Thursday, March 31, 2011
1. Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything (J. Foer)
2. King's Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus (T. Keller)
3. Neither Beast Nor God: The Dignity of the Human Person (G. Meilaender)
4. Spiritual Care (D. Bonhoeffer)
5. The One-Minute Manager (K. Blanchard and S. Johnson)
6. Sanctorum Communio: A Theological Study of the Sociology of the Church (D. Bonhoeffer)
7. Gilead (M. Robinson)
8. Hannah's Child: A Theologian's Memoir (S. Hauerwas)
You can see my reviews (of some, not all) on Amazon.
Monday, March 28, 2011
My day starts as late as possible, which for me is not typically later than 7:30 or 8:00AM am with 3 small children. They usually wake up between 7:00 and 7:15AM, which wakes Kendra and me up as well. We will turn on an educational show or two to get the day going and allow them to wake up while we make coffee and read our Bibles.
I take my Sabbath on Fridays. My wife Kendra will typically make a hot breakfast of some kind, featuring some combination of eggs, toast, sausage or bacon, and sometimes pancakes. We spend a little longer at the table together on Fridays as we plan out the day. Kendra runs errands with Beckett (our 3-year old) while I stay at home with Taylor Joy (5) and Easton (20 months). Easton takes his morning nap while I teach Taylor Joy her lessons for the day. We are in our first year of homeschooling and just loving it. We will do math, writing, reading, and a fun project/craft on occasion as well. It's a very special time of bonding for the two of us.
Lunch starts as soon as Kendra and Beckett get home. This is usually a quick meal on purpose, because there is only about 90 minutes from the end of lunch until the kids go down for their afternoon nap/quiet time. We will play as a family during this time, and try to spend it outside if the weather is nice enough. We will ride bikes in the driveway, play in the yard, and just spend time together. While the kids are sleeping from 2-4 pm, Kendra and I will have a special time of connection. We sit on the couch and talk about what God has shown us that week in Bible reading, talk about our souls, talk about people/situations we are praying for, and then pray together. This time will last between 60-90 minutes on a normal day. Afterwards, Kendra will usually work on a project and I’ll run (3-4 miles).
Twice per month, Kendra and I go on a special date together. If it's a family night, dinner will typically be a simple meal; I like Kendra to take a break from cooking on my Sabbath day as well. On family night, we usually do one night in per month and one night out per month. On date night, Kendra and I will almost always go out to dinner and dessert. We have a few favorite places in town, especially Caffe Capri, which is a locally owned Italian restaurant with a great atmosphere that we love. After enjoying a leisurely dinner together, we will head somewhere else for dessert. Our favorite dessert place is Christopher's World Grille, one of the only famous 5-star restaurants in our area. We’re usually home around 8:30PM.
We have family worship at the end of each day right before bedtime. All 5 of us will gather on the couch to read, sing, and pray. Currently, we are alternating nights between The Jesus Storybook Bible and Big Truths for Little Kids, so our kids are getting bible stories in simple language and also fictional stories that are designed to teach and apply biblical truths. They love both books. Then we will sing our hymn of the week, which Kendra chooses each Sunday, and perhaps one other song. We close our time together by having each child pray (including Easton, which is hilarious) and then I will pray for the family. After family worship, we will put the kids to bed, normally no later than 8:45 or 9:00PM.
Our day ends with lots of relaxing. Fridays are fun but busy days for us. At the end of the day, Kendra and I will relax by watching a movie together, playing Wii or a board game, talking, or just enjoying each other's company in some other way. We tend to stay up a little later on Friday nights, which for us is 11:00 or 11:30PM.
Allen Duty is the founding and lead pastor of New Life Baptist Church in College Station. He is the author of Baptism: Helpful Answers to Common Questions. He lives in College Station with his wife and three children. He's an Aggie.
Monday, March 21, 2011
This is one of the most challenging and important spiritual practices to integrate well into the life of a Pastor. We are called to work so that others can seek rest and worship, but if we do not have time set aside for our own rest, worship, and sacred feasting we will careen off of the path quickly. There are several formidable foes to a pastor Sabbath-ing well:
- Swimming Upstream: We need to find a way to Sabbath when everyone else is working. They may be working in the yard on a Saturday or in their vocation on a Monday but the phone does not stop ringing when we seek our rest. This requires extreme discipline and a commitment to having sacred space set aside in our week.
- Growing Families: As our children grow, the rhythms that worked well in one season will not necessarily work well in the next. For instance, when my kids all were homeschooled we had tremendous flexibility. As their lives and schedules fill with musicals, practices, school, co-ops, bible studies, birthday parties, and sports it becomes increasingly difficult.
- Growing Churches: As our churches grow it means adding services and weekend responsibilities. When we started Ecclesia I was preaching one service on Sunday evening. Now I preach four on Sunday and one on Saturday night; it changes everything.
Our Current Rhythm: I try to wrap myself in Sabbath on both sides of our weekend worship services. On the front end I seek time with the family and on the back end I seek time alone.
Friday Evening: I Sabbath with family. We share dinner and sometimes board games, a walk, or maybe a movie. The fact that we still try to get our kids to bed early often allows Lisa and me to enjoy the second half of the evening or get much needed rest.
Saturday Morning: Sleep in. Lisa is very gracious to keep things quiet and try to give me an extra hour to sleep on Saturdays. When I get up I take the boys to a special event we call “Taco Cabana and the Bible”. We tend to sit on the patio even in bad weather and the three of us share good food and a time for family discipleship. I am grateful that my boys are inquisitive, loving, and that they covet this time we spend together. I find that the Lord usually lays a story from the Scriptures on my heart a few days before and that the discussion of this text is always the best part. My boys Solomon and Christian are nine and five years old.
Saturday Evening: I exercise at my health club on Saturday afternoons and spend a few hours in prayer and study to be ready to preach by 5pm. I have been pleasantly surprised that the addition of a Saturday service has allowed me to relax fully that evening after the service, because my sermon is complete. We have found that it has made dinner and family time together more enjoyable than it was in years past when I would have been mentally tinkering with my sermon. After a full weekend Sunday Evening/Monday is a time for my personal rest and refreshing.
Sunday Evening: On my way home from our last service I stop at my favorite Mexican Food joint and enjoy a feast. It is in some ways my reward for making it through the weekend and it is also a time when I get to stop and reflect on the weekend. I often spend this time praying for people I encountered at Ecclesia over the weekend and reaching out to some by phone or email who may have been in a time of crisis. I find that this helps me to better enjoy my Monday and helps me seek closure to a few of the pressing needs that arose over the weekend. I usually get home just in time to catch the kids before they are asleep.
Monday: Because Lisa has carried the full responsibilities of the children on Sunday, it is important that I wake up in time to take the kids to school and to their homeschool cooperative. If I get drawn into a work mentality, this is where it usually happens. The primary goal for me is to read, rest, exercise, and enjoy the hours while the kids are in school. I tend to eat sushi, get a massage at a local massage school (read: cheap massage), or see a movie by myself as a typical treat after my morning reading and workout. I love this day. I am an introvert at heart, so the extroverted nature of preaching five times and talking with hundreds of people exhausts me relationally, this time alone is very important. If I do this well, I am ready for work on Tuesday morning. If I do not, I go into the week on a major deficit that I am constantly trying to conquer.
Chris Seay is the founding and lead pastor of Ecclesia in Houston. Chris is an internationally acclaimed speaker and author. His most recent book is The Gospel According to Jesus.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Three kids in, 41 years later, and I can’t really sleep past 7 or 7:30, even on my day of rest. I’m okay with that; no, I’m thankful for that -- the mornings are when God’s gift still have a new car smell to them. I like the quiet that fills my home in the early hours. During the week the kids have to get up so early for school; on Saturday morning (when there is not soccer games to be at), I can capture an hour or two before I hear feet coming down the stairs. I can pray for those still sleeping. I can have the coffee ready for my wife Meeka when she comes downstairs.
On Sat and Sun I get the newspaper (Houston Chronicle). Sometimes I feel guilty because I’ll read it before reading Scripture. Sometimes I don’t want to see it first because of all the bad news and angry and hurting people. Oftentimes, when I’m reading the paper, I also pray. I hate to be a spectator looking on as the world writhes in pain while I sip my coffee. Praying takes me out of the bleachers. Either before or after the paper, I open the Scriptures to receive from God’s Word. Sometimes I write in my journal while I’m reading. Sometimes I just read. Sometimes I’m reading what I’m going to be preaching on Sunday.
My Sabbath is observed on Saturday. There’s a heighten sense of everything on Saturdays. That is, I usually carry with me a very grateful sense that whether I’m working around the house, watching my kids play soccer, or riding my bike, I’m thankful to God; I’m worshipping. The next day, Sunday, will be a time when we sing and pray and laugh and learn and greet one another in community. We will gather to speak directly about what on Saturday was implicit throughout.
I enjoy leftovers or a turkey sandwich for lunch around 11:30AM. I will usually grab a section of the paper I didn’t read that morning while I eat. Sometimes I’ll prepare lunch for the kids. When I remember that “This Old House” is on during lunch, I like to watch that on Saturdays. Or, if not that, then I’ll watch a Premier League match.
This is a day I spend mostly with my family. Friendships that are energizing and life-giving could be part of our plans on this day, but not necessarily. We do spend a lot of time with families on our kids’ soccer teams. At the end of the day, though, I’d prefer to be with my wife and three kids on this day. We have fun together and their company feels me with gratitude.
Rest definitely includes reclining. It also includes some work around the house or in the yard. I will usually work either a long bike ride or a run into the day. A long bike ride can be anywhere between 25 and 50 miles. Sometimes I’ll go with friends on the ride. More often than not, I’m alone with my thoughts, a podcast, or some music. I like to ride my bike; it’s a bonus that it counts as exercise. A run isn’t as much fun for me, but, the physical exercise is always good for my mind, body, and spirit. That time is usually followed up with an afternoon coffee and maybe reading a book or periodical. One thing I work hard at doing on this day is not answering all the phone calls or replying to emails. That’s for another day.
Grilling on Saturdays has become a tradition for us. I enjoy it and it usually tastes really good. Mostly it’s burgers. Sometimes we will have fajitas. There’s usually a desert involved, too. We sit around our table and talk with one another about all kinds of things. Sometimes it’s serious and focused. Sometimes it’s lots of laughter and cutting up. Our mornings and early afternoons are at soccer fields -- sometimes that leisurely, sometimes not. Movies, documentaries, or sporting events are part of our evening entertainment. Or, we will play a game.
Around dinnertime I usually wonder if I’ve spent the day as I had hoped. If I’m irritated by something done or not done, I try to let it go and just recline into the evening with my family. I try to avoid looking forward and worrying about what tomorrow holds. The day comes to a close usually around 11:30 with a book or magazine. I get to sleep with my lovely wife. As is the case most every night, I end the day by saying the Lord's Prayer.
Chad Karger is the founder/director of BetterDays. He is an author and current lead pastor at Christ Church Northheast in Kingwood, Texas. Having grown up in the home of a pastor and having served in the local church for seventeen years, he has a realistic understanding about the demands upon the lives of ministry leaders and pastors. He holds a masters degree in Biblical Counseling from Colorado Christian University.
Monday, March 14, 2011
for theirs is the kingdom of this earth.
Happy are the conquerors,
for they will need no comfort.
Happy are the opportunistic,
for they will take what they want.
Happy are those with self-esteem,
for they are satisfied with themselves.
Happy are those who seek fairness,
for they will get what they deserve.
Happy are those who experience sexual pleasure,
for they will see so many things.
Happy are the successful,
for they will be called leaders of men.
Happy are the honored, accepted, and understood,
for theirs is the kingdom of this earth.
Happy are those who keep their life,
for their reward is great in the moment.
*Inspired by Peter Kreeft's talk on happiness and Jesus' sermon on blessedness.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
I keep the Sabbath like a Jew: from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. Recently I rearranged my schedule to work a half-day on Fridays, so I’m usually home by 1PM or so. From then until 6PM I’m with the kids playing, rough-housing, reading, running errands, exploring, etc. Last Friday I took my two oldest (Jonas, 6; Betty, 4) to tour the Blue Bell Ice Cream creamery, a veritable right of passage for local Brenhamites. We’ve been many times.
We eat dinner at 6PM and transition to our Sabbath rhythm. Every other Friday we have dinner with friends from our church community. Five households gather regularly for potluck and Wii. The kids run around or play games. At our best, we end the night with conversation and drinks on the back porch. On the weeks our family dines alone, we still eat at home but we’re much more relaxed: we eat together, maybe play Settlers of Catan or read or play outside. Usually no Wii. My wife and I are invariably asleep before 10PM, either way.
On Saturdays I get up 5:30AM or 6AM when we hear our toddler waking up and crying through the monitor on the nightstand. Henry and I are usually awake for about an hour before Jonas and Betty come running into the living room. Jonas and Betty make their own breakfast and I give Henry a graham cracker and peanut butter sandwich. Brandi gets up around 8:00AM or 8:30AM, at which point we’re usually ready for our second breakfast. Typically we go to Max’s Donuts in town; I get two jalapeno kolaches.
Our goal is make our Sabbath a day of rest. That means we don’t run a lot of errands or work around the house or keep ourselves busy. Currently our Sabbath is a work in progress. After donuts we go back home and most of the time do very little. We play outside; we may swim if the weather is nice. Or we stay in the house and paint or read. All of us read regularly, but on the weekends we’re over the top. It would not be strange for my six-year old to read 100 or more pages on ancient Egypt or Leonardo da Vinci on any given Saturday.
Our afternoons are filled with rest and reading. After lunch everyone “rests” for two hours. This means that everyone finds a place to be alone (inside or outside) to read, write, paint, draw, sleep, etc. Jonas will often read in “his” tree in our front yard. Betty will often choose a chair on the back porch. Brandi and I are usually in the living room or the back yard. But almost always we’re all reading.
Our day of rest usually ends with a family movie from Netflix or Redbox, or a Hyde family staple like Indian Jones and the Last Crusade or Fantastic Mr. Fox. After the movie we have our family devotional of reading, catechism, and prayer. The kids are in bed by 8PM. I preach on Sunday mornings so I often spent about an hour or so making final revisions to my sermon, before winding down with Brandi. Without fail, Brandi and I are fast asleep by 10PM.