Friday, March 28, 2014

A biiig tent...

An article summarizing some of what happened with World Vision this last week...
He quotes Chesterton, so it has to be cool.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Walrus and the Carpenter...

I've been working on a project with my friend, Jason Alligood, "The Walrus and the Carpenter." Its a pod cast of the two of us talking about ministry and such. We are a bit free-wheeling, and enjoy the conversation. I hope you will join us. 

So far we have covered simple faith, sermon prep, the tornadoes that hit our area, and reading. 

I won't say its always fun, but I think it is always interesting.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Something to tide you over....

For those of you who have a high tolerance for pain and suffering, a podcast about ministry and such...

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Moving too fast to watch the sights...

I normally don't listen to my own messages after I preach them. I don't know if I would call it humility. Probably I don't want to hear all of the mistakes, gaffes, or fumbles that I have made the previous week. I hate to watch someone being embarrassed. I used to walk out of the room when my mom watched "I Love Lucy" as I couldn't stand to watch Lucy make herself look ridiculous. It hurt too much. (Same goes with Napoleon Dynamite)

I did listen to this last week's message though. My wife had made a few observations about it, and I wanted to see if I could pick up on what she was saying. I had skipped around different points, until I came to the conclusion, letting it play out. I realized something rather troubling. I had given the congregation a clear challenge in relation to the text itself. It was biblical, and applicable. It demanded an ongoing exercise in mediation and praise. Yet, as I thought back through the week I realized I had not followed through on my own charge. I don't remember having really done it once. 

I don't type all of this to communicate all sorts of guilt and remorse. I'm frustrated, true. I'm a little irritated with myself. How can I expect my congregation to follow in obedience, when I am not even doing it?

 I should not necessarily jump into the next week throwing myself into the next passage without any thought of what has gone previously. Rather, there needs to be a prayerful consideration of my own actions, making sure that I am continuing to grow in obedience myself pertaining to what I've seen in Scripture.It is like taking the family on a vacation that is so tied to an agenda, that you don't have the joy of those moments in between, the real heart and soul of a vacation.

Even if you are not a pastor, this is true. The Word is taught so that it may be prayed through, meditated on, and obeyed. Are we making time for that throughout the week after the message, making sure that the Scripture is really soaking into our soul? I am thankful that God has given us the tools of the Word and the Spirit, yet we need to make sure that we use them as He designed them, not according to our schedule.

Friday, August 30, 2013

A lovely interlude..

(Note--this is something I sent off to my church members in our weekly email.) 

Several of you may be aware of the “Sweet Lorraine” video that is making the rounds. It is made even better in that it happened here in Peoria. It’s a beautiful picture of the love shared between a husband and wife for over 70 years. (Here is the link. If you have a tear or two, no one will care. ) We find ourselves a bit amazed by the story as it stands so much in contrast to what we see in every day life. I don’t need to quote statistics about divorce rates, etc. It is amazing to see a couple stay together that long, parted only by death. It also touches us to hear the song of bittersweet longing for someone precious who has passed. I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes a tv movie at some point. But there are a few things we need to remember.
1)      The love that the Son and the Father have for one another is much more greater and more beautiful than Fred’s for Lorraine. I don’t write this to diminish Fred’s love, but rather to remind us that examples of love in everyday life should be a reminder of an even greater love that serves as the basis of so much of our blessing.
2)      The Father’s love for us is a far greater love than what we see in the video. Our God takes delight in blessing us. His love for us is so great that He had His Son murdered on our behalf. That type of love breaks all of the paradigms.
3)      Our love for our God should be greater than Fred’s for Lorraine. Again, this may seem a little harsh, but it does helps us see what a supernatural love for our God should look like. It should be more beautiful than what we see in this video.
The love of/for God should be at the center-point of our existence, informing our decisions, and compelling our obedience. May He be praised.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

I Don't Need It Now--Part 5

Whether we admit it or not when we became believers, we were called to know God personally. The means we were given was the completed revelation of Scripture as seen through the superintending work of the Holy Spirit.  If we acknowledge this, the call for memorization and meditation grows in urgency. We are able to see more why these disciplines are commanded throughout the Psalms. 

We see ourselves constantly called. to "remember" what God has done. The settings change. Sometimes it is in the midst of savage hardship, other times it takes place in the "watches of the night" as we struggle with pain and isolation. Regardless of our situation our reactions to the events that surround us should always begin with a deliberate consideration of who God is and what He has done. Sometimes the author of a Psalm  thinks back to events that have been recorded in the Law, other times he recalls actions that took place in his own life. The more he considers, the more he sees the hand of God writ large.  Through meditation he is continually reminded as to whose universe he lives in. None of it is of his own making, but rather formed by the direct actions of a sovereign, holy, loving, just, merciful and wise God, working immediately and personally.

I think we shortchange ourselves when we think that we can worship either personally or corporately "well"" without having first formed a foundation of memorized truth that we have been interacting with all the way along. That truth that we memorize though is not along the lines of some "sanctification spell" which guarantees us an easier path to (pick area of change).
Rather the truth we memorize is always rooted in the character and actions of God. It cannot be divorced from who and why He is. We cannot go to God asking Him for wisdom on how to have financial peace without first having His authority and power rooted in our hearts. We need something upon which to build obedience, and it has to be a Who, not a what.  

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

I Don't Need It Now--Part 4 (Same Song, Third Verse)

As I've stated previously, I've been working through Psalm 119, preaching a message around each "stanza." The Psalms fascinate me on many levels. They are song lyrics written by God. Music is a huge part of my life. I don't have a lick of musical ability to my name, but I love listening. The Psalms remind me that music was created specifically by God, and He created men to enjoy music. I would also submit that He created mankind to learn through music in a manner specific to the art form itself.  Lyric and melody twined together uniquely imprints itself on our brain. 

In Psalm 119, the theme of the Law itself forms the foundation for everything else. While the writer is specifically referring to the Decalogue, it is understood that we may consider all of God's revelation in the same manner.

One of the themes that keeps repeating itself is the need for God to teach us what His Word is saying. Of course, the Psalmist is not speaking of a supernatural work that mystically implants word definitions, and paradigms, but rather a work of God that illumines the believer as to how God's Word applies. We see him declare this in verse 12 (teach me your statutes!), verse 18 (Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law), verse 26-27, 33, 66, 73, 108 and 124. The point is made again and again: the psalmist continues to ask God to open up his eyes to the changes the Law should be having on his life. Please note that this was supposed to be sung. 

To engage in meaningful, Biblical repetition is to embrace humility. It is to admit that you are "not" going to get it the first time, no matter what. The psalmist continues to remind God (or himself rather) that he needs to be taught, or else he would believe that great lie, "I've got it now." He knows that he would forget that truth, or be convinced of its irrelevance. So he brings it up again and again. He wraps it up into the words of a song, so that melody may mix with Word and thus implant itself in a way that is easily remembered. On a side note, we may learn some spiritual truth at some point in our life, but as someone wise once said, "We are leaky vessels." Truth leaks out of us. It needs to be refilled.