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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

April's Simply Jr High Newsletter


I just finished reading and laughing through the latest installment of Group's "Simply Jr High Newsletter." And seriously... laughing... I laughed outloud at almost every article. And I'm not saying that because I'm getting paid for the endorsement, I'm still not. (I offered that as a suggestion the last time that I blogged about this, but nobody at Group has contacted me yet... come on Kurt!)

But really... it is good. In fact, I made a copy of one of the articles to pass along to my middle school boys' small group leader because it's exactly what he needs to hear. If you want to get this for yourself, check it out HERE.

This month they cleaned up the look of it a bit and made it a little cleaner. They also added a few new features and a few more voices. It's really solid. Check it out. It really is good and I wouldn't lie to you (I'm not being paid to...)!

Jim

FVCC hosts Downhere in Batavia, May 18th!!!


FVCC is looking forward to hosting Downhere in concert here on May 18th!

The show will begin at 6 pm on that Sunday night. FVCC's Worship Team will be opening and it should be a great show.

Tickets are on sale now and they are only $5 in advance or $7 at the door. To order tickets, call the church office at 630.208.8484.

And hopefully there won't be a surprise appearance by the Elburn Fire Dept this year...

Jim

Olers in Kenya???!!!

We've got an incredible family as part of the FVCC family... the Olers! They have a high schooler in our group and they are incredible people (and I'm not just saying that because Sandy is probably reading my blog... they really are).

This summer, the Olers are going Kenya!!

FVCC supports the Crums, who are missionaries to Kenya. I had the chance to meet the Crums recently and they are great as well.

Well, this summer, the Olers are going over for several weeks to spend some time in Kenya with the Crums. It will be a once-in-a-lifetime trip for sure (as someone who has been to Africa, I can attest to that). But Sandy has start a blog to post pictures and updates on. You can find it HERE. I'll also add a link to my link section to the left so that you can easily find it from here if you would like.

I added the address to my reader and will be looking forward to updates and pictures!!!

Jim

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Busy busy...

If you're a regular here, you'll probably recognize that the posts have been less and less lately. Recently I said that it might get quiet around here. Well, it officially has.

I am in the final week sprint to finishing the semester. This afternoon, I knocked off my next to last project (6 articles from magazines and journals for Modern Church History). And I'm moving on to my final project, a 12-15 page paper on the Muslim understanding of 'jinn.'

So... all of that to say this, it will likely be quiet around here for the next week or so aside from a few quick posts and some "Twitter" updates. In fact, if you really want to know what I'm up to on a regular basis this week and beyond, check out the Twitter feed.

Otherwise I'm return to my rampant posting on May 7th.

Only 6 more days to go... Ugh!

Jim

Monday, April 28, 2008

Jackie hanging with Zoe

Jackie hanging on the couch with Zoe... So cute!!

Josh's 3000 post contest...

Josh Griffin... one of my buddies at Saddleback in California who is now the high school pastor (with no interim) is having a 3000 post contest on his blog. Check it out HERE. He's giving away some sweet prizes... especially if you're a youth worker.

So, bounce on over HERE and check it out. Comment and you might win!!!

Jim

Saturday, April 26, 2008

AT&T at Starbucks!!!

Starbucks made good on it's promise to make its Wifi available to AT&T internet customers.

I noticed the other day when I was at Starbucks that there was an option for AT&T customers. So I looked up my username and password and sure enough, works like a charm. Good deal Starbucks.

Check out a story from Engadget HERE.

Now, down to this Pike Place, chocolate banana coffeecake and some work.


bowling, turkeys and Lincoln today...

We had a really great 30 hour famine with the middle schoolers last night. They are rookies and some of them were whining pretty hardcore by the time of eating. But most of them were soldiers until the end. It was fun.

We also went bowling as you saw from a previous pic. I haven't bowled in likely 2 years. But it was fun. In fact, my first game I bowled a 172 with a turkey in the last frame (3 strikes in a row). Fun!

But right now, I'm up getting ready for class today down in Lincoln. Ugh! I'm really looking forward to the semester being over. 10 more days!!!

Friday, April 25, 2008

30 hour famine bowling

A little bowling action for 30 hour famine!!! Sweet!!

Master Mentor #34

This is the final post in Mere Christianity. I am planning to jump directly (in the next 5 minutes) into Screwtape Letters as I work to fulfill my requirement for my church history class. I will however be holding those posts off and posting 2 or 3 a day so that they don't become so overwhelming that that's all that's going on here on my blog (for those of you who are my faithful readers but have been enduring the "CS Lewis-athon" that I have been working on lately.

So, look for Screwtape Letters postings beginning maybe tonight but coming rather at the pace of two or three a day rather than 8 or 10 a day.

Now... enjoy Master Mentor #34...
-------------
Chapter 33 (Book 4, Chapter 11)
As I wrap up Mere Christianity today, I think one of the things that I appreciated about CS’s writing in this book is that he never quoted a Scripture. Now, that might sound strange. But I’ve read so many books, good books defending the Christian life, but rather than arguing and presenting a solid case, the author threw out some half-baked notions (most of which were fully true… but not very well presented) and then they grabbed a Bible, Logos program or some other Bible software program and pulled out some Scripture to “back up” what the author already knew to be true.
Now, I’m not saying that the Bible can’t defend itself or that we shouldn’t go to the Bible for answers… especially to questions that are difficult. But in Mere Christianity, CS argued consistently, and forcefully in my opinion, in the direction of a life and relationship with Christ and God Almighty but without “beating people over the head” with the Bible or this verse or that verse. I kept waiting for it. I kept waiting for him to break out the Bible, quote some passages and point out what the Scriptures say but he didn’t do that.
Interesting.
In this final chapter, CS lays out what he sees as the “new man” who is already walking the earth. This man (or woman… at least I assume that CS is using the word “man” in the generic person sense) is someone who has been radically changed in a new direction by the powerful example and sacrifice of Christ. And this man has been completely swallowed up in Christ and has found his new identity in Him and Him alone.
This has been a good book. I think the last couple of chapters would have been easy to skip. But I’m glad that I didn’t. Like most of the chapters in this book, CS saved some of his best stuff for the last couple of sentences.

Jim

Kia Spotage Pump Chase

This video is how I've been feeling the last couple of weeks and will continue to feel as the semester winds down...

Run boy run... school's gonna get ya boy... run boy run...

Jim

Check it out HERE

Master Mentor #33

Chapter 32 (Book 4, Chapter 10)
There is one thing about the human and being human that I really like… but at the same time, it also really scares me. CS talks about it in this chapter. It is the reality that no one really knows what is going on inside of a man or woman other than God and that particular person. And it’s a scary thought because I know or at least I feel like I have a pretty good idea of what’s going on inside of my head. And I’m pretty sure that God has an idea as well… in fact, he may have the most complete view of anyone. But I am grateful… many days… that others don’t see what I see inside my own head.
Today, CS talks about the difference between someone who has no relationship with God but yet seems to be nice and respectable and someone who is mean and nasty and claims to have that relationship with God. Basically, CS reminds us that it’s not our job to judge. We don’t know truly what is going on with someone else. But just because someone seems nice doesn’t mean that they don’t need a relationship with Christ. Sometimes these are the hardest to convince that they do need a relationship with him.

Jim

April 24th... Air-Conditioning???

I know this may come as a shock to some of you from around the country, but in the Chicagoland area we have several months out of the year when we have to use the furnace to survive... not because it's 50 degrees... but because it's 5 degrees.

Well, tonight... and I don't know what the date was last year or even if I marked it... but tonight, for a few minutes we turned on the Air-Conditioner. It's April 24th!!! But it was stinkin' hot in the apartment. And when you're tired, sleepy and worn out from the day... anything that keeps me going at this point (like a little fresh AC) is a good thing.

We ran it for a bit... then shut it off... don't want to burn too much electricity!!!

Jim

Master Mentor #32

Chapter 31 (Book 4, Chapter 9)
Wow! What a great chapter!!!
Over the last couple of weeks, what usually happens to me as I wind down a book is happening with this one: I’m looking forward to being done and moving onto the next book. But this chapter, this chapter was so wonderful in its richness and simplicity.
CS says this:
“The practical upshot is this. On the one hand, God’s demand for perfection need not discourage you in the least in your present attempts to be good, or even in your present failures. Each time you fall He will pick you up again. And He knows perfectly well that your own efforts are never going to bring you anywhere near perfection. On the other hand, you must realize from the outset that the goal towards which He is beginning to guide you is absolute perfection; and no power in the whole universe, except yourself, can prevent Him from taking you to that goal” (page 174).
CS does such a great job, in my opinion of walking that fine line between free will and predestination that plagues so many people. God is the only one who can do it in your life. But no one can stop you or force you to do it unless you desire in your heart to make it happen. Two very different attitudes there side by side in harmony with each other.
The interesting thing about this chapter is that CS is writing in terms of “whole life change.” Many people come to church because they are hoping that Jesus will ‘fix’ them or at least some aspect of their life that they seem to think is ‘broken.’ I see this all the time with students and parents in our student ministry. There are some parents who ‘drop off their students’ in hopes that we will ‘fix them up with Jesus’ and they can pick them up at graduation. But they don’t want the whole car ‘overhauled.’ They don’t want fanatic students who are completely in love with Jesus. Instead, they want students who clean their rooms, do their homework and take out the trash when asked. CS goes on to say, “I think that many of us, when Christ has enabled us to overcome one or two sins that were an obvious nuisance, are inclined to feel (though we do not put it into words) that we are now good enough” (page 175). Or at least we are better than some ‘others.’
That’s not God’s plan. That’s not what Jesus wants to do in our lives. He wants to begin in us that perfection that he will carry through into eternity. In fact, as we saw in the last chapter, God wants to create in us “little Christs” as we work our way toward the perfection that God has in mind for us. Man, what a great chapter!!!

Jim

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Master Mentor #31

Chapter 30 (Book 4, Chapter 8)
I’m reading several books at the same time… aside from even my seminary books. This is a bad habit that I seem to have… starting several books all at the same time. It seems easy enough. Most books draw you in by nature. But then I find myself reading many… too many.
One that I have started recently is called “Simple Church.” It is a book written by “church growth experts” both by category and by self-proclamation. Although they are not talking about a new style of doing church, rather they are talking about doing a different style of church. This style appeals to me. Part of the idea here is that the church should be about one thing… and all of the ‘things’ that the church does should feed into that one thing. And that one thing should be making disciples. All other programs, directions or focuses need to be dropped and the current structure needs to be simplified so that people know what is expected of them next and they naturally ‘move’ in that direction.
Then I’m reading CS today. And he says this: “In the same way the Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became man for no other purpose” (page 171). It seems that CS may have beat the Simple Church authors to the punch. He is talking about whether or not it is difficult to be a Christian and at the same time claiming that it is both difficult and easy. But he is saying that the sole purpose of the church… the sole purpose of the Christian… is to become a little Christ. How incredibly simple. And yet so incredibly difficult.

Jim

Middle School 30 Hour Famine!!

We've got an incredible group of 16 middle schoolers doing the 30 Hour Famine for World Vision starting... about 2 minutes ago!!!

Way to go Middle Schoolers!!!
30 hours from now, you'll feel so incredible!!!

Jim

5:21 am...

I've got 30 pages to finish this book... I'm betting that I can get it finished and maybe start on the review before work. At least that's the goal...

Jim

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Cubs win their 10,000th!!!


I'm sleep deprived... for sure... but that's my M.O. for the next two weeks. But tonight, as I read, I carefully kept an eye on the Cubs' game.

About 10 pm, I gave up the reading for the game. Only to be blessed to see a bit of history tonight as the Cubs won their 10,000th game in the 10th inning 7-6 over the Rockies.

Way to go Cubbies!!!

Only the Giants have more wins currently than the Cubs. Good deal! (Check out the full story HERE on MLB.com.)

Jim

10:04 pm...

My eyes are sore...

I've knocked off 114 today... 64 this morning and another 50 pages tonight. My eyes are sore but I've got another 34 pages to knock out tomorrow and then a short 2-3 page reflection paper.

Jim

4:17 am...

It's 4:17 am...

I'm up... And getting ready to spend some time reading... Ugh!!!

But hopefully I can knock out 75 to 100 pages before I have to get ready for work.

Jim


8:02 am Edit: I read 64 pages this morning in 2 1/2 hours. That's about 2 1/2 minute a page... Not too shabby as compared to before...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Color Song - David Crowder Band

This is a pretty great video for a really great song. This is classic Crowder stuff and it's great. Check it out.

Jim

View it HERE if you need to.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Long day... good movie... great sandwich...

I got home tonight from church...

It's been a long day... but a good day. The wedding yesterday just about wore me out. By my wife surprised me with hot ham and cheese sandwiches (it's the little things in life). I pulled up a piece of couch to eat. In flipping channels, I landed on the last 15 minutes of Napoleon Dynamite.

I need to watch this movie again.

Now, on to the studying!

Jim

Lunch with the Bride and Groom...


I was so surprised this morning.

Last night as Jackie and I left the wedding, I said to Todd, "Give me a call when you get back into town." This morning, I switched my phone on after church only to find a voicemail from the bride herself... Mrs. Andi Reffett. It was an invitation to come over for lunch and the gift opening.

It turned out to be a really great deal. We had some sandwiches and cake, which was awesome! They opened some presents. We spent some time with them and their families. They are headed out for Mexico for a couple of weeks for their honeymoon. But it was good to hang out with them one more time before they take off. Just very unexpected!

Jim

By the way... I borrowed the picture above from Natalie Brook's facebook page. She took this picture from right behind me and it was 'way' better than the one that I had. Thanks Natalie (not that she'll ever see this message).

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Mr and Mrs Todd Reffett

Here is about the best that I could do from my phone. But here's a
picture of the newly married Mr and Mrs Todd and Andi Reffett!!

Master Mentor #30

Chapter 29 (Book 4, Chapter 7)
CS lays out a pretty good picture of the Christian life in this chapter. He begins to laying out two examples which make perfect sense by the time you finish reading this chapter. He lays out the story of Beauty and Beast in which after the girl finally kisses the Beast, she finds out that is indeed a very handsome man. The second story is one that I am not familiar with, but one in which a man wears a mask of a beautiful face, only to take the mask off and discover that his face has grown to match the mask and now he is beautiful as well.

In this chapter, CS lays out the idea that if we truly want to become all that God and Christ want us to be, we need to begin to pretend that we are and act that way. And the hope and plan is that as we do it, though hard at first, we will find becomes easier and easier as we go and we have become more and more like that which we are pretending to be.

It’s always amazing to me how my attitude affects the outcome in so many ways. There are many nights when I walk into church with a bad attitude or at least an attitude that is not looking forward to the night or is not excited by the night, only to walk out disappointed because the night wasn’t “effective” or “exciting.” But in reality, that’s exactly what I expected and that’s exactly what I got. But there have been times when walking in, I’ve thought to myself: “This is going to be incredible” and then it is. Not because of anything that I particularly did to help it. But because my outlook and attitude on the matter is different. It’s easy to be negative. Often what I find when I am negative is that other things around me seem such much more negative. But if with a positive outlook, I go in often things end up more positive.

Take for example… at the beginning of the year, I made it a goal for this year… 2008… to try to be less negative. I can just about at any time in my day find something to growl about. I tried to make an effort to not growl about those things, even if I felt negative about them or felt like growling about them. It was interesting to me that overall, as time when on, I felt less like growling about those things that we going “wrong” (in my opinion) in my life. That’s the power of having a positive outlook.

The same is true, I think, in my spiritual life. The more I “pretend” (CS’s language here) like I am a Son (again… CS’ language, not mine), the more like a Son I begin to act. That’s good advice. And I think that’s a good picture that we can all work towards.

Jim

Friday, April 18, 2008

Rory newbrough plays the chicken dance

Rory newbrough plays the chicken dance...

Rory on drums

I went to Rory's jazz concert tonight... Here's Rory on drums!!

New Series this weekend... Promises, Promises

This weekend we are launching a new series with our students called "Promises, Promises." It's a four-week series looking at:

Week 1: Peace in the midst of a stressful and out of control world... Matthew 11:28.

Week 2: Connection in the midst of disconnection and loneliness... Joshua 1:9.

Week 3: Forgiveness in the midst of mistakes and mess-ups... Isaiah 1:18.

Week 4: Foundation in the midst of an ever changing and random world... Isaiah 43:1-3.

This should be a fun series!! I'm looking forward to kicking it off this weekend!

Jim

I guess I slept through my first earthquake...

A couple of years ago, Jackie and I were out at her Aunt and Uncle's in California, east of San Francisco (an incredible, incredible place to be). In their guest bathroom, they have a decoration on the wall of an "earthquake handle." The instructions are simple, "Hold until it stops." When I first saw that about 5 years ago, I thought to myself and commented to Jackie that I would like to experience an earthquake just once.

I guess this morning, I would have had a shot... but I was asleep. In fact I didn't even know that anything had happened until my mom emailed me.

But according to THIS article on Fox News, it was felt in the Chicago area:
"A 5.2-magnitude earthquake centered in southern Illinois rattled homes and skyscrapers across the Midwest early Friday, causing little damage but surprising residents unaccustomed to such a powerful temblor."
"The quake — one of the strongest ever recorded in Illinois — occurred just before 4:37 a.m. and was centered six miles southeast of West Salem, Ill., and 45 miles west of Evansville, Ind. Initially pegged as a 5.4 earthquake, the U.S. Geological Survey revised its estimate to give it a value of 5.2."
"The quake shook skyscrapers in Chicago's Loop, 230 miles north of the epicenter, and in downtown Indianapolis, about 160 miles northeast of the epicenter."

No damage was reported at the Clark resident in St. Charles.
I guess I had my chance and I'll have to wait for the next one...

Jim

Master Mentor #29

Chapter 28 (Book 4, Chapter 6)
This chapter is a fairly simple chapter. In fact, there isn’t too much new information or much of anything to wrestle with in this chapter. This chapter is primarily a reaction to a couple of possible objections from the previous chapter.

First, in the previous chapter, CS talked about turning “toy soldiers” (i.e. humans) into “real boys” (i.e. Christians) though what Jesus did on the cross. He went on to answer the question that might arise (or did, I don’t know) as to why God didn’t just create “real boys” or make all of us into Sons of God. For which, he gave two answers. The first of which I understand, the second I struggled with a bit. The first is because he gave us free will and wanted us to have the opportunity to choose. The second is because is a matter of begetting and creating that I really didn’t get.

Second, he talked in a previous chapter how the whole human race is connected together and growing as one almost like a tree (we are connected to our parents and are a part of them, they are connected to our grandparents and part of them and so on until it is like one huge organism. In this clarification, he noted even though on one level that is true. We are all different and on one level need to remain different because that is how we were created. We are part of the whole, but we are different and have different functions.

As CS begins to wind down Mere Christianity, I am beginning to look forward to starting Screwtape Letters. It should be interesting.

Jim

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Master Mentor #28

Chapter 27 (Book 4, Chapter 5)
Every once in a while, I find myself face to face with the reality of who I am and who Jesus is and what He has done for me. While reading this chapter tonight, that’s where I am. It’s easy, I think, to sit and speculate about Jesus’ teaching style or how he lead his disciples, to read about his actions and words and determine the meanings of both. But if he hadn’t done anything else… no healings… no teachings… no miracles… none of that… but just came and died on the cross for our sins, I think that I would still be in amazement of that.

Its hard not to read this chapter about Jesus coming to this planet… in the context of a conversation about a child’s toy soldiers coming to life… and not think about Philippians 2… “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being found in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:5-11, NIV). Those are powerful, powerful verses… “emptied”… “humbled”… “obedient”… Hard to imagine what he gave up to come down here and be one of us, one of his creation.
Especially knowing what he was going to have to endure. That’s where I come back around to amazement and wonder. That Jesus would be willing to do that… willing. It would have one thing to have been commanded. There are things that I do in my life not because I want to, but because I have to (most of them end with the word “meeting”). I don’t want to do them but I don’t have any other choice. But in this situation, Jesus had a choice. And he choose to come. I wonder what other ideas Jesus and God entertained before his coming… if any.

But yet, he was willing to come. As CS says… “The Second Person in God, the Son, became human Himself: was born into the world as an actual man – a real man of a particular height, with hair of a particular colour, speaking a particular language, weighing so many stone” (page 156). Wow!


Jim

Master Mentor #27

Chapter 26 (Book 4, Chapter 5)
CS turns to the very complicated subject of the Trinity in this chapter. His argument is somewhat difficult to grasp… as most explanations of the Trinity tend to be.

Recently I asked a group of our high school students this question, “What do you believe about the Holy Spirit?” The question was asked in an open-discussion forum in our student ministry. Part of the purpose of the time is to talk about some of those complicated questions of the Christian faith without much of an agenda in an effort to allow students to have the opportunity to defend what they believe in a public setting. The answers were interesting. They ranged somewhere on the scale between “Casper the Friendly Ghost” and a mysterious form of God. But they really weren’t sure how to describe Him or what exactly what His function. It would seem that they were reading CS Lewis in this chapter. In describing the Holy Spirit, CS says, that “this third Person is called, in technical language, the Holy Ghost or the ‘spirit’ of God. Do not be worried or surprised if you find it (or Him) rather vaguer or more shadowy in your mind than the other two” (page 153).

And CS is correct. Most Christians would have a hard time explaining the nature of the Holy Spirit. And probably for good reason. We don’t talk or teach much about the Holy Spirit, what He is and how He functions. But we should. It’s just such a hard subject to bring up. Mostly, it would seem to me, because it brings up this whole “Trinity” issue that we have and since no one knows how to explain that, we skip the time with the Holy Spirit. Which is tragic.

Jim

Zelda and Zoe...


We've had these guys for a little over a month. Tonight, they were hanging out on the couch waiting for me to get home from my walk. But the funny thing is, when we first got them, we would have to pick them up to see who was who. But now, looking at this picture, I can totally tell the difference: Zelda is on the left and Zoe is on the right.

Funny.

But I liked this picture so I thought I would share it.

Jim

Baht Trailer - CIY Move

Here's a trailer of a video that we're going to see this summer at Summer Conference. This should be interesting. I'm looking forward to it.

Jim

Click HERE to check it out directly.

long day...

I have felt all day (and thanks for the encouragement today Chris) that I could lay down at any moment and just take a nap. That's no different now.

But I am glad that I powered through the tiredness and got in a walk tonight. It is about 75 outside and awesome and I had a really, really good walk. Now, I feel better... still tired... but better and ready to spend the night studying!

These are going to be a long couple of weeks.

Jim

Master Mentor #26

Chapter 25 (Book 4, Chapter 3)
CS tackles one of those mind-numbing thoughts in today’s reading. He talks about God and His relationship to time. His argument is that God is above and outside of the “time element” that we understand. He says, “Almost certainly God is not in Time. His life does not consist of moments following one another. If a million people are praying to Him at ten-thirty tonight, He need not listen to them all in that one little snippet that we call ten-thirty. Ten-thirty – and every other moment from the beginning of the world – is always Present for Him” (page 147).

What an incredibly complicated idea to grasp!!!

We are such a time driven culture. Even as I write this, I look and time is staring me in the face. There is a clock in the upper-right hand corner of my computer. If I look hard enough and catch the right angle, without moving I can see what time it is on my watch on my left wrist. Time is on my cell phone and the little calendar reminds me of upcoming special appointments that I have asked it to remind me of. There are two clocks in my office and 8 or 10 clocks of one form or another (VCR, TV, wall, alarm clocks) in our apartment. Even on my day-off, I am still thinking about the clock and making sure that I get everything done that needs to be done when it needs to be done. It is such a difficult concept to grasp the thought that we are so time-driven, but God is outside of the time equation.

In many respects, it’s an appealing thought. To think that God is not driven by the same stressful ticking that is occurring in my life. That God has time to think about each happening without being constrained by the thought that time is moving and ‘you’re wasting it.’ That is an incredible thought.

But the clock in all respects is part of our life. It’s part of who we are… although maybe not all of us. (I have a missionary friend in Africa and the clock is not nearly a part of his life as it is of mine. In fact, I would say that I have a better idea of what time of the day it is for him as he does.) I’m sure there are parts of the world where time is not an issue… simply the idea of whether it’s light outside or not and how close we are one way or the other.

As I sit and ramble… somewhat… it is such an incredible thought to think that God is outside of the time equation when we are so tightly bound up in it.

Jim

Master Mentor #25

Chapter 24 (Book 4, Chapter 2)
This morning, CS begins to explain this notion that Christians have about the Trinity. And he begins to explain it in terms of lines, shapes and objects. I’m not sure that his examination is all that powerful. Mostly because we have always been able to see the objects. We can understand the objects. And since we can, it doesn’t make any sense to speculate about a time when we could only see lines or shapes.

But then he goes on to say that our understanding of God is revealed in the midst of the Christian community. He says this, “The one really adequate instrument for learning about God, is the whole Christian community, waiting for Him together” (page 145, emphasis mine). I think the word that jumped out to me there was the word ‘whole.’ By whole, does CS mean each individual ‘whole’ congregation or does he mean the ‘whole of Christianity?’ I don’t know.

It would seem that in both directions, the non-believing world is going to get a pretty skewed view of God. Local congregations are capable of incredible things. They are capable of showing God in incredible and powerful ways. They serve people… help people… make a difference in the world and the community and in individual lives. But local congregations are also capable of incredible harm. They have the capacity of hurting and maiming people like no one else on the face of the planet can. They use people… hurt people… and make people want to turn away from God in such incredible ways. I love the local church, don’t get me wrong. But I have seen more than my fair share of times when the church did some incredibly knuckleheaded things to families and people that left me shaking my head in disgust. But I have also seen the church do some things that inspired my personal relationship with God.

But on the flipside, what does the image of the whole of Christianity have on on-lookers? How many thousands of denominations do we have, all clamoring to be the ‘right’ group within Christianity? On-looking non-believers look at the church and say, “God is love. How do I know that God is love when this group who says they ‘love God’ and that group who say that they ‘love God,’ both hate each other? Its here that Jesus’ prayer in John 17:20-23… “20"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” But maybe that’s the Restoration Movement within me (a movement founded on the principles of the Biblical pattern for church and unity among Christian brothers… but also saw it’s own group divide twice in three groups over differences).

So, I guess I would like a little clarification on CS’s meaning here. But that’s the struggle of having a conversation in a coffee shop with a fellow that hasn’t been around for 40 years. Clarification is somewhat difficult.

Jim

My butt is draggin'

This morning was one of those mornings that I should have stayed in bed. My butt is dragging and I know I didn't contribute much this morning to the Bible study... although I worked hard to make it "look" like I was paying attention. And I was... But even Starbucks couldn't help me this morning. In fact, several times throughout the study, I contemplated going home after the study and taking a nap like I used to after my 8 am classes in college.

But I'm determined to power on through it. I just had a bagel and I'm hitting a breakfast sandwich next and BRING ON THE COFFEE!!!

Jim

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

One project down...

Tonight, I wrapped up my 10 page Bibliography for "History of the Modern Church" class on C.S. Lewis tonight. Man... 10 pages of references. Now, I just have to make sure that I put things in alphabetical order (harder than you think when you have 10 pages) and that I didn't forget any commas, periods or other annoying little marks!

Jim

Apple Yoga Ad

Nice.

Jim

Check it out HERE.

Monday, April 14, 2008

It might get quiet around here...

For those you who are regulars, this message is for you. For those of you who are new, you might get something out of this.

The next couple of weeks are going to be busy for me school-work-wise. I will be posting some more Master Mentor posts... but my other posts may be a little more limited than usual.

I just didn't want anyone ticked that I wasn't posting and wondering why. But you can check out my Twitter feed HERE or up in the right hand corner of the PAGE. That will likely continue to be updated on a regular basis as it doesn't require as much time as a normal blog post. But as soon as I get through the next couple of weeks, I'm going to start driving hard to get to 1000 posts (at the time of posting this, I'm at 943... only 57 to go baby...

Jim

Sunday, April 13, 2008

I'm exhausted...

I am totally exhausted. But exhausted in a good way.

Yesterday, we had the Rock River Retreat with our High School Ministry. It was really great. But for me, it was really great relationally. I worked with several students that I don't have conversations with on a regular basis. And also students that I don't always see eye to eye. But yesterday, we had a chance to talk over the course of the day and it was great.

Tonight was incredible. This might be the best night we've had at High Voltage (high school church) in a year or more. We had some visitors. We had some student back last week who were there for the first time. But as I got up to do announcements and lead through the game, there was a 'buzz' that's been missing for a while now. But it was nice that it was back.

This morning was also great. With the exception of a little more conflict that I had with one middle school boy who wouldn't shut up during the talk and had to be moved, this morning was excellent as well. There's always a good 'buzz' at Live Wire (middle school church).

Overall, it was an exhausting weekend. But an incredible weekend. And one that I can't wait to repeat next weekend, if God blesses me...

Jim

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Apple "Get a Mac" ad: Office Stress

Love it!!!

Jim

Check it out HERE!

Master Mentor #24

Chapter 23 (Book 4, Chapter 1)
Here CS begins to tackle some of the issues of Theology as it relates to our relationship with God. But first, he makes the case for theology as being important. The argument that he made for the importance of thinking these things through is still true today.
Most people run in horror from the idea of Theology. They begin to get images in their heads of old guys sitting around a large table spread out with lots of books and assorted papers all of which are old and dusty and having a conversation that no one understands. But from what CS says… and I happen to agree… you can’t even bow your help to offer a simple prayer for a meal without having answered a few questions and in so participated in theology.
Recently, we have begun having theological questions as part of our youth ministry week. On Sunday mornings, we have a time in our program called “Coffeehouse.” Part of the function of Coffeehouse is to be a place for students to go and have conversation. Recently, we have begun to tackle some of the deeper theological questions like “Who do you think God is? What do you believe about Jesus? Why did Jesus have to rise from the dead? Who is the Holy Spirit and what does he do in our lives?” Then we open up the discussion to those who are present and allow them to have conversation. Most of their time is spent trying to “give me the right answer.” I keep telling them that I won’t tell them the right answers. But I guide them in the right direction. They need to arrive at the right answers through their own study of the Scriptures… which we are encouraging every week. Part of my hope is that they get so tired of questions that they begin to go looking for answers in the only place that they can truly be found: The Bible. For instance, a couple of weeks ago we talked about the Holy Spirit. Most of the answers to their questions can be started from the book of John. The hope that through encouragement, they would begin to investigate the questions and think about the answers before they are in a situation where the person asking the questions won’t be as helpful.
But as I read this chapter, in part I thought about Coffeehouse. CS says this, “Everyone reads, everyone hears things discussed. Consequently, if you do not listen to Theology, that will not mean that you have no ideas about God. It will mean that you have a lot of wrong ones – bad, muddled, out-of-date ideas” (page. 137).
He’s right. There are a lot of people that have ideas about God. Ideas that are dead wrong. But we don’t know what the right ideas are because many of us have not taken the time to ask the questions, have the conversations and find the answers. Including many students. And then, as we have heard so often, they get to college where the big, bad professors are waiting to blow down their faith house. And in part, what we have heard is true. Which is why we need to have the conversations now.

Jim

Master Mentor #23

Chapter 22 (Book 3, Chapter 12)
In this chapter, CS deals with one of the most central Biblical and theological questions that I know of. This is the question that divided great men over the years as they have searched the Scriptures in pursuit of the answer. It is the question of free will verses God’s action.
Several years ago, as I read this chapter I was thinking about this, I had a student in our ministry who was extremely intelligent. He and one of the other students in my group began a “race” to read through the Bible. They would read as much of the Bible as they could and then they would meet at Taco Bell once or twice a week to discuss what they had read. As their pastor, it was actually somewhat interesting to watch. But then they began to have these questions… questions about predestination… questions about free will. And the most interesting part was that the more they read of the Bible, the more confused and troubled with this issue they became. I, as their pastor of course, allowed them to struggle through the questions on their own for the most part although we would have conversations about it often. In just about every instance of those conversations, I would play the opposite opinion that they were struggling with, just to help them see the other side as well.
Maybe they should have read this chapter from “Mere Christianity.” CS says this, “The Bible seems to clinch the matter when it puts the two things together into one amazing sentence. The first half is, ‘Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling’ – which looks as if everything depended on us and our good action: but the second half goes on, ‘For it is God who worketh in you’ – which looks as if God did everything and we did nothing” (page 131). CS is quoting Paul from Philippians 2:12-13 here. And it brings up an interesting question. Does God work in us to bring us to a point of salvation and sometimes without our help at all? Or do our actions have anything to do with our beginning and maintaining a relationship with God? To which CS would answer: “Yes.” And I think that Paul would answer the same.

Jim

Zoe getting a drink

Tonight at dinner, Jackie had water... which isn't anything usual because she always has water. In fact, and this is totally off the point, but it's been (and it took her a few minutes to count the days), 4 1/2 years since my wife has had soda. But she often doesn't drink all of her water. Well, tonight, Zoe decided that she would help her by having a drink.


Silly kitty.

Jim

Master Mentor #22

Chapter 21 (Book 3, Chapter 11)
I got lost quite a bit in CS’s discussion on faith today. It seemed to me that he was talking around in circles. He seemed to use too many illustrations and I got a bit confused.
But he did say something that I want to think about some more. He says, “The first step (to faith) is to recognize the fact that your moods change. The next is to make sure that, if you have once accepted Christianity, then some of its main doctrines shall be deliberately held before your mind for some time every day” (page 125).
This is one of those things that I think students miss. When they begin a relationship with God, whether its something that happens at CIY or something that happens on the weekend at church, they assume that has happened and it’s going to continue to happen. They figure that it isn’t going to require any work. Or what is some times worse, they go to an incredible week of CIY or camp or a retreat and then they come home. And the thought is: “How do I keep this feeling going?” But really, they make two mistakes. The first is that they assume that it will happen on it’s own, as if the feeling or experience of the camp, retreat or CIY happened on its own the first time. The second mistake is that it’s a feeling in the first place… and feelings change from moment to moment and are very difficult to depend on (as we have talked earlier about marriage). Then, two weeks after the retreat, suddenly they don’t “feel” like they did before and they wonder what has happened. Often, one thing that has happened is that they haven’t picked up their Bible since the day they got back. And they are just assuming that somehow those incredible thoughts about God just jumped into their mind. CS goes on to say that that kind of mindset needs to “be fed.” It needs to be fed as often as I need to be fed (and right now, I need to be fed).
CS has some good thoughts in this chapter… but I think I need to go back and reread it again and see if it makes some more sense.

Jim

Rock River Retreat re-cap


We had a great deal of fun out at Rock River today and last night. It was a great event... we got a lot done... but we had some great conversations. Here are a few pictures of the action...

We stopped and had dinner on Friday night at Jay's. The favorite at Jay's, at least for our group, is the "Classic Car Kid's Meal." Several kid's meals were crashed tonight.








Brooke, Natalie, and Bailey enjoyed the Jay's action.














Clayton enjoyed it too.














We headed out to the camp. Usually Capture the Flag is the Rock River Retreat tradition. But last night, it was rainy and cold. So we opted for a couple of games of "Boxers or Briefs" and some "Princess Bride." It was fun!












This morning, though, we jumped in on some work. Will grabbed a groom and we cleaned out a closet. Will was surprised at how much fun he had!
















Brooke took a few minutes to really have some fun. (I think that she was supposed to be working...)












Then we moved on to cleaning out the bathhouses. We cleaned the showers, walls, moved out some water, cleaned some toilets and got them ready for the summer time. Boone spent some time sweeping.
















Finally, we cleaned out a couple of dorms.

All in all, it was a really good day. We got a lot of work done and I hope what we did was helpful to Rock River and their crew.






Jim

Friday, April 11, 2008

Rock river retreat

The high scjoolers enjoyed some Jays tonight... Then some Boxers or
Briefs... Finally some Princess Bride! Good night!!!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Excitement... then suckiness!!! (Ebay)

I recently posted that I was selling my PS2.

I have been wanting to upgrade to XBox 360 for a while... mostly because my friends (two of them HERE and HERE) are on XBox (plus one that doesn't blog that I'm aware of) and I would like to be able to game-it-up with them on a regular basis, when I have time.

My big barrier was just getting a box that I could put things in for shipment.

Well, I broke down and got something worked out and I listed them. All week, I have been to my Ebay page about a million times to check the price. And as of yesterday morning, it was still $.99. Which was really freaking me out!!! An XBox 360 is like $350-$400, plus Rock Band and Guitar Hero 3... that's a chunk of change. So, I was starting to worry a bit.

But then this morning, bidding picked up as it moved up the list. And this afternoon, I had a meeting and after the meeting I checked, with about an hour to go, it was up to $76.00. In my mind, I was thinking: "If I get $100 out of the whole deal, I'll be happy." But then shortly before the podcast began, I looked and with about 5 minutes, it had jumped to $202.50!!!!! I almost wet myself. I was so excited because that was twice what I was hoping for!

So, I went into the podcast on cloud 9.

Then after the podcast, I bounced over to see if payment had been made only to find that Ebay had canceled the transaction. It seems that there was fraud involved with the transaction and the "guy" that bought it wasn't the real "guy" who owned the account. (Imagine his surprise when he got an invoice for $217.50...)

But then I got another email saying that the "guy" who was second in line was also fraudulent!!! So, I couldn't even offer the losing bidder a second chance offer.

Then Ebay even went so far as to eliminate the whole listing for security purposes!!! One of the staff members here at FVCC is a big seller on Ebay and he told me that he had never even heard of such a thing happening!!!

So, now I'm back to nothing. I still have my PS2... but I have to create a whole new listing. And then I've got to go through the nerves of listing it and waiting... again...

Suckiness!!

Jim

Simply Youth Ministry podcast at 2:05 pm CT this afternoon!!!

The SYM team is back in the conference room for another podcast this afternoon at 2:05 pm CT this afternoon... or 12:05 pm PT... or 3:05 pm ET... depending on the locale.

Hope you are planning to join us. If you want to join in the chat, which is awesome, check it out HERE. I've already logged in and am ready to roll!!

Jim

Master Mentor #21

Chapter 20 (Book 3, Chapter 10)
This morning, CS talked about hope. And he talked about hope in the context of having our minds turned to the hope of the future and the hope of heaven. Which is something that I can honestly say doesn’t have a lot of airtime in my mind. He says that we don’t talk about heaven because we aren’t “trained” to think or talk about heaven. And he’s right. We only occasionally talk about it or teach about it and it’s usually seen as the end-goal in the Christian’s life or in terms of avoiding the other place.
He said this, which caught my attention: “It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’: aim at earth and you will get neither” (page 119). That’s an interesting thought and I think that he’s right. Many Christians don’t think about heaven. Or we think about it in terms of “getting to heaven” or what we’ll “do there” (namely play harps and float on clouds… which CS deals with later in the chapter). But heaven just isn’t something that fills my thoughts very often. But I have a suspicion that it will today.
Later in the chapter, CS says this: “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing” (pg 121). Good thoughts.

Jim

Thursday morning group... and being out of the desert...

Thursday morning was a struggle this morning.

I didn't get to bed until late last night... almost midnight... which is pretty rough when the alarm goes off at 4:50 am for Bible Study. But despite the tired feeling I had as I brushed my teeth, I continued on. And this morning's study was pretty good. We talked about possessions and how they shouldn't be something that dominates and controls our lives. It was a good talk.

What I'm really excited about this morning that I am finally out of the desert of my morning Bible reading. For the last two months, I've been "wandering in the desert." That's the phrase that I use when I talk about reading through the books of 2nd half of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and most of Deuteronomy. Most days, it's good stuff. But it just doesn't excite me or thrill me to read all the list of laws and tabernacle specifications. But thankfully, this morning, I moved into Joshua. And I was happy!!

Jim

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Empty seats in Pittsburgh

So...

I'm sitting here watching the Cubs battle it out with the Pirates. It's currently in the top of the 14th inning in a 2-2 tie. They said earlier that there were only 9500 fans at the ballpark. I just can't believe all the empty seats in the background. Given, this game started at 6:05 pm (CT) and it's now 9:50 pm (CT).

But still... all those empty seats at a baseball game like that.

And Aramis Ramirez just hit a 2 run homerun to put the Cubbies up 4-2!

Jim

Kind of a sad day... Last issue of CCMmagazine...

Today, I receive the last print edition of CCMmagazine.

If you aren't familiar, CCMmagazine is monthly magazine that comes out dealing with Christian Contemporary Music (hence the name). It always kept me updated on what was going on in Christian music, what was coming up and what was cool. They are going strictly to an online version through their website.

But it was kind of a sad day for me. If you know me well, you know that music plays a big part in my life as my music collection is very extensive. I've been a faithful subscriber since even before I was in youth ministry. I would say that I've been subscribing for probably 15 or so years since I was a teenager. Today, when the final issue arrived in my mailbox at church, it just kinda made me a little sad.

Jim

Book #3... Other half...


Recently, I blogged about having read half of the third book. This morning, I finished off the othr half of what I am counting as my third book of 2008...

"Kurt and Scott's Junior High Adventure" by Kurt Johnston (Saddleback) and Scott Rubin (Willow Creek).

It was a good book. It was super-short, a mere 71 pages, which is good for my sense of accomplishment. I read it in a couple of sittings. Basically it's a collection of Kurt Johnston's columns from Group Magazine. Added into the columns that Kurt wrote, are some commentary by Scott almost as if he were reading over your shoulder and adding some thoughts.

It was a fun read. I found myself laughing out-loud occasionally. And in many respects, it reminded me again of why I do what I do.

My only point of contention with the book was two fold. First, it didn't seem like there was an order to the articles. Maybe there was and I just missed it. But the articles seemed somewhat random. Secondly, it would have been cool to have had some banter on Kurt's part to what Scott was adding to the conversation. Often, it felt like Scott added some good thoughts that would have been fun to have seen what Kurt thought about it.

But it's a quick read. It's a good read to start off the day with an article. It just adds a fresh youth ministry focus to the day.

Jim

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Twitter experiment...

As those of you who are regulars will see, there is a "new" section to the left on my blog.

Recently, there was a discussion on the Simply Youth Ministry Podcast about this new thing out called "Twitter." The discussion happened in episode 73 and revolved around whether or not people would follow Doug Fields if he would Twitter... and a bet was made.

To me... the whole Twitter thing is a little TOO crazy. The whole Twitter deal is based on regular updates in sort of a mini-blog sort of thing. Up until Saturday, I thought the whole thing was silly. But Saturday I broke down and decided to give it a try.

My primary reason for trying such is that I'm betting at some point, Twitter is going to hit the student realm and I would like to have a leg up on it before our students start doing it. But I still think it's kinda silly...

But I'm trying it... so... you'll see the updates there at the top of my blog. They will update automatically... if you Twitter and want to follow, feel free to join me. Otherwise, you can check here to see what I'm up to...

Jim

The Orchard... Action Point Paper...

Recently, I posted about my visit to The Orchard Community Church in Aurora for my History of the Modern Church class at Lincoln. The paper is due today... so I thought I would post it here.

Enjoy... If you care...
----------------
In comparison to previous occasions, this action point turned out differently than I expected. The Assemblies of God congregations have been labeled with the reputation of being both a diverse group of churches and a group having a charismatic bend. So in visiting The Orchard, I was not sure what to expect. Previously, when visiting a Roman Catholic Church and a Lutheran Church, I had more accurate expectations. When visiting the Orchard, I was not sure whether to expect speaking in tongues or a church similar to Fox Valley Christian Church, where I serve on staff. I was pleasantly surprised to find a church in many ways similar to the church environments with which I am familiar.
Upon arriving at the Orchard for their Saturday night service, I was pleased to find a parking lot filled with cars. It is always easier to visit a church for the first time when there is a crowd and that is what I found at the Orchard. The service was welcoming and those who were greeting were helping and inviting. The worship center was set up in many ways similar to Fox Valley. They had removable chairs rather than pews. Projection screens were up front in addition to a stage filled with drums and other musical instruments. The setting was casual with most people, including those leading worship and those responsible for the preaching, wearing jeans. The speaker was dynamic, speaking from an outline rather than a written liturgy. The worship band played songs that were familiar to me which made singing and blending in with the crowd easier. The message for the night was topical in nature. In many respects this service was very similar to a Sunday morning service at Fox Valley.
Several things, however, about the service were absent. They did not observe the Lord’s Supper. In conversation with Ben Hammond, The Orchard’s Student Minister, I discovered that communion is not a regular part of The Orchard’s worship service. Instead, as he shared, they observe communion on the first Sunday of the month and on the first Wednesday night service of the month. He stated the purpose behind this was to be more “appealing to non-believers” who might be visiting for the first time. The same reason was given for the absence of speaking in tongues. Ben stated that several years ago the church went through a transition period when it shifted from being a closely connected Assemblies of God congregation to the current community church that it is today. Part of this transition was making an intentional shift to being more appealing to the community surrounding the church. At that time, approximately 2001 or 2002, the church changed it’s name from First Assembly of God, which it had since it’s founding 80 years ago, to it’s current name, “The Orchard Community Church.”
Ben Hammond has been attending the church since 2006 and has been serving on staff while attending North Park University in Chicago. Ben shared some of the leadership structure which is very different than a typical Restoration movement congregation. The Orchard has elders although they do not serve as a board. Instead they serve in a prayer and oversight role over the Leadership Team, which is a team of four people including the lead minister, the teaching minister, the worship minister and the executive assistant. These four individuals lead the church in making many of the decisions of vision and direction as well as the day-to-day operation of the congregation, in cooperation with the other staff members. The Orchard also features a collection of volunteer ministry teams rather than deacon boards that function in much the same way dealing with specific areas of the church’s ministry. Ben shared that this gives the staff a great deal of flexibility and freedom in casting vision and leading the congregation into new challenges.
Previously, The Orchard was very closely connected with the Assemblies of God denomination. Recently, however, they have been moving away from the denomination norm. One thing that has made them different from many Assemblies congregations is the adoption of various “environments.” These environments are not unique to The Orchard. They are adopted from North Point Community Church, under Andy Stanley’s leadership in Alpharetta, GA. These environments create a clear path of progression from first entry into a worship service and connection with the congregation through being fully connected in all aspects of the church’s program. They feature three environments; the first is the “Foyer” which is their weekend service or entry-level area. From here, they seek to move people in the direction of the “Living Room” which are special events and connection points for people to begin to build relationships. The final level is the “Kitchen” level where they seek to connect their people in small groups, which according to Ben is the backbone of The Orchard. This progression was clearly seen in my visit to the congregation. The worship leader, the lead minister and those who were upfront were very intentional that those who were new to The Orchard should attend “Connection Point,” which is an opportunity to hear more about the church’s history, meet the staff and have their questions answered. This seems to be very successful for them and it seems to be gaining attention. Recently The Orchard Community Church was named as one of the Top 25 Most Innovative Churches in the country.
Being from a Restoration movement church, there are several things to consider about my visit. The first is the centrality of community. It would seem that the Lord’s Supper is one of those parts of church life that is just too important to leave out for the sake of someone not understanding it’s significance. The Lord’s Supper is so central to my thinking and weekly church involvement that it would be difficult to see myself in a congregation where it was only offered occasionally. The New Testament seems to support a more regular celebration of the Eucharist. Secondly, while an elder board can be extremely frustrating at times, it does seem somewhat dangerous to have all of the vision casting and leadership in the hands of a “few.” Elder Boards can add a layer of administration that can at times be difficult. It is, however, beneficial to know that you have the support of those who the congregation view as wise and whom the congregation has chosen as their leaders.
My recent visit to The Orchard Community Church was a pleasurable experience. If I did not have a church home, it would not be difficult to see myself worshipping there on a regular basis. The congregation was friendly and they did an excellent job at not pushing away a new visitor. My conversation with Ben was also great. Since we share a common interest in working with teenagers, we plan to meet next week for lunch. I have appreciated these opportunities to visit other congregations and to talk with their staff members. This time, as other times, I have learned a little more about myself as I have learned about others.


Jim

Monday, April 07, 2008

Master Mentor #20

Chapter 19 (Book 3, Chapter 9)
In many respects, this chapter felt like it was thrown together without much sense of definite direction. Many of CS’s other chapters have felt like there was a strong theme running through them or a central thought to tie them together. This chapter didn’t feel that way. Don’t get me wrong, there were some good thoughts in here on charity. But this chapter didn’t seem as strong as others in this book.
One of the interesting thoughts… and this is totally backed up by my personal experience… is that “good and evil both increase at compound interest” (page 117). CS, in this chapter, is talking about how as Christians, we are called to do little acts of “charity” for others. We aren’t called to do these because we “like” the person that we are doing it for. In fact, he even goes so far as to say that often liking person complicated the charity. But we ought to do little acts of charity for all of those that we find our lives. And part of that reason is that both good and evil compound. He goes on to say that’s “why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance” (page 117). Part of the distinction that CS is trying to draw is between doing something nice for everyone because something nice has been done for us and doing something nice in hopes that someone else will notice. We ought and are called to do acts of charity for those around us because acts of charity have been done for us… namely by God.
Part of what struck me in this chapter was this idea of doing little acts of kindness, regardless of your level of appreciation, love or even “like” for a person. One of the difficult things in my life is being around people that I don’t like. If I’m upset with someone… co-worker, student, etc… I just don’t even want to be around them. But the problem is, most of the time, out of sight/out of mind doesn’t always help. And I usually find myself more frustrated with them than I was at the first. But in those occasions, when I have tried to do something nice or treat them in a way that maybe they didn’t deserve, I began to see my heart and attitude change towards them in a good way. Which seems to be exactly what CS is talking about here in this chapter. And really… isn’t that what God did for me? Didn’t he do something incredible for me before I really did anything to deserve it? Indeed, He did.

Jim

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Good night...

We had a really great night tonight at High Voltage.

Several students were back that hadn't been in a while, plus we had a couple of visitors. It's always great to have visitors. But the message a little below par... But overall, it was a great night.

Plus, Live Wire this morning was pretty good as well!

Jim

Cat nap on Sunday

Zoe, Zelda and I grabbed a Sunday afternoon cat nap... And watched the
Cubs!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Visiting a church tonight...

One of the assignments that I really enjoy about my Church History/Historical Theology major is the action step option to visit a church. This will be the third time that I have done it (see HERE & HERE for a previous visit... the last visit didn't seem to make my blog... although I thought it did... but I couldn't find the post... oh well).

I have really enjoyed seeing how different churches worship and then having the chance to ask questions... which is part of the assignment, talking with a staff member.

Tonight I'm going to visit The Orchard Church Community. Their history (and Google... which is how I found them) show them as an "Assemblies of God" congregation. Now, their website doesn't necessarily reflect that. But hopefully after the visit tonight, I'll have a little better picture of whether or not they are "still" an AG Congregation.

Historical Note: As a church group, the Assemblies of God organized as an offshoot of the Pentecostal movement in 1914.

After tonight, I am planning to have a phone conversation with their Student Minister on Monday and maybe grab lunch later in the week. Should be fun! But I'd better go get changed!

Jim