Thursday, April 24, 2008

Jeremiah 7 and Holy Spirit

I have two things in this post that I would like for us to think about.

First, I preached this past Sunday on Jeremiah's temple sermon as recorded in Jeremiah 7. The basic premise of the text is that the people of Judah are doing some terrible things in their lives. They are incredibly wealthy but they are refusing to help the poor, the widow, and the orphan. They are contributing to a culture of injustice. They are an immoral people but they are still making a regular habit of going to the Temple regularly. We might think that this is a good thing but Jeremiah stands in the doors of the Temple and says that they are just coming in order to gain protection, that they believe that as long as they keep coming to the Temple that God will not punish them. They go to Temple in order to gain immunity, thinking that by doing this that they can have a free pass in all other parts of their lives. I asked a couple questions in my sermon based on the text. First, why do we come to church? Do we come out of a sense of duty or do we come because we think that it will bring us good things in our lives? Or is there a deeper and better reason that we come? Also, I pointed out that we must live authentically in all parts of our lives. This goes with what we talked about in the previous post. If we profess while we are in the Temple or at church to believe in God and pledge to serve him in our lives we have to make sure that we are doing that in all parts of our lives, not just at church but at home, at work, at school, and even when no one else is looking. (Bill Hybels, the Senior Pastor at Willow Creek Church in Chicago, wrote a book awhile back entitled Who You Are When No One's Looking. It's a scary thought for some of us.) The other question I asked in my sermon is who do you look more like when people look at you and see you: do you look more like Jesus or more like the world? Again, I don't always like the answer to that question when I think about my own life.

What are your thoughts about these things?


The second thing I wanted to ask in this post is completely unrelated to the first thing. I am beginning a new sermon series on the Holy Spirit here at Baker Blvd. What is your experience with the Holy Spirit in your own life? And when I ask that, I mean more in terms of what have you been taught about it in your life? Has it been emphasized? Ignored? What role has it played? I am interested to hear your experiences.

Grace and Peace,


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

I Can Talk the Talk

David's sermon got me thinking. He spoke about how we can have knowledge about the scriptures but don't do anything about it. Now that I'm teaching a class on marriage, I wonder the same thing. Here I can provide all this information on enhancing your marriage...and we can have good discussion in class, but does it translate into action in marriages? I've gotten real good at sounding good in a discussion, clarifying ideas, and thinking critically. But that doesn't seem to translate into conscious action on my part. Does that mean that Sunday morning class or home team discussions are just for my entertainment? Is it that I just like to talk about what I should be doing instead of actually doing it? What are your suggestions for action? Is it a matter of importance, motivation, purpose, time, lack of love of Jesus, numbness, comfortable, having school on my mind, being unorganized, not being thirsty, not seeking change, etc?

Thursday, July 19, 2007


As I've shared with some of you already, I am once again preaching this week. In a strange twist from the usual routine, however, I was asked by the elders to speak out of Hebrews Chapters 1-2. The passage in short talks about the supremacy of Jesus Christ, which is the direction I am going with the sermon, but the writer of Hebrews places this discussion in context of Jesus' superiority to angels. This got me thinking about the subject of angels, demons, and those other supernatural elements of our faith that often get short shrift in the Churches of Christ. A few weeks ago in the restoration history class I am teaching at VRCC, I talked about why I think this happens, namely that our movement begins with the Enlightenment philosophy that emphasizes reason and therefore has little room for things that are not easily explainable, but I wonder if we as a movement are backing away from this philosophy. So, what are your views on angels, demons, and the like? If you claim to believe in these things, does it go beyond a mere intellectual assent to their existence? Do angels, demons, etc., affect your faith in any substantial way?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Doing the Right Thing for the Wrong Reasons

Courtesy yourbartender

Well, it's about time that someone posted on this blog, and it's WAY past time that the rest of the P.E.A.K. take up that responsibility! So let me take a crack at this and see how it goes.

Many of you know I work at a company that's in the educational technology business. We make products that help kids perform better at math - you can say that with pretty hefty certainty, because there's plenty of actual independent research behind it. (Of course, there might be competitors that make products that do the same thing to some degree, but that's usually not mentioned.) One of the ways that my company promotes their products is to go into a school that, overall, is performing poorly at math. We provide the students with technology, and provide the teachers with training - all free of charge. The results are usually dramatic and astonishing - students perform markedly better at math, and teachers are more excited about teaching than they ever have been before. The district sees all these results and immediately green-lights the purchase of more technology and training, which can result in even more kids performing better at math.

Of course, we don't do this just to give everyone warm fuzzies. Every single metric is measured, researched, and published on the widest scale possible as a "case study" or "model district." The idea is that other districts in the same boat will see themselves in the example, and become moved to purchase our company's technology.

Now before I get too far, let me say I'm completely glad when anyone purchases what we make. After all, it pays my salary! And let's all be honest with each other - kids performing better in math is a good thing, right? Even if one kid can succeed and improve their future, isn't that worth any cost? Who's to say that one of these students turned on to math isn't a future Nobel Prize winner, computer science genius, or influential economist?

So here's what it comes down to: Can you do the right thing for the wrong reason? Is it still a good deed if you do it for completely selfish reasons? Should we praise the philanthropic efforts of a company out to make a profit?

Discuss away!

Monday, April 30, 2007


I thought that we had a fairly interesting Home Team meeting last night. We talked about being willing to listen for and follow God, even when it brings us out of our comfort zone. We started by asking a pretty compelling question, that I thought I would bring to this forum. What is the smallest decision you ever made that turned out to deeply affect you? You never know how a seemingly insignificant choice could shape your future, so what choices have you made, and where have they led you?
I know my life was irrecovably changed one day by being in the wrong lane on West Roundgrove Road. Shortly after moving here, I was headed to work at what was then Mail Boxes Etc. and wound up in a far right lane that turned into a right turn only lane. Through God's working, a car kept me from getting over, and I was forced to take the right turn. In extricating myself from this situation, I chose to cut through the Meadowglen plaza shopping center, and found to my surprise the Vista Ridge Church of Christ. The best wrong turn I've ever made. What choice have you made, and how has that choice affected you?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Be Square!

Jennifer took this picture when she was in Japan last year. For some reason, it always makes me laugh. I can't imagine that making a square watermelon changes the taste of it at all. It is simply a matter of appearances (as well as the inevitable fact that squares are easier to stack and thus transport than the odd spherical shape watermelons usually come in).
I wonder if we are like this sometimes. There is a natural way in which we are supposed to grow and develop, but the world forces us to take a different shape. The very structure of life dictates that we become more selfless, from the days of an infant when our whole world is comprised of our needs, to those first lessons of sharing, to the point that some of you find yourselves at, where you must yield your wants and needs to those of the new life in your midst. Despite this the world tells us to becomes more selfish, to take care of number one regardless of the pain it causes others. Everything in nature tells us that beauty and youth and appearance are transitory and fleeting, but the world tells us to celebrate these things and place utmost value on them.
How do you stay round in a square world?

Monday, April 9, 2007


First off, I really want to thank Jennifer, Kelly, and Eric, who proved themselves to be really good sharers. If you haven't yet, feel free to respond with your own "Better know a VRCC'er". I reall y like it when we get to know each other better.

To encourage that spirit of sharing, let me open up about something. Jennifer and I are so not prepared to be parents! We were given the opportunity to babysit little Kaleb Wages who, if you are not familiar with him, may be the best baby I've ever come into contact with. I've rarely seen him cry, and he seems incredibly comfortable with strangers. So, Jennifer and I assumed we were getting an easy assignment when Rachel mentioned that they needed a babysitter. "Easy" might be an over statement. Now, don't get me wrong. Kaleb was still the perfect baby, crying only when he was hungry, which is the most natural of reactions and one I employ quite frequently myself when I don't get lunch as quickly as I like. Still, I was unprepared for the physical and mental concentration that it takes to care for another life, and needless to say I have a new found respect for each of you who devote yourself to a child (Good Luck, Swan!). Long story short, Jennifer and I love all of your kids, but we are not ready to have any that we can't give back at the end of the day.

The picture to the left is from our NC Spring Break vacation, which I find myself reflecting on more and more as the TAKS test approaches (five more days to get my kids ready). As I have mentioned on my personal blog, flying a kite was one of the most restful things that we did while in Kitty Hawk, but it got me to thinking about the analogy of a kite. In order to make a kite fly, you have to hold the string very tight, for without that tension, the wind will not catch the kite and it will fall to the ground like a rock. However, the art of kite flying is also in knowing when to let go of the tension and allow the kite to soar. There is a balance. If I do not use enough tension, the kite will not fly. If I keep constant tension, the kite will never be free to ascend. I think this is like life. Without some sort of tension pulling at me (pressures of work, obligations of church, bills, "honey-do's" from Jennifer), I always crash by becoming directionless, staying in bed or wasting away in front of TV. If there is too much tension, however, I am only hovering and not soaring. I lose creativity and purpose, only surviving to the next chore and not recognizing the beauty of life. The art is in balancing the two, I guess. Right now, I could use a little less of the tension and a little more of the soaring. How about you?