Monday, April 30, 2007

Personal Mission Statements

I was first introduced to a personal mission statement in March 2004. I was challenged to look at God's work in my life, my calling and gifts, etc. Then I was given about an hour to work on coming up with some ideas. I developed it over the next few weeks and came up with "As I follow and experience Jesus Christ, I desire to be a shepherd who loves, invests, and inspires those around me to be world-shaping Christ followers."

Now 3 years later, I see that this statement doesn't reflect me much at all. First off, I don't have a shepherd's heart. I love leading and challenging people, but I don't really like counseling people or doing hospital visits. I like the nitty-gritty side of ministry. I am pulled more toward apostolic kind of roles . . . vision casting, leadership development, and the deeper Christian life. I do have a passion for investing in people's lives, but it's almost too narrowly defined in this mission statement.

So over the last few weeks, I've come up with a early draft of a new one. Tell me what you think. does this sound like me? Does it reflect what you know of my calling, passion, gifts, etc.?

Personal Mission - "To experience fullness in Jesus Christ and to challenge those around me to Kingdom-minded living."

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Quote of the Day: Samuel Chadwick

"The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, and prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray." - Samuel Chadwick

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

ah . . . it's over

Tuesday was my ordination council. We had a group just under 40 people who made it to part or all of the day. I even put a tie on for the occasion. From 9AM-12PM and from 1-2PM (with lunch in between) I was asked numerous questions in relation to my position paper over the Evangelical Free Church of America's Statement of Faith. These 4 hours of questions were not easy, but the people asking the questions were very gracious. I definitely felt like the people in the room were cheering me on. I was also honored to have a number of people who have walked through life with me for a number of years.

Some of these honor guests were:

1. The woman who was my Fellowship of Christian Athletes huddle leader from the 7-12th grade came. If it were not for her love and constant example of Christ-following, I don't know where I'd be today. I love you Jan.
2. A number of people who were a part of my college experience came as well. A youth pastor I served under and still have as a good friend, mentor and colleague. the senior pastor of the college church I attended. A friend who was an accountability partner and member of the Navigators with me in college. There was also a gentleman who I co-led a jr high and high school small group in college. His family was a second home in college. I also have a special relationship with his now college-aged son.
3. A friend who was my first boss after college was there. He hired me to serve as a youth pastor intern under him 2002-3.
4. I also had a number of current fellow youth pastors there to support me. Thanks guys!
5. I had some good friends from my current church. These are dear co-laborers in Christ and sharers of life. Thanks to all who came.

Around 2PM, Carrie and I were kicked out of the room so "they could talk about us behind our back." I'm not sure what all went on in there, but after a half hour they brought us in to let us know I had been unanimously recommended for ordination in the EFCA. To God be the glory!!

Monday, April 16, 2007

a few thoughts this morning . . .

1. I love that the bloggers' news feed on my blogger dashboard lets me know that we can all now blog in the Hindi language. I love that we live a in global world. I love knowing that there are Indians blogging away right now on this side of the world and on the other side as well.
2. Why do so many people run for president these days? I remember when like 3 people wanted to be president. Now it seems like every governor and senator thinks they have to say those words, "I'd like to announce my intention to run for president." Are they intending to run or are they really doing it?
3. Tomorrow is the day for my ordination council. About 35 people have said they hope to come and be a part of the big day. They read my 50 page paper, prepare questions, and then show up for a nice grilling session for the majority of the day. I'm actually looking forward to it. Some people think I'm a big sick in the head, but I consider it a great honor to have godly men and women challenge my beliefs in God, my pastoral ministry, and my heart for service.
4. This weekend I had a few projects around the house to work on. I'm not one of those handy-man kind-a guys. I'm more of a people guy than a thing guy so projects get under my skin a bit. I equate working on projects to shopping. Neither are fun, both involve skills I don't have, and I always seem to get frustrated. At least with shopping I come home with a new pair of shoes and an overpriced (yet tasty) cookie
5. On a lighter note, I had a great time with my dad the other night. I've had tons of questions throughout my life in regards to my family of origin and we got to spend nearly 2 hours just bantering about this stuff on Friday night. It was fascinating.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Quote of the Day - John Piper

"God planned for his Son to be crucified (Revelation 13:8; 2 Timothy 1:9) and for hell to be terrible (Matthew 25:41) so that we would have the clearest witnesses possible to what is at stake when we preach. What gives preaching its seriousness is that the mantle of the preacher is soaked with the blood of Jesus and singed with fire of hell. That’s the mantle that turns mere talkers into preachers. Yet tragically some of the most prominent evangelical voices today diminish the horror of the cross and the horror of hell—the one stripped of its power to bear our punishment, and the other demythologized into self-dehumanization and the social miseries of this world."
John Piper in his sermon, Why_Expositional_Preaching_is_Particularly_Glorifying_to_God

The Importance and Priority of Preaching

"In summary, preaching was a prominent feature in the ministry methodology of Jesus (Mark 1:38), the stated reason for which He was anointed of the Spirit of God (Luke 4:18-19.) It was the specific work to which He called His disciples (Mark 3:14, 16:15), the reason for which they, too, would be clothed with the power of the Spirit (cf. Luke 24:49). Furthermore, they continued the pattern of this methodology by exhorting subsequent disciples to this same task." Arturo G. Azurdia III in "Spirit-Empowered Preaching"

1 Corinthians 1:18ff (New International Version)

18For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written:
"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate."

20Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.

26Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29so that no one may boast before him. 30It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord."

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

God speaks to John Piper

This is a great article via Christianity Today Online by Pastor John Piper concerning hearing from God.

Here's some of his closing words: 'The great need of our time is for people to experience the living reality of God by hearing his Word personally and transformingly in Scripture. Something is incredibly wrong when the words we hear outside Scripture are more powerful and more affecting to us than the inspired Word of God. Let us cry with the psalmist, "Incline my heart to your word" (Ps. 119:36). "Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law" (Ps. 119:18). Grant that the eyes of our hearts would be enlightened to know our hope and our inheritance and the love of Christ that passes knowledge and be filled with all the fullness of God (Eph. 1:18; 3:19). O God, don't let us be so deaf to your Word and so unaffected with its ineffable, evidential excellency that we celebrate lesser things as more thrilling.'

quote of the day - Vern Poythress

"All promises are 'Yes, in Christ' (2 Cor. 1:20) so all enjoyment of all blessings can come only in union with Christ, both for Jew and Gentile, both now and in the future." - Vern Poythress in the book "The Kingdom of Christ: The New Evangelical Perspective" by Russell D. Moore.

Monday, April 09, 2007

A return to the blogosphere . . .

40 days ago I committed to give up my blog reading and personal blogging. I did it to celebrate the Christian season known as Lent. Instead of soaking an hour plus each day reading creative thinkers, godly people, and emergent leaders, I spent more time reading, praying and investing time with people.

I was 20 times more efficient in office work, allowing me to spend time studying some things I haven't studied in a long time. I also was able to clean up my office, give away a bunch of books, and donate others to the circular file. If it weren't for March Madness, I probably would have taken a near hiatus from the computer altogether.

In the past 40 days I've also increased my reading intake -
1. I finished the three opening books of the Shannara series by Terry Brooks and am on to the 4th.
2. I read through Angels and Demons by Dan Brown with my wife (severe let down BTW)
3. Started and finished a personal leadership study by Dan Webster called the Raw Deal.
4. Finished Paul, the Spirit and the People of God by Gordon Fee
5. Started the autobiography of Mark Twain
6. Started a great book on preaching called "Spirit-empowered Preaching" by Azurdia
7. Done some preparation reading for my upcoming ordination council

It was a rich time with some practical responses: First, I am removing 16 items off of my Google Reader, and instead of reading the near 1,000 articles I missed the past several weeks, I will only catch up on my good friends' lives and leave the rest. It feels good to be free.

I also had a delightful 1 week tropical vacation with my wife in Puerto Vallarta. Maybe I'll blog about it sometime . . . but it was real good. Do you like the sunset picture over the Pacific Ocean?

Several people have asked if I was tempted to cheat. I was at first. Every now and again something powerful would happen in my life or God would teach me something, and I've usually been one to barf up my life for the world wide web. But over time I enjoyed keeping those things to myself. I think it's Henri Nouwen who encouraged religious people to keep the sauna door closed. That is, sometimes the things God is teaching you are best implemented when we keep our mouths shut and let God keep working . . . rather than verbalizing things that God is doing but are still in process.

Overall I think my blogging will be a bit different, but only time will tell.

Thank you to those who said a special word of prayer during my 40 day fast. It was a special, soul-refreshing time to wait on the Lord and prepare my heart for Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday.