One of the most spiritually mature men that I know is named Ismael. His first language is Spanish and he works in Superior as one of our garbage collectors. He drives a really cool side-loading garbage truck through my neighborhood on Mondays. We first met back in the fall of 2003 shortly after I moved my family into our house. I had a lot of extra stuff to toss away after the move, and Ismael was very kind and helpful. If you're a frequent reader of my blog, you may recall my earlier post "Pray for Our Garbage Collector."
Please pray for my friend Ismael today. Pray that God would heal his daughter and that God would continue to strengthen Ismael's faith. His wife died in June 2007, leaving him to raise their 7 year old and 10 year old daughters. Ismael's older daughter may be showing symptoms of the same illness that killed his wife. He is a man who knows what it means to walk by faith. Every time I speak with Ismael, the words of scripture roll off his tongue in the most real and natural manner. I wish you could meet him.
Today, Ismael and I met for a quick bible study and prayer outside in a nearby park in our neighborhood. As we sat down by a half-frozen pond full of Canada Geese, Ismael pulled out is copy of La Biblia de Las Americas. In God's providence, the Bible passage that Ismael asked me about was the same passage that our "Peacemaking Church" group studied together last night:
"Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy." - Proverbs 28:13 (ESV)
Our time together was short, but so spiritually refreshing. We've scheduled another meeting for next Monday. I'm looking forward to seeing my brother in Christ again on his next trip through town. When you think about it, there is no earthly reason why Ismael and a guy like me should be friends. That's why I think it's so cool that God has brought Ismael into my life as a friend, prayer partner and brother in Christ.
There's nothing quite like the feeling of stepping in some _______ at the National Western Stock Show.
If you've never been, you need to go.
Last night, after years of negotiations, I was finally able to convince my fancy-schmancy brother (in Summit County for a long ski weekend) to come down out of the high country long enough to show his kids some real Western culture.
We browsed the cattle sales, ate barbeque, saw the Wild West Show, and even ended up with some lassos and hats!
Who do you think is happiest? Anna, cousin Peter, or Ole' Bessie?
It took four of them, but together they were able to keep this bovine monster under control.
See what you've been missing!?!
We're going back for the SUPER DOGS show on Tuesday night. I can't wait.
In October 2007, I had the privilege of hearing Albert Poirier preach and teach on biblical peacemaking at Covenant Theological Seminary. So I bought his book and put it on my shelf. This month, my church has begun "The Peacemaking Church" small group teaching series, of which this book is a part. Since I have been looking for more help to lead my church in peacemaking, it made sense to read and review this book at this time.
"Conflict is a synonym for congregation." "Conflict is not necessarily a consequence of sin, though it assuredly is frequent occasion for it." Therefore congregations need pastors who can lead them through conflict in a manner that brings glory to the God of peace.
"Christian conflict theory must be theologically rooted and ecclesiatically integrated." Pastor Poirier has done both excellently in this helpful pastoral theology text, although his ecclesiastical integrations assume a presbyterian model of polity and make an error in the interpretation of "the church" in Matthew 18. But that doesn't take away much from this very helpful book.
The theological roots for peacemaking and conflict theory start in the biblical doctrine of the person and work of Christ, spread to James chapter 4, develop in the biblical doctrine of adoption into the family of God, and result in real repentance, confession and forgiveness. Gospel truth, applied to relationships, by the grace of God resulting in transformed lives.
If you're a ministry leader or church member, I hope you read this book after you read "The Peacemaker" by Ken Sande.
I also hope you also get a kick out of Poirier's caricatures of some of the different pastoral leadership "models" that are out there. Rather than understanding the pastoral role primarily as one of a spiritual shepherd, conflicting messages within the "church-world" tempt pastors to abandon the biblical model of shepherding through the ministry of the Word and prayer. After all, who wants to embrace the role of "pastor as shepherd" when you could be: "pastor as chief professor of his own captive seminary" "pastor as CEO running a profitable, market-driven corporation" "pastor as stand-up comedian and a generally feel-good guy" "pastor as fascist dictator standing against the world for his own little causes" "pastor as church watchdog publisher, always pointing out the failures of other churches in his denomination or in the larger evangelical community" "pastor as mystic wordsmith and ritual maker, who appears only on Sunday morning and Wednesday night to give us the Word for today." Reading that list made me and Megan chuckle last night.
May God give this world many more peacemaking pastors!
The Peacemaking Pastor: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Church Conflict, Alfred Poirier, Baker Books, 2006.
My original plan for today was to ski with another Boulder County pastor and some of the men from Christchurch. Cultivating relationships and developing ministry partnerships on the mountainside...it was a great idea. Too bad my pastor friend woke up too sick to ski today and one of my men had a rough night at work. Both wigged out. No partnerships developed today. But all was not lost.
My friend Mark and I had the day set aside, so we formulated Plan B which took us to Keystone. Mark attends Christchurch and I've known him for a few years. I gave him some beginner lessons in December 2006. This year, Mark is progressing fast as a skier. He now has his own AT gear and can pretty much ski it all. Which is a great thing, because...
When we got to the top of the outback, there was a snow-cat waiting around for a few more riders. $5 and 15 minutes later, we were traversing our way across the North Outback Ridge above 12,500 feet and staring down a not-yet-tracked-out powder bowl.
Oh, the joy of powder skiing on a sunny day. I haven't hollered like I did today in a long time. But next to one incredible head-plant I made in about 5 feet of snow, the thing I'm most proud of today is how one of my church members was ripping it up, with a little bit of encouragement and a few pointers from the obsessive skier/pastor.
I'm still enjoying preaching from Isaiah, although I'm glad to make it through to Isaiah 5 today, so that I don't have to preach on God's judgment again next Sunday.
Aside from a great lunch with our friends the Sanchezs, and having 2 new young couples visit our service today, I think the best part of the day was seeing God work through our Peacemaking Church group which met in our living room tonight. If you're looking for a good small group study, check out "The Peacemaking Church" taught by Ken Sande from Peacemaker Ministries, www.peacemaker.net.
Help comes from above for three of my favorite pirates in this veggie show which opened in theaters yesterday. These goofy wanna-be heroes bring lots of laughs to kids and adults alike. And they have a message about trusting God while acting in faith too.
Christian movie goers take note: The story doesn't mention Jesus by name, and it doesn't end with Bob & Larry in the kitchen with Qwerty reminding us that "God made you special and he loves you very much." But if you think about it a bit, you will find this a redemptive story that points people to God.
Allusions to movie history abound, including some scenes that remind me of The Wizard of Oz, Pirates of the Carribbean, and best of all, The Three Amigos ("Row...row like the wind!").
The only thing that comes close to being a nightmare-maker for your preschooler is a scene where Mr. Lunt gets chased by a horde of killer cheese curls. These guys remind me of the snails in Flushed Away, so there's not much to worry about here.
The animation and colors are beautiful. The music is vintage Kurt Heinecke, peppy and accessible to kids.
Go see it this weekend and help Phil Vischer redeem his career from the after-effects of a brutal bankruptcy. And be sure to stick around through the credits so that you don't miss the Veggie-version of "Rock Monster", bound to be classic parody for all B-52's fans like me. And while you're at it, why not take some of the neighbor kids along too? We had a group of 6 adults and 9 kids together in the theater last night. There's nothing like hearing little kids giggle at a bunch of silly vegetables who love Jesus.
Today these lucky ski dogs were the first to ski the newly-lift-served Montezuma Bowl at Arapahoe Basin. I arrived shortly after this photo was taken. It was a bit windblown and skied off at the top, but there was still fresh powder snow to be found. A few stretches went over my knees. Too bad the lift isn't faster. The line stacked up pretty good at the bottom. I'm looking forward to a spring day when more of this natural bowl-skiing terrain is opened up. Thanks to Dan & Tina for the ride!
The skiing at Arapahoe Basin was great yesterday, but I must admit my disappointment that Montezuma Bowl is not yet open. The powers that be say there is not enough snow yet. Since I couldn't yet explore this terrain, I stood at the top of the Zuma Lift yesterday and enjoyed the view. Anticipation.
One of the lessons I have learned from Don Whitney in Simplify Your Spiritual Life is to read less and remember more. I want my life to be changed when I read God's Word. And sometimes (like this morning), I need to slow down my pace of reading and meditate on what I have read. My reading this morning was in Matthew 5:1-12 (ESV/SKV).
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for the shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek/gentle/humble/considerate, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you [falsely] on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
Even after only a few moments of meditating on those verses, I already feel more "blessed".
1. What's one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?
Go on at least one prayer-walk each week.
2. What's the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?
Grow Christchurch into a reproducing, self-supporting, missionary-sending, maturing church.
3. What's the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?
Take another long summer vacation.
4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?
Personal evangelism. Spend time in places where I can talk with people who don't go to church. Spend time with friends & family who don't get the gospel of Jesus yet.
10. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity?
Equip and train other men to lead in ministry in the local church.
11. What's the most important decision you need to make this year?
What changes do we need to make at Christchurch in order for it to be more glorifying to God? Leading God's people at Christchurch to trust God and embrace change will involve my most important ministry decisions this year.
14. What habit would you most like to establish this year?
Exercising at least 3-4 times a week.
15. Who do you most want to encourage this year?
Megan, Anna, Sophie and the men God is calling to lead at Christchurch.
16. What is your most important financial goal this year, and what is the most important step you can take toward achieving it?
Lead Christchurch to become a self-supporting church that pays her pastors a reasonable salary so that they can take care of their families. This year, the most important steps I can take toward achieving that goal are 1) to trust God to grow Christchurch and to continue to give people who worship at Christchurch opportunities to give, and 2) to trust God to develop a team of partners who will financially support this church through each stage of growth.
19. What's one thing you could do this year to enrich the spiritual legacy you will leave to your children and grandchildren?
Read more scripture with my kids.
20. What book, in addition to the Bible, do you most want to read this year?
The Reformed Pastor, by Richard Baxter.
21. What one thing do you most regret about last year, and what will you do about it this year?
The way we left Cornerstone Church. Continue to pray and seek restoration of strained relationships with leaders there.
22. What single blessing from God do you want to seek most earnestly this year?
A greater experience of His grace that will motivate me as a husband, father, son, brother, friend, neighbor and pastor.
23. In what area of your life do you most need growth, and what will you do about it this year?
I need to grow in how I respond to criticism. I will seek out feedback from my wife & kids, church attenders, church members, church leaders, other pastors I meet with and my preaching coach.
25. What skill do you most want to learn or improve this year?
28. What one biblical doctrine do you most want to understand better this year, and what will you do about it?
The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit. I plan to read 2 systematic theology chapters on it and read Jim Hamilton's biblical theology on it.
31. In what area of your life do you most need change, and what will you do about it this year?
I need more of God's power demonstrated in my life and ministry. Through my study of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, personal evangelism, preaching, disciple-making, family life and marriage, I will ask the Holy Spirit for more power and trust Him to give me that power for living as I repent and believe.