Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Progressive Dialog? Wednesday's jumble

Progresssive Dialog - Bible Study - Small Groups - Life - they all can be very similar - basically the same thing. Not that I get exactly what a progressive dialog is. I'd love good answers on that one. I get to preach 2 weeks in a row coming up soon. I want to preach on Mark 6 - with tidbits from Mark 5 and 8. I'd love for it to be a progressive dialog - as far as I understand it. I kind of teach that way in general, but I probably force it too much where I want it to go. I'm rambling because that's how my mind is today.

I met with one of my two guys this morning (and my intern) - for our weekly accountability - share time. We kind of had a dialog going - interacting with each other and with different texts and with how God is working in us. It was a sweet time together with the Lord.

I mentioned our men's morning Bible Study - and how it seems that, more and more, we are interacting with the text outside of the given questions. We did that again this morning - and it was very encouraging. I've always said that I get more pleasure out of true (interactive) Bible Study and fellowship (the real deal) than anything else.

I don't know what my questions are or where they are taking me.

I keep thinking about some things Doug Paggit said - how students aren't really an integral part of the Church community - and how that leads to understanding how over 70% of students don't go to Church anymore once they leave youth group. That is staggering. If Jared doesn't come to church for 3 weeks, it doesn't affect our church. I hope it would affect our youth group.

I understand that no local church body is perfect and every setting has issues. I am a big believer in doctrinal truth and logic and such. I think there are serious dangers in some of what is going on in the emergent Church. Yet, I know there is much to be grasped - much to think about.

Again - back to the Sermon - there is the issue of dialoging with it. Also, I am just trying to grasp Mark 6 and also part of 8. I am so blind. Lord, open my eyes.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Tuesday Afternoon

I'm tired and poor and can take no more. Actually, it's been a pretty good day. I don't see huge amounts of stuff that I've accomplished, but I've made progress and also been able to interact with people.

I need to start a new book. What should I read? Any recommendations? Not fiction. Rarely do I read youth stuff - not that I won't, but such material isn't high on my list. Give me your best suggestions.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Monday - early

God's provision for my life is amazing. I am making less money than I ever have (in light of having 2 kids) and God has provided more little and big gifts to me. My wife takes care of all the bills (I make the money and she spends it) so I see our financial situation less and worry about it less (I really don't worry - I'm stupid that way). It's been amazing how a little here, a lot there, and a small thing here have been given to us. What a year.

Today we head to Des Moines to pick up a free trailer (enclosed, pull-behind - for our Church) from Pastor John's old Church. This is saving us a bunch of money on our mission's trip. I still don't know exactly how God will provide us with transportation for the trip, but he'll have to.

There is a reasonable chance (human terms) that we'll end up as missionaries some day. I think this time in Eagle Grove is a time of learning to trust God for everything as well as being close to family for a time.

I realize I have only focused on the financial end of things here. God has provided so much more than just this.

How have you seen God providing for your needs?

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Being Tired - and Spiritual stuff

Wednesdays are always my biggest days as far as work goes - and being busy. Men's Bible study starts at 6:00 and I'm at the office at 7:00. I have 2 youth groups at night and don't get home until around 11:00 (though I am usually home for an hour at lunch and an hour or maybe 2 at supper). Thursday mornings are tough. I don't think it's only that fact that Wednesday is busy and I haven't gotten all the beauty sleep I wanted. I really believe there is a spiritual exhaustion (or tiredness) that comes. So much is given out on Wednesday - and there is usually a spiritual high or low - either way - it seems to lead to exhaustion.

I'd love to hear thoughts on this. What is your response to it?

I am thinking about changing my time with God in a big way on Thursdays - maybe a lot more artistic - praise - maybe more singing and thanksgiving and prayer. I don't know. Maybe I just need to work harder.

I know our youth are far from perfect and many don't have much of a devotional life. Yet, I see God working in ways I don't think I would have imagined a year ago. I'm amazed at how He is working. It's little things - lots of them. So many students are noticing God's presence around them. I get excited about that!!!

Verse for the day. Loosely Quoting Samson - Don't plow with my heifer (Judges 14:18) - and honey - I'm not calling you a cow - it was just funny to me (I always write down anything in the Bible that I find to be funny - like numbers 12:3)

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Wednesday thoughts - 4/20

I had a hard time getting out of bed this morning and to the men's Bible Study at 6:00. But what a blessing. I will admit that I am often discouraged by our men's lack of ability to interact with a text. They need simple questions - often not really about the text. When real questions are asked about the text there is often confusion or just silence. "Jesus" is not the answer to every question about the text. Example - Why, in Mark 6, when Jesus walks on water, - why is Peter walking on water totally left out by Mark? It's not so much they don't know the answer, but that the thought of asking such a question is so strange. I don't know if I'm making sense. Anyway. In our men's Bible Study we are following a simple devotional thing - which does the questions for us - but more and more we are interacting with the text - on our own. I love that. It seems like I've seen some progress in some of the men as far as thinking about such things goes. The ramifications of having men in a congregation rarely interacting deeply with God's Word are scary. I enjoyed today's study and am encouraged by the bits of progress I see.

I may sound conceited - such is not my intention. I realize I have far to go (I sure hope the 40 year old me looks back at the 31 year old me and is amazed at my foolishness) and that my desire to study Scripture is a gift from God. I guess I just often expect more. We have not taught our adults to fish - and they definitely aren't teaching our students to fish. That's a general statement and not fair - as we have some adults teaching students to fish.

Which gets me on this train of thought. As I think about raising my kids - spiritual formation is number one on my list. Not only do I want them saved, but I want them to be students of God's Word. I have almost never run across one parent that has spent true quality time teaching their kids how to use God's Word. If our true desire is that our children love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength, what's up? Similarily, I have rarely heard of parents teaching their kids to pray (other than the very basics). Parents don't work with their kids on these things. Ok - unfair again. What do parents work with their kids on?

I'm really not in a bad mood this morning. I had one of those devotional times with the Lord that was longer and better than normal (and normal isn't bad). Mark 6 still has me thinking - and thinking. Why did Mark leave out certain things (like the fact that the crowds wanted to make Jesus King after he fed them - or that Peter walked on water)? And I still am absolutely amazed at Jesus' compassion for the masses - even as he was exhausted. It seems to me that the disciples may have been angry - hence their hearts were hardened and they didn't learn from the feeding of the 5000 (mentioned twice in Mark - that their hearts were hardened). How often is my heart hardened and I totally miss what God is teaching?

I often wonder what my children's future spouses are doing right now - what their families are like and such. I realize they may not have been born yet. I pray that 1) they would be very godly; 2) they would have a great relationship with my children and me and Lori 3) they would grow up in a godly home (and I wonder if that's a bad prayer - for many reasons - like - I just can't relate in a great way to how so many of my students come from poor to horrible homes - when I say my parents never disciplined me in anger or yelled at me in anger - well - it's a foreign language - and I just feel very selfish and maybe foolish praying that last part of the prayer). 4) I pray for purity for those kids (not just sexual, but in every way - what a scary culture to raise kids in - not that my kids will necessarily marry Americans). What do you pray for for your future children's spouses? (I do pray for my born and unborn children every day too - not just for their spouses).

I so enjoy Wednesday night youth group (I think I'm the only "old school" youth pastor around here that has such a thing). I feel like students come in with their heads down, tired, discouraged, needing a major overhaul. By God's grace, and probably mostly apart from me and what I do, they walk out with their heads up and ready to face life again (especially Senior High). The world weighs so heavily on them. I guess it's a reminder that we are not home yet - this is not heaven. Which leads me to Doug's quote - "For the unsaved, earth is as close to heaven as they will get. For the believer, earth is as close to hell as we'll get."

Nothing real deep today - just thoughts floating around.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

What will become of this?

There is almost a sense of importance in my mind as I write on here. I feel like I'm publishing something - which I kind of am - but - it's not like anyone has to or ever will read it. It truly doesn't make me important or special to blog, and yet, I am tricked into thinking it is so.

In Neil Postman's book, Amusing Ourselves To Death, he talks about how the medium is the message. Simply put - certain medium's of communication have certain bits of information they most easily communicate - and over time - what is easiest to communicate will become what is found to be important. For instance - smoke signals - they were never used to debate philosophy or theology. Television is made for entertainment (other things can be done, but ultimately, it all ends up being about entertainment).

SO - what does a blog do? I don't know. I lack answers. I'm most fascinated by them and have wanted to write one for quite a while. How do blogs affect relationships? Are we more honest because we feel a bit safe? They are definitely shaping politics and culture. How will they shape youth ministry.

By the way - I'm hoping to get our youth website up and running soon. I'm excited about it. I want it to be worthwhile and used. If you have ideas, let me know.

I have been pondering Mark 6 today (I guess in blogs we just ramble - and it doesn't matter if it connects at all - hmmmm). I've read it so many times - but it makes so much more sense today. From the disciples being sent out to do ministry - to John the Baptist beheaded - to Jesus telling the disciples that they should go rest now that they've all come back from ministering, to not getting any rest - to feeding the 5000 - to Jesus going alone to pray while the disciples are in the boat - to their hard hearts having learned nothing from the feeding of the 5000. The flow of the context is interesting. That I might become more like Christ - wow!! Amazing.

I would LOVE to hear from all y'all - or at least some of you.

This fascinates me!!!