30 “I will’s” from Hosea

A couple of years ago I was asked to prepare a month of meditations on Hosea for a daily devotional. My initial thought was, “That’s impossible. I might manage 5 or 6.” But when I got started I was stunned to find so many divine “I will’s” in this little prophecy and they became the basis for my 30 meditations. Here they are (the thirtieth was this list).

  1. I will avenge (Hosea 1:4).
  2. I will hedge up your way with thorns (2:6)
  3. I will allure her (2:14)
  4. I will…bring her into the wilderness and speak comfort to her (2:14)
  5. I will give her vineyards from there, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope (2:15)
  6. I will take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth (2:17)
  7. I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field (2:18)
  8. I will betroth you to me (2:19)
  9. I will betroth you to me forever (2:19)
  10. I will betroth you to me in righteousness (2:19)
  11. I will betroth you to me…in judgment (2:19)
  12. I will betroth you to me…in lovingkindness (2:19).
  13. I will hear (2:21).
  14. I will sow her for myself in the earth (2:23)
  15. I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy (2:23)
  16. I will say to them which were not my people, You are my people (2:23)
  17. Because you have rejected knowledge, I will also reject you (4:6)
  18. Therefore will I change their glory into shame (4:7)
  19. For I will be to Ephraim as a lion (5:14)
  20. I will go and return to my place till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face (5:15)
  21. I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger (11:9).
  22. I will place them in their houses (11:11)
  23. I will make you to dwell in tabernacles (12:9)
  24. I will be your king (13:10)
  25. I will ransom them from the power of the grave (13:14)
  26. O death, I will be your plagues (13:14)
  27. I will heal their backsliding (14:4)
  28. I will love them freely (14:4)
  29. I will be as the dew to Israel (14:5)

Check out

Eight GetReligion comments after eight years
I’ve been enjoying this blog’s commentary on how the media covers religious issues.  Here’s a summary of their experience over the last eight years.

The one on the other side of the screen
Charitable and challenging counsel.

11 brilliant writing commandments from Henry Miller
The ones I need to obey more are numbers 1-11.

How bad is the job market for PhD’s [infographic]
Try this for starters: New doctoral degrees = 100,000; new professorships = 16,000

New drugs for depression
I don’t suggest you go out and try these, but the research is fascinating.

Ligonier’s Theological Stewardship and Ministry Momentum
I so enjoyed this! Very exciting.

Ligonier’s Theological Stewardship and Ministry Momentum from Ligonier on Vimeo.


Outreach for Introverts

As an introvert with a natural aversion to networking, Lisa Petrilli usually avoided business parties and corporate events because they made her fearful and uncomfortable. However, as she increasingly realized that such social withdrawal was damaging her career, she devised strategies that would overcome her fear of social events. She soon began to even embrace and enjoy these occasions and went on to run a $750 million dollar pharmaceutical business and to write the bestelling Introvert’s Guide to Success in Business and Leadership.

With all the attention that extroverts seek and get, especially in our over-connected media-saturated world (and church), you could be forgiven for thinking that there are few introverts left in the universe. However, statistics tell us that about 25% of people are introverts, with a further 25% having introverted tendencies depending on circumstances (I think I would put myself in this latter group). And if the church has about the same ratios, that means about 50% of us struggle to reach out with the Gospel to others just because of our personality type.

So, can we learn anything from Lisa’s strategies for Business networking and apply them to Gospel networking? I believe we can. Consider the three she summarizes in An Introvert’s Guide to Networking, over at the Harvard Business Review.

I learned to appreciate my introversion rather than repudiate it.
I have met so many introverts in business who talk about introversion as if it’s a malady that one must get over in order to be successful. This is wrong. Introversion is simply a preference for the inner world of ideas because this is where we get our energy. By understanding and accepting this preference, introverts can optimize time spent with their ideas to refine them and recharge. This allows them to be as powerful and persuasive as possible when networking situations arise.

I recognized that one-on-one conversations would be my lifeline during networking. Generally speaking, business events — and particularly networking events that require engaging with groups — are demanding for introverts. An antidote to this, I learned, is to seek out conversations with one individual at a time. When I approach events this way I have more productive conversations and form better business relationships — and I’m less drained by the experience.

I stopped being afraid to be the one to reach out.
My inner introvert used to think that making the effort to introduce myself was risky. I worried that my target would not be interested in talking with me or that I would make them uncomfortable. I learned over time that when I extended my hand with a smile and an introduction my effort would be reciprocated, even when I approached executives above my rank.

I learned to prioritize time to re-energize.
While it can be tempting to go from a networking lunch right back to work, or from a networking cocktail event right to a dinner, if you’re an introvert and you do that you won’t be able to bring your best self to your next commitment. Take the time to recharge, whether by walking from the lunch back to work, or by finding 30 minutes alone between cocktails and dinner.

Now, fellow introverts, go out into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature – albeit one at a time and with 30 minute breaks in between.


Check out

That lovely, lovely man
If you read nothing else from this list of links, please read this. It reminded me of so many of the beautiful old Christians in the Scottish Highlands that I used to pastor.

How do you preach a one time sermon?
Some good advice from Ed Stetzer.

Letters to a young pastor
Some excerpts from Calvin Miller’s book of the same name.

An endless series of difficult but achievable hills
“Repeating easy tasks again and again gets you not very far. Attacking only steep cliffs where no progress is made isn’t particularly effective either. No, the best path is an endless series of difficult (but achievable) hills.” Is Seth Godin describing pastoral ministry?

Scared of snow
Rebecca draws some spiritual lessons from some snowphobic kids.

“Use your big-boy voice”
Nathan Eshelman asks: “Do you think that the problem with some men today is that they are really boys in men’s bodies? Do you think that there is a reason why statistically there are more women in the church than men? Do you think that female pastors and elders may be partially the male gender’s fault? Do you know a number of young women that you would recommend to marry, but really can’t think of too many young men that you would recommend? Do you know Christian men that seem to sit back while their wives lead the family? Do you know a Christian man-child? The state of Christian manhood does not look good.”


My worst and best jobs

In our Counseling Class yesterday some students got talking about their worst ever jobs. It got me thinking back over the years to some of the worst jobs I had in my life; five in particular stand out.

1. Morning Milk Delivery
This was my first job, I was 14, and I only lasted a week. It involved getting up Mon-Sat at 3.30am for a 4-8am shift delivering pints of milk (in glass bottles) to households in the suburbs of Glasgow. And yes, I was still in High School, meaning that I went straight to school from the milk run. Needless to say, I slept through most of my afternoon classes that week, and by the end of the week I think my parents realized this was probably not the best career move. It was also not a little dangerous; we had to jump off the back of a moving van with up to three pints of milk in each hand. My worst moment was when two of my “colleagues” tried to throw me off the back of the milk van that we were hanging on to as the driver careened around the dark streets of Glasgow at  50mph. My week’s work earned me the princely sum of 12 British pounds (@ $17 dollars).

2. Morning Bread Delivery
What was it about early morning jobs that attracted me? Anyway, at least this one was my own business. A friend and I (we were about 15 years old) went round our neighborhood asking if people wanted fresh, hot bread delivered to them on a Saturday morning. To our amazement we very quickly received over 100 orders. We contacted a bakery and managed to make a 100% profit on what we sold, earning us about $40-$50 each for about three hours work. It still involved getting up about 4am on a Saturday morning to take delivery of the bread and rolls, package them into the orders, and then go out into the often cold, dark, wet night to deliver them. And how did we deliver them? Well, as you can’t drive in Scotland until you are 17, we struck upon the idea of a shopping cart each. We “borrowed” them  from a local grocery store and piled the carts so high that we actually could not see where we were going. What a racket as we rattled along with our cargo of sweet smelling bread and rolls. And I think I still have the scars of one snowy morning and an uncontrollable cart.

3. Potato Peeler
Yes, aged 16, I spent five summer weeks in a Scottish Hotel peeling potatoes. I think I did a few more things as well – like wash the huge porridge pots and dinner trays – but what I mainly remember is the huge pile of freshly dug, mud-caked potatoes that met me every morning begging to be washed, peeled, and sliced. I think we were catering for about 70 guests and – what is it about us Brits – they had boiled potatoes with every evening meal! I worked about a 60 hour week and earned about $50 per week – it was a Christian hotel, which apparently meant you could employ slaves.

4. Goods Lift Operator
You may have seen in the dark recesses of J C Penney or Sears, some rather scary looking elevators (we call them “lifts”) which sort of look like prisons. These are the lifts that move the clothes from storage to the floor and back again. Well, I got a summer job working one of these for $4.40 an hour. I thought it would be a breeze, but by end of the first day, in which I must have slid these heavy metal doors backwards and forwards about nine million times, I felt like I’d gone 15 rounds with Muhammed Ali. And then there were all these sweet little old store assistants with their “aching backs” who needed help to move their boxes in and out, in and out. “And maybe you could just carry them over to the far side as well, son…” I felt as if I spent the summer in a dungeon on a rack.

5. Hopper Popper Toy Salesman
A what?! Yes, true story. But that’s one I’ll save for another time.

Two words came to mind as I reminisced about my early “career”: preparation and privilege. God uses everything in our lives to prepare us for the next stage of our lives and, ultimately, for eternal life. I know it’s hard to see any possible connection between Hopper Poppers and heaven, but as James Dobson said, “Nothing is wasted in God’s economy.” Part of heaven’s joyful surprise will be when God helps us to connect all the dots of our lives. So, though I can’t put it all together right now, I strongly believe that each of these hard and rather humiliating jobs played some part in my preparation for the ministry.

Which brings me to my second word, privilege, the immense privilege God has now given me of being a preacher of the Gospel. Pastors, I know the “job” can be so difficult and so discouraging, but please don’t ever lose sight of the grace involved in being allowed to preach even one sermon or pastor even one precious soul. Let us ever say with Paul: “To me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.” What a grace, a gift, an undeserved favor!

I could (and should) still be delivering milk or bread, peeling potatoes, operating an elevator, or (worst of all) selling Hopper Poppers. That’s what I deserve to be doing; if I deserve to be doing anything (and I don’t). But instead, God has graciously called me to preach Christ and even to train others to do the same. What amazing, amazing, amazing grace! May I never cease to wonder at the astonishing mercy of God.

Why does he pick the worst of people to do the best of jobs?


Check out

Debt, Ethics and a Seminary Education
“Churches are now filled with, and led by, people who are often drowning in debt and struggling to think about much else.  Even closer to home, debt has reached crisis proportions for those of us who venture to study at America’s expensive seminaries on our own dime. Maybe this is just wrong.”

Dispatches from Blighty: The Don and Driscoll
A Brit on Britain. Probably worth a listen! I totally agree with Jeremy’s cynicism about some of the rather optimistic stats that have been quoted about British church-going in various places.

Government and its rivals
Ross Douthat critiques the President’s new healthcare regulations and the impact on religious groups: “Sectarian self-segregation is O.K., but good Samaritanism is not.”

How abuse changes a child’s brain
The brains of children raised in violent families resemble the brains of soldiers exposed to combat.

How sitting all day is damaging your body and what you can do to counteract it
The stats will make you jump out of your chair: “Do you sit in an office chair or on your couch for more than six hours a day? Then here are some disturbing facts: Your risk of heart disease has increased by up to 64 percent. You’re shaving off seven years of quality life. You’re also more at risk for certain types of cancer. Simply put, sitting is killing you. That’s the bad news. The good news: It’s easy to counteract no matter how lazy you are.”

Here’s a video to get you started!