Monday, September 7, 2009

Wedding Planning...

I was reading a blog by Kent Shaffer ( he was talking about the wedding ring pillow his wife was making. He pointed out the meticulous planning that goes into the wedding. While reading that it stuck me how right he is. In my time as a pastor I did several weddings. Each one was different, butt each one was meticulously put together. The dress had to be just right, the day had to be just right, the guest list had to be complete, the cake had to be perfect… And on my side there was great planning too. We had to have a certain number of counseling sessions before the wedding. I had to get the right scriptures, the sanctuary had to be laid out just right, the music had to be done well, everything had its place and everything had to be planned for. It took months, or maybe for the bride and groom, a year or more to plan. I often wish that people would put as much time into the marriage as they do the wedding. If they did that we would have a lot less broken families these days.

Sometimes I think, that we approach our relationship with Christ the same way. As believers we plan the wedding. We know just what we are going to say to an unbelieving friend. We plan out the invitation to a special youth event, a church service, or just coffee and deep discussion at the local cafĂ©. We know what scriptures we are going to use to get the point across, we have prayed and prayed and prayed and then prayed some more for the right words, the right moment, and the right heart to receive the message from the Spirit. Some of us keep prayer journals for years, praying each day for loved ones who do not know Jesus as we do, planning and more planning for the wedding. And when it happens it is a wonderful thing, a glorious thing, and all the planning coupled with the great mystery of God’s timing and the movement of His Spirit in the heart of the unbeliever and BANG!, there is a wedding bride and groom, Church and Christ. Then comes the marriage…

If we gave the same amount of time to the long marriage as we do the short wedding would their walk be deeper? Would your walk be deeper? Are we cultivating our relationship with God? Are we treating our spiritual marriage the same way we sometimes do a physical one? We get comfortable, we start to know each others routines and rhythms and soon we stop doing the little things… the prayers slow down, the devotions get shorter and shorter, we are reading verses quickly instead of whole chapters in God’s story.. Where has the relationship gone?

When it comes to bringing the saving gospel story to one who is yet to be connected with Jesus do we bring it as a gift and leave it at the doorstep, or do we stay with them side by side throughout the journey. Do we give them a fish to eat for that day, or do we teach them to fish to eat for a lifetime? Are we building disciples who build disciples or are we simply planning the wedding?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

What is my passion?

"I have but one passion - it is He, it is He alone. The world is the field and the field is the world; and henceforth that country shall be my home where I can be most used in winning souls for Christ." (Count Zinzindorf)

I gave up the Blogging for a while, took it up again, gave it up again.. and now here I am... I do this the same way I journal. If you are like me you have many half filled, or empty journals on your shelf. The thoughts that go through my mind have not slowed down I just don't seem to get them to the paper (or screen) any more.

Anyway.. I had a great session with some brothers this morning. One of the things that came to mind and heart was "Where is my passion?" Recently, as many of you know I have stepped out of formal pastoral ministry, a place where I believed God was calling me. I completed my education (at great cost to my family), and began ministry, just like the plan was supposed to work, right(?). Along the way God seemed to be telling me that for me to be in ministry the way he called me to ministry I would have to be different than most people around me. Of course, when I did this it was my ruin in the traditional denominational church. I am at peace with that, and I pray for those who fruitfully serve in that church and thrive there in good Kingdom work. But my inability to fit in there began me in a journey of trying to figure out why God made me the way He did, and so, I began to wonder, now that I am standing on the outside... what is my passion?

I think I had gotten to a place where my passion began to take on the same image as my worldly desires. A place where my passion stood above God's passion for me. I started to chase after what made me happy, what I felt was right worship, right practice, right doctrine etc... I, like many of us began to replace parts of what I knew were God with parts of myself, I began to carve an idol that looked a lot like me. I think God has placed me in a great valley of peace and introspection for a reason. I am finding strength here in knowing that He is recreating me in His image, and I have stopped trying to recreate Him in mine.

The scripture that brought it home for me this morning was 1 Cor 1:11-13 - "
For some members of Chloe’s household have told me about your quarrels, my dear brothers and sisters. Some of you are saying, “I am a follower of Paul.” Others are saying, “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Peter,” or “I follow only Christ.”Has Christ been divided into factions? Was I, Paul, crucified for you? Were any of you baptized in the name of Paul? Of course not!"

Have we found a Paul, or Apollos, or Peter to follow?
Have we become a Paul, Apollos, or Peter who wants followers?
Have we divided Christ into factions (i.e. denominations, faiths, beliefs, versions of the Bible, Charismatic or Fundamentalist.. etc...)?

Are you satisfied with whom you are following? and is it Christ alone?
Go back and read Zinzindorf's words at the beginning of this post.. is that true for you?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Sacred and the Secular

E. Stanly Jones, in his book "Victory through Surrender" tells a great little story. There is a boy in India who while riding his "bicycle is confronted with a broken chain. He had no other means to tie it together again except with his Brahmin sacred cord which he wore under his garments. Without hesitation he used the cord to tie together the broken chain. When he finished the repair, he said to himself, there, this sacred cord has at last done me some good."

The lesson is that unless the sacred gets mingled in with the secular it is really serving no purpose. I wonder about this when I ponder the state of the Christian Church. How often do we go into the doors of our sanctuaries, only to close them behind, leaving the world behind, only to emerge one hour later ready to enter into the world, all the while our "sacred cord" hidden in our garments unused in the world where the chain is certainly broken?

I am reminded of Jesus warning to the disciples. You should be in the world but not of the world. Today that seems too hard for the average Christian, so we just opt to stay out of the world altogether or worse yet, to join it with no concern for the sacredness of our connection to Jesus.

Where do you stand? Is the sacred cord, the scarlet thread of Christ something to be hidden under your garment, like the candle that Jesus says should not be hidden under a bushel? Or are you ready to take the sacred into the world and make disciples among the people who are unconnected from Jesus? It’s your call!

Sunday, May 18, 2008


Quick, recite the Lord’s Prayer!

Now, the Apostle’s Creed!

Many of you can do this without even thinking, and I think that might be the problem. I think that we have become too familiar with things that point to the unfamiliar God. Yeah, I said unfamiliar. You see we, who are connected to Jesus think we know Jesus. We think we have it all figured out, but we don’t really. God is someone who is completely different and unknown until he makes himself known. Karl Barth, arguably one of the greatest theologians of the 20th century said it this way, “God is the "wholly other," totally unlike mankind, who are utterly dependent on an encounter with the divine for any understanding of ultimate reality. Barth saw the task of the church as that of proclaiming the "good word" of God and as serving as the "place of encounter" between God and mankind.”

If God is wholly other, which I think he is, then how can we become familiar with the things of God? I think the problem is that we bend these things of God to meet our fancy, to fit our lives, to give us comfort in what we are doing rather than to lead us to a new way of doing things. This is why the Church is so stale for so many people out there who are unconnected or disconnected from Jesus, and why it has become like a warm blanket for those who are connected. The comfort we feel, and discomfort they feel is not because of God, but because of what we have done to familiarize the church to our lifestyles.

Whenever I read the gospels the one thing that jumps out at me the most is how Jesus always caught everyone off guard. Whether it was the teachers of the law, the religious or government leaders, or even his disciples, he had a knack for keeping everyone off balance. Do you really think Jesus has changed so much over the last 2000 years that he has become predicable? If you don’t think so, then why has the Church that worships this unpredictable savior become so predictable itself? Where is the mystery in the Church? Where is the mystery in your life? Find it, and you will find Jesus…

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Didja Miss Me?

I have been gone from blogging for a while now. It is mainly due to the extra school load at the end of Seminary. I have been wrestling with a fifteen page paper on the theology of Karl Barth and Natural Revelation vs. Special Revelation… you know… simple stuff!!

But my absence and the silence out there reminds me of how those of us in the Church can get when it has been so long since Jesus promised he would be back.

So… How did you feel when I was gone? Did you forget me? Did you long for my return? Were you waiting with baited breath for the next thing I might say? Did it even matter? Did you even notice I was gone until I just reminded you? Do you even pay that much attention to me in the first place? Have I become a part of your life, or am I just a nuisance in the midst of other nuisances in your inbox? Am I just another “spam” email, not worth looking @?
How does all of this equate to how you feel about Jesus? It has been a while since he left, and he did say he was coming back, but….

Have we gotten so used to our lives without Jesus being physically here? I am using the text from Acts 1:6-11 for my sermon on Sunday. It puts a great picture in our mind. Here are the disciples staring up into the sky as soon as Jesus ascends into Heaven. If the angels didn’t tell them to move along, they would have probably stayed there for a long time. Why? Well, obviously they thought this was gonna be like all Jesus’ other miracles, and he would be right back. Even in the early Church the people sold everything they had and waited. Paul had to exhort the Corinthians to go back and get jobs, because they thought Jesus would be back so soon they wouldn’t need them.

Now we have the other extreme. We stopped looking up in the sky. We worry more about our jobs and paychecks than we do the return of Jesus. We worry so much about tomorrow, or next week, or month or year that we forgot that Jesus said we just might not get another day… “Watch out!” Jesus says. I am coming back soon.

So, go back and look at the questions I asked you about me.. and hear them as if Jesus is saying them to you:
So… How did you feel when I was gone? Did you forget me? Did you long for my return? Were you waiting with baited breath for the next thing I might say? Did it even matter? Did you even notice I was gone until I just reminded you? Do you even pay that much attention to me in the first place? Have I become a part of your life, or am I just a nuisance in the midst of other nuisances?

Jesus gives us a warning in Matthew 24:42-44:
“So you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming. Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would keep watch and not permit his house to be broken into. You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.