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Pursuit of Glory: June 2006


One of the greatest privileges and advancements of believers, both in this world and unto eternity, consists in their beholding the glory of Christ.

-John Owen, The Glory of Christ


Passionate Spirituality


The following are a few note segments form a session by Fritz Dale, titled Passionate Spirituality. Occasionally when at a conference you attend a session where you feel as though, “If this was the only good thing I gain from this trip it was well worth the expense.” This session was it for me. Though Fritz knew he was talking to a room full of pastors and church leaders he made a strong plea and case for the need to walk strong with the Lord.

Americans are far more interested in generic spirituality than religion. We as a nation are looking for something greater than ourselves.

Discussed movie “Crash”

Paraphrased quote from Crash.
“In LA nobody touches you, nobody touches one another they crash into each other to feel and be felt.”

“Acedia- from the Greek word literally meaning caring free, is often defined as spiritual laziness, putting off what God asks you to do, or not doing it at all. Acedia implies the attitude of a person that goes from fury to laziness in a second.” (Wikipedia)

Are we too often spiritually lazy?

A crisis of faith is when we have no strength to follow God and don’t want any. A phase of emptiness on the inside with a maintenance of the outward spiritual looks. We in essence become performers. When we focus on people we are manipulated by the expectations of others.

Christian spirituality fails when it becomes about our experience and falls away from God’s identity.

Passionate spirituality is not:
A formula.
A personality.
A one-time experience.
A location.
An experience or lifestyle.
A lifelong process for becoming a better person (That cannot be the end goal).

We are not the subject, nor the action. The more there is of us the less there is of God.

Passionate spirituality is:
A work of God.
A movement towards God.
A process, a lifelong pursuit.

Colossians 1:27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory

Scriptures considering location in relation to God
James 4:8
Psalm 73:26-28

Christians often live with no margin in our lives.

Our culture is cursed with superficiality, what we need is people of depth.

Don’t sacrifice depth for area.

In this life we will never be congruent with the image and person of Christ, but what a great pursuit that is.

Passionate Spirituality is being full of Jesus and full of life.

“The glory of God is most visibly seen in a person who is fully alive.” Iraneus, 2nd Century Theologian.

Christians can often be half dead in a world that is seeking to be fully alive.

• Galatians 5: Reccomended exercise, read an entire gospel in one time spell and look for how Jesus lived the fruit of the spirit.


Full of Life: A workable description.
Full of convictions, you’re willing to die for something.
Having a purity of heart.
To will one thing.
Full of courageous faith. Willing to take bold steps.
Contagious. People liked Jesus.
People of joy. Enjoyment.
Filled with gratitude, not owed anything.
Full of adventure.
Authenticity.
Selfless.

Spirituality is precision in the scriptures.

A Holy Balance:

God’s Work
Romans 8:29
John 15:4-5
Galatians 5:22-25

Our Response to God’s gracious and loving work
1 Peter 5:6
John 1:12
James 1:21
Matthew 7:7-8

A Tension
1 Cor 15: 10
Phil 2:12-13


A New Home


You know that guilty feeling you get when you change your email address or phone number. I always fear that I am causing and inconvenience for my friends. All this to say I am apologizing in advance and encouraging you to keep your eyes open as this blog gets ready to move to a new address soon, a permanent address. Stay tuned…


Contemplative Blogging


In reflection of my intents and purposes for this blog I find myself categorizing each of my posts into three categories contemplative, reflective, or relative. Reflective being those on which I share thoughts on something I did to inform. Relative being posts that relate to other posts are articles and simple serve to pass on information with a few personal thoughts. Contemplative, where I actually mull different ideas and thoughts in an effort to build a deeper understanding.

Each type has its own set of benefits and strengths as learning is concerned. Communication is at the center of each, a skill worth much time to develop. As I consider the contemplative posts it is those posts that help me to build understanding around various texts and events that I am considering. The thought process involved as paired with critical comments from readers, I believe, has the potential to be more valuable in my personal learning than any formal classes have been. The cause for this, I think, is that I am often disengaged in lecture style formats but am able to fully engage when I am involved in the discovery/learning process.

I am currently mulling over ideas about how to use the read/write web in the context of children’s ministry. I believe that they potential for this to help our children to become mission-focused storytellers are great.


Distractions


It seems like there is always something that fights for our attention. I hope that any of us can name a hundred things that we want to do, learn or accomplish. The problem comes when we focus on so many things that we lose the time we need to build relationships and connect with the Lord.

Amy and I closed on our first house on Tuesday of last week and have been spackling, painting and cleaning since. Currently we are on the road to Denver, CO for a much needed time away. I will be able to blog a bit with the distractions of paint chips and broken light fixtures behind me.

I am attending the Evangelical Free Church’s leadership conference titled B the Tree. I will attempt to do some live conference notes/thoughts.

After that we are headed off to the Rocky Mountain backcountry for some unplugged backpacking and fly-fishing. Every time we drive out this way I feel as though I am being called home. Possibly the Rockies are holding our future residence.


The "Correct" Way of Life


After a long day of two very tedious tasks, I am winding down. First, I spent today trying to train a brother in Christ how to use Final Cut Studio for our church's video venue. I realized he was a quick learner but I am a slow teacher! How do you teach something in two hours that took 6 months to teach yourself. I have no doubt he will surpass my skills quickly if he so desires, but of no thanks to me. On top of that, I was teaching myself a new skill with LiveType, learning by doing can be fun and it can be a BIG headache. Task number two, packing! Amy and I will close on our first house on Tuesday. We are excited to move next Saturday but there is a lot to do between now and then. It is funny the things we are willing to get worked up about when stresses get high.

It occurred to me today that life passes so quickly. I am what some might call a procrastinator. My wife is the complete opposite and she is beginning to win me over to her way of thinking. I always argue that when time gets pinched I produce good work quickly, thus using my time efficiently. Yet, I am finding that the farther ahead of the scale that I work the more apt I am to make connections that I would not have made if I was pushing something right up to the deadline. I take on many tasks and complete them well, but I think I want to take on fewer tasks and complete them extremely well and then pass the to torch to others so that I can take on my next big project. I would love to hear about how each of you spend your time.

A lot of this thinking comes from the parable of the talents. I stumbled upon a post titled Parable of the Talents by Miguel Ghulin today. His musings on his current situation really makes me consider the question that often haunts me, "What will it take to finish well?" I often fear that I don't have the fortitude to finish well, but luckily I will not be racing alone.






I love the setting sun after a strong storm. Glorious night!


VBS Recap (Part 1 of 2)


To anyone who has directed a VBS I salute you and for anyone who has volunteered for a VBS I thank you on behalf of your director who I am sure is very grateful for your service. We used the Jerusalem marketplace curriculum from Group. JM was last years VBS, but we don’t do a VBS every year so we used some left over funds in 2005 to buy curriculum for 2006. Yet we modified a lot of it as we went. The primary purpose for using group’s format was the potential for relationships to be built between the kid’s and adults. A few of the things that we changed:

-Added plenty of bible memory.
-Set up a dual rotation schedule ½ in marketplace ½ in worship rotation.
-Moved the marketplace inside
-Changed the synagogue school to bible stories instead of traditions.

We tried to really pull in the surrounding community ~800 homes (our geographic neighbors) by hanging posters and sending multiple mailings but came out with little success. What are some of the things you do to reach out to the geographic neighbors?

Overview:
We divided the kid’s into the twelve tribes of Judah. The tribes were multi aged, which works AMAZINGLY well. I love to see the older kid’s shepherd the younger and the younger look to the older one’s for guidance. The themes were based around the last days of Christ’s life and important attributes of His character.

Day 1 Jesus is King
Day 2 God’s Love
Day 3 Christ’s Love
Day 4 Jesus’ Death
Day 5 Jesus Resurrection

This allowed us to spread the gospel presentation
out over multiple days, which we really wanted to do so that children could explore the story of Christ with their parents.

From there we had a large group gathering where the students sat with their tribes and I would give them that day’s piece of the gospel. We kept the talking short and allowed for a lot of discovery through discussion. I would present a little in character and then pose a question for discussion or a challenge that prompted the groups to work together in gaining a deeper understanding of the gospel.

After this time we sent half of the students to the marketplace and half of the kid’s to our education/worship rotation. We attempted to bring all of the kids back together so that we could dismiss them safely.



If you choose this format, pray for good weather, but be prepared for bad. We had three of the five days outside and the other two were rained in. All in all it went well. Above is a picture of our meeting area. We found that shepherd’s hooks were a great tool to use for hanging tribe banners.


Our Decorations were very cheap. We have a big open room (when walls are detracted) in our church. We used different colored bed sheets and stapled them to the ceiling for each marketplace booth. Each booth had four sheets two had both ends stapled to the ceiling to create a canopy feel and the other two hung down to create doors. We used wood palettes from a local store to give us walls to separate each booth. These worked very well.



Instead of doing worship as a big group me made a rotation out of it and allowed our leader to have smaller groups. At the end of the week we sang as a whole group and the tears flowed! Make sure you give your song leader a break. We goofed in the schedule and neglected that. She lost her voice once, but did an AMAZING JOB!



Synagogue school was great! Instead of doing Jewish traditions we had a Rabbi do an Old Testament story and then a “Christian from Kansas” connect that story to the gospel. What a great team of storytellers. They integrated the Jewish traditions and it added a lot to the stories.



As always it is the behind the scenes people who save the day! Devote the enough time to praying over the tribes and making sure you have a good system to welcome visitors. I overlooked that but these two saved me more than once!


Digital Learning Exercise


Though I have moved out of the classroom, I am still fascinated by education and feel like it is important to stay in touch with what is going on.

My favorite part of education is technology integration. Today I stumbled upon a piece of stop motion animation that I love. In this linked post you will find a movie of The Good Samaritan acted out frame by frame with Lego figures in a modern day setting. Here are a few of the many reasons why I hope our children would be presented with projects like this on a regular basis:

1.) Engaging, you would be hard pressed to find an elementary or high school aged student who would not love to do this project. At the age of 24 I would love to do this project. This will also do wonders for your classroom management.

2.) Communication, as students work on projects like this they are gaining great communication skills. Notice the attention to detail given along with emotional cues the story gives via music and sound effects. Another child watching this film will understand the story better than I could explain it, as this medium is part of their everyday language.

3.) Retention, I would bet against all odds that Joel understands the story of the Good Samaritan extremely well. With all the time he has put into the project I would also wager that the things he has learned from those scriptures will never leave him.

When purchasing houses in the future, when Amy and I have children, you better believe that I will spend time in potential schools learning about their technology plans and projects from grade to grade. It's not that technology, in and of itself, makes us smarter, but it makes us more efficient and better communicators, which are two keys to success.

Wes Fryer, often talks about digital story telling but today he discussed it in terms of the church. I could see something like this creating commotion in just about any church if we tried to integrate it into the SS curriculum. That is unfortunate, as Wes points out this is simply telling a story. Telling a story in a format that is very comfortable to this generation of children. I would like to see things like this become the 21st century craft project for SS classes. Instead of making picture frames (not that there is anything wrong with that), I see this as a better use of time in most situations. I am starting a summer program and the wheels are turning.... :) Stay tuned for what comes out of that.

Great work Joel and thanks for sharing!


Living it Out


My wife would tell you that I tend to be an idealistic person. I would tell you the same. I have high expectations that I try to pair with great amounts of grace. I find that it is easier to be gracious with those I work with than my wife whom I live with. Thus I place a huge amount preassure on her and myself to be something, that God might be working to bring to fruition, on my own time table (not a good thing).

I don't think idealism is bad but I am realizing the God's time frame is so much better than my own.

My biggest problem lies in the field of living out the very things that I expect of myself and others. For example, am I a disciplined student of Christ, do I manage my time well, am I a strong spiritual leader to my family? Another problem presents itself in measuring the success of our efforts. Just like in school, I believe our lives should be reflected upon and evaluated. Without a tangible measure of our efforts we are chasing ghosts. So how do we measure the success of our lives. Two ways:

Concrete: These are specific things that cyou can chart if wanted.
-Did I lead our family in prayer (aside from dinner) 6 times this week.
-Did I exercise for 30 minutes 4 times this week?

Abstract: These are things that are hard to measure but essential to consider.
-Is my wife happy (Not always based on my actions but I play a big part in this).
-Do those under my leadership feel equiped.

Reflection is essential to learning. I believe time must be taken each day to learn from the lessons that God presented on that day. Now if I would only take the time to do this myself.


***As a side note I found this blog titled Amazing Time Management Strategies, and I really like the practical advice that it gives.


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