Thursday, August 28, 2008

Still Searching

Yesterday I was putting on a pair of nylon sweat pants to leave my volleyball practice and noticed that one leg of the pants were dragging and felt heavy. I reached and discovered that something was in between the layers of material and realized that it was my cell phone. There is now a large hole in one of the pockets and I put my cell phone in that pocket as I got to practice. Afterward as I put them back on the phone evidently fell out of the pocket and down the leg between the two layers of material. I quickly surmised that this was not a good situation. One, it made one of the pant legs seem longer than the other. Two, my cell phone was now banging against my shoe with each step. Three, and maybe most important, I concluded that this was not a good place to keep my cell phone if I ever expected to answer it. And you thought I couldn't figure things out on my own!

You are likely glancing back up to the title of this post (provided you kept reading through my fascinating discussion in the previous paragraph) and are now wondering if I am still trying to get my cell phone out of my sweats. No, I have my cell phone out and have used it recently, but I am still in search mode. Not for a phone but for an Associate Pastor.

The one I made an offer to last month decided not to accept and so the search continues. I have had a couple of encouraging conversations recently with a couple of potential candidates. But the fact that I am still searching as school is about to begin means my life is about to get even crazier. I will be doing a majority of the teaching with our youth in their main gathering time for a time, maybe until we have secured an Associate Pastor. I love youth and even enjoy teaching them, but I takes a lot more preparation to really do youth teaching well than it does to work through a Bible Study with adults.

So if you are inclined to pray for me on occasion, I would ask for prayer concerning the search for an Associate and for the teaching of the youth in the interim. I can use your prayers anytime, for about anything but this will be an especially complicated time period.

Here's hoping that are finding what you are searching for and recognizing it when it is found.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


I loved the results and I loved that it is now behind me. I am speaking of my first match as the Varsity Volleyball coach at our High School. There were a lot of nerves rolling around yesterday and especially last night. One of my points to the team before the match was that being nervous was okay, just use that nervous energy to play hard and play well. They didn't realize it but I was really giving myself that speech. Then it began.

One of the big changes between coaching Junior Varsity and Varsity is that JV plays best out of 3 to win a match and Varsity plays best out of 5. Also, there is a much more intense atmosphere around Varsity matches. I did my best to balance the intensity and having fun playing the game. I also was missing 2 players who for reasons beyond their control were not able to get in the minimum number of practices to play in the match last night.

The results were that we won both matches (it was a doubleheader) and we won them both in 3 straight games. We didn't blow them out in any game and in fact one of them went into extra time. I was especially proud that in our first game we fell behind 10-17 and came back to win 25-20. That really set the tone for the match. I am relieved and pleased. We still have much to work on, but it was a good start.

An added bonus was that my daughter's coaching debut as the Junior Varsity coach had a good ending. They lost the first match in 2 straight and came back to win the second match in 2 straight. How cool is that?

Gotta go, lot's to do.

Monday, August 25, 2008


Why? That is such a powerful question and sometimes a statement. It always forces you to think when someone says it to you. Why? You have to ponder what their question, or statement, is directed toward. Why? Implies some type of misunderstanding or confusion. But it also can be a statement of awe. That is where the question has been for me the past couple of days, a statement of awe. As I have been studying and as we worshiped on Sunday I kept coming back to "Why?".

I came to a point in worship on Sunday that literally overwhelmed me. The words I was singing about God loving me, and never letting me go. I was moved in a powerful way and the statement/question was "Why?". Why does Jesus love me, why does he care and why do some people come to church regularly and then live for themselves?

I don't know all the answers and yet I know THE ANSWER. How humbling and awesome is that?

Monday Morning Musings...

Another Summer Sunday has passed and it was a good day. God showed up in a powerful way, at least He did for me, while we were worshiping through music. I was deeply moved and impacted by words to the songs and the tangible presence of the Holy Spirit. I really needed that moment. Our attendance rebounded but was still below this month last year. We have had a lot of people traveling this summer, more than the norm for us.

My son-in-law led worship yesterday and I really enjoyed it. His style is a little different than our norm, but I love change and this is closer to my personal preference so it was good for me. He had to endure some technical glitches liking losing the projector showing him the words to the very first song, he adjusted very well.

The message was the last in our series entitled "Going Beyond". Getting past casual to committed. Moving from a stuck position to an exciting relationship with Jesus Christ. Yesterday looked at Romans 7, with support in chapters 8 and 12. Where Paul writes about the struggle of wanting to do right and not doing it. Want not wanting to wrong but doing it anyway. Then the glorious realization that the solution is found in Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. I felt like people were engaged with the message but personally resistant to applying it. But it could have just been Satan attempting to discourage me.

Sunday evening we had a good study on the role of shepherds with some good discussion. Then we had some young adults over for pizza and some games. That was a lot of fun, they are a great group. I was exhausted when the day was over but my mind was racing and I didn't sleep real well.

Looking forward to a great week. What are you looking forward to? Here's hoping you see and experience some greatness this week.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Overwhelmed ...?

Recently the best word I can come up with to describe myself is overwhelmed. I don't like this sense of being overwhelmed. Don't panic, I will survive. This time of year seems to always hold some moments of feeling overwhelmed for me. Whether back to my public school teaching days and facing a new school year and a new round of students and parents. Or, as a pastor with the run on new things kicking off as we approach the fall months on the calendar. This year just feels a little more overwhelming than normal, for whatever normal is in my world.

Maybe it is being down a staff member and still in the midst of that search. Maybe it is being a first time varsity volleyball coach. Maybe it is that our car seems to keep having new problems with frightening regularity. Maybe it is having to minister in some extra areas for a while. Maybe it is the general feeling in the community that times are tough. Maybe it is the fact that I desperately need some vacation time. Maybe it is that my schedule has limited my time with my lovely wife in recent days. Maybe it is just me realizing how many candles will be on my cake at my next birthday.

Sorry for the melancholy rant, just needed to see the words in black and white (I guess they don't show up that way on blog, though do they?) I take great comfort in knowing that "God is still God" and that I am under his care.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Monday Morning Musings ...

Yesterday was a difficult day in many respects, but it had an awesome finish. I have to start with the attendance, not because it is the most part but because it impacted so many other areas on Sunday. Attendance was way, way down yesterday. Only 1 of our normal worship band members was here, but we were able to get 3 others to help fill in some of the parts. None of our scheduled greeters were here, fortunately a person stepped in and helped. We were missing a few Sunday School teachers and had to combine some classes. We were missing some of our early childhood workers and had to do some scrambling in that area as well. My wife and I did a lot of running around and work before our Sunday School even started to help make up for those who were missing or had not done things ahead of time. I was drenched in sweat before I even started teaching my Sunday School class. All of the above certainly impacted the worship and especially my mind before we even began our time of worship.

The service itself went fairly well. We had an elementary school girl sing a special in song. That is always encouraging and she sang very well. We had a high school girl sing another special and she did a wonderful job of ministering through the song. In our worship space when attendance is as low as it was yesterday it really impacts the atmosphere. I felt I had to really work extra in trying to get the congregation engaged in the message. I have really been impacted in my study and preaching throughout this series of messages on "Going Beyond". Getting past wherever we may be stuck and going on from casual Christianity to an exciting, meaningful relationship with Jesus Christ. Yesterday's message was using Stephen (Acts 6-8) as our Bible character, and his story is so powerful. Especially his courage and then his forgiving those who were stoning him to death.

The day finished with our annual outdoor baptism service. We use a pond of one of our church families (not always the same one, we have a few with ponds) and have a carry in picnic following the baptism. This year we only had 1 get baptized. I thought it was going to be 4, but only 1 followed through. But it was a great way to finish a Sunday. To recognize how they came to faith in Christ and witness them publicly testifying to their relationship with Christ through baptism. I am always uplifted as I assist in people's baptism. Then the time of great fellowship during the picnic was great.

Here's hoping you find something to make this a great day for yourself.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Back at it ...

I began my second year of coaching volleyball on Monday evening of this week. I really enjoy coaching. Every time that I agree to coach I always grumble a bit as it begins kind of asking what I have gotten myself into, but then I always enjoy it. It is so exciting to see someone improve at something. It is thrilling to see some of those "ah ha..." moments where they suddenly get it. It is humbling to see those moments of sheer joy when things all come together for an individual or a team. It is also good to have those teaching moments about life in both good and bad moments throughout the season.

This is a real challenge this year. Last year was my first year ever coaching volleyball. So my learning curve was very steep. But I coached the Junior Varsity at our high school and the varsity coach was a veteran, so I followed her lead. I learned a lot and enjoyed most of it. This year she decided not to continue coaching after having her first child. I was asked about taking the Varsity position, my answer was that I would prefer to coach the Junior Varsity, but that if they needed me to I would coach the Varsity with much fear and trepidation. So here I am, with much fear and trepidation. Then 2 girls I was really counting on are not playing this year. One is not eligible and the other decided to play a different sport. Ouch!!!

My youngest daughter will be the Junior Varsity coach and my son-in-law will be helping. Our first week of practices have begun. I have doubled the length of the first two weeks of practices. So there have been a lot of groans, I actually like hearing those. But I really believe it will pay off in the long run. So doing my think all day, then long practice in the evening and last night I then had a church board meeting after that practice.

I will give you some periodic updates as the season progresses. If you are so inclined I would appreciate a prayer or two for the opportunity I have and that I will handle the extra time well.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Monday Morning Musings...

Yesterday was a very emotional day for me. Some of it is confusing as to why, and some I understand. The part I understand (obviously I can't explain what I don't understand) is that last week was a long emotional week with coaching my group in our Mega Sports Camp, our 33rd Wedding Anniversary and traveling for a grandchild's birthday celebration. Also, recognizing that 16 kids made decisions to accept Christ as their personal Savior last week stirred up a lot of emotion. My emotions were right out front during worship yesterday, then the church gave my wife and I an anniversary card with a check in it. The check was much bigger than anniversary present I can ever remember and was totally unexpected. It came at an incredibly significant time financially.

Our worship band was missing two key people which presented some major adjustments. Our attendance was lower than I expected. Unlike reports I hear from all around the country our people are traveling more this summer than last year. There was a very spirit in the time of singing and especially during prayer. You could really sense the Holy Spirit and that people were being impacted during singing and prayer. That is awesome when that is the atmosphere during worship.

The message went well expect for my "oops" on the scripture (read previous post). Our second week of Mega Sports Camp began last night, this one was Cheerleading. We had 3 less than the first night of basketball, but it was a very young group. We are praying another great week, with more decisions for Christ and some good connections with unchurched parents.

I begin coaching volleyball at our local high school tonight. This is exciting, nerve wracking and tiring. The big challenge this year is that I will coaching the Varsity. Last year, my first ever in coaching volleyball, I coached the Junior Varsity and really enjoyed it. Last year's Varsity coach left after having her first child, which I had the privilege of dedicating this summer. My youngest daughter will be the Junior Varsity coach this year.

Here's hoping you find someone to encourage this week.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


It happened again today. It happens every once in a while. I hate it every time it happens, but it happened. No, it was not someone falling asleep (that happens every Sunday morning). No, I didn't forget my notes (that happened once when I was speaking out of town). No, my zipper wasn't open ( that happened once). No, I didn't forget someone's name (that has happened...let's just say it has happened and leave it at that). What happened is that I printed the wrong scripture reference in my sermon outline and I kept repeating it all through the sermon. I read the correct one, but printed and said the wrong one. I kept saying Acts 12:19-26 but I meant Acts 11:19-26, I even read Acts 11:19-26.

I guess it is just another reminder to my congregation that I need grace, or it is just a reminder that I screw up at times. Either way a lesson can be learned. At least that is how I am choosing to view the incident.

Here's hoping you say what you mean.

Happy Anniversary!

Yesterday marked my 33rd wedding anniversary, amazingly it was my wife's 33rd as well. We celebrated it very quietly, there is a lot going on at the moment. But I know that I celebrate our marriage a lot more often than one day a year.

I am incredibly fortunate. I have a beautiful wife whom I love more than I can possibly express. I have been blessed with 33 years (and counting) of marriage to great lady. I married way above myself. I have 3 wonderful kids who love the Lord and are serving Him. I have 5 amazing grandkids who make me smile whenever I think of them. I have a great daughter-in-law and son-in-law. It is true, when it comes to family I am truly blessed. I was raised in a wonderful home by parents who loved me, each other and the Lord. I saw great examples of godly marriages in my parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts. Yes, I am incredibly fortunate.

My wife is awesome and is my partner in ministry as well as life. I sometimes secretly suspect that churches have liked my ministry more for her and her gifts than me and mine. But that is okay, we are partners.

Our life together has not been, is not now, perfect. But it is awesome. We are committed to the Lord and to each other. It doesn't get much better than that now does it?

Happy Anniversary honey, I love you.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Awesome ...

This week is the first of two weeks of sports camps that we are doing instead of traditional Bible School. This week is basketball and next week is cheerleading. We teach basic skills and then give Bible stories that match life lessons being learned through the sport. We have had a good number of 1-6 graders attending and last night we presented the gospel. 16 kids made first time decisions to accept Jesus as their Savior. Tonight the parents are invited to watch what their kids have learned and to hear the final story.

I have been one of the "huddle coaches" this week. It has been a long week and sometimes frustrating but overall a very good experience and last night certainly made it all worth it.

I am praying that some parents will be impacted by what their kids have learned and what they hear tonight.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Monday Morning Musings ...

Interesting day, actually weekend, was experienced. This weekend my wife, and 11 other ladies went to a conference about 4 hours away. 2 of those were my daughters. That left myself, my son-in-law and youngest grandson at home (maybe I will post on that experience later). Also, on Saturday afternoon a candidate for our Associate Pastor position came in for a visit and overnight stay. Then of course we had church Sunday morning and began our Bible School on Sunday evening.

As for the ladies conference it sounds like it was good, maybe not a home run but still good. The bad part for them was that our church van evidently is having some suspension problems which made for an interesting drive there and back. "Interesting" was my word the words used by the ladies was much more descriptive.

The visit with the Associate Pastor candidate went well, at least from my end. I was impressed with them and really like them. The meet and greet time with some of our leaders, parents and youth went well and people seemed favorably impressed. Sunday morning their time in the youth Sunday School class went well and at least one youth said I should hire him. Our people seemed to respond well to them after the worship service. Now we pray some more and wait.

Worship went okay. We had a couple of glitches, those always bother me more than anyone else. There was a good spirit and okay attendance for the first Sunday in August. I was not pleased with my sermon but I am enjoying this series on "Going Beyond". My Son-in-law sang and did a great job, though he wasn't satisfied with it, maybe we are a lot a like on how we evaluate ourselves. The message dealt with Lazarus, his sisters and friends from John 11:1-44. Key points were the need to remove obstacles that have us stuck, obedience even with doubts and questions of God, responding to God's call (that one keeps showing up doesn't it?) and being loosed from whatever has us bound.

Our Bible School kicked off okay. We are doing a sports camp type thing again this year, the first week is basketball and the second one will be cheerleading. Our numbers were near where they were last year and we had a nearly even mix of boys and girls. I am helping as a "huddle coach" and am already burdened for the 7 boys in my group. I enjoy coaching so I really got into right away and enjoyed our times to talk about the lessons being taught as well.

Here's to a week. How is that for a creative finish?

Sunday, August 03, 2008


Big question, not many answers, but this question has been consuming me a lot recently. Listening to a song by Todd Agnew where he asked the question "If you wanted me to walk on water why did you make the dry land?" Then he asks the big one, "If you wanted me to be like you why did you make me like me?"

But all of my "why" questions have been leading me toward "why not?"

How about you?