Friday, February 28, 2014

Working and Editing

I haven't blogged much lately simply for lack of time. My job has me working about 70 hours per week right now. When there's any free time, I'm editing chapters in What We're For. The book is coming along nicely; almost all the contributors have sent me their chapters. After I spend time with my family and sleep a little, there just isn't time for much blogging. I want to scratch out some time to write about Christian unity, edification, and missions. I'm just not sure when this will happen. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

A Change in Emphasis

For the past few years I've spent quite a bit of time focusing on church forms. In particular, I wrote a lot about forms of gatherings, forms of leadership, and forms of church in general. It's time for a change.

Moving forward I'll still be talking a great deal about the church. Most of my posts will look at outcomes and goals as opposed to forms. Primary topics will include edification, discipleship, unity, and missions.

Along with church-related issues, I'll continue writing about the family, politics, education, and culture in general. These topics will be less frequent than church issues, and usually arise when something occurs that is noteworthy nationally. Not surprisingly, many of these topics overlap quite bit.

I recently posted the following on Facebook, "The older I get the more important the unity of the body of Christ is becoming to me. Our differences seem less important while our togetherness seems increasingly critical. Let us unite around Jesus Christ and his gospel." I was happy to see several of my friends "Like" this statement. I sense increasing numbers of Christians desiring unity within the body of Christ as a whole. This excites me. I'll be writing more and more on the topic of unity in the days ahead. My hope is that this blog will be more of a uniter than a divider.

To sum up, it's simply time for a change (but not "change we can believe in.")

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Exceedingly Bored With the Whole Calvinism and Arminianism Debate

I am bored beyond words (except for the words in this blog post) concerning the Calvinism and Arminianism debate that is raging in some circles of American evangelicalism. In case you don't know what I'm talking about, the debate focuses on God's sovereignty and man's responsibility related to salvation. It's somewhat more complicated than that, but I REALLY do not want to delve into the details here.

I admit to having been involved in this debate a few years ago. I was a die-hard Calvinist in the Baptistic vein. I was also a pain.

The more I think about this issue, the more I see it as a big danger to the unity of the church in this country. While Calvinism/Arminianism is not a gospel issue, the unity of the body is. We should all be much more concerned about the togetherness of the church than we are about specific points of doctrine.

Please understand: doctrine is important. However, different doctrines are more important than others. The doctrine of the unity of Christ's church is far more important than the doctrines of God's sovereignty and man's responsibility.

The night before He died, Jesus Christ prayed in John 17:20-21, "I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me." Jesus was concerned for the unity of his church. He didn't show too much worry about sovereignty and responsibility.

To sum up, the whole Calvinism thing puts me to sleep. I care far more about the body of Christ acting and living like what it is: the body of Christ.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Five Beneficial Reasons Why Pastors Should Switch to Bi-Vocational

Bi-vocational ministry is something that has been around for a long time. It basically amounts to pastors working two part-time jobs: one as pastor and one out in the normal job sector. I realize that most pastors aren't going to quit their pastoral jobs like I did. However, full-time salaried pastors should at least strive to become bi-vocational. This change benefits both them individually and the church as a whole.

Five reasons why this change is beneficial:

1. Bi-vocational ministry shows and/or reminds pastors just how difficult it is to work a normal job.

2. Bi-vocational ministry forces pastors into regular contact with the real world.

3. Bi-vocational ministry demands that the rest of the church body perform more ministry.

4. Bi-vocational ministry relieves some of the financial burden on the church.

5. Bi-vocational ministry frees up more money to be given to those in need and toward missions work.

The big issue is that when pastors become bi-vocational it improves the health and vitality of the church as a whole. This alone is enough reason for pastors and churches to pursue it.

Friday, February 14, 2014

A Fun Book on Worldviews

Many theology books are thick, plodding, and dull. The reason for this is not the topic, but rather the writing style. BORING!

What's Your Worldview? is not dull in any way. In fact, it is one of the most enjoyable theology books I've ever read. One of the reasons for this is that this book is written in the style of the Choose Your Own Adventure books. In What's Your Worldview?, author James Anderson asks multiple theology questions about topics such as truth, reason, knowledge, goodness, etc. Based on how the reader answers a question, he then turns to a specific page. This eventually leads to a particular worldview.

Worldview is an issue that many Christians are absolutely clueless about. If you don't know what your worldview is, then you are likely to simply be following that of the secular culture. This is how many Christians live. What's Your Worldview? helps combat worldview illiteracy. Because of its enjoyable format and short length (little over 100 pages), it is a book that almost anyone can easily read. I highly recommend it.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Biggest Task in Editing

I'm currently smack in the middle of editing multiple chapters for Jeremy Myers' and my book entitled What We're For. The most overarching part of editing is making sure that the writing is both correct grammatically and pleasant to read. I've had to edit some chapters quite a bit, while others have needed little change whatsoever.

As I entered this venture I wondered what specific thing I'd be spending the most time doing. I quickly learned the answer. The biggest task I'm facing is dealing with sentences are are too long. While these sentences may be grammatically acceptable, they are unpleasant to read. My task amounts to breaking the sentences down into two or three shorter ones that read much smoother and easier. I've been reminded that complicated writing is not necessarily better writing.

Overall the writing for What We're For has been very good. It's exciting to read various perspectives on a wide variety of issues related to simple church life. The editing process, while tiring at times, has been altogether positive. I'm about one-half done with the first series of edits. I've got until July to turn in the final copy to Jeremy Myers.

I look forward to the publication of the book this autumn some time. An now, the editing continues...

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Side of a Liberal Arts Degree That You Don't Hear Much About

This is a pretty good video that discusses the key problem with a liberal arts degree: it often leaves you in financial peril. The reason? Liberal arts educations usually cost quite a bit (at least at private institutions) and often do not prepare you for a specific job. As a point of disclosure, I have a liberal arts degree, and it was difficult for me to find a job after my pastoral resignation.

Thanks to 22 Words for this video.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Church Life is Like Playing Catch

There is something very enjoyable about playing catch. I love simply throwing a baseball or football back-and-forth with somebody else. They throw, and I catch. Then I throw, and they catch. It's fairly basic. We've all done it with various different items on multiple occasions. Some folks even play catch with stuffed animals. Regardless, the key is the back-and-forth aspect of it.

Church life is a lot like playing catch.

The best picture we get in the bible of church life is the one anothers. I'm referring to the multiple commands we read throughout the New Testament that instruct us in how to relate to one another. These commands are almost always in the plural. For example:

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:34-35

"Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor." Romans 12:10

"I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another." Romans 15:14

"So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another." I Corinthians 11:33

"Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." Galatians 6:2

"Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." Ephesians 4:32

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God." Colossians 3:16

"And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works." Hebrews 10:24

This is just a small sample of the one anothers that we see in the New Testament. The directional aspect of this is critical. It is not one way. Rather, it is back-and-forth, sort of like playing a game of catch.

When you play catch, some throws are right on target. They are easy to catch. However, once in a while throws are not so good. This forces us out of our comfort zones. We might have to run hard to make the catch, or run far behind us to retrieve the ball. This part of playing catch is more challenging. So it should be in church life. As we strive to stir one another up to love and good works, some of the time is more comfortable than others. Once is a while we need to challenge others or be challenged ourselves. However, this is probably not the norm. Generally, we ought to simply enjoy one another's company, sharing life together.

I hope you have brothers and sisters in Christ who like to play catch.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Editing, Editing, Editing

A few weeks ago I announced on this blog that I'm going to be editing a book about simple church life entitled What We're For. Jeremy Myers and I have teamed up on this project. Our goal is to put together a positive book that encourages dialogue within the body of Christ. We have twenty-five different contributors taking part.

January 31st was the submission deadline. I'm happy to say that most of the authors sent in their chapters on time.

As editor this is the time when my task begins in earnest. I've already edited a few of the chapters. It is enjoyable and difficult at the same time. I get to read excellent thoughts, but at the same time I have to think critically about how those thoughts have been written. It requires quite a bit of time.

An additional difficulty is that my real job at JCB has me working 60-70 hours per week. It's tough to edit when time is at a premium. Therefore, I probably won't be blogging much over the next few weeks. My time will be spent at work, with my family, sleeping, and editing.

I appreciate your prayers for this book project. I believe it has potential to bring about unity and understanding within the church. Pray that it does. Thanks.