You Make Me Brave

We did this song in church for the first time this weekend and I loved it.  No doubt I have areas of my life which I need to be more brave in…and this is a good reminder of how God can give us courage to face absolutely anything.

When Did Pastors Become ShopKeepers?

Started a new book that is challenging me in a good way…check out this quote from the introduction:

American pastors are abandoning their posts, left and right, and at an alarming rate. They are not leaving their churches and getting other jobs. Congregations still pay their salaries. Their names remain on the church stationary and they continue to appear in pulpits on Sundays. But they are abandoning their posts, their calling. They have gone whoring after other gods. What they do with their time under the guise of pastoral ministry hasn’t the remotest connection with what the church’s pastors have done for most of twenty centuries.
A few of us are angry about it. We are angry because we have been deserted…. It is bitterly disappointing to enter a room full of people whom you have every reason to expect share the quest and commitments of pastoral work and find within ten minutes that they most definitely do not. They talk of images and statistics. They drop names. They discuss influence and status. Matters of God and the soul and Scripture are not grist for their mills.
The pastors of America have metamorphosed into a company of shopkeepers, and the shops they keep are churches. They are preoccupied with shopkeeper’s concerns–how to keep the customers happy, how to lure customers away from competitors down the street, how to package the goods so that the customers will lay out more money.
Some of them are very good shopkeepers. They attract a lot of customers, pull in great sums of money, develop splendid reputations. Yet it is still shopkeeping; religious shopkeeping, to be sure, but shopkeeping all the same. The marketing strategies of the fast-food franchise occupy the waking minds of these entrepreneurs; while asleep they dream of the kind of success that will get the attention of journalists.
The biblical fact is that there are no successful churches. There are, instead, communities of sinners, gathered before God week after week in towns and villages all over the world. The Holy Spirit gathers them and does his work in them. In these communities of sinners, one of the sinners is called pastor and given a designated responsibility in the community. The pastor’s responsibility is to keep the community attentive to God. It is this responsibility that is being abandoned in spades.

From the introduction of Working the Angles written by Eugene Peterson.

On Conflict

calvin-hobbes-conflictLast night at our high school program I shared the third in our Magnetic Community series.  The big idea was that we should EMBRACE conflict rather than run from it.  The best relationships in my life…the ones which have spanned many years and many miles…all of them have had significant amounts of conflict in them.  What is destructive is the idea that a relationship shouldn’t have any conflict in it.  This sets us up for failure when we place expectations on others to make us happy, understand us completely and always give us what we want. Relationships then become disposable…we simply get rid of them when things get rough.  We set out for a better boyfriend, a perfect wife, a new church, a superior employer. However conflict can be an opportunity to make a relationship stronger. IF we traverse it well we can each emerge on the other side knowing the other better. Now I am not suggesting there aren’t times when you do need to move on (abuse situations), but that should really be a last resort AFTER we have tried to work things out.

Conflict is inevitable in relationships and it would serve us and our communities well if we learned better how to resolve them.

End of Job

BookJobJust finished reading Job in my daily bible reading. Once again I am struck by the way God responds to Job in chapters 38-42. It’s almost like God is defending Himself to a man, taking a sarcastic tone saying: “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! (Job 38:4-5)  God then goes on to share how He takes care of all creation…commanding and managing things which Job likely gave little thought to before. Remember this is a guy who lost EVERYTHING…family, home, riches and his own health. To make matters worse his friends accuse Job of sinning as the cause of all his calamity.  Gods response lacks specifics as to why all this happened to Job…but it is almost like God is sharing all this information about creation to say: I know what I am doing…I am in control.  

Can you relate with Job? I know I can at times…wondering what the heck God is up to allowing certain things to happen or not happen in my life.  We are best to respond to God like Job did: “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. (Job 42:2-3)

Papa help us trust you more. Forgive us when we think we have enough knowledge to challenge your will in this world. Protect us from evil, keep us on the path marked out for us.  Give us courage to face whatever comes our way, to trust you are with us in every storm.

Magnetic Community

horseshoe-magnet-attracting-iron-filings-tek-imageAs our Student Ministry kicks off another school year, we are hitting building community head on with a four week series: “Magnetic Community.”  The big idea is that just like magnets, communities either attract or repel people.  Our hope is to discover and implement the ingredients which make our ministry the kind of community that students are drawn to.  This week I share the first ingredient of a Magnetic Community: INCLUSIVE rather than EXCLUSIVE.  

Beyond the series we are also doing some other things to build community in our Student Ministry. Our High School Ministry now offers a weekly meal free for our students. There is just nothing like food to bring people together…we actually sit down at tables and eat together each week!  Also our Middle School Ministry is now meeting a half-an-hour later to do a weekly Lifegroup (both our programs now meet 630-830p). At each program are doing more interactive mixer games which are designed to get students interacting with each other.  Lastly to stimulate some connections on Sunday mornings at The River, we are meeting at 1045am to sit together in the 11am experience EACH WEEK.  The hope here is that organically that will lead to students grabbing lunch after as well.

As with all our programmatic changes, we do this with prayer knowing:

The horse is made ready for the day of battle,
    but victory rests with the Lord.  Proverbs 21:31



Floating Thoughts

  • Back to reality! Today is my first day back in the office after my trip and yes there’s alot to do!
  • Dad heads back today to Florida. Was great having him back in Michigan his past month.
  • I feel for all those going back to school and also feels great being completely done with school!
  • Started another year of Fantasy Football this week.  Excited to see where it goes, hoping to top my third place record last year.
  • In response to the celebrity picture hacking…I actually liked what Ricky Gervais was getting at when he tweeted: “Celebrities, make it harder for hackers to get nude pics of you from your computer by not putting nude pics of yourself on your computer.”  And no I don’t condone stealing pictures, the point is how about we stop taking nude pictures of ourselves? Yet another way porn has negatively influenced our culture with far-reaching consequences.
  • I am determined  to get a couple more afternoons by the pool before call hits officially in 21 days.
  • Do people still read blogs?