October 27, 2010

Bobbing Along -vs- Rowing Forward

Posted in Cannonball at 11:15 PM by alexlozada

I understand the point of the contrast between the corks bobbing in water -vs- rocks making waves in Wednesday’s Cannonball reading, but the contrarian in me is not thrilled with the imagery of rocks sinking to the bottom after they make the big splash 😉

Instead, I picRoman galleyture the contrast between the aimlessly bobbing cork -vs- the Roman war-galley splashing forward with the combined power of the wind-driven sail and the splashing oars of the rowers. The massive ship makes waves and makes forward progress, unlike the sinking rock 🙂

The Cannonball reading challenged me to go against the tide of culture, and tell a friend my plan. There are Christ followers who inspire me by their stand against popular culture, from football players to college professors. Time to row forward, and make some waves!


October 26, 2010

Ripple Effect

Posted in Cannonball at 10:03 PM by alexlozada

Today’s Cannonball reading contrasted “efficiency” against “deep devotion,” using the example of Mary, sister of Lazarus, in Matthew 26:6-13 (also Mark 14:3-9 and John 12:2-8). Jesus said that “all-in” devotion makes a “ripple effect” that reaches throughout the world, and throughout history – proven by the fact that people at MCC who had never heard this story before today are thinking about the overflowing commitments they can make.

The reading closes by asking, “Are you willing to ‘waste’ your life for the cause of Christ even if it looks foolish to the rest of the world?” I think I’ve reached the stage in my faith journey where I don’t care as much about what the world (non-Christians) think of me, but I still care (too much?) about what fellow Christians think of me. Good thing Mary didn’t pay attention to the opinions of Peter, John, and others who should have known better.

October 25, 2010

Making a Splash – then & now

Posted in Cannonball, servant-leader at 11:40 PM by alexlozada

Monday’s Cannonball daily reading from Mark 9:33-35 (parallel in Luke 22:24-27) asked,” What is your strategy for making an impact in the world? For ten years at East Northport Chr Ch my primary answer was primarily “communicating God’s word through preaching and teaching.” At the time, I probably considered my individual discipleship time with a few different men, members and interns, important but secondary. The previous four years working at Cincinnati Chr University, my strategy order was reversed: individual or small group discipleship (“servant of all”), with occasional opportunities to preach & teach. I ministered by shepherding the Resident Assistants in the men’s dorm, who in turn shepherded a generation of young men, many of whom are being used by the Spirit to spread God’s word.

These days, my answer to the Cannonball question on strategy for making an impact in the world has cycled  back to “servant of all,” especially MCC small group leaders & coaches who are shepherding others. My Sunday PM short-term Cannonball group read from 2 Timothy 2:2 (NLT) “You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.”

October 24, 2010

Make Some Waves Oct24 resources

Posted in Cannonball, MCC resources at 11:31 PM by alexlozada

Luke Erickson continued MCC’s Cannonball series by using the question from Luke 7:19 “are you the One we’ve been expecting or are we waiting for someone else ?” to make the point “a cannonball is judged by its effect.” In the same way that Jesus was God’s “cannonball” into the world, we should be making waves in our community and around the world. More notes that I took listening to the simulcast from MCC Bel Air (at John Carroll School).  Audio available already, if you notice the video is up, post a comment and I’ll add the link.

Today’s “i dare u” was the first I’ve muffed.  Even though we live in a townhouse development, there are days when I don’t see the neighbors in our row and the one across the street. Ravens game-days are an example, with several ardent fans in our row, most likely glued to their TV screens agonizing over the close contest 🙂

Speaking of close contests, I think the young men in this video (from the special MCC Cannonball website) went to bed nearly as broken-hearted as I was last Friday PM 😦

Vodpod videos no longer available.

October 22, 2010

All In – poor widow’s example

Posted in Cannonball at 11:49 PM by alexlozada

How do I follow Mark 12:41-44 (same story in Luke 21:1-4)? The computer spreadsheet side of me wants to analyze the dollars and decisions: Does it mean I give the church all I have in my bank account right now, including what I was going to use to pay this month’s bills? Does it mean I stop saving for the future (daughters’ education, retirement, medical insurance coverage)? Does it mean I stop eating out – or just sometimes? Sundays after church? lunch w/w co-workers? date nights w/ my wife? What about the broadband internet access I’m using right now to post this devotional on the internet?

“everything–all she had to live on.” How much would I have to give to become completely dependent on God? I think this verse is not about dollars or spending decisions, but dependence – complete dependence on God. I confess, I’m not there, not even close – I prize my independence; even if my financial “independence” is a mirage of living paycheck to paycheck. Maybe Cannonball will move me a step towards depending on God like I never have before?

In the incident immediately before today’s story, Jesus condemns the religious leadership who take advantage of widows. Easy for me to point finger at pseudo-Christian figures who rake in donations, but I need to perpetually assess how I use my ministry resources, lest I waste them on the modern day equivalent of “flowing robes . . . the most important seats . . . the places of honor. . .”

BACKGROUND: Widows in Jesus’ time had no government-provided safety net, but were dependent on extended family, or the charity of the community – which makes this (Mark specifies “poor”) widow’s “all in” even more meaningful.

Ancient Roman lepton (penny)

Ancient Roman lepton (penny)

October 21, 2010

All the Way + with a little help from my friends

Posted in Cannonball at 5:31 PM by alexlozada

Today’s Cannonball story shows how you can break through barriers together with friends. The paralyzed man didn’t have use of his legs, but he did have friends who would do anything to get him to Jesus (Luke 5:17-26 also found in Mark 2:1-12 w/ more details).

Imagine the teamwork of the four who carried their paralyzed friend on the mat, plus others who dug through the roof. Mountain’s Cannonball initiative is both individual = “what is God calling me to do,” AND church-wide “what is God calling us to do.”

My whimsical side wonders about the aftermath of the miracle. The owner of the house was supportive enough of Jesus’ ministry that he invited him there in the first place, so maybe he wouldn’t have been “take these guys to court” upset. Maybe after celebrating, the friends came back to fix the damage. And maybe one of the healed man’s first acts of physical labor was to join his friends up on the roof  for an “extreme makeover.”

October 20, 2010

Toe-Dipping + security blankets

Posted in Cannonball at 11:55 PM by alexlozada

As follow-through to Luke 18:18-24, Wednesday’s reading in the Cannonball booklet asked, “What are your sources of security and how might they be an obstacle to following Jesus?”

My job and my family my two main sources of security. Though both are blessings to me, either one could become an obstacle to following Jesus if I let them get more important than following him. Tonight, my small group discussed Luke 9:57-62 and I realized that even the blessings we receive from God, like a wonderful family or working at a great church, can be obstacles if I value them more than following Jesus.

For the rich young ruler in Luke 18 (see Matthew 19:16-22 and Mark 10:17-22 for parallel accounts w/ additional details), wealth was his security blanket. Linus, from Charles Schulz’s beloved comic strip Peanuts, was one of the few pop culture figures who could quote from the Bible without drawing the wrath of the thought police. It’s only my opinion, but my guess is Linus would have chosen Jesus over his blanket 🙂

Linus and his security blanket

Linus and his security blanket

October 19, 2010


Posted in Cannonball at 5:07 PM by alexlozada

Today’s Cannonball personal reading asked the tough question, “Think of ways in which you aren’t fully soaked in God’s work. What parts of your life are staying ‘dry?’ How is God calling you to follow him this week?”

Because I’m a pastor, most of the parts of my life that other people can see are “soaked” = doing church-related things. The parts of my life that most other people don’t see (how I treat my family), and that no people see (my thought life) are the parts that have stayed “dry” too long. I know God is calling me to think and act more like Jesus w/ my family this week, but that’s the call He’s made to me for years, and I still struggle to answer it.

At first glance, the Bible verse with today’s devotional might not seem to have anything to do w/ being soaked wet from a cannonball – but the Jesus-follower, like the wheat seed, must transform completely or it will never become something new.

October 18, 2010

Cannonball resources

Posted in better disciples, Cannonball, tech at 12:49 PM by alexlozada

First day personal reflection time from the Cannonball booklet asks what I do in “jump in or watch from the edge” situations? Why? Which response comes more easily to you?

I’m a “watch from the edge, analyze others, then jump” person. Thinking back on some life change situations (switching from Columbia U to Cincinnati Chr U; moving from OH to NY for ministry; leaving E Northport Chr Ch to move to MD + MCC) – in each case, someone else went first (did something similar), I observed, then acted.

I’ll try to add a youversion.com contribution for each day’s Cannonball Bible reading. You don’t need to sign up for this on-line Bible resource to read my commentary snippets, but if you do, let me know because I’m interested in using the social networking aspect youversion.

If you’re an MCC small group leader, you might have already noticed that Title Menu labels the video clip you use for small group session week 1 as “Welcome Video.” Its both Ben’s overall introduction to the Cannonball initiative and the jumping off point for the “Toes Over the Edge” discussion. Remember leaders, let the Spirit guide your discussion time, do NOT feel like you have to answer each question – you know your group and what they need to talk about.

October 17, 2010

Cannonball! “All In + Making Waves” 17-Oct resources

Posted in better disciples, Cannonball at 10:33 PM by alexlozada

Ben Cachiaras revealed MCC’s vision for the future (2 year splash, 10 year ripple effect) in our fall church-wide initiative, “Cannonball!” Here are my notes from his message this morning, audio already available.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The special Cannonball! website is up & open to the public – you can post your testimony of jumping “All In + Making Waves” in your journey w/ God. The full-graphics PDF of the Cannonball booklet is also there: probably more suited for download & viewing on your computer than printing (its 80 pages long + many graphics + unusual paper size). The booklet has general information on the Cannonball initiative PLUS daily personal readings AND small group study material. If you’re not yet in an MCC small group, there is still time to join one, even just for the 5 weeks of Cannonball!

On the lighter side, this is an extended length Mr Bean video that includes the clip that opened this morning’s message

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