Monday, May 24, 2010

Monday Musings ...

Internet issues again (maybe the internet doesn't like my blog) and other unexpected things have prevented me from posting this sooner. Yesterday was a very good day. We honored our H.S. graduates during worship, that is always fun. We were without our projectors, and will be for a couple of weeks, as they both quit running last week. So we had words to songs on paper and there was no sermon outline on the screens. That messed with people's heads a little, so it was kind of dead during singing.

We had a family come with their 2 week old baby for his first worship service. That always brings lots of smiles. We have had 3 babies born into the church in the past 2 months. True church growth :)

I continued my series on "Words of Life for Relationships", taking phrases that are powerful for our relationships from scripture and applying them to our lives. Yesterday phrase was "Let me serve you" from Matthew 20:20-28. We need to have an attitude of service because that's what Jesus did. Dino Rizzo said "if you seek to serve Christ then you will serve others. When Christ is in you then service is in your DNA." (Servolution) We need to serve because people are drawn toward service. Who made positive impressions on your life, those who demanded or those who served? Who do you want to spend time around those who wait to be served, or those who look to serve others. We need to serve because people are encouraged and uplifted when you serve. So how uplifted and encouraged are those around you? We need to serve because we are called to serve. Service is not option for those who claim to follow Christ. Are you trying to make service an optional activity? We need to serve because it breaks down barriers in our relationships. It is difficult to hold a grudge when serving someone or when being served by them.

Are you serving those closest to you? Are you serving whoever, wherever, whenever?

In the afternoon I had the honor of speaking to our local H.S. graduates at their Baccalaureate. This is the second time I have been able to do this, and it is exciting and stomach churning at the same time. I will share more later on what I said to them.

About a little over an hour after the Baccalaureate was the actual graduation. That was so fun to see them and hear the speeches. The Valedictorian was from our church and her speech was great. The class president was one of my volleyball girls and her speech was great as well. With each passing year I know more and more of the graduates personally so each ceremony takes on more meaning.

It was a very good day. The fact that the sun came out, it stopped raining and warmed up were added bonuses.

Here's hoping you are seeking to serve this week.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Did You Know?

Did you know...

...that you are loved?
...that God believes in you?
...that you are uniquely gifted to do what God has planned for you to do?
...that I have 6 awesome grandchildren?
...that I just celebrated my 27th year of ministry?
...that God has a plan for your life, a plan with a hope and a future?
...that God is not afraid of your questions?
...that I love people who ask questions?
...that I am a die-hard Cubs fan? (Thus the great faith, since we must always hope for next year)
...that there are people near you who really need to know that someone cares about them?
...that I married way out of my league?
...that I get nervous, and jittery, every time before I preach?
...that God can " immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to his power that is at work within us." (Ephesians 3:20)
...that one of my uncles to know Christ as his personal Savior when he was 78 years old? Never give up on people. may be the way some people will see Jesus?
...that I used to be able to dunk a basketball with either hand? (Yes, a 10 ft. rim)
...that all of my kids (including my in-law kids) are serving the Lord? I am very humbled by this fact.
...that I am more in love with my wife now than when I married her nearly 35 years ago?
...God wants to do so much more in our church than we have seen or even imagined?
...that you get an award for reading this far into the post?
...that is all I have today?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Monday Musings ...

Couldn't a "Monday Morning Musings" because the internet was down for a few hours so we will begin late today.

Yesterday was a very good day. The spirit in the service was very good during our music and prayer time. We took an extra offering to help send several kids to summer camp. Our church has really rallied for our children and youth to help them go to important events recently even though finances are tight. I am so proud of my congregation for seeing the big picture and continuing to invest in our children and youth.

The congregation was very engaged in the music on Sunday, that makes a big difference in the energy and atmosphere. We had several visitors, though our attendance was a little below average.

I continued the message series "Words of Life for Relationships". This week we looked at John 3:16-17 and Mark 16:6-7. The phrase we examined and used was "I believe in you". John 3:16-17 shows how much God believes in us, so much that he sent his son so that we might have life. That is some big belief! We also noted Jesus specifically pointing out that he believed in Peter, even after his flame out and denial of Christ. We must also believe in each other to have the type of relationships we really need, and to encouragement one another to do great things for God.

I believe in you even with your past failures. Jesus let Peter know this and lets us know this as well. There are enough people around reminding us of our screw ups, but Christ reminds us of his love and forgiveness. We need to do the same to each other.

I believe in you because I know my plans for you. Jeremiah 29:11 reminds us that God has plans for us, plans with a hope and a future. Satan's plans are hopeless and designed to harm us, God's plans are for the best in our life. God loves you and he loves his plans for you. Do you love his plans for you? Do your plans match God's plans?

I believe in you because you are uniquely gifted. God did not make a mistake when he created you. He gave you a personality and abilities that are unique and vital to his plans. You must discover your gifts and where those gifts are to be used in God's plans. Yes you can, our phrase last week from I Thessalonians 5:24.

What, and who do you believe in? What will you do with the fact that someone believes in you? Who will you believe in?

I gave everyone a card that simply said "I believe in you", I signed the cards and taped a dime to it to indicate that I think they are a '10'. I have used a similar card in some other churches. I know it is kind of corny, but I want to give a visual reminder that someone believes in them. God does and so do I.

Who do you know who needs to hear that you believe in them?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Is It Personal Yet?

A youth pastor friend of mine just returned from an amazing trip to Africa and has been doing a series of posts on his blog entitled "It Just God Personal". Skip on over and read them at you will be impacted by the pictures, words and meaning of these posts. His posts have gotten me thinking about the issues surrounding me and the nearly overwhelming burdens I have concerning these needs. I have been trying to communicate these burdens through my sermons and conversations as God is directing me.

This stuff has become very personal to me. As my buddy Derry wrote there are faces and names to the issues in my community. Not only do I have names and faces to match those names, I see them regularly and know exactly where they live. So it is very personal. Many of these needs I see most weeks at church among the children and youth who attend one of our ministries. This is not limited to children and youth, there are adults who are hurting and in need as well.

My burden is increased with the realization that the stories I know are only a small percentage of the needs that are all around me. My wife and I have spent countless hours talking about the people and needs. We have reached out and helped, or are helping some of them but there are so many more that we haven't reached yet. So it has become very personal. You see I don't believe it is really personal to you until you get involved. Involved with your time, your abilities, your stuff and your influence. So let me ask you again, is it personal yet?

I am bothered by what I have not been able to do in meeting many of the needs around me. I am bothered that I don't know what to do to meet some of the needs. I am bothered that too often I have rationalized my lack of involvement. It is very personal.

One of my greatest burdens is trying to make it personal for other people. Then I realize that I cannot make it personal for anyone else. However, I can make people aware of the needs. I can help people see how they can help. I can pray a lot more than I often do about these needs and for people to get involved. I can attempt to influence people toward making it personal. I can be an example of someone for whom it has become personal.

So, is it personal for you? Are the needs: hunger, addictions, abuse, unemployment, illiteracy, poor health, homelessness, prejudice, broken homes, orphans, human trafficking, (just to name a few) personal to you yet?

If they are, what are you going to do help? If not, why not?

For me, it has become very personal.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Monday Morning Musings ...

Yesterday was another good day. The weather was cold and somewhat dreary but we had a good day. A brand new family, just down the street from the church attended. They were invited by a neighbor who attends here, this neighbor had already brought the family's child to church for our midweek children's ministries. The value of a personal invitation and showing concern for children were evident as this family worshiped with us.

Showed a funny video of a couple of mom's talking about what they would like for Mother's Day, had a special time of prayer for mom's. We were missing about half of our worship band, so musically we were just a bit off and then we had some technical problems as well. Even with all of that the spirit was very good.

I began a new series of messages yesterday. Traditionally I do a series on relationships from Mother's Day to Father's Day. This year the series is "Words of Life for Relationships". Each week we will look at a phrase from the Bible that is vital to healthy relationships. Yesterday we looked at I Thessalonians 5:24 and Romans 16:13. I Thessalonians 5:24 says "The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it." What a great promise that God calls and when he calls he will do what is necessary to see his will accomplished. We don't have to rely on our own abilities, but rather he makes himself available with promise of completion. Romans 16:13 is a different verse to use as a text, it says, "Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me too." Paul is acknowledging that Rufus has been a helpmate in the work of the Lord and has God's favor on his life. He is also recognizing the value of Rufus' mother and her influence on Rufus and on Paul. Good mom's almost never stop with just influencing their own children, they also influence their children's friends and others that they have contact with. This was true of my mom and is true of my wife as well. I love this verse. What an encouragement for moms.

The phrase we looked at this week was "yes you can". I Thessalonians 5:24 certainly backs up that phrase and it is a common phrase from good moms to their children. Moms are always sure that their children can do it, whatever "it" happens to be. We need to instill that yes you can attitude into each other's lives. God has given us the promise that he will do what he calls us to do, so yes you can do what God has created and called you to do.

Yes you can, is a powerful phrase. It instills confidence and courage. It builds self-esteem. It is vital for perseverance when we are facing obstacles. We need to become yes we can followers of Christ. This means that we move forward no matter what the circumstances and make a difference in the lives of those around us.

Some key questions: Can you? Yes you can. Will you? You must answer this one for yourself. When? Too often we nod affirmatively to a sermon, or stand in agreement and then yield to the temptation of believing that by nodding or standing we have done our part. Agreeing is only the ignition, we need to put ourselves into gear and then do what we agreed to do. So let me ask you again, when will you do it?

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Lots of Questions ...

I love questions, I have always been a questioner (is that a real word? If not I call dibs on creating it). Questions are powerful and they are great way to discover and create. Questions help clarify and sort things out. But sometimes questions weigh heavy on your heart and mind. Count me in that last group today.

Trying to figure out the answers to some tough questions. These don't have easy or simple answers. Or at least I don't think they do.

They aren't the kind of questions that you lay out on a blog or facebook. They are the gnawing, energy consuming type of questions that hang in your mind no matter what you are doing. Have you ever dealt with those type of questions?

Todd Agnew has a song entitled "War Inside", that is a pretty good description of how I feel today. Maybe that is not a good word picture, because my war is not between two distinct things from which I must choose. My war is more multiple choice without clear choices. At least that is what I believe at the moment. I am seeking to determine if the questions are real and if the faint ideas of answers that I think I see are real. How is that for being cryptic?

So I am going to keep listening. I am going to keep seeking the answers. For now I am standing with confidence, not in me but in the one who has called me. I Thessalonians 5:24 says "The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it." At the moment I don't know what "it" is, but he does and that is all I need to know at this moment.

Lord, give me courage to follow whatever "it" is, for now and the future.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Thankful ...

There are many for which I am thankful. Today I am overwhelmed with thanksgiving for my children. They are great, not perfect, but great. They are much more than I deserve, and my wife is a major reason my kids are so great. I think I have had some positive impact on them, but I readily admit they are better than I deserve.

I have three children that I helped raise and two who married in and I consider them my children as well. My thoughts today are about all five of them. (The six, soon to seven, grandchildren are a whole other issue they never fail to make me proud.)

I am thankful for their love for Jesus. I am thankful that they are all compassionate people often doing things for others. I am thankful that still put up with me. I am thankful that they are hardworking. I am thankful that they are serving the Lord no matter what their chosen profession may be. I am thankful that love to laugh and have fun. I am thankful that they understand joy and pain. I am thankful that they enjoy having Mom and Dad around (at least they act like they enjoy it). I am thankful that they question the status quo. I am thankful that they love each other. I am thankful that they are my children.

I am thankful, enough said.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Monday Morning Musings ...

Yesterday was a day of transitions. With the coming of May we are into summer thoughts, even when it doesn't feel like summer. We had a wedding shower for a young couple in anticipation of their summer wedding. Last evening we added one to our household as a college student moved in for the summer. In my sermon I moved us even more into acting on what we have been discovering about living the life Christ has called us to live.

There was a good energy in the room as we worshiped yesterday. People were very engaged as we sang, they were also very engaged during prayer and the message.

The question of the day in my message was "What if we exercised Holy Imagination?" God/Jesus has used creative ways to reach people forever. Who would have chosen the cross to bring salvation? Who would have chosen Peter to preach the monumental sermon on the day of Pentecost? Who would have pulled money out of a fish to pay the bills? (I wonder how that would go over on the BASSmasters tour?) Who would have thought it possible to feed 5,000 from one kid's lunch? Then what about the friends who lower their buddy through the roof to get him to Jesus? We looked another event with real imagination, Luke 19:1-10 tells of Jesus' encounter with Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus was an unlikely convert in most people's eyes.

It requires holy imagination to see the opportunities all around us. In order to see the opportunities God is providing we must pray for them. Jesus prayed a lot, he prayed before every major event and instructed his disciples to pray as well. What do you spent time praying about? Are you praying for opportunities or just praying about what isn't going the way you want in your life? We must look for the opportunities as well. Jesus looked up in a tree to find Zacchaeus! Where are you looking? Are you looking in some of those unlikely places for some of those unlikely people? Are you looking for people in need? Are you looking for ways in which you can help meet those needs? We must take action as God shows us the needs and opportunities. This requires our time, our touch and taking steps away from our comfort zones. We must be creative using our holy imagination. Quit thinking in the box. Quit thinking out of the box. Throw the box away and let God move you in the ways he wants you to move.

"Fear is the wrong use of imagination. It is anticipating the worst, not the best that can happen."

Great composers do not set down to work because they are inspired, but become inspired because they are working. They didn't waste time waiting for inspiration.

How is your imagination? Where are you looking? Let's get creative and imaginative in meeting needs and showing people the love of Christ.