a journal of my journey

Posts tagged “church

On A Mission From God

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Over three years ago, in the middle of the struggle to find a suitable position I remember the wise words from my Senior Pastor that this next chapter of my life would need to be about my families needs and not my own. That while my innermost desire was to not only get an ordained position but to be a part of starting a new church. The church that I was called to had no dreams of starting a new church, in fact it was not even on their radar. That leads us to today, where my iPad seems to be filled with scribbles, sketches, and notes on where we are going and being. For six months we have planned for this moment. The moment when we go from thinking and praying to DOING.

As we take this step there is lots of unknowns. Where are we going to find these people for this new ministry? What is it truly going to look like? Those questions that revolve around the ministry. Then their are questions about myself. Can I do it? And then my own doubts come in and overwhelm me. If I did not have these doubts then I would concerned that I have not thought this whole thing through enough. But despite myself, I am to be used for something truly remarkable.

I am convinced and feel called to do and lead this new ministry/ church. The word that I have felt for so long is “it’s time to go and lead”. That is where we are going. Looking ahead the rock that we are rolling up the mountain is steep but at least the rock is moving. As I have broken down the basic plan of how this whole New Worshipping Community is going to form it is not rocket science. Simply go, meet people, and be. It really is not that hard. The hard part is putting myself and my team in the position to do it. To do it through the exciting times and the times we are feeling overwhelmed.

Pray for us. This is going to be exciting. I will be posting way for you to pray for us and be a part of what we are doing as our social media end begins to take shape. Hold on…. “we are on a mission from God.”


The Bad Theology of Giving

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I hate when people say all the church wants is my money. Or when people say that you got to give God something in order to receive blessings in return. Have you ever heard the church asking for money in such a way that it gives you a shooting pain behind your eyeball? You probably have and if you are not rooted in the church it probably turned you off. Even being a Pastor at a church it turns me off.

This past week I have been pondering Stewardship and giving. It all started when I heard that KLOVE was doing their annual pledge drive. I understand that they do not do commercials and are donor supported. BUT how do we ask for money and why? It is usually during their pledge periods that I turn the station until it passes. Simply because some of the illustrations that they use cause me to cringe. Many of them revolve around the the idea that if we give to the station, God will bless them back. That someone gave in faith and “BLAM” something happens. Granted I do believe that God can do and will do whatever God’s will is. But still we perpetuate the vendor mentality of God. That if you give, then you will receive. If we look at the book of Matthew:

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?- Matthew 6:25-27 (NIV)

We need to realize that God takes care of us despite ourselves. That God gives, and gives abundantly. Many times it is not exactly what we want, but we are cared for. Simply by giving an extra $50 will God open the treasure chest and your life will be so much better. You and I are valuable to God and we are taken care of.

There is also a perception that we view people entering our churches as “giving units”. That if we bring in so many people we can continue to operate as we have been. Or as members move on (in many ways) we need to offset their giving by bringing in new members. Too often I hear rumblings that “All we want is people’s money”. In some sense that is true. The lights, heating, repairs, and programs have to be paid for. Without members giving how would we continue? When we begin to look at people in the church as dollar signs to continue the church’s way of life we lose focus. When evangelism is not about bringing people into a deep understanding of the grace that God has given them… we miss the point. When programs become more about the church’s members entertainment, then its core focuses than we have missed the point. In giving we are responding and giving back to God what is not ours… it’s God’s. That is the essence if giving. Giving is not a bill or a fee to be in “the club”, but understanding all of what God has done for us and wanting to give back in some part.

Too often we portray a bad theology of giving. Instead of giving being all about our response to God it becomes all about us. When we are dealing with ministry and money it is important to point it at the right direction. No matter how good the intention is sometimes… we just miss.


Semi Sweet Chocolate Line in the Sand

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What if I put out in my blog I was was against semi sweet chocolate? That somewhere in the Levitical laws it was declared unclean and remains unclean to this day. So if you were to eat semi sweet chocolate you were to be condemned by God. Anyone seeing this post and liking semi sweet chocolate would feel judged and not likely walk into the doors of your church. While God has been prompting that person to go to church, we may have simply gotten in the way. Instead of working for the good of God and our church, we become a hinderance.

Lately I have noticed an increased amount of articles and blogs written about how we need to hold onto our faith stances. Whether those issues are sociological, theological, or whatever they may be. I do hold onto some deep theological stances whether they be about justice, the Bible, social issues, and a myriad of other issues. But I also realize that I am called to be a Pastor or the technical term for me within the Presbyterian Church, a Teaching Elder. In that I am called to be pastoral in how I apply my own personal beliefs. The world and our community is large and I doubt that we all agree on every issue. Why do we make some larger than others? Why must we agree on every issue beyond our essentials? We will not, but if we let the issues divide us then we have larger issues. Issues with our own community or lack or it, and our ability to reach those around us with the Gospel.

By coming out for or against semi sweet chocolate, I immediately endear my self to some colleagues and to others I am quite the opposite. This does not help in creating unity within our Presbytery or other circles. Many of us have experienced it. The looks or the unwilling to talk with other people with dissenting viewpoints. In the past couple years, there are colleagues that will not acknowledge me beyond a head nod simply because I am one of “them”. Too bad they do not know me, but I am categorized and moved on. I am not saying my semi sweet chocolate haters are right, but simply over a disagreement we have chosen not to have community with those that are in the same profession.

The outside world sees our infighting, and wonder why they should even enter a church that cannot get along with each other. Earlier I talked about how I am called to be a pastor. I am not called to be a pastor of those that agree with me. My primary job as a pastor is not to do the bulletin or make sure the Sanctuary is properly decorated. It is to follow the prompting of the Spirit to lead people to a deeper understanding of God and faith. By stating publicly that “I”, the pastor do not believe that semi sweet chocolate should be eaten we only further entrench those outsides thoughts about the church. Those thoughts are simple: we are judgmental and hypocritical. We as the church have not done a good job in trying to change this perception. I am not saying that we should not talk about our viewpoints of the tenants of our faith, but how do we do it. Is it done in a way that that divides or in a way that offers differing viewpoints in attitude of unity?

I am grateful that I have found a community both locally and larger that sees me as who I am and not for my stances. I can look around the table, Facebook group, or prayer letter and see differing  chocolate views but sense unity around it. While we may disagree on some issues; we care and want the best for each other.

All this talk about chocolate is making my sweet tooth take over.


Us vs. Them

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It seems everywhere we look there is conflict. This past week I saw a number of my friends change their Facebook profile in support of marriage equality. As many supported it, there were others that did not. As I scanned through my newsfeed at times each others “passions” turned very personal. An “us vs. them” mentality emerged on both sides.

While the marriage equality issue was raised this week, it was not the only issue that raised an “us vs. them” mentality. Some of the issues might have been over people’s right, a decision, or a change in course in business. Which makes this conflict more than a simple issue, as it can enter into our relationships in a local or national. Recently our Session spent some time discussing the issue of conflict or rather what to do when conflict arises. I remember many in the room discussing that we would not have conflict, but as we work to transform and engage in outreach opportunities… it will arise.

As our staff and Session work on transformation, the key word is “change”. No one really likes change and inevitably it causes conflict. Too easy situations can turn into a “us vs. them”. While our church has often talked about the need to be unified through this process, it does not necessarily happen all the time. When an issue is not addressed or defused it can easily jump in the stages of conflict. Truly I do not believe that our church is to sit idly by, rather we are to be innovative and creative in what our church is to be a part of. On the other hand, are we willing to engage in conflict? It is a hard decision for any Pastoral leadership team or Session to want to make.

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The above arrow shows the stages of conflict if unresolved. It is easy to move from a lower stage to a high one without much effort. We discussed that in order to avoid the “trigger” events that cause an escalation there must be constant dialogue and a diffusing of the “us vs them” mentality. This mentality does no church any good as it simply makes everyone angry.

Life is not pretty, there will be conflict. Conflict in the church, conflict in our work, conflict in our relationships, conflict over our ideals, conflict in our families, conflict over national issues, conflict within city government… you get the picture? There is nowhere we can escape conflict, but we can help diffuse the situation or ignite it further. Which are you?


Heart Break

I just read an ABC News article on how a Porn Star is becoming a role model to underage kids. Really? Or the admission by one interviewed that she first started looking at pornography at the age of 10. As I had been and continue to dip into Youth Ministry, I am constantly shocked by claims of underage drinking, sex, drugs, and so forth by JUNIOR HIGH STUDENTS. Sure I am concerned but not shocked by High School students, I understand the culture. That is to understand the culture that is prevalent, but not condone it.

Throughout Lent I have been leading discussion groups on The Power of A Whisper by Bill Hybels. The purpose of the whole study brings you to a point that you look within yourself and ask the question what breaks your heart in the world. Is it human trafficking, is it latch key kids, or simply the issue(s) that cause you to weep. In understanding that it is God what whispers those places of discomfort to us. While there are many types or styles of whispers given to each of us, there is one that leads us to react. That whisper is the whisper of discomfort. Perhaps we cannot get a news piece out of our mind, watched a documentary which was moving, or lived a life that caused discomfort.

Our reaction may be small to start. A desire to want to respond. Perhaps we will give up some measure of personal comfort to start to engage in the issue. Then the time will come when we are asked to respond and our choices simply are yes or I am comfortable where I am. Which choice will you make?

I realize as I watch the news or read articles the world is a huge, ugly, and scary place. The issues that are in the forefront is not the issue for me. I could not be part of the solution for multiple issues. While I agree wholeheartedly that human trafficking is immoral and wrong, it is not where God is leading me. My issue is not your issue. But hear this… you have a God given issue. Find it… and engage it.


Change and conflict

Conflict-photoFor the past six months our church has been engaged in discovering what is the next step for our church. We have begun to look at statistics that show that we are in the downward arc of growth. This is not bad considering our church has encountered these problems before. In each downward arc, the church (and God) managed to turn the pattern around and grow. Realizing that a majority of our members agree with this, we have begun to engage in the hard work of discerning where we are to go next.

For the past couple years we have hired a church growth consultant that has been talking about to reengage in evangelism. As a number of us have come together to look at the possibilities of what could possibly be… it exiting. Exciting to be a part of reshaping the direction of our church. Exciting to interact with people that do not enter our doors. Exciting to be used.

While I and several of our core leadership may be excited about the possibilities, it would be unwise for us to assume that everyone thinks the same as we do. This past Session meeting we began talking about conflict and change. How many times when change is made it can polarize people into groups and in cause deep divisions. In Session we discussed how do we defuse potential trigger points. The biggest thought was to create an atmosphere of unity. Unity of the church moving in a sense of mission… together we are doing this mission. Often times it may be groups of people that are doing the “mission” rather than an “mission” birthed of the church. While conflict is a byproduct of change it must not be simply brushed under the rug. Rather it needs to be engaged and dealt with on many different levels. From the Ruler Elder on Session to the average congregation member to the shut in. It is in that spirit of unity that we have begun to really study and plan change instead of change that is not well thought out.

These next couple of months should be exciting as the conversation starts on how we can do “mission” together.


Ordination thought

I was searching the internet for some ideas for my installation and ran across a newsletter for the now Rev. Isaac Chung’s new church. I was intrigued by what his pastor wrote on ordination from a Reformed perspective.

Ordination holds opposites in tension.  It sets individuals apart for a particular purpose, but calls them to carry out ministry in community. For pastors in particular, ordination rises “from below” – an act of  the whole church, carried out by the presbytery, in order to choose and propose the candidate – and “from above” – a gift of  God bestowing both skills for pastoral ministry and a recognition of dependency upon the Holy Spirit for their use.  It is both the culmination and the beginning of  the call to ministry.  While God first calls individuals to a life of  service, the church then confirms this inner calling, through Committees on Preparation for Ministry, Seminary, and even Pastoral Nominating Committees.  Ordination, then, serves as the culmination of  that initial call, with installation marking the beginning of  service in the calling community. 

 The central act of  ordination is prayer and the laying on of  hands.  It has been said that in this act, the candidate is overwhelmed by two conflicting feelings – a strange burden and a strong support.  In those hands the weight of  the church’s faith, the witness of  the saints, presses down.  Yet in those same hands, the candidate is upheld, given that which he or she does not have through education or natural inclination.  It is truly a mystical event.  

Finally, the pastor is a leader, but this role only arises because of  those whom he or she leads. Martin Luther said that “there is no true, basic difference between laymen and priests… except for the sake of  office and work, but not for the sake of  status.”  If  it were not for the laity, there would be no need of  pastors, and the work of  the church would collapse before it began.  We are all part of Christ’s work, and are called as such.  As Luther said, “we are all priests, as many of  us are Christians.” The question, then, is not “Am I called to ministry?” but rather, “To which ministry am I called?”  In the Reformed tradition, pastors are called to preach to the congregation, in the name of Christ, so that the congregation may preach to the world in the name of  Christ.  

 


Welcome

One of the areas that I stressed during my different interviews with my APNC was concerns about my family. Where they going to acclimate? Where there kids for them to hang with? What support did the church have for everyone in my family? I am glad in many ways we are not heading into a redevelopment in which my kids would be the only ones. As Jenn and I discerned our path, it was important to us that the call that I would seek would properly have support for everyone.

Sure, I am only fifteen days into my call here, but I am surprised by the genuine nature of the congregation. I was asking my wife the other night if the APNC had spoke to a number of people about our concerns or was this really them. I am totally in the honeymoon stage of my ministry here, but people are very supportive of my family. My kids (the older ones) at first were hesitant about heading into sunday school and youth group. They both found it something they want to be involved in and may actually go to winter camp. That is if the youth can break my girls down enough, no pressure from me! The younger two have definitely taken to being the Pastor’s Kids. The oldest boy is playing catch and tag with anyone that even looks his way and I think people feel obligated to play with him since he will not leave them alone. And the baby… who can’t help but dote over a four month old.

As I sit here in my office, juggling phone calls and emails I can rest assured that the congregation that we have been called to has alleviated all the fears and stress that I had with our family. Now lets see how the first day of school went and if I have to go “red Sean”. Let’s hope not.


My first exorcism

In order to prepare for it…. I watched the movie and surfed the ‘net. What I found was kinda scary. I found how to do it, what it is, and skeptics. So intead of researching it I though I’d bring over my Holy Oil and incense and go to town.Well, not really. I got a call from a congregation member that felt uncomfortable in her new home. After doing her own research, someone told her to have her house blessed. And that is where I came in. I joked with our staff before hand that it was an “exorcism” and to run if heads started to turn in circles.The reality is that in Asian cultures many times a house is blessed when someone moves into it. I personally had not been a part of it, so I did do my research. What I ended up doing is spending time in prayer with the members in their home, and reminding them of an addage that is in my home. Christ is the head of the house, a unseen guest at every meal, and a silent listener to every conversation.Blessing done… exorcism not.


Tragedy

Donald and I joke about how many thousands of miles that he has followed my 15 passenger van, RV, or other vehicles on youth group trips. Once we tried to calculate it and it was well over 10,000 miles in the ten years that he was involved. This included road trips, Mexico Missions, summer camp, winter camp, and other trips. We often remarked that we are amazed that in all those miles we safely made it through. No tickets, accidents, or anything (minus or normal missing liscence plates, etc).That is what made this story so ominious to me. Last Saturday returning from a mission trip a van full of youth were in an accident and several died. The church involved was Upland Presbyterian Church.Church Mourns the Loss of Four MembersKeep them in your prayers.


Mighty to Save

I felt like putting a video up for the Friday posting. Showin a little love from God. The song is Mighty to Save by Chris Tomlin. It was recorded at an event in Holland.


Gone and not coming back

For years I have been ranting about my passion. A passion to get people back in church. Now you are saying, “of course is that what we are suppose to be doing?”. Yes…. but. I have a burning desire to see teenagers, especially the ones that use to be a part of a youth program back in church. Statistics now say that up to 90% of former church/ youth group members leave the Church by the sophomore year in college. Ouch. I long for some of those former “kids” to get back into church. The burning desire for them to seek God has faded into the background. Former conventional church wisdom said that they would come back when they start to have a family and want their kids raised within the church. Flash to reality: NO THEY ARE NOT!I was reading an article in the Presbyterian Outlook that talks about Christian Education in this “less Christian culture”. The read was interesting at it describes how our view of ministry needs to change and think out of the box. This is not new to me, but I am seeing an undercurrent as more churches begin to see the need to shift how they think and do ministry. Quinn Fox, the author describes what he sees: “Increasingly the word “missional” is used to describe both the situation in which the church finds itself, and the strategy for us to follow in this “post-Christendom” era.  Eddie Gibbs gives a succinct definition: “Missional refers to those congregations who see Western culture [because it is no longer Christian] as a field ripe for mission engagement, thus acknowledging that the period known as Christendom is over.”  The article continues and looks at several different aspects of how Fox sees the difference in becoming a missional church.Often we adjust the way we do church to the communities needs, such as emphasis on homelessness, violence, and demographics. But why do we not change it with the cultural and post christian times we live?


May Chow Update

I send out a monthly prayer update to supporters and partners in ministry. If you would like to be added let me know. Good Evening all-This month your monthly update comes from Northern California where our family is taking a little break. Apparently I am not that good at taking breaks as you can see that I am doing some work. We are trying to get some rest after an exciting Holy week. I am continually amazed at the transformation in people’s lives during this time. After having sunrise service on the beach during morning drizzle, the sun came out and it was a great day! I served in the children’s ministries during the service and helped in a number of ways. A group of volunteers put together breakfast, crafts, program, and Easter egg hunt for the children. It was exciting to see so many children. The class that I was in had almost 50 children, if not more! The focus of the “core” of Word of Life is to reach the community and that is exactly what they did. Many did not attend service so that others would. We did this by serving in all the various positions that were short handed, such as Nursery, Children’s Ministry, and others so that the visitors would feel welcomed and safe. I was and still am exciting about the opportunities we had to minister to the community.  Worship services in the month of May are on Sunday mornings at 11 a.m.. We will be having Night Of Worship services on May 13th and May 27th at 6 p.m. The series that we will be starting will be on “Life Interrupted”. Mid-week Bible studies are on Wednesday nights at 7 p.m. Instead of Dinners we are having a desert fellowship that starts at 6:30 p.m. I currently lead a morning study on Thursday mornings at Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf at 7:30 a.m. Are you interested in being involved in a young adult/ careers/ families group? We are throwing around the idea and would like to see who is interested. Though the age range seems awfully big, we would divide it age appropriate groups depending on the need.    There are a number of items that we could use some prayer about. (1) For the past month our family has been struggling with finances. Please pray that funds will become available for us. (2) Visitors from Easter Sunday- From not only Word of Life but everywhere that this marks a beginning of a journey in discovering Christ. (3) Jessica Bowen- She is recovering from Lasik eye surgery earlier this week. (4) For myself- I will be going in front of the Presbytery at the next meeting to become a Candidate in ministry within our Presbytery. (5) Our continuing ministry- Both with Word of Life and what the future holds for myself. As I sit a little over a year from graduation I look forward to my first call and where I will be led to.   For those that aid in financially supporting our ministry and us, we thank you. Our paypal account (www.paypal.com ) is northpoint.fellowship@gmail.com. It is then forwarded to Word of Life who handles all the finances. If you would like to contribute it can also be sent directly to Word of Life Presbyterian at the address below, just designate it to Northpoint. This is not a plea for finances but rather a plea for prayer for what we are doing and our journey. We ask for your continued prayers. Jenn and I have been on quite a journey for the past year. At times it has been scary but stepping out in faith is not suppose to be comfortable. Our prayers go to you and the ministries that you also are involved in. If you would like more information on Word of Life or would just like to talk about what is going on in our lives, feel free to give me a call.  Blessings upon you,Sean


Friend of God by Chris Tomlin- Passion 07

I found this on www.youtube.com and had to share


Looking at Two Myths pt. 2

A question Bruce Reyes-Chow (www.reyes-chow.com) looks into is the myth that the “emerging church” rejects all things traditional. That is so far from the case. If anything it promotes a return to a first century church style. This is described in Acts 2:42-47:They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.Oh how I long to have that feeling within the church. For the past 14 years that I have served within a PCUSA church I have been witness to a changing spiritual climate. No longer should we go to church to simply go through a routine but to edify and uplift others in faith. Last year I went through this text in a sermon series verse by verse. By doing that I encountered what the Church is called to be rather than what we have become. Many of us encounter a spiritual rut that needs to be broken (this includes me), and have our lives and church community transformed by the living Christ.With the rise of “seeker-sensitive” churches we saw the dumbing down of church. I have nothing against these churches, they brought in masses of people. Though the focus of church and worship moved to small groups rather than the worship service. Churches started meeting in warehouses, crosses and icons removed, and denominational affiliation was difficult to see. Seeker sensitive churches had there place in bringing people to church in a non-intrusive way, but the essence of what “church” is was missing.The emerging church has nothing to do with seeker sensitive churches. Sure we may also have a different look than traditional churches. That is not what throws us into the “other” category, but “emerging churches” embraces pre-tradition. That is looking into spirituality practice and church before what we now consider traditional. 

  1. Pre- tradition Bible studies invoke lexio divina not a video or book series.
  2. Pre-tradition brings about the Stations of the Cross and other techniques that have been used for hundreds of years.
  3. Pre-tradition has a strong emphasis on community.

 The emerging church does not seek to destroy its connections with the traditions of the church but rather embraces it with vigor. It is by a true grasp of where we have been that the church can grow and affect this new postmodern culture. By destroying our past it severes who we are leaves us without an identity.


Traditionalist vs. Postmodernist

I mentioned in a previous that I had not gotten to an article in the most recent Presbyterian Outlook that looks into the myths of Postmodernism.  Myths of postmodernity and the Emergent Church. This article by a pastor that is in the thick of it is a nice layman approach to exploring the emerging church. It is written by a pastor that works in New Church Development in San Francisco. It brings to light issues/ myths that many traditional ministries see about the emerging church. That we are a flash in the pan or some right wing group. Rather we are leaders that are trying to approach church in a way that takes today’s culture mind. We are more than freaks and geeks, but look to help the church  embrace culture while keeping Jesus at the center.


Frozen Chosen No More

There is a weekly newsletter within the Presbyterian Church. Its is the Presbyterian Outlook. Presbyterian Outlook Article. There are more articles at this site including one from Bruce Reyes-Chow (www.reyes-chow.com) who has a great blog to check out. Sorry Bruce I haven’t got to your article yet. Occasionally I read through it to see what is going on in the denomination in the nation and the world. Overall it is a pretty good read. This week the theme is about the Emerging Church. I am surprised for several reasons. The first is that the Emerging Church is actually being recognized by the denomination. And secondly not in a negative light. That is until the letters tot he editor comes later this week.The emerging church comes in many different shapes, sizes, theology, and political beliefs. Not two are the same. There are the ones that meet in bars or community based. One can find the liberals that think the church as an institution should be abandoned and those that look much like a mainline church but act in a very different way. One thing binds them though. That being seeking Jesus as a community in a very different but real way.“And the appeal of Emergent thinking isn’t limited to young adults. “It’s for everyone who hates church,” one Presbyterian pastor said matter-of-factly. What she meant is: It’s for people who want an authentic encounter with God, and too often aren’t finding it in traditional congregations.”A key cornerstone in emerging thinking is that of authenticity and not blind faith. It creates in many way a multi-sensory approach combined with community to bring about a real sense of faith.It’s the force that has to be acknowledged. While some mainline congregations are open to innovation and change, others are not. “I long for that kind of community,” one Presbyterian pastor said over coffee. But in her congregation, “we really don’t want to be relational. We want to be nice to each other. But when it comes down to sharing our guts, our deepest thoughts, we’re not sure we want to do that.”Many think that one needs to either be mainline or emerging. That is untrue. The Presbyterian form of government (Book of Order) does not tell us that we need to be the frozen chosen. Rather it is “through Christ that the Church is called into being, giving it all that is necessary for its mission TO the world, for its building up, and for its service to God”. (G-1.0100b) It is our own polity that tells us that we should be everything necessary to serve the world and the church. It says nothing about being static and frozen. Many use the PCUSA catch-line without really understanding it. “To be reformed and always reforming”. We are not to be static but always changing with Christ at the center of it all.


The scary National Association of Evangelicals

Does it make you cringe when Jerry Fallwell, James Dobson, and Pat Robinson open their mouths? That they speak for the “evangelicals”? It does for me. I would like to consider myself evangelical. It is not some political or social taboo word but means to be a Christian that is motivated and acting upon the words of Christ. That is Jesus Christ, not Fallwell, Dobson, and the National Association of Evangelicals. Even the word evangelical brings about a fundamentalist image. I cannot even say that I am evangelical without people automatically moving to the idea that I am strict conservative that listens to these guys.In a recent LA Times Article, it explores the growing rift between generations within the board. Frankly I am relieved that there are dissenting opinions against the old guard. The NAE is such a powerful lobbying force that I sometimes see it ideals become polarized. It needs to have new voices and a new vision for the generation. It needs to speak out upon other “great issues”“A new generation of pastors has expanded the definition of moral issues to include not only global warming, but an array of causes. Quoting Scripture and invoking Jesus, they’re calling for citizenship for illegal immigrants, universal healthcare and caps on carbon emissions.”“Are the only really ‘great moral issues’ those concerning abortion, gay marriage and the teaching of sexual abstinence?” Wallis asked in his challenge. “How about the reality of 3 billion of God’s children living on less than $2 per day? … What about pandemics like HIV/AIDS … [and] disastrous wars like Iraq?”This article was a relief for me to see this group move from what I see as the extreme conservatism to a lesser form that is willing to undertake other issues. How it does we shall see.


While the Pastor is away

This weekend the Senior Pastor is going away. So the mice will play. Not really, but it is nice to think about. This is the first time that Ronnie is on vacation since I came on board a couple of months ago. We talked this morning and I can tell that he is a bit nervous about leaving. I am the same way, for some reason destruction and ruin will happen to the church when I am gone. Ronnie is going away with his wife for the weekend in celebration of their anniversary. Which is really cool. As we were going over things this morning on the phone he told me to call if anything happens or have any questions. I told him to turn off his phone and we will be able to handle anything that comes our way.As I was reflecting on that conversation I realized that it was all too much like conversations I have had in the past. That somehow church would not happen if I was not present. Granted things would happen smoother if Ronnie would be here. It is some weird rule of nature. I can almost guarantee a glitch in the media or worship this weekend, because it all seems to fall apart. The resiliency comes in the way it can be pulled back together again.So since the pastor is away what trouble can I get myself into? Unfortunately I think I have grown past that. No more toilet papering or forking the Pastor’s house while he is gone. No more playing video games on the projection screens in the Sanctuary. Or switching communion to twinkies instead of bread. What is wrong with me? Must be growing up or something.


Chains

The Easter season is moving along. I am in the midst of preparing my sermons and series that we will be using for Sunday night and for the sunrise service. The theme is basically there but I needed a little something to bring it all together. Last night on the way back from class I was listening to my Ipod and Chris Tomin’s new version of amazing grace came on. After listening it a couple of time, it seemed to be the glue that pulled everything together.

My Chains Are Gone

amazing gracehow sweet the soundthat saved a wretch like me

i once was lost, but now i’m foundwas blind, but now i see’twas grace that taught my heart to fearand grace my fears relievedhow precious did that grace appearthe hour i first believed

my chains are gonei’ve been set freemy god, my savior has ransomed meand like a flood his mercy reignsunending love, amazing grace

the lord has promised good to mehis word my hope secureshe will my shield and portion beas long as life endures

the earth shall soon dissolve like snowthe sun forbear to shinebut god, who called me here belowwill be forever minewill be forever mineyou are forever mine