Archive for December, 2007

Year in Review

Dave Barry has always been a favorite of mine.  If you’d like to get a quick hilarious rundown on the events of the past year, go check out his year in review.

December 30, 2007 at 7:20 am Leave a comment

Ten Thousand Hits

Well I don’t know when it happened, but this blog officially has over 10,000 hits. I would have never expected anywhere close to that when I started blogging, unless maybe just three or four of my friends clicked 3,000 times each! In any case, it feels good to hit the big 10K. Thanks for reading (and commenting) in 2007!

December 28, 2007 at 10:08 pm 1 comment

Bhutto and Jesus

I’m usually not well-informed regarding international news, but for whatever reason, I’ve really been following the Benazir Bhutto assassination. The thing that I’ve been fascinated with was her choice to return to Pakistan in spite of the nearly inevitable consequences of her arrival. Last night, Wolf Blitzer and assorted security experts were astonished by her lack of concern for personal safety as she continually left the “bubble of security” to mingle with the crowd and appear through the sun roof of the car in which she was riding.

Again and again, I couldn’t help but think of how this mirrors, at least on the surface, the political implications Jesus’ return to Jerusalem, “When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51).” Now, I don’t want to go any further down the road of drawing parallels between Bhutto and Jesus; that’s not my point. I’m just saying her choice to return to Pakistan in spite of the nigh inevitable consequences parallels Jesus’ decision to go up to Jerusalem in spite of what was in store for him there. Bhutto’s decisions simply gave me a modern parallel of Jesus setting his face toward Jerusalem.

As I pondered this, I once again realized the incredible strange reality of the gospel accounts of Jesus. CNN’s coverage of Jesus’ political execution wouldn’t have ended with the cross and extended pondering about the future of Israel. It would have probably died down a bit, only to take off three days later with the strange claims of his followers, “He is no longer dead, he is risen!” Imagine that. What in the world would the Situation Room do with that kind of news?

December 28, 2007 at 8:39 am Leave a comment

A Few Updates

You’ll notice a few updates to the blog. I’ve put a new header at the top, I’ve gently re-written the “about” page, and I’ve added an avatar with my picture. Notice, I didn’t say improvements…just updates! 🙂

My family and I have enjoyed the time with family and friends. I hope you all had a terrific Christmas as well!

December 26, 2007 at 12:11 pm 1 comment

Christmas Books

I always get books for Christmas from my Mom, and this year was no different.  So, my latest additions are:

They Like Jesus...Leviticus

I’ve already started reading Dan Kimball’s book (I read his online chapter awhile back), and I really like his emphasis on getting outside of the office and living missionally as a pastor.  The other book, a commentary on Leviticus, is more of a reference work for leading bible studies, answering questions, and preaching.  I also got a gift certificate to Amazon.com, so I’ll be getting a nice assortment of books in a few weeks, including my books for my January D.Min. class.  2008 should be a good year for reading!

December 26, 2007 at 8:04 am Leave a comment

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

christmas-2007.jpg

December 25, 2007 at 10:20 pm Leave a comment

Catching Meddlers: Top Five Posts of 2007

I loved Gavin’s idea about posting our top five posts of 2007. I went through and checked out the hits for my posts, and these are the five with the highest totals (with #1 being the most viewed).  Apparently ordination questions are far more popular than any of us could have ever imagined.  Personally, of these five, I like #2 and #4 best.

  1. Ordination Questions: Traditional Evangelical Doctrines
  2. Our God is More Merciful Than That
  3. Ordination Questions: Kingdom of God, Resurrection, and Eternal Life
  4. Ordination Questions: Nature & Mission of the Church
  5. A Good Man is Hard to Find on Ash Wednesday

December 20, 2007 at 5:09 pm 2 comments

Advent with Eugene Peterson, No. 3

I’ve finished Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places, and I must say I got far more out of it in the second reading. I usually don’t read things twice. I’m not the kind of guy who will watch a movie over and over again either, unless I just love it. But during my first read of Peterson’s book I kept thinking, “Man, there is so much stuff here…I should slow down and really let it sink in.” In any case, this will probably be my last Advent post on Peterson, and I just picked a quote that I underlined and starred, which means I really liked it.

Given the prominence of the Supper in our worshiping lives, the prominence of meals in the Jesus work of salvation, it is surprising how little notice is given among us to the relationship between the Meal and our meals. Our surprise develops into a sense of urgency when we recognize that a primary, maybe the primary, venue for evangelism in Jesus’ life was the meal. Is Jesus’ preferred setting for playing out the work of salvation on this field of history only marginally available to us? By marginalizing meals of hospitality in our daily lives have we inadvertently diminished the work of evangelism? And is there anything that can be done about it?

Reading this during Advent, I have a lot of thoughts swirling through my head. On one hand, I’m thinking about the day I have ahead of me. I’ll be taking food baskets to three different families in town today. I do have some relationship with each of these families, but I have never sat down to a meal with them outside of the Church. Think about that.

The other thing this makes me think about is Christmas meals with family. There are many folks in my family who don’t know Christ in a real way, and I wonder how my actions point, or fail to point, to Christ in acts of evangelistic hospitality.

Maybe you will be out and about taking part in similar activities. Hopefully in this time of meal after meal after meal, you can find ways to make Christ known in the meals you participate in. Then, you can imitate Christ in “evangelistic eating!”

December 20, 2007 at 9:24 am 1 comment

Lessons from Craig Groeschel @ 40

At the ripe old age of 40, Craig Groeschel has had a series of posts on 40 things he wished he had been told at 20. I’m 10 years late, but maybe they’ll be worth hearing at 30! haha If any stand out to you as particularly important or insightful, make a note in the comments.

  1. Life is short. Make every day count for God’s glory.
  2. Life is short. Don’t take it too seriously.
  3. Ministry is a marathon, not a sprint.
  4. Jesus cares more about the church than you do.
  5. You can’t please everyone…so why try?
  6. People will criticize you. Quit whining. Get used to it.
  7. Three months from now, you won’t even remember most of the things that are bothering you today.
  8. You can’t do it all. Stop trying.
  9. God called you because He is good, not because you are.
  10. If you blame yourself for the bad results in ministry, you’ll likely also take credit for the good results.
  11. Become close friends with other pastors in your town (as many as you can).
  12. Your kids will be grown before you know it. Don’t sacrifice them on the altar of ministry.
  13. Your ministry isn’t your god. God is your God.
  14. You know how to give and how to minister to others. If you don’t learn how to receive, you’ll burn out and/or die.
  15. Studying for sermons doesn’t replace your personal time with God and in His word.
  16. Err on the side of generosity.
  17. Believe in people that others overlook.
  18. If you’re going to reach people that others aren’t, you’ll have to do things that others won’t.
  19. Your integrity matters more than you can imagine.
  20. Hire staff members that you like.
  21. When you have a tough decision to make, but you know it’s right, make it immediately. (Like pulling off a Band-Aid: do it fast, and all at once.)
  22. Hire slowly. Fire quickly.
  23. You can’t change people. Only God can.
  24. Don’t criticize others’ ministries. Yours isn’t nearly as perfect as you think it is.
  25. Take care of yourself. Eat right. Rest. Exercise. Take time off. No one else can do that for you.
  26. If you don’t take much time off, it’s because you’re proud, and you think you’re more necessary than you really are.
  27. Don’t just delegate responsibility. Delegate authority.
  28. Laugh frequently.
  29. People will leave your church. People you love and trust will leave your church. Don’t take it personally.
  30. When you suffer and hurt because of ministry, worship Jesus all the more.
  31. Talk about Jesus every time you preach.
  32. Be careful what you say. You’re being watched (and recorded).
  33. Don’t return emails when you’re angry.
  34. Check to make sure your microphone is turned off before you use the bathroom. Double-check.
  35. Check to make sure your zipper is zipped every time before you preach. Double-check.
  36. Love your wife more than you love the church. The church is Jesus’ bride, not yours.
  37. Always be caught speaking well of others.
  38. Compliment, encourage, and build up your staff and volunteers.
  39. Hand write thank you notes.
  40. Smile and look people in the eyes when you talk to them.

 

December 14, 2007 at 12:49 pm 1 comment

Advent with Eugene Peterson, No. 2

I’m still hanging out with Eugene Peterson’s Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places during Advent. It has been a great, albeit slow, read. To get Peterson, sometimes you really have to slow down and absorb what he’s trying to say.

In the following passage, I didn’t have to slow down. In fact, I wanted to speed up and fly right by!! In this passage, Peterson is talking about the idolatry of trying to live our faith disconnected from the places where we find ourselves, especially the workplace. Rather than risking everything and trying to find creative ways to live faithfully within our jobs we instead, “fantasize about jobs in which we can wholeheartedly work, in the wonderful phrase, ‘to the glory of God.'” He also argues that we look to the Christian marketplace to fulfill our need for a deeper faith.

“…what we do is look around for ways to affirm and cultivate our new life in Christ outside our workplace. And we soon find, quite to our delight, that there is a lot to choose from. A huge religious marketplace has been set up in North America to meet the needs and fantasies of people just like us. There are conferences and gatherings custom-designed to give us the lift we need. Books and videos and seminars promise to let us in on the Christian “secret” of whatever we feel is lacking in our life: financial security, well-behaved children, weight-loss, exotic sex, travel to holy sites, exciting worship, celebrity teachers. The people who promote these goods and services all smile a lot and are good-looking…(p. 125).”

Peterson then suggests that when we get caught up in this discipleship via consumerism, “we have become consumers of packaged spiritualities.”

“This also is idolatry. We never think of using this term for it since everything we are buying or paying for is defined by the adjective “Christian.” But idolatry it is nevertheless: God packaged as a product; God depersonalized and made available as a technique or a program. The Christian market in idols has never been more brisk or lucrative (p. 125).”

Well…ouch. I’ve asked my family to buy me Amazon giftcards this year so I could buy tons of great “Christian” stuff to read. Hey, a new prayerbook would deepen my prayer life. A new commentary would certainly spark a renewed interest in Scripture. Doggone-it, my faith in Christ will be deeper and stronger in the new year because of these purchases…

Idolatry, huh? I suppose at times, God as a technique or a program is much more attractive than a living and active God.  Maybe this Christmas when I’m opening my new commentaries, prayer books, and emergent manifestos on leadership (w/apologies to Tim Keel, whose new book I can’t wait to read), I’ll remember that God doesn’t fit in a package. Maybe I’ll look up long enough from my new cache of books and catch a glimpse of the manger. Maybe then I’ll remember what I really need is an ongoing relationship with the living, active, Creator God, who is too big for words and much too big to wrap.

December 12, 2007 at 2:11 pm Leave a comment

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