Summertime

There is so much going on this summer. I'm excited and a little scared. I'm preaching on whole books this summer starting this Sunday with Genesis. Yep. The whole book of Genesis in 20 minutes. I haven't been this excited about a sermon in a long time. I think the excitement comes from having the opportunity to show people that the Old Testament is a boring prelude to the New Testament but a vital piece to understanding just how awesomely unbelievable God is and how we don't have to flip pages until we get to Matthew to see Jesus. Stephen Covey said to begin with the end in mind in his best-selling book and that's what I get to do in Genesis. Exciting, I tell you!

Today I launched a new newsletter for the church that I had a blast planning out and designing. Still need a good name for it, but it was fun to write nonetheless.

I'm starting a DMin program called Beeson Pastor Program in August. Well, technically I've already started. I had 16 weeks to read 19 required books. I'm on my way toward completion and I've got two classes I'm taking from July 29-August 24. Can't wait.

Good Friday

I got all my stuff migrated over to Hover and Squarespace this morning and am loving the new setup. Great companies.

It is Good Friday and, as someone wrote on Twitter, the entire state of Arkansas is talking about a sin instead of the Savior who came to free us from the penalty and power of sin in our lives. May we all look to Christ for our forgiveness and salvation.

For today, it really would be worth your time and attention to read this wonderfully written account of the crucifixion from the perspective of the centurion who said, "Truly, this is the Son of God." It was written by a seminary classmate and is creative and moving.

Sunday's coming!

It Is Finished

For real.

O Death, Death, He is come.
O grounds of Hell make room.
Who came from further than the stars
Now comes as low beneath.
Thy ribbèd ports, O Death
Make wide; and Thou, O Lord of Sin,
Lay open thine estates
Lift up your heads, O Gates;
Be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors
The King of Glory will come in.

- Gerard Manley Hopkins

There's lots, lots more in his catalog. Lots.

It's 100 Degrees Outside

For a number of reasons I have neglected to write as often as I set out to when I restarted this blog. Mostly because, doggoneit, ministry has been hectic. Here’s three links while I try to polish up some things I’ve been writing and haven’t edited yet.

Some Thoughts Upon Reading The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe to My Daughter

In the opening chapter of Umberto Eco's book Foucault's Pendulum, a young couple is described by the character Casaubon, having watched them barely breeze by an amazing piece of art and physics, like this: "A moment later the couple went off - he, trained on some textbook that had blunted his capacity for wonder, she, inert and insensitive to the thrill of the infinite, both oblivious of the awesomeness of their encoutner - their first and last encounter - with the One, the Ein-Sof, the Ineffable. How could you fail to kneel down before this altar of certitude?"

This is one of my very favorite sentences in the English language because it describes the way I and many others encounter God: our capacity for wonder blunted, inert and insensitive to the thrill of the Infinite.

O may I be like Lucy Pevensie!

"And Lucy felt running through her that deep shiver of gladness which you only get if you are being solemn and still."

Links are What You Share

When you just haven't been able to finish a bunch of the stuff you've been working on. It took me nearly two months to write up - ever so briefly - my Acts 29 experience and it's been nearly a month since I attended the Gospel Coalition Conference in April so look for that in June.

Links I Liked Today:

That's just today. So far. I haven't even gone through Instapaper yet.

Sunday Links - Easter 2011

CHRIST IS RISEN!

HE IS RISEN, INDEED!

Here’s some Easter Sunday links for you. I’m definitely taking a nap this afternoon so enjoy these while I sleep.

Ok, so it was a thin week link-wise. Holy Week was full of activity and almost all of it great. Thank you, Jesus, for dying and rising.

New Book

I haven't written a review of a book yet, but I'd like to go ahead and promote a book I just started yesterday because it's good and because the content is important.

One of the great things about studying at Asbury Theological Seminary was the Bible classes. (I would say it was the best thing, but I met my wife there so that was the best thing about ATS.) They were all modeled on the inductive method and I learned a ton from those classes. Sadly, I never learned the method as thoroughly as I would have liked but I believe that was due to my own brain and attention and not the professors or the method. I had some great teachers and some great classes. In fact, Exegesis of Jeremiah is still probably one of my favorite classes of all time both because of the content and the teacher.

My very first Bible class was in the Gospel of Matthew and was taught by David Bauer, one of the authors of a new book I'm reading on the inductive method. What I love about this book so far is that it has clarified some things for me that I didn't pick up 12 years ago when I took that class. Dr. Bauer is a 3rd degree inductive black belt and I was just happy to be wearing the uniform. This new book is helping me tremendously and I believe will aid me in becoming the Bible student I want to be and in becoming a better preacher. I'll do a full review when I've completed the book, but until then I recommend you go and buy it.



Conference Thoughts

I'm in the second day of The Gospel Coalition. It’s been great. If you are thinking it’s weird that a Methodist would attend this primarily Reformed event, you'd be right: it is weird. (I did hang out with a seminary classmate and fellow UM pastor and one other UM pastor here so I'm not alone.) If you're wondering why I would come to worship and learn with this bunch, I've been trying to articulate why I'm drawn to this crowd and it comes down to this – when I hear or read these people I almost always am drawn to both worship Jesus and desire Jesus. My heart cannot say that about 97% of what I read in my own tradition. I experience this when I read Wesley but very few others after him have inspired such devotion to Jesus. That leaves me with two items to develop and write about for the future 1. How to encourage theology inspired doxology in our tribe and 2. How to encourage people to write in such a way as to inspire these potential authors.

I have received so much at this conference, including free books(!!!), but the very best thing has been meeting some people I've only previously known on-line. This post by Steve McCoy sums up most of what I've been thinking. I have spent time with two pastors from my area who I have met before. I got to tell Jared Wilson that God is using his Gospel Wakefulness talks in a powerful way in my heart and meet his lovely wife who is genuinely sweet, a rare quality. I also got to overhear Jared’s friend, Ray Ortlund, tell a man “You really need to get to know Jared Wilson if you're interested in this.” and then give the blog address to this dude which I know was a beautiful compliment that Jared didn’t get to hear but I did and teared up. I got to meet the aforementioned Steve McCoy and Joe Thorn who are going to be the Matthau and Lemon of the church one day. Oh, and I got to eat dinner at the same table as my favorite productivity blogger, Matt Perman.

I'll have more to write when I return, but that’s what I find spinning around in my head and heart and I'm grateful to God for the opportunity to be here.

Sunday Links 4.3.2011

Sunday links are back again. I know it’s been a few so I’ll stock this one with a lot of them!

Ministry and Miscellany

I haven’t spent much time writing during the last couple of weeks. We have been working hard at church to finalize plans for a mission project during Spring Break. That project began with our group yesterday afternoon and continues on through the end of the week. I’m so very proud of them and am proud to be in ministry with them. Here’s a video I took this morning of a wall going up:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLjMG2wpSn4

I’ll update some more during the week. For now, here’s some of the links I found interesting last week:

I might write an iPad 2 review, but for now, let me just share one great moment with it (I’ve had it 9 days). Yesterday, I was in the home of a 91 year old lady who lost her husband three weeks ago. The Sunday after her husband’s funeral I baptized her great-grandson. She wasn’t present for the baptism and mentioned how much she would have liked to have been there. I took out the iPad and showed her the video I had uploaded to Vimeo and so we sat in her sitting room and watched it. At the end of the video I looked at her and saw a single tear roll down her cheek.

Sometimes I really hate that I’m so drawn to technology and gadgets, but that moment made me happy.

Triumphant Return

Well, not so much. We were in Dallas for a few days and transitioned into Daylight Savings so I didn't have much in the way of posting these last few days. I didn't even open my computer on Thursday. No Sunday links, either, but I might try to get some of the good ones from last week in the middle of this week. I promise, they will be Rob Bell-free.

If you are curious, I was in Dallas to attend the first day of the Acts 29 Boot Camp. If you're wondering, 1) I haven't become a Calvinist and 2) I'm not intending to plant a church because God has not (to my knowledge) called me to that. I've got a lot of reasons for wanting to attend this event and I am writing about it for a longer blog post. If you're looking for an exposé or anything like folks who infiltrate churches, colleges, or groups pretending to be one of them, you're not going to get it. I went with a clear purpose and it had nothing to do with uncovering anything. In fact, if anything was uncovered in those 8 hours it was my wicked heart and I'm grateful for the teaching, the conviction, and the opportunity to pray and repent. More on that later.

Here's last Sunday's sermon if you're interested.

http://vimeo.com/21026849

The Cross is Your Salvation from FUMC Prairie Grove on Vimeo.

Ash Wednesday 2011

We had a great turnout for Ash Wednesday tonight. This is the third one we have done. I preached my first sermon here 3 years ago today and the following year was the first Ash Wednesday service that anyone could remember. It's such a privilege to lead these people in worship. I love them a lot.

As a part of our worship tonight, I imposed ashes on the foreheads of those who came forward. It's such a sobering thing to smear ashes on the forehead and say, "You are dust and to dust you shall return." to a man who just had a brain tumor removed.

Or to a man whose health is failing.

Or to my 6 year-old daughter.

Thanks be to Jesus, who makes all things new.

Sunday Links 2.27.2011

Not as many links this week, but it was one crammed full including a funeral and a couple of days away with the family. Check back next Sunday! Well, and the other days, too :-)

A Little R&R

Weeks with funerals always turn out to be emotionally exhausting which somehow translates into physical exhaustion. I really loved and respected the man we remembered yesterday and was so glad I could share his forgiveness by Jesus and the joy of his hope in Jesus. It was a great witness and testimony.

A few months ago we received a deal for two free nights in a hotel, so we are taking some family time. I'm looking forward to resting, spending time with my girls, and to get back into the Bible and prayer. It's been a bit of a dry season.

What do you do to reconnect with God and those closest to you?


Dancing in the Minefields

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NtTa81LyuQM

“I do” are the two most famous last words

The beginning of the end
But to lose your life for another
I’ve heard Is a good place to begin


‘Cause the only way to find your life
Is to lay your own life down
And I believe it’s an easy price
For the life that we have found

If there is one thing young engaged couples need to hear, it’s that a good marriage is not something you find, it’s something you work for. It takes struggle. You must crucify your selfishness. You must at times confront, and at other times confess. The practice of forgiveness is essential. This is undeniably hard work! But eventually it pays off. Eventually, it creates a relationship of beauty, trust, and mutual support. - Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas

I love my wife. I love her very imperfectly, but I love her.

This is my favorite piece of writing from my late-friend Michael Spencer: Running Wounded. It's about the frailties of marriage and the incredible mercies of God.