Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Book Store

Be sure to check out my new book store in the side bar. I have personally read, viewed, or listened to everything listed and reccomend it. It's an amazon.com store, and if you buy from me I get credit with them. It doesn't cost you any more, but it enables me to buy more books so I can reccomend them to you. Click on an author's name to view the books they have written that I am listing. Feel free to look around. Thanks.
AE

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Another Fun Quiz

You scored as Moltmannian Eschatology. J├╝rgen Moltmann is one of the key eschatological thinkers of the 20th Century. Eschatology is not only about heaven and hell, but God's plan to make all things new. This should spur us on to political and social action in the present.

Moltmannian Eschatology

95%

Amillenialist

95%

Preterist

45%

Postmillenialist

35%

Premillenialist

15%

Dispensationalist

5%

Left Behind

0%

What's your eschatology?
created with QuizFarm.com


*This week's real post is below
AE

Friday, June 24, 2005

the gospel of workcamp

I am tired. For the past week, I've been involved with the Mid Ohio Valley Workcamp. Dana and I served as site leaders for a group of teens that painted one of 41 houses in the area.

The house belongs to a gentleman in his 90's. Over the course of the week, he told us about the 3 years he spent in the service. He told us about the time he spent in Africa in the war. He explained (several times actually) how horrible it was. More than once he said that if he had to stay there one more day, he didn't think he would have made it.

On the day we started the job, all we did was scrape the loose paint off of the house. This is a tedious process, and the house always looks worse after you do it. At the end of that day, the home owner said "This is the best thing that has ever happened to me. These kids have done more for me today than my family does for me in a year."

He told us that his son dropped by with some suggestions about how to paint the house. Then he said "I guess he thinks I'll be gone soon. He just wants it to look good so he can sell it. If he comes by and tries to tell you how to do anything, you just tell him to go jump in the lake."

Sometimes in telling us stories about the war and his family, his language would get a little colorful. He would catch himself and then say "I'm sorry. I don't like to swear, but I've got a lot in my life to swear about."

On the last day, as we were finishing up his house, the owner came back outside. He told us that he wanted to be sure that he thanked us properly. More than once he tried to get us to send him a bill. He just couldn't believe than anyone would do anything like this for him for free. Then, he told a few more stories about the war...about his friends who died "over there". After a few of those stories, he paused for a second as he teared up. "You know," he said, "when I see what these kids are doing, I think maybe those 3 years in Africa were worth it."

The Kingdom of God is a peculiar thing. The kids I work with learned things this week that I can't teach them. The community learned things about what God is like this week without ever cracking a Bible. This week, in spite of all our failings, we were the gospel to each other, our community, and to a 90 year old veteran.

2 Cor. 3:3
You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.


AE

Thursday, June 16, 2005

God The Father

*CLICK HERE for a sermon by Adam based on this post

Have you ever noticed the the contrast in the way people percieve God in the Old and New Testaments? It's quite striking, actually. For example, depending on your translation of the Bible, you will see God referred to as "LORD"(in all caps) or "Jehovah". In fact, "LORD" is just a replacement, and "Jehovah" is actually a transliteration of the hebrew name for God, which was YHWH. You may have heard this pronounced as "Yahweh", but to be honest, that is just a guess. The interesting thing is that hebrew actually contains no vowels. They are simply supplied by the speaker. The hebrews felt like God was so unapproachable that they shouldn't even pronounce his name. Over the years, the actual pronunciation was lost. We honestly have no idea how to even say it.

We tend to take the idea that God is our Father for granted, as if it was always the perception. Interestingly enough, the word "father" occurs roughly 691 times in the Old Testament, but only 13 of them refer to God (some of which are prophesies referring to a later time, such as "I will be a father to them".) Isaiah and David are the only 2 people in the entire Old Testament who refer directly to God as a Father.

Now, contrast that with the New Testament. The word "father" occurs roughly 388 times. A whopping 250 of them refer directly to God. About half of them come directly from the mouth of Jesus (which may be part of what got him in so much trouble). So, one of the things that Jesus does is to shift the perception of God from being unapproachable to that of a father. However Jesus doesn't stop there. He starts referring to God, not only as "our father" (note: not JUST his father), but as "Abba". This is an aramaic term that small children used to refer to their fathers. The most literal english translation is "Daddy". Not only does Jesus use this term himself (Mark 14:36), but the apostle Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit calls out to God as "Abba" from inside our hearts (Gal. 4:4-7) and that we, as children of God have the right to relate and refer to God in that same way (Rom 8:15-17).

In addition to being Father's Day, this Sunday is also my daughter's 2nd birthday. Every time Emma calls me "Daddy" I learn something new about my relationship with God. Every interaction with her sheds new light on the relationship He wants to have with me. I give her a hug and a kiss every morning before I leave for work. Every morning she follows me to the door and says "more kisses!" I melt every time. The other day after I got home, I walked by her in the living room and she said "I missed you today, Daddy". I had to wipe my eyes.

And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 18:3-4

Happy Father's Day.

AE

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Fun Quiz. Results No Surprise.

You scored as Emergent/Postmodern. You are Emergent/Postmodern in your theology. You feel alienated from older forms of church, you don't think they connect to modern culture very well. No one knows the whole truth about God, and we have much to learn from each other, and so learning takes place in dialogue. Evangelism should take place in relationships rather than through crusades and altar-calls. People are interested in spirituality and want to ask questions, so the church should help them to do this.

Emergent/Postmodern

89%

Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan

79%

Neo orthodox

71%

Classical Liberal

46%

Roman Catholic

36%

Fundamentalist

32%

Charismatic/Pentecostal

25%

Reformed Evangelical

25%

Modern Liberal

25%



What's your theological worldview?
created with QuizFarm.com

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Grandaddy

I just got the word that my grandfather, Gene Ellis, has been diagnosed with mesothelioma . According to the doctors it is endstage and the prognosis is weeks, maybe months. My Grandparents divorced when I was very young, and Grandaddy was the one that we wound up not seeing as much (not for any particular reson besides convinience). Even so, He has always gone to great lengths to make sure we know he cares about us. He is a quiet and unassuming man who has always worked hard. All of this is very unexpected. My dad was with him when they gave the results of the tests. I think this is hitting him hard as well. Please pray for my grandfather and his wife (who is in a nursing home). Please pray for my Dad.
AE

P.S. I have decided to disable anonymous comments due to a few mean-spirited coments that I recieved. I always welcome questions and even disagreement, but comments that are not civil will be deleted and ignored. If you would like to make a comment, but aren't registered with blogger, please take the time to create a blogger profile. I am sorry for any inconvinience.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

My 4 Goals In Youth Ministry

Starting a new job has given me a chance to reflect on and solidify my ideas about what it is that I am trying to do/facilitate as a youth minister. I have come up with 4 key goals that I am trying to move students toward:

1. Revolution
Revolution is a very useful word to me in youth ministry. I can mean a complete turn around, which is an obvious goal when it comes to some students. But, even more than that, we are trying to inspire these students to be revolutionaries: to buck the world's systems, to stubbornly live lives of love in the face of a world that says power, control, money, and the like are the things that matter. We want them to follow in the footsteps of Jesus (the most radical rebel the world has ever seen) in turning the world right side up. Our ministry will not JUST be about "getting kids into Heaven" or (worse yet) "keeping kids out of Hell." While the afterlife is a reality (and an incredible one at that), it simply isn't the point. We want to inspire revolutionaries who, even at a young age, radically pursue God's dream for the world.

2. Authentic Faith
Inherited faith, whether from a youth minister or your parents, is in a word: "useless". In our ministry, we desire to foster an atmosphere that produces real and vibrant faith. We believe that this can be accomplished not by providing easy answers, but by wrestling with good questions. Truth isn't afraid of questions (even when answers aren't forthcoming). Therefore, we will challenge ideas (even good ones). We will deconstruct things that are false (even from our own tradition). We will claim truth wherever we find it and whoever says it because "All truth is God's truth. There is no other kind." (note: we are not referring to things that just claim to be true, but rather to things that actually are.) We will not attempt to construct a belief IN God out of our beliefs ABOUT God. Instead, we choose to believe that God IS. Once that is established, we have some ideas about Him. Even if those ideas prove to be mistaken (because how can someone with a 3 1/2 lb. brain ever claim to fully comprehend God?), God still IS. We will wrestle with scripture, even the parts that make us uncomfortable (for that discomfort is where you grow). We will not attempt to explain everything so that it all makes sense. We walk by faith, and not by sight.

3. Discipleship/Apprenticeship
We believe that Jesus in not simply the means by which you get to Heaven after you die. We believe that He actually knows what He's talking about. We believe that He is the wisest and best person who ever lived (who else would God be as a person?) and is the expert on all things related to living. We desire to inspire students to become apprentices of Jesus. We want them to follow Him in His way of life. We want them to try to be the people that Jesus would be if He were them. We don't believe that Christianity is all about knowing and agreeing with the right information. We don't believe that judgment day will involve a standardized test. We belief that God will ask "What did you do with what I gave you?" There is no better answer than "I followed Jesus".

4. Shalom
I just don't think the term "fellowship" really communicates what we are supposed to reach for. The Hebrew concept of Shalom seems to get at it a little better. The best way to define shalom in English would be "peace" or "harmony". It is a two way, complimentary relationship, and we will try to inspire students to seek it in 3 ways:
-Shalom with God.
We want students to seek a life that is in harmony and peace with God. We want them to live in a two-way interactive relationship with the Father that adores them and wants to bless them and bless the world through them
-Shalom with people
We want students to pursue a life that is in harmony and peace with those around them, both in the church and outside of it. We want them to reflect the unity and love that exists between the members of the Trinity in their own faith community. We want them to reflect love and grace to the world around them. We want them to live lives worthy of the respect of whomever they come in contact with.
-Shalom with creation
This is the charge that God gave to Adam and Eve in the garden. I can't find anywhere in scripture where He changed his mind about it. God created the beautiful world around us. What a slap in the face it must be to Him when we abuse it.

The breaking of Shalom in any of these 3 areas is sin.

For better or worse, this is what I think youth ministry is all about. It is what I pursue and what I feel called by God to do. With His help, may it be so.
AE