Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Words of Wisdom from Mr. Peterson

From "Under the Unpredictable Plant" by Eugene Peterson:

"There are a thousand ways of being religious without submitting to Christ's lordship, and people are practiced in most of them. We live in golden calf country. Religious feeling runs high but in ways far removed from what was said on Sinai and done on Calvary. While everyone has a hunger for God, deep and insatiable, none of us has any great desire for him. What we really want is to be our own gods and to have whatever other gods that are around to help us in this work. We are trained from an early age to be discriminating consumers on our way to higher standards of living. It should be no great surprise to pastors when congregations expect us to collaborate in this enterprise. But it is serious apostasy when we go along. 'And Moses said to Aaron, "What did this people do to you that you have brought a great sin upon them?"' (Exod. 32:21). Aaron's excuse is embarrassingly lame but more than matched by the justifications pastors make for abandoning worship in our enthusiasm to make the congregation flourishingly successful."

Take Off the Blinders

I'm reading Eugene Peterson's "Under the Unpredictable Plant" and just came across a sentence that made me question my motives in relationships, especially relationships with others in the Church congregation in which I serve.

Eugene brought up a point concerning how we as pastors can often reduce someone's worth to how active they are within the Body. Do they show up on Sundays? That earns them some points. Do they give their tithe? That earns them some more points? Do they devote some time to the ministry of the Church? That will earn them a few more points. Do they actively participate in the work of evangelism, etc...I think you get the point.

I am so very guilty of this. I have judged my brothers and sisters based on their corporate, Church stats. I have done it over and over again. Most other "church" leaders I know have done it also. It's a way of life for church leadership. I guess it's the way we have to monitor a "job well done" or something like that.

Peterson challenged me to take off the blinders that I've placed around my eyes. He challenged me to look at the people I serve beyond their "church" shell and really get to the crux of their creative, passionate, God-given soul...a soul, that sometimes they don't even see themselves...soul that He created...a soul that has worth beyond carrying out the goals and jobs of some egotistical Creative Arts Pastor in Scottsbluff, Nebraska.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Giving and Receiving

I loved Christmas growing up as a kid for one reason...PRESENTS!!! I loved combing through the pages of the Christmas catalogs and dreaming about the possibility of seeing some of those toys end up under the tree on Christmas morn.

As I grew older, I started to take as much joy and pleasure in planning out and hunting down the perfect gifts for those in my life that I'm closest to. I love finding those perfect gifts that will truly show people that I care and I want that gift to make their face light up.

I think about today. The picture of my daughter's face as she received an Easy-Bake Oven, the gift she had been dreaming about and talking about for months, was a beautiful thing. She beamed with joy and excitement.

I think about this time of year, the celebration of God sending the perfect gift to mankind, His one and only son, Jesus. A lot of planning went into the gift. It's the perfect gift that would bring us true joy. It's the gift that we truly need.

I think about my reaction as I'm confronted with this gift. Does it bring me great joy? Do I sense the need? Does it spark that "awe" factor in me? Do I beam? Sadly, the answer is not always.

This is a pretty disjointed rambling, but it all comes down to this: God I am truly thankful for your gift of Jesus. I know I don't always show it, but my desire is to be continually in awe of You and Your gift of love. I know that in a few months time the Easy-Bake Oven will be a forgotten memory sitting on my daughter's shelf that is only pulled out on occasion. May it never be with me and the gift You gave.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


My friend Ted and I went to the 10:30 showing of Avatar last night. I found out, after I got there, that it was the 3D version. This was my first time seeing anything 3D in the theater. I was hoping to lose my 3D virginity to something better, but oh well.

I'm writing today to share my epiphany from the movie last night. At one point in the film, one of the main characters is going through a manhood, rites of passage, type of thing with the alien people. The confirmation was a beautiful sight to see. After he had gone through the motions and proved himself worthy, the entire tribe came together, and placing their hands on each other's shoulders made this huge community that let him know he was now one of them.

I had this great vision in my mind where after someone comes to know Christ, or if someone starts hanging out with our tribe and decides to be committed, they stand in the middle of the celebration center and the entire Body forms a community around them, dedicating themselves once again to being the Body...committed to caring, loving, supporting, spurring on, bearing with, praying for, and honoring one another. How the world's perception of the Church and Jesus Christ would change if we would be committed to loving one another and committed to being the Body controlled by our head, Jesus Christ.

Thanks Avatar for giving me my first "in theater" 3D experience and for showing me a great picture of how the Church could be.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Grumbling About Grumbling

For the past 10-11 years of my life I have been involved in ministry work in a full-time capacity. The ministry work that I'm involved in specifically deals with music. In my 11 years of ministry I have noticed something...the Church is made up of a lot of whiney grumblers...of which I can be the worst at times.

We have all adopted this "me-first", "I have to have things my way." mentality. Sometimes we care more about our personal comfort levels than we do our spiritual health. If the music isn't what we want, we complain or make cynical comments. If the service has gone too long, we gripe or just get up and walk out. We complain and grumble about what the leadership is or is not doing, all the while not lifting a finger. Listen to me, I'm even grumbling about the grumblers.

The Church can be one of the most frustrating things about the Faith sometimes. The Church, when it's functioning as the Lord intended, is also the most beautiful thing about the Faith.

I think the key for us to get back to functioning as the Lord intended for us lies in our attitude and our humility. The Scriptures popping into my head as I type this out are "Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves." "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others."

When I start living these passages out and am less focused on me and having my needs met, I will have less to complain, and grumble, about. I won't need to be comfortable, because I'll be more concerned with someone else's comfort.

May the Spirit continue to work within us to achieve unity and love for this world. May we continue to be humble before God and men. May we be what is beautiful and right about the Church for God's glory!