Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Treading water

It's been way to long since I've posted. Our lives have changed so much in the last two months. We moved to South Hamilton, Massachusetts and I started seminary full time at Gordon Conwell. I love it but it is more difficult than I ever imagined. Why is it hard? One word, GREEK! It's really tough for me. I'm getting it and I don't worry about passing the class (most of the time) but it takes a huge amount of time and focus to keep up. On top of that there is the reading for the other classes, plus family time on top of that. I'm not complaining, it is my dream to be here. It's just that I'm working to keep my head above water right now. Someday I hope to get caught up and then post here more often.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Awesome wedding vows

In June I was privileged to perform the wedding of Christa Jacobs and Jon Hewett. Christa's family was a part of the church I used to pastor in Howell, MI. I can't express how honored I was to be able to marry them.

Anyways, I got permission from Jon and Christa to post their vows. Jon is a writer and he wrote his vows and Christa adapted them for herself. I wanted to post these because they are the most biblical and mature of any I have seen. Admittedly, some people might not like the submit part that Christa affirms from Ephesians 5, but when a husband is loving his wife as a Christ loves the church it isn't a dangerous thing to submit. So without further ado:

Jon's vows:
I, Jon, take you, Christa, to be my wife from this day forward, to join with you and share all that is to come.
I vow to love you as Christ has commanded me, striving daily to die to myself for your sake.
I vow to cherish you above all people and things, God being the only exception.
I vow to serve you sacrificially, putting your needs above my own.
I vow to protect you from all evil within my strength, and to entrust your ultimate safety to God.
I vow to lead you in the pattern Christ has set before us, so that we may honor Him.
I vow to forgive as Christ has forgiven us.
I promise to be faithful to you until death do us part.

Christa's vows:
I, Christa, take you, Jon, to be my husband from this day forward, to join with you and share all that is to come.
I vow to respect you as Christ has commanded me, striving daily to die to myself for your sake.
I vow to love you above all people and things, God being the only exception.
I vow to serve you sacrificially, putting your needs above my own.
I vow to submit to you in everything as to the Lord.
I vow to follow you in the path Christ has set before us, so that we may honor Him.
I vow to forgive as Christ has forgiven us.
I promise to be faithful to you until death do us part.

Pretty cool, huh?

Monday, July 09, 2007

Absolute Truth? Are you sure?

Hey, it's way too long since I've posted here. My Mom let me know nicely that she's getting tired of seeing my Spiderman post at the top. I am too.

As I was praying today I was reflecting on John 4:24, "God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship him in spirit and truth." As I reflected the thought came to me, how often do we truly follow the truth of God and how often do we follow the truth as we see it? In my studies over the last few years I have studied theology and postmodernism. One of the hallmarks of postmodernism, of course, is the idea that there is so absolute truth. In other words, no one truth that is true for all time. As a Christian I would say, "The Bible contains the truth for all time. " Someone else might say, "Well, it's truth for you but not for me. It isn't absolute for me."

As an evangelical Christian I believe that Word of God is always true, end of discussion. So the promises of God that are contained in the scriptures are true for me and I should live according to them. God said He would never leave me or forsake me, I should live like that. He said that where my treasure was there my heart would be also, I should act accordingly. He said that I should consider the birds of the air ..., okay you get the point. God has given me a vast wealth of truth and promises in His Word. I should live by that truth.

Every time I decide to ignore the Word of God and follow my ideas and notions I am denying absolute truth. Here's another way of thinking of it: God's truth is absolute whether I feel good or not. It is absolute when life is easy and when it is hard.

Prayer: God help me to believe the absolute truth of your Word — absolutely

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Spiderman 3 - Minor spoiler alert

Okay, now for some real important earth-shattering stuff: Spiderman 3. I'm a big fan of superhero movies and Spiderman has been one of my favorites. I thought I'd write my review of the movie since I finally got a chance to see it yesterday. Bottom line — I liked it. I don't think it was as good a movie as the first two Spidey flicks but it was fun.

Bad points:
1. It did move a little slow at times
2. Kirsten Dunst
3. Kirsten Dunst sings twice
4. Kirsten Dunst
5. Kirsten Dunst
6. The scenes where Peter Parker was showing his dark side and disco dancing on the streets were overdone
7. Kirsten Dunst
8. Maybe too many story line arcs
9. Kirsten Dunst
10. Kirsten Dunst sings twice

Good points:
1. Visual effects were amazing
2. Venom was cool, I would have liked to see him more though
3. I liked Thomas Haden Church as the Sandman. He simply was good in the part. Some people think that maybe the movie didn't even need the Sandman character as a story line arc but hey, he was there and he was good.

The main thing I liked, and this is probably because I am a Christian, are the themes of forgiveness and redemption in the movie. Harry Osborne forgives Peter in the end and is redeemed by his sacrifice for his friend. The Sandman asks for forgiveness and Peter Parker gives it to him. That scene was very powerful and it was very cool how Tobey Mcguire protrayed the heavy weight of his hatred and unforgiveness being lifted.

Maybe I wouldn't have liked it as much if I wasn't a Christian, I don't know. But it was a good movie to me. I recommend it.

P.S. I've heard some people in online reviews complaining about the butler, Bernard. They wonder where he came from all of a sudden. Go back and watch the first two movies, he was there. He didn't have a large part but he was there, even the same actor.

P.P.S. This probably doesn't come across above but I'm not a big fan of Kirsten Dunst. ;->

Thursday, May 03, 2007


I'm sitting here looking out the window and a bald eagle flies overhead. How cool is that? That doesn't happen rarely at Crooked Lake in Curran, MI either. The other day my two year old daughter and I were outside and she points up and says, "Birdy!" You guessed it, our national symbol flew over low enough to hear the wind whistling through its feathers.

Sharie, Kate, and I move out to South Hamilton, Massachusetts in late August so I can attend seminary full time. I am looking forward to it a lot but I'm going to miss living up north in Michigan too. We plan to come back here for the summers while I'm in school and we'll probably retire up here someday but I'm going to miss the day to day of living here.

We were only supposed to live up here for about four months total before going out to Gordon Conwell but it ended up that it'll be a year. It has been a blessing, to say the least. We have enjoyed nature and been able to bond with our daughter in ways that we never would have been able to if we had entered into the seminary rat race right away.

Father knows best, huh? I'm glad!

Monday, April 02, 2007

It's MY Church History!

I'm taking a church history class right now from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. This class has started me thinking about church history in a whole new way. I don't claim this to be anything profound or earth shattering but it is new to me.

In the past when I thought of church history my focus was narrow, to say the least. I identified with Jesus and the apostles. You know, anything that I could read about in the Bible. Then there was a huge void, kind of like the intertestamental period, until my mind paused for a just a second with Martin Luther. Then I would skip along until I reached the Wesley brothers and all the significant things they did for the church. From there my mind would dwell briefly on the important points of the Methodist movement on down to the Wesleyan Church of which I am a part. As I said, a pretty narrow focus. My church history was a Wesleyan Church history.

But now my view has begun to widen. The thought occurred to me, kind of a minor epiphany really, that because I am a Christian all of Christian church history is my history. Yes, I am a Wesleyan and my theological views lie in that camp but there is a huge rich history beyond my immediate tradition. I think many people do what I have done over the years.They only identify with the parts of church history that they like. They focus on the high points in their tradition and ignore the rest. This has a tendency to give us an us versus them mentality with other Christian traditions. Another downside to this narrow focus is that we don't get the benefits of learning from the mistakes and victories from outside of our tradition. To be sure, in the history of the church there are countless scoundrels, murderers, cheats, and liars. But there are also men and women that have been nothing short of heroic in their desire to follow Christ.

This is ALL my history. What a shame it would be to never learn about it. Everything I know and believe about the church has been affected by all of its history. The heresies, abuses, great leaders, and victories are all relevant to me and the future of the church. Dr. Garth Rosell said this, "The recognition of weakness or failure in ourselves or in the history of the church need not force us to despair or cut us off from huge chunks of our heritage. Rather, it should prompt us to embrace the whole history of God's people, to learn from its mistakes as well as its successes."

I'm lovin' it!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

I Weep For Tommy

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Sgt. Thomas L. Latham, 23, of Delmar, Md., died March 11 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.

So read the press release from the Pentagon today. Sgt. Latham was known to me as simply Tommy. I was his youth pastor until halfway through his junior year in high school when I moved out of youth ministry. As a pastor there are certain people that are a joy to be around and to work with. And I hope I'm not bursting any bubbles here but there are others that you ask God for more grace to deal with. Tommy was the former. I genuinely liked Tommy and enjoyed being around him. He was a kid that was lots of fun, had a great attitude and was incredibly easy going. He didn't just show up for the fun stuff. He was there for the service projects and missions trips too. Tommy was a great guy. While he was a good looking young man and always took care of himself, he didn't worry about being up to date with all the latest clothing fads. He wasn't afraid to work hard and liked to hunt with his Dad. Tommy was what you would call a "man's man."

My memories of Tommy are of him bringing a turkey call to youth group one night and freaking all of us out because we couldn't figure out where that sound was coming from. I remember long van rides with Tommy and other young men and women of our youth ministry. I remember his Mom saying to him, Let's go Tommy Lee. Only she would say it so fast that it would come out, "Let's go Tommalee." I remember a missions trip to Hepzibah Children's Home when he was so proud to do some masonry work because he was the son of a mason. I also remember that he was a good brother to his little sister.

My most important memory of Tommy was that he gave his heart to Christ. I'd be lying if I told you I remember the exact moment that he responded to Christ's call but I know that he did. Tommy lived the kind of life that bore witness to a life in Christ. I had been on enough long trips and spent enough time with Tommy that there was no doubt where his heart stood.

I titled this post, I Weep For Tommy, but that isn't really true. I weep for his young wife and two kids that are left behind. I weep for his little sister and parents that have lost their only son. I weep for his friends and love ones; we've lost this laid back, fun-loving, and big hearted young man. I guess I weep for us.

I don't understand this world sometimes. I don't understand why evil people live and good people like Tommy don't. I don't understand why some people that don't add a bit of goodness to the world die of old age and someone like Tommy that had so much to offer and was concerned with serving others dies young. It doesn't make sense but in the midst of the turmoil I have to trust that God understands. I have to trust that He knows the pain that those who have lost so much are going through. Most of all I trust that God has welcomed Tommy into His arms.

God, thanks for allowing me to know Tommy Latham and to have a small part to play in the man that he was. Please comfort his wife and two small children. Please take care of those little ones. Please comfort his family and loved ones. And God, I thank you that Tommy knew you. Thank you for allowing his faith to be made sight. Please remind those that are hurting that we can see Tommy again if we respond to you like he did. Thank you for his life, his example of service, and the impact that he had on all of us.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Here's what I'm up to

Okay, I'm finally going to post something that has some substance on this thing. My life has been quite a whirlwind over the last year or so. I thought it would be good to share some of it.

Well over a year ago I started wondering if I was making the best impact for the kingdom being a pastor. I had been having feelings of unrest for a good while. They were very similar to the feelings I had when it was time to move out of youth ministry. I had always dreamed of being a college professor. I enjoy working with college age people more than any others over my 15 years of local church ministry. The only problem about me being a college professor is that I lack a whole LOT of education. I was an attrocious undergrad student. I was more concerned with sleeping in and messing around than actually being serious about my academic career. I started a master's program at IWU in the fall of 2003 and after completing 34 hours of a 36 hour program I have a 4.0 GPA. That told me that when I was serious about my academics I could do well.

After much prayer, soul searching, sleepless nights, and hours of conversation with my wife, mentors, etc. I decided that I was going to head back to school. I had been doing the IWU program while still being a full time pastor. Because of my age and how long it takes to get all the way through a doctorate we decided that I needed to resign as a pastor and pursue academics full time. I applied to Duke Divinity School and Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. I was admitted to both of them and then the soul searching began all over again. Duke is a more prestigious school to be sure. I was honored simply to be admitted there. Gordon Conwell is no slouch either and I was impressed with it through Dave Drury and Larry Wilson who attended there. After visiting both schools and being very impressed with both of them Sharie and I were convinced that Gordon Conwell was going to be the place for me.

My last Sunday at my church as July 2, 2006. We planned to leave for South Hamilton, Mass. (in the Boston area) for the fall semester of 2006. Long story short — our house didn't sell until October so we could afford to go until the spring semester of 07. But then the folks at GCTS let me know that if I started in the spring it would mess up my schedule. GCTS is very specific about the order of certain classes that you take and some of those are only offered in the fall. So the fall semester of 2007 it is.

My first goal is to complete a master of divinity degree. Whether I ever become a professor or if God is going to call me back into pastoral ministry I know the Mdiv degree will serve me well. If I still feel strongly that God is leading me toward the professor thing then I'll go on for further schooling. Possibly a ThM and then a PhD.

So where we are now is living in a small cabin that we own in northern Michigan. I am taking classes through GCTS online while we are here. I am taking as many of the stand alone type classes that don't have pre-requisites as I can. Sharie is doing her graphic design work with the company that we own, Maxim Design Group. She will continue to do that while I am in school. I am a student and Mr. Mom. We are enjoying our time at the cabin and having some amazing bonding time with our two year old daughter, Kate. We are on an adventure to be sure. God is good and we're excited about what is happening now and what is to come in the years ahead.