Monday, January 28, 2008

Monday Morning Musings ...

It is currently 11:43 am, so I am just barely making this a "morning" musing, but here goes. Yesterday was a good day. I suspected that we would be down in attendance. My reasoning was that it was very cold over the weekend, we had a few weeks in a row of very good attendance, so I just figured we were due for a low attendance. We were down from the previous 2 weeks but didn't drop too far, that was encouraging. There was a good spirit in the service and this was with us missing 2 of band members and our worship leader was struggling with sickness all week. The church presented us with a love offering in honor of our 4 year unanimous renewal of our call here. There seemed to be a very attentive during the message. Many people hung around and talked for a long period of time, again a continued good sign.

Sunday evening was very eventful. We had a good time of singing and then we had a very good time of prayer. I asked those who had a heavy burden and really needed to know they were not alone as they faced it this week to stand. Then I asked those around them to stand by them and place hands on their shoulders in support as we prayed for them and committed to for them each day this week. It was a very special time. A week ago I began a series called "You Asked For It!" Where I am addressing questions from the congregation about almost anything. Last night was "What is the big deal about sexual sin? Is it worse than other sins?". It caught everyone's attention if nothing else. I imagine that there were parts of the answers that did not exactly make some people feel good, but it was truthful. Then we discovered that someone had come into the building and stolen someone's coat during the service. A person was seen leaving but someone who thought to write down the license plate number of their vehicle and so it has been tracked down and found already. Next time someone says "nothing ever happens at church", I have a night to tell them about.

Saturday evening we had our 4th or 5th annual variety show. It is just a fun night. There is singing, drama, and other stuff. Some is serious, most is not, it is just plain fun. We had a very good crowd, most of whom do not attend our church, so it is an effective night of community contact and planting positve seeds about our church.

Here's hoping you know that you are loved and being lifted in prayer.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Difficult Realization ...

As I referenced in my "Monday Morning Musings ..." post on Monday, I came to a difficult realization on Sunday morning. Painful might be a more accurate description than difficut. It is actually difficult and painful.

At the conclusion of Sunday morning's message and the response of several who came forward to pray around the altar is when it really hit me. I looked around at the many people who had come forward and noticed something. They were all women. There was not a man to be seen anywhere near the altar. When I realized that, I felt like I had been punched in the gut.

I began to weep over the lack of men, I mentioned it and challenged the men before I prayed the benediction. After the service a man was talking with me about the fact that he knew he needed to take care of some things with God. He then asked, why do we men have so much trouble do this? My answer was, "because we want to be in control".

I firmly believe that people, especially men, desire to be in control and to surrender control to God is a very difficult decision. But my concern and pain goes far beyond a time around the altar and is the realization that so many men are being spiritual leaders. They are not being Godly examples in their homes, let alone at work. Then they wonder why so many of their marriages are in trouble. They wonder why so many of their children are turning their backs on God. They wonder why they have no joy in their life. They wonder ...

What do you think? I don't believe that it is just in my church that this is true. How about you and your church? How about you personally?

For me I am burdened and broken over this and greatly concerned. I really don't think that we will see our church be all that God desires for it to be until this changes.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Celebrating 200!

My wife and I are celebrating turning 200. No not our anniversary and not our combined birthdays. Let me get right to it. We are celebrating our car turning 200, as in over 200,000 miles. That is a big deal. It is 14 years old, we have only had it for just over 4 years 100,000 of the 200,000 miles.

It has a few things that don't work as they used to, but it is still getting us where we need to go. One of the doors no longer locks or unlocks electronically. The windshield has a big crack. The fan on the heater either goes full blast or barely blows. The front seat no longer moves forward or back, it is just where it is all the time. The driver's side of the front seat is a little like a rocking chair and the electronic antennae no longer goes all the up or down. But it still runs.

So here's to long miles and long lives. Here's to cars that keep on, keeping on. Here's to long rides and pleasant sights.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Monday Morning Musings ...

It was colddd!!! It was in the low single digits in the morning and wasn't a lot warmer by mid-afternoon, I know because I walked the 4 blocks back to church a little after 2pm and it was numbingly cold. Enough of the whining, after all it is mid-January and I am in Michigan, comes with the territory (but it was still cold). Yesterday was a great day with a difficult realization. I will deal with the difficult realization in another post.

Yesterday was great for several reasons. The foremost reason was the moving response at the end of the service as people came forward weeping to be sanctified wholly. They were was a tremendous sense of God's presence and power. There was genuine brokenness. There was great sharing at the altar and true care being given one to another. This was not a brief pause at the altar to feel better, this was seeking all that God has for us. Another reason it was a great was that we kicked off our new discipleship ministry and there were 17 people who began the process. I am really excited about this and praying for a real move of God in this ministry. (Maybe that had something to do with what happened in worship, just a thought.) Another reason it was great was that in spite of the cold we had good attendance. I fully expected to be down, but we were not. Another reason it was great is the relationships that I can see building among many of the people.

Yesterday was one of those days that reminded me that God is up to great things among us. That I need to keep preaching the truth, even painfully at times, let God do his thing.

Here's hoping that you sense God's presence this week and that you see him moving in your community.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

How is your service?

Serving is a powerful thing. When we are served, I mean truly served not the "what do you want since it is my job" type service, we are always positively impacted. Conversely, when we are received poor service we are very negatively impacted.

Came across this quote in my research:
"We slept and dreamt that life was joy
We awoke and saw that life was service
We acted and behold ... service was joy"
This quote was on a web site for a Bed and Breakfast Inn. (When I am doing too much of this type of searching it is a sign that I need a few days away.)

So how is your service? Not the service you receive, but rather the service you are giving. We are called to serve. We have the example of Jesus serving.

So how is your service?

Are you serving? If so, how? Is it dutiful, because you are supposed to? Or, is it joyful and purposeful because you desire to do it?

If it is dutiful then the phrase "service was joy" is not something you feel or even recognize. If it is from a desire to service and purposeful then you are moving into the realm of service being a joy.

How is your service?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Lessons from California

Last week my wife and I flew to San Diego on Tuesday and returned home Saturday night. Were at a National Pastor's Conference for our denomination. It covered a lot of areas from Listening to God, to practices of Growing Churches, to Practicing Greatness in personal areas, to being healthy and balanced. So I beat up in many different areas.

It was a very good conference of the 9 sessions 6 of them were very good, 1 was good and 2 were very weak. That translates to a very good conference. It was great to be with my wife for those 5 days and to be in San Diego in mid-January. The weather was not as warm as usual for that area, but it was still in the mid-60's during the day and got down to the high 40's at night. It was beautiful with green grass and gorgeous flowers and plants.

Some points that stood out to me, actually that stomped on my toes, were the fact that I must involve more people in ministry. That I need to focus on my strengths, after all God gave them to me and has positioned me to use my strengths. That I need to really work on the physical health and take time to get rested and healthy.

I am encouraged about the possibilities in my life and our church and I feel that many things I learned, or was reminded of, at the conference last week can be put into practice.

Another bonus last week was that my wife and I came into contact with another ministry couple that we really connected with. We have similar philosophies and passions. We are in similar phases of our lives. We got along very well and made plans to keep in contact. Now the real test will be to see if we really do keep in contact. The only negative is that they live several hours away from us. As my wife said last week, "it has been a while since we clicked with another ministry couple in the way we clicked with them".

Thanks for praying for us. Our travel was good, or as good as it can be when you travel cross country. There was one scary moment physically, but I will cover that in another post. (How is that for a tease?)

Here's hoping you have something to look forward to this week.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Monday Morning Musings ...

God is good all the time, all the time God is good. That is a statement of yesterday and of all of last week. I will post later about last week and our trip to San Diego. Yesterday had many highlights and rough spots. There was a very good spirit in our worship times. There was a good sense of anticipation and I think I even felt a bit of excitement as we were about to begin our worship experience. Those are great signs and something that I have been long to see and feel ever sense I arrived here. My Associate put together a very good video announcement about our upcoming Variety Show, it was fun, high energy and high quality. Our time of singing went well and my wife really ministered with a special in song. There was a real sense of God's presence during our prayer time. All of that makes it a lot easier to get up and preach. People seemed to be really engaged with the message and there were several responses at the end.

Our attendance was 50 above the same Sunday last year. We had visitors, we had repeat visitors and we a great time of people really interacting following the time of worship.

The difficult spots had more to do with an ongoing struggle with not having enough people willing to serve in needed ministry spots. I really need to make this a matter of much prayer, not just casual, but persistent and passionate.

Even our time together in the evening service went well, with good interaction and attendance.

Here's hoping you sense God's presence and pleasure this week.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Monday Morning Musings ...

This Monday morning this are very unusual. I awoke to temperatures in the mid-50's and it has already reached 60, on January 8! Around here that is incredibly rare.What is really disconcerting about this temperature is that tomorrow morning my wife and I are flying out to San Diego, California for a pastor's conference and the temperature here is warmer than San Diego. There is just something fundamentally wrong with that fact. I wanted to be able to come back home and brag about how warm the weather was at our conference, instead people will be bragging about warm it was here. We are scheduled to return on Saturday evening, so I am not sure how much blogging will take place this week.

Yesterday was a very good day. The spirit in our services was outstanding. There was a response at the altar following the message, with no invitation. We had a few new people. We had some good testimonies in our evening service. Even with a lot of illness we had 30 more in attendance than on the first Sunday of the previous year. There were many people who commented on what a great day it was at our church.

Of course the real key is what we will do with as we live out this week in our homes, work places, schools and communities.

Here's to warmer weather.

Friday, January 04, 2008

What's it worth?

My buddy Rob had a link in his blog where you can have someone who knows (at least he claims that he knows) what a blog is worth to evaluate your blog. (Boy that was a lousy sentence.) So I clicked on the link and found that the value of my blog was $2,200, or thereabouts (I love that word.). That was considerably less than Rob's, his was somewhere over $6,000 and I was miles away from another friend Derry's, his was around $23,000!

I am not feeling quite inferior, and evidently rightfully so. Then I remembered the old adage that something is only worth what someone else is willing to pay. So I smugly thought, let me see Rob or Derry get that much for their blog and I then felt much better. But I really don't believe that old adage, for I really believe that somethings are worth much more than what someone else would pay.

I have books that are worth very little on the open market, but are valuable to me. It might be because who gave me the book, it could be because of who wrote it, it could be because who used to own it, it could be because how the book impacted when I first read it, or a variety of other reasons. I have pictures that no one else care about that very valuable to me, because what the people in the picture mean to me. I have many of things like that, things that others do not value but I value highly. My guess would be that you have some of those as well.

The greatest of these is salvation. There is not price that can be paid for this, because the price has already been paid by Jesus Christ. There is nothing I could give to purchase it, it was offered to me without charge. It became mine when I asked for it, when I believed and when I accepted it. So what is that worth? It is worth everything, literally everything.

How about you, do you have this salvation? Do you remember how much it is truly worth?

P.S. I also have some handwritten notes from my kids and grandkids that worth a lot to me. I have some cards and notes from my wife that mean the world to me. I also have some embarassing pictures of a few people that could be worth a lot at the right time. If you are wondering if you might be in one of them, don't worry I will let you know, at the appropriated time. (Insert wicked laughter here.)

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Reflections on a year...

Many people are making lists of the best, funniest, most memorable, worst, and other such descriptive terms in describing the past year. So here goes my effort in this area, or at least one of my efforts as I assume I won't remember everything at this sitting. But for me I just want to give some reflections from the past year, some good, some bad, some great, some funny, some sad, all somewhat memorable and certainly all a part of my world in 2007.

*The birth of my 5 grandchild and 4th grandson, Brandt in March. That was so cool and he continues to bring great to joy to all who around him.

*The death of my uncle Junior. He died the day my grandson was born. I had the privilege of participating in his funeral service representing the nephews and neices. He was a great guy, fun, loving, encouraging and best of all he had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

*Our outdoor baptism service in the summer. It was awesome. The testimonies of the 7 people were inspiring, most were new believers in this past year and the depth of emotion as they were baptized still gives me goose bumps (or chicken skin, depending on where you hail from).

*Our Christmas musical getting snowed out and then done 5 days later. We still had 220 attend.

*Getting coach the JV volleyball team at our local high school. I learned a lot, we won some and improved throughout the season. I had a good group of girls to coach and they still say hi to me when they see now.

*Having all of our kids and grandkids together and our house for Christmas. It was so much fun and so memorable, not sure how often we will be able to continue the streak of all getting together around Christmas. So I soaked this one in with a determined purpose.

*Celebrating the 32nd anniversary of my beautiful wife agreeing to marry me. Wow, we are getting old, we are getting better, but we are still getting older.

*The children I had the privilege to dedicate.

*The weddings I had the joy to officiate. (2 of them are expecting their first child later this year, maybe that will mean a couple more baby dedications).

*The funerals I attended and helped to lead. Praying for those families as they faced their first Christmas withou their loved one. I remember how that feels.

*Family vacation at a lake in the summer. That was a great week. Lots of fishing, a little swimming, good food, failed fireworks (miserably failed such that it was funny), lots of laughter, great conversations, many games played and a great memories enjoyed.

*A week at a lake with just my wife. It was early May and too cold to swim, but we fished a lot, read a lot, played games and just enjoyed the time with each other.

*Golfing, not well, but still golfing.

*Really learning to enjoy shooting trap and hunting phesants.

*Purchasing my first gun, a used shotgun. (I even have an orange vest, and insulated bibs)

*Great times of worship.

*Seeing the church grow this year.

*Upgrading several places in our church building.

*Realizing that my youngest daughter, son-in-law and youngest grandchild will be moving to Arizona very soon.

*Good books read.

*The knowledge that my kids love the Lord and serving Him. Truly priceless.

It has been an interesting year, my highs and lows. The comfort of knowing that the Lord is guiding me is such a boost. I am excited for the new year.

Here's hoping you can look forward to this new year and that you know the assurance of Christ guiding you along the way.