Monday, December 19, 2005

iPod Church

I've officially been sucked into the iPod world. I held out forever, but my gracious wife decided to get me a new iPod for Christmas with her Christmas bonus. She thought that I needed something for graduating from seminary, but I think that the gift of a third child was really enough. :)

In reality, I think the iPod revolution just continues the flow of our culture towards individual expression (though everyone has the same iPod), where expressions of personal preferences continues to drive the way we consume as Americans. Consumeristic Christianity has been decried for years, but I think we are really just at the beginning of that movement. What does the "local church" look like in an environment where I am used to getting the song/message/information I need instantly? If I'm struggling with divorce in my family, why would I go to church and listen to a series on stewardship? The ability for me to order an personal iPod from the Apple website on Friday in my living room in Ovilla, and then receive it in the mail from China today, shapes the way we think about the world. We surely live in a global culture, but we also live in a global culture that can deliver anything I need to me in a matter of days (and really in a matter of hours if I'm willing to pay for it). How will this culture continue to shape the church of the future?

This shift may have more to do with why many of the youngest generation continue to leave the institutional church behind. The main draw for most people to commit to a church body has always been a connection with a community of saints, but many 20-somethings find community in different ways online and in various social settings. I'm not sure what this means for the future of how church leadership delivers spiritual formation (though I have a few ideas), but it is sure that my generation feels like most churches are living 10-20 years behind the times. Is it possible to develop a church that constantly pushes the envelope for what can be done to reach people with the gospel and move them to maturity, OR will every new church eventually fall into the same trap of thinking that the methods that got them where they are will always work? I believe the KEY to seeing churches move past their traditional models is leadership developement and deployment with younger generations. Risk is obiously involved, but risk is surely involved with continuing to do the same things and expecting different results.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

And I'm Worried about 3

After I blogged this morning about the future (and our stress level), I read an amazing article today about a family with 16 kids. I'll quit complaining now. :)

The Future

The last couple weeks have been a time of real prayer and reflection for my family. I have fasted from blogging in order to take time out to spend more time in prayer and planning for the future. As many of you probably have already heard, we have accepted a position to be a church planting pastor with Hill Country Bible Church NW in Austin. After praying hard about the Lord's will, we have sensed his direction in uniting our hearts with this amazing church's vision for reaching Austin with the gospel. The church officially made us an offer for the position last Thursday, and we accepted on Friday. We are signing the lease today on a house about 1.5 miles from the church, and we should be moved in by December 30th. The Lord has helped me to finish seminary (which felt like it would never come) and has directed my steps throughout this process. I am truly not worthy of the wonderful grace that God has shown me in providing for our needs and guiding our path. So, long story short, we move in two weeks, and I start as a church-planting pastor on their staff on February 1st.

Please be praying for us during this transition. Our nerves are already on edge because of moving, but our hearts are hurting over leaving our friends and family in the DFW metroplex. We know that we are not leaving relationships, but just putting greater distance between us and the people we love. However, we know that fulfilling God's purpose for our lives is more important than our own comfort. We are truly excited to see what new friendships and adventures God has in store for us in Austin. Pray especially for our families as we move 3 hours away from them with their grandkids - and pray for us adapting to not having babysitters ready all the time! Please pray that God will help us grow spiritually during this year of residency. I am excited to see how I am going to develop during this year of planning and preparation. Finally, please pray for my wife and kids to handle the move and the transition easily as well.

Our last bit of overwhelming news came last Saturday as we were visiting Austin. We found out Saturday night that we are expecting our third child. We have always wanted more kids (just not this soon!), but we recognize that we really have no control over this process. Barie was using birth control and we still got pregnant. The third child should arrive sometime around the middle of August. We are excited because we know that life is a blessing that God gives, and we know that God will provide for our needs, but honestly, we are scared about having three little ones in a new town. Pray for our sanity.

As I'm back into the blogosphere, check out my devotional site, authenticwalk.blogspot.com, for new devotionals starting today. Also, I am binding an edited version of my devotional study through Jeremiah that appeared on my blog in June, July, and August this year. Shoot me a note if you want a copy of this study, and I'll see what I can do.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

2-Year Old Eyes

Today, my parents and I took Kade to watch the Children's Parade in downtown Dallas (along with everyone in the metroplex who had small children and thought that this was a beautiful day for a parade). I'm not normally a big parade guy, but I would have stood by that street in downtown all day to give Kade the chance to see the marching bands and the floats and cartoon characters. For some reason, as we get older, we lose the ability to live with a sense of wonder. I don't know if this curse has it's source in our arrogant understanding that we've seen everything before or in the fact that we don't want to seem to enjoy anything in this life too much. Maybe we have come to terms with the fact that this life is only about suffering (which it definitely contains) and refuse to laugh or smile or cheer or wave or cry in our excitement about anything. How sad.

I want to return to the ability to see life through the eyes of my two-year-old son. I crave to enjoy the small things of life every day instead of becoming overwhelmed by the unknowns. My son doesn't fear tomorrow (in his case because he has no comprehension of what "tomorrow" means or what "tomorrow" brings), while some days all I can think about is what is coming around the corner. Jesus said something about letting tomorrow worry about itself, but to enjoy today for itself. A number of deaths have occurred around me lately, and they have served to remind me that tomorrow is not guaranteed. As John Ortberg says, "the definition of the fool in this life is the one who plans for every contingency, but fails to plan for the one sure event that will occur in his life - death." I am asking God to continue to help me plan faithfully for my future, but not to allow that tendency to steal my joy today.

So here's to the joy of looking at life through the eyes of my son and the eyes of the Son.