Sunday Night Live, December 27, 2009

What a great day! What a great weekend!  What a great week!  What a great year!

Today was the final Sunday of oh-nine for The Grove and it was a fitting end to our year.  Grove peeps are hardcore – a little weather couldn’t keep them away!  Here’s some randomizations from the past week:

  • there was a great crowd of people at the Grove today!  Traditionally, attendance is down on the week between Christmas and New Year’s but the crowd today was there at The Grove.  We had a bit of ice on the ground, but someone put out some salt and I think there was a big truck blocking the way that was really icy.  I couldn’t tell whose it was from inside but I was pumped to see people taking action and helping each other out.
  • We had to adjust the children’s ministry this morning.  The leader was away and then the sub had be be away and then the sub’s sub got really sick.  I bet there was a third grader that God really wanted to speak to through the worship service!
  • It’s fun over Christmas break not having to do as much loading in and out too.  The school has been a huge blessing for us and it’s been a super environment for people to be at church, but not feel stuffy.
  • Preached on Jesus going to the Temple at age 12.  Good stuff on submission and living in the way of Jesus.
  • My favorite thought today (though it was not the main one) was to make a new year’s resolution to not be the superstar, but to just be obedient and submissive to God.
  • I love watching the Grove Band lead worship.  They lead worship like they would be worshiping even if nobody else was there.  It’s great.
  • Christmas Eve service at The Grove was HUGE!  277 people joined in!  We also gathered $2077.77 to give away to local organizations that fight poverty, help the homeless, give shelter and care to child victims of abuse and care for women who have been victims of domestic violence and assault.  Amazing ways that God is giving the Grove to love our city!
  • Went sledding on top of the mountains yesterday, so we’re exhausted today!

Got a good week coming up too.  A bit of admin and stuff for the new year, loads of emails in the in box, year end reviewing and 1,000 pages of reading to do to hit my goal for the year…should I?


Meyer, Eclipse

It’s true.  I have now finished book three of the twilight series.  I needed some holiday fiction, so this did the trick.

This third book continues the teenage drama by having the vampires and the werewolves team up to fight a common enemy  while promoting abstinence.

That is my only summary.

pages read= 629 ~ year to date= 8055 ~ 2009 goal=9,000 ~ (90%)

Thielman, Philippians

I read Frank Thielman’s commentary on Philippians from The NIV Application Commentary series to help with my sermon preparation this fall.  I love the NIV App. Commentaries because they look at the text, attempt to make a bridge to today’s world and give possible applications.  Sometimes they focus on something totally different than what I feel led to focus on, but they have a load of good material in them.

I’d never heard of Thielman either.  He’s from Beeson and I figured it would be good to get a perspective from someone I’d never read before.

The best quote is in the introduction, “How can people who worship in cathedrals named after Saint Paul, he [Paul, if visiting today’s world] might wonder, understand that God advanced the gospel through the apostle’s imprisonment and the Philippians’ persecution? (15)

pages read= 245 ~ year to date= 7426 ~ 2009 goal=9,000 ~ (83%)

MacArthur, Philippians

I read John MacArthur’s commentary on Philippians from his MacArthur New Testament Commentary series (over 1 million sold in this series! according to the book jacket).  I chose it for it’s quality commentary while balancing being technical and practical in a way that was helpful to me.  It was a bit Calvinist, but what do you expect!

I appreciated the thoroughness of MacArthur’s commentary.  He created the book in a way that you could just read a particular section and get everything you needed for that passage.  Reading through it, though, and you see quite a bit of repetition.  I also noticed that he sometimes would hit a passage with a few possibilities for interpretation and he would say what the most likely answer was and not always give support for his opinion.

It’s a good commentary, especially good for people who like MacArthur already.

pages read= 318 ~ year to date= 7181 ~ 2009 goal=9,000 ~ (80%)

Batterson, Primal

Mark Batterson is the lead pastor of National Community Church in D.C.  His church meets in rented space and has set up a coffee shop (and a decent one, apparently) in the space that they actually own.  So, as a church planter using rented space I feel a certain amount of camaraderie.  Also, having read Batterson’s, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, I know that we think alike also.  When reading that book, I was going back and forth between saying, “well, of course” and “do you mean to tell me that there are Christians out there who are afraid of adventure!?!”.

So, when the publishers offered me a free book if I blogged on it I of course took them up on the offer.  Yep, this book was free for me if I blogged it and put a link to RandomHouse so you could buy it too.  Which I do for myself (and whoever else reads) as a discipline to review my learnings.  But, since I got this free, I’ll point out what I didn’t like so that you can trust my good points and not think that I am a cheap date.

Primal was a bit of a confusing book to nail down the premise.  The front page claims that the book is looking for the lost soul of Christianity, the back cover claims that our generation needs a reformation, and the introductory chapter seeks to return to the ancient ways of Christianity that our spiritual ancestors practiced.  So, when I tried to orient myself it was difficult.  The Primal bit seemed like it fit the marketing of the book well, so it was put in there.  In the actually pages I actually crossed out the word primal a bunch of times because it just seemed unneccessary to make the points.  The content itself is divided up into 4 sections: the heart, soul, mind and strength of Christianity. The third part of the book was best for me.  Most likely because I connect with God most naturally through the mind.

Throughout the book there’s a lot of catchy sayings, the kind of things that preachers use.  I thought it was funny how I could hear Batterson preaching during those parts.  It makes for catchy preaching, but it creates a too easy target my evil cynicism.  He also starts a lot of sections of the book by either naming a famous friend, a prominent conference he was at, or a cool vacation he was on.  It actually made me laugh out loud how often this tool was used.

Now that the harsh part is over, here’s my 10 take-aways from this book:

  1. p.9 The conviction of the Holy Spirit is great.  It’s so painful and so necessary.
  2. “The problem isn’t Christianity at large.  The problem is you and me.  The problem is that we are not great at the Great Commandment.”  I loved the personalization of this statement.  I’m tired of Christians complaining about the church at large.  But then he throws in the catchy thing at the end and it just made me giggle.
  3. p.23, “If you can’t laugh at my jokes, we can’t work together.”  I thought that was a strange statement.  It made me wonder if I can work with people who can’t laugh at my jokes.  I don’t think I want to, but I would hope to add that if we want to work together I need to laugh at you too.
  4. p.28, What will kill you if you don’t do it?
  5. p.67, he writes a story about something his kid did and then says, “Adults don’t do that.”  The funny part is that it’s something LJ and I do and we think it’s hilarious.  I suck at being adult.
  6. p.69, I wrote, “makes me feel normal.”  I think that’s what I like most about Batterson’s writing.  He and I seem to see the world in a similar fashion so I always go away encouraged by his stuff.
  7. During this book I decided to read through the Bible again next year.  I think I want to read through the ESV.  So I need to get one, but cheap.
  8. Knowing and doing had no distinction in ancient Jewish thought.
  9. book writing tip for aspiring authors: read Einstein.  Then quote him.  The guy was so freaking genius that just quoting him makes your book awesome.
  10. p. 121, “The more you pray the more you notice.  The less you pray, the less you notice.”
  11. I need to read The Life of Pi.
  12. p.136, quoting Nolan Bushnell, “Everyone who’s ever taken a shower has had an idea…It’s the person who gets out of the shower, dries off, and does something about it who makes  a difference.”
  13. When God said let there be light, it all started.  Since the universe is expanding God is still letting there be light.  His very first statement is still working to this day.  So if we could build a telescope that can see the very edge of the universe then we’d be able to watch the very beginning of creation.  SNAP!

pages read= 179 ~ year to date= 6863 ~ 2009 goal=9,000 ~ (76%)

Easum and Cornelius, Go Big: Lead Your Church to Explosive Growth

This book was this month’s assignment for mytele-coaching network with Nelson Searcy.  I’m growing a bunch from the network because it is forcing me to spend time on subjects that I normally wouldn’t.  There is no way I would have picked up this book by an unknown author writing on a subject that I am just so suspicious about.

Books that promise to make your church grow always make me a bit skeptical.  When I was first volunteering in youth ministry I bought into “doubling the size of my youth group” programs – and it just seemed a little too simple.  Like if you follow these 8 steps, you’ll have a huge church!  If that was true, why doesn’t everyone just do that?  Personally, I much prefer missional books that help you identify the questions that need to be asked in order to find the answers that will help your church minister to your community in effective and significant ways.

That being said, there were a bunch of things I took away from this book.  There were also a few times where I disagreed with the authors (Like their one verse theology of the office of pastor – horrendous theology!), but that’s the whole point of writing and reading and growing!  Here’s 10 take-aways for me:

  1. More often then not, the lead or senior pastor is the man that God wants to use to grow a church.  That’s a pressure statement for some people and a freeing statement for others.  Whichever one it is will tend to determine the direction the church is going to move in.
  2. p.20, “Neither congregational nor representative democracy is biblical.”
  3. p.39, “The point here is for lead pastors to quit allowing anyone or anything to question their authority, position, or worse yet, calling.”
  4. People will check out churches that look active.  Great story on page 50 about the pastor borrowing a buldozer just to move dirt around on the property and the way it sparked interest in the church.
  5. The authors argue that it’s better for the pastor to call on visitors, verses regular folks.  Other books say the exact opposite.  Good thing somebody’s right.
  6. natural growth barriers for churches: 200, 500, 900 and 1,500.  I hope we get to deal with all of these at the Grove.
  7. People who don’t want churches to grow and reach more people are valuing their own preferences (and not participating in a small group) and have a misunderstanding of the role of the church in God’s redemptive plan.  The church is not God’s gift to the Christians – the church is the Christians.
  8. p.60, There is a great plan for helping a staff member or volunteer who is struggling to be better equipped.
  9. p.61, If a staff member is paid, then they have got to be an equipper!
  10. The 200 barrier is the hardest barrier to break through.  The authors suggest planting churches that already have this many people so that they never have to worry about it!

pages read= 126 ~ year to date= 6684 ~ 2009 goal=9,000 ~ (74%)

Obama, The Audacity of Hope

I find American politics so fascinating.  Since I grew up in another country with a different political system I am just amazed at how America runs itself and how the different rules have developed.  Things like the electoral college or the party politics in nominating supreme court justices continue to baffle me.  On top of it all, the frustration many people because of the basic system of having only 2 viable parties – and when a thrid party emerges it serves only to hinder one of the two major parties (this is why I think the smartest party will secretly start a third-party as an offshoot of the other party, in order to cripple their influence.  It’s the only way more parties could possibly emerge.  Well, that or if California succeeds.)

So, I read Barak Obama’s book to learn more about the man who is running the country.  He’s quite a polarizing figure – people either love him, hate him or are completely apathetic (I can tell you which by which television news channel is on in their homes :).

All that to say, his book is pretty normal.  It’s part hopeful dreams, part sharing of his life and part laying out of his party platform.  There were parts where I learned a lot, parts where I was bored and parts where I was inspired.

Still, he doesn’t have my vote.  But nobody does.  At least not until I pass that citizenship test.  Then I just have to make sure not to vote for the sly branch party which has been secretly set up by the opposition.

pages read= 364 ~ year to date= 6558 ~ 2009 goal=9,000 ~ (73%)