Tuesday, August 31, 2010

on my plate

We use this expression, "i've got a lot on my plate" as kind of a negative for how busy we are - but this is counterintuitive for someone who sees a full plate as a positive! So, in a just made a first pass by the chinese buffet way - here's my full plate:
- I've written and preached three sermons in the past week (First Christian in Champaign men's group, Eastview Sunday, and Lincoln Christian University this morning)...and I'm working on one for Sunday
- the first class for our Master of Arts in Spiritual Formation begins in two weeks. There is considerable writing and reading with this that will come due in the next month or so.
- I'm also preparing and writing my annual report to the elder team which includes all the stuff that God is doing on so many levels around here.
- and then I've got the writing of our new preaching plan through the book of Acts which begins in February, 2011 - this includes paragraph descriptions of about 60 sermon texts which helps our staff prepare for the programming they do.
- also working on some leadership training classes we hope to offer this winter
- and helping organize for our Greek and Turkey trip in May
- and a wedding in Chicago this weekend
- and child dedication on Sunday
- and keeping in touch with my Tennessee son and cross town son
- and preparing to lead our small group through "Doctrine: what Christians should believe"
- and following the Reds as they head towards the playoffs

Well, I've got a lot on my plate, but I like what God is serving and I'm eating it up.

Monday, August 23, 2010

sermon planning retreat

JK and I have snuck (is it snuck the past tense of sneak?) out of town for three days to work on our preaching schedule at Eastview. This is fun and hard work that I have done for the 15 years I've been at the church. First Gary York led me and some other preachers on staff and now I have taken our other preacher away for this important work. It really is crucial work for the life of the church. We spent most of last evening working on our December series (we finish Luke in November). We have this cool four week series that will be called something like, RUTH: Bethlehem love story. In the four weeks of the Christmas season we will study from the O.T. book on the themes of faith, grace, love, and hope - all Christmas stuff but from Ruth. Cool how the Bible story all ties together and how a bunch of research work, prayer and inspiration come together to make a sermon series happen. What's really cool is that we don't even know what the Spirit knows about those particular Sunday messages, but when we get there, we'll be amazed at how much better it worked out than we thought.

Today we have immersed ourselves in the book of Acts. It is rich. Even after reading through it over 15 times in the last three weeks, I keep finding cool stuff about the beginning of the church. Our working title so far is "Following the Spirit in the church's message, mission and spiritual formation". That may change, but it follows nicely on the heals of our study of Luke's gospel (Following Jesus in the kingdom of Salvation). It is amazing to see the preaching that the early church was built on...also preaching related words like witness, testify, declare, warn, plead, etc... This really gets a preacher pscyhed about preaching. We are doing what the church has been doing for 2,000 years - proclaiming this good news of resurrection.

Well, enough of that - I'm just too excited about all of this. For a preacher, spending three days with another preacher, talking about preaching and sermons to preach is like heaven. Heaven with a starbucks in the one hand and a Bible in the other.

Monday, August 16, 2010

new life stage

Well, it's finally here. there are a million amazing things happening in my pastor life and this is the time of the year for vision for the Fall, and everyone getting back to routine, etc... But for me and Sara - our routine is getting ready to be altered in a major way.

This Thursday, after elder's meeting I'll pile in with Sara and all the stuff Caleb owns (practically all) and drive him eight hours south to Knoxville TN and Johnson Bible College for him to begin his freshman year of college. We will get in in the evening on Thursday, spend the day with him in the mountains and just hanging out on Friday and then we'll move him in his dorm room on Saturday morning. Our plan is to be on the road by 9:00 or 10:00 (eastern time) because I'm preaching Sunday. There are a lot of things that run through my mind right now, a lot of different emotions. Our house is going to be different. We've arrived at "empty nest" and among other things here's where my heart and soul are right now:
1. I'm proud of Caleb (as I am my other son Michael) for he has grown into a great man of God.
2. I am going to miss his laughter and sharing sports scores and sermon notes and daily chatter at supper.
3. I am so happy for him to be going to college. I have only fond memories of my experience there and it changed my life in so many ways. What a blast.
4. I take pride in him being the fourth generation of Baker to attend Johnson. My great uncle Frank (my grandpa's brother) attended in the early 1950's. Both my parents attended in the mid 60's (so did Sara's parents). Sara and I attended in the early 80's. My great uncle, father and I all preached and praise God - Caleb is a preacher too. I love the heritage.
5. I can't believe it went so fast. I know this has been written before, but 18 years flies by. He was just going to Sunday school, going to his first Pacers game, playing little league basketball at Gametime Gym, a freshman in high school, getting his license, preaching his first sermon, etc... It was fast man... can't express this in words.
6. I love that my wife is still my best friend and that we'll still be together as always to do life.
7. I look forward to the first time he comes "home" to visit. That will be sweet.
8. I will be emotional Sunday when I preach.
9. Joy is my deepest feeling right now. And when I cry Saturday, they will be tears of joy and that trip home will seem really long!
10. I can't wait to see what journey God takes him on. Mine has been unpredictable, not what I thought and better than I could have imagined. Can't wait...just can't wait to sit in a pew is "his" church and listen to him preach. That will be amazing.

Monday, August 9, 2010

and on the eighth day

You ever wonder what God did on the eighth day? He created for six days as recorded in Genesis account of creation (yes I'm a literalist here, I believe they were six actual days - why? because either God can or he can't create it all in six days - if he can't - not much of a God, I have big faith - but I digress) and then it says on the seventh day that he rested. We get the sabbath from this. God rested and so he set for us a rhythm of work and rest. So today was my eighth day. I got back from a long vacation yesterday evening and it was a great Sabbath for me in many ways - not the least of which is physically (I slept for 10 nights straight about 9 hours a night - I haven't done that since before kids - sleep is a cool concept!). But now, my rest is over and I'm back to the place I love with the people I love and doing what I love to do - pastor the people of Eastview! So I was thinking today...is this feeling coming out of my rest the same thing God felt on the eighth day? Don't know, but maybe our re-entry from rest was similar.

Maybe He immersed himself in the middle of all his creation revisiting all of it and relishing in all the unique stuff - I actually wondered around the building this morning just getting the Monday-morning-empty church smell (don't ask)

Maybe He surrounded himself with people (of course there were two - but I bet he laughed with Adam and Eve and talked with them and listened to them). Because of summer vacations, mission's trips, etc... there are some staff members I saw today for the first time in almost a month. It was a sweet reunion...holy really as we hugged and laughed and caught up with each other's lives.

Maybe He got back to being God - you know, creating new mercies, causing sun to shine and rain to fall and stuff to grow and hearts to beat and lions to run and oceans to stop at the shoreline, painting a new never-seen-before sunset, tinkering with canyons and volcanoes, splashing whales, feeding birds, naming stars, creating colors, caring for the humans he created. Today, I got back to being what God made me to do. I don't come close to accomplishing all the stuff God probably did on day 8, but by his grace I got to lead some, inspire some, pray some, study some, speak some (preach really), plan some, etc... In short, it was a great day after a great rest and I'm find myself more thankful and filled with joy than ever

The irony is that I'll need another rest before Sunday - so I'll take a day off before I get to preach. I wonder if God kept the same pattern and rested on earth day number 14? I think He did because he made it holy and I think it's still holy...I think day eight is better because of day seven and I'm thankful for the rest...and I'm ready for the work!