Monday, October 29, 2007

Monday Morning Musings ...

I just realized that have not posted since last Monday morning, sorry about that, or did you even notice? Last week was very busy and this week may be busier, but that is life, at least my life. Yesterday was a day of things going wrong and very well at the same time. We had technical glitches, we had key people missing (3 Sunday School teachers and a couple of our musicians), worship started late, we had some cell phone issues during worship, to name a few. In the midst of all this we had 4 brand new people in attendance and significant connections made with them, we still had more attend than we had last year and the spirit in the service was still positive.

Sunday evenings we have youth small groups, special kids ministry and an adult time of worship and study. The study right now is called "Conflict Theology", I blogged about this concept a while back. It has been interesting to see a few more people showing up during this study and some who have been absent during the same study. It has been very challenging for me in putting the study together.

I continue to be baffled by how many people can continue to attend a church somewhat regularly and do nothing, or little, in serving in some way. Even more baffling is to hear some of those people express concern over how some people are too busy, or doing too many things, at the church. They are correct that some are doing too much, but seem oblivious to the fact that their lack of service has help contribute to the overwork of others.

My sermon yesterday morning was on "Following Jesus". Using Matthew 16:24 as the key verse, read it and see what following Jesus really means.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Monday Morning Musings ...

Thoughts from yesterday:
...My wife is awesome. She helped in the new toddler nursery. Directed a youth girls ensemble. Led the first practice for our Christmas musical. Helped lead a Sunday evening children's ministry and looked fabulous as usual.
...We are having several new people get involved in ministry. That is awesome, exciting and humbling.
...The teen girls sounded great and really ministered while singing.
...We had a lot regular attenders gone yesterday.
...We were basically at our attendance average even with some many regulars gone.
...We are really blessed with some wonderful musicians. I am not sure that our people realize how fortunate we are to have some many gifted musicians. Especially considering how dedicated they are to the ministry.
...For Pastor Appreciation, our church gave us some gift cards for gas, a night at a Bed and Breakfast and $100 cash to use on the overnight. This plus some cards from individuals, some who gave other special gifts. Being shown appreciation in any form is always uplifting. It came at a very good time. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
...There are some really exciting things taking place in many people's lives and spiritual walk in our church.
...The Lord is really opening some doors for witness in our community.
...I am tired.
...How cold is it going to be in the World Series in Colorado and Boston?
...My wife and I got to see all of our grandkids on Friday. It made for a long day, but it was well worth it. My grandkids are awesome. Oh yeah, we also got to see their parents as well. (That one is for Kin.)
...Gotta go, have a great week.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Enthusiasm ...

Enthusiasm is a wonderful thing to observe, feel and to engage in personally. Most of us enjoy watching and being around someone who is enthusiastic. In coaching my Junior Varsity Volleyball team this year it has been interesting to see the ebb and flow of enthusiasm. My groups of girls are very enthusiastic about some things, though not always while they are playing. The truth is that I wish they would show a little more enthusiasm during matches. This is not to say that they have no enthusiasm. This week for instance they are all pumped up because it is homecoming week at our high school. They are enthusiastic about helping to create their class float for the parade. They are enthusiastic about participating in "Girl-illa Football", most schools call this powder puff football. They are enthusiastic about the Homecoming game, party, dance and the revealing of the Homecoming King and Queen. This makes trying to practice this week a bit problematic. I received a phone call about an hour and a half before last evening's practice asking if I could cancel it because most of the girls were working on their homecoming float. I politely informed them that there would be practice and they all showed up, some of them with paint all over their hands and arms, but they were there.

Witnessing this enthusiasm got me to wondering about enthusiasm in the church and in our daily walk as followers of Christ. I wonder, do we show as much enthusiasm as Christ would like to see in us? Where do we show enthusiasm? Do we get enthusiastic about the opportunity to worship? How about the chance to witness? About giving? How about reading our Bible, serving others, helping those less fortunate, caring for the hurting or about changes in our church?

So where is your enthusiasm, spiritually speaking? Are you one for whom your coach wishes you would show more enthusiasm? Or, are you one for whom the coach has to constantly remind to calm down? As a pastor I don't think I have ever had anyone to whom I had to say "calm down" in my 24+ years. I wonder how that would feel?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Monday Musings ...

I am tired today, I am not sure why since yesterday was not any busier than most Sundays. It was a typical 13+ hour Sunday. Yesterday was a very good day. Last night some of our children's workers and parents took a large group of children to a nearby town to hear "BibleMan". The program was good and some of the children we took made decisions to accept Christ as their personal savior. That makes yesterday a great day!

Things seemed a little flat during our morning worship, I don't know if it was because our numbers were down a little or if it was just "one of those days". The atmosphere made it very difficult to preach. Some of our newer families have begun attending Sunday School recently and we have seen a few more children attending our morning services since we have made a couple of changes. These are very encouraging signs. Also, I got a couple of very exciting emails from some new people last week. God is really doing some great things among us, but I am not sure that many of our "regulars" are realizing it yet.

Our youth kicked off their small groups for this school year last evening and their were about double the number who participated last year. How cool is that? That really bodes well for the future of our youth ministry.

Yesterday's message was on having a "Heart Check Up" and that we need to have an undivided heart in following Christ. So how is your heart? How is your spirit heart condition? Any heart disease, hardening of your spiritual arteries or other problems?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Random Thoughts ..

...Parents are rarely objective about their own kids, especially when the kids are playing sports.
...My grandkids make me smile. They make me smile when I see, when I see pictures of them, when I hear their voices and literally at the mere mention of their names.
...It have been too long since I have seen my grandkids. My wife has seen them all 2 or 3 times since I have been able to be with them
...It is great when an opposing coach compliments my team for their improvement and how they are playing, but I would rather hear those comments after we beat them.
...Commitment is not what it used to be, or more accurately what passes for commitment today is not what it used to be. Boy that thought make me sound really old.
...Fall weather has finally arrived and it actually feels good after October temps in the 90's.
...I am looking forward to the fall colors bursting onto the scene.
...How are the New Orleans Saints 0-4 and the Green Bay Packers4-1? (Hey I said these were random thoughts)
...I love the ability of 9th and 10th grade girls to shake off a loss or bad game and still enjoy their life.
...What is it about babies that just changes the atmosphere in a room when they are carried in?
...I love good barbecue.
...My wife was able to go take care of grandkids this week so our son and daughter-in-law could go to a pastor and spouse retreat. I really missed her, but am so glad that we are near enough to be able to help in this way. Of course she took the extra time to go see our other grandchild while she was in the area. Oh, and she saw our daughter and son-in-law as well.
...Will the Colts and Patriots still be undefeated when they play each other?
...I think we sometimes schedule too many things at church.
...Do you know any of your neighbors by name?
...I am going to take my wife out for breakfast and spend some quality time together. This is going to be a great day!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Monday Morning Musings ...

Yesterday was a bittersweet day. The bitter was saying goodbye to a wonderful couple who are moving to Florida. They have been such encouragers to many people, to our children, to our youth, to the college students and to adults of all ages. We had a very emotional time praying for them around the altar and we wish them well, but they are really going to be missed. As pastor I am wondering who will step up and fill the many areas in which they have been serving. The sweet, was a good spirit in both morning and evening services. There was good attendance in the morning service and we are seeing some new families become established and getting involved in the church. We are seeing some children beginning to attend on Sunday mornings who previously came just on Wednesday nights during our children's outreach.

Yesterday's Sunday morning sermon was entitled "Attitude Check". Looking at Philippians 2 and the challenge to have a Christlike attitude. I loved the honesty of one person who came to me after the service and thanked me for the message and added, "It has been no secret that my attitude sucked this week." Honest and listening, it doesn't get a lot better than that for a Pastor. In the evening I have begun a new study entitled "Conflict Theology". That may sound familiar because I posted about needing to come up with conflict theology. Well I decided now is the time, not because I have figured it out but rather I want to figure it out and the pressure of announcing a series on the subject will force my hand. Also, this is an interactive study. Those attending are giving me feedback during the study and we are discovering together.

God is still God and he is still good all the time. Here's hoping that you will choose a Christlike attitude this week, especially at home, at work, at school and in your community. Here's hoping that you take some time to appreciate those around you who are serving others. Here's hoping that will recognize that God has plans for you and that you have a great future full of hope.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

2 Special Girls ...

Today is the celebration of the birth of 2 very special girls, normally known as birthdays. I debated whether to title this post 2 special ladies or 2 special girls. The 2 being described are my wife and my grand daughter. I figured people would be amused at me calling my now 3 year old grand daughter a "lady", but I know that my now ___ year old wife (you didn't really think I was putting that in print did you?) will enjoy being called a "girl". When our grand daughter was born on my wife's birthday one of her first comments (my wife's not my grand daughter) was that from now on this day would focus on our grand daughter and not on her. Nice try, but I am not going to let that happen.

So here is to 2 very special girls and the celebration of their births. To my wife, I love you and as I have already said to you, you just keep getting better. To my grand daughter, I love you and love watching you grow, you keep getting better as well and you have a tremendous heritage.

So here is to birthdays, may they continue to come and may we learn to celebrate what they really mean. That we are really celebrating the pleasure of being able to enjoy the life of those we love. May we continue to remember those we have loved who are no longer here and pass on the beauty of their lives. May we always remember to thank our Lord for our being and our salvation. May we look to love like Christ. May we enjoy the cake and ice cream and not worry about how many candles are covering the cake. May we all wish my wife and grand daughter a very happy birthday.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Where is your passion?

That is a key question we will be asking in our new Sunday School class tomorrow.Preparing for this class really got me thinking this week. I have to admit that recently I have been questioning my passion. Just challenging myself and evaluating my passion for being a pastor. I know that we all go through stale periods and I want to get back to freshness in my ministry. I don't have any magic answers on how to get back to freshness, but let me tell you what I am doing.

I am reading my Bible more, and am making sure it is the first thing I read each day. I am looking for more prayer time. I am reading stuff on passion by trusted authors. I am looking to observe people who exhibit passion in what they are doing.

So where is your passion? If you are going through a stale period, what are you doing about it?

I will try to remember and bring you an update in the near future on my progress.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Off Ballance ...

I read and hear a lot about people looking for balance in their lives. I understand that generally they are meaning that they want to be sure and have the right things in the right places in their lives. That they have the right priorities, etc... But I think I would like to be off balanced. I know, I know, those who have known me the longest would say that I have been wildly successful in this pursuit. But I am I talking about making that everything does not have the meaning and priority in my life. I do not want everything to be in balance.

I want to be hopelessly tilted toward following Christ. I want to be hopelessly leaning toward loving my wife. I want to be hopelessly tipped toward following God's will for my life. I don't want to balance any of those things, because there is nothing should be able to have as much weight in my life as these things.

How balanced are you?

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Strong thoughts ...

It is always good to be strong in your thoughts, to have the courage of your convictions. Tonight I had the privilege of witnessing a great picture of mental toughness and great strength of thought. The Junior Varsity volleyball team that I coach had an exciting night of volleyball. This was our first match since getting beat in doubleheader at home last Thursday night. We lost the first game of the match 24-26, but we trailed in the game 10-17 and came back to tie it before finally losing. The second game we fell behind 10-17 again and this time we came back again and won the game 25-23. That sent it to a deciding 3rd game which was another exciting one, in the best 2 out of 3 format that Junior Varsity teams play the deciding 3rd game only goes to 15. We pulled it out 15-13. There were a lot of exciting rallies and we really chased down a lot difficult balls. I had girls running and diving all over the floor.

The "strong thoughts" and "mental toughness"? My girls were behind in each game tonight and each time they came back. After losing the first game and falling behind in the second game it would have been easy to just think it wasn't our night. Instead the girls kept playing hard and just kept coming back. One of the most exciting moments was near the end of the 3rd game. We were leading 14-13 and the other coach called a timeout to mess with our server's mind and make her nervous. During the timeout we talked about positioning and finishing the game. I told my girl to make it a good serve and let's finish this thing. As I sat down our varsity coach said that this is tough position for my girl to be in, I turned and said that she was 1 of 3 girls I would choose to be in this spot. She promptly made a good serve, the other team made an error and we won the match. The team was really fired up. In our post match huddle I told them how proud I was of them for their mental toughness and how they kept coming back. I also told them that my heart would appreciate a match that was not quite so exciting.

How is your mental strength? Do you keep fighting for what you believe in? Do stick with it when you know it is what is right? Take a lesson from girls and don't give up no matter what you are facing.

Now to see if I can fall asleep after all that excitement.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

She deserves it...

My wife's birthday is this Sunday. It is number ... not on your life, you are not getting it from me. She deserves so much more than I could ever give her. She has been my greatest supporter, encourager and prayer warrior throughout my ministry. She is a great mom and super grandma. She has been partner with me in ministry during the entire time I have been a pastor. I consider us a team and frankly I couldn't imagine doing what I do without her.

She has done so many things in ministry, filled in so many places and recruited so many people to serve in all of the churches we have served that there is not enough space in this post to list them all.

I love spending time with her and always miss her when we are apart. I love that she still laughs at my jokes, at least I think that is why she is laughing. I her smile. I love that she will try new things. I love her love for the Lord and her constant desire to grow in that relationship. I love that I could go on and on about her, but I will write more later this week.

Happy Birthday honey, I know it is a little early, but you deserve so much more than one day.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Just wondering ...

I have just been wondering about a few things...

...why do we always think that we need to justify our actions to people who don't know anything about what they are judging us on? powerful is influence? Such as, how powerful is the influence that a parent has on their child just by what the child sees their parent doing? How much do they learn about how to act in certain situations just by observing how their parent responds to a similar situations?

...why do we say we want to see others come to know Christ and then do almost nothing toward helping that actually become reality? Or why do we get upset at changes in our church that are meant to reach new people for Christ when they mess with the way "we" prefer things to be done?

...what's with "Dancing with the Stars"? Are that many people really interested in how uncoordinated some "used to be" stars are? (How is that for a poorly worded sentence?"

... how do I always notice a gas station with significantly lower prices right after I have just filled up the car?

... why can I not seem to remember the great ideas that come to me when I awaken in the middle of the night? The next morning I always remember that I had a great idea, but I never remember what it was.

... why am I making a post out of just random thoughts?

... why do I get more email in my spam folder than my regular one every day?

... how 'bout those Cubbies?

... aren't you glad you aren't a Notre Dame fan right now? (Sorry Rob and Kristin)

... how can we continually know that we need to correct problems in our life and then continue to not make the changes we know we must make?

... how to end this post, wait I think I have it.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Monday Morning Musings ...

God is so good. Yesterday morning several of our children helped into my sermon on David and Goliath. They did a humorous drama about David and Goliath.It was the last of the series on Bible Stories Retold. The kids did a great job, I love seeing them involved in ministry and service. The service went well, not great but it was a good day in spite of some junk. We began a new Sunday School class yesterday, it followed the pattern of the day, good but not great. We are dealing with "Get a life!" in the class, discovering and living the life God intends for each of us.

Our attendance was average, which is above where it was a year ago. The spirit in the services was mixed. We have been seeing some great things happening in many people's lives, but we are facing more turmoil than ever at the same time. We had special prayer at the close of the service for a young lady who is leaving for Germany tomorrow for a 10 month missions assignment. That is really exciting and last evening 2 young ladies who have recently returned from an 11 month mission experience shared about their experience. It was cool to send one off as we welcomed two back. I have a real burden for us to be a sending church, this is a good start.

We had some people not show up for their ministries yesterday, not unusual but certainly frustrating. We have had others resign their positions recently, again this happens periodically but recently it has been difficult as we are really struggling to fill necessary ministries, or at least I think they are necessary. So today I am tired, more emotionally than physically, but tired nonethless.

Here's hoping you will choose to serve this week. Look to serve someone in need. Look to serve someone who is not expecting it. Look to serve because that is the example Christ gave us.