Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Asleep at the wheel

I awoke three feet outside the left shoulder. In a few seconds, my drooping eyes had missed the curve in the road. At 75 miles per hour, I couldn't just whip the car back onto the road. By the sheer grace of God, our van traveled another 4-5 feet into the median, which by God's sheer grace was only 36-inch tall weeds. In another few moments, I was able to bring the car back onto the 2 lanes of interstate and navigate to the far right shoulder. There, I paused and thanked the Maker that the six people in this vehicle (my four dear children and beloved wife of eleven ears) were all alive.

The van had no scratch...only a few hundred weeds in the grill. We avoided all possible road signs, of which there were many. We didn't tip over, of which was easily possible. We traveled another 400 miles safely home.

I don't deserve to breathe today. But I'm thankful to be alive.

In an even more stark spiritual reality, my sin had me careening toward the median of death. I was moving at a colossal speed. But by God's sheer grace, I escaped death. Not (again) because I was good or deserving, but because someone died in my place. Jesus took my death so I could live. May each remaining breath be a gift back to Him.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

What I'm learning about work...

Today marked the end of a 6 week journey to read, reflect, and learn through the Kern Pastor's Network.

I joined 3 pastors from Minnesota (Scott Barber, Nate Gustafson, and Aaron Brockmeier--it was nice of them to let an ol' Iowa boy in on their theological erudition) in the reading of Tim Keller's book Every Good Endeavor. Then, we had 3 video conference calls to share how the book might impact the ministry in our church bodies in order to advance rich theological reflection, personal application, and collective human flourishing in our local communities. Bottom line: We want to see the people in our church bring the Gospel to bear on their vocations, workplaces, and community. We want to see economic growth, justice, and wisdom to flourish in our people's lives and by extension their spheres of influence.

What did we learn?
  1) Discipleship must sneak into every nook and cranny of our lives...this includes what we do with our hands, minds, and gifts.
  2) The local church is God's means of nurturing faith and sending people of faith out into the world to do works of service to the glory and praise of God (Mt. 5:16).
  3) We are saved not to escape this world, but to be an agent of redemption and reconciliation. Though we await final consummation for the curse upon the ground to be lifted, we go out in the power of the Holy Spirit to see healing, life, and hope. As Christ's ministry revealed the arrival of the already-but-not-yet kingdom, Christ's church has been tasked to participate in the already-but-not-yet kingdom.
  4) It is a complex and difficult process to see profound change. Yes, we want more integrity in the marketplace. Yes, we want justice for all in our societies. Yes, we want Christians to lead the way in innovation and entrepreneurship for the common good. But these kinds of dynamic change will not happen over night. Hence, I highly valued the input from other pastors. I'm also thankful to be a part of the Kern Family Pastor's Network that grants churches money to grow in knowledge (Knowledge Building Grants) and also resources to follow Christ's call in these areas (Church Implementation Grants).

If you are like me in any way, you probably feel like a neophyte. But don't let that be an excuse to not start learning and obeying Christ as the Spirit leads.

Even if you don't have something like the Kern Family Foundation to assist in such support, there's no reason you can't grab a friend or two and read a book like Every Good Endeavor or Tom Nelson's Work Matters. Read the book, scour the Scriptures, and get ready for Christ to form you into a person who honors Him in every good endeavor.