Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Still Pushing the Envelope!

It's really kind of cool to be 53 years old and still learning a huge amount of stuff, pretty much on a daily basis! I know people in their fifties who are retired already; I vacillate between feeling sorry for them and then being envious of the fact that they can sit back and vegetate.

Mostly though I realize how fortunate - blessed - I am to be involved in work where creativity and learning are and must be the constant.

Take today, for example:
I just heard that the on-line seminar I will be teaching (starting next Monday - click on the icon to check it out) is close to filled up. The administration is making plans to offer an encore class in December, just as soon as this one caps out. Now that news is both exciting and intimidating!

It's exciting because I've never done anything like this before. And it's intimidating because I've never done anything like this before!

Now that I think about it - and believe me I'm thinking about it a lot today - I'll be letting those of you who read my blog get a front row seat on some of the action. I'm going to - I just thought of this :-) - use this blog as one of the class resources. Participants will have occasional reading assignments from "A Life Examined". So pay close attention next week for content that will be geared at least partially for people enrolled in my class.

So, what am I teaching?
I'll be teaching a 14 day workshop titled "Making it through December with Your Faith Intact". My publisher, Upper Room Books, asked a few of its authors to take a "How to provide your workshop online" class. Upper Room has entered a partnership with and it's a great idea for everyone involved if authors teach courses based on their books.

I, in predictable fashion, jumped out of the gate at 100 mph and the timing couldn't have been better for my Advent book, "In My Heart I Carry A Star." Consequently I'm the first author on board.

The good news is that I have the opportunity to be my publisher's poster-child for the new partnership. The potentially not so good news is that I have the opportunity to flush the whole idea down the hole if I fall flat on my face!

There's a lot riding on what I do with this class. We're off to a good start with the workshop filling up quickly. So I'll leave you all with (as promised) another excerpt from The Unmaking of a Part-Time Christian. I believe I have work to do to get ready for next week :-).

Love, Hope, Joy & Peace - DEREK

Recently I was invited to address a regional meeting of Presbyterian ministers and elders in St. Petersburg, Florida. Best guess there were more than 300 learned divines in the room; I was supposed to give the forty-five minute keynote.
Aren’t you nervous?” one vaguely encouraging participant inquired just before I took the podium. “This is a huge room, it’s full of people, and they’re used to nationally know speakers.”
“Not in the slightest,” I replied. “The last five years of my teaching career I worked in a middle school. Believe me, once you’ve faced a room full of twelve-year-olds anything else pales in comparison.”
So God continually pushes me out with this message; sometimes to gatherings of committed Christians, but quite often into a post-Christian culture that doesn’t necessarily want to know. Because the truth about Jesus has been buried so far under legalism, and cultural consumerism, and “Jesus won’t like you if you don’t act like us”, and judgment, and New Age philosophy, and a kind of religious nationalism, and social good-deed-doing, and hypocrisy, and the “you can literally take God’s blessings to the bank” crowd….
In short it has been lost for too many hungry people, this life-charged Gospel; it’s been misplaced, and it’s going to take more than drive-by exposure to find it. What it’s going to take is pilgrimage; making our way resolutely along the pathway and clearing through the detritus. It’s going to take making up our minds to follow Jesus. And it’s going to take inviting others to join us along the way.
That’s why God continually pushes the edges of my comfort zone, and why God intends to push at the margins of yours. That’s why – by the grace of God – I am able to write difficult truth sometimes in the newspaper. That’s why I get up to speak in front of groups and retreats and churches and conferences. That’s why I take this message to civic clubs and schools and business luncheons – even when they thought they were only inviting me to speak about my column. That’s why I am writing this book.

- "The Unmaking of a part-time Christian", pp. 25-26

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