Friday, November 28, 2008

TGIF

We had a very nice Thanksgiving at Jan's sister's home in West Virginia. Today was a busy day. We traveled home and then I went to basketball practice. Our first game is Tuesday, and I hope we'll be ready.

There's a lot of good stuff out there. Here's a sample:

Pam the Cleaning Lady.

Good article from John Ortberg. (HT: Scot McKnight)

Jeff McQ on messed up people.

Jonathan Brink is abandoning conservatism.

Len at Next Reformation is hearing rumors.

Hidden Worship.

Brother Maynard has a new God.

Cool church architecture. (HT: Brother Maynard)

Have you seen the Hitler video with the different subtitles? The emerging church version is here.

This is just so wrong. (HT: Jared Wilson)

Karen Swank says, "Today, I will love."

I hope your weekend is wonderful and that the Father blesses you.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving

This is the time of year when we stop and take stock of the blessings God has given us. While many just give lip service to the concept of giving thanks, gratitude is vital to our emotional and spiritual health.

I am thankful for many things. God has blessed me with a wonderful wife who puts up with my foibles and all the changes in thinking I have been going through. Jan's love is a major blessing. The Father has allowed me to be Dad to two fantastic children, Josh and Jennie, who have grown into adults who love Jesus and who will be used by God for his kingdom. My sister Debbie, and her family are a blessing and I am thankful for their love. Jan's mom and dad have always treated me as a son and their love and support is huge, and her sisters and their families are a blessing as well.

I am thankful to have grown up in a family where there was unconditional love, and where an example of simple, true faith was evident. My mom and dad are the major factor behind who I am today.

I am grateful to the Father for adopting me as his child and showing me that his love and grace are bigger than anything I have done or will do. God has worked in me the past four years and has brought me out of a performance based mindset into a relationship of love, a relationship that sees God as Abba, not as someone who is always looking for how many times I screw up, and waiting for me to "get right with him" before he blesses me.

I am thankful for the (thousands?), (hundreds?), (tens?), ones of readers who are a little bit interested in my babblings.

There are so many things that I am thankful for. To list them all would take too long and tax your patience beyond reason.

What are you thankful for?

Friday, November 21, 2008

TGIF

This is actually being posted on Saturday because Firefox kept closing on me last night and so I couldn't finish until today.

Today was one of those days when TGIF is really meaningful. The kids at school were a little antsy. Maybe it has something to do with the break coming up.

Here are my suggestions for some good weekend reading:

Interview with Jim Palmer.

it's amazing what you can buy these days.

Interesting things going on in Greenville, SC.

The ball has been dropped.

Pam muses about just us love.

imonk writes about the unresolved tensions of evangelicalism. Part 1 is here.

Breaking news from Chicago.

A coffee analogy from a non-coffee drinker.

A great idea for Christmas.

Irony from robbymac.

Church architecture. (HT: Brother Maynard)

Jared Wilson on numerolatry and the church.

A new network that sounds very interesting.


I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving next week.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Advent Conspiracy

As we near the Christmas season, I would encourage you to consider doing something different this year. Remember that we celebrate the advent into our world of the One who came to give himself for us and to do for us what we could not do for ourselves. The King has come and his Kingdom is here now as well as coming fully in the future. We are agents of that Kingdom and are called to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God. Think about how you can do that this Christmas.


Check out http://www.adventconspiracy.org/

Friday, November 14, 2008

TGIF

After two weeks of basketball practice, I'm finding that my voice has a long way to go to be ready for the season. The leaves have changed and are now starting to fall off the trees, so it looks like it'll be time to take care of that bit of yard work.

Here's some of the good stuff:

Invisible children.

A pastor abandons his church. (HT: A Former Leader)

Is the end at hand?

Josh ponders the finite.

Could the culture war be ending? (HT: Scot McKnight)

Tyler Dawn has something to say to drive-by commenters. (HT: Jeff McQ)

The Missional Transition Into Chaos.

I get the feeling that Robbymac doesn't like rules-based religion.

Challenging post from Jared Wilson.

Enjoy your weekend.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Muddled

N.T. Wright uses the term "muddled" to describe those whose thinking is not altogether organized or clear. That word aptly describes where my head is at right now.

Most of you know that I am in the midst of trying to figure out what it is that God wants me to do concerning "church", and the timing of that decision. I'm kind of in what imonk calls the "evangelical wilderness". I've been trying for a couple of years to influence the congregation I worship with in a direction that is far different from church as they've always known it.

I started reading The Present Future by Reggie McNeal, and God is using it to break my heart and show me the ways I have actually hindered the Kingdom in an attempt to help. I grew up in very conservative churches where the feeling was that as the culture drifted farther and farther from God, the job of the church was to hunker down in the bunker and lob hand grenades of "truth" at the wicked ones who were outside. As my thinking changed I began to think that church was to be a place that was so dynamic, professional, and slickly packaged that it would attract folks to come into the church and be saved. That was my mindset as I began to try and influence change in the church.

Over the past few months, God has been shaping my thinking and showing me that his heart is toward the poor, the downcast, the oppressed. The Father has shown me that his grace is far bigger than I can realize and that attempts on my part to limit grace are not only doomed to failure, but are actually sin. He has shown me that my job is to do two things: go and be. I am to go, not only about my daily life, but intentionally where those away from God are. I am to be an ambassador of the King, a person who shows others the beauty of Jesus and the magnificence of the Kingdom.

Reggie McNeal writes about the mission of the church and how so much of what churches do are more for the comfort of the membership than for the Kingdom. I totally agree that the missio dei, the mission of God, is our calling as followers of Jesus Christ. What has muddled me, and twisted me up in a knot, is that I don't know what to do next.

I know that what I write may be read by members of the current church (my post Autopsy caused a mini storm), but I have to be open here. I honestly don't see the church moving beyond the "we need to focus on teaching our people and if the rest of the world ever catches on, they'll come here " mentality to a missional one. Because of this, I think my time there is quickly drawing to a close.

The question is, when and how? The pastor is a godly man who I have gotten to know and love over the past couple of years, and I have tried to be supportive of him and his family. He has tried to bring about needed change in the church, but has been met with opposition all along. My heart goes out to him, and that is what makes the decision to leave such a hard one.

I believe now that God is calling me to go down another road on my journey. Where that road will lead, I don't know. Last Sunday night Jan and I joined with a group for worship and Bible study. Whether that will grow into something the Father wants us to be a part of remains to be seen. There are good people in that group, so even if God widens our circle of friends, it will be good.

Stay tuned to this channel. I'm sure adventures await.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans' Day

Today is Veterans' Day. Both my father and father-in-law served in World War II. I am thankful for all those who served this country in the Armed Forces, whether they agreed with the reasons behind the wars or not. War is a terrible thing, and I thank God that in his providence, neither I nor my children have been called to go to war. Those who do go to fight for their country deserve our respect and gratitude.

When you cross paths with a veteran today, thank them for their service.

Friday, November 7, 2008

TGIF

This week has been historic. No matter who you voted for, it's good that we have reached the point that an African-American can be elected President. I hope everyone enjoyed their free Starbucks coffee.

I started basketball practice this week. As always, I'm looking forward to the season.

Here's the good stuff:

Many of the posts are on the recent political happenings. Bob Hyatt weighs in here, Dan Edelen gives us his opinion here, and Rich Wagner throws in his thoughts here.

Continuing a theme, Josh gives us his thoughts. imonk knows why some find the culture wars so appealing, and Jeff McQ writes about change. Jonathan Brink has written a letter to the next President.

Worshiping the Golden Calf? (HT: Michael Spencer)

Brother Maynard reviews Scot McKnight's Blue Parakeet.

I hope your weekend is enjoyable.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Prayer

Father,

We pray for President-elect Obama. We pray that you would bless him and protect him. We ask that you would enable him to govern with justice, mercy, and humility. Let him know that he is in such a high position because of your grace, and that he is your servant. We pray for his family as they face the pressures of a life far different from what they have known.

We pray for your people. This election season has been more divisive than any other and your Church needs healing and reconciliation. Remind us that, no matter how we view politics, we all serve the True King. Help us to keep our allegiance where it belongs, and to represent the Kingdom of God as ambassadors who tell and show others the beauty of that Kingdom. Instead of being known for our cultural and political views, let us be known for the love that we show others.

Each day, in all we do, let your name be lifted up and hallowed. Let your Kingdom come in our actions and attitudes. Let us do your will on this earth as it is done in heaven. Meet our daily needs, and keep us grateful.
Help us to forgive others because of the great forgiveness you have given us. Keep us from all temptation, and deliver us from evil. The Kingdom, all honor, and all glory belongs to you.

Amen

Saturday, November 1, 2008

1 Corinthians 13 for the election

If I speak with a silver tongue and can sway hundreds, but have not love,
I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all polls,
and if I have a faith that can move political mountains, but have not love,
I am nothing.

If I give all I possess to the national committee
and surrender my time to run a phone bank, but have not love,
I gain nothing.

Love is patient with those of the other party.
It is not jealous of opponent's fund raising,
it does not boast of its candidate, it is not proud.

It does not rudely argue political points, it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered when others disagree, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in negative campaigns
but rejoices in the truth.

It always protects the reputation of Christ, always trusts God is in control,
always hopes for the best, always perseveres in living as a disciple of Jesus.

Love never fails. But where there are campaign promises,
they will be broken;
where there are silver tongued orators,
they will be stilled;
where there is knowledge of how to govern,
it will pass away.

For we have partial knowledge and we govern with that knowledge,
but when the True King comes, imperfect government will disappear.

When I was a partisan, I talked like a partisan,
I thought like a partisan,I reasoned like a partisan.

When I recognized who the True King is,
I put partisan ways behind me.

Now we see but a poor reflection;
then we shall see face to face.

Now I know in part;
then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain:
faith, hope and love.

But the greatest of these is love.

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