Wednesday, December 31, 2008


What a year! This year I've gotten to know responsibility and transition more than any of the previous years of my life. Holly and I are so blessed. God has been so good to us. Here are my top 7 highlights of 2008.

7. Tiger Woods' US Open Victory - While Tiger Woods places this year's US Open victory as second on his incredible resume (to the '97 Masters), it is his best victory and the most incredible sports moment I have ever seen. With a double stress fracture of his left tibia, Tiger dismissed his doctor's orders, downplayed his injury to the media, and grimaced to victory in his fourteenth career major. To be honest, my biggest worry wasn't whether he would win or not. I was most interested to see if he could finish his third round, fourth round, and playoff round still walking. Incredible drama! I can't wait to see how his return goes in 2009.

6. A 30 yard addition to my golf game - Following the golf theme, my golf game improved a great deal this year. While my golf score remained a mediocre "lukewarm," I improved my distance by thirty yards. However, you might be surprised that this had nothing to do with the large size of my biceps. Instead, my thirty yards can only be attributed to the thin air found in mile-high Denver. But I still added 30 yards!

5. Graduating with my Master of Divinity - While this degree conferred on me some level of divinity, I have been upset that people haven't begun to call me master. My dad has his doctorate and people write him letters calling him Dr. Packer, but I haven't been written to as Master Packer once yet. Although, I do like my new name, Pastor Packer. It fits very well.
Graduation was a great moment. I had worked so hard for six years to get my degrees, thus it was great to finally walk across the stage knowing I had accomplished something. However, I didn't learn everything in school. In fact, my most repeated phrase so far in the office is "I didn't learn that in grad school!"

4. Moving to Colorado - Though there is much to love about Texas, the move from Abilene to Littleton was a "step up" (no offense to my Abilenian readers). Even though I haven't experienced a full winter yet, I can already tell Colorado will not take much getting used to. A strategic office facing toward the mountains doesn't hurt too much either. Though I will never outgrow my love for the Cowboys and Longhorns, Colorado is a wonderful place to live and minister.

3. Obama's Election - For anyone who knows me well, you might be surprised by how high this one made it on my list. I've always had an interest in politics, but I am continually convinced that God desires for us to work to bring change through laying down our lives in the kingdom of God rather than taking up power to influence the kingdoms of this world. But regardless of your political affiliation, I hope we can all agree that America has come a long way. We have a long ways to go, but November 4th was a historic day in our nation. Americans have gone from enslaving African Americans to electing an African American as our 44th President.

2. Joining the Littleton Church of Christ - We couldn't have asked for more out of a church family. While Holly and I have had wonderful church families over the years, we love the people at the Littleton Church of Christ so much. I love preaching. I love the people. I love the leaders. And I love that we are a church that wants to reach out to our community in relevant ways. We still feel like we're in the honeymoon phase, but there are some exciting things having to do with vision that are going to take place in 2009. I can't wait to see the incredible things that God is going to do through his church in Littleton.

1. The Pregnancy - While Holly might not put the pregnancy, itself, as our greatest moment of 2008, we would both agree on how excited we are to become parents in 2009. We're excited to find out if we are having a boy or girl in February. We are just so excited! And to share that news with our extended family and our church family was one of the most incredible moments of our year. We are so blessed and excited to be where God has placed us! We have so much to be thankful for and look forward to!

May you all have a blessed 2009!


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Bachin' It

Well, I'm in the middle of the my nine-day bachelor experiment. Holly is on her trip with her sisters and her mom to St. Kitts. This is the longest period I have been away from Holly since we started dating during our junior year of high school (2001).

It's interesting to gauge the responses of people to my situation. People are genuinely concerned about me. But being the analytical person I am, I'm trying to determine the reason for their concern. Some are concerned because they know how it feels to be without a spouse for a period of time. Others are concerned for my health and well-being. But I promise I won't get tired of alternating between Cheerios and Wheaties for nine days. Some are concerned for Toby, our dog, because they worry he will starve because of my forgetfulness.

But I hear the tone of others and they are genuinely concerned about if I will make it. They know Holly is my better half or 3/4's, but am I that helpless? Perhaps the answer is yes. With a church as loving and caring as mine, I feel like I'm on Survivor and people are excitedly watching my life to see if I will get through the week or bow out due to malnourishment, emotional distress, or some other treatable disease.

Thank you for your love and encouragement. I love and miss my wife dearly, but as they say, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder." Don't feel sorry for me. But feel free to drop by and leave a meal at the doorstep if you don't mind.


Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Question We've Been Asked Most

People in Colorado have been so wonderful to us. We were warned that people from Colorado are not as warm and inviting as people from Texas. That has not been our experience, though part of that might be because so many people in Colorado are originally from Texas.

It seems as though every stage of your life begs a question from people. When Holly and I got engaged, the question was "How does it feel to be ENGAGED (with emphasis and a higher pitch on engaged). Then when we were married, the question was "How does it feel to be MARRIED (same emphasis). But since we've moved, the question we've been asked most is "How is your transition going?"

To go public with our answer, the truth is it has been wonderful. There's always a concern when you move that you will be unhappy with the new location and want to move closer to home. But we haven't felt that way at all. We love Colorado. We love South Denver. We love the people at the Littleton Church of Christ. And we love our lives. But most of all, we feel called by God to live here and that is the most important feeling we could have.

We are here for a reason and we are continually reminded of that. I have always felt I was called to make the most kingdom impact by preaching for an established church that was willing to reach out to lost people. And our church is on that journey. We are currently repositioning ourselves for greater kingdom impact. We want to be a church that loves God and leaves the doors each week to love people.

So, you can ask us the question again, but our answer is "We're doing great. We've made the transition. We're ready to be considered just another couple in a church that is ready to grow and do exciting things. We are ready to be hospitable to outsiders. We are ready to be creative and innovative in our practices. We are ready to go!"

However, I'm smart enough to know another question is about to be asked of us: "Are you ready to be parents?" That one I'm not so sure about. You'll have to ask me a few more times.


Monday, November 24, 2008

A Baby On The Way

According to Holly, my blog is always too serious and theological. Well, I thought I would take a break from the deep subjects of life and work in order to write a personal blog. One that should be worth your while.

If you have not already heard, Holly and I announced last night at Journey that we are expecting our first child. We are so excited to have received this news! At this point, Holly is about 9 weeks along. So, we will be looking forward to this change of life around the middle of summer. (At least we're in Colorado rather than Texas. 90 degrees seems more bearable than 100.)

We would ask for your prayers during this transition in our lives. Prayers for the safety of Holly and our little one. Prayers for us as we prepare ourselves to be parents, and most of all, prayers for the day that the child growing inside of Holly's womb will one day confess Jesus Christ as Lord. More info to come!


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I Love Preaching

I love preaching. My love of sports goes back farther than my love of preaching, but my love for preaching is growing. There are many today who are insisting that the power of preaching is diminishing. With so many words out there in the world, some claim that the power of the spoken word is losing its significance.

But I am part of a group that believes that preaching is still so important. I believe there is great power in the spoken word. Any time God's Word is proclaimed in the power of the Holy Spirit, there is great opportunity for incredible things to happen. People are still being changed.

However, the competition is much greater today. WIth the invention of the iPod and podcasts, the best preachers from around the country are now available and contained in iPods across the country. There have always been incredible preachers, but now more than ever, those preachers are available to the masses across the world. It's a wonderful and scary thing all at the same time.

I have my favorite preachers. I have my favorites from previous generations including David Fleer and Rick Atchley among others. David has a unique way with words and images that I could only hope to one day touch. His introductions at Preaching Conferences are written with more flourish than sermons I spend an entire week on. And Rick is a prophet who speaks the truth despite the consequences. He is certainly a man of God. Mike Cope, Lynn Anderson, and Jerry Taylor also have a special place in my heart.

And I have my favorites who fill the speakers of my car each week from those who are a bit older. I'm grateful for Chris Seidman, Tim Spivey, Dan Bouchelle, Wade Hodges, and others who excite me about the ways our generation will follow in their footsteps.

And I am excited by the men who are my age who are just starting to speak the truth in exciting ways. Josh Ross and Jonathan Storment are two who come to mind. I can't wait to get their podcasts and listen each week. They make me want to be a better preacher.

And I have also been blessed by several outside of our movement who help me think in creative ways about my preaching. Rob Bell uses more Hebrew in each sermon than I could ever use in my preaching career. You have to be amazed by preachers who plant a church with a series out of Leviticus. I also think a lot of Erwin McManus and the Mosaic Church in Los Angeles. Their church is on the cutting edge in their belief that creativity is a natural result of spirituality. Holly and I were blessed to be able to go to his church while we were in California earlier this year.

So, who are your favorite preachers? What do you appreciate most about good preaching?


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Day

I have my feelings, theological and personal, about today's events. I'm sure we all know by now that today is election day in the US. I've heard many comments about each of the candidates. People are opinionated. So I want to take my own poll today without inserting my biases.

So two questions. Are you voting today? What is the (one) word that describes you most today as you await the announcement of America's next President?

I'd be interested to hear as many responses as possible.

(I'd also be interested in the word that describes those after the announcement of the President.)


Monday, October 27, 2008

What Is Your Name?

One of the most amazing experiences for preachers is having your sermon go in a different direction than your sermon preparation would have predicted. I had that experience this week.

I was preaching on Mark 5:1-20, the story of Jesus casting demons out of a man and sending them into a herd of pigs. My sermon preparation told me that I should preach on God's restoration of people. But as I began to write my sermon, Jesus' question to the man began to change the way I looked at the text.

He asked, "What is your name?" Now that might seem like a silly question, especially since Jesus gets the inane response, "My name is Legion, for we are many!" But I think Jesus' question is a question we often forget to ask.

Names are important. When we use a person's name, we humanize him/her. Too often we characterize people as Baptists, Lutherans, Catholics, Republicans, Democrats, homosexuals, conservatives, liberals, or terrorists, and we never get to know people by their names. As long as we don't get to know people in these groups well enough, we can continue to demonize them as opponents.

However, my great desire and longing for church unity came when I met Jamie who happened to be a Baptist. It's interesting how people's views toward divorce and remarriage change when their children go through a divorce. We have to start knowing people well enough to know their names, so that we stop allowing generalizations to keep us from knocking down walls.

In Mark 5, Jesus asks this question to a man who had been known by every other designation except his real name. He was known as a lunatic, a demon-possessed man, a monster, etc. But Jesus cared enough to ask him his name.

Let us stop the cycles of dehumanization that our culture allows to continue by asking people their names. Our country found it easier to kill and take land from this country's original inhabitants because we called them Indians. It was also easier to dehumanize and enslave Africans when we made up horrible nicknames for them rather than learning their real names. And it's easy to create laws against illegal aliens when we use them for their services and never learn their names.

We have to stop these cycles of dehumanization. Every empire's downfall began when they stopped caring about the names of the people they enslaved and destroyed. Perhaps we should learn one another's names. Who knows? It might just save us from our sectarian past and it might just save this nation from God's wrath.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Shack

Last night, beside the leadership of Dick, a friend and mentor, I began a discussion class on The Shack for our Wednesday night classes. It was a great start to the class. Many Christian leaders have crossed this book off of the appropriate reading list for their congregations. While I understand some of their concerns, I cannot understand their unwillingness to have a conversation with our culture. Whether you agree with the book or not, millions of unbelievers are reading this book in their quest for spirituality.

Christians have had an interesting relationship with culture through the years. There have always been those who have walled themselves off from culture in monasteries for their spiritual quests. Others have sought to censor every book afraid of what some ideologies might do to those with "weaker" faith. In the process, Christians have missed many opportunities to have viable conversations about God with those who are seeking.

It is my belief that we must discern who God is in whatever ways culture tries to portray him. It will be important to name heresy for what it is. And it will be important to name God-honoring material for what it is. But to me, missing out on culture's conversation about God is always a mistake. The DaVinci Code and the Passion of the Christ are just two cultural phenomena that gave us an opportunity, but many churches failed their members by not preparing them for the conversation.

I am always excited by Christians who want to have a conversation with the world. Perhaps the most positive thing Postmodernity has given us is a group of people with a renewed interest in their search for spirituality. New age movements have caught their attention. Eastern spirituality is on the rise. There are all kinds of pseudo-spiritual conversations going on out there. It's time that we join the conversation. And the next few Wednesday nights provide the Littleton Church an opportunity to do just that!

And beyond the class itself, I have an incredible opportunity to watch an incredible teacher teach beside me. And no one should pass up an opportunity like that either. The next few weeks will be full of possibilities!


Monday, October 06, 2008

Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John?

One of the most interesting experiences of my first three months in ministry is meeting so many new people. This experience naturally happens with any move, but ministry tends to send many people your way. While I have never considered myself a psychologist (I haven't even taken any psychology classes at any level), I love to hear people and stories and understand how their background shapes their future.

Experts would claim that they could determine one's personality by asking several questions in an instrument (e.g. Myers-Briggs, DISC, Prepare-Enrich, etc.).

But I have my own study I like to do with people. I think a Christian's favorite gospel says a lot about them. Each gospel writer emphasizes certain aspects of Jesus' life and tells the story in a different way. Some of the gospels are more oriented toward Greeks, while others are written for Jews. One gospel seems to be written for second generation Christians. Some gospels include more of the red letters, while another is written with just the facts.

So, I'd like to take a poll this morning. What is your favorite gospel and why?


Monday, September 29, 2008

ACU Lectureship

During my time at ACU, one of my favorite times of the year was lectureship. Few students took advantage of the offerings and speakers, but I attended every hour of lectureship that was possible. I loved being challenged by new ideas.

Last week, Holly and I got to go to Abilene for lectureship. It was great to see many old friends, professors, and ministers. In the future, I will treasure ACU lectureship and the opportunity to take a break from my routine in order to rest, renew old friendships, and think critically about the church's future.

While at ACU I had the opportunity to hear sermons from our movement's greatest preachers. I heard David Fleer, Randy Harris, Rick Atchley, Chris Seidman, and Rubel Shelly share powerful messages from their heart. These are men who are not only wonderful thinkers and preachers, but they are also incredible men of God who care deeply about the church and live righteous lives.

I look forward to future lectureships. I look forward to opportunities in the future to think deeply about the church and how we can be more faithful to God's call to be relevant in our culture.

I left Denver excited about a week to break from my routine, but by the end of lectureship I was lamenting that I would not be preaching on Sunday. I love preaching. I can't imagine doing anything else with my life. Lectureship was just what I needed. And I am excited about lectureship at Pepperdine in May. Abilene is wonderful, but there is something about Malibu that makes me think I will have a good time there also.


Monday, September 15, 2008

New Blog Design

Well, those of you who know me best know that I would have never changed my blog design. I'm the kind of person who never changes up my menu selections at restaurants. I like to keep things stable for the most part. So, who changed my blog design you ask?

My wonderful wife Holly did. She has a great eye for design and she loves me enough to do it for the inexpensive price of $0. And for those of you who know me, you also know that I wouldn't pay for such a change. So, it's an all-around good deal.

Holly, thanks for my new blog. I love it and I'm grateful for the time you put into it. For all of you bloggers out there, I don't want to commit Holly to anything she doesn't want to do, but a new business my be brewing in the Packer house. We'll see. Great job Holly!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Last January, I wrote a paper on life transitions. William Bridges is an expert on transitions who has been a part of a few transitions in his own life. He talks about three stages of any transition. Transitions include an ending, an in between phase, and a new beginning. These stages might seem obvious, but many people go through change in their lives and never make the transition that must go along with any change. Each stage is crucial for someone to successfully traverse change.

The questions people seem to be asking Holly and me most are "So, are you settling in? How's the transition going? How are you doing?" Without knowing it, people are concerned and asking most about our transition. They ask us this question over and over again because transition is vital and we all struggle with it.

We did a great job of ending in Texas. We said all of the good-byes to friends and family. We're grateful to Littleton for the time they gave us to recover from graduate school, say our goodbyes, and make the first stage of our transition successful. Now, our ending doesn't mean we don't miss Texas. Right now, we don't miss the weather, but parts of us miss the people we love so much.

I hope we spent enough time in that in between phase. The neutral zone is important. It's so important to reflect on the past and set new goals for the next stage of life. Having two months in Dallas with our families allowed us time to reflect on what the future might hold. We left for Denver with so much excitement about what God might have waiting for us to do in Colorado.

And now we are finishing that transition in our new beginning. We couldn't have asked for more really. We have had an incredible welcome to Denver. It seems like every night of the week we are meeting new people who want to get to know us. We couldn't be happier with our new church family and friends.

The transition is coming to a close. We will still deal with the affect of our move for years to come, but we are doing well. We are grateful for the past and excited about the future. And there's not a better place to be than that.

The only transition we are struggling with most is our sports teams. I rooted for the Broncos last night, but Dallas still holds our hearts if Denver were to ever face the Cowboys in a Super Bowl. Some would say that's poor transition, but at least we're loyal, right?

Monday, August 25, 2008


I am amazed by the Olympics.

Just a few things to be amazed by:

-$40,000,000,000 spent by China to put on the games.
-The incredible number of hours spent by each athlete to prepare for the games.
-The ability God has given so many people in this world.
-The creativity God has planted within individuals that was shown during the opening and closing ceremonies.
-The amazing diversity of God's Creation.
-The unity that is forged by these games between countries that cannot talk together otherwise.

I guess I am most amazed by the last two amazing parts of the Olympics. It is easy for us to conceive of God's kingdom as mostly made up of Americans. But the Olympics reminds me of the diversity of God's Creation. The new heavens and the new earth will include people from all nations and nationalities. In fact, as I watched the closing ceremonies last night, it was as if I was watching heaven on earth.

There are protests in the city of Denver as we speak around the events of the Democratic National Convention. There are also wars and genocides which place violence as the means to fixing the worlds problems. Yet, amidst all of the chaos in this world, last night I sensed heaven on earth.

Other than sports, what event or situation brings all nations together under one roof? I can't think of anything but the Olympics. Unfortunately the Olympics represent a two-week hiatus from the strife between nations. However, we serve a God whose kingdom is advancing against the powers of this world.

Last night, sports provided a glimpse of the kingdom and I was a happy viewer!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Becoming A Church of Christ

I love Churches of Christ. I am a ninth generation member of the Restoration Movement. If I didn't love our movement, I wouldn't have become a minister in Churches of Christ.

However, we also have a checkered past and a poor reputation in many areas. Our arrogant "We are the only ones going to heaven" attitude has surely turned people off in the past. Our movement was never intended to become such a sectarian movement. We began seeking to be "Christians only and not the only Christians."

I want to see us thrive again! I want people to know Churches of Christ as a group of churches that loves God and loves others. I enter ministry in this movement in order to transform our reputation, but more than that, to further the name of Jesus Christ above all other names.

This past Sunday, I challenged Littleton to become a Church of Christ. In other words, to become Christ's church. We represent Jesus in every moment of our lives. And if we are going to leave Christ's name as the center of our name as a movement, we must be willing for him to lead our church in every way. The sign claims it's his church, but often we try to make it our church.

We are always becoming a Church of Christ. We are on a journey, and until Christ comes again, we will always be in the process of becoming his church. Live into the name on our sign. Ask God to transform you into the image of his Son.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


What a week it has been! My first baptism as a minister occurred this last Wednesday night as Larry, an 88-year young man asked me to baptize him. I couldn't have been more pleased. It was a wonderful blessing to be able to raise Larry out of the waters of baptism with the smiles we shared together.

That night I was preaching on grace. This ever-elusive doctrine we preach, but that we rarely understand and experience in our own lives. I can remember thinking of God as a judge who demands perfection from us. God the judge wasn't preached from the pulpit, but somewhere in my beginning understandings of God was this harsh taskmaster of a God who would never be happy with me. So, I tried to be good enough for him, and with every sin I was turned away from God.

But grace asks something far different from us. Rather than turning away from God, grace allows us to turn toward God as we move closer to his heart. At times, I think the pendulum has swung in our churches. Instead of the fire and brimstone law that was preached from our pulpits years ago, we preach grace, grace, and more grace. And that is the gospel isn't it. Not a cheap grace, but a deep grace that heals us from our deeper understanding of our sin.

God, the judge never made me feel accepted. But God, the one described in Scripture as steadfast love, is a God I want to follow. I want to seek him in his silence. I want to chart his wonders in my life. I want to live for him. That's a God I can worship!

Tomorrow, I begin my series in the gospel of Mark with an intro sermon out of Hebrews 1:1-3. I've entitled it "Becoming a Church of Christ." You'll have to wait and hear it (at church or online). Doesn't a title like that just peak your interest. More on that in the coming week.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Four gods I've Worshipped

I've begun a four-week Wednesday night series entitled "The Four gods I've Followed." Through this series, I am intending to let the congregation know about my evolving relationship with God through the years. Each week I am talking about a different understanding I have had of God throughout the years: God the genie, God the judge, God the absentee father, and God the great lover.

Each time we enter worship together as a community, we should become aware of new facets of God. He cannot be kept in the boxes we try to keep him in. He is bigger, deeper, and more mysterious than the church during the Enlightenment could ever consider. God isn't either/or, he is both/and. Love and wrath, grace and judgment, mercy and demands, personal and mysterious. I love experiencing him in new ways every time I encounter him.

The past two weeks have been wonderful and difficult at the same time. I feel so blessed to work with such a great staff and church. The people are wonderful. The view out of my office window could not be better. Holly and I are so happy in Colorado. But the past two weeks have also brought their share of struggles. We have mourned the loss of two incredible people in our church.

The phrase that I keep repeating is "I didn't learn about this in grad school!" And that is the exciting part. Though I've finished a good part of my academic education, I'm getting an entirely new education on the job. And nothing can replace the things I am learning now.

Question: What other ways have you understood God in your life?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

My First Sunday

Sorry for the delay in posting, but my first couple of weeks at church have been a whirlwind. I am busy with many good things, but busy nonetheless. I'm going to have to learn a new word over the next year or so. "No" is not currently in my vocabulary. I'm a people pleaser, but in order to keep my priorities straight with my sweet wife, Holly, I'm going to have to learn to say "no" at times.

Sunday was incredible! The congregation stood in applause on Sunday for Mike Myers's incredible 35 years of ministry at Littleton. Mike and Carol are already such a blessing in our lives. I will be blessed by our relationship for years to come. The elders also prayed over Holly and I in our new ministry. To have a man like Charles Roberts ask God's blessing over us was a great joy on my first Sunday!

Sunday night was also a great time of fellowship and ice cream. Several people from the congregation gathered to celebrate Mike's many years and my entrance into the body of Christ at Littleton.

For those who were not there, the sermon went very well! I had so many people praying for me in Littleton, Dallas, and across the country. Thanks for the prayers offered on my behalf! I felt such a great peace and the people were so gracious in their response.

The daily grind of ministry is already upon me. And the I already feel the tyranny of preaching, that is that Sunday comes once a week. But God is faithful and he will continue to supply the words that he wants spoken. So, I will listen and wait on him to prick my heart with his desires for this congregation.

Holly and I are so blessed! Keep up the prayers!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Crouched At the Starting Line

Holly and I are now officially residents of Colorado. On Tuesday, we loaded up our 26-foot Penske truck with all of our belongings and set out west for Littleton. It is such a strange feeling to know that all of your belongings are behind you inside of a single truck. Not only did we move our things this week, but we also picked up and moved our lives, which is perhaps a bigger revelation.

Though there were a few bumps along the way, we rolled into Littleton on Wednesday evening with the promise that there would be several people at the apartment on Thursday to help us move into our 3rd floor apartment. Sure enough, we had more than 10 incredible guys who moved all of our "stuff" into our apartment in under an hour. We were completely floored by the help we received!! It was an incredible blessing to meet and sweat with these men who we will share our lives with in the coming years.

We are getting to the point of being settled this weekend. It is so exciting to think about how God will use us to bless the people of LCC and how we will receive similar blessings as well. I could not imagine moving away from our families if it were not for our new family at LCC! We already feel like we have people who we can call on for anything we might need and we can foresee so many wonderful relationships that will bloom in the coming months.

What an exciting time! While we have moved beyond our comfort zone, God uses our discomforts, weaknesses, and needs to show his incredible blessings and mercy. We cannot wait to see what God is about to do in our lives and in the lives of those in this area. We sense so much excitement within the church and it is impossible to share how excited and confident I am that God will pour out his incredible blessings in the coming days. It is a great feeling to know that Holly and I are in the center of God's will.

Soon the anticipation will end, the first sermon will be preached, and our journey with LCC will begin. But for now, I stand at the starting line with a great cloud of witnesses surrounding me. To use an Olympic image, the starting blocks are set and the gun is about to go off. I've trained for this moment in every way I could conceive possible, but I have yet to run the race. (By the way, the air is a bit thin up here, I hope I'm in shape for it?) It's time to start running.

Please pray, pray, and pray some more for us, LCC, and God's kingdom in Littleton. And when you're finished praying, pray some more! My prayer is that God's kingdom would come in strong measure on the hill overlooking the city of Littleton. God, by your power, do more than we can ask or imagine. May your name be glorified in all that we do!!

Friday, July 04, 2008

It's That Time of the Year Again...

It's the 4th of July, which means...we are hours away from Nathan's International July Fourth Hot Dog Eating Contest! Set your TiVos and DVRs to ESPN at 12 PM EST if you cannot watch live. This incredible Fourth of July tradition occurs each year in Coney Island, Brooklyn, NY.

For newcomers to competitive eating, last year was a contest for the ages. Six-time defending champion Takeru "Tsunami" Kobayashi lost his crown to a relative newcomer, Joey Chestnut, who won by devouring a world-breaking record 66 hot dogs in 12 minutes. What an upset! Last year, ESPN proclaimed Chestnut's victory as "The Greatest Moment in American Sports History!" If it's not the top moment, it has to come in the top 1,000 moments (I hope you all sense my tongue-in-cheek).

My money's on Kobayashi. He doesn't falter when a challenge is thrown his way.

Enjoy the break you have today. I'm spending time with my family and my hope is that everyone enjoys their time with their friends and family as well.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Time With Mentors

I have been blessed over and over again in my life with a plethora of incredible mentors. These men and women are a diverse group who have formed me into the image of Jesus Christ and provided me an example of what it means to be salt and light in this world. Some of these spiritual mentors have no idea of the impact they have made on my life and others have been intentional about taking me under their wing and teaching me incredible lessons about ministry, marriage, and spirituality.

During my four preaching internships, I have had incredible opportunities to shadow and learn from incredible men who have become peers and friends. I thank God for Prentice Meador, Tim Spivey, Ronnie Norman, and Phil Ware. They all were so gracious to give me their time and energy as I sought to learn what it takes to be a preaching minister in the twenty-first century.

At ACU, several more professors were key participants in my formation. Randy Harris passed along a rare ability to make Scripture come alive in new ways for people in a congregation. David Wray allowed me a glimpse into a man's life who is seeking after spiritual formation in so many ways. As I saw him share his stories of confession, personal devotion, and pastoral care, I saw how a minister must treat a congregation. Jack Reese shared with me a vision for the kingdom that seemed impossible years ago. Charles Siburt taught me how to care for a congregation in times of crisis and conflict. We all want peace, but Charles is a peacemaker, first and foremost. I have so many mentors at ACU that will continue to be my teachers as I enter ministry.

Many ministers have also had a big impact on my development as a minister. Mike Cope, Eddie Sharp, John Siburt, Scott Sager, Doug Peters, Vann Conwell, and all of my internship supervisors have been incredible examples of service in a congregational setting. I appreciate their preaching, but more than that, I appreciate the love they have for their congregations. I am so grateful for the gifts of time and wisdom they have shared with me over the years.

Then, there are the mentors who are closer to my age. Josh Ross, who was once an intern at Highland Oaks while I was in the youth group, is now the preaching minister at the Sycamore View Church of Christ. Josh has always been an incredible friend and mentor who has loved me enough to push me when I needed it most. He saw the spiritual leader in me far before I could sense God's call on my life. I am grateful for his big kingdom vision, his love for his family, and his deep love for the marginalized and oppressed.

I write this post because I have been reminded again this week of how wonderful my mentors are. In the past week, I have shared meals with Lynn Anderson, Rick Atchley, Chris Seidman, and Ray Hardin. What a week it has been! I have been able to ask so many questions and listen to so many stories of God's faithfulness in their lives and ministries. Repeatedly, these men have blessed me with so much advice and many prayers of blessing as I begin my ministry.

For those of you who have lived awhile on your journey of faith with God, share that journey with someone who is beginning their journey like me. You may think your age difference will be a roadblock to community and mentoring, but my life would be so much poorer if others had not poured their lives into mine. I am committed to mentoring others in the future, and all of God's people have a responsibility to share their lives with others. Mentoring is nothing more than poor spiritual beggars sharing their crumbs with other spiritual beggars on the journey of faith! God has given us enough bread to go around. Start spreading the crumbs!

Please comment and tell about someone who has mentored you in your journey of faith!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Tiger Woods

He did it again! Tiger Woods won the U.S. Open on an 19-hole playoff today. Even with his knee still recovering from surgery, Tiger was incredible as he earned his fourteenth major championship trophy on his way to Jack Nicklaus's record of 18.

I can still remember the first time I saw Tiger Woods play golf. I was 12 years old when he won his third U.S. Amateur Championship after rolling in a long putt to beat Steve Scott on the 38th hole of their incredible match. Soon after that day, he turned professional and changed the PGA Tour forever. I remember mimicking his fist pumps and even wearing his shirts and hats on the golf course as I sought to emulate my new favorite athlete. At one point, my dream was to become a professional golfer who would challenge all of Tiger's records, but my guess is my golf hopes have dwindled to living vicariously through Tiger's triumphs as I sit on my couch.

This U.S. Open showed a new side of Tiger. While he has certainly not started to inch down the back side of a declining career yet, I saw Tiger struggle more than he ever has before. He double-bogeyed four holes while grimacing after most of his swings during the week. I never imagined Rocco Mediate might have a chance of beating Tiger Woods in an 18-hole playoff, but he certainly looked to have Tiger's number after rolling in three birdies on the back nine today.

Until...Tiger stepped on the 18th tee. The feeling I felt both times Tiger stepped on the 18th tee yesterday and today was indescribable. It's why we watch golf (for those of you honest enough to admit that you love watching golf...hopefully there are a few). Somehow, I knew he was going to make the impossible happen and he did!!

It's fun to follow your favorite players in person and on TV. However, Tiger isn't just one of the best current players. He is one of the best of all-time, and he likely will be the best of all-time. Each time he steps on the course, he rewrites history. It will be so much fun to tell my kids about the rounds I watched him play.

But like my dad, years from now my kids will not be impressed. They will say, "Tiger-who?" just like I say to my dad, "Jack-who?" I guess that's when I'll know my dream for the tour is over. I can't wait!

And a note to my wife who endures my zeal for golf: Thanks for watching (and sleeping on the couch while I watch) golf with me and caring enough to listen to me talk about Tiger. While a 25-hour golf weekend might seem excessive, I assure you that history is being made. And I won't be on the couch again watching Tiger again until...well...a few weeks from now when the British Open begins. I love you!!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Taste of Littleton

Last night, Holly and I were given the incredible opportunity to spend time with several kids from the Littleton Church of Christ youth group. This visit was the first time we have been able to meet any members from Littleton since we have accepted the preaching position. In addition, we got to meet the interns who are spending their summer serving the kids of Littleton.

Rick Odell, the youth minister, had asked if I would be willing to meet the group in Abilene on their trip across the country and lead a devotional for them. If these youth group kids are any indication of the entire church (and I have no doubt that they are), God has certainly blessed us with an incredible group of Godly men and women who seeks after God with all of their lives. It was a special night for us to get a taste of our future.

The excitement is building! I was grateful for the chance to pray for the students in the youth group, but I was especially blessed by the words of encouragement and blessing we received from them in return. God used our new friends that we met last night to impart his grace and joy to us. Though it was a small taste of what is to come, we thank God for such a wonderful blessing last night! As I went to bed last night, I could not sleep as I dreamt of the ways God would work in the coming weeks, months, and years! And the amazing thing is that he can do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine according to his power that is at work within us. The future is bright!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

One of the Joys of My Life

One of the most amazing transformations in my life over the past six years has been my growing love for reading. In high school, I dreaded homework and I certainly was not going to sit down and read a book over the weekend. It is possible that my love for video games got in the way. I received good grades, but no one would have described me as a focused student who loved to learn.

However, as I began my freshman year at ACU as a Christian Ministry major, I developed a new joy for education and reading. Instead of dreading my school work, I could not put down the books. I loved learning more about Scripture and church history. I read books that challenged me to grow spiritually and others that challenged me to dream more about God's intentions for his church.

One of the most exciting benefits of graduation from my master's work is that I get to read the stack of books that have intended to read for a long time. During school I read many good books that I was forced to read. But now, I get to read books that I have chosen to read, which is always an added benefit.

In the future, I plan to suggest certain books for those who might be interested in a good read. Some of the books I get excited about would only be worth reading for those who are admitted "Bible nerds." These are the kinds of books I would never pass along to Holly. But there will be other books that I think others might be very excited about.

Today, I want to suggest two books for your future reading schedule.

The Shack is the first book I would suggest. While many people might think of the Trinity as an antiquated notion without much relevance today, William P. Young authors an incredible story that Eugene Peterson has dubbed the Pilgrim's Progress of our generation. This book is sure to widen your perspective about God and "his" presence in our lives. I would certainly encourage you to pick up this book when you get a chance.

The other book I have recently finished that I would pass along for your reading pleasure is Same Kind of Different As Me. This book weaves the stories of an African-American sharecropper and a white, upper-class art dealer who become close friends because of the impact of one woman in both of their lives. This book has widened my view of God's kingdom.

I hope these books will benefit your lives as you seek to be people who embody the values of the kingdom in your everyday lives. God wants to use each of you for his glory today! As God blesses you, commit to giving him the glory for the ways he shines through your life.

If you have any books that you would suggest for me to add to my future reading list, please let me know.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Whoever Has Ears to Hear...

Recently I changed my blog title from "Collin Packer's Blog" to "Sightings, Sounds, and Sniffs of the Kingdom." While I thought my old title got the point across, I thought a little more creativity might be worth my time.

I like the new title. I believe God is still very much at work in the world today. Scripture does not describe our God as one who created the world only to let it spin without his hands at work in the world. From the beginning, God has remained among his people. He always seems to show up in different ways though. For instance, off the top of my head I can remember God showing up as a gardener, a bush on fire, a cloud, a pillar of fire, a group of strangers, a presence among the Tabernacle, and as the God-man (Jesus). Apart from these specific instances, he also shows up in a variety of other ways. He sends manna and quail for the Israelites, fire down on the altar on Mt. Carmel, tongues of fire on the heads of several people at Pentecost, etc. Yet at other times, he shows up in a whisper to Elijah or he remains silent for hundreds of years. It's really all a mystery to me.

Signs of God continue to show up in all of our lives. At times, he is easily sensed through miraculous healings. At other times, we pray to him and wonder why he never chooses to show up. I believe if we are honest, we have all sensed God's obvious presence in our lives and sensed that he has completely forsaken us at other times.

In Mark 4, Jesus says to the Twelve, "You've been given insight into God's kingdom - you know how it works."

For those of us who have committed our lives to Christ and become transformed into his image, God has given us insight into the kingdom. As we live in the world, we must be committed to always looking for sightings, sounds, and sniffs of the kingdom in our own lives. At times, we will be amazed by God's kingdom when we praise God in a worship assembly. At other times, we will be amazed at the way God shares his kingdom through secular movies and music where we might expect never to find glimpses of his reign.

God is at work in the world! We are his representatives and ambassadors to people who seek him without even knowing the object of their pursuit. As detectives of the reign of God in the world, may we all begin to sense the ways he is active in our lives.

How have you seen, heard, or smelled the kingdom this week?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Tremendous Welcome

To those of you who commented on my blog over the past week, I want to thank you so much!! Holly and I could not imagine the incredible welcome we have received. We are so blessed to be welcomed so greatly by the congregation at Littleton!

Holly and I are currently on vacation in California. We are traveling with our best friends from ACU and it has been a wonderful trip. When I finally returned to check my e-mail and blog, I was amazed by the overwhelming response from Colorado. From Littleton members alone, I had 41 messages welcoming Holly and me and letting us know we are being prayed for. Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

It's so exciting to think about the future. What will be the focus of my first sermon series? Can I really preach every Sunday for the next 40 years? Have I been prepared for this task?

Yet, as I consider these questions, I am continually comforted by God's overwhelming power, mercy, and grace. His power is made perfect in weakness. It would be a sign of being unprepared if I didn't ask these questions. When we are called into ministries and situations that cannot be accomplished without God's help, we know we are in the will of God. He has called each of us to extend ourselves beyond our abilities and gifts so that he will receive the glory.

O Lord, grant us the willingness to step out beyond our comfort zones. Grant us enough failure to know how much we need you. Do not give us so many gifts, that we forget our need for you. May your Spirit guide us and lead us in the way of Christ. This is my prayer!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Ministry To Which We Have Been Called

If you have not heard the good news yet, I have accepted an offer to become the preaching minister at the Littleton Church of Christ in Littleton, Colorado (a suburb of Denver)!! We have such great peace and excitement about this decision. Though our search process has been long and uncertain at times, I could not imagine a better place to begin my ministry.

Though we will certainly enjoy this beautiful location, the most attractive part of my new job is the incredible people of LCC. During the entire interview process with the elders at Littleton, Holly and I could not have felt more loved and supported. The ministerial staff has an incredible reputation among churches in our tradition and I have heard nothing but good things about the administrative staff as well. In the coming weeks, Holly and I cannot wait to meet more of the congregation.

In the past week, my own discernment of my calling to ministry has been affirmed twice. A week ago, the professors of ACU acknowledged my call to ministry and blessed my future as a leader in God's kingdom. And just a few days ago, I got the call I had been waiting on for six years now. All of my education means very little without the calling of a church that discerns my gifts of leadership and preaching. With the call from Littleton, I feel completely sure of the ministry to which I have been called. Praise God for the work he has done in my life and for the ways he has called me into a position of impact in his kingdom!

To those who have mentored, befriended, taught, and prayed for Holly and me in our preparation for ministry, I want to thank you for all you have done for us! We will continue to covet your prayers, advice, and friendship in the future. God has placed you in our paths for a reason and we will never take for granted the blessings you have given us.

And to those at the Littleton Church of Christ, Holly and I want you to know how excited we are to minister alongside you. We have prayed for God to lead us in the direction of his choosing. We feel confident that he has done just that! We are excited to meet every one of you. We have been praying for each of you for the past few years now. May God bless you with his grace, passion, and peace.

To those who will be come to know Christ through God's ministry of grace spread through this weak vessel, I pray that God will open your hearts to his message. I know the Holy Spirit is already at work in your lives. God, help me in my role as a missionary among lost people.

God, may your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. And may we join you as your reign increases on the earth. Use us as your hands and feet among the hurting. Use us as your salt and light to infect a world of darkness with your light!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

One More To Go!!!

One more paper to go. I cannot believe it. After this paper, I will have completed:

212 hours of undergrad and graduate work
18 hours of Greek
6 hours of Hebrew
9 hours of Preaching
15 hours of Church History
Countless Papers
4 incredible internships
6 years of life at ACU
An entire chapter of my life story

Guess what my last paper is about?

Wrong! It's not about my systematic theology or my philosophy of ministry. Instead, I am currently researching about sexual addiction in an effort to construct a model of Crisis Intervention for families and churches suffering from this growing epidemic. Who knows? Perhaps this paper will lead to some kind of important men's ministry in the future.

It's almost time to turn the page.

What will be written on the next page? The ink is ready and I'm as ready to read the words on the next page of my life story as anyone else.

Where will Holly and I end up? How many kids will we have? Will we be able to have kids? What will my ministry look like 5 or 10 years from now? What will my passions be? What joys await us? What tragedies will we have to endure?

While I have many questions, there are many things I expect to remain the same. (It might be funny to look back at this post 20 years from now!)

I will be more in love with my perpetually beautiful wife, Holly.
I will still enjoy sitting on the couch as I root on my favorite sports teams.
I will enjoy reading books I want to read rather than books I have been forced to read.
I will passionately preach the message of the kingdom of God so that Christ might transform the hearts of people.
I will continue on the journey of faith without reaching my destination.
I will worship God in times of joy and times of intense pain.
I will continue to love the church for all of its blessings and in spite of its blemishes.

These things I am confident of.

So, I ask for the author of my story to pick up the pen and continue writing. While his pen has been known to write tragedies, I know his heart! He longs for me to worship him with all of my life! He loves me and has called me to be transformed for the sake of the world. He will take care of me just as he does for the lilies of the field and the birds of the air. It's time to turn the page!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Preaching Search

The time is coming! I have been involved in intense education, internships, and church ministry for nearly six years preparing myself for the coming weeks and months. God has definitely been involved in the process all along.

Although, I can't say my expectations have been met in some ways. When I began my undergraduate degree, I believed that I would have all of the answers for faith and church leadership. And while my education, experiences, and internships have matured me more than I can say, I must admit that I have more questions than answers at this point. Christianity is a funny thing. The more you know the more you don't know. And the more you are formed into the image of Jesus Christ, the more you are able to see the untransformed areas in your life that you were once unable to see.

I must say I am excited. Holly and I cannot wait to enter a church and start loving the people there. We cannot wait! We have been in prayer for years that God would prepare the hearts of the church that we will minister to, and we believe that he is already at work.

There are many exciting things ahead. I look forward to preaching each week and helping a church realize its gifts and vision. We look forward to settling down in a city and starting a family. We are excited about making new friends and building relationships. But most of all, we are excited about living out the life that God has called us to.

Holy God, grant us the wisdom to see you at work in our lives. I pray for the church that we will choose to work with. Bless their transition. Give them a heart for the lost. Transform their lives. May they be a community of mission, care for one another, and love. Grace and peace to them. And may you grant us grace and peace while we wait for the opportunity to begin our ministry!