Thursday, May 24, 2007

The End and Another Beginning

All that's left in our apartment is a few cleaning supplies, our rabbit, our turtle, my wifi, laptop and that's about it.
We're leaving St. Louis around 9am and driving 615 miles to Pennsylvania to the farm. I start my assistantship at WVU next week.

It's been the most incredible four years. I have met lifelong friends whom I love dearly and there is no way Jen and I could have made it as well as we did without them. Living in our apartment complex has been crappy and wonderful at the same time. We came here newlyweds with a little money in the bank, no jobs and no friends. We left a litter older, a little wiser, a little more money in the bank with tons and tons of friends who have been here for us when we needed them. This extended to more aspects of life than just homework and church, but real intimacy where we could open up about our struggles, be "real" and learn how to live in community while all being so different. (believe me, I am a pain to put up with)

I just want to thank the Wrights, Swansons, Spencers, Bishops, Porters, and so many others for loving us and letting us love you. The spontaneous fondue parties, BBQs and Saturday projects will all be cherished memories, as well as so much more that I will not bore people with!

Thanks...

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

And after a little over five years...

My lovely 1997 Chevy S-10 is no longer mine. It only has 134K miles and still runs like a dream.

I'll still get to see it, and drive it when I am in Oklahoma visiting my parents, who bought it from me.

And another good-bye...

Not talking about last week's Series Finale of Seventh Heaven, or last night's season finale of 24, but rather, the end of my time at UPS. It was a great learning experience and I made some decent friends there. It was a good way to get out of the seminary bubble and also a good way to make some great part-time cash. I learned a lot about leadership and working in a diverse environment. I learned a lot about backstabbing and a lot about politics. I learned that when you drop a 70 pound piece of steel on your finger tip it will explode; the fingertip, not the steel.
I have a lot a good memories about that place and a lot of bad ones as well, but overall I highly reccomend anyone to work at UPS, especially if they are going to come to St. Louis for seminary. You can get around $20,000 in tuition benefits, plus great insurance and part time hours, as well as a higher than average part time wage. You will have to make sacrifices, as I did, but end the end it was completely worth it.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Booyah!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

WOW!

Tonight was Baccalaureate and tomorrow is Commencement.
Bobby G. Griffith Jr., Master of Divinity, who hopes Divinity always Masters him
Would that look good on a card?

A Question On My Mind

I do not have the answer for this, I am just letting some thoughts out.

How wise is it to criticize people in your own denomination, fellowship or circle on a blog if you have not talked with them or someone close to them about your criticism first? For instance, I plan on being a pastor in the Presbyterian Church in America. In that context people have recourse if I offend them by a belief I hold, something I say, etc. They can come to me. If I refuse them, they can go to the elders I serve with at a local church. If they still do not have satisfaction, then they can go to the Presbytery I am a member of and take their grievance to them.

Now suppose, none of this takes place and people begin talking about me on their blogs or on messageboards and I am unaware of this. Then after a time, I discover that people think I am something, or hold to something, that does not match who I really am. How do I clear my name? How do I prove I am not what people say I am?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Rushed Thoughts on Falwell

This afternoon I found out that Reverend Jerry Falwell passed away unexpectedly. I realize that such a person as he will have already received much attention on blogs far better than mine, and messageboards, as well. Still, I cannot help but think about some of his legacy, namely what he did better than his predecessors, who tried to mobilize Christians into a political force.

A few things that stick out in my mind and this is coming from someone whose Falwell material comes mostly from The New Right: We’re Ready To Lead, which was written in the late 70s, and TV/radio bits and pieces I’ve caught. First of all, Falwell’s success was his ability to mobilize Christians to an actual voting bloc. This, I think, is his primary legacy. I realize that some credit Francis Schaeffer, possibly, as having been one who got the ball rolling, but Schaeffer did not inject himself into the American political conversation the way Falwell did. Falwell was successful at raising money, finding the right media outlets and marrying a “voting block” to a political party. Before the early 1980s, Christians were not an identifiable voting block. There had been attempts, but nothing like what happened in the late 70s/early 80s. Because of good organization, a populist message, and optimism; white, Evangelicals become a force to be reckoned with. The use of family values type messages, combined with an economic agenda that went beyond where others such as Carl McIntire, J. Frank Norris and others had attempted.

Like many good Fundamentalist/Evangelical political leaders before him, Falwell also had his hand in education. Liberty University went further than, say, Bob Jones University, Pensacola Christian College, or others. Instead of being completely isolated from the culture at large, Falwell created an educational institution for the purpose of injecting Evangelicals into business, politics, law, and other places. Before this, 20th Century “Christian colleges” primarily began to train pastors in a particular brand of Fundamentalism or Evangelicalism (I realize there are some exceptions). Liberty even joined NCAA Division I athletics and is known for its debate team, which does not solely interact with Christian institutions. In my opinion, Falwell had a greater vision than many before him in this area.

Lastly, Falwell was more optimistic than his predecessors. Most of my knowledge of Christian leaders who attempted to influence the political thought of Christians comes from the 1930s, so I will use a brief comparison to show my point. Leaders in the 1930s, such as J. Frank Norris, Carl McIntire, or John R. Rice made attempts to influence the political process of their day. The key problem I believe, after reading thousands of editorials and articles, is they framed their battles in pessimism. They tried to rally their readers around the fact that they were losing battles and that they may not win. The little reading I have done of Falwell from the “earlier” days, seems to have an optimistic vein running through it. Instead of using defeated language, or apocalyptic musings, Falwell led his followers to believe they could “take America back” and rallied them, not so much around theology, but political ideology. This gave him a greater audience. Falwell was a Baptist, but could reach out to Presbyterians, Pentecostals, and other Fundamentalist/Evangelicals that people before him could not reach. He instilled hope into the “culture war” and did not come at his audience with a message of defeat, but of victory. Falwell’s optimism was probably a key in his wider audience and following than others before him. It was also an edge that made him into a leader, helped him found his Moral Majority and gave him the notoriety and historical impact that will likely continue for years to come.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Benedictions: A Pocket Resource

If you are in a church that is in the practice of the pastor pronouncing a benediction (which is not a closing prayer called a benediction, but a real blessing) to the people as the church goes from corporate worship to the "mission field," I highly reccomend this small book for a pastor, or anyone for that matter, to read the rich promises in Scripture that God gives his people.
My Hebrew Professor, Dr. Robert Vasholz, put together 109 different benedictions that draw from Scriptural promises to be used in corporate worship. I think the real upshot to some of the benedictions are the way he combined portions of Old Testament scriptures with New Testament scriptures and they work well together in such a way that you are reminded of God's love for his people throughout the ages.

Here is an example of one particular benediction:
May the Lord of Hosts be with you
So that you will become greater and greater still,
Until you recieve that crown of life
Which the Lord has prepared for those that love Him.
2 Sam 5:10 & James 1:12 (pp 48)

He also combines OT with OT, single verses that are not often used as benedictions and aditionally Scripture combined with great lyrics of hymns and poems from Christian history. The language is such that it provides a depth and richness to understanding and recieving God's blessing at the close of corporate worship. And it certainly gives pastors a greater breadth of material than the standard Aaronic Benediction and the three or four which are typically used from the New Testament. Instead of a congregation hearing the same benedictions month by month until they run the risk of being "vain" in their repetition; the pastor has a resource for over two years without a repeat!


I cannot reccomend this book enough. It is published by Christian Focus publications and can be purchased through amazon.com.

If you are looking for a nice hardbacked, practical gift for a pastor or chaplain, then I suggest this book.



Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Download this sermon - NOW!

This past weekend, I was extremely priveleged to hang out with Dr. Richard Pratt, who came as the speaker for our missions conference. This sermon was amazing. It was on the Lord's prayer and Dr. Pratt used it to call us to a greater vision for God's mission for this earth.

I strongly encourage downloading this sermon. Seriously.

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