Earlier this week I watched a recording of Oprah Winphrey’s interview of Ted and Gayle Haggard. As he was in his former public life, Ted was articulate and came across authentic. As an outsider, I discern that there is still a lot of healing and restoration that needs to take place in his life, but only God knows his true condition. Yet, I think there is much we will learn from Ted Haggard as he re-emerges in the public eye. Like or not, Ted Haggard personifies the conflict many evangelicals feel between the truth of Scripture and internal battles with the sin nature. In a permissive society, Christian’s struggling with various addictions and tendancies have more opportunity to act upon these impulses. The saddest part of the interview was the revelation that Ted reached out to other Christian leaders, but was rejected. We don’t know for certain if this is true, but it has been true for someone. We live in a new era of challenge. We need God’s presence more than ever to stand up for truth, keep us from sin, and to give grace and love to those who have fallen to sin.
It’s hard to find a bigger college football fan than me. However, there is a major misappropriation of priorities at the university of Tennessee. According to the AP Article, “Tennessee will pay more than $5.3 million to its football coaches in 2009, including $2 million for head coach Lane Kiffin $1.2 million for defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin.” If the university is doing well, and the market demands these prices, there is a logical explanation. However, this week I read in the Tennessean that the University’s “President John Petersen co-signed a letter to the state’s Washington delegation last week asking for support for the $825 billion federal stimulus package.” So, if the University of Tennessee can’t pay their bills, why are they paying more money for new football coaches? I guess the government is now bailing out the college football industry.
The church is at it best when community happens. This means names are learned, stories are told and people are understood. Community means that relationships break the surface and deepen, and growth comes through shared experiences.
On this Sunday night, I am thrilled at the reports I have witnessed and heard about our small groups – we call them 242 Groups. Participation was high, and enthusiasm for the groups even higher. I think our church is taking the first steps to living out community with each other. It will take a while to build deep camaraderie, but we are off to a great start. As a pastor, I am so happy about this! I want 2009 to be the year we start living out community together.
In addition to the historic significance of having our first African-American president, here are some other positive things about Tuesday’s inauguration of Barak Obama:
– During our peaceful transition of power, George W Bush has been gracious and classy.
– The Democrats get a president from outside of Dixie. After LBJ, Carter and Clinton, it may be good for them to change regions (okay that may have been a little politically biased).
Keeping Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense may be a sign that bi-partisan efforts in our government may occur. In these times, we really need those guys to work together.
President-elect Barack Obama’ s pick of Rahm Emanuel as Chief of Staff points to a pro-Israel stance. For the last 60 years, The United States has been a strong supporter of Israel. This stance has served our country well for many reasons. By choosing Rahm Emanuel, the new president will hear council from a man who is deeply connected with the nation of Israel. He is Jewish. His father fought for Israeli independence. I also read from one source that Emanuel volunteered as a mechanic in northern Israel during the first Gulf War. The early fears that Obama would not be pro-Israel seem unfounded with this appointment.
– Our new president has the goodwill of Congress, the American people and world-wide opinion. This initial favor gives the nation fresh opportunities both domestically and internationally.
Report from During Sen. Hillary Clinton’s confirmation hearing today (1.15.09), she said, “There is a great need for us to sound the alarm again about Darfur. It is a terrible humanitarian crisis compounded by a corrupt and very cruel regime in Khartoum.” . . . A Reuters story on the hearing quoted Save Darfur president Jerry Fowler saying, “Secretary-designate Clinton and the new administration must be prepared to lead on ending the genocide starting next Tuesday and not a day later.”
One of the reasons I was so excited about attending Southeastern University is because of the high respect I have for its president, Dr. Mark Rutland. I have followed his ministry for years, and he is a world class leader. During this program he teaches all day on Wednesday.
On this particular Wednesday a unique event occurred – Dr. Rutland announced he was leaving to become the new president of Oral Roberts University. I was able to hear his masterful sermon to the students as he informed them of this change. He then went straight from that chapel service to our small class of twenty. We were able to hear him process his raw emotions and strategic thinking behind the decision. We were also with him as he fielded calls from the media and conducted an afternoon press conference (see picture). It was a first-hand lesson on leadership on a historic day for two separate universities. I was so impressed with the dignity and professionalism in which Dr. Rutland conducted himself.
The good news for me is that Dr. Rutland is committed to finishing this master’s program with our group. This makes me very grateful that I took this step in 2009.
I read an article on Monday in Sports Illustrated that I thought was fantastic. Mitch Albom is a sports writer from Detroit, but he has written several non-sports orientated books that have been national bestsellers (my favorite by him is “Tuesdays with Morrie”). The article tilted “The Courage of Detroit” uses sports and current events to describe the collective soul of a city. You can read the article at http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers/the_bonus/01/07/detroit/index.html. Let me know if you enjoy it, too.
I have been surprised and touched by how many well wishes I received from my friends and congregation members as I have started my master’s program at Southeastern. My first day exceeded my expectations. This is a great atmosphere (as the picture shows a small part of the campus), and I have learned so much in just half a day of training. I miss my family and church, but this certainly appears to be a great investment of my time.
On Monday I am going to start work on my master’s degree at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida. I will travel there several times this year, and will graduate in December. The degree will be a Masters of Arts in Ministerial Leadership. I am so grateful that the Leadership Board of CIL is supporting me in this pursuit.
I graduated from college in December of 1996 with clear plans to pursue more education. My uncle is a professor at the University of Houston, and he advised me to not stop my momentum, because it so hard to start later. He was right. For various reasons, I was never able to start.
Over the years, I visted seminaries in consideration of residency programs and was accepted to the two graduate programs I applied for. Yet, I never found a release from God to move forward. Honestly, at times I thought this was a dead dream in my life.
Now, I can see that God had His perfect timing in mind. I am confident that this opportunity comes at the right time, at the right school and with the right program for me. This entire education process is another sign to me of how God can provide better opportunities than we imagine when we wait on Him.
I hope this encourages you about God’s work in your life!
Sunday, I had a unique and inspiring experience when I started my sermon. I am going to quote Beth’s blog, because she is much better with details! Still, I share her excitement in what the Lord did:
Just as Aaron began his sermon – Anointing Rain – he said something like “We are going to talk about the Anointing Rain which comes from the Lord.” That’s not exactly what he said, but it was something to that effect.
The very second that he said “rain that comes from the Lord”, a COMPLETE and TOTAL DOWNPOUR hit the roof of the church. Like pouring it out of a bucket. LOUD. The congregation gasped, some people cheered, one or two let out a little “Yeah!” Ha ha ha, it was awesome, very dramatic, and SO God! Aaron stopped and and said something like “See? God is here!” The rain lasted for about 2 minutes, hard, and then it just stopped and that was that.
I don’t know about you, but I am so ready for God to rain down his presence, mercy, love, healing, wisdom and anointing on me. Bring it on. – Beth