Monday, November 28, 2011

Happy Birthday Holly!

I want to wish a special birthday to my wife, Holly. She is my high-school sweetheart. We started dating our junior year of high school. Holly has been the clearest picture I've ever had into the heart of God.

She's the blog genius of the family. She has many more followers and she designs and updates the look of my blog. She has the gift of creativity that reflects the God she serves.

As the blog expert, she finds my blogs too lengthy and theologically dense (take that as you wish). She thinks people want more personal details and stories. So, in honor of her critique, I offer to the world the 15 things I am most grateful for in my wife.

Here it goes:

1) Loyalty - You're the most loyal person I've ever known.
2) Beauty - I only wish people who stopped to notice your physical beauty could see the incredible beauty that shines from your life.
3) Mother - You are so natural with Maddox and Addison. Daddy isn't so natural.
4) Incredible Knack for Giving Gifts - Giving gifts is your love language. I've never known anyone who had more fun figuring out what to give other people.
5) Knowledge of Sports - I'm continually shocked by how much you know about sports. It shows you love me because you care about what I care about.
6) Grace - I know what grace is through you. (Only you know how much grace you have given to me)
7) Love For Children - Children from Honduras and Africa have received your prayers and care.
8) Love For God - Your commitment to God is obvious to everyone you encounter.
9) Craftiness - You've got a knack for making crafts, blogging, and scrapbooking. You chronicle our lives.
10) Our Marriage - In a world of so much uncertainty, I have nothing but certainty about our marriage.
11) Biblical Knowledge - You took 3 semesters of Greek. What more needs to be said?
12) Cooking - You've never cooked a meal I haven't enjoyed. Don't argue with me on this one. Compare my waistline today with my measurements on our wedding day.
13) Your Family - I love my in-laws. Not everyone can say that, but I can.
14) Carefree Disposition - You've never demanded your way in over 7 years of marriage. I wish I could claim the same thing for myself.
15) Love - I didn't know agape love until I experienced it with you.

The last decade has been the greatest blessing in my life! You are amazing! I couldn't ask for more out of a wife than God gave me in you. You are my Proverbs 31 woman. I love you Holly Packer!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


So, I saw this picture on a friend's Facebook page. (Shout out to Vanessa and Nic Mount, missionaries friends of ours who are spreading the kingdom in Hawaii...Don't laugh...this is legit mission work)

And I got to thinking: How would our small group react to this idea? How would our church react if we had a bin  in the back of the room that everyone placed their cell phone in before entering worship? My guess is...not too well.

But I think this move might be one of the most countercultural commitments a church could make to stand out in our culture. Are we willing to believe our worship of God and conversation with the people around us is more important than a phone call or text we might receive?

I know, I know. I sound like an 83-year old man: "Back in my day, I had to carry around coins to insert in a pay phone to call my mom to pick me up from the golf course. You can live without a cell phone." But hear me out.

Have you been to a playground recently? Back in my day, my mom would talk with other moms or interact with us at the public park. I dare you to go to a local park today and start a conversation with another parent. I guarantee the Facebook app on their phone would be a tough competitor to a conversation with you, as a human being. Or try to start a conversation at an airport or a restaurant waiting area.

I read a study recently that mentioned the problem of nursing mothers giving their attention to their cell phones and iPads instead of their nursing babies. The special bond made between nursing mothers and babies is being affected by our addiction to technology.

I'm tired of it. I'm tired of my lunches being interrupted by a cell phone call. I'm tired of diverted attention to a Twitter reply when I'm in the middle of an important conversation. I'm tired of hearing, "Oh, I'm sorry. I've got an important phone call I must take."

I'm tired of my child interrupting me when I'm reading a blog or checking my Facebook notifications. Oops! It's not just those people. It's me.

Jon Acuff, author of the popular blog called "Stuff Christians Like," confessed a similar struggle recently. His poignant story recounted his daughter asking him to take a picture with her that he wouldn't post immediately to his myriad of of social networking sites. It seems documenting the fun times with our families has become more important than having fun times, which is a shame really.

The ministry of presence (being physically, mentally, and spiritually present with the person in front of you) has never been more needed, more powerful, or more countercultural. I'm rarely with a person who gives me more attention than someone they are communicating with outside of the room.

And as families, we're going to have to find new ways to do this with so many technological distractions.

I'm already noticing a problem with my 2-year old. He prefers the iPad to human interaction.

I'm just really struggling to find out where he learned that.


Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Agnosticism as a Spiritual Practice

Humility and theology don't tend to go together, but I'm not sure one can do good theology without an extra measure of humility.

I've spent much of my life in a religious tribe with many people who lacked humility as they shared their beliefs. And in any movement that lacks humility, you can expect to experience never-ending fractures and divisions.

So, as I thought about ministry as a career, I went to Abilene Christian University to get the answers to all of the right questions. But what I found there didn't meet my expectations. I didn't get the answers.

It's not that my professors weren't brilliant. Many of them received degrees from seminaries of great esteem,  but they didn't make me memorize information that coincided with the answers they had received from their Ph.D. program. They taught me to think, which is perhaps the greatest gift one can receive.

I've said it before. Today I'm less certain about many things, but more certain about the few things that really matter. I'm committed to being a Jesus-centered person who points people to the kingdom through my words and actions. I believe whole-heartedly that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. I'm trying to center my life on his teachings.

At times, I wonder if my lack of certainty on my beliefs about about peripheral matters is a concern to people in my church. Do people need their spiritual leader to feign certainty when he/she struggles with doubt?

And with all of these questions, this question keeps coming to mind: Is agnosticism such a bad thing when it comes to our theology? Is it ok to be an agnostic when it comes to my understanding about the end of the world? Is it ok to be an agnostic when it comes to my opinions about the best practices in corporate worship? I think so.

Hear me closely: I'm not advocating agnosticism when it comes to the essential core of our faith (basically Jesus).

Maybe it's my postmodernism speaking, but agnosticism might just be a path toward greater unity.

Let's face it: We all think we're right about everything. If we didn't believe we were right, we'd change our beliefs.

But there are elements of our faith that are not worth dividing over. Unity is not the same as uniformity. There is room for a diversity of practice at the table of the Lord.

In the words of Ian Cron, "Five words that could change the world - 'but I might be wrong...'" I don't know for certain, but he might just be right.