Jan 22nd 2009

For John Sutter, it started as a normal January morning in California. He was a prosperous rancher, owner of a 50,000 acre spread. He had no idea how much his life would change when one of his employees, John Marshall, walked into the room with the news that gold had been discovered at the construction site of a sawmill.

The year was 1848 and Marshall and Sutter agreed to become partners in mining the gold, but soon the news leaked out. Sutter’s property was besieged by thousands of people – trappers, farmers, sailors, lawyers, school teachers and preachers – from nearly every corner of the country. All of them had one mission, one vision, one passion. They wanted to strike it rich. Within a year, the “49ers” flooded by the 1000s into California and the gold rush had started.

Gold rush – what is your rush? What would cause that sort of excitement, passion, and a willingness to rush away from all you had in the hopes of rushing toward something of greater value? Gold rush. It’s interesting, some very wise people have compared the word of God to gold. Proverbs 19:8-10 says that the words of God are right, making the heart rejoice, more to be desired are they than gold. Psalm 119:72 says that the words that come from God’s mouth are better than thousands of gold coins.

So I’ve been pondering the power of words.  Thinking back, some words were like gold.  I’ve held onto them for decades.  Some words were like poison. unfortunately I held onto some of those for decades as well.  Those were the words that laid bare the lie that “sticks and stone will break my bones but “just” words will never hurt me.” I wonder how many sticks and stones words are said in our homes verses gold words?

There is power in words, power for good, power for harm.  Words formed the wave that President Obama rode to the White House — not just his words, but also words like “I have a dream.”  There is power in words.  If God speaks, wouldn’t you expect that his words would hold the greatest power of all?  Wouldn’t you expect that his words would be of the greatest value?

If we believe He speaks, why do so many of us, spend a seemingly small amount of time — at least in proportion to their value — listening to His Word?  Maybe we think His Word is just words?  I’m looking forward to the next few weeks at Calvary…pondering His Word.

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Some Living-the-Dream Reading

Oct 28th 2008

This idea of living the dream is stirring up some conversation amongst us.  I have enough e-mails and one-on-ones coming in and coming up that I’m falling a little behind.  But I love hearing what God is putting on your hearts!  It might be that some of you are interested in doing a little more reading/pondering on this topic.  If so here are three books that you might find beneficial.

1)  Chazown by Craig Groeschel.  The word chazown means vision.  Craig leads the reader through a process of looking at core values, spiritual gifts and past experiences to determine your vision for life.

2)  Get a Life by Reggie McNeal. This book is meant to be a very practical conversational guide to discovering the life God has planned for us.

3)  The Cure for a Common Life by Max Lucado.  Written in Max Lucado’s typical story-rich, conversational style, this book is filled with practical insights in the journey of discovering your sweet spot in life.

None of these books try to give you a “discover-your-dream-in-three-easy-steps” approach.  But each one has great practical insights and good probing questions.  Any of the three would be a good beginning read on living the dream. In fact I have 5 copies of Get a Life that I will give away to 5 people who…



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Sep 16th 2008

Rhetoric is the art of speaking or writing effectively. Specifically, it is the study of principles and rules of composition formulated by critics of ancient times and the study of writing or speaking as a means of communication or persuasion.  In other words as a preacher, rhetoric is my job.  It started when I was a teenager.  I was a part of a singing group and every concert I had a solo…but the only reason I liked having a solo was because it gave me an opportunity to speak (right before the solo).  Then in college my major was speech-communications.  We studied rhetoric.  For me…rhetoric is a positive word.

But then along comes a political season…our most political season and when I hear the word rhetoric, it is used with negative meanings.   We listen to a politiican, or a pundit, and our immediate thought is… “ah it’s just rhetoric…I’m tired of the rhetoric.” (Or course it depends upon whether or not we agree with the candidate — then it’s not rhetoric, it’s inspiring!)

So we listen to the rhetoric.  We read the fact-checking blogs.  We try to shift through the words, the character, the truth…  I go back and forth from being entertained to being discouraged, and when I get discouraged I think… It’s just words.  It’s just words.

Okay here’s the convicting part…  This blog isn’t really about the presidential election, it’s about the church, christians and our faith.  See, the way I feel about the political process is the way the majority of non-Christians in our county — feel about the church.

I’ve been reading this book by David Kinnaman called UnChristian. The book is based on research that the Barna group did on how the mosaic generation (teens and 20’s) feel about the church.  Less than 4% have a favorable view of the evangelical church. If we have 50,000 mosaics in the Centre Region…less than 2000 have a favorable view of the church!  As I’ve been reading this book — my heart has been breaking…

This group feels that the church is too judgemental, too hypocritical, too political, hates homesexuals and doesn’t care for the poor.  In other words, they think that our faith is — just rhetoric — just words.  We can get defensive or we can listen.

I’m still not sure who I’m going to vote for — I’m wondering if we could all call Washington and ask for a Obama-Pahlin ticket.  :) — but to be honest I’m less concerned with the Washington, than I am with the church.  More on this later.

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Wild Goose Chase

Aug 21st 2008

Have you ever been on a wild goose chase? Sometimes I feel like my weeks involve on wild goose chase after another. But as Mark Batterson writes, there is a difference between going on a wild goose chase and chasing the wild goose.

I love reading the history of Celtic Christianity. It started with an historical novel about St. Patrick and has progressed to other books about Celtic spirituality…so you may understand when I tell you that Wild Goose Chase was on the short-list of blog titles when I first started this blog. On the other hand you may not understand the connection between geese and Celtic spirituality. Mark Batterson starts his new book Wild Goose Chase with these words, “The Celtic Christians had a name for the Holy Spirit that has always intrigued me. They called him ‘An Geadh-Glas’ or ‘the wild goose.'” You may think that sounds a little weird or even sacrilegious, but having grown up on a farm and watched the wild geese flying overhead, there is something in that metaphor that makes my heart sing.

Chasing the Wild Goose is all about the mysterious adventure of daily following the lead of the Spirit. Chasing the Wild Goose is all about experiencing the goose bumps that come AFTER we exercise faith and see God@work. Chasing the Wild Goose is all about finding God in the miraculous ordinary. Chasing the Wild Goose is all about living a life of spiritual adventure, even in the midst of ordinary days, and tragic moments, guilt-giving decisions and shipwreck appointments.

Mark Batterson is the lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington D.C. NCC is an innovative, multi-site church meeting in movie theaters and a church-owned coffee house near Union Center. He is the author of one of my sabbatical books, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day and writes a geat blog that I follow at www.MarkBatterson.com. So when the opportunity came to review his new book Wild Goose Chase I jumped at the chance.

It’s a great read for those who are looking to put the adventure back in their journey with God. Mark has a very conversational style, good stories. In fact a couple more resources to add to it, check out his website www.chasethegoose.com for 10 Steps to Setting Life-Goals… AND I have one free copy of Mark’s book to give away.

Respond to this post with your name and address by Monday of next week and I’ll put your name in a hat. Who knows maybe you’ll get your own goose!

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