Month: August 2006

Fatherhood and the Continental Divide

Last week I hiked up to the Continental Divide in Steamboat Springs, Colorado with my son on my back. The extra weight made it an arduous hike, but it was incredibly inspiring. As I exhaled in awe and in exercise, it occured to me that hiking my son to the Continental Divide is much like fathering.

Like any father, I desire the best things for my son-good friendships, health, joy, stability, and faith in Christ. Some of these things I can cultivate, but in the end only Owen’s Creator can give them. Above all, I want Owen to encounter and enjoy the triune God through Jesus. We pray for him and sing spiritual songs to him every night. We continually ask God to give Owen faith, to remake him into the image of Jesus, to make him truly human by rescuing him from his selfishness.

Owen is divided by his sin from God. Through love, prayer, relationship, instruction and discipline, I can take Owen only so far…to the edge of the continental divide between this “present evil age” and the age to come, between sin and salvation. I cannot bridge the divide for him. Carrying him on my back to reach the Continental Divide was difficult, but bridging the divide is even harder, impossible. This requires death, and mine will not suffice. Only Jesus can collapse the divide between Owen and God, only Jesus in his death and resurrection, something that only Owen can embrace for himself. My faith will not suffice.

I can only take Owen so far. But God in Christ can take anyone who is far away and bring them near to him into everlasting joy and life in relationship with the triune God in this age and the age to come (Eph 2.17-18). Come Jesus, come Spirit, and collapse the divide for my son, that he might enter into fullness of joy with his Heavenly Father and his humanity be restored.

Significance by Works

I have been living on devotional snacks lately, thirty minutes here, fifteen there. These times are genuine but barely substantial enough for the demands of daily discipleship. The past ten days have been crammed with four plane trips, two long distance drives, intense churchplanting examination, testing, networking and research. In all of this there can be a subtle seduction towards finding significance in works.

 

This morning I woke up in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. After the usual demands of fatherhood (with an intensely morning-sick wife), I finally settled down into some uncluttered, unrestrained time. I pondered, email or communion with God? Some of those emails might be really important, related to our future, to churchplanting. I could get some work done before everyone else gets up. So went my thinking. But the Spirit won out.

 

Ephesians two. For grace you have been saved through faith…not a result of works. We are created in Christ Jesus for good works which he prepared beforehand that we might walk in them. What higher good works could there be than churchplanting? Emailing, networking for the kingdom of Christ, for the good of the world? After all, we were created for good works, predestined ones!

 

Paul continues. He tells us he wants us to remember something in light of the good works we have been created for—you were Gentiles in the flesh, separate from Christ, strangers to the covenants of promise, without hope and God…but now, in Jesus, you have been brought near by the blood of Christ, for he himself is our peace…the cornerstone of the living temple.

As I read this familiar passage with new light, I was struck not only by the repudiation of salvation by works, but also of significance by works. We are created for works, predestined works, which does not imply that our former createdness was works-free. There were plenty of works, things we did before Christ to obtain significance. The crazy thing is that after Christ I sometimes live pre-Christ, pre-gospel, and my works form the basis for my significance (though they would never do so for my bygone salvation!).

 

Significance by works is deadly. When I choose ministry over my Lord, I seek significance in what I do rather than who I have become. I ignore new creation and return to the old. Jesus promises the peace, the significance and the acceptance I hunger for. Works, as good as they may be, cannot replace the Incarnation of peace, restoration, acceptance, significance in the embrace of Jesus. He himself is our peace, not ministry or anything else.

We get peace plus, the warm acceptance of Jesus no matter how fleshly we can be. Nothing can beat that. The plus is that Jesus fits us into his living temple, breathes the joy of worship into our hearts, carrying us from individual significance to community worship of the divine community. Living life in the eternal temple.

 

Man, this was better than devotional snacks.

Planting a Church…

Thanks for your prayers and emails regarding our exploration of Churchplanting. This week was filled with a barrage of tests (Strength Finders, DISC, Golden Personality), observation, interviews, group projects, etc by Teamerica. This was followed by two exit interviews and FIRST STEPS churchplanting training with Gary Rohrmayer (recently requested to direct Acts 29 by Mark Driscoll, but turned down). The assessment was intense and the training super.

We passed! Teamerica recommended we pursue some churchplanting expereince, which is preciesly what we will be doing in Austin over the weekend. Please pray for our conversations with churches there. We’ll keep you posted.

Very exciting times…

Churchplanting?

This Sunday Robie and I begin a week of churchplanting assessment and training with Teamerica, one of the most highly rated assessment centers in the country (though you could’nt tell it from thier website). Teamerica is associated with the Baptist General Conference (BGC).

This is a rigorous process and includes testing, discussion, presentations, preaching, etc. We would be grateful for your prayers during this week as we seek God’s leading for the future. We’ll keep you posted on the developments!