Thursday, June 30, 2005

Today's Wake Up Call

This morning, before the crack of dawn, both of my children came and climbed into bed with me. As I attempted to drift back to sleep, my cell phone rang, and it was Max. He has been in New York on mission with some kids from Bacon and from Artesia. He called me to let me know that they were on the early show! And, sure enough, I was able to catch them on TV and managed to get the event recorded. It was a great reminder this morning to pray for them as they work with immigrants in New York's Time Square area.
I usually assume when my phone rings that early that it is an emergency, but this morning's call was a blessing. To see the faces of the students that I love so dearly on a trip that I had been working on for almost 18 months was a great blessing! James, Reagan, and Max have taken our students to a culture that is in desperate need of the presence of Christ.
To you guys in New York: Thanks for the call, and the sign! I wish I was there with you. This has been a hard week knowing you are there and I am here. Do good and make my proud! More than that, advance the kingdom and bring Christ's presence to the immigrant culture. You're in my prayers! All my love.

Monday, June 27, 2005

And Tim left today...

I love church league softball! It's a great time to get together with the guys and get spanked like we did tonight, 26 -2! WOW! But, really, it is fun To all of you who have recently joined the blog dialogue, you can respond to blogs or even register to post your own. I thought this might be a good way to just check in and see how life is going.
Life this week will be crazy. We dropped Tim off today to head back to Germany. It'll be weird not having him here. I walked by the room that we had made into his, and it missing the big tan curtain, which seemed really weird. For those of you who don't know who Tim is, he was the exchange student from Verden, Germany, that has lived with us since October 1, 2004. He turned 16 here with us, and became a Christian in our driveway. Be praying that Tim will be a bold witness to his pre-christian friends and family in Germany.
In addition to Tim leaving, we've got a friend flying in tomorrow to talk about future ministry opportunities, the youth group is coming over Wednesday to watch Napolean and have fish sticks and tater tots. Thursday I have a dentist appointment (yuck), and Friday golf with my father-in-law. All the meanwhile, I'll be traveling back and forth to the camp to do our discipleship meetings and lead Tuesday night worship! It's gonna be a crazy week.
Be praying for us this week, and for me the next couple weeks as I have camps coming up. Super Summer is the second week of July, and Master's Camp is the third week of July. What a crazy month! Lot's of ministry and lots to pray about. Keep us in your prayers!

Friday, June 24, 2005

Caryn's Birthday!

Today is Caryn's 30th birthday! If you know her, or see her, be sure to wish her a happy birthday! I think we're going to go see the new Batman movie and have dinner at Harrigan's.
On a spiritual note, we have a meeting early next week with a missional church leader from Houston named Roy. We'll be discussing being involved in an emerging church network here in West Texas. I'm excited about being involved with this group, as we examine church life for this new generation. In preparation for this discussion, I've been reading "The Shaping of Things to Come"
It has really challenged the way I envision church. I am most challenged by the new paradigms that are out there, and trying to transfer the principles to West Texas/Bible belt ministry. As Roy, Caryn, and myself explore some of these things on Tuesday, I hope to really pick his brain on some of these issues. I've enjoyed the dialogue that I've had about these new paradigms. One of my close friends, Barry Bridges, has been out on the frontlines exploring these things for about 5 years now. He has been kind enough to keep me involved in the dialogue, as well as allowing me to be a part of his organic plant in San Antonio, Tx. He is putting together a network of like-minded followers in hopes of expanding our discussion, and providing a resource for those out there who long for the same things we do in relationship with the local body and meaningful ministry. I say all of this to say that there are some exciting things taking shape in the church, and in our ministry. I never realized what God would begin to do with me when he moved me out of my "comfortable" ministry niche. I have really sensed a calling to pastoring a church based upon the new paradigm of ministry. The "new" paradigm isn't really new, though. It is more grass-roots and organic than the modern ministry model. At the same time, it resembles the New Testament Church more closely than the corperate model of the modern church. We're talking about organic models of ministry based upon small group ministry that emphasizes relationship over attendance. Plugging people into relationship becomes a primary goal, replacing the drive for having people attend on Sunday morning. By utilizing personal relationships, believers get the opportunity to share their faith, and plug their friends into Jesus in personal relationship with Him. Good Stuff! For more about ministry like this, you can check out these ministries: , , , , ,

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

It's Good To Be Home...

Some days I really miss the wear and tear of being full time on church staff. In many ways, you stay so busy that you really don't have time to think...and that can be good and bad. The converse is true, too. Sometimes all you can do is think, and that's good and bad. But there comes a time when thought must be put into practice, and that's the part that I've been missing lately. Yesterday, I sat with two other Pastors and discussed a different way to administer the Lord's Supper in our Sunday services. It was nice to talk about thoughts and motives. It was refreshing to talk meanings, mechanics, and practical execution. But, the greatest part is that we'll implement and do this Sunday! Yesterday's conversation was like coming home after a long absence. I've been gone from my last church for two months now, and what I shared in yesterday was a taste of the life I've lived for a long time! It was good. I am thankful to my friends who have allowed me to pursue my passion for ministry with them in their contexts. To the men and women who have given me an outlet to put all my "of late" thinking into practice, Thank You! May we always be people who think and do what is pleasing to God.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

What does the Bible say about itself?

Have you ever wondered if the Bible has anything to say about how we should read it? The Bible does give instructions on how to interpret it in many places. One such place is 2 Tim. 3: 16-17, which says, "All Scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correction, and training in righteousness, that the man of God may be thouroughly equipped for every good work." Paul makes two interesting observations about Scripture: it is God-breathed, and it is useful (or profitable in the KJV). First, Scripture is God-breathed. Paul uses an interesting phrase here for inspiritation. He gives the reader insight into the nature of Scripture using verbage that will remind Timothy of the creation of humanity. In Genesis 2:7 we find God giving life to humanity in a different way than He did the rest of creation. He placed His eternal nature into humanity, and Paul is drawing a parallel here about that event and the source/nature of Scripture. So, all Scripture is something from God that has an eternal quality to it.
Second, he tells Timothy that all Scripture is useful or profitable. Scripture has more to offer than just a good book to read. It brings profit to the reader. In Proverbs 3, Solomon makes the same assertion about the wisdom of Scripture, telling us that it is more profitable than silver and more costly than gold. The Scriptures are a source of success. The Scriptures are like a river that nourishes the trees planted near it (Psalm 1). But Paul doesn't leave it at that. he tells us there are four particular ways that the Scriptures are useful or profitable. He says they are useful for teaching, rebuking, correction, and training in righteousness. I use an accrostic from an old radio station to remind me what the Scriptures are set forth to do in my life: K S C S. In all Scriptures, there is something God wants me to KNOW (teaching), STOP (rebuking), CHANGE (correction), and START (training). All Scripture is useful in my life to show me something God wants me to know, stop, change, and start. Give it a try. Find a Scripture, say for instance Colossians 4:2, "Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful." In this verse, God wants me to know that I need to be devoted (passionatley pursuing) to prayer. He also wants me to know that I need to be watchful and thankful as I do so. So, I need to stop being devoted to the things that keep me from being devoted to prayer. I also need to stop wasting my time on things that don't bring me to prayer. I need to stop wandering through life without paying attention to the things God is showing me. If I am going to be thankful, I'll need to stop complaining. In the area of change, I need to change my schedule and my priorities, or change my focus to that of prayer. I need to change how I do life, being more watchful and thankful. With that change, I will start praying more often, and with more direction and a greater sense of God's work around me.
Now, isn't that simple? Give this "formula" a try on some other passages. Don't be surprised when it works. Afterall, this "formula" comes straight from the Bible itself!

Friday, June 10, 2005

This Week At The Camp

Well, another first this weekend. While at the camp we had a huge storm blow through. It was craziness. When the storm came into the canyon, it turned out to be a 1/4 mile wide tornado that dropped into the canyon and got stuck there. We watched the clouds spin around us as we sat pretty much in the eye of a tornadic cell for almost 40 minutes. Be praying for the camp as they clean up. The miraculous thing is that there was a camp of 250 children there plus the full camp staff, and no one was hurt! There was flood and wind damage to some of the buildings and trees, but all in all, God did a great miracle last night.
On another note, I've finished my second week of discipling the students at the camp. It has been a rewarding process, but very tiring. I've spent much of this week doing one-on-one discipling with a group of sharp guys. And I've gotten to know the whole staff in a closer way. We had worship on Tuesday evening. And then the staffers came to our house Wednesday to have lunch and watch some Napoleon. I'm really looking forward to watching God do some great things in the lives of the camp staffers this summer. I'm blessed to just be a part of what's going on. I'm sure I'll mention more about the camp as the summer goes on!
In the words of Kip Dynamite, "Peace Out."

Monday, June 06, 2005

What a Weekend!

I went to Calvary Baptist Church to preach yesterday. It was a good day. A bit of a throw-back to the old days of ministry, but very good. I had the opportunity to share with them about the Great Commission, and a new strategy for church structure. I hope that it was well received. We made some new friends who took great care of us.
Yesterday's outing got me thinking about church life. I wonder how many churches that are struggling to make it will die because of "sacred cows?" How many local congregations will not make the changes necessary to adapt to the culture? How many will simply dwindle away because of their own personal preferences? The congregation I shared with yesterday was very open to the new model of ministry that I shared, and seemed open to making personal sacrifices to accomplish the great commission. We really focused on relationships, and the necessity to structure the body for facilitating relationships. The important question that needs to asked is, "What change does Christ want me to make to advance His kingdom?" For many, our local congregation has become about the traditions of generations past, and not about facilitating the advance of the Kingdom. When posed with this question, most congregations will flex a little, but will not change. Instead they cling to outdated modes of ministry all the way to the grave. And, at the same time, leave a generation searching for truth all the way to their grave. My prayer for myself and others is that we would always sincerely seek to know what Christ is leading us to do next without thought of ourselves.

Friday, June 03, 2005

The Psalms

The Psalms are the greatest! I am always amazed at David's simple yet honest and deep approach to God and His love. Kingdom life should be like that: simple yet deep, honest and transparent, love-filled living! David's view of God shows such intimacy and faith. His relationship with God reminds me of my own son. He takes God at His word. He looks to God for provision and protection. He shares his fears and joys with his Heavenly Father. If you're feeling down, or need a little boost, check out the Psalms. They're just what THE DOCTOR ordered! I like what a fellow pilgrim wrote about the Psalms: "...Psalm 85. I think that it might be describing what Jesus was centred on - the Kingdom, God's life-bringing presence breaking in and breaking out all around us... steadfast love and faithfulness will meet / righteousness and peace will kiss each other / faithfulness will spring up from the ground /and righteousness will look down from the sky..." God is so good. Check Him out!

Welcome To My Spot

Come on in and pull up a chair. This is a place to just be yourself, and to chat about whatever comes to mind. Hopefully, my musings won't become rants too often. Feel free to share your thoughts, dreams, or aspirations here. I know I will!