Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Ash Wednesday & Fasting

Though I'm a part of a non-liturgical evangelical community, we will celebrate Ash Wednesday tonight with our students. Ash Wednesday is a day that inaugurates 40 days of Lent leading to Resurrection Sunday. During the season of Lent, Christians are to spend time focusing on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Specifically on Ash Wednesday, Christians mourn over their sin and groan inwardly for the redemption of our bodies and this present earth.

I encourage students to use the 40 Days of Lent to make 1 important decision that opens up greater opportunity to focus on God. Some choose to fast from junk food, recognizing that our joy and pleasure come from God alone. Some fast from TV, using that time to meditate on Scripture, pray or spend time in quiet solitude. I think it is important to either fast from something that takes up our time or attention in order to better prepare and focus on the upcoming Holy Days, Good Friday and Easter. Also, some people choose to implement an extra spiritual discipline during the Lenten season. Some will fast an extra day a week. Some will choose to read an additional portion of Scripture daily. Some will go on a prayer walk daily.

This year, I am going to fast from BLOGGING. Not only blogging, but blog reading. This takes lots of time for me, and can easily be a distraction. I hope the next 40 days gives me a greater opportunity to focus on my Savior, His Word, and His Church. Pray for me. I will be tempted to read and surf the web, but I know it is important for me to make decisions that help me stay focused on Jesus Christ.

So I've taken Google Reader off my bookmarks' toolbar and I'm ready to go.

What will you do over the next 40 days to celebrate the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ?

For those of you who are used to having some blog comments. No fear, I will see you in 6 weeks.

Seeking and Savoring Jesus Christ . . .

Monday, February 19, 2007

Ben Witherington and Rob Bell

Rob Bell is a famous preacher, book writer and communicator. He also has put together some fascinating teaching videos called Nooma. Ben Witherington is a New Testament professor from Asbury Theological Seminary.

In this post, Ben does a little critique on Rob. It's very interesting.

Friday, February 16, 2007

quote of the day - Reggie McNeal

"The stewardship of intimacy with the Almighty carries with it a heightened sense of accountability. Obedience to do what is disclosed provides the only continued guarantee of enjoying all God has in store." Reggie McNeal in "The Work of the Heart: Understanding How God Shapes Spiritual Leaders"

leadership and the church

"Whoever wants to be first, must but be last . . . Whoever wants to be the greatest, must be the servant to all." - Jesus, 1st Century

I attended the first of 8 sessions on leadership development last night at my church. We have invited Pastor Larry Austin from the nearby First Evangelical Free Church of Ames to build into 20 people from the Free Church in Boone over the next several months. It's called "Leadership Training 101" and it's designed to help people see the difference between spiritual/sacred leadership and secular-based leadership.

Last night we looked at the importance of character and humility as the foundation of a spiritual leader. All good stuff. I am excited about the opportunity to learn and be challenged by this humble and faithful pastor.

I think one of the most interesting discussions we had last night was the difference between leadership progression in the church vs. the work place. In the secular world people progress up the leadership latter through education and training, making friends, honing their skills, and through previous success. Sadly, in the church a similar structure exists for finding spiritual leaders. We find people with warm bodies and a pulse and ask them to be a spiritual leader. The ones who "succeed" we give positions of greater authority and influence.

Jesus used a different system with the early disciples. He looked at their hearts. If only "successful" disciples were allowed to become members of the apostolic team, Peter never would have made it . . . probably not many of the 12 would have made it. Instead, God allows us to learn from mistakes. He wants us to express and identify our weaknesses, because God is made perfect in our weaknesses. There's a new book out called "Leadership with a Limp" that I think describes appropriately the kind of person God uses. One who is honest with their weaknesses, remains humble, and doesn't try and hide from or control people in order to cover up their insecurities. That's the kind of person we all long to follow. Truly the person who takes the last position will be first.

Global Warming and Evolution

here is a fun article on evolutionary adaptation and global warming that got me thinking. Click here

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Do you YouTube? Do you like American Idol?

If you are into YouTube or American Idol or think both are interesting cultural phenomenons, check out this blog post:

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Sky Diving Debacle

So if you haven't seen this sky diver falling to the earth from 12,000 feet in the air, you should go to this website to see it :) Sky Diver Lives Despite Great Fall

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Quote of the Day - Diane Passno

"The feminists pulled a dirty trick when they convinced our culture that becoming a professional working woman was more satisfying than being a mom." Diane Passno in Feminism: Mystique or Mistake

*I think the key word in this quote is "culture." There is nothing wrong with a woman glorifying God through honest work, but there is something seriously wrong when much of Western culture shuns a woman who chooses to raise her family and love her kids at the cost of a career. Right after this quote, Passno immediately follows saying, "It went hand in hand with the philosophy that babies were only 'unwanted human tissue,' because if the value of child-bearing was denigrated, then being a wife and mom whose primary role was that of a homemaker was also devalued. Babies became an impediment to career goals."

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Catchisms? Statements of Faith?

In light of the EFCA's discussion of revising their statement of faith, this Christianity Today article offers some food for thought -

Monday, February 05, 2007

Evangelical Feminism

I am currently reading Wayne Grudem's book "Evangelical Feminism: A New Path to Liberalism?" You can read a good write up on this book here:

I have been interested in the role of women in ministry for a number of years. I grew up in a mainline United Methodist Church that employed female pastors. As I grew to love the Scriptures and also an appreciation for evangelicalism, I began to question a number of practices and beliefs concerning my spiritual upbringing. First and foremost, I began to believe in the authority of Scripture which then through the lens of God's Holy Word all other beliefs and practices flow.

One key area that keeps coming up is the role of women in ministry. I just wanted to pass on 2 useful online helps that I think any thinking person should read and digest before they just accept the current trends on women in ministry. Both are books written by Wayne Grudem available now in a free pdf download.

They are:

Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth and Rediscovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

You can check out a whole lot of other free resources from a number of authors here:

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Hear stories of faith from the Bears and Colts

For all you Super Bowl enthusiasts I thought you'd like to check out

This site has testimonials from the Super Bowl LXI players and coaches concerning their faith in the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

technological delights :)

For the past several years I have been a faithful convert to the Firefox browsers. They run faster than their Microsoft counterpart and have some amazing functions that Microsoft was slow to use. Firefox's tabbed browsing is by far the coolest edition to an internet browser, and they've had it for quite some time. In addition, I recently have fallen in love with Google Reader. It's been out since 2005, but has been quite user friendly since September 2006. I've only had it for a short time, but it has improved my ability to keep up on important blogging and news without taking its toll on my focused attention of pastoral ministry. I love it and am thankful for it. With tabbed browsing and my Google Reader, I can see who's been blogging and give it due attention when I am available. I know many people are light years ahead of me in their savvy websurfing abilities, but I feel like I just got a new surf board with a fresh wax and I'm out enjoying the water like I've never experienced before. Who knows, maybe in my next technological step I'll actually buy an Apple computer??

Does anyone have any tips for me on how they surf the web in a way to get as much out of it as possible? Any time saving tricks? Any good rss feeds? Also, which are your favorite blogs to read from religious, political and life perspectives?

a poem about following Jesus

Thanks Noah for posting this poem . . . WOW!

This poem by Bill McChesney was recently quoted in one of Mark Dever’s recent sermons. Bill McChesney wrote this around 1960 at the age of 25 in the World Evangelization Magazine. The author was a missionary to the Congo in Africa and he was brutally murdered at age 28 along with hundreds of other missionaries.

My Choice
By Bill McChesney

I want my breakfast served at eight
With ham and eggs upon the plate.
A well-broiled steak I'll eat at one
And dine again when day is done.

I want an ultramodern home
And in each room a telephone;
Soft carpets, too, upon the floors
And pretty drapes to grace the doors.
A cozy place of lovely things,
Like easy chairs with inner springs,

And then, I'll get a nice T.V.
- Of course, I'm careful what I see.

I want my wardrobe, too, to be
Of neatest, finest quality,
With latest style in suit and vest
Why should not Christians have the best?

But then the Master I can hear
In no uncertain voice, so clear:
"I bid you come and follow Me,
The lowly Man of Galilee."

"Birds of the air have made their nest
And foxes in their holes find rest,
But I can offer you no bed;
No place have I to lay my head."

In shame I hung my head and cried,
How could I spurn the Crucified?
Could I forget the way He went,
The sleepless nights in prayer He spent?

For forty days without a bite,
Alone He fasted day and night;
Despised, rejected - on He went,
and did not stop till veil He rent!

A man of sorrows and of grief
No earthly friend to bring relief;
"Smitten of God," the prophet said
Mocked, beaten, bruised, His blood ran red.
If He be God, and died for me,
No sacrifice too great can be
For me; a mortal man, to make;
I'll do it all for Jesus' sake.

Yes, I will tread the path He trod,
No other way will please my God,
So, henceforth, this my choice shall be,
My choice for all eternity.