Monday, January 29, 2007

Mondays Musings ...

I was at the hospital this morning and into the early afternoon, so these musings are coming a little later in the day than they normally do on Monday. The anticipation for the services yesterday was at a very high level and the results matched the anticipation. There was a powerful spirit in the morning worship (even with half or our worship band missing), the attendance was good (even with the most snow we have had all winter falling), people were really listening to the message and received it well (especially considering it was on Pornography and Fantasy), there were several who responded to the message that morning and I have heard from some this then as well. In the evening we had a super young couple who are serving on the Lord in Central America, attendance was good, the couple was outstanding and people received and responded to the message. God really is doing something special in our midst. Yeah God!

How was your Sunday? Did you go into it with anticipation? You often receive much of what you anticipate and what you put into it as well.

Hospital times are always interesting times of observation. To observe how people handle heading into surgery and how families interact while awaiting word of their loved one. Today was fun, watching one who was relaxed heading into surgery and really trusting God. Watching a family interact well with each other and seeing the obvious love for each other. These factors truly make my "job" easier at the hospital. By the way, everything went well in the surgery also.

Here's hoping you have a great week, with a growing sense of excitement and anticipation as you look forward to this next Sunday at your church. Also, Go Colts!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Anticipation ...

Anticipation is a powerful thing. When we anticipate something we are looking forward with emotion, at least that is one of my definitions. We sense this as we wait for the tip-off at a basketball game, the fans of the Colts and Bears are experiencing it this week as they await the kick-off of the Super Bowl, we feel it as we sit in the waiting room at the doctor or dentist's office, we have it as we await the police officer to approach our window when we were pulled over (I have heard of this one from my daughters) and many other scenarios you imagine. But what of our anticipation as we approach a Sunday?

Do you have any anticipation as you think of tomorrow and church? It seems to me that we should have a growing excitement and anticipation with each passing day of a week. Because with each day we are one day closer to worshipping together on Sunday. Yes we need to be worshipping privately throughout the week, in fact I believe this is a real key to looking forward to Sunday. Also, I realize that in many churches, ours included, there are great things that happen on days other than Sunday and they should be excitedly anticipated as well. But don't get distracted from the point, how are you thinking of your potential worship experience tomorrow? Are you excited? Are you filled with dread? Worse, are you not even thinking of it? Bored with it? What is your warm up for Sundays like?

I generally have a growing sence of excited anticipation for Sundays. But then Sundays are a big day for pastors. On the normal Sunday I teach a Sunday School class, preach a morning worship sermon and preach/teach again on Sunday evening, not to mention studying, visiting and some meetings. I am not writing this for sympathy, but just to acknowledge that I realize my Sunday experiences are different from most people's. With all of that being said, my "anticipation quotient" is extremely high for tomorrow. I have been thinking of this message for 2-3 months. Anytime I have that much invested I am usually very anxious for the Sunday, for the service, for the message and for the response. This is a powerful issue I am tackling tomorrow, it is controversial and difficult, but it is so relevant and needs to be addressed. I do not feel ready for the message, but at the same time I can't wait to preach it. I covet prayers for continued preparation, for the service, for the presentation of the message and for the reception of the message.

Well I am really anticipating tomorrow, how about you? What is your "anticipation quotient" as you head into another Sunday? Here's to hoping you will be excited as think of tomorrow, that you will be excited as you go to church tomorrow and that you will anticipate with great passion what the Lord will do in your service wherever you attend. I know I am.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Thursdays Thoughts ...

Winter is trying its best to arrive, with a little snow and lower temperatures I believe it is now here. When I walked to church this morning I realized that I need to put the liner in my winter coat. Up until now I haven't needed it, in fact I didn't wear my winter coat from the beginning of December until last week. I am actually looking forward to a little winter. It should be cold and we should have some snow in January around here.

God is doing great things in many people's lives. Not easy things, but great things. I have heard from a few this week on how God has been working on, and in, them since Sunday's services. One of those is a fairly new believer who told me how that contacted some people that they had bitterness with from the past and cleared it up. How awesome is that? Another contacted me to let me know that the Lord had really worked on them this week and how they were dealing with their unforgiveness issue. Both of these people told how they wanted to come forward on Sunday but didn't do it for a variety of reason. We are trying to reestablish the power and priority of the altar. Not that every service has an altar, and not that I believe that is the only place to deal with spiritual issues. However, I do believe their is much to be said for coming forward in a service, the accountability it creates, the testimony it is to others and the act of humble submission to God.

This Sunday I am preaching on one of the more difficult and powerful issues in the series on "Shedding the Excess". I covet your prayers for this one in particular. We are already feeling some resistance and we aren't even to the weekend. This is some true spiritual warfare. But God is greater.

Our Wednesday night Bible Studies and prayer times have been really good in the last 3 weeks. We have been looking at revival and prayer for revival. It is very convicting to look at this honestly. I really sense that we have some people who are taking this seriously. I know that if we take it seriously then God will do His part, when He will do it is something I don't know. But that fact that He desires to move in that way is clear, we have to get ready and allow Him to do it.

Here's to winter and to seeing God do even more powerful things this weekend. That prayer is not just for here, but wherever you are as well.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Monday Morning Musings ...

My first thoughts this morning are on the fact that I shoveled snow off my driveway and sidewalk before coming to the church. I might not have shoveled the entire driveway if not for the fact that the wife and I are hosting our Church Board and spouses for dinner this evening. A thank you for that they do throughout the year. I can't really complain, it was the first time my shovel left the garage this winter and their was only an inch, or just over an inch, of snow. But at least it looks a little more like winter should in January.

Yesterday was a good day, not great, but good. The spirit was okay, we had a wonderful special solo, good attendance, some new people, and some response to the message. Maybe the day was better than my first impression. It was a difficult message in which to gauge how it was received, since it was on bitterness and unforgiveness. Not one in which you expect to receive a lot of 'amens' or 'atta boy(s)'. But there were some who acknowleged they have had some unforgiveness toward someone and that they were surrendering it to the Lord and letting it go. I think that is a pretty big deal. I sensed that there were a lot more who need to do the same thing. So I am praying that the Holy Spirit will continue to prod them and that they will respond by releasing the other person and the hurt and then begin the forgiveness and healing process.

It is exciting to see some of our people really wrestling with this process of shedding the excess in their lives. Also to see new people begin attending, most of whom have not been attending church. To see the excitement on the faces of the new people and to hear how open they are in telling whoever will listen how much they are enjoying church and what they are learning from the Lord.

Another of the dominant thoughts for me this morning is that both the Colts and Bears are going to the Super Bowl! How cool is that? The Bears were my team from childhood and then the Colts since they moved to Indy. This is one I really want to watch, not just have it on while I do other things, I want to watch this one. Clue to the wife, let's make sure wherever we go for a Super Bowl party, it needs to be a place where I really will be allowed to watch the game, or if we host one we need to invite people who will let me watch it.

Here's to hoping you are enjoying winter and that God speaks clearly to you this week.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Just a thought ...

I love basketball and basketball season. That has been true most of my life. It is true that I like most all sports seasons, with synchronized swimming being an obvious exception, but basketball is king. I went to 3 high school games this week and got reports from a couple of elementary school games and watched several college games as well. (Go Hoosiers!) Don't worry I still studied, met with people, spent time with my wife (she was at two of those games with me) and other stuff I was supposed to do, but the week a definite basketball flavor.

One of the high school games was fantastic. The winning team came from 15 points down to win on the road with a tip in basket as time expired! Wow that was fun, especially since the team I was rooting for won. The next game was a blow out and was basically decided half way into the second quarter. The third game was a big rivalry and was a good game with both schools ranked very high in the state. The home team won by 14, but the other team will not be easy to beat by many teams left on their schedule. 2 of the 3 games were played in crowded warm gyms with lots of noise, the way high school games should be played. They weren't Indiana games (I grew up in Indiana where basketball, especially high school basketball, was king), but they were sure fun.

Here's hoping that church is lot like those two good games. Crowded, with lots of noise as we sing, much emotion as the Holy Spirit works and with victory as we are obedient to the Lord's call today. Here's hoping your worship experience will be that way as well.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Humbled and Convicted Again ...

Once again I have been humbled and convicted by God through a person who is new in their journey with Christ who used my own words. I spoke a few minutes ago to a person who has begun attending our church in recent months. They are excited about our church, about God and life in general because of God and what the church has meant to them. In giving me an update about someone we have been praying for, the person was speaking of what God was doing and the impact on others who are connected to the person for whom we are praying. Then this person shared how those who are struggling in that family need to "shed the excess in their life and let it go". Sound familiar? It did to me, that is from Sunday's sermon on the my new series "Shedding the Excess". Then the person went to say that they found themself getting worked up about something yesterday and then reminded themself to "shed the excess and let it go".

Now I am thrilled and humbled to realize how much they had paid attention to Sunday's sermon. I am convicted to think that they are not only listening, but applying the biblical principles from the sermon. The reason I am convicted is that this person is already applying this principle in their life and recognizing the need in others. The conviction came from the unsettling question in my mind as the person was telling me these things, am I applying it that consistently in my life?

As a pastor I have to fight the urge to be the "proclaimer" of the Word without as much concern about be a "practicer" of the Word. I have been called to be a "proclaimer" but my proclamations are of little impact if I am not also being a "practicer".

Here's to being a true "practicer" of the Word first and foremost. How is your practice coming?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Do I really? ...

I have been asking myself that question as I have been studying for some wednesday night lessons on prayer for revival. Do I really pray? I pray, everyday and I pray for special needs and meals etc... But do I really pray? As in, I am desperate for what I am praying. As in, I am willing to make sacrifices to see these prayers answered. As in, I can't get away from praying for a particular need. Do I really pray like that? Unfortunately the answer keeps coming back, NO!

I don't like that answer. But it is the pitiful truth. Wow, I don't want that to true of me. I have a desire to be a true prayer warrior. But to be real honest I am more like a prayer reservist. You know there is the full-time military and then there are the reservists. The reservists fight for a while when things get desperate, but the full time solidiers are there everyday. I want to be there everyday, not just in the emergency. (This is not a slight at all to the brave men and women who are in the military reserves. Many of whom have given their lives recently while fighting for our country. I am just using it as an illustration.)

I don't want to just an emergency prayer. I don't want to just be a "pastoral prayer". You know, the pastor prays before surgeries, at funerals, before every potluck, every Sunday morning, etc... I want to be a prayer warrior. I am the only one who controls that, I make that decision.

Here's to moving into full-time service in the battle of prayer. Anyone want to join me?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

What are you looking for?

We have had some computer problems recently. It is very frustrating because we depend on it so much. When you go to use it and things don't go well it tends to raise your blood pressure. Anyway, that led to some reconfiguring and updating of programs etc... During that process we had to look at our history of use on the computer to determine if certain things were needed or not and also how to recover some items.

That led me to think about the things I have searched for on the computer. Which in turn prompted me to think about what I am searching for in life. If I could pull down a screen to see what I have been thinking of, looking for and doing in my life, what would I see? As I have thought of this, I am coming to realize that it would not be what I would desire it to be. Which leads to the question of why?

I am still wrestling with that question. Some of the reasons I have come up with have to do with distractions and lack of discipline. Neither of which makes me look good, but it honest. What I am looking for will greatly determine what I do with my time and thoughts.

For me, I can be easily distracted, when I want to be. I have come to realize that many things I claim as distractions are only distractions because at that time I don't want to focus on what I should be doing. Don't get me wrong, I have times where I cannot avoid a distraction or interruption, but often it is more of an excuse than a real reason that I failed to get something done. This leads to my lack of discipline. If I would plan better (I will never become a live by the list type of person) and do what I know is most important first it would solve a lot of problems.

I really want to get better at this, but I have a lot of bad habits to overcome in the area of focus, sticking with a project and just getting things done. I have been processing this long enough, it is time to begin improving in this area. I can begin with changing some of what I am looking for, instead of looking for a distraction to pull me away from something and work on sticking with a project and doing a much better job on follow through.

So what have you been looking for lately? Here's to us looking for the right things and doing them.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Monday Morning Musings ...

The forecasters kept telling us how bad our weather was going to be beginning Saturday night through Monday morning, the result almost nothing. We had rain that caused ice on trees and some power lines. The streets and sidewalks were just wet, no ice or snow. Our winter has been so mild that the weather people are looking for anything talk about and this weekend they talked, maybe all their hot air caused the storm to change around us.

We enjoyed a very good day on Sunday. Our time of worship though singing was good, our prayer time was meaningful, the sermon went well and there were people at the altar. I began a new series entitled "Shedding the Excess", with Hebrews 12:1-3 as the foundation. We will examine spiritual, physical and relational items that we need to shed and where we need to add things to live the life that God has laid out for us. As for the physical I revealed my weight and waist size (240 and 42 inches) to the congregation and I will reveal the progress to them each week. I invited anyone else who knew they needed to shed some pounds to post it on a bulletin board. I told them that they did not need to put their beginning weight, just their progress. Amazingly 15 other people signed up and 10 of them posted their weight. One of them wrote NOYB instead of their weight, it stands for "none of your business" in case you didn't know. Several people spoke with me throughout the day and commented on how they really need this series of messages, and they were speaking of much more than just the physical.

I am really pumped up about this series and have been wrestling with it for several weeks. The most exciting event was Sunday evening. We had an outstanding time together on Sunday evening. We had some great singing and then a time of moving testimonies, some more very meaningful singing and a good time of prayer. Then I continued our study on "What we believe". We do Sunday evenings around tables and usually we have times of discussion around the tables as a part of the message.

Yea God!!! For the day we enjoyed yesterday. I posted several weeks ago that I sensed "God is up to something around here". I am believing that we are on the front wave of whatever that is and I can't wait to see and experience all that entails.

Here's hoping that you see and sense God moving in your midst this week wherever you are. Now where did I put those stupid rice cakes?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Just wondering ...

Just things I have been wondering ...

What the world happened to Ohio State in the national championship game? Now I have to listen to Michigan and Ohio State fans both explain how their thumping wasn't as bad as the other schools.

How cheap could I buy a snowmobile? Given the total snow accumulation of 3/4 of an inch around for the entire winter, I imagine snowmobile are cheap. But what would I do with it?

How would you like to be the first kid Nick Saban comes to recruit on behalf of the University of Alabama? Given his aversion to the truth, that could be an interesting conversation.

Can you get a refund for the snow shovel you bought in November when you still haven't used it by the middle of January?

Why do you start to sprout hair in ears as you get older? And, why do your nose hairs suddenly get a growth spurt as you age?

Why don't I write a diet book? It really doesn't matter what I would write as long as the title has something to do with losing weight and I claim it is a new plan. You know there would be people buying it. Have gone to a Borders or Barnes and Noble lately? They have rows of diet and exercise books, especially in January. How do I know? I just bought one of course.

Whatever happened to expanable waist band for pants?

They call it "yo-yo dieting" when people go on a diet lose weight, go off and gain it back, then go on another diet, etc... I think my yo-yo is stuck in the spinning mode.

I think I better quit wondering and get back to studying.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Monday Musings ...

Finally a little bit of winter. The temperature was in the mid-20's this morning and there was a little bit of snow flying. Finally, we have had such a mild winter so far, I haven't worn my winter coat for over a month. I still didn't full it out today, mainly because I didn't think of it, and it has warmed up to the high 20's or low 40's. Frankly I would like about a week of below freezing weather, then maybe all of the flu-like germs would freeze and die. We got killed for the second week in a row with many people missing because of illness. Of course it has always amazed me that in many families when one person is sick a whole family misses. I realize that in a few of our families the whole family is sick, but too often whole families miss when one is sick.

Our worship began rather coldly, not the physical temperature, but the spiritual temperature. But there was a true "warming" that took place throughout the service. People were really worshiping by the end of the time of singing, praise the Lord. My sermon was not a warm and fuzzy one, but more of one where toes got stepped on and feeling were bruised. My wife thinks I need to do that even more and stronger. For the next few weeks that will be the norm. We will begin a new series entitled "Shedding the Excess". We will cover all kinds of things using Hebrews 12:1-2 as the foundation. In this passage we are implores to get rid anything that hinders our relationship with Christ and to get rid of sin in our lives, to keep our focus on Jesus. So imagine things, big and small, that could slow, hinder, distract, or derail your walk with the Lord and those things will likely be tackled. I have had no problem coming up with areas of living to address, the problem is which to feature in a 4-6 week series, because there are enough things to fill the rest of the year, but that seemed a little long for a series.

We are really praying for, and anticipating, great things in our church and community this year. God is really up to something in our area and we want to ride the wave of His making, not paddle desperately after splashes of our own making. Riding the wave always carries more risk, but also has brings the greatest thrills and rewards.

Here's hoping you go for it for God and enjoy the most thrilling ride of your life.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Great Day & Monday Musings ...

Happy Year's! Hope you had an enjoyable celebration as you welcomed in the new year. We had a good time with several people, most from our church. Mark and I were undefeated in doubles ping pong, although we only played about 4 times, but hey undefeated is undefeated. There was much conversation, a lot of very good food, much laughter and a lot of noise at midnight. 2007, that seems so strange, I just got used to writing 2006 a few months ago.

I declared that yesterday would be a great day as it began, so I am calling it a great day. I must admit however, that the way things went much of Sunday morning made it difficult to find good things, let alone great things. But because I was looking for good things I found several. A family that hadn't attended for some time came to worship. The wife and I had written to them and visited them recently, so it was really encouraging to see them in worship. There was a very special time of prayer around the altar in the middle of worship. A couple of young adults who are in the midst of an 11 month ministry mission were home and able to share in the service. Several people stepped up to fill in for people who were ill or just didn't minister in their expected positions. It really was a great day. How was your?

A new year has begun, so you and I have the opportunity to choose to have many great days in 2007. Enjoy the New Year!