Birthday.

birthdayToday is my birthday. A birthday is a significant marker in time and its significance is not lost on me. I get a little reflective when this day rolls around, ranging from excitement to sadness, from joy to shame. I suppose that’s typical for most people. My main thought of late has been, “I’ve had 33 years, and this is how far I’ve come? This is what I’ve done with my life?” Surely I should be farther along. But I’m not. And I think I’m OK with that. I’ve tried to be obedient to the days and years my Father has given me. Mostly. Well, maybe mostly. And I believe that I’ve been following where He’s told me to go. But some places He’s brought me haven’t been very enjoyable or productive. There’s nothing to show but the scars and marks of trudging through a deep valley. And even then, often I’m the only one who sees those. Continue reading

Philemon: Common Unity

Philemon: Common Unity

Paul’s letter to Philemon is the story of vulnerability, sacrifice and mercy played out in community. I was able to preach through this book and decided to look at it from three different perspectives, the perspectives of the characters in this story: Onesimus, Philemon and Paul.

It’s almost like the parable of the prodigal son in real life. Onesimus was Philemon’s slave. The situation was such that Onesimus wanted to run away from his master, and stole from him as we went. Onesimus eventually ran into Paul in a different city and Paul sends Onesimus back to Philemon with a letter. This letter says that Philemon ought to free and forgive Onesimus. Paul is concerned with these two reconciling and rightly living out God’s community on earth.

In the story of Onesimus we learn about vulnerability (download):

 

In the story of Philemon we learn about sacrifice (download):

 

In the story of Paul we learn about mercy (download):

Lecture: Discipleship in the Arts

A couple months ago I was able to speak to a group of church planters in South Carolina through the Carolina Greenhouse. It was an honor to talk to these leaders about discipleship in the arts. It’s fairly brief, and includes a section of the Q & A. You can listen to it below, and download it here.

I also created a sample reading list, you can download that, too.

Frustration: An Overview

Frustration might will continue, but the series on frustration is over. Below is a map of the posts. Dealing with frustration rightly really is an ongoing journey (hopefully one we are growing in) and that’s why I mapped it out like a narrative. You can click on any part to jump directly to that particular post. And here’s a large version.

In each stage there are prompts in blue. The first area deals with knowing this world is not how it should be, something is not right. The second section deals with us as we ask ourselves the question God asked Adam, “Where are you?” The goal of this self-awareness isn’t an end in itself, it’s supposed to go somewhere. That’s the Highest Low: where we realize our need for God, not only for our situation that got us here to begin with, but for ourselves. That leads to repentance, which is submitting to an active God. Our repentance is called to be active (remember, “talk is cheap“), and we ask Him to change us as we rely on an active God. This repentance leads us to a holy longing, probably worlds apart from our original frustration. It echoes Christ’s prayer in Gethsemane, “not my will, but Yours.”

We will probably not see our worlds completely changed as we wish. For those who cling to their own wants with an iron grip, that leads to grumbling. For those who hope in spite of the darkness, that leads to groaning, and our sound joins with creation and Christ on the cross, hoping in the day where all things will be made new.

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