Monday, September 29, 2008

Monday Morning Musings ...

We enjoyed another gorgeous Sunday. The weather was wonderful. We had several men gone on our annual men's houseboat retreat. That meant a skeleton worship band. Worship went well considering the missing band members and that my son-in-law (who was leading worship) broke a guitar string literally moments before the service began. He played someone else's guitar and had try and lead while adjusting to an unfamiliar guitar. He did well. The congregation did a pretty good job of connecting and getting involved. Considering how many were gone our attendance was very good. The message was fair. This one was looking at the church (us) as a chosen people. Chosen by God and that this choice is for everyone we just have to accept being chosen and that we are chosen for a purpose.

Sunday evening was difficult. We had about half of our normal number and that really seemed to mess with everyone and their involvement.

I haven't heard much from the men's retreat yet. But the early returns are positive.

Yesterday afternoon several moms of my volleyball girls came to our church and made signs for all the girls on the varsity and junior varsity teams. They worked for about 3 hours and the signs look great. They are to be put up in the gym today after practice. I have no doubt that the girls will like it and be encouraged as well. It should really add something for our match tomorrow night.

Fall is approaching fast and I am loving the weather so far. I am anxious to see more colors in the trees.

What are you looking forward to this fall?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Important Ingredient ...

In recent weeks I have been very aware of a key principle in life. That your attitude really makes a difference in what you accomplish, how you feel and in your relationships. The two areas where I have noticed this the most is in my home and with my the volleyball team that I coach.

At home, my youngest grandchild, an 18 month old boy of boundless energy is teaching me much about the power of attitude. He wakes up smiling, keeps smiling most of the day and even heads to naps and bedtime smiling. Oh, he gets upset periodically but he gets over it within seconds it seems. His smiling ways influences me. Watching, and interacting, with him makes me smile and just plain feel better.

With volleyball I have noticed that when my girls get down on themselves they don't play well. When they keep their attitudes up and encourage each other their play is elevated. There is a direct correlation between their attitude and their play. Also, when one gets down it can soon bring others on the team down as well. Maybe I need to have my grandson beside me as an assistant coach. I think his smile would do more than my words in attempting to change attitudes. Don't misunderstand, I have a great group of girls to coach. For the most part they are upbeat and have fun. But they can get down, and when they do they do not play as well.

All of this got me to thinking about myself and my walk as a follower of Christ. How is my attitude? What do others see, and sense, about my attitude? Am I causing others to smile and feel better, or am I lowering my level of play and causing others to get down as well?

Many years ago I heard John Maxwell say that "your attitude will determine your altitude". I am more aware than ever of how true that is in life.

Lord help my attitude. Help me to lift the attitude of others.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Monday Morning Musings ...

Wow, I didn't realize that I had not posted anything since last Monday's musings, for the 3 of you who care, sorry about that, for the rest of you...well I guess it doesn't matter.

Yesterday had some great moments. Our church once again served the community by making and serving breakfast for all the runners, walkers and workers for a fund raising race on Sunday morning. We had many who walked or ran in the race and several who took care of the breakfast, we also took care of a water station for the runners. We served the over 200 people who were a part of the race. The race raises money to fund some college scholarships for our local high school. This meant that the runners and workers could not be at the church during our regular Sunday School time, but they were learning as much by serving.

We had a very good worship service. The time of singing in worship was outstanding. My son-in-law led and had the full band with him this time. There was great energy in the room. The words of the songs were powerful and really fit many circumstances of our people. The message seemed to go well and people were following, or at least it seemed that way to me. We continued our series on the church, and looked at the fact that the church is built on Christ and that He chooses to then built it with people. Then we examined His role and our roles in being the church.

Last night we had a great time of discussion continuing our study on "Where Did You Get Your God?". Looking at different images people have of God, why they have these images and what is the truth that contrasts these images. I love C.S. Lewis' quote on this that says, "I don't want my image of God, I want God."

We had good, not great attendance in the morning and fair attendance in the evening.

Here's hoping you see God this week.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Monday Musings ...

It is late on Monday night as I write this post for what is normally my Monday Morning Musings. But today was pretty much non-stop from the morning through the evening. I left for an out of town hospital as one of my parishioners had surgery. I got back to the church about 1:30 pm and it was pretty much non-stop visits and calls until I left for volleyball practice. I left volleyball practice early to go and pick up the food for a banquet for a local service club of which I am a member. I got back from the food run about 5:50 for the 6:30 banquet. I helped my wife finish setting up (still in my volleyball practice gear). My wife had worked on this for a few hours already (Did I mention that my wife is awesome?). The first people arrived to find me still in my volleyball practice stuff, I made a quick exit to change and the finished setting up while greeting people. Had the banquet, it went well and the food was awesome. Then cleaned up after the banquet. Finally getting home about 9 pm. I ate some of the leftovers from the banquet, watched a little TV and now here I am writing this post.

As for yesterday, Sunday was a pretty good day in spite of many technical glitches. We had problems with lights and sound throughout worship. People did a nice job of adjusting. It took a while but there was a good spirit and atmosphere in the service. My wife led worship again (Did I mention that my wife is awesome?) and did a great job. We had a wonderful time of prayer during the service. The message went well and I surprised some by finishing somewhat earlier than expected. I love to keep people guessing. The attendance stayed in that normal range, which after a tough summer, felt really good. The message was about us being the body of Christ and how that applies to us personally and together as the church. How we must work together, with each one doing their part, for the body to function as it is designed to function. That it is difficult to fulfill our call when we have to adjust for missing parts, or parts that refuse to serve.

The Lord really helped me focus after some struggles earlier in the morning. I believe we (our church) is getting closer to being the body of Christ to our community, but we have a ways to go. The good news is we are progressing in this area and it seems more people are beginning to step up and be the body. We are beginning to recognize more and more needs around us.

Here's to you recognizing your part in the body. Here's to the church really being the body, reaching, serving, healing, helping, loving and impacting our communities for Christ.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Far From It ...

I will be preaching this morning about us, the church, being the body of Christ. To be real honest I am not feeling a lot like the body of Christ. I am not sure what it is, but I know that I need to be reminded of this truth today. That is one of the toughest parts of preaching is that in the preparation you are confronted with the message several times before you ever share it with others. Then again, maybe that is one of the best parts of preaching. All I know at this moment, 25 minutes before I go teach my Sunday School class followed by our worship service, is that I want to be the body of Christ to my family, my community and world, but I feel like I am falling far short of it currently. Do you ever feel that way?

Monday, September 08, 2008

Monday Morning Musings ...

By the end of the day I was beat. The day went well, but was very busy and I had coached volleyball matches 3 days in a row before yesterday with the matches on Saturday getting added to the schedule after the season started. My voice was a bit hoarse from coaching, teaching and preaching. I felt like we had some good discussion in my Sunday School class. That is always encouraging heading into worship. Our normal worship leader is out for several weeks with upcoming back surgery, so my wife led worship. She always does well and I thought she did exceptionally well yesterday. She really helped set the tone for the service. People seemed to engage early in the service, I hope that last Sunday's flat atmosphere was just a holiday weekend.

I began a series on the foundation of the church and began with "The Church as Community". Dealing with the benefits and responsibilities of being in community. There was a good atmosphere and people seemed to be connected throughout the message. Our attendance bounced back from our summer slump and that was with several "regulars" still missing. (Pastor's are almost never satisfied are they?) We had outstanding attendance for our evening study. (Okay we are satisfied sometimes.) It was a fun time of discussion as we started a series on people's images of God contrasted with the truth of the Bible.

Here's hoping that you see God for who he really is this week. God is love, my prayer is that you live in the joy of that love and share it with people this week.

Thank You ...

Wow, just minutes after typing the previous post about distractions I left my office/study on the way to teach my Sunday School class and came across another of those distractions. A task left undone that needed to be done, I put my stuff down and began to take care of the problem, a layperson observing me took over. She said, "Pastor let me do that so you can go focus on what you need to do". Wow!

She has no idea how big her simple statement was to me on what had begun as a difficult morning. It changed my mindset and the rest of the morning went pretty well. That wasn't the last problem I encountered, but it really helped me focus and, as I already mentioned, changed my mindset.

A big thank you to the Lord for the help and to a superstar helper who really made a difference in my day.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Lord Help Me Today ...

"Lord, help me today". Should be my prayer every morning, but this morning it is a plea not a request. I already feel very scattered in my thoughts. I am not feeling very focused. There have already been a few that demanded attention that really shouldn't have, and dealing with them has me off track.

Lord, I really need your help to stay on track today. Help me not to let these distractions pull my mind away from my teaching, preaching, worship and interacting with people today.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Random Thoughts ...

*I had a great day on Monday with all the kids and grandkids around. I made pancakes for the grandkids (a tradition they insist on and I enjoy). We took a trip to the town park where we played on the equipment, played tag (the grandkids can get through small spaces that I cannot it wasn't fair), the men played a game tossing a tennis ball whiling swinging on the park swings (we need practice) and my wife and I enjoyed a nice walk home with one of our grandkids (we didn't have to speak many words he covered the time of the walk all by himself). I grilled hot dogs and hamburgers which we all enjoyed. My son-in-law and I opened presents for our birthdays. We enjoyed birthday cake and ice cream and then we had a family kickball game in the backyard.

*I had a physical yesterday. Yuck! It was overdue and I still have a few more tests to complete. My doctor is a goo guy but some things just can't be any fun.

*Survived teaching the youth last night and I think they survived as well.

*Still searching for an Associate Pastor, one name that was high on my list just accepted another position before I could get that far into discussions with him. Bummer!

*My volleyball team has another doubleheader tonight. This team will be much tougher than the one we beat last week.

*An elderly gentleman that visit regularly informed me today that he has to have his other leg amputated soon. Wow! The first surgery was less than a year ago. Our prayer time was a little more focused and intense today.

*I love my wife. After 33 years she still makes my heart flutter.

*Did you know that Christmas is just 112 days away? (Okay, raise your hand if you went to a calendar and counted the days yourself. I knew it.)

*I am excited to get rolling at church now that summer is over. We had a tough summer with a lot people traveling and not much continuity. Without an Associate Pastor in place I didn't have the opportunity to get away for some vacation myself.

*I need to get back to sermon study.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Monday Morning Musings ...

It is Monday morning, Labor Day a day off and a day with the family, the entire family. As for yesterday it was a bit flat. People seemed rather lifeless during Sunday School and Worship. There was just a barely alive feeling even before the worship service began. Maybe it was the holiday weekend, maybe it was the end of summer blues, or maybe it was just one of those days. I thought the songs were great and the words were very powerful. The special in song was good. We didn't have any technical glitches and our attendance was reasonable for a holiday weekend. I knew that my message would not be a smiling "boy that makes me feel great" type, but I had to really work to connect with the congregation. I preached from John 4 on Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well and then the whole town.

I used this as a follow-up to the just ended series on "Going Beyond". This was about responding and going to the next level. I dealt with some normal excuses for actually serving and impacting people's lives and then the truths that counter the excuses. One of the main points was that we often use the line "God hasn't told me what I should do yet" and that it is quite often nothing more than a delaying tactic. The truth is that if there are needs in people's lives around us then God has given us the assignment of helping to meet those needs. People a face to face encounter with Jesus and that needs to come through face to face encounters with us. Jesus showing and shining through us. This can only happen if we get out and engage in people's lives, right where they are, not where we wish they would be. As you can see, not a "feel good" message but necessary truth.

Today is my birthday and all my kids and grandkids are all here. I get to grill for everyone later, we will play together and have cake. It doesn't get much better. Happy birthday to me! (The church gave me a gift card to Cabella's for my birthday!)