Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Few Words for Noah

My wife's family has a tradition of putting a book together with memories and wisdom for each other as they graduate from high school. The following is what I wrote for my brother-in-law Noah (Pictured left)


Best I can tell, and lets be honest counting and numbers aren’t my strong suit, I have known you since you were 9 years old. That means that I have known you for most of your life. You know, like more than half. Again, I’m not very good with numbers, but even if my math is wrong, it will be right in a few months time, anyway.

So what do nine years mean? And for that matter, what does it mean to graduate from high school? You won’t wake up and feel any different the morning after graduation. By the time it really sets in, you will be riding a lawnmower in the hot Hudson, FL sun. Then it’s too late to reflect on graduation, you are already in the throws of college life.

With all that in mind I have two things to tell you that you already know. It’s not very witty, but it’s probably true.

First, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Honestly, I have no idea who thought of that saying, because who would be so careless as to discard a child with dirty water. It just doesn’t make any sense. As you leave high school and home behind, you will want to stretch your wings, be your own person. That is not a bad thing; in fact it is a very good one. When you go to Hudson, you will be Noah Hartley, your sister’s legacies at Word of Life will be a distant memory and you will be your own man. Don’t forget what you have been taught. Your parents have instilled virtues and values in you that should not be discarded. At 3344 Verna, you have learned to be a Godly, kind, thoughtful, giving, and fun loving young man. Don’t forget those things. Don’t let college, even a Christian one, make you hard and cynical. It will be easy. Cynicism is the sport of college students, and Noah, don’t buy into it. Think through what you are learning, but don’t let it turn you into a critic.

Second, everything you need to know, you have known since you first began to talk. We often complicate things and seek spiritual formation from the newest things. This isn’t just true of your next year at Word of Life; it will be true of the rest of our lives. Remember what Paul says in his letter to the Galatians, if we started our relationship by God through faith, we will not be perfected by human effort. Or to put it another way, the best thing I can say to you has a catchy tune and goes something like this:

Jesus loves Noah, This I know
For the Bible tells him so.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Summer Reading

This summer I have planned out an ambitious reading plan. In the midst of the studies I am teaching, summer camps, vacations, and (Lord willing) my ordination. With just those little things going on, here is my reading list for the summer: (See if you can pick up the theme)

Sabbath – Dan Allendar
This is not a theological look at the topic, rather a practical encouragement to practice the 4th Commandment.

War of Words – Tripp
This is part of a requirement for my job. It focuses on the power of words and how they affect all of our relationships

Spiritual Theology – Simon Chan
I read this book early in my time in seminary. It is a systematic approach to the Christian life.

The Way of the Heart – Nouwen
I read this during the “Summer that God-hated me” and it was immensely helpful. I am revisiting it this summer.

Christ Plays in 10,000 Places – Peterson
I love Peterson and he always makes me think.

The Moral Vision of the New Testament – Hays
I read a chapter out of this book for a class my first semester of seminary. It was written unlike any other chapter on ethics I had ever read. I am interested to see what the book as a whole is like.

After You Believe – N.T. Wright
With all the drama surrounding Wright’s theology, I am interested to see him practically spell out his theology of sanctification.

Ender in Exile – Orson Scott Card
I always keep a fiction book on my nightstand and this is my current read. It fills in the time between Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead in the Ender’s Game series.

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy – Eric Metaxas
I know I just said I keep fiction on my nightstand, but this looks very interesting and its still narrative, so it will take Ender’s place on my nightstand.

As I finish a book, I will cross it off. Also, the theme is "Spiritual Formation"

Updated 6/16