This week I wrote an article that is appearing in the Baptist Standard. You can follow the link below and read it there.
This week I wrote an article that is appearing in the Baptist Standard. You can follow the link below and read it there.
It’s been really hard for me to blog these last few months. Part of it has to do to a new schedule of life and work as I’ve adjusted to the rhythm of pastoring over the last year (I still feel blogging is important and I want to fit it back into my weekly routine). Another reason why it’s been hard to write recently is because everything seems to devolve into politics- including posts that I’ve begun writing.
This blog has never been a political blog. Even though every Christian needs to decide how their politics and faith mesh- I don’t feel like that is my lane. Other bloggers can speak to those issues.
So what is my lane? Do I need to keep writing about what I’ve been writing about or does this blog need to grow and evolve?
I guess that’s the question at the moment. Hopefully I’ll be able to gain a direction and be back writing and engaging with issues and topics related to God, the Bible and life soon.
As a reader, what kinds of things would you be interested in reading about? Add your thoughts in the comment section.
Last Wednesday and last Sunday, I shared with my church a little of the story of St. Patrick. It’s a fascinating story; Patrick: kidnapped and sold as a slave in Ireland, learned Celtic language and culture, escaped, but was called by God to return and preach Christ among the Irish Celts. After Patrick’s death, a number of factors lead to Celtic Christianity developing largely independently from Christianity found in England or mainland Europe.
The Celtic brand of Christianity still exists among a few communities but their way of life and their expression of Christianity can teach us some lessons in having a more vibrant faith.
First, they made a conscious effort to integrate faith into every area of life. Celtic Christians wrote prayers for almost every aspect of life: beginning of the day, end of the day, cooking and working. They wrote prayers for marriage, children, blessing a new home, and for dying. These prayers are often called “contemplative,” and are “an ongoing, or very frequent, opening of the heart to the Triune God, often while engaging in each of the many experiences that fill a day” (Hunter, III).
Our lives tend to be segmented and compartmentalized. We have our spiritual life, sure, but we also have our work life, our home life, and our social life. Contemplative prayer helps us see that all of life is connected and all of life can be influenced and influence our spiritual life.
Second, and in a similar vein, was the formation of the monastic communities. Throughout Europe, monasteries were a common place for the ultra-religious to go to escape from the world. They were located outside of cities, on mountains, or off the beaten path. In Ireland, Christians built communities that were monastic (people living under a religious vow). They were little towns with monks, nuns and priests but also families, farmers, carpenters, herders and craftsman. Again it showed how they saw all of life integrated, with no “religious” and “secular” differentiation.
Third, Celtic Christians naturally saw God within nature. The clover, held by Patrick in many pictures, was used to explain the mysterious nature of the Trinity. As a culture centered around farming, herding and fishing it is understandable that the forces of nature would play a large role in their lives and when they learned of the God who created and controls the forces of nature, it was easy to see God’s hand in it. Again, not even nature is outside of our normal lives- although many of us have tried to eliminate hot, cold, rain and wind from our lives. We can see God in the sunshine and rain, we can hear God in the call of the birds and we can use what God has made to understand God better.
The constant theme of each of these Celtic Christian expressions of faith is the way that they integrate faith into everyday life. That is something we can all be reminded of in our lives. It’s been 1,585 years since Patrick took Christianity to Ireland but we can still learn from their example.
The Celtic Way of Evangelism: How Christianity Can Reach the West Again. George G. Hunter, III. Abington Press, 2000.
Celtic Daily Prayer. Harper One, 2002.
I just finished the latest book from the Fuller Youth Institute entitled, Growing Young: 6 Essential Strategies To Help Young People Discover and Love Your Church. Kara Powell, Jake Mulder and Brad Griffin put together a helpful and practical book and here I want to share the top 5 thoughts that I took away from the book.
(For simplicity sake, they are in chronological order.)
There are many other get takeaways from this book, along with practical ways to implement their suggestions. I recommend this book and hopefully these 5 thoughts give you incentive to dig into the book for yourself.
Growing Young: 6 Essential Strategies To Help Young People Discover and Love Your Church. Kara Powell, Jake Mulder, and Brad Griffin. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2016.
Even though we’re already over halfway through January, I haven’t written a post for the new year. For the last couple of years, I’ve chosen a theme that shaped my year. In 2015 the theme was doubt. In 2016 the theme was bravery. This year the theme is review.
Why do NBA coaches spend practice time on dribbling and ball handling skills? Or passing drills? Shouldn’t NBA players focus on other things that aren’t so elementary? Perhaps, but if the basics aren’t there and if they’re not reviewed regularly those skills could fade. The same is true for you and I as well, there are things in our lives that we should take the opportunity to review from time to time to review.
For me this means that my plan is to do a lot of re-reading. I have so many good books in my library that I need to take a second, third or fourth look at in order refresh myself on their messages. I also plan to review some of the posts that I’ve written and reexamine them to see if I still agree with what I’ve written or if my thinking has progressed. I also want to take time to see if I am putting into practice what I have suggested to others.
My theme for 2017: Review. Reexamine. Relearn. Reengage.
What’s your theme for the year?
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It’s been a busy and fantastic two weeks.
Two Sundays ago I had the privilege of baptizing my eldest son. It was an awesome thing to get to do.
Then, the next day, the moving truck came and loaded all of our stuff to make the move to Electra, TX. After a whirlwind of packing, moving, unpacking and more unpacking, we experienced an amazing first Sunday morning at FBC Electra.
We are getting settled into our house and I’m getting settled into the office. School starts next Monday and then we will really be Electrons? Electrolytes? Electrans? I’ll have to find out the official name.
Continue to pray that our house in Midland will sell quickly.
I’ll be back with a more typical post next week!
Within the opening few pages of most books- before the introduction, before the table of contents- is the dedication page. It’s the place where the author can thank the people who have helped, assisted and inspired the work and where the author can dedicate the work to those who mean the most to his life and the life of the work.
I may be one of the few people who routinely read the dedication page in books. I like seeing who has inspired the author and who the author wants to honor in the dedication of the book.
My family and I are beginning a new work. I have been called to First Baptist Church, Electra, TX as their pastor and at the beginning of this new work, I would like to write my dedication page.
First, my parents and in-laws. Thank you for babysitting and being available when we needed it. Thank you for all the Sunday lunches and dinners. Dad, thanks for allowing me to teach with you and expanding my thinking. We will miss not being able to see you all the time.
San, I have great respect for your wisdom and insight. You read situations better than anyone I know. Thank you for investing time in me and loving my boys.
Eric, thank you for giving me a chance when I knew nothing about pizza and nothing about business. Thanks for teaching me how an organization runs and how to step in and lead. Thank you for embodying who a Christian businessman is supposed to be.
Eleven 11 team (John, Eric and Val, Nathan and others), I loved every minute of what we did during those three years. In the same way that Eric taught be about business, you taught me about the church: what it should look like and what it should be about. John, I learned so much from you about communication and about giving people an opportunity to meet God, those are things I desire to incorporate in my new position.
Jody, Christian, Hunter, you taught me so much of what I know about ministry.
Gary, Randel, Dr. D, you are the three Senior Pastors I have sat under during my adult life. I know I didn’t learn enough from you as I could have (which I regret) but I have great respect for each of you and for what you have poured into the local church. I am confident that as problems, need or circumstances arises, I can reach out to you for wisdom, guidance and encouragement.
FBC Midland, we will miss all of you. Thank you for investing in our lives and the lives of our boys.
FBC Electra, I’m excited to get started and see what God will do. I know I won’t be perfect; I’ll make mistakes and there will be things that I’ll learn as we go. We are excited to get to know you and make new friends. I know that I’ll learn from you and I pray that you’ll learn from me and together we can love the people of Electra and see God change the lives of people.
Here we go…
2016 begins the fifth year of this blog. Currently I have published 200 posts, putting out new content each Tuesday. In the last year my total views have grown by over 60%. So to begin 2016, I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has read and interacted with my thoughts, opinions and questions. This blog wouldn’t exists without readers.
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In this opening post of 2016, I want to briefly outline some of the goals, plans, idea and topics that I hope to explore this year.
A few weeks ago I read a blog by Frank Viola who recommended selecting a word or short phrase that becomes the theme of the upcoming year. His 2015 word was simplicity. I did something similar last year, naming 2015 The Year of Doubts. My theme for 2016 is bravery. I touched on this theme in a post I wrote in October and it has really stuck with me. You’ll see me returning to the theme of bravery throughout 2016.
Other themes and ideas that I’m working on include: the theme of spiritual rhythm, justice and church planting.
My goal in these posts is, as always, to engage the reader in new and interesting ways and to present ideas from a different angle. As a writer my goal in 2016 is to construct posts that are more substantive in development- meaning they’ll be longer and more nuanced than before.
In 2016 I will continue reviewing books, however, I want to change my focus and read more biographies and novels. I believe there are lessons to be learned by examining a story and I want to explore that more fully in the upcoming year.
I am also excited to announce a teaching series, The Way of Jesus Study, that is beginning in February 2016. Find out more about that here.
Here’s to an exciting, productive and, hopefully, amazing 2016!
I kind of always believed that when God called me (or anyone) to something it would happen like a lighting strike. One day the calling wouldn’t be there, then- BAM- all of a sudden I would know exactly what to do and how to go about doing it.
I have come to believe that, at least in my life, that isn’t how God works. I am at a point in my life where I have never been more sure of God’s call in my life but it didn’t happen like a lighting strike. Instead, it’s developed and grown through the joys, growth and challenges of the last several years. As I’ll describe later, there was a defining moment but it came after a long period of preparation.
So, what am I talking about? If you have been following this blog, you’ll see that it’s the logical progression, the next step, from what I’ve been wrestling with, thinking about and writing on.
We, my wife Leslie and I, are pursuing the call the start a church. Yes, you read that correctly. This is vary much outside of our comfort zone and yet those that we have shared the vision with have been encouraging.
How did we get to this point?
One Saturday my family walked around the downtown farmer’s market. We saw people from a wide range of ages, ethnicities and social classes but what struck me was the number of Millennials that were enjoying the farmer’s market that Saturday morning.
We know from Pew research that 6 of out 10 Millennials are not affiliated with any Christian denomination- including Protestant, Catholic and Mainline. At the same time, Millennials make up the largest generation in American history. Millennials are the largest and most un-churched generation in American history.
Walking through the farmer’s market that morning, God threw a lighted match into a pile of kindling in my soul and an idea that been in my heart for three or four years suddenly ignited into a blaze that could no longer be contained. That fire has brought forth a calling to plant a new church in Midland- Church of the Way. I have shared this vision with many in leadership at First Baptist Church, Midland, Texas and have been met with support and encouragement.
Church of the Way seeks to be a community that removes the barriers that prevent Millennials- but also those of any age and background- from hearing the gospel of Jesus and engaging in a church community. This seeks to be a place for the unchurched, the de-churched, for those that have questions and doubts and for those who want the church to act like a family again. It seeks to be a place where anyone can be invited with the simple line, “I want to invite you to check out my church, I think you’ll really like it.”
You can read the whole proposal: churchoftheway
What we need are people who see the vision and want to walk on this journey to see what God can do. Is that you? Is that your family? Will you pray about it? Do you want more information? Ask questions? If you said yes, please fill out the form with your name and email and I will be in contact with you.
I wish I could speak to each one of you and cast the vision for this church community but that’s simply impossible. This way I get to propose to 200 of you at once. But please, if there is any part of you that has your heart stirred, pass along your information.
We will be having an informational meeting on Saturday, October 10, 2015. If you want to hear more, ask questions, have suggestions- whatever, please pass on your contact information and get the where and when.