Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Are you going to church on Christmas?

This year, Christmas falls on a Sunday. Talk about bad timing! That is if you regularly gather with Christians to worship on Sundays. So what's your church doing this year? Will you have a service next week, Sunday December 25? Or would that be a terrible idea? Think about it: taking time out of Christmas morning with your family to celebrate the birth of Creator-Redeemer Jesus, the Messiah?! I can tell you, that it was mostly a no-brainer for my fellow pastor and me to decide that we would definitely call the church together for a Christmas celebration. I was actually surprised that this would be a problem, even some of my family was shocked that our church would not cancel at least the Christmas or New Year's service.

Apparently, at least one megachurch as decided "that organizing services on a Christmas Sunday would not be the most effective use of staff and volunteer resources." (Check out the whole article online: Some Megachurches Closing for Christmas. )

That's pretty sad if you ask me. Don't get me wrong, if you know me well, you know that I believe that worship does not begin and end on Sunday. Corporate worship is a small part of our whole life of worship. So there's nothing "magical" about going to church on Christmas day. You won't turn into a "super-Christian." You will however have an opportunity to tangibly re-connect to why we supposedly celebrate Christmas!

I'm curious to find out what your church is doing this Christmas, and if you do meet for gathered worship, let me know how it went. What a blessing we have this year to celebrate Jesus' birth and anticipate his return.

Merry Christmas and Maranatha!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Finally, a roof over our heads

Bloggin is so easy when you're just posting pictures. Have a nice day!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Taylor Sorensen

I just finished listening to Beams of Heaven (#4 CD from Indelible Grace) and one track stood out above the rest, "Lead On O King Eternal." The guy's voice kept reminded me a lot of Bono. I had to find out who in the world it was. Taylor Sorensen. Check out his website and listen to some of his tunes: Taylor Sorensen I think you might like him. Not your typical Christian Artist.

By the way if you have not availed yourself to Indelible Grace, get off your butt right now and go buy their CD's!!! They have done a marvelous job at newly arranging old, forgotten and sung-to-death hymns. We've been singing a slew of their songs at our church and people are liking them and loving God!

The roof will be next

My father in law packed up his backhoe and headed home. Excavation complete: at least until next spring when we put the finish touches on the landscaping. The contractors say they'll have the roof up this weekend.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

And then there were walls

Things are moving right along now. By this time next week the carpenters may have the roof on. What a blessing to be building our first house. It seems as though all of our date nights are spent at Home Depot lately! This is an undeveloped market for Starbucks. They definitely could provide a little atmosphere.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


Finally, construction has begun! In one day, MGM builders was able to set the center beam, nail all the floor joists and lay down the first floor sheathing. They say they'll have the roof on in about two weeks. We can't wait!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Framing starts Monday!

This is for real this time--the contractors will actually start framing our house tomorrow, Nov. 21! They claim that the roof will be on in about two weeks. Heidi and I finalized our kitchen plans this past Saturday. No granite tops this time around. Wicked expensive. Anyway, there should be plenty of pics the next few weeks. Be sure to check back soon!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

MP3's for 14 Cents

Yeah, my friend Dwight tells me the other day about this website where he just bought several albums for 14cents per mp3. I just tried it, and guess's totally legal, and it totally works. Just picked up Jack Johnson's "In Between Dreams" and Norah Jones "Come Away with Me" for a total of $3.92!! Crazy huh!?

Check it out for your self and let me know what you think: Legal Sounds.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Foundation is in!

Foundation coated and ready to be back-filled.

One day after pouring, the forms were taken down.

Forms--ready to be filled with cement.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


After weeks of clearing our lot, we finally had our footing poured. By the end of the week, the rest of the foundation should done. Next week...framing begins!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

I am in fact a hobbit

Here I am, looking a little shorter, a little stouter, and a whole lot more Hobbit-like! Tolkien would be proud.

Fryeburg Fair

Every year, Heidi and I try to make it to the spectacular Fryeburg Fair. It is the cream of the crop of county fairs, and if you've never're missing out! I actually only (mostly?) go for the food. Sure the animals are cute and all, but it's really an excuse just to eat wicked bad food that tastes really good. Enjoy the pics.

Our first house lot

My father-in-law and I have been clearing our land the past couple of weeks. The sun lights it up beautifully. Probably next week we will be putting the foundation in! Heidi and I are so excited. We never dreamed we'd be building this soon after returning to Maine, but alas, we've been blessed!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

The Story We Find Ourselves In

There's a lot of talk today about "story." The emerging church has tried to capitalize on this as an inroad into reaching the postmodern generation. If by story they mean we need to see our lives a narrative, well, that's a great starting place. But let's go further. Let's challenge the assumption that there is not grand metanarrative to history. Let's challenge the notion that there is no real, absolute purpose to life. There is a story that we all find ourselves in and it is recorded in Scripture.
The new book, The Drama of Scripture, will capture your attention by drawing you into this story...God's unfolding story of Redemption. THIS is the story we all find our selves in:

Act One: God establishes His Kingdom: Creation
Act Two: Rebellion in the Kingdom: Fall
Act Three: The King Chooses Israel: Redemption Initiated
Scene 1: A people for the King
Scene 2: A Land for His people
Interlude: A Kingdom Story Waiting for an Ending: Inter-Testamental PeriodAct Four: The Coming of the King: Redemption Accomplished
Act Five: Spreading the News of the King: The Mission of the Church
Scene 1: From Jerusalem to Rome
Scene 2: And into All the World
Act Six: The Return of the King: Redemption Completed

The Drama of Scripture is case-in-point of why biblical theology is so important. We can talk about "story" all we want, but if we ignore the real story that unifies Scripture and the reality that we call "life", we are gonna settle for cheap substitute. Check out the book. Hey, the authors also have an oustanding website that has articles, outlines, syllabi, and even powerpoint slides. Huge amount of quality resources


The Drama of Scripture Website

Monday, August 22, 2005

My (almost) annual trek up Mount Washington

Since I was about 14, I've tried to hike Mount Washington or some part of the White Mountains annually. If you have not availed yourself to this spectaculare corner of God's creation...what can I are so missing out on life. More often than not, I think about hiking and that's where it ends. But last week, the weather was perfect, and I had a few days off before I started at Windham Baptist so I off I went.

At 5:45AM, the first rays of sun were hitting Pinkham Notch and I set out. Just me, the cob webs, and about 50lbs of dew I quickly soaked up from the branches. I went solo 'cause I also wanted a day alone with God, to clear my mind and heart with all the new adventures staring me down.

Bootspur to Davis Path to Mt. Washington Summit and down Tuckerman's Ravine: my itinerary.

New Camelback backpack and old New Balance sneakers: my gear.

Exhausted body and renewed soul: my results.

Have fun looking at the pics!

First views off from Bootspur Trail

My favorite rock overlooking Tuckerman's

A cairn, looking towards Lake of the Clouds

At the Summit

Tuckerman's from the Hermit Shelter

Cascade Falls

Maine...the way life should be

Heidi and I are settling down here in the good ole' state of Maine. Still living with her wonderful parents in Sebago, but we are trying to figure out if we are going to rent or build this fall. For the meantime, we get to wake up to beautiful vistas of Sebago lake every morning.

Just recently, Windham Baptist Church voted unanimously to bring me on staff as their associate pastor. This a huge answer to prayer. God is so good to us! My primary responsibilities will be planning and leading corporate worship. In so many ways, I cannot imagine another a better place to serve. My responsibilities match my passions and gifts, I get to serve alongside one of my best friends, the congregation has a passion for the supremacy of God, and my wife doesn't mind living near her family again. Come up and visit us sometime. 10:15 AM every Sunday!

New England Bible College was also kind enough to invite me back to teach a class this fall, New Testament Survey. Not only that, but I will be co-leading a study tour in Egypt and Jordan this coming January.

As good as Maine is, Heidi and I miss our dear friends from Seminary. We hope you are all doing well. Stay in touch.

Friday, June 24, 2005

My last "Hurrah!"

Heidi and I will be officially moving off the "holy hill" of Gordon-Conwell, not June 30th, as originally planned, but around July 15. This is a huge relief to both of us. Mostly me, because I'm currently on sabbatical. Well, sort of. Actually, I'm attending what's called the Spurgeon Sabbatical. It's about 15 pastors and one token student (that's me) whose soul purpose the next 10 days is to exhaust our lives for Jesus together. So moving next Thursday would have been a nightmare! Check out the schedule:

8:00am-8:45 Breakfast
9:00-9:30 Community Worship
9:45-12:00pm Study of 1 Peter
12:00-2:00 Lunch and Pastoral Reflection
Free time (i.e. take a nap)
5:30-6:30 Supper and Pastoral Reflection
6:30-7:45 Theological Discussion
7:45-8:30 Community Worship

As you can see the days are quite jamm-packed! But this is one the best experiences of my life. I've been so encouraged and challenged by the love and witness of these dear brothers. Each day after lunch and supper one of us shares with the rest something about our ministry and/or lives and then we pray for that particular person. Yesterday I shared. That was so powerful, Spirit-led, hope-renewing.

Studying through 1 Peter is fantastic. Dr. Hafemann leads all of our study and discussions. He is an exegetical machine. It is truly a gift to be able to learn under him this one last time, just in the nik of time. Exaltation of the Exiles our study is called. Lot of talk about suffering and our hope in the promises of God. I'll probably write on some of that over the weekend.

Spurgeon Sabbatical

Monday, June 13, 2005

Store Wars

If you thought Revenge of the Sith was the conclusion to the Star Wars Saga, you thought wrong! Check out the short film by the Organic Trade Association: Grocery Store Wars.

Grocery Store Wars

Saturday, June 11, 2005

I'm ready to blog again!

A lot has happened since April!!! Check out the pics below for some highlight of our Post-Seminary-Graduation Life.

First Congregational Church, Hamilton--our home church for the past 3 yrs

Heidi and I celebrating our 5th wedding anniversary at Periwinkles.

Fenway Park--Boston 5, Orioles 1

"WIning and dining" at Plymouth Plantation

Nobska Light at sunset in Falmouth

Eroding shoreline (and fence!) on the Cape

Sunset on Cape Cod

Why call them "hoods" if you don't wear them on your head? Brian and I thought the colors were much more spectacular this way.

Me, receiving my degree (holder). None of us actually recieved them on stage. Nope. We had to trek through a Nor' Easter to get the fine piece of paper.

Monday, April 18, 2005

See you on Friday

As of 4:00 PM EST, Friday, April 22 in the year of our Lord, 2005 I will officially be done all of my work at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and ready for graduation!! Until then, I have one paper that is looming over me. Needless to say, I won't be much fun or of any good use to anyone else. Sorry! Friday Night I plan on taking my wife out to eat somewhere NICE and watching comedian Brian Reagan on DVD. Then I think I'm going to try out Netflix and rent all three seasons of 24. That ought to start things off quite well I should say.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Beer in the New Heavens and New Earth?

Alcohol is big issue to a lot of Christians. The churches I attended while I was growing up all disapproved of it. It was lumped together with all of the "big" sins. You know...pre-marital sex, abortion, murder...and, of course drinking. There was seldom the distinction of "drunkeness" over "drinking." Needless to say I was very skeptical of the whole thing. Thankfully, my parents never held to this standard of making their convictions equal to Scripture; it just wasn't an issue to them. I don't have any great stories of reckless abuse of alcohol; I've never been drunk. Don't care to be.

What does the Bible say about beer and wine? Does it ever speak positively about it? First off, Scripture does not oppose alcoholic consumption. It does, however, condemn drunkenness and warns of the abuse of it. Unfortunately, many churches have taken a legalistic approach to dealing with an issue that requires discernment, not another extra-biblical tradition. An argument that is often posed to support abstinence is that Scripture, while not directly prohibiting all consumption, always speaks with great caution. I beg to differ. Yeah, we’ve all heard the Paul-Timothy argument where the apostle’s home-remedy includes the use of a little wine. It could be argued that this was merely a cultural accommodation since they didn’t have Pepto-Bismol back then. And of course Jesus made water into wine (and it was good). But I came across a passage that is quite worthy of reflection about the positive use of alcohol. Here it is:

On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. 7 And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. 8 He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken. Isaiah 25:6-8

The context of this passage is the very consummation of history, the conclusion of the Day of YHWH, the return of Jesus Christ: note the swallowing up of Death (cf. 1 Cor 15:54). If there's ever a day to celebrate, it's this one. If there's a day when any presence of anything evil will not be tolerated, it's this one. Yet what we have here is a feast prepared by YHWH himself and he is not serving up lemonade. The NT parallel is the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. And what a feast it will apparently be! There will not only be wine, but well-aged wine…aged wine well refined! (So much for the thought that the wine approved of in Scripture had very little fermentation.) Granted, this is an poetic/apocalyptic description. The obvious meaning is that the feast will be bountiful and rich. Perhaps there will be no literal wine, and it is merely symbolic. But you have to admit that an allegedly "evil" symbol is being employed in the most "holy" of occasions! Furthermore, I believe that the re-creation of the new heavens and earth will be so complete that we will have a "real" meal, just like Jesus promised we would. Remember, at the Last Supper Jesus himself promised to not drink of the fruit of the vine until he drinks it again with us, his people, in his Father’s Kingdom. To this I say, “Maranatha!”

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Upper-Register--New Link

My friend, Rick, recommended this site to me today. It's a great source for getting a grasp on Covenant theology and biblical theology. Lots of articles on or about Kline and Vos and even our beloved Hugenberger, to mention a few.


Thursday, March 17, 2005

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!

If you're lucky emough to be Irish, then you're lucky enough. Thanks to my great grandmother, Katherine O'Leary, I've got a wee bit of blarney coursing through my veins and the luck of the Irish to boot. I can honestly say that I think about my Irish heritage nearly every day, and always have. Never will I forget my visit to the homeland, in 1996. One week, all expenses paid to tour the Emerald Isle. Erin Go Bragh! I took 12 rolls of film and will no doubt revisit the album today to reminisce a little. Didn't make it to Dublin though, spent most of the time around Lake Killarney and the southern coast. Next time!

The History Channel has some great info about St. Patty's Day. Check it out!

History Channel

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Controversial sermons

Hear ye...hear ye. We are now accepting suggestions/ideas for sermons that should be preached but never are because most pastors may have not thought about them or perhaps are too afraid of doing so. I don't mean topics that are crafted to be controversial just to be "hip" or trendy, but the ones that expose the desperate human condition and offer hope and healing in the name of Christ. Here's just a few too begin with.

1. Genocide: Who's my neighbor? (Seen Hotel Rwanda yet?!)
3. Harry Potter and Tolkien
4. Finding truth in the lyrics of EMINEM
5. Was Jesus a Republican?
6. What is Grace? What is Faith?...Really!

Old Man Winter strikes again!

I can't believe it snowed again. The snow was wicked heavy and clung to all the trees...absolutely beautiful!! Haven't had much time to post lately so I figured I'd talk about the weather. More on the Emergent church soon.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Emergent Church 1.0

My friend, Steve, and I have been meeting regulary to try to figure out what the Emergent Church is all about. In fact, we still haven't even got a clear definition yet. Probably because the churches are so fluid and varied. In many ways, it is the anti-"seeker sensitive movement." Not that they are trying to keep "seekers" out, but that they embrace ancient liturgies and forms of community worship so uncommon in many megachurches, and they abhor the marketing and performance that usually goes along with being "seeker sensitive." Yet, they are also proactive about integrating the arts and technology into their worship services. So the stage is set for purposeful engagement with culture, missional they call it. More on that later.

Over the next few weeks I hope to post some of our findings that will result in one of my major research papers due next month. Steve suggested a revolutionary thesis: "the Emergent Church is to North America what Liberation Theology was to South America." He has teased this out quite a bit in his own blog, check it out at: But here are the major points:
1. The names imply the seeking of freedom
2. The “grassroots” nature
3. House churches and base communities
4. Distrust of modernity
5. Critical towards an overly rational faith
6. An emphasis on orthopraxis
7. Political associations
8. Community and structural sin

Also, check out his bibliography on the Emergent Church:

7.5 Weeks/ 52 days/1248 hours--the clock is ticking

April 22 all of my work is due for graduation. No pressure. Just 6 classes to attend or prepare for, 10,000 pages to read, and a smathering of presentations to give and papers to write. You'd think I would have planned my last semester to be a tad more leisurely. But why take it easy when you can toy with insanity?! Totally forgot how de-motivating "senioritis" really is. I wonder if I can get an extension on my work for time missed/wasted because of this disease?

Here's a definition:
Senioritis is an imaginary syndrome attributed to students nearing the end of high school and college. Its symptoms include laziness, procrastination, and apathy toward schoolwork.

While senioritis is most certainly not a real disease, its effects are well known to most experienced educators. This imagined affliction is a symptom of students' complacency once they have all but guaranteed their place at commencement. After college admission letters arrive in early April, high school seniors feel even less pressure to push themselves academically.


Monday, February 28, 2005

Shepherds and street people, hookers and bums

I've been really struggling with how to be real in my faith lately, especially given my Tuesday night class "Trinitarian Theology: Texts, Traditions, and Trajectory." Sounds quite lofty, no? Just the new vocabulary alone is enough to fry my brain and give up trying to figure out how God is three yet one, etc. Thanfully, my readings in Colin Gunton's The Promise of Trinitarian Theology have kept my feet planted on solid ground: "The Trinity has more often been presented as a dogma to believed rather than as the living focus of life and thought" (p.3). He also emphasizes that theological dialogue must take place in the entire Christian community, not just between seminarians or pastors because Christianity is a "faith that takes shape as the faith of a community of worship." One such distant member of the community of faith is Bruce Cockburn, a Canadian guitarist and lyricist extraordinaire. When I first heard the song below, I was shocked by how "earthy" he made Jesus. He tore my flannel graf Jesus to shreads. So in the same vain as the "Popular Mechanics" Jesus, this song has helped me realize the scandal and the hope of the incarnation of the Son of God. What's Jesus got to do with shepherds, street people, hookers and bums? Read on!

Cry Of A Tiny Babe
Mary grows a child without the help of a man
Joseph get upset because he doesn't understand
Angel comes to Joseph in a powerful dream
Says "God did this and you're part of his scheme"
Joseph comes to Mary with his hat in his hand
Says "forgive me I thought you'd been with some other man"
She says "what if I had been - but I wasn't anyway and guess what
I felt the baby kick today"

Like a stone on the surface of a still river
Driving the ripples on forever
Redemption rips through the surface of time
In the cry of a tiny babe

The child is born in the fullness of time
Three wise astrologers take note of the signs
Come to pay their respects to the fragile little king
Get pretty close to wrecking everything
'Cause the governing body of the whole land
Is that of Herod, a paranoid man
Who when he hears there's a baby born King of the Jews
Sends death squads to kill all male children under two
But that same bright angel warns the parents in a dream
And they head out for the border and get away clean

Like a stone on the surface of a still river
Driving the ripples on forever
Redemption rips through the surface of time
In the cry of a tiny babe

There are others who know about this miracle birth
The humblest of people catch a glimpse of their worth
For it isn't to the palace that the Christ child comes
But to shepherds and street people, hookers and bums
And the message is clear if you've got ears to hear
That forgiveness is given for your guilt and your fear
It's a Christmas gift you don't have to buy
There's a future shining in a baby's eyes

Like a stone on the surface of a still river
Driving the ripples on forever
Redemption rips through the surface of time
In the cry of a tiny babe

Bruce Cockburn

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Funny T-Shirt

Although I can hardly be accused of rambling, I'm prone to be a slacker when it comes to updating. Thought this was wicked funny!


Wednesday, February 23, 2005

New Link: Red Mountain Music

My friend PJ just introduced me to Red Mountain Music. There's some great re-working of hymns to contemporary melodies and arrangements. If you're looking to deepen your personal (or congregation's) "worship music" selection visit their site and listen to some of the audio clips. Very original and refreshing. Also, you might want to check out Indellible Grace, too. They are by far my #1 choice in music selection when I'm choosing music for community worship. They even have a FREE hymnbook online with audio clips and piano/guitar lead sheets; it's called the RUF (Reformed Universities Ministries).

Red Mountain Music
Indellible Grae Music

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The Sound of Silence

Today I had the privelege of attending "Soul Sabbath: A silent retreat" sponsored by my school, Gordon-Conwell. After shoveling the truck out from yet another winter storm, my friend, John, and I drove up to the Emery House in West Newbury. Although John and some other friends had gone last semester and spoken very highly of the retreat, I claimed I had "too much to do." Famous last words, huh?! The Emery House is part of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist, a monastic order in the Anglican Communion. They live under traditional monastic vows in non-traditional settings while facing the challenges and opportunities of today.

So for a day, I had a small taste of such a life. About 14 of us met in the chapel where we were asked about our expectations for the day and recieved a crash course on "silence." What's that you ask? Well, for me, its that really uncomfortable feeling when you're driving in the car and you have to put some music on. Or the awkard tension that lingers when a conversation has apparently died. Silence scares me. It probably scares you, too. That's why we either try to annihilate it with our busy schedules or squelch it out with any background noise. But today I learned that silence is a gift. It's a gift in which we can learn about God, others, and ourselves. And in the context of community, it became a gift that we gave each other.

Brother David told us today, "Without silence, our hearts would find the burdens, the secrets and the pain of those we seek to helop intolerable and overwhelming." True that!! Just the other day I had an earnest conversation with a good friend about how incapacitating life can become as we consider the tremendous needs around the world and even in our own lives. What makes silence so relevant is that it drives us to reflection and meditation; it moves us from preoccupation with ourselves and our limitations and unto God and his immeasurable wisdom and resources. I realized today that while we need to truly pursue sound doctrine, we cannot do it apart from stopping and letting God reveal to us his perspective. In this way, prayer becomes more conversational, rather than me just ranting and raving to God. Today, I waited and listened for what God wanted to tell me. What did I hear? I believe that God taught me that one of the most tangible ways to express my faith is to actively and passionately pursue times of silence, reflection, and solitude in the midst of the mundane and the unexpected. Not only will this give me godly perspective of the world around me, but also the world inside of me. And believe, me, that's a scarry world sometimes!

Monday, February 21, 2005

The "real" face of Jesus?

A few years ago I came across a picture in Popular Mechanics that I have never been able to get out of my mind. In fact, whenever I think about what Jesus most likely looked like, I think of this image...even after watching The Passion of the Christ. The depiction below is a digital, 3-D reconstruction of an average Semitic, adult male might look like around the time and place that Jesus walked the earth.

Here's an excerpt from Popular Mechanics :

The Real Face Of Jesus

Advances in forensic science reveal the most famous face in history.

From the first time Christian children settle into Sunday school classrooms, an image of Jesus Christ is etched into their minds. In North America he is most often depicted as being taller than his disciples, lean, with long, flowing, light brown hair, fair skin and light-colored eyes. Familiar though this image may be, it is inherently flawed. A person with these features and physical bearing would have looked very different from everyone else in the region where Jesus lived and ministered. Surely the authors of the Bible would have mentioned so stark a contrast. On the contrary, according to the Gospel of Matthew, when Jesus was arrested in the garden of Gethsemane before the Crucifixion, Judas Iscariot had to indicate to the soldiers whom Jesus was because they could not tell him apart from his disciples. Further clouding the question of what Jesus looked like is the simple fact that nowhere in the New Testament is Jesus described, nor have any drawings of him ever been uncovered. There is the additional problem of having neither a skeleton nor other bodily remains to probe for DNA. In the absence of evidence, our images of Jesus have been left to the imagination of artists. The influences of the artists' cultures and traditions can be profound, observes Carlos F. Cardoza-Orlandi, associate professor of world Christianity at Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta. "While Western imagery is dominant, in other parts of the world he is often shown as black, Arab or Hispanic." And so the fundamental question remains: What did Jesus look like?

An answer has emerged from an exciting new field of science: forensic anthropology. Using methods similar to those police have developed to solve crimes, British scientists, assisted by Israeli archeologists, have re-created what they believe is the most accurate image (above) of the most famous face in human history...

For those accustomed to traditional Sunday school portraits of Jesus, the sculpture of the dark and swarthy Middle Eastern man that emerges from Neave's laboratory is a reminder of the roots of their faith. "The fact that he probably looked a great deal more like a darker-skinned Semite than westerners are used to seeing him pictured is a reminder of his universality," says Charles D. Hackett, director of Episcopal studies at the Candler School of Theology in Atlanta. "And [it is] a reminder of our tendency to sinfully appropriate him in the service of our cultural values."

Sunday, February 20, 2005

9.5 Theses on Worship

One of the best classes I have taken at Gordon-Conwell is "Worship and Christian Formation." The foundation of the course, taught by Gary Parrett, is what he calls the "9.5 Theses of Worship." This should harken you back to Luther's monumental 95 Theses. I honestly believe if congregations and their leaders applied the wisdom distilled below, there would be a modern reformation.

1. Our heavenly Father wills that the whole life of believers should be worship.

2. The word worship, when applied to public gatherings of the saints, must not be reduced to a synonym for singing praises to God.

3. Worship involves a rhythm of revelation and response: God graciously reveals himself to us, and we faithfully respond—all the elements must help worshipers
participate in this rhythm.

4. Those who lead the congregation in song must be theologically equipped for this important task.

5. Faithful response to God involves more than praise—we need a much broader range of
songs available for congregations.

6. The body of Christ in worship is more than an assembly of individual worshipers—
we need more we songs.

7. The body of Christ is far bigger than what we see in the gathered community—and our songs should reflect this.

8. Those who lead the church in song are called to assist the congregation in its
singing, not to replace it—technologies such as amplification must be used with
theological and pastoral sensitivity.

9. The Seeker that we must serve in our worship services is, first and foremost, God himself.

9.5 In its services of public worship, the church must obey such Scriptures as Philippians 2:3-4: "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others more important than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others."

--By Gary A. Parrett

9.5 Theses on Worship

Links: Sovereign Grace Worship Resources

Planning and leading times of community worship that are spiritually forming is challenging. We've been lead to believe that "music equals worship", "old is bad, but new is good", "worship is a personal matter", "worship is a Sunday thing", "the worship leader is the one who leads the singing", etc. Thankfully, every year Sovereign Grace Ministries hosts the WorshipGod Conference, which is designed especially for pastors and musicians. You'll find articles like "Beholding the Glory of God's Supremacy" to deepen your biblical theology of worship as well very specific, practical articlkes like "Making the Most of Rehearsals." Check it out.

WorshipGod 2004
Previous Conferences

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Bush slams desk at Bono

It seems that the President had a case of "Vertigo" during Bono's recent visit to the oval office, resulting in a burst of instability:

Fast-talking rocker BONO was impressed when President GEORGE W BUSH interrupted him mid-flow to get his point across during a debate on the AIDS crisis.

The VERTIGO singer, who works tirelessly to raise awareness of issues affecting the developing world, wouldn't allow President Bush a word in edgeways, forcing him to bang his fist passionately on the table.

Bono says, "He banged the table at me once when I was ranting at him about AIDS drugs. He banged the table to ask me to let him reply. I was very impressed that he could get so passionate. And let's face it, tolerating an Irish rock star is not a necessity of his office."

Apparently Bono's recent lyrics are self-fulfulling: "I like the sound of my own voice, I didn't give anyone else a choice."

News Articles:
Bush Left Bono Speechless
When Dubya Silenced Bono's Vox

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Tolkien links and more

Just added some links to the blog. Check out the NY Times archive on Tolkien; the articles go all the way back to the first printing of the Hobbit. You can even hear J.R.R. himself reading selections from the LOTR trilogy! Enjoy.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

What the Pope and I have in common

It seems that Pope John Paul II and I have something in common. Or at least had in common. No doubt you heard about him in the news earlier this week--he had the flu. And so did I. Before Monday I used to laugh at all those people getting flu shots, thinking what wimps they were and why they should toughen up a bit. Well let me tell you, never again will I scorn the flu shot folk. That was the absolute sickest I have ever been in my entire life. 24 hours of gut wrenching pain (minus all the graphic details) is not something I would wish on my almost worst enemies. Hard to believe I'm feeling up to par just a few days later. What's even stranger is how empathetic I became of the Pope this week. Tuesday morning I was honestly concerned. How many times have I heard about the Pope's ailing health over the past few years, but I never gave him the time of day! Until this past Monday. Odd isn't it, how calloused we are at the images of tragedy (and joy) we see on the news unless somehow, in some way, it connects to us? I wonder how the Pope is doing?

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Seeker Sensitive Worship

This Sunday, Jan 30, I am preaching at Fayette Baptist Church, in Fayette, Maine. At least I'm supposed to. I'm still finishing my sermon. The text I've chosen is John 4:19-26. Title: "Seeker Sensitive Worship." The BIG IDEA is that God is the ultimate Seeker of true worshipers, and true worship, then, is an engaging with God on terms that he proposes and he alone makes possible ("in spirit and in truth"). I hope to encourage the congregation towards a holistic understanding of worship that goes beyond the popular "music = worship" generalization and expounds on the over simplified corrective, "all of life is worship." These two aspects must be understood together if they are to be understood and lived out as "true worship." What's your community worship service look like? Is it Seeker sensitive? Or is it seeker sensitive? Is it both? Can it be?

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Thanks to Dave...

"Creating one's own blog seems to be all the rage among evil geniuses these days"--paraphrase from a recent episode of Alias.

After several weeks of incessant coaxing, I gave in and started this blog. Small beginnings with great possibilities.

What's a "Eucatastrophe"?

“The peculiar quality of the ‘joy’ in successful Fantasy can thus be explained as a sudden glimpse of the underlying reality or truth. It is not only a ‘consolation’ for the sorrow of this world, but a satisfaction, and an answer to that question, ‘Is it true?’ . . . . [I]n the ‘eucatastrophe’ we see in brief vision that the answer may be greater–-it may be a far-off gleam or echo of evangelium in the real world . . . .The Gospels contain a fairy-story, or a story of a larger kind which embraces all the essence of fairy-stories. They contain many marvels--peculiarly artistic, beautiful, and moving: ‘mythical’ in their perfect, self-contained significance; and among the marvels is the greatest and most complete conceivable eucatastrophe. But this story has entered History and the primary world; the desire and aspiration of sub-creation [those who write and enjoy fanatasy literature] has been raised to the fulfillment of Creation.
The Birth of Christ is the eucatastrophe of Man’s history. The Resurrection is the eucatastrophe of the story of the Incarnation. This story begins and ends in joy. It has pre-eminently the ‘inner consistency of reality.' There is no tale ever told that men would rather find was true....But this story is supreme;and it is true. Art has been verified. God is the Lord, of angels, and of men--and of elves. Legend and History have met and fused."--J.R.R. Tolkien, Tree and Leaf, 88-89.