Thursday, April 29, 2010

Learning about life from a sandwich

For lunch today I ate a sandwich consisting of fresh bread, lettuce, chunks of red peppers, brie and goat cheese, hunks of raw red onion, and sliced tomatoes. I did a quick check for meat. There was no meat.

I like meat. I don't like raw onions or sliced tomatoes.

Erika knew I might be a bit reluctant to taste the unusual sandwich so she encouraged me with these words, "it's good to try new things."

I agreed. So I ate it.

I still don't like raw onions or sliced tomatoes. But that's okay. Life isn't about me.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Podcast anyone?

Soon you will be able to download Hanover Missionary Church sermons directly to your iPod.

That's right folks. You can have our weekly teachings automatically show up in your itunes account, whether you want to hear them or not.

My good friend Luke is working night and day to get this new feature up and ready to use.

Stay tuned for more details.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Tangible Kingdom

I'm in Kitchener for a two day denominational gathering. Here's what's happening:

Hugh Halter, author of the Tangible Kingdom, is our keynote speaker. He is challenging us to think missionally and to dream about what the church might look like if the committed (those who follow Jesus) lived in a way that made a tangible difference in the lives of those who do not yet follow Jesus (what he calls sojourners).

I'm presenting a workshop tomorrow with my good friend and regional minister, Joel Zantingh, on missional church practices. We are hoping to paint a picture of what the church could be if most people pictured Christians not as members of good and moral institutions but as missionaries in their communities.

Imagine how different life would be if regular people saw themselves as pastors in their workplaces, neighbourhoods and families. It would drastically change our ecclesiology. It would call us to move from a static view of the church as a gathered community to the church as a movement of people following Jesus to offer justice rather than injustice, plenty where there is poverty, reconciliation where there is division, love where there is hatred, and peace where there is turmoil.

That's a picture of God's kingdom on Earth.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Where have all the pastors gone?

Yesterday I participated in Emmanuel Bible College's graduation ceremony. Since I'm an adjunct instructor I donned my black robe and red, white and gray hood, marched through the gathered crowd with the rest of the faculty, and took my place on the platform overlooking the assembly of friends, family and supporters.

As I watched graduates stride proudly across the stage I listened to the Academic dean share each of their future plans with the rest of us. Here's what struck me: first, very few students were accepting paid roles in congregational leadership. Second, there was not a single graduate from the B.Th - Pastoral studies program.

So, here's my question: where are all the young pastors?

Is the church failing in their responsibility to raise up young leaders or are young leaders disinterested in ministry within the "church-as-we-know-it"?

This whole issue wouldn't be so bizarre if there wasn't a blatant need for more pastors.

Anyone have any answers?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Honeymoon in Hanover

Now that my contract as interim lead pastor has been extended, I thought it would be appropriate to share how I'm feeling and how it has affected my family life.

The details: on March 1st I moved from being the director of worship and the arts to the role of interim lead pastor. It was initially a 6 month contract. Last Sunday morning it was announced that the search for a permanent lead pastor was put on hold for an indefinite period of time, the search team was dissolved, and I will be continuing in my role as interim lead pastor until June 2011.

How am I feeling? Great. God has been incrementally offering what I need each day. I now have a new framework for understanding the Lord's prayer for "daily bread". With every additional responsibility and ministry challenge, God has provided me with the grace, insight, and wisdom to navigate the high seas of leading a congregation of hundreds. It's beyond me but it's not beyond Jesus. I remind myself regularly that my only job is to follow Jesus. He knows where He's going.

How's the family coping? Exceptionally well. Erika is a gift. She keeps me sane. My kids? They are oblivious to the change in my job. Since more evenings are consumed with meetings and dropping in on thriving ministries and groups I have etched out an afternoon during the week when I'm unavailable to anyone who is not my family or not at death's doorstep.

How has my life changed? Aside from overseeing a very diverse 7 member staff team, I drink more coffee, I know more things I wish I didn't, I speak more carefully, I listen more deeply, I'm scrutinized more, I've see more upper level reconciliation, and I feel like I'm doing what I was created for. It's the honeymoon stage in 'leadpastorland'. And that's all the more reason why I love my job.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Party like it's 2004?

I'm officially half way through my first week of full-time work since 2004.

That's right. I haven't had a full-time job since my five-year-old was born.

In case you're wondering, I haven't changed jobs. I'm still pastoring at Hanover Missionary Church. But since my college responsibilities wrapped up for the summer last week and my job at the church increased about a month ago, I've agreed to move from my 30 hr/week position into a 40hr/week role.

So, I'm celebrating by doing a few extra domestic responsibilities--cooking supper, doing laundry.... I know it doesn't sound very sexy and truthfully, it's not. Unfortunately, Erika caught my last week's stomach flu. Compared to what it did to me, she's wrecked. She's been down and out for most of this week.

I'm glad my college commute is over for the semester so I can be closer to home. I'm also glad it's not 2004.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Resurrection and Cremation

Since my message on Sunday I've been asked this question many times: "What does the Bible say about cremation?"

Here's a short answer to a very hot--no pun intended--topic.

The Bible doesn't say anything about cremation. It always assumes the burial of a body.

The early church always buried the dead. They believed that the resurrection was imminent and they wanted their bodies to be ready to be transformed when Jesus returned.

Even today, the Eastern Orthodox Church does not allow their members to be cremated.

Cremation is practiced as part of Buddhism and Hinduism. Neither of these faiths anticipates a future resurrection of the body.

That being said, when the early Christians were captured by Nero in the 1st century, many of them were hung in his garden and set ablaze as living human torches. Their bodies would have been burned to a crisp. Likewise, when dissidents like John Huss and John Wycliffe were tried at the hands of the Roman Catholic church and convicted as heretics (over issues like Church theology and communion), they too were burned at the stake.

It would be hard to think that those who have taken a stand for Jesus and get their bodies burned (as in cremation) would not have their ashes gathered--on that great and glorious day when Jesus transforms the bodies of the living and the dead into eternal, incorruptible bodies--wholly and completely.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Resurrection talk

I've been thinking a lot about the resurrection these days.

It's partly because it's the Easter season and partly because I'm preaching on the resurrection this Sunday.

As a preparatory exercise I've been asking various people what they think 'resurrection' means. The responses have been all over the map. Not only is there confusion about Christ's resurrection there is even more confusion about our future bodily resurrection.

I was raised as a churchgoing, Sunday school attending, Bible believing, Jesus follower. Yet I can't remember a single sermon or lesson preached or taught on why the bodily resurrection is important.

Needless to say, I've been doing a lot of reading and praying in anticipation of this Sunday's message. I'd hate to make people more confused than they already are. I'd love to leave them with the same jittery excitement I'm feeling this Easter as I ponder the resurrection.
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