Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Stock Phrase 3

Ask some people a question and they'll give you a unique stock answer. For instance, when people call the radio show of financial guru Dave Ramsey and ask him, "How are you?" he always replies, "Better than I deserve."

I have my own unique stock reply. When people ask me, "What do you know?" my stock answer is, "God still loves me."

Even casual conversations can be opportunities to bear witness to the Gospel.

Stock Phrases 2

Being one of two pastors here in small town Little River, there's some casual conversation that only the preacher gets, like this remark: "Keeping everyone straightened out?"

I once thought this was a compliment. You know, the preacher is recognized as the moral compass of the community. But now, I think it smacks of legalism. The goal of life isn't moral living, it's grace filled living that results in moral living.

So now, instead of reinforcing the idea that my job is to get people to "be good" and follow the rules, I want to underscore the point that my calling as a pastor is point people not to rules, but a person.

So here's I'm going to reply: "Nope, just pointing them to Jesus."

Monday, September 29, 2008

Stock Phrases 1

Casual conversation is a part of everyone's life. And like you, I hear lots of "stock phrases." Instead of listening to these redundant phrases and going, "Uh huh," I've decided that I need to start responding more deeply. If we, as God's representatives, don't say anything of substance, who will?

For instance, yesterday I asked someone, "What's going on?" and he replied, "Nothing. Just trying to stay out of trouble." In his own strength, history shows that this friend doesn't stand a chance of staying out of future trouble. Our town's lone policeman knows this guy pretty well. So I said something I've never said before, "Well, to make that happen, you'll need to start following Jesus."

It may sound like a campy response, but I can't keep hiding my only source of hope.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

My Past Life

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Here I am in front of the store I once managed back in the late 1980's, School Kids Records in Athens, Ohio. More hair back then, but I probably dress a little better today.

Those were the days.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008

Baring It All At Church

Over the summer I filled the pulpit at a small rural church that averages 20 each Sunday.

During the time of sharing joys and concerns, an older woman stood up, pointed at her husband, and said this:
"Tomorrow is our 52nd wedding anniversary. And I'm proud to say that this is the only man who has ever seen me naked."
I can't say I've ever heard that kind of testimony before in church!

Afterward, during the coffee hour, I visited with the lady and offered my congratulations-- that is, on their wedding anniversary. And she replied, "I probably shouldn't have said that, but, I said what I said."

I'm glad she didn't stand up later in the service and say, "I'm sorry, but I need to clarify what I said earlier. Another man has seen my naked... my doctor."

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Part 5: Closer Look at the UCC's God Is Still Speaking Ads

The United Church of Christ is putting itself on television again and thereby launching a new phase of its "God Is Still Speaking" (GISS) advertising campaign. What is the theology behind the campaign and its three commercials, "Steeple," "Bouncer," and "Ejector"? That's the subject of this 5-part series. These observations are taken from a paper I presented at the 2006 National Gathering of Faithful & Welcoming Churches and again at a 2007 regional meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society.

Today's post summarizes the critique of the UCC's "God is still speaking" campaign.

"Never place a period where God has placed a comma" is not only a foundational quote to the God is Still Speaking (GISS) campaign—it was a guiding force for this lengthy series of posts! It explored in depth the theological method to three basic questions that the “God Is Still Speaking” campaign raises: What is God saying? How is God saying it? And how are people hearing and responding to God’s message?

The following "comma-tary" is offered in summary about the Stillspeaking Initiative and its slogan, "God is still speaking:"
  • It is a good summary of the UCC’s history, yet it cannot prima facie validate that history as correct, nor guarantee future faithfulness on the part of the denomination.
  • It warrants the UCC's interest in God’s revelation today—in contrast to the pattern of all "new" revelation being evaluated in the sieve of sola scriptura.
  • It warrants the UCC's belief in an all-embracing, inclusive God—in contrast to the biblical witness of a God who transforms one's moral character by redeeming sinful humanity through Jesus Christ. Everyone is welcome, but not everyone will enter God's kingdom.
  • It warrants the UCC's "extravagant welcome" in all aspects of the church’s life—in contrast to the biblical preference for distinctions and holiness guidelines.
The lasting challenge of the "God is Stillspeaking" campaign is its call to think more deeply about what it means to be the Church and how its boundaries should be defined.

So instead of ending this series with a period, it will end with a comma--leaving you with a memorable metaphor from Caroline A. Westerhoff's excellent book, Good Fences that challenges us all to contemplate what it means to be a church of "extravagant welcome:"
Like a cell membrane, a boundary must be semi-permeable: admitting and containing what is necessary for sustaining and enriching life, discharging and excluding anything that does not belong within its borders. A membrane that allows anything and everything to enter and leave is a membrane that is no longer functioning. The cell—the system—is now dead or dying. A healthy boundary is firm enough to hold, but not so tight that it binds, confines, and cuts. It is flexible enough to allow movement and change within time and circumstances, but not so loose that it encourages sloppiness and aimless wondering. A boundary that is too rigid fosters still and brittle attitudes; it is always in danger of freezing and cracking. One that is too porous encourages attitudes of carelessness and disorder; it will rot and crumble.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Part 4: Closer Look at the UCC's God Is Still Speaking Ads

The United Church of Christ is putting itself on television again and thereby launching a new phase of its "God Is Still Speaking" (GISS) advertising campaign. What is the theology behind the campaign and its three commercials, "Steeple," "Bouncer," and "Ejector"? That's the subject of this 5-part series. These observations are taken from a paper I presented at the 2006 National Gathering of Faithful & Welcoming Churches and again at a 2007 regional meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society.

The phrase, "God is still speaking" warrants the UCC's extravagant welcome in the local church, but in doing so, it distorts the purpose for including people in the local assembly.

Dr. Walter Brueggmann, in an ad reflection for the "Ejector" commercial, explains how the inclusive nature of God should be applied in the local church: "There is no doubt…that the deepest impulse of the Bible is toward inclusion, that all of God’s creatures be accorded dignity, respect, safety, and a sense of belonging." Meditating on Isaiah 56, Acts 10, and especially Ephesians 4, Brueggmann argues that out of God’s inclusive nature, "We [the church] are offered…a new characterization of holiness that is not related to race, ethnicity, or any other category of uncleanness, but rather to participation in a community of grace, tenderness, forgiveness, and generosity."

One wonders what Brueggmann makes of Paul’s charge to the Ephesians that "among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person--such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God" (Ephesians 5:3-5). Or, Paul’s charge to the Corinthians where "you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat" (1 Corinthians 5:11).

Just as diamonds look best on a black background, we contend that holiness commands are necessary in order to precisely characterize the local church's community of faith, one that is marked by (in Brueggmann’s words) grace, tenderness, forgiveness, and generosity. In short, we declare that righteous distinctions in the church matter. This point—Robert Gagnon argues—is exemplified in the ministry of Jesus:
For liberals who think that an aggressive outreach to those on the margins of society entails acceptance with transformation and diminishment of the church’s moral standards, Jesus’ ministry provides incontrovertible proof that the church can practice radical love without sacrificing “one iota or one letter stroke” from God’s demands for righteous conduct. For conservatives who think that upholding holiness means complete separation from and contempt for the wicked of the world, Jesus’ ministry demonstrates that righteousness can be wed with love. When either love or righteousness is sacrificed, the church proclaims a truncated gospel.
--Robert Gagnon, The Bible and Homosexuality, p. 213.
Holiness is an essential component of the local church, for it reflects the character of God. "Anything goes" simply doesn't go for those who call Jesus Savior and Lord.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Wright Accused of Adultery

Years ago I was part of a large church in a major metropolis where the senior pastor was accused of adultery. It was a gut wrenching experience. For weeks, the leading newspaper had a hey-dey with the story. The congregation was devastated as hundreds left. And worst of all, the charges were found to be true.

So when news broke that controversial Rev. Jeremiah Wright-- one of the UCC's best known preachers, emeritus pastor of the UCC's largest church, and the former minister of Barack Obama-- is being accused of adultery, the reaction here is one of sadness.

According to the New York Post:
Elizabeth Payne, 37, said she had a steamy sexual affair with the controversial, racially divisive man of the cloth while she was an executive assistant at a church headed by a popular Wright protégé.

When word of the unholy alliance got out, Payne's husband dumped her, and she was canned from the plum job at Friendship-West Baptist Church, she told The Post.

"I was involved with Rev. Wright, and that's why I lost my job and why my husband divorced me," Payne said.

She refused to reveal when the adulterous affair started or how she met Wright.

But fellow churchgoers at Friendship-West "found out about the affair in the spring," Payne said.

At the time, she was secretary to the Rev. Frederick Haynes III, a longtime Wright disciple.

In April, Payne organized a series of Texas public appearances by Wright, 67. Weeks before, Obama had disavowed his preacher of 20 years after Wright's anti-government rants came to light.

"Liz was by Rev. Wright's side day and night during those days," a church source said.

"It's all true," said Payne, adding that she has filed a wrongful-dismissal claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to get her job back.
The charges are being taken seriously. Wright this week was speaking at a revival in New Jersey, but the host pastor canceled any further appearances:
More than 300 people had packed the church when Elmwood Presbyterian senior pastor Robert N. Burkins Sr. made the stunning announcement about 7:40 p.m.

"There has been an allegation of impropriety that has surfaced," Burkins explained from the pulpit as all eyes focused on him.

The accusation involves "inappropriate relations with a female in Texas," Burkins said. "These charges are serious and present a profound dilemma. These are unsubstantiated charges that require us to be sensitive. We ask that you all refrain from judgment."
The "stink test" boils down to whether the incident likely happened and if it demonstrates a fundamental breach of trust that is placed with clergy. Thus far, the layers behind the accusation-- an accusing woman, a divorce, a lost job, secondary eyewitnesses, and a trail of e-mail messages-- don't look good for Wright.

Wright should do himself a favor-- get out of the public eye, surround himself with peers who will hold him accountable, and do the hard work of repentance.

Part 3: Closer Look at the UCC's God Is Still Speaking Ads

The United Church of Christ is putting itself on television again and thereby launching a new phase of its "God Is Still Speaking" (GISS) advertising campaign. What is the theology behind the campaign and its three commercials, "Steeple," "Bouncer," and "Ejector"? That's the subject of this 5-part series. These observations are taken from a paper I presented at the 2006 National Gathering of Faithful & Welcoming Churches and again at a 2007 regional meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society.

The slogan, "God is still speaking," is the result of the UCC's belief in an all-embracing, inclusive God. But this portrayal of God is overstated and distorted.

In a PowerPoint presentation for Still Speaking trainers, that once appeared on the now defunct Stillspeaking.com, slide # 1 presents four Scripture passages (Isaiah 56:3-8; Luke 15; 16:1-8; John 10:14-16) that testify to God’s inclusive nature. Later, slide # 4—answering the problem posed on the previous slide that people feel alienated from church—says this: “Key Remedy: Our growing understanding of the reach of God’s love.” Below that headline is the following claim: “We did not add multiculturalism to our brand. We took multiculturalism as a living breathing example of God’s love and made it a brand” (emphasis theirs).

From these two slides, it is evident that justification for the message of radical invitation in the GISS campaign rests in the nature of God (the depth of His loving reach toward all people) and in the recognition (illumination) of God’s revelatory—and modern day—work of multiculturalism.

In application, a reflection resource for the “Steeple” ad says it is a:
Simple affirmation that each person is a child of God and should be welcomed as a member of the household of God (Eph. 2:19). Although just about every church would view itself as welcoming, it’s the radical, inclusive, non-judgmental embrace that sets the UCC apart.
--“God is Still Speaking,” 30-Second TV Commercials Theological Reflection.
This “simple affirmation” however contains a significant assumption—that each person is already a child of God. How can that be? Earlier in Ephesians 2, the Apostle Paul declares “at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world” (2:12). If—as the resources claims—“everyone is a child of God,” it happened before they ever entered the church—without knowledge of the redemptive work of God (2:13-16) and without any affirmation of faith directed toward Jesus (2:8).

It’s noteworthy that nowhere in the GISS material are people outside the church ever described as sinners in need of redemption. Instead, they are consistently described as “alienated.” This is not just an anthropological marketing description of the unchurched, it’s a theological description as well—for “each person is a child of God and should be welcomed as a member of the household of faith.”

No one should deny that God’s nature is not to include (2 Peter 3:9). We agree with theologian Walter Brueggmann that the “deepest impulse of the Bible is toward inclusion.” But we declare that God’s desire for inclusion must be held in balance with God’s holiness that stands in judgment of sinners and works for our salvation (Matthew 22:1-14; Matthew 25).

Knowledge of God’s character requires examination of the whole counsel of Scripture. John 3:16, the best known verse in all the Bible, makes plain that while God invites all, whoever does not believe in God’s Son will “perish.” Jesus warns in Matthew 7:22-23: “Many will say to me on that day, `Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, `I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'” And while Jesus invites many into the kingdom, he also tells some, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire…” (Matthew 25:41).

We contend that the better method for seeking the character of God is found primarily in God’s past revelation of Scripture—and once there, integrate its whole, not just a part. Donald Bloesch summarizes our view:
As Christians we proclaim an exclusive message with an inclusive goal—to include the whole world in the church of Jesus Christ outside of which there can only be ruin, lostness, and despair…The God of Scriptures is both infinitely loving and irrevocably holy. He cannot tolerate sin, but he embraces the sinner. He loves us even while judging us, and he judges us because he loves us. His love is not the sentimental love that overlooks our failings, but a searing holy love that equips us to deal with our failings. His is the love that does not let us alone, but pursues us even into the darkness (Nahum 1:8) so that we will finally return to the tried and true paths (Jeremiah 6:16).
--Donald Bloesch, The Church, p. 239, 134.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Part 2: Closer Look at the UCC's God Is Still Speaking Ads

The United Church of Christ is putting itself on television again and thereby launching a new phase of its "God Is Still Speaking" (GISS) advertising campaign. What is the theology behind the campaign and its three commercials, "Steeple," "Bouncer," and "Ejector"? That's the subject of this 5-part series. These observations are taken from a paper I presented at the 2006 National Gathering of Faithful & Welcoming Churches and again at a 2007 regional meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society.

The slogan, "God is still speaking," explains why the UCC gives great significance to today's revelation from God But emphasizing "today's" revelation over the "old" revelation of Scripture is a dangerous hermeneutic.

In a study resource for the "Ejector" ad, Stillspeaking campaign director Ron Buford connects the past and present theology of the UCC—invoking our ancestors' example to take on the responsibility of listening to the new things of God:
We introduced the phrase, "God is still speaking," as a 21st century shorthand for [Pilgrim pastor] John Robinson's famous words…["God has more truth and light yet to break forth out of his holy word"]... [It] reminds us to take the Bible seriously, even though we may not take it literally.

Today, Robinson's words call us to question, explore, and make faith our own in reality of worship, in honesty of thought and expression, and in purity of heart before God… Medical advances continually change our expectations… We expect them… Why don't we take the same open and inquiring approach to God?…

Like the calls to freedom heard by our Pilgrim, African, and other European forbearers, a mysterious God still calls to open and listening souls whispering, "Explore." And yes, new worlds will always appear, not only in science and technology, but [also] in justice, and peace, and relationships with God and all creation.

Our prayer for you… is that more light and truth will break forth for you and me from God's Holy Word in the world around us. May the illumination of the Holy Spirit advance our understanding of both the profane and the holy.
In a sermon once posted on the Stillspeaking.com website, Rev. Dr. Arlene K. Nehring claims this about the famous statement of Pastor Robinson:
In this powerful sentence, Robinson explained that God’s revelation could not be confined to scripture, to a creed, or to a catechism, neither could it be attributed exclusively to a pope, a particular religious body, or to a unique event or period in history. The word of God, Robinson argued, was more expansive than all of these.
Appealing to history can serve our agenda's today, but can also rebuke them. The 17th century Rev. Robinson may have believed that God’s future revelation "could not be confined to scripture," but he certainly believed it should not contradict prior, existing revelation already contained in Scripture.

What is often neglected is this—after his famous quote, Robinson went on to warn his soon departing Pilgrim flock to thoroughly examine any new truth—doing so on the basis of Scripture—before receiving it. According to the 1620 witness and recorder of the farewell sermon, Robinson said:
…We promise and covenant with God and one another, to receive whatsoever light or truth shall be made known to us from his written word; but [Robinson] withal exhorted us to take heed what we received for truth, and well to examine and compare it and weigh it with other Scriptures of truth before we receive it (emphasis mine).
In listening for the still-speaking God, Robinson advises that we also listen to what God has already said. If what God is supposedly saying today contradicts what God has already said, it should be rejected. If what God is saying today conforms to what God said in the past, we are obligated to adopt it.

But in no way does Robinson’s famous quote minimize the priority of Scripture, nor does it suggest that any future word of God will surpass or correct Scripture.

We appeal for a more balance approach in listening for God, one more in line with John Wesley’s quadrilateral of religious authority—Scripture, tradition, reason, and experience. We have differing opinions on the exact way that God speaks today. But Scripture is not merely one of many ways that God speaks. Rather, it is the standard by which any “Word of God” today must be weighed.

Rev. Robert Thompson, President of UCC renewal movement Faithful and Welcoming Churches (FWC), succinctly makes the point:
We in FWC find ourselves uncomfortable with the UCC's "Still Speaking" campaign—not because we believe God is not still speaking, any more than we believe others in the UCC do not believe God has spoken. We do, however, unashamedly prioritize "has spoken" over "still speaking" because it is far too easy for individuals, institutions, and generations to equate their contemporary innovations with God's voice. Our opinions—most particularly the newest ones—must pass the test of consistency with the canon of holy Scripture.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Part 1: Closer Look at the UCC's God Is Still Speaking Ads

The United Church of Christ is putting itself on television again and thereby launching a new phase of its "God Is Still Speaking" (GISS) advertising campaign. What is the theology behind the campaign and its three commercials, "Steeple," "Bouncer," and "Ejector"? That's the subject of this 5-part series. These observations are taken from a paper I presented at the 2006 National Gathering of Faithful & Welcoming Churches and again at a 2007 regional meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society.

The slogan, "God is still speaking," says everything about the United Church of Christ. Today we'll consider how the phrase summarizes the denomination's self-understanding of its history.

Rev. Wilson Yates, former President of United Theological Seminary in Minnesota, offers a comprehensive description of the campaign’s foundational phrase, "God is still speaking," and explains how those words uniquely summarize the past and present theology of the United Church of Christ:
The formulation, brief and succinct, is foremost a creative forging of the images that give shape to an aspect of our understanding of God, at least once the statement is set within the context of the United Church of Christ…The words imply a past—if God is still speaking, we can assume God has spoken in the past, speaks in the present, and by implications that flow from both the verb and the comma, will speak in the future, for the future is indicated by the comma and is being created by the actions of the present. And the word speaking—i.e., stating, communicating, conversing, revealing, connecting—points to the active presence of God and to the possibility of dialogue between God and the human community.

But the statement is not simply a linguistic structure of an idea. It is a theological statement that is related to a context, the United Church of Christ. In one sense, the theological statement, "God is Still Speaking," is as authentically a part of the United Church of Christ as any theological idea we might call forth, for the United Church of Christ has throughout its history—from its biblical, Calvinist, Puritan, evangelical, African-American, and ethnic ancestry down to its present—had a dynamic sense of God as One who has spoken to us in the past, who speaks to us in the present and will speak to us in the future. Thus the statement reflects the received and current theology of the church.

Wilson Yates, "Imagination, Creativity, and Change" in New Conversations: Imagination, Creativity, and Change (United Church Press: Cleveland, OH, Winter 2004), pp. 11-12.
Rev. Wilson Yates makes an insightful case that in the "unique context of the United Church of Christ," the slogan, "God is still speaking" accurately summarizes our church’s history—or in Yates' words, "the received and current theology of the church." The UCC touts this record of historical faithfulness—Pilgrims seeking spiritual freedom, an early stance against slavery, first ordination of an African-American pastor, first woman pastor, and the ordination of the first openly gay minister.

After reflecting on Gracie Allen's quote, "Never place a period where God has placed a comma" and the slogan, "God is still speaking," GISS Director Ron Buford in a 2003 speech makes this connection: "Our history is full of evidence of many actions that were controversial in their day, but in the rear view mirror of history have proved and continued to prove that we have been right on target."

Indeed, the UCC has a long record of people who took steps of faith on various issues and causes before other religious groups. These UCC brethren were "ahead of the curve" because they listened and responded to the still-speaking voice of God in their day and age.

With that said, let's affirm the need to let history teach us. The rear view mirror is a crucial teacher in discerning whether or not the UCC—or anyone else for that matter—has been faithful to God. One can be convinced that he/she is faithfully hearing and obeying the still-speaking God in the present, but greater certainty necessarily requires the passage of time and reflection on the past.

More importantly, no one should assume that just because the UCC listened faithfully to the still-speaking God in the past, it will then—as a matter of course—be faithful in the future. In other words, just because we got the old issue of slavery right, that doesn’t mean we got today's issue of homosexuality right.

The phrase, "God is still speaking" may accurately bear witness to the UCC’s history, but it cannot prima facie validate that history as correct. God may speak, but we humans may not get the message or act on it faithfully.

When it comes to the legitimacy of homosexuality, we each have our convictions. And yet, the issue in the modern church is not yet forty years old. No one should act as if the matter is settled. Let everyone on all sides be warned against arrogance and absolute certitude (1 Corinthians 13:11-12).

Monday, September 08, 2008

Big Crowd Spends Night with a Dummy

500 people enjoyed a big night of laughs with ventriloquist and comedian David Pendleton this past Saturday night at the Little River High School gym.

David's characters--Mack, Buford, Aunt Tilly, and Vern--had us all in stitches in a high energy show that lasted two hours. David also brought up several members from the audience and turned them into characters. I was one of the "lucky victims" who turned became one of David's dummy's as was part of a trio that "sang" a medley of songs to close the show.

Thanks for coming David! We had a blast!

And thank you to the Little River Community Fund for their generous grant that made the evening possible.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Putting Words in the Mouth of a Ventriloquist

As a ventriloquist, David Pendleton makes audiences believe that a puppet really is alive. And when the veteran comedian takes the stage at Little River High School this Saturday night, September 6, at 7:30pm, he’ll entertain you with the notion that anything can talk. It’s Branson quality entertainment right in small town America! Tickets are free and available at the Garden of Eden grocery store on Little River's Main Street.

Given that David makes his living putting words in the mouths of others, it’s only fitting that the following interview isn’t really a true interview. Instead, we’re going to put words in David’s mouth. What follows then is an interview of what we think he might say, that is, if we actually did speak to him.

Living the Biblios: David, how did you get your start as a ventriloquist?

David: I was fascinated by puppets of all kinds as a youngster and loved television shows that featured them. One of my favorites was “Mr. Moose” on Captain Kangaroo, as well as all the creatures on Sesame Street. On my sixth birthday, my grandparents bought me a toy “Charley McCarthy” dummy. My grandmother was clever enough to include with the gift a record made by ventriloquist Jimmy Nelson. I listened to that record over and over and then sat in front of a mirror and practiced speaking without moving my lips. When I was eight years old, I performed for the first time on a real stage for a real audience.

Living the Biblios: We’re told that one of your puppets—Mack Elroy—is pretty special.

David: He was created in the 1930’s by George and Glenn McElroy. Their “vent dummies” are wonderfully crafted, very rare, and highly sought after. In fact, I once saw one on sale at a convention for $13,000. After doing a show in a church in 2002, a woman asked me if I was interested in seeing a dummy she inherited from her grandfather. It turned out to be a McElroy! After telling her about the doll’s history and value, the lady said, “I think God has been saving him for you.” We negotiated an agreeable price and ever since then I’ve been using the smart aleck in my act.

Living the Biblios: Your show is presented by the churches of Little River. Are you a Christian?

David: Yes. I trusted Jesus as my Savior during my high school years, but I didn’t know much about my faith. When I got to college, Campus Crusade for Christ gave me knowledge and training that helped my faith grow. Today, I get share with audiences my love for God by sharing my love for ventriloquism. You could say I get to proclaim the gospel without moving my lips.

Living the Biblios: We hear that you and Pastor Ted Weis knew each other during your college years.

David: Yeah, talk about a dummy! No, no, Ted is a great guy. Yes, we both attended Ohio University in Athens, Ohio and were both involved in Campus Crusade. I haven’t seen Ted since our college days, so it’ll be fun catching up with each other.

Living the Biblios: You know, your show is being promoted as, “Spend the night with a dummy.”

David: That’s clever. It certainly can’t refer to me! Maybe it has to do with my puppets or the audience members I bring up on stage. Watch out Little River! I may not be an police interrogator, but I do know how to make people talk!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Folks Travel 2,500 Miles to See Comedian

Would you travel 2,500 miles to see a great comedian—one who will soon perform in your own town? Some people from Little River did just that!

Five people from my church congregation recently went on an Alaskan cruise. On the ship, they saw a performance by the very comedian who is coming to Little River on Saturday, September 6—ventriloquist David Pendleton!

Now these Little River travelers didn’t travel 2,500 miles just to see the comedian who is coming to our community. Actually, they joined a cruise hosted by popular radio Bible teacher, Dr. David Jeremiah of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California. It was a refreshing vacation, with lots of spiritual input. And David Pendleton was part of entertainment mix.

After seeing Pendleton’s show, one of my members said, “He really makes you believe that those puppets are alive. He’s a very funny guy.”

You don’t have to travel 2,500 miles to Alaska to see David Pendleton. Instead, simply take the short trip to the Little River High School gym on Saturday, September 6, at 7:30pm. Free tickets (a $10 value) are still available at the Garden of Eden grocery store on Little River’s Main Street.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Spend the Night With A Dummy!

Small town Little River is in for some big laughs this Saturday night, September 6 at 7:30pm, when comedian and ventriloquist David Pendleton takes the stage at the Little River High School gym.

David is a top-notch Christian entertainer. It's Branson style family entertainment right here in Little River, Kansas.

The show is presented by the churches of Little River and made possible by a generous grant from the Little River Community Fund.

I've been working on this show ever so diligently for the last year and throughout this summer-- getting tickets and posters designed and printed (thanks Melody!), distributing posters and tickets to churches in Little River, Lyons, McPherson, and Sterling, sharing press releases and show publicity with local newspapers, radio stations, and websites (thank you Hutchinson News!), and coordinating a bunch of other little things.

Tickets are free! If you live in the area and would like to come, request your tickets here.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

What the Class of 2012 Has Always Thought

Today begins a new school year at Sterling College and today I start teaching RP 102-- Old Testament Introduction. All my spare moments, and then some, have been used preparing for this class, so I'm glad the starting gate is opening.

So what does an 18 year old, first time college student believe? Beloit College has issued their annual "mindset list" of what these students have always assumed and seen. The list is insightful and funny.

My favorites:
# 25 There have always been gay rabbis.
# 26 Wayne Newton has never had a mustache.
# 54 The Hubble Space Telescope has always been eavesdropping on the heavens.

The entire list is here.