Sunday, January 31, 2010

Article on Matt Chandler

Here is a well written article by AP writer Eric Gorski on The Village Church pastor Matt Chandler and his battle with a brain tumor. John Piper gave this sermon at Chandler's church a month ago to give folks a framework to deal with this difficult process. It challenged me AND kept me awake during my drive up to West Virginia earlier this month.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Tebow and "Man Crunch"

CBS might be forced to make another choice. Hopefully next year. Since the network will be airing Tim Tebow's an anti-abortion ad, the network is now being bombarded by those from a different slant: (a gay dating website). Since the commercial depicts two gentlemen wearing rival uniforms actually "making out," CBS has decided not to run it, for now. Of course, if you are a Packers or Vikings fan, it becomes even more offensive to see your fan base appear like this!

Can't wait to see what will happen for next year's Super Bowl......
A very realistic question comes up: would I rather see Tebow and "Man Crunch" or No Tebow and No "Man Crunch?" I fear those might be the only two options next year.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Kingdom Cooperation

Every so often, my denomination's church planting coordinator/recruiter, Jim Hatch, will send out thoughtful emails related to church planting. Here's his most recent one which challenges folks to think more missionally, as well to give God praise for a particular mainline church cooperating with a PCA church plant to better reach its community. Obviously I'm stoked about this because I'm stoked about church planting, but also because my current church Redeemer doesn't have a building of its own (we meet in a movie theater) and have a soft spot for the "nomads" out there. Anyhow, here it is:

It was the first service of a brand new church. Jan and I found a seat and were awed by the beauty of the sanctuary. No, not an office-front, not a YMCA. It was the St. Trinity Lutheran Church in south St. Louis. The new PCA planter/pastor, Chris Smith, introduced the service and told the story of how God had led to the beautiful facility.

He’d visited dozens of community leaders in the area. It was a Catholic nun, Sister Mary Ann Nestel, who leaned across the table, grabbed his hand and said, ‘We’re so glad you’re coming! Let me show you who to talk to.’ And she shoved her Rolodex across to him. Call this guy; email that person; see this one. And one of those was Lutheran pastor, David Liebnau. And that congregation invited Chris and his core group to use their facility.

Now, when do you want to worship? they asked him. Well, Chris replied, whenever you’re not worshipping. No, no, they replied, what’s best for you guys? Best for us? Well, maybe 11:00 am. Oh, ok, we’ll change our worship time to accommodate you. Hmmmm.

Now, don’t you want a sign out front? Chris replies, could we maybe put up something on Sunday morning? Well, we were thinking you’d need a permanent sign. Why not do that? A permanent sign? Monthly rent? Oh, well, how about…and it was incredibly reasonable.

When Pastor Liebnau was introduced, he said, We’re so glad you’re here. And if you can extend the gospel here in ways that are better than we’ve done, we’ll be excited. We’re praying for you! Welcome!

I found myself deeply moved by Pastor Liebnau and the St. Trinity congregation. What generosity, grace, lack of defensiveness and ‘turf guarding’! It was almost like they were willing to give themselves away for the sake of a church plant in a different denomination! It was as if they were more interested in the Kingdom of God than in the ‘success’ of their own ministry! What does being Kingdom-minded mean anyway? I think Jan and I just experienced a little taste of it from a Catholic sister and a Lutheran pastor and his people.

And the question bubbled up: how many 138 year old churches in my denomination would say to a Baptist or Lutheran or Pentecostal church planter, how can we help you succeed, even if it makes it harder for us? Would you do that in your ministry?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Anti-Abortion Super Bowl Ad by Tebow

As a result of a number of businesses not buying overpriced ads during the Super Bowl, advocacy groups such as pro-lifer's are reaping the benefits. Tim Tebow will speak about the time his mother's doctors advised her to get an abortion for health reasons. Good thing she didn't listen to them. For him and for us. Can you imagine the world without Tebow (although human life has inherent value regardless of what a person would or would not become)? Anyhow, check out one article here
and CBS' response and defense, including a video here.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Risks and coming up short

Well in one of my final Bradenton Herald articles-which has been deleted from cyberspace-I simply raised a question about pragmatism and football decisions. Now at the end of the Minnesota Vikings season, I'd like to offer another "take" on the whole Brett Favre deal.

Again, as far as football goes, it looks like it was the right decision. After all, football decisions are strictly pragmatic: if it works (produces wins), it is the right decision.

One could argue that there's some moral limit to this, like locking dudes in shed's or slapping them around (which allegedly happened at Texas Tech and USF respectively-coaches were fired). Although if their programs had been number one, I still think this stuff would have been swept under the rug.

However, back to the Vikings. They didn't accomplish what they sat out to do: win the Super Bowl. But I must admit now that while I think it was busch-league and primadonna-esque to skip the hard part of training camp and then just show up, I have to come to respect both Favre and coach Brad Childress. Favre for his toughness (I did pull for him last night) and Childress for his risk taking.

Favre could have broken down by the end of the season like he did the previous year. He could have thrown 3 times the interceptions he actually threw (7). Neither of which Favre did. Childress thought big, took the risk, and was not afraid to fail.

I can't help but think of Paul and his lofty goal of reaching of reaching Spain with the gospel. He writes to the Romans in 15:24

"I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, and to be helped on my journey there by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a while."

Paul never made it to Spain, which you could argue would have been a Super Bowl of sorts. But he thought big, prayed big, and wasn't afraid to come up short. A good reminder.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

One idol crossed off the list

I came across this unique story yesterday. A minor league rising baseball star chooses to go into the priesthood over the big leagues. I just started Counterfeit Gods by Tim Keller last night and couldn't help but think, "Well, I guess baseball is not this dude's god." But one of his early definitions of an idol is any thing-even a good thing-that becomes an ultimate thing. So unfortunately good things like ministry, children (although I guess Catholic priests don't have to worry about that one), and influence will still vie for his and our affections.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Opened and Closed

I always find myself in a little quagmire when finishing a book. Two nights ago I finished Andre Agassi's autobiography called Open. Since I don't read quickly, I always consider finishing a book a great accomplishment, and one I look forward to it with great anticipation. However once I'm done, and don't have another book to read with me, I'm stuck watching Sports Center highlights I don't care much about (it always takes me a little bit to transition from football to either of the "b-balls or Animal Planet).

Anyhow, Agassi's book Open, is exactly that: open. He appears as a man who has few secrets about himself, as well as others. The book sheds light into Pete Sampras' tipping practices, short marriage to Brooke Shields, the unlikeable Jimmy Connors, as well as an overbearing father that drove him to excel but also hate tennis.

There's even a decent amount of info on the infamous IMG Bolieterri Academy in Bradenton for the folks down there.

I thought Agassi would include a bit more of the spiritual side (aside from blasting Michael Chang for his praise of Jesus after victories) of his life and supposed conversion. But aside from that, I wasn't disappointed one bit. I'm not a tennis fan, and barely know the rules; now I have a huge respect for what he calls the "loneliest" sport.

Agassi appears a fascinating and surprisingly deep man, filled with anxieties of a normal person: not the oldest player to be ranked #1. I highly recommend this book regardless of whether or not you like tennis or even sports.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Gaines is gone

During a few minutes of my 15 hour trek up to West Virginia, I heard a radio ad for a gym advertise, "So come in and be in charge of the one thing you CAN control: your body." Hmmm.....We all love the idol of control, don't we?

Yesterday, Gaines Adams, a former 1st round (#4 overall) in 2007 draft of the Buccaneers died at age 26 from an enlarged heart. Click here to check out the story. Strange how some athletes in tip-top shape seem to die early (he was the 2nd one this week) from heart issues while I don't ever remember a coach (and some of the lads are quite big because they work 100 hours in a week and don't have time to sneeze much less exercise) passing away due to heart issues. Sometimes it makes you wonder the value of cardio-vascular exercise (at least over weight training)....

Though I was glad to see Gaines get traded to the Bears earlier this year, it is definitely a sad day for the Bucs' and Adams family.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Going smaller?

Different pastors will differ in philosophies of ministry on how to best reach out to and shepherd a community. Some believe the best way is to have a mega-church and gather people to itself through advertisement, programs, and relationships. Other models, like where I am currently serving at Redeeemer, will put next to no money in advertisement (outside a website), and rely totally on members and regular attenders inviting folks.

Perhaps influenced by growing church plants, pragmatic economics, or God's Spirit, some mega-churches may be re-thinking their strategies for reaching people. Instead of building the biggest congregation possible, they are considering becoming locally smaller and more incarnational. In other words starting new smaller communities, either satellite or self governing entities (from what I can tell) may lead to an overall large number of folks brought into Christ's Kingdom and Church. Check out this article by a very missional small town pastor Chuck Warnock.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Big Mac

Well, for those baseball fans who already knew that Mark McGwire used performance enhancing drugs, he finally actually admitted it. When testifying before Congress, he coined the infamous phrase, "I don't want to talk about the past." Translation: I used drugs. In a recent interview McGwire finally fessed up to it. Kind of.

Apparently he took the HGH (human growth hormone) simply to make him recover from injury faster, and had nothing to do with his then record breaking 70 homers. Hmmmm.........Now none of us can confirm or deny his simply-t0-recover-motivation (that one's getting old), but performance enhancing drugs usually enhance performance. I think that's where they get their name...

Again, I don't know his real motivation, but since 99 % of athletes simply lie, it is hard to believe. Regardless, this is a good reminder to all of us of what shallow repentance looks like. "I did ______, but its not like you think....." Chapter 2 in the book of Jeremiah gives us a great picture of what sin really is: forsaking the stream of living water and THEN building broken wells to replace that stream.

The more and sooner we admit what sin really is-that it is an attempt to get an edge in life and find a temporary replacement god-the more and sooner we can get back to the stream of delight and living water (Isa 55, John 4). Skip the honest weeping and you'll skip joy and delight when you realize how loving and forgiving and glorious our Father really is.

On a baseball end, I think we should at least appreciate Big Mac's admission to some extent. But I'm still waiting for the dude who says, "I just wanted to enhance my performance." Bonds, Clemens, are you next?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Back on again

Well its been a long time since I've got "my blog on." Today is the first semi-normal day on the job (everything will only be semi-normal until Amy and Connar get up here on Friday, and then only after we find a house/condo to rent....) so I'm hoping to get back up and running.

I was introduced to the church yesterday and so met a ton of folks; I'm just going to have to work hard to get all of the names. For those of you who are not my "friends" on facebook, here are some pics of what life "looks" like here in Hurricane WV. Hasn't been above freezing yet, and I think its snowed everyday. Actually its snowed most every hour with a break yesterday. But its going to pick back up today.

Here are some pics of my poor car, which has done surprisingly well, even while driving in the snow. I kind of like it. And the condo which one fantastic couple has graciously allowed me to stay in.

I should be back up to speed and posting regularly from here on out. At least that's the plan. Hope everyone is doing OK. Keep me posted. Peace.