Author Archives: ricshewell

ricshewell

I'm a youth pastor, and I'm half-korean. That should clear up a lot of your confusion.

The History of Rap ture

Oh, there's a video game, too? This just got real.
Oh, there’s a video game, too? This just got real.

“Ray! Their shoes, their socks, their clothes, everything was left behind! These people are gone!”

-Hattie Durham in Left Behind

Apparently there’s this movie coming out this weekend about the end times from a “Christian” perspective. I know this because a lot of people are blogging about how Rapture teachings are not biblical. Rather than arguing about the bibliosity™ of rapture teaching (the kind of teaching found in books and movies like “Left Behind,” “A Thief in the Night,” and “Late Great Planet Earth”), I thought I’d just make a timeline that shows how we got to thinking like this.* Enjoy!

. . .

years 27-37 ad:  

A peasant, pedestrian, preacher, named Jesus, announces the Kingdom of God, is crucified and resurrected. Implications for the next life are established. (might as well start at the beginning.)

years 70-90ish:  

“The Revelation” is written, the coming of Christ and the end of evil, in an apocalyptic style.

year 100:

Everybody starts predicting the date when Jesus will come back, even though Jesus basically said, “don’t bother.”

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30 Goals For My 3rd Decade (apparently this is my 4th decade)

I turned 30 last Saturday, and when I showed my ID to the woman handing out wrist bands as last week’s Zoo Brews (beer festival at a zoo = awesome), she burst into tearful laughter and told me I look way too young. I guess I’ve still got it.

Anyway, thinking about this next decade made me want to put together some goals, and I’m happy to share them with you. I broke them down into 3 areas of my life: career, ministry, and life. Here you go:

Career

1. Finish my Doctorate of Ministry (D. Min). I’m about a 3rd of the way through.

2. Receive ordination in the United Methodist Church. Pretty much just waiting on my D. Min.

3. Clean my office. I’m about a 3rd of the way through. read more »

My Work Week

What’s a Sabbath with you?

sabbath permission

God gathered up a people who only knew slavery in Egypt. As God started to shape them into a people that would bless the world, God gave a commandment to this group of former slaves: rest from work for a day each week. Imagine what it means to a group of former slaves. Their God is commanding them not to work. Beautiful. They are truly free. When Moses reiterates the 10 commandments in Deuteronomy, he adds this reminder to the Sabbath commandment: Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the sabbath day (Deut 5.15).

In short, my sermon yesterday was this: Sabbath is a gift from God to proclaim our freedom and God’s provision. You are not a slave to anything. God has set you free. You don’t have to work non-stop. God provides.

We also passed out Sabbath permission slips, which I thought were pretty cute. You can have one too.

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Religion Recovery

religionrecovery      It got in my head last January to do a sermon series on the ways people have been hurt by religion. Not a real novel idea. Move on over to google and you’ll find millions of posts about how religion, specifically Christianity, has let people down, done damage, and is making our world a mess. But what really got me thinking about doing this were all the conversations inside and outside of the church that I had will people. People who want to connect with God but won’t bring their children to a place where they are vulnerable to assault, people who want to connect with God but have been told by religious leaders that they won’t be joined with their dead children in heaven unless they change their lifestyle. You know the stories. You know the people.

      I thought, okay, let’s just address the ugliness head on. Let’s just call evil evil. Not in a way to disparage the church, but in a way to let the people we’ve wrong heal. Let’s talk about hypocrites, let’s talk about exclusion in the church, let’s talk about judgement and condemnation, let’s talk about abusive leaders. read more »

“I Will Gather Still Others to Those I Have Already Gathered”

Isaiah 56:3-8

The Lord says:

Don’t let the immigrant who has joined with the Lord say,
“The Lord will exclude me from the people.”
And don’t let the eunuch say,
“I’m just a dry tree.”
The Lord says:
To the eunuchs who keep my sabbaths,
choose what I desire,
and remain loyal to my covenant.
In my temple and courts, I will give them
a monument and a name better than sons and daughters.
I will give to them an enduring name
that won’t be removed.
The immigrants who have joined me,
serving me and loving my name, becoming my servants,
everyone who keeps the Sabbath without making it impure,
and those who hold fast to my covenant:
I will bring them to my holy mountain,
and bring them joy in my house of prayer.
I will accept their entirely burned offerings and sacrifices on my altar.
My house will be known as a house of prayer for all peoples,
says the Lord God,
who gathers Israel’s outcasts.
I will gather still others to those I have already gathered.

Some Stuff I’ve Learned from Performing Weddings

I found Candice and Heath's lack of faith... disturbing.
I found Candice and Heath’s lack of faith… disturbing.

     So yes, yesterday Joanna and I celebrated 7 years of marriage, and I’ve got marriage on the brain! I love marriage, I’m not going to lie. I also love doing weddings. When you’ve worked a big beautiful downtown church, you kind of end up doing a lot of weddings. I’ve performed around 25 weddings, which is probably not a lot for the average pastor, but for me and my stage of the game, it’s a lot. So in my little journey, I’ve learned a few things.

     1. The rings only fit about 50% of the time on the wedding day. You get it. All eyes on you. Making the biggest commitment of your life. Your emotions are high. This is a big deal. And now your stinking little fingers are plumping up like microwaved hotdogs. So in many cases, the wedding rings don’t fit in that moment. This is a tip I got from another pastor. I always warn the couple at the wedding rehearsal, tell them to get the ring on as far as they can but not to force it or hurt each other. Most couples give it the old college try during the service, anyway. I’ve seen some pain. Don’t worry people. It’s not a bad omen. It’s just biology.  read more »

Celebrating 7 with Joanna

7 is a biblically symbolic number for “completion” or “whole.” I don’t think we’ve completed our marriage, but I absolutely feel whole with you.  Happy Anniversary. To many more.

the first picture we ever took together! Ash Wednesday 2005.
the first picture we ever took together! Ash Wednesday 2006
June 22, 2006. I gave Joanna an important ring at Charlie's Gardens in McCall, ID.
June 22, 2006. I gave Joanna an important ring at Charlie’s Gardens in McCall, ID.

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Help Me Send Skyers to Summer Camp for Kids with Muscle Disease!

Hey all,

Did you know I am going to Jail!? For GOOD?

photo-11I’m raising money to help my 9 year old buddy, Skyers, get to Summer Camp for Kids with Muscle Disease this summer! I need your help this week! Go to my secure MDA page to donate now!

I am participating in the Idaho Falls Lock-Up on October 17th to support the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) of Idaho. I’m sure you would love to see me stay behind bars, but I hope you will help me get out! My bail has been set at $1600 – enough to send two local kids with Muscle Diseases to Summer Camp in McCall, Idaho.

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Portland, Hotel Bathroom 3 am, Thoughts on being better

where awake parents are exiled to.
where awake parents are exiled to.

Good morning or whatever it is for you when you read this. I am currently in the bathroom of of our hotel room in Portland, OR, and the time is about 3:00 am. More on why I’m in the bathroom later, and more on why I am awake later. I have a couple blog posts in the hopper and will be getting them up soon. I’m also going to try my hand at some videos soon, but for now, I just have a lot on my mind that I feel like I have to get out.

Well, now is later.

I’m in a bathroom
So, I’m here in Portland to attend my church’s Bishop’s Symposium, a time for all the United Methodist pastors in Oregon-Idaho to get together, hear big speakers, dream, worship, and make plans on how to better equip people to be awesome. Joanna and Clementine are joining me in Portland. We have family and friends here, and Clementine has never seen the ocean, which is what we’ll do tomorrow today.

Things are never that bad with these two.
Things are never that bad with these two.

So why am I in the bathroom blogging away on my iPad? Because we haven’t quite mastered the fine art of traveling with a 9 mo old. The trip’s been a little rough for baby Clementine-lemon-lime. She pretty much didn’t sleep yesterday and is pretty frustrated that her english just isn’t where she wants it to be right now. I try to encourage her, but she’s pretty hard on herself. So, I’m in the bathroom because C-town is asleep in the hotel room we’re sharing, and when she’s asleep, only sleeping people can be in that room. All the awake people have to go to the bathroom. read more »

How to Make Disciples and Why I Don’t Like the Sinners’ Prayer

     If converting people to Christianity was like buying shoes, the “Sinner’s Prayer” is like swiping the credit card and signing the receipt. It’s kind of the linchpin to a proselytizing session. The goal of all the selling, persuading, and smiling is to get the person that believes differently than you to say the “Sinner’s Prayer.” And like the credit card, the “Sinner’s Prayer” is an invention to make the transaction as simple as possible.

     I was trained as a teenager to proselytize my friends to my faith. I was trained to get into conversations, and the ultimate goal was to seal the deal by getting people to say the “Sinner’s Prayer.”

     My first encounter with the prayer was after a terrifying Christian play. I might have mentioned this before. I was 12 yrs old, and I attended a play consisting of something like 20 vignettes of people just before some sort of freak accident (like a brick wall falling on them). Each vignette then depicted the characters waking up in front of an angel with a book, and if they at some point in their life said the “Sinner’s Prayer” and really believed it, then the Hallelujah Chorus would play and they’d get to go to heaven. 

     However, the majority of the characters had not said this prayer, so Satan and his demons would slink from the wings to drag these poor souls, kicking and screaming, into a hell of cray paper and strobe lights. At the end of the play, some guy that I didn’t know and didn’t know me came out and told me that I needed to give my life to Jesus or I would go to hell, and then he led me and other scared children in the “Sinner’s Prayer.” Transaction complete, I even got a receipt.

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