March 31, 2011

Four Month Old Dad

I have only been a dad for 4 months but the emotions are starting to catch up with me. I did not expect or have any idea of how emotional becoming a dad would be. It is easily one of, if not the most emotional thing that has ever happened to me in my life.

I’m sure some of this has to do with the fact that I am currently leading a mission team in Guatemala and have to be away from my family. I think the other part of it comes with feeling a sense of inadequacy, unworthiness and failure mixed with feelings of joy, humility and excitement. It’s as if looking at my son pushes me to be a better disciple, better husband, and better dad while also reminding me of the times when I have failed as all 3.

I am not perfect. Actually, I’m pretty far from it and yet I want to be for my son’s sake. I want to be the perfect example for him and know while I write this I will fail on a regular basis. Not only do I feel those other things I mentioned earlier but looking at my son also always me to see God’s grace, His hope, and His love.

March 30, 2011

Mission Guatemala 2k11

I've been leading a mission team from my church for the past few days down here in Panajachel, Guatemala working with the UMC mission organization Mission Guatemala (checkout their facebook page and give them a "like" while you're there). Stop by our team blog to keep up to date on what we're up to during our time here. You can also follow me on twitter to see updates as well.

I hope your week and your journey through Lent is going well.

March 10, 2011

Love Does Win

As some of you have heard, there is controversy brewing over Rob Bell's upcoming book release, "Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived." There are some who are labeling him a heretic because they believe he is teaching the doctrine of universalism.

I honestly debated whether to write anything about this or not as I have not read the book and therefore feel as though labeling him a universalist is not fair. I will say however that Scripture seems pretty clear in regards to the existence of heaven and hell but that's not what I want to discuss.

Throughout this whole controversy I've found myself thinking a lot about the idea that "Love Wins." Chapter 4 of 1 John tells us that God is love. This does not mean that God does things that are loving, it means that everything God does is the very definition of love. And in this way I agree with Bell, Love does win.

I wonder though, is it possible that God's love is so profound, so infinite, so mysterious, so vast that we might not fully understand the ways in which He loves His creation? So much so that even the very existence of hell is loving? I'm not saying this necessarily makes sense but when did we ever think we could fully understand God. If we believe the words of Scripture, then we know that God wins and if God is love, then it looks like Love does win.

March 9, 2011

Lenten Blog Tour

I have been given the opportunity to be 1 of 41 bloggers participating in the Common English Bible Lenten Blog Tour ( starting today and going throughout Lent. Make sure you stop by the blog to check it out or checkout the Facebook page when you get a chance. I hope you can join the conversation.

The Wilderness of the Soul

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. A time when Christians reflect on the 40 days that Jesus spent in the wilderness fasting and being tested (Matthew 4:1-11) before beginning his public ministry. This draws an interesting parallel to the 40 years the Israelites spent wandering in the wilderness before entering the land God had set aside for them. I'd like to spend just a moment reflecting on the idea of wilderness if I may.

Throughout Scripture, wilderness carries with it a connotation of solitude and desolation. A place where one might feel alone, intentionally or unintentionally. I would guess that most of us, at one time or another in our faith journey, have felt as though we have been lost in the wilderness. Perhaps not sure on how we got there but certainly struggling to find our way out. Some of you may feel as though your soul is lost in the wilderness right now.

Looking back at Jesus' time in the wilderness, don't forget that sometimes God leads us into the wilderness. The wilderness proved to be a time of preparation for Jesus, maybe your time in the wilderness is preparing you for what God has planned next? Or maybe this season of Lent can be a time of allowing God to help guide your soul out of the wilderness it finds itself in? Regardless, I encourage you to spend the next 40 days as a time of being in fellowship with God and each other, waiting to see where He might lead you.

March 8, 2011

Messy Spirituality || A Love That Won't Go Away

Here is the 5th and final part of my sermon series inspired by the book of the same name, "Messy Spirituality" by Mike Yaconelli. As always, I enjoy your feedback.

Check out part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4. For this final sermon in the series, we are going to take a look at 3 different passages and see what they have to say about God's seemingly annoying love for us.

Matthew 20:1-16
-notice the master went himself
-he made multiple trips throughout the day
-the first workers were paid an “agreed term”
-the remaining workers got paid “whatever is right”
-at the end of the day, the last shall be first
-vs. 10: grace that can be calculated and “expected” is no longer grace
-the early ones were frustrated by the late ones being made “equal”
-the early ones received the agreed upon wage and yet…
-who are we to question God’s generous love?

Luke 26:26-43
-Jesus tears down the fences
-the perceived “unfairness” of God’s grace makes us uncomfortable, especially when we’re expected to extend it to others
-“All the persons of faith I know are sinners, doubters, uneven performers. We are secure not because we are sure of ourselves but because we trust that God is sure of us.” ~Eugene Peterson

Romans 8:37-39
-you cannot escape God’s love
-there is nothing you have done or will do that can keep God from loving you
-“He loves us when we don’t want him to love us. He loves us when we don’t act like Christians. He loves us when our lives are a mess. His love is sticky, resistant to rejection, aggressive, and persistent.” (Yaconelli 124)

March 7, 2011

Messy Spirituality || The Inconsistent Disciple

Here is part 4 of my sermon series inspired by the book of the same name, "Messy Spirituality" by Mike Yaconelli. As always, I enjoy your feedback.

Check out part 1, part 2, and part 3.

Oh Peter, talk about an inconsistent disciple. You can read a few examples in Matthew 16:13-25; 26:31-35, 69-75. A couple things we might be able to take away from this.

Christianity is an equal opportunity faith.
-God chose us first, which creates a place for those who have no place
-I wonder how many of us have given up on being spiritual because we don’t seem to fit?
-There can be freedom in the inconsistency because we know it will come
-we encourage people to grow knowing they will fail
-Discipleship is a journey, which makes spiritual growth look different for each of us

Lessons from being stuck.
-Getting "stuck" reminds us of the need to slow down
-“Spiritual growth does not happen by running faster” (Yaconelli 96) or by “inviting Jesus to speed through life with us” (Yaconelli 97)
-Learn to rest means realizing how unnecessary we are
-Jesus came to give us rest (Matthew 11:28)
-Sometimes 70% is 100% of what we have to give
-“The spiritual life is not a life of success; it is a life of faithfulness” (Yaconelli 110)
-As long as we want to grow, Jesus will show up

Discipleship as imbalance?
-Redefining “balance” (Matthew 16:24-25)
-Do our attempts at seeming "all together" polish the life right out of the Church?
-Being a disciple means we should be a little odd; the world should notice we're a little different shouldn't it?

March 2, 2011

Messy Spirituality || What It Really Means To Be Spiritual

Here is part 3 of my sermon series inspired by the book of the same name, "Messy Spirituality" by Mike Yaconelli. As always, I enjoy your feedback.

Checking out part 1 and part 2 of the "Messy Spirituality" sermon series may help part 3 make more sense...or not.

A couple general thoughts:
*DISCLAIMER: any time I use the word "spirituality" I am using it in relationship to the person of Jesus Christ

-Anyone can be spiritual. (Luke 18:35-42)
-Spirituality begins now, in the mess of our lives. Don't wait until you're "fixed." (John 8:1-11)
-Jesus cares more about desire than competence.
-Spirituality requires authenticity.
-Spirituality requires trust.

Spirituality is not legalistic, but does require discipline
-“Spirituality is not a formula; it is not a test. It is a relationship. Spirituality is not about competency; it is about intimacy. Spirituality is not about perfection; it is about connection.” (Messy Spirituality pg 13)
-“We stumble into a party we weren’t invited to and find the uninvited standing at the door making sure no other uninviteds get in.” (Messy Spirituality pg 47)
-It takes work to grow spiritually and time spent in study, prayer, service, etc.

Spirituality isn’t about perfection, but pursuing it
-“Spirituality is anything but a straight line; it is mixed-up, topsy-turvy, helter-skelter godliness that turns our lives into an upside-down toboggan ride full of unexpected turns, surprise bumps, and bone-shattering crashes. In other words, messy spirituality is the delirious consequence of a life ruined by a Jesus who will love us right into his arms.” (Messy Spirituality pg 17)
-Don't get obsessed with perfection or depressed when you miss it, because you will. Keep pursuing it.

Spirituality isn’t about self, but community
-There is an important distinction to make between spirituality and self-help. In my opinion, the biggest distinction comes with the idea that spirituality is not about self, whereas self-help is all about self.
-To be truly spiritual means to look outside yourself and into the community. It may be a community of believers or neighbors down the block, regardless, it is about serving others.
-Being spiritual necessarily means thinking of others first and through that recognizing one's own spirituality.