Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Update on life

Sorry about the delays in posting here on BISS. Life has been...hectic. My wife and I own a couple of rental properties, and one was opening up. We've been in the process of finding new renters, doing background checks, and then cleaning the property up for the new people to move in. Our previous renter was a great renter, and hopefully our new ones will be too. I have spent in upwards of 50 hours in the past week and a half working on that house. Cleaning, mowing, organizing a garage, throwing things away, weeding, cutting down trees, killing weeds, spraying for bugs (outside), replacing windows, and I'm sure lots more things I am forgetting/blocking from my memory. All of this on top of my normal 25 hours a week waiting tables.

I am also cramming for a very important Greek test, a test that serves as the enterance exam for the final Greek course at my Seminary. The test is early September, and I am feeling woefully inadequate. With a month to go, my primary focus in life will be passing this test. I spend hours every day reviewing vocabulary. I am working through old lessons, trying to remember much of what I have forgotten, and trying to learn much of what I didn't understand the first time through. Greek hates me. I appreciate the need to know it, but I am nearly retarded when it comes to languages. I had the same problem many years ago learning Spanish. I am generally a gifted student and a quick learner, with the exception of languages. I have no doubt I have spent what must be a near record number of hours trying to grasp the concepts and constructions of Koine Greek. I also have no doubt that I am still going to barely squeek by on the test, if I even do pass it. I am three courses away from graduating with my M.Div., and really don't know what I'll do if I can't pass this test/final course. It is truly a nightmare. I have dreams of Satan tortuing people in Hell by making them parse words in Koine Greek.

My wife had the driver's side headlight go out in her 96 Civic, so last night after work I decided to tackle this project. Money is tight, and I'm not willing to pay someone else for something I am quite capable in fixing. Little did I know that I would have to disassemble half of the front of the car. To get the headlight out, you must remove most of the front bumper. This includes the grill, and separating the wheel well from the bumper. This part went fairly well all things considered (I've never worked on a Honda car before). Getting the light bulb housing loose was a bit more of challenge, but eventually it too came off. I carefully installed the new Halogen bulb (you cannot touch a Halogen bulb, the oils from your skin create a hot spot and the bulb will burn out). The design that holds the bulb in is both simple and insane. It is a single spring loaded metal bar that keeps it in place. This bar swings open when you figure out how to push and which direction to push. The only problem is that this is impossible to observe/figure out with the light housing still in the vehicle. Now that I have done this. I likely would not have to disassemble the car to do it again next time. A terrible design if you ask me, inspite of its simplicity. The real problem came in returning the light to its former place. Getting the light to go back into where it belongs was one of the most frustrating things I have ever done. Far too many hidden tabs to line up, and other things to get in exactly the perfect place to make this work. For the better part of an hour I fought this stupid thing. Every time I would get "close" I would see that on the one side I was still an inch or two from getting a bolt lined up to the mounting. I could also feel the very solid resistence of the metal support bracket stopping me from moving it in that direction. I honestly don't know how I eventually got it into the right place. Perhaps a gift from God, as I was honestly at the end of my rope with the light. It isn't something that could be left in the "almost" position, as the tolerances on the hood, bumper and other body panels would not accomdate more than a few millimeters change from the original placement. I put all the screws/bolts back in, oiled a few that were looking rusty, gave the lights a try (actually a second try, I checked before putting it all back together) and washed up. I made to be at 3:45 a.m. Ugh. What I was thinking would be a 20 minute job took 3+ hours.

I also have a interview with a Pastor of a local church August 3rd. I am very excited, and pray that I present myself well. The opportunity is a fantastic one from what I have seen so far. If you have room, add me to your prayer list, as I really need to get into a church and out of waiting tables. I realize everything in God's time, but it sure has been hard to wait. The position would be one where I would be working with my gifting and passions, so I pray that I am a good fit and everthing can fall into place so I can move into the next phase of life and ministry! I am very excited!

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Friday, July 14, 2006

Home-Grown Churches Becoming Popular

From FotF's Pastor's Weekly Breifing

Analyst George Barna, founder of The Barna Group, says millions of Americans are breaking from traditional church settings and choosing to attend a home church. These Christians, he remarks, want to "be" the church, not just attend church and are seeking greater depth in relationships and more commitment to spirituality.

Barna, who became a home-churcher last year, estimates that, since 2000, more than 20 million Americans have begun exploring alternative forms of worship, including home churches, workplace ministries and online faith communities. Although many Christians still participate in their old churches while trying out a new one, Barna predicts that over the next two decades, traditional churches will lose half their "market share" to these alternative start-ups.

The Orlando-based Dawn Ministries, however, places the number of home churches in the United States in the tens of thousands, based partly on the size of online directories and attendance at home-church conferences. These churches are usually nondenominational and consist of a dozen or so friends or family members who often meet without an ordained pastor. Dawn Ministries has about 2,000 volunteers working in about 150 countries. Over the past year, the organization has increased the number of coaches working in North America from about five to 70, mostly in the Midwest, California, Texas and Colorado.

Greg Windsor, real estate developer and former megachurch member, says that "the person sitting next to you in the pew could be close to dying, but people don't really know one another." By abandoning the steeple, the pastor and the crowds of people, Windsor said, his tiny home church congregation is trying to live according to the New Testament. "A lot of embellishments happened over the centuries." The modern Christian church is "like a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy ... it starts getting distorted and changed."

Critics of the home-church movement warn that, by meeting only in small groups with lay leaders, Christians could become disconnected and stray from orthodox beliefs. "We human beings are prone to error; we need each other," said Scott Kisker, an associate professor of evangelism at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington. Even the early home-based churches, he said, were connected through the apostles and "many books of the New Testament are letters from the apostles calling churches to more faithful doctrine."

But, George Barna acknowledges the challenges. "You've got the possibilities of bad teaching and errant theology creeping into the process, but we already have that happening in churches today. So we're going to have a lot of the same challenges that we've always had — it's just an issue of who's going to resolve them."

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Friday, July 07, 2006

In the news 7/6/06...

(from FotF's Pastor's Weekly Briefing)

Grants Awarded to Promote Birth

Minnesota lawmakers and Gov. Tim Pawlenty last year approved the "Positive Alternative Act" which states that North Side Life Care Center and 36 other groups that steer pregnant women away from abortion will receive a combined $4.75 million from the state over two years. The process started last Saturday.

At North Side, located in a former dentist's office, a $129,180 grant will help expand prenatal care and other services — including free ultrasounds, infant formula and car seats — to more expectant mothers. Their mission is to encourage women in the surrounding area to have babies, not abortions.

The grants can't go to groups that provide abortions or refer women to others for abortions, but they can mention abortion among the list of options, according to the Associated Press. Groups that provide family planning services including abortion still get more money from the state — some $3.7 million a year, with nearly half of that to Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. But family planning funds are slated to drop to $1.8 million a year starting next summer.


Cecelia Fire Thunder, tribal council leader for the South Dakota Oglala Sioux Tribe, who began a fundraising campaign for an abortion clinic on tribal lands without permission of the tribe, was formally removed from office last week. Fire Thunder, who had worked part time in the past at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in California, began pushing for the clinic on the reservation shortly after South Dakota passed a law banning almost all abortions in the state.

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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Free Online Courses from Covenant Seminary

(HT Justin Taylor)

Covenant Worldwide:

"Covenant Worldwide's mission is to provide ready access to grace-centered, high-quality theological training by minimizing the barriers of distance, cost, and language. This mission recognizes our part in stewarding the resources of theological education to the Church, which is growing most rapidly in areas of the world where ministry training is often least available." "You may download, use and share courseware at no charge for non-commercial purposes. Lectures are in MP3 format, and study guides are available as PDFs. The lectures are currently available in English but are being transcribed to facilitate the translation of these materials into multiple languages."

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