Monday, June 25, 2007


last night we talked about bondage and freedom. In studying and preparing, I wrestled with the idea of freedom in Christ. Where is that balance between not being under the law, yet not having freedom to do anything and everything we want. If there are things we can't or shouldn't do, are we truly free?

Then it hit me that freedom isn't about being able or allowed to do anything/everything; freedom is about connecting with God, and being free, (not being restricted) from anything that gets in the way of us becoming God's. Freedom is living life the way God intended; loving Him, loving people. True freedom helps us be authentic, who we truly are.

We talked about being in bondage to things--the law, guilt, selfishness, bad habits, negative self talk, a sense of duty, unhealthy relationships...but we can also be in bondage to things that appear to be good--serving, ministry, work; if we do them because we think we ought to.

True freedom is becoming all that I can when God's Spirit lives in and through my life. It happens as there is less and less between God and me, and more of Him in me.

Monday, June 18, 2007


nothing huge to say tonight; just some random thoughts about change, which we talked about in worship Sunday of our men pointed out that everything in the universe changes; I know that's kind of obvious, but I had never really given it much thought. Pretty cool...

I looked back over my own life and was amazed at how much (and how often) change has occurred. Even skipping over the childhood changes, here's a run-down:
15--parents divorced
17--fell in love/got my heart broken
18--finished high school
joined the army
went to Colorado
partied hard for 2 years
20--started college
became a Christian
24--ended 3 year relationship
25--grad. college
started full-time ministry
27--moved to Fort Worth, TX
10 years in TX--8 homes, 6 jobs, 5 girlfriends
37--moved back to VA
38--got married
gained a daughter
lost my father
39--bought first house
41--fathered a son
became a lead pastor
42--another baby coming

it never slows down!

We talked about how some people thrive on change, while others are uncomfortable or fearful of change.

I also began thinking about how change happens in two ways:

1. change that we initiate; taking risk, attempting something new, making a decision that leads to change
2. change that happens to us, outside our control, because of choices other people make, or God, or chance...

I guess it's about approaching life proactively or reactively. I think those that seek change (for good reasons) tend to get the most out of life, or enjoy it most.

So my question/challenge for anyone reading this: look at change in your life--do you initiate change, or is it something that tends to happen to you? I'd love to hear comments!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

a great deal, and great tv

check out this incredible deal at amazon. Brian McLaren's A New Kind of Christian trilogy boxed set, usually $65.85, on sale for $13.17! These books really changed a lot of how I think about and see and experience God. I know Brian is considered controversial by some; but honestly, these books are phenomenal. I bought 5 today to hold onto for future gifts.
Update: the sale is over. bummer.

I'm not usually a fan of reality TV, but my favorite new show is Top Chef, on Bravo. It's kind of like Survivor meets American Idol meets Rachel Ray. It's fun watching the contestants create these incredible dishes, and also watch them get competitive with each other. Check it out Wednesdays at 10 pm.

seeing yet not fully seeing God

From How (Not) To Speak of God, by Pete Rollins, chapter 2:
...we ought to affirm our view of God while at the same time realizing that that view is is important to bear in mind that this deconstruction is not destruction, for the questioning it engages in is not designed to undermine God but to affirm God.

I am grateful that God, while being above and beyond my grasp, makes Himself real and available to me. I do not have these conversations about God apart from Him, rather, He is a part of these discussions. I do not wrestle with questions of theology and philosophy on my own, I do it with Him! My doubts and struggles and questions do not undermine or diminish God--they could never do that--instead they make Him more real to me. The mystery doesn't keep me from him, rather it causes me to pursue Him more!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

a rare sunday morning at home

not speaking anywhere this morning; trying to get a paper done for school--it's going to be late :(

The rest of the family is gone; so I'm having some quiet time before getting back to the paper. I have been reading Elizabeth Edwards's book Saving Graces. I spent the last half hour crying as I read the chapter about the death of her 16-year-old son. Obviously being a father with a pre-teen, a baby, and a baby on the way makes this hit home. I lost my father three years ago, and still grieve over that; but I cannot imagine losing one of my children.

Mrs. Edwards writes with honesty and strength and beauty. The book is wonderful (so far); I highly recommend it.

Monday, June 04, 2007

rough day

today was one of the roughest days I've had since becoming a pastor. One of our friends who has worshiped with us several times sent an email with feedback on last night's worship. Most of the feedback she has given in the past has been very positive; but this one was extremely negative, from start to finish, and most of it was about me.

I tend to be very sensitive, and was exhausted after working all weekend; so the email hit me pretty hard. I let myself feel the pain of being harshly criticized for a while, then tried to evaluate the criticism. Much of it was founded. We evaluate our worship honestly each week, and I was thinking some of the same things. We had a discussion about wisdom; and the discussion never really moved beyond pat, "churchy" answers. Not what we wanted; but we were not prepared enough to go where I would have liked to take it. That's our fault, and I know we'll learn from that.

I think what was hardest was not the criticisms, but the way they were presented. Email is tough; you don't see facial expressions or hear someone's tone of voice. It was also hard because there was nothing positive, just one negative after another. It's always easier to take criticism if there is some encouragement as well.

It also hurt because this is a person I genuinely like. We've had a few conversations that I really enjoyed; and I have been looking forward to growing a friendship. I hope that will still happen. I also hope they will not be put off by this experience. I say all the time that worship is different week to week; I hope they will give us another chance!

Friday, June 01, 2007

speaking God's name

How (Not) to Speak of God, Pete Rollins, chapter 2:
God is not a theoretical problem to somehow resolve but rather a mystery to be participated in...'knowing' in the Hebrew tradition is about engaging in an intimate encounter rather than describing some objective fact: religious truth is thus that which transforms reality rather than that which describes it. (p. 23, emphasis mine)

Why are some people so opposed to mystery? Why do they belittle the faith of those who speak of God in these ways? Are people afraid that God can't do what he wants in the lives of people unless they figure him out and come to absolute conclusions about Him? Isn't He great enough to work in the midst of mystery?

If I had to choose between understanding God or experiencing God; I'd take the latter. But I don't think we have to choose; I think both are possible to a point...but that understanding comes in bits and pieces, in many ways. Since I have been letting go of trying to make the Bible and my theology fit into a neat package, I've experience God in so many ways--through the Bible, through God's Spirit, through relationships, through daily life, through Creation. I've said before nothing helps me know and experience the love of God more than the relationships I have with my children.

Yesterday B said his first word. I wish it was "daddy," but it wasn't. It was "Grandpa." Sitting and playing on my step-dad J's lap, he said "Grandpa;" not once, but four times! It was beautiful seeing the tears of joy in J's face. As a baby, B doesn't know or understand a lot. But he knows who loves him, and he knows who he loves, and he expressed his love in a beautiful way simply by saying the name of the one he loves. "Grandpa."

May we love the same way, "Father...Abba...Daddy..."

One of my struggles is reading the emerging church watchdogs. I know I shouldn't; it's a waste of time, but I do it anyway. The more I read, the more I'm amazed that professing Christians can behave this way. Maybe by sharing some of this and trying to laugh about it will help me not get so frustrated about it. A recent favorite was the guy who referred to the emerging conversation as the "emergent church spiritual bowel movement. ." Kind of ironic since he also refers to emergents as "potty-mouths."