Sunday, March 18, 2007

Man Pics

I love my son Drew and I love teaching him about what it means to be a Christian man. God has given the grace to me to love those two things more than my job at being a pastor. I also love it when Drew gets his hands on a camera. Drew is a beast when it comes to games and cameras. Its like seeing the world through his eyes. Who wouldn't want to go back and live those younger years when all you cared about was taking pictures of your foot. I don't know what Drew will do for a living when he grows up, but if he loves the Lord his God with all his heart and he grows up "to be the man," I don't care about the rest. There is nothing more I need him to do or be.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Do The Next Thing

I am not sure what the copy right rules are in blogging, but I do know that there are many great blogs out there that are hard to top. One such blogger is Justin Taylor who writes on Between Two Worlds. The other day, at a time that I needed it, he posted this poem that was quoted by professor Ray Van Neste. I usually never enjoy poems like others do. I often wonder what's wrong with me when I hear someone say "Listen to this poem, isn't great. It just changed my life." Ok, they don't really say it changed their life, but I obviously don't get as much out of it as they do. But I ate up this poem. It doesn't change lives, but I think it helps get me out of bed some mornings. It is encouraging to know that God doesn't expect us to take multiple steps but just one more with His grace. Listen to the words of this professor and then hear the poem, it even ryhmes.

Professor Van Neste writes:

Here is a poem which contains much wisdom for Christian living in general and is very helpful for pastoral ministry as well. . . . There is much simple wisdom here. Do you find yourself on Monday feeling your soul is scorched, terribly aware of your inadequacies, fearful of what is to come? Since God is still in heaven and His steadfast Word declares His love for you, just carry on and do the next thing. Take the next step of obedience. Do you worry how your children will turn out, what the future will hold for your church, how the finances will look at the end of the month? Resist the allure of self pity, and just take the next step of obedience. We are typically given enough grace just for the next step. Fret not about what lies around the bend. Perform faithfully the next step, and we will make it home safely in the end. This poem is a balm to my soul.

Here it is, lightly modernized. The author is unknown:

From an old English parsonage down by the sea
There came in the twilight a message to me;
Its quaint Saxon legend, deeply engraven,
Hath, it seems to me, teaching from Heaven.
And on through the doors the quiet words ring
Like a low inspiration: “DO THE NEXT THING.”

Many a questioning, many a fear,
Many a doubt, hath its quieting here.
Moment by moment, let down from Heaven,
Time, opportunity, and guidance are given.
Fear not tomorrows, child of the King,
Trust them with Jesus, do the next thing

Do it immediately, do it with prayer;
Do it reliantly, casting all care;
Do it with reverence, tracing His hand
Who placed it before thee with earnest command.
Stayed on Omnipotence, safe 'neath His wing,
Leave all results, do the next thing

Looking for Jesus, ever serener,
Working or suffering, be thy demeanor;
In His dear presence, the rest of His calm,
The light of His countenance be thy psalm,
Strong in His faithfulness, praise and sing.
Then, as He beckons thee, do the next thing

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

“That bwessed awangment”

Last year about this time, I was speaking with another preacher whom I have not had the interest to get to know. In every career and calling, there are numerous men and women who love their job. But even more than their love for the job, when you get around them, you begin to have the same passion and love for the tasks of the career as Tiger Woods swinging his first practice swing at Augusta. Then there are those in your career who you honestly wish had a different calling so that your name and theirs would never be associated. It really makes me feel sympathetic for salesmen who actually are honest and those lawyers who actually do their job because they really do want to help people. I sometimes feel like the world could look at preachers and think some of the same thoughts as they do with salesmen and lawyers. In fact, now that I think of it, all three careers do have men with slicked back hair and Rolexes on their wrists. The question is what do they have to do today to get you in their church.

This preacher said something to me that day which I have not been able to get out of my mind since he said it. We were talking about churches (as if you could not guess that part) and one particular church came into the discussion. The first and only thing he said about the church was “oh, that’s not a real church!” That has been the thought I have been wrestling with in my mind all year long. I have thought about speaking to this preacher to discover what he really meant by his statement, but he was more than willing to let that one statement capture his opinion on the church. I wanted to ask him to explain his definition of a “real” church. I felt like the Enigo Montoya in The Princess Bride leaning over to his bald headed friend, Vizzini, saying, “You keep using that word – I do not think it means what you think it means.”

After all, what is a “real” church? I think my definition and his definition were not the same. But more importantly, what is the Bible’s definition of the church because it doesn’t matter what I think or what he thinks, it does matter how God defines it. Paul never says “the church is…” Peter never writes, “this is how you do church.” I know the Bible is clear on the fact that there is a group of people who are “the called out ones.” The Bible is just as clear when it identifies the rest of mankind. There is a Church expressed in several smaller bodies of believers and then there is a non-church. No doubt, there are probably some of the non-church mixed in with the church, but only by their claims. There are the saved and there are the lost. This, no one can deny that God has revealed in His word. But what criteria does one use when they look at one group of people and says “that is not a real church?” What does it mean to be the church? Are Sundays the only days you see the church? Is what we do today what Jesus had in mind when he spoke with Peter and said “on this rock, I will build my church?” If one wanted to plant a church, when would they be able to turn around and say “I planted a church.”? I need to think more about this and look more at what Scripture says, but right now I got to go watch The Princess Bride again. Have I mentioned I also need to reorganize my priorities?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

What is this an inquisition? (Part 2)

Day 6 of the winter storm 2007, and still couped up. No one has lost their mind (...yet). But I have found another quiz. This one is more practical and I felt better after seeing my results of this one. By the way, intellectual doesn't mean smart. It just means that I can fill out quizes like the other day. And being contemplative and intellectual at the same time, means I need to get out more.

What's your Style? Find out here.

Natualists: 7
Naturalists Draw near to God through nature.

Sensate: 8
Sensates draw near to God through the senses.

Traditionalists: 11
Traditionalists draw near to God through ritual and symbol.

Ascetics: 9
Ascetics draw near to God through solitude and simplicity.

Activists: 11
Activists draw near to God through bringing about social change.

Caregivers: 9
Caregivers draw near to God through caring for and serving others.

Enthusiast: 16
Enthusiasts draw near to God through celebration and mystery.

Contemplative: 20
Contemplatives draw near to God through personal adoration and heartfelt devotion.

Intellectual: 24
Intellectuals draw near to God through their minds.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

What is this, an inquisition?

Staying home for a couple of days has left me surfing the web through my “cans tied to a string” telephone lines. I ran across these quizzes that I am sure will only be interesting to seminary students and alumni. But even if you are neither one, God loves you the same, and I think anyone can fill these out. I also believe you don’t need a seminary degree to have fun.

They are quizzes that claim to determine your theological worldview and whether or not you are a heretic? Just to keep everything in perspective, some of these questions are loaded. Some of them also may require you to pretend to be Catholic. They may cause you to get out your wikipedia’s and if they cause you to get out your Bibles, even better. The ironic thing is at the end of both of them, an ad for “mood rings” pops up.

The funny thing is that I took them both and to be honest I got worried on some questions. I thought to myself, “why am I getting so nervous?” As if the results would tally up and all of sudden the Spanish inquisition would bust down the door and haul me away. I guess it was all those years at seminary watching others pointing fingers at preachers and pastors who did not comply with their own traditions, practices, and teachings. Some of it was justified since you can’t really hold up truth unless you compare it to falsehood. Anyhoo, I suddenly came to myself midway through the interrogation and thought “this is silly, I believe the Bible is my only authority, not seminary, or any student, alumni, or peer.” And by Bible, I mean God who wrote it and gave it to us. So for a typical people pleaser, this is a small breakthrough. Here are my results, I now can be officially labeled. Take both of them, so I can compare myself to you and see if I’m ok.

You scored as Chalcedon compliant. You are Chalcedon compliant. Congratulations, you're not a heretic. You believe that Jesus is truly God and truly man and like us in every respect, apart from sin. Officially approved in 451.

Chalcedon compliant



























Take the quiz:
Are you a heretic?
created with QuizFarm.com

You scored as Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan. You are an evangelical in the Wesleyan tradition. You believe that God's grace enables you to choose to believe in him, even though you yourself are totally depraved. The gift of the Holy Spirit gives you assurance of your salvation, and he also enables you to live the life of obedience to which God has called us. You are influenced heavly by John Wesley and the Methodists.

Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan


Reformed Evangelical


Neo orthodox








Classical Liberal


Roman Catholic


Modern Liberal

Take the quiz:
What's your theological worldview?
created with QuizFarm.com

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Dad's Day Off

Sundays are usually work days for me, but today the Boss gave me the day off. So after some family worship time (I could not let that sermon go to waste), we went sledding. I thought it was the perfect day to go sledding with all the sleet that had fallen the last two days. I soon discovered that sleet is better when it has had time to melt and get “slick.” I was thankful for God giving us some quality family time, but I will give you two guesses on how many times we did this.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

What Fig Leaves?

For my birthday, my parents took Chris and I to a very nice steakhouse. We had a great time of visiting and laughing. We also had a very chatty waiter. As the meal went on, he kept referring to his “significant other” and “his better half.” Now I will admit here that I am not always the sharpest tool in the shed, so along about dessert I began to think,

“Why does he keep phrasing it that way? It is so awkward. Why not just say ‘my wife’? It would be so much easier, oh wait, maybe they're not married. Of course, he could just say fiancé or girlfriend. No, he is wearing a wedding ring. So why not just say ‘wife’ unless she is not…Oh."

Then I began to think about how much we as humans want our sin to be socially acceptable. We rename and repackage it, trying desperately to surround ourselves with others who will join in this charade with us. So we say we have “self-control issues” instead of just admitting we have rage. We say she is a "talker" rather than a gossip. Whatever our bully sin is, there is a way to present it in a more positive light. This desire is what makes it so easy for me to see a splinter in my brother’s eye and miss the plank in my own. It is what makes me able to “strain out a gnat, yet gulp down a camel!” (Matthew 23:24)
How this must break the heart of God to see His children still running around grabbing leaves to cover what they don’t want everyone to see and trying to hide from Him. God wants a real relationship with me, and He wants me to have real relationships with others. But this is not possible as long as I am covering, repackaging and hiding. Only through Jesus is this possible. Even now, God’s call echoes through Scripture to each of us, calling us to lay down our false coverings and be cleansed, for real. “Come now and let us reason together, says the Lord. Though your sins be like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be like wool.” Isaiah 1:18