Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Community Gift

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

Where You've Been...Where You're Going

In a tribute to our graduation seniors (high school & university), in farewell to our Student Ministries Pastor, and as a word of encouragement to every person who comes and goes from our church I penned the following words for my Sunday sermon. Inspiration came from that all too popular book by Dr. Seuss, Oh, the places you'll go!, as well as from the fact that the Bible reminds us we are all interconnected as the body of Christ. We come and go, but we are in this together.
Here goes...
The big question today, the big thought we all wonder
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!
(98 and 3 / 4 percent guaranteed.)

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.