Purchasing a new Bible is a special thing because I didn’t just buy another Bible but rather I replaced my primary study and preaching Bible. Sure I have shelves full of various Bible translations and paraphrases, study Bibles, application Bibles and the like. But this guy is the captain of the team, the one I depend on to get me through the crucible moments of my pastoral calling. I had used the previous one for around 8 years. Forcing it into retirement has been a difficult process. However, it was just time and there wasn’t any getting around it. After carrying it with me to various meetings everyday for 8 years, studying and preaching with it, it was time. The pages are brown from my oily fingers (gross, I know), the maps had fallen out, and the pages were so marked up it was becoming distracting. Oh, and I was missing some pieces that had just crumbled over time.
I had some very specific things in mind as I was looking to replace my seasoned – but retiring – veteran. I needed a thinline version because I do take it with me everywhere. I do have electronic versions on my iPhone and iPad but the Bible is one area where I am a little old school. My primary preaching notes are written into the margins of my Bible which I can’t do in an electronic version.
Although a great resource, I was not going to carry around one of those huge study Bibles to every meeting, every day. Also, I love the red-letter editions. I find it incredibly helpful to quickly know if it is Jesus that is speaking. This keeps me from needing to stop and analyze the discourse to find out if it is Jesus or not.
Next, I wanted real leather without any crazy designs on it. My retired edition was genuine leather and it weathered all of my abuse extremely well. I want to drain all of the life out of each edition that I buy because I invest a lot of time into the notes that are written into each one. For years I will reference various scriptures and I will find the margin notes that came out of another time of study (this is also why I mourn the retirement of an old copy). The genuine leather editions are always a little more pricey, but they are definitely worth it over the years of use.
The most significant and truly foundational aspect of the choice was the translation. How did I choose the translation? Very good question, I’ll be answering that in the next post.
… to be continued…
Monday is my day off as usually my work week is Tuesday through Sunday. Today I took my son to the movies and we saw Cars 2. He ate a carton of popcorn and drank a cup of Sprite. Every few minutes during the movie he would turn to me and say, ‘Daddy, can I ask you a question?’ He would follow that with various random questions about the movie. It was obvious that he just wanted to connect with me every few minutes.
Tonight we took a family outing to Mission Burrito. I drove the kids around the parking lot while Momma was inside ordering the food. We passed the music store in the parking lot and we took a moment, stopped, and all looked at the guitars and drums in the window. My son asked me if we could go to that music store sometime and I let him know that we definitely could… sometime. My oldest child quickly piped up in the car by letting everyone know that her and I had gone there one time on a date night. That was probably at least 2 years ago when we did, in fact, go to that music store together on a date night.
It amazes me that all of my kids have those moments seared so deeply into their memory. It does not appear that they will ever forget a moment that we have spent together. This is convicting and inspiring all at the same time. It is convicting because I realize that I need to invest in more of those times with each of them (all THREE of them). It is inspiring to realize that each of those times are truly investments into their memories which will always be filed away as ‘time with Dad.’
What things are you investing your time in that will have zero significance tomorrow or next week? Parents, how can you make more of these memory investments in your children? Last week while Mom was at Bible Study we loaded up in the van, wearing our pajamas, and went to a friend’s movie/media room to watch Toy Story 3. For the small investment of watching a movie together plus 3 bags of M&Ms, they have brought that evening up in conversation countless times over the past week. I’m convinced they will never forget those moments. Will you commit with me in making more of those kind of memory investments into the lives of our children?
I’ve been going through some health issues recently. I’ve had several surgical procedures over the past few months with the final one, hopefully, being last week. I have missed being able to engage in a lot of things over the past few months. I haven’t been able to run or exercise in months and that has really affected me in numerous ways. You probably either think I’m nuts or you completely identify with what I am talking about here.
I don’t think I understood how much exercise brought balance to my life. Exercise helps me immensely in balancing out the ups and downs of a day. I can’t wait to have that balance back again. I am confident that there is a connection between spiritual, emotional, and physical health.
There has been much recent interest in environmentalism from some Christian circles. I think it has been a good discussion in as much as it does not dilute the essence of the gospel. Much of the discussion seems to revolve around a desire to participate in God’s act of redemption.
Romans 8:20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we await for it with patience.
Why is it that a desire to steward the environment has come out of this text and not also a desire to steward our physical bodies? There are so many great truths here and to minimize it to an environmental discussion is just sad. Sure that is part of it, but only ONE part. The trees, mountains, and lakes are a beautiful act of God’s creation AND so are YOU.
I believe the neglect to steward our bodies – God’s creation – may be one of the most neglected sins of the 21st Century Church. How are you stewarding God’s gift of creativity and creation in which you walk everyday – your body?
I do not hide the fact that I have a significant affection for coffee. There are not many smells that excite me more than walking into an overwhelming aroma of freshly ground and brewed coffee beans. Although I do have my favorites and when given the opportunity I can fit the definition of a coffee snob, I am a purest. What I mean is that I truly enjoy the natural flavor of coffee, not the cup of almond toffee flavored cream with a dab of coffee on top.
There have been a few moments in my adult life where I was forced to do without this miracle brew. I’ll never forget going to the Philippines and asking for coffee only to be met with those little crystals that dissolve in hot water. Hi, my name is Matt and I am a coffee snob. I’m sorry to say that those crystals in a jar are no substitute for that little blessed bean. One of the first things on my mind after hugging my wife and kids upon returning from the trip was finding some coffee.
You might not be as infatuated with coffee, but I’m sure you have your cravings. I often wonder how our Father feels when he sees all of the things we long to see, do, and experience and He is equated to a task we accomplish on Sundays. I think that sometimes God wants to take us through things that make us dependent upon him. Sometimes we have to go through a desert in order to become thirsty.
He wants to be the object of our desires. He wants to be the one we turn to in times of joy, sadness, frustration, and success. He wants to be the first one we look to at the break of day. He wants to guide us, instruct us, and come along side of us. He desires to know us so deeply that He gave His Son to die – to afford us the ability to have relationships with Him.
We need to take a look at our pursuits in life. Maybe today God wants you to do some reorganizing of pursuits. Can you think of one investment of your time which should be placed second in priority to our loving Savior?
If we are constantly trying to be someone else – or trying to project an image that is less than honest – no one will ever truly know us. If no one truly knows us then we are living in isolation. You may be surrounded by people all day long yet still be emotionally and relationally isolated. Moms can be surrounded by kids and even other moms and still be relationally isolated. Men and women can work amidst a sea of people for 40-60 hours per week and remain relationally isolated. It can easily happen to any of us. How do you know if you have crept into relational isolation?
- Is someone asking about your well-being?
- Is there someone who can see through your staple responses? (friend, “how are things going?” – you, “everything is going well” – friend, “liar.”)
- Is someone asking about your marriage?
- Does someone know your unique struggles and ask regularly about them?
- Is someone available and welcoming of your phone call anytime of the day or night?
Isolation creates a petri dish where all sorts of problems take shape. To the surprise of many, pastoral leadership can create a very isolated environment. I have to be incredibly intentional to foster these kinds of relationships. So, I would be the first to say that it is much easier said than done. However, the struggle pays unspeakable blessings.
If you cannot answer a resounding “YES” to those five questions then I challenge you to seek deeper relationships – at least one. Fight the suburban isolationism that can easily breed all types of unhealthy thoughts and emotions.
It is easy for me to throw my hands into the air in despair because I can’t see God working. Honestly, I look for God to provide or work in a very specific way and when he is not working in that way I don’t think he is working at all. If there is any sort of constant in my life as a pastor it is that God does not work based on my expectations.
I was encouraged by how God replied to Habakkuk’s cry in 1:5-11. God choosing to use the nation of Babylon might have been THE most unexpected way that God could have worked in that situation. God is saying, “I am working in ways that you would never expect or understand.” That should be encouraging to us. In those moments when you look around in frustration and you feel alone and abandoned by your Father in Heaven… you can think twice… you can be reminded. You can be reminded that God is working in that very minute and no matter how hard you look it will be impossible for you to completely comprehend all of the ways he is working.
I recently discovered Eric Whitacre. He is an incredible contemporary music composer. He had the genius idea of creating a virtual choir for one of his compositions. He tells the story of videoing himself conduct the composition in isolation. He sent out a request for people to record themselves singing their voice part of his choral composition and send him the YouTube video. He received over 2000 recordings from over 58 different countries. Eric had the video submissions edited (and of course some didn’t make the cut – I know wouldn’t have) into one piece with the voices singing in harmony and him conducting the performance. It is an incredible work of art and I am an instant fan of Whitacre.
Each of these individual videos were recorded in the isolation of their home or bedroom. They were completely isolated and sheltered from one another. Eric was able to hear all of the voices and he smashed them together in harmony. God has a view of history unlike we can ever imagine. He is the conductor who hears, knows, and sees every moving part past, present, and future. You and I are blessed to play and instrument in the greatest symphony ever played. We are able to sing a part in the greatest choir following the most skilled conductor ever known.
Just because you can’t see how God is working it does not mean that he isn’t working. Be encouraged today that his artistry is more than either you or I can truly comprehend.
Have you ever felt like Habakkuk? Have you ever felt like God abandoned or had forgotten about the events unfolding in your life? What was it that encouraged you to push ahead?
Facade is the suburban disease. We all have a tendency to project a veneer of perfection in all areas of life. We want to mold the way people think about us and often times that means not being ourselves. For some crazy reason we try to fool God with that veneer as well. Ludicrous isn’t it? Somehow we think we can fool our all-knowing and all-powerful God into believing some rouse about our true feelings and/or actions.
I’m neck deep into a well neglected book of the Bible called Habakkuk. I’ve been studying, reading, and praying through this book in an effort to stretch myself and in turn be used by God to stretch others. I feel like I am constantly encouraged by the relevancy within every single book of the Bible…. even Habakkuk! The book begins with these words from Habakkuk –
O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear?
Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save?
Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong?
Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise.
So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth.
For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted.
He is not pulling any punches. Our friend ‘Haby’ is letting the gates of his emotional swell explode forward. He isn’t trying to hide what he feels or what he thinks. He is laying bare, in complete honesty and authenticity, exactly what is on his heart.
I remember when my wife and I began dating and things turned serious. I remember being outside sitting on a trampoline at her Dad’s house having that pivotal conversation of extreme honesty. We shared honest feelings, mistakes, regrets, and victories. We chose to tear away even the slightest presence of any veneer that might have been present in the earliest days of our relationship. At that moment we were completely honest with each other. I can remember our relationship deepening beyond expectation that through that conversation. It set a precedent for honesty and depth that has been with us for over 13 years. Can you imagine what your relationship with God would look like if you were willing to let go of the facade?
I am confident that God desires complete honesty in our relationship with him. In Luke 22:39-46 we see a deep honesty and authenticity modeled by Jesus as he is speaking to his Father. Have you constructed a facade the limits the honesty of your prayer life? Would you be willing to be completely honest before God with all of your feelings, hurts, thoughts, and questions?
I spent some time after college wrestling with God and his calling on my life. It was a pretty tough season. I did everything from police work and music private lessons to financial work. As of today I’ve been in full time ministry for over 10 years. One of the constant issues that I have thought through is the fact that God made me an introvert AND he called me to pastoral ministry. Many people don’t think those two can both be true. I know they are true but I have still wrestled with how it all works out in me and through me.
I stumbled onto this article and book through a friend, Joel Burdeaux. This book is now on the top of my list to read. I wanted to share a few things from the article that I found validating and encouraging. There is a rampant disease in ministry where pastors/leaders are constantly trying to be someone they aren’t… not themselves. Maybe it is because they see a great leader who is “successful” and they are trying to emulate him/her. I believe if we learn how to truly leverage who God has uniquely created us to be then we will find the greatest fruit in our daily lives.
Myth #1 – Introverts don’t like to talk.
This is not true. Introverts just don’t talk unless they have something to say. They hate small talk. Get an introvert talking about something they are interested in, and they won’t shut up for days.
Myth #2 – Introverts are shy.
Shyness has nothing to do with being an Introvert. Introverts are not necessarily afraid of people. What they need is a reason to interact. They don’t interact for the sake of interacting. If you want to talk to an Introvert, just start talking. Don’t worry about being polite.
Myth #3 – Introverts are rude.
Introverts often don’t see a reason for beating around the bush with social pleasantries. They want everyone to just be real and honest. Unfortunately, this is not acceptable in most settings, so Introverts can feel a lot of pressure to fit in, which they find exhausting.
Myth #4 – Introverts don’t like people.
On the contrary, Introverts intensely value the few friends they have. They can count their close friends on one hand. If you are lucky enough for an introvert to consider you a friend, you probably have a loyal ally for life. Once you have earned their respect as being a person of substance, you’re in.
Myth #5 – Introverts don’t like to go out in public.
Nonsense. Introverts just don’t like to go out in public FOR AS LONG. They also like to avoid the complications that are involved in public activities. They take in data and experiences very quickly, and as a result, don’t need to be there for long to “get it.” They’re ready to go home, recharge, and process it all. In fact, recharging is absolutely crucial for Introverts.
Myth #6 – Introverts always want to be alone.
Introverts are perfectly comfortable with their own thoughts. They think a lot. They daydream. They like to have problems to work on, puzzles to solve. But they can also get incredibly lonely if they don’t have anyone to share their discoveries with. They crave an authentic and sincere connection with ONE PERSON at a time.
Myth #7 – Introverts are weird.
Introverts are often individualists. They don’t follow the crowd. They’d prefer to be valued for their novel ways of living. They think for themselves and because of that, they often challenge the norm. They don’t make most decisions based on what is popular or trendy.
Myth #8 – Introverts are aloof nerds.
Introverts are people who primarily look inward, paying close attention to their thoughts and emotions. It’s not that they are incapable of paying attention to what is going on around them, it’s just that their inner world is much more stimulating and rewarding to them.
Myth #9 – Introverts don’t know how to relax and have fun.
Introverts typically relax at home or in nature, not in busy public places. Introverts are not thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies. If there is too much talking and noise going on, they shut down. Their brains are too sensitive to the neurotransmitter called Dopamine. Introverts and Extroverts have different dominant neuro-pathways. Just look it up.
Myth #10 – Introverts can fix themselves and become Extroverts.
(find more HERE!)
Are you leveraging the uniqueness of God’s creativity in your life? Or… are you trying to be someone else… someone who does not have all the unique qualities and nuances with which God blessed you?
Being called to pastoral ministry is a blessing. Period. I am blessed to see God move in so many ways. Just as with any job/career/calling, there are difficulties. There are some days that are fantastic and others that can be more difficult. I’ve been digging around within my own head a bit and asking myself what inspires me to pastor.
There are so many different ways to answer this question. There are so many things that God can use and does use for inspiration. As the thoughts have settled in my head, I keep coming back to the same thing. The most inspiring thing for me as a pastor is to hear God stories… grace stories… transformation stories. The most inspiring thing for me is when I get to see how an individual or family is being led by the Spirit of God in their home.
Here in suburbia we default to the most comfortable, and often times prosperous, decisions in life. It seems that we are all compelled to choose comfort. This isn’t surprising. When you read back over what happened in the first three chapters of Genesis it all makes sense. This only magnifies the appreciation for a truly counter-cultural, nature-defying, Jesus-following story.
To hear that someone is hearing the Spirit of God in their life and faithfully moving with that direction of the Spirit is inspiring. I would encourage you to tell your story openly and freely. I understand that it can feel prideful when we talk about ourselves – but you’re NOT. You are talking about God and what he is doing in you. You are not mustering the strength to accomplish great things through your own brilliance and good nature. God is moving on your heart and then by his grace you are following faithfully. That is a story that needs to be told. Tell it today and tell it often. Don’t wait on the dramatic ending or hopeful deliverance to come. Tell of the journey… tell of the story… tell of the struggle… tell your story… TODAY. You are a tool of the Father in more ways than you can imagine.
What is God doing in your life right now? What areas of struggle is he taking you through? How are you hearing him and how are you following him? This is your story and it must be told. I know I will be inspired by it.
You probably let it just come and go… you probably missed the day all together. How could you? June 24th was take your dog to work day. Everyone should participate in this great day. At my office we celebrate it EVERY DAY! I guess this is just one of the small benefits of the home office. Sure there are plenty of difficulties but they all melt away when it is just me, my books, the laptop, and my dog.