Monthly Archives: January 2012

For Charles Siburt

I remember a few years ago, having Dr. Siburt’s introduction to ministry graduate class. I had been in full time ministry for about 4 years already, and I just kept thinking, “I wish I would have known that last year.” Bro. Charlie is one of the wisest and servant hearted people I know. No just in words but in deeds. But I’ve been particularly blessed by working with his son, Ben, as my partner in ministry the past year at Highland. The Siburt’s have been a huge blessing to thousands of people, and as they enter into this final season in Bro. Charlie’s fight with cancer, maybe it’s our turn to bless them.

I’m reposting what my friend, Dan Bouchelle, wrote today about Bro. Charles, please join people all over the country this Friday in praying for the Siburts.

Thanks for all you’ve done Bro. Charles, the church is a much better place because you’ve given your life serving her.

For Charlie

Siburt_creative_servOutside my family, no one has had a more powerful positive impact on my life than Dr. Charles Siburt. He has been my teacher, mentor, counselor, role-model, networker, pastor, and friend. From the first ministry class I took with him in 1989 until today, there is no one whose counsel I am quicker to seek. His wisdom and care have shaped a generation of ministers and his service to churches around the country is unparalleled in the past few decades. As Director of the Doctor of Ministry program at ACU’s Graduate School of Theology and in all his various other posts, he has become the church doctor for Churches of Christ and has helped us become a healthier, more gracious, more honest, and more truthful community of churches. He is known for his ability to speak the truth in bold and unflinching ways while making people feel loved and hopeful at the same time. There is no one else like him in my world.

For the last 23 years, whenever I got my ministry ox in a ditch and didn’t know what to do, I’d call Charlie and he’d help me get unstuck. I cannot begin to count all the ways Charlie has blessed my life and I am only one of legions of ministers who have been blessed the same way by Charlie.

Like the rest, I am deeply conflicted at the news that Charlie’s battle with cancer is drawing to a close and Charlie is in his final days with us on this side of Jesus’ appearing to set all things right. I’m thrilled Charlie will soon be with his Lord. I grieve over the hole his departure will leave behind. Thousands of us have been praying that God would deliver Charlie from this cancer and God has certainly been gracious to give Charlie many extra days. However, it appears now that the Lord is getting ready to take Charlie home.

D72_0208-copyOn behalf of all of us who love Charlie, I invite you to join several of us who love the Siburts by setting aside this Friday, February 3, as a special day of prayer with fasting if you choose. Please lift up Charlie’s body, his spirit, and his family to the Father of all compassion. Judy and his sons have sacrificed time with Charlie for the sake of the church for many years. Pray that their final days with him in this age will be enriching. Pray that God will give Charlie courage for his final days and a peaceful trip home. Pray that he will be able to leave the hospital for his final days. Most of all, give thanks for all that God has given us all through Charlie. Pray that God will raise up an Elisha or twelve to pick up Charlie’s mantle. What will we do without him? Continue reading For Charles Siburt

Can I Get a Witness?

 The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John,  who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.  Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near. -Revelation 1:1-3

So there was this time when I was a kid, I was nosing around in some letters that somebody had written my mom over a decade before. They were talking about a future visit and what they would be able to do when they were in town together. It was a letter about people being reconciled after a long time apart, and they were coming soon.

As we read through the book of Revelation, we would do good to remind ourselves that this letter isn’t written to us, at least not directly the way we think about it. It was first written to Jesus followers who lived in the world ruled by Rome. They were misunderstood, for the most part they lived in poverty and on the margins, they were beginning to be hated and persecuted, and so God gives John a vision for them.

He shows John life in the Heavens, he opens up the curtain between Heaven and earth and John sees Jesus coming in the clouds with trumpets with a sword and blazing eyes. And I guarantee you whenever this  little church that was gathered around listening to this letter being read,  when they got to this part, they began to whisper it. Because everybody in that day knew what that language meant.

That was how they talked about Caesar.

Caesar was, after all, indisputably the most powerful person in the world. He ruled the world from India to England and he did it with an iron first. However, you need more than just military might to rule that much land, you need faith. So Caesar needed people to believe he was divine, the son of God, and the Prince of Peace (all titles applied to him). When he was going places, they would say that Caesar came in the clouds and was preceded by trumpets. He was a force to be reckoned with, and these seven little churches (probably, for the most part, just a handful of peasants and slaves) were just a fly on his windshield that he could easily flick off. He had done that plenty of times before.

But…. Continue reading Can I Get a Witness?

More Than Civil

So this video was filmed right in the middle of the African-Americans starting to do sit-in’s on southern eating establishments. They were breaking several unjust laws, and forcing the issues of racial prejudice and injustice back into the forefront of the American white people. African Americans were being arrested right and left, and so Dr. King, as the leader of this national strategy, was brought onto the Meet the Press show to give the rationale behind this movement.

He was 31 years old.

Which is convicting in itself for me. That just happens to be my age. By the time Dr. King had lived as long as I had, he had a command of national issues, a passion for justice, and a strategy that was starting to pick up steam. I’m realizing I just might play too much Xbox.

But here in this video, Dr. King is taking quite a bit of flack, he’s being asked some hard questions by some white reporters who seem to be feeling some anxiety associated with the spirit of that age (not to mention some poor fashion sense). And Dr. King never loses his calm, he never responds belittling or with anger. Heck, he never even mentions that thing that the woman reporter is trying to pass off as a hat.

Now there is a couple of observations in here for us. For all the reporters logic, and sense, they seemed to be unaware that they were speaking squarely with the voice of the status quo. Their imaginations had been captured by the spirit of the age, and they could not see it. It’s always a danger that when God sends a prophet people won’t be able to even consider the possibility that they could be wrong and he or she could be right. We build monuments and bridges for Dr. King today, but in his day, in many of the circles that celebrate him today, he was considered as favorably as a turd in a punchbowl. There is a real danger of not doing a fearless self-inventory when we hear someone who disagrees with us, or calls us to something beyond what we currently think

The second thing that stands out about Dr. King in this video is how he treated these people, and how he responded to the face of some pretty insidious seeming questions. He was extremely civil. In our day, these kinds of conversations would have been filled with graphics, sound bytes taken out of context, and lots of yelling and red-faced name calling. It makes for some great entertainments, and some horrible people.

But that wasn’t what Dr. King’s dream was. Continue reading More Than Civil

Revelation and “The End of the World”

So when I was a teenager growing up in Arkansas, we had a guy from India, Simran Gujral (a Sikh) come live at our house for many months. Sikhs, as your might know, never cut there hair, and are known for wearing a turban. Simran was close to my age, and we fought and loved each other like brothers. In fact, I see him every couple of years, and I still consider him family. He is my Indian brother.

One day, we were having one of our many conversations about faith, and Simran told me that he knew when the world was going to end. He told me stories about Nostradamus, and Mayans, and predictions that only had a few short years before they came true. And I believed him about all of it. He was, after all, wearing a turban.

Since then I’ve changed my mind on what I think happens when the world (as we know it) ends.

But I don’t read Revelation like that any more. It’s ironic that Revelation is a book that is used by so many to incite fear, when that’s really not what John is trying to do. The book of Revelation is actually all about hope. It’s the book where God makes some of the most deep promises to His people in the whole Bible. It’s where we find out that no matter what life looks like around us, God is always with us, and watching.

And Revelation is not actually about the end of the world, but the transformation and renewal of it.

And since so many people these days are talking about the end of the world, I thought it might be nice to blog through the book of Revelation for the next few weeks. Because what blog couldn’t use some dragons from time to time? But first a couple of things you should know about Revelation. Continue reading Revelation and “The End of the World”

May I Recommend from 2011

One of the best benefits of being home schooled was that my mother let me read all the time growing up. My curriculum for a year or two  consisted of my parents dropping me off at the Benton Library and leaving me there all day. It was kind of a dream education. It almost outweighed the whole  being terrified of girls and social situations.

All that to say  I like reading a lot. And I thought I’d share with you some of the best books I read from 2011:

1. To Change the World by James Davidson Hunter. This book was my favorite from last year. It’s heady and a little verbose, but it is entirely worth it. Hunter takes on the way politics have infiltrated the Jesus movement in the West, and why the only way to save the Nation, is to stop Christians from talking about it the way we do. Whatever politics you hold dear, rest assured that Hunter will step on your toes. It’s seriously one of the most helpful books I’ve read in years.

2. Jesus, My Father and the CIA. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. It’s up there with Tattoos on the Heart for me. It’s warm and profound and hilarious all at the same time. Ian Cron writes as someone who has wrestled with God and has found words to speak about it well. It’s a great memoir!

3. Simply Jesus. I have begun to pray for N.T. Wright’s health, because I am pretty sure as long as he’s alive and writing, I will never have a problem with coming up with ideas for preaching. Great book about the historical context of Jesus and what He thought he was doing in his ministry, death and resurrection.

4. The Next Christians by Gabe Lyons. This book is one of the best books I’ve read to help understand the younger Christians. I found myself resonating with every page. It would have been easier to underline what I didn’t want to remember.

5. With by Skye Jethani. I really like Jethani’s writing. Jethani addresses some of the dark sides of the missional impulses that some of the younger Christians have. It was a convicting and healing read. Continue reading May I Recommend from 2011