blank stares….so so sad…

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Thoughts from my reading over vacation

Ok, so I am now in Indianapolis, Indiana, visit my father and mother in-law. It was is always good to see them, relax by their beautiful big pool and just refresh. I have really enjoyed our vacation these past couple of days. We have been from Milwaukee, to Detroit, down to Dayton, Ohio, and now in Indy. On the way I have been reading a book called “We Believe” by a bunch of different authors including one of my favorites Thomas Oden, and J.I.Packer. I find these guys simply deep…I say simply deep because they take you deep with simple terms and thoughts. I hope someday to be able to do that with my writing. But today, I am bloggijng on what I have learned from my vacation.

First I have learned, I have a lot of holes. In fact if you were to fill me with water, I would leak. I have been reading some J.I. Packer and he was writing about how messed up our lives really are with out Christ. He concludes that people are “perverted”. What a crazy way to put it! But think about it, we are really messed up. Turn on the television at 5:00pm, the radio; open up the Journal Sentinel (Milwaukee's horrible so called newspaper) and you will find a group of perverted living creatures. Why do we act the way we do? How can we stop the violence, bring peace in the middle-east, stop the big corporate scandals, hold back the gas prices, and convince people not to shoot other people? Why is sex the main focus of everything on TV? Why does there have to be more then chicken wings at Hooters? Why are we this way?

Sin is a subject many preachers today fail to tackle? I don't know if it is because it is to big to totally label? Or we are afraid to step on toes. Maybe sin is to big for one preacher to talk about, to much in us to point out in others. Maybe we are not supposed to point anything? But what about sin. Is it talked about in your life? Do you deal with it? Suffer from it? Is it a desire or disease in your life?

James, (the book not my brother) talks a lot about sin. I have been studying this book on Sunday mornings with some friends. We gather for breakfast and dig deep in this book, trying to find and discovers what God has for us through this letter written by James thousands of years ago. James writes that our desires married with evil gives birth to sin. First time, I read that it didn't really catch, it's one of those Bible things that jump out on you in every day life. My desires are not sinful, but desire to serve my wife and love her with all I am is not sinful. But turning those desires onto myself, or another women, other then my wife would be a sin. See how sin works? It takes the good of this world, things like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, self-control….the things we are naturally drawn to, the things we all long to have in our lives, and Sin or better said, the evil one, perverts those things, making them destructive, like a cancer to our lives. Sin takes for example; love and perverts it to lust, or joy and turning it to anger, and bitterness. These things eat at our lives, our nature, and unfortunately, it has been in our lives since the womb.

We are full of this cancer when we are born, passed from one generation to the next. No one ever has to teach a kid how to lie, or cheat, or be selfish. No one had to teach me how to be perverted in how I live. It is in my nature. Like it's in the nature of a lion to kill and eat, it's in my nature to sin.

So how do we change this course we are on? Can we? I mean can you and I change the life in which we are living? Like a broken car needing a total overhaul of the engine. Can my life be changed by me? Can the car fix itself? Can the computer rid itself of a virus? OR does it take an outside force? Does it take something greater then the car to fix the car?

I know the cure for the world. I really do. I have experienced it, and right now in this Starbucks where I write this, I am experiencing it. Not for the first time, or the last, but for all time. How about this…if I had the cure for aids, which kills hundreds of thousands a month. Kids in other countries are dieing horrible deaths because of this disease. If I had the cure, and you had the disease…would you want it? What would you do for it? Would you kill for it? Would you steal for it?

Remember James? Not from brother but the book in the Bible that I mentioned before. Yeah, that guy, well He died. In fact he died for the cure. He died sharing the cure with others. He was killed for preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The cure my friends for this disease of sin is Jesus Christ. In fact Christ died so that you could be saved. Christ paid the price for the cure; He wanted you so bad to be delivered from the bondage of the disease that He died on the cross so that you and I could be free from the bondage of Sin.

But if you know me, and you do, or you wouldn't be reading this, you would know that John Freed is full of sin. He is not right. But friend, God is still working on me. Just like a car needing a complete overhaul of the engine, John Freed needs a complete overhaul of his heart. Sin has perverted his heart, soul, mind, and strength. But Christ says, love me with all you, and I will give you all ME. Walk with Me and I will walk with you. He says in John 15, “I am the vine you are the branches, if you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit, apart from me you can do nothing”. I really believe that John Freed apart from Christ can do nothing. Nothing, that isn't perverted or distorted.

Holiness, is the process in which Christ moves in your life making you pure, and perfect. So it isn't you who fixes you…it is Christ, and Christ's Spirit releasing your spirit to be all He has created you to be.

So I have a few questions for those of you who finished this thought…
1. Do you have sin in your life?
2. Do you realize how it is destroying you?
3. Are you trying to fix it on your own?
4. Have your surrendered all of you to Christ?
5. Have you searched Christ out for a new life?

It was a good vacation so far, Friday we head home and it is back to work on Saturday.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

If you wondered what I looked like since College

Many of you have called or emailed and wondered what i look like since college. Brooks Sayer had a bet with his wife on the subject of my beard and whether or not i would still have it or not, so here is a picture of me in case you wondered how i turned out!

my Beautiful Awesome Wife

This past tuesday was my 2 year Anniversary to my beautiful Danielle.

She is awesome!!!

My vacation

My vacation is going great this year. Danielle and I are traveling to Detroit to visit my parents in their new home and church. It was great seeing how God had moved and provided in their lives and to see how many people they will have the chance to share Christ with. A year ago, we were praying that God would provide a ministry for my father (Bud Freed). A few years ago he came out of a really hard season of ministry. Ministry had become more of a job, than serving the Lord, and he understood he needed to get his feet under him and draw closer to the Lord. So, for three years he has worked as the Chaplin for a hospital in Coldwater, Michigan and in the shipping and recieveing area of that hospital. But today, he is the senior Pastor of a church in a beautiful lake town just outside Detroit. They are loving this season of ministry and enjoy being able to be used by God in a fresh new way.

So we are over here for a few days visiting them, then on Friday and Saturday we are heading to Ottowa Lake near Toledo (exit 5 on Hwy23) where Justin and Lindsay will tie the knot..........................spring forward to the future.........................that wedding was beautiful!! Justin and Lindsay make an awesome dynamic couple. Justin has always been a huge smile in my life. He is one of those guys you love to be friends with because he makes you a better person. Justin has always taught me how to be open, real, and authentic with others in my spiritual life. Lindsay is a beautiful lady, who is passionte about her faith. I was thinking yesterday, when her father was walking her down the isle...boy i hope my daughter, someday, turns out in love with Jesus like she is!

We are back in Detroit, and we are planning on leaving tomorrow for Dayton, OH. where I will show Danielle where i grew up and went to high school. It will be fun seeing old old old friends, and reconnecting with them.

Then after Dayton, (we have no schedule of time) we will head to Anderson, IN. where her parents live. We are looking forward to this..because they have a pool, so we plan on just sitting around doing nothing.

While i am on my vactaion i am reading a few books. I hope to have them done when i return home. One is "Chirst Plays in 10,000 Places" by Eugene Peterson. Which is a great book on Spiritual Theology. It is a tough book!! But i am enjoying it. Also i am reading "We Believe" which is a basic Christianity book by many old time authors. And then finally i am reading, another book my Eugene that i can not recall the title....but i proimse you it is good. If you would like to borrow them, drop me a email.

If you were wondering, i do miss our students. It is like we have left our kids with grandma and grandpa. I think about them daily, and just earlier I was showing someone our website...i really love those guys and gals.

well, i better get going. Danielle is napping on the couch, and i am chillin on the porch. I will try to check back later...but you know how I am at blogging.