Tiglath-pileser (the dog)

Eight Reflections on Urbana 15

Urbana FamilyMy family arrived home at midnight last night after an amazing five days in St. Louis at Urbana 15, a gathering of 16,000 students and leaders who are interested in missions, specifically what God is doing around the globe.

It’s impossible to encapsulate the Urbana experience in a short blog, but here are eight reflections upon our five days in St. Louis.

    1. Urbana is a great place to hear from God.  Through challenging speakers (Christina Cleveland, Francis Chan, David Platt, Patrick Fung, and many more), international worship, and manuscript Bible study, we had many opportunities to hear from God. One of my favorite speakers was Allan Matamoros, a man from Costa Rica whose name means “Muslim killer” and yet he’s given his life to love and minister to Muslims.  Click here for videos of the General Sessions.
    2. Seminars are a blast. My seminar was on God Behaving Badly. Apparently my fears of low-turnout were unfounded, as the 400 chairs filled up quickly, with people forced to stand or sit around the edges of the room. (I think they confused me with David Platt.) They had to shut the doors 5 minutes early. Afterwards, they sold out of both my books.  I loved talking about troubling texts with curious students, and was happy to see Nate and Noah in the audience. Click here for an audio of my seminar (112 minutes).
    3. Manuscript Bible Study is still powerful in big groups. I’m used to doing manuscript study of Scripture in groups of 10-20. However, Shannon led a study of 800 people on four passages from Matthew’s gospel and it was phenomenal. The 16,000 attendees were divided into “small groups” of 200-800. How did the discussion work? Great question. Each study leader had a team of helpers. Shannon had 7 “minions” who facilitated discussion, ran mics around the room, and in my case managed technology and synthesized students’ questions. Noah came to Shannon’s study (Nate went to a different one with Swarthmore friends). The students loved it and kept saying they wanted to study Scripture like this with friends back home.
    4. It’s impossible to control gifted, prophetic speakers. Several times one of the speakers made an unscripted, controversial comment. However, we shouldn’t be surprised when prophetic people state things in insensitive ways. If we make the mistakes the focus, Satan wins. Let’s keep the focus on what God is doing around the world.
    5. The Directors of Missions for IV-USA (Tom Lin) and IV-Canada (Steve Colby) have something in common.  My brother, Rich Lamb helped bring them both on IV staff.  Rich was staff at UC Santa Cruz in the mid-1980’s when Steve Colby was a student, then at Harvard in the late-1980’s and early 1990’s when Tom Lin was a student.  Thanks Rich, for investing in these two quality leaders.
    6. Christians need to pray for the persecuted church. The freedom of religion we in the West take for granted cannot be assumed in many other parts of the world. Over 75% of the world live in areas of religious restriction. At Urbana we heard stories of men and women who, despite persecution and imprisonment, prayed for and loved their persecutors in costly ways. Click here to learn more about Open Doors, a ministry to persecuted Christians.
    7. I’ve missed Urbana. I went to six Urbanas as a student and as a staff (’81, ’84, ’87, ’90, ’93, ’96), but haven’t attended over the past twenty years. During this period, Shannon attended most of the Urbanas because she was on staff with IV, the organization that runs the event, but since I was no longer on staff I stayed home with the boys. This time it was awesome to attend as a family of four.
    8. Driving 900 miles to get home in one day isn’t too bad if you have four drivers. We were eager to see our dog, Tiglath.

Where you at Urbana 15? What did you think?

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I guess I’m in the right job

Shan Dave Snow Dec 2013My father Richard Lamb is a physicist.  To be precise, a gamma-ray astrophysicist. What he does isn’t rocket science, it’s more complicated than that.

He loved his job (he’s retired now).  But I remember he used to say, “I can’t believe they pay me to do this.” I wouldn’t say that if I were doing gamma-ray astrophysics. But he loved his job.

With the snowstorm that struck the Philadelphia area today (see image of our backyard this afternoon, and on the far left, our sniffing rescue mutt, Tiglath-pileser IV; picture taken by son Noah Lamb), the class that I’m teaching with my wife Shannon at Biblical Seminary got cancelled. It means I didn’t need to frantically prepare all day, didn’t need to send out the class notes, didn’t need to start teaching at 5:30 pm, didn’t need to teach through dinner, didn’t need to teach until 10:15 pm.

Good news, right? Nope. I was really disappointed. I love teaching, and this snow storm was going to deprive me of this opportunity. I realize I lot of people have jobs that would be impossible to love, or would love to have a job period. So, I’m thankful I get to do something I enjoy. I love teaching the Bible.

I guess I’m in the right job. Like my dad.

The Luddite Chronicles Part 2: Newpapers

At 5:30 in the morning my alarm went off.  I jumped out of bed, went outside, shoved the pile of newspapers (The Des Moines Register-I grew up in Iowa) into my paper bag, climbed onto my bike and rode around the neighborhood placing papers inside screen doors, in mailboxes, in milkboxes or through mail slots.  None of the “throw it anywhere on the driveway” thing.  We put it exactly where people wanted it.  They didn’t want to step outside.

I did this every day for 2 and half years.  I was a young teen.  It was great most of the time, except when it was 20 degrees below zero (F) with a wind chill of 60 below.  That wasn’t great.

My early years as a paperboy gave me an appreciation for the newspaper, but that’s not the only reason I still like to get a daily paper.  There’s more.

This post is Part 2 of “The Luddite Chronicles“.  The Luddites were people opposed to technological advancement.  For more background read Part 1.

So, I’m a Luddite when it comes to still getting a morning paper. 

While I get most of my news on the internet, I still like daily newspapers.  I like the rhythm it brings.  At the beginning of the day I go out at 6:15 with Tiglath (our dog, named after the Neo-Assyrian ruler, Tiglath-pileser III, 745-727 BCE) to get The Philadelphia Inquier.  At the end of the day, I take the plastic bag that enclosed the paper and reuse as a receptacle for Tig’s feces during our evening walk.  Thanks to the newspaper, my day has perfect symmetry.

There are 6 people living in our household (four in my family, and David and Herman, two friends who rent rooms with us).  We all get our news on the internet, but everyone also reads the paper.

We don’t want to have a computer on the kitchen table, but we all want to read what’s going on in the world as we eat our breakfast.  I could use my iPad, but don’t want to.  I would cry if I spilled milk on my iPad.  On the newspaper?  No big deal.  Fixing my iPad would cost more than several years of newspaper subscriptions.

We know you can find the daily comics on the internet.  In fact you can have them emailed to you.  But we like reading them all on one page while eating.

Local news can be obtained in a lot of places online, but I like finding in the Philadelphia Inquier on my breakfast table.

Call me a Luddite.  Are you a Luddite too?  Where do you get your news?  Why? 

Next time: Dumb phones vs. smart phones.

Image from http://jesda.com/2011/04/11/disappearance-of-the-paperboy/

“With this collar I thee own”

Tiglath-pileser, the dog, not the ancient Assyrian emperor (745-727 BC), sleeps in our bedroom with us.  Because his collar has dog tags (surprise!), we take off his collar at night so that every time he shakes his head it doesn’t wake us up.  We say that our naked, collar-less dog is wearing his “pajamas”.

But Tig likes wearing his collar.  Embarrassingly for him, sometimes he’s still wearing his pajamas at noon.  He’s willing to forgo his collar at night, but wherever he is in the house in the morning if he hears his dog tags jingle, he’ll coming running because he’d much rather not go around in his pajamas.

A few mornings ago, as I was putting on Tig’s collar, Shannon was watching and said, “With this collar I thee own”.  I thought, “That works.”

Tig likes his collar because it means we own him, it connects him to us.  Like Wallace says to Gromit as he puts on the dog’s new collar, “It looks like somebody owns you.”  (You have to say that while waving both hands sideways.)  Recently, after Shannon came back from being gone for a few days, Tig wouldn’t leave her side.

Dogs are not only our best friend, but they have profound spiritual lessons to teach us about our relationship with God.  They like the symbol of their connection to their master and they love to be with their master.  They don’t want independence, and would certainly never declare it.

For me, it’s hard to find time to spend with God, and I love my independence.  I need to be more canine.

What spiritual lessons do your pets teach you?