Monday, December 28, 2009

Monday Morning Musings ...

Yesterday was a very good day. There was a great spirit of anticipation as we gathered for worship. The music flowed well, the congregation participated and the energy was great. I had the privilege of dedicating a baby to the Lord. Baby deciations are one of my favorite things to do. I love giving a challenge to the parents, something personal and different for each family. To see the commitment, and some fear, on the face of the parents as they commit to raising their child according to God's Word and will is always a special moment. Lifting the child up for all to see and then praying a prayer of dedication over the child is so humbling. As an added bonus I did not get spit up on or pooped on (it has happened more than once in my years of dedicating babies).

I concluded my series on Songs of Christmas yesterday. This time the contrasting songs were "Up on the Rooftop" and "Hark the Herald Angels Sing". In contrasting the arrival of Santa and the temporary toys he is supposed to bring with the message the shepherds heard we realized that because of Christmas everything can be different now. At the time of the announcement the shepherds were outcasts, not trusted and lived a less than desirable life. Then they hear that a Savior has been born to them, this is good news of great joy. They meet Jesus and now everything can be different. Not just for a little while until the toy breaks or the style changes, but lasting change is possible.

What can be ... is that you can be forgiven, it is already offered you just need to accept it for yourself. What can be ... is that you can become a child of the King, no matter what your earthly family heritage is you can be a child of the King. What can be ... is you can move beyond your past. Your past is your past, but it does not need to define your future. How awesome is that?!? What can be ... is that you can live a life of joy, not just existing, but true joyful living.

So what will you do with what is possible?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Monday Morning Musings ...

Yesterday was what is generally considered Christmas Sunday in most churches. The Sunday before Christmas day is the normal Christmas Sunday, many people show up for church who don't normally attend throughout the year and seem to all come on that Sunday. That is not how it seems to work around here. We don't really have one Christmas Sunday, but rather the month of December in it's entirety is a Christmas month. Which means we don't have any one Sunday that is the big one, but some of those who rarely attend drift in throughout the month. The positive is that we have an opportunity each Sunday to really reach people who do not normally attend.

Yesterday was an okay day. The pastoral staff provided a buffet of pastries for the congregation as our gift to the church and a way to say thanks. People really enjoyed this and my wife did a great job of organizing this, I set up the table and cut up a few items.

The church gave the pastoral staff Christmas gifts. It was fun to see one of my Associate's little guy tear into his present and then get upset when it was time to go back and sit down, he was afraid the present wasn't coming with him. We received a nice card and money, that is always helpful. We usually try to purchase something that we can continue to look at through the years and remember the gift from that Christmas.

I continued my series on The Songs of Christmas. We contrasted "Here Comes Santa Claus" and "Away in a Manger". What difference in these songs. Both speak of the coming of someone, but the arrivals are much different. The myth of Santa and the miracle of Jesus. One with a lot of noise and one quietly. One calling much attention to self and the other almost without notice at the time of his arrival. One bringing temporary happiness and taking credit for things he didn't do and one offering eternal life and joy and not receiving credit for all he does. We looked at what Christmas is not about, location, status and selfish wishes. We looked at what Christmas is really all about, Jesus Christ the Savior born to you, about your relationship with Him and about noticing and caring for others.

I have really enjoyed studying for this series and people seem to be engaged and following well in this series.

Sunday evening I had a time for people to dorp in and take communion. They came as families, as friends or individually. I pointed out the contrast of Christmas with the focus on birth and communion with the reminder of Christ's death. But Jesus was literally born to die, so that we might have life eternally. I then prayed over each of those who received communion. There has never been a large number who do this at this church, but it seems to be meaningful to those do participate.

Here's hoping you have a great Christmas and remember that Jesus is the reason for the season.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

That'll Leave a Mark ...

I have a cut, bruise and bump on my forehead this morning. The reason? Last evening I stepped into the corner of a door frame. It hurt a lot, blood began running down my forehead immediately and I felt dumb for having caused all of it. There is still a visible cut this morning and I can feel a bump though I don't think it is noticeable to others. It is located almost directly in the middle of my forehead just above the line of my eyebrows, sort of a cyclops effect. (Those of you living elsewhere wish you could visit today and see the sight don't you?)

This most recent "accident" of mine got me to thinking about marks. Not guys named Mark, but marks on our bodies and more importantly on our lives. I knew quickly that my misstep would leave a mark. However, there are other times in our lives when we create situations, or have them thrust upon us, that are not quite as obvious as I my head butt into the door frame.

What of the marks from painful incidents? What of the bumps, bruises and cuts from those closest to us? What of the marks we leave on others from our choices?

These marks are usually not quite as visible, at least not immediately for all to see. What do we do with these marks? I must confess I have been trying to decide this morning if I can hide my mark or if I will just leave out there for all to see. What do you do with your marks?

I am not looking forward to answering all of the questions of "What happened, run into a door?" Imagine there surprise when I answer yes. Knowing myself I will make it into a sermon illustration! What of those marks that are not as easily visible? The relationship bumps, bruises and cuts that are so frequent, what of those marks?

Here's hoping that I will be more observant and sensitive to the marks in others lives. Here's hoping that I will cause fewer of those marks in others lives. Here's hoping that when I do cause a mark that I realize it and act to heal it quickly.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Monday Morning Musings ...

Yesterday was another outstanding day around here. The morning time of worship went very well. We had overcome a change in seating. We were already set up for our evening Christmas Musical and Dessert Theatre, so everyone was sitting around table throughout the service. Even with this change people seemed to respond okay. I might have had more trouble with the adjustment than everyone else.

The lady who sang a special song just before the message did an outstanding job of ministering and bringing the people into the song. I continued my series on the "Songs of Christmas". This week I contrasted the songs "Blue Christmas" (yes, the one Elvis sang) and "Do You Hear What I Hear?". The question was "What are you hearing this Christmas season?" There is a lot of noise all around us during the Christmas season, but not all of the noise points to the real reason for the season.

From Luke 2:8-20, the shepherds certainly heard some things that first Christmas, what they heard is what we need to hear this year as well. They heard don't be afraid. In a world with much fear this is a powerful message for today. To realize that we do not need to live in fear. They heard that there was good news. Who doesn't need to hear some good news, not just feel good sound bites but truly good news. They heard joy was available. In fact, great joy is available. Not something based on circumstances, but the joy that comes from Christ the Lord. They heard that these messaged very personal, they were for them. These messages are for you. What a great realization, that something this great is for you. No matter your position, knowledge, or your past. In fact this is for you no matter what. They heard that they have a Savior.

So what are you hearing this Christmas?

In the evening we had our Christmas Musical and Dessert Theatre. It went well, the message was good, the singing, drama, setting and food were great. People hung out for a long time after the program was over, which is always good to see.

Our attendance in the morning was good and in the evening it was very good.

Here's hoping you are having a great day.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Monday Morning Musings ...

Yesterday was a fun day. It was also a very good day in the life of the church. Our children did their Christmas program as a part of our worship service. They did a great job and really showed the Christmas story well. I was very proud of how they did. I shared briefly after they finished. I continued my "Songs of Christmas" look at the Christmas story. This week I contrasted "Jingle Bells" and "Joy to the World". A look at the noise of Christmas versus the news of Christmas. I also commented that the children told the Christmas story while wearing Nikes and Skechers. What a great picture of the meaning of Christmas. It is an event that took place over 2,000 years ago but is still as true today as ever. It is still relevant and life changing today. How awesome is that?

It was great to see so many parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles of our children in attendance. There were several in attendance who do not normally attend church anywhere and they got to see and hear the Christmas story. It doesn't get any better than that now does it?

In the evening the kids had a birthday party for Jesus, and it sounded as if they had a great time in their celebration. I spoke briefly and prayed to begin a tree lighting service for the local Hospice organization, then I came and taught my parenting class. We looked at ways to make Christmas meaningful in our families. Then my wife and I met with one of our young families and talked for a while. It was a very encouraging day.

Here's hoping you are finding ways to bring the truth of Christmas into your everyday life.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Lift your head up ...

As I have documented in other posts I have been dealing with back pain, the past 2 months have been an interesting ordeal. Besides trying to get the back to stop hurting I am trying to be aware of everything and learn any lessons that I should learn from all of this stuff. One of the stretches that I do every day, actually I go through 2 sessions of stretches each day, is a unique stretch. At least it is not a stretch I have ever done before going into therapy for my back. I lay on the floor face down, then push my upper body off the floor. I am to keep my lower body on the floor and even try to push my stomack onto the floor while pushing my upper body as far as I can off the floor.

I don't like this stretch. When I first started I couldn't arch my back up very far, I have made some good progress but I still don't like this stretch. When I first started doing this one the physical therapist would remind me to lift my head up because that added to the stretch. I have found that to be a good reminder when doing this stretch. I keep telling myself to lift my head up as I do this one.

I started thinking today that I should give myself this reminder a lot more, not because I want to do this stretch more, but becasue I am realizing it is a good thing in all of my life. Keep my head up and be encouraged. Keep my head up and see what is around me. Keep my head up and see what God is doing. Keep my head up and see the needs around me. While stretching if I don't keep my head up I am not getting the full impact. In life if I don't keep my head up I tend to focus only on myself and I don't make any impact on the world around me.

Are you keeping your head up?

Thursday, December 03, 2009

What is missing continued ...

I find it interesting that in such busy lives and at such a busy time of the year we could be missing anything. But maybe the busyness is partially to blame for what we are missing. Maybe we get so caught up in all of our doing that we neglect our being. Maybe we need to be busier being who God created, and called, us to be rather than so much of the doing which is not in line with His call.

It occurs to me that I spend a lot of time doing a lot of things that are good, or at least okay, things but necessarily the most important things in my life. Why do we intellectually acknowledge that our health is really important and then spend so little time actually taking care of our health? Why do we agree that we need to spend time in God's Word and prayer to have a great relationship with Him and then do so little of it? Why do we say that other people really matter and then do so little to help them, or spend so little time with them, or rarely actually listen to them (especially if they don't agree with us)? Why do we claim that our spouse, our children or our grandchildren mean the world to us and then spend so much more time staring at the TV or computer screen than we do looking at them?

I am still wrestling with all of this and much more, but I think I am beginning to grasp some of what is missing. How about you?

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

What are you missing?

I just heard one of the last contestants on "The Biggest Loser" say something like "I have to figure out what was missing in my life that caused me to put on so much weight." That is a very intriquing question, "What is missing?" How would you answer that question in your life right now?

I am wrestling with this question for myself. I have blogged a while back about losing 42 pounds. I have also blogged about some of my back woes. I have some bulging discs in my lower back, the pain started 2 months ago. The pain has limited my physical abilities and it has messed with my head and emotions for sure. I have gained back some of the weight. So this is a good to time for me to wrestle with this question. Also I realize that I am wrestling with some big issues at my church at the same time.

What is missing? I am working on answering that, how about you?