Friday, January 30, 2009

Life lessons...


I'm a youth pastor, and because of this my mind naturally searches for any sources of illustration. Any way that God could be speaking. Not so much that he "causes" these things to happen specifically so that I hear a certain message (although it's certainly possible). But rather, "here is what is happening, how could God be revealed through this?".

An important reminder in a life of searching for these revelations is one given by Jeremiah Bolich last weekend to all the teens at FROSTBITE. There will be times in life where I wonder, "Is this God speaking to me?" And sometimes it may even seem REALLY REALLY strongly that He is. When that happens, we need to go to the Scriptures. Because no matter how much we may "really feel" God speaking a certain word to us - the Word of God is 100% always His Word for our lives.

Once we've taken the "life lesson" to scripture to be sure it matches up with the known character of God - we can shout it. :)

So here it is:

Sophie was in the tub last night. I put her in before I even started the water. Usually when I do this, she crawls around all excited, and climbs around enjoying the empty tub. But last night, she just sat there looking up at me. Looking at the faucet, expectantly. Waiting for the water she knew should be coming.

Are we expectant?

Do we come to church and church activities actually expecting the Spirit of God to show up and do something? Or are we content to play around in our empty tub? Has it all become so routine/cynical that our hope rests simply on enjoying one or two of the songs in an emotional way, and go home "blessed" from that?

I want to look to the Father, expectantly. I want to stare into the veil, expectant of His Spirit to rip right through it, transforming His people together. Not because the speaker is that great. Not because the music was any good. Not even because there was an altar call. But because it's the nature of the God we serve (Acts 1:8).

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Giving In...

So on Facebook, you may have noticed everyone and their mother telling the world "25 Random Things About Me". Along with it, they tag 25 people they "want to know more about". Apparently my Facebook friends don't know enough about me, cause I've been tagged a ridiculous amount of times. I normally abhor "forward" type surveys/etc. I still do. But in the interest of being able to honor these "requests for more information" if that's truly what they are, here are 25 random things about me, in no particular order. (and no, I won't "tag" 25 more people. That would only continue the madness. Just consider it a safe bet that I want to know more about you, and post your own random things.)

1. I love Jesus Christ, and am a new creation through Him.
2. I'm afraid of Trolls. Whether goofy or legitimately scary.
3. I tried to have a ponytail in high school, and it didn't work out so hot.
4. I once sang lead role in a Community Theater production of the Opera, "Amahl and the Night Visitors".
5. I'm a dedicated fan of the Detroit Red Wings.
6. My favorite hockey player currently is Brett Lebda.
7. Favorite all-time hockey player is Steve Yzerman.
8. I've appeared on, and kicked butt on, Wheel of Fortune.
9. I'm obsessive compulsive about where/how the cups go in our cupboard.
10. My favorite show to watch with my daughters is YO GABBA GABBA.
11. The best place to get chocolates for a special occasion is Jacques Torres.
12. I like to wear flip flops as much as possible. (and it IS possible whenever it's dry)
13. I'm very much a fan of GOOD hip-hop.
14. One of my favorite desserts is creme brulee.
15. The blacker the coffee, the better it tastes.
16. My wife is better/more beautiful than yours.
17. My kids are all smarter/cuter/all around better than yours.
18. I have to work purposefully on my humility.
19. You're probably a lot more interesting than I am in your 25 random things.
20. I'm okay with that.
21. I don't really like doing surveys like this.
22. I'd rather go out for coffee.
23. I'm laughing that you're still reading this.
24. I wonder sometimes what I should put as my final "random thing".
25. I think it'd be more fun to let you fill this one in - so leave it as a comment:

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Heaven as Incomplete...

I wanted to post some thoughts on this...but couldn't say it much better than NT Wright has in a Feb. article on ABC News: (click link to read full article - I've pulled out some main points here)

"Believers and unbelievers have strong views about what happens when you die. For centuries, Christians have believed that their destiny after death is heaven: a spiritual place where they -- along with a myriad of angels, -- sing praises to God for eternity. But is it possible that Christians may have gotten that part of their faith badly wrong"

"Wright points to films like the romantic comedy "Four Weddings and a Funeral" where, in the absence of a clear grasp of what happens when you die, people invent ideas about the afterlife that are not in scripture.

"I think we have allowed ourselves to drift in what we say about the dead," Wright said."There are a lot of funeral services sadly which go that route these days, [where] death is nothing at all, I've just slipped away into the next room and so on. Anyone who's grieved and anyone who's worked with anyone who's grieved knows that it's a lie. Death is a monster, death is horrible."

"In a radical departure from traditional belief, Wright says that Christians are not ultimately destined for a spiritual place called heaven. He says that at the end of time as we know it, God will literally remake our physical bodies and return us to a newly restored planet."

"Heaven is important but it's not our final destination," he explained. "If you want to say that when someone dies they go to heaven, fine. But that's only a temporary holding pattern that is life after death. And what I'm much more interested in, or the New Testament is much more interested in, is what I've called life after life after death."

"I've often put it like this, if somebody you know has been very ill, you say, 'Poor old so and so, he's just a shadow of his former self.' And the extraordinary truth in the New Testament is that if you are in Christ and dwell by the spirit you are just a shadow of your future self," Wright said. "There is a real you to which the present you corresponds as a photocopy corresponds to the glorious original. You know, there is a real you, which God is going to make and it will be more physical -- more real, not less."

"But this interpretation is the exact opposite of what many American Christians believe. The hugely successful Left Behind series of movies and books is an apocalyptic vision of the end of the world -- a view shared by many evangelicals. According to those who believe it, the end of the world will start with the so-called "rapture," when all Christians will be taken up to heaven in one momentous swoop. The earth then enters a period of cataclysmic wars until it eventually disintegrates, in a final chapter of fire. Wright says that is more mythical than Biblical."

"It's a myth," Wright said. "It is an attempt to make sense of some bits of the New Testament. It was always the literature of the dispossessed ... it's now become the literature of the rich masses in parts of America."

"It's because I believe in God's kingdom of justice and peace already existing because of Jesus, and yet to come in the future, this gives me the energy and the focus to work for the kingdom of God in the present."

Monday, January 26, 2009

Frostbitten...

This past weekend we had "FROSTBITE", a winter retreat for Senior Highers from all over the Gateway Conference of the Free Methodist Church. It went awesome. Here's a quick recap:

We had over 130 people from over 10 different churches. We brought in Jeremiah Bolich as our speaker, and hired BREAM as our worship band for the weekend. We had carpetball, football, counselor hunts in freezing temperatures, and the other expected youth-oriented activities. But our preparation, fancy bells and whistles, and amazingly un-camplike food were not the source of what made the weekend.

Jesus was.

From registration on Friday evening, through the various activities/services/meals/etc., into clean-up time on Saturday - Christ was praught/taught/proclaimed and studied. The reminder that we can easily become someone who is following Christ, and yet still not a Christian, was an appropriate message for the teens AND we adults. Especially those of us involved regularly in church-ish things.

When Jesus fed a crowd following him (John 6), he realized these people were following him for the wrong reasons. They wanted to make Jesus King of the Jews, and associated Him/His power with political potential. He wanted nothing to do with them, and escaped.

How often in our own lives, are we "following Jesus", and yet being someone he would look at and want nothing to do with? Do our ministries reflect Jesus, or our desires? So what does a life transformed by the Spirit of God look like?

For that, we have examples throughout the word of God, or people/disciples who lived out their faith. The New Testament is filled with stories of a spirit-empowered life under the new covenant. People who's lives were guided by, and wrapped around not who they wanted Jesus to be - but who Jesus revealed He was - and how He revealed His Kingdom to be.

I'm thankful for a God who says -
"you no longer follow the ten commandments, you follow me..."

May we understand better daily what that really means...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

An update...

I'm currently at Frostbite - a senior high winter retreat for the Gateway Conference. And so, I leave you with this update from the girls, posted on youtube earlier this week. Enjoy...

Friday, January 23, 2009

Universalism - "I'd Like to believe that." ?

One thing that caught my ear recently, in conversation with other pastors, and in listening to great people teach on topics of Bible and Theology, has been a response to Universalism.

There is a group of people who believe that since God's grace is offered to all, and God is all-powerful/irresistible, combined with the fact that Jesus Christ has been to hell and back, etc....many different reasons. Whatever the reason, there are some who believe that in the end, all will be "saved", no matter what their beliefs, and no matter who they were in this life/world.

Usually bringing up this belief, is followed by a (well intentioned most likely) "I'd like to believe that." No doubt the person is thinking of people they've known and loved, who either have passed on or will pass on someday (we all will) without knowing Jesus Christ as savior. Yes, we would all love to have everyone around, during and after God's completion of what He has in store for us...to enjoy it together forever.

But part of me isn't sure about saying "I'd like to believe that" to Universalism. And this coming from a guy who is a pretty big fan of being gracious, and God's redemption/grace being a HUGE force in the whole "eternity" issue. I think sometimes about all the things that would change, if that was the kind of God we served....I won't bore you with what's probably really horrible theological daydreaming - but lets just say I find comfort in how God has revealed his love/plan for us.

But I too, am tempted to say "I'd like to believe that" when I hear of people who think that even someone who builds their entire existence against God, in the end, will be overwhelmed by God's redeeming love/grace and ushered into His Kingdom. But I think such thoughts can be hurtful to our appreciation of how God has created us/creation, and gives us (however small) a place to divert energy from loving others (even difficult ones) TOWARDS Christ and His design/desire for us ALL.

As hard as it is to realize/admit/acknowledge/accept - there is something loving about allowing someone who desires nothing to do with God - to have what they desire.

In any case...may we continue to reach the entire world, and all in it, with the message that God is calling all people toward His Kingdom, and offering redemption in Jesus Christ - even/especially to us who realize our need for something other than ourselves to be anything good in this life...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

J-Term Sermon

So I totally back-dated this, cause it's not intended for general audiences. It was praught for a J-Term course on the Minor Prophets, and I couldn't figure out how to e-mail the large MP3 format, but I knew I could throw it online.

If you hear it, and have advice/contributions to improve my public speaking or to correct any info found therein - I hesitantly invite it. :)

However, if you hear it, and God uses it to speak to you - then I'm glad I did it.

I know - it's too long. And too quiet. You gotta turn your speakers/headphones up really loud. Or you can try it here on my friends' server. Enjoy. :)

video

Audio of the SNL Skit provided by www.hulu.com, Saturday Night Live, and NBC. Not sure about legal issues, other than I was able to get the clip simply by using a link offered on the website intended for me to share it with others. So I did. :)

Obama: Because everyone else said something...

So Tuesday when everyone was watching, we were watching also. Addie would run up to the television screen every time Obama was on, and point and say "Presdent Obama!!" ( "i" missing on purpose). It was a pretty cool moment, especially realizing he will probably be President throughout her childhood if he goes two terms, which seems to be the trend. She will grow up to the age of 10, watching this man lead our country - for better or for worse.

Is he perfect? No. Will we still have hardships as a country and as a world? Yes. But still, I admit I've bought into the excitement a bit. I can't pinpoint the source of the excitement, but I think my friend Jake, and his friend have hit on some major points - so I'll just give a nod in their direction.

I think the Church can and must become an active player in addressing many of the issues we hope government will get involved in. As jobs are lost, money is thin, and most are too proud to admit their needs - within the context of a Church community we have the ability to be vulnerable to each other, and to help meet needs as each is able. Everyone needs that, whether they will admit it or not.

As we watch Obama during his "First 100 Days" (not sure why that is such an important amount of time, CNN?) let us not put so much hope in one man that we forget this is about ALL OF US. May we all find work we can be doing, to serve the poor, love the marginalized, and live lives of vulnerable community with one another. May God continue to be with us...

May we continue to pray for our leaders, especially during these first days where so much is on his plate. God be with Obama. Help him to President wisely, and with compassion. May we follow when it is right to follow. May we challenge our leadership when it is right to challenge.

May we live as individuals born of, and for, the Kingdom of God. Not of golden palaces and "chosen people", but of love/forgiveness and by grace - for all. (no worries, not Universalism, but I still believe God's plan is offered to involve all. More on Universalism tomorrow...)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Legal to show Superbowl at Church?

"Have you heard it's illegal to show the Superbowl in churches?"

"I guess we'll just have to cancel this year."

"I think we're still gonna show it, and just hope nothing bad happens."

Just in case you've heard rumors one direction or another, or were simply going to show it anyways, figuring "the Man" doesn't care what goes on in podunk cities. Here's a quick video that recaps law changes made from 2009 going forward. Worth a watch, whether you're in ministry or connected to a ministry that is thinking of having a party this year....

Now, for the debates about commercial filtering, and what to do during the halftime show - I'll leave that up to people who care more than I do. I think the commercials are usually more entertaining than the game, and the halftime show is a great time to casually sit around socializing with the people around you - with decent background music.

For halftime? I know it's popular to show some sort of athlete who's life was transformed by Jesus Christ, as long as it fits in the halftime slot, combined with a quick altar call, and then back to the game. Personally - I think that's a bit silly. But I'm sure people have been transformed by such an experience, so I can't completely discount it.

For commercials, etc? I agree, some of the commercials, halftime shows, and even cheerleaders during the game - can be a bit risque to flash up on a giant screen in front of people who have committed to reducing that type of presence in their lives. Might as well just watch Yo Gabba Gabba and call it even.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

the triumph of estrogen...

As if taking over things back in the Garden wasn't enough.

Now they're taking over my home. :)

All humor aside, this is the official announcement you've all been waiting for. Circa June 11th, 2009, our 3rd child - Ruby Anne Anderson - will be welcomed into this world.

Yup, another girl. 3 Girls. One wife. One me. Go ahead, make your jokes. Are we sure? Well, the same guy did the ultrasound on our first 2 girls, and he was right both times. So yeah, we're pretty sure.

I still love it. Can't wait for all that lies ahead. I know - it's going to be one expensive teenage girl festival in our house someday. And eventually weddings (unless one or more of them join a convent - I'll have to look around for a nice one). But even with all of that - I can't help but be incredibly excited about the family we're growing here. Yes they're girls, but they're MY (our) girls. I love them.

Does that mean I'll never be able to take one of my children back and forth to hockey practice, and cheer them on as they score the winning goal, or land one awesome penalty on the jerk from the other team? Probably. (not definitely, girls can totally play hockey if they really want to) But even so, I'll have 3 FANS to sit with me at any game we wanna go to, and shout obscenities at the opposition. (Christian obscenities of course - "you stink like sin!!", etc.)

Ruby Anne - looking forward to your arrival. We've prepared a place for you, and heck - it's already filled with princesses, ponies, and Dora. Lord be with our daughter as she continues to prepare for the world ahead....

Sunday, January 18, 2009

moments of return...

A few notes from returning home yesterday, for the first time in about 2 weeks:

I became a virtual jungle gym of sorts, as both Addison and Sophie attacked me for attention in the living room. It was really as if they were physically saying "daddy, we missed you". :) It was incredible.

After we tired out a bit, all three of us took a nap on the couch together. Usually a nap of any sorts "together" has very little sleep involved. But thankfully, I don't think they slept well Friday night, which led to a new sense of sleep deprivation. Sophie on my chest, Addie curled up under my arm, they both echoed smaller versions of their mothers "deep breathing noise" (not a snore, my dad snores....this is no way the same thing). :)

After a short nap together, I transferred them both to their respective sleeping quarters, where they BOTH slept over 2 hours further!!! After they woke up, we had a very healthy dinner of pepperoni pizza (made Mediterranean by some feta cheese sprinkled all over it) and potato chips before bath time.

With bathtime, booktime, bedtime, breakfast time, getting dressed time, packing, etc...times..(with moments for breaking out in running around the house sans diapers screaming and dancing to whatever song we wanted to sing or make up...or just crawl around like puppies for a bit)..whew. I have definitely gained a new appreciation for what my wife has been up to the past two weeks, and what she goes through every Sunday morning. I leave for church early by myself usually (two services), and try to escape with everyone still asleep. Maybe Addie should start coming with me to both services...we'll see. :)

Looking forward to my wife's return late tonight,as the Anderson family becomes "whole" once again finally, and a VERY exciting day tomorrow!!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Whew.

(not the kind of "whew" where you feel like you've dodged a large bullet, but rather a "whew" of man that was pretty awesome and I'm overjoyed/crushed that it's over)

It's been a great time of learning and growth. For those of you who have continued to read my blog, congratulations. Your faithfulness has brought you far. For those who have been waiting patiently for me to get over all this Minor Prophet/Wesley nonsense, your time has come. I can't promise not to mention them in the future, but at least for present blog posts, beginning tomorrow you should expect to see more of the day to day musings and ramblings of a youth pastor/father/husband/Child of God/etc. :)

I want to give a shout out to my homies at the Groover house, for being such AWESOME hosts. Even though I couldn't party with them regularly like I would have wanted to, I know that at the drop of a hat, a party could have happened. At any moment, I could have put down the books, or closed the laptop. I could have climbed up those stairs. I would say "lets party" to whoever of the family was socializing in their main living area. The music would begin, and we'd boogie to whatever musical show they'd recently DVR'd. They are, after all, the GROOVERS. :)

Instead, I'm guessing I was a rather boring houseguest. A bookworm, a computer-worm, or an "out with the guys" worm on occasion. Thanks Groovers, for letting me find refuge in your basement...it was perfect.

I also want to make a suggestion based on a week of careful research. If you happen to find yourself in a distant city, without your usual selection of music to abuse and burn through like you deserve something better. If you find yourself with only 3 cd's with which to fill the silence of a week's worth of driving. If this is ever you, I recommend keeping a musical instrument in your car. Something that can be held in one hand, preferably. If it has a "key", you should probably make it something generic like "G", or "C" or something musically practical like that.

Examples include, but are not limited to: Harmonica, Egg Shaker, Tambourine, Recorder (without much demand for notes), kazoo (for those less inclined to actually be musical), etc.

I have had with me, my Hohner Harmonica (key of C). It's been interesting to see which Jack Johnson songs really should have had a harmonica in them, and which ones a harmonica shows up like Spongebob on Yo Gabba Gabba (unwelcome). Sure, you get a few strange looks, but you learn to get over those (as if you haven't already). It makes any cd you've heard a thousand times, a brand new opportunity at being musically entertained, AND this time you're a part of the action.

That's my major contribution to humanity for the day. (my fortune cookie told me I, in fact, DO contribute positively to all humanity, so back off) After many days of study and all the writing I involved myself in last night....it feels good to simply spew thoughts out there.

Thanks for playing.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Day 4: it can happen...

Last week Dr. Headley of Asbury Seminary gave a short devotional based on Peter's denial. It was a take I'd never heard before. It was a take that was hard, but appropriate, to hear.

It was that Peter's denial was not when he claimed not to know Christ. His real denial began earlier that chapter, when he denied TO Christ that he would ever deny him. He was denying his humanity. Denying his ability to fall. Denying his need for Christ.

How often in my own life, have I set myself up for that same denial? Coasted through waters, always assuming "hey, I'm in ministry"....or "I read the Bible, and go to Church, how would I ever screw up majorly?". But as the message of Dr. Headley, and God's own working on my heart stirred, I was forced to realize I'm capable, humanly speaking, of any crime committed by a person found behind bars these days. Or even those who should be behind bars.

With that knowledge, I'll confess it's been a rough week in some ways. When I've allowed God to confront me with that understanding, it begs the quesion - so what? How does this change how I live my life? And this week I have been given the answer. Holiness as sin-expelling love.

You see, because in the same way I must realize my humanity and capability to commit heinous crimes, I also recognize - as pointed out by Wesley - the Witness of the Spirit on my life. Romans 8:16 tells me that, "the Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are children of God..."

I am a child of God. The more I am filled by this/His Spirit/His Love, and fill my life with loves directed towards, and sourced in that.....look out. :) Am I humanly capable of horrible things? Yes. It's when I understand/confess that - that I'm completely honest with my need for what God has done/is doing. Am I even more so capable of reflecting the God who created me? YES! And He has claimed me as His own. To love.

He has claimed you also...child of God.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Day 3: a glimpse...

I knew a man in Iowa named Charles. He was a humble guy, and would totally yell at me for blogging about him, but he's old and probably won't ever know. So shhhh.

We played dominos together some Tuesday mornings. We mall walked many, many miles together during my two years in Iowa.

I love that man. Charles lived out a holiness that I hope someday I can be involved in somehow. He mowed the church lawn on a big green John Deere tractor. He visited the elderly from our church. He helped fix things for people. He handled home situations I can't go into, with an amazing sense of love and commitment. He followed all the commandments, and then some. He did not believe food belonged in the Lord's House.

That final sentence may surprise you. You may think to yourself, "Chadwick is talking about works-based-Holiness, I want nothing to do with this man." To that I would quote the Godfather of soul - "shut yo' mouth" :)

You see, Charles did not believe "potlucks", or even casual meals should take place in God's Holy house. So he did not eat them. But he didn't simply stay at home, or walk around the church picketing. Charles baked something, brought it to the church, and gave it to someone else to bring to the table for him. Sometimes, he would bring McDonalds to the church, call me to come outside, and send me back in with a burger.

We were reminded Wednesday of Wesley's emphasis on HOLINESS AS SELF-GIVING LOVE.

All other loves are mere "pseudo-loves", from which sin flows. Things that we are tempted to view as love, but are not involved in restoring the image we've been created in. It seems like such a simple thing, but somehow ends up translated into pages and pages of doctrinal debates.

Not that I'm against pages and pages that are truly seeking to expand on the character of God. I've read some. They've been great. But man.....let's see more people like Charles, and hear more calling by our preachers to be people of Self-Giving love.

I wanted to say more on this Love as expelling sin....but maybe at a later date...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Day 2: Wesley and Stuff.

Learning big words has never been a priority of mine. Using them in everyday english has also never been something I've tried to do on purpose, except when in jest (ie. "boy, that was a 10 point word, eh?"). But I have been pretty good at noticing big words, and appreciating just how smart someone would have to be to have made them up, or to use them on a daily basis.

The word? Supralapsarianism. What does it mean? Well, within the Calvinist theology, it supposes that God, contemplating man as yet unfallen, chose some to receive eternal life and rejected all others. Basically that even without the fall, some were chosen for eternal life, and others for separation from God.

That would be opposed to "Infralapsarianism", which says
God's decree to permit the fall logically preceded His decree of election. Meaning, God allowed the fall, and then in response to the fall - chose some to save and some not to.

Calvinists feel free to call me out on those. I'm definitely no expert.

Besides that interesting note, today was great. Plenty of reading full of the wisdom of John Wesley, as well as studying the great movements in theology since 400 AD that informed his own. I especially enjoy the renewed sense of sanctification as "perfecting love", or "perfect love" lately. I would confess, I have a hard time loving some people sometimes, and with that knowledge, I seek that God would continue to work on my heart towards His Kingdom.

Looking forward to the days ahead, while still missing the ability to hold Addie before bed, to dance with Sophie in the kitchen, to kiss my wife just because. Looking forward to returning home for God to perfect my love there....

Monday, January 12, 2009

pre-Wesley...

This week will be a bit different/ableit similar concepts as last week. Last week was focused on the Minor Prophets, and the calling of "living/ministering/preaching prophetically" in the world. This week will focus on a more recent prophet, John Wesley, and what his journey with God has revealed to those of us who follow; as well as the prophetic calling he praught to those who would come after.

I remember growing up in my Wesle-Bapti-Non-denom-Metho-Nazarene days. I grew up in a church-going home, so obviously heard of such things as "salvation" (i.e. Jesus coming into my heart, etc.). Even in my teenage years, when I recognized a call on my life to ministry, I continued to learn more about the character/nature of God and His creation.

But I'll confess that it wasn't until college, when I heard much of anything (that I paid attention to - sorry to those ministers who shouted sanctification over my head) about this "2nd work of Grace". Even then, with professors both whole-heartedly for a word-for-word definition, and some who were shaky on what it even meant, or what words to use; I saw this bit of theology as something to investigate, appreciate as a continuing transformation of God (how bad could God doing MORE work be? even if painful. ).

It's been an exciting journey, one that has found me appreciating it anew within the context of my new Free Methodist family. Here I have found a grace, and yet an intensely purifying fire, wrapped up in discussion/preaching of sanctification; that before was simply a phrase or a sentence used to prove that one had even heard of it all.

All that to say, even after finishing the reading for this week (whew), I'm looking forward to how God works on my wife (haha, yes Mrs. A, I meant "life" here...oops), and reveals Himself in the days to come. Feel free to ignore my blog until next Monday, when I'll probably post more about hockey or other "fun" stuffs. :) Until then, it'll just be updates on all this Wesley-Holiness-Sanctification hullabaloo most likely.

Oh, and missing my wife and daughters. :)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Jubilee

Something that caught my eye as being very appropriate, considering the topics I've blogged on this week. A recent post from the "Jubilee USA" people, here are some quotes:

"We have this challenge and opportunity," Watkins said. "In a time of scarcity when the budget is going to be directed to U.S. human needs we need to help leaders remember that we also have to think about those in the rest of the world."

"Relief for storm-weary Haiti is one Jubilee USA's biggest concerns. Despite being hit by a succession of hurricanes that led to devastating floods during the summer of 2008, Haiti continues making weekly $1 million payments to the World Bank. Jubilee USA plans to push Obama during his first 100 days in the White House to ask the World Bank to cancel the Caribbean country's payments, Watkins said."

"When countries have to pay back the debt, then what falls aside is the education, the medical help, family care," Sister Josie said. "The country cannot take care of their people when they have to pay back the debt. Everything they have, and everything they don't have, goes into paying the debt and as a result they have nothing to move their infrastructure forward."

May God bless these efforts towards His Kingdom....

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Day 5: Micah and Co.

It's become increasingly clear through being immersed in the minor prophets all week, that there are many VERY appropriate messages contained still for us today. Many of them are difficult to accept, hard to swallow/handle, but all are from God - who many of us seek to serve.

In the Old Testament, God established a covenant with a people, Israel. They were chosen by God. Throughout the scriptures we see a pattern of these people falling away, being punished/restored, and enjoying covenant living again.

We believe that the Israel of Old Testament can be, in many ways, considered the "Church" of today. That is to say, WE are the descendants of these people. Through the blood of Christ, we have become His people, and His desire for covenant living once again, now applies to us.

In the minor prophets, we see God using nations like Assyria and Babylon. Not only USING them, but using them to PUNISH the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah. What are we to think of this? Didn't God choose Israel, and thereby decide that Israel should be blessed?

But we realize God did not simply choose Israel so that He would have "a people". God chose Israel SO THAT the entire WORLD may be reached by His love. It's when the people of Israel forget this, and trample the needy, or do not show love for their Gentile neighbors; that God moves in the correct them.

So what about us? If we (the Church) are now, what Israel was to God in the OT, the connection becomes very, sometimes painfully clear. We are the Church not so that God can have a "body". But we exist SO THAT the entire world may know that God is for them. To proclaim, and live out His Kingdom, ESPECIALLY outside the walls of our churches and confines of "our needs".

Friday, January 09, 2009

Day 4: Still Micah?

"you who hate good and love evil; who tear the skin from their bones; who eat my peoples flesh, strip off their skin and break their bones in pieces; who chop them up like meat for the pan, like flesh for the pot?" Micah 3:2-3

Whoa. Seriously Micah? I mean....you couldn't have just said "hey, you people who are misleading those I love"

Its intimidating sometimes, especially with passages like this in scripture. These verses come under the heading "Leaders and Prophets Rebuked". Wow. That's right. Leaders and Prophets. You may have thought, "enemies and warlords rebuked". But nope....it's directed at those who are actually in positions of leading/caring for God's people.

People in the book of Micah were complacent. They enjoyed listening to an "easy" religiosity. Surely God wouldn't do anything rash, right? They're doing fine.

Sound familiar? It's very tempting these days to do ministry in a way that looks attractive to people. Even in youth ministry, I've heard youth pastors offer salvation as a cure for teenage angst. I've seen children, teens, and adults claim Christ, and yet upon examination of their life - nothing has changed.

God calls us OUT of the broken covenant. We are called to love God, and to love others. As someone in ministry, that means the preaching of the FULL gospel message, not simply the chunks that are easy to digest. After all, it's evident that it's not just a "pet peeve" of Gods....apparently it gets him pretty riled up. :)

But we read Micah 2:12-13. "I will surely gather you.....like sheep in a pen......one who breaks open the way will go up before them; they will break the gate and go out. Their king will pass before them, the Lord at their head."

It may not be an easy path, but it is the path led by Jesus Christ. The path of suffering. The path of new creation. The path of liberation.

May God help we who are leaders and prophetic ministers to not be deserving of such rebuke....

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Day 3: Lunch with Micah

Like I said, "it'll get done". Spent most of the lunch time during day 3 pulling together my notes from the book of Micah, along with a couple other resources I found. We were supposed to begin our short oral reports late in the afternoon. I was gonna be ready.

I was ready.

I wasn't needed.

The lecture/discussion went up until class ended = presentation will be tomorrow. Which was totally fine, cause it was good stuff. Not like, buy this book and give it to all your friends stuff. But more like, this is great, but I'm glad I don't have to read a book that says this....kinda stuff.

I really enjoy our professor, and learning the historical context behind all the minor prophets has been very interesting. Not that anyone had ever purposefully hidden these things from me...in fact, I took at least one Old Testament course in college. But still, much of this has been great learning, and encouragement to take it home with me into life and ministry settings.

So yeah...I'm totally ready for my Micah background presentation. Here are a few highlights, to whet your appetite. (cause I know if you're like me, your appetite for information on the minor prophets could use more whetting):

Micah - written between 722 and 701 B.C. He was from Moresheth, which is 25 miles SW of Jerusalem. He is warning both Israel AND Judah (but primarily Israel, the northern kingdom) that they are going to be punished for neglecting the poor.

For too long, people played religion well. They "know" God is with them, and they acknowledge Him, going through all the motions. Meanwhile, the poor are trampled on, and "love your neighbor" never quite happens. Micah proclaims that God is going to discipline them for this, etc.

Sound like an irrelevant, old testament, boring obscure message with no purpose in our context today?

Pssh. Look out religious pride.
Micah just opened a can of "thought you knew religion" on ya'.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Day Two: Ignoring Micah

Whew. So it's the morning after the second day of J-Term. What to talk about? All the information that was packed into our heads concerning the minor prophets in general? (some pretty cool stuff all in all, usually overlooked) All of the instruction we're receiving in regards to preaching in our ministries? (extremely stoked about the new emphasis all of this offers) How about the few details of how to properly give a 3-5 minute devotional? (4 words that end in"-ook")

Maybe about how cool it is to hang with Free Methodist people in ministry from all over the United States? (even the one I see every day at home) Or how much I appreciate the freedom my wife is giving me this week, and feel semi-guilty each morning as I forgo sleeping in for a 6am run to whatever coffee shop is open, able to sit quietly with my laptop and/or a good book? (I would offer to let her do the same when this is all over, but I think she'd rather sleep in anyways)

How about how I've procrastinated on my research of a certain minor prophet whom I'm supposed to be knowing better these days? (no worries, it'll get done) How about missing my girls, and seeing them on Skype which gives Addison plenty of time to tell me how many times she's "gone yellow" that day. (congrats Addie!)

Nah. I don't think I have enough time to breach most of the topics listed above. If I'm feeling generous, maybe you'll hear a bit after day 3. Until then, just know that I'm enjoying this J-term stuff.

Rockin' the flops. Drinkin' coffee. Readin' like it's going out of style.
Sleeping with Brobee. Woot.

Side Note: Update from Decatur, IL - 5 names were removed from the ballots due to the ill-prepared paperwork (really dumb reason - both for happening, AND for being sued) Check out this article for the final names. Only two choices for Mayor. Maybe I WILL run someday. :)

Monday, January 05, 2009

Day One: Invitation to Micah

So today was my journey to Indianapolis in "Hermes", my 1994 Saturn SL1. A few highlights from all that occurred today:

- Addie pooped (a great one) in the potty in time for me to get a picture, and send it to her proud uncles before leaving. They can thank me later.

- I forgot to plan ahead, and burn some cd's of sermons/speakers I enjoy, so I was forced to listen to local radio stations along the way. Turned out to be a treat. Caught some great mid-90's music on the journey to Indy. Including, but not limited to: Blues Traveler, 311, Sublime, Live, Hootie & and Blowfish (guilty), and yes - even a little from the Cranberries. (wonders why no one plays classic late-80's hip-hop anymore?)

- Hermes survived the entire trip on highway 36 (so I wouldn't have to go over 55mph) without having to stop due to a malfunction. This is awesome, due to his not leaving Decatur, IL since we arrived in 2005. It's kinda relaxing to drive 3 hours, without any desire to pass anyone or speed.

- I arrived with enough time to hang out with my brother, his fiancee, and her fam. a lil' before launching the week of classes. Rockin' out at the Groover's this week. So grateful for their hospitality while I'm in town, and it saves my church more than a few bucks.

- Found 3 Starbucks' and one Panera (top choice) between where I'm staying and where I'm taking classes.

- Realized that as much as I poke fun at it sometimes, God may actually have something to do with what class I take and when I take it. I'm looking forward to what this week of learning/Spiritual growth has to offer my ministry, my life, and my future for the Kingdom. I already enjoy/am encouraged by the emphasis on God's calling on us to be people of prophetic ministries. Not so much in the "Jonah going to Ninevah" sense, but in a very real "seeing and proclaiming what God sees/desires" sense.

- Upon the assigning of books for various things by our professor, Micah and I realized we'll be spending some very indepth time together. I'm looking forward to getting to know the man he was, the time he was, and the message God uses him to proclaim.

- Realizing I'm going to miss the 3 females I usually share the behind the scenes moments of life with very much. God be with them...:)

Sunday, January 04, 2009

college...

So for the next 2 weeks, I'll be a college student once again. Classes all day, homework into the night, and eating whatever cheap stuff I can remember to grab while I'm doing "more important things".

Only this time I won't have BURPO, or my amazing girlfriend/fiancee/wife, or the ability to put things off for very long.

It's called J-term.

Two weeks. Two classes. Minor Prophets, and Wesleyan Theology.

Check the blog for updates on my survival, and education. :)

Pray.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Post Game

So here ya' go....in case you missed it, here are a few highlights. Seriously, the kinda game you hope to get to watch. It was all kinds of amazing. Watch these highlights, and regret missing it....