Thursday, October 29, 2009

Big fish, small picture

In case you were wondering if I caught any fish last week (it's not my proudest moment!).

Caught few little largemouths. Using pumpkinseed Triple Ripple from Bass Pro Shops. Salt Creek was a really neat place to fish. I would have loved to have had a canoe and a whole day to explore and fish it.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ministers & Mates Retreat

Down in beautiful Nashville Indiana for our District’s Ministers & Mates Retreat this week. the leaves, the hills, the perfect weather. Wow! Our first session was Tuesday at 5:30 at Salt Creek (just a stone’s throw from where we are staying, pictured above). What was the lesson? How to fish for bass in Salt Creek. Here’s some pics from that adventure.

We are having a great time. The kids are with grandma and grandpa. We started missing them as soon as we left.

In case you are wondering we did go to the sessions. They were good and focused a lot on building up your marriage. It's been fun!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Mary & Martha (part 2)

This story also teaches us about social boundaries in the kingdom of God. We may unintentionally decide who is “in” and who is “out” when it comes to the kingdom of God. We may think a particular person, because of their social status, probably won’t make a good follower of Jesus. Jesus challenges that type of thinking here when He allows Mary to sit at His feet and learn. In Jesus’ world of the first century it was men who would sit at their teacher’s feet and learn like disciples. Women were to keep busy in the kitchen or with raising the children. It was somewhat shocking for a woman to sit at a man’s feet. In the first century men were at the top of society and ranked higher than women. Here, Mary is acting like a man and it upsets Martha because it goes against the grain of society. Society tells Martha that her sister shouldn’t be doing this.

Jesus’ response to Martha indicates that there is something different between the social boundaries in the kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world. Jesus doesn’t mind a woman sitting at His feet learning. He doesn’t mind a woman being His disciple. As a matter of fact, when you read through the Gospel of Luke you see that Jesus extends the invitation to follow Him to anyone willing to count the cost and follow Him. There are no social boundaries in the kingdom of God. Everyone is invited in.

As leaders we need to be looking at people with Jesus’ eyes and always be extending the invitation to enter God’s kingdom. Society may tell us there is a difference socially and in status between a garbage man and a doctor, but we need to remember that Jesus allows both to be His disciples and learn from Him. Will we play the popularity game and only allow people like us to be Christians or will we open the doors as Jesus did for all to come? Will our church be open to bankers and lawyers as well as alcoholics and drug addicts? As one commentator said in regards to Mary and Martha, “this story is about the boundary-breaking call of Jesus.” We cannot let social status keep us from sharing the Gospel and our lives with others. Jesus has commissioned us to make disciples out of all kinds of people regardless of where they rank in society. Being a disciple of Jesus is more important than anything else and the invitation is (or at least should be) open to all.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Mary & Martha (What can we learn?)

Paul writes in Philippians 3:10a, "I want to know Christ."

How do you get to know Jesus?

The story of Jesus at the home of Martha and Mary (Luke 10:38-42) gives us great advice on this and a great first step to take.

Step 1 – We listen to His Word. We read and hear the scriptures. Even if we don’t feel like it we still do it. Even if it is a passage we have read a million times we humble ourselves and listen. How often are we doing that? What is the ratio of hearing TV to hearing God’s Word in our lives? What is the ratio of hearing our children/spouse/others to hearing God’s Word? How often are we hearing from Him? Do we even sense that it is important?

Are we like Martha who is so concerned with the things needing to be done in this world that we neglect to spend time with the One who made this world? He said to Martha, “There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it.” (NLT) Ouch! That had to sting a little for Mary.

As leaders we need to know and be familiar with God’s Word. We need to be able to answer our people who have questions. We need to be able to answer our people who are misinformed about what God’s Word really says. We need to be able to answer our critics. We need to be able to answer our family. My advice is to shut the TV off, step away from the computer/internet, go to a place of silence, and open your Bible and start reading. Hopefully, we will discover, along with Martha, that it really is important to listen and spend time with God.
Part 2 to Mary and Martha coming next week.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

The Wesley Study Bible (Review)

Here is an item worth your time and money.

The *New* Wesley Study Bible. This is an awesome tool to add to your repertoire of good Christian resources. The Wesley Study Bible has been out about a year and is well worth buying and reading. Top Old Testament and New Testament scholars (e.g. Ben Witherinton III) have contributed to the study notes. This Bible also systemizes Wesleyan theology through a series of Core Terms boxes that are scattered throughout the Bible and indexed in the back. So, here are some of my thoughts on this Bible. We will start with the negative and move to the positive.

- Would have been nice to have some cross-references. There are hardly any (occasionally one is thrown into the study notes).
- Would have been nice to have some kind of concordance in the back to use for looking up words.
- Kind of big and bulky. Could it be offered in a smaller size?
- Book and chapter headings are in the middle of the page so it makes it a little more difficult to find things quickly.
- Promotion for this Bible has been very minimal (at least in my denomination). Is there a fear that it won’t be accepted or that we aren’t sure of it? What's going on? When I was at General Assembly this past summer in Orlando the Nazarene bookstore in the convention center had several copies of the Wesley Study Bible out and they were drawing quite a crowd. When I came back the next day they were gone! These things sold like hotcakes at General Assembly!


- Content is awesome. The book introductions, study notes, and Wesleyan Core Term boxes are top quality. This Bible helps you understand Wesleyan theology and thinking and how it is exegeted from scripture and applied to life.
- The amount of scholars that contributed to this Bible is amazing! You can find a full list on the site. Here are the actual names.
- NRSV translation is a pretty trustworthy translation. It has been a lot easier to read then I initially thought it would be. At first I wasn’t too impressed with it, but it has grown on me. I have started to like it a bit more the more I dig in and read/study it. It uses “brothers and sisters” when writers use the word “brothers,” or “brethren”. It is not quite as user-friendly as the NLT, but it works.
- The references throughout the Bible to Wesley’s notes and various works are helpful.
- Easy to read font size and style.

It is great to have a study Bible from our heritage. I just saw the other day that Cokesbury will be offering this in a genuine leather special edition which is now available (I think it’s priced at $67). This would make for a great gift for a discipleship and senior adult pastor (hint hint :) ).