Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Monday with My Girls

I love our girls, Anna (10) & Sophie (7). On Monday, we enjoyed a late season snowshoe hike with Megan.

Earlier in the day, Anna skied the East Wall at Arapahoe Basin with me.

The lean-to fort we built on Labor Day last year was still standing!

And as the sun went down, the alpenglow was much more brilliant than this picture suggests.

"...children are a heritage from the LORD..." - Psalm 127:3

Saturday, April 26, 2008

I Love A-Basin

The obsessive skier loves Arapahoe Basin, especially at this time of year. Nearly every run at Summit County's highest-altitude ski area remains open while every other Colorado ski area has now closed.

The spring skiing at A-Basin will stretch into summer this year - a closing day of June 8 was announced this week.

While some guys get out their bikes and golf clubs and start talking baseball, I'm still gleefully focused on carving turns in the corn. Spending a sunny spring day in the snow above 10,000 feet is about as good as it gets in this life. (Of course the skiing in heaven will be WAY better...spring skiing is just a foretaste of joy to come.)

I've now embarked on a new mission to top my record number of consecutive months skied on Colorado snow (19 months from October 2004 to April 2006). I have been skiing at least one day a month since October 2007. May & June will be easy with A-Basin staying open and my Colorado Pass still valid. July & August should be a cinch with a quick hike up to St. Mary's Glacier. September is the tricky one (your hike-to suggestions are appreciated). And with A-Basin's perennial battle to be the first resort to open each year, the 2008-2009 ski season is sure to start in October. Breaking 20 consecutive months could be a breeze...depending on what my options are in September.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Still Singing

The Kellys were up late last night. We took a quick trip up I-25 to Greeley, Colorado for a vocal jazz concert by Take 6. These 10-time Grammy winners have been one of our favorite groups for nearly 20 years. Vocal jazz isn't as widely popular today as it was in the 80's and 90's when Bobby McFerrin was singing "Don't Worry, Be Happy", but we're glad to see Take 6 still going strong. And we're glad that they are still sharing the gospel during their concerts. The crowd last night was made up of mostly college and high school jazz students, and I'm guessing the majority of them were not followers of Jesus. The crowd responded favorably as they talked about our Lord. Take 6's concert last night reminded me of Colossians 3:16-17: "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. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Ministry Leader Titles and The Heart of Spiritual Leadership

A few nights ago, I was emailing back and forth with another church planter friend about what the Bible says about church leadership roles. What does it mean to pastor a church or to serve as an elder or deacon? The mere mention of these ministry leader titles brings many different thoughts to mind, some good and helpful, others not so. Titles can be confusing. I think it is important that our church leaders understand their biblical responsibilities and that their titles match what they do in service to the church. Perhaps that could help reduce some of our confusion about church leadership.

But as I was reading Matthew 23 this morning, I was reminded that the most important thing about leadership in our churches is not the titles leaders are given, but rather the heart of those spiritual leaders. In Matthew 23, Jesus takes on the spiritual leaders of his day, and he calls out the hypocrites. Having a true heart of spiritual leadership demonstrated in self-sacrificing service to others is so much more important than the titles we give our ministry leaders. In truth, we too often make even our ministry titles into idols.

Matthew 23:1-12 (ESV): "Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat, so practice and observe whatever they tell you—but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted."

Monday, April 21, 2008

Quince Bushes

My next door neighbor, Frank, is re-doing the landscaping in his front yard. Today, we removed about 50 square feet of sod from Frank's front yard and transferred it to my grass-deficient backyard. We also transplanted some Quince Bushes from his front yard to my backyard. And though the bushes are not rooted into their new spots yet, they are looking good and even starting to blossom. We applied a fair amount of root stimulator, so I'm pretty confident that they will settle in well. Quince bushes are pretty hardy. They remind me of Isaiah 27:6: "In days to come, Jacob shall take root, Israel shall blossom and put forth shoots, and fill the whole world with fruit." Our new quince bushes remind me of this promise from God to his people during difficult times. Did you know that Quince bushes also provide a great home for birds? The flowers produce a small red berry that birds feed on until mid-winter. The bushes also have prickles on them, providing the birds with a safe place to shelter. Thanks, Frank!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Joke Worked...They Laughed!

Ask anyone who knows me and they'll tell you I need to keep working on my preaching. So today, I chose to introduce my sermon with a joke. A borrowed joke, yes, but a joke that served me well in capturing the attention of my audience and introducing the big idea of the scripture text I was preaching from. And they laughed! Ahh...sweet success. It's the little things that keep me going sometimes.

What was this great joke, you ask? Here's how I set it up.

Have you ever thought that you might be the only real person in the world, and that everything else and everyone else you see is just a figment of your imagination? (or maybe that we’re all just brains kept in vats of nutrients, with electrodes causing us to perceive a false in the Matrix?)

Philosopher Alvin Plantinga tells the story of a medical doctor he once met who believed this was true of himself. (This belief that “My mind is the only thing that I know exists” has a name: Solipsism). The Philosopher Plantinga set an appointment to meet this doctor one day at the Hospital. (Apparently the doctor found it reasonable to set appointments with figments of his imagination.) After meeting with the doctor, Plantinga was stopped by another doctor on his way out of the hospital who said with a smirk: “We take good care of Dr. So-and-So, because when he goes, we all go.”

Get it?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

My T4G Take-Aways

I returned home from the Together for the Gospel conference tonight. It was everything I expected and more. Here are some of my T4G take-aways/applications.

1) A renewed conviction that biblical & systematic theology is essential for life & ministry. Thank you, Ligon Duncan.

2) A growing sensitivity to ethnicity and at the same time a solid rejection of the concept of racial discontinuity based on human biology, since the Bible teaches so clearly that all human beings are descendants of Adam's fallen race, no matter our ethnicity or culture. Thank you, Thabiti Anyabwile.

3) A growing hope for church-planting & pastoring in Colorado and across the world. Thank you future Christchurch interns, Philip, Eric, Hilary, & Tom. Thanks also to Elizabeth, Jerilyn and Nikki.

4) A longer-term perspective on pastoring. Thanks, Charlie Davis.

5) A more clear and complete historical theological perspective on the current assaults on the essential gospel doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement. Thank you, Al Mohler.

6) A passionate reminder that God creates radical Christian sacrifice by enabling us to treasure our greater future reward in heaven -- Christ -- more than the stuff of the world. Thank you, John Piper.

7) Clear teaching on how to be a more joyful pastor. Thank you, C.J. Mahaney.

8) A big stack of books. Thanks, T4G conference staff and publishers and authors!

9) A lingering echo of singing loud songs to God with more than 5000 others. Thank you, my brothers and sisters who gathered at T4G.

10) A reminder of how great the gospel of Jesus Christ is, and how vast and free is the love of God. Thank you, Jesus.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Looking Forward to T4G?

I am!

Don't miss Thabiti Anyabwile's talk, and his 19 Reasons Why He is Looking Forward to Together for the Gospel.

You won't miss anything if you follow Tim Challies liveblogging this week.

Please pray for the staff at American Airlines to get me there safely and on time.

Pray that I will hear from God through His Word this week.

And pray that I will make some new friends, perhaps find some new mentors, and meet guys who might benefit from participating in our internships at Christchurch.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

A Good Start to My Week

God gave us another good Lord's Day at Christchurch today. We gathered in Jesus' name, we sang, we read scripture, we listened to preaching and teaching, we sang some more, we encouraged one another, and we went home. A few years ago, I would come home from church on Sunday spiritually tired. Today, I came home having been refreshed and renewed spiritually. That's been the case more often than not this year and I'm so grateful to God for that.

And so I'm looking forward to my week.

My Sabbath started after church today and continues into the afternoon tomorrow.

From Tuesday through Thursday I plan to be in Louisville, Kentucky, joining 5,000 other pastors and ministry leaders from various churches and denominations around the country for Together for the Gospel. I'll also be meeting with the interns that we're planning to bring to Christchurch this summer.

By Friday, I need to submit some papers for a class I'm taking on the history of hymns. And we've already got a weekend full of ministry scheduled for Saturday and Sunday...but I look forward to seeing what God brings this coming week. Some days bring joy, some days bring pain, but all days are better than I deserve.

Have a great week!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Sort of Headline That I Love is reporting that Heavy Snow is Headed for the Front Range.

Pray for snow. I would love to sled with my kids one more time and hopefully get to the mountains for a few more powder turns.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Church-Planter's Verse of the Day

"But Jesus looked at them and said, 'With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'" - Matthew 19:26 (ESV)

I suppose this could also be the verse of the day for the business-person & entrepreneur, the financial planner, the private equity analyst, the atmospheric chemist, the window cleaner, the biotech firm operations manager, the behavior analyst, the firefighter, the nurse, the teacher, the student, the husband, the wife, the parents and the kids.

May we all work today as if it all depends on us and pray like it all depends on God, knowing that the good things we are working for really are impossible with merely our own work. But with God all things really are possible. Keep trusting Him!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

A Good Day at Copper Mountain

There was great spring skiing yesterday at Copper Mountain. If you've never taken a ride on the Tucker Mountain Snow Cat and hiked to "The Taco", you're missing out on a truly spiritual experience. The views up from the top of Tucker Mountain are stunning. And the new snow on the steep slopes of "The Taco" yesterday was smooth and calf-deep. Thanks to my friend DJ for driving and for chasing powder stashes with me all day yesterday. My legs are sore today.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

It's a Boy! Name the Baby Contest Now Underway!

Here are the latest pictures of the newest addition to the Kelly family. On Monday, during an ultrasound exam, the doctors worked hard to prepare us for the possibility of a chromosomal abnormality, due to high Nuchal Translucency measurements. So, we agreed to a Chorionic Villi Sample (CVS) and we prayed and we asked lots of you to pray and we waited. Today, we got the initial Flouridized In Situ Hybridization (FISH) CVS test results back and the test was negative on chromosomal abnormalities. The odds the doctors gave us were in the other direction, so we're thankful that God worked the odds in our baby's favor.

CVS also identifies gender (Even at 13 weeks gestation! Amazing!) That's how we know that it's a boy.

Thank you to all who have been praying for us! You're the best.

The obsessive skier is now taking entries here at this blog for our "Name the Baby Contest" so post a comment with your name ideas today.

My favorite so far is Scott Jr.