Liberty Heights Church

February 11, 2006

In our church-hopping, we dropped in on Liberty Heights Church this past weekend.  Liberty is among the largest Southern Baptist Churches in the state.  However, they have had a recent string of setbacks.  They are currently without a pastor, as Terry Fields (the previous pastor) has taken a job with the North American Mission Board.  Their are without a Worship Pastor, since Rick Melson (with whom I have had lunch) left to join the staff of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis (and who would not want to go work with John Piper).

The church has moved into a new facility within the past year.  This property is at least 8 or more miles from their previous location.  A church is bound to lose some of its membership in moving that distance.  With the hits of losing all the platform staff, and the move, the attendance is considerably down.

In spite of all this, we really enjoyed the church.  The facility is gorgeous (of course a price was paid for it).  The kids programming seems to have remained strong.  The teacher for the day was a professor from Southern Seminary.  I did not realize in coming that I would know the worship leader, but the layman who was leading the worship did a great job under the circumstances.  I have been in his position, and I know some of the pressures involved with maintaining a full-time day job and coordinating a worship program.  The music was well presented, well led, and sincere.  The homily was well-formed with tremendous content and delivery (by an experienced teacher).

I would not be surprised if we ended up at Liberty.  For me, there is a little selfishness to it in that we can choose the level of involvement that we will take.  We can be a part of something that is dynamic, and we won’t feel pressure to do more than we want at present.  I have to test and try my motives if we choose to make this our home; but I think we could be happy here.  As with any of those visiting now, we would like to see who the pastor will be before we settle permanently.

Wednesday we returned to let the kids enjoy the children’s programming and so that we could visit the choir.  Choir is something that I have always loved.  I do not know that if I were to plant a church today that we would attempt to form a choir, but as an established ministry, it is something I love when done right.  They do it right at Liberty.  The music is dynamic and strong.

We will continue to pray for God’s direction in leading us to a new home of worship.  I have enjoyed the ability to visit around and see what other churches are doing; but at the same time, we really want to get settled.  It is not that I desire a place of attention in the service, but I know that God has gifted me, and I do not want to neglect those gifts.

A Leave of Absence

February 11, 2006

Hopefully I will catch up on some posts today.  I have been very busy with work.  There are certain pros and cons of working in front of a computer all day.  Unfortunately, one of the negatives is that when the day is up, you don’t always want to come back and catch up on all your personal stuff.  Then, when I do feel like it, I am torn by the desire to help and spend time with the family.  This week, for the good of all, my family has won and this explains my absence for a week.  I know that I have thousands of subscribers out there (ok, maybe 1 or 2) who have grieved my absence, but I am sure you will find much more interesting stuff out there to read.  Truth is, I do this more as a discipline to myself than any other reason.

When time does permit, my choice is read or write, and this week I have read more than I have written.  Today, I hope to blog about another book or two that I have completed.  Hang around, if I really think people might read this, I will be more motivated to continue to cultivate the discipline of writing.

Livid with Labels

January 28, 2006

I struggle with labels. I don’t know what label I even want put on me. There are certainly many labels that I would immediately reject, but no label is definitively specific.

In a conversation with some new (Christian) friends, the history of my vocation was discussed in which I told them that I was most recently on staff at a Baptist church. They quickly (without shame) responded to this with, “Oh, you’re one of those.” What was I to do, I was on the defensive now. I did not want to stand in support of what every person who labeled themselves a “Baptist” had done, nor did I want to disregard the many godly, compassionate, freedom-loving Baptists that I have been in fellowship with. Not to mention the fact that I do align most closely with Baptistic theology.
On another post this week, I made reference to “Community” churches and the lottery that is inherent in visiting one of these. You really never know what to expect.

Finally, I have had a few use the term “emergent” when referring to me. This has become a very loose term, and a label I do not currently wish to wear. The positions of those who would consider themselves emergent vary in drastic ways. If I were to be tied to someone in that movement, I would choose Mark Driscoll over Brian McLaren (although Mark probably does not use the emergent term in relation to himself, there are certainly many that have used the term of him.).

All of this thought today was prompted by an excellent and humorous response to McLaren by Driscoll on Christianity Today’s blog. Enjoy.

Amateur Electrician

January 23, 2006

I am by no means a professional electrician; however, in spite of that fact (which will soon become more obvious), I (at my wife’s request) took on the project of switching out our receptacles and light switches on the first level of our house (the upstairs is on a future to-do list).  This job isn’t shouldn’t be all that complicated.  Basically, you begin by shutting the power off to the items you are switching out.  Then, you take off the old making note of what wires went where, and then you add the new.

Our house is slightly over 7 years old, and there was no necessity in changing the pieces we were, except that we had the more traditional beige electic outlets and switches.  Our replacements were the more modern white, square receptacles and rocker-arm switches.

To make a long story short, at about 9:00 on Friday night, there was no power running to the first floor of our house.  Something was wired incorrectly.  Except for the stove light and our bathroom light, there was nothing working.  Basically, except for our bathroom (we have a first floor master) and the kitchen appliances, the rest of the first floor seems to run on just one breaker.  I don’t know what it is like at 9:00pm where you live, but it is dark here…very dark.  To add to my stress, Saturday was our son’s first birthday and my wife’s entire extended family was coming to our house.  A few of those family members were going to be seeing it for the first time.  Now the birthday party was at noon, and we have plenty of windows for light, but it was also predicted to be rather overcast.  Furthermore, I was not sure how keen the guest’s would be to using the guest restroom by candlelight…hey, at least it counteracts any odor….

Well, I took my flashlight to the basement and finally found that catch-all Home Depot book that I got when we were first married.  As I opened it, I heard the spine crack.  I guess I haven’t gotten the use out of this thing that I had hoped for.  I found the electrical section and began to look for things I might have done wrong.  I appeared to have done everything “according to the book.”  To be sure, I began to re-examine every bit of wiring I had accomplished thus far.  My wife, by this point in time, had retired to bedroom.  She couldn’t watch TV, because there was no power to it; so she just went to sleep.

I decided, I would go ahead and replace the last few remaining, and if nothing else, the wall plates would look nice in the sunlight.  During this process, I continued to make numerous trips up and down the basement stairs to the far corner to flip the breaker on, only to come back upstairs to realize it was not working.  Finally the last switch was replaced.  I took one last trip downstairs to turn things back on, and much to my surprise, everthing worked when I got back upstairs.  I can’t explain it.  The pieces that I had replaced since the lights went out, were pieces that had worked previously.  It didn’t make sense, but that didn’t matter.

I took a moment to clean and put the final screws in to mount the plates and finally crawled into bed.  The one highlight came at that moment when I realized I had to set my clock.  The clock was blinking 12:15, because it had been 15 minutes since I had flipped the lights on with success.  I checked my watch for the correct time, and it was 12:15.  I had ironically turned the power back on at midnight.  I went ahead and bumped the time on my alarm clock forward 9 minutes (the length of my snooze), but I did not set the alarm.

Got the job

January 15, 2006

To those who may be following my current job situation, I finally signed the paperwork this week to finalize things with a job. I will be doing the same job that I was doing 4 weeks ago. Except that now, I will be an employee (of the contracting company) and not simply an independent contractor. The pay was cut significantly, but the benefits are excellent. I have faith that God will provide for us, and/or teach us better how to manage our resources. My tentative start date is January 23. The best thing of all, and don’t be too envious, is that I will be able to work entirely from my home office. I may go into work on occasion, but who wants to drive an hour for a job you can do from your home.

The King of Torts

January 15, 2006

Ok, I confess, “I’m a glutton for Grisham.” I just finished The King of Torts. I also bought his most recent, The Broker, today. I may or may not read it next. I have only a few that are unread: The Broker, The Chamber, The Client, The Runaway Jury, and A Painted House. Considering the fact that he has written 18 novels and just started my obsession just over a year ago, I think I have done well. According to his website, John Grisham’s is working on a non-fiction book now. It is somewhat ironic that I found this out today, because I picked up Nicholas Spark’s Three Weeks with My Brother today as well. This is another instance of a typically-fiction author moving to the non-fiction genre.

I don’t do a lot of fiction reading. In fact, until this year, my reading had been almost entirely theological and practical Christianity. I picked up Grisham’s Skipping Christmas, last holiday season (2004-2005), and I have been addicted. Oddly enough, the first book of his that I read was not a typical one.

This year, I am attempting to read more and read broader. I have no less that 6 books that I am currently working on. The problem for me is deciding which ones to read when. I also have a tremendous habit of starting, and even getting halfway through a book, and never finishing. I hope to knock out about 4 this week.