Archive for June, 2010

They’ve got at least one thing in common:  judging success immediately is impossible, little more than a guess.

No one really knows how any of these draft picks will turn out.  Greg Oden was the consensus number one a few years ago…and has played 80 games, with limited minutes, in three years, because of injuries.

Unlike (say) picking the best two or three films made in any given year, judging success in international relations is always much more complicated, dependent on many factors, and really only possible in hindsight.  Getting North Korea, Palestinians, or the French to sign a treaty may be impressive for a moment or a year.  It may have little impact in the long run, and in fact many efforts undertaken for the sake of peace work against the creation of peace.  See Chamberlain, Neville.

Same with Christian ministry.  It’s very difficult to assess how well someone has done in their service year-to-year.  Attendance, for instance, doesn’t get it covered:  what if you made 10,000 shallow, fruitless disciples, while an unheralded preacher down the road patiently helped endow a handful of believers with mature, radical Christian character?

In all three spheres, it’s trial by fire that reveals true success.  That’s why Paul points to a future analysis of ministry success (and failure):

In that Day (of judgment) the work of each bulider will become visible, revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each has done.  If what has been built on the foundation survives, the builder will receive a reward.  If the work is burned up, the builder will suffer loss; the builder will be saved, but only as through fire.


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now that i am done with my written ordination exams i am “free” to use my “free time” to read books i have been itching to get to. this weekend i made some good headway into Soo- Chan Rah’s new book, The New Evangelicalism. Rather than write up a bunch of reviews and spit out some quotes i thought you could hear the words directly from his mouth by watching this interview. it is WELL worth your time.

come Holy Spirit!

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Audubon Park is more or less an extended backyard for us.  Lots to say about this, including the awesome Cancer Survivor’s Park with loads of flowers for much of the year.  For now I’ll note the wildlife:  in the time we’ve lived here, apart from the usual wildlife, we’ve seen raccoons, owls, hawks (twice we’ve seen a hawk eating a squirrel), voles, possums (dead), turtles, and frogs.  A serviceman saw a five-foot king snake this week, and this morning our kids and Uncle Duncle saw a fox (we were at the Botanic Gardens in the heart of the park).

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Finishing up Graham Tomlin, Spiritual Fitness he has a chapter near the conclusion on some of the spritiual practices we see Jesus undertaking with his disciples.  Much like Paul Miller’s book, Love Walked Among Us, this is a look at Jesus that longs to learn from what he did.  Here’s one example (142-3):

A striking feature of Mark’s Gospel is that Jesus very rarely did things alone.  Occasionally he went off into the hills to pray, but most of the time he did everything with his discipes.  At times it was with the whole group, at other times he took just a few of them along, but he rarely acted alone.  The pronoun used most often is ‘they’, not ‘he’.

As Jesus moved . . . [to] Jerusalem . . . this was a communal journey where [almost] everything was done together.  They experienced together the elation of the transfiguration when Jesus took Peter, James and John with him on that most extraordinary and personal encounter with his Father (9:2-13).  They experienced together the grief and despair of Jairus’s daughter (5:35-43).  They encountered fear (4:38) and went through failure (9:18).  Jesus took them through the whole range of human experience and they went through it together, not alone.

There was a commitment to each other which transcended even commitments to family.  In fact this group actually became as close as a family – Jesus ask the rhetorical question, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?  He looked at those seated in a cricle around him and siad, “Here are my mother and my brothers!'” (3.31-5).

Here at the heart of Jesus’ practice of church was a willingness to expose his life to theirs and their life to each other’s, in the intimate setting of a small community of around a dozen people.  Without that depth of companionship, it is unlikely that our churches will get very far with real transformation.

[[sidebar:  does it strike anyone else as funny that our blog has categories for “church” and for “missional church”?  Should we save the label “church” for ridiculous stuff like this and the label “missional church” for all the good or normal stuff?]]

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New Ballet Ensemble is a dance studio in Midtown run by Katie Smythe, fellow 2PC member Clay Smythe’s sister. This morning they were featured on the NBC Today show segment called Lend A Hand Today. The link below will take you to New Ballet’s website, which has the video on the front page. The Studio is doing an amazing job of creating community in Memphis, by bringing “…together children from all backgrounds by providing a professional standard of training, regardless of the ability to pay.” I love that all over Memphis, you will find people like Katie who are using their gifts to love and serve our city.


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today the u.s. advanced in the world cup. today i ate mexican for lunch. today i am surrounded by books and notes trying to study. today i drove my car. today i drank coffee and tea with people (not together, but both this morning). tonight i will sleep in a bed. not everyone in our world, or even in the city of memphis, can share these same realities.

recently sociologist johnathan bloom has noted that, as americans, we throw away an average of $2000 of food per household of four every year. yes, $2000 a year, and this in a world where 25,000 children will die TODAY of preventable causes (hunger, malnutrition, diarrhea…) 

the article states, “Jonathan Bloom estimates the average family of four throws out close to $2,000 worth of food annually — 25 per cent of what’s brought home from the grocery store. Bloom has investigated the cycle of food waste for several years and has found that our obsession with freshness is at the heart of the issue.” you can read the whole article here.

the real stats that will blow you away are found HERE.

it has been fashionable of late to throw around the stat that memphis was named the “hungriest city in america” but i am not seeing much movement on it, especially from the church. memphis is hungry, the world is hungry, and i am getting fatter and throwing away more food. this is not OK and it will change.

followers of Jesus are called to feed the hungry, love justice & mercy, and to serve the poor. in fact, Jesus identifies himself with the poor so much he says, “whatever you do to the least of these you do to me.” so if i live in a city and a world where i am throwing away food or consuming excessively, and not sharing, am i doing that to Jesus? by ignoring the poor am i ignoring him?

i like the warm fuzzy feeling i get when i serve someone and think about how i served Jesus. that makes me feel good. but when i am self absorbed, self focused, self satisfying, and self serving i do not like the feeling i get when i think about how my ignoring of the poor is ignoring Christ. i am too self focused to relate “to the least.”

check out this dudes anger below. i am not encouraging you to sign his stuff (i have not) but this video made me smile. i think we should be angry over this. definitely. the disparity, even with in the church, should call us to turn over tables.

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An excellent plumber is infinitely more admirable than an incompetent philosopher.
The society that scorns excellence in plumbing just because plumbing is a humble activity,
and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity,
will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy.
Neither its pipes nor its philosophy will hold water.

John William Gardner

For obvious reasons, this is one of my favorite quotes on vocation.


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A Few Nice Quotes on Vocation

“The most reliable callings are born from reflecting on a situation that is more or less imposed on us.  Vocation is nearly always a way of accepting a situation that was first of all considered a limitation.” Roger Mehl, Society and Love

(Keep in mind the idea that Lewis only really wanted to be a poet.)  “One never can see, or not till long afterwards, why any one was selected for any job. And when one does, it is usually some reason that leaves no room for vanity. Certainly, it is never for what the man himself would have regarded as his chief qualifications.” C. S. Lewis, Perelandra

Gerard Manley Hopkins:  “Christ plays in ten thousand places, lovely in eyes and lovely in limbs, not His.”

George Herbert’s famous hymn:  “Who sweeps a room, as for thy laws, makes that and the action fine.”

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i am always encouraged by men and women who use their God given training and vocational experience in an outside of the box way for the furtherance of the Kingdom. in east memphis there are a lot of folks who work with investments, money, and capital in general. below is a video showing how some folks have used their investment and business savvy to bring Kingdom restoration to bear in a global way. what would this sort of outside the box thinking look like in memphis?

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I have been reading a book called “Radical” by David Platt this week. Platt is the pastor at The Church of Brook Hills in Birmingham, AL. I was really enjoying the book so I thought I’d find one of his sermons online to listen to while I was working. I wound up listening to a talk he gave last year at the Southern Baptist Convention. I was absolutely blown away with what I heard. Like the book, it was extremely encouraging and challenging and has stayed on my heart for days. He asks the question, “will you die in your religion, or will you die in your devotion?” I’ll let you listen to find out what he means. I’d love to know if it effects you the way it is effecting me.


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