What I've been thinking and what I've been reading for you to compare notes.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Impact of History

A little over a year ago our family was in Spain visiting our daughter Brooke and her husband Matthew Turnbough. One of our site-seeing trips took us to Segovia. This pic is of me in the middle with my son Brandon and son-in-law David Lytle. My other son-in-law Matthew is taking the picture. We're standing by the aqueduct, built by the Romans almost 2,000 years go to bring water into the city. They built it without mortar and it still stands after all these years!

The other pic is of Brandon standing in the actual throne room where Isabella and Ferdinand commissioned Columbus to sail to America! I was in awe standing in this room where momentous history was made!

I was looking through my photos today and came across these. I'm reminded of how our actions today will reverberate throughout time. Whether the things we build or the relationships we establish - our lives will impact others forever.

Monday, January 30, 2006

What is your favorite Bible translation?

New Living Translation, New Century Version, Amplified Bible, what's your favorite?

I remember when I had only been a follower of Christ for a few years and as a young teenager was trying to understand the King James Version of the Bible. Through many years of study and looking up archaic words and phrases I was able to eventually understand much of what I read.

Then one day I picked up a portion of the Living Bible and even though it was a paraphrase and not a translation it really intrigued me. I was able to read the Word of God in every day, understandable language. I found I "wanted" to read the Bible more. It's truths began to leap off the page at an aggressive speed. I couldn't wait to get home from school in the afternoon and pick up where I had left off the night before.

Yes I know about all of the controversies surrounding modern translations. I have read scores of books and hundreds of articles and sermons on the issue. And I'm careful to trust or share questionable passages before investigating them further. But I'm not interested in controversy. I don't' have the time anymore. I am a conservative Christian who believes in the infallibility, inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture. I just don't believe the Scripture should be confined to one translation.

I just love seeing people have a translation of the Scriptures they can easily understand. That was the goal of the KJV when it first appeared. That should be our goal now. The Bible translators of generations ago were involved in controversy as well. But they produced a product that was intended to make the Word of God available in the common man's language.

Now I have access to dozens of different versions of Scripture, parallel Bibles, online websites I visit, etc. When I read from them every day I get that same excitement I got years ago as a young believing teen. I stand in awe that I have the very Word of God in my hands.

My favorites? The three I listed at the beginning of this blog entry.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Changing the Name of the Church


We're considering changing the name of our church. Not for our sake, we don't mind the name we have now. But surveys of unchurched people show that when they see a denomination's name like "Baptist", "Methodist", "Presbyterian", etc., they think or feel like they won't fit in that church.

So why have an unnecessary barrier as a primary hurdle for an unchurched person to jump?

I won't debate the issue but if anyone out there is reading, which do you prefer, and if you have the time and you are so inclined please tell me why you have a preference.

If you are not a member of this blog site and would care to send me an email, please do so at

Here are the two possible church names the leadership of our church has narrowed our choices down to due to our vision statement, etc.

Discovery Church or Pathway Church.

Have an opinion? Please let me know. Thanks.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places

Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places by Eugene Peterson is another of the author's deep trips into practical theology. The subtitle to this book, published in 2005, is A Conversation in Spiritual Theology. I really would like to have a conversation with a writer like this.

You may recognize Peterson as author of the Bible paraphrase, The Message, The Bible in Contemporary Language.

I slowly devoured this book over a period of weeks last year and I took some notes that I want to share with anyone who might read. And if no one is reading I want to go over my notes to enhance my appreciation of the book and its application to my own life. As a pastor I take seriously my responsibility as chief theologian in my local church.

Christ Plays is one of those volumes that makes you read a while and think a while. I just love books like that. Simultaneously, while reading works like this, I have several other books going, some entertaining reading, but this kind of thing is the meat and potatoes of literature.

The title of the book is from a Gerald Manley Hopkins sonnet. (I've got to read more poetry.) If I get Peterson right, the premise of the book is basically that we need to live what we know about Christ and every area of our lives - every facet of the world around us - contains spiritual truth. You can't limit God to theology texts and sermons - Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places. Theology should not be "depersonalized" and "functionalized", says the author. (p.1)

As is stated on page 29 - "Living, living fully well, is at the heart of all serious spirituality."

The first division of the book, pages 1-129, is entitled, Christ Plays in Creation.

P. 13 - Peterson makes a critical observation about the tendency to solve problems in our culture today through "self help" methodologies that leave Christ out. "Now, exposed and vulnerable to a culture that is only too happy to supply the terms of discourse, spirituality is diluted or emptied of any gospel distinctiveness."

If you get your hands on a copy of this book do yourself a favor and read the awesome way that the author parallels the stories of Nicodemus (John 3) and the Samaritan woman (John 4) between pages 13-20!

P.18 - "In both conversations the word 'spirit' is the pivotal word."
P.19 - "Jesus is the primary figure in both stories. Although Nicodemus and the Samaritan provide the occasion, it is Jesus who provides the content."

P.22 - "The word 'create' occurs more times in the preaching of Isaiah of the exile than any other place in the Bible - seventeen times compared to the six occurrences in the great creation narrative in Genesis..." Hmmm... I'm going to study this more deeply.

P.25 - I like what EP says about what happened on the day of Pentecost. Why did the fire rest over the head of each and every individual believer? "...each person became an altar..."

Pp.33-34 - (because of Jesus) "...we are not free to make up our own private spiritualities; we know too much about his life, his spirituality. The story of Jesus gives us access to these incidents and words, specific with places and times and names, all of them hanging together and interpenetrating, forming a coherent revelation of who God is and how he acts and what he says. Jesus prevents us from thinking that life is a matter of ideas to ponder or concepts to discuss. Jesus saves us from wasting our lives in the pursuit of cheap thrills and trivializing diversions. Jesus enables us to take seriously who we are and where we are without being seduced by the intimidating lies and illusions that fill the air, so that we needn't be someone else or somewhere else. Jesus keeps our feet on the ground, attentive to children, in conversation with ordinary people, sharing meals with friends and strangers, listening to the wind, observing the wildflowers, touching the sick and wounded, praying simply and unselfconsciously. Jesus insists that we deal with God right here and now, in the place we find ourselves and with the people we are with. Jesus is God here and now."

I'll pick up more on this book in another blog in several days perhaps.

Monday, January 09, 2006

When You Can't Sing

Couldn't sing in worship at church yesterday because my coughing all week left my voice weak and I was saving it for preaching. Today I couldn't hardly speak above a whisper and so I couldn't sing in my personal worship time either - as I normally do.

My heart ached from not getting to sing in community or in personal worship. I mean it - it really ached. Singing has always been one of my favorite parts of worship. God really deserves us singing to Him. I connect with God so much when I sing to Him.

I know music isn't everyone's favorite part of worship and the other worship disciplines are equally important. I tremendously love the study and communication of the Word, meditation, prayer and all of the rest of it. But I honestly don't believe I would be worshipping in the broader sense without a song. No orthodox Christ follower believes music should be left out of worship.

The difficulty arises when you consider the different tastes in music. Being a part of the worship team I know how difficult it is to meet everyone's tastes. Did I say difficult - more like impossible. I understand tastes. We all have different tastes. Nothing wrong with that.

Honestly I can worship comfortably if the music is traditional or contemporary, classical or bluegrassical. You can blend it if you want. You can sing, "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God", one of my favorites, followed by, "Awesome God", and it will be fine with me.

At our church we're trying to sing the music of the people our Vision Statement says we're trying to reach. We're not perfect but we're trying. In fact I've probably been very trying the last two Sundays because my guitar playing hasn't been up to snuff because I was so focused on not being able to sing.

When you can't sing (and I mean you have the ability but can't use it because of illness) you reallly miss it and appreciate it more.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

My Best Friend

Deb and I have been married over 28 years now. I love her so much I even went to see "The Nutcracker" with her back before Christmas.

This is a pic of us at the Von Braun Center at intermission. The symphony orchestra was great and even some of the dance, even though i am not the fan of dance that Deb is. Love makes you do things you never thought you would.