Survey: 72% of Millennials ‘more spiritual than religious’

The USA Today article, “Survey: 72% of Millennials ‘more spiritual than religious’” caught my eye today. From the survey of US residents:

Among the 65% who call themselves Christian, “many are either mushy Christians or Christians in name only,” Rainer says. “Most are just indifferent. The more precisely you try to measure their Christianity, the fewer you find committed to the faith.”

Key findings in the phone survey, conducted in August and released today:

  1. 65% rarely or never pray with others, and 38% almost never pray by themselves either.
  2. 65% rarely or never attend worship services.
  3. 67% don’t read the Bible or sacred texts.
  4. Many are unsure Jesus is the only path to heaven: Half say yes, half no.

“We have dumbed down what it means to be part of the church so much that it means almost nothing, even to people who already say they are part of the church,” Rainer says.

Some days I definitely could be called a “mushy Christian” because I don’t open up my Bible. We live in the most distractible culture in history. We must be intentional to immerse our minds in God’s Word each day. I need regular reminders of this, and to do a better job making Bible reading a regular habit each day. All too often I find myself reading a LOT of content online, but not making the time to read God’s Word first. I need to resolve to check in with God regularly each day, and NOT make that something I “just” do on Sundays or Wednesday nights.

some food
Creative Commons License photo credit: Rushay

These are alarming statistics, and provide me with greater incentive to continue teaching youth Sunday school. We need to not only help our children and families understand and follow God’s Word, but also share it regularly with others who come to a church on Sundays and those who don’t. It all begins with our personal walk with God, however. If I’m not walking with and talking with the Lord each day, it’s not possible for me to authentically share him and invite others to know him.

Walking the walk as we talk the talk. It’s a daily challenge. Please pray for me and our family as we struggle to continue following God and seeking HIS will in our wide world of choices.

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Frank Martin and the Power of Prayer

Lots of people in my hometown of Manhattan, Kansas, are elated the KSU Wildcats are in the sweet 16. What most of them may not know, at least not yet, is the compelling backstory of coach Frank Martin’s battle back from death and the power of prayer. See Bill Reiter’s article in the Kansas City Star, “A real Manhattan miracle: Frank Martin recalls his brush with death” to read “the rest of the story.”

Hat tip for my mom for sharing this link.

Discussing Matthew 7:21-23

These were our discussion questions about Matthew 7:21-23 this morning in my men’s group. “What Does It Take to Enter the Kingdom of Heaven?”

1) Jesus envisions conversations that will take place “on that day.” What is the day about which Jesus is speaking?

2) What role does Jesus envision for himself “on that day?” How does that affect your view of and relationship with him?

3) What sums up “the will of my Father in heaven” which one must do in order to enter heaven? How do you make sense of the messages that we are saved by the work of Christ on our behalf and that we are saved by doing the will of the Father in heaven? Are these not contradictory statements?

4) To prophesy, cast out demons, and do many mighty works in Jesus’ name seems like a strong, spiritual pedigree. Why would Jesus reject anyone who has done these kinds of works in his name?

5) What then do you think Jesus means by his response to such people, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of iniquity…”?

6) What do you anticipate you will say “on that day” when you stand before Jesus?

REMIX of the Bible Book Bop by Go Fish

Last month our 5th graders shot video and photos to create a “remix video” of the song “Bible Book Bop” by the group Go Fish. We have posted this video as a YouTube response to the “official” music video version of this song, so Go Fish can officially approve if we can have permission to share this on the public Internet. This song is their “intellectual property,” so we need to get their permission. This was really fun to make, and hopefully will:

  1. Help us all remember the books of the Bible better
  2. Inspire us to think about the power of communicating with media, and our own abilities to use media (including video) to share the Gospel of Jesus
  3. Help us learn more about HOW to create with media and safely / legally share it online with others

Make sure you check out the original / official version of this “Bible Book Bop” video by Go Fish, and also visit their website at Go Fish rocks, and so do our students! 🙂

These are our song and image credits, which we included at the end of the updated video:

Video Credits

This original song is by The Go Fish! guys. Visit their website at Images used as the background for our green screen sequences were shared under Creative Commons licenses:

This video was shot using still images from an iPhone GS and video from a Sony GSC-Websharing flash camcorder, and edited with iMovie ’09.

Cross-posted to our 5th grade BlastCAST blog.

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Humanity and Sin

These are my notes from Mateen Elass’ lesson on “Humanity and Sin” on January 27, 2010, at First Presbyterian Church in Edmond, Oklahoma. He is using a curriculum from:

This is the course “Humanity and Sin.”

Tonight we are going to talk about how and when the human soul is created, and when it enters the body, and other questions….


Psalm 8

when was the soul created?
What part, if any, do our parents play in the creation of the soul?
Is the soul “inserted” into our body? If so, when? At conception?

3 main theories about the soul’s creation
1- pre-existence theory
2- creation theory
3- traducing theory

pre-existence theory
– souls / spirits are eternal and pre-exist the creation of their bodies
– sin nature can be attributed to the former state of existence in which the person sinned

this view is not Biblically supported, but is a common outcome of Gnostic Dualism

John 9: People ask about a blind man, who sinned in his family past
– it was a common Jewish view that souls before birth could do things (sins) that would result in judgement, manifested as a disease

Romans 9: 11 (around there) Paul is talking about Jacob and Essau, God chose Jacob over his brother before they came out of the womb
– God’s choice is not a matter of human choice or decision, it

There is no Biblical evidence that the human soul pre-dates conception

Adherents to pre-existence theory include Origen, Delitzsch
– 3rd Century Church Father (gnostics)

this view holds that souls pre-exist in space before they inhabit bodies

even though this view isn’t Biblically based, it DOES undergird Morman theology

Gnostics view the body as the repository of evil

Creation Theory is #2
– teaches God himself creates each person’s soul individually
– then God places the soul in the body

Adherents: Grudem, Hodge, Berkhof, Calvin, and Roman Catholics

Genesis 2: God fashions Adam’s body out of the earth, and breathes life into him
– that looks like the insertion of a soul / life giving force

Traducian Theory
– comes from Latin “tradux” meaning “inheritance, transmission”
– teachers the soul is created in and with the body by the parents
– God is the ultimate creator, but uses people intermediately or as secondary causes
– at conception a soul AND a body is formed
– so in this view an abortion would need an extra-ordinary justification, because it definitively says at conception the body and the soul is created

Adherents: Tertullian, Luther, and Jonathan Edwards

Louis Smeed argues the Bible always puts its message down on the side of life
– you always need an overriding reason to take a life
– it is always better to err on the side of life

Others say life enters the baby at “the time of quickening” when the mother can feel the baby moving inside her body
– some used to argue you didn’t have life until birth, this may have been the Jewish tradition

Hebrew concept of foreknowledge means that God decided to enter into a relationship of love with us before we were born

Jonathan Edwards is one of Mateen’s personal theological heros

In Mormon theology, there are lots of pre-existing “spirit babies” as well as “spirit adults” who have ascended
– Jesus and Lucifer, in Mormon theology, are spirit brothers at the same meta-physical level
– they believe historically Lucifer had a plan that was rejected by God they call father, and Jesus’ plan was accepted

Gostic Dualism dovetails well with “creation of the soul” theory
– it makes a separation between the body and soul
– the union of the soul / spirit and body with body is viewed as a temporary, necessary evil

Zechariah 12:1
“The revelation of the word of the LORD concerning Israel, The LORD– He who stretches out the the….

Hebrews 12:9 “…the Father of spirits…”


If God’s creation is good, how could the soul end up already tainted at the point of birth?
– reformed theologians argue our nature from birth is always away from God

Traducian theory better explains the inheritance of original sin and corruption as being handed down, in both body and soul, by Adam

In Roman Catholicism, infant baptism is the sacrament which is seen to deal with the problem of original sin
– this is why Catholic parents with a baby who is dying will ask for a priest to baptize the baby as well as perform last rites, the baptism is seen to clean the baby from sin s/he may have committed in their short life, while the last rites clean the baby so s/he will inherit the kingdom of God after death


Question: If God creates each soul directly, and each person is born sinful in both body and soul, then how did the soul become sinful? Did God create a sinful soul and then unit it to he sin corrupted body? This would make God the author of sin — not man.

Jonathan Edwards wrote a sermon about sovereignty of God, the conditions of life are not ultimately what destines a person to a particular fate
– look at Romans 9:18
– that sounds a lot like double pre-destination
– in the end it is a mystery, but God remains sovereign about the decision of who ends up in heaven and who does not

Biblical evidence, in terms of human beings charting our own course, sides with a view that humans are not born with a neutral nature with respect to God, but rather with a nature which turns away from God

total depravity means every part of human life is tainted by sin

in reformed theology, “free will” is defined as pursuing what you most want to do in life
– the nature of humans is to turn away from God
– we have all the freedom in the world to follow that master
– it is Christ who gives us the possibility of a new freedom, to no longer obey that old master (the flesh) and instead offer ourselves up to a new master (God)

we are slaves to sin until Christ sets us free
– until that day we think we are free, but our nature is cast or set in a direction that is opposite to God

There is field of thought which holds:
If you change someone’s behavior over time, you will change their way of thinking
– based in the idea of cognitive dissonance

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Angel Breakfast at The City Rescue Mission

This morning kids, family members, and other volunteers from our church in Edmond, Oklahoma, went to the City Rescue Mission in Oklahoma City for the Angel Breakfast. City Rescue Mission is a fantastic, ecumenical outreach ministry in downtown Oklahoma City. There were several elements to this event, which was designed for families staying at City Rescue. Some people went down early and cooked breakfast, and families from City Rescue and our church ate together at 9 am. After the breakfast, elementary and preschool students from our kids ministries program shared a 25 minute Christmas program in the City Rescue auditorium called, “The Fumbly, Bumbly Angels.” I recorded this program with my iPhone using the free Ustream for iPhone Recorder, and uploaded it to a new Ustream channel I created for “Eyes Right” when we got home. I could have uploaded this from on-site over 3G, but I knew the upload would be MUCH faster over our home wifi / cable modem connection.

Ready for the Fumbly, Bumbly Angels Performance

The Ustream iPhone recorder limits each recording to 10 minutes, so my recording of the program is in three parts. Because these video recordings show some of the members of the audience (currently staying at City Rescue) and we were only permitted to take photos/video during the event for personal purposes, I (unfortunately) am not able to publicly share these videos. I am sharing these videos on a password-protected Mobile-Me website with my parents and in-laws, so they can see the program. Ustream allows channel owners to download FLV versions of their videos, so after downloading these videos I converted them to QuickTime using the free program TubeTV.

TubeTV Progress - Converting Ustream videos

The most meaningful part of the morning for me was eating breakfast with a man and his son, who are staying at City Rescue. There are not many single dads there. He spoke Spanish, and I learned his son is 6 (as is my youngest daughter, who also ate with us) and he is from San Luis Potosi originally. We spoke all in Spanish. He said there are not many staff members at City Rescue currently who speak Spanish. His son was very excited to learn the kids were about to do a program, and immediately wanted to participate! I had my son speak with my wife, who was helping organize the children’s program, and she was able to get him part of a sheep costume so he could participate in the program!

I think this was a great ministry and outreach activity. There are so many things for which we should be thankful this holiday season, and it is so important to find ways to help others. I hope our Angel Breakfast this morning brought some joy to the families at City Rescue Mission.

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Why did God create me? (Lesson intro and class podcast)

Cross-posted to the BLASTcast blog.

This morning in our 5th grade Sunday school class we started a new unit with the theme, “Why did God Create Me?” We read and discussed the following verses:

Ephesians 2:10
Psalm 139: 1-12
Romans 5:8-11

We recorded a five minute podcast in class (unfortunately no longer available online due to server changes), sharing these verses and some of our own ideas about what they mean in the context of God’s purposes for our lives. It is important to think about these ideas as we celebrate Thanksgiving here in the United States this week, and as we move into the month of December to celebrate Christmas.

We started off our lesson today talking about the following advertisement I saw at Pier 1 this weekend, and what the advertisers might be saying “our purpose” is in the world.

Sleigh Bells Ring, Are You Gifting?

God HAS made us to share our gifts with each other, but he has made us for so much more than to just buy things! He has made us to love him, to worship, and to be his hands and feet on earth. We are called to do his good works each day of our lives.

In December, we’ll be discussing questions like:

How Come I’m Not Perfect?
Why Didn’t God Make Us Like Robots?
What Does God Want from Me?

Next week (Sunday, November 29th) we will meet in Creation Station to make advent wreaths along with other elementary students. In December we’ll be back in our “normal” classroom for Sunday school.

If you have comments and feedback for our 5th graders on their podcast or on any of the ideas we’ve shared here, please leave a comment here on this post! Thanks for visiting our blog and listening to our podcast. We’d love to hear from you, and will share comments / feedback we receive here during class.

Here are some additional photos from our brainstorming, discussions, and prayer time today.

Key verses for today

Prayer concerns today

A Story of Faith from a World Class Rodeo Clown: Larry Minchey

The digital story “Minchey” by Shelly Gwyn Moffatt, created this week at our Celebrate Oklahoma Voices professional development workshop in Hugo, Oklahoma, tells the life story of rodeo clown Larry Minchey in his own words as he eventually came to know Christ as his personal savior and became a cowboy preacher.

Find more videos like this on Celebrate Oklahoma Voices!

This video was not solicited by our workshop organizers to be a “Story of Faith” but is the story Shelly chose to chase and share during our workshop. This coming school year, I hope to formally launch the “Stories of Faith” project on its own website. This is a great example of Christian Digital Storytelling, which has been on my heart to promote for several years.

Great work Shelly– and many thanks to Larry for sharing his testimony. His ongoing ministry to reach out to “the lost” is inspiring.

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