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Archive for February, 2009

Seasons

February 20, 2009 Leave a comment

What’s the good word? I just watched one of my favorite movies, Rent. It was on broadway for a long time and was a huge hit back in the 1990’s, and they made it into a movie recently. I was reminded of a question while watching it: How do we measure time? The opening song gets at that question. How do we measure the life of a woman or a man? In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee? How do we?  As the song says, how about love?  Today is today. What would happen if we measured time in units of love. How many people have you loved today?  That means, how many persons lives have you helped today? How many people have you told your story too? How many people have you invited to church today?  Remember this love and that it is a gift from above. I’m including the video from the opening number. Enjoy!

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National Pastor’s Conference Day 2

February 12, 2009 Leave a comment

Ok, so I’m a little late on updating you on my day two here at the National Pastor’s Conference. But here we go. 

While I did get a boat load of free stuff yesterday, that wasn’t my biggest highlight of the day. The biggest highlight of my day was probably meeting Rob Bell, one of my favorite authors. Not only did I get to meet him, I got him to sign, possibly one of the best books I have read, his book “Velvet Elvis”. It was truly a great moment for me. Rob spoke to the whole assembly yesterday. God does work in mysterious ways, because what Rob said yesterday was exactly what I needed to here in that particular moment. It was as if he was peering into my life and knew exactly what I needed to hear. As I looked around at the nodding heads, I could tell that I wasn’t alone. Rob talked to all the pastors in that room about those things that hurt us the most. He talked about those members who just seem to stab you in the back, those members that will never be satisfied with what you do, those members who send email, after email telling you what you are doing wrong. He said, “Here’s the thing, you can get 9 good emails, but there is always that one that will just ruin your day. And it’s the one you will focus on all day long.” 

Over time, the criticism, the bad emails, all that stuff is like death by paper cuts because the truth is, it hurts!  People forget we are humans too. Pastors do have feelings. He told us that as leaders in our communities we need to really, really, really get good at forgiveness.  It’s not like we forget, but we need to forgive otherwise it will eat away at us.  And I guess that goes for all of us. When we don’t forgive three things happen:

1. We hold back. We hold back our creativity, we hold back our ideas, we hold back what possibly needs to be said. 

2. We apply lists and labels.  “Well those people over there, they are like…” 

3. Revenge. We get even. 

The sharp reality for pastors is that sheep have teeth too!  But here’s the thing. Pastors are not ekklesiastical punching bags! We’re not! Yet there are people who think we are.

What does it mean to forgive? That’s a question for all of us. I do know what it entails, it entails death. Jesus, in Luke 23 says, “Father forgive them.” It takes a sort of death. And death hurts! But through death can come resurrection, and we can be guaranteed that we wont’ be the same on the other side. Rob Bell share the words of Parker Palmer who said, “The cross says, the pain stops here!” 

I also listened in on what was going on around the country when it comes to ministering to young adults. There are some very creative things going on in the world. I am happy that our Kairos college group has formed, but we need to continue to pray for them as they try to find their identity and what that group is going to be about. How are we as a church going to support them. 

Well that’s all from day two. Now that my breakfast is finished, it’s time to start day three. That’s the good word!

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National Pastor’s Conference Day One

February 11, 2009 Leave a comment

What’s the good word? Well, I’m attending the National Pastor’s Conference here in San Diego this week. I realized I hadn’t taken continuing education time in quite a while. I feel it’s important for pastor’s to keep learning and to stay refreshed, and this is a great way to do that. So I decided to blog my days while I’m here, not only to let others know what I’m learning, but also to help me process what I’m hearing. So here’s day one! 

I am here with another pastor from our synod, and have been surprised to meet 3 other pastor’s from our Lutheran synod here! Actually one of them told me he’s been coming to this conference for years now, and this is the first time he’s seen other pastors from our synod. Odd! 

Well the first speaker was quite dynamic I must say. He used the Ezekiel text about the dry bones coming to life. He reminded all of us that while these were difficult times, if we can’t find anything to preach on, or it’s difficult to preach right now, then, if nothing else, preach about our God who brings life out of the grave. I needed to hear that! He also just hit us right between the eyes. He said, “Don’t look at the church budget or attendance numbers to determine if your church is healthy. Rather, ask yourself if there are stories being told by people about the transformation that has happened in their lives.” Are people’s lives being transformed when they come to Covenant? How healthy are we in regards to that question?  

He also helped me to ask myself, “What’s stopping me?” What I mean by that is, he told us about a gazelle in Africa that when standing can jump 13 feet in the air. While it is running, it can leap out 30 feet. Yet, they keep these animals in zoos with a fence no more than 4 feet high! He finally asked an employee why they don’t jump out. They employee told him that while they are young they are taught not to jump. Did you get that? Although they have the ability to jump higher than the fence they are conditioned not to. What is stopping us from leaping high? What’s conditioning us to make us believe we can’t?  

I heard one of my favorite authors speak, Brian McClaren. His workshop was about Christianity being a way of life. He had a powerful line in his presentation, he said that Buddhism books are flying off the shelves in religion sections of book stores. He was shocked to find that out. He said, perhaps it’s because Christianity is seen more as a system of beliefs rather than a way of life. If you think about it, Buddhism IS a way of life. But shouldn’t it be the same way with Christians. You know Jesus came not to make Christians, but to make followers. Did you know that the word Christian only appears in the New Testament 3 times? The word Christianity appears ZERO times in the entire Bible. In fact the word Christianity doesn’t really appear until really late. But there are over 261 verses about being a disciple. What’s our purpose? 

Then, finally, this evening, (yes I’m already tired!) we heard from Shane Claiborne. A young man, well he’s my age now, that at the age of 18, went and joined Mother Theresa in India. He now works here in the states on behalf of the poor. He talked a lot about money. Funny, we’ve been hearing that a lot in the media lately. But he reminded us how easy it is for money to become like a god to us. We were reminded that the Israelites in the wilderness, in the book of Exodus, were told to take only what they needed and no more! There was just too much in his talk to put into words here in this little ol’ blog, which is turning out to be my longest, so I will give you just a few lines of his to think about. “There’s enough for everyone’s need, but there is not enough for everyone’s greed” (that’s my favorite!). “Going back to the story with Jesus and the question he’s asked about paying tax to Caesar, it’s kind of like Jesus told the Pharisees ‘After you give to God what’s God’s, there’s nothing left for Caesar.'” 

Well, that’s just day one! There’s three more to go!  I’m tired now, so I’ll be back tomorrow!

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World’s Apart

February 8, 2009 Leave a comment

What’s the good word? I saw the movie Revolutionary Road last night. I must say that I was appalled that DiCaprio was not nominated for an Oscar for this film. It was truly one of his best performances. Now, before I go any further, I must say that this is an adult only film, don’t take your kids to it if your not up to talking about some pretty tough issues. Not to mention that there is some suggestive language in it. What’s it ultimately about? That’s what I found very interesting. Basically this movie is American Beauty set in the 50s. It has the same basic themes, can a marriage survive by putting on a facade that everything is OK? It’s about a couple who were once happy, who grow a part. Here is this suburban couple, who tries not to let the lifestyle of the suburbs dictate to them how they should live. And yet, Frank (DiCaprio) isn’t happy with his job but stays in it, and April (Winslet), his wife wants to move to Paris. I think one of the overarching themes comes late in the movie where Frank is sitting in his office and says this, “Knowing what you’ve got, knowing what you need, knowing what you can live without- that’s inventory control”. It’s about more than practical office advise. It’s a way of looking at the world, at morality, at love. Ultimately this movies is not easy to watch, but it will make you start thinking. Why do try to accept those things that don’t ultimately make us happy? Can two people break away from the ordinary without breaking apart? How do we hold onto our dreams? 

REVOLUTIONARY ROAD

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Change

February 4, 2009 Leave a comment

What’s the good word? I remember when I moved to Council Bluffs, Iowa for my internship. I grew up in Texas all my life. I had done a great bit of traveling in my life, but I never went anywhere for an “extended” period of time. It was a huge change in my life. Why do we fear change? More importantly why do we not like change? I admit it, I wasn’t liking going away for a whole year. Recently we did an experiment at Covenant around worship, and I heard a lot of people express a lot of anxiety around the changes. Again, what is it about change? I honestly don’t think it has anything to do with change. I don’t by the line, “I don’t like change.” I think it goes deeper and further than that.  I don’t think people fear change, I think they fear loss. What was it about going to Iowa? It was that I was loosing a routine, I was loosing that which was familiar to me, I was loosing those people familiar to me. Our world constantly is changing around us and we are adapting to that change all the time, whether we realize it or not. I don’t blame people for the anxiety around loosing that which was familiar to them about worship, but what we can’t do is let it shut us down. Out of all the things that I thought I was loosing by going to Iowa, I was gaining so much more. Little did I know that I would gain more knowledge about being a pastor, and I would learn more about myself. The disciples lost their rabbi, but out of that they found courage in themselves. They found out that they could do what their rabbi called them to do. When there is a loss, we can’t let it hold us back. What we should do is search for that which will make us stronger.

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