Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Nouwen Part 6

For the next section we move on to the middle portion of the book which Nouwen calls From Popularity to Ministry. The section takes it’s lead from the scriptures where Jesus is tempted by Satan. The first chapter in the section deals with the temptation to be spectacular. Here are some of Nouwen’s thoughts.

· Jesus’ second temptation was precisely the temptation to do something spectacular, something that could win him applause (Matthew 4:6)
· He did not come to walk on hot coals, swallow fire, or put his hand in the lion’s mouth to demonstrate that he had something worthwhile to say. “Don’t put the Lord your God to the test”, he said.
· When you look at today’s church, it’s easy to see the prevalence of individualism among ministers and priests.
· Stardom and individual heroism, which are such obvious aspects of our competitive society, are not all that alien to the church.
· There too (the church) the dominant image is that of the self made man or woman who can do it all alone.

Being a follower of Christ is almost completely counter intuitive. There is such a temptation to “be spectacular”, just to draw attention. Unfortunately we end up attracting attention to ourselves rather than the message when we take this approach. If anyone could have pulled of attraction through the spectacular it would have been Jesus. This in now way means we should not be relevant. Everything that Jesus did had meaning and was relevant to the world around him. The statement that Nouwen makes regarding individualism is so true. When we attempt to do it alone we are in risk of being separated and can easily become an easy mark for the enemy. When we say “look at me” we are not teaching people to look at Him. Then they will likely be disappointed when we cannot live up to the standard. That is the question for us all; are we directing attention ourselves or to the Father??

Link Dump - All Hallows Eve edition...

Christianity and the Dark Side -- What About Halloween?
Escaping churchthink
Baconvision: The Bacon Man Lives in a Bacon House! -- mmmmmmmmmmm baaaaaccooonn
I thought it was a chimp- this photo is causing quite a stri around the web. Is it a bear, or something else?
Keep your cursor away from the rabbit - a bona fide time waster!
Halloween and Leaving the Light On
Well Said, Mr. Gammons - thoughts on ARod
Casting a Ballot for the Eternal Kingdom
A Blessed Assurance
Joel Osteen & Mac & Cheese
The Other Gospel of John Hagee
AlphaSmart Word Processor another item for the wish list
How to Listen to Sermons - 1 great minute of audio
Why Everybody Needs to Train With Weights
Training Thursday: How To Help Someone Study the Bible
Miracle in Mississippi - this has been all over the web but if you haven't seen it. itis well worth the watch -- never give up, never surrender!
You can't say it all at once...
Live and Learn, Dep't.
15 Innovations the Church Should Embrace Now…
Search 9,000 Libraries At Once For Free.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Nouwen Part 5

The next section of the book is short in pages but long in spiritual depth. In fact I think it could be the most helpful aspect of all that is taken from this text. It covers the issue of contemplative prayer; something that we need to explore and work on for sure. We are a culture driven by the "me mentality". We usually look to prayer as an open request line to God so that He can respond to what we need or want at the time. While we have made this almost the sole focus of prayer in and out of the church building it is really only one small portion of what prayer is intended to be for us. Nouwen makes these points:
  • the Christian leader of the future will need the discipline of dwelling in the presence of the One who keeps asking us, "do you love me? do you love me? do you love me?" This is the discipline of contemplative prayer.
  • contemplative prayer deepens in us the knowledge that we are already free, that we have already found a place to dwell, that we already belong to God, even though everything and everyone around us suggests the opposite.
  • it is not enough for the priests and ministers of the future to be moral people, well trained, eager to help their fellow humans, and able to respond creatively to the burning issues of their time.
  • are the leaders of the future truly men and women of God, people with an ardent desire to dwell in God's presence, to listen to God's voice, to look into God's beauty, to touch God's incarnate Word, and to taste full of God's goodness?
  • the original meaning of the word theology was "union with God in prayer"
  • today theology has become one academic discipline among many others, and often theologians are finding it hard to pray
  • every word spoken, every word of advice given, and every strategy developed can come from the heart that knows God intimately.
  • Christian leaders cannot simply be persons who have well formed opinions about the burning issues of our time. Their leadership must be rooted in the permanent, intimate relationship with the incarnate Word.
  • dealing with issues without being rooted in a deep personal relationship with God easily leads to divisiveness because, before we know it, our sense of self is caught up in our opinion about a given subject
  • when we are securely rooted it will be possible to remain flexible with out being relativistic, convinced without being rigid, willing to confront without being offensive, gentle and forgiving without being soft, and true witnesses without being manipulative.
  • for Christian leadership to be truly fruitful in the future, a movement from the moral to the mystical is required.

Our time spent with God cannot consist merely of an opportunity to request things of Him. If we are to truly become "new creations" we must spent the necessary time with Him to allow Him to mold us as He desires. This is often not pleasant work for us, but it is necessary!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Is Dusty Baker already being a Dustbag???

According to this article, not only is he bad mouthing his former employers he may have actually broken some of the tampering rules as well. I'm sure somehow this is the media's fault...

Day Off Blog

I've gotten behind in blogging. Looking to catch up a bit this evening. Starting with last Friday's day off blog. Here's the tale of the tape...
  • made trip to Wal Mart for a few household necessities and picked up a hoop/ backboard for the kids.
  • attempted assembly of said hoop only to find that it was damaged by someone who had previously purchased it and returned it, grrrrrrrrrr
  • returned damaged product to the store
  • trip to Mishawaka to find another hoop
  • assembled the hoop
  • spent the evening hanging out with the family and shooting some hoops


  • hung around home and watched some football games
  • did a little reading
  • Helped with the Harvest Carnival @ church
  • took a nap/ watched a bit of the World Series
  • back to work at 11 PM

Thursday, October 25, 2007

24 - Trailer for season 7 - see it while you can

so I was right that Tony is not dead! It looks like they may have pulled a plot together to take the show back to the top; if only it was January...

Link Dump -- October 25th

What's next for Narnian movies
leadership secrets of mother teresa
Implications of Ex Nihilo Creation
Dear God -- we would start looking at things with a child's eye, I think we could solve many of he world's problems
Trick or Retreat? what does you family do about celebrating Halloween?
The Most Important Stat In Football
Take a survey to win a Flip Video -- who couldn't use a free video camera?
Pastors Are People Too!!!
Willow Creek Repents?
Evangelicals and Mitt Romney
Getting Organized Does Not Have To Cost A Lot Of Money.
What is Spiritual Maturity?
AlphaSmart Word Processor -- another for the Christmas wish list
Missions Monday- Maps that Make a Difference
Taking Bible Stories Literally
The Accuser's Demand
Church Growth Movement Fall Down and Go Boom!
Halloween Candy Comparison

Nouwen -- Part 4

The next chapter of "In the Name of Jesus" is called The Question: "Do You Love Me". This is in reference to Jesus' discussion with Peter in John 21. He are some nuggets from Nouwen...
  • Before Jesus commissioned Peter to be a shepherd, he asked him, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these others do?".
  • Look at Jesus. The world did not pay any attention to him. He was crucified and put away. His message of love was rejected by a world in search of power, efficiency, and control.
  • The question is not: How many people take you seriously? How much are you going to accomplish? Can you show some results? But: Are you in love with Jesus?
  • The Christian leader of the future is the one who truly knows the heart of God as it has become flesh, "a heart of flesh", in Jesus.
  • very few people know that they are loved without any conditions and limits.
  • The radical good news is that the second love is only a broken reflection of the first love and that the first love is offered to us by a God in whom there are no shadows.
  • Knowing the heart of Jesus and loving Him are the same thing.
  • when we live in the world with that knowledge we cannot do other than bring healing, reconciliation, new life, and hope wherever we go.

This is the challenge and call to all Christ followers in general but to those who have been called in particular: How much do we truly love Jesus? We live in a world that is so focused on doing that we often never get to the point of just being. Jesus summed up how to show our affection and the results in John 14:

If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— 17the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be[c] in you. 18I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him."
22Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, "But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?"
23Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

In a rush to continually "do something for God" we are apt to lose sight of His heart. We navigate through life judging success by standards set by the world around us rather than those set by the One who created us. Most would agree that bringing healing, reconciliation, new life and, hope into our world is what we would want to see. We just are going about it on our own rather than under His direction. The pipeline to understanding is obedience. That leads to insight, which can then lead to direction. Do I love Jesus enough to obey His commands even when it appears to make better sense to follow my own sense?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Game of the Week

To make up for the serious lack of games offered here recently I give you hundreds of them. If you played or loved any of the Nintendo games, this site is a definite bookmark. WARNING: If you do not have some time to blow, do not bother following this link. It is addictive to see all of the games of your youth before you in smorgasbord fashion.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Nouwen -- Part 3

The first section of the book (3 chapters) is called From Relevance to Prayer. Here are a few highlights from the first chapter...
  • the Christian leader of the future is called to be completely irrelevant and to stand in this world with nothing to offer but his or her vulnerable self
  • God loves us not because of what we do or accomplish, but because He has created and redeemed us in love
  • Jesus' first temptation was to be relevant; to turn stones into bread
  • he clung to his mission to proclaim the Word and said, "One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God". (Matthew 4:4)
  • it might seem that nowadays becoming a priest or minister is no longer something worth dedicating your life to
  • The secular world around us is saying in a loud voice, "We can take care of ourselves. We do not need God, the church, or a priest. We are in control. And if we are not, then we have to work harder to get in control.
  • while efficiency and control are the great aspirations of our society; the loneliness, isolation, lack of friendship and intimacy, broken relationships, boredom, feelings of emptiness and depression, and a deep sense of uselessness fill the hearts of millions of people in our success oriented world.
  • the leaders of the future will be those who dare to claim their irrelevance in the contemporary world as a divine vocation that allows them to enter into a deep solidarity with the anguish underlying all the glitter of success, and to bring the light of Jesus there.

As I mentioned in a previous post, many of Nouwen's thoughts on leadership run somewhat counter to the current trends. While I see the need to not become out of touch, I truly believe that in the very near future we will see that the need and drive to do any and everything to become relevant to the culture will prove to be worth little. One thing that bothers me is that culture is continually changing. The message of the church should never be seen as changing. I agree that the methods must change with the times. I am afraid that in our zeal we often push way beyond what is called for. We are called to be different, and will thus stand out rather than blend in. We are not to be different for being different's sake but rather because what we have to offer is different. Sometimes, as with Jesus' temptations, the call to be relevant to the need or times pulls us a way from the primary mission. The church can easily fall into this trap and the distraction leads the work of the body to be more focused like pop psychology than the message of freedom in Christ. The delicate line must be watched over. When we want to do something just for the shock value or just for the sake of "making some noise" I think that it is time to reconsider what we have been called to do.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Link Dump -- October 21st

Missionary in North Korea scheduled for public execution
How to do everything better (online)
Four Things A Single Girl Should Know -- Perry Noble at his best
Top 10 Tithe Check Memo Notes
It’s Tribe Time: Indians Pitcher Paul Byrd Shares His Not-Perfect Faith
10 Ways You Know You Are Winning With Money
The Thirteen Critical Problems Facing Evangelicalism
What’s the Point of Pointing Out
You Don't Say -- perspective is important
How Much Caffeine in Starbucks Coffee
100 Truths in 30 Years with Christ
The 5 Creepiest Urban Legends (That Happen to be True)
Popular Mechanics’ 10 worst disasters of the last 101 years
Cheney and Obama are distant cousins, says VP’s wife

Day Off Blog

I had two in a ow again this week; designed around some ministry meetings and my wife going out of town with her sisters. It was a good off stretch, even with the work included.

  • did a bit of shopping, stopped at the coffee house, and browsed at Family, Borders, and Barnes and Nobles bookstores
  • took a nap
  • hung out at home


  • had an all day 2008 ministry planning meeting with the ministry board. It was great to get outside the walls of the church and spend some time praying, sharing, dreaming and planning.
  • took my boys to a great barbecue place
  • took my boys to the HS football game. They lost...


  • hung around home in the AM
  • put a batch of Texas Beans in the crock pot for later
  • went over to my mom's to watch ND get smoked by SC and eat the aforementioned beans
  • caught a shower and a nap
  • back to work at 11 PM

Friday, October 19, 2007

Nouwen -- Part 2

In this installment I will be covering the Prologue and Introduction. Nouwen begins with a brief history of who he is, his background in ministry and why the book was written. After many years working as a professor at Notre Dame, Yale , and Harvard he moved to a ministry in Toronto for the handicapped. This experience gave him a new perspective on what being a leader within the Church is really about. Here are some key quotes:

· God is a God of the present and reveals to those who are willing to listen carefully to the moment in which they live the steps they are to take toward the future
· Jesus did not send his disciples out alone to preach the word. He sent them two by two.
· I came face to face with the simple question, “Did becoming older bring me closer to Jesus?”
· Everyone was saying that I was doing really well, but something inside was telling me that my success was putting my soul in danger

I realized throughout this book that in many cases this is not “new” or “groundbreaking” information. Just a pure way of looking at the truth, which is what all good leaders and communicators are able to do. Takeaways are the need to listen and respond to the voice of God. He is not silent. We need to recapture the essence of team in ministry. We are not designed or asked to carry the load alone. Two by two is God’s design not only for the animals on the ark but also for those who are to engage the world with His message. This is a fundamental truth that we have lost somewhere in the process. The plan of the enemy has always been to separate us from one another. Alone is a bad thing.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Book #18 - In The Name of Jesus by Henri Nouwen -- Part 1

I am in a stage of personal frustration with my reading habits. Not that I am not reading mind you; blogs, Bible (not nearly enough), SEVERAL books started and more joining the "to read" pile are part of my daily routine. Unfortunately I have been in a rut of finishing books that are started. I am hoping to jump start my focus with a series of posts on my most recent book.

I picked this book up just yesterday in fact. At right about 100 pages it was an easy read and accomplished several things.

  1. It gave me a book that I could FINISH

  2. it was an easy read

  3. it filled in one of my areas of balance in reading; the classics. We too often run after the newest/ hottest titles.

  4. It spoke deeply to me

Over the next several days I will be providing insights from the book and my responses to them; many will simply stand on their own. The subtitle of the book, Reflections on Christian Leadership, speaks of the heart of the text. The book is divided in to three sections of three short chapters each.

From Relevance to Prayer

From Popularity to Ministry

From Leading to Being Led

The book was written in 1989 as a look to the future of leadership in the church. It challenges many of the thoughts and processes that are prevalent in today's Church. The book is focused around two main passages: Jesus' temptation in Matthew 4 and Jesus' commission of Peter in John 21. A challenge and a call to leaders in the church; I look forward to writing more about this inspiring little book.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Monday, October 15, 2007

Thought provoking comic strips

The Ongoing Adventures of ASBO Jesus has become one of my favorite views/ reads on my feedreader each day. These comic strips are extremely well done and thought provoking. Here are a couple of recent favorites...

Thoughts on Notre Dame...

A few thoughts on the state of the ND football team after this week's loss to Boston College:
  1. as painful as it is to watch at times, you can see improvement all around the field
  2. opportunity knocked; and whether it was due to inexperience or a superior foe, the Irish failed to kick in the door
  3. the quarterback issue is really an issue of a "chance to win this week" vs. preparing to win down the road. This is the choice that Charlie faces; I do not envy him.
  4. much is being made of the number of transfers from the sophomore class; it is not that unusual in major programs; some people just do not fit in
  5. I only worry a bit that losing is becoming acceptable. Tom Zibikowski said after the game that you can "live with a loss as long as we know everyone played hard for the whole game"
  6. take into fact that this team is getting experience against talent in the top of the NCAA pool and it is easier to be hopeful that they have at least become competitive

Link Dump -- October 15th

Bacon Unwrapped a blog dedicated solely to bacon; cue Homer Simpson "mmmmmmmm baaacon..."
Terrorist Mastermind Now A Christian?
Parcells’ 11 QB Commandments
Family has Notre Dame icon Gipp's body exhumed
Reactions to the “60 Minutes” Joel Osteen Piece
Prayer as Imprint

Day Off Blog

Still trying to work the best practices of a personal Sabbath together. Had Friday night off, this is what I did...
  • worked at the church for several hours
  • made a grocery run
  • watched Letters From Iwo Jima - great movie; I need to watch it again
  • took a nap
  • celebrated the birthday of a friend with about 15 others; never a bad thing to get some New York Strip!
  • a little blog reading/ HS football on TV


  • did a full grocery trip - Walmart gets busy early on Saturday morning
  • tried a new chili recipe -- turned out pretty well.
  • watched football (ND included), NASCAR, and a bit of baseball
  • SHORT nap
  • back to work at 11 PM

Friday, October 12, 2007

Link Dunp -- October 12th

Things have definately been busy this week. Moving into my day off later today and hoping to post some things over the next 2 days. In the meantime, enjoy some goodies from around the blogosphere...

Repair and Remodeling: Navigating Problems in Groups -- a great read/ resource for leaders of any type group
More from the Bar -- the bar church pastor hits a home run here...
I'm finding -- food for thought
What Not to Tell Your Kids -- a good chuckle
What I’ve Learned About Students, Worship and Evangelism
Charbroil’s The Big Easy -- headed for the Christmas wish list
Does Yelling help?
Teens Search Faith Online
Balloon Bowl -- fun video
Feed the homeless, face the jury
Books, Libraries, and the Ideal of Christian Scholarship

Monday, October 8, 2007

Link Dump -- October 8th

Everything must change: the video - having the right tool for the right application is important; good takeaways from this short clip
Authorities To Return Amputated Leg To South Carolina Man -- yes you read that right
Spurgeon on 'Saved'
President Bush: All Religions Pray to ‘Same God’
Christian bookstore manager martyred in Gaza City
Pastor is a calling not a “job title” so let’s not hand it out so freely
When is a Salad Unhealthy?
It was funny once … Steve Bartman and the goat showed up at the DBacks game
MLB Stadium Tour via Google Earth and MLB 07
What’s In A Win? Only Everything. Aaron Taylor's take on the ND victory
Kingdom-Minded 1 (of 4) a little toe stepping here
Catalyst: Chris Seay on Consumerism this is the $8 hot dog video everyone needs to see
More Americans Are Familiar with Big Mac Ingredients than the Ten Commandments.
Good Stuff In Sports... we3 need to see more stories like this one
Does God Want Jon Kitna To Win?

Days Off Blog

I had another opportunity to take two consecutive days this week. The were officially Friday and Saturday nights. What I did...
  • took a nap; a good way to start the day!
  • replaced the alternator on one of the vans. This is the down side of older vehicles, numerous repairs. On the upside they're easier to afford when you are not making a car payment.
  • took Micki and Caleb out to Wings for dinner
  • rented and watched "We Are Marshall". A good family film. Some language but nothing graphic.


  • worked with 4 others from our church at HCJB for about 5 hours. We built some shelving for them. I had no idea that their ministry was so big! It is cool to get outside of our own church walls and participate; we need to be doing more of this.
  • experimented with roasting some ducks on the grill. Worked pretty well. I look forward to trying some chickens and maybe even a turkey
  • watched the demise of the Cubs' season -- wait 'til next year...
  • watched Notre Dame get their first win of the season. With all of the upsets around the country it still gives hope that they might be able to pull one off in the next two weeks against either BC or USC. We will see. Remind yourself, baby steps...


  • early to the church to get things ready for worship and Sunday School
  • taught SS and did graphics for worship
  • caught a short nap around a little football and NASCAR
  • prepared and ran graphics for a celebration of 50 years in ministry for one of our musicians at the church
  • watched a little Bears, caught a few winks
  • back to work at 11 PM

Friday, October 5, 2007

Wait 'til Next Year? Things look grim

After tonight's game I thought I'd post a few pics I found around the web that sum up the situation on the North Side...

Did Steve Bartman move to Arizona? A comeback is not out of the question but they better start doing the little things to even have a chance.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Link Dump == October 4th

Big Mac Beats The Bible for Majority of Americans
Jesus Saves - in honor of the start of hockey season...
2007 Week 4 Beatpaths Rankings - this guy has a cool way at looking at the power ranks of the NFL teams
Bestselling Christian Authors a link to the top 50
WWJOS? (What Would Joel Osteen Say?)
The Question No One Wants to Ask…
Cyberspace - Christianity's Virtual Mission Field
How Addicted to Coffee are you?
Litmus for Living

Cruise Ship or Battleship??

Which of these ships should the Church be most like? Which one most represents the typical local body? Is there room for both of them on the seas? I'll be discussing it in upcoming posts. Feel free to add your thoughts.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Link Dump -- October 2nd

It hardly seems like it can be October already; here it is though.

“We’re not looking for weekend-attenders, we’re looking for world-changers” I love that quote, and it's a good sermon too.
In a Bar? - yep, that's where this church meets
When you are ready to stand up to speak
Boomshine!! - this game infuriates, intrigues, irritates, and most of all wastes a ton of time. my best is 274
Messengers or Manipulators?
Survival Through Unity we need to be hearing more about unity instead of every one else's heresy
Want Radiohead’s New Album? - Pay Whatever Amount You Want. could this be a new trend???
Blame God for the New Marbury blame? shouldn't there be thanks?
The Entire Nation of Canada is Rooting for Notre Dame to Win 6 Games even if everyone else in ND Nation jumps ship, the Canucks will be there for the boys...
10 Things I’ve Learned About Leadership From Jeff Fisher
Giuliani: I Pray to Jesus for Guidance call me cynical...
Picture Of The Man Who Wouldn't Salute
Christian Conservatives Consider Third-Party Effort seems like a bad idea... can you say Ross Perot

Day Off Blog

This is the first time on over a month that I had a dayS off to blog about. With having Saturday and Sunday nights off and returning at 11 on Monday, it was almost like 3 days. It felt great. This is the breakdown.

  • spent 4 hours replacing a solenoid and starter on one of our vans. Not a planned vent but it had to be done.
  • watched Notre Dame lose again. There were some bright spots but I missed several because I dozed off during the game -- I was tired
  • spent some time just hanging out with my wife and kids;
  • watched a little more football


  • went in early to the church to get a few things ready and then handles SS and graphics for the service
  • ate lunch with two other couples from the church.
  • shopped for a new stereo for the van
  • watched football/ chilled at home


  • took my daughter to school. she loves sleeping in and I get a little one on one time. It's a win win for us both
  • worked at the church
  • picked up some connections I needed and installed the stereo in the van
  • hung out and ate dinner at home
  • took a nap before returning to work

Not a complete break from the routine; as happens when my days off fall around Sunday or Monday but I still feel like it was successful and well spent time. I'm getting better.