Sunday, December 30, 2012

Confusing Ministry and Calling

Margaret Feinberg recalls a conversation she had with a friend who had been dismissed from his ministry at a large church because of a moral lapse. The guy makes the statement that one's calling never changes, but our ministry can change every few minutes, at least several times in the course of our lives. She quotes him as saying, "The problem is that all too often we sacrifice our calling for the sake of the ministry. The ministry becomes so important, so central, that we lose the most important thing."

A great reminder for all those in vocational ministry. Our specific task of ministry may change repeatedly, for example in the last year I have transitioned from doing youth ministry to doing college ministry. Yet my calling has remained, seeing people's lives changed by the gospel. Of course most of us need to be reminded this important truth several times a week because we get so wrapped up in our ministry that we begin to place our self worth and value only in what we accomplish through ministry.

Excerpted from The Sacred Echo

Power of Words

Margaret Feinberg writes,
Why use sixty-six books and thousands of years of history to say three simple words? Because "I love you" is not just a piece of information or one-time revelation but an invitation to transformation.

Amazing to think of the trouble that God has gone through and still goes through to express his deep, unconditional love for us. He stopped at nothing, even sacrificing his only son because of his love affair with His people!

She goes on to say the following:
With mere words, God created. except for the moment when Jesus spoke, "It is finished," never has so much been accomplished in so few words.

I have always been mesmerized by the power of words, especially when contemplating the creation accounts in Genesis 1 and 2. The sheer power and authority evident in God's ability to speak something out of nothing, creation ex nihlio. This is the same God whom we bow down and worship as the loving Father who redeems us through his son, forsaken on a wooden cross. Two very simple acts with profound influence on the course of human history.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Not Where I Want to Go

Thanks to Margaret Feinberg's book The Sacred Echo, I was reminded of Jesus' words with Peter in John 21:18  “I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.” As I watched my dad battle cancer earlier this year these words took on new meaning to me. Here was a man who had taken care of my in various ways and to various degrees for over 30 years and now it was my turn. (I am blessed that in spite of my parent's divorce both nurtured and cared for me as best they could and in their own way.) It was difficult for both of us I believe to reach the stage of life where the caregiver becomes the one needing care. Humbling to the say the least...

In those final days, Dad became a living reminder of this verse, but more than that, he was a living reminder of the utter dependence we have on God and the gospel for life to have any meaning and purpose. 

CT Top Albums of 2012

Great review of top albums from Christianity Today.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Sacred Echo by Margaret Feinberg

I recently finished The Sacred Echo by Margaret Feinberg. She has quickly become one of my favorite contemporary writers. Her insight into issues of faith are refreshing without pushing the boundaries of orthodoxy. I will spend a few blog posts responding to some of her thoughts over the next few days. Here is one at the end that really resonated with me.

The naked truth about "getting saved" is that becoming a follower of Jesus will not make you richer, skinnier, or more prosperous. It will cost you everything--more than you can imagine--as you pour your life into causes that no one else seems to care about. But the rewards, well, I'm gambling with everything I've got that they're worth it. Like Lucy, it's worth believing and bringing everyone I possibly can along for the adventure (187).

Winter Retreat

So I am about 8 months into doing college ministry full-time, only in the last month have I really begun to feel like I have a handle on what God is trying to teach me and use me to accomplish His Kingdom work. It has been a challenging transition, but such an incredibly good one. This weekend we had a retreat with 14 students to get away, unwind, and dig into the word. It was a great time of fellowship, worship, and growth for our group. One of my mentors, Chris Rogers, who is now doing Family Ministry, came and shared with us from scripture and really challenged us with a reminder of the gospel, our status before God and the idols we place in our lives.

I am so thankful to God for what he is doing in and through our students!

Over the Rhine Christmas song as our Prayer Today

Lord we need a new redemption song
Lord we’ve tried
It just seems to come out wrong
Won’t you help us please
Help us just to sing along
A new redemption song
Lord we need
A new redemption day
All our worries
Keep getting in the way
Won’t you help us please NEW REDEMPTION SONG
Lord we need a new redemption song