Thursday, December 06, 2012

Where did I come up with this stuff?

About every 4 or 5 years, I clean out my personal archive. That is a two-drawer filing cabinet that I have carted from appointment to appointment for years. In it are the collected thoughts and scraps of inspiration that have driven the back of my consciousness from seminary forward. There are old lecture notes. I have magazine clippings. Some of that stuff is ***dare I say it*** older than my firstborn child.

Which is why some of it is leaving my possession. I remember collecting these tidbits of wisdom along my journey. I valued its insights or information for one reason or another along the way. But as I look at it now I am asking myself, "why hold on to this?" Much of the information I don't look at. Occasionally I will pull out a folder and rummaged for some morsel of information that I need. But most of the rest was gathered in a time for a purpose and I have moved passed both of those.

But I found a scrap of writing (an assignment for a class in seminary) that I wanted to share. It is a summary of my view of Scripture. And I wanted to share it here. Not because I want a reaction. Not because I want you to see how "brilliant" I am. (I'm not.) I just wanted to store it here in the space of the electronic ether.



You know, I struggle with the question of the authority of scripture. There are a lot of great philosophies that other people have written. There are other directions that I have wondered if maybe there was some compatibility with the Christian scriptures.

I keep coming back, though, to the Bible as the only place I can find hope in truth. There is a lot of stuff in there that seems to hit home at times. I can't really explain how, but when I'm in a certain mind set, I will read something, without looking for the answer, that will hit me between the eyes and answer what I'm dealing with.

Now, I know you could say that it's reading my emotion into or that people have translated the words to fit the times we are in. I've dabbled in the Greek and the Hebrew a little and the translations are not far off from the oldest texts at times. 

You want to know what I think it is? The Bible was written by people. It was written by people to people with specific needs in their lives. The writers were writing because they had some kind of experience that enabled them to get through similar situations. Then, they wanted to share that story when they heard about some others going through something like they had to go through.

They had no intention of manipulating people. If you think about what may be considered the most manipulative parts, it doesn't hold up that they were trying to manipulate people. People like Isaiah or Jeremiah sound like they were trying to lead people to some decision or result. But the people rejected them. They didn't listen to what they had to say. Or Paul. Paul was writing to people from jail. They could live however they wanted to live and not worry about him finding out or doing something about it.

I think the Bible is still around because those writers made sense to their audience. The reason we know they made sense to their original audience is because it makes sense to us. 

The Bible might seem incomprehensible at times. Genealogies and prophecies are deep stuff. But at the same time, they are fountains of helpful stuff. 

I still question from time to time how reliable it is or authoritative in my life. But as long as it makes sense to me, I'll keep reading it.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

For my next hobby: travel agent.

I make no secret of the fact that I love Disney. And the older I get, the more mature my love affair gets. Or is that less mature? I don't really know. But it is verifiable that if it has to do with Disney, I will at least try it out.

I connected to a group of people through virtual means a few years ago. We developed a virtual community, even. We live in all parts of the nation. We have visited with some when we have gotten close. And the thing that binds us together is our love of Disney. In particular, we all love Walt Disney World.

Within this group of friends, a business developed: FTM Travel and Fairy TripMothers Customized touring plans. In business for 5 years, they have specialized in helping people discover the joy and magic of Disney trips and cruises.

I love to help people discover that magic also. If you bring up the fact that you are going to Walt Disney World or Disneyland Resort, I have a little light that comes on behind my eyes. I love to talk to people about it. And if they aren't excited about it, I want to use my amazing powers of persuasion for good and help them get excited. I even toyed around with the idea of becoming a travel agent to do this officially.

That is where I am today. I was invited to join the FTM Travel agency. I am certified and able to book a trip to any Disney vacation site, a Disney cruise, or one of the really cool looking Adventures By Disney guided experiences.

But why would I want to do this?

First, as I've said, I love Disney and am excited about going to Walt Disney World or Disneyland Resort. Lisa and I are talking about how we can take a Disney cruise now that the Disney Cruise Line sails out of Galveston. And I get excited about talking to other people about their trips. And believe me, there are very few things that get me excited like a Disney trip. I'm passionate about the places, the experiences, the history, the memories. And I want other people to be as excited as I am.

Second, I know the hurdle of planning Disney trips. They are overwhelming at times. You have so many options and opportunities to choose from. Going to Walt Disney World is nothing at all like going to Six Flags or any amusement park in the central part of the country. I have planned 5 Walt Disney World trip and 3 Disneyland trips. I can help people sort through the confusion. And that is something I am also passionate about: helping other understand. That includes helping people find ways of getting the most of their trips and their money.

Last, I now have a  reason to take more trips - "but there is something new that I need to experience to tell others about". It's sad. I know. No I don't need help.

This is not a path out of ministry. This is not preparing for the next phase of my life. This is not a money making venture. This is something I love to do and something I want to do for others.

If you are interested, I will be glad to speak with you about it.  Just call me or send me an email or text. I would love to help you experience the magic.


Wednesday, November 07, 2012

To the victor...???

Now that the 2012 election is over and we are looking forward to 4 more years with President Obama, I feel the need to reflect and project.

I believe that our nation is becoming more divided. At almost every level of our culture we experience divisions. The United Methodist Church is even so divided that we are divided on whether or not we are divided. We live in a nation where looking for common ground is replaced with strategic placement on our ideological battlegrounds. I believe that a revolution is brewing. What shape it will take, I don't know. But in a climate where the sides have no desire to reach out to one another there will only be a climactic conflict of some type.

For those who read this that have an intense hatred for President Obama, I have to ask, "Why?" The President does not control the economy. The President is not responsible for jobs disappearing. If it is his stand on abortion or gay marriage, do you also hate that woman who makes that impossible decision or those persons who do not have the same legal support system as traditional married persons? More importantly, where is the fulfillment of Scripture in your life? The last time I read my Bible, we are responsible and accountable for loving our neighbors, our enemy, the stranger, the least and the lost. We are directed by Jesus, Paul, and Peter to respect the government that is in place. The church should be the LAST place where politics leads our emotional state or our idea of hope.

When did the Constitution become meaningless? We live in a country where the most powerful person in the world cannot do anything by himself. The Constitution established a three branch government. The President does not initiate any change in the way the government works. There are Presidential orders that may be issued, but even those are limited. The President speaks about what the President wants or doesn't want, supports or won't support. But the President does not make a change  in the way our nation operates.

If you have been passionate about this election and its outcome, then get passionate about our government for the next four years. Become educated about every election and go vote. Learn about all of your elected officials and how they operate. Spend a little time in a civics textbook and learn about the balance of powers, the voting process, and the electoral college. You are a part of a complex governmental system. It is not just about electing a President every 4 years. It is not just school board members. And if you don't like how the system works, then step up and act to change it. This is still a government by the people, for the people.

Monday, April 30, 2012

CHAZOWN

This is a review of Craig Groeschel's new work, Chazown. This book was provided to me at no cost by WaterBrook Multnomah in exchange for an honest review. Chazown is the Hebrew word that is translated often as "vision". As in, "without vision, the people perish (Proverbs 29:18)." It doesn't mean the physical ability to see, but the heart's or mind's ability to see. And churches need vision to accomplish mission.

There are some basic prerequisites for this book. If you do not believe in God or the work of Jesus Christ as Traditional Christianity defines, then you don't need to read this. This book is not designed for pew-squatters who prefer to define church by which pew is theirs or if the preacher lets them out on time. It shouldn't be read by anyone who wants to just take the church for granted, believing that church exists for their benefit or what they can get out of it. This book is for believers who seriously feel called to do something with the life and gifts that God has given them.

Chazown, according to Groeschel, is discovered at the intersection of Core Values, Spiritual Gifts, and Personal Experiences. Each section dealing with these leads readers through the basic idea and reason why they are important. As followup, there are questions and exercises that assist in identifying these in a reader's life. Once identified, Groeschel stresses 5 "spokes" that support a personal Chazown.

I picked this book because of the three emphases in the subtitle: Vision, Passion, and Purpose. I believe all three of those are critical to leaders of the church. Groeschel has given practical, and relatively simple, ways to identify those in ones own life. Churches that desire to empower their members and equip them to guide the ministry of the church would do well to use this as a study. As such this book is best used as a companion guide to discovering the components that make up Vision, Passion, and Purpose. In fact, Groeschel asks readers to use outside resources from the internet (specifically from his own church's resource pages) to supplement some of the exercises that readers are working through.

I can see this being used in a church that wants to develop its leadership. I believe it would help extend existing ministries, or maybe expand a church's ministry into new areas. It is not filled with church-speak. It uses plain language and engaging stories to get the point across without feeling like it is dumbing down the message.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Review: The Necessity of an Enemy

I received an advance reading copy of Ron Carpenter, Jr.'s book, The Necessity of an Enemy, from WaterBrook Multnomah. I found this book through the regular mailings that pastors receive from Pastor Resources Magazine.

What is an enemy and how do they apply in the Christian life? That is at the heart of this book. Enemies are not basic, minor annoyances of life. For Carpenter, enemies are the events/persons/choice we make that could potentially derail the journey of faith. Carpenter shares experiences from his own ministry of major events that could have ended his ministry, marriage, family unity, and even his life.

The title implies that the true enemies that we encounter in life are part of the process of developing Godly, Christ-like lives. If there is an enemy present, there is potential to grow. But giving into an enemy is very easy. Therefore we need to protect ourselves.

We definitely live in an age where dealing with "enemies" needs to be taught in the church. Economic crisis with resulting job losses, inadequate finances, and the increase in home loss. The increasing reporting of moral lapses and ethical missteps. The church needs to be able to counsel her members on how to face these events while still maintaining a vital faith life.

For me personally, the book didn't address the issue very clearly. It took some work to get the full picture of what Carpenter was getting across. I found myself distracted with the writing style and format. Short chapters didn't allow for a full development of the ideas. The flow between chapters seemed choppy and disjointed at times.

None of that takes away from his sincerity and personal testimony. His personal struggles give him a unique perspective that many pastors will not every have to deal with (at least, I hope I don't). I believe that for someone in the midst of a situation of dealing with enemies of that nature, this book may make more of a connection. He is personable in his writing. His style if down to earth and doesn't use language that is difficult to understand. This isn't a scholarly work. It is personal.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Enemies of the Heart by Andy Stanley

This ebook was provided by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review.

I have to say up front that this was a difficult book to read. Not because of content, but format. It did not work well on my Kindle.

The content was easy to read and did press on some deep emotional stumbling block that do stand in the way of developing the Christ following so many desire. I believe that this book is helpful in identifying or defining each of the "enemies" in a more helpful way. And each response or counterpoint is something that the church needs to see more of today.

I don't believe this will speak to non-churched individuals. It may speak to those marginally churched individuals who still have a spiritual hunger. It will also work with those in the church who are sincere in working toward true reconciliation.

I believe it is a helpful and thought-provoking book for the church.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

(m:) drive/Music/

(m:) drive/Music/


I'm working through a series on Being Weird in a Normal World.

Based on Paul's admonition to the Romans, do not be conformed to this world", I hear a call to all believers to be weird.

I followed a pattern of:

"Normal" is a moving target but God is consistent in calling us to be weird.
You are a unique person, precious to God, worthy of love and respect, created in the image of God, and hand-crafted to become a person of great importance.
If you believe that about yourself, then love your neighbor as yourself.
We are called to be weird in politics. Stop criticizing the government, rebellion is unacceptable, and pay your taxes.

This audio is the audio of "Weird Politics".

Feel free to send questions.