Haiku #9

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a haiku-- and, since I’m starting a series on the Lord’s Supper this Sunday, I’ll offer one on that.

Sacrament Supper
Christ’s body and blood for you
in fellowship meal
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Swamped

Slow blogging these days-- mainly because I’m a little swamped with work. I’m getting ready to spend next week at Ridgehaven, where I’ll be speaking to a group of Sr. High students. It should be a great week-- Marcie and I have always enjoyed it when I’ve spoken there before-- but I have a good bit of prep to do for the nine times I’ll speak (all to the same group-- not repeating any of the material). So forgive me if the blog is quiet for this week and next; I’m focused.

Talk to you soon.
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On reading, and books for January 2008

I love to read, and those who know me are aware that I read heavily: I regularly have multiple books that I'm reading concurrently, and I probably have averaged 50-75 books a year for the past decade and more. (I first realized that I had a higher-than-average tendency for reading when I set a personal goal to finish 25 books in a year my sophomore year in college and my friends and family finding this quite surprising; I hit 25 around August that year.)

As a result, I have a high awareness of good books on a variety of subjects. I've been told that I have the spiritual gift of
bibliography-- I almost always have a book recommendation for a particular problem or issue. And, as an extension of that (and following in the pattern of several friends and others whose blogs I read), I thought I would start logging my reading habits here.

Most months, I finish at least two or three books during the month and begin others. Every now and then, I hit a peculiar month: while I continue to read, I don't actually finish any books! Whether its because I've spent a good bit of time writing, I've been reading magazines or other periodicals, or I've been reading parts of lots of books, I just don't make a lot of progress through any single volume.

January was one of those months. Thus, my first post sharing my reading with you is somewhat anti-climactic, I freely admit.

Just so that I don't leave it at that, here's the list of books that I am currently reading:

  • The Cross of Christ by John R. W. Stott

  • The Shadow of the Cross by Walter Chantry

  • The Challenge of Jesus by N. T. Wright

  • The Attributes of God by Arthur W. Pink

  • How Your Church Family Works by Peter L. Steinke

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Working on a book

If you've ever read my other blog, Placement Reflections, you may know that I started it as a repository for data, insights, and interaction with the research that I started in 2004 on pastoral placement. I initially did that research for personal reasons (e.g., I wanted to know how to place well!) but quickly became burdened for anyone who is going through a pastoral transition. As I've continued to study this subject, I'm convinced that I have developed some helpful nuts-and-bolts ideas about how to do pastoral transition well, from both the pastor's side and the church's.
At some point, I wondered if there might be a book-length project in this material, or even more than one.
I first posted about this idea in July 2006-- so it is something that has been percolating for a while. Since then, I've gone through different stages of prepping for that-- including copying all of my posts into a very useful writing application (and discovering that I had more than enough material already for a book-length project-- and also realizing that about half of the book had barely been discussed); drafting a book proposal; getting great feedback from a trusted friend and fellow writer that I should divide the material into two books; writing a grant (that was rejected) for additional research for my book; actually losing the final draft of my book proposal; and putting all of it (including the Placement Reflections blog) on indefinite hold as I transitioned into pastoral ministry.
Now, the time is right for me to pick it up again over the coming months. I think there are several reasons why the timing is good:
  • For starters, I've actually done the transition now, and I'm finishing up my examinations for ordination; Lord willing, I'll be ordained by mid-March. Since I first began to discuss doing a book, this has been the biggest hang-up for those who I've interacted with, and while I still believe that the research I've done could stand on its own in this regard, the added (and possibly fundamental) credibility of having actually done it means a lot.
  • Next, approaching the completion (hopefully!) of ordination means that a major item that has been on my plate is finished. I'm settling into ministry well, and the other consulting and side work I'm doing is also reaching a manageable pace. So I have the capacity, I think, to re-focus on this project. Worst case, I'll start up and then slow down again, but we'll see.
  • I'm eager to publish this material-- mainly because I really want to see men (and women) helped with their transition into ministry. Like I said above, I have a burdened heart for this.
  • Finally, my friend Craig is setting his sights on finishing his (latest) book up this year, too-- and I think it would be cool to go through that together. Maybe we'll covenant to pray for one another in that, or at least be good support; Craig has been a great encourager of my writing in general.
Since Placement Reflections has been a great tool for prepping the book up to now, I fully intend to continue using it that way. I'll develop new ideas there on different levels over the coming months. 
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Internet communities article

I've always been fascinated with technology, and over time I've developed a lot of thoughts and ideas about how faith and technology collide. A few of these thoughts made their way into an article that I recently wrote for ByFaith magazine, which ended up being called, "Looking for Love in a Few Wrong Places". That article, which focuses particularly on how technology and the Internet allow communities to be built in new ways, is now available on the ByFaith website, in case you're interested.

By the way, if you don't already subscribe to ByFaith, I would highly recommend it (and not just because I write for them)-- it is a good magazine that offers a helpful look at many diverse topics.
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Haiku #1

I'm fascinated by the Haiku, a form of Japanese poetry that is structured by a pattern of syllables in each line: 5, 7, 5. Periodically, I will take a moment to construct a Haiku as both an expression of what I'm thinking or feeling and a brief exercise in writing. Here is the first:

studying Bible
sermon is for this Sunday
will it be worthy?
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