I know that I’ve gotten too slack with my blogging when I actually get a request for an update. This particular request had to do with “tryouts,” which is a bit of a dicey subject since I never know how what I write might be perceived by the churches that we have or will be visiting with. Last weekend we started a three-week string of visits with churches—two for preaching positions and one as an involvement/outreach minister. We thoroughly enjoyed our first visit and expect to enjoy those that remain. It is fun to be with God’s people and see what he is doing in different places. It is a great reminder that God’s kingdom is much bigger than the sphere in which any individual can move. I expect God to show us where he wants us to settle, but this time of looking around is a good opportunity to get to know family members that have to this point been distant relatives and to see what God is doing through them, and how we might be a part of that.

With so much variety in churches these days (something I see as a good thing), it’s hard to know what to expect—even how to dress. One of my questions in lining up this past weekend’s trip was whether I should wear a coat and tie or if dress was more casual. I was told to definitely wear a coat and tie.

Friday afternoon, we knew that we had a five-six hour drive ahead of us, so we arranged to get Jeremy out of school a few minutes early so that we could get on the road. I was a little late leaving the church office because of a phone call, so I rushed to our apartment and immediately began loading the bags that Maureen had packed into our car. As I was about to lock the door, Maureen asked me if I had everything. I hesitated, trying to think of what I might need that I did not have. It seemed that there might be something, but I couldn’t think of what it was.

We picked Jeremy up from school, and hit the interstate. It was early enough that traffic was not bad and we were enjoying cruising along. About an hour from Birmingham, a random thought popped into my head. I looked at Maureen and said, “The suit.”

We hopped off at the next exit, started heading the opposite direction, and lost about two hours on our trip for the sake of a suit.

I did tell the story Sunday morning. I figured the church might as well know who they were dealing with.

I’m not sure that they did get a very realistic picture of our family, however. Some space alien must have kidnapped my younger son and inhabited his body. The kid that was with us actually behaved during church. When I had explained to him that there would not be children’s church and that he was going to have to listen to daddy’s sermon, he responded, “But that’s no fun.” What an ego boost. He did make it, however, with only minimal squirming.

The whole idea of a tryout for a ministry position isn’t really very biblical. I’m not saying that it’s wrong, just not biblical. I mean, how often did Paul “try out” before he preached somewhere? He usually just showed up, started preaching, and waited to see if they were going to welcome him or stone him. I think I prefer tryouts. Once I find out where we are going, I’ll have a “no stoning” clause put in my contract.

I’ve also hesitated to post recently because I just can’t seem to come up with good responses to Steve Duer’s book tag. It seems that somehow I mistakenly give people the impression that I’m a man of letters. I do read a fair amount, but have a horrible memory, so that I can’t just pull up content or even the title of a book I’ve read off the cuff unless there is a specific trigger for the memory. I’m probably sharing Denise’s problem of short-term memory loss. Sorry to disappoint, Steve.

As partial compensation, I’ll throw in a couple of related quotes from books that I’m now reading, The Mind of Jesus by William Barclay, and Participating in God’s Life by Leonard Allen and Danny Swick.

“There is a kind of rationalism which kills wonder. When wonder is dead, wonderful things cease to happen. We might well receive more miracles, if we stopped insisting that miracles do not happen, and began expecting them to happen.” (Barclay, p. 70).

“So when we glibly pronounce that God can work in the world and in our lives but only in a ‘non-miraculous’ way we speak in categories created in the seventeenth century, not in biblical categories. Such a way of speaking, in fact, became possible only in the split apart world of the Enlightenment. Specifically, the Bible recognizes no dualism between nature and super nature, the world of scientific laws and the world of Divine intervention. Therefore, it makes no sense biblically to define a miracle as ‘God’s suspending the rules of nature’—there were no such rules. Instead, life is imbued with God’s activity, sometimes in dramatic, extraordinary ways, other times in more mundane but no less ‘miraculous’ ways.” (Allen & Swick, p. 121)