Tuesday, January 29, 2008

UPDATE

it is Tuesday night, it's 11:17 pm, and I'm taking a 10 minute break. I'm sitting at church listening to the wind blow and watch the temperature on my computer drop by the second.

I have started typing chapter 2, entitled, "A Biblical/Theological, Historical and Literature Perspective of Spiritual Disciplines." This is the meat of the entire dissertation process. If this bombs I bomb.

As I thought about this entire process this morning, one thing occurred to me, if I did bomb, if something happened and I just drop the ball on this project, but finish the sermons series and studies, I would be a better person, husband, pastor, friend, etc. And I believe the people of FBC would be led to become closer to Christ than they were before.

I have found the studying aspect to be so freeing, stressful, but fun. Yes, I am weird!! I believe my sermons have more meat in them than they have. Not that I am being critical of myself, but I am spending much more time on sermon prep than I was previously doing. It also means you have to listen a little longer to me on Sundays.

Anyway, just giving an update. I think I am on page 17 of about 80-90. So, I'm maybe 20% home. My goal is to complete 5-10% per night.

As I write that The Happy Song is now playing by Delirious. It's a great song of celebration and rejoicing. If you're lucky, you may even hear it on Sunday, since we will talk about celebration.

Enjoy!!

Sundays topic

Just a reminder, Sunday's topic for our spiritual discplines is on

CELEBRATION - think about how you celebrate and what you celebrate and when you celebrate and why you celebrate and who you celebrate with and yes, where you celebrate!!

So . . .how are you?!

Wow!! It's been awhile. I'll do a Sunday Reflection tomorrow. Just letting you know it is 12:26 a.m. and I am writing away on my dissertation. I was hoping to have chapter 1 done by tomorrow, and if I push tonight, chapter 1 will be in the books within about 30 minutes. Then comes the proof reading . . . I don't like red marks all over my stuff, kinda sensitive about that stuff.

Then comes the really hard part, chapter 2, it's where I get deep into the Biblical / Theological, Historical and Literature perspective for my project. That chapter is the meat of what I am doing. And it will be the longest chapter of the project, I'm guessing about 60-80 pages.

So, I've got about 10 pages down and another 70 or so to go.

Keep sending those prayers up . . . I'll need energy, wisdom, confidence, encouragement, coffee, exercise, a few good video game breaks, some laughter, some chocolate, some coffee, some Red Bull, a good hug, good eyesight, strong forearms - so no carpal tunnel, I guess those are tonight's needs. Check back tomorrow.

I told Debbie this is an every night endeavor for the next 2 weeks, while I write. As I told her, I made this decision, and I need to finish it off, for better or worse.

Okay, enough babbling, back to work.

Later

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Long Days!

I'm bushed! But it was a good day, sermon is moving along. It's long and there is more to add, so I will start cutting out some of what is already in there. In some ways I think it is too practical - too much information on what type of Bible to select, etc.

Started the day at 8 am and got home at 9 pm, had dinner and went to work until 12 am. Now I'm done for the night and I can go over my work in the am.

Had a very good search committee meeting tonight, must be the prayer group that was meeting next door.

Stay warm, feel the warmth of Christ, let Him hold you and care for you, but you must take the step toward Him, then let Him love you.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Sunday Reflections

For a cold day, I thought we had a good crowd. I was pondering what worship means as I was preparing myself for worship. Some quick thoughts which occurred to me were ~

Surrendering myself to God
Submission - submitting myself to God
Giving God my whole body in the act of worship

Gaining the perspective that my body can only do what my brain and heart tell it to do. . . which leads me to consider how I act / react in worship.

Through a great deal of reading, I am feeling God's presence and Spirit more and more and moving me to be more (not sure what that means, yet, I have this sense God is doing something and has something more for me).

It's interesting how I see the spiritual disciplines that we are going through, I did not realize the impact they would make on me. That is cool!!

Sunday night was awesome. The Masters Praise from IWU were amazingly gifted and had a great heart for worship. Estimates tell me we had about 200-220 at the worship/concert.

It was a good Sunday and I am looking forward to more and more power in our worship and in us.

It was great to have two people come forward to join the church and another tell me they want to as well. Sense the Spirit, call on the Spirit, open yourself to the Spirit.

Friday, January 18, 2008

A long reading

I thought I would let you read a wonderful section from a book called Conformed to His Image, by Kenneth Boa. It occurs on pages 78-79 in te book and is long, but worth the read. This is part of the basis of why spiritual disciplines are so very important.

Conformed To His Image
by Kenneth Boa

In the New Testament, a quick survey of the Gospels through the lens of discipline reveals that the Lord Jesus engaged in all the classic disciplines, such as solitude, silence, simplicity, study, prayer, sacrificial service, and fasting. Jesus understood that these practices were not optional for those who have a passion for the Father’s pleasure and honor. Our Lord did not engage in these disciplines as ends in themselves, but as means to know and obey his Father. They moved him in the direction of the foremost commandment (Deuteronomy 6:5; Mark 12:30): "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength."

Yet we have bought the illusion that we can be like Christ without imitating his spirituality. If we wish to be like our Master, we must imitate his practice; if we believe he knew how to live, we must seek the grace to live like him. To ask the question "What would Jesus do?" without practicing the habits we know he practiced is to attempt to run a marathon without prior training. What is evident to us on the physical plane is often obscure to us on the spiritual level. It is absurd to think that we could excel at any sport such as golf or tennis without investing the needed time, training, and practice. But when it comes to living the Christian life, we suppose that we are doing well if we attend church and open a Bible once or twice a week. If believers expended the same time and energy in cultivating their spiritual lives as they are willing to invest in becoming reasonably skillful at any sport or hobby, the world would look with wonder at the power of the body of Christ.

We desire to know Christ more deeply, but we shun the lifestyle that would make it happen. By relegating the spiritual to certain times and activities, we are ill prepared to face the temptations and challenges of daily living in a Christlike way. It is easy to deceive ourselves into thinking that without the active and painful formation of godly character, we will have the capacity to make the right choices whenever we need to. But if we have not been exercising and training and practicing behind the scenes, we will not have the skill (wisdom) to perform well when it counts. The disciplines off the stage prepare an actor to perform well when the curtain rises, and the hours of training off the field give an athlete the freedom to play well when the game begins.

Similarly, the daily regimen of the spiritual disciplines equips us to live well during the uncertainties and vicissitudes of life. This is what Dallas Willard called the law of indirect preparedness; the disciplines in the background of our lives prepare us for the unexpected times when we will need to respond in appropriate ways. Willpower alone will not be enough, unless our wills have been trained and strengthened through ongoing practice. When it comes to running a race, meaning well and trying hard will do us little good if we are out of shape through lack of training.

Your thoughts?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Spiritual Disciplines

Last entry for the night.

I read a great section in a book by Kenneth Boa called Conformed to His Image. I'll post his quote tomorrow. It's the third of 3, 500-700 page books, at least this one is more interesting. For now I'm just too tired to copy it. Night . . . night

Watches

Today was the first day in a long, long time . . . as long as I can remember that I did not wear a watch for an entire day. Felt strange, but good. I'll have to try it again, although I love having about 6-7 different cheap and funky watches to wear.

3 month check up

Zachary had his 3 month pediatric endocrinologist appointment today. He did great, although there were some issues. When we got there we tested him and his blood sugar was 598. Totally out of sight. Turns out the cannula came out of him and was bent (you never know when that happens other than to find high readings).

So we had to redo it and try it in a different spot which he was not happy about. You can guess backside and you'd be close. Problem is Zachary always watches when he gets shots, IV's, blood draws, etc. The backside is not an easy place to watch. But he did great.

He wanted Arby's on the way home and ate two sandwiches, a hungry and growing boy.

GRADE TIME

Semester grades are out - - - drum roll please.................................................

Zachary received 1-B and the rest A's. Despite some radical highs and lows from his diabetes and 1 week off for being sick his grades were excellent. We are proud of him!!

For the first 9 weeks Joshua received all A's, for the second 9 weeks and for the semester he received all A's. I knew he could do it after the first 9 weeks, but I am still in shock. I never came close at his age. We were very proud of Joshua and laid the big carrot in front of him for the second semester, a fully paid drum set for all A's.

Only in seminary and the end of college did I really do well.

So . . . congrats to the boys, they have chosen dinner out on Saturday. We'll see where we end up going.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Sunday . . . Sunday . . . Sunday!

I cannot begin to tell you, actually, I am about to tell you how excited I am about Sunday. There may not be much pomp along with the message, no basketball shooting, etc., just a message, but I believe it will be a powerful message. God is already transforming me from all the reading I have done on service or better yet, servanthood.

After our search team meeting, I stayed at church to work until 1 am, knowing if I went home, I would have just gone to sleep. I'm tired, but energized. So . . . pray for me, pray that I finish (which I will) but more importantly deliver the message God wants us to hear about disciplining ourselves to serve.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Spiritual Disicplines

I was reading from about 8 different books on Spiritual Disciplines today and tonight. Interesting reading, I wish I could share everything I am reading but that is impossible. Hopefully the sermons will be a combination of teaching about the disciplines and application on how to put them into practice. Keep me in prayer, I have one more month before the first 2 chapters need to be sent in. My goal is to write 5 pages a day, starting on 1/28. Pray for me, and my family.

Z-Dog follow up

I give the boy credit, he didn't flinch when the needle went in him. One nurse tried to distract him, but Zachary's nature is to always watch the needle go into him. He did just that, didn't say a word, and when asked if it hurt, said, 'it punched a little on the way out.' Brave boy!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Z-Dog

Remember Zachary in prayer this morning. He needs to go to St. John's Hospital for a blood test. He has his 3 month pediatric endocrinologist appointment on Thursday, and blood work needs to be done beforehand. So, remember the little guy in prayer.

I must admit, he is a trooper. When we told him tonight he didn't flinch about it. But he is getting to a point where the wear and tear of diabetes and losing out on what other kids eats seems to be playing a bigger role and he will often speak about it. Which he has not done too much of in the past.

Thanks,

Michael

Weekend Reflections

Hey All -

Some closing thoughts after a long day, preparing for worship, worshiping, preparing for the evening worship, and watching the Colts game. The only good thing was Dallas lost, sorry Damon and Jessica S.

Otherwise, some thoughts ~
  1. Thanks to Eric P. for taking on the power point production and singing. Good work!!
  2. Thanks also to Kevin T. for leading the worship.
  3. I appreciated Lynn J.'s talk about the literacy. She did good.
  4. Thanks to Kenny and Jeanie for sponsoring Angel, pronounced An-hel.
  5. Thanks to many who are participating in the Spiritual Discipline classes and turned in their survey forms. There is lots of good information people have written. That is so cool!!!
  6. I am looking forward to see how we grow throughout this year.
  7. We had a very good Saturday leaders and committee members meeting. About 50 out of 60 people were there. That is great!!
  8. I really think the committees are doing lots of praying, thinking, talking and debating. That is great!! Because great ideas are coming. Passion is flowing and that will lead us and drive us through the year.
  9. Keep it up. Don't lose the passion and don't get stuck in the minutia of life, look at the big picture - - - - make a difference in someone's life in the name of Jesus!!!!!

Be a blessing!

Friday, January 11, 2008

I'm Still Here

Yes, I am still here!!

It's been awhile. Not that there is nothing new, it's just that by the end of the day I'm exhausted. Most nights I am up until at least 1 am. As I type it is 12:45 a.m. Each night from around 10 pm to sleep, I dedicate to my doctoral work. I would honestly prefer to do more fun things, but it is commitment I have made, and a major personal and professional goal of mine to finish in 2008. Along with reading, I must write and write sermons, curriculum and even give some of the answers to the teachers. I don't want any pity, this is my choice, but that is what I need to do, along with everything else that goes with pastoring and being a husband and dad. I know the boys are not happy about not having me at home many nights this week. It turns out, Wednesday - Friday nights are away and Saturday morning which is usually sacred breakfast time, I will be in church. So, Saturday afternoon and evening are the boys and Debbie's.

I tried Speedway's "Shockwave extra" coffee. I don't think it will keep up any longer than normal, but I'll let you know if it does.

I'm looking forward to Saturday morning's meetings. These are important times in the life of our church, and we have a great group of people who are leading and serving. My ultimate goal is to have 100% of the people involved in some type of ministry, whether at church or in the community. Wouldn't that be amazing if we were all serving Christ with our passions and gifts. . . WOW!! That would make a difference in the world.

I'll try to be more diligent about blogging, but it's been busy. Thanks be to God for Joshua's renewed health. He is feeling better and his appetite is almost 100%. Amazing how skinny that boy is. But his old self has returned. I know he feels better because he wants to go to East of Chicago pizza. he liked the old Chicago pizza place near the church, and now since it has reopened he wants to go and see if they still have his favorite peanut butter and jelly pizza. Amazingly, it's better than it sounds. Zachary was still awake when I got home and talked about going there before this restaurant closes. So, maybe that will be our Saturday night dinner adventure.

Blessings to all and to all a good night.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Sunday Reflections

A fun service.

I had a good time today. I thought people were a little more vocal. That is cool.

People enjoyed the video of my basketball prowess. I hope I made the point that we need to practice to be good, especially to stay in the game of Christian life.

Thanks to Damon for his work on the video. Next week we talk about journaling as a spiritual discipline.

The upcoming week will be busy and I hope to get lots done on my doctoral project. Keep me in prayer.

Joshua is feeling better but I think the weight he lost being sick has affected his gums, which are puffy. Now it's to the dentist. Keep him in prayer.

Have a great week and remember to keep Jesus first.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Spiritual Disciplines

I'm excited about what is coming. I comleted my first set of Sunday School curriculum for week 1, January 13, it only has 17 questions, and the chance for more or less in the next day and a half. I am realizing that this doctoral work, along with the sermons series and Sunday school lessons is overwhelming and super demanding. I look forward to February 15, when my first 2 chapters and the meat of the project needs to be turned in. Between now and then, expect my office to be a mess. With loads of books stacked everywhere. I had to order another book yesterday. Some books I just can't find in local libraries, including Anderson and Taylor Universities.

This entire project right now has taken on a life of its own. I sense it drawing me closer to God, and I sense a greater vulnerability in me and connection with God as I learn and gain a better understanding of his call to us in our Christian lives. I need and must rely on Him for strength, wisdom, courage, encouragement, not to despair, or think doom and gloom, but to trust in His plan and His words from Joshua 1:9, "be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you may go." I have that one memorized and that is part of the reason Joshua was named Joshua.

I am looking forward to Sunday, also Damon and I made another video, it will be unleashed on Sunday, think what does free throws and spiritual disciplines have to do with one another!!

See you Sunday

Joshua update

His temperature has gone down, but his gums are hurting and puffy. The doctor wants him to have a blood test and see a dentist, which we are planning on doing, however, Joshua is not happy about the blood test. Remember, needles and Joshua are like me and celery. Keep him in prayer.

End of the Day

Hey all -

I'm bushed, it's late, it's been a long day, productive, but long.

I did alot of work on my doctoral stuff, for Sunday and next Sunday. I am looking forward to starting off the series on Spiritual Disciplines. I think 54 people have signed consent forms to complete the spiritual discipline pre-survey. There is still time to take the survey, it's not time consuming, maybe 5 minutes.

I really need to buckle down on my reading and writing for my dissertation. Keep that in prayer.

Remember Joshua in prayer. He's had a temperature for the past 4 days, he's on antibiotics, but he looks weak and feels weak. He only threw up a little one time, but he has lost 5 pounds since his last trip to the doctor.

Keep the worship pastor search team in prayer as we looked over many more resumes tonight and will try to meet with more potential pastors. Keep the choir and praise team in prayer, as well as the music committee.

Pray for the next couple of weeks at church as boards organize and reorganize and we meet and plan.

Hey, just pray for the whole church to follow God's plan.

Blessings and night . . . night!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

POST 100

This is post 100. Kinda cool, post 100 starts on 1/1.

Recap of the day - - -

Joshua has been sick for the past 3 days. He's had a temp of up to 102-3. A friend he was playing with called and said he was sick, too. Keep him in prayer.

Had the privilege of saying a prayer for the inauguration for Jack Woods, our new mayor. Fun time, also it was the inauguration for city council, police and fire chiefs, judge and clerk.

Watched lots of football, hung out with the boys, Joshua laid around most of the day, and read for spiritual disciplines.

I made it through the day with no desserts! Even though there was a good looking cake at the inauguration. Drank more water than usual and exercised.

The Courage to Grow!

I appreciate devotionals which are real and relevant.  This devotional perfectly meets that requirement.  Annie Downs has written a powerf...