Saturday, May 23, 2009

Randome Thoughts on a Saturday morning...

I am sitting in a Panera Bread Cafe on vacation. That sounds great doesn't it? It is beautiful out and Jody and I will be enjoying the beauty outdoors later this afternoon. We will be checking into a little 1 bedroom lake cottage that I rented site unseen online. I am not worried, I have done this 4 times and have not been disappointed any of those times. This post will probably be one paragraph, no matter how long, because the return key has stopped working on my laptop (among several other keys), so bear with me. We actually started our vacation yesterday. I went to a family funeral, my last remaining uncle died on Wednesday. He was 90 and was a follower of Christ. He came to Christ when he was 78 (don't give up praying for people) and was so faithful after choosing Christ. IN fact, just a couple of weeks before his death, while in great pain, he insisted that his kids take him to Church, he didn't want to miss. The pastor told the congregation that they had just lost their last excuse to miss church. If he (my uncle Max) could come out in his condition then the old "I am not feeling great today" excuse just wouldn't fly any more (ha, ha). (pretend the space is a new paragraph beginning) I was so encouraged listening to stories of my uncle's life change, I also kept remembering how my Mom prayed for my uncle's salvation every day. I am sure that is an awesome reunion in heaven. My mom greeting her biological brother and her Christian brother at the same time. How awesome is that? I am having trouble typing as my eyes are filling with tears of joy at that picture. (paragraph) We received a call this morning that a man in our church passed away late last night. I knew that he was not doing well, and had visited him and his family on Thursday. So we will be going home for a day sometime next week for a funeral. (My suit is getting a workout, and it is not used to it!) (paragraph) Not sure how much I will be able to get online in the next week. Also, I hope to be fishing, reading, sleeping, enjoying time with my beautiful wife too much to be worrying about being online. So until next time, laugh a lot, smile at someone unexpectedly, open a door for a stranger, encourage someone and don't quit praying for those you are burdened for, thank goodness people didn't quit praying for Uncle Max. I am jiggling my keys and change in my pocket while drinking coffee in his memory. (that one is for the family)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Triumphant Return ...

Or at least a return. Sorry about my absence the past couple of weeks. It has been a crazy time. I was gone for 3 days over the weekend, but that doesn't excuse the other 11 days. I was at a regional youth event with over 2,000 youth at our college in Illinois. It was an awesome time, and the 9 youth from our church represented well. They were very involved, they were fun to be with and I was very proud of them. My wife and I however, are still recovering physically. We really need to get a youth pastor in here soon.

The past 2 Sundays have been very good days. Mother's Day we had a great time together, with a good spirit and very good attendance (even with a huge number of regulars gone). This past Sunday was a very encouraging day. We honored our High School grads, 8 of them. The service went well and there was good energy in the place. (Shouldn't every Sunday have that kind of energy?) The attendance was great, it was higher than Mother's Day and that was with very few visitors. I started a new series of messages on Mother's Day. I have traditionally done a series on relationships from Mother's Day to Father's Day and that tradition continues this year. I am using James 4:1-12 as the foundation passage and every message originates from that scripture. The first sermon was on "More Grace", that God gives us more grace, abundant grace. That we need to recognize our need for it, accept it and be gracious in our relationships. We examined why we need more grace, from our choices, to our pride, to our tendency to display spiritual ADD and more. We need to "embrace the grace". This past Sunday was on the "Desires that Battle Within". From the conflict of determining God's will for our future to just the relational battles that are so common. We looked at some reasons why we have these battles, we want what we want when we want it, we often react poorly to not getting our way, we often partner unwisely in many relationships and more. The solution is simple, but not easy. To surrender our desires to God, and no one else can make this choice for us, and to resist Satan and his lies.

Sunday afternoon I spoke our local High School's Baccalaureate. It was a real honor because the Seniors themselves chose who they wanted to have speak. I think it went well. Then graduation was a little over an hour after that finished. Graduation went well and there were a lot of students that I had contact with, it was an encouraging time to see some fruit of my time here and relationships that have been forged. Then I went home and crashed.

I will try and get back on track and post regularly again. If you have missed me, I am sorry, if you haven't missed me then who cares. How is that for being gracious in my relationships?

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Tuesday's Thoughts (replacing Monday's Musings)

The past couple of days have been very long days (somewhere in excess of 27 hours in those 2 days). That is my excuse for not posting yesterday. Sunday was a good day. It was to be my first Sunday of not teaching Sunday School in 3 years, but a phone call Sunday morning left a class without a teacher, so ... in I went. My sermon went much better in my "practice time" early Sunday morning than it did in the Worship service. But God is gracious and many people commented on what they got out of the message. Just another reminder that it is not about me. Our time of worship was okay and one of our youth sang a special in song and did an excellent job. Our attendance was good (that is 4 good weeks in a row!).

The message was from I Corinthians 9:24-27, the title asked the question "What are your intentions?". Focusing on the fact that we need to live with intentionality and not move through life on autopilot. I also asked "How is your spiritual work ethic?". Not that we earn our salvation, but that we need to be working at our relationship with Christ. Grace is free, but following Christ requires much work. It is a somewhat confusing reality. The point is that we need to be living on purpose. Following Christ's example on purpose. Serving others and Christ on purpose. This does not happen automatically. I suggested a silly word picture, that we need to exchange our spiritual automatic transmission for a manual one. It might mean some stuttering starts and popped clutches but that is preferred to living in first gear spiritually the rest of our lives.

Sunday evening we had a very good time of discussion on the morning message and taking a few steps further. Attendance was pitiful, but it was a good time.

Sunday afternoon I went to visit someone in the hospital in a city about an hour away. After the service Sunday evening we had a time with a family in church eating burgers and playing some games.

A good day.

Here's hoping you are shifting into a deeper and growing relationship with Christ instead of living on cruise control.