Monday, June 29, 2009

Monday Musings ...

Yesterday was a very good day. It was our new Associate Pastor's first Sunday, which made it a very good day all by itself. There was a pretty good spirit throughout the time of singing and prayer. There was a pretty good feeling of anticipation in the place before the service even started. We had a new guy playing in the worship band, which was really cool. I love seeing people get plugged into ministry. The message asked the question of whether you are living for self or for others? Is your love reserved for you and your desires, or does it go out to others? We examined John 15:9-17. We looked at how to love like Christ loves us and to make sure we do not keep it to ourselves. I shared the Coast Guard Rescue Swimmers' motto, "So Others May Live". I asked what their personal motto was and whether or not those around them would say that they are living that motto? The Coast Guard Rescue Swimmers motto is a pretty good motto for believers and churches to live by.

We had good attendance in the morning service, much higher than we had on Father's Day. In the evening we had a welcome reception for our new Associate and family. We had great attendance and good food. He took any youth who attended out for ice cream after the reception and he had a lot of them show up. That is a very good sign as to his early connections with the youth.

A very good day indeed.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Moving ...

Our new Associate and family moved in on Tuesday evening! It got me thinking about the joy and pain in the rear that is moving. I can speak as bit of an expert in this area. In my adult life I have moved many times, 16 I think. In fairness 8 of those were during college years and 3 of those after college were in the same town or area. But, it means I (and my beautiful and talented wife) have done the move thing a few times.

Yes, I can look at moves as a joy. My personality allows for me to look at each move as a new adventure and the chance to meet a bunch of new people. Both of those things are very exciting to me. But even with all that excitement, moving can be a real pain. The sorting, the packing, the loading, and if moving from the area the goodbyes. The unloading and unpacking are part of the adventure side of things.

Recent activities around us has led to some speculation and rumors in our community that we were moving. My daughter and son in law's move from our home to their new place, and the uhaul sitting in our driveway led to some rumors and our new Associate came a couple of weeks ago with a small uhaul trailer to bring some hard to pack things led to some more rumors. That has been somewhat humorous to handle.

So our new Associate and family are busy unpacking and trying to settle into their new place and soon into the new role in our ministry. I am excited to have them here and excited to watch them transition into this new adventure.

I am finding this going through a move vicariously much easier than actually moving.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Monday Morning Musings ...

Happy Father's Day! It was, my oldest daughter showed up at church to suprise me ( I suppose she came to see my wife as well, but it was Father's Day so allow me this moment)! We had a good service in spite of missing a lot of people who were scheduled to be serving, so there were many substitutes (we knew many of these would be missing ahead of time but it was quite the day for filling in). We didn't do our "Manly BBQ" for the first time in 4 years and our attendance reflected it.

Our time of singing went well in spite of the pared down worship band. There was a good spirit in the service and people seemed fairly well engaged throughout the service. We had a family come back after visiting for the first time last Sunday, that is always encouraging.

This was the last of 6 messages on relationships and the theme of this one was that relationships are dependent on our choices therefore "Choose Wisely". I especially focused on fathers and the importance of their choices and how they impact their family. We need to choose wisely in our faith, our family and our friends. We need to reassure our families that we are continuing to choose them. We need to not just make a casual choice for God, but make a committed choice for a personal, growing relationships with Jesus Christ. I used some pictures of my Dad and family from my son's ordination to talk about the importance of fathers. I shared a few fathering words of wisdom from Dad as well.

I gave all of the Father's, and actually all of the teenage and older men, a balloon as they left. The balloon was not blown up. My instructions were that they were take the balloon home and blow it up themselves. Play with for a while and sit on it. The sitting should casue the balloon to burst and then there was a message inside the balloon for them. At least on Dad couldn't wait and blew the balloon up and burst it right there in worship center. (Any guesses as to who that was?)

Went home and grilled some steaks as we enjoyed a leisurely meal together. Then sat around and talked until we all fell asleep. Then my daughter headed home and my wife and I went to a little suprise anniversary party for a couple in our church. Talked with my youngest daughter, got a message from my son and talked with my Dad. It was a very good day.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Milestone ...

Last night was a milestone of sorts. It was the last youth meeting in which I am in charge. Next Wednesday our new Associate Pastor will be here and it will become his thing. We will be finishing the reward for a contest that just finished, but when it comes to what is being taught and the responsibility for the youth that is his. We have been without a person in this position since the first of July last summer, so it has been nearly a year.

I have learned a lot this year and have an even greater burden for the youth of our community and those who have become a part of our youth ministry. We have maintained a reasonable number during this year and have picked up a few new kids along the way.

I feel bad that I have not been able to give the youth what they need and deserve given my other responsibilities. I am really excited for the future of our youth ministry and great person we have coming to join the ministry team. The youth are really excited as well, and no that does not make me feel bad.

I don't think I will really feel the relief for a couple of more weeks. In response to the statement I have heard from several people who have commented that I will feel like I am on vacation when the new guy arrives, not even close. You obviously don't get ministry, or at least not the ministry of a senior pastor. Yes, I will feel some relief, yes there is a big thing that will not take up near as much space on my ministry plate, but no I will not have less to do. I will instead have time to invest in some other areas. That is the life of a pastor.

But for now, I am focusing on making our new Associate feel as welcome as possible and doing whatever is needed to make his transition as smooth as possible.

Here's hoping that I haven't done too much damage to the youth ministry this past year. Here's to some of the greatest youth anywhere in the world.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Monday Morning Musings ...

Yesterday was a very enjoyable and positive day. We had some special guests. A young couple who used to serve on staff with me at another church were with us for the day. They are planting a new church a couple of hours from us and I asked them to come and share with our church. He preached in the morning service, his wife sang a special song and they answered a lot of question in the evening. They did a great job of ministering to us and informing our church about their new ministry. His message was about hope and the need so many people have to know that there is hope available. The area in which they are planting the new church has a very small percentage of Christians and many families that are at, or near, the poverty level.

They have already gathered a group of about 50 people who have committed to being a part of this new church and the official launch is not until October. They are already serving their community doing service projects in the community. Many of our people had really never thought much about Church Planting and seemed very interested and excited about the possibilities.

I pray that many of our people will become prayer partner, that some will be able to become financial partners and maybe some will feel called to go and become a part of this new church. By the way, this new church is from a sister denomination, not our own denomination. I love being a part of kingdom work.

It was great to be able to spend some time with this great couple. To talk, to laugh and pick on each other. You see he is also in the fantasy baseball league in which I play. Unfortunately he is in first place in our league at the moment. (Unfortunate for me.)

Their little girl, age 3, was a delight to have around and to get to know better. I am really hoping she did what I talked to her about before they left last evening. I encouraged her to make sure her Daddy stayed awake on the trip home and that to make sure she should shout "Daddy stay awake" loudly and often on the way home. Don't feel sorry for him, he deserves this and much more.

It was a very good day, one that I thoroughly enjoyed and one that I believe will have lasting impact in our church and this soon to be new church.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Adjustments ...

Whether on the job, in sports, in a marriage, or in almost anything adjustments are necessary. In sports a player, and a team, need to adjust their game plan at times according to what the other team is doing or what the weather is at game time. In a job adjustments are necessary as times change and usually the people around you change as well. In a marriage adjustments are necessary as you get to know each other even better, as kids enter the picture, as you age, as jobs change and so much more.

How well do you handle the need for adjustments? How well are you adjust to changes around you? The answers to those questions have a great impact on your enjoyment in life. I am not talking about compromise, but about making and accepting needed adjustments. If you can adjust then you can enjoy so much more of life, if you cannot then you will be constantly battling.

This week my wife and I had to make some big adjustments, they are temporary but they are adjustments just the same. Having 4 grandkids live with us for a week necessitated adjustments. Our schedules, they get up really early and going somewhere with 6 is much different than with 2. We have adjusted to more noise, it is generally good noise, but it is noise nonetheless. We have adjusted to different leisure activities, we don't generally play much tag, hide and seek, army or Monopoly when it is just the 2 of us. We have adjusted to more questions, did I ever ask that many questions? There have been many adjustments. The grandkids have had to make adjustments as well. Different beds, different house, different schedules to some degree and we don't always do things exactly like their Mom and Dad do them. Did you know there are different ways to make sandwiches, cut sandwiches and where to pour syrup for your pancakes?

We have all made adjustments. I can't speak for the grandkids, but for my wife and I the adjustments are well worth it. Without them this would be a difficult week. Instead it is a fun week, a tiring week, but still a fun week. It is a week of memories. It is a week of enjoyment. I can rest later, this week I choose to adjust and enjoy the opportunity.

What will you do?

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Heritage ...

As I have already posted (see Sunday and Thursday) last week my son was ordained as a minister. It was a special time just because he was being ordained and all goes into being ordained. It was made more special because my Dad was able to attend and participate in the service. It was 56 years after my Dad was ordained on that very same campground and 22 years after I was ordained.

It really made me pause to think of my heritage. My parents were not only great parents they were tremendous Christians as well. My Dad was an outstanding pastor for 44 years. Both sets of my grandparents were outstanding Christians. They were very involved lay people in their respective churches. My greatgrandfather was Quaker evangelist and widely sought after preacher. All 3 of my aunts were wonderful Christians who were active in serving the Lord, 2 of my uncles were strong Christians and my 3rd uncle became a believer late in his life and was so faithful after his conversion.

I was influenced by my family. I had some tremendous Sunday School teachers and youth sponsors who made a real difference in my life and loved me when I certainly didn't deserve it. I have some wonderful cousins and friends who have made an impact on my life as well.

I have been blessed. I have a rich heritage that I probably don't think about often enough. Last week confronted me with all of this and I am so humbled as think about my heritage.

My prayer is that I am able to have at least some impact on the lives of those around me.

What are you doing to be a part of someone's heritage?

Monday, June 08, 2009

Monday Morning Musings ...

Yesterday was a very good day. There was a tremendous spirit in the service from the beginning. We had sound issues and couldn't use the CD player, so the planned special song couldn't happen. Great time of prayer during the service, God really spoke to me during the service. The message was continuing the series on Relationships from James 4:1-12, with this week's focus on verses 7-10. The emphasis was on drawing closer. Having contact in our relationships, it is difficult to maintain a relationship, let alone see it grow, without contact. This is true of our relationship with Christ and with each other. Too many families drift apart because they have so little contact with each other, even under the same roof. I used the Casting Crowns song "Stained Glass Masquerade" in the message. (See post on tuesday.) There were many who raised their hands indicating a known need to reconnect in some relationships and committing to start that process this week. There were several who came to the altar to pray about these reconnections.

Had a graduation open house in the afternoon (also had a double one on Saturday). Have one more next week and then I think we are done with the open houses. I love graduation open houses, to look at old pictures to see things they have been involved in and to celebrate the accomplishment with them.

Summer, open houses and the fact that we haven't had a Sunday evening service in 4 weeks led to a very small group last night. In fact the first people arrived at 1 minute after the service was to begin. We still had a decent discussion.

We have 4 of our 5 grandkids with us this week while their parents are leading a mission trip. That made for a much different Sunday than normal. They were great and even blended well in a different place. I have to be honest my wife's routine was disrupted much more than mine was, just trying to keep it real.

Here's hoping you are able to connect with people this week.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Reflections of a Special Night ...

As I posted a couple of days ago my son was ordained on Thursday evening. It is a big deal, it takes study, sacrifice, time and it is a special moment when it is acknowledged. My Dad was able to come for the big event. It was really something special for me to lay hands on my son and daughter-in-law with my Dad as we prayed over them in this service. Then our General Superintendent mentioned that he was the third generation in our family to be ordained in the Nazarene Church and allowed me to hand him his Ordination Certificate. That was so cool, I am smiling and a bit teary eyed as I type this in remembering the moment. Another special part of the night was in realizing that my Dad was ordained on that very same campgrounds 56 years ago this summer.

Thanks to everyone who has contributed to my son's life and ministry. There are many relatives, Sunday School teachers, youth sponsors and others who have influenced him through the years. Your life, prayers, encouragement and teaching contributed to this special moment and to the fine young man that he is today. There is no way for me to adequately express how much I am indebted to all of you for your part in his life and training. I think moments like Thursday night are what Ray Boltz had in mind when penned the song "Thank You".

It was great to see many people who have been a big part of my life growing up as well. A very special moment was talking with the lady who was my kindergarten Sunday School teacher. She is 95, still driving and maintaining her garden. She is about four and a half feet tall and still a spunky as ever. She pulled me down to her height and talked for quite a while that was so neat. She has a special story about teaching me and the unlikely hood that I would turn out okay, let alone become a pastor. But I will leave that bit of a history for another day. ( I know some of you are still wondering if I am okay, shut it!)

Gotta go, need to get my game face on for the service this morning, but I just had to take a moment and share.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Special Night

Tonight my son will be officially ordained. He has studied hard and ministered well to get to this point. We will be able to be in attendance. The really exciting part is that my Dad is going to be able to be there as well. We weren't sure if he would be able to attend or not. The District my son is on is the one in which my Dad spent 28 of his 44 years of pastoral ministry, in fact this is the same campgrounds on which my Dad was ordained. How cool is that? Well I need to get going. Picking my Dad up at the airport, spending a little time with grandkids and then to the ordination service. Here's hoping you have something special happen today.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The Masquerade...

Casting Crowns has a great song entitled "Stained Glass Masquerade". It is so real and so true. It begins by asking "Is there anyone that fails? ... Am I the only one in church today, Feelin' so small?" Haven't you ever wondered that on an Sunday morning? I have, and that is while I am up front preaching.

The song continues ... "' 'Cause when I look around, Everybody seems so strong. I know they'll soon discover, That I don't belong." That is a fear that often keeps people away from church and God. It is a fear that keeps our plastic, painted on grins in place on Sundays. The song goes on ... " So I tuck it all away, like everything's okay. If I make them all believe it, maybe I'll believe it too. So, with a painted grin, I play the part again. So, everyone will see me the way that I see them." What's with this idea that we have to all look the same and therefore can't be who God created us to be and can't really show the joys and pains of life?

The chorus of the song says ... "Are we happy plastic people, Under shiny plastic steeples, With walls around our weakness, and smiles to hide our pain? But if the invitation's open, To every heart that's broken, Maybe then we close the curtain, On our stained glass masquerade."

I realize that we are looking to be nothing but "whoa is me" every time someone asks how we are doing. But we have to have somewhere, and someone, to say "I am hurting". Where better than at church? That is my dream, to be a church where we can truly rejoice together and be excited for others, but also where we can share the hurts, burdens, failings and fears without worry of judgement. To be a place of hope, healing and hallelujah.

I know it is not easy to be that way. It often makes people uncomfortable at first. I have been chastised in the past for sharing about my own struggles from the pulpit. They told me they didn't want to hear that from their pastor. They said that it discouraged them and I have had it used against me in later conversations. I know it is not easy, but I still believe it is the way of Christ.

What about you, seen any masquerades?

Monday, June 01, 2009

Monday Morning Musings ...

I feel like singing "Back in the saddle again", but I realize you can't hear me, if you could you wouldn't enjoy it, and many of you have no idea that those words belong in any song. So...I will just jump back into it with some thoughts on a Monday Morning about the past Sunday. After having some time off for a little vacation I was back at it on Saturday and then of course Sunday. It was an easy transition back because we had a Children's musical in the morning. I just did a brief wrap up at the end of the musical. The kids did a fine job and the message of the musical, to pray and trust God, was presented clearly. I was very proud of the kids.

We had an outstanding attendance of 173, and only 13 or 14 who were here just because of the musical. The 173 was only 19 less than we had on Easter.

The great news on Sunday was that I got to announce that we have filled our Associate Pastor position after nearly a year of searching! I found out on Thursday afternoon that the person we offered the position to was accepting and will be here in about a month. That is great news, for the youth, for the church and for me. It has been difficult to not be smiling ever since I got the news.

Sunday afternoon brought another graduation ceremony for one of our youth. It was an encouraging ceremony and it was great to see him finish this phase of his life. As a result of this school's graduation we did not have an evening service. My wife and I got home from the graduation just relaxed. It was a very good day.

Here's hoping that you find several reasons to smile today, and that you share the smile with others.