Monday, March 30, 2009

Monday Morning Musings ...

Yesterday was another very good Sunday. It is no accident that every Sunday morning since we started our Sunday night prayer groups has been outstanding. The spirit was very good, and that was with a lot of chaos. Yesterday we highlighted our youth who participated in a recent District event of sharing talents. We had artwork and photography on display (they were outstanding), we had 4 who played piano solos and 2 who sang special songs. This created some pleasant chaos (how is that for contradictory terms?). We also took an special offering for those youth who are going on to a regional event in May, the offering will help reduce their expenses.

We were a little short on our worship band and worship team due to absences. We had some out due whatever this bug is that is going around and doesn't seem to want to go away this year. Even with all of those factors the spirit was good during our time of singing. We had a good time of prayer. We have 2 people who are heading out on mission trips this week, so we had them come to the altar and prayed for them as a part of our prayer time.

The message went well. I dealt with one of the questions that the youth had given me on Wednesday nights that they wanted answered. Since we were highlighting our youth I thought it was appropriate. The question was "How can I be Christlike (nice) in a difficult world?" I preached from Romans 12:9-21 with the focus on verse 21 and the word "overcome". We need to overcome evil with good. We need to be overcomers and not be run over by circumstances. To make this happen you need to decide that it really matters to be Christlike, that needs to be a sincere decision. No more posing, but really living it. Sharing is a great way to be an overcomer. Do not take revenge, it is not our job and God is much better at it than we could ever be. We need to learn to really rejoice and care enough that we can rejoice with others and cry with them depending on what is happening in their lives.

There was a portrait hanging at the Alamo with the inscription, "James Butler Bonham - no picture of him exists. This portrait is of his nephew, Major James Bonham, deceased, who greatly resembled his uncle. It is placed here by his family that people may know the appearance of the man who died for freedom." No portrait of Christ exists, except that is seen in those who are follwers of Jesus Christ. So how accurate is the portrait of Christ you are displaying?

Our prayer group was another great time. We have really gotten down to real prayer and real burdens. I am encouraged by these groups. Our attendance was very good Sunday morning, in spite of illness, lousy weather and the absence of many "regulars".

Here's hoping that your portrait is looking more and more like Christ.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

How are you doing?

How are you doing? Such a simple question. We say the words several times each week. But we don't often really ask the question. Instead we use the question as a greeter rather than an inquiry. That means we aren't really listening to answer beyond good, great, okay, fair or not so good.

So who do you talk to about how you are really doing? Do you have someone you can tell? Someone who will truly rejoice with you when something great happens and you are not worried that they will actually be unhappy that things are going so well? Do you have someone who really cares when you say things stink, or that you are really confused? Someone who will also tell you to snap out of it if you are just having a pity party?

I believe we all need someone like that in our life, better yet is to have a couple of them.

Are you that someone to one of your friends? You are not the only one who craves this type of relationship.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Monday Morning Musings ...

Yesterday was another good day. We had some very good discussion in Sunday School class about prayer. I was encouraged by the discussion. Worship went well. The spirit in the service was very good again this week. It is no coincidence that we have had more people praying in recent weeks and the spirit in the services has been a reflection of that in my opinion. Singing seemed to go well. There was a real sense of openness during the message. People seemed very attentive. Our attendance was down from last week and disappointing, but the spirit and response was very good. There were even a couple people who came to the altar to pray though no specific invitation was given. Neither of whom were adults. We had a another good week in our prayer Sunday evening, though attendance was down there as well.

The message was on reordering your priorities (read previous post for more) from Philippians 3:7-11. This is one of our foundation passages for our theme this year "Whatever ... it takes", or "Whatever living". I asked "what really matters to you?". To determine this look at where you spend your time, where you spend your money and what you talk about most frequently. This will give you a good picture of matters most to you. Then we examined what this might look like (reordering your priorities).

Check the Bible for the foundation of priorities, it is literally the manual for priorities. Look at the life of Jesus, what mattered most to him. Evaluate your current priorities measured against scripture and the life of Jesus. Take steps to rearrange your life. Start with prayer, pray about it first. Then put first things first. Change your attitude, this might be the most critical one. How different would your actions be with a better attitude? How much better would worship be with a better attitude? Then eliminate what doesn't fit.

I told the story of David Livingstone, amissionary pioneer in Africa. When he died, his body was taken back to his home area in England but his heart was buried in Africa. That's right, his physical heart was buried under a tall tree in a small village in Africa at his request. He said that Africa was where his heart was so it should be buried in Africa. I then posed the question, "If your heart was to buried where your heart is currently invested where would it be buried?" In your place of employment? In your bank? In your recliner at home? In your boat, or on your golf course or your favorite mall? In front of your computer? Where would your heart be buried?

Here's hoping that your priorities line up with God's.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Priorities ...

I have certain words that I struggle with their spelling whenever I type them. No matter what they never look right to me or they have an odd comination that gives me problems on the keyboard. Which means that I am always worried that I made a typing error or just messed up the spelling. Priorities (did I get that right?) is one of those words.

Of course it could go deeper than that, it could be that I know I have a tendency to get some of my priorities (this is going to be harder than I thought) out of whack. Maybe that is why I struggle to type the word (that was easier, maybe I could just type "the word" from now on).

This morning my series of messages has led me to preach on "reordering priorities" (I wonder if the person who types things in the powerpoint presentation struggles with this word? This could be interesting this morning.).

Do you ever struggle with your prioritities?

Here's hoping that this morning the focus will be on the message and not on spelling. Hmmm... I think that is an example of misplaced priorities, isn't it? Nuts, this really is going to be hard. Well here we go talking about that word.

Here's hoping you get things straight today.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Why do we hold back?

This question has been rattling around in my mind all week, "Why do we hold back?" When we could give so much more of ourselves, why do we hold back? When we have more to give, why do we hold back? When we have more... you get the picture.

The question began Sunday afternoon. We had a very good time of worship that morning and I felt pretty good about the sermon, but... I realized that had held back. I had to admit, at least to myself, that I didn't give it all that morning. Don't get me wrong, I realize that there are times when holding back might be a wise decision. Such as when reactionary thoughts and retorts come to mind. It is usually a good decision at those times to hold back and not share all that comes to mind. But what I am talking about is when it was not only okay, but even better if we wouldn't hold back. I believe that this past Sunday was one of those times that I held back. My question is why.

I am still wrestling with the answer. I let you know how the wrestling goes. How about you, do you hold back?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Monday Morning Musings ...

Yesterday was an outstanding day. There was a tremendous spirit in our worship in the morning and prayer groups in the evening. Other than starting late (those who know me are aware that late is a major issue with me, and that is putting it mildly) our worship service was great. Our time of singing went well and you could really sense God's presence. The sermon went well, people seemed to be paying close attention and were really engaged all through the message. We had a few respond and come forward to pray at the conclusion of the message. There was a real sense of real progress being made as people prayed together.

The message was about surrendering to be transformed, from Romans 12:1-2. This is still part of our study on "Whatever Living". Some thoughts from the message... "surrender is not defeat" at least not in the spiritual sense. In fact surrender to God is where real victory begins. "Transformation requires a renewed mind" and the old-timers used to say that we need to get rid of our stinking thinking. Also, that "this transformation is real worship", maybe this is what is often missing in our worship services, not enough transformed worshippers. When you thought worship did not go well the first place to check is yourself, not the order or the style.

Our attendance was back to the minimum level that I feel it should be at this time. We had some new attenders and a couple who were back for the third time. That was encouraging, now if it just happen 2 or 3 weeks in a row.

Sunday evening we continued our prayer groups leading toward Easter. The time in prayer was very good again. I was very encouraged by the group at our home and heard a good report of the other group as well. There were 10 or so new people this week, of course that was offset by the 8 who didn't return.

An encouraging day.

Here's hoping you are encouraged today. Whether you are encouraged or not, look to give some encouragement to someone else today.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Monday Morning Musings ...

Yesterday was a very good day. I began a new study in my Sunday School class on prayer, with the Lord's Prayer as the foundation. This should be good, at least it will be for me. There was a very good spirit in our entire worship service. It wasn't that we were strong musically, and we had some definite glitches in some technical aspects, but there was a real sense of God's presence throughout the service. Another great reminder that God is still God. My sermon went okay, I got distracted at one point and had to fight my way through that, but overall it seemed to connect.

We looked at the fact that in understanding God's will, and for "Whatever Living", we need to grasp that God's plans for us are full of hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11-13 was the scriptural foundation. There are so many voices around us today that reminding us of the doom and gloom of life that we can easily get swayed into losing hope. But God's plan for us is hopeful. That doesn't mean that He ignores sin, but that life in Christ is full of hope and a future. You have to believe that this is for you. You can call out to God, pray, with confidence because promises to listen to you. How awesome is that? People are calling 900 numbers all the time and paying $3.99, or more, a minute to have someone listen to them and talk with them. (Yes, I realize that some of them are looking for something else.) Be a seeker of God's word and will, and do it wholeheartedly. We do so many things halfheartedly, seeking God and his will shouldn't be one of them. We are promised that we will find God and his will if we seek. We need to listen to God's call rather than all the voices that keep telling us we can't make it.

Sunday evening began a 4 week emphasis on prayer leading up to Palm Sunday and Easter. We are meeting in a couple of homes and praying and sharing for an hour. Our group kept going for another 20 minutes or more. The sharing was personal and encouraging. The prayer time was moving, intimate and powerful. The conversations afterward were great as well. The overall attendance in the groups was disappointing, but the prayer time was so good.

Overall the attendance for the day was low. There is no school today or tomorrow, maybe some took off for the weekend. There has been a lot of flu like sickness going around.

Here's hoping you notice that God has plans of hope for you this week.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Great Night ...

Last night was a great night. There were many great things about it. First, and foremost, several of the youth prayed to receive Christ as their personal Savior. Some more made the commitment to renew their relationship with Christ. How great is that? I must never lose sight of the fact that what happened last night is what we pray for and should be living in such a way that others what to receive Christ as their Savior because of what they see in us. Secondly, the youth were really receptive and attentive while I shared. I wish the adults were as attentive and receptive as the youth were last night. Thirdly, (is thirdly even a word?) our attention bounced back up to a very good number and that was without several teens who attend often.

On the selfish side I needed a night like last night. It was very encouraging.

The lesson was answering the question the youth had asked "Why would God die for us?" I simply shared from John 3:16-17 and Psalm 103:11-12. I gave them 4 bottom line facts:
God loves you!

God is willing to forgive you! (He has already forgiven, you just have to accept it.)

God does not desire to condemn you!

God believes in you!

A great night that is going to lead to some great lives.

Here's praying that you know these facts for yourself.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Monday Morning Musings ..

First of all, I was horrible yesterday. I stunk teaching Sunday School and was not much better preaching Sunday morning. The only redeeming thing was a very valuable time of discussion on Sunday evening. The problem with me trying to reflect on the whole package yesterday is that my thoughts are clouded from how poorly I did my part.

It was cold yesterday, colder than I want to experience on March 1, I don't think it had impact on the day. Our attendance did bounce back somewhat. We had several people missing due to illness, but we were at least back up to a respectable attendance.

We also began our annual church elections yesterday and had to take care of that business at the beginning of worship.

Looking forward to our small group on the "Love Dare" tonight.

Here's hoping you find someone to encourage today.