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They want God.

They want God.


 It is God with whom we have to do. People go for long stretches of time without being aware of that, thinking that it is money, or sex, or work, or children, or parents, or a political cause, or an athletic competition, or learning with which they must deal. Any one or a combination of these subjects can absorb them and for a time give them the meaning and purpose that human beings seem to require. But then there is a slow stretch of boredom. Or a disaster. Or a sudden collapse of meaning. They want more. They want God. When a person searches for meaning and direction, asking questions and testing our statements, we must not be diverted into anything other or less.

Eugene Peterson, Working the Angles.

The Meaning of Marriage–Discussion Questions

The Meaning of Marriage–Discussion Questions

Tim Keller, The Meaning of Marriage
Tim Keller, The Meaning of Marriage

My wife, Stacey, and I enter into our third year of marriage tomorrow, February 5th. We'll be celebrating our 2nd Anniversary, as we celebrate many things, by going out to a nice dinner.

Eating—as well as ministry—are the two things that bonded us most closely together when we were dating. We like to do both of those things as often as we can to keep that bond as strong as possible. We often fail in keeping that bond strong, because we're deeply in need of the Grace that God provides most readily through his Son Jesus Christ. But as we have failed/fallen/been self-ish/you-name-it, we have found that getting through those failures together has increased our bond even more tightly.

So as we enter into our third year, we want to proactively push ourselves deeper in our relationship both with each other and with Christ—to whom we give credit for bringing us together. When we were engaged, we listened to Tim Keller's sermon series he did in the early 90s on marriage and now that he has published The Meaning of Marriage, we're going to read through it. Keep that bond strong.

Since there are no study questions provided in the book, I'm making up my own and will be posting them here if anyone else is interested in them. I've tried to gear them both for married couples and singles. If you have the opportunity to use them in a small group setting, try to get both married and singles in on the conversation. It would have blessed me to have been around more married couples talking about their marriage when I was single as well as it would behoove me to get around more singles now that I am married.

Introduction Questions:

  1. How did you and your spouse meet? What was your "secret thread?"
  2. What is the longest marriage you are intimately aware of? Why are they still together? The shortest? Why did it end?
  3. If you are married: what do you hope to learn about marriage through reading this book? If you are single: What do you hope to learn about marriage through reading this book?
  4. How has marriage compared to your single life?
  5. What has been your experience with marriage; parents, grandparents, friends? What is your general conception of marriage? How do you understand society's conception of marriage: positive, negative, neutral? (p. 11)
  6. Have you thought of the Bible as a "reliable guide" in your married or single life? Why would you look to Scripture rather than your own "fears or romanticism, particular experiences, or culture's narrow perspective?" (p. 17)
  7. Do you agree with Keller's statement that 3 human institutions stand apart from all others—family, church, and state?
  8. What have you understood the purpose of marriage to be? What new ideas, insights are being raised in the introduction?
  9. Keller states on p. 13 that the Bible begins and ends with a marriage. What, in your mind, is the significance of this?
  10. Keller states that marriage "has been instituted by God and that marriage was designed to be a reflection of the saving love of God for us in Jesus Christ. How have you seen/experienced this? How have you not?
  11. Keller states, "the main enemy of marriage [is] sinful self-centeredness. How has your marriage fought this enemy? How have you as a single fought sinful self-centeredness?
  12. Keller states that "marriage is…a way for two spiritual friends to help each other on their journey to become the persons God designed them to be." What do you think he means by this? Why is this important for marriage?

All The Meaning of Marriage Discussion Questions.

Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned


Over the last few months, Stacey and I have been heading to a small town south of Chicago to do some pastor and preaching. It's been a great experience overall, but after this past weekend we decided to call it quits. It was a pretty hard decision, but one that we feel God led us to, rather than just a knee-jerk reaction when times got hard. The previous Thursday before we went up there, they led a discussion that came to a vote on my presence being there. People that I trusted had been ones leading the charge against me. And after the cold reception that we received on Sunday, we decided that it would be in the best interest of all parties to end the short-term arrangement.

All that said, I have to say that it was one of the most concentrated learning experiences that I have had. I came up with 10 things that I learned through this process. Yes, it's a list. We all like lists, as my favorite streaming music service keeps telling me.

  1. Trust my instincts. Even though I am young and without tons of experience, God has gifted me in specific ways to lead his people.
  2. Trust that God is doing a great work. Both in the people and in me.
  3. Commit myself to prayer. For people, for me, for Stacey. Lean on God at every opportunity.
  4. Be in the Word. It is life-giving. It is true and mighty. It speaks today as God has throughout time.
  5. Ask Questions. Actively pursue the hard things. Where will this just not work? What is a challenge? What can change? What is a deal breaker?
  6. Confront sin. God hates it. So should you. Confront it head on and be gracious.
  7. I absolutely married an amazing woman.
  8. Know where I am gifted. Don't sell myself short. If any of my gifts are compromised, ask why and think hard about the situation.
  9. Pastoring is like marriage. Can you put up with all her (the church's) faults and still love and serve her?
  10. Be reflective. Write down your thoughts; talk with others.

And even in the week since I wrote this out, God is still teaching me lessons and I'm sure will be much into the future.

Red Wings & Persols

Red Wings & Persols

If I had to define my style, I would have to say it's something along the lines of Rugged American Work with Steve McQueen cool.  This translates into double-pocketed demin work shirts with pen slits in the pockets, plaids, flannels, leather boots and jackets, wool and jeans.  Things that are American made.  I have my whims occasionally, like my Onitsuka Tigers that have every color of the rainbow in them.  I like thinking that working with one's hands is still valued and that, as my dad calls them, "office hands"–smooth and delicate–aren't the norm.  Thankfully everyone is producing the work shirts right now and the old American work brands are found in most department stores right now.  Red Wing 875s were the original American work boots that I want my feet to be encased in.

Steve McQueen tends to body the old rugged American look, but also carry a sense of class in all of that.  His life echoes the same–it was only after encounters with the law and heading into the military that he became the actor that embodied that lifestyle.  Much like his movie persona, his penchant for driving fast and living fast, was embodied in his style.  Like the Persol 714s that had blue lenses and folded.  The 649s are pretty cool too.

I, having an OCD streak in me, have been scouring the internets for images and pricing for these items.  But with a wedding coming up and irregular employment, the prospect of spending this kind of cash is out of reach.  For now I will just have to obsess.

Life Update :: 4.20

Do people who smoke out really need a day to "celebrate" that fact?  Are they some kind of persecuted group of people?  Is it an opportunity for them to do something different than what they normally do?

The answers to these questions are no.

It was mentioned to me earlier today that today is cough–National Pot Smoker's Day–cough.  Like I said, I don't think they need a day, but where would such a statement be made, you ask.  Well, at work.  That's right, I got a job.

I'm working at Rooster crepe. sandwich. cafe. in the kitchen.  I'm one of two people that can actually make the crepes.  Probably because making crepes in the first place is a mistake.  I take a very runny egg-based batter and pour it onto a hot surface with no lip and spread it out quickly enough so that it spreads all the way to the edges, but not so fast that it doesn't have time to set before I get to the edge.  It took me about two days to get the rhythm, but I can now make three at a time and get about 90 done in 45 minutes.  Other than "spinning" the crepes, I also assemble the crepes when they are ordered.  Overall, it's a pretty easy job.  I gets stressful on Saturdays when we have over 300 crepes, alone, ordered from 8:30-2:00.  It's a lot of controlled movement, thinking fast, doing it correctly.

Ministry is going well too.  I'm still being challenged and encouraged by Mike and Phil, which I would expect nothing less.  I'm being more proactive in pursuing people on Sunday mornings, those who I haven't seen at City Church before, finding out their stories and sharing some of mine as well.  I tend to find the people that have just moved to the Lou and so I have a quick connecting point with them.  For others, I just make stuff up and hope for the best.  I'm kidding, of course.  Or. Am. I?

I'm connecting with quite a few of my neighbors also.  I hung out with the guys upstairs on Saturday while they smoked three racks of ribs and two pork shoulders.  Glorious smoked meats.  We watched the Cards game, which I've decided has to happen, just as I would watch fútbol in Costa Rica.  Of course, this is the 6 hour and 53 minute game making it a real stretch for me to care the extra 11 innings.  A lot of things can happen during that amount of time.  One thing of interest is Hailey deciding to try out flying and jumping out a two story window.  Thankfully, one of my neighbors, the smoker–of meats, not grass–caught her and she's none-the-worse.

I'm exploring Saint Louis as much as I can also.  On Friday I went to Farmhaus, a new restaurant which focuses on local ingredients and classes up some of the homey classics: meat pie with chorizo gravy, bacon-wrapped meatloaf with a BBQ glaze, fish and potatoes.  They do their own charcuterie also, which makes me happy.  Yesterday I was looking for a particular herb and went to Produce Row, which seems to be the landing spot of all the produce that gets to Saint Louis.  It was pretty impressive.

I was also welcomed to Saint Louis last week when my car was broken into.  Nothing was taken, but they smashed my window.  Got it fixed quickly and all is well.

Lately the freshness of Christ has been on my mind also.  How I often don't place my identity in him and what it looks like to do so.  How just as in the Old Testament, God sits on the throne in the tabernacle, God's right place in my life is sitting on the throne of my heart.  I often forget that and snap at people "trying" to help me on the phone, but quickly remember that I have been extended grace and so should they.  Still there are other times when I don't remember and I can only hope for more grace on my part from those around me.

Still hoping to return to Chicago to plant, so if you know anyone that wants to do that, send them my way.  Right now, however, I'm building relationships where I am and enjoying my time in Saint Louis and trying to keep my smoking relegated to meat alone.