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Showing posts from 2007

Dealing with Loss

Thought I'd share a few things that I've learned over the last several months about dealing with the loss of a loved one. As I mentioned in a previous post, my grandfather died in August and a few months ago we lost two church members in a two week period so it's been something on my heart and mind a lot. 1. Everyone mourns differently and needs to be given space and time to mourn in the way that is appropriate to them. All three experiences had some similarities but were also quite different. Our personalities play a key role in determining how we mourn and there really is no correct way to go about it. The key thing is that within the family, each person is given freedom to express their grief, without being attacked by someone else for not mourning the "right" way. 2. It is emotionally draining. First, you're confronted by the reality that you will no longer be with this person you love dearly. Then, you have to make all the phone calls to family and fr

Sean Taylor Funeral

Today, a three hour funeral was held for Sean Taylor. There were several emotional moments throughout the service as there were numerous tributes from family, friends, and teammates all bringing their unique perspecive to honor Sean. I had previously heard that Sean Taylor grew up Seventh-day Adventist and that was definitely the case. Two Adventist pastors took part in the service including the homily by Pastor David L. Peay, Sr. who is the pastor of the Tabernacle Seventh-day Adventist Church (The church choir also sang two songs). Sean attended the church this summer and raised his hand during an appeal. Pastor Peay also spent several hours with him a month ago talking about a variety of issues. He avoided the temptation to give a study on the Adventist perspective on the state of the dead but he did reference a brief quote from the "servant of the Lord." I must admit that they were a few cringe-inducing moments during the homily, including the pastor wondering if Sean

My Reaction to Sean Taylor's Death

Sean Taylor, a superstar on my favorite team, the Washington Redskins, was shot in his house early yesterday morning and succumbed to his injuries early this morning. He had some troubling incidents several years ago but after his daughter was born 18 months ago he started to turn his life around. He was becoming one of the best players in the NFL but it all came to an end at just 24 years of age. I've been confronted by death all too much in the last few months. It started at the end of August when my grandfather passed away. Several weeks ago, a stretch began where two of my church members died within a two weeks of each other. As crazy as it sounds, Taylor's death has been deeply emotional for me. Not as much as those I knew and loved, but it's not too far away. Let me explain why. I've been a huge Redskins fan for as long as I can remember. My dad wasn't a big fan so I don't know what made me obsessed with the Redskins, and sports in general, but I've

Bloggin the 28: Growing in Christ

This is my reflection for the Bloggin the 28 Series on Belief #11: Growing in Christ. It states: By His death on the cross Jesus triumphed over the forces of evil. He who subjugated the demonic spirits during His earthly ministry has broken their power and made certain their ultimate doom. Jesus' victory gives us victory over the evil forces that still seek to control us, as we walk with Him in peace, joy, and assurance of His love. Now the Holy Spirit dwells within us and empowers us. Continually committed to Jesus as our Saviour and Lord, we are set free from the burden of our past deeds. No longer do we live in the darkness, fear of evil powers, ignorance, and meaninglessness of our former way of life. In this new freedom in Jesus, we are called to grow into the likeness of His character, communing with Him daily in prayer, feeding on His Word, meditating on it and on His providence, singing His praises, gathering together for worship, and participating in the mission of th

Beauty of Diversity

One of the things I love about the church plant is it's diversity. One of my passions in life is cultivating cultural diversity in organizations. I'm thinking seriously about doing a PhD in cross-cultural dynamics and helping facilitate greater understanding amongst different cultural groups. The church plant is going to provide some excellent experience. We have just started a Portuguese ministry in the church. There is a large Brazilian population in Richmond and we even have a Brazilian church. However, a group of Brazilians have been a part of FWESDA for years and decided to really reach out to the community. They started a ESL class on Tuesday nights, have Bible Studies on Friday Nights, and now have begun having a sermon in Portuguese. Basically, we are all together in the service until after the children's story, then they split for their own sermon. It's been working pretty well so far and we'll have to see what the future holds. After church this last wee

The Key to Quality Ministry

I've been on the job around 2 months now and there is still A LOT to learn. Nearly every day I learn another key lesson that will help me through pastoral life. So far major mistakes have been avoided but are sure to come. Despite all this, I really believe I've found the key to quality ministry. It's nothing profound or new but is very basic: visitation. There is nothing like going to someone's home and talking with them. I've found that people are much more willing to open up and share their personal lives because they are in a comfortable environment. It shows them that you care about their lives and lays the groundwork for a deeper relationship and partnership for the future. Every family I've visited has been profoundly thankful and appreciative of our time together and it's been one of the most rewarding aspects of my ministry so far. I know that visits are expected when you first arrive in a church but not as much as the years pass by. However, I h

The Advent Struggle -- Part 2

There's been a lot of excellent discussion on the previous post. I've stayed out of it for the most part to let everyone else let their thoughts be known. I thought I would write another post explaining my thoughts in a little more detail. There has been some discussion over this issue of style versus theology (At least at the very beginning). I think I might have used that terminology and I want to clarify that I reject the false dichotomy of style VERSUS theology because our style and methodologies REVEAL our theology. The methods we use to present a message tends to reveal as much about the message as the message itself. In no way do I believe that all young adults want praise music, full band, nice lyric graphics projected, etc. However, I think that the 90% (no real data just a guesstimate) of Adventist churches who think of that worship style as being from the devil reveals one of the major issues at the heart of the crisis -- The Adventist response to culture. The tr

The Advent Struggle

I've been trying to write this for literally a month but haven't been able to. Not sure why but it just hasn't flowed. So, here's the attempt: On a regular basis, I hear from or about friends who have stopped going to church. There are numerous reasons why they are leaving but one common thread seems to be a feeling that church has become meaningless. They've felt this for a long time but kept going because they hoped it would get better or just because they'd feel guilty if they didn't. But, they aren't going to play the game anymore. The young adult exodus out of the church isn't news to really anyone but there's something important that I think will make this crisis be more severe. When you examine recent Adventist history, there have been several crises of faith including EGW and Inspiration, Desmond Ford, and Creation/Science (to a small degree). What are the characteristics of all of them? 1. They are based on a doctrinal position and a

The Tensions of Preaching

This weekend I preached for the first time at Patterson. It went well and Shari actually said it was the best sermon I've ever preached. I don't know if I'm willing to go that far but I was happy. When I think about preaching, there are a few tensions that I keep in mind. 1. Humble while Confident You can't enter the pulpit thinking you know it all but you also can't go in thinking you have nothing to say. The preacher should be humble enough to realize that while the Holy Spirit has lead the preparation, there is always more to learn and different perspectives to explore. Henry Wright, my preaching professor, told us that when we preach we need to have confidence in two things: your preparation and the Holy Spirit. 2. Hidden while Myself I can't stand when the preacher gets up to pray, "Lord don't let people see me but you." Yet, it is a valid prayer and desire (I think I'm just tired of hearing it). The preacher shouldn't get in the

The First Few Days

While the Dems have been taking control of Congress, I've been taking Richmond by storm. After spending around 19 straight years in school, I finally was confronted with the real world. I love school and studying but towards the end it was wearing me down. You can only talk and think while taking little action for so long. Theory needed to be supplemented by action. I honestly had and still have no idea what to expect. Living in a new city, buying a home for the first time, and serving as a full-time pastor on a multi-staff team are all brand new experiences for me. The scheduled and regimented world of class, tests, and grades to objectively assess performance have been a source of comfort and normality that has been completely thrown out. What now? Well, I've learned a few things about pastoral life in my first two weeks: 1. Names, Names, Names. Unfortunately for me, they tend to go in one ear and out the other. I definitely am not gifted in this area. I think learning n