elder = older?

I’ve had several conversations lately regarding the qualifications for being an elder in the church, specifically in regard to how much a man’s age should play into that qualification. I’m still wrestling with the answers myself.

Let me start out by giving some background: I am 28 years old, and an “elder apprentice” in my church. That basically means that we have identified that I have the gifting of an elder and the desire to be one. The apprenticeship entails attending elders meetings, and performing any tasks they assign me. I’ve been helping lead Bible studies, have preached a couple times, and have had a lot of input on the administrative side of things (which is where my gifting really is). We have 4 elders right now (including the 2 pastors) in a church of about 200. There are two of us that are starting our second year of apprenticeship.

So, back to qualifications before I add my 2 cents. On one hand, the qualifications given in Timothy and Titus don’t mention age at all. They do mention:

  • Without reproach
  • a “one-woman” man
  • self-controlled
  • hospitable
  • able to teach
  • not given to drunkenness
  • gentle
  • not quarrelsome
  • not a lover of money
  • a good manager of his own family

There’s nothing there about age at all. In fact, in 2 Timothy, Paul specifically tells Timothy to not let people look down on him because of his youth… and we can be certain that Timothy was an elder in the assemblies he founded. So, I don’t see that “youth” (however that is defined) is a disqualification.

My wife is of the opinion that men should at least be somewhat older – enough to have a family and some track record with how they manage their household. I didn’t ask her then how single men would meet that qualification, but it seems like a reasonable question. My wife’s bigger concern is just how much time it’ll require of me if I become an elder… but that’s an entirely different subject.

I had a discussion last night with an older woman whom I have a good deal of respect for. She is the mom of a good friend of mine, a woman who has raised 7 great kids and dealt with a difficult husband for 30+ years. She is prone to having slightly odd views on some things, though, so I take everything with a grain of salt.

Her opinion was that to truly perform the “shepherd” function of eldering, a man really needs to have the experience that comes with age. She thought that maybe in one’s 60’s does one finally have the experience necessary to be a good shepherd. She has seen younger guys attempt it, and has seen them chewed up and spit out by churches that they were not ready to handle. She agreed with me that the gifts that an elder may have (i.e. teaching, administration, etc) should be used immediately, but that the true “eldering” (by which I think she means shepherding) requires people of a more senior age.

I’m really trying to understand where I fall on the subject, seeing as it affects how I want to serve in the body. Of our 4 elders right now, only 1 would fall into the “60-and-above” category that my friend suggests. He is over 70, recently suffered a stroke, and is struggling to see how much he can still serve in that role as he goes through rehabilitation. Two others are 50-ish, and the third is almost 40. They’re all in different places in their lives and walks, some of them are more gifted at administration, others at teaching, but I see all these activities as “shepherding” in a way. So I just don’t think I can accept the “60-and-above” rule.

My bigger question is whether I am ready. My spiritual walk could use improvement; I feel like I should work on that before thinking I’m ready to be an elder. Otherwise I think I meet the 1 Timothy 3 qualifications. But I’m not very senior. But the elders think I’m qualified and would be a good fit sometime in the next year or two. I guess I’ve got to keep praying about it.

My real wish is that there were a few more senior mature men who could step in as elders so I didn’t feel like I was so “needed”. I would be happy to see a couple other guys in those roles, teaching and mentoring guys like me, so that maybe in 10 years I’d be in a better place to step into the role myself. But those guys don’t exist in my church. There’s only two who want to/are qualified to be apprentices. We’re it. The church needs shepherding. I don’t want to resist that call.

Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places…

A book by this title was given to my by my pastor last week; we are “kindred readers” with an affinity for Eugene Peterson’s practical written wisdom. I got no further than the introduction last night. This was partly due to my early morning and long day; but moreso due to my captivation with the poem from which the title came. It is an untitled sonnet written by Gerard Manley Hopkins, a 19th century poet and priest.

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying What I do is me: for that I came.

I say more: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: that keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is —
Christ. For Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.

This poem intrigues and delights me in ways I haven’t yet been able to describe very well. But I think that it captures the essence of living out our lives in the Spirit every day. Christ “plays” throughout each of us as we live in Him. I am challenged this morning to meditate on Christ, and see how He might play out even more through my life.

I’ll try to provide updates as I work my way through Peterson’s book.

Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places: A Conversation in Spiritual Theology

another year older…

Has it really been 3 weeks since I’ve posted? Good grief! No wonder nobody reads my blog…

Well, we’ll make this a general information-type post and maybe it’ll be easier to write. 🙂

Yesterday was my 28th birthday. Didn’t do much very exciting; work all day and then meetings at church until 8:00 last night. We’re going to go out for dinner tonight, so we’re not avoiding partying, we’re just delaying it.

Becky got me a Kyser Partial Capo (which I’ve been thinking about buying for months and never have…) so I’m really excited about that. Maybe this afternoon I can head home and try it out. I’ve seen other people use them to great effect in performances, and I’m hoping I can do the same. She also got me one of those plug-it-right-into-your-TV video game things, it has Pac Man, DigDug, and Galaxian. I do so love the retro games.

So all in all it wasn’t a bad birthday. Birthdays, as a whole, change in tone as you get older. When you’re a kid, you look forward to it for weeks, it’s the most exciting day of the year (save Christmas), it’s a huge deal. Now at 28, my birthday was really just another day. And that’s OK with me. It is fun to have an excuse to go out for dinner and maybe buy something I’ve been drooling over for a while… but then I can do that other days, too. So that’s my ho-hum attitude this March the 15th. Don’t think I’m complaining… I’m just learning to recognize the joys of every day.

overcoming first impressions

Wednesday night was worship team practice as usual. It went really well. The team has been sounding really good since the addition of our bass player, David.

David is one of those guys who I severely underestimated on on first impression. He is short and kinda scrawny, has a littly oily ponytail, rarely shaves, his hands are shaky… the kind of guy I’d figure has a lot of needs, won’t contribute a lot. Not that I’m criticizing people like that; they need to be in the church, and we need to help them to learn and grow; but that’s just the impression I got from him. Then I heard he plays bass and wanted to join the worship team. So I said sure, come to practice… and boy was I suprised.

Ends up David plays bass with a jazz trio a couple nights a week, and he’s really good. The first night at practice he asked “how do you forsee using me here?” What a question on the first night from a guy I don’t know! So I asked him, “what are your talents?” Well, he likes to do arrangements. So I asked him to do an arrangement so we could try it out.

The next week he came in with a two-page jazz arrangement of “What A Friend We Have In Jesus”. Beautiful stuff. I stumbled through the sight-reading of the piano part (jazz has never been my forte), thinking he might be a bit disgusted at my poor skills. But he was more excited than the proverbial kid in the candy store. We have practiced that arrangement every week since then, and will be performing it for the first time this Sunday. I’m sure as soon as he’s happy with this one he’ll be cranking out another one. What great enthusiasm!

David has quickly become one of my most faithful worship team members. I’m looking forward to seeing how God is going to use him to help develop the group… I see lots of good things in store. He will serve as a constant reminder to me to look past first impressions.

Are online friends weird?

I spend quite a bit of time hanging out at the online message board called “The Rumor Forum“. It is a group of people who are loosely grouped as fans of the group Caedmon’s Call. Many of them have known each other for several years, have attended concerts and other get-togethers as a group, and in general are pretty good friends in real life. I, on the other hand, just started hanging out there about a year ago, haven’t met any of them, etc. And yet somehow I find myself drawn in, wishing for acceptance and looking forward to each day’s interaction. Why?

If I could answer that question, it’d make my wife happier for sure, and might even make me happier… although I’m not that grumpy to begin with. 🙂 I don’t know why it’s addicting. I don’t know why I consider these people friends… and yet I do. Is it weird to have a friend you’ve never met in person? Is it strange to consider interactions carried out entirely through your web browser as “friendships” in the first place? Such are my random thoughts on this Saturday morning.

I’d really like to meet some of these people. One of them might be coming to town on business sometime this spring, so I could get together with him for dinner or something… but many of the others may be people that I never really “know”, whose only face I see is the little avatar they put next to their online posts, whose history I know from reading their blogs… kinda weird, I guess. I’d like to meet some of them for real. Somehow it would validate some of the thoughts I’ve had towards them, which would be nice. And hey, it’s always nice to make more friends… my friend list is rather limited, although I consider that the way God has it for now, rather than a complaint.

Foolish?

“God assumed from the beginning that the wise of the world would view Christians as fools … and He has not been disappointed.”

This insight was voiced by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia recently while addressing a Knights of Columbus gathering. Scalia is a staunch Catholic, and while I won’t agree with all of his religious beliefs as part of the Roman Catholic church, he has this one exactly right. Paul wrote about this in First Corinthians chapter 1:

20Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.

As Christians, we are constantly told by the world today that we are stupid for believing what we do.

Aren’t you smart enough to know that evolution is the way it happened and that creation is a myth? Are you so stupid as to believe that there is a God who is all-powerful? Have you yet to gain the understanding that we are the ultimate arbiters of what is moral? Come on, how stupid can you be?

At times I find it disheartening; at times only frustrating When I gain the correct perspective, then I can finally look past the insults and criticism to realize that I have a knowledge (through no merit of my own) that they don’t have, and regardless of how they ridicule me, it is still my duty to proclaim what I know to be true.

I look at it this way: if I were walking by somebody’s house and saw it burning, they’d want me to come tell them so they could escape. But what if I was walking by and somehow knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that their house was burning, even though they didn’t understand why. Wouldn’t I still have the moral imperative to tell them? If this were the case I would also be trying anything in my control to try to help them to understand how I knew.

In the case of my beliefs, they won’t be able to understand unless the Spirit enables them to respond to the message. However, I still have the moral imperative (and the command from God) to keep speaking the message, even if I am called a fool for saying it.

Here’s where I have to do some self-evaluation. I generally don’t like to be thought a fool. (Who does?) While I’m not willing to go change my beliefs so people won’t think I’m stupid, I too often keep my mouth shut when I really shouldn’t… thus providing the impression that I’m not a fool, when if I told them what I believed, they’d think I was. I think I need to open my mouth more. I’ll have to pray for the boldness to do it.

Scalia again:

“If I have brought any message today, it is this: Have the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity. Be fools for Christ. And have the courage to suffer the contempt of the sophisticated world.”

Consider yourself challenged. I know I am.

Old music… great memories

So I got an iPod for Christmas… and of course the next task is ripping all of my CDs to mp3s so I can put them on the iPod. That was a task in itself. I’m almost done… (done with all the popular music, about halfway through the classical.) So then I got curious and started wondering about converting all the cassette tapes that I’ve got… (there’s not as many as the CDs, only probably a dozen that I’d care about converting, but still…)

So I researched it a bit online and figured out that by running a cable from the headphone jack of my tape deck into the line in input of my PC, I can record those old tapes. And the free dBPowerAmp software is really slick for recording them; it will automagically sense dead time between songs and split it out into separate mp3 files… too cool. So, now that the geek in me was satisfied with my use of technology, I could get on to recording all of my high school tapes. And that was the scary part.

I was a big Michael W. Smith fan in high school. So of course some of the first tapes to get converted were his albums The Big Picture, Go West Young Man, Change Your World, and The Live Set. (To be fair, a couple of those were done when I was middle-school-aged… and I just picked them up in high school. :-)) And then there were a couple old Amy Grant albums, and Michael English’s two good albums that he released before his confession-of-an-affair-and-returning-all-his-Dove-awards debacle. And an old Steven Curtis Chapman album or two.

If you’re reading this and recognize all these names, then you’ll also recognize that my musical scope was a bit limited in high school; my folks were pretty adamant that Christian music was the only choice (although jazz and classical were also OK), and I was remarkably content with that. The downside is that now as an adult I feel like I missed a few things… but that also makes for neat discoveries. I got the 2-CD set The Essential Bob Dylan this weekend and I’m enjoying it immensely. Probably wouldn’t have appreciated it when I was 17.

What a difference a decade makes.

OK, so I’m not posting often enough…

Or so my sister tells me. Of course, she’s 17, a senior in highschool, and has the time to keep up her blog. But the least I can do is actually give it a shot. Don’t know how interesting it’ll be, but I’ll give it a try. This will probably be more informational than thoughtful, but if info’s what you’re after, then you’re all set.

I watched a couple interesting high-school movies the other night: the recent Napoleon Dynamite, and then Ghost World, which is 4 or 5 years old. Napoleon Dynamite is a hit among some of my friends, and I wasn’t sure what I’d think of it. I laughed at parts, and was generally amused by the whole thing. It’s one of those films thatmy wife just rolls her eyes at (“that’s two hours I’m never getting back”) but I enjoyed the pastique of the high school life. It certainly sums up the experience of being a loser in high school. And I just have to have appreciation for a movie where basically no one is a decent actor in the whole movie, and that’s almost the point; the guys just have blank-faced stares the whole time. Am I rambling here? Have I made any sense? I dunno. Yep, that’s pretty much the movie.

Ghost World was different. It was snappy, incisive, and incredibly profane. But at the same time it painted a good picture of two girls headed different directions in life, and their search for life after high school. While the language/dialog probably prevents me from recommending this to everyone, I really enjoyed it.

I don’t know why the sudden interest in high school movies; I was home schooled and never went to high school. I guess I’m reverting back 10 years for a little while. 🙂

So that’s the interesting news from my life today. Now it’s back to work.

OK, so I’m not posting often enough…

Or so my sister tells me. Of course, she’s 17, a senior in highschool, and has the time to keep up her blog. But the least I can do is actually give it a shot. Don’t know how interesting it’ll be, but I’ll give it a try. This will probably be more informational than thoughtful, but if info’s what you’re after, then you’re all set.

I watched a couple interesting high-school movies the other night: the recent Napoleon Dynamite, and then Ghost World, which is 4 or 5 years old. Napoleon Dynamite is a hit among some of my friends, and I wasn’t sure what I’d think of it. I laughed at parts, and was generally amused by the whole thing. It’s one of those films thatmy wife just rolls her eyes at (“that’s two hours I’m never getting back”) but I enjoyed the pastique of the high school life. It certainly sums up the experience of being a loser in high school. And I just have to have appreciation for a movie where basically no one is a decent actor in the whole movie, and that’s almost the point; the guys just have blank-faced stares the whole time. Am I rambling here? Have I made any sense? I dunno. Yep, that’s pretty much the movie.

Ghost World was different. It was snappy, incisive, and incredibly profane. But at the same time it painted a good picture of two girls headed different directions in life, and their search for life after high school. While the language/dialog probably prevents me from recommending this to everyone, I really enjoyed it.

I don’t know why the sudden interest in high school movies; I was home schooled and never went to high school. I guess I’m reverting back 10 years for a little while. 🙂

So that’s the interesting news from my life today. Now it’s back to work.

OK, so I’m not posting often enough…

Or so my sister tells me. Of course, she’s 17, a senior in highschool, and has the time to keep up her blog. But the least I can do is actually give it a shot. Don’t know how interesting it’ll be, but I’ll give it a try. This will probably be more informational than thoughtful, but if info’s what you’re after, then you’re all set.

I watched a couple interesting high-school movies the other night: the recent Napoleon Dynamite, and then Ghost World, which is 4 or 5 years old. Napoleon Dynamite is a hit among some of my friends, and I wasn’t sure what I’d think of it. I laughed at parts, and was generally amused by the whole thing. It’s one of those films thatmy wife just rolls her eyes at (“that’s two hours I’m never getting back”) but I enjoyed the pastique of the high school life. It certainly sums up the experience of being a loser in high school. And I just have to have appreciation for a movie where basically no one is a decent actor in the whole movie, and that’s almost the point; the guys just have blank-faced stares the whole time. Am I rambling here? Have I made any sense? I dunno. Yep, that’s pretty much the movie.

Ghost World was different. It was snappy, incisive, and incredibly profane. But at the same time it painted a good picture of two girls headed different directions in life, and their search for life after high school. While the language/dialog probably prevents me from recommending this to everyone, I really enjoyed it.

I don’t know why the sudden interest in high school movies; I was home schooled and never went to high school. I guess I’m reverting back 10 years for a little while. 🙂

So that’s the interesting news from my life today. Now it’s back to work.