Friday, January 20, 2012

Airports, Nice Cars, Motherhood and Other Misc.

So I've been in Washington DC this week working on my Doctor of Ministry program with Covenant Seminary. The degree program revolves around how faith influences vocation which in turn influences culture, that vocation is very much integral to the Mission of God in the world. I arrived in DC last Monday and was in DC through Friday. Today my flight got delayed because of snowstorms in Chicago, so I am rerouted to Denver, with the plan to get into Lincoln late tonight, instead of at 6pm when I was supposed to arrive :-(.  I guess I'll kiss the kiddos on the head tonight while they are sleeping and see them in the morning.  Well, so I have some time on my hands sitting here in the Denver airport, and I suppose I need to start somewhere by sharing with you an embarrassment of riches I have obtained this week. Where do I begin? I've got the Porsche, the Jaguar, the Ferrari and the Aston Martin. Which one would you like to drive first? Where should we start??? Hmmm...

So here were some of our conversation partners for the week.... Let's begin with Kate Harris' encouraging and thoughtful article on how she understands Motherhood as well as other parts of the fabric of her makeup to define "calling" in her life: Motherhood as Vocation . We'll just refer to her article as "the Porsche": would mothers everywhere be encouraged. Harris gives a beautiful G.K. Chesterton quote by asking, "how can it be a small career to teach one's children about the universe?" However, Harris' article doesn't simply stop there but also enters a kind of tension where Harris states unapologetically that she was also "made to engage certain work and relationships that necessitate time away from my child." There is a wonderful tension Harris brings to mothers, to identify with them and to leave room for the questions they might have about the world and their place of belonging in it.

Well, so here's the Jaguar... I met a dear Korean brother who grew up in Latin America and currently works for the World Bank in DC. Kwang Kim very much believes that working with lending and financing to help build infrastructure in Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa and other parts of the world is a "calling" from God. Also, Kwang feels a compelling call to seek North Korea's renewal: he prays monthly with a group of DC Korean believers for that end. Kwang describes his work with the World Bank in language that doesn't sound too far off from how evangelicals often think of "missionaries"; brother sends out a prayer letter every month. Kwang says that whenever people are praying for him, his work with the WB goes well and when they are not, it doesn't go that well, that the prayers of God's people are that tangible as he engages governments and peoples to seek their flourishing (if this is new stuff to you as a Christian, read Jer. 29 sometime regarding "seeking the peace and prosperity of the city" and meditate on what Jeremiah is saying to the Israelites exiled in Babylon). Take a look at this wonderful article by Kwang: Reflections on the Meaning of a Good Life .

Are you ready to take the Ferrari for a spin? For eight years, Todd Deatherage was the head of Condolezza Rice's foreign policy think tank, under the second Bush administration. More recently, brother Deatherage has given his life to working towards peace between Israelis and Palestinians. In this article, he talks about his Palestinian Christian friend Daoud who has a sign at the entrance of his property, "We Refuse to Be Enemies": Justice, Love and True Grit.

As if that weren't enough? You haven't even seen the lines on the Aston Martin yet (check it out in the picture above). Are you kidding me? Amy Sherman recently came out with her book Kingdom Calling: Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good. You can find her book here at her website: . Where do I even begin to tell you what a gift to the Kingdom this dear sister is. With a heart for mercy and justice, Dr. Sherman lives in an urban neighborhood and gets us to think about: 1) blooming where you are planted by strategically stewarding your current job; 2) donating your vocational skills as a volunteer; 3) launching a new social enterprise and 4) participating in a targeted initiative of our congregation aimed at transforming a particular community or solving a specific social problem (I haven't read the book yet but borrow this from Tom Nelson's "Work Matters" website at Sherman makes the case that the two themes that seem to have been missing for a long time among evangelical Christians, though are integral to the very nature of the Gospel itself, are the themes of: 1) vocation and 2) justice. Of course the times are ripe and stirring for the enlargement of our understanding of the Gospel through ferreting out these themes now. Go ahead, take the Aston Martin for a spin, ... really, don't worry about it, .... go ahead and enjoy: Reconnecting Work and Church.

Alright, we are going to park the sweet rides for now, but the Doctor of Ministry program I'm a part of (also known as a D.Min.- great degree program name for a pastor, eh? If you are concerned, you probably don't want to know that I live on Diablo Dr. and wear Mephisto shoes too), is offered by Covenant Theological Seminary in partnership with The Washington Institute: program mentors are Donald Guthrie of the former and Steven Garber of the latter. Garber's book The Fabric of Faithfulness has been one of the more significant books for me in my 22-year journey as a pilgrim, and Guthrie is a stud. Brother, where have you been the last 18 years since I've been doing ministry in the local church? It's as if I've never learned to communicate and teach effectively until now. 

Well, I am a blessed man. The Porsche, the Jaguar, the Ferrari and the Aston Martin are only the start of my collection acquired this week, but enjoy those for now. 

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