Thursday, January 31, 2008

God, Why Use A Donkey ?



There are a few things that I am working on as we appeoach the Lent season. During some blog reading, I came across an older post from Alan. Alan is a Phd student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and an adjunct professor at Southeastern College at Wake Forest. His posts are some of the best out there in my opinion.

I contacted him today to see if I could copy the blog post to my blog and he gave me permission; thanks, Alan. To me, this speaks on so many levels. Take a read and let me kno what you think.

Once upon a time, God used a donkey. How foolish! Not today. Today, God has other means of transportation available to him. He uses nice cars - Cadillacs, BMWs, Mercedes, even limos. God even uses jet planes. Why would God want to use something as foolish as a donkey when he has planes available to him?

Once upon a time, God used pagan prophets and philosophers. How foolish! Not today. Nothing good can come from culture. Today, God wants his people to read Christian books, watch Christian movies, and listen to Christian music. If God has something to say, he would never be so foolish as to speak through a pagan.

Once upon a time, God ate with prostitutes, drunks, thieves, and other malcontents. How foolish! Not today. God has enough good people now that he doesn't need to hang out with that sort anymore. It would be foolish for God to be found among the dregs of society today.

Once upon a time, God gathered people in fields, and on a mountain, and in a valley, and in homes, and in a school. How foolish! Not today. If people want to meet with God today, they can come to his house - a church building. Wouldn't it be foolish for people to think that God would come to them when he has beautiful buildings now?

Once upon a time, God spoke through untrained people. How foolish! Not today. There are plenty of college- and university- and seminary-trained people for God to speak through today. He doesn't need to speak through the unlearned. What if they said something wrong? How foolish to think that God would still speak through uneducated people today.

Once upon a time, God called the foolish, weak, and unknown - the nobodies - of society. How foolish! Not today. Now God calls the smart, the powerful, and the celebrities to speak on the lecture circuit, write books, and hold conferences. How foolish to think that we could make it without our Christian celebrities!

Once upon a time, God asked people to drop everything and follow him. How foolish! Not today. God realizes that today we need a steady job with a good salary, a home, two cars, health and life insurance, a good dental plan, excellent schools, vacation, and a retirement plan. Do you foolishly think that God would ask us to follow him without these necessities?

Once upon a time, God expected his people to encourage one another when they met together. How foolish! Not today. Now God has provided us with professionals to handle all the dirty work, to study, to teach, to sing, to deal with problems. How foolish to think that God would expect us to do these things today.

Once upon a time, God wanted his people to trust him completely without relying on their own ability to understand. How foolish! Not today. God knows that people today need to think logically about things, to make reasonable decisions. God knows that we need all the details of his plans, especially the outcome. Do you foolishly think that God still expects us to trust him completely?

Once upon a time, God created and enforced covenants. How foolish! Not today. God now expects us to write our own covenants and to hold people accountable to them. If we don't hold people accountable, then who will? How foolish it would be to think that God is still capable of taking care of his covenants and his children.

Yes, once upon a time, God used a donkey. But we can all see how foolish that would be now. We won't get fooled again.

- - - - - - - - - - -

I absolutely loved this post and I am glad that he penned them and put them out there for us to see. I think it is time for us to listen to the words and see where God wants us to be and to listen and see where God is working.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

WVU Basketball

WVU had been playing good basketball. Well, today, it was ugly. Ugly might be a little too nice to describe their game and effort.



From the Picture Above: West Virginia's Cam Thoroughman, Will Thomas, Jamie Smalligan and John Flowers, from left, watch from the bench during a college basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2008 in Morgantown, W.Va. West Virginia lost 62-39 to Cincinnati.

You can see it on their faces. They are wanting to get back to their rooms as soon as possible. I think that I might know why WVU had a bad shooting night from the field. They were 10-50. The reason: they were blinded by their coaches suit. Chrck that monster out below:



From the picture above: West Virginia coach Bob Huggins looks on against his former team Cincinnati during the first half of a college basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2008 in Morgantown, W.Va.

Maybe next time ...... maybe next time

Trying ....

I am workin on making a presentation for a Good Friday service and the song Trying is going to be a crucial part of the service. The song will be played after 4 Gospel Readings. These Gospel Readings will be showing the confusion that the disciples had as they were trying to comprehend what Jesus was telling them.

Here are te lyrics. To me, one of the amazing things about the lyrics was that they were written when he was 15. The words and the music are powerful and I think words that float around in numerous peoples head.

Could you let down your hair
And be transparent for a while
Just a little while
See if your human after all
Honesty is a hard attribute to find
When we all want to seem like we've got it all figured out
I may be the first to say that I don't have a clue
I don't have all the answers
And god I pretend like I do just
Trying to find my way
Trying to find my way the best that I know how

Well I haven't memorized all the cute things to say
But I'm working on it
Maybe I'll master this art for today
I'd I qoute all the line off the top of my head
And you'd be
I dont understand all of these things Ive read
Im just trying to find my way
Trying to find my way
Trying to find my way the best that I know how

Well I havent drawn it or figured out quite yet
But even if it takes my whole life
To get to where I need to be
And if I should fall to the bottom of the end
I'll be one step back to you
I'm trying to find my way
Trying to find my way
Oh, I'm trying to find my way
Trying to find my way

Here is a video of them performing it.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Warrior vs. A Gardner

Over the last week as I have been thinking about the warrior image and the imagery and language of fighting. I was reminded of an illustration that I came across a few years ago that fits me where I am at today. Where I am at today is not where I was 20years ago. Let me take you on a trip back to "memory lane".



Yes, that was Petra and that was them live in 1988 doing the song, "This Means War". I absolutely loved Petra as a teenager and I thought their music was good and I enjoyed their concers. I even attened a This Means War Tour. The warrior image stuck for a few years. I even organized a 429 Warriors club that was based on Ephesians 4:29.

Today, I am not a fan of the warrior image and the fighting language. It does nothing for me. Of course there are still groups out there that love it and portray it as "successful". Ron Luce and his team from Aquire The Fire (ATF) love the imagery that it provokes.

However, I think that there is a better imagery that shapes the gospel more in its correct context. The image is that of a garden and a gardener. Thus, the tile of the post. I will take a look at the difference of the two and explaine why I like the gardener better.

Warrior

1. I believe I have the truth and need to proclaim it to others.
2. Because I am at odds with the world, I need to take territory for Jesus and see light triumph over darkness.
3. Because time is limited, I need to hurry and help people make a decision.

Gardener

1. I believe I need to live out the truth before people without forcing it on others.
2. Because I have a lot in common with people, I can care for them and be "present" with them no matter what their worldview.
3. Because I believe in seasons, I can be patient with people and trust God to
change their hearts.

I fully understand that the warrior image has biblical roots and foundations. A lot of that comes Paul and his time in prision. He was seeing "warriors" on a daily basis as he was writing the letters to churches thus he used what was in front of him.

I also like to back up from Paul and look at who Paul is pointing to ... Jesus. Jesus was not a person that was into power and he was not a person that painted with war images and he definitely was not building a group of warriors to take over the evils of the day or the goverments.

I remember hearing Spencer speak. When he was speaking, he was talking about how difficult it is to put aside the warrior image. It is what we have been use to for so long. It may be easier to "train" a warrior than "training" a gardener. For a long time, we have pushed evangelism. We have turned it into a sales pitch. We are out there selling our product and our product is Jesus.

I am not sure if we have this Kingdom of God HERE figured out. I think that we place all the eggs in the basket of salvation and saving them from Hell.

The reason that I like the gardener is that it is a process. The gardeners are out there planting and fertilizing. The warriors go into the same territory and they try to take it by force. The warriors go 100% all the time. They steamroll the individual because they need to attack BECAUSE that person may die without hearing the message. The gardener on the ther hand gets dirty. They know that things come in seasons. They understand the importance of rest and they are faithful as they out their trust in the Holy Spirit and know that God is responsible for the "crop" (the person).

So much more to process .....

10 Ancient Christian Virtues

If we want to be Christlike, we need to have Christian virtues that are flowing out of our life. We have looked at beliefd snd practices; now we will be looking at virtues.

The Christian beliefs deal with what we need to know. The Christian practices deal with what we need to do. The final area of consideration is Christian virtues, or what we need to be - the ultimate expression of Christlikeness. (pg. 79)

Here are the 10 virtues:

1. Joy
2. Peace
3. Faithfullness
4. Self-Control
5. Love
6. Patience
7. Goodness
8. Gentleness
9. Humility
10. Hope

It would be absolutely incredible if we as a family could live these out and it would be more amazing if we had a group of families whom wmbraced these with us and we had these as our goal for our community lifestyle.

We would not only have a different relationship with God and with each other but we would be making an impact on everyone's lives that we come in contact with on a daily basis.

The Series

Entry 1: Introduction to the Series and Book
Entry 2: Individualism
Entry 3: Five Characteristics of Community Around a Purpose
Entry 4: 10 Ancient Christian Beliefs
Entry 5: 10 Ancient Christian Practices
Entry 6: 10 Ancient Christian Virtues
Entry 7: Seven Functions of a Biblical Community
Entry 8: The 4 I's
Entry 9: 5 Characteristics of Community Around Common Place
Entry 10: Consumerism Mentality
Entry 11: 5 Characteristics of Community Around Possessions
Entry 12: Dreams of Community & Conclusion

Monday, January 28, 2008

Wellness '08 Update: Week 3

I can celebrate tonight, right ?

It has been 21 days since I have implented a few changes in my lifestlye.

I have been eating balance meals with more fruit. This has been a huge deal for me. I am not a person to eat 3 meals a day; yet I have done it. My portions have also been smaller at dinner and I am not doing as many late night snacks. The big change is the servings in my fruits. I have really added those elements to my life.

I am a walking maniac

I love walking. Now let me say, I like walking in real life. By that, I mean, I can not do a treadmill. On a treadmill, you are not going anywhere. I like going from point A to point B. I am enjoying walking to school, to the church, to the stores and more. When I am driving to a store, I try to park in the parking space the most distance to the door.

Water, Water and more Water I am a drinking fool. I like my bottle. Step back from the bottle and no one will get hurt. The biggest change has been at work. Instead of cup after cup after cup of coffee, I have my water. No, I have not given up coffee, just limiting my intake.

On to the next 21 days, these should be easier.

Building Bridges



In the past few days, I have been in a few conversations with individuals on a blog and the discussion is based on fighting the good fight and evangelism.

We disagree on the process.

To me, there are at least three different kinds of Christian witness. They are the following:

- testimony
- dialogue
- hospitality

Testimony is where we have the opportunity and take the opportunity to share with them the "good news". I am going to do this in a very simple term and that would be the following: pointing to Jesus as the author of our faith and the Lord of our life. I am not going to argue what key words need to be in the testimony.

Dialogue is where we honestly, openingly and respectfully engage with that individual and we hear each others stories and we do this in the effort that we might both understand each others traditions and background more thoroughly. I know that there are a lot of people that are uncomfortable with this because they are only concerned with their way.

Hospitality is where we share with one another and we do this through an act of grace. I believe that hospitality can be one of the most effective forms of witness. This is a witness that can build bridges; no matter how big the gap is between us.

Later on, we will take a look at the bullhorn approach.

Secret to Abundant Living

In The Bucket List Carter Chambers (played by Morgan Freeman), an auto mechanic for forty-six years, finds an old assignment from his college philosophy class in which he had listed places he’d like to go and things he’d like to do in his lifetime.

But the responsibility of raising a family meant making sacrifices and working long hours to make ends meet. His idealistic list of lifetime goals has become a discouraging inventory of missed opportunities and broken dreams. Now Carter is in a cancer treatment center, expecting to live only another six to twelve months. There he meets Edward Cole (Jack Nicholson), a gruff and greedy billionaire CEO of a health care company, who, in his relentless pursuit of money, has managed to completely alienate himself from his friends and family.

The two men share a room in a cramped medical facility owned by Mr. Cole’s company and both face the same terminal prognosis. Their lives change one day when Edward gets a look at Carter’s goal list. He suggests that the two might augment the list and begin crossing off items. Against doctor’s orders, and financed by Edward’s fortune, the two leave the hospital and embark on a worldwide adventure to satisfy their “bucket list”—the list of things they’d like to accomplish before they “kick the bucket.”

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

Our Connection

Fortunately the Bible has plenty to say about making the most of the limited time that we have on earth. When Jesus explains to his disciples that he is the “good shepherd” who will give his life for his sheep, he famously says, “I came that [my
sheep]may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10b). Jesus’idea of living an abundant life is much different than that of the characters in The Bucket List.

For Christians, an abundant life doesn’t necessarily involve jumping out of airplanes or racing stock cars. But Jesus would agree with Carter and Edward that we don’t want to look back on a life of regret and emptiness. Jesus teaches us about living lives of integrity, having a forgiving spirit, and cultivating deep and meaningful relationships with one another. These practices are keys to abundant living.

Scripture also reminds us that we should not waste our time on earth. God has called each of us to use this time to further the work of God’s kingdom by sharing our faith and becoming expressions of God’s love. But while our earthly lives are
important, we should remember that even the longest life lived on earth is extremely minute in the context of eternity. Jesus has gone ahead to prepare an eternal home for us in heaven. Until he takes us there, we should use the blessing of life on our temporary home wisely.

Here are 3 stories from the scriptures:

A Really Big Bucket: John 10:1-10
Maximizing Opportunities: Colossians 4:5-6
Temporary Home: John 14:1-7

Two Questions to Ponder

- what are steps we can take to realize the abundant life that Jesus desires for us?
- how might we need to change our priorities?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Weekend Recap

It has been forever and a day since I did a weekend recap. Thus, I decided that I would put one up. I know that these may not be too exciting, but it will give people a little insight on my life and also the real purpose of this is for me to have a "journal" at times on what is occurring in life.

Friday

Friday morning came very early for us. We woke up at 3:30 am to prepare for the day. Bethany stayed over at a friends house and a member of our church came over to stay at the house and get the boys up and moving and out to school.

Stacey and me made our way up to Cleveland and we reached the hospital around 5:30. I had the opportunity to watch some Sports Center while we waited for the 6 am pre-op jazz.

While they did the pre-op for my wife, I read. They took Stacey in around 7:30 for the surgery and I got paged at about 8:40 saying the surgery was done. The doctor came and briefed me on what occurred. I think that she has an excellent surgeon.

I then went into recovery and waited for them to give us the green light to go home. They do not waste any time here and they were sending us on our way a little after 10:45. When we got home, I stopped and got Stacey a sandwich from Broken Rocks, she loves their food. I have not had it yet.

I then took a nap for about 90 minutes before I went and picked Bethany up from school. After we were in the car, we picked up the boys. We then checked in with Stacey to make sure she was okay and then left the house for about 2 hours to give her peace and quiet.

We then came home and we made our pizzas and watched movies (our friday night tradition). At about 11 pm, it was zzzzz time.

Saturday

We got up and had our donuts (our Sat morning tradition). Stacey and Isaiah 9not feeling good) stayed at home and I took Bethany and Jacob over to grandma and pa pa's. I stayed there till about 7 pm and then headed home. The kids stayed there and spent the night. I got home around 9 pm and then just relaxed.

Sunday

A lazy day, really. I walked over to the church, we had our morning services and I taught confirmation class. Today, was the third article of the apostle's creed. After church, I walked home and took a nap. After the nap, picked up the kitchen a little and my parents dropped the kids off. Stacey and me then watch some news - learning about the prez hopefuls and then I walked over to the church for youth. Tonight, we watched Second Chance. I had seen it; they had not. It was a nice relaxing night. I then walked back home, read to the kids and then came down and watched Extreme Home Make-Over with Stacey.

Overall, it was a very relaxing weekend and that was nice.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

In the News Today ...

Miss Michigan Kirsten Haglund is crowned Miss America 2008 at Planet Hollywood hotel and casino in Las Vegas on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2008. She looks alittle shocked. When I went to Yahoo, this was on the front page.

For news that may stick a little longer ... Obama DESTROYED Clinton today in South Carolina. Clinton is in Nashville prepping for Super Tuesday (Fe. 5).

The Mock Delegate election today is showing Clinto will win 2100 to 1600; we will see how the real election totals go.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Rising From Ashes



I just finished reading Rising From Ashes: Retinking Church by Becky Garrison. I think that Becky has a brilliant mind and a great writer. However, if you are looking for her words, this book is not for you.

However, she took on a wonderful task and brought the book together by doing numerous interviews with "emergent" leaders and brought them together in a nice package. The intervies were in various forms: emails, im's, phone and in person.

Listed below will be some (not and exhaustive list) of individuals and then the topics that she grouped them into. The book is a great book to paint you a picture of what is occurring and what a lot of people are thinking and doing it.

I am sure that if you are "against" anything emergent than you will have a field day tearing the book apart and painting a bad picure of what is going on in nuerous churches and communities around the world.

Individuals

Jonny Baker
Nadia Bolz-Webber (sarcastic lutheran)
Shane Clairborne
Isacc Everett (wow)
Tony Jones
Brian McClaren
Stephanie Spellars
Phyliss Tickle
Karen Ward
N.T. Wright
and much more ....

The Topics

1. Where Are We Now
2. The Gospel of the Kingdom
3. Hospitality to the Stranger
4. Forming Christian Community
5. Leading as Body of Christ
6. Lift Up Our Voices
7. Transforming Spaces
8. Medling Ancient Spiritual Practives with the Modern Culture
9. Do Unto Others
10. Moving Forward

10 Ancient Practices

I think that if you want to grow in Christlikeness, you need to be active in practices that are going to lead to growth. The practices that are suggested in the book emerge from the pages of the scripture.

For the purpose of this post, I am going to list the practices and briely share about them. As I mentioned, I believe that I am going to go deeper into each one of them during the season of Lent.

Here are the 10 principles:

1. Worship
2. Prayer
3. Bible Study
4. Single-Mindness
5. Biblical Community
6. Spiritual Gifts
7. Giving Away Our Time
8. Giving away Our Money
9. Giving Away Our Faith
10. Giving Away Our Life

Reggie asks the following statement: What difference it would make if just a small group of men and woman would ask to be held muually accountable to "practice" the Christian faith(pg.79).

I am wandering what would occur in your life if you began to practice these ten practices? What would happen if you talked to 3 or 4 other families and they were willing to join you and all of you were mutually accountable to each other? How would your life change? How would your current life be impacted?

I would love to be with a few families that got together regulary and based their lives and meetings around these principles and they flowed out of the the Christian Beliefs that we were studying. Then, we also added the virtues (next post) to our community. I believe that are family would be blessed, the families that entered into this community with us would be blessed and the lives that we crossed on a daily basis would be touched immensly.

The Series

Entry 1: Introduction to the Series and Book
Entry 2: Individualism
Entry 3: Five Characheristics of Community Around a Purpose
Entry 4: 10 Ancient Christian Beliefs
Entry 5: 10 Ancient Christian Practices
Entry 6: 10 Ancient christian Virtues
Entry 7: Seven Functions of a Biblical Community
Entry 8: The 4 I's
Entry 9: 5 Charachterics of Community Around Common Place
Entry 10: Consumerism Mentality
Entry 11: 5 Charachteristics of Community Around Possessions
Entry 12: Dreams of Community & Conclusion

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Surgery # 6

Just wanted to let you know that we will be leaving in 5 hours (Friday morning at 4 am) to go to Cleveland. Stacey is going to have her 6th surgery in 10 months. She will be checked in at 6:00 am with a 7:30 target time for surgery. With this being the 6th one; we know what to expect. Her pain has been pretty bad the last 24 hours. Thankfully, she has pain meds. I will let you know how everything went tomorrow afternoon/night.

UPDATE

We are home. The surgery lasted about an hour. She is doing well. Thankfully, we are in a wonderful hospital system and have a tremendous surgeon.

Thanks

10 Ancient Christian Beliefs

Jesus was asked to summarize the writings of the Scripture. The answer that He gave began to form the basis for the way that Christians would begin to live their lives. He presented to us God's will.

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind"; and, "Love your neighbor as yourself"

To my simple mind, this is the simple message: the first and most important "law" of life is to love God. Because of our love of God, a natural flow to love others SHOULD follow.

I think that Reggie nails it when he says, "It is important to note that the thrust of the spiritual life in Christ is not to pursue our own individual happiness and fulfillment. Rather, we give ourselves to the pursuit of loving god and helping others."

Now, I know that some will disagree with the following. I encourage you to share your disagreements. I am fine with disagreements. I learn from listening to those with different views. This is where I am at currently though in my journey and i think that if we place these 10 beliefs into our lives, we would be more who God has called us to be.

10 Essential Beliefs (aka Systematic Theology)

1. Trinity
2. Salvation by Grace
3. Authority of the Bible
4. Personal God
5. Identity in Christ
6. Church
7. Humanity
8. Compassion
9. Eternity
10. Stewardship

Yes, there are many concepts hat need/should be taught, but I think most of them could be place under the other topics and these 10 can be used as an umbrella.

Reggie summarizes these 10 by the following sentence: These core beliefs teach us who God is, how we come into a relationship with him, what he wants us to know and do, how he relates to us and is involved in our lives, and who we become when we know and love our God (pg. 76)

I think that these 10 core beliefs need to saturate our lives. We could be changed. These should help define how we see life and live life. Each one of these 10 beliefs and then the 10 practices and 10 virtues may be developed deep and a post of their own. Maybe, I will do that through Lent.

Once again, what would occur and happen if individuals in their current place would get together with a few more families and begin to study these beliefs in-depth and then begin to live them out. I think that they would begin to see the world in a whole new light.

Entry 1: Introduction to the Series and Book
Entry 2: Individualism
Entry 3: Five Characteristics of Community Around a Purpose
Entry 4: 10 Ancient Christian Beliefs
Entry 5: 10 Ancient Christian Practices
Entry 6: 10 Ancient Christian Virtues
Entry 7: Seven Functions of a Biblical Community
Entry 8: The 4 I's
Entry 9: 5 Characteristics of Community Around Common Place
Entry 10: Consumerism Mentality
Entry 11: 5 Characteristics of Community Around Possessions
Entry 12: Dreams of Community & Conclusion

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Save Me !!!



I think that I might get me this t-shirt :)

Five Characteristics of Community

Today, I am going to take a look at the five characteristics of community around a purpose. In the second post in the series, we looked at why small groups fail at times. The reason is that they do not have a purpose. Here are the purposes and some explanations.

1. Authority

This is a word that makes people squirm at times. I think that is because so many people have seen the abusive side of authority. Thus, when they hear the word; they want to run in the other direction and scream. I think Rany spells it out clearly in the following statement:

In a community united around a common purpose there is a clear understanding and respect for the authority structure. Someone is responsible to lead the community in such a way that it upholds and advances the community (pg. 57).

I think that there needs to be "authority" in order for there to be true accountability. If we do not have accountability, our talk becomes merely disclosure. Disclosing our sins with one another is not enough. We need to be accountable to one another. We must give the person the 'authority' to hold us to what we are struggling with.

Randy sums it up in the following manner: Open disclosure is a fine value to have in a group, but it won't produce genuine community.

2. Common Creed

A common creed is a shared beliefs and practices that guide the community. (pg. 59)

This was the purposes of creeds. I know that there are a lot of individuals who are against 'creeds' because they are a persons thoughts and not directly in the Bible. However, the creeds (normally) are scriptures that are place together to tell a story. For the most part, the creeds are being pushed to the side in the America.

We, however, need to have creeds (beliefs and practices) to hold us together as a group and a community. I think that there are numerous churches in the nation that if you would go into their churces and ask "what is the common confession"; they either would not know or you would get 50 different answers.

So, in a community group, a group of four-five families would come together and form a 'creed' that will hold (bind) their community together. Their community will flow out of the creed.

3. Traditions

A true community uses traditions to perpetuate the purpose and common creed and pass them on to the people of that community, particularly to the children (pg. 61).

Traditions are very important. To be honest, until recently, I was not much for traditions. However traditions can be great teaching tools and great assets for us to pass on to our children.

When you look at scripture both the OT & NT, there are stories after stories of traditions that were passed down. When you look at Israel, they had events (traditions) and these events were central teaching tools. Through the traditions, people learned.

Thus, it begs us to ask, what type of traditions can we establish that will help tell the stories of the Bible. What are some of the traditions that we can develop within our community that with emphasize Christian tenants and help us grow strong in the Lord.

The book of Acts give us a glimpse of some of the traditions that the first century Christians held onto and we as Christians still hold onto them today. Communion (Eucharist) is a tradition that Jesus established to help us remember his death and resurrection (yes, there are arguments among churches on how and what it implies)

Randy emphasizes a very important in the following statement: If we are to rediscover community, we must revitalize old, or create new, traditions that impact our purposes, values and beliefs into our thinking.

So, I sit back and think, what are some traditions that I want to have. What are some traditions that I want to pass onto our children. I believe that we did one for the first time a few weeks ago that will become a tradition and that will teach our children a very important belief. I will share about that experience this week. Also though, I am thinking, if I was in a community group; what are some things that I would like to be established.

4. Standards

The definition for standards are pretty-straight forward: a list of written or unwritten guidelines that define what is expected of the people of the community.

These can be challenging to some individuals who are coming from an individualistic society and lifestyle. But, for community to work, the community MIST have a set of standards and hold each other to those standards and live within the standards.

He concludes his standards section with the following statement: We want community - but few seem open to the characteristics that promote it and sustain it.

I think that numerous people will go, yup with this. We want it but we are not willing to give up 'things" to achieve it. To be in community, you may need to give up a job, cut back your work hours, say no to some activities, give up living in your fortress, or limiting the kids extra-curricular activities. The list could be exhaustive and each person and family will have a different list. But, if we want to be in community, we need to remember it is not all about me (us as a family) and we must give up a few things to experience the community we desire.

5. Common Mission

Any true community will have a clearly defined mission that brings the individuals of a group together and knits them into a cohesive family. (pg. 63)

This comes from the clearly church in Acts. We see that they (the believers) came together and they had everything in common. they knew why they were coming together and when they got together; they practiced and lived their mission and purpose. here is a 'key statement' that will lead to the foundation of what is going to occur in the groups:

We must adopt from the ancient church and redefine for the postmodern church what a follower of Christ looks like. Incorporating these common beliefs, practices and virtues into the lives of people must constitute the central purpose that draws the Christian community together.

For a long time, we as churches, have drifted from the initial intent of the church and we must navigate back to that place and we must find community among believers and strengthen one another as we try to be more of who God has called us to be.

To follow Christ and His teaching are very tough at times. But, we can do it. A great place to start is getting into a community that has common beliefs, practices, and virtues.

Reggie makes a wonderful summary:

This community must have in place respected spiritual authority-individuals who are biblically literate and who can serve as exemplary spiritual mentors. This gathering must have a common creed that succinctly lays out the beliefs, practices, and virtues that the members of the community agree to follow, to encourage in each other, and to which they are all held accountable. They must resurrect old, or create new, Christian traditions that assist in cementing the history and purpose of the Christian faith for the next generation. And, if this community is to be effective long-term, there must be standards that are considered normal behavior for all followers of Christ.

The Series

Entry 1: Introduction to the Series and Book
Entry 2: Individualism
Entry 3: Five Characteristics of Community Around a Purpose
Entry 4: 10 Ancient Christian Beliefs
Entry 5: 10 Ancient Christian Practices
Entry 6: 10 Ancient Christian Virtues
Entry 7: Seven Functions of a Biblical Community
Entry 8: The 4 I's
Entry 9: 5 Characteristics of Community Around Common Place
Entry 10: Consumerism Mentality
Entry 11: 5 Characteristics of Community Around Possessions
Entry 12: Dreams of Community & Conclusion

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Individualism: We Have a Problem

Today, I am going to make my 2nd post of 12 in the series that I am working on called "Connecting the Church". This series is taking a look at the book and seeing where and how it applies to the church and to my life. I think that there is valuable information all through the book. For this section, I will be using seven quotes and summaries in the book and explaining their impact to me.

The hard to swallow premise is that today's church is not a community but rather a collection of individuals.

I agree with him and this is a very difficult pill "to swallow". Individuals across America fill our churches with their agenda and to "feed themselves". Not only that, but they often do it seperated from their own family. The reason is "consumerism". We have to have something for everyone. Anyways, individuals come into church and go to their pew, seat or .......... and do not interact with anyone. Ehey are there for their hour and go home waiting till next week. Then, they wonder why ?? The reason, we come as an individualistic society. Take a look around at how most communities (neighborhoods) live ... they do not interact with one another. They come home from work and stay behind their "forteresses". However ....

Deep down people want community but don't know how to get it.

Individuals really want to connect with others. They want to "belong". They want to have that close friend that will be with them through thick and thin. But, they have no clue how to achieve it. Our churches think that they are doing them a "service" by developing small groups. But, the small groups are failing at a high rate because the small groups are "not ran" as a bilbical community.

A researcher Wuthnow brings to the surface the fact that most small groups do not enter the group with a common sense of beliefs and purposes. Rather, everyone carries his or her own individual sets of beliefs and purposes.

It is tough. Once again, it points back to individualism and the problem that lies with it. If (when) individuals get together; they must come together with a sense of common beliefs and purposes. When this occurs, growth can occur and community can start to take place. HOWEVER, it is very important that these groups common goal, purpose and belief are rooted in biblical truths.

Wuthnow suggests that one of the major problems with small groups in America is that people do not enter these groups with a common undestanding and commitment to these basic tenets of the Christian faith.

If a group does not have a understanding and commitment of the biblical truths, they are going to be in serious trouble. They will most likely be a fish out of the water.

Later on in the series, we will be looking at the Christian tenets and what the groups need to hold on to, embrace and understand to be a thriving community.

I have heard individuals say that we are living in a different time, people are individualistic, thus we must cater to that ministry area. This cannot be. This is not what God has created or designed us for. He has created us to be in community with one another.

The solution cannot be to abandon the principles of community for the principles of individualism; the solution is to provide boundaries and promote healthy principles of community.

Thus, we need to come up with a way that we can create and promote authentic communities where individuals will be connected to one another and be doing so under the guidance of God and biblical truths.

When we do this, life can be messy. We will be exposing ourselves to others and all of our "yuck". We will also be seeing their short-comings. With this, we need to see how Jesus dealt with the situation.

Jesus always dealt with people in a grace-filled way.

We must do the same. Grace is a very difficult aspect to understand and it is a very tough line to walk when you are dealing with individuals; especially individuals that are having major struggles in their lives.

This is going to be difficult and it is going to be difficult because of the following statement:

The prevailing mind-set of individualism is a serious obstacle to community.

We need to teach and model that there is more to life than just me and my family. We must interact with others. We must develop a community of believers around us who will journey in life with us. We must come together around a common purpose and we must reach out beyond ourselves.

The Series

Entry 1: Introduction to the Series and Book
Entry 2: Individualism
Entry 3: Five Characteristics of Community Around a Purpose
Entry 4: 10 Ancient Christian Beliefs
Entry 5: 10 Ancient Christian Practices
Entry 6: 10 Ancient Christian Virtues
Entry 7: Seven Functions of a Biblical Community
Entry 8: The 4 I's
Entry 9: 5 Characteristics of Community Around Common Place
Entry 10: Consumerism Mentality
Entry 11: 5 Characteristics of Community Around Possessions
Entry 12: Dreams of Community & Conclusion

Monday, January 21, 2008

Wellness '08 Update: Week 2

This week, I went 3 for 4 on the items that I am trying to accomplish this quarter. I am sure you can guess which one I "failed" in. Yup, it was the same one last week. I told Stacey that I was going to blame her .... but that would probably be a fib. The reason that I was going to blame her was that I was too tired from her restless sleep that kept me up and for my extra few duties (which really wasn't much). The truth is that I am going to have to come up with a exercise strategy that will work for me. I just haven't figured that out yet.

But, I am enjoying the walking, I am able to keep the water intake up and I am also continuing to eat healthy and pass on the foods that I really do not eat BUT .. ooohhh how I want. However, it really has not been that difficult. Even on Saturday's.

For those who do not know, we have a tradition in our family. Every Saturday, we get donuts. We have been doing this for about 6 years. Well, no donuts for this daddy on Saturday. I still went to the bakery and grabbed them. I still sat at the table and drank coffee and read the paper. Instead of the donut though, I had a bagel, bananna and grapes. YUMMY.

For my personal knowledge, I did step on the scale but we are not here to report that :)

It Was Cold

The temperature was around 0 degrees for the game and the wind chill made it 30-35 BELOW zero. Unfortunately for the Green Bay Packers fans, they were out in the cold and the Packs could not defeat the Giants. So, the Packs Super Bowl dreams ended.

Of course the Bikini Girls were out at the game and even though it was frigid; they had time to throw off their jackets, hold up their sign and get on tv once again. BTW, if you happened to get to my site from Google on Bikini Girls, this is a one-time post of girls in Bikini's.

Lost: Season 4

We are 10 days from Season 4. This may be the only show where I have seen every episode. I think that I like it because I have no idea what really

Lost Recap:

Here is a 8 min. and 14 sec. recap of the 1st 3 seasons of Lost. The video does a pretty good job in condensing 60 hours into 8 minutes.



Lost Season 4

Here is a video clip to promote the season premeire of Season 4 (January 31):



I am looking forward to season 4. However, because of the writer strike, we are not sure what is going to happen. I believe they have 8 of the 16 weeks finished. Thus, we will at least see 8 shows.

The show has also announced an "end date". They were planning (pending writers strike) 3 more seasons (4,5, and 6) with each season having 16 episodes. Thus, 48 to go. What will happen ??? That was one .. I have a hundred about the show.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Connecting Church: Introduction

Today, I am going to begin a 12-part series from the book, "Connecing Church". I first read this book in 2003 and put it on the shelf. Recently, I pulled the book back out because the book has some teachings, values and desires that I wish and want in my life. Thus, this series is going to journal aspects of the book that speak to me and what I woud like to see happen in my life, my family's life and maybe the life of the church that I minister in.

As the series progress, I will have links to all the entries so they can / will be easy to follow. I will probaly have entries inetween the series so that I will not have 12 same "entries" on the same subject. We will add some other topics. Here are the twelve titles and posts that will be in the series (having them laid out already, will help me stay committed to the series):

Entry 1: Introduction to the Series and Book
Entry 2: Individualism
Entry 3: Five Characheristics of Community Around a Purpose
Entry 4: 10 Ancient Christian Beliefs
Entry 5: 10 Ancient Christian Practices
Entry 6: 10 Ancient christian Virtues
Entry 7: Seven Functions of a Biblical Community
Entry 8: The 4 I's
Entry 9: 5 Charachterics of Community Around Common Place
Entry 10: Consumerism Mentality
Entry 11: 5 Charachteristics of Community Around Possessions
Entry 12: Dreams of Community & Conclusion

Thus, that will be the lay-out of the series. The rest of the post will be focusing on the introduction to the book and the implications for the series.

The book is titled: The Connecting Church: Beyond Small Groups to Authentic Community.. It is written by Randy Frazee. He was the senior pastor at Pantego Bible Church in Arlington, Texas when he wrote the book. He is now a teaching pastor at Willow Creek and trying to turn them from a program church to a church based on community and trying to get their members to make room for life. You can read about his challenge to Willow Creek here.

There are three statements and quotes that I will use from the book that I believe will introduce this series very well and the reason that this is on my heart.

Statemen number one: Biblical Community is the life of Christ on the earth today (page 22). I believe that this statement is true and that it is very accurate when we examine what he considers to be biblical community. I have a true desire for Christ to "be on" earth today; thus I need to be experiencing Biblical Community so the life of Christ can be lived out on the earth today.

Statement number two: The development of meaningful relationships where every member carries a significant sense of belonging is central to what it means to be the church (page 35). I want to have deep relationships with a group of individuals and families where each one of us have a sense of belonging and we are there for each other. We as a group of individuals are there to love God, love one another and serve the church and the community. As a saff person, I would love to see everyone in our church connected to this type of community. It would be FANTASTIC if every member was connected, felt loved and felt that the belonged and had a sense of purpose. We will get into the specifics late on in the series.

Statement number three: The church must do some restructuring. We must develop solutions to our discontinuity and fragmentation lifestyle. We must do more than add worlds to our memers lives. We must focus on what God intended and created us to have - biblical community as members of the body of Christ (highlight page 37). When I take a look at my life and my family life, we have many circles in our lives: church life, school life, extra-curricular lives and more. Our lives at times need to be less fragmented and I think that can be accomplished. We do not need another "circle". However, we do need to learn how to have biblical community. Thus, we as individuals and churches need to look at how we can "restructure" life.

My heart has been heavy for the last 18 months to have biblical community. We, as a family, was beginning to experience it with the church that we were serving/living at in Alabama. While we were at Discovery, we became part of a "home church" and we were part of a great circle of believers who were moving to this concept. The home church was one of seven that was developed to begin the process of having biblical commuities that would tie into Discovery.

I am looking forward to flushing out the this concept and series and how this will apply to our lives. Hopefully, you can take a look and see if it can work in your life. I also hope that if you are part of a biblical communit, you will share with us how it is working for you. Here (below) are the twelve segments. As, I write them, I will be linking them:

Entry 1: Introduction to the Series and Book
Entry 2: Individualism
Entry 3: Five Characheristics of Community Around a Purpose
Entry 4: 10 Ancient Christian Beliefs
Entry 5: 10 Ancient Christian Practices
Entry 6: 10 Ancient Christian Virtues
Entry 7: Seven Functions of a Biblical Community
Entry 8: The 4 I's
Entry 9: 5 Charachterics of Community Around Common Place
Entry 10: Consumerism Mentality
Entry 11: 5 Charachteristics of Community Around Possessions
Entry 12: Dreams of Community & Conclusion

Friday, January 18, 2008

Ernie Holmes Dies



Ernie Holmes is pictured in New Orleans on Jan. 8, 1975, as the Steelers prepared for Super Bowl IX against the Vikings. "This is the way Tarkenton will see me Sunday," Holmes said that day.

The Steel Curtain was possibly one of the Best Defenses ever to play in the NFL. Along side him were LC Greenwood, Joe Greene and Dwight White. They dominated the NFL. Here is an example of their dominance:

The 1976 Steelers defense was one of the best in NFL history, shutting out five opponents -- three in a row -- during a nine-game, season-ending winning streak. The Steelers allowed only 28 points during those nine games, an average of slightly more than a field goal per game.

Ernie was a man that played the game hard. If he played today; he would probably be spending numerous hours in the commissioners office. They just do not allowed the rough style that he played. Here are a few stats about him and what some others said about his playing:

"Ernie was an original. He was out there," said former Steelers receiver Lynn Swann, a teammate on Super Bowl-winning teams following the 1974 and '75 seasons.

"Ernie was one of the toughest players to ever wear a Steelers uniform," Steelers chairman Dan Rooney said in a statement. "At his best, he was an intimidating player who even the toughest of opponents did not want to play against."

I like Dwight White words: "Ernie was a very colorful person that you couldn't help but like off the football field -- a little different on the field as we well know," White said. "Ernie had gotten into the ministry and ... was a true inspiration to Joe, L.C., and myself when we were together. You know, it's all about where you end up, and Ernie blossomed into an individual that I respected, admired and will miss."

For you see, when Ernie was young, he made a lot of mistakes and was rough around the edges. Here is an example of the roughness and "stupidity":

Holmes told Time magazine in 1975 that he was "stone crazy," mostly because of a case early in his career when he pleaded guilty to assault with a deadly weapon following a bizarre episode in which he fired a pistol at trucks and a police helicopter. He was sentenced to five years' probation.

From Ernie:

"I don't mind knocking somebody out," Holmes said. "If I hear a moan and a groan coming from a player I've hit, the adrenaline flows within me. I get more energy and play harder."

After football, Ernie did a little acting. He was not too successful at that but he did have a stint on the A-Team. When he settled down, he became an ordanined minister. About his ministry a little and from his teammate Russell:

Eventually, though, he settled down on a ranch near tiny Wiergate, a town of 461 close to the Louisiana border. He was an ordained minister, had his own church and told the Steelers he was a more "spiritual being."

The Steelers took note of the difference in Holmes at reunions and autograph shows. Former linebacker Andy Russell said Holmes had taken "meaningful steps in improving his life" and seemed to be a "much more thoughtful kind of person."

Ernie's life came to an end in a car accident where he was not wearing his seatbelt. He was a man that had settled in and found himself in touch with his spiritual being. He toughed many lives on and off the field. Even when he was playing rough on the field; the following was said about him:

He had a split personality. He was a maniac on the field and a teddy bear off it. But he was a terrific guy.

Quotes came from the ESPN.com article

Intellectual Well-Being

Intellectual Well-Being

Today, I am going to share with you the write-up on Intellectual Well-Being. This is the fifth and final installment on the wheel (aren't you glad).

The 5 (spokes) of a Balanced Life

Spiritual Well-Being
Physical Well-Being
Emotional Well-Being
Social and Interpersonal Well-Being
Vocational Well-Being

As professionals in training after years of school, we laugh in frustration at the thought of continuing education and use it to reconnect with friends or to escape to a nice place. As we become more seasoned, we recognize the value in learning new things to continually challenge our minds and relearning old things in new ways to refresh what has become stale.

Just as children ask questions that are often a challenge to answer, so do the members of congregations look to their pastors and leaders for answers. Sometimes these answers come easily, and other times the issues are complex and require a more thoughtful response. Keeping our minds keen through education, personal study, and challenging conversations keeps our responses more finely tuned. A musical instrument kept in its case may need some attention to get the most out of it. A seasoned performer can make music with little preparation, but the finest musicians practice daily and can get the full range of beautiful music from their instrument. They respond quickly to a conductor’s baton and can make each performance a unique and personalized experience.

Our mind is a gift from God, but how we use it is under our control. Using it fully demands time, energy, and care. We must invest in the health of our minds just as we invest in the health of our bodies and spirits.

I have been trying to stretch my mind "intellectually". This has come in two forms recently. The first one is reading. I try to keep my mind challenged through the writings of other individuals. I am also listening to video classes from universities. I am currently watching some through Cal-Berkly. These classes are not classes that will enhance the ministry per se but they are classes that are challenging my intellect.

I think that it is very important that we keep challenging our mind.

As, I look at the wheel. I think that I have few spokes that are fine and there are others that I am working on. My goal is that I will be "balanced" in the wellness at the end of '08.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Vocational Well-Being

Vocational Well-Being

Vocational Well-Being is one of the 5 spokes that I have been going through. Here are the list of the spokes:

Spiritual Well-Being
Intellectual Well-Being
Physical Well-Being
Emotional Well-Being
Social and Interpersonal Well-Being


Vocation

There is a call to us, a call to service – that we join with others to try to make things better in this world. - Dorothy Day

Research on the health of Protestant clergy in the 1970’s and 80’s showed that, compared to European-American males, clergy lived longer and healthier for almost every cause of death studied. Studies in occupational medicine show that workers who are more satisfied with their jobs, feel that they have more say in their jobs, or feel they have support from management have fewer injuries or health problems. Although more recent research indicates high levels of stress by survey and by stress-related problems, clergy also indicate a greater level of job satisfaction.

Using the gifts that God has given us to serve God by serving others in this world is an inspirational calling. It should never leave us with the thought, ”What am I doing in this dead-end job?” Having vocation wellness, then, is accepting that call, recognizing and developing our gifts, seeking a proper fit where out talents and gifts can best be used to serve, and maximizing our health in order to continue to be inspired and be able to inspire others to serve God.

1 Peter 5:1-4

I appeal to you to be shepherds of the flock that God gave you and to take care of it willingly, as God wants you to, and not unwillingly. Do your work, not for mere pay, but from a real desire to serve. Do not try to rule over those who have been put in your care, but be examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the glorious crown which will never lose its brightness.”

Now, even though this write-up was geared to pastors, I believe that it "bleeds" out across the board. It is very important that the "job" that you are in is a job that is not leading you to a "mental-breakdown". As mentioned in the emotional well-being section, i think that your vocational well-being has a HUGE impact on your emotional state. It is VITAL to be in a position and place where you are healthy. I am thankful to be in a vocational place where I feel called, loved, accepted and healthy.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Social / Interpersonal Well-Being

Social / Interpersonal Well-Being

Today, I take a look at Social / Interpersonal Well-Being. Listed below are the well-Being's that we are looking at all the spokes:

Spiritual Well-Being
Intellectual Well-Being
Physical Well-Being
Emotional Well-Being
Vocational Well-Being

How often do you complain of being “stressed out” or of having a stressful day? Stress is widely accepted as influencing health. Studies have found that the most stressful life events are family events. The most stressful event is the death of a partner or spouse. The second most stressful event is divorce, and studies have found that divorced individuals have higher death rates for any cause than singles, widowed or married individuals.

One of the greatest challenges for pastors and other professionals is to keep healthy relationships with partners, children, and friends in an occupation that often demands 24-hour responsiveness to others’ needs. Having a healthy support system is essential for health. Nourishing those relationships with time and attention is required. Beyond the emotional support that keeps us going every day, learning how to love deeply and knowing that we are loved is the fuel for serving others.

John 13:34-35

"And now I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. If you have love for one another, then everyone will know that you are my disciples."

This is an area where I am struggling a little. I am doing much better than I have in the past but I still do not really have a circle of close friends. But, I do have a good circle of aquanteances and folks that I come into contact with and have good causal conversations with (schools and sporting avenues). However, I know that I need to take this to the next step.

I am re-reading a book that I first read about 6 years ago. It is lighting a little fire under my feet. I will be finishing the book probably Monday. I am reading it at practices when I am not watching the kids or chatting with other parents. This is something that I NEED to blog about. It is also something that I need to involve my family in and how this may apply/effect our lives. More on that next week.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Emotional Well-Being

Emotional Well-Being

We are taking a look at five different spokes. Today, I am taking a look at the Emotional Well-Being aspect. Here are the five spokes:

- Spiritual Well-Being
- Intellectual Well-Being
- Physical Well-Being
- Social and Interpersonal Well-Being
- Vocational Well-Being


According to a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation report on “Health and Health Care 2010”, it is anticipated that heart disease will be the number one cause of death and disability, followed by mental illness (especially depression), and then cancer.


Matthew 5:6 - "Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires; God will satisfy them fully!”
There are no simple answers to why there is so much depression today, and the importance of counseling and of appropriately prescribed medicines to treat depression cannot be underestimated. The stress of our busy lives and demanding occupations does not always seem to allow for some of the activities that keep our emotions and energies up – such as recreational exercise, adequate sleep, healthy sex and intimacy, or peaceful meditation.

Our work consumes such a significant percent of our waking hours that job satisfaction and personal reward are critical to emotional health. Research has shown that among clergy, Protestant clergy had the highest overall work-related stress and were next to the lowest in personal resources to cope with the occupational strain. Additionally, research has found that almost one in three pastors leaving ordained ministry had family difficulties, and clergy ran third in percentage among professionals who are divorced.

Each of us needs to regularly examine our lives and our emotional status. Are we living our lives healthfully, in service to God, and fully enjoying all the gifts that God has given us?

At the present time, I believe that I am very healthy in regards to my emotional well-being. The ministry, job, and church that I work with and serve at is a big reason for this. I spend 1/3 of my life in that area (if you have to departmentalize; which I do not like) thus it is crucial that this area is positive. With it being positive, it is easier to have my emotional health where it needs to be.

I ask you to take a look at your life. Take inventory where you spend the majority of your time (work?)and see how it is going. If you are in a unhealthy work environment or an a unhealthy place (where you spend the majority of your time) then I ask (urge) you to take stock (inventory) on your emotional health and monitor it closely.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Physical Well-being

In a previous post, I shared with you the 5 "spokes" of well being. This afternoon, I want to share a small write-up on the physical well-being:

Physical well-being is probably the first component of health that comes to mind. And yet, it is often the component most neglected in American culture. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that “being physically active reduces the risk of coronary heart disease, colon cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure. (And yet) nowhere is the gap wider between what we know and what we do than in the area of physical activity, and nowhere is the potential pay-off greater.”

Americans seem to be of two minds when it comes to physical well-being:

1) that it is to be taken for granted and any form of abuse (cigarettes, alcohol, fast food, lack of sleep, no seat belts) can be remedied by medical technology, or

2) that physical well-being is a competitive goal of perfection, and any degree of abuse (steroids or other physical performance enhancers, obsessive exercise, or significant investment in exercise equipment) is acceptable in achieving the goal.

It is written in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 “Don't you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and who was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourselves but to God; he bought you for a price. So use your bodies for God's glory.”

Our healthy bodies are truly miraculous gifts from God. We have been given the responsibility to maximize our health by avoiding abusive behaviors and practicing healthy behaviors. When we meet this responsibility, we are best prepared to use our talents to serve God and to serve others in God’s name.

For myself, my physical well-being as been in the back-seat for approx. 10 years. I have placed my 'being" in my state it is to the following:

- I love junk food
- My schedule is too chaotic to eat healthier
- I am fiiiiiiine
- Ummm, I am still young
- and more

Well, Change in '08 is my mantra. I am going to get my life in balance and these 5 elements will be in order time the year. Once again, here are the spokes:

- physical well-being
- intellectual well-being
- vocational well-being
- social and interpersonal well-being
- emotional well-being

In the physical realm, I will get healthy and I will do this by eating healthy and getting into an exercise regime. This will hopefully help me lower my chloresterol and my blood pressure. I will also be able to "run" again against the hs kids in sports.

Wellness '08: Week 1 Update

Alrightee. I stated that there were 4 areas that I was going to "focus" on in January - March. Thus, to keep me "accountable", I am putting it out there.

1. Walk where I can

I accomplished this task. To me, this is one that is fairly easy. I walked the boys to school every morning and then walked down to the church. It is about .7 of a mile to do both. I then walked home for lunch .4 of a mile. After lunch, I walked back to church and then in the afternoon, I walked to the school and back home and 2x, I walked back to the church to finish up items and then back home. Thus, I am walking a little over 2 miles a day in the "everyday tasks category". I also have walked to the bank, the grocery store, and the insurance agents office. so, i can check off this one for week one.

2. Go to the YMCA and Cycle

Ummmm, I failed this one. However, I did take a step in the right direction by buying a pair of tennis shoes this week. i had no shoes. So, I took a step, right ??

Even though today is "week 2" ... i took another step today. I did not make it cycling but I went up to the pool at 5:30 am this morning and did laps in the pool.

3. Please hand me the water bottle.

This is the easiest for me. I have the water bottle at my desk and I drink my water faithfully at the desk and while at home ... I have a snapple bottle that I drink from. So, I am "flushing" myself out.

4. Eat More Regularly

This was tough but I accomplished it. This is the first time in probably 12 years that I ate 3 meals a day ... all 7 days. They may not be the meals that I need to be eating but it is a good baby step.

I am keeping track of myself on the scale. I am weighing myself every Monday. I am going to keep numbers hussssssshed for the first few weeks ... maybe months though.

Week 2, we will go 4/4

Friday, January 11, 2008

Health and Welness

This life, therefore, is not godliness but the process of becoming godly, not health but getting well, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not now what we shall be, but we are on the way.

The process is not yet finished, but it is actively going on.
This is not the goal but it is the right road. At present, everything does not gleam and sparkle, but everything is being cleansed.
Martin Luther

I am in the process of trying to get healthier. I can honestly say that the bold aspect in Luther's quote is what I am doing and working on. The ELCA has a diagram on their website. It is a picture of a wheel. In the center (the hub) is you (a new creation in Christ) and there are 5 spokes going to the outer wheel (spiritual well being). The five spokes are the following:

- physical well-being
- intellectual well-being
- vocational well-being
- social and interpersonal well-being
- emotional well-being

I will let their words speak to me (and maybe you):

You are the center of the wheel as a new creation through baptism and a member of the body of Christ. Spiritual health surrounds, contains and supports us through faith and our relationship with God. Within the wheel are the individual aspects of wellness. To be whole means to keep these aspects in balance by intentionally nurturing and attending to each. If one area is neglected the whole will be out of balance.

Here is to wellness in '08. On Monday, I will give my update on how my first week went with my goals that I am striving for.

Let's Bomb Al-Qaeda

A B-1 Lancer drops cluster bombs. The head of an anti-Qaeda front said that a massive US air blitz on Al-Qaeda targets south of Baghdad killed a local leader of the jihadi network and at least 20 other militants.

(AFP/USAF/File)



The pictures sends chills up my spines. I am not even sure what my thoughts are anymore when I see these images and thoughts. Look at all those bombs as they travel down and land on land, buildings and people. Yes, I know "they are helping make the place safe".

Yes, we are still at war. Sometimes, I think that we need to be reminded. It saddens me.

Prayer for Nathan & Family



I decided to include a cute prayer picture. Through a blog that I read regularly, there was a comment that struck me. Thus, i clicked on to their blog to read some of their material. One of their postings was about a prayer request. I clicked on it and tears came to my eyes.

Nathan is a worship leader on the east coast and his family is struggling. His wife as CF (Cystic Fibrosis). She was scheduled for and they were prepping for a double lung transplant. They then found out that she was pregnant. Well this week, they finally had to make a decision. they had to "deliver" the baby at 24 weeks and see if they can get mom (Tricia) and daughter (Gwyneth) healthy.

I ask you to pray for their family. He gives updates very regularly and even as photo's of his daughter. She, now 4 days old, is doing quite well for such an early baby. Please lift them up in your prayers.

Nathan's Blog

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The E Word

Today, I am going to try to grapple with the E word. There are many E word's out there but the E word that I am going to deal with today is the word "excellence".



I have always struggled with that word, especially in the context of ministry. We "must" strive for excellence. It has always been shouted to me through college, seminary and through conferences. If we do not strive for "excellence"; we are failing God and we are hampering the Kingdom of God because we are not doing everything that we need or should be doing.

I remember back in the 1990's, one of the most freeing books that I read was Freedom From the Performance Trap. However, at times, I still feel the need and urge to strive for excellence. Now is that wrong ? Is it wrong for the church to strive for excellence ?

This post will hopefully address this topic as I flush it out myself. This topic came to me in two different ways this past month. One, there was an article that dealt with this issue from Dan Scantz. He teaches at Central Christian College. The article can be found here. The second aspect is that this happends to be the subject at hand for a meeting that I am attending tomorrow night. I am part of the Canton/Akron Emergent Cohort. So, here we go.

Dan opens his article with a conversation that he had a student that was upset about a B that he received on a paper. Dan was telling the student that it was a great (excellent) grade on the work. However, the student did not see it that way. He talks about that the generation that is in school has "excellence" as their mantra.

I have to say that over the last 15 years that I have worked with students, that is definitely the case. They are so pressured to be perfect and to get the grades, the extra-curricular activities in and more. I remember being at listening to the things that they were trying to accomplish while in hs. I also remember being frightened at how they were into a frantic when their GPA might dip below a 4.0 on a 4.0 scale. However that is just the backdrop of the issue at hand.

Suntle Dangers When Aiming For Excellence

1. Elitist
2. Expensive
3. Acceleration
4. Inconsistency
5. Exhausting
6. Divisive

Alternatives to Excellence

1. Efficency
2. Patience
3. Inclusion

I think that the two years that I experience this the most (strive for excellence) was from June 2003 - June 2005. The church and the ministry that we were part of was striving for excellence and the "pressure" at times was difficult. We were looking to produce excellent and look excellent.

Taking Daniel's thought process. I will highlight his 6 points and show how it applied and flowed from our text at that time. For those of you who know where we were and why those 2 years ( bear with me, please ). For others, the church and time frame is not necessary ( no need to name church / minister ).

1. Elitist

We had only the "best" and we tried to "showcase" it. From the stage, we did look like we sent everyone out to Saks Fifth Avenue. We had to have the "extreme" professional image from the front. We even made sure the lights hit our "performers" at the right angle. Only the best dressed and best singers can apply. We even tried to add "a church face" to the entrance. The hire had to be just the right look *blah*. We also had the clean-up the entrance in the church. We can not have signs and brochures that advertized ministry. The "Hilton Effect" needed to be the entrance.

2. Expensive

Excellence costs money. Only the best was good enough for us. We spent $$ on the best commercials. We spent $$ on catered meals for our mid-week program and the list can go on. To perfrom with excellence does take the green. We run up deficits because of it.

3. Acceleration

The bar for us was always raised. Each week had to better than the last. Each series had to top the last. our numbers needed to be raised from the previous and so on the cycle goes. I think that when we raise the bar of excellence and do it at accelerated pace ..... we forget what is important and we do not have time for what is REALLY important.

4. Inconsistency

This would definitely apply in a very odd sence. Our members (congregation) came to church very relaxed in their dress and attitude but yet we portrait a different aspect. Also, if I was honest Daniel's third paragraph would be echoed by most of the members. I would also think that we may have been excellent in teaching, preaching and ......... but were the relationships excellent .... unfortunately .. no. So, we strove for excellence in certain areas and not others. And if we were really honest, excellence (if we have to have that) would probably be more 'profitable" if we did it in the relationships that we have.

5. Exhausting

Pefectionalism is a disorder. When you continually to strive for excellence and you try to accomplish everything right here and now ..... it is EXTREMEMLY EXHAUSTING. I remember thinking that we needed to do and offer a long list of things to have an "excellent" ministry and it was very tiring and I was not faithful in "rest"

6. Divisive

Strife is what happens when people have unrealistic goals and deadlines. We as a ministry team came up (because we were told to) a 5-year goal and plan. We were very thorough in this process and what we were expected to do and accomplish was not good (not healthy) and what led to # 5. We had a bunch of exhausted people. We were never able to keep up. The machine just kept on churning.

I think that I am in the midst of being in a place that is the alternative to excellence. There are a lot of people and individuals disagree with the concept and they think that it might even be "unbliblical". Here are the alternitives and how they are playing out in my life and the way that I am in ministry.

1. Efficency

You can be excellent and still not be efficient
You can be efficient without being excellent

I think that we need to be efficient in what we set out to accomplish. I think that we can be effective and accompish what we want without excellence. I think that at times, when we reach for excellence (especially when bar is really high) we may not be efficient and we may not achieve the goal. We may spend too much time / money in the pursuit of excellence and what we want ... passes us by. Maybe, it is the simple phrase: work smart.

2. Patience

Every situation is different and requires a different schedule of progress. I know for me at various stages in my life and ministry; we have had some high goals and the time to reach them was unrealistic. It is okay to have the high goals, but to expect to meet them in a short time period may not happen.

I am in the Patience stage right now. I have some lofty goals in my mind for where I am at. Quite a few that I have not even voiced yet because it is not time. I have to be patient. Thus, take a look at your situation, set goals and take baby steps in getting to them. Do you remember the movie: What About Bob? I am thankful that I do not have huge goals placed on me that need to be met by May. In the past, I have had that. For me, it is doing ministry, having goals and walking along in the journey till we reach the goal. Yup, there are a few ministry items that I would love to implement, but some of it will not occur for 9 months or more.

3. Inclusion

We need everyone. At times, the superstars were the only ones who needed to apply. That is so not the case. We need to include everyone in the process. We are all the body of Christ. We need to be with our prople and help place them in ministry and empower them to do ministry.

For me, what this comes back to is that we really need to know what is important. It kinda reminds me of a post that I read yesterday. I think that we need to spend more time and energy with people. I think that we need to be spending time with those in our church. We need to be spending time with people in our community. We need to be living out the greatest commandments ( Loving God & Loving Others ).

One of the greatest thing, we as a family is enjoying is spending time with people. Wether it be at the free clinic, or meals on wheels, sharing with folks that are at the sports events, dinners with family, youth events ... the list goes on.

If I was spending time going for complete excellence, I would not have the time to be with people. We need to be with people.

Alrightee, I know this was long. I know the flow was not great. But, hopefully, there was a nugget in the midst of it all that you could grab onto.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

LSU: National Champions



Congrats LSU. You struggled for the 1st 5 minutes out of the gate but then it was "game on" for you and you took care of business. The route was on. A 14 point lead and the statistics may not show it ... but as an observer; it sure felt like a route.

Ohio State .... congrats on going to the National Championship 2 years in a row. I am sorry that you did not make either one of them a game. Your rally cry is that this was suppose to be a down year ... we will see. You have a lot coming back. You can circle September 19 on your calendar.

I know those in my new-beloved state and community (who love sports and OSU) do not want to hear this ... BUT, I think that you should be lucky that you play in the BIG TEN (11). If you played in the SEC and faced LSU, Georgia, Florida, Auburn, Tennessee, Alabama, South Carolina, and Arkansas for your 8 conference games ... you would not be playing in the NC game.

Hmmmm, I am sounding like a SEC supporter. Even though I lived in (with) SEC fans for 10 of the last 18 years ... that is not the case. I just think that they have a tougher conference from top-bottom

Monday, January 07, 2008

Bible in One Hand & Gym Bag in the Other

In the recent magazine "the Lutheran", there was an advertisement from the ELCA Board of Pensions about the Wellness Journey. I have decided that in 2008, I need to focus on some physical and spiritual wellness.

I am going to try to break down the calendar year in "quarters" and focus on different aspects to get me more "fit" by the end of the year.

January - March

During this three month period, I am going to focus on the following:

1. Walk where I can

This should be a fairly easy step for me. I already walk the kids to school and to the church everyday. I also walk back to the school and home after the day is over. However, if there is anything that I need to do "downtown", I am going to hopefully walk.

2. Go to the YMCA and Cycle

I can tell that I am "out-of-shape" with my cardio. I think that it was evident the last weekend in December. While at the retreat, the b-ball game and the trail walking and the "hikes" up the hill made me "windy". Thus, I am going to go to the Y 3/4 x a week and ride. At the present time, I am not sure how much I am going to do (or try). I really do not have a "logical number" in my head. If anyone wants to throw out a suggestions, please do.

3. Please hand me the water bottle.

Drinking water is usually an "easy" thing for me to do when I am "committed". However, I have not been committed and I have not been drinking water like I should. Thus, I have my "jug" on my desk that I will be filling and hopefully, the water intake will be high (flush me out).

4. Eat More Regularly

I need to eat more regularly. I have a bad habit of "not eating" in the morning and early afternoon and it catches up with me and I eat more in late afternoon / evening. Thus, I am going to spread the food out more during the day.

Those our the four physical aspects that I am going to put into place for me over the next three months. Hopefully, these little changes will make a difference and they will help me make bigger changes and strides in April - June time period.

I will go ahead and put my "weight" out there; so I can monitor that as well on a weekly basis (Monday's). I (have a goal in my mind) will not share what I hope/want to get to and maintain but I will share that my weight this morning was 193.5

On the spiritual side ......

I am going to focus on 2 things. I am going to go through the Psalms and I am going to practice the body prayers.

Alright, let us begin the jouney.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Salvation Message & Church Promotion

I was one frustrated dad, basketball coach and Christian this afternoon. Today was our Upward Basketball Awards Ceremony and it made me SICK.

One would think that at an award ceremony, the kids may receive some awards. One would think that they may recognize the kids. One would think that they may recognize the teams that played in the league. But, not at this awards ceremony.

What we received was the following:

- a 2 minute welcome

- a 3 minute video highlight of the season but mixed it was look how far we have come since we began this ministry. In '01, we had X amount. In 2007, we had X amount - YEAH, US !!

- a one hour message on Salvation and do you know where you are going to go when you die (at least he did some chalk art)

- a 5 minute, come here if you do not have a church home. You have spent numerous Saturdays in our gym. We have worship in the gym; so your know the gym; so come and be with us.

The kids on the team was wondering if they were going to get recognized. They were wondering if their names were going to be called. They were wanting to know if they would get some kind of trinkit. I just shrugged. I had no answer for them except that we did not have the afternoon schedule.

Today, I truly experience the "BAIT & SWITCH" tactic by a church and I felt "fooled". It truly upset my stomach. I also wanted to reach out and grab someone after hearing:

If something would happen to you today; do you know for 100% sure that you would spend eternity with Jesus.

for the 8th time ........

If you wanted to give a "gospel" presentation; at least let us know that is what the afternoon will be; so we can "plan" for it or NOT SHOW. Do not cover it as an award ceremony.

At least ( the very least ), you could have done the following:

1 - Called each teams name and have them stand
2 - Get a 4-5 minute song and place each team picture on the big screen as the song is being played.

Alright, I am done being negative. I will wrap this up with my highlight of the night and reminder:

Please do not give me a gospel presentation and promote your church under the "scheme" of an awards ceremony.