(Image via flickr.com/photos/vandan/559397201/

So I took the leap into the 20th century*, and now have my own web space.

I’ve moved all the amazing content over to charphar.com, installed the Standard theme, and I’ll be tweaking and changing as we go.

In case you want to make the move with me, point your browser to charphar.com, and I’ll try to take care of the rest! Thanks!


*I’m taking it one century at a time, thank you! :)

The Barn…

(Image via flickr.com/mytimemachine)

Ed Stetzer has some thoughts on the evolution of the Church Growth Movement. This quote grabbed me early this morning…

The church can never become the place where I live, work, and play. My neighborhood is where real people live. I am not sent by God to a church facility, ever how convenient and impressive it may be. I am sent away from the church gathered to my tribe and household with the Good News of the Gospel. That is where transformational movements take place that engage every man, woman, and child with the Gospel. So, too many in church growth focused on the barn, rather than how we might live on mission among the white fields. When focusing too much on the barn, we sometimes forget that the wheat will not harvest itself.

I’m living and leading in such a context right now.

(OK, not leading so much. There, I said it….)

Sunday Night Unwind, 10.07.12…

Back in the Christmas mood for the ol’ Sunday Night Unwind soundtrack. John Rutter’s Christmas Album is by far my favorite choral Christmas music. I’m especially partial to “Jesus Child,” and I really wish we had been able to pull that off at The ‘Crest a few years back. Oh, well…

It’s Sunday evening, and we know what that means, boys and girls…it’s time for all two of you loyal readers to tune in for the Unwind! Here’s what’s going on in my head and heart tonight…

  • Tonight may be the first “sock night” of the season. Maybe in the 40s for a low!
  • Interesting day at The ‘Crest.
  • We finished a series on Galatians last week. Today, I had more than one person ask, “What are we going to do now that we’ve finished Galatians” I reminded them that there’s a lot more in the Bible. I’m pretty certain there’s plenty of preaching material left!
  • I did a standalone message today entitled “The New Normal,” and I used that familiar phrase to talk about our church’s future in a dramatically changed culture and context.
  • We surveyed the first nine chapters of Acts, focusing on the first part of Chapter 8.
  • Oh, and one guy made a beeline to me afterwards to ask if I knew “The New Normal” is a TV show about same-sex marriage.
  • Speaking of marriage, I had an interesting wedding over the weekend. Good service and all that. Let’s just say I don’t think I’ve ever seen that little dress material and that much ink in one place. :) And we may want to re-think opening the bar before the wedding next time.
  • I started reading Andy Stanley’s Deep & Wide and Steve Corbett & Brian Fikkert’s When Helping Hurts this week. Both books are wrecking me. I just wonder if I’ll have the guts to do anything about it.
  • Come to think of it, everything Andy Stanley writes punches me in the gut within the first few pages.
  • Before this week is over, I will have been negatively affected by my own inability to say “no.” Not much I can do about it now, but it won’t be pleasant when all is said and done.
  • In sports news, I’m sure you’ve heard by now that the state of Georgia was 0-for-South-Carolina yesterday. The Jackets made a game out of it before the inevitable conclusion, but UGAg surprised everyone with how sorry they were.
  • Oh, and in other sports news, they’ve completely redesigned the infield at Turner Field.
  • But, hey! How about those Atlanta Falcons?!?!?

Long, complicated week ahead. I’m out. To all a good night!

My Biggest Blunders, Part 1…

I’ve made plenty of stupid, boneheaded mistakes in 31 years “in the ministry.” Most of them have been relatively minor, and the relatively major ones were graciously forgiven by God and His people.

The biggest blunder in my ministry – and the one which has impacted me the most since – was going to a church without really “going to” that church. The second biggest was leaving that church before it was time, because I had never really “gone to” that church in the first place.

One of my heroes in the ministry once opined that there are two kinds of pastors in Georgia: the ones who want to go to Atlanta, and the ones who want to leave. I’ve been both.

Sixteen years ago, I was serving my first church out of seminary. It was small, rural and south of metro Atlanta. Our church was the product of that Southern Baptist phenomenon, “evangelism by church split.” A friend got himself recommended to the search committee of a 100-year-old church in the city of Atlanta. At the same time, he had just accepted a position at one of our seminaries. So he passed my name along to the Atlanta committee.

Long story short, God led me to northwest Atlanta. I went.

About the same time, I was learning about the strategic nature of cities in God’s redemptive plan for the nations. It seemed like a perfect fit: a city church in need of renewal, a neighborhood on the cusp of renewal, and a pastor who was hearing God talk about the importance of cities. There’s where the first big blunder happened.

Instead of embracing God’s call “to” that church in that neighborhood in that city, I chose to carry on the myth of suburban pastor commuting with the majority of his people to a building in that neighborhood in that city and then retreating to the “safety” of the suburbs. Like the majority of my people, I paid lip service to the desire to see God do something new in that church in that neighborhood in that city. I listened and nodded as the older members spoke lovingly of the church’s “glorious past,” and commiserated with the long-time members about the glory days. All the while, we met, we ate, we sang, we prayed, we wrung our hands, we wondered, we reminisced, and we went home to our comfortable and safe suburbs.

Sunday Night Unwind, 09.30.12…

Where in the world has September gone? The great philosopher, Steve Miller, was right! Time DOES keep on “slippin’, slippin’, slippin’, into the future!” Here’s what’s happening in this little insignificant piece of the world on a drizzly September Sunday night…

  • Kind of bummed out – no, REALLY bummed out! – by Georgia Tech’s performance(?) yesterday! I’m not sure CPJ has a lot of time left. I’m guessing CAG will be the first to go. What I AM sure about is that Climpsun is licking its chops for next Saturday. It’ll probably be 84-0 at the half. Oh, well…it’s just a game, right?
  • Speaking of games, did you notice the Atlanta Braves are 3 games out with 3 games left? There may be TWO single playoff games before the real deal starts! Hmmm….
  • And of course, the Atlanta Falcons miraculously went to 4-0 on this young NFL season. If you care about such things, that is. But enough sports..that’s not what all two of you loyal readers come to the Sunday Night Unwind for, is it? :)
  • We finished our Galatians series today at The Crest. It’s been a pretty good series.
  • Today, we talked about some of the relationship ramifications of freedom in Christ.
  • Most of the time, there are opportunities for “doing good for others” right around us, and we neglect them while looking “out there” for the opportunities. Paul challenged us to take the opportunities we have, with those closest to us.
  • Oh, and the message included a serendipitous find from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast! Did you catch it?
    Life is so unnerving
    For a servant who’s not serving
    He’s not whole without a soul to wait upon
    Ah, those good old days when we were useful…
    Suddenly those good old days are gone
    Ten years we’ve been rusting
    Needing so much more than dusting
    Needing exercise, a chance to use our skills!

  • Some time tomorrow, I will have hung around this planet for 52 years. In case you were wondering, that’s about 624 months. 2,704 weeks. 18,928 days. 454,272 hours. 27,256,320 minutes. 1,635,379,200 seconds. For some reason, 624 months just doesn’t seem that long.
  • Anticipating the beginning of another trip around the sun always makes me contemplate Psalm 90.
  • According to the “life expectancy figures” in that Psalm, I can reasonably assume that I’ll get to hang around for another 216 months. 936 weeks. 6,552 days. YIKES! It’s about time I got busy!
  • But for now, I’m going to sleep! Good night!

Reading Hemingway…


I read Hemingway. I like to read Hemingway. I encourage my students to read Hemingway.

But sometimes, I think I read Hemingway because I’m supposed to read Hemingway. Even though I can’t follow him sometimes. Even though I think his “one true sentences” don’t always seem that “true.”

I read Hemingway – or at least act like I’m reading Hemingway – because of what he said about writing.

I saw somewhere recently that some writer sat down and typed The Great Gatsby word for word to get a feel for how writers write.

Maybe I need to try that with Hemingway.

Creative Un-Stereotypes…

All the things we assume about being “creative” ain’t necessarily so…

  • You don’t have to be gay to be creative.
  • You don’t have to be a liberal to be creative.
  • You don’t have to be an atheist or an agnostic to be creative.
  • You don’t have to be weird to be creative.

Late Night Thoughts, 09.18.12…

As long as I can remember, I’ve loved reading and writing while lying on the floor.

In school, I did my best work (and there’s a relative term!) on the floor.

I made it through seminary mostly by working on the floor in our little apartment.

When I first committed to “the ministry,” I remember getting my yellow pad and writing lists of resources I wanted from the Baptist Book Store catalog, all while lying prone on the floor.

When we first got married, I would lie on the floor in our den, surrounded by books, and study and prepare sermons.

The floor has been my zafu, if you will. My launching pad. My creative place.

Maybe that’s the reason I’ve not been nearly as “creative” as I once was. Maybe “graduating” from the floor to the desk, to the computer, looks like progress. But maybe, it’s a step backward.

Lying prone on the floor is not conducive to typing, even on your laptop.

Maybe, instead of a cool, hip, trendy standing desk, I need a decidedly lower and un-cool lying desk!

From my Morning Pages…

I love the old quote about planting trees:

The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.

I know all those cliches and platitudes. I know all the motivational posters and speeches. I’ve spouted most of them, as though  a regular outpouring of the words would serve as an incantation to summon the genie of success.