Sunday, May 25, 2008

Vacation

My family and I are on vacation for a few days in beautiful Alabama. What makes a true vacation? Is it the people, time, or activities?

I have found it is a disconnect from the norm. If I somehow disconnect for several consecutive days and catch up on reading, relaxing, and resting, then all is well.

Selah

Friday, May 16, 2008

American Idol Final Prediction

I feel I am listening from a different planet than most people following American Idol.

David Cook has always been a stronger performer than Archuleta. Archuleta is one dimensional, forgets lyrics, shows nerves, and is shy and unable to converse with interviewers. He has a nice voice. David Cook is a musician, and a vocalist, and also has stage performance abilities that young David lacks. He also has the maturity to handle that lofty honor of American Idol. I have not understood all season long why the judges have failed to critique Archuleta with the same critical ear of the other contestants.

Watching more seasoned talents like Michael Johns, and Carly leave has been discouraging. Yes, it matters to the public that David's father is an over-the-top stage parent with all the negatives it involves. Most people do not want to be part of causing the McCauley Caulken melt down that happens when parents push and try to live through the talents of their children while the children miss their childhoods. Let us remember Michael Jackson, and others.

David Cook is the best of the two and deserves the title of American Idol 2008.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Emerging Culture Ministry pt.2

Here is the second installment on emerging culture ministry values.

4. Personal Adaptation:
Seeing personal and corporate ministry as an evolving, holistic
calling rather than a set of static roles and functions.

5. Community Formation:
Relating to other believers in a community that simulates the
challenge of integrating identity, mission, and context in field ministry.

6. Ministry Enhancement:
Discerning opportunities to cooperate with the Spirit in the
fulfillment of Christ’s mission through our own calling.

Emerging Culture Ministry pt.1

In the next several posts I will be distilling some core values of ministry in today's culture. These values, like all core values, are not exhaustive nor all encompassing. Learning to interpret culture as opportunity for cooperating with the mission of Jesus, and for discerning ministry as opportunity for Spirit-empowered expressions of that mission, is the focus for these values. I would like to thank my friend, Earl Creps, for the inspiration of this blog series.

1. Character Development:
We must be dependent on the Spirit to help us have ego-free leadership, integrity of decisions, and authentic spirituality.

2. Cultural Exegesis:
We must interpret the major forms of cultural influences that are creating the context in which the Christian gospel must be communicated.

3. Theological Reflection:
We must listen and respond to people posing critical theological questions that call for reflective skills that are true both to Scripture and context.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Authentic Guitar Hero

In my quest to raise the proverbial bar with my hobbies, I find things worthy of showing the few who my be interested in the sickest demonstration of two real guitar heroes: Andy Mckee and Don Ross.

The Cadre called Legeacy


Here is a picture of the group of people I have spent the last 3 years with being coached by Jeanne Mayo. We are standing in front of the chapel on the University of Georgia's campus. There are times in life where we all need to know we are in a cadre with other people fighting in similar trenches. These people are heroes in youth ministry.

Eph. 4:2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Pouring in Courage

2Tim. 4:2 Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage — with great patience and careful instruction.

The word encourage or encouragement is used around 100 times in the NT. In this particular verse, the verb used is parakaleo. It is a combination of the two Greek words para and kaleo. Para means "to the side of" and kaleo means "to call, aid, or help." In our English language, the word is a combination of en + courage. You are walking along on a path and beginning to tire. Wondering if you can make it to your goal, someone comes along side and begins to say, "you can make it, you are strong enough, do not quit, I am right here for you." Encouraging is pouring in courage to another person to make the mark.

In any accountable relationship, both the positive and the negative must be included. However, it must be done with great patience and carefulness. May we fill people with courage and strength of purpose.

Monday, May 5, 2008

John Wesley is my Accountability Partner

For a while, I have been contemplating the differences between accountability, rebuking, and encouraging. I am still researching but this is what has emerged interesting.

The Greek verb for "rebuke" appears in 2 Tim. 4:2, where rebuking is a function of the authoritative Christian teacher alongside preaching, convincing and encouraging in “the teaching." Accountability, however, is not a job assigned to Christian leaders. We will be expected to give an account to God for everything we have done (Heb. 4:13). The two words are the not the same in meaning or in function. It would probably more precise to say that people need "rebuking" partners instead of "accountability" partners. Ouch!

Accountability is a personal decision to submit and confess your sins to a trusted friend. Rebuking is giving a trusted friend the ability to "call you" on areas in which God would not be pleased. No one can hold you accountable because that is your responsibility. We make the internal choice to be accountable to others.

The Greek word for encouragement deserves a separate blog and a unique word study. Suffice to say, encouraging is one of the most God honoring exercises in which one can engage.

The following list of questions is from Cultivating a Life for God (Church Smart Resources 1999 p.125-131). Typically, these questions are asked in groups of 2-3, are specific to men or women, meets regularly, and hold each other accountable. Simply asking these questions encourages accountability with others:

1. Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better than I am?

2. Am I honest in all my acts and words, or do I exaggerate?

3. Do I confidentially pass onto another what was told me in confidence?

4. Am I a slave to dress, friends, work , or habits?

5. Am I self-conscious, self-pitying, or self-justifying?

6. Did the Bible live in me today?

7. Do I give it time to speak to me everyday?

8. Am I enjoying prayer?

9. When did I last speak to someone about my faith?

10. Do I pray about the money I spend?

11. Do I get to bed on time and get up on time?

12. Do I disobey God in anything?

13. Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is uneasy?

14. Am I defeated in any part of my life?

15. Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy or distrustful?

16. How do I spend my spare time?

17. Am I proud?

18. Do I thank God that I am not as other people, especially as the Pharisee who despised the publican?

19. Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold resentment toward or disregard? If so, what am I going to do about it?

20. Do I grumble and complain constantly?

21. Is Christ real to me?

Great Weekend Reflections

I thoroughly enjoyed this past weekend. Saturday was the graduation ceremony for AGTS. I have to admit, I am not the best at receiving anything. Parties, appreciations, academic degrees, or anything else, feels awkward. Nevertheless, I complied in order to receive the paper. What if we encouraged students, pastors, and loved ones during the journey as much as we do at the end of the journey?

The highlight was the message given by Dan Betzer, Pastor of First Assembly in Fort Meyers, FL. Here are some highlights from the message he titled "What I wish someone told me."

1. The ministry can kill you.
2. Assemblies of God people can be the meanest people on earth.
3. We should listen more to Him with "nail scared hands" than anybody else.
4. Love who you serve and what you do.

I thought it was brave to speak this message at a graduate level ceremony when it is most tempting to deliver a "dream for the future" message. His short message connected at a real level.

It is also worth mentioning that General Superintendent, George O. Wood, casted a "what if" vision to the entire audience in his opening remarks. After commending the graduates for their hard work and financial sacrifice, he issued this "what if" question: "What if one day a graduate degree could be pursued by any eligible A/G candidate for a nominal cost or no cost at all." I am glad we serve with a "what if" leader.

Friday, May 2, 2008

A Famous Instrument


I purchased my Taylor 310-CE in 1998 from a music store in Fairhope, AL. Since acquiring, it has crossed the globe a couple of times and felt many hands on the silky fretboard. I have always treated it as a gift from God. Thus, if someone needs it they can use it. Ironically, the worse dents and dings have come from me playing it around the house. However, there was the one time when a set of keys was hurled from the church balcony to the bottom floor stage SMACKING it on the solid wood top. Ouch!

Lincoln Brewster, seen playing it here, used to play for Journey and now is an amazing worship leader. Did I mention he can melt your face off with sweet guitar licks straight from Yeshua's thrown.

An instrument is made famous by the person who plays it not by it's materials.