Friday, January 17, 2014

A Fun Facebook Convo...Sprinkled with Sarcasm & Seriousness

A few days ago I had a really fun, helpful conversation on Facebook with one of my best friends, Nate Larson. I asked him if I could post our conversation here on my blog, partly because I think we are hilarious, and partly because I feel like some really meaningful things were said. This conversation is a pretty even mix of sarcasm and seriousness, but I trust that you will be able to tell the difference between the two. To set the context of this conversation, Nate and I were talking about another pastor who was going to be preaching on the Sermon on the Mount. Enjoy!


Nathaniel Larson
smart! mennonites love the sermon on the mount

Jason Bowker
Baptists love Romans!
Nathaniel Larson
no doubt!
Jason Bowker
True. Cause he actually taught stuff instead
of just telling weird ambiguous stories

Nathaniel Larson
yea, Jesus was a hippy whose systematic
theology needed some work


Jason Bowker
And terrible evangelist. Always telling people to
be silent about who he was

Nathaniel Larson
yea, i wish people talked about that more

Jason Bowker
Yeah no one talks about the underground
covert nature of the gospel

Nathaniel Larson
nope, the gospel revealed by people in the
context of real community revealed by our lives,
not by marketing campaigns, tracts or tshirts


Jason Bowker
I love all those t-shirts. So convincing.
Makes me wanna turn my life over to Jesus

Nathaniel Larson
me too! i became a christian because of one,
and a bumper sticker, i was like - wow in case
of rapture that car will be unmanned, that is scary,
i love you Jesus and i want to follow you


Jason Bowker
If that person's boss is a Jewish carpenter,
I want mine to be one too!!

Nathaniel Larson
ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

Nathaniel Larson
Like the born again thing, which is a total crack up
to me. Cause Jesus only said that to one guy one time.
And then there was that whole born again movement.
You know where everybody said you had to be born
again. And I was going, 'why, am I Nicodemus?'
What happened to the passage that said, 'if you want
to follow Me, give up all you've got and give it to
the poor and take up your cross?' Do we all have to
do that too? Wheaton College April 11, 1997


Nathaniel Larson

Jason Bowker
I think the born again conversation has some
bearing for us. But not what we have made it.
It's original intention is that the person who
is born again is radically changed in every way.
A completely new person with all new behaviors
and language. Not just that I made some
one-time commitment that eternally
secured my eternity with god

Nathaniel Larson
what do you think about its relation to what
Jesus says to the rich young ruler?

Rich Mullins is the quoter of the quote i sent you
in affect Jesus said each thing to one person

Jason Bowker
I think those things are both specific and general.
Both intended for that person and to help shape the world.
But the main point is that the good news is
certainly not the same for everyone. It is contextual.
It meets us where we are and offers hope and
peace and grace into our specific circumstances

Nathaniel Larson
well put

Sunday, January 12, 2014

I Resolve To...

I believe in the power of setting goals. So, without further ado, here are the goals I have set for this coming year. I'm sure I'll be blogging more about each of these throughout the year, and hopefully this process will hold me accountable to fulfilling my goals.

Read 18 books (12 non-fiction & 6 fiction)

Each year I have a goal of reading a certain number of books, but usually I only read non-fiction books. So this year I'm adding some fiction books to my goal. There are a number of book series that I have been wanting to read, including The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones, but I also want to finally read some classic series like Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia.

Blog at least once a week

I used to blog a lot. A long time ago. But for quite a while I have been incredibly inconsistent with my blogging. So this year I want to commit to blogging about once a week. That's not a lot, but at least it's a goal that is attainable and sustainable.

Kiss my wife once a day

Please read this goal as completely innocent. In this goal, I am simply acknowledging that with kids now in our lives, it is easy to focus so much on kids that we forget to prioritize our marriage. I simply want to remember daily that I love my wife.

Find our rhythm as parents of two small children

This year will bring about a completely different life for us as we welcome child #2 into the world. We will need to find a new, healthy rhythm that works for our family.

Make some more friends in Bozeman

This was a goal for me last year too, but I need to be intentional about making a few more friends here in Bozeman. It's tough to make friends when you work all day and then go home to your family at night, so I need be really intentional in finding more people to share life with here.

Develop my pastoral role at our church

I have spent most of this past year (my first in Bozeman) finding my way as an employee at the youth center, so I'm looking forward to exploring my role as one of the pastors at our church this year. I have one huge idea of how this will happen, which I will be writing about in the coming months.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

God With Baggage

Once again, Naked Pastor has produced an incredibly thought-provoking cartoon. I don't have time for commentary on this, but the cartoon speaks for itself. Enjoy.

HT: Naked Pastor

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Some Brilliant Basics of Faith

In a previous post I included some of my favorite quotes from Nadia Bolz-Weber's book Pastrix. One brilliant section was a little too long for that post, however, so I thought I would dedicate an entire post to these thoughts.

When Nadia first came back to the church, years after leaving the fundamentalist church of her youth, she attended an ELCA Lutheran church where her fiance was an intern. When she decided to join the church she needed to take a membership class that was taught by the pastor. In the book, Nadia included the five main points that the pastor spoke about in this class. These five teachings are a great place to begin with people that are new to the church and I can definitely see myself "borrowing" (aka 'stealing') these in the future as I speak to new members at my church. Here are the five:
  1. God's grace is a gift that is freely given to us. We don't earn a thing when it comes to God's love, and we only try to live in response to the gift.
  2. No one is climbing the spiritual ladder. We don't continually improve until we are so spiritual we no longer need God. We die and are made new, but that's different from spiritual self-improvement.
  3. We are simultaneously sinner and saint, 100 percent of both, all the time.
  4. The Bible is not God. The Bible is simply the cradle that holds Christ. Anything in the Bible that does not hold up to the Gospel of Jesus Christ simply does not have the same authority.
  5. The movement in our relationship to God is always from God to us. Always. We can't, through our piety or goodness, move closer to God. God is always coming near to us. Most especially in the Eucharist and in the stranger.
While these five certainly don't encompass all Christian thought and belief, they seem like an appropriate place to start with people who are new to your church. I think they are incredibly helpful.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

It Made My List Too

As 2013 has been coming to a close over the past month, I have seen a handful of lists from bloggers I follow about their top books over the past year. And one book seems to consistently show up on each list - Pastrix: the Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner and Saint by Nadia Bolz-Weber. Pastrix is Nadia's first book, a memoir, and after finishing it last night (just after midnight), I can safely place it on my top-10 list for 2013 as well.

I have no intention of this post being a book review, but simply a place to post some of the most memorable and meaningful quotes from the book. Basically, her memoir is the story of God's redemption and resurrection, how God constantly ushers light into darkness, bringing life out of death. Here are some of my favorite parts from Pastrix.

"Grace is when God is a source of wholeness, which makes up for my failings. My failings hurt me and others and even the planet, and God's grace to me is that my brokenness is not the final word."

Nadia's husband, in response to Nadia wanting to leave a church with a difference of beliefs: "There's not enough wrong with it to leave and there's just enough wrong it it to stay. Fight to change it."

A suggestion of what their church slogan should be: "Welcome to House for All Sinners and Saints. We will disappoint you."

"...the job of a preacher is to find some kind of good news for people. And that good news really should be about who God is and how God works and what God has done and what God will do."

"But as a chaplain, I felt that people really just needed me to mostly shut the hell up and deal with the reality of how painful it all is."

"'Nothing' is God's favorite material to work with."

"Sometimes the best thing we can do for each other is talk honestly about being wrong."

"...addressing pain and tragedy is one of my main responsibilities as a pastor. I'm asked to find God in the suffering. And every time I go looking for God amidst sorrow, I always find Jesus at the cross. In death and resurrection."

 "Jesus brings a kingdom ruled by the crucified one and populated by the unclean and always found in the unexpected."

"The greatest spiritual practice is just showing up...being present to what is real, what is actually happening."

I highly recommend this book. It is a really fast read and will leave you inspired to live out your faith, regardless of where you are in your spiritual life.