Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Patient or Passive?

Something I have been wrestling with recently has been the difference between being patient and being passive. I am not by an extremely patient person (insert your own sarcastic comment here). Don't misunderstand I am not a finger-tapping, loud sighing, pacing back and forth type of person (do not insert any comment here). But I am also not a "whenever you get around to it" type of person either. If I have made a decision, or a request, I really don't want to wait too long for the action to begin. This trait sometimes makes for frustration given my position as a pastor. By nature it seems churches are not quick reacting or moving organizations. I'm just sayin'.

As much as I desire to be a little more patient at times (notice I said a little more patient maybe that reveals more than I realized) I abhor (wow, I impressed myself with that word) passivity. I have no desire to be more passive, nor am I seeking any more passive people to come alongside me.

My struggle is in trying to determine the proper balance of being more patient (at least a little) when I should be and making sure I don't just become passive and excuse it as being patient.

So how do I distinguish between patience and passivity?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Monday Morning Musings ...

Yesterday had some great moments. It was wasn't in the attendance, that was down, it wasn't in the weather that was dreary, it wasn't in the physical response to the message but it was in some one on one conversations and some great fellowship after our evening groups.

The congregation wasn't very engaged during our music yesterday. It could have been the weather, the attendance, or the fact that 80% of them were late arriving. Some weeks just work that way it seems.

The message was finishing last week's look at loving the people of our city/area. Matthew 5:13-16 and 25:37-46 were the scriptures and this week's focus was that "loving people must involve meeting people's needs as God directs". We need to be concerned for people's souls and burdened for their salvation, but we must also be aware of anything that may be interfering with them accepting Christ. We must be aware of, and work to meet the needs of the people around us.

In following Christ we must be compassionate as he was compassionate. We cannot show compassion unless we come alongside people in their needs. This is the real thrill in life. It is difficult at times, it is not always safe, it requires getting out of our comfort zones and it is exactly what Jesus did and what he called us to do.

A college professor told his class "All around you will be people tiptoeing through life, just to arrive at death safely." How true and how sad, to think that people are living just to get to death as safely as possible. The professor went on and told his class, "But dear children, do not tiptoe. Run, hop, skip or dance, just don't tiptoe."

Shane Claiborne in his book "The Irresistible Revolution" wrote, "God forgive us for all those we have lost because we made the gospel boring."

How are you living? Are you just playing it safe? Are you touching people with the love of Christ? Is God still God where you are? So, what will you do now?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

What does it for you?

What makes you smile? What makes you laugh? What breaks your heart? What makes you pound the table in anger or in joy? What of all these questions and answers prompts you to action?

I am really wrestling with the above questions personally and for my congregation. I am really feeling that the answers will determine the future.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Monday Musings ...

Yesterday was a very interesting day and a very good day. I was privileged to do a baby dedication as a part of our time of worship. I love doing baby dedications and the congregation always loves them as well. Baby dedications are some of the few times I can get nearly everyone to smile at me. Okay I know they are really smiling at the baby but I like to imagine they are smiling at me, we all have our delusions don't we?

Our time of singing in worship was pretty good, people seemed pretty engaged and you could really sense the presence of the Lord. Extra prayer will do that it seems. I certainly prayed about this service and message a lot last week and had asked some people to pray extra for it as well.

The message was continuing to look at "Living the Life, After the Lies". The focus on this message realizing God is God, that he is God of our city and that to love God we must love people. I used the phrase "Love God by loving people". Matthew 5:13-16 talks about being the light and not putting it out. It talks about a city being on a hill, or lifted up, so it can be seen. The is lived out by living on purpose. Not our purpose, but God's purpose. What have you done that you are proud of and believe in? This is lived out by following Christ. One of the ways to determine if you are following Christ is to see if you are burdened by the things that burden Christ. Does your heart break for the things that break the heart of God? We have to get past being more burdened by the cable going out than we are about the needs of the people around us. This is lived out by loving this city, wherever you are located. If we are where God wants us to be then we are to be in love with the place. Are you in love with your city? I know we might wish for different weather, or to be closer to the beach, but do you love your place? If not, then I believe you need to question if you are where God wants you to be. To live this out we are to love the people of this city. I John 4:19-21 says that if you don't love the people of your city then you don't love God. Ouch! That includes your annoying neighbors, your enemies, the loud kids, the racing teens, the grumpy old men and crabby old women, your co-workers and even all your relatives.

Are you living on purpose? Do you love the place and people where you are located?

I met a new family to the community in the afternoon and had a chance to pray with them. That pumped me up.

In the evening I began a new series in my group on forgiveness. Accepting, giving and living forgiveness. This is going to be a valuable and difficult study to create and to apply. Forgiveness is something we love to receive, have trouble accepting at times and struggle to give to certain people. Then we had a reception for our Youth Pastor/Associate to celebrate his ordination. We honored him, and because we love him we also roasted him a bit. It must have been appropriate because his mom and dad loved it.

It was a very good and interesting day. How was yours?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tuesday's thoughts ...

I was in our church's annual District Assembly Sunday evening through about 1 this afternoon. My laptop decided that my keyboard would not type, therefore, I was not able to post my normal Monday Morning Musings. I am in desperate need of a nap and my back is hurting so I make no guarantees as to the logic of this post.

Sunday was a typical "the Sunday after Easter Sunday". By that I mean that the energy level was way down. With the focus and energy invested into Easter week and Easter Sunday it is common for the following Sunday to feel a little flat, I don't like it but unfortunately it is common. We were missing a couple of our worship band members again and this added to the energy loss.

We did have a couple of really exciting announcements. Our Associate Pastor who serves in our youth ministries announced that he and his wife are expecting their second child who should arrive in November. Every youth pastor ever employed by this church has had a baby while serving here. That is quite a record. Last night that same Associate was officially ordained at our District Assembly that is cool. The other great announcement is that my 6th grandchild arrived on Thursday. A beautiful little girl, she has already stolen my heart which is interesting since it has been stolen many times before, by my awesome wife, by my 3 kids and my other 5 grandkids. The grandchild totals are now boys 4 and girls 2, ranging in age from 5 days old to 12 years old.

My message on Sunday was entitled "Living the Life, After the Lies", since we have just done a study on "The Lies We Believe" from Titus 3:3-8. We need to recognize the lies that we so often fall for and begin to live those lies, but we must also make sure we are living as God intended. We looked at John 10:1-10 and Titus 3:8. We need to realize that God desires for us to live large. John 10:10 says that Christ came that we might have life and "have it to the full". We were not called by God to live passive and boring lives. God says that these things are "excellent and profitable for everyone", Titus 3:8. Profitable means to live your life with meaning and purpose, not a selfish life, but a life lived for others. Excellent means to give it our best. To use your abilities and gifts from God with quality and our best efforts. "Good enough for who it's for" cannot be our motto. Are you doing your best? If not, why? Titus 3:8 also tells us devote ourselves to doing what is good. The dictionary says that devote means "to commit by a solemn act to give over or direct to a cause." Notice the scripture says "doing" not watching, not thinking about doing, not processing, but actually doing. The focus of our doing is what is good according to God's definition. Don't forget that all of this under Christ's protection according to John 10, he is our shepherd. We have his strength, wisdom, guidance and protection.

Are you really living? How are you living? What are you doing? Are you doing your best? What will you do now?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Awesome Week ...

Sorry for the lack of postings this week, it has been a busy week and more importantly it has been an awesome week. There was activity at the beginning of the week involving Easter follow up, taught on Wednesday night (normal activity), had a committee meeting, a lot of business stuff for the church, then my daughter went in the hospital on Wednesday night and delivered my 6th grandchild on Thursday morning a beautiful girl, so I was down there most of Thursday and Friday, Saturday was spent getting things ready for a board meeting and studying for today's sermon. I also fit in watching some of the Masters and some baseball games.

A bonus was that I got to spend some time with all of my grandkids and all of my kids as well. I didn't get to spend much time holding my new grand daughter, 2 grandmas, aunts, and other friends stopping by, so it is my turn next time I get to see her.

What a great time of celebration! She was born on my son and daughter-in-law's anniversary. What a considerate little girl, so waited until after Easter to arrive and then entered on her uncle and aunt's anniversary which makes remembering both easier for me. Isn't she special?

I had some great time to reflect on a lot of things while driving to from the grandkids. God is good in that he keeps working on me. Sometimes it is painful, but it is always for the best.

Here's hoping you had, and will have, an awesome week. Remember, God is still God no matter what you are facing.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Monday Morning Musings ...

Easter Sunday is always good and yesterday was a good day. I love preaching on Easter, I mean how can you mess that up? We had many people gone, our spring break began on Friday, so many were elsewhere, but many others came and we had a lot of great visitors.

My wife filled in for one of those absentees and led worship. She always does a good job and leads with a great spirit. One of our youth sang a special song and really ministered as she sang. I love when our youth or children get up front.

My message answered the question "Who Cares?" I tied into the series on lies we believe and used the Easter story to answer the question. Used a hilarious video (that not many people laughed at) to intro the message. It showed a couple inviting an unchurched neighbor to join them in worship for Easter. We looked hard at the fact that many in our culture believe the lie that "No one cares" about them. The facts of Easter say just the opposite, Jesus endured a horrific beating and humiliation and then death on a cross just for us. He didn't deserve any of that, but our sins needed to be accounted for, so Jesus took our place. That is a loud and clear statement of love and care. The empty cross and tomb shout that he cares.

When we believe the lie that no one cares it leads to really poor choices in our lives. We make poor choices in relationships and jump toward anyone who claims they care, or will accept us. Even though we learn that many of them are just using us, we still stay in the relationship. We are willing to compromise our beliefs in hopes that some will care about us if care about their cause. We isolate ourselves trying to limit our hurts and lob criticism at nearly everyone from a distance because we believe they don't care. Of course these decision make it difficult for people to show us they care.

The truth is we are loved, we are forgiven and Jesus is alive! The message of Easter screams that we are cared for, no matter what we believe. I used a great video that declares some common thoughts when we believe the lie and then literally reverses the statements to show that we are loved and cared for. There were at least 2 who made decisions to accept Christ as their Savior! That is what it is all about, and made for a great day.

My wife and I were invited to a lunch with a fairly new family in our church. It was a great time of fellowship and great food. The rest of the afternoon was spent napping. That was a wonderful change of pace for me.

He is risen, He is risen indeed!

P.S. My fantasy baseball season began last night, that was the topping on the day.