Thursday, April 15, 2010

Reading Luke weekly

Part of sermon preparation each week for me is to read through the entire book of the Bible through which I am preaching. I will read through that book every week at least once. I began a series I am calling Investigating Christ which will take us through the Book of Luke over the next year or so.

I challenged the congregation to join me in reading through the Book of Luke each week. If read silently, the average reader can read through the book in approximately 2 hours. I have had many who have taken the challenge. Yes, it's early, but I believe we will see many carry through. If you are one that has taken the challenge, I can say with confidence God has some amazing things He will teach you through this book on this life of His Son. If you miss a week for some reason, don't let that get you down. Pick it up again the following week.
I got several emails about this challenge, but I wanted to share one with you that can help you with the project. I received this from a member of ClearView. It really helps to break reading up into smaller, bite-sized pieces.
"How can I possibly find time to read thru the entire book of Luke every week for the next year?"
24 chapters; 4 chapters a day for 6 days with Sundays off ; 2 chapters in the morning - 10 minutes; 2 chapters in the evening - 10 minutes.

"But my day is already too full; I just don't have 20 minutes to spare"
Get up 10 minutes earlier and go to bed 10 minutes later; Your body will never know the difference.
Turn off the news after the top stories; You'll be back before the weather.
Read it on the treadmill; You'll be done before you break a sweat.
Download it to your ipod and listen on the way to work - ; They're going to play the 3 songs you missed 5 more times today.
Facebook junkies: Read it online - bookmark ; you're 3 clicks away and you'll be back before your chat friends notice you're gone.
Do you REALLY want to be the one who doesn't raise your hand when Mark asks who read thru Luke this week?
Thanks Todd!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Reflections on Piper's decision

I have admired John Piper's ministry from a distance for some time. Anyone who can plant his life in a church for 30 years has some things to teach us all as pastors. Last Sunday John Piper made an announcement to his church that he is taking an 8 month leave. You can read about it here.

I have a desire to stay where I am pastor for at least a couple of decades. So, I have reflected on this decision by John Piper more than once over the past few days. Here are a few random thoughts as I have done so.

1. My family (especially my marriage to Leigh Ann) is front and center. If I lose my marriage, I lose my ministry. More than that, if I lose my marriage I lose my most prized earthly possession. I must be intentional about cultivating my relationship with my best friend.

2. Guard my heart (soul). John doesn't share details but he does point to pride in his soul. What a wake-up call. There is a great nugget in Proverbs 4:23 Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life . I am still working through what this means.

3. The church is more than one man. Trust me, no one is more keenly aware of this than I. However, I sometimes catch myself, in weaker moments, thinking "it all depends on me". If someone of the stature and visibility of John Piper can step away, it is obvious he has done a good job of leading a group of people to not be dependent on him, but on the Lord. That is my heart's cry for ClearView.

4. Accountability is vital to long term health of a leader. I would add, especially a pastor. The elders of Bethlehem have obviously been a major part of helping John make his decision. A man who stands alone will not stand for long.

5. Transparency. John has been transparent with his church about the fact that he is working through some things. There is a delicate balance a pastor must walk. Share enough that people understand you are human (which should keep you humble). Yet, not so much that people think your life is falling apart. A humble strength. I think this is what is termed "meekness" in Scripture. I am still wrestling with what to do with this one, but transparency for John is a part of who he is as a pastor / leader. John mentions a culture of transparency at Bethlehem. How do you create that? Is length of time as a pastor a factor in doing so? Trust is obviously a key factor. You can't be transparent with someone if you think they are going to hit you over the head with it.

The primary lesson for me is not to fall asleep at the wheel of my own life. I admire John for sharing this with his church. And I appreciate his church for being an example of what it looks like to want the best for her shepherd.

God bless you John. And God bless you Bethelehem Church.