N.T. Wright, Suprised by Hope 1

I read N.T. Wright’s book on the church, resurrection and heaven and absolutely loved it.  I’m going to divide up my review of it over three separate posts because it is so full and challenging.  It’s certainly well written – and it is theologically robust and adventurous.  I’m actually enjoying reading through it a second time so that I can better understand and grow through Wright’s work.

The first section of the book explores current beliefs on mankind’s ultimate destination(s) and how those views have developed even from the earliest days of the church.  Wright contends that clarity must be sought regarding heaven becasue the end will greatly influence the day we live in.

Here’s a few of the highlights:

  • p.26, “A piety that sees death as the moment of “going home at last,” the time when we are “called to God’s eternal peace,” has no quarrel with powermongers who want to carve up the world to suit their own ends.  Resurrection, by contrast, has always gone with a stron view of God’s justice and of god as the good creator.”
  • p.40, “The cross, we note, already had a symbolic meaning throughout the roman world, long before it had a new one for the Christians.  It meant: we Romans run this place, and if you get in our way we’ll obliterate you – and do it pretty nastily too.”
  • p.50, “…we find the development of the very early belief that Jesus is Lord and that therefore Caesar is not.”
  • p.73, “…the resurrection is not, as it were, a highly peculiar event with in the present world (though it is that as well); it is, principally, the defining event of the new creation, the world that is being born with Jesus.”

Not even chocolate covered bacon?

When I went to Houston in 2002 I got to attend Joel Osteen’s little church.  I wanted to go because I was so impressed with Osteen’s hand motions while he preached.  He is so efficient and purposeful in his gesturing.  His theology, on the other hand, is straight whack.

Here’s the best little clip of his that I have ever seen:

I guess there won’t be much demand for bacon burgers at the next church picnic…

Sunday Night Live, October 25, 2009

Our town took a bit of a hit this week as a huge plant, which employees almost 1% of our population is closing before Christmas.  It seems like the recession is getting out to our valley a little later than other parts of the country.  Praying for families to be able to work again.  I know we’re to be dependent on God, not on our jobs, but that doesn’t make it easy to walk through times like these.  On top of this, loads of people in our town are ill right now – including Heather!    This made for an interesting week for us, especially since we had one or two appointments every day and the kids had a four day weekend.  Looking forward to getting back to routine.  Here’s some highlights from our weekend at The Grove:

  • Saturday afternoon a lot of families from The Grove went out to a local pumpkin patch.  It was a pretty fun time.  Super packed though – it took a couple of hours in the line to get on the wagon and go get a pumpkin – which is alright for us, but it was torture for the kids.  Got a few great pumpkins though and we are snacking on the seeds as I write this.
  • Saturday night roots (The Grove student ministry) went up to Portland to enjoy a corn maze.  Cool to see them building relationships and having fun together.
  • We were kid-less this weekend so I got to be at NAMS early and help with the set-up.  The men and women who help each week with setting up the church are awesome!  It really is an awesome time – everyone is smiling and happy – excited to be together and to see what God has for us today!
  • There were so many people at The Grove today!  The total count I heard was 221!  The church is adding 20 people every week!  At this rate we’ll be adding a new service every three months!  There were many brand new families and people who came back also.
  • Another bonus is the 30something kids that were in GroveKids!  They bring a lot of energy to our worship – I love that children are full on participators in worship, right from preschool!
  • I love that I am recognizing people who have joined to The Grove this month.  Now that we are a month in, there are many people who were brand new, who are now part of the  Grove family!  It’s really a great thing to see.  We’re also seeing lots of parents of young families visit – they are always so encouraging.
  • The band did a really great job this morning.  If you didn’t see Heather around, it’s because she had a fever and spent all her time backstage so that she wouldn’t pass it on to anyone.  Great job bringing energy to the worship though!
  • The sermon today took a lot of work – lots of reading and research so that I could give a solid teaching.  The topic was New Heaven and New Earth.  How this whole experience ends and what happens next is a very large subject, so it was hard to pare it all down into something meaningful that would inspire, encourage and challenge people.    It came off well though – tons of theology up front, with practical meaning and application: what you believe about the beginning and the ending really do matter in the everyday life you live!
  • The audio recording messed up again today.  We’ve been using a computer and the program thinks it is smarter than the tech guys so it is making changes on its own.  So, we’ll be dropping the money to buy a recorder that works.  The audio recording is important for two reasons: first, since we have one service it gives the children’s volunteers a chance to be a part of the teaching.  Secondly, the tech guys use their skills to capture the teaching and send it all over the world – overflowing the ministry of The Grove.  One Grover actually email out links to people they know who they think would benefit from the recordings.
  • It was also a special moment for me (and Darrell I’m sure) when the church did a little pastor appreciation month presentation for us.  I love our church – I absolutely do.  They are great, great, great people.  Thanks church!!

Safety Christians

Francis Chan is doing such a great job of challenging me lately.  Check the latest:


This is a video clip from a conference called Catalyst that is held in Atlanta every year.  There’s a ton of young church leaders that attend, so it’s pretty culturally influential in American Christianity.  This video explains why my family sponsors a Compasison child – his name is Emroit Norbert and he likes to wear his socks up high just like me and LJ.

little disclaimer: I wouldn’t watch this at work.  It’ll break you.  For sure.

Sunday Night Live October 18, 2009

Another great Grove day!  Here’s some highlights:

  • Had like 4 families of  first time guests and 10 second time!  Having people come back for a second time is pretty reassuring!  It means they checked The Grove out and it was a great experience for them so they were willing to return.  Not everyone who has checked us out has come back again!  Thankful for every person that God brings to us!
  • 194 people were a part of church this morning!  That’s 224, 176 and 194 for the first three weeks!
  • On Saturday morning Darrell and I attended a small groups intensive training seminar (and The Grove’s small groups are going to be revolutionary – we are going to do things that aren’t the norm that you are all going to love!) and they asked how many people our church averages.  I said we’ve met twice so far so the average is 200.  The whole room was like, WHAT!  I told them we had 100 people on the launch team.  And then I realized the Grove has grown a little in the past 4 weeks!
  • Our online (Grovebook) software originally had about 160 people inputed into it.  In the past four weeks that number has doubled.
  • Let me say that again – the number of people connected to The Grove has doubled in 4 weeks.  Doubled.
  • We had to add more seats to the back again this week.  Our set-up guys are doing an excellent job of creating a room that feels like “Everyone came to The Grove today” without having people feel “they are too full to fit me”.
  • On that note, the set-up and tear down is going so much smoother.  A little experience goes a looooong way in this department.  I love seeing brand new people to The Grove pitching in too, making this church their church!
  • The Grove band is really hitting its stride.  Their song catalog is growing and you can tell they are getting more comfortable with the music.  As they get more comfortable they are also becoming more and more free to simply worship God – and their enthusiasm is infectious.
  • Continued the “Brand New” series today with a message on Brand New You from Ezekiel 36.  Great stuff.  The MP3 is online already.
  • This afternoon’s Grove bowling party was just outstanding.  Tina and Cory did a great job organizing that.
  • There were 5 people in the Hernandez family at bowling.  3 of them won door prizes!
  • I scored 142, my lifetime second best.  I didn’t win!  Jenn Beard beat me by 2 points!!  It was so much fun.
  • One of the big, big highlights for me at bowling was seeing members of the launch team reaching out and developing relationships with brand new Grovers.  That is so amazing.  Well, it’s amazing for regular people to go outside their comfort zones, but for Grovers it’s just kinda normal.
  • Fun day of NFL football.  I love watching games in the snow and I love games in domes.  I didn’t get to watch a whole game, but the bits I saw was fun.
  • I finally taught myself to ollie on a skateboard today.  It’s a big day.  My son thinks I am amazing still!  We’re looking forward to hitting the skatepark this week when school it out.  We’re going early in the morning before it gets a little to dangerous for LJ to be in there with the bigger guys.

Malphurs & Stroope, Money Matters in Church

This is a book that was assigned through my coaching network with Nelson Searcy.  It’s for sure not the kind of book anyone like me picks up for inspiration.  Nevertheless, this is an amazing book for pastors wanting to develop themselves and their churches in regards to money.

First off, the book is a really easy read.  Malphurs and Stroope do a great job of getting details into the pages without being tedious.  When more information would be helpful they have wonderful references and sources that readers are encouraged to go to.

Secondly, they lead off with theology and they refuse to take the easy answer.  The authors do an outstanding job of observing the Scripture and apply a sound hermeneutic that will help pastors develop a strong and orthodox theology of stewardship.

Here’s 10 take-aways:

  1. p.15, there are basically 5 factors that influence people’s choices with their money and their church.
  2. p.31, giving money to support the church is a privilege that people genuinely want to enjoy. The role of leadership is to help people enjoy their financial role – not beat them up and guilt people.
  3. bulletin inserts are the worst way to communicate anything.  The worst.  How many bulletin inserts are killing trees this weekend?
  4. p.48, great story about taking an offering at the Christmas Eve service that will fund the benevolence fund for the next year.
  5. develop a percentage based budget for the church
  6. churches would do well to have about 1 month’s expenses in a fund to ensure ministry can continue effectively in any emergency circumstances.
  7. http://www.nacba.net
  8. p.85, the church can be elder led and staff managed.  Seems both biblical and practical in current western culture.
  9. The last quarter of the book is all about running a capital campaign.  Not particularly useful for me right now, but will be in the future.
  10. p.154, set up a victory goal, challenge goal and a miracle goal for capital campaigns.  It’s a great encouraging idea.

pages read= 203 ~ year to date= 5474 ~ 2009 goal=9,000 ~ (61%)