Definition of Lutefisk: A piece of cod which passeth all understand. Garrison Keillor wrote in Lake Wobegon Days: "Every Advent we entered the purgatory of lutefisk, a repulsive gelatinous fishlike dish that tasted of soap and gave off an odor that would gag a goat. We did this in honor of Norwegian ancestors, much as if survivors of a famine might celebrate their deliverance by feasting on elm bark. I always felt the cold creeps as Advent approached, knowing that this dread delicacy would be put before me and I’d be told, "Just have a little." Eating a little was like vomiting a little, just as bad as a lot." "Lutefisk is not food" noted Jeff Steingarten, "it is a weapon of mass destruction."
Yesterday morning, Gerry Anderson died. He fought a valiant battle against kidney cancer. He also kept it quiet, because he didn't want to be a burden to anybody.
It's hard to believe things progressed so quickly. I was with him and Linda just two days prior. We had deep conversation then, and a significant time of prayer.
Less than 48 hours later, I was back at their house to comfort the grieving family, and bid farewell to my beloved friend. It was difficult.
The Memorial Service will be 6:00 p.m. Thursday, November 1 (All Saints Day) at the church -- and at a later day, his ashes will be scattered at his deer stand.
This morning, in my quiet time, I found this in the Book of Common Prayer:
Lord Jesus Christ, by your death you took away the sting of death: Grant to us your servants so to follow in faith where you have led the way, that we may at length fall asleep peacefully in you and wake up in your likeness; for your tender mercies' sake. Amen.
In any organizations, there are three groups of people -- the pushers, the pullers, and folks in the middle.
Pushers are the ones who promote change and new ideas. They are the enthusiastic folks who "go for it" wth vision and energy. They are the ones who vote "yes" in favor of change -- and lead the way.
Pullers, on the other hand, are the reluctant ones who are not so excited about change. Their motto is, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Or perhaps, "If it's slightly broke, use duct tape, and keep 'er going."
In between the pushers and the pullers are the majority in the middle. They can go either way -- depending on the credibility and influence of the folks on each end.
Pushers speak words of faith. God knows we all need more of that. Faith requires a measure of risk. Consider the law of the turtle: You won't move forward unless you stick your neck out.
Pullers, on the other hand, speak words of wisdom. They realize that &q…
My wife and I were traveling back home yesterday morning (Sunday). As we traveled along in Mobile it was impossible not to notice that a lot of people are out and about living life on Sunday! We had to stop at Wal-Mart to pick up a couple of items for the tail-gate party. It was about 11:00 am and when we left I told my wife that we in the church, while we are in the church, tend to think that everyone else is probably at church too!
That is not the case! The vast majority of people in our area on any given Sunday are unchurched! More than that - they are not "studying" us - the church! I think about our conversations at church! They are far too often "me" and "us" centered - what we like about worship, music, Sunday School - the structure, the activities etc.. Most of our conversations are not about connecting…
Last week, while in Maryland teaching FLAME courses, I had the privilege of leading a prayer service for our students at Barratt's Chapel, the oldest surviving church building in the United States built by and for Methodists. It was the place where Asbury met Coke, officially launching the Methodist Church in America. We conducted Wesley's Covenant Service, including three Charles Wesley Hymns. It was beautiful.
Strong winds blew down a swath of trees -- leaving jagged trunks jutting from the earth. Driving by a few days later, we shook our heads and sadly recalled how beautiful the land used to be.
I grumbled against the wind.
Good hearted loggers tried to clean it up a bit -- by clearing some of the windfall. Their honest efforrts, however, seemed more an invasion of nature than a healing. Their cuttings left deep scars, cold and stark.
I drove by, shook my heard, and grumbled against the loggers.
The burning followed. How the fire started is still a puzzle -- perhaps a lightening strike, an engine spark, or a careless cigarette. Regardless of the start, it took the firefighing volunteers a full effort for the finish. Acres of charred stubble marred the landscape.
I grumbled against the fire.
But passing time has a way of healing scarred soil and human hearts. From blackened ground, new life emerges.
Twelve seasons later, quite by accident, we happened upon the barren place and were amazed to fin…
My brother, Steve, is in the hospital with the dangerous new "superbug" staph infection. I'd really appreciate it if you would remember him and his wife, Sandy, in your prayers. He was really sick -- and has undergone some major surgery. Still not out of the woods.
My mother told me today that there was a brutal murder just a few houses up the road from her home. A 39 year old mother was stabbed to death by her daughter's ex-boyfriend. News reports say that he had parked his car at the church down the road . This means that after the slaying, he walked right past my mother's house (or through her field) to get back to his vehicle. Creepy. Please pray for the victim's family as well as the family of the young man who committed this horrible crime.
I received an e-mail from my online friend, Hanna Massad, who pastors in the Gaza Strip. One of h…
Arrived home safely after spending a week teaching FLAME Courses in Denton, Maryland. The classes (Evangelism and Spiritual Formation) went very well and seemed to be quite helpful to the students. Several amazing things happened this week -- but I don't have time to write about them now.
Hannah and Cathy are playing in an orchestra tonight -- and so I'm going to be a Patron of the Arts.
Our Youth and Worship pastor, Loretta, happened to visit Christ Church in Savannah, Georgia last week. It's where John Wesley pastored briefly, while he was a "missionary" in America. Wesley was followed by George Whitefield. The vestry of this historic congregation voted September 30 to withdraw from the Episcopal Church and place themselves under the authority of the Bishop of Uganda. This is in response to a drifting of the Episcopal Church from historic orthodoxy as expressed by the Anglican Communion around the world. There will be a congregational vote tomorrow, Sunday, Oct 14 during their 11:00 service to express agreement or disagreement with this action. The Bishop of Georgia isn't too thrilled, but I'm pretty sure both Wesley and Whitefield would enthusiastically endorse these revolutionary renegades.
My dear friends, Kent and Hannah Peterson, have recently established International Treasures, a non-profit company to import goods from developing countries, selling them here in the States, and then putting the profits into Mission Work.
Currently, they are selling items from our brothers and sisters in Nicaragua -- but soon they will have items from Swaziland as well as other countries.
My brother Steve recently shared this with me: Yesterday I went to the doctor for my yearly physical. My blood pressure was high, my cholesterol was high, I'd gained some weight, and I didn't feel so hot. My doctor said eating right doesn't have to be complicated and it would solve my physical problems. He said just think in colors; Fill your plate with bright colors; greens, yellows, reds, etc. I went right home and ate an entire bowl of M&M's and sure enough, I felt better immediately. I never knew eating right could be so easy!!
Our son, Adam is 21 years old today. Doesn't seem possible. It was just yesterday when we brought him home from the hospital. He's now older than I was when I married Cathy!
We are really proud of the fine young man he has become, and look forward to seeing him and his lovely fiancee', Allegra, this weekend.
On another note -- I've been under the weather for the past 24 hours. Pray for me. I have a funeral and a board meeting tomorrow, on top of preparing for FLAME classes I'm teaching next week in Maryland.
I once heard a story about a 16th century Jesuit mission in Brazil. After a long interaction with the people and some individual conversions, the chief decided to become a Christian (presumably bringing with him the rest of the tribe). As part of the process, the chief met with the leader of the mission to be examined. The priest began asking doctrinal questions. He asked the chief, "How many natures does our Lord have?" The chief responded, "As many natures as you say he has, Father."
Setting aside the more obvious missiological issues surrounding such a tale, this story raises for me the question of the role of submission in belief. To what extent was the chief's answer the right one?
Specifically, what role should submission to one's church play in belief? Does submission spoil belief? Is belief possible without submission?
Our daughter, Hannah, turns 11 years old today! What a happy celebration! As I write this morning, the Monkey Bread is already in the oven. We snapped this picture a few weeks ago, while passing through the little village of Hanna, Indiana on Route 30. Turned it into an ice cream stop. What a lucky kid -- identical double digits -- and she has a town named after her. I've never yet found a town named "Mark."
Great blog interview of Bob Roberts at Ed Stetzer's blog -- Glocalization! Over 100 congregations have been planted from Bob's church, Northwood Community, in Texas. Just yesterday, my dear friend, Roger Ciskie, told me that Summit Church in Naples, Florida (where he attends), has grown to 1200 people, since it launched three years ago. This week, they'll open their new facility -- which seats 600 -- intentionally. They have also launched eight other congregations during that short span of time. Their main focus is not just to build a bigger church and hope the community comes. Rather, they believe God is calling them to reach out and bring the love of Jesus to every man, woman, boy and girl in the entire region -- and to also bless the nations. That requires multiple churches. Now, that's missional! I've been re-reading Phil Stevenson's excellent book on this subject, The Ripple Church. Ordered a copy of it for all my board members and pastoral staff. What's be…
Tonight, a debate between two academic heavyweights will be on the radio: Richard Dawkins, known as "Darwin's Rottweiler" author of The God Delusion v.s. Christian apologist and scientist, Dr. John Lennox, author of God's Undertaker: Has Science Buried God? Sounds like an interesting program, and quite a match-up. I predict Lennox with a KO in the first round. More details here