The process of the Christian life…

Was reading today and found this wonderful quote from Martin Luther describing the process of the Christian life. It challenges and encourages me…

This life, therefore,
is not righteousness but growth in righteousness,
not health but healing,
not being but becoming,
not rest but exercise.
We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it.
The process is not yet finished, but it is going on.
This is not the end but it is the road.
All does not yet gleam in glory but all is being purified.

What’s in a name?

We’re holding some church leadership strategy meetings this summer, and one of the big topics is the proposal that we change the name of our church. It’s a big step – we’ve been Noelridge Baptist Church for almost 50 years. But the times, they are a-changin’. The denomination with which we’re loosely affiliated (Conservative Baptist Int’l, ‘CBI’) has mulled over a name change for the last year or so and settled on WorldVenture. The rationale for the name change is that when you poll the population at large and ask for church-name-type words with bad connotations, right at the top of the list are both “conservative” and “baptist”. Two strikes against you before you even get started. We have discussed it for a while and decided that Baptist has got to go. But what will we change it to?

Our leadership group at these meetings is comprised of eight of us: our four elders (two of whom are the staff pastors), two elder apprentices (of which I am one), the chair of the deacons (my friend Steve), and the chair of the deaconesses (my wife). (Did I mention we’re a little bit involved in our church? πŸ™‚ ) Anyhow, our group is pretty well split on naming philosophies right now. Our senior pastor (by far the dynamic leader of the group) is in favor of something more seeker-friendly, and is a big fan of something perhaps in Latin that will pique the interest of seekers. (Think of Imago Dei in Portland, for an example.) I think that both of us apprentices and probably the elder chair would go for that.

But then there’s the other side. Steve and John (the youth pastor) and Becky are all on the opposite side, thinking that a “foriegn-sounding” name will just turn people off; that they’ll go “huh? what’s that? can’t even pronounce it!” and that’ll be it. John (I love ya’, bro) likes to play the stupid card: “well you guys may be rocket scientists, but I’m just a simple guy and I wouldn’t even know how to spell it if you told it to me…” It drives me nuts sometimes. He’s not that simple. πŸ™‚ Anyway, their vote would be for something simpler, like “Peace Church” or “Potter’s Clay Community”. Sure, the names are simpler, but to me they don’t inspire the awe or interest that some other type of name would.

So there’s our dilemma. We will be making a change, but to what? Do you, the reader, have any ideas? Here’s the list of everything that was proposed yesterday at our meeting.

Peace Church
Peace Community
All Souls Church
All Souls Community Church
Last Baptist Church
Community of Faith
Glory of God Community
Image of God Community
Potter’s Clay Community
Last Chance Church
Last Stop Church
Noelridge Church
Gratia Dei Church
Charis Deo Church
Pax Dei Community
Imago Christi Community

Do any of them strike you as good or bad? I’ll take all of the input I can get.

What’s in a name?

We’re holding some church leadership strategy meetings this summer, and one of the big topics is the proposal that we change the name of our church. It’s a big step – we’ve been Noelridge Baptist Church for almost 50 years. But the times, they are a-changin’. The denomination with which we’re loosely affiliated (Conservative Baptist Int’l, ‘CBI’) has mulled over a name change for the last year or so and settled on WorldVenture. The rationale for the name change is that when you poll the population at large and ask for church-name-type words with bad connotations, right at the top of the list are both “conservative” and “baptist”. Two strikes against you before you even get started. We have discussed it for a while and decided that Baptist has got to go. But what will we change it to?

Our leadership group at these meetings is comprised of eight of us: our four elders (two of whom are the staff pastors), two elder apprentices (of which I am one), the chair of the deacons (my friend Steve), and the chair of the deaconesses (my wife). (Did I mention we’re a little bit involved in our church? πŸ™‚ ) Anyhow, our group is pretty well split on naming philosophies right now. Our senior pastor (by far the dynamic leader of the group) is in favor of something more seeker-friendly, and is a big fan of something perhaps in Latin that will pique the interest of seekers. (Think of Imago Dei in Portland, for an example.) I think that both of us apprentices and probably the elder chair would go for that.

But then there’s the other side. Steve and John (the youth pastor) and Becky are all on the opposite side, thinking that a “foriegn-sounding” name will just turn people off; that they’ll go “huh? what’s that? can’t even pronounce it!” and that’ll be it. John (I love ya’, bro) likes to play the stupid card: “well you guys may be rocket scientists, but I’m just a simple guy and I wouldn’t even know how to spell it if you told it to me…” It drives me nuts sometimes. He’s not that simple. πŸ™‚ Anyway, their vote would be for something simpler, like “Peace Church” or “Potter’s Clay Community”. Sure, the names are simpler, but to me they don’t inspire the awe or interest that some other type of name would.

So there’s our dilemma. We will be making a change, but to what? Do you, the reader, have any ideas? Here’s the list of everything that was proposed yesterday at our meeting.

Peace Church
Peace Community
All Souls Church
All Souls Community Church
Last Baptist Church
Community of Faith
Glory of God Community
Image of God Community
Potter’s Clay Community
Last Chance Church
Last Stop Church
Noelridge Church
Gratia Dei Church
Charis Deo Church
Pax Dei Community
Imago Christi Community

Do any of them strike you as good or bad? I’ll take all of the input I can get.

What’s in a name?

We’re holding some church leadership strategy meetings this summer, and one of the big topics is the proposal that we change the name of our church. It’s a big step – we’ve been Noelridge Baptist Church for almost 50 years. But the times, they are a-changin’. The denomination with which we’re loosely affiliated (Conservative Baptist Int’l, ‘CBI’) has mulled over a name change for the last year or so and settled on WorldVenture. The rationale for the name change is that when you poll the population at large and ask for church-name-type words with bad connotations, right at the top of the list are both “conservative” and “baptist”. Two strikes against you before you even get started. We have discussed it for a while and decided that Baptist has got to go. But what will we change it to?

Our leadership group at these meetings is comprised of eight of us: our four elders (two of whom are the staff pastors), two elder apprentices (of which I am one), the chair of the deacons (my friend Steve), and the chair of the deaconesses (my wife). (Did I mention we’re a little bit involved in our church? πŸ™‚ ) Anyhow, our group is pretty well split on naming philosophies right now. Our senior pastor (by far the dynamic leader of the group) is in favor of something more seeker-friendly, and is a big fan of something perhaps in Latin that will pique the interest of seekers. (Think of Imago Dei in Portland, for an example.) I think that both of us apprentices and probably the elder chair would go for that.

But then there’s the other side. Steve and John (the youth pastor) and Becky are all on the opposite side, thinking that a “foriegn-sounding” name will just turn people off; that they’ll go “huh? what’s that? can’t even pronounce it!” and that’ll be it. John (I love ya’, bro) likes to play the stupid card: “well you guys may be rocket scientists, but I’m just a simple guy and I wouldn’t even know how to spell it if you told it to me…” It drives me nuts sometimes. He’s not that simple. πŸ™‚ Anyway, their vote would be for something simpler, like “Peace Church” or “Potter’s Clay Community”. Sure, the names are simpler, but to me they don’t inspire the awe or interest that some other type of name would.

So there’s our dilemma. We will be making a change, but to what? Do you, the reader, have any ideas? Here’s the list of everything that was proposed yesterday at our meeting.

Peace Church
Peace Community
All Souls Church
All Souls Community Church
Last Baptist Church
Community of Faith
Glory of God Community
Image of God Community
Potter’s Clay Community
Last Chance Church
Last Stop Church
Noelridge Church
Gratia Dei Church
Charis Deo Church
Pax Dei Community
Imago Christi Community

Do any of them strike you as good or bad? I’ll take all of the input I can get.

Mr. Murphy works on Sundays

Mr. Murphy and his dang-blasted law were working busily yesterday. It was certainly one of those mornings.

It started off innocently enough, just another Sunday morning, with its usual hassles. It didn’t really start to go downhill until about 10:15, when I was trying to fit the pastor with the new earpiece microphone. It’s supposed to bend to fit to your ear. It bent just a little, and then… *snap*. It just broke in two. We’re talking a $400 microphone here. It’s still under warranty, so I’m hopefuly they’ll replace it. It shouldn’t just snap like that. We switched the pastor to the regular lapel mic and that went OK.

So then I ran back into the sanctuary to hook up the laptop to the new projector (which we used for the first time last week) to show some announcements before the service started and then to run the slides for our song lyrics. First, I couldn’t turn on the projector until Sunday School (which meets in the sanctuary during the summer) was over… and it ran late, didn’t end until 10:28 for a 10:30 service. So finally I turn it on, only to read with with horrified eyes, “NO VIDEO SIGNAL DETECTED”. Arrrgh. No time to debug, gotta switch to plan B. Fortunately the old overhead projector was still sitting in the back of the room, under the coat rack.

Sam was kind enough to grab it for me so I could go start my piano prelude. He also pulled the overheads for the songs we were singing. Becky agreed to run the overheads for me. We got the service started about 5 minutes late. When we finally got to the singing portion, the second song was supposed to be Open the Eyes of my Heart. I’m in my usual tuned-out, eyes-closed mode. After singing the first couple lines, I look up at the screen to see it… blank. I look over at Becky and see a helpless look on her face – Sam had mistakenly pulled the overhead for Open Our Eyes instead of Open the eyes…. I kinda stopped mid-song and apologized. But folks know the song, and were singing pretty well, so we just continued sans lyrics. I think it ended up working OK but I was so dang frustrated it didn’t really matter to me at that point.

I pulled out the ladder afterwards to check out the projector and I still don’t know why it’s not working. I tried a different laptop, but still no signal detected. Today I’m going to try a different monitor cable and see if that’s the issue. There’s not that many links in the chain, so I should be able to localize it…

…oh, and next time, Mr. Murphy? Take Sunday off.

random Saturday thoughts

So, it’ 8:30 on Saturday morning and I’m sitting here in the dining room watching Laura finish her breakfast. Her normal schedule is 16 oz of formula in the morning, but she’s drinking out of a 7 oz bottle. That means the real trick for mom and dad is to notice when the bottle’s getting empty so we can refill it before she throws it on the floor. Then she’ll eat her Cheerios, so I guess she’s doing like I do and having her bowl of cereal in the morning, she’s just having it separately whereas I put my milk and Cheerios together. πŸ™‚

I think it’s going to be a fairly slow Saturday, which will be nice. Just some odd tasks to complete around the house, and I need to go to the music store and buy a new microphone boom since mine at church has totally stripped out and won’t hold my mic up. Oh, and I have to type up the powerpoint slides for tomorrow’s church service…. such are the hazards of getting a new projector.

Well Becky just got up now so I suppose that means it’s time for the day to start. Thank God for weekends. πŸ™‚

are you trying to teach me something?

Within the last 7 days I’ve heard three separate sermons from the same passage. This doesn’t happen all the time. Well, for starters, usually I don’t even hear three sermons in a week. But the Moody conference last week gave me 12 general session messages to choose from. And when I get three in the same week, I think it’s time that I sit up and listen a little more closely.

The third sermon of the bunch was from a guest speaker at our church on Sunday. It honestly wasn’t even that interesting, was pretty shallow. But, it got me turned back to that passage. The other two messages were from D. A. Carson and Tony Evans. Now those will get your attention. πŸ™‚

The passage in question is Ephesians 3:14-21:

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith–that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Tony Evans laid it out this way: Paul is praying for us to have more intimacy with Christ. Intimacy provides capacity, and the capacity provides power – God’s power. In other words, if we are lacking intimacy with Christ, our capacity for God to work in our lives is diminished. On the other hand, if we pursue intimacy with Christ, our capacity for God to work in our lives is increased, “more abundantly than all we ask or think”.

D. A. Carson, though, had the illustration while teaching this passage that will stick with me the longest. His question was this: why does Paul pray that “Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” when he’s talking to Christians, who presumably already have Christ in their life? He told this story, which I’ll paraphrase in the first person:

“When my wife and I bought our first house, it was what they call a “handyman’s dream”. You know what that means… it needed a lot of work. There was black and silver wallpaper in the bedroom. The previous owners had two dogs who were rarely let out – there was still dog poo in the corners of the house. The walls were dingy. It needed lots and lots of work. When we bought the house and moved our stuff in, it was ours, we lived there, but we didn’t really inhabit the place yet.

“But as we continued to live there, we starting working on the house. We knocked down a wall to expand the kitchen. We painted. We took down the black and silver wallpaper. We cleaned up the dog poo. Had we stayed there longer, we undoubtedly would have built on an addition when the kids were born. After some period of time, we could step back, look at the house, and say, ‘wow, we really live here.'”

This, Dr. Carson says, is the difference Paul is talking about in Ephesians 3. When we first accept Christ, our lives are a lot like that handyman’s dream house. There’s black and silver wallpaper on the walls. There’s dog poo in the corners. (“Dog poo” is an exact quote from Carson, by the way. :-)) Christ is living there, but He doesn’t really “inhabit” the place in the way that Paul means. What God wants to do is to clean us up, to do that painting, take down the wallpaper, and remodel the place so that our Christ is really inhabiting our lives.

This illustration was the most striking, insightful picture to me from the whole conference. I want to let Christ continue transforming my life, until it just radiates from me that “Christ lives here”. With three sermons in a week, I think God was trying to tell me something. I hope I’m paying enough attention.

…and the streak is at 6

You gotta love the Chicago Cubs. They brought a guy up from Triple-A to start last night’s game against the Dodgers, and he gets a win in his first major league start. He was the tenth different starting pitcher the Cubs have used already this season, and we’re only two months in!

For as miserable as the season has seemed at times so far, the Cubs are 3 games over .500, in second place in the NL Central (6.5 games back), have the league’s leading hitter in average, (tied for the lead in) HRs, and RBIs (Derrek Lee), and have managed to bang out 6 wins in a row, including a series sweep of the Dodgers.

I’m a happy Cubs fan this morning. πŸ™‚

projecting, part 3

Last time I updated on the projector saga, I had just put in an order for the new projector. That was a few weeks ago. Let me fill in the details.

The projector was delivered on the 13th of May, COD. Even this was convenient; our church treasurer’s wife works for FedEx, so she was able to hold our package for a couple days until her husband (the treasurer) could get the check cut. The long-throw lens came a week later, on the 2oth. I was excited to work on it, built the shelf to mount it and had everything ready to install the projector on the 21st. My in-laws were here visiting at that point, so my father-in-law was available to help.

Installation really wasn’t that tough. I was a bit worried about getting the cables run through the attic and down the wall, but that went very smoothly. I did end up having to make three trips to Ace Hardware (fortunately only about 8 blocks away) to get the right screws to mount the shelf, but in the end everything was placed nicely. I got the long-throw lens mounted, put the projector up, powered it on, and waited with breathless anticipation.

Of course, it never works the first time. I could see that it was sending a picture, if I put my hand in front of the lens, I could see the picture in miniature on my hand. But the lens seemed utterly incapable of throwing the image the 45 feet to the screen. So it’s Saturday afternoon, and of course nobody’s home at the tech support number. So, I left them a message to call me on Monday, and gave up for the day.

Monday they called me while I was in the car on the way to Chicago for the pastor’s conference. They confirmed it was the right lens, and told me that there was another lens adjustment I needed to make. Then I had to wait until Friday when I got back to test it. Sure enough, adjust the other thing, and it works beautifully.

So we used the projector for the first time during the worship service on Sunday. We looped some announcements before & after the service, and then displayed the song lyrics during the service. The response was overwhelmingly positive. There are a few little things we can work on, of course, but over all it is a smashing success. One benefit I had not counted on was how much easier the slides are to read than the old transparencies; some of our old folks apparently were having difficulty reading the overhead, but never said anything to us. Now they can read it clearly.

Thus ends the saga of the projector. Join us next time when Sam says, “Gee, I wish I had two displays so I could see a preview of the upcoming slides in addition to the main display…” Next year’s budget, Sam, next year. πŸ™‚

Musical Baton

And so today the musical baton was passed to me by Jeff Holland. It seems like a fun idea, but it will be agonizing to have to make some of these choices…

Amount of music on your computer?

OK, this one is easy, thanks to iTunes. 4123 songs, 12.8 days, 15.03 GB. That’s basically my entire collection – now how much of it I regularly listen to is an entirely separate question – it would be a much shorter list. The total list is bloated by a bunch of classical stuff and then my wife’s albums (things like the entire collected works of Jim Brickman, Best of Air Supply, other stuff to scary to admit is on there…)

Currently listening to?

Hurry, Sleeping at Last, Ghosts

Five songs that mean a lot to you?

Wedding Dress, Derek Webb
This springs to mind almost instantly; to me it embodies that spirit of brokenness and repentance that I constantly need to have before God.

Somewhere North of Here, Caedmon’s Call (Derek Webb :-))
One of my favorite CC songs, one of the early ones that hooked me.

There aren’t many others that come to mind, so let’s see what iTunes says I’ve been listening to…

Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright, Bob Dylan
I was introduced to this song by a guy I know who sings in my favorite coffeeshop. It’s good, simple, early Dylan.

Say, Sleeping At Last
Not necessarily even my favorite Sleeping At Last song (that probably goes to Currents, but it’s the first one on the album, and so it gets played the most.

I Get A Kick Out Of You, Jamie Cullum
The young Brit sensation covers an old Cole Porter song. A fun big-band-type arrangement with some good piano work thrown in. I have a huge appreciation for guys like Jamie who have gone back and revived the old big band and jazz.

Top five albums?

Oh gosh, this is a tough one.

Long Line of Leavers, Caedmon’s Call
This was my first taste of Caedmon’s, and still, I think, my favorite overall album. If only they could have left off Valleys Fill First

The House Show, Derek Webb
OK, this is a cop-out – it’s not either of his actual studio albums, but it’s live, which kicks it up a notch in my book, it has the best of She Must and Shall Go Free, and it includes Derek’s cover of Bob Dylan’s Every Grain of Sand, which is one of my favorites (of Derek’s, not of Dylan’s).

Ghosts, Sleeping at Last
This one has grown on me a ton since I first listened to it. It’s the direction that I like rock music to go, and I reserve it for either times when I need to tune out at work (which must be often, seeing how many times I’ve played the album) or while I’m driving with the windows down in the car.

When Harry Met Sally Soundtrack, Harry Connick, Jr.
Here’s my nod to the jazz and big band that I love so much. To think that Harry was early 20’s and recording this album just blows me away. I fell in love with the mellow saxophone solo on Love is Here to Stay way back in high school and it’s still one of my favorite songs. And the piano solo version of Winter Wonderland just makes me shake my head in wonder. Good stuff.

Photographs, Andrew Osenga
I always skip Kankakee and start the album off with Kara. From there on, it’s solid all the way through New Mexico at the end.

A Rush of Blood to the Head, Coldplay
OK, so I’m listing six albums. I couldn’t decide between Andy O and Coldplay, so you get both. This one gets a lot of playtime, too.

Last album bought?

It’s hard to remember. I think it was Eric Clapton’s Unplugged, which is a very fine album. I just had somebody give me a copy of Andrew Peterson’s Behold the Lamb of God, and it’s top-notch as well.

Recent discoveries?

Jamie Cullum, Andy Osenga, and Sleeping at Last all appeared on my radar about 2 years ago.
Sandra McCracken was a nice discovery earlier this year. (Don’t know why I neglected to buy her stuff for so long…)

Passing on the musical baton.
Let’s see…
Silly Joe
Amber
Richard
Danielle
Chris from L.C.