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German report on the Catholic Church

I just couldn’t resist posting this… it was too funny. Credit to James Taranto at Best of the Web Today.

“More than three-quarters of Germans want the successor of Pope John Paul II to be less ‘rigid’ about sexual morality and end the Church’s ban on contraception, according to a poll published Saturday,” Deutsche Welle reports:

About 78 percent of those surveyed said they were in favor of the Catholic Church ending its ban on contraception, and 76 percent wanted the next pope to authorize the use of condoms as part of the fight against the spread of AIDS, the poll said.

In addition, 77 percent of respondents said they wanted to see the ordination of women as priests and 74 percent think that imposing celibacy and chastity on priests is no longer expedient.

So, the Germans think the Roman Catholic Church is too conservative? Isn’t DW about 487 years late on this story? Coming next: Germany’s low-carb weight-loss craze, the Diet of Worms!

it’s a blog…

I’ve made the switch today from my old blog to my new blog. Don’t get too confused; this blog hasn’t really been here since back in December. I just copied some of my old blogger entries over here to give this one a nice “lived-in” feel. 🙂

I will do my best to keep this updated. If you read this, post a comment so I know it’s being read! And remind me if I haven’t updated in a while…

it’s a blog…

I’ve made the switch today from my old blog to my new blog. Don’t get too confused; this blog hasn’t really been here since back in December. I just copied some of my old blogger entries over here to give this one a nice “lived-in” feel. 🙂

I will do my best to keep this updated. If you read this, post a comment so I know it’s being read! And remind me if I haven’t updated in a while…

it’s a blog…

I’ve made the switch today from my old blog to my new blog. Don’t get too confused; this blog hasn’t really been here since back in December. I just copied some of my old blogger entries over here to give this one a nice “lived-in” feel. 🙂

I will do my best to keep this updated. If you read this, post a comment so I know it’s being read! And remind me if I haven’t updated in a while…

the joys of web design…

I’ve been on a web page design kick lately. First it was with my church’s web page. The updates I made to it never hit the web; you can look at to see how badly it needs it. I think we’re actually going to go to using a professional design site ( for our web pages; it’s worth the cost to get a professional-looking site, and they offer some great features.

I got set up as a webmaster on a separate site last week; I’m setting up a site for my pastor’s Reconciliation Ministries. It’s still in progress, but I’m learning a lot. The last time I did web page design was about 5 years ago (check this page out… scary!) before they had cool things like css. I just bought a book on CSS and DHTML last night and it’s going to save my butt when it comes to doing web pages.

Anyhow, I’m a long way from being a professional, but it’s fun to use my skills once in a while. Girls only want boyfriends who have great skills. 🙂

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.