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Quiet

Genesis 17 opens with God coming upon Abram and delivering the clearest word of the Lord yet: Live in my presence blamelessly, circumcise yourself and all the males in your household, and I will give you a son by your wife Sarai by this time next year. It was a profound revelation, to be sure, but I can’t help but notice that it was 14 years too late. Between the end of Genesis 16 and the beginning of Genesis 17, there is a 13-year time jump, and that was a big deal. In the beginning of Abram’s relationship with God, God spoke to him on a fairly regular basis. But after Genesis 15, God had apparently gone silent. For well more than a decade, God had seemed absent from Abram’s life, and it was likely the greatest test of faith that Abram would ever experience. The belief he demonstrated in Genesis 15 was clearly strained, else he wouldn’t have compromised in Genesis 16 to marry Hagar. Indeed, the hardest part about believing and following God is when He is quiet, often for long periods of time. The real challenge of faith, though, is believing – acting as though we’ve already received His promise – even when God is quiet. Continue reading ‘Quiet’

Stay the Course

Genesis 16 tells the story of how Abram and Sarai compromised to see God’s promise realized prematurely. You can hardly blame them because they had already waited 10 years without the child God had promised, and they were not exactly spring chickens before that. But by taking God’s plan into their own hands, they caused themselves great heartache and trouble. Their compromise resulted in marital trouble, and Ishmael and his descendants would certainly fulfill the blessing God revealed to Hagar. Whenever we think our plan is better than God’s and so plot¬†our own shortcut, it backfires. You can count on it. So stay the course. Follow God’s plan, even when your patience wears thin.

Genesis 15: In the Meantime and other ramblings

There is so much important stuff in Genesis 15 that it’s difficult to even express it all. Several years had passed, and yet Abram and Sarai had none of the offspring God had promised. Despite all that God had done for them in the meantime, it was entirely natural for them to question and doubt. Several things hit me in this chapter: Continue reading ‘Genesis 15: In the Meantime and other ramblings’

Copy Machine Setup and Repair

A few weeks ago, our church was blessed when the district office decided to give away its old copy machine. I jumped at the chance, and when I traveled that direction a couple weeks ago for a meeting, I took the opportunity to snag the thing.

Well, okay. I say “I,” but in reality, it took a couple of others. And there was a little more to it than just snagging the thing. Thank you to Mark J for helping me load it into the van, and to Tom K for helping me unload it! There is no way I could have done either of those tasks myself!

For the last several days, then, this copy machine has sat in the church library, waiting for me to set it up. And since I finished my seminary coursework yesterday, today was the day. So I went in and turned it on.

Error.

Actually, the machine’s display¬†said I needed to shut the machine down and call a service technician. But because I’m both cheap and dumb, and I knew a service call would be a couple hundred bucks and a few days, I thought I would save both money and time by seeing if I could fix it myself.

So I spent some time researching the error message on the internet, and right away, I found a site that claimed to know how to fix it. It’s really simple, they said. So I was hooked. I pulled out a few tools and started taking the back panel off. Something like 10 hex screws later…

The insides didn’t look like the picture.

The instructions neglected to mention that there were covers on the inside of the outside cover. So I pulled out a different screwdriver and started removed about 10 more screws. Then about ten more. And then three more with the first driver, followed by two more with the second.

Finally, the insides of the copier were right in front of me, and it was really just the inside of a computer tower. So I pulled out a couple of connectors and reseated them. Then I pulled out a few cards and re-installed them. Then I unplugged and re-plugged a couple of cords.

All following the directions I found on the internet, mind you!

And when I threw the switch, the copy machine came to life! Success!

So then it was time to replace all of covers and panels, along with the forty-ish screws I had removed, and the copy machine was ready for setup.

Little did I know that I had just done the easy part!

Anyway, the moral of the story is that a pastor wears many hats. Some of these hats, he/she was trained to don. For instance, Bible study, and even preaching to an extent. But I totally missed the “copy repair and setup” class in Bible college, and I haven’t seen it in the seminary catalog.

Add it to the long list of things I forgot to learn in Bible college.

One down…

That’s all, folks. Turn out the lights and shut the door. My first semester of seminary is in the books, and as of 11:59 pm last night, I’m on Christmas break. So I thought it was a good time to offer another update on the progress of my M.Div. at Wesley Seminary.

First, the answer to the question everyone is dying to know: No, I’m not pregnant. Oh, wait. Wrong question. Yes, I passed. As a matter of fact, I passed both of the classes in which I was enrolled this term: Missional Church and Change & Transformation. Now, understand, I do not yet have my final grades, but statistically speaking, there is no way I can fail. I will receive an A in Change & Transformation, and with one major score still outstanding, I am already well within the B+ range for Missional Church.

What did we learn in these last few weeks? Well, it was something of a flurry, to be honest! In C&T, we synthesized our own personal theory of how a person is changed and transformed by God over time into the person He desires them to be. And in MC, we ultimately formulated a strategy for moving our church from its present state into a thoroughly missional paradigm for ministry.

Of course, that doesn’t make any sense if you don’t know what a missional paradigm for ministry is. So let me explain: a missional paradigm for ministry means simply that the people of our church will be so intimately related with the people of the neighborhood that we will be able to identify and respond to any needs there, thus making the good news of Jesus truly good news to the people of the Lower Beaver Neighborhood!

Let me just say, we have work to do!

But for right now, I’m on break. Well, as much of a break as a husband, father, and pastor gets at Christmastime anyway! Over the next few weeks, I intend to do a few important things. First, I will sleep like a normal person. Second, I will catch up on some church and house work that I have neglected during the course of this semester. Third, I have three web projects that I will complete. And finally, I will complete a couple of essays which will (hopefully) allow me to skip a couple courses toward my degree. That will (hopefully) save some time and money!

Seminary Update

Because it was specifically designed for people already engaged in vocational ministry, a week of online classes at Wesley Seminary runs from Friday through Thursday. Generally speaking, we have homework due each Tuesday and Thursday. Early yesterday morning, as we embarked on Week 10 of this term, one of my professors sent an email to every member of our cohort, announcing that we had made it to the double digits. Midterm is now in the rearview mirror, and with just seven weeks (plus one week of break) remaining to the end of this first round of online courses, I thought it was time for another quick update. Continue reading ‘Seminary Update’

Politics.

I have a policy. I will happily discuss politics and political candidates as a private citizen, but I will not do so from the pulpit, as pastor. What I am about to say, therefore, are my thoughts. As Paul told the Corinthians, “I (not the Lord) say…”

Continue reading ‘Politics.’