Further Up, Further In Weblog

Chronicling the Journey of the Homeyers

Christ is risen! He is risen Indeed! March 25, 2008

Filed under: Newsletter — furtherupfurtherin @ 3:36 pm
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I wrote this for Fellowship’s newsletter article this week.  Enjoy.

Christ is risen, He is risen indeed!  What an utterly world changing statement to declare! 

What a wonderful and worshipful Easter morning we celebrated together Sunday!  It was great to meet so many of your family members who were visiting.  It was great to see so many visitors from the community join us.  It was incredible to have 215 people worshipping together.  Kim and Mandi’s songs were inspiring.  It was a good morning most importantly as we celebrated the resurrection of Christ!

I want to include my conclusion from the sermon on Sunday as means of encouragement for you this week. 

And so, Church, this Easter morning we stand alongside the beloved Disciple and stare into the Empty Tomb.  We see the burial clothes lying neatly folded where the body of Jesus should be.  We, from the vantage point of 2000 years later have know  the rest of the story of the resurrection and what it means, of the ascension and the gift of the Holy Spirit that was given. 

But this morning, we stand and gaze into the empty tomb with the Beloved Disciple and the question for us is, “Do we believe?” 

Our faith hinges in our belief in this three act miracle of the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. 

If we can’t believe in the miracle of the resurrection, if we look at that empty tomb and just see an empty tomb, if we can’t penetrate its greater meaning, then the spirit is not with us and this book is merely an antiquity filled with moral teachings that have no authority.  Jesus was merely a man, who was a vagrant and was executed, end of story, his teachings and life have no greater meaning.

But, If we believe in the resurrection, and the ascension of Jesus, then we believe that the Spirit of Jesus Himself has been given to us and we have the strength and the hope to live in faith, discerning the spirit’s leading.

If we can look at the empty tomb and believe, than this book has authority for our lives as it was inspired by the Holy Spirit.  If we can look at the empty tomb and believe then  this Jesus is worthy of giving our lives for and following with all that we are because He is our Savior. 

If we can stare into the empty tomb and believe then we have that which is worthy of giving our life for, Following the Risen Christ. 

Church, May we believe this morning.  May we make that leap of faith

So this morning we can stand together at the open door of an empty tomb and declare together, Christ is Risen!  He is risen indeed!

Live like you believe it.  Have a blessed week!


Go Bears! Go Bears! Go Bears, Go! March 20, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — furtherupfurtherin @ 4:13 pm
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I have written quite a bit about my beloved Baylor Bears in the past weeks.  Well, for the first time in over 20 years the Bears are dancing in the NCAA Tourney this afternoon at 2 PM and the game will be televised nationally on CBS. 

 Here are a couple clips of the selection show where we found out we were in.  Look particularly at the white man in the second row, that is our coach, Scott Drew, his reaction is priceless and also why he most likely is going to be making a lot more money, hopefully from BU. 

Here is another from someone at the watch party.  It is awesome. 

 I encourage all of you to take a vacation, skip work, come down with a quick striking illness.  Do what you can to get somewher and watch the game. 

I honestly believe we have a good shot at it, of course, if we lose, I will immediately edit this post and remove that sentence. 

 Sic Em Bears.


Stuff White People Like March 14, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — furtherupfurtherin @ 2:19 pm

 As I was getting on to my blog this morning one of wordpress’s top blogs caught my attention.  It is entitled, “Stuff White People Like.” 

To this white guy, it is absolutely hilarious.  I feel ridiculous saying this, but I could literally be the person he is writing about in virtually every post I have read.  It is incredible.  If it is not me, then there are a host of my white friends who exemplify his comments.  Hilarious.  Put it on your regular reading list.  Here are a couple of great quotes from the site:

Speaking of the white people love of t-shirts…

“The most prized t-shirt category is vintage. As shown earlier, white people need authenticity like they need oxygen and to have an original vintage t-shirt from the 1970s or 1980s is a very powerful social status symbol. The ideal shirt will have a funny logo, a year attached to it, and will be as thin as rice paper. In the event that two white people have shirts that meet this criteria, the superior ranking is given to the person who paid the least for the shirt. Acquiring a shirt at a vintage clothing store is seen as less respectable than sorting through racks at the Goodwill.”

 Speaking about high school…

“The most time and cost efficient way of gaining a white person’s trust and friendship is to talk to them about their time in high school.

Virtually every white person you meet was a nerd in a high school-it it is how they were able to get into a good arts program and law school. As such, their memories of high school are painful, but not tragic since they were able to eventually find success in the real world. Exploiting this information is your one way to ticket into the heart of a white person.”


Baptists (and Catholics) and Creation Care March 12, 2008

This week both the Southern Baptist Convention and the Catholic Church took steps forward in recognizing humanity’s role in caring for (and harming) creation. 

The Vatican has brought potential new sins to the awareness of the faithful in the modern world.  Among them include the “sins of causing environmental blight.” 

The Southern Baptist Convention has been outspoken over the past years against Global Warming.  At the convention last year they passed a resolution which cautioned Southern Baptist to proceed cautiously in the acceptance of Global Warming citing that “many scientist reject the idea of catastrophic, human-induced global warming.”  This resolution passed despite the compelling scientific consensus to the contrary. 

But, this week, 46 influential Southern Baptist leaders (including the current president and 2 of the last 3 presidents) criticizing their denomination for being too timid in addressing this reality.

They pledged to no longer spend time bickering over the reality of Global Warming but to begin the dialogue on how specifically to address it.  See their statement here.

This is a huge step forward, for two such conservative Christian groups to recognize the issue and hopefully move the debate forward in their circles to focus on a responsible response.  It is encouraging. 


“This is the Great Adventure” March 11, 2008

One of my favorite memories from Seminary is the Chapel service which featured Steven Curtis Chapman.  I think he was expecting a somber seminary atmosphere but it was a room filled with ex-youth group fanatics who grew up on his cheesy theology-lite lyrics.  He played all the old faves and it was awesome.  This has nothing to do with this post other than that it is the impetus for the title to the post.  Moving on…

My original purpose for this blog was to somehow articulate to the blogosphere the adventure of following Christ.  Truly I can’t imagine anything more adventurous and exciting than giving your unwavering “yes” to a God who has the history of moving in and through humanity like we find in the Bible. 

What adventure compares to the uncertainty, danger, and thrilling nature of such a life lived in the service of God and others? 

Parasailing?  Rappeling?  

In the past two weeks I have experienced the “adventure” of disruption.  Both of our worship services have been utterly disrupted and thrown into chaos by any number of untold forces.  My weekly schedule has been disrupted by all sort of meetings and happenings.  Life has just been disrupted.  I have not accomplished many of the things I have wanted to get done. 

But it has been an incredible two weeks.  Fellowship’s worship services, conversations, Bible studies, phone calls, magazine articles, chance encounters, lunches, coffee, books, all have been used of God to remind me of the adventure of pastoring and following Christ.  To remind me of the nebulous, uncertain, precarious nature of the life lived conforming to Christ. 

Here is a wonderful series of quotes from an article I read today in Discipleship Journal by David W. Henderson entitled, “Let the Adventure Begin:  God is always near and ever up to something.”

“God delights to disrupt us so that we will learn to rely, once again, not on our predictable circumstances, nor on our own safe management of things, but on Him.  Him alone.

disruption exposes our idols.  Disruption reveals our needs.  Disruption stimulates our growth.  Disruption helps us not to take gifts for granted.  Disruption leads us to consider old things in new ways.  Disruption reminds us that there is only one sure thing. 

No wonder God delights to disrut us.  In disruption, He can give us more of Himself.”

“What do we lose when we say yes to God?  Independance, safety, predictability, comfort, control.  What do we gain?  Him plus untold measures of joy.  And how grateful, how very grateful, we will be.”

And in conclusion, I leave you with the immortal words of SCC,

“Saddle up your horses we’ve got a trail to blaze
Through the wild blue yonder of God’s amazing grace
Let’s follow our leader into the glorious unknown
This is a life like no other – this is The Great Adventure

Come on get ready for the ride of your life
Gonna leave long faced religion in a cloud of dust behind
And discover all the new horizons just waiting to be explored
This is what we were created for”

Saddle up your horses friends.  We’ve got a trail to blaze. 


High on Mount Sinai March 6, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — furtherupfurtherin @ 4:57 pm
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I came across this article this morning and thought I would share it with you . 

The whole premise of the article is that Moses was high when he saw the Burning Bush and received the 10 Commandments. 

 Nothing is mentioned about the plagues, parting of the Red Sea, or wandering in the wilderness. 

Presumably, the wilderness experience was a form of Rehab. 


My Love Affair March 5, 2008

I am currently reading, The Sermon Maker by Calvin Miller.  It pairs well with O Shepherd Where Art Thou? also by Calvin Miller which I recently read.  The Sermon Maker is a book on preaching.  It follows the story of a preacher named Sam who is struggling to be free and rid of boring, ineffectual preaching.  It has been an inspiring help. 

Preaching continues to be my love affair of the past 8 months.  I love it, I hate it, I fear it, I can’t wait for it; I am in a torrid love affair with preaching.  It may be a gift of mine, it may also be a horrible weakness.  Such is the nature of this love affair.  Such is the nature of preaching, I think. 

Such high hopes rest in those 25 minutes each week.  So much prayer, preparation, thought, and work go into each of those words that are spoken. 

Some sermons inexplicably connect with the people of God.  Some sermons sail right over the heads of the people.  Some sermons crash as soon as they take off and seem to never even reach the ears of the people.  I am overconfident in some sermons and I am horribly fearful to deliver most. 

In one footnote, Miller articulates well my hopes for the people of God and the sermon spoken each week.

“Preaching done well lures those weary with a meaningless vocation to wish they migh tactually be what they behold.  The children who are moved by Sam’s sermon see in the words the answer to the greatest question the sermon can answer:  Is God among us or not?  William Willimon says,

‘Whenever we gather on Sunday, that is still our question.  IS the Lord among us or not (Ex 17:7)?  We thought that our problem was our need for freedom, for liberation.  No.  Out problem is thirst.  Our controversy is over appropriate ways to quench thirst.  And every Sunday the preacher strikes the rock and there is water, things are brought to speech, and silence is broken.  The Lord is with us.’

It is a most attractive calling, when the keepers of the water tell a thirsty world where to get a drink.  No wonder preaching well done is God’s recruiting office.”

My task in preparing for Sunday morning is to figure out how each text I preach from brings living water to quench the thirst of all of us.  My task is to answer uniquely each week the question, “Is God among us?” 

Your task in preparing for the preaching event of Sunday morning is to come with an expectancy of having your thirst quenched.  For God is pouring out His spirit on us regardless of the quality of the preacher (Praise be to God!). 

 For the other 167 1/2 hours in the week, the task of all of us is to approach our lives as a sermon.  We live as if our every moment of being is preaching a sermon.  For we as Followers of Christ are having poured out through us this living water and we as Followers of Christ are answering the quesiton for others, “Is God available to us?”