The drive took about eight hours, during which time I learned that I can handle only about six to ten songs by Creedence Clearwater Revival in a row, whereas I can listen to Roy Orbison over and over again. I also heard the new CD by Dion (formerly of Dion and the Belmonts, back in the ’60s), entitled Bronx in Blue. World had reviewed it and one of the men in the church had picked it up, but what World didn’t mention was that the lyrics of several songs (and particularly one by Robert Johnson) were full of suggestive double entendres. Still, it was a fairly good collection, and a good historical overview of early blues.
I particularly enjoyed a CD of hymns by Martin Luther, borrowed from my in-laws. Their CD of the Psalms of Scotland by the Scottish Philharmonic Singers was okay, but I kept wishing that they would speed up. They sing all of the songs at about half the speed they ought to. No wonder so many people today have no taste for psalm singing!
I arrived in Seattle fairly late in the evening, where I met up with Mark Horne, who was staying at the same place I was. It was good to see Mark again, and also to spend some time with Dan and Sharon Dillard. Dan is the pastor of the OPC up the road from me in Bend, Oregon.
The conference started on Tuesday morning with a time of singing. Throughout the conference, the singing, led by Mars Hill’s worship pastor, was acoustic in the morning and electric at night. I particularly appreciated the cello. The songs were largely hymns and gospel songs, not the usual praise and worship stuff, but it did sound a bit like the kind of music you’d find on a worship album by Wilco.
The first lecture was by Darrin Patrick, pastor of The Journey in St. Louis, Missouri, and was entitled “The Life and Death of a Missional Leader.” The greatest challenge church planters and pastors face, Patrick said, is themselves: “Ministry will kill you.” He presented a number of stats relating to pastoral burnout, which you can find in this blog entry by Mark Driscoll, which is worth reading itself for some helpful stuff on avoiding burnout.
It often appears as if a lot of men fall away from the Lord and from the ministry. The truth, however, is different: “No one falls away from God. They walk away, one step at a time.” They keep hitting unexpected bumps, which are intended to reveal things in their character that they need to work on — but they don’t. Instead of “counting it all joy” when they fall into trials because of what those trials will produce, they focus on the pain and get disillusioned with God and His church.
But trials, Patrick said, are God’s way of teaching us about our own hearts. What matters most to us: His glory or our low-maintenance, hassle-free, designer lives? Trials tip over our idols. They force us to move from “independence” to dependence. They make us weak so that God can reveal His power through us.
How can you tell if you’re responding rightly to those trials? If you’re responding wrongly, you’ll tend not to like people. You’ll withdraw from God and from your family and from the church members and from others. But if you’re responding rightly, you’ll have compassion for others in their trials and be able to comfort them with the comfort you’ve received (2 Cor. 1).
The lecture was a great start to the conference and a great encouragement to me.
N. T. Wright takes on The Da Vinci Code.
When Moriah and I moved here to Medford, we had to put all of our stuff in storage while we waited for renovations to be done on our home.
Our garage gradually became a study for me and we moved my office furniture and books over there a couple weeks ago. And now, this week, we’re finally moving in. We might be able to sleep there tonight.
Our house was built in 1910 and is located in an older part of town. There are several beautiful old homes near us, but mixed in with them are a number of seedier places. It’s quite a bit different from our neighbourhood in Grande Prairie, where most of the houses were less than five years old.
Moriah’s parents graciously opened their home to us during these past several weeks, but we’re very much looking forward to living in our new home.
There are those who argue that young children should be “fenced” from coming to the Lord’s Supper, especially because of the Scriptural warnings about judgment for those who eat and drink in an unworthy manner.
But why stop at the Supper? What about the rest of the service? If we’re going to keep kids from the Table because they might somehow incur God’s judgment, why not fence the offering too?
Today, I had to take both of our vehicles into the dealers, one for a recall on a power steering hose and the other to have the struts replaced, a job covered by warranty. Neither would cost me anything.
I arrived at the Chrysler dealership first. When I drove into the rather dingy tunnel which was their service headquarters, I had to track down someone to look after my car. After about five to ten minutes, in which he was on the phone or disappearing to talk to someone else, he finally focused on me, only to fail to find my 11:00 appointment in the computer.
Eventually, he took me down the row of mini offices to another service guy who, in turn, disappeared into another one’s office, where I heard him protesting that he hadn’t been able to take a lunch break and asking if the other guy would take care of me. When he returned, still stuck with me, he told me that a fourth man, not present, would be my service advisor and then changed his mind and told me that he would do it.
I left my car there just before noon, under the impression that it would be ready by the end of the day. Then, I picked up our other car and took it to Lithia Honda, where the difference in dealerships was immediately evident. Honda’s service bay is open and bright. Immediately a man appeared to start taking care of the vehicle, noting mileage and so forth. Jason, with whom I’ve worked before, waved at me through the window before I even came inside.
A couple hours later, exactly on time, Jason called me and I came to pick up the vehicle. When I arrived, it was sitting in the service bay, ready for me to drive.
While I was there, the Chrysler service advisor called. My car, he told me, wasn’t ready. It turned out that changing the power steering hose is a four-hour job and they hadn’t had the time to get to it. (Note that my appointment was for 11:00 and they had the car in their system by about 11:30 and that his phone call was at about 4:30, five hours later.)
They couldn’t keep it overnight and work on it Saturday, he said, because he didn’t want to have one tech start on it (today) and another finish it (tomorrow). What’s odd about that is that no one had started it today anyway. Nevertheless, no tech is going to start or finish it tomorrow. I’ll have to bring it back some other day and probably leave it overnight with them.
When I arrived to pick up my car, believe it or not, the car had disappeared. No one had driven it up to the main service bay for me to pick up. I was sent to find it. But it wasn’t in either of their two main lots. The advisor himself went looking, as did another one, and neither could find it. Finally, a manager found it in a third lot. (The manager, at my request, agreed to a free oil change, though I didn’t receive that promise in writing.)
All of which makes me wish that both of my cars were Hondas.
My former parishoner, Tym Van Braeden, presents some interesting statistics about brothers and sisters and points out what those stats might mean.