Archive for June, 2007

Did you ever have one of those mornings when it seemed that life was just too short to have to wake up?!?!

That’s how I felt this morning.  My allergies started an early summer raid through the streets of my head and I have felt groggy and tired all week long.  In fact, on two nights of VBS (something I love being a part of), I headed home early.  I wanted to stay in bed.

At any rate, today’s is my day off.  So far, I’ve done very little this morning – except pay bills – and I’m keeping it that way for most of the rest of the day. 

The a/c in Kyra’s car has gone out and we have a very preset, predetermined amount of money available to get this problem fixed.  We are praying that the amount covers it.  We need to get this fixed before we head off for vacation on July 13.  That’s right . . . vacation at the beach . . . I’ll begin the countdown to vacation on Sunday . . . We want the a/c working so that we can take the saturn as opposed to the truck.  The truck rides better and the cab gives us more room, but it would also cost 2x as much in gas.

Like I said, I’ll begin my vacation countdown on Sunday and I’m guessing that I’ll be writing more about the a/c by the end of next week 🙂



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I stayed up late on Tuesday night and finished reading Manhunt.  It’s still listed on the “Don’t Judge” page of the blog if you want more info on it.  Manhunt is the story of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the 12 day hunt for John Wilkes Booth.

History has a way of becoming the cold stuff of yellowed paper in old and boring books.  I was reminded of this as I read Manhunt.  Swanson’s vivid account of the actual assassination and the grief and pain of Mary Lincoln, Lincoln’s sons and the President’s closest advisors is pretty darn compelling.  What’s more, John Wilkes Booth leaps off of the pages of Swanson’s book – not as some misguided mythological character – but as the misguided, racist, villian that he was.

For those of us who are following Jesus, I think there is an important lesson here.  The book that provides so much of the guidance and impetus of our faith is an old book full of history.  It is easy to read the Bible as a cold accounting of the stuff that happened to people that seem like  mythological characters.

But the Bible is not that.  In fact, it is so much more.  I have been reminded of that while reading and preaching through the Elijah cycle of stories from I and II Kings.  These are great stories and – if you read carefully – the characters come vividly to life and God’s history becomes something that shapes who we are and how we are living life – not necessarily by mining “principles” out of the stories so that we can shape our lives in a specific way.  They shape who we are because we become a part of the story and we can see how the story continues to play out in the Jesus-directed lives that we live each and every day.

The Bible is an awesome book and God is just waiting to bring it alive for us.

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I’m continuing my slowly progressing journey through the book of Jeremiah.

Chapter 23 begins this way:

“Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!” declares the LORD.  Therefore this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says to the shepherds who tend my people:  “Because you have scattered my flock and driven them away and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil you have done,” declares the LORD.

The rest of chapter 23 goes on to describe the behaviors and attitudes of the prophets and priests who were to be shepherding and leading God’s people.  Amongst the problems were lying, unjust use of prophetic and priestly authority, prophesying on behalf of false gods, committing adultery . . . and the end result of all of this is that “no one turns from his wickedness” (vs. 14).

God has placed some of us in positions of leadership in the church.  Jeremiah 23 is a reminder for me today that – in so many ways that I would sometimes like to ignore – the life of the people of God at GCF has more to do with the way I live my personal life and live in my relationships than it does with anything I preach or teach or say or write.

Of course, as Jeremiah points out throughout the book, what God is looking for is a circumcised heart which is a heart that has been marked by an inner faithfulness and trust of God that spills forth in faithful, just and righteous living.

Maybe one of the most important things for any of us “leaders” amongst God’s people to remember is that the condition of our heart before the Father remains the crux of our leadership.  We do not lead so much by words or writings or brilliant teachings, but by how much our hearts are poured out before the Father in humility and honesty; seeking more and more and more of him.

And for me, that’s an Old Testament lesson that hits close to home.

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The staff at GCF . . . and our LIFE group are both reading and working through John Ortberg’s Everybody’s Normal Till You Get to Know Them.  I like Ortberg’s stuff because its really sound stuff and I also like his sense of humor.  He’s easy and enjoyable to read . . . and challenging at the same time.

This morning – as I was journaling – and prompted by some stuff in the first few chapters of the book, I took a good, careful examination of who I am . . . This is sometimes really important because we are so often tempted to pretend to be something that we are not.  Ortberg refers to this as “depravity management”.

Here’s some gut-level truths about me . . .

  1. I will be 31 years old on July 14.  I sometimes miss being in my 20’s.
  2. I am married.
  3. I live in a two story house in a middle class suburb in central Kentucky.
  4. I like Starbucks Coffee and Panera Bread.
  5. I drive a Chevy Silverado; with room for my two kids.
  6. I have two kids; Sydney age 5, Max age 4
  7. I am married to Kyra.  I love doing little, unexpected things that bring a smile to her face.
  8. I like to run.
  9. I like to listen to other guy’s sermons on my i-pod while I run.
  10. I like to go for walks/hiking in the woods.
  11. I like to read history . . . Word War II, Civil War and true stories.
  12. I like to read theology, but not as much as history.
  13. I like to read about leadership and new movements and happenings in the church.
  14. I like to read 🙂
  15. I like to listen to classical music while I work.
  16. I like to preach and teach.
  17. My life has not always been easy.  It has had lots of up and downs, highs and lows; moments I wish I could get back and moments that I wish had never happened.
  18. I love the Indianapolis Colts.
  19. I love being a pastor.
  20. I love Jesus.
  21. One random thought:  I also thought that the third Pirates of the Carribean was an insult to the first Pirates of the Carribean movie, but that’s just a really random observation.

Admittedly this list is not cool or hip, but is is me . . . wierd little me.  Just like most of the rest of us, I’m pretty normally wierd.

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I have a busy day . . . so all I have for this morning are some random thoughts . . .

  • I noticed over the weekend that a few more people found the post about the coal mining figurine by typing “coal mining figurine” into a search engine.  I am still amazed that there could actually be that much interest in coal mining figurines 🙂
  • Great Sunday at church yesterday . . . my favorite point in worship was praying over the people who came forward saying that they knew of a situation where they could be involved or wanted to be personally involved in an issue of injustice.  I’ve been wondering if we shouldn’t do this more often. Having people come forward at the end of service (who know that they have a specific ministry that God is calling them to during the week) and praying and commissioning them for that ministry during the week seems like a terrific idea.
  • Flying through the book The Shaping of Things to Come (it’s on the “Don’t Judge” page here at the J4J blog).  I highly reccomend it for everyone doing pastoral ministry in today’s western culture.  It will rock your world; particularly if you were trained in classical pastoral work or during the mega-church/church growth era.
  • VBS is this week . . . my wife is the children’s pastor at GCF and this will be a fun week for her but also a long week because of her RA.  For those of you who read this and also pray, please pray for her strength and freedom from pain and swelling this week.  For my part, I’ll be preparing snack suppers each evening . . . ahhhh . . . servant ministry . . . you’ve got to love it 🙂
  • Had a terrific lunch yesterday with Silas and Kimberly West and family.  They are missionaries with Word Made Flesh and are serving in Katmandu, Nepal!  Seriously, everyone I’ve ever met who serves with Word Made Flesh is the real deal!  These folks take incarnational ministry to the core!  Thanks to the Wests for sparking ministry passion in my own heart yesterday.
  • Had a great small group time last night.  We laughed so much and had a great time and prayed for one another . . . I love what God is doing in our times together and I wish that more people could see this kind of involvement and community as such an important part of what it means to be church.
  • Christendom is dead.  We western Jesus-followers must start thinking like missionaries in our own world.  We can beat, but we can’t revive this thoroughly dead horse.  Taking Jesus to the western world is going to require “out of the box” thinking.  I’m going to preach on this in August.  I’ll be processing it more and more between now and then.
  • I was given a copy of a book this morning called Serve God; Save the Planet:  A Christian Call to Actionby Matthew Sleeth.  I am looking forward to reading it in a few weeks when I am at the beach along with the book Last Child in the Woods:  Saving our Kids from Nature Deficit Disorder.

Well, I suppose that’s enough random thinking for one day.  For those of you who took a look at the posts on Fair Trade Coffee, Child Abuse and China last week . . . the teaching that was “in process” when those posts were being written should be up at gcfi.com by the end of the week.  It’s titled, Courage in Corruption:  The Commandment.

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I’ve just finished up most of the books that have currently been appearing on the “Don’t Judge these Books by Their Cover” page.

I’m updating the list today.  If you’re at all interested in what this “inquiring mind” is digging into for the next few weeks, check out the “Don’t Judge” page.

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I am hesitating on the title for this post.  I should probably use the words “coal mining” or “coal mining figurine” in it somewhere . . .

Back in early May I wrote a post called Workin’ in a Coal Mine.  The post was about my West Virginia heritage; especially my Dad and my grandfather (who was a coal miner).  As a graduation gift I had gotten my Dad a coal miner figurine carved out of a piece of coal.  It was a sentimental post and I did not expect many people to pay attention to it.  In fact, it was written mostly for my Dad who reads the blog pretty regularly each day.

At any rate that post has become my most widely-read post.  Every day it gets at least two to three hits and every day since I wrote that post at least one person has found my blog by typing in something related to “coal mining statues” or “coal mining figure” or some similar combination.

That particular post has seen quite a few hits this week (for the fifth week or so in a row, it is the most widely rest post at the blog) and I have gotten a bit of a chuckle out of it.  Who would ever have thought that there would be so much interest in coal miner figurines?

My personal tip:  if you want to draw people to your blog via search engines, get coal-mining or coal-miner figurine somewhere into your title . . .

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