Thursday, April 30, 2009

Filling up your bucket

My former boss, Pastor Steve, had a great expression for getting spiritually refreshed. He called it "getting your bucket full." Among the long list of things I learned from Steve, I picked up that expression. Last week was a time of much needed re-charging of the batteries. It was one of the most "bucket-filling" weeks I've had in a long time. The only shortcoming, in fact, was that Karen and the kids weren't there to enjoy the week with. I came back feeling closer to the Lord than I have felt in a good while. For those of you who might possibly be interested, the audio and video downloads of the sessions I attended last week are now available online. They are all worth hearing or watching and all greatly encouraged me. I hope you find them as inspiring and "bucket filling" as I did.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Gospel Coalition

This week I'm at The Gospel Coalition Conference in Chicago. The guys who are speaking are a good bunch-all committed to the Gospel, all dynamic speakers, and all men who want to see the church reach the culture with the Gospel. It's been a phenomenally encouraging, uplifting, and life-altering week. More has happened to me personally than I have words to really explain, but suffice to say I have had opportunities to repent, change, and re-commit myself to effective pastoral ministry. Not bad for the first 24 hours.

If you want to get a taste of the joy I'm experiencing, you can watch streaming video at the link above. By Friday you should be able to get all the videos, audio, and notes at I need a bigger spoon to eat this stuff up with. It's been great. Hope some of you take advantage of it too.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

My day off

I took a much-needed day off from church yesterday. As God's grace provided, it was a great day. I woke up at 4:40 and went turkey hunting until the last tom wandered off the property and quit gobbling around 7:30, then came home, took a shower and went to Menards with Karen. At Menards, we discovered they had all their veggies on sale at 6 plants for $1.69, a great deal. So we bought cauliflower, broccoli, peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers in abundance.

After we got home, I slipped on my old Red Wing steel-toed boots (from back in my college days when I worked summers at my dad's lumber company) and proceeded to dig out five nasty bushes that Karen hated and to help Karen transplant some peonies from the bed where we want to plant my tomatoes to the bed where three of the bushes used to reside. After that, I went to hardware store and bought some dirt and mulch and then picked up the kids from school. When we all got home, I spread the dirt and mulch while Karen planted everything but the tomatoes. When that was finished, I cut up the last of the big branches left over from our big winter ice storms so we can take them to the dump today. By that time, it was about supper, so we took the kids to Taco Bell and then to a local park for dinner and tag on the playground.

When we got home, bathed the kids, let them watch Scooby-Doo for a while and put them to bed. Finally, we showered, discovered our sunburned faces (and my scalp-I need a hat!) collapsed in a heap on the couch, exhausted but satisfied with life.

It was a good day.

Turkey hunting, part II

So I went turkey hunting Thursday and Friday. Neither was my day. Lots of gobblers all around, but none that were looking for a solitary, lonely hen. Maybe if I put a negligee on my hen turkey decoy? They all henned up immediately and went off the property I have permission to hunt on. There's another season coming. Maybe the girls will all be on their nests by then, so there'll be a lot more lonely gobblers wandering around...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Turkey hunting

I went turkey hunting this morning. I did not get one, but I have two more mornings this week to give it my best shot (so to speak). Lots of gobbling (I heard six different gobblers) and saw several, but couldn't make it all happen this morning. Still, it was great to be out, hear and see the fly-down, the gobbles, the strutting, the drumming, and the sounds of turkeys in the trees.

For those interested, my calling is improving and I was able to get a pair to come in far enough for a shot. But it just wasn't my morning yet. Stay tuned...

And we're back...

So I've finally gotten my computer back to breathing again, though I've discovered you can't sync your computer to your iPod, only your iPod to your computer. This fits in the category of moderate bummer (i.e., somewhere between a chigger infestation and a root canal), since I either have to content myself with never sync-ing my iPod again, or else re-load everything off CD onto my computer again. I also lost most of my email addresses from my friends in Iowa and elsewhere, so if you are one of those dear friends, please email me so I can re-add you to my address book.

Friday, April 3, 2009


I spent most of today's waking hours fighting with a virus that has somehow slipped past my anti-virus program. Thankfully, I have been able to burn a copy of all of my documents, though I fear my email contacts, I-tunes playlists, and such may be doomed. We'll see what happens after I get through to tech support at the anti-virus software company. A friend told me he thinks that the virus has been successfully destroyed, but that it damaged the anti-virus software and/or part of the operating system files in the process, causing me to be stuck in a loop from which there is apparently no escape. We shall see. In the meantime, I must bum computer access from my very understanding bride, who is asleep now. Hopefully, I'll get the thing working again soon. Finishing up my sermon tonight at 10:25 instead of by 3:00 this afternoon like I'd planned was more than a little frustrating.

Technology...wonderful when it works.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Of Burger Kings and Bibles

I was struck today by what I read from an old seminary buddy's blog, where he offhandedly referred to "a Burger King mentality." Burger King, of course, famously markets itself as the home not only of the world's greatest "flame-broiled" (whatever that means) cheeseburger, but also as the place where you can "have it your way." This campaign is designed to appeal to consumers in two ways: 1) It's a dig at McDonald's where you can have whatever you want, as long as you like it how they fix it (which is a similar strategy to Henry Ford's "you can have any color you want, so long as it's black); and 2) to reassure the consumer that yes, you really are the King of the World, and we, your humble burger chefs, are here to cater to your slightest whims.

While as a strategy for selling burgers, it seems to working pretty well, I think that too often this attitude creeps into church, and is even encouraged by certain types of church leaders. We are told, constantly and in different forms that we need to "adapt" to changing tastes and times. And to a certain extent, I agree that effective ministry must include presenting eternal truths in a way that the people you are trying to reach can lay hold of, just as any good cross-cultural missionary would. But saying that we need to adapt our presentation of eternal truth to the culture we seek to reach is different than effectively telling people that the Church exists to fulfill all of the desires they have now. After all, isn't at least part of the point of believing in Jesus to experience full-orbed change in everything from my speech, to behavior, to my thinking and the desires of my heart? Thus, let me offer to my fellow evangelicals a short list of things to which you are not entitled as a believer in Jesus Christ.

You are not entitled to:
  1. Worship alongside and be in relationships with only those people you like and find it easy to love. If we are commanded to love even our enemies, isn't it just possible that Jesus also wants us to deeply love those we don't like in the Church too?
  2. Enjoy and find meaningful every song you sing alongside your brothers and sisters on Sunday morning.
  3. Sit on your butt waiting on the paid staff to do all the ministry of the church. You are a full-time minister of the gospel with the same responsibility before God to serve Him and your fellow believers as anyone the Church pays. Those people are simply there to equip you to be more effective in doing ministry, not to do it for you. See also Ephesians 4, 1 Peter 4, 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12.
  4. Spiritual transformation without effort, evangelism without fear, or discipleship without suffering. What is worth doing takes painful trial. What is worth having doesn't come easily. But Jesus and the gospel are worth any cost.
End of rant. I feel better now.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Happy Birthday, sis!


Just wanted to wish you a happy birthday and tell you how much we all love and miss you here. Too bad we can't really dig our way to China like we thought back when we were kids.

Happy 33rd!

Today's Scripture

Today the Lord gave me some words of encouragement that I deeply needed. Here's the good Word:
Therefore, since through God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blind the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. -2 Corinthians 4:1-12

Political thought of the day...

Is it just me, or it absolutely crazy that our political leaders believe the solution to the problems caused by millions of individuals taking on irresponsible debt they have no hope of repaying is to have the entire nation take on irresponsible debt we have no hope of repaying?