Monday, August 28, 2006

Hymn: This Is My Father's World

From time to time I like to feature a Hymn that moves me or makes me think. I love this old tune, and it is one that really gets stuck in the head after singing it!


Words: Malt­bie D. Bab­cock, 1901, alt. While a pas­tor in Lock­port, New York, Bab­cock liked to hike in an ar­ea called “the es­carp­ment,” an an­cient up­thrust ledge near Lock­port. It has a mar­vel­ous view of farms, or­chards, and Lake On­tar­io, about 15 miles dis­tant. It is said those walks in the woods in­spired these lyr­ics. The ti­tle re­calls an ex­press­ion Bab­cock used when start­ing a walk: “I’m go­ing out to see my Fa­ther’s world.”

Music: Terra Beata, tra­di­tion­al Eng­lish mel­o­dy, ar­ranged by Frank­lin L. Shep­pard in his Al­le­lu­ia, 1915.

This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father’s world, the birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world: He shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass;
He speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world: the battle is not done:
Jesus Who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heav’n be one.

This is my Father’s world, dreaming, I see His face.
I ope my eyes, and in glad surprise cry, “The Lord is in this place.”
This is my Father’s world, from the shining courts above,
The Beloved One, His Only Son,
Came—a pledge of deathless love.

This is my Father’s world, should my heart be ever sad?
The lord is King—let the heavens ring. God reigns—let the earth be glad.
This is my Father’s world. Now closer to Heaven bound,
For dear to God is the earth Christ trod.
No place but is holy ground.

This is my Father’s world. I walk a desert lone.
In a bush ablaze to my wondering gaze God makes His glory known.
This is my Father’s world, a wanderer I may roam
Whate’er my lot, it matters not,
My heart is still at home.

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Saturday, August 26, 2006

Challies and Tolkien

Tim Challies is one of my personal favorite bloggers that I read with regularity. He had a great post on Thursday about our sin and the story told by JRR Tolkien in the Lord of the Rings trillogy. I really like those movies, and more than that love Tim's observations/personal application. Rather than trying to figure out which segment to steal from his great post, I'm choosing to just point you there if you haven't seen it already.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Mark Driscoll - 10 steps to destroying a denomination

I love Mark Driscoll in a monster truck-BBQing-dirt bike racing-praising Jesus kind of way. He ministers to me (at a distance) a couple of times a week through his podcasts (both video and audio) at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA. I also download his Reform and Resurge Conference video and audio, and have both of his books. I would say right now Mark Driscoll is probably the most influential person in my own day to day spiritual growth and development. Mark is also the president and co-founder of the Acts 29 church planting network.

has just created a post on his blog detailing a couple of denominations that are in a downward spiral. Included in that post is this great list of ten easy steps to destroying a denomination:

1. Have a low view of Scripture and, consequently, the deity of Jesus.

2. Deny that we were made male and female by God, equal but with distinct roles in the home and church.

3. Ordain liberal women in the name of tolerance and diversity.

4. Have those liberal women help to ordain gay men in the name of greater tolerance and diversity.

5. Accept the worship of other religions and their gods in the name of still greater tolerance and diversity.

6. Become so tolerant that you, in effect, become intolerant of people who love Jesus and read their Bible without scoffing and snickering.

7. End up with only a handful of people who are all the same kind of intolerant liberals in the name of tolerance and diversity.

8. Watch the Holy Spirit depart from your churches and take people who love Jesus with Him.

9. Fail to repent but become more committed than ever to your sinful agenda.

10. See Jesus pull rank, judge you, and send some of your pastors to hell to be tormented by Him forever because He will no longer tolerate your diversity.

Amen brother, AMEN!

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Friday, August 18, 2006

The slow process of finding a ministry position

Thanks for all who have commented and prayed in the past few weeks. I am no longer in the running for the position I interviewed for two weeks ago. It is a real disappointment, in that it is an incredible church, a great staff, a growing area, and right in line with me theologically. The Sr. Pastor feels that they want someone who has more experience in preaching week to week, someone more refined in this than I am at this point in my life. I understand what he is saying, and trust that he knows what his church needs. It's one of those points where I accept that he is right, but it hurts nonetheless. I hate rejection. I hate failing. I suppose most people fall into those two categories, but I do especially. The multiplying factor is the heat that burns within me to serve in the local church. Yes, I understand volunteering (I've been doing that for 3.5 years!) but I would really like to move into a more permanent position. Somewhere we could develop some roots. Somewhere I could have more skin in the game. I want to be used by God. I can't say that my faithfulness is being put to the test, but it is definately frustrating. I have made some great contacts in the past few years, and I deeply hope they begin to pay dividends soon. I talked with another pastor friend at the Leadership Summit and he gave me a heads up that some things will be coming open in his church in the next year or so. This is a man I deeply respect, and a church doing great things for God/with God. I'm beginning to approach the point thought where I don't know that I can get my hope up. I don't want to become jaded, I want to stay fresh, and have that fire keep burning within me. It is a scary time knowing so much in my life will likely change in the next 12 months. But I will continue to put my faith in Christ, and will trust Him to light and lead me down the right path. Honestly, I don't know if I could find my way at the moment with a GPS unit, guide dogs, and a trail of bread crumbs. But wherever God leads, I will be happy to serve.

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Monday, August 14, 2006

U2 - 40 Lyrics - Bono and AIDS in Africa...

Bono of U2 was one of the presenters on the second day of the Willow Creek Leadership Summit I attended last week at Eagle Brook Church. I suspect that many churches will be hearing quite a bit about this in the coming weeks and months. I also expect that U2 will get a little bump in album sales this week from Bono's appearance. Bono and Bill Hybels extended a challenge to churches across America to join into the battle against AIDS and it's susequent problems that are wreaking havoc on the African continent, particuarly in sub-Saharan Africa. One of the songs used during the Bono interivew was from U2's 1983 album "War. It is a powerful song when you hear Bono's voice behind it.


I waited patiently for the Lord
He inclined and heard my cry
He brought me up out of the pit
Out of the miry clay

I will sing, sing a new song
I will sing, sing a new song

How long to sing this song
How long to sing this song
How long...
How sing this song

He set my feet upon a rock
And made my footsteps firm
Many will see
Many will see and fear

I will sing, sing a new song
I will sing, sing a new song
I will sing, sing a new song
I will sing, sing a new song

How long to sing this song
How long to sing this song
How long...
How sing this song

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Willow Creek Leadership Summit 06 notes...

Thursday, Friday and Saturday of this past week I attended the Willow Creek Leadership Summit hosted via satellite at Eagle Brook Church in Lino Lakes, MN. I have put this conference on my yearly must do list. This year was in my opinion better than last year, though it is very good every year.

Day One:

Session #1 : Bill Hybels - The Life Cycle of a Leader
Bill Hybels is the founding pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, IL.
Bill Hybels is in the process of recovering from a serious bout with the flu, and you could tell it zapped him of energy. The presentation was still quite good, but a good bit of it was review of things he has spoken on previously. I think the key item I will take from this session was his reminder to us that we cannot let the limiting factor of the growth of our church (organization) to be ourselves.

Session #2: James Meeks - Enemies of a Growing Church
For those not familiar with Pastor James Meeks, he leads Salem Baptist Church in Southern Chicago area. Salem is one the largest churches in Chicago, and is also located in one of the poorest areas in Chicago. James Meeks also is a state representative for the area where his chuch is located. Meeks was a very good presenter, and was quite funny, often at the expense of Bill Hybels.

The keys Pastor Meeks laid out that are enemies of church growth are:
1) Lack of faith - we must believe that growth is possible.
2) Lack of knowledge - we need to know best practices to help our churches get or remain healthy.
3) Failure to realize that God is no respector of persons - It is not about an individual, and the fundamental principles that causes churches to be successful are not dependent on individuals, and are transportable from church to church.
4) Growth is always the goal of a New Testament Church - the pattern clearly laid out in Scripture is for churches to be growing and new churches being birthed.
5) An unsure pastor - people are looking to the pastor to have answers, and the pastor cannot lead with ambiguity. This also means to not be afraid to preach the Truth, say what the Bible says, not what is politically correct.
6) Failure to build upon small victories - pretty simple, but easy to miss.
7) Failure to preach the announcements - what you want the church to know or do you must preach. Simply saying a group of us will be serving at the homeless shelter isn't enough. Preach on it, and then invite people to join you in serving at the homeless shelter.
8) Lack of corporate fasting and prayer - again, very simple, but difficult for many in praxis.
9) Getting started - it can be difficult to get started, but that is no excuse. There is no better day than today!
10) Motive - why do you want a growing or big church? If it is not only for God's glory, then you are doing it for the wrong reasons.

Session #3: Andy Stanley - Focused Leadership
Andy Stanly is the founding pastor of North Point Community Church, located in Buckhead, a suburb of Atlanta Georgia. You may also recognize his name from his father, Charles Stanley, who also ministers in the Buckhead area. In typical Andy Stanley fashion, he was outstanding in his presentation.

Andy spoke on "my best leadership decision." His whole presentation was about how early on in his ministry he made the decision that he would build the best church he could in 45 hours a week. To spend more time working on that was cheating his family out of having a father and a husband. He encourages his staff to cheat the church before they cheat their family. Their families are places they minister, so they aren't "leaving" ministry to go home. He encouraged pastors to remember that they are called to love their wives, not to love their churches. We are to love our wives as Christ loves the church. Because the church is Christ's love God has promised us that the gates of Hell will not prevail against it (Matthew 16). By limiting his hours, he also created an enviornment where he can focus on working on his strengths and delegating his weaknesses. It also gives him permission to say "No" to many things, be that outside speaking engagements or other things that take away from his hours with his family and his church. He suggested that most people are only good at a couple of things, and that we should focus on those and bring others in to do the parts we are not gifted in. This is the way the church is supposed to operate. He also emphasized that we as pastors need to priortize the success of the church over our own personal success. As Rick Warren would say, "It's not about you." Our race is a marathon, and not a sprint, so we need to create church environments to sustain ourselves and our staff/volunteers. Another great thing Pastor Stanley said was "You don't gain or maintain God's blessing by violating His principles." This session was one of the better ones that I have heard, and I strongly encourage all pastors to give it a listen and give it some real thought. Expecting your staff to work 60 hours a week is asking them to cheat their families, and leads to ministry burnout instead of ministry effectiveness.

Session #4: Peg Neuhauser - Tribal Warfare
Peg Neuhauser is an author and a consultant who works with conflict resolution. This was the session that I got the least out of from the whole Summit. Both her presentation and her presentation style did not seem quite right for the Summit. I think she has some good ideas, but she chose not to good into depth on her expertise area. Instead she gave a fairly basic and generic overview of one of her books. The ideas sounded good, but lacked the depth and insight needed to make it useful. More of a primer for her book I would suspect, but not enough to leave me wanting to read it.

More to come!

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Saturday, August 12, 2006

Willow Creek Leadership Summit 06

The past two days I have been at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit satellite location at Eagle Brook Church in Lino Lakes, MN. The Summit has been awesome, and Eagle Brook continues to be an outstanding and gracious host site. I'll post more of my thoughts in the days to come, but there has been some really good stuff so far.

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Monday, August 07, 2006

Christians and Politics

The below article ties in with some discussion that has been going on at the Between Two Worlds Blog this past week. For the record I have attended Woodland Hills Church many times, and have heard 50 or so of Boyd's sermons (some on radio). My wife (then girlfriend) attended this church for 7 years, and in the middle of the series referenced below, she got up and walked out of a service never to return. I have met Greg Boyd, and he seems really nice, but I think he is out in left field on a number of points theologically.

(From FotF's Pastor's Weekly Breifing)

Before the last presidential election, Rev. Gregory A. Boyd preached six sermons called "The Cross and the Sword" in which he said the church should steer clear of politics, give up moralizing on sexual issues, stop claiming the United States as a "Christian nation," and stop glorifying American military campaigns. While Boyd does not consider himself a liberal and purports to oppose abortion and thinks homosexuality is not God's ideal, his sermons set off quite a reaction by his congregation. Some members walked out during a sermon and never returned. By the time the dust had settled at his Woodland Hills Church in suburban St. Paul, Minnesota, the church, which Boyd had started with 40 members in 1992, had lost about 1,000 of its 5,000 members.

Sermons like Boyd's are hardly typical today in evangelical churches, and the upheaval at Woodland Hills is an example of the internal debates now going on in some evangelical colleges, magazines and churches. A common concern is that the Christian message is being compromised by the tendency to tie evangelical Christianity to the Republican Party and American nationalism, especially regarding the war in Iraq.

"When we joined years ago, Greg was a conservative speaker," said William Berggren, a lawyer who joined the church with his wife six years ago. Boyd was credited with the church's quick growth because he was an electrifying preacher who stuck closely to Scripture. "But we totally disagreed with him on this [sermon series]. You can't be a Christian and ignore actions that you feel are wrong. A case in point is the abortion issue. If the church were awake when abortion was passed in the 70s, it wouldn't have happened. But the church was asleep."

Boyd also created a controversy a few years ago by questioning whether God fully knew the future. And, in his six sermons, he laid out a broad argument that the true role of Christians was not to seek "power over" others — by controlling governments, passing legislation or fighting wars. Christians should instead seek to have "power under" others — "winning people's hearts" by sacrificing for those in need, as Jesus did. "I am sorry to tell you that America is not the light of the world and the hope of the world. The light of the world and the hope of the world is Jesus Christ," Boyd said.

His congregation of about 4,000 is still digesting his message. During a forum he arranged on a recent Wednesday night, many of the 56 questions submitted were pointed: Isn't abortion an evil that Christians should prevent? Are you saying Christians should not join the military? How can Christians possibly have "power under" Osama bin Laden? Didn't the church play an enormously positive role in the civil rights movement?

One woman asked, "So, why not us? If we contain the wisdom and grace and love and creativity of Jesus, why shouldn't we be the ones involved in politics and setting laws?"

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Sunday, August 06, 2006

A great weekend...

My wife and I spent all day Saturday at Valley Fair amusement park in Shakopee, MN with a friend of ours. My wife and I had gone once previously two summers ago while we were still dating. I really enjoyed the park. We spent 8 hours in the park, primarily in the water park portion, but at times venturing out to ride rollercoasters and other assorted things. I doubt I will ever get my wife on Mad Mouse again.

We followed up our day in the sun with a trip into Minneapolis to Carne Asada for supper. Carne Asada is a no non-sense authentic Mexican restaurant. Good food quick. Located at Chicago and Lake Street (SE corner, phone 612-821-8388). I had three really good Carnitas Enchaladas.

Then today, we went and visited the church who's pastor I met with on Thursday of this week. The service was very good. Very nice sermon, and excellent worship. The pastor preached out of Nehemiah and was talking about leadership. For those who don't follow this blog closely, I am working on an M.Div in Transformational Leadership and these Nehemiah passages are ones we have turned to frequently in my studies of Biblical Leadership models. The people of the church were warm and friendly, and we were able to talk with a couple of them for quite a while after the service. I REALLY think I would fit in with this church, and am praying that this is God's plan for my life.

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Thursday, August 03, 2006

An interview of sorts today...

Today I met with a pastor of a church in Wisconsin for a preliminary interview. I got to hear how God is working in his life and church to reach out to the lost people in his community. It was refreshing to meet with a man with whom I share so much in regards to passions for the church and a desire to help people have a relationship with Jesus Christ. So frequently I fall into the trap of taking for granted the ways in which God is working to reach our world. God is working in amazing ways in this church, and if I can contribute to that in some way, I pray that God will use me. I am cautiously optimistic. If I am not the right person for the position, I have met a brother in Christ, a man on the front lines of the battle for the Kingdom. It never hurts to know men such as this. I put my faith and trust in God that He will lead all to the right decisions. But if it matters, I am really, REALLY interested in this church.

Milton, thanks for your prayers brother!

I also got new glasses this afternoon. I was really hoping they would arrive before my interview. I actually felt my cell phone vibrate while talking with the pastor this morning, and of course it was Pearle Vision saying my glasses were ready. I have been limping along with my old glasses for far too long. Their style is a bit dated, the frame is long past the time for need of replacement, and the lenses were remarkably scratched. So as I type this, my eyes are attempting to adjust to new correction. It's a bit disorienting, but the clarity from both the better prescription as well as not having thousands of tiny scratches on my lenses is remarkable.

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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Getting Things Done...

I have begun to read David Allen's "Getting Things Done" and am really impressed by the book. I look forward to finishing it and fully applying its principles to my life. It will take some discipline initially, but it will definately be worth it. Some of Allen's free articles can be found here and will give you an idea of what this is all about. I was convinced that I need to read this book (after hearing about it for a while) when I read on Justin Taylor's Between Two Worlds Blog that Dr. Wayne Grudem had reciently read this book and was recommending it to everyone he knew. That is high praise in my book as Dr. Grudem was already getting a lot of stuff done.

David Allen is an international author, lecturer, and founder and President of the David Allen Company, a management consulting, coaching, and training company.

In the last twenty years he has developed and implemented productivity improvement programs for over a half million professionals in hundreds of organizations worldwide, including many Fortune 500 corporations and U.S. Government agencies. He delivers public and in-house seminars, executive workflow coaching, and consulting programs that address interactive and organizational productivity and alignment issues.

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