Tuesday, February 13, 2007

I'm Outta Here

Sorry to do this to y'all, but it's something I've wanted to do for a while, it just took a day of being snowed in at home to get me motivated...I'VE MOVED TO WORDPRESS!
I'll talk about what motivated me and some of the minor changes over there...
So reset your aggregators (and links for those of you living in the blog world dark ages!)


Upon graduation from seminary, where I was immersed in a world of acedemic texts and discussion, I have found that most of my reading has been more in the "real" world of pastoral ministry -- leadership, church structure, devotional, etc.

Today, I began reading a book that I've been intrigued with for quite some time, Slaves Women & Homosexual: Exoploring the Hermeneutics of Cultural Analysis, and I feel so invigorated, having just read the first 1/3 of the book.

(Hermeneutics is the branch of theology that deals with principles of interpreting Scripture, which is to say why we interpret the way we do.)

Anyway, there was a quotation in the forward by Darrell Bock of Dallas Theological Seminary that really fired me up (yes, I'm one of the bookish nerds that actually reads "forwards" and "acknowledgements"):

"[This book] is designed to make you consider why you apply Scipture the way you do -- no matter what position you take...this is serious fare for those willing to examine their beliefs, both theological and cultural, in these controversial areas."

[I love a good challenge!]


I'm snowed in today, so I'm thought I'd catch up on my "read the Bible in a year" schedule (I was only a couple days behind) and so this morning I was finishing Exodus, where there's all this description of the temple, priestly garments, temple artifacts & stuff. Anyway, here's some questions that came to mind as I read...
  • the degree to which the people were to strive for purity and the punishments for violating the standards God set were much higher than the emphasis we put on purity today...but at the same time the will of God was much clearer to them...when the cloud moved, they moved...God resided in the tabernacle...Moses talked to God like he talked to any other person in the tent of meeting. I wonder if there's a correlation
  • the "holy dice" thing has always intrigued me. I wonder if sometimes I put too much stock in my own reasoning when it comes to decision-making instead...In Acts, they chose Judas' replacement by "casting lots"... I've never heard of a contemporary church making a decision by throwing dice or casting lots, or anything even close!
  • after the golden calf, God wants wipe out everyone and basically start over with Moses, (whom God calls his "friend" by the way)...and then Moses begs on behalf of the people. What do the anti-openness people say to that? Was God being disingenuous? Did Moses' pleading on their behalf really change God's mind? Do my prayers for people really matter?

Just wondering...

Small Group Discussion

If you really want to add some ZING to your small group discussion, you could always use these discussion starters!!

Monday, February 12, 2007


Saturday (my birthday) was pretty uneventful...I think that as you get older, it's just less and less of a big deal. Anyway, since I was at Northwoods from about 1:00 to 10:30 on Saturday, we celebrated on Sunday.

It's become a tradition the last couple of years, that I make a meal for my birthday, and usually just invite my mom & dad over for dinner. So last night I revived the chocolate New York style cheesecake that we made for New Years except that I made a chocolate whipped cream topping. I made just a simple bruschetta (tomatoes, basil, salt & pepper) and then for the main course, I made penne alla vodka, a delicious red cream cream sauce with a little bit of spice. I'll make it again for sure!

For the second straight year, I got perhaps the best gift ever. Some good friends of ours, as a birthday gift for me (and for Jennifer also) give us one night out a month for a year, while they watch the kids! Okay...it's Chris and Bethany! (they deserve credit...especially w/ #4 coming this year!)

Saturday, February 10, 2007

My 33 Things

Note: this post was inspired by Brian's 33 things.

Anyway...on the occasion of my 33rd birthday, I offer 33 things that bring joy and feelings of being more blessed by God than I could ever deserve -- they're not necessarily in any particular order as I kept editing and condensing!

1. Jennifer

2. My boys!

3. mom & dad, Adam & Andrea, Shana & Josh (& of course nieces & nephews)

4. Working on my house/Cory's house/any building project w/ "the guys"

5. Chinese Food

6. all people I "do life" with on Tuesday nights and the children we keep having (#10 in August!)

7. Finding someone to play tennis with that we're well-matched

8. my gym membership

9. all the laughter in my life

10. my ipod

11. Jubilee State Park

12. that I'm healthy

13. good coffee on cold mornings

14. my church -- particularly the people I work with.

15. "guy day" 2006 -- Sept. 15 (DMB & the Cubs in one day)

16. cooking with Hite

17. planting stuff in the yard

18. New Year's Eve Party

19. Pool Volleyball

20. the smell and look of my yard, just after it's mowed!

21. mountain biking

22. golfing

23. hazelnut lattes

24. Catalyst 2006 -- couldn't have gone with a better group of guys!

25. A2 Conference -- best church conference I've ever been to!

26. swimming with the boys

27. late-night movies

28. Civilization IV

29. reading

30. my blog readers

31. dark chocolate

32. wrestling

33. driving to work watching the sunrise

Friday, February 09, 2007

Office Quote

Jim: "What are you doing?" Dwight: "I don't know...my mouth tastes really bad all of the sudden ."

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

What I Won't Give Up

I would say that the last two months have probably been some of the most challenging that I've faced in my 8 years of full-time ministry. It hasn't been that the situations are challenging, but the work-load is tremendous. I feel like some stuff is slipping. In fact, just a little while ago, I got an email from someone, and I'm afraid that I let them down...and I had no intention of doing so...I've just gotten drowned in the 'tyranny of the urgent.'

Anyway...one of the things that I've worked hard on the last couple of months, with varying degrees of success is to kind of plant my foot about some things -- that I just won't give up -- even if stuff at the church suffers for it.

  • I won't give up time with my family. I'll come in at 6:00am if I have to...but I'm striving to be home about 4:30. That gives my about two hours or so with my boys before they go to bed.
  • I won't give up time at the gym. I feel 100% better about myself for the hour I try to spend in the gym each day.
  • I won't give up reading -- I have to feed myself, if I'm going to have anything to give. That being said -- this is probably the area that's suffering a little bit right now.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Coffee Shop

This is where I've been hiding away more and more recently, trying to get stuff done. It's a good place to hang out, get some joe and study, read, meet...whatever. This is not a paid endorsement, although if you want to forward this to them, I'd never turn down a free cup of coffee!

"Techmology -- What is it?"

Okay...the title is a quote from Ali G -- before Sacha Baron Cohen got all famous and stuff.

Anyway, I want to start my post by saying clearly, that I love my church. However, it often lives in the backwaters of technology, and when I read a post like this, I struggle hard with jealousy.

So here's a leadership question -- how do you "lead up" when it comes to technology? Technology always comes with a price tag, and if the people who make the money decisions aren't "techy" -- it's a long hill to climb -- they never can quite understand why you need the tools you do.

If I had my way -- I would have one of these, and one of these. (I think that these are tools comparable to a desk, telephone, chair & business cards 20 years ago.)

edited: got the name of the guy right now!

Friday, February 02, 2007


There are two approaches to getting in a pool. One, is to go to the shallow end and slowly walk down the steps into the pool (a lot of moms with the swimsuit/skirt things on do it this way). The other can best be summarized in one word: CANNONBALL! Caution to the wind, come what may, jump right in, who cares if sunbathers get splashed (this is the method of 10 year old boys...and 33 years old men who act like they're 10). There are two kinds of leaders when it comes to change. There are those that go to the shallow end and start wading in, testing the water, waiting to acclimate before they go a little deeper. The other kind cannonballs and lets everything settle as it may. Sometimes the "wade in" approach seems to work best -- it allows people to acclimate slowly to change -- there's plenty of time to adjust, change the way you think, grow into the new reality. Other times, cannonballing is the way to go -- just mess things up, make the change swift and then get to the business of settling the water back down. Sometimes the "wade in" approach loses people -- they get anxious, impatient -- the want it to happen faster. Sometimes the cannonball approach destroys people because it doesn't give them time to process, time to change, time to acclimate before the new reality takes over...
  • Which are you -- wader or cannonballer?
  • How do you know when to do which?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Office

Michael: "Ben Franklin, you're kind of a sleazeball."

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

It's a bitter pill, I swallow here

Dave asked a question that really hit a point of contention with me...something that I've wrestled with for the last several months, had great conversations, but have avoided blogging about because I feared the criticism (I know...I wallow in irony!) Instead of leaving a ridiculously long comment on his blog, I offer a bunch of questions here, for consideration regarding criticism, being critical and the like that I've wrestled with in my own mind.
  • If I criticize more than I praise, what does that say about me?
  • What does it say about the state of my soul?
  • Why is it, that often, not always, but often, the people who are the most critical are the least capable of facing criticism?
  • Here's another way of saying it, why are the most-opinionated, the least capable of dealing with criticism.
  • Is criticism just "low-hanging fruit"? What I mean is that often, what I see done in the name of criticism, is just an attempt to appear intellectual or superior, but the truth is, most well-reasoned criticism are from people who write books and published articles, where people pay $$ to hear what they think. Usually, they don't write blog posts.
  • If I just blast someone or something in a post, how is it beneficial? (I know I've been guilty of this in the past, but I'm wrestling with the idea.) What does it really accomplish?
  • Is there a difference between being critical and "constructive engagement," with an idea you may totally disagree with?
  • Does how I respond to people who disagree with me say something about the state of my soul? Or is it just a maturity thing? Or is it neither?
  • What if they're mean and unfair?
  • Rob Bell likes to talk about "binding and loosing." Isn't disagreeing with his book really the semi-ugly process of binding and loosing? I know that Rob is really offended by the ad hominem criticism, as he should be, but the real criticisms, are valid and good, even if you don't ultimately agree.
  • If I can't handle criticism -- if it bothers me to the core and I can't let it go -- then maybe I shouldn't post things or write things or speak publicly -- because honestly, once it's out there -- people will respond, like it or not, and frankly, you willingly put it out there.
  • I guess the real question I have had to ask myself in the past is, "where does my self-perception and awareness come from?" -- my critics, or my Creator?

I have some answers, at least ones I can live with for most of these...but it would be a much-too-long post (it's already a little too long)!

Yes...the title of this post is from a U2 song -- Van Diemen's Land -- off of Rattle and Hum

This Desert Life

It's noon on Wednesday. I'm still wearing my pajama pants and the sweatshirt that I put on immediately after getting out of bed at 6:45am. I'm unshaven, my hair is disheveled, and I'm sure that my breath isn't great either after drinking almost an entire pot of coffee this morning by myself. Jennifer and the boys are gone, and it's just me in my house. And it's quiet.

We call it a desert day.

One of the perks of Northwoods is that we get one day a month to get out of the office, pray, read, think, slow down a little. (Other churches give Sabbaticals once every five-seven years...I think this way is better...just my opinion, although if there were Sabbaticals to take, I take one!)

Here's some of what I did today...I was a bit abbreviated because I had a meeting tonight at church that I needed to prep for and attend...but anyway.

  • I completed my January Bible readings in Genesis, Acts, Psalms & Matthew. So far, so good this year.
  • I started reading Chazown by Craig Groeschel. I'm really excited to take this book slowly -- doing the journalling excercises and sucking the marrow out of this book.
  • I listened to a Rob Bell message.
  • I prayed.
  • I read Flashbang: How I Got Over Myself. I read the whole book. It took just over four hours or so. We're basing our Nexus teaching and the house group discussions for February on this book so I wanted to get it into my head again. I read it in 2005, and it cracked me up, but at the same time challenged me...it was probably better the second time, because I've gotten older, more mature, and I think I have a greater awareness of my infatuation with myself.
  • I moved slowly...drank a lot of coffee...paused when I read something good...listened to Charlie Hall...then Counting Crows.

yes, this Desert Life was an album title for the Counting Crows...I'm apparently lacking in blog title originality these days.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Why I'll be at Taft Home on Tuesday Night

At the risk of elevating one of God's charateristics over all the others, I believe that one of the neglected attributes of God in the white, evangelical tradition that I come from God's desire for justice. In fact the only time I heard people talk about God's justice it seemed, was when they talking about why people go to hell for eternity.

But over the last couple of years, as I try to understand more and more about the kingdom of God is and try to live out the Lord's prayer ("your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven"), there's been a growing sense that as Christian I should be lending my voice to issues of justice.

Recently, as I've been pastoring at LifeBridge, I've grown more connected to Carl Cannon, a local community activist. Anyway, yesterday, in Peoria, the third apparent homicide of the year was committed (pjstar article here). Therefore, on Tuesday night at 6:00, Carl has organized another community prayer vigil to say "enough," to the criminals of Peoria. The vigil will be at Taft Homes -- very close to where 16-year old Domonique Alexander lived.

You may ask, why is rural boy that lives in Brimfield, and works at the large, white church at the north end of town going to be standing in the freezing cold at Taft Homes on a Tuesday night. The answer, is that I have a growing sense that wherever I feel led, I must lend my voice to issues of justice.

Anyone want to join me?