Innovative Church

Found a great post from the Innovative Church Conference, thought I would share a link to it.

This is some great advice for ministry.

“In conclusion, Mark encouraged us with these thoughts:

  1. Enjoy the journey.
  2. Be yourself. I tried being a pastor, and now I’m trying to be me.
  3. Stop criticizing. I’m tired of the church being known for what it’s against.
  4. Offend Pharisees. If you’re going to follow Jesus in ministry, you’re going to offend the religious establishment. Any time you do something innovative, someone is going to criticize you for it.
  5. Make mistakes. Those are the experiences you eventually look back and enjoy.”

Ecclesiastes

So last night we launched transit and we talked about Ecclesiastes, a great, great book, if you’re committed to work through and wrestle through what it brings up.  I know that in our talk last night it hit some folks pretty hard, and that’s ok the Bible should force us to really consider life, and chapter 1 does exactly that. 

Kathy found this great introduction to the book in her study bible so she posted it on myspace and I figured I might as well post it here to.

 

Ecclesiastes

So I was reading my bible this morning in the book of Ecclesiastes and the intro was really good in explaining about this book. So for all of you people in transit I thought I would be good to read this. It’s a good explanation on what Solomon was feeling/thinking when he was writing this book!!

The Chocolate bunny lies in the basket surrounded by green paper “Grass”.

With Easter morning eyes wide with anticipation the little boy carefully lifts the candy figure and bites into one of the long ears. But the sweet taste fades quickly, and the child looks again at the candy in his hand.

It’s hollow!!

Empty, futile, hollow, nothing the words have a ring of disappointment and disillusionment. Yet this is the life experience of many grasping the sweet things possessions, experience, power, and pleasure they find nothing inside. Life is empty, meaningless and they sink into despair.

Almost 3,000 years ago, Solomon spoke of this human dilemma; but the insights and applications of his message are relevant to our time.

Ecclesiastes, Solomon’s written sermon, is an analysis of life’s experiences and a critical essay about life’s true meaning. In this profound book, Solomon takes us on a reflective journey through his life, experiencing how everything he had tried, tested, or tasted had been “meaningless” useless, irrational, pointless, foolish, and empty an exercise in futility. And remember, these words are from one who “had it all” tremendous intellect, power, and wealth. After this biographical tour, Solomon made his triumphant conclusion: “Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty. God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.” (12:13,14)

When Solomon became king, he asked God for wisdom, and he became the wisest man in the world. Solomon studied, taught, judged, and wrote. Kings and leader from other nations came to Jerusalem to learn from him. But with all of his practical insight on life, Solomon failed to heed his own advice, and he began to downward spiral. Near the end of his life, Solomon looked back with an attitude of humility and repentance. He took stock on his life, hoping to spare his readers the bitterness of learning through personal experience that everything apart from God is empty, hollow, and meaningless.

Although the tone of Ecclesiastes is negative and pessimistic, we must not conclude that the only chapter worth reading and applying is the last one, where he draws his conclusions. In reality, the entire book is filled with practical wisdom (how to accomplish things in the world and stay out of

trouble) and spiritual wisdom (how to find and know eternal values).

Solomon had a very honest approach. All of his remarks relating to the futility of life are there for a purpose: to lead us to seek fulfillment and happiness in God alone. He was not trying to destroy all hope, but to direct our hopes to the only one who can truly fulfill them and give our life meaning. Solomon affirms the value of knowledge, relationships, work, and pleasure, but only in their proper places. Everything temporal must be seen in light of the eternal.

Read Ecclesiastes and learn about life. Hear the stern warnings and dire predictions, and commit yourself to remember your Creator now.

Friends, Prodigals, Sheep, and Coins

So something really great happened last week.  My friend who moved to New Orleans came home and wants to get his life figured out, and is moving in a positive direction.  Pretty amazing!  It was a call that I never really expected to hear but I had hoped for since I first heard he was moving ot N.O. 

We had coffee last week and we talked about what’s been going on, and it was good to connect with him.  I have been praying for him everyday since, and I will continue to because he has a tough road ahead of him. 

I was just glad to know that he’s home and that he’s sorting things out and that he really, really wants to do what’s right. 

This week at >>beyond>> we are talking about Luke 15 which is the Lost and Found chapter, with the most famous of all parables, the Prodigal Son, and I was just amazed by God’s active and compelling Grace.  Here in this story we have a son who turns his back on his family, and we have a brother who harbors a lot of bitterness, and a Father who waits patiently on the porch for his wayward son to return. 

The Father comes running to the prodigal and embraces him and throughs a party, what a wonderful picture of God’s grace.  While the brother (religious people) are bitter and angry at the Father’s welcome towards the son.  I was moved by this story in a new way this week having seen it play out in front of me. 

Everytime we see some one come to faith in Christ, the prodigal story is happening all over.  And everytime we should celebrate and be happy and rejoice, we shouldn’t be like the brother who was angry, who held disdain for this sinful brother who wasted all of his treasure.  We should be like the father who would glady give his wayward son anything just to see him back in the family. 

This story is so huge and there’s a lto more to it than what I’ve written, but I’m just glad that my friend is home. 

Modern Psalm – Oh My God by Jars of Clay

Well I love jars of clay, great musicians, and great song writers. This song moved me deeply, and I read over the lyrics and it seemed to come right out of the book of Psalms.

here are the lyrics
Oh my God, look around this place
Your fingers reach around the bone
You set the break and set the tone
Flights of grace, and future falls
In present pain
All fools say, “Oh my God”

Oh my God, Why are we so afraid?
We make it worse when we don’t bleed
There is no cure for our disease
Turn a phrase, and rise again
Or fake your death and only tell your closest friend
Oh my God.

Oh my God, can I complain?
You take away my firm belief and graft my soul upon your grief
Weddings, boats and alibis
All drift away, and a mother cries

Liars and fools; sons and failures
Thieves will always say
Lost and found; ailing wanderers
Healers always say
Whores and angels; men with problems
Leavers always say
Broken hearted; separated
Orphans always say
War creators; racial haters
Preachers always say
Distant fathers; fallen warriors
Givers always say
Pilgrim saints; lonely widows
Users always say
Fearful mothers; watchful doubters
Saviors always say

Sometimes I cannot forgive
And these days, mercy cuts so deep If the world was how it should be, maybe I could get some sleep
While I lay, I dream we’re better,
Scales were gone and faces light
When we wake, we hate our brother
We still move to hurt each other
Sometimes I can close my eyes,
And all the fear that keeps me silent falls below my heavy breathing,
What makes me so badly bent?
We all have a chance to murder
We all feel the need for wonder
We still want to be reminded that the pain is worth the thunder

Sometimes when I lose my grip, I wonder what to make of heaven
All the times I thought to reach up
All the times I had to give
Babies underneath their beds
Hospitals that cannot treat all the wounds that money causes,
All the comforts of cathedrals
All the cries of thirsty children – this is our inheritance
All the rage of watching mothers – this is our greatest offense

Oh my God
Oh my God
Oh my God

Busy, Busy, Busy

So the fall is ramping up and I’m working on my first talk for transit. It starts tomorrow. We are studying Ecclesiastes, I love this book, it’s hard and raises questions and you actually have to wrestle through it. Sounds like life doesn’t it.

But this is one more thing that I am going to be working on throughout the week, I love to study and talk about the Bible so it’s actually fun for me. It’s not like I am laboring and toiling day in and day out, but it does increase my workload a bit. So that’s good times.

But every fall is this way, it’ crazy how even though the new year is in January, life really starts all over again in september, with the school year. The times of leisure are over and now it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work.

I hope that the fall finds you with things to do, but don’t stress, don’t fret, because really the work is never done and that’s okay. Relax and enjoy the days that God has given you. Tessie wrote a great post on her my space about enjoying the party, and I’m going to try to do exactly that.

Arghh The Irish!!!

So I was heart-broken on saturday with the crushing defeat the irish were dealt by the merciless wolverines. But I’m stickin’ to them fightin’ Irish. I think they’re still going to have a great season, even if they won’t be champs.

But Sunday made my blues roll away because my beloved Seahawks had a great win. And the Seahawks are my first football love so as long as they are doing well there is hope for the world.

The Bionic Woman

I came across this story today while perusing bloglines.

Basically they have developed prosthetic limbs that are wired into your mucsles so they react like your arm would.  The technology is not perfect but it’s still pretty incredible. 

These kinds of developments are cool, but they raise all kinds of questions too

Where will technology take us? Do we have any reason to fear these developments?  When will I get my flying car like in Back To The Future 2 (2015 is just around the corner).  Should we ever put limits to what we will allow to be “bionic?”  And I’m sure there are many more. 

I just thought this was interesting.