Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Odegard Advent Wreath

Every year now we have an Advent Wreath at our house. We are using the candles to teach our kids the meaning of Christmas. We start on December 20th, and light one candle at supper each night, ending on Christmas Eve. It really creates a sense of anticipation as the Holy-Day draws near. As the kids get older, we'll take them deeper into the symbolism, but for now it's pretty simple. The Blue (or purple) symbolizes Christ's royalty.
  1. The first candle (bottom center) is the Candle of Anna & Simeon, who were waiting for the promised Messiah, just like we are waiting for Christmas to come. It is the candle of Prophecy and Hope. (Isaiah 9:2-9; Romans 15:12-13; Micah 7:7)
  2. The second candle (bottom left) is the Candle of Joseph and Mary, Jesus' mommy and step-daddy. The candle holder is shaped like the star of David to remind us of Christ's royal lineage. This is also the candle of Peace. (Micah 5:1-2, 4-5; Isaiah 7:14)
  3. The third candle is the Candle of the Angels and Shepherds. It is Rose colored because of the joyous message, and is called the candle of Joy. (Luke 2:7-15)
  4. The fourth candle is the Candle of the Wise Men, who came to worship the newborn Christ. It is the candle of Worship and Love. (John 3:16; 1 John 4:19)
  5. The center, white candle is the Candle of Christ, the Candle of Faith. He is the answer prayers for Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. It is the candle for Jesus' Birthday! (John 1:29; 3:1-8; 8:12; Isaiah 9:2; Matthew 5:15)
May you and yours have a wonderful Christmas Season!. Merry CHRISTmas from the Odegard's!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Defending the Church Against Maniacs, Crooks, and Others

Authorities have finally released Matthew Murray's reasons for killing innocent Christians at the YWAM center in Arvada and at New Life Church here in Colorado Springs last weekend.
“I’m coming for EVERYONE soon and I WILL be armed to the (expletive) teeth and I WILL shoot to kill. . . . God, I can’t wait till I can kill you people. Feel no remorse, no sense of shame, I don’t care if I live or die in the shootout. All I want to do is kill and injure as many of you . . . as I can especially Christians who are to blame for most of the problems in the world.”
How do you defend against someone like this? He is obsessed, furious, and beyond reason. He has a plan in place, has equipped himself (a rifle, two pistols, smoke grenades and backpack with 1,000 rounds of ammunition), and doesn't care if he lives or dies. When he shows up at the dorm, or the church, or the shopping mall, or the playground, you can't reason with him. You can't say, "hey, let's talk about this over a cup of coffee." Your only option is to respond with force the moment the threat is identified. You shoot to stop and you don't stop until he does. It doesn't matter if he is a homicidal maniac, a thief with a gun, a fanaticist strapped with explosives or a mugger with a knife. Life is a precious gift from God, and your life and the lives of those you are defending outweigh his a hundred times over.

For churches, there are a number of things to consider. There are several threats that must be considered. The staff needs to develop contingency plans (including responses to each identified threat, fallback plans, plans for communication and notification, etc.) and train staff members what to do in case of an emergency (including medical emergencies - CPR and first aid). Threats could include anything from:
  • power outages
  • accidental fires and floods
  • hecklers
  • vandals
  • thieves and con artists
  • arsonists
  • bomb threats
  • armed attackers
    • (against the preaching pastor, staff, or congregation in general)
  • suicide bombers or car bombs
  • hostage takers
The church needs to consider all entrances and exits and how to protect them. If a situation arises, where should the people in the sanctuary, adult Sunday School, and children's ministry be taken? Where are the fallback positions in case the first place is unsafe? Who determines if an evacuation is safe or if people need to remain in secureable areas in the building. How will the staff and security team communicate? Will the security staff be uniformed or plainclothes, openly carry arms, carry concealed, or be unarmed? Will the church hire permanent staff, off-duty law enforcement or use trained volunteers (or some mix of the three)? How much training and preparation is required for safety, effectiveness and legal liability purposes? What information should be given to the congregation? Are there physical measures that can be implemented (like proper lighting at night or concrete posts in front of the building to protect against car bombers)? What are the best positions to post security staff? What areas of the building are most vulnerable to specific threats?

Matthew Murray sent threatening emails to YWAM before the attack, and made hate-filled posts to an anti-Christian website just before and after the Arvada attack. Does the staff know how to identify warning signs like this and know who to notify? Can they distinguish between someone acting suspiciously and some poor guy just looking for a handout? After hearing about the attacks in Arvada, New Life Church beefed up their security and it paid huge dividends in human life. They identified a possible threat and took action to protect their people, even at the risk of looking silly in the eyes of some.

I need to caveat this post with a disclaimer - I am not an expert on physical security - I'm a network security professional, but I am also a gun owner who has thought a great deal about how to protect my family and what it means to carry a weapon. I know enough to say that basic security principles apply whether you look at a computer network or a church foyer. Common sense and deliberate, forward thinking will save lives. The basic steps of incident response are:
  • Planning and preparation - without this, you are doomed to failure...
  • Prevention - what can you do now to reduce the threat or your vulnerability
  • Detection and notification - training, training, training...
  • Containment - you need a capable, properly equipped team in place. Now...
  • Eradication - removing the threat and protecting people and assets...
  • Recovery - working with authorities, updating plans
The church needs to build relationships with local law enforcement agencies and identify trained individuals (with current or former law enforcement backgrounds, military , government or private security experience) within the church. Those organizations and individuals will be your best resources for increasing security and protecting your congregation. Only bring in outside consultants if you are unable to get the help you need from within the church or from local law enforcement. On the other hand, realize that this will not be a zero-balance item in the church budget. You are going to have to spend at least some time, effort and money to increase your security and protect your people.

We live in a dangerous world. Great Britain has learned that trying to eliminate guns through gun control and bans is an abject failure. Attacks against churches and other public places are becoming regular occurrences. Churches need to take some time, now, to plan, prepare, and train for contingencies. Old plans need to be updated on a regular basis. Training must be recurring. Security needs to be added to the church budget. While we shouldn't turn our churches into fortresses or make security a distraction from worship and fellowship, it should be a reassuring, felt presence that will act as a quiet deterrent for would-be attackers.

Scripture tells us that "God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power, love and discipline" (2 Tim 1:7, NASB). We do not live by fear, but by faith. God has given us the ability and the right to defend ourselves (Ex 22:2), and has promised His protection as well. We do our part and then trust Him to do His. Please don't let this tragedy pass by and believe that it can't happen to your church! Do something about it!

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Latest on Hagee

John Hagee seems to be backpedaling on statements he made earlier in his book In Defense of Israel, which I commented on earlier. In an open letter, Hagee says that there was confusion over his use of the term, "Messiah," in which he apparently distinguishes between the "suffering Messiah" of the First Advent and the "reigning Messiah" of the Second Advent. He wrote that he is releasing a new version of the book with Chapter 10 expanded and revised to make his position more clear.

I am going to have to wait and see what changes he makes - how far he backpedals - before commenting further. In his letter, he says:
"I was surprised to learn that some people were interpreting my words as a rejection of this most fundamental Christian belief that Jesus came to earth as the Messiah promised in the Hebrew Scriptures. I have been preaching the gospel for half a century."
If you read what he wrote, and listen to what he said on his TV ad, it's extremely hard to come to any other conclusion. He has already said that Jews do not need to trust Christ for salvation, and he keeps some pretty radical company in the heretical word-faith movement, so he didn't exactly have my trust to begin with. In fact, a claim that Jesus did not come to be the Jewish Messiah seems to follow logically for someone who has taken great pains not to offend Jews or the nation of Israel, and who said that Jews can find salvation apart from becoming a Christ-follower.

I'll remain skeptical, but I'll wait and see what Hagee has to say before commenting further.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

On the Colorado Church Shootings

I was shocked to hear about today's shootings so close to my new home, and I'm grieving for the families of those killed at the YWAM training center in Arvada and here in the Springs at New Life Church. One or more bad guys with guns ended the lives of four innocent people (including two teenage sisters at New Life) and put several others in the hospital (including the father of the slain girls). We have some new friends who left New Life only minutes before the shooting.

In the midst of this, I am left wondering how long it will be before the gun-control crowd start to make their foolish noises. One of the differences between gun law here in Colorado and where I lived in Texas is that it is legal for those with a Concealed Hangun Permit to carry in church. As I thought about the similarities and differences between the shootings, I realized that there is one major fact that stands out: at the YWAM center, none of the victims, to my knowledge, had a firearm. At New Life there were armed security personnel. The pastor credited the security gal (yes, a woman with a gun!) who shot the murderer with saving lives. The media was emphasizing the rapid response of the Colorado Springs police and El Paso County sheriff's department (only two minutes), but if you read the facts carefully, you will see that by the time they arrived, the shooting was over, and the bad guy was dead.

This only emphasizes all the more the great need for law-abiding citizens to be armed. Even when the police can respond in minutes, it only takes seconds for a bad guy to kill innocent people. Only armed citizens already on the scene, trained and ready, can stop the violence before it is too late. New Life Church wisely had contingency plans in place, the staff were trained, and they had people with guns ready to defend the congregation. Thankfully, the planning and preparation worked, and lives were saved. Before His death, Jesus told His disciples that if they weren't armed, they should sell a coat and get a sword (Luke 22:36). It wasn't his intentions that they be armed to the teeth (two were enough for the group), but simply that they be able to defend themselves.

As a Christian, I believe that human life is one of the most precious gifts God has given us and I hope that I will never have to defend myself, my family, or others. I would like to think that God will keep us from harm, send the bad guys somewhere else and let us live a peaceful life. Today's shootings remind me that the bad guys are never far away, and that we have to always be diligent, watchful and prepared. The Christians shot today were no different from me - I just happened to walk out of a different church this morning, an hour earlier and 8 1/2 miles away. I think that Scripture is pretty clear on my right to use lethal force in self-defense. (Note to gun control people: the Bill of Rights, including the Second Amendment, is an acknowledgment of rights that the people already possess - it does not grant rights. The people grant rights to the government, not the other way around!)

If it had been my church, would there have been someone armed and ready to defend the innocent from some homicidal punk? I know the answer to that question at my church. Do you?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Give Thanks!

It is good to give thanks to the Lord
And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High;
To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning
And Your faithfulness by night,
With the ten-stringed lute and with the harp,
With resounding music upon the lyre.
For You, O Lord, have made me glad by what You have done,
I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands.

Psalm 92:1-4, NASB.

We are so thankful this year for God's goodness. He brought us to Colorado Springs, gave us a beautiful home and wonderful new friends. He gave us a missions-minded, transparent church full of real people.

We look forward to seeing what He is going to do in the next year!

Monday, November 12, 2007

John Hagee has left the building...

I have always held a very skeptical view of John Hagee, pastor of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio. I disagreed with his assessment that Jesus was wealthy, and his belief in a prosperity gospel. I was deeply disturbed by his association with the word-faith movement. I was very troubled by his view that Jews did not need to trust in Jesus as their Messiah for salvation. (“San Antonio fundamentalist battles anti-Semitism,” Houston Chronicle, April 30, 1988, sec. 6, pg. 1), but I always held my tongue because I have some very dear friends who attend his church. I have always tried not to let denominational differences get in the way of loving Christian relationships, but have tried to gently suggest that there were some other, better, very excellent churches along that same stretch of loop 1604 in North San Antonio (Harvest Fellowship, Community Bible Church, Park Hills Baptist to name a few). But now, in his new book, In Defense of Israel, Hagee has crossed a significant line:
“It has been my privilege to join Congregation Rodfei Sholom in San Antonio for the celebration of Passover with Rabbi Aryeh Scheinberg. Four cups of wine are served at the Passover with a meal that symbolized the tears and suffering of the Hebrew slaves in Egypt.
  • The first cup is the cup of Remembrance.
  • he second cup is the cup of Redemption.
  • The third cup is the cup of Salvation.
  • The fourth cup is the cup of Messiah.

When Jesus and his disciples came to the final cup during their last celebration of the Passover, Jesus refused to drink the Messiah’s cup. He told his disciples, “Take this [Messiah’s cup] and divide it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes” (Luke 22:17-18).

In refusing to drink the cup, Jesus rejected to the last detail the role of Messiah in word or deed. The Jews did not reject Jesus as Messiah; it was Jesus who rejected the Jewish desire for him to be their Messiah.” (John Hagee,
In Defense of Israel, pp. 144, 145).
In a television advertisement, Hagee says that his book will "shake Christian theology," claming:
  • The Jewish people did not reject Jesus as Messiah
  • Jesus did not come to earth to be the Messiah
  • Jesus refused (by word and deed) to be the Messiah
The Apostle John (a Jewish believer) wrote, "who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son." (1 John 2:22) Christos - Christ - is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew meschiach - messiah. According to this passage, Hagee, in denying that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah, is in line with the spirit of antichrist. The Apostle's next statement is "whoever denies the Son does not have the Father" (v. 23). I will not go so far as to say that Hagee is not a Christian - that is for God to decide - but I will state emphatically, for the record, that what he is teaching is outright, blatant heresy.

Some have tried to defend Hagee by saying that there is a distinction between a political and a religious Messiah. (pjmiller - see post 12, then the responding posts) However, the Scriptures make no such distinction. The only distinction is that between Jesus' roles in the First and Second Comings - first as the Lamb, then (yet to come) as the Lion. Jesus rejected the Jews political overtures at the time because the time had not yet come for Him to take political power. I don't care if you're Dispensational, Covenant or what - historical Christianity has always agreed on this point. Look at how Jesus responded to Peter's (another Jewish believer) confession, "you are the Christ (Messiah), the Son of the Living God!" (Matthew 16:16). Jesus exclaimed that Peter was blessed and that this revelation had come from the Father Himself. He then warned them not to tell anyone, particularly in light of His coming Crucifixion.

The beloved disciple wrote at the end of his gospel, "therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah), the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name" (John 20:30-31 - see also 1 John 5:1). Salvation hinges on trusting in Jesus as the Jewish Messiah, as God Incarnate, as the only one able to save us from our sinful human nature. How can anyone claim to preach the Gospel when they deny one of the basic tenets of the faith?

See also:

I saw someone quoting from John 4:25-26 in response to this:

25 The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.”

26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”

Update: 13 Nov 07

Nancy Almodovar of Silent Cry Ministries has done an excellent job exposing Hagee's selective quoting of the Scriptures he uses to defend his ideas in "Defending the Faith with Elegance."

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Pastor and the Gun

A pastor was delivering a sermon entitled "Stand Still and let the Lord Fight your battles", on the topic of not fighting but letting God vanquish evil himself. As he was delivering the sermon, a gust of wind lifted his coat and the congregation noticed he was carrying a gun.

After the service a member of the congregation asked him, "I understood your sermon, but aren't you contradicting yourself by carrying a gun? You did say you are supposed to let the Lord fight your battles for you?"

"I did say that, yes," said the pastor. "The gun is just to hold them off until the Lord gets here".

Adapted from Keep and Bear Arms.

A friend recently questioned me about my concealed carry license. He said, "when you become a pastor, you'll probably be the only one carrying a gun." For his information, I recently met a pastor here with a CCW. Judging from what I've been reading online, I don't think it's as rare as people think...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

A hunting I did go...

Laura encouraged me to go hunting last weekend with my new friend Josh. As it turned out, I really needed the break. I'm not eligible for a resident hunting license until Thanksgiving (6-month waiting period), but I went along as camp cook, driver, spotter and advisor. We camped the first night at 10,200 feet, just outside of Fairplay, CO, not far from the world's highest incorporated city, Alma, CO. After setting up camp, we did some scouting. We saw a lot of elk sign, including fresh tracks and fresh droppings, but not even a hint of deer. (Josh had a mulie buck tag for that area.) When we returned to camp, it was a little breezy, but the wind settled down about dusk, allowing us to light a charcoal fire and cook up some sirloin steak, foil potatoes and green beans. It was a little chilly, but overall really nice. Josh really appreciated my four season tent!

Before dawn on Saturday we hiked up to an aspen meadow we'd found the day before and settled in within view of a game trail to watch and wait. We sat there for almost an hour, not seeing anything more than some nice birds and a beautiful sunrise.

We looked around a little more, then decided to have breakfast, break camp, and drive up to NW Colorado where he had a doe tag and we knew we'd have better luck.

We got there about 3 in the afternoon, and under cloudy skies drove out to the public land where he'd shot all of his deer the previous couple of years. Not much later, we spotted two mulies running up a hillside 600 yards away. (I've got to get me one o' them fancy range finders like Josh has - 598 yards, to be exact!) We drove around the rest of the afternoon, saw lots of hunters, including one dragging a deer out, but no deer. Then the weather moved in... It began to snow and blow - the first snow I'd seen since moving to Colorado. I was ecstatic. I was even more grateful for Josh's GPS, which led us back to the spot he'd camped the year before despite the disorienting snow and twists and turns of the wagon rut trails we were on. (I've got a Garmin eTrex HC - Vista, Summit or Venture on my Christmas list!)

We set up camp in the blowing snow, got a fire going, and heated up some water to make Ramen noodles. My leather gloves were quickly soaked, and my pants, which I'd sprayed with Camp Dry were starting to get a little damp. We warmed ourselves by the fire, which helped, but then decided with the blowing snow we weren't getting any drier, and we needed to get in the tent and get some dry clothes on. With two sleeping bags (one inside the other) dry clothes, my Z-Rest pad and a couple of Josh's hand warmers, I kept mostly toasty all night. We had great cell phone reception, so I was able to talk to Laura and the kids and pray with them. They were having a late night since Laura's friend Charlene and her niece had flown in to Denver that evening.

We woke up again early and found ourselves under four inches of fresh snow. It was beautiful. I love the cold crisp air when it has just snowed! It reminded me why we moved from Texas in the first place. I love the mountains, the outdoors, and the snow! Josh decided to take a walk, and I volunteered to break camp while he was gone. He took a radio with him, and before long I heard a couple of gunshots in the distance. Josh had shot at some does, but was out of ammo. I ran some out to him and tried to help him find a blood trail, but we couldn't, so I went back to camp to finish cleaning up. Josh set out again (this time with his ammo box!) and before long I heard a couple of more shots, then Josh on the radio saying "meat in the freezer!" I finished packing up, then drove down the closest part of the road to where he shot the deer, then walked up to meet him. Josh shot the deer about 3/4 mile from the road, and I helped him drag it about half that. I was so grateful for my new Vasque hiking boots (Goretex, to which I added mink oil to the leather) and a pair of gators. With heavy wicking hiking socks on, my feet didn't get cold or wet in the slightest, even pulling the deer through brush covered in four inches of snow! (Side Note: I've given up on Timberland boots with their cheap plastic lace hooks. I broke one pair in 12 months and the replacement pair they sent me in only 8 months. I'm not a heavy hiker by any means!) By the way, click on the picture and check out the herd of pronghorn hanging out on private land...

Our drive home was interesting. We went through the Rabbit Ears Pass in chain-only conditions. I got re-acquainted with winter driving, and later stuck in traffic on I-70 with all the Coloradoans also getting re-acquainted with winter driving. I think I picked it up faster (after a 10 year hiatus) than most of them did. What a bunch of knuckleheads!

We got home about dusk on Sunday, and found that Colorado Springs had a couple inches of snow. I missed the kids having their first snowball fight, and was sad about that, but it was wonderful to be home with my family, to see Laura's old friend, and to have great memories of my first Colorado hunting trip. I can't wait to go next year, license and rifle in hand!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Inconvenient Truths...

Former VP Algore wins the Nobel peace prize, despite his film being full of outright lies and bad science.

See the Cartoon at TownHall.com

Monday, October 15, 2007

What I Was Waiting For...

Fall is here! This morning I woke up and looked out my bedroom window, and this is what I saw! Pikes Peak is covered in snow. The leaves are turning beautiful reds, oranges, golds, and yellows, and I've got a new pair of hiking boots!

Tomorrow's high is 68 with beautiful sunny skies. (San Antonio will hit 90 tomorrow - poor sweaty souls...) I'm going hiking tomorrow morning with Mike B. and hunting this weekend with my new friend Josh C. (I can't get a resident hunting license until mid Nov - 6 month residency requirement in CO, but I'm going to be camp cook, spotter, brush bunny, and whatever else I can do to help.) God is great and life is good!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Early to Rise...

Anyone who knows me knows that it is rare to see me out of bed at sunrise. I work from home, so I can wake up at 8:30 and be at my desk by 9:00. (Sometimes I'll put on my "all day clothes" during my mid-morning break about 10:30...) So when my wife asked me if we could go and see the balloons Labor Day morning, I was a bit hesitant. The alarm went off at 05:30, and I debated whether or not to get my family out of bed, or just claim that I had slept through the alarm. I had only one honest choice, so up we got and away we went.

Every Labor Day, Memorial Park hosts the Colorado Springs Balloon Classic. My wife counted almost 50 hot air balloons. It was really exciting to see the balloons up close. The kids were enthralled, and my 4 year old daughter even said that she wanted a ride! It was well worth getting out of bed, so I can now expand my (short) list of things worth waking up early for:

  • hunting

  • fishing

  • hot air balloons

  • hunting

  • umm...

Thursday, August 9, 2007


This is the way I play guitar when I dream...

Or like this...

By the way, he's playing a Taylor a lot like mine, except mine doesn't ever seem to sound that good... :o}

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Basic Human Rights in the Baghdad Surge

I enjoy reading firsthand reports from Iraq, since it appears that the MSM only tells us the bad things that are happening in a few areas of the country. In the process, I found some interesting quotes from a reporter covering the surge in Baghdad, Michal J. Totten's Middle East Journal which is covered regularly on FoxNews.com had some interesting things to say about the right to keep and bear arms - in the middle of an insurgency:
Not everything they do is humanitarian work, unless you consider counter-terrorism humanitarian work. In my view, you should. Few Westerners think of personal security as a human right, but if you show up in Baghdad I’ll bet you will. Personal security may, in fact, be the most important human right. Without it the others mean little. People aren’t free if they have to hide in their homes from death squads and car bombs.
This goes contrary to everything gun control advocates would tell us. They assume that the authorities are capable of and responsible for protecting the rest of us 24/7. The simple truth is they are not capable (ask your local police department their average response times for your area), and not responsible (per the Supreme Court). If you want to be safe, you have to take responsibility for your own protection. Like the Iraqis, we aren't free if we have to hide behind locked doors and alarm systems and pray that the bad guys go find some other house to terrorize.

This responsibility, however, is not without risk. The 82nd Airborne squad leader questioned an old man who, a few nights earlier from his rooftop, had "locked and loaded" on the patrol, thinking they were insurgents.
“It’s okay,” said the lieutenant. “You don’t need to be sorry. You have the right to defend yourself and your home. Just be sure if you have to shoot someone that you know who you’re shooting at. Thank you for your help, and I am sorry for waking you up.”
Even in a war torn country like Iraq, possibly especially in a place like Iraq, self-defense is considered a basic human right. With our relatively safe lives in the West, we take that for granted. Some even consider it unnecessary, but our Second Amendment freedom continues to be the right that guarantees all others.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Our New Church

After several weeks of church-hunting, and 5 or 6 churches, we have decided to attend Vanguard Church, which is just a short drive from our apartment and new house. Part of their vision for ministry, from their website is very compelling:
Vanguard Church endeavors to be on the cutting edge of reaching the population who has given up on church and God. The people of Vanguard are attempting to do new things in a REAL and refreshing way as we go into the frontlines of battle to rescue those in spiritual, emotional, and physical need.
For those of you who remember San Antonio Metro with Todd Phillips, this church has the same feel. The music has a little more edge than your typical "contemporary" service. The pastor goes verse by verse and makes it very practical (he's a DTS grad, after all). The church has a very strong Great Commission vision, a focus on building community and reaching the lost through relationships, and a set of aggressive ministry goals. They drew us in with their friendliness and a free cup of hot chai tea (free for first-time visitors).

We had a meeting with Scott, the small groups pastor today. We found out that the church is, as we hoped, a "ministry to postmoderns" rather than a "postmodern ministry." He said that he recommends people read The Universe Next Door by James Sire (who also wrote a good book on my shelf called Scripture Twisting: Twenty Ways The Cults Misread the Bible). Some of the good things about postmoderns are that they understand that theology is done in community, the importance of relationships, and the power of narrative, or stories. The major weakness of postmodernism is when it makes relativism an absolute, and Truth becomes some variation of "it's true for you, but not necessarily for me." Vanguard appears to be a ministry that emphasizes the good parts of postmodernism while rejecting the bad. In the midst of it, they reach those who would not feel comfortable or even welcome in the most well-meaning average church. They're not afraid to make waves, like when they used Harry Potter as an outreach tool. (Scott said they have several families still in the church who were brought in when their kids attended the outreach.)

We're looking forward to joining a church that keeps us from being too comfortable, that challenges us to grow and to take ministry to a new level. God has been teaching me in the last couple of years that I don't dream big enough. I can't wait to see what big things He has in store for us at Vanguard.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Front Sight Training Links

My good friend Keith told me about this great offer from Front Sight to receive some first-rate firearms training. Here is a list of links about them.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Welcome to Odegard Online!

I tried blogging once before. I made one post, then life got in the way and it was forgotten. I think the problem was I tried to be too narrow, too serious, rather than just to post whatever I happened to be thinking about that day.

We have a family blog, which is by invitation only for those we know in real life. If you are interested in family news, let me know and I'll consider sending you an invitation. This blog, on the other hand, will remain public. I think open conversation is healthy and challenging. Faith does not grow if it is not exercised. Our brains atrophy if we do not expose ourselves to new and opposing ideas. Even like-minded people can challenge us to go deeper and explore untested avenues of thought.

So, here it is. Let's pray that this one does not suffer the same fate as the last one!

- Jeff