Austin Holiman

Thoughts on Life, Leadership, and Ministry

Review: Living and Longing for the Lord

ImageLiving and Longing for the Lord is Michael Whitworth’s new commentary on 1 and 2 Thessalonians. Michael has already proven to be a talented commentator with his work on Genesis (The Epic of God, 2012) and Daniel (The Derision of Heaven, 2013). Living and Longing strikes a great balance between scholarship and devotional reading; making deeper exploration of the text available for people of varying biblical knowledge. Whether you are a seminary graduate with an M.Div., a high school student, a bible class teacher, or someone who is still trying to figure all of this out Living and Longing for the Lord is written in a way that you will gain much from it.

Michael is able to masterfully weave his humor, personal insights and experiences with New Testament scholars such as: F. F. Bruce, Gordon Fee, Bruce Metzger, Warren Wiersbe, Ben Witherington III,  NT Wright, and many others to present a great work on 1 and 2 Thessalonians.

At 186 pages Living and Longing is a concise work that is able to convey the great truths of Paul’s Thessalonian correspondence without being overwhelming. Each chapter concludes with a “Talking Points” section to help solidify and further apply the information in turn making this a great text for use in the bible classroom as well as for personal study. Get your copy today, you’ll be glad you did!

Here are some of my favorite quotes from Living and Longing for the Lord:

“The Thessalonians were simply a group of Christians trying to live out the radical implications of their faith in the midst of a hostile environment.” (26)

“God’s work is our greatest cause for gratitude.” (26)

“Given that the American church invests a lot of faith in the U.S. military and the Bill of Rights, Paul’s warning should convict us of so great an idolatry. Trust the government all you want, but know that such trust is utterly misplaced. The only thing that can save us from the greatest disaster the world will ever know is a radical, sincere confession of Jesus’ lordship and preparation for his return.” (97)

“I find joy in a large bag of M&M’s, a hot cup of coffee, or when my wife makes my favorite dessert. In the grander scheme of things, however, none of these delights matter nearly as much as what God has done for us in Christ. Christians can “rejoice always” because “setback” isn’t in God’s vocabulary (cf. Romans 8:31).” (115)

http://start2finishbooks.com/thessalonians/

Reflecting

2013 is in the books. What a year it was–bringing lots of blessings, some challenges, and numerous memories.

  • Married the love of my life–Sierra
  • Sierra and I picked up our Labrador Retriever–Scout
  • Gatlinburg Trip with the Campus Ministry
  • 30+ Campus Ministry Devotionals and Events
  • Was blessed to be able to preach 50+ Sermons
  • 5 Graduate Theology Courses Completed
  • Moved from role as a Campus Minister to the Pulpit Minister
  • Achieved my goal of reading over 30 books in a year

With the beginning of a new year is the mixing of reflection and resolution. This year I resolve to write more, read more, and serve more. What did 2013 hold for you? What are you most looking forward to in 2014?

Two Days Worth of Observations

1. I am beyond blessed to work with the Cape Girardeau Church of Christ. The love these folks have for Jesus and for each other is authentic and inspiring. They give me hope for the future.

2. Always sit with someone you don’t normally sit by at potlucks/meals. It’s amazing the wisdom that can gain by learning from a variety of people.

3. Deeply studying and living out the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) will rock your world. If you want to see what it looks like to closely follow Jesus—live out those principles.

4. The wait at the Dr.’s office is incredibly long–but it’s well worth it in the end.

5. Bronchitis and Sinus Infections are miserable.

6. Food cooked over charcoal always tastes better than food cooked over any other medium.

7. Where would we be with out Rhodes 101 Stops? 44 oz Coke Zero’s for $1.25 in a drive-thru–yes please

8. Never, under any circumstances feed pork tenderloin to a puppy on the same day you decide to allow him to eat as much dog food as he wants. —Side note: I have found something that will effectively open up clogged sinuses.

9. A good book and a good cup of coffee can’t be beat.

10. Find a group of people that you can talk life with. This is one of the best forms of “soul care.”

11. Google Hangout is awesome. How did I not find this out earlier?

12. Find time for self-care: Spend some time just being still; read; pour out your thoughts in a journal; call up a friend; fly a kite…do something!

13. Ministry is messy sometimes…often.

14. 90′s Alternative Rock is superb.

Community Builders

 

 

Image

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day the continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

                                                                                    -Acts 2:42-47 (NIV, emphasis added)

Luke paints a picture of a vibrant, living church—one that has active fellowship, hold things in common, and eats together. It’s important to remember that we were not created to go through life alone–in the garden Adam is in perfect communion with God but it’s still “not good” so God creates a companion for him. It’s also important to remember that we were not meant to walk through this faith journey alone. 

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”-Hebrews 10:24-25

The Hebrew writer emphasized the reason we meet together is so that we may encourage each other as we walk in the light.

It is imperative that congregations foster a sense of community–after all that is what we are. In his book The Indispensable Guide for Smaller Churches, David R. Ray provides several ways in which we may do just that:

1.Develop ways to help everyone know everyone else’s name and to know something about everyone else.

2. Photo Directory–Name, address, phone number, birthday, etc.

3. Make and utilize permanent name tags–have disposable name tags for guests.

4. Have a church member bulletin board with pictures.

5. Eat together–a lot.

6. Ask each group—women’s ministry, college ministry, men’s ministry, etc. to plan at least one purely social event for the whole congregation in the next year.

7. Take a photo of the whole congregation and make it into postcards for congregational use.

8. Establish a church telephone tree to make communication quick and efficient. 

9. Plan church retreats–”A Day Away,” a time for the entire congregation to disconnect from the world and connect with each other.

10. Don’t juts call people together to meet and do business. Call them together just to play—Volleyball, horseshoes, movies, ballgames, game nights, etc.

11. Create ways to get your people into each other’s homes–meetings, progressive dinners, Bible studies, yard work days (one hour at each house)

12. Develop a church newsletter.

13. Website—If you don’t have one and don’t utilize social media, stop reading the rest of this post and get on it.

–What are your ideas to build community in your congregation?

Semester One—-Check.

It’s been awhile since I last posted. I initially had a goal of posting once a week—I still hope to do that.

I just mailed off my last final of the semester. I’m currently working on a Master of Divinity at Harding School of Theology. For those of you wondering, “What’s that?” The M.Div is widely considered a foundational degree for ministry. At HST the M.Div is 84 hours of coursework and it emphasize both the practical and academic sides of theology and ministry.

This has been my first semester working on an M.Div at HST and it’s been a whirlwind–it’s gone by so fast. I love my alma marter but I have never been pushed so far in an academic environment. There were a lot of late nights, hours upon hours of reading and writing and several early morning trips to Starbucks but I made it.

I have learned so much and I’m so thankful for Dr. Cochran and Dr. Randolph for all of the guidance and time invested this semester. Now it’s time to focus on the summer semester. Advanced Theological Research and Congregational Ministry—-Let’s do this!

Why. How. What.

Attempting to inspire is what we do. Whether it be trying to persuade someone to cheer for the Arkansas Razorbacks, check out a book based on our recommendation, change a particular view, attempt to look at something from another perspective–we do it all the time.

How does one inspire action? Do we address the “What” before the “Why” or the “Why” before the “What?” and does it make a difference? Simon Sinek makes the case that it does in this awesome TEDTalk from 2009.

Follow Jesus on Twitter–Or What It What Have Been Like

Be Still and Know

BeStill

 

Try your best to have a Psalm 46:10 attitude today!

8 Reasons Why Some Churches Never Grow–Agree? (Reblogged from James Nored)

Perry Noble posted this on SermonCentral concerning why some churches never grow.  Do you agree or disagree with his assessment? Of the 8, which one is the biggest threat? Even better question, how do we reverse each of these (if they are taking place)?

1. The Vision Is Not Clear

If people don’t know where a church is supposed to be going, then it will attempt to go everywhere and eventually wind up nowhere.  (Interesting experiment — ask people this coming Sunday at your church, “What is our vision” and see if people give you the same answers or different ones.)

2. The Focus Is on Trying to Please Everyone

There is NO church on the planet that will make everyone happy every single week — and according to the Scriptures, that isn’t really supposed to be our obsession.  Too many times, we become so concerned with offending people that we actually offend Jesus.

3. Passionless Leadership

When a leader does what he/she does for a paycheck and not because it’s their passion … it’s over.  I’ve said it before … I want difference-makers, not paycheck-takers.  Also, it is hard to be passionate about a place when a person’s average stay at a church is two years or less.

4. Manufacturing Energy

If a program is dead in a church … then it needs a funeral, and the people need to move on.  Investing time, energy, and money into something that is dead will not revive it.  Celebrate the fact that “that” program had its day … and then move on.  AND quit trying to fire people up over events that you would not attend if you were not on staff.

5. Lack of Prayer

Many times, we work so hard putting our ideas together that we actually think there is no need for the supernatural power of God to be involved.  Prayer should not be the good luck charm that we stick at the beginning or the end of what we do … but rather it should be our constant desperation to see God do the undeniable among us.  Intense desperation often brings undeniable revelation!

6. Unwillingness to Take Risks

When our focus becomes to play it safe rather than to do whatever it takes to reach people far from God … it’s over.  NOWHERE in the Scriptures did God ever ask anyone to do anything that didn’t involve an “oh crap” moment.  We’ve GOT to be willing to embrace the uncertain if we want to see the unbelievable.

7. Disobedience to the Scriptures

Matthew 28:18-20Mark 16:15Luke 24:48John 20:21Acts 1:8II Corinthians 5:16-21Luke 19:10 … I could go on and on … but we MUST understand that Jesus didn’t come to Earth, live here for 33 years, give HIS life for us, and then return back to heaven to intercede for us so that we could get in really little circles and talk about ourselves and condemn those who are not as good as us.  We are called to REACH PEOPLE FOR GOD — PERIOD!

8. Selfish Attitudes

Matthew 20:28 says it all … and if we are going to be more like Jesus, we’ve GOT to serve others rather than expecting the church to be our servant all of the time.  When a person (or group of people) refuses to embrace that a call to follow Jesus is a call to serve … then we’ve lost sight of who He is, and eventually, we will make being a Christian all about Jesus following/serving us rather than us taking up our cross and following Him!

NOTE: This was re-blogged from the blog of James Nored– Missional Outreach Network.

Hello 2013!

It’s hard to believe that today is the first day of 2013.  For me, the past 24 years have gone by so quickly, but 2012 seemed to go by the quickest.  As a whole, it was a phenomenal year. It had its stresses and heartache but the good far outweighed the bad.

A New Year offers a fresh start. I’d encourage you to heed Isaiah 43:18-”Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.” 2012 is over, it’s not coming back .  You won’t ever be able to get that time…those days..that year back. 2013 offers a clean slate, what will you do with it?

Post Navigation

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,399 other followers