Oct 28, 2010

True Maroon...New Maroon!

Pardon the personal selfish indulgence, but I just saw this from someone's Twitter and it was too good to not post.

Oct 27, 2010

This is the kind of counseling I wish I could do...

As a pastor, I have found myself doing a lot of counseling over the years.  While most of the situations that people come to me with our legitimate personal and spiritual issues, there are occasionally the ones that make you want to be like Bob Newhart below.  As a pastor, I have to be much more diplomatic.  However, sometimes this accurately reflects what needs to be said.

Oct 25, 2010

Josh Hamilton - Story of Grace and Redemption

I have always been a huge baseball fan.  If you read this blog, you know I am a rabid Red Sox fan.  I have also been a closet Texas Rangers fan for about 15 years.  While my loyalties are still at Fenway Park, my baseball hero now resides in Arlington.  By now, many of you know the story of Josh Hamilton.  You probably know that this guy was the "can't miss" draft pick of 1999.  He had all the talent that every young man dreams of.  He was also the object of his own idolatry.  You probably have heard about the accident that sidelined him and his subsequent slide into tattoo parlors, alcohol, and drugs.  You have probably heard about his banishment from baseball and how he hit rock bottom.  You have probably heard about how he turned to Jesus Christ, cleaned up, and began to play some baseball again - eventually getting a second chance to return to baseball.  You know about the other-worldly performance in the 2008 Home Run Derby launching rockets into the stands at old Yankee Stadium.  You probably also know that Josh led his Rangers to defeat the "evil empire" this last week to advance for the first time to the World Series.  For all these reasons, Josh Hamilton is my hero.

I sill think it's ok for a 42-year old guy to have sports heroes.  I certainly love the fact that as a father of 3 (soon to be 4), I have someone for my boys to look up to.  I love the fact that, despite the pit he had to go through, I have someone I can talk to my sons about not only the consequences of their choices but also that true repentance is answered by grace and redemption.  I love the look in my oldest sons eyes when I presented him an "autographed" copy of Josh's book "Beyond Belief" last Christmas.

Josh Hamilton is not my hero because he can smash a baseball further than I ever dreamed. Or because he can throw a rope from center field to home plate.  Or because he destroyed my most hated team on the planet.  Those all help.  Josh is my hero because he faced his past like a true man of God, repented of his sin, fell upon the grace of God, and has spent his subsequent life exalting Jesus Christ.  When I met Josh last year, I said to him, "You have a lot of dads that are praying for you because of the example you are to our sons."  He said "Thanks.  Please keep praying."

To see more of how Josh Hamilton is the real deal, check out this video: Josh Hamilton "I Am Second"

Oct 20, 2010

Johnny Hunt on Learning From Others

The more I hear from Dr. Johnny Hunt, the more I wish I and many others I know were more like him.  In this video from last year, Pastor Johnny talks about how he came to learn and appreciate those with whom he held different theological views.  I have tried as much as possible not to let theological difference be too divisive or keep me from appreciating and finding common ground.  I pray that no matter our theological or methodological convictions that we can learn better to separate issues of primary importance from secondary or tertiary issues.  I also pray that, like Dr. Hunt, our methods will be characterized more by humility and cooperation than belligerence. 

David Crowder Band - SMS(Shine)

This is an incredible video from David Crowder Band using a Lite-Brite and thousands of pegs.  This is by far one of the most creative things I have ever seen and proof of why I and so many others are fans of DC*B.  Enjoy.

Oct 19, 2010

MSU Dawgs back in the Top 25

It's cool to be a Bulldog!
As a die-hard MSU sports fan since I was 6 years old, it's always nice when we break into the top 25 and begin to get some recognition.  When I looked at the schedule this year and how we finished last year, I predicted to many that we would go 6-6, maybe 7-4.  I thought we could steal either Auburn or Georgia (we almost did both).  I never thought we would beat Florida (always a nice win).  Even in my best imagination I didn't foresee 5-2 with our only losses being the #6 and #7 teams in the country.  I didn't expect a top 25 placement 7 games into the season with a legitimate shot of going 8-4 or better.  It's a nice time to be a Bulldog and I hope we see continued success and are able to extend Mullen's contract such as fitting to keep him a Bulldog for a while.  Many kudos to Coach Mullen, the other FB coaches, AD Scott Stricklin, and former AD Greg Byrne for establishing a winning and celebrative atmosphere after a decade of futility and mediocrity.


Oct 11, 2010

A Fitting Tribute for a Faithful Servant

I have been profoundly influenced by the writings and preaching of John Piper.  I was just reading through some blogs from my internet absence and saw this video from the Desiring God Conference last week.  I certainly plan to get this book as soon as I can.  I only hope to be able to finish doctoral research in order to be able to actually read it.

Transforming Church in Rural America (Book Review)

I recently received a copy of this book by Shannon O'Dell for review.  Since I am a new pastor in a rural community, I was very interested to see what the author had to say.  I had heard of O'Dell and his Brand New Church a couple of years ago from a link at WiredChurches.com.  O'Dell is doing a phenomenal work transitioning a small, dying church in rural Arkansas into a relevant model that can bring hope to any and all pastors of small, rural churches. 

O'Dell's book is an attempt to write the "Purpose-Driven Church" for small town church leadership.  It is mostly autobiographical in nature.  The author shares a lot of stories about his struggles and successes in transitioning a difficult church.  His story is a familiar refrain - a pastor looking for a change gets a call from the one place he really doesn't want to go but can't escape the fact that it is the one place where God wants him to go.  When he gets there, he realizes his fears have come true - he has inherited a dysfunctional church with dysfunctional systems that have made them irrelevant.  However, O'Dell was surrounded by a group of people that realized their dysfunction and really wanted to make a change.  The journey was not without hardship or opposition.  However, Brand New Church has become a multi-site church in an area that no one would have predicted this level of ministry success and a model to follow.

O'Dell's book is very practical.  It provides a lot of great ideas and inspiration.  It is certainly a departure from many of the church growth/church health books that focus on suburban churches in the thousands.  O'Dell's writing style is easy to read.  The book relies heavily on stories and the author's humor.  I would have liked to see more thought put into more biblical and theological foundations.  Little attention is paid to making changes in a dying church without compromising Scripture or theological foundations.  I am not suggesting that O'Dell has done this at his church.  However, it is easy for the reader to get caught up in ministry paradigms and practices without giving careful attention to the fact that most dying churches has very poor biblical and theological foundational systems.  The book also gets very repetitive at times.  After the first 3-4 chapters, I found myself not as engaged as I did at first.  However, the inspiration alone of how this leader showed a dying, rural church how to be a missional, evangelistic force is work

Back from Blogging Hiatus

I apologize for my recent unexpected hiatus from blogging.  I know that many of you have been fasting and sitting in sackcloth and ashes eagerly awaiting your RSS feed to update.  No good excuse for my absence.  Got real busy with church stuff.  Then went for a week to New Orleans for a doctoral seminar (no time to blog there).  Then went to Disney with the family for a week (Pics to follow soon). 

I will be posting a book review soon...