Wednesday, March 29, 2006

My Busy Life

It's been crazy lately and I've been pretty consumed. We're really looking hard for a mini-van. I thought we had one last night, but I bid a couple seconds too late. My dial-up must have affected my timing. God is sovereign. I need to make sure I'm not in a hurry. My father-in-law and pastor are emailing me all sorts of links to vehicles. We want a toyota sienna - reliabilty (or possibly a Honda Odyssey).

The marriage conference at our church is wonderful. Pastor Terry Baxter is doing a great job. He is so easy to listen to. I've thoroughly enjoyed it.

Rosebud - the initial deposit and forms are due today. I'm excited, but a bit worried. I shouldn't be. I know God is in control. It just seems that so many people are too busy. I need to trust God to work in whoever He wants to work in.

We were able to use our bed and breakfast gift from the church (over a year ago - it was given) last weekend. It was so nice - and we were the only ones there. Thank God for a great weekend.

That's a simple update. I'm excited for our first Rosebud Meeting tonight!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

God is GOOD... All the Time

Have you ever had a teacher who couldn't teach their way out of a wet paper bag? Unfortunately, most of us have. I had one such teacher. The ironic part of it was that he actually taught teaching classes. Though he wasn't much for teaching, he was one of those men whose godliness oozed out of every pore. His humility and love for God were evident in everything and you couldn't help but respect him.

I remember one day after finishing lunch, I walked into that teachers class, sat down, and heard someon say to a friend as he walked in the door, "I aced that New Testament test. God is so good."

Our teacher stopped him and asked a simple question. "Would God be just as good if you'd failed that test?" I heard that question asked a lot by that teacher. I could tell you stories of his love for God and how he died of cancer and his response to getting cancer. But that's for another day.

I want to share with you a blessing of God upon my life. I was just called and told that an anonymous donor had put some money in the bank to go towards buying a van (which we are in the process of doing). God is good. Of course, obviously, God was good before this money and would be good if we hadn't received it. God is providing in so many mysterious ways.

Let his goodness lead you back to repentence (loose rendition of Romans 2:3-4ish). Let his goodness lead you to worship.

By the way, that prof also said so often that we don't have to make the Bible relevant. We can't. It IS relevant - we just have to see that relevance.

In light of that - How have you noticed God's goodness lately?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Judgmentalism and the Church

I came across this on the Church and judgmentalism (don't confuse this with making judgments, which all of us do - even though many never verbalize them - but that's another issue). I found it at...

Prodigal Son Story (Luke 15:10-32):
"You remember the story…there’s a great contrast between the way in which the father received the prodigal and the way in which his older brother reacted. In the book, Ogilvie raises a, “What if?” question. What if, on his way back home, the prodigal had met his older brother before meeting his father?

Ogilvie then writes words that challenge me deeply…

“…imagine what might have happened if the returning son had met his older brother on the way, before receiving the loving embrace of the father. The younger son would have never made it home. Living as a starving slave in a pigsty would be better than being starved for love and acceptance with his brother. It sets our imagination racing. How many needy people never make it back to the Father’s heart because of us elder brothers in the church…? If being at home with the Father means constantly contending with the self-righteous, judgmentalism of …indignant attitudes and words from our elder brothers, many would rather go back or stay away. Christian fellowship can so easily be turned into a house of judgment instead of grace…Has anyone gone back to the far country because he or she met us first?”

Monday, March 20, 2006

3 Statements

These are borrowed from Tony Campolo. I write this because I was reminded of it yesterday and because it's convicting.

1. Thousands and thousands of people on their way to hell die each day.
2. You don't give a damn about it.
3. You are more concerned that I said the word "damn" than you are for those people going to hell.

I was a part of a conversation where someone was kind of getting chewed out over a minor issue of method - an issue that couldn't even be agreed upon as to whether it was wrong or right. But the irony of it was that the purpose behind what had happened was huge - big - life changing. But the argument and energy all focused on a minor method issue.

I am so guilty too. I often get wrapped up in small details instead of being consumed with Christ.

How about you?

Rosebud & The Face Of Jesus (republished)

I wanted to post this again.

Lyrics from "What now?" by S.C. Chapman

I saw the face of Jesus in a little orphan girl
She was standing in the corner on the other side of the world
And I heard the voice of Jesus gently whisper to my heart
Didn't you say you wanted to find me?
Well, here I am, here you are

So, What now? What will you do now that you found Me?
What now?What will you do with this treasure you've found?
I know I may not look like what you expected
But if you'll remember this is right where I said I would be
You've found me. What now?

Thanks Deb for hooking me up with this. It's grabbing my heart.

Matthew 25 (English Standard Version)
The Final Judgment
31"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' 37Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' 40And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[f] you did it to me.'

41"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' 44Then they also will answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?' 45Then he will answer them, saying, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' 46And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

May God help us feed and clothe the least of these on this trip to the Rosebud. I pray too that God will grab students' hearts to go there.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Accountability (Life Raft Lesson)

I taught on accountability last night. I could tell that some people were doing serious thinking. I pray they take action (starting with prayer) on this.

Here are some Bible References:
Proverbs 27:17
Hebrews 10:35
Ecclesiastes 4:12
Hebrews 3:13
Galatians 6:1-2
1Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Here are some questions you may want to use - I have many more. Or you can Google it.

1. Have you been spending consistent time with God this week? In his Word? In prayer? What are you praying about at this time?

2.How has the Holy Spirit been speaking to you recently?

3.Is there something in your life which God is asking you to do, but you just haven't obeyed yet?

4.Are you struggling with any areas of temptation/sin? Sins of the tongue or eyes, sexual temptation, dishonesty, integrity, work ethic, etc. etc.

5.Go through all of your relationships: immediate family, other cell members, co-workers, extended family, and all other associates. Are there any unresolved issues between you and any other person? Do you know of anyone who holds a grudge against you? Do you hold a grudge against anyone else?

6.Do you have any un-confessed sin in your life? Has God been bringing a past event to your mind recently, which you need to make right?

7.Are you experiencing or feeling a lot of the following: Fear, Guilt, Selfishness, Grumpiness, Anger, Sadness, or Pride?

8.Where are you financially right now? Are things under control? Are you burdened with too much debt? Do you have a budget? Are you tithing?

9.Where are you serving? Are you using the gifts and abilities God gave you to advance his kingdom and build up his church?

10.Have you spent time with a non-Christian this past month?



Boy Feed Girl

We did our annual Boy Feed Girl event on Sunday Night. I'm not sure where it ranks - definitely top 3 (we've only done 3). Our students did more work this time than other times - and that was largely successful.

We ended up going with a French Cafe theme. We did it at Crossroads (Thanks Maureen and Crossroads) in Goldfield. We set up all afternoon on Sunday. It was an interesting Challenge - the oven didn't work, there wasn't the room we thought we'd have in the Kitchen, there was more prep work than we expected, some food items couldn't be found. But... God provided.

Set up was fun and unique. We (Jared is actually the man) managed to make a wall by tying a string from a post and then to a pen, and then duct-taping the heck out of the pen to get it to stay on the wall. Then we hung many long strips of paper over the string. It was unique.

Many highlights: Coffee Shop - PJ did an incredible job (working his way through college paid off); Eiffel Tower photos; Berets; Chocolate fountain; great skits; gross skits; some good food;

I felt a bit bad because I think the actors go the "props" but the decorators did a ton of work. Andy especially did lots of work before the night. Tyler did a great job running errands and being patient. Justin, who was exhausted, didn't show it. Thanks for the pictures, Doug. I shouldn't have started naming people - cause I've left some of you guys out. It was definitely a team effort (thanks Kyle, Cary, Ryan (Keebs), and anyone else I missed). We love you girls we got to serve. It was a privilege.

What was your favorite part? Do you think the girls can keep up?

G. K. Chesterton - Great Quotes

G. K. Chesterton - that English man - a Catholic, a writer, a thinker - and I think a man who wielded a pen (in English) better than any man alive or dead (sorry to all of you who love Shakespeare or whoever). I believe he was C. S. Lewis' favorite author and I know Ravi Zacharias quotes him as much or more than anyone.

Here are some of the many incredible quotes he's put out there. They make me think. Wow. Sorry that not all the quotes are cited - but they would be easy enough to find - google them.

  • If there were no God, there would be no Atheists.
  • Don't ever take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up.
  • Art, like morality, consists of drawing the line somewhere.
  • I believe in getting into hot water; it keeps you clean.
  • "A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it." - Everlasting Man, 1925
  • Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.
  • "Impartiality is a pompous name for indifference, which is an elegant name for ignorance." - The Speaker, 12/15/00
  • "The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried." - Chapter 5, What's Wrong With The World, 1910
  • "It is terrible to contemplate how few politicians are hanged." - The Cleveland Press, 3/1/21
  • There is a great deal of difference between an eager man who wants to read a book and the tired man who wants a book to read.
  • I say that a man must be certain of his morality for the simple reason that he has to suffer for it.
  • "There is a corollary to the conception of being too proud to fight. It is that the humble have to do most of the fighting." - Everlasting Man, 1925
  • "The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him." - ILN, 1/14/11
  • Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.
  • The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people.

Monday, March 13, 2006

The PCA, ordination, and the millennium

With the many issues facing the EFCA with their potential revision of the SOF (Statement of Faith), I decided to write the PCA and ask them what their position was on ordaining pastors that are premillennial. Here are a couple quotes.

"The PCA does not believe that the pre-tribulation/pre-millennial (sometimes referred to as Dispensationalism) position is consistent with the view of the covenant presented in the Westminster Standards and will not ordain a man who holds this position."

As far as other Presbyterian denominations and their stance, I certainly cannot speak for them, but I would imagine their position is similar to the PCA"

Just as they have a stance on eschatology, I'm glad we do (did) too. We can still work with them and be us.

Variety Show

Every year the music department (especially the choir department, although it seems there is always one band ensemble and some jazz band stuff) in Eagle Grove puts on a Variety Show. As usual, they provided variety. The Emcees were better than normal. There were some very fun numbers.

This year a couple girls from youth group sang and asked our "band" (those of us that play at youth group) to play for them. It was fun practicing, though busy, and we were ready for the big night. We didn't realize that some plugins had changed since the first night and so we got up on stage, behind the curtain, and were frantically trying to fix our problems - which didn't get fixed then (so we played without the electric guitar and bass). We fixed the problems during intermission and our second song went well. We even got to play it in church on Sunday morning (the loudest an electric guitar has been in our church on a Sunday morning).

I wish I had pictures to put up from the night. Maybe I'll get some (hint to all of you who went and took pictures.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Confession & Music

For quite a few years I've had a pretty strong desire to lead worship - not just on the side in spare time, but even as a full time job. I absolutely love playing guitar, learning to play new songs, thinking about what song worship is, how to do it, etc. I enjoy improving on the guitar and would love to devote much more time to music.

I suppose that isn't a big confession. I've never really stated that before - before this past Sunday night when I said it to my wife. I guess there's always been a sense of guilt with it or a sense of pride. Guilt - I find too much pleasure in it; maybe that it's not fitting for me to do that (I love to teach and love theology - which I know do or should play a huge part in songs). Pride - I think I'll become proud much too easily; Similar to guilt - I'm not sure I've been called to that - I really love to teach. Also on the pride side - I realize that my musical abilities are incredibly small compared to music majors - from theory, to guitar, and especially to voice - I have a lot to learn (though I know more than the average guitar hacker). That also makes me feel absolutely incompetent.

So I'm saying it - I do have a passion for leading song worship. I really do. I love it. I love preparing for it. I think on it often.

I don't have any great thoughts as to how that affects my future. I do believe that God has called me to "full-time ministry" - but what that is for the future, I have no idea. I'm sure my simple (and they are very simple) musical abilities will be used in what happens, but I really have no idea how much.

I continue to pray to God - here I am. Use me however you want to. You have known all along that I love singing songs of praise to you. Take that for your glory, along with my other gifts and talents - and even my weaknesses. Amen

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

My Heart Is Full

My heart and mind are full after a very unique District Conference. The conference itself was not overly wonderful for me. I enjoyed the pastor (saw parts of James 1 in a new light - it's one of those passages I had to memorize at camp and have always loved - but there were parts he really opened up well). The debate over the SOF was gracious enough. I'm still against the big revision, especially the amill stuff (more some later time).

Time with my wife was wonderful. We had some good time together - and one of the highlights was the ride home. I so enjoyed my time with friends. I am blessed to have the youth pastor network we have here. God is sharpening me with those friends - and others.

Tony Jones, the spokesperson for the Emergent Church, talked to the youth pastors Monday morning for 3 hours. For an overview of what was said, check out Matt's blog ( I'm going to respond to what I thought was heretical some time (Matt wasn't heretical, Tony was - and that's my opinion). I did appreciate the humility, love for God, and the way he made me think. Here is a kind of quote (not perfectly quoted, but basic idea is right) "A disciple is someone who follows Christ, not just someone who merely gives mental ascent to certain doctrines." It reminds me of my blog on ROSEBUD AND THE FACE OF JESUS. One of the great tests of whether or not one knows Jesus is found in how we treat the "least of these". I'm thankful for what was said - though I wouldn't have recommended him coming and still don't. I have many, many objections. I'll get to those sometime too. I am going to write him and thank him for sharing.

The Caedmon's Call concert was great (only negative was too many other artists). I love Caedmon's theology, humility, accoustic guitar, and heart. They are my favorite - and that was made more true last night. There are many bands I don't want to see in concert because I'm afraid I'll be greatly disappointed. I just got Caedmon's CD for free (worship leaders can at their site). I love it.

At the concert they promoted Compassion International - more than I've ever seen it promoted. I have a strong desire to adopt some day. I think adopting a compassion child may be a step in that direction. Right now we don't think we have the funds so we're going to join my brother by praying for his compassion child (this will be a family project).

Speaking of adoption, Benjamin was adopted by God on Sunday. It's an amazing thing (I'll have to write about it on here soon). As I was thinking about adopting these compassion children, I couldn't help but think - what if that was Benjamin? And then I began to think about the fact that God has adopted me - and adopted Benjamin. What an amazing thought. I can't get over it. I cried a lot last night. I thought a lot about God's grace and goodness and mercy and was just overwhelmed.

I haven't adequately put down my thoughts. Anyway - these are some of what has been going on in my life and mind lately.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Update from the Central Districe Conference (EFCA)

We're (PJ and wife and me and my wife) at the Evangelical Free Church Central District Conference and enjoying it. It's a busy and long day, but good.

The day started off with a youth minstry thing. Toby Jones, of the emergent Church, spoke to us (had a "conversation" with us). He talked about postmodernism and it's view of truth - if you can say it has one. I do appreciate their humility on knowledge, their thirst for God and His Word (though unique), their desire for authenticity and holistic ministry, their emphasis on community, and just that they make me think. While I disagree with them in many ways and on many levels, I enjoyed the morning.

I walked in planning on saying nothing - no questions. I think that was foolish. I can't take that approach and leave it up to others to do. If God lays it on me, then I need to speak up (not profound, but important for me to think on).

The presentation of the revised Evangelical Free Church (EFCA) Statement of Faith (SOF) was basically a reading of the info posted on the web. I look forward to tomorrow morning when it is discussed in much greater detail and length. I pray mostly for great grace.

I still am against this full rewrite. Simply put from my foolish, ignorant, and simplistic point of view - some small things could be changed, God's Gospel is a bad choice, if you are amill and want to preach - join a different church, don't address hot-button issues in the SOF (or you'll rewrite it again soon - address them in other ways), and...

It's nice to be away from my kids for a couple days and with my wife. But I sure do miss them. Let me know you visited this blog.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Muslims and Justin's Teaching

Justin is doing a fantastic job. For those of you there, I hope you're learning. I hope at least some of you are looking up more on the verses listed in your spare time.

Know that even though it may seem that Justin talked about a lot of different aspects of theology, he actually barely scratched the surface. I think most of you learned some aspects of God's character you maybe didn't know before last night. And even though he mentioned many aspects, let me tell you a few he didn't even tough on (for the sake of time and simplicity - not because he forgot or didn't know). Goodness, Forbearance (patience or long-suffering), Mercy, Grace, Kindness to name a few.

And within each character of God that he gave, so much more could be said. One example - on Holiness. When we speak of God's holiness, as Justin said, we are speaking of him being separate from sin (negative side) and also pure (postive side). That's only a small aspect of holiness. Two other simple points to add (though there is so much more to add) to the topic of God's holiness.

1. The root defintion has to do with being set apart. And a key aspect of God being holy is that He is absolutely other - absolutely not like us - His "otherness". We cannot theologically say that God is "so" good, or "so" loving. That has the idea that his goodness is just ours times a lot or that his love is just a lot bigger than ours. But in actuality, his love is wholly other than ours (an example of that. When Tim loves person B, and person B refuses to love Tim, Tim hurts - because Tim has lost something; When God loves person B, and person B refuses to love God, God hurts - but not because God has lost something, but because person B has lost something; again - this is a small example of God's otherness relating to His love.

2. When we speak of God being holy - and this highly relates to the first point - His holiness relates to his attributes. His love is a holy love. His grace is a holy grace. His justice is a holy justice.

These two points overlap and I probably moved from the first point to the second in my first point. But - for now, it's good enough for me.

I hope you take time to look through some references and really think about how great is our God. Look up verses. Share with others what you are learning. Write down questions (even on here). Talk to me - or talk to Justin. Talk to your friends.