Friday, December 5, 2008
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
Sarah and I are having a 24 getaway. We are in Indiana and able to leave our kids with Sarah's folks overnight. This is the view we had last night of the lake where we are stayed (I did not snap the pic but found it online).
For us to get away took a lot of work--in fact, it took a lot of mature conversation between the two of us. It was hard work to accomplish it. We have enjoyed waking up this morning without children calling our names, watching an entire news show without switching channels to watch Curious George, sitting on the couch for the past 2 hours, and our biggest discussion this morning is whether or not we should peel ourselves from our couches and eat some breakfast. Ahh.
Big thanks to my wife for getting us here.
Big thanks to our family for watching the kiddos.
Big thanks to my assistant pastor, Josh, for leading worship & preaching yesterday.
Big thanks to professional mileage reimbursements from the past month that gave some extra cash to get down here.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
I'm struck with how people in my congregration repeatedly "go without". Embarrassingly, our congregation does not have an action plan in place to assist those with needs. It bothers me greatly. We give and we give well, at times and when we hear about it, but I want to be more intentional. Pray that our church would be able to pull together and respond appropriately and generously.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
We have great people we know who are struggling financially. Some people in our church are losing their homes. Others are coming to our church for some finacial assitance. It has been a cause of real concern for me and we have only been able to make small dents along the way. I pray we can do more.
With all the layers of issues wrapped in the financial crisis I don't pretend to know too much about it and I don't pretend to know how to fix it. But I would like to make one observation. I wonder if anyone else has made the observation that the only man who is given any network airtime is that guy from Mad Money? Other than him, NBC and ABC (from what I've observed) has a female-only staff of Financial Consultants/Reporters. Nothing against women but I wonder what the driving force is behind this. Has anyone else made this observation? They seem to give sound advice and accurate reporting but where are the boys?
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Friday, August 8, 2008
Willow Creek takes some hits for doing certain things and making certain decisions but what I experienced over the past 48 hours was a clear and present impact by the Holy Spirit. The leaders of Willow Creek have pursued Christ's best and tilled a fertile garden for the Spirit of God to reach me--and I appreciate it.
I've found that leadership chips away at your will power and your confidence. It breaks down your resolve and can get you off center. I am so thankful for God reminding me (and some 100,000 other leaders who attended the conference) that HE thinks we can.
He thinks we can innovate. He thinks we can lead. He thinks we can change the world. He thinks we can survive failure. He thinks we can overcome sin. He thinks we can...
As part of the excitement of the Summit, a group of leadership friends joined me at the retreat. It was great to share the experience with my wife and our friends at church. I don't want our church to stay the same. For that matter, I don't want to stay the same. It'll be cool to see where we all go as a result of this.
Now I'm home watching the Olympic opening ceremony. Kinda interesting to come home after a Christ-centered setting to NBC airing an hour+ long religious ceremony. The religions of China were in the fore of all the presentations and network TV seemed to really enjoy it. (It makes me wonder if they would enjoy airing an Olympic ceremony that was laced with Christianity, its symbolism, and its meaning.) Technologically and the people involved in the ceremony were phenomenal! I think they said a 500 ft. LCD screen was used. Crazy. Should be a fun several days of watching.
Makes me think..."Just how are people going to know that God is good?" Gary Hougen of the IJM asked this question at the Summit. Millions of people need to know that God is good and He thinks we can let them know.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
I've met some great people along the way and have enjoyed some of the process of the search. Some of it I could do without. But we will get there.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
- Did I do enough?
- How come they didn't give enough?
- The board said "yes", but did they say yes enough?
- Were enough people at church?
- Will there be enough volunteers?
- How will we be effective enough?
- Did I call enough people?
- Do people feel loved enough?
- Did I work hard enough?
- _____________________________? (fill in your own)
And check it out--it's all centered on performance. But does God want my performance or does he simply want me? He wants me to want Him. He wants me to love Him. He wants me to know Him. Seems to me that Jesus was like this with Mary & Martha--one who was doing and one who was being.
Oswald Chambers makes a distinction between active work and spiritual activity in today's (July 10) entry of My Utmost for His Highest. He writes, "Simple active work and spiritual activity are not the same thing. Active work can actually be the counterfeit of spiritual activity." Trying to do enough is counterfeit spirituality. (I think this is along the lines of what Thomas Merton calls the "false self".)
In a performance driven society it is difficult not to be performance driven our spiritual lives. It is just as difficult to rightly handle performance in our corporate (church fellowship) lives. But it seems necessary. Sure, we have to guage what's going on spiritually, corporately, etc..., but the questions that center on the "enoughs" are just about enough to take one down and lay them out. Tread carefully.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
4 days of work, over 100 volunteers, 500 yards of mulch, donations galore from local businesses and individuals equals 1 completed playground project.
Two years ago our church began meeting in our community park for 5-6 weeks in the summer. Two years ago we thought, "Wouldn't it be nice to have some updated playground equipment in our park?" Two years ago that thought was planted in my mind. Three days ago it came to a great end!
It was great working with people from our community to see this project come together. Our village leaders supported the project from the get-go and from there it was "simply" a matter of seeing all the details come together. I thank the Lord for the way in which he provided people and finances. Our church really showed up in a great way and it was fun for us to work alongside the people of our community.
Personally this was an exhilarating project...and an exhausting project. I am glad to have been associated with it.
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Is whether or not lwe'll leave here and blunder.
Will we make it far or go just a little?
In Christ you’ll complete every jot and every tittle.
Suess, that is Dr., once wrote a fine book
He wrote it last and it brings a smile in the look.
Will you succeed? He wrote. Yes! You will, indeed!
Your success, my success, our successes are related
For all at this church have been similarly slated.
Common bonds, common friends, common hopes with no end.
We are tied together through thick and through thin.
You go from this place, some to school some to serve
Some on clear paths, some that will swerve.
Some go to a workplace, some go to a home
All want a good life and want HIM to be known.
How will this happen? How can it be?
People like us to make a difference, you see.
You might think you don’t have much to offer
But the king knows exactly what you have in your coffer.
Look at Paul, for example, that great man of God.
He had one purpose in life wherever he trod.
Bring Christ to the center of each location
Despite how he got there or the next destination.
Five times he was beaten forty stripes minus one,
Three times with rods, once he was stoned.
Three times the ship wrecked leaving him in the sea
He found peril in waters and in many journeys.
In danger from robbers, his countrymen, his friends,
In danger from Gentiles—those to whom God did send.
Even in cities, just like the wild
He found no safely like a mother and child.
Weariness, doctrine, hunger and cold
Hardwork and fasting must have grown old.
Yet in spite of all this, in spite of the pain,
His one purpose for Christ yet did remain.
Look at Daniel, from the Lion’s Den, and the great fiery furnace.
He stood his ground and did so with earnest.
Not in shouting or yelling but with strength and with poise
He was indeed the healthiest of all the king’s boys.
There came such a day as the sins of the whole
Were too obvious to forget and needed forgiveness total.
They weren’t his sins necessarily but they were just the same
For they were his people and he shared in their shame.
He prayed to the Lord, the great awesome Father,
Knowing that God loves his people and those who love others.
He prayed about the sins that the people had committed
Again they weren’t his but all needed acquitted.
How did Paul make it, barely it seems
But his purpose was clear and the fruit can be seen.
What about Daniel and the trials he witnessed?
Would we act similar and take on someone’s missteps?
To succeed we must, we must endure and engage.
The journey we travel knows no age.
Paul’s passion was the church, Daniel’s was purity
The Bible says this church must be likewise—that’s certainty.
Oh it’s fun to think of the places we’ll go
But our journey starts here and from here we will go.
If the start is muddled and the beginning a sham
That doesn’t leave much hope for the rest of the plan.
So it’s here in this place that God resets the game
He has a great plan for us, we go with a great name.
His name is the one we must carry well.
We represent the son of Heaven, not...
Well you know who I mean you know it’s through Jesus
You know it’s in Him that the world should see us.
So put on the new self, Colossians implores.
And see where you’ll go, what God has in store.
For all here today, not just those in transition,
I want you to hear me, “You are on a mission.”
Your work is not done if you’re still drawing breath
It’s possible God is not through with you yet.
So be quick to trust, to finish your work
Be committed to those who sometimes are jerks.
For at times we are jerks and God still loves us.
He loves us, he made us, and for us He makes a fuss.
Confess your own sin, the quicker the better.
The longer it lingers it just settles and festers.
Look around you as well, for their sins are yours,
The Bible is clear, corporate sins He abhors.
If that is the case, then my pain in yours.
And with that as the case your gain is ours.
We share in this journey, we are marked together,
You’ll go from this place connected forever.
Take from here what is good and renounce what brings shame.
You can do it, be free, all in Jesus’ name.
Will you succeed, we began, that was the question?
Succeed indeed with God in direction.
So take hope today, you young and you old.
You’ll do great things in the Bible we’re told.
You’ll wonder at times if you’re doing OK
You’ll wonder at times if today is the day.
You’ll have moments of levity and moments of grief,
But please, oh please, don’t forsake your belief.
For Christ died for you, 100 percent.
And into the world each one of us is sent.
In the name of the one who died in your place
In the name of the one who gives so much grace.
In his name I send you to go and succeed,
For in his name you will, that’s guaranteed.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Monday, May 5, 2008
The rest of us live it.
Tony Parsons, our Assistant Pastor, officially resigned this past Sunday. In August it would have been 3 years that he and I have served together. He has accepted a Youth Pastor postion at a church in North Carolina. June 1 will be his final Sunday. For those who read this and know him, shoot him a line of encouragement and prayer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I'm optimistic about the next steps for our church and for the student ministries of our church. I"m determined not to hire in a hurry or under pressure. I believe God will direct me and the leaders of our church in the right direction.
More changes to come...
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Last night as Sarah and I were in bed reading I told her that in reading this book I keep wondering where it's heading. But then I realized it is the story of one woman's life so it's simply heading through her life.
...from there it went downhill...
While I was in college I thought it might be a cool idea to write my life story. My plan was to give it to my parents as a gift at some point. I told Sarah that I'd once thought this and she erupted in laughter! :) At first I thought it just kinda tickled her a bit but she laughed for several minutes while pushing out words like, "That's the funniest thing you've ever told me" and "Only your parents would think that's the best gift ever"--which is true.
Her laughter caught me and eventually were both laughing.
I told her I was going to blog about this. I also feel like I should tell her that my next attempt at my autobiography will be dedicated to her.
By the way, the first attempt didn't make it too far. It is probably still on some harddrive of the now antiquated computer that reside in the basement computer lab of the old science hall of Indiana Wesleyan University.
If anyone ever comes across it let me know.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Spending the next several days in Myrtle Beach, SC, will be great! Our place for the week looks out over the ocean and is just great. We're here with Sarah's folks who are a great help with our kids and who are going to earn every cent of that greatness---if I have anything to do with it. (Just kidding. I won't be mean. But it is nice to have some additional hands to be with the kids.)
Maybe some pix in another post.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
The whole Easter weekend was nutty. Thursday - Sunday were jam packed with services and church stuff. On the morning of Good Friday I had a phone call from some folks in my church. Turns out that for the past several days their oven had stopped working. The stove top worked, but they could not cook anything in the oven. They were wondering if I know of an agency that could help them out with this. Here's where the story gets good!
Last summer I went golfing with a guy from our congregation. In the midst of our round of golf he got a call from someone needing an appliance. With little effort he was able to commit to the person on the other end of the line and the deal was done.
So Good Friday morning I call him and ask if he can get his hands on a stove. He said he was on his way out of town and trying to run some errands. He then shared, "I'll see what I can do." Within 30 minutes he called me back with a stove in his vehicle and he was heading into North Branch to make a couple stops. Less than 30 minutes later he calls me and said he was waiting downtown if I'd like to meet him and drop off the stove. Would I...?!
From the time I received the call to the time we dropped it off, it must have been about 90 minutes.
It was so fun to squeeze that in prior to the Good Friday Service I helped lead with a couple other community churches. I'm putting the Stove on the list, right after Jesus' Resurrection, as a favorite Easter Moment of 2008.
Hope your Easter was grand wherever you were.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
The ministry opportunities on the small island of Antigua are on a grand scale. For the tourist, the island is a tropical get away. For the national people the island is home and is home to many needs. Because we traveled there for ministry we definitely saw a side of the island that few tourists would see. For instance, the church we served, Grays Farm Holiness Church, has housed a preschool in its lower level for the past two years. During that time there has never been running water and functional bathrooms. It's exciting to share that that has now changed. A guy on our team spent 3 days working to get the plumbing functional and the bathrooms operational! So cool. Those of us who are not inclined to digging in toilets and drains spent out time giving a cosmetic facelift to the exterior of the church building. We were like flies as we painted the building. We were everywhere. It was great to see progress on a daily basis.
I found great joy in the several occasions when we were away from the church property and people recognized us. (Who wouldn't recognize a bunch of very white people in the midst of a predominately black population!) Seriously though, we were recognized not so much for our skin color but for the work we were doing. People would say, "You are the group working at the church." Or, "Aren't you the people helping Grays Farm?" It was cool.
We still have a group of people in Antigua for the remainder of this week. They are continuing to minister at the church and the surrounding community. You can pray for them. Check out their ongoing ministry here.
Enjoy the few pix I've added below.
the painting crew
doing my part
the minister at Grays Farm, Brother Michael
with the kids in the preschool
finding shells to bring home (we worked hard and played a bit too)
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Monday, January 21, 2008
Wouldn't you know, Saturday was our clearest and most beautiful night. It was also our most frigid night so far this winter. I'd been wanting to go outside and gaze for a few nights leading up to Saturday but the sky was totally cloudy.
I bundled up a bit and spent just 5-10 minutes craning my next so as to spot some of the goodies I'd been learning about.
From eighth grade I remember Orion and I've always know about the Little & Big Dipper. What I didn't know is that the Little Dipper contains a star called the "Pole Star". It rarely moves in the night sky and gives you the indication that you are facing north. I also enjoyed learning that the Big Dipper is part of a larger constellation called the "Great Bear".
It's just something fun to do.
Oh and by the way, I spotted "Cassiopeia" for the first time on Saturday. After finding it, the dog and I were both cold so we called it a good night. Next chance I get, I'll be looking to find the "Herdsman".
Thanks to Mrs. Ray (my eighth grade teacher) , Bruce Bain (a great friend from England), and Joe Dongell (a professor from Asbury Seminary) for all enjoying the stars and encouraging me to look up.
Friday, January 18, 2008
The other day Peter went to Holly to do a short Graveside Service. This man had been in the Military, so he was buried at the National Cemetery there. The kids have been crazy lately (I foolishly thought this would end after Christmas) and I decided this would be a great opportunity to get out of the house for a bit. We often take advantage of extra miles that Peter has to drive for work to spend time with him. I took my Bible study with me, hoping that the kids would fall asleep and I could sit in the car while he did the service. Perfect! They both woke up the minute we drove into the Cemetery. Why is it that so many of my great ideas so rarely get carried out!?
From where our car was, we could see the Veterans standing straight with their guns in the air. I should’ve been prepared for the barrage of questions that come from any three year old:
“Mommy, why do those men have guns? Are they going to shoot my Daddy?”
“No, Son. They are soldiers. They protect us from the Bad Guys”
Bad guys are a hot commodity in our house. William loves to talk about them, play games with ‘bad guys’, pretend he is the bad guy . . . (When I tried to teach him to call out the name “Jesus!” if he was ever scared of a bad guy, he replied that he’d just get out his sword and kill them himself.). So I thought this would be a good analogy for his little mind. Until a man walked out of the pavilion with his long black coat: “There’s the Bad Guy, Mommy! They’re going to shoot him!”
Next, I got this question: “Mommy, why do some people die? Am I going to die?” Now, this is very tricky. Do I give him a sense of false hope?-- “You won’t die for a very long time”. Or do I give him the harsh truth?—“Yes. You’ll die”. Or do I give him the huge theological discourse?—“William, we never know when our last breath will come. Then again, Jesus may come at the blink of the eye to separate the sheep from the goats. . .” Instead I simply told him, “You probably won’t die until you’re a grandpa.” I’m pretty sure this is going to backfire on me.
I quickly tried to change the subject. It wasn’t that hard to do as the Veterans commenced their 21-gun salute at this point. Again, the questions about shooting came and I realized it was getting very hot in the car. At this point I was wondering why in the world I thought this was going to be a nice, relaxing afternoon.
As the soldiers turned to march away, another man (a member of the VFW) with gold medals in his hat marched along with them. William, with reverence in his voice said, “Mommy! The King! The Soldiers are protecting their King!” Oh to have the awe and imagination of a three year old again!
Thursday, January 3, 2008
-Red Hot Chili Peppers
-Skater Master Tate
-DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince
Public Enemy had a song with the lyrics, "Get up a get get get down. 9-1-1's a joke in my town..." Pretty much it bashed on police and rescue services in the inner city. (I don't know how valid the picture is that they painted as I was living up in rural Wyoming.)
My thought in all this...what if the song said, "Get up a get get get down. Jesus Follower's a joke in my town..."? Am I (are we) truly living the story of redemption in my town? Does it really shake the foundations of my (our) priorities, agenda, passions?
When I was into skating, it was pretty much all I was into. Sometimes it was to the point of being completely lop-sided. I still laugh at the fact that my friend, Jim, and I used to take our skateboards with us up into the Big Horn Mountains when our families would head up for an afternoon. I mean seriously, did we think we were going to find a natural half-pipe up there or something? We did not know that we could appreciate skateboarding and other things too.
What I loved about being completely immersed in skating was the fact that it consumed me--and I loved it. I dressed the part, bought the right stuff, grew my hair accordingly, defended it (my only actual fight was over being called a poser). On and on it went. My room was plastered with torn pages out of skate magazines. I drew skaters on my church bulletins. I talked to girls about skating--over which I'm sure they swooned!
I've been evaluating; Does following Jesus consume me? Do I defend my position on Jesus? Do I get excited when I talk to others about Jesus--wanting them to also experience what He offers?
Jesus & Peter had a great dialogue in the Scriptures. At the end of John Jesus asks Peter about Peter's love for him. After some back & forth chat and Peter saying "Yes, I love you" he looks over and sees, presumably, John and asks a great question. "What about him?" Jesus' response is, "What does it matter what happens to him. You follow me."
We are part of such an amazing story. Consider the God of the Universe. Consider His divine story being written. Now, consider Him inviting you to be a principle player. Or consider Him wanting you to be even a supporting actor. Consider Him wanting you to be an extra on the set. How cool...God wants you his movie!
But somehow I (we) lose sight of the importance of God's story and how important we, as his creation, are to the story.
Here's an obscure music lyric...
"Skate, skate, skate. As fast as you can. Skate, skate, skate. All across the land..." (Skate Master Tate)
With passion and purpose and with knowledge that the same power of God who raised Christ from the dead is available to me, I will participate in the story of God. Doing so as fast as I can and all across the land.