Richard Mourdock is coming to my church! Why am I not ecstatic?

It was in the news this past week that US Senate candidate, Richard Mourdock is coming to Granger Community Church this weekend. When I heard it on Friday, I was less than impressed, despite the fact that I like the candidate and love the church that my wife and I have been actively involved in for years. Why don’t I think this is amazing? Two main reasons:

  • Church isn’t a campaign stop. I’m all for politicians going to church, and I think the influence of the Church in our government is just as vital today as it was in the Revolutionary Period and in the anti-slavery movement. But being a part of a church is one thing. Showing up once and alerting the press is quite another. If he’s seeking a new church, anyone, including him, is certainly more than welcome. But, knowing that Joe Donnelly has been coming to our church’s annual Food Drop for years—without telling the media—it seems likely that Mourdock is trying to sway potential religious voters from the second district which Donnelly represented as a Congressman.
  • Endorsements of particular religions or denominations are forbidden by the Constitution’s First Amendment. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” is the precise language. Granted, by showing up, he’s not passing a law, or even endorsing my church. It just seems like somewhat of an implied endorsement. I understand that this church happens to be the largest in the area, and therefore, has the most potential voters, but what about the other churches in the area? I would have a different stance if the press release stated that Mr. Mourdock was spending a few weekends promoting the value of religion in a democratic republic, and that he was going to be making visits to the local mosque, the large catholic church nearby, a tabernacle and our church. In that case, it wouldn’t be as much of a political move as a person of influence promoting something our nation’s founding fathers felt was very important. It would be difficult to argue against that.

Having said all that, I do prefer Mr. Mourdock’s stances and policies to those of Mr. Donnelly, so at this point, he’s the one I’ll be casting my ballot for in November. But if I may borrow an analogy from baseball (since the playoffs are approaching), if Mourdock wins and goes up to bat as Indiana’s newest US Senator, he will be stepping up to the plate with one strike against him, in my opinion.

Surrounded by Wisdom

Yesterday I thought to myself, “I know just what the world needs: More self-pity and whining about petty things like the weather! On the internet!!” So I set about to do something about this problem. Just as I was about to send a tweet complaining about cold weather and questioning my allegiance to Northern Indiana, this showed up at the top of my Twitter feed:

“Are you kidding me?!” is all I could think. Don’t get me wrong—I’d much rather live in a place where going to the beach nine months out of the year is totally acceptable than in one where gray skies and cold weather seem to put people into hibernation for half the year. But in the middle of wondering what I could possibly be doing here I was smacked over the head with the reason I’ll happily stay here as long as God will allow me:

I am completely surrounded by a wealth of wisdom and insight.

If you happened to catch any of my posts from ReInnovate last week, you may have figured out that our church just hosted a conference where hundreds of pastors from around the country came to glean wisdom from the people I get to work with every day! I’ll admit—I often take for granted that every Wednesday I get to sit in an all-staff meeting where our leaders spend time just pouring wisdom into us. But as I sat in the conference, listening to people like Mark Beeson, Kem Meyer, Ted Bryant, Jason Miller, and others, I couldn’t help but be in awe of the place God has allowed me to be. Why do I get to be in the presence of so much wisdom, knowledge and insight?

I don’t know the answer, other than to say that God is so good.

But enough about my good fortune and blessing. This isn’t about me. I absolutely do not deserve this. I say all this to point out that really, anyone reading this can now get up close to some of the wisdom I’m around every day. Even if you’re all the way in sunny California, you no longer have to leave the beach to come to the treasure trove of knowledge we have in Indiana. (See what I did there? Any Californians jealous? Maybe??) Today you can get your own copy of Rob Wegner and Jack Magruder‘s book, Missional Moves.

I know from experience—these guys know what they’re talking about. And they’re not just speaking from some intellectual understanding of the subject of living on mission (though they definitely have that); they live it every day of their lives, leading Granger’s missional movement from downtown South Bend, to Tamil Nadu, India, right back to suburban Granger, Indiana. Last year I shared some of the experience of my trip to India and the work our church is doing there. And now, not only are thousands of people in India being changed by the message of the Gospel thanks to their work, but church leaders from all over the United States are starting to coalesce around these ideas and apply Jack and Rob’s tactics in communities around this country.

These two are definitely on to something huge, and are spearheading a new movement for the Kingdom of God, literally all over the world.

I’m so grateful to be living right where I live, getting to learn from these guys. And not just that, but getting a chance to join them on some of the work they do. It’s an incredible opportunity and experience, and if I ever leave here it won’t be (just) for nicer weather. I have it too good right where I’m at.

How Big IS the Super Bowl?

This chart pretty much says it all.  In my home-state of Indiana, we are overwhelmed with the NFL and its biggest event of each year, the Super Bowl.  I really don’t know what small, tiny, incremental step needs to be taken for this to go from just a HUGE, colossal event to a National Holiday.  Around here, everyone gathers with friends and family around a large TV with lots of food-from burgers, wings and nachos to steak, salmon and fancy hors d’oeuvres.  Many people take a day off of work the following Monday to recover from all the celebrating (…and all the beer).  Those who still go to work often spend the first hour or two of the morning rehashing the most exciting or controversial plays of the game and settling money from the office pool.  It really is a celebration and a uniting event like no other.  This year we even have two massive celebrities from opposing sides of the political spectrum sitting down for an interview as part of the pregame festivities.  Outside of Indiana the “big game” must be pretty enormous too-last year’s Super Bowl was the most-watched American television event in history!

We watch it for plays like this:

(skip to 4:55)

and this:

skip to 7:53

and a growing number of people who couldn’t care less about football now just watch for commercials like these. (Spoiler alert!)

Personally, I’m a pretty big football fan and try to watch my beloved Chicago Bears whenever they take the field.  I love the fun of the massive gatherings and the real “holiday” atmosphere of the Super Bowl.

But I wonder about a few things, since I apparently live in the part of the world where this game is the most celebrated: Is it like this everywhere else?  If you live in another state or another country, is the NFL’s Super Bowl a must-watch event like it is in Indiana?  Is the chart at the top even accurate?  Are we the most fanatic?  Is your state more over-the-top? If not, is there a different sport or game that is this big where you live?