Friday, July 30, 2010

25 Years - early memories

Being asked by a Board member during my interview what I thought about "picture shows" (movies)? The implication being I shouldn't think anything but bad about them and not encourage people from the church to attend movies.

Telling Heather that even though I had accepted the church's offer to become their Senior Pastor I had no idea what they were going to pay me. Salary never came up in any of our discussions and I didn't think it was right for me to bring it up.

Feeling really young since just about every adult in the church was older than me and wondering how I was going to lead and pastor people who had me beat in years, experience, and wisdom.

Being told in the first few weeks by two elders that even though they thought highly of me they did not vote for my coming because they thought I was too young and couldn't do the job.

Driving up to Willamette Falls Hospital on my first day on the job to visit an elderly man from the church, walking into his room, and being told by his wife who was standing over him that he had died just a few minutes earlier. I did my first funeral before I preached my first sermon.

Sitting at my desk in my office trying to figure out how to schedule my time, set my priorities, work by a list of goals, and find out from God what I was supposed to preach on as I got started.

Choosing the book, Well-Intentioned Dragons, to read with my elders in hopes of setting the expectations by which we would serve together ( gives this description of the book -
"Every church has them - sincere, well-meaning Christians who leave ulcers, strained relationships, and hard feelings in their wake. They don't intend to be difficult; they don't consciously plot destruction or breed discontent among the members. But they often do undermine the ministry of the church and make pastors question their calling. Based on real-life stories of battle-scarred veterans, Marshall Shelley presents a clear picture of God's love for those on both sides of the problem. He describes tested strategies to communicate that love and turn dissidents into disciples."

Setting a first-year goal of visiting every family in their home for the purpose of interviewing them regarding their feelings about the church and assuring them of my love and hope for the future.

Encountering more hurt and wounded people than I expected to find, quickly realizing my limitations, and learning to pray out of desperation, fear, and longing.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Jonathan Edwards

Jonathan Edwards (October 5, 1703 - March 22, 1758) has been called America's greatest theologian and most influential thinker. During his life time he worked as a parish pastor, missionary, and college teacher. He published many books and works which have never gone out of print and are widely read today.

One of my goals this summer is to both read about Jonathan Edwards and read him. A couple of months ago I read Jonathan Edwards And The Ministry Of The Word: A Model of Faith and Thought by Douglas A. Sweeney who has published a number of works on Edwards and knows his subject well.

This morning I started reading Jonathan Edwards on Beauty edited by Owen Strachan and Douglas Sweeney from The Essential Edwards Collection published by Moody Publishers. The book has five chapters on the beauty of God, Creation, Christ, the Church, and the Trinitarian Afterlife.

Edwards identified seven attributes that demonstrate God's beauty - eternality and self-existence, greatness, loveliness, power, wisdom, holiness, and goodness.

I was struck by something Edwards wrote about God's goodness, "God delights in the welfare and prosperity of his creatures; he delights in the making of them exceeding happy and blessed, if they will but accept of the happiness which he offers." Edwards asserted of God's goodness, "this is goodness that never was, never will, never can be paralleled by any other beings." When kings give good things to their subjects, "they do but give that which the Almighty before gave to them."

According to Edwards God's greatest gift of goodness is seen in the giving and self-sacrifice of his Son for the sin of the world. "There never was such an instance of goodness, mercy, pity, and compassion since the world began; all the mercy and goodness amongst creatures fall infinitely short of this."

It is plain to see that I am going to feast on Edwards over the next several days. He is God-centered in a manner in which few of us are today.