This going to work every day again has been a difficult adjustment. The biggest adjustment has been reacquiring some skill sets that I previously had mastered, but lost due to atrophy. It is true–use it or lose it. Here are some things I need to work on:

1. The important skill of remembering to turn your iPhone to airplane mode if you intend to use it to read scripture during a worship service. Easter Sunday it was still dark (and rainy) when the sunrise service began, so I thought myself clever using my iPhone to read the scripture because of the backlight. In the middle of Isaiah my phone asks me if i want to update. I tell it no. It asks if tonight is good. Rather embarrassing.

2. I had forgotten how hard announcements are. I flubbed them up royally yesterday, and even had to rearrange on the fly. Once upon a time announcements were seamless to me and I spoke the language of “put on your calendars” and “you will not want to miss” as if it were my mother tongue. Now I stammer and stutter all the way through.

3. Time management is the hardest. I grossly overestimated how much time I had between small group and worship service yesterday.

Another skill to reacquire is keeping my eyes open while preaching.

The result was we started everything several minutes later than we intended, thus pushing everything late.

4. Temperature control, for me, is vital. If I get too warm when I am preaching my throat gets hoarse, I cough, and then I feel myself losing energy. That happened yesterday because I did not make certain the thermostat was set at the right temperature. By the time I left the building, I was in need of hydration and a throat lozenge. I used to be on top of things like that, but somehow along the way I’d forgotten.

5. I didn’t make it to the back of the building quick enough on any of the first three weeks. That has got to change, because I have found, through the years, that a lot of pastoring happens at the back of the door after a worship service.

There are other things I’ve got to re-learn, but these are the ones that are bothering me on this Monday morning.


Since I no longer work on Sundays, I find that I am a little more reflective.  When I pastored a local church, Sunday was a grueling marathon that required skill, determination, and preparation just to survive.  Now, though, I can hear more and listen better.  Here are two things that I heard yesterday that stuck with me.

Control is an illusion.

Our small group had a wonderful discussion about trusting in the Lord and not giving in to the temptation to worry.  Worry stems from a desire to control.  But really, we control nothing.  Therefore, worry is futile.  The Lord is in control, and the only appropriate response is faith.  As with so many truths, this is much easier to say than to do.

I’ve been thinking about the things in my life that I am guilty of worrying about, and it is not a pretty sight.  I have much to work through.


Never hate your enemies.  It affects your judgement.

This comes from the mouth of Michael Corleone.  Last Sunday we watched The Godfather and The Godfather Part II at a double feature in one of Austin’s old movie houses with some dear friends of ours.  Yesterday, I watched The Godfather Part III here at home.  Now, The Godfather Part III is rather poor, especially compared to the glory of the other two.  Sofia Coppola almost single-handedly destroys this film.  Nevertheless, this line about not hating your enemies, shouted from a helicopter just before a mafia boss meeting stuck with me.  Corleone says don’t hate your enemies.  Jesus says love your enemies.  The two statements are not the same.

Michael CorleoneOnly a fool doesn’t admit he has enemies.  I don’t have as many as I used to–or more to the point, my enemies are no longer relevant in my everyday life.  However, learning to love them is still hard and I have not quite mastered that.  I don’t hate them, but I am a long way from loving them.





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Wednesday night I finished our last small group of the spring semester.  Most of groups will break for the summer (although we will still have a Sunday morning “study” option during the summer).  During the spring we have been studying Amos.  Someone said, “I love my small group, but I was beginning to hate Amos.”  Everyone (besides me) seemed to agree.  What she meant was that Amos is a real downer.  The whole book could be summed up as “Israel–you’re terrible and now your going to die forever.”  Even the remnant speech at the end is about Judah, not the northern kingdom.

Contrary to my group, however, I dig the book of Amos because so much of it is ethics.  Amos spends most of his time calling out the injustices that Israel (and other peoples, including Judah) have committed.  Here is my survey of the ethics in Amos.

1. Unprovoked violence against other nations is wrong. (1:3)

2. The enslavement of other people is wrong. (1:6)

3. Violation of covenants (treaties of peace) is wrong. (1:9)

4. Murder of innocents (unborn babies) is wrong. (1:13)

5. Believing the lies others tell (naivete) is wrong. (2:4)

6. Slavery of your own people is wrong. (2:6, 8:6)

7. Ignoring the needs of the poor is wrong. (2:7, 4:1, 5:11, 8:4)

8. Usury is wrong. (2:8, 8:6)

9.  Refusing to do justice is wrong. (5:7, 15, 24)

10. Taxing the poor is wrong. (5:11)

11. Taking (and offering) a bribe is wrong. (5:12)

12. Living in luxury with no concern of others needs is wrong. (6:1-6)

It is for these violations that Amos screeches the loudest and it is for these violations that Israel is being punished. Notably, it is because of the people’s unethical behavior that the Lord hates their religious practices and literally ignores their prayers (5:21-24).  Amos makes rousing statements that the Lord has rejected the worship and ritual of Israel not because of the form or method, but because their behavior was so unsustainable.

It is not our worship or our doctrinal statements that earn God’s blessing.  It is the way we treat one another and the way we treat other human beings.  The weak, the helpless, the hurting, the poor, the alone and the needy are people created in the image of God just as we are.  If we say we love God, then these people will matter to us.

I could expound on the application of these for many words but I’ll only share two thoughts today.  First, the international aspects of ethics seems to be something our culture needs to pay attention to now.  Treaties, drones, wars, economic sweat shops, and protests in far away places are all ethical issues.  The second thing that strikes me is that much of what passes as politics in the United States is actually ethics.  Euthanasia, welfare, homelessness, banking, abortion, and war are all essentially ethical questions.  Part of the problem we have (in the United States) is that the left is biblical on some issues like welfare, workers rights, and suspicion of banking but the right is biblical on other issues like abortion, euthanasia, and prosecution of criminals.  There is no biblically consistent ethical block in our political landscape.





I am finally getting around to reading the Fall Leadership Journal.  I know, I better hurry because the Winter copy will soon be here.  I’ve tried to read them on my iPad, but there is such a lag time between the release of the print version and the digital one.  I don’t know why that is so.  My administrator and I are certain it is Lifeway’s fault.

But, back to the topic.  I didn’t get very far before I found an interesting article on possible location changes for church services and/or Bible studies.  The main article was about having Bible studies in bars or pubs.  Not a bad idea all around, I think, but the main question I have is who is going to pick up the tab?

The article went on to list possible venues and locations for studying different books of the Bible.  Here was their clever list:

The Zoo: Genesis

County Jail: Exodus

Butcher Shop: Leviticus

Courthouse: Judges

Burger King: Chronicles

Dairy Queen: Esther

Hard Rock Café: Psalms

Aquarium: Jonah

Doctor’s office: Luke

Community Theater: Acts

Stadium: Romans

Synagogue: Hebrews

The Beach: Revelation

Now, their list got me thinking, so I made my own list that was specific to the Pacific Northwest.

  • Hoh Rainforest: Genesis
  • Moses Lake: Exodus
  • Microsoft: Leviticus
  • Chateau St. Michelle: Judges
  • Seattle Downtown Library: Chronicles
  • Queen Anne: Esther
  • Experience Music Project: Psalms
  • Orcas Island: Jonah
  • Amazon Headquarters: Luke
  • Pike’s Place Market: Acts
  • The Space Needle: Romans
  • Starbucks: Hebrews
  • Mt. St. Helens: Revelation

I made a bonus one, Ezekiel: Boeing.  I’d like to hear some of your ideas . . . so comment away!