Missing the Boat?

I just read a book review on Christianity Today online that got me thinking. It’s about the book, The Pastor Theologian and contained this quote:

“Today,” Hiestand and Wilson write, “we find ourselves in a context where to be a theologian is, almost by definition, to be a professor in the academy. And to be a pastor is, almost by definition, to be anything but a theologian.” Most pastors act as “passive conveyors of insights from theologians to laity. A little quote from Augustine here, a brief allusion to Bonhoeffer there. That’s all.”

I wonder if they are really paying attention to what’s going on in churches (American churches at any rate) today? I do hear references to Bonhoeffer sometimes and a very occasional quote from Augustine (by the way I’m pretty sure most if not all those quotes taken from secondary sources not the writings of Augustine or Bonhoeffer themselves.)

What I hear a lot more of today are ideas, quotes and entire messages taken from “successful” Mega Church Pastors and passed along. Or, even more often, pop psychology quickly dipped in a Bible verse or two and then passed off as “meaningful” and “relevant” insights.

I have nothing against being relevant mind you as that’s something always on my mind as I prepare messages. But what I am more concerned about is being authentic and true to God’s Word. Teaching things taken from others that you aren’t at least trying to live out yourself is just plain wrong.

I don’t see anything wrong with Pastors becoming more theological at all. It would probably be a good idea if we can also stay grounded in both the Word and real life. Perhaps having more Pastor do theology would help do that.

Beyond and besides that I hope and pray that more of us in the Ministry (and I include myself in this) can become more authentically honest with our churches and our selves, and also grow deeper in our faith. That way we might be able to turn our churches around and help them become places of deep faith, love and grace all centered on Jesus.

Missing the Boat?

Sacrifice & the Atomic Bomb & Jesus

[This is a recap of my communion meditation, 8-9-2015]

This past week was a week of history. Last Monday Tsutomu Yamaguchi, the only man who survived both the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki died. He did so just before the 70th anniversary of both events.

Mr. Yamaguchi fled Hiroshima after surviving the first A-Bomb and went to stay with family in an out of the way place he was sure would be safe; Nagasaki. Didn’t work out quite the way he thought it would now did it?

The amazing thing is that he not only survived both attacks, but lived for 70 years afterwards. He was either one of the luckiest men who’ve ever lived or one of the unluckiest depending on how you look at it.

While Mr. Yamaguchi was dealing with the impact of all this my Father was in the Pacific on the island of Guam. As part of the 6th Marine Division he was training and preparing for the invasion of Japan. An event neither he nor his buddies expected to survive.

According to Dad they had been told they’d lose one Marine for every square foot of ground taken in the initial invasion of Japan. Historians can argue all they want about it, but that’s what the men who’d be on the sharp end expected to happen.

Like everyone they wanted to live but fully expected to die. Yet everyone of them was willing to make that sacrifice for their country. They didn’t have too because of the two bombs that were dropped on Japan 70 years ago. Dad, and all the men I’ve talked with who where there at the time, could not believe they were actually going to survive the war. (For more info on Dad’s experience check out his book.)

There was plenty of sacrifice on all sides of the war, as there is in all wars.

When I think of sacrifice I always think of the ultimate sacrifice Jesus made for us. No one commanded him to do it. He was completely free to walk away from it, yet he went to the cross and suffered in full so that forgiveness, freedom and eternal life would be available to any and all who believe.

That is sacrifice, that is love. Jesus loved the world even though the world rebelled against God’s will and knowing that rebellion would continue even to today, over two thousand years later.

That didn’t stop him though, because he wasn’t driven by results he was driven by love. Love always leads to sacrifice for the good of the beloved. Let’s give thanks for all who make sacrifices for us. May we let the Holy Spirit of God transform us into the image of Christ so that we will sacrifice for the good of others. Above all, let us never forget the sacrifice of Jesus, and continually submit our lives to him.

Sacrifice & the Atomic Bomb & Jesus

Diet Details & the Few Things That Really Matter

This post is tied to my August column at Parker Live Online which you can read here . I wrote about losing weight there, and thought I’d deal with the details and the never ending diet scams here.

The question I’ve been asked the most in the last year, and it’s been asked over and over again, is, “What diet are you on?” It seems like almost everyone who sees you losing weight, assuming you are actually doing that, want to know the “secret.”

Well here it is – There isn’t one.

The truth is that if you burn more calories that you take in over an extended period of time you will lost weight. I don’t care if you are young or old, male or female, or what your race is. It’s a scientific fact that burning (losing) more energy (calories) than you consume (eat or drink) over a period of time must result in your body burning fat (or in extreme cases muscle) which results in weight loss.

Now that’s what I call settled science!

Here’s the real secret: It doesn’t matter what diet you use (as long as it’s a fairly healthy one of course. Don’t go on the only eat oranges diet unless you want your skin to turn orange shortly before you either die or become one!).

I always tell people to use whatever diet seems to work best for them. Whether it’s a program like NutriSystem or one of the thousands of other decent diets out there doesn’t matter at all. There is NO “magic bullet” diet that guarantees success.

Whether we succeed or fail lies within ourselves not our diets!

In the last decade or so I’ve lost a ton of weight twice. In between of course I gained everything back I lost the first time and then some. I used different diets and they both worked. Even more amazing the first diet was one I made up on my own. I called it the “Low Choice Diet” because I basically ate the same thing for each meal for about a year or so. I don’t recommend it because but it worked.

This time I’ve lost 84 pounds in about 11 months by simply reducing my calories and doing a lot of walking. That’s it. I used two apps that really helped me out. I’m sure I couldn’t have done as well without them. They are free and available on both Android and Apple. The diet one is called Lose It, and to track my exercise I used Map My Walk.

Both were educational as to how many calories are in food (one popular restaurant has a salad with over 1000 calories!!!) and just how long a mile really is ( a whole lot longer than I thought when I started!).

If you choose to use those two apps you’ve got just about all the expert advice you need.  You can skip all the fads and ignore, if that’s possible, all those annoying diet ads on TV too. [Will someone kindly tell Marie Osmond to please shut up!?]

All that’s left is making a real choice to do it. This is the kind of chose that aligns your heart, mind and soul pointing them towards the goal. It’s the type of decision that you make not just for now, but for the future. You need to decide now that you are going to do this, you are not going to cheat so there’s no need to even consider it past this point and that you are in this for the long haul.

And then you take things one day at a time. You endure the ups and downs as someone who’s already made the decision to do this, and as the old hymn says, there’s “no turning back, no turning back.”

When you think about it this is a very Christian approach to things. Jesus told us to take things one day at a time. But that doesn’t mean I just meander around from day to day not knowing what’s going on. Jesus certainly didn’t do that. If there has ever been a man on a mission with a very particular point of view, that man was Jesus of Nazareth.

We make a firm, total, holistic and holy decision to follow Him and from that point we live day by day.

Ditto with my diet, or anything really. Take your time, get yourself aligned, and then when you know you’re ready, make that quality decision, and launch yourself into your future. No need to worry about the diet because you’ve already settled that issue.

All you have to do is trust Jesus for the grace you need day by day, and rely on the Holy Spirit’s power to carry out that quality decision you’ve already made.

This is low stress, high quality, Christ centered, Bible based living.

So far it’s working well for me. I’ll keep you posted!

Diet Details & the Few Things That Really Matter