Archive for November, 2007

My Kids, Professors Of Theology

November 30, 2007

I’m a stay at home Dad. We have two reasons for that, one’s eleven the other’s eight. Both boys. I sometimes say, a little jokingly, that raising my kids has been my theological education. No seminary needed, thank you very much.

I say it kind of jokingly just to be funny and clever. But the truth is, it’s the truth.

Here’s a sample lesson from the class on biblical studies they taught several years ago.

“Read this book to me, Daddy.”

“Why don’t you go pick a different book, buddy? We’ve read that one a thousand times.”

“Dis one!”

(Sigh)…”Ok, we’ll read that one.”

As I’m reading, he’s correcting any errors and ommissions. So it’s clear he’s not looking for new information. He doesn’t ask for explanation of grammatical nuance, or definition of words and concepts (he asked those questions early on in the first hundred or so readings.). Sure, he likes the story and knows it word for word. But more than that, he wants to be with me, and hear me read the words to him.

I need to be more like that with the scriptures. Especially when I’ve read the words a hundred times, and they’ve become too familiar. 

“Read this book to me, Daddy.”

Because I need to be with Him, and hear Him read the words to me.


Laughing At Ourselves

November 28, 2007

I like to laugh. My sense of humor is a bit…askew, shall we say? I think it’s a good thing to take myself a little less seriously, to lighten up a little and remember that I’m prone to be a bit goofy sometimes. Revved Up! makes me laugh. But if you’re offended by satire, don’t watch this. (Go on, I dare you not to watch)


Good Call!

November 27, 2007

Man’s gotta call them like he sees them.

Ways And Means, The Jesus Way (Part 2)

November 26, 2007

“Following Jesus necessarily means getting his ways and means into our everyday lives. It is not enough simply to recognize and approve his ways and get started in the right direction. Jesus’ ways are meant to be embraced and assimilated into our habits. This takes place only as we pray our following of him. It cannot be imposed from without, cannot be copied. It must be shaped from within. This shaping takes place in prayer. The practice of prayer is the primary way that Jesus’ way comes to permeate our entire lives so that we walk spontaneously and speak rhythmically in the fluidity and fluency of holiness.” –Eugene Peterson (The Jesus Way) 

The first law of spiritual formation is this, “You will become like whoever you spend time with.”

It’s really a law of human personality, the way God made all of us. Children pick up all kinds of mannerisms, habits, voice inflections, thought patterns, attitudes from their parents. Husbands and wives -if they are together long enough- begin to think more alike, to finish one another’s sentences, some even start to look like the other. (That’s bad news for you, honey!) 

Most of this shaping happens at an unconscious level.

Kristin and I have been married for twenty one years. Before we got married, we (or at least I) used to joke that she loved to clean up, and I loved to mess up. It was a perfect match. 

I don’t know when, or how it happened, but I changed. Messes bug me now. Now I clean up after myself, the kids, myself, the dog…oh yeah, and myself. On occasion I’ve been known to vacuum or dust without being asked. Just the other day I even cleaned out my closet. I’ve become more like my wife in other ways too. And for those of you who know her, you know what a good thing that is.

We spend a lot of time together as a family, just by virtue of living under the same roof. Sometimes I have to be a little more intentional about being there, but that’s the exception rather than the rule. As a result, little by little, day after day, without my knowing they are taking place, changes happen. A shaping of lives is going on (for better, and for worse, I’m afraid) all the time. And even though it’s going on all the time, by the time I can see change, much time has passed. But then, real, lasting change always takes a lot of time.

That’s how it is spiritually, but I have to be much more intentional about spending time with Jesus. Even though he has made me for himself, old habits die hard. And I’ll waste all kinds of time on stupid stuff, instead of what matters. So I need to keep watch, and practice the Presence, trusting that He who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion.

But that’s not all.  If I would be an “imitator of God”, as a dearly loved child, and live a life of love, just as Christ loved me (Eph. 5:1), then I have to study the ways of Jesus, try and understand what he did, and what he said. Maybe more importantly, what he didn’t do and didn’t say. And then I have to do the things he tells me to do. I’m not talking about the walking on water kind of stuff (Although, you’re welcome to try. Just video it and put it on YouTube so the rest of us can watch.), but the simple habits and ways of living that helped him grow in stature and favor with God and man. 

By the way, habits and patterns of life don’t change us, but they do create a space for the Spirit to work in our hearts. Kind of quieting down the clamor of the world so we can give our attention to the One who says, “Put on my yoke and learn from me”, and allowing him to make us new.

Primarily, this happens as we live life with him in prayer. As we ask questions, listen to his words, watch what he is doing and has done, we learn his ways. Jesus, himself, said that’s what he did. “I only say what the Father tells me to say. I only do that which I see the Father doing.”

I don’t know about you, but I want to be like Jesus even if it takes a lifetime to learn.

Letters From Kamp Krusty

November 23, 2007

Letters From Kamp Krusty is hands down my favorite blog. Brant Hansen lovingly pokes fun at the church culture in a way that is helpful, and makes me chuckle…a lot. If you like The Door (Yaconelli era),  Lark News, general goofiness, and accordions visit frequently. Oh yeah, he’s also got the greatest category titles anywhere.

Here’s a piece for all us parents who sometimes forget what our kids don’t need.

The Jesus Way

November 22, 2007

The Jesus WayOk, ok, I didn’t quite get back to this as soon as I said I would. Sorry. No real excuse except that life got busy the last couple of days.

Let’s jump in with both feet.

I think The Jesus Way is Eugene Peterson at his best, doing what he does best. I’m no authority on his works, but I’ve read several of his books, and listened to twenty some odd hours of seminars he has done. I’ve enjoyed all of them and learned much from him. More than that, the way I think has been, to some degree, shaped by his words. And this book is one of my favorites.

Two things, no three. Three things…. Amongst our weaponry are such diverse elements…(sorry about that). Three things stand out to me about this book as a whole.

First, Dr. Peterson calls this third book in a series of five on spiritual theology “a conversation on the ways Jesus is the way”, and that is the way it feels. Warm, easy …well, conversational. He’s a pretty bright fellow, and he’s been around long enough to know the lay of the cultural (both evangelical, and western) landscape, so he could talk over my head with lots of room to spare. But he doesn’t, he’s accessible, doesn’t assume a lot of prerequisite knowledge, and doesn’t talk down to me.

Second, he brings names on the pages of scripture and history to life. They become real people when he talks about them. David is no less a man after God’s own heart, but now he’s more man than legend to me. Herod’s ego and Josephus’ opportunistic ambition both become apparent as he tells their stories. And I understand them all better, and recognize their present day incarnations in the CNN/Fox News reports I saw yesterday.

Third, he makes me stop and consider what I’m doing, and why I’m doing it. The theme of the book is, “Ways and means matter.” In a pragmatic world where the ends justify any means, Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

“The Jesus way wedded to the Jesus truth brings about the Jesus life. We can’t proclaim the Jesus truth, but then do it any old way we like. Nor can we follow the Jesus way without speaking the Jesus truth.

But Jesus as the truth gets far more attention than Jesus as the way. Jesus as the way is the most frequently evaded metaphor among the Christians with whom I have worked for fifty years as a North American pastor.” (pg. 4)

If we would be like Jesus, we’ve got to meditate on, and “enter into a way of life that is given character and shape and direction by the one who calls us.”

The Jesus Way is helping me do that.  

More later, not gonna promise when.

Later today….

November 20, 2007

the-jesus-way.jpgI’m working my way back through The Jesus Way, by Eugene Peterson. Lots of good stuff that makes me stop and think about what I’m doing and why I’m’ doing it.

Later today (or tomorrow) I’ll post some thoughts that have been floating around in my head.

Pay Attention!

November 19, 2007

I’m pretty much convinced that the main part , if not the whole, of what I am to be about as a Christian is to pay attention.

Let me say it again. I am convinced that what I am supposed to do, as a follower of Jesus, is look, listen, examine, think on, be on the hunt for, the ways God is moving, acting, speaking, teaching in my everyday life, and then to respond to what I hear Him say.

Everything in this world is after my attention. From billboards to newspapers, to radio and TV, to my children, to my church, to my work, to my (fill in the blank), they all want me to pay attention to what they are saying. As a matter of fact I can’t think of a better way to keep people from hearing God’s still, small voice than to make everything around them so loud and so busy that they hear forty different voices screaming at them while they go to this meeting and that practice. It’s no wonder we’ve got attention spans two seconds long. We’ve got Cultural ADHD, and it’s no wonder our kids are showing signs at an early age of the same disease. They caught it from us.

 We don’t know how to slow down, be quiet and listen for the voice of the One who made us, and calls us to come to Him and learn how to live what he calls “life to the full”.

As a matter of fact I don’t think we really want to hear His voice. I think we’re afraid of what we might hear. We’re afraid we might hear nothing, that no one is out there and that we are the biggest fools in all the universe, “most to pitied”.

 And I think we are afraid we might actually hear something, that God might actually show up. That He might show us that everything we’ve spent our lives building up, bank accounts, retirement benefits, reputations, image enhancements, whiter teeth, …etc., are worthless and bankrupt, just so much wasted time.  

 “Behold”, “Listen”, “Be still”, “Keep silence”, “Rest”,  Scripture is full from beginning to end with these, and many other calls to a more contemplative life. Don’t be afraid of the word contemplative. The real contemplative is one who is learning to pay attention to Reality, and to be thankful, and do what He tells him to do. To do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with Him. In other words, true comtemplatives end up being the most practical people you’ll meet. Because when you spend time listening to Him, God often points out simple things He’d like you to do in order to love others for His name’s sake.

So, if you catch me going a thousand miles an hour in a thousand different directions, knock me up-side the head and remind me to pay attention.

More Tommy Emmanuel, CGP

November 19, 2007

If one was good, two has to better. Right?

Tommy Emmanuel, CGP

November 18, 2007

 I saw Tommy Emmanuel in concert last year. One guy, one guitar, amazing. It was two hours of this kind of energy.  

If you like good jaw-dropping guitar and he comes your way, do yourself a favor and go see him.