Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Thursday, September 09, 2010
As through word and song and prayer
We affirm God's promised presence
Where His people live and care
Praise the God who keeps His promise
Praise the Son who calls us friends
Praise the Spirit who among us
To our hopes and fears attends
Jesus calls us to confess Him
Word of life and Lord of all
Sharer of our flesh and frailness
Saving all who fail or fall
Tell His holy human story
Tell His tales that all may hear
Tell the world that Christ in glory
Came to earth to meet us here
Jesus calls us to each other
Found in Him are no divides
Race and class and sex and language
Such are barriers He derides
Join the hands of friend and stranger
Join the hands of age and youth
Join the faithful and the doubter
In their common search for truth
Jesus calls us to His table
Rooted firm in time and space
Where the Church in earth and heaven
Finds a common meeting place
Share the bread and wine His body
Share the love of which we sing
Share the feast for saints and sinners
Hosted by our Lord and King
Friday, August 27, 2010
Part of my summer reading was The Prodigal God, by Tim Keller, this in my humble opinion is a must read. I felt that this brief paragraph of a reviewer on Amazon gives great small glimpse into the book that everyone in my humble opinion should read:
Keller impresses with his intellect and his rare ability to communicate intelligent concepts and ideas simply without a hint of arrogance or patronizing. No doubt Keller's years as Presbyterian pastor in New York City (and perhaps his Lutheran upbringing) have trained him to communicate in such a manner. It should be noted that his books have received positive reviews from such diverse sources as Rick Warren, Billy Graham and Christianity Today on the one hand and The New York Times, The Washington Post, World Magazine and Publishers Weekly on the other. To straddle such a fence of opinion is no small feat. "
So if you are looking for a book to read, this is a must:
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Friday, July 16, 2010
Attending the Mennonite Brethren’s birthday party was a special treat. As I sat in on the celebration service I could not help but be moved by the history and faithfulness of the remnant believers of this denomination, whose fruit and labor were now clearly evident as the national pastors from various countries shared their work, joys and struggles in living out Jesus. Words such as “suffering”, “faithful” and “committed” struck a chord with me in this celebration, and as Walter Unger put it “we [truly] stand on the shoulders of giants.” Despite challenges we as a people press on to love and be the people of the way.
As I continue to take in the celebration, it is an exciting challenge as we together look ahead and recognize that the next 150 years will also hold many moments of joy and also sorrow but these next years will grow on the roots that have been deeply planted in the commitment to be faithful despite obstacles and to love despite hardships.
So as we celebrate and recognize and remember the mosaic of people we truly are, let us remember that our central identity is in the person of Jesus Christ, and that despite challenges we continue to press on to be centered on making disciples in the way of Jesus.
Tuesday, July 06, 2010
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Friday, June 18, 2010
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Tuesday, June 08, 2010
Monday, April 26, 2010
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Tuesday, April 06, 2010
Sunday, March 21, 2010
A church man came to see me the other day. A churchy man, an important man in his church. A deacon I think, maybe. He came to see me and our little church. He came to see if there was anything of interest going on here.
I was wearing jeans and a Snoopy t-shirt at church that day, which put him off a bit, but the real surprise came when he found that I couldn't answer any of his questions.
How many members do you have?
I don't know.
My answer, or lack of an answer, stunned him. He squinted a moment, trying to understand a thing that seemed impossible. It just isn't possible that a pastor could not know how many members are in his church.
You don't know?
No. I could print a directory and count the people, I guess. But there never seems to be an occasion when we need to know how many members we have. So I never get around to counting them.
Huh! He frowned in an exaggerated way and nodded his head slowly and deliberately. This is one way that men tell you they don't agree with you but are going to be polite and not argue the fact.
What are you running on Sundays?
This is the way church people ask about worship attendance. The number they are looking for is a weekly average.
I don't know.
Yeah. I mean, someone would have to count everyone each Sunday and run the numbers and all that. Again, there just doesn't seem to be any reason to do it, so we don't.
I wanted to be helpful, so I said, Sometimes this room is pretty full. Then other times I notice it's not as full. And then sometimes it's sorta empty, you know, on a slow Sunday.
I can't believe he kept asking questions, but he did.
How many are enrolled in Sunday School?
I was feeling a little sheepish, for some reason, though I have no intention of keeping these statistics.
Yeaaahh, I said, dragging it out. The thing is, we don't enroll people in Bible study. We study the Bible, of course. People are free to join us if they like, but we don't keep track of it.
I could tell by his face that he thought we ran a pretty sloppy operation at our church. If you really cared about doing the work of the Lord in this world, wouldn't you count members and track attendance like any good business?
I got one final question, one last chance to redeem myself.
Do you have a ministry plan of some kind?
He didn't say, "Do you AT LEAST have a ministry plan of some kind,” but I assure you the tone of his voice made his meaning clear.
Ministry plan? I racked my brain trying to think of what that might be. It sounded to me like some kind of marketing plan or strategy. Well, you know, not formally, as such. I guess we would say that our plan is to do what's right, no matter what the consequences. We should do what we feel is right and good, whether it brings five people or five-thousand people to our door.
And that pretty much wrapped up the interview. He was polite and shook my hand before he left.
It's a very important spiritual discipline for me to let people like this think that I am an incompetent fool. It is critically important that I not explain myself to them. I just wave bye-bye and let them go.
In my defense, I can answer a lot of questions about my church. He just wasn't asking the right ones.
I can tell you anything you'd like to know about our children. I can tell you that Adam loves racecars and Steven likes to sing. I can tell you that Madeline's hair always smells good on Wednesday nights and that Anna's mother is teaching her ballet. I can tell you that Jacob likes to be picked up, but don't turn him upside down. That scares him.
I can tell you about all the secret places at the church. I'm the one who cut the trail through the woods to the giant cedar tree, and I can tell you about the mysterious pile of rocks at the back of the property. I can tell you the funny story behind the decaying mound of wood and cactus that we call, “Main's folly,” and I know what the old ring of stones in the clearing was for.
I know why there's a rock in the back wall of the church with George's name written on it. I could tell you that story if you had the time.
I can tell you how the building looks in the moonlight just before dawn on a cold Sunday morning. I can tell you why Claud seems sad and why Chloe needs a hug every Sunday. I can tell you what Savannah means when she taps her cheeks, and I can tell you not to worry about what Lyle says because he has a heart of gold. I can tell you how Michael became a deacon and why Mark doesn't want to teach Sunday School anymore.
I can tell you about all of these things and more. I could talk for hours about the precious gathering of friends that we call church.
I just can't tell you any of the things that most people want to know.
Sunday, March 07, 2010
Tuesday, March 02, 2010
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Friday, February 19, 2010
Monday, February 15, 2010
Thursday, February 04, 2010
Monday, February 01, 2010
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Jessica and I received a book for Christmas, Atheist Delusions: Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies. In the book Hart is unashamedly brash with his critique and look at today's new atheists. Hart focuses on aspects of Christianity relating to history and focuses on the myth in our culture, promoted not just by new atheist but older critics of Christianity as well, that the ancient world was a place of reason and prosperity until Christianity came along and replaced it with dogmatic faith, plunging western culture into centuries of "dark ages" from which we only emerged in the modern period with the Enlightenment and a return to reason. Hart argues that this is poor at best knowledge and/or understanding of history. He stresses the important recognition that the rise of Christianity was so revolutionary that it changed western culture so thoroughly in positive ways (hospitals, charity, view of humanity, etc.) that these ideas have become so ingrained in our culture to the point we forget they were new with the Christians and that in fact the rise of Christianity helped to liberate people and bring hope and dignity where there were none.
It has been a very good but tough read (Hart is very wordy) so far, I have been really enjoying it. Here are some snippets of Hart's own introduction to the book:
"Where I come to the defense of historical Christianity, it is only in order to raise objections to certain popular calumnies of the church, or to demur from what I take to be disingenuous or inane arraignments of Christian belief or history, or to call attention to achievements and virtues that writers of a devoutly anti-Christian bent tend to ignore, dissemble, or dismiss."
"My chief ambition in writing it is to call attention to the peculiar and radical nature of the new faith in that setting: how enormous a transformation of thought, sensibility, culture, morality, and spiritual imagination Christianity constituted in the age of pagan Rome; the liberation it offered from fatalism, cosmic despair, and the terror of occult agencies; the immense dignity it conferred upon the human person; its subversion of the cruelest aspects of pagan society; its (alas, only partial) demystification of political power; its ability to create moral community where none had existed before; and its elevation of active charity above all other virtues. Stated in its most elementary and most buoyantly positive form, my argument is, first of all, that among all the many great transitions that have marked the evolution of Western civilization, whether convulsive or gradual, political or philosophical, social or scientific, material or spiritual, there has been only one—the triumph of Christianity—that can be called in the fullest sense a “revolution”: a truly massive and epochal revision of humanity’s prevailing vision of reality, so pervasive in its influence and so vast in its consequences as actually to have created a new conception of the world, of history, of human nature, of time, and of the moral good. To my mind, I should add, it was an event immeasurably more impressive in its cultural creativity and more ennobling in its moral power than any other movement of spirit, will, imagination, aspiration, or accomplishment in the history of the West. And I am convinced that, given how radically at variance Christianity was with the culture it slowly and relentlessly displaced, its eventual victory was an event of such improbability as to strain the very limits of our understanding of historical causality."