Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Blog Suggestions

Being new to the blogging world and very new to the “almost every day” blogging world, I have desired to read good blogs. Now, I must say that I’m not a big fan of reading someone’s journal of all their personal stuff (unless I know them), so, I guess, I’m looking for thought provoking blogs that are more substance than fluff. If you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them.

Solitude and Silent - AHHH!

I just finished “The Great Omission” by Dallas Willard. I really enjoyed it. Dr. Willard says the same thing a bunch of times, but dummies like me need that repetition to have something sink in. One of the phrases he uses throughout the book is “grace is opposed to earning, not effort.” His premise is that we often fail to work at our life with Christ, supposing that it just magically appears and becomes vibrant when we become Christians. He spends a great deal of time talking about spiritual disciplines and the need to practice them in our quest to be more of whom Christ wants us to be. For me, particularly, his emphasis on solitude and silence was chilling. This is not something I do well, not is it something I have practiced often. It is, however, a major goal of my sabbatical. If you have suggestions for taking silent retreats, I’d be open to hear your thoughts.

Amazing Christian Junk...

Take a look at the Jesus action figures (note they come in light or dark skin). Enjoy the scenic background you get with it and the hours of fun you can have. I love the button you push to order. Note is says "order Jesus." What kind of a society are we in that we can "order" Jesus? Don't forget to check out the entire line of Biblical action figures.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Post it note Jesus...

Fix your eyes on this Jesus made out of Post it Notes. What will we think of next?

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Jesus vs terminator

You might want to move away from your computer in case you get struck by lightning for watching this, but it is very funny.

Home Sweet Home...

Today I visited the Olathe Campus of our church. This multi-site location of the church I serve is a unique blend of the components of our church that are what makes it Christ Community with a small, quaint atmosphere. I enjoyed the musical leadership of the campus corporate worship pastor and the genuine young leadership of the pastor of congregational development. The sermon is done via video on a one week delay from the Leawood campus and with a 16x9 screen with two HD projectors; I actually enjoyed watching the sermon on the screen more than I like it live in Leawood. After a few weeks away, it was good to worship at “home.”

What a day...

It has been a long time since I have had such a great day with my family. I was a great day not because of something huge we did (Disney World will top that list for a while), but because of time spent together. I am kind of a task master around the house on Saturday’s. I make the kids pick up and we need to clean the house. Today, however, things went more smoothly than they many times do and we were finished by 10:00 am (we get up early). This left the entire day for other things to take place. Each member of the family as doing something they love to do while we all relaxed a bit. After a while, my 8 year old came along and announced it was her teddy’s birthday, so I encouraged her to decorate her room and throw a party. We even made brownies for birthday snacks. After lunch, we sat down and played “Star Wars Risk.” Jay (my six year old) and I were the bad guys and we conquered the galaxy. It was just a fun day and one that we need to repeat more often.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Little Blessings

Ever have one of those times in your life when it seems like money is flying out the window faster than it’s coming in? We are in one of those brief moments. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining here. We decided to replace many of the windows in our home and the workers were finishing up today, so I needed to pay that bill. This is something we wanted and chose to do, so it’s not that it was surprise, but rather a large check. The bummer was that yesterday I started our van and heard a “clank” and then the van died. I restarted it and it ran real rough. I hate that sinking feeling in your gut when this happens because it usually means the cash register at my local car fix-it shop goes cha-ching. Today, I took the van in and after three hours they called me back. Guess how much I had to shell out for this one? Nothing! Man, this was a great boost. A vacuum hose has slipped off and because they had done some work on it not too long ago, they did not charge me anything. God is good even when you feel like all those little money grabbers keep popping up at every turn.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Sabbath Rest and the Family

I am finishing up Brennan Manning’s Abba's Child as one of the first books I am reading on my sabbatical. There are so many rich things in this book I could share with you (and maybe I will in the future), but for now, let me focus on Sabbath. Because I am on sabbatical (an extended Sabbath rest), I am maybe more in tune with this concept and am more aware of the fact that I, and I assume most of us, have butchered the observance of rest in our lives.

So, let me challenge you first with the concept of Sabbath and how you are doing at getting the rest you need. Are you working non-stop? Are you going 110% all the time? How is your life at home? Do you give your all to your ministry and fail to have anything left to give to those in your life who matter most? Think about this and be willing to make a change and confront the brutal facts if needed.

Second, in Manning’s book, he makes this statement about the Jewish observation of Sabbath: “…it started at sundown Friday with the mother of the family ceremonially lighting the candles. Then the father, after saying grace over a cup of wine, laid his hand on the head of each of his children and solemnly blessed them with a personal prayer. These and many similar paraliturgical gestures not only hallowed the Sabbath but also sanctified the Jewish home making it a mikdash me-at, a miniature sanctuary in which the parents were the priests and the family table was the alter.” WOW! Why don’t we do this in our families? This is great!

One of the things I will be thinking about a lot while I am on this sabbatical is family and how our ministry can more effectively come alongside families and help them be the “pastors” and “miniature sanctuaries” they were meant to be.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Introduction To Christ by Steve Harvey

This is a bit funky, but also worth watching. What would you do if you had to introduce Jesus for a speaking engagement?

when she does the handstand, RUN!!

Saw this video the other day. It's pretty amazing to an old guy who can barely touch his toes.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Amazing Grace

Yesterday was “Amazing Grace Sunday.” I hope your church participated in this great day. Amazing Grace is a movie hitting theaters on February 23rd and is a powerful look at William Wilberforce, the man who was responsible for abolishing slavery in England in 1807. Now, in our church, “Hero for Humanity” by Kevin Belmonte, a biography of Wilberforce, is required reading in what is our primary pathway for Spiritual formation. His dedication to social change in the public square and commitment to living his faith and his calling are worth studying and admiring. The movie, I was able to see it a few weeks ago, is very well done and worth not only seeing yourself, but taking some of your students to see as well.

Because I work with middle school students, I would suggest that, if you’re taking young teens, they would definitely need some guidance through the movie. I say this because it’s not an action-adventure, a sci-fi triller, or a horror film. It’s a bit slow at times and a bit hard to follow at times if you do not know much about Wilberforce. However, the significance of his life and his role in world history as a man and a Christ follower demands attention. Students need to know who Wilberforce was and how they could stand to see this example of how one can use whatever talent and gift God has given in whatever vocation one ends up choosing in life. There is not such thing as “sacred” callings. We are all called to live a Christ-like life no matter what our vocation. We are all called to be apart of God’s redemption plan for the world we live in.

I hope you’ll check out the movie and consider taking a few students to see it as well.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Sunday #2

Sunday number one was at Disney World and we visited the church of the Magic Kingdom. Today is Sunday number two and I visited my local Catholic parish for mass. There are a few things I noticed for reflection:
  • The Scriptures are held in high esteem – literally! The priest this morning paraded an ornate Bible around the front, holding it above his head as he made his way to the lectern where he read the Scripture lesson. Now, I don’t think we need to walk around in our daily life with the Bible raised above our heads, but in our church, most don’t even bring a Bible. Do we really value the Scriptures like we should? Do we have the respect for God’s Word that we should? Is it a living, breathing, life-giving book, or just another book on our shelf? Maybe we should hold it up more often.
  • The parishioners stand for specific reasons. It seems in the protestant evangelical church we stand for musical worship and that’s about it. Why don’t we stand in reverence when the Scriptures are read? Why don’t we stand when we pray? Why don’t we stand in respect at other times in our services?
  • The people kneel for certain prayers. Now, I don’t really know why they kneel for some prayer and why they stand for others (I’ll ask a catholic friend this week), but what I know is we don’t ever kneel for prayer in our church. As a staff, we kneel in our weekly prayer time, but why don’t we encourage our congregation to kneel when we pray? This simple act of submission can be powerful.
I am looking forward to visiting a lot of churches over the weeks to come. At each church, I will be taking notes and asking questions about what is done and why it’s done. I hope I can learn a few things along the way that may help our ministry grow in richness.

Disney World

What can I say about my first week of sabbatical? It was GREAT! I took my family to Disney World and had a ball. They really know how to make a vacation great, but you can also fall into some terrible pitfalls as you seek your grand adventure. Here are a few thoughts for making your time at the Mouse House a success…
  • Stay on Disney property – yes, it will cost you more, but the benefits are numerous and make for a much more relaxed and stress free vacation.
  • Get the meal plan and plan ahead – Disney offers a meal plan to those who stay on Disney property. It’s not cheap, and if you brought all your own food, you could eat cheaper, but it’s a great value if used wisely, and it allows for more stress free vacationing. Example – a typical lunch at Disney is about $10/person. Snacks around $3/person/snack, and dinner will range in cost from $20-$50/person. Your meal plan will cost you on average $25/person/day. If you plan ahead and make reservations (a must) at nice places for dinner each night, you’ll save a TON of money.
  • Relax – you’re on vacation – we say many families dragging their kids through the park and running them into the ground with a frantic schedule. Relax! Give yourself permission to NOT do everything.
  • Go between mid January and mid February – I have never taken my family to Disney, but have been many times with groups and this was the slowest I have ever seen the parks. We waited, at most, 20 minutes for all the rides. Most often, we waited under ten minutes. It was fantastic!
I don’t think we will ever do Disney again (not because we didn’t like it, but because it’s a lot of money), but it sure was a great week.

Saturday, February 17, 2007


I love the church I serve!!! I have heard of sabbaticals for years. I served for 11 years in a college community and was accustom to professors taking sabbaticals to write or further their education in some way. However, in the church, my experience with sabbatical has been limited. I have heard of senior pastor’s getting some study time or some time off now and then, but have not heard of many who get a true sabbatical rest. In the same vein, I have heard of even fewer youth pastors getting a true sabbatical rest. It seems that this “year of jubilee” or “work for six days, rest the seventh” concept is not widely practiced in church.

Enter my church. When I joined our staff team five years ago this thing called sabbatical was on included in the compensation package was sated as being granted every five years. This twelve-week respite is granted to bless the pastoral staff a period of refreshment and withdrawal from the demands of weekly ministry. The elder team has an idea that, while on sabbatical, the pastor will spend time deepening relationships with family, the Lord, and strengthening their love and passion for their work. However, they do not demand a great list of “to do’s” that must be accomplished. Their primary desire is to see the pastoral staff renewed and to return to the ministry refreshed and ready for another term of engagement.

Well, after my first five years of ministry here at Christ Community Church, I have been just begun my first twelve week sabbatical. Let me say that I look forward to this time away not because I don’t like my work (I love my work), but because there is so much I would like to read, so much I’d like to contemplate, I look forward to having the time to do these things without the weekly demands of ministry. Most importantly, I am excited to reconnect at an intimate level with my maker. Ministry is to come out of the overflow of ones heart and my overflow was/is running low. I relish the opportunity I have been given to deepen my life with the Lord.

If you actually read this blog post, let me ask you to rejoice with me in the blessing I have been given, but also pray with me as I seek to use this blessing wisely and responsibly. I love my church and I look forward to returning to the ministry of Christ’s bride in twelve weeks.