Sunday, April 26, 2009

So what are you?

We took a quiz this morning (picture of it below) during the worship service on the gifts Paul lists in Ephesians 4, gifts he says were given to every person who is a follower of Jesus.

Click "comment" below and leave you name and your gift. It may seem silly, but putting your name down is a way to take accountability for how God made you, and that's a first step toward significance.

Here's the key if you want to score yourself.

Teacher: #1, #6, #11
Shepherd/pastor: #2, #7, #12
Evangelist: #3, #8, #13
Prophet: #4, #9, #14
Apostle: #5, #10, #15

You can take a much more comprehensive quiz online here.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

(unrelated) questions I've asked today:
Why do so many people have a bad taste in their mouth for God?
Exactly how often does leadership involve apologizing?

Walls are coming down

Literally. We are tearing down walls for our kids.

When we're done, we'll have a space that:
  • will seat 100 kids for Children's Church and double as a great meeting space for everyone else. It'll be state of the art.
  • a welcome area where parents can check kids in and know that they are safely taken care of.
  • will have a play area with lots of fun elements for kids to play on.
  • will hace a redesigned nursery-5 year old space with a safer and more efficient check-in system.

  • Kevin Rodell, monster electrician and hard-working animal came in Monday night and led a few crazy men in knocking down walls. Ken Busch is leading the crew that's putting the new walls up and Danny Harmon is organizing the whole shebang. A design team has been meeting and paint and decoration will soon be going up.

    Thank these guys when you see them. Better yet, bake them something or name your first born after them.

    Pics below. Before, this was a long hallway and a bunch of small classrooms. Now, there is space to breathe. Welcome to the future of The Grove: Our ministry to the kids of our community.

    The future check-in/play area.

    ABOVE & BELOW: The new children's church space. Day 1-5 of deconstruction. The stage will go where the black is covering the window.

    BELOW: Construction flotsam and jetsam.

    Can you paint? Build? Move material? Breathe? We need you. Click here to send an email to Danny if you are willing to volunteer your skillz (yes, I spelled that with a "z." Much cooler that way). His email is if your computer can't use that link.

    A boy and his dog

    This is Hudson's dog, Mystery (hey, I didn't name him). Hudson thought he deserved a safe ride too.

    Good Parenting.

    This is how far away our son currently sits from the table.

    This is what we feed him.
    We are unbelievable parents who will never scar our children.

    Wednesday, April 22, 2009

    Cultural Priorities

    I don't think I'm being all that prophetic to say this, but aren't our cultural priorities a bit messed up?

    Smooth moves by ex-lax

    That would be the communion juice (We tend to be tee-totallers).
    On Maundy Thursday (the celebration of the Jesus' Last Supper).
    By me.
    Right in front of my desk.

    I like dark carpet.

    Tuesday, April 21, 2009

    The Preaching Life

    I preach/speak/teach (or whatever you choose to call it) every week. It adds an odd stress to the week, but I love it (you try having something meaningful to say to a roomful of people once a week that keeps them from leaving or falling asleep).

    Snapped a shot of these books at a seminary library the other day on the trusty camera phone.

    Am I supposed to read the books in order? Are they trying to make those of us who live the preaching life feel bad? What's the subtext that some librarian is trying to send exactly, and can I please punch him in the nose?

    If you can't make out the titles:
    #1 - Pitfalls in Preaching
    #2 - Preaching Like Paul
    #3 - If You Cannot Preach like Paul

    Monday, April 20, 2009

    I can't do this...

    Every leader, every pastor has to--at some point--come to terms with their own limitations.

    You have to realize there is only so much you can add to the mix. Only some things you can do (well). Only some things only you can contribute. At some point you are forced to realize, I can't, by myself, do this.

    I can't have enough meetings.
    I can't supply enough ideas.
    I can't give enough motivation.
    I can't see clearly enough into the future to make this all turn out okay.
    I can't do this.

    Takeover the reins of something and you accept a huge load of responsibility for all outcomes of the thing you are leading. Honestly, I wouldn't want it any other way. I'd rather the decisions be mine.

    But...there has to be Something More in the mix, because it won't be long before you realize, "I can't do this!"

    That moment is the crux; The real moment of either freedom or soul-crushing pressure. Freedom if I realize I must rely on the power of the Holy Spirit. Soul-crushing if I just shoulder on and think it's all up to my insight, ability and creativity.

    I think this is why Paul told the Corinthian Christians: "When I came to you, I didn't come with wise or persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power." In other words, Paul told them "Look, I can't do this, so I'm counting on God to make the bigger part of the difference." "Otherwise," he goes on to say, "we'll all walk around boasting about how great we are."

    And that's a leadership dead end. No one wants to follow a braggart.

    Whatever you are leading, there has to be some "only God" factor. If there isn't, are you really providing Christian leadership? That's certainly includes the realization that "I can't do this," but it's also got to be what you are attempting for the Kingdom of God. What is so God-sized that you can't do it unless you relinquish control and actually put your trust in God coming through?

    These are the questions I am asking myself.

    Important note to Sherwin Williams marketing department

    Um, I don't know if you've heard, but there's this really big movement toward 'everything green' going on. You know, ecological sustainability, having a planet for our children to enjoy, not turning the polar ice caps into hot tubs, that sort of thing.
    Perhaps a world dominating goal of covering the earth with a toxic, plant-killing, color-altering substance isn't exactly the message you want to be sending right now.
    Oh, and I would like to give a shout out to your R&D peeps for helping me change the colors of my family room. Nice work with burgundy.

    Sunday, April 19, 2009

    Love Me Some Johnny

    John Wesley. Who has two thumbs and is a big fan?
    This guy right here.

    To wit, Wesley's definition of salvation: "not barely, according to the vulgar notion, deliverance from hell, or going to heaven; but a present deliverance from sin, a restoration of the soul to its primitive health, its original purity; a recovery of the divine nature; the renewal of our souls after the image of God, in righteousness and true holiness, in justice, mercy, and truth."
    From his "A Farther Appeal to Men of Reason and Religion" Works 8:47

    HT: Josh Kleinfeld

    Working from rest instead of resting from work

    Today we picked back up on our series on Ephesians entitled, "Won't You Be My Neighbor."
    For what it's worth, I really love preaching through a book of the Bible. The challenge of taking what the text says and building a real, practical bridge to every day life invigorates me. Paul wrote the letter to a situation not that different than our own: Religious, but not necessarily Christian; Awash in competing realities and visions for what it means to be human.

    In summing up the first three chapters of Ephesians, I tapped into Watchman Nee's classic commentary on the book, Sit, Walk, Stand.

    I'm subtly introducting a workable language for discipleship (our basic work as a followers of Jesus) and today introduced the semi-circle, which is all about the rhythm between rest and work.

    Found this great quote on Tim Keel's blog that fits right in for today's message:

    My church life and my community life and my work life were so full and rich and productive that I nearly died from it. And by my own hand. Other than the fact that I was tired and worn and sick at heart and depleted and lost and afraid, everything was just fine. And, of course, I had no one to blame but myself - even though I tried to pin the blame on some other folks.
    --Robert Benson,
    A Good Life

    And it only took me 36 years...

    It would be nice to see a sign when you get there, wouldn't it?

    The fam did a bit of recon with Grandma in tow and saw the sights of the STL from 630 feet in the air at the top of the St Louis Arch. Pretty cool experience.

    Monday, April 13, 2009

    TBD Baby

    A new baby is making his/her way into the Marshall household.

    Scheduled arrival is in October.

    Footage of TBD Baby Marshall is below. 9.4 weeks old and you can see the arms and legs move and the heart beat. Sheer beauty.

    Post Easter reflections

    So yesterday was "the big day" in the Christian world.
    Easter. Resurrection Sunday. The Lord's Day.

    It's also the day a lot of people get dressed up (what's that about?) and come sit through a service.

    Here are my reflections on the Easter holiday, in no particular order.

    • It was great to have some guests with us. I hope they know we do this every Sunday. Regardless, anyone is welcome, anytime.
    • Tons of energy in the service yesterday. Loved it. It seemed like people were really having fun.
    • There is a great temptation on the part of pastors to measure success by numbers. Numbers equal people, so they do need to be measured, but they are only an indicator--not the final measurement. People learning to follow Jesus in every area of life is the final measure. So "church" isn't the building or the service, it's the community of people who are learning from Jesus how to live their lives.
    • I think people get dressed up on Easter because of (1) tradition, (2) they feel it's honoring to God (3) It's fun to do one day a year (if you don't do it every Sunday). None of those are in themselves bad things. I would simply argue it's more honoring to God to dress "normally" (especially if you are a "church" person) for these reasons:
    • #1 - Breakdown stereotypes. Let's face it, religious people (Christians mostly) have a certain reputation and stereotype (As in, "those people who dress up once a week and go into that building"). Dress "normally" and you send the message that being a Christian isn't about keeping up a certain appearance and breakdown a stereotype.
    • #2 - Love God. If you love God, you love the things God loves. And, if I understand Scripture correctly, God loves people more than anything (see John 3:16-17). More than tradition. More than feeling like you are "dressing up for God." More than doing something fun once a year. So to love God is to do everything possible to connect with the people God loves.
    • #3 - Avoid the funny looks at the restaraunt after service. Seriously, I've been in STL for a few months now. I don't think people like Christians here. Religion has a bad rep. Let's follow the example of Jesus--who came in part to clear up God's reputation that religious people had ruined.
    • Love that the people of Trinity don't make a big deal out of dress. I've been some places that do--and they aren't reaching people.
    • I love talking about Resurrection. Here's my logic for making sense of what seems impossible. Life is a gift and a mystery. We don't know where it really comes from (other than attempting to name the scientific processes behind it--which still aren't able to describe it's origins.). If life itself is beyond our comprehension and defies explanation, then someone coming back from the dead is actually within the realm of plausibility. If you are intellectually honest, you have to at least give the idea some credence.
    • The tomb is we now serve the world in Jesus' name. We are agents of resurrection, making it happen wherever we go. Second chances. Working for justice. Spreading human kindness and compassion. Living with grace as a fundamental orientation toward people. Creating beauty. All acts of resurrection.
    • Easter week is exhausting, so next year, the Monday after Easter will be a church staff holiday!

    Here's the video we showed to begin the Easter service. Fans of U2 will appreciate the music.