Further Up, Further In Weblog

Chronicling the Journey of the Homeyers

Job Satisfaction August 31, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — furtherupfurtherin @ 1:22 pm

Here is an interesting article my sister, Mallory, passed along to me.   

Christian Century, May 15, 2007

If you want to be rich, get an MBA. If you want to be happy, go for an M.Div.

Members of the clergy rank highest in job satisfaction, according to a report released April 17 by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. More than 87 percent of clergy said they were satisfied with their jobs, followed by firefighters (80 percent) and physical therapists (78 percent).

Cynthia Lindner, directory of ministry studies at the university’s divinity school, said that in her opinion the findings rang true. People come to the ministerial field with no expectation of getting rich and every expectation of being able to make some difference in the world, she said.

“People are not going into the profession out of some sense of ‘I want a lot of power and prestige,'” she said. “Most of all my students would say, ‘We want to help heal the world.'”

Because work plays such an important role in people’s lives, workers who are more satisfied also tend to be happier. So clergy also topped the list as happiest, with 67 percent of them describing themselves as generally happy.

Tom W. Smith, director of the General Social Survey at the research center, said he was surprised that clergy led the list. People in many “helping” occupations, such as doctors and nurses, also experience stress, which can affect their overall happiness, he said. “Apparently the rewards of spiritual guidance and leadership outweigh the burdens of being a religious leader,” he said.  End Article.

Any thoughts or comments on this?  Is “job satisfaction” evident in the life of the minister in the Church where you are involved?  I’d love to hear your reactions to this story if you have them. 


Church Etiquette August 28, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — furtherupfurtherin @ 9:27 pm

Since I spend so many hours each week preparing sermons, I think that quite a few of my posts will rise from those hours and experiences.  Hopefully this will help those in Fellowship who read this blog to begin preparing during the week for our time of worship  on Sunday.  Mom and Dad will get a little insight into what I’m preaching about.    The rest of you…well…maybe these tidbits will serve a devotional purpose. 

 Today’s post are selected excerpts from this past Sunday’s sermon.   My text for the sermon was Luke 14:7-14, where Jesus went after the Pharisees at dinner and told the guests to not seek the seat of honor but to voluntarily sit in the seat of low honor and he told the host to next time not invite people who would repay him, but to invite those who could not repay and did not receive invitations.  Overall, the theme was to live a generous humility.  

Table manners and etiquette are an interesting phenomenon in our own and across other cultures.  I guess it is because we are created with the need to eat regularly and continually throughout our life that that we make eating an event and that virtually all civilized cultures have developed certain habits, and manners, and rules of what is acceptable and what is not acceptable that all revolve around eating.  Rules of Etiquette.


            Now, if your family was anything like mine, in everyday life we didn’t operate according to proper rules of dining etiquette.  I learned much more about the proper way to order food at the local burger place than I did about the proper rules of preparing, serving, and eating.  Still, even at the Ken Kream in Kenedy, TX, we had some basic rules of dining.  Children were at one end of the table and adults were at the other end.  Do not start eating until either everyone has their food or Paw-paw gives the OK to go ahead.  Chew with your mouth closed.  Don’t throw French fries at each other.  Do not shoot the straw wrapper at each other, which Paw-paw always did and Maw-maw always scolded him for.


            On those rare occasions when we did attend a nice dinner or a wedding reception there were whole other modes of etiquette that I have still yet to master.  Proper seating.  Proper utensil placement.  Proper use of utensils.  Proper size bites.  Proper topics of discussion.  Proper posture.  Proper placement of hands and napkin, etc, etc.  The list literally goes on and on.  

            In Jesus day there was proper etiquette for dinner parties as well.  As we see in these verses, there was a proper way to act at these parties.  There were proper places to sit.  There was a proper way to address others and a proper way to be addressed.  The Pharisees were all about rules in every aspect of life, and their eating habits were no different. 

           Church, we have certain etiquette and certain table manners, so to speak, when it comes to how we do church.  We have deacons, and committees, and leadership positions, and by-laws, and business meetings like we’re having today, all of which are good and needed to help our Church function properly and move forward as efficiently as possible with vision and integrity.             But, may we never get so caught up in our etiquette or our own practices that we vie for each other and against one another for places of perceived importance.  May we never become so entrenched in our man-made rules and procedures that we contend with one another for position and authority and control. 

          May we always be practicing with each other and with our world humility and generosity.  Seeking to serve one another, to listen to one another, to work with one another. 

          There are churches who resemble in form and practice fine dining etiquette.  Lots of proper ways and means and rules.  My dream for our church is that our etiquette is more like that I grew up with at the Ken Kream in Kenedy.  Where our rules and procedures are boiled down to a bare minimum, and where fellowship rules the day.  Where Paw-paw waved us all forward so he could pay for all of us and did so joyfully.  Where we kids could laugh and be loud and no one cared.  Where we propped our elbows on the table if we wanted and were very real with one another.  Where we were so caught up in each other that no rules of proper form, style, or behavior mattered.  Where we were so fulfilled by each other’s company in Christ that we laughed with food in our mouths, and told loud stories with no concerns of being proper.  Where we even shot sweet tea out of our mouths and noses occassionally in response to a really well-timed joke or comment. 

That, to me, is a picture of Christian community.  Laughing, and living, and serving.  Community runs deep in such times. 

          Friends, May we love each other in humility and generosity.  May we look outward into our community and into our world and love people into our fellowship no matter who they maybe.  Church, may we go out and shatter the broken misconceptions and negative perceptions people have of the church.  May we show people Jesus.  May we surprise people with our genuine humility, which flows from Christ within us.  May we surprise people with our genuine generosity, which flows from Christ within us.  May we be a welcome bit of peace and refuge and acceptance and grace and mercy and redemption in a world in Chaos.  May we be Christ to the world.  Amen.


Friends, Can you imagine a Church that learns how to boil down etiquette and procedure to the bare minimum and learns to let go of the rest of it and simply be present with each other?  Imagine it.  Live it.  Thank you for stopping by.  Grace and Peace to you as you go through your week. 


Further Up, Further In! August 27, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — furtherupfurtherin @ 3:11 pm

Well friends, as you can see, I have joined the blogosphere.  I sat this morning (Saturday) at Java Bean and had time to simply “surf” the internet and blogosphere for about an hour.  I read several terrible blogs that are being used to slander and push personal agendas.  I read several good blogs full of good information.  And I read other personal blogs full of some brilliant, ridiculous, and irrelevant thoughts and musings on life, faith, and whatever else seemed to come to the users’ mind.  Somewhere in the midst of this “surfing” of the blogosphere I decided to start my own.   


It seems the first crucial step to a good blog is a clever name.  Clever and appropriate names only become so when they are born out of and match up with purpose, so I thought about the purpose of this blog. 


The purpose of the blog is this:  I love to write and I communicate most clearly and effectively through writing.  I feel that my calling in life has led me on this amazing adventure of faith where I sometimes feel unhappy, awkward, insecure, immature, evil, maniacal and overall sinful; but, I also am able to live in the reality of hope, grace, mercy, and redemption and feel happy, elated, joyous, peaceful, rested and content.  I am able to live in relationship with a living God.  On a daily basis through worship, prayer, meditation, devotion, and conversation I am able to catch glimpses, moments, and periods of a real and true Kingdom of which most of this life is only a dim reflection.  And the more I faithfully live out this calling the deeper and brighter and more real this life seems to be.  And therefore I go further up and further in with great anticipation and excitement with what my God is leading me towards.  The purpose of this blog is to share this adventure further up and further in with anyone who chooses to join with me.


So, why Further Up, Further In?  I am a big fan of C.S. Lewis.  In the last section of the last book in the Chronicles of Narnia, entitled The Last Battle, all the creatures of Narnia find themselves called by Aslan (the character who represents God in the series) to travel further up and further in.  They obey without fully knowing what Aslan means.  Somehow the world they are traveling through looks very familiar, having the same mountains, lakes, forests, and colors.  But, at the same time it is somehow unfamiliar.  Everything seems bigger and there are more colors, and the colors are all deeper and brighter which leads one character to whisper quietly that somehow this world that looks so much like the world they had always lived in and yet looks, “more like the real thing.”  So they traveled further up and further in, where “every rock, and flower and blade of grass looked as if it meant more.”  And so they travel further up and further up and further in. 


Suddenly, the Unicorn neighs, “I have come home at last!  This is my real country!  I belong here.  This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now.  The reason why we loved the old Narnia is that it sometimes it looked a little like this!  Bree-hee-hee!  Come further up, come further in!”


Friends, this land Lewis speaks of is the land in which we all belong.  Hopefully it is the land we are headed for and moving for even as we live in Old Narnia.  There are times in this land here and now and in this life where we glimpse the land to come and in those moments, I don’t know about you, but my soul lets loose its own BREE-HEE-HEE! And I am energized to run further up and further in!


So this blog will be a chronicle of the journey further up and further in.  Join me if you wish.  I don’t know exactly what it will look like, but I would bet that posts will come from everything from preparing sermons each week to conversations with our Church Secretary’s young daughter Claire (who is teeming with personality and young wisdom) to worship experiences to Paul Harvey to NPR to books I am reading and walks with Kelley and Max to Deacon’s meetings to who knows what else. 


In The Last Battle, after the Unicorn urged everyone further up and further in they all began to run.  “not only the Dogs and the humans but even fat little Puzzle and short-legged Poggin the Dwarf.  The air flew in their faces as if they were driving fast in a car without a windscreen.  The country flew past as if they were seeing it from the windows of an express train.  Faster and faster they raced, but no one got hot or tired or out of breath.  If one cold run without getting tired, I don’t think one would often want to do anything else. 


If we can run and live and serve and give and love and issue in the Kingdom of God in part in this life why would we ever want to do anything else?  Run with me if you will, Further Up, Further In!