Larsson, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Sometimes I have to read a book, just to remember that I love reading and I love using my imagination and stories are the greatest thing in the world.

So, with great embarrassment to admit, I read the Dragon Tattoo to start off my new year. I know, how could anyone go on reading this blog. It’s an intellectual train-wreck. Honestly, I read this because it was being made into a movie and I heard the movie was strong, so the book must be strong. This book and the Hunger Games books seem to be this year’s movies for people who like to tell everyone they are readers. Plus the Hobbit, but that’s more for people who like to read instead of interact with actual humans.

The book itself was gripping, but you feel gross after reading it. I guess that makes it good. It’s graphic and violent, so I wouldn’t suggest you read it if you don’t enjoy vomiting. It is northern European though, and that makes everything happier.


12 for 12: intentional leadership development

I think that if you just live life randomly, then what happens to you becomes your life. I only have like 75 years or so on this planet and I’ve already spent almost half of them. So I live to make them count. As Khobi and I always say in the mornings, ‘Let’s attack the day!’ I want to destroy every single day and let it know that I own it. I’m that disturbed.

Since beginning to lead The Grove I have grown more as a leader than ever before in my life. I have also grown at a quicker pace. So I have to be intentional about my own leadership development. This isn’t something new for me, but it is something that I am pretty intentional about. Here’s how I will grow as a leader in 2012:

  • Prayer: the distinguishing characteristic of a spiritual leadership is spirituality. Christians without a vibrant prayer life are practical atheists. Prayer is the source of strength and guidance and so it will be essential to me as a pastor.
  • Serving: Living my life for others is my goal. For me, that is what makes a leader. When someone lives for someone else, they have the opportunity to become a leader. I find this to be true for self, for marriage, for teams, for corporations, and many other settings. Deciding who the win is for will allow leadership to emerge.
  • Being Connected: Relationships with other leaders helps me grow in unique ways. The perspective and insight gained through leader-level relationships cannot be found anywhere else.
  • Reading: Leaders read. There’s no getting around that in our context. So, I read deeply and I read widely. I will put away an insane amount of books every single year.
  • Noticing: Watching leaders who are further down the road than me allows me to learn from their success and from their failures/mistakes. Moving slowly enough to notice other leaders’ paths helps my own pace and helps me to advance by seeing potential pitfalls for my own path.

 

12 for 12: read the bible.

I think that if you just live life randomly, then what happens to you becomes your life. I only have like 75 years or so on this planet and I’ve already spent almost half of them. So I live to make them count. As Khobi and I always say in the mornings, ‘Let’s attack the day!’ I want to destroy every single day and let it know that I own it. I’m that disturbed.

I am crazy about the Bible. When I was in bible college I thought I had a pretty good handle on life, and then I listened to my professors talk about the Bible the way that kids talk about their favorite sports teams (or adults, if they haven’t noticed that they grew up). They knew everything about the Bible. And not just knew where to look it up, or how to search and find it. They knew what the Bible taught and how we needed to wrestle with it and work it into our lives. I saw Collier quote entire chapters because someone asked a question. I saw Jenks and Vena tear up because of the way it gripped them.

Since then, for about 12 years now I have been praying that God would let me know the Bible. And he answers me. Almost every year I begin a new program to read through the Bible, and I never make it. One trip through the Bible actually tooko me 6 years. Last year it took me like 2 months to be able to read the story of Joseph…in Genesis. so far, I have only made it to Deuteronomy. And it’s not because I don’t spend the time on it. It’s because I hit sections that completely blow me away and when I try to move on, there’s no chance. I find something that I have never noticed before, something that changes everything and I cannot just check a box to say I’ve done my duty for the day. I end up grabbing other translations, reading commentaries and talking to anyone who will listen about it.

Like did you see that Joseph’s cup that he put in his little brother’s seed bag was the cup he used for divination? What is that about?

Like did you see how God separated light and dark? What did it look like before it was separated? And why do you figure that such an obscure Hebrew word was used for separate?

God answers my prayers by putting His word onto my heart so it is inescapable.

This year, I am still trying to finish my reading from last year, but that plan will have no time limit. I am also reading through YouVersion on my iphone. That I won’t be reading in so much of a devotional sense, and I’ll try to stay on better track with it. The YouVersion app is stunningly good, if you don’t have it on your phone or tablet, there’s not an app I would recommend more.

So, hopefully this year I’ll read the Bible through, plus get to read through to the end of Deuteronomy…maybe even Joshua and Judges!

12 for 12: contribute

I think that if you just live life randomly, then what happens to you becomes your life. I only have like 75 years or so on this planet and I’ve already spent almost half of them. So I live to make them count. As Khobi and I always say in the mornings, ‘Let’s attack the day!’ I want to destroy every single day and let it know that I own it. I’m that disturbed.

In several different ways, I have reached tipping points. I am almost half done with life on earth and over ten years into vocational ministry, so I want to be thinking of how I can help younger leaders develop and grow, especially those who are just starting out. As a church plant The Grove has beat the odds and is a contributing, gospel leading, healthy, reproducing church; so we  (and specifically I) have gained a responsibility to help other church plants and planters. The Grove is at a growth stage where young leaders are going to need to emerge and take responsibility.

So my fifth area of work this year is going to be growing in my contributions to the development of others. Here’s how I’m hoping to implement my plan:

  • I’m going to be initiating intentional coaching relationships with a group of young leaders at The Grove. This won’t be for young leaders who aren’t teachable, because they have maxed out their potential because of their attitude. Nor will it be for those with tons of potential who are just sitting on their butts. Part of changing the way my time is spent is being very intentional; there’s a lot of people on mission at The Grove and those are the people we’re going to storm the gates of hell with. I’ll be looking for young leaders who are faithful servants with enthusiastic and teachable hearts.
  • I am continuing to develop relationships with younger leaders in our area, and in our conference. At the same time it’s completely natural and insane for me to think that (a) I have anything to contribute to them and (b) that I am old enough to think that. Locally I have actually attended a lunch with the other pastors in the city. It’s a huge step for me because I have a huge attitude about it. In a broader sense a bunch of us have started a little group of young leaders in our conference (churches in Oregon and Washington) and we are getting together to help each other learn and grow.
  • Finally, I want to help The Grove to help other church plants. From day one we have set aside money to some day fund a church plant, and we constantly talk about this amazing church reproducing itself all over the place. We have already had some people who were planting churches visit us to learn and be inspired. I wonder how we can be more intentional about this? At the very least I can share some of our best practices here on the old blog; I’ll be continuing to pray about how this will go in 2012.

 

Preaching Matthew

In December we started a 114 week teaching series in the gospel of Matthew. So, far it will take us into 2014. I anticipate it taking us all the way to the end of 2014, because we will take a few breaks (ie, the whole church will be doing the second BASIC series post Easter this spring).

Just to be of help to those who might be wondering, or those who might end up here through a search, or to Grove peeps who want to do some deeper reading, here’s the list of books and commentaries that I am using so far:

 

  • ESV Study Bible. It’s what I prepare my preaching straight out of. When I actually preach I have a black leather ESV for portability sake.
  • The Message Bible. I use this for perspective, and a lot for catchy sermon titles and ideas. That’s cheesy of me, I know.
  • the Jewish New Testament Commentary by David H. Stern. I use this for all sermons I do from the New Testament, to help with contextualization.
  • Jesus the Jewish Theologian by Brad Young. Not a commentary in the technical sense, but Young gives thoughts on the various gospel stories.
  • The Gospel According to Matthew by Leon Morris (Pillar NT Commentary Series). This on is thick and deep and most of it is background reading that rarely makes it into the pulpit but makes sure I am online with what does make it.
  • Matthew by Stanley Hauerwas (Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible Series). As one would expect this thinner commentary is theological in nature so it deals more with themes and movements in the gospel.
  • Matthew for Everyone (Volumes I & II) by N.T. Wright. This is the commentary series that I recommend first to most people. It is simple and to the point and helpful in seeing the story for what it is.
  • Matthew by Daniel J. Harrington (Sacra Pagina Series). This commentary comes from a Catholic perspective and I had not read anything like this before, so it sometimes gives me a whole new look at what the text is doing.
  • The Gospel of Matthew by Craig S. Keener (Eerdmans’ Socio-Rhetorical Commentary). This one is over 1,000 pages and is a detailed examination of the social context involved with the words recorded in conversations and speeches.
  • The Gospel of Matthew  by R.T. France (The New International Commentary on the NT Series) Another super thick and insanely detailed commentary. R.T. France translated the original text into English himself and then gives commentary on it. It’s amazingly detailed in the context of the time too.
  • Matthew by Michael J. Wilkins (The NIV Application Commentary Series). I always use the NIV Application commentaries because they are so diverse and they look at original meaning first and bridge that to the contemporary significance of the text. I don’t always agree with the conclusions, but that is a great way to cause growth for me!

12 for 12: prioritize people

I think that if you just live life randomly, then what happens to you becomes your life. I only have like 75 years or so on this planet and I’ve already spent almost half of them. So I live to make them count. As Khobi and I always say in the mornings, ‘Let’s attack the day!’ I want to destroy every single day and let it know that I own it. I’m that disturbed.

I tend to take a large view of things, especially at an organizational level. My natural tendency is to preserve the collective, even at the price of the individual (you can call me Borg for that, I’ll call you a Star Trek nerd). So, I often struggle with Jesus’ call to leave the 99 sheep to go look for the one. If I was a shepherd, I’d call that a regular business loss; percentage wise, that’s not too bad.

However, more than I am committed to myself, I want to be committed to the Scripture. If I change the Bible so that I like it, I destroy it and, in so doing, destroy myself.

So I am going to try to remind myself this year to remember individuals in all situations this year. I will still have to make decisions sometimes, and people’s feelings will get hurt by my decisions. That’s life. The way I interact with that reality is something I am working on.

 

12 for 12: dunk

I think that if you just live life randomly, then what happens to you becomes your life. I only have like 75 years or so on this planet and I’ve already spent almost half of them. So I live to make them count. As Khobi and I always say in the mornings, ‘Let’s attack the day!’ I want to destroy every single day and let it know that I own it. I’m that disturbed.

I love getting punched in the face. I’m not even being sarcastic.  It’s awesome. If you can take a punch in the face and still function, we can be friends forever. But, it’s hard to explain to people why the preacher has a messed up face, so this year I’m just going to go with the second best moment in sports: dunking.

I haven’t dunked in my 30’s at all, so that’s going to be my physical goal this year. I can barely touch the rim these days, but I haven’t worked at it at all.

So, with a combination of building some muscles and losing some extra weight I’m planning on dunking this year.

Some people exercise and diet to loose weight. I am exercising and eating right so I can jump higher.