Monday, June 28, 2010

Monday Morning Musings ...

Yesterday was a another good day. We had one of our projectors back and that helped during the music. The time of worship through music went very well. People really engaged, even though it was our worst attendance of the year, and the Spirit was very evident. We showed a brief clip about Celebrate Recovery, a ministry of healing and recovery that we are beginning in September. My wife shared a personal testimony and gave an update on this vital ministry. We had a good time of prayer as well.

The message was a stand alone message, although I am going to develop the big thought of the message for something in the future. The questions were "Who are you? What is your identity?". We examined Acts 19:13-16 and Matthew 16:13-20. Why do we struggle with the identity issue so much? I see a couple of issues that seem consistent with people and are revealed in these scriptures. We struggle because we often try to do it ourselves. We try to create our own identity and that always falls short. Consider Adam and Eve and the apostle Paul before he surrendered to the Lord. God has a plan for you and created you specially. We struggle because we sometimes try to be someone else. We like something about someone else and try to be them. That never works because we are not them. There is a difference in following someone's example and trying to be them. God has created us uniquely. We struggle with it sometimes because we try to get away with doing nothing. We try to tiptoe, or coast, through life without being who God created us to be. Tiptoeing and taking no risks is not how we were created to live, it is not our calling from God.

Your identity must begin in Christ. This is the plan God has for you. Until he followed Christ Peter was a fisherman. After Christ he was a follower/child of Christ who fished. Your identity must be personal. You must accept Christ personally, you cannot do this through your parents, spouse, grandparents or children. This is a personal choice. We also must make the call of God on our life personal. The call to reach others and meet needs must be personal for us. We will not be passionate about serving God if it is not personal. Our identity is evidenced when we live it. "Today, we are overboard on belief and bankrupt on obdedience." (From Matt Maloney through an unknown author) This is an overwhelming burden for me. We cannot just nod our heads, or claim to believe some printed set of values or a clever mission statement. We must be the living testimony of what we claim to believe. The world has quite enough of "in name only" Christians. There are people all around us dying and entering a Christless eternity for lack of people actually living as followers of Christ.

Who are you? What is your real identity? Are you just claiming it, or are you living it?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Monday Morning Musings ...

Wow, I haven't gotten on in the morning for my Monday musings in a while. Yesterday was a very enjoyable and positive day. A few years ago while voicing my frustration with the fact that Father's Day is usually a very poorly attended Sunday I expressed the desire to put more emphasis on Father's Day being directed at the men and to have some stuff they might enjoy. So we started having a "Manly BBQ" following worship. Stuff from the grill and such. We had burgers, dogs, chips, baked beans and no salads. Nothing with the word casserole in it and nothing that required a fork. In fact everything could either be cooked on the grill or poured from a bag. It went over very well and was well attended. Some years we had tug-o-wars, log tosses and such. Our attendances were much better and more importantly we had some great times of real fellowship and the men enjoyed doing them as well.

Yesterday we did our whole worship service outside at our city park and then had the BBQ. In fact the grilling began as I was speaking, which created a bit of an issue as we were seated down wind and the smoke rolled over us for a bit. I knew that was my cue to cut my message short. I already planned to make it a bit shorter with all of the distractions of being outside, having a playground nearby and the grills going, but the smoke made it even shorter.

We had decent attendance, we had some great fellowship and conversation, we had awesome weather and once again we presented a great image to the community.

I finished my series on "Words of Life for Relationships". The phrase was "Follow Me", using I Corinthians 11:1 and Philippians 3:17-4:1. Needed words for all of us to realize that can lead with our lives. Paul plainly stated "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ", in I Corinthians 11:1. That is powerful statement and a great reminder for how we should live. It is not just about the words, it is about the life that is lived in the words.

To speak as Paul did we need first of all be following Christ. That is the greatest leadership trait of all. You cannot go wrong in having people follow you when you are following Christ. It all starts here with your personal relationship with Jesus Christ. How is your relationship with Christ.

To lead as Paul states we must be an example for those who follow. It is not about us only telling them how they should live, it is about living the life ourselves. Everything we do leaves a trail for others. Where will people end up if they follow the trail of your life? What are you leaving behind as you live your life?

"Anything that God has ever done, he can do now! Anything that God has ever done anywhere, he can do here! Anything that God has ever done for anyone, he can do for you!" (A.W. Tozer)

Had some great conversations with some men who are new to our church over lunch yesterday. Last evening my wife and I had a nice bike ride and just enjoyed a great time of relaxing.

It was a good day.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Monday Musings ...

Yesterday was another good day. We were still without our projectors and had to use a temporary set up for music but did not do it for the message. We were nearly up to regular size for our worship band for the first time in a several weeks. There was a good energy in the room as we began worship. We were still not good in attendance but it was a little better than the past couple of weeks.

I continued the message series on "Words of Life for Relationships". The phrase this week was "Thank You". What a difference in our relationships when we live and speak thankfully. II Timothy 1:3-7 and Romans 1:21-25 were the scriptural foundation for this message.

I need to be thankful...
...because I have much to be thankful for. No matter what, no matter where, you always have much to be thankful for. What would you put on your list of things to be thankful for? I do think that sometimes we elevate some things on our thanksgiving list that shouldn't be so high on the list. For example, I believe are too often thankful for safety over obedience. My safety is not nearly as important as my obedience.
...because not to be thankful darkens my heart. Romans 1:21. To not be thankful means you are selfish. Selfishness is foolish and certainly the opposite of being wise. To not be thankful elevates self into the position of God, and that is not our place. How much do you enjoy being around selfish people.
...because of the sacrifices of others. We are where we are partially because of the sacrifices of others. Once again it is selfish to not be thankful for the sacrifices that have already been made on our behalf.
...because of the gifts God has given you.

Is this phrase common to your speech? How often do you say this to those closest to you?

Monday, June 07, 2010

Monday Musings ...

Yesterday was a day of struggle. I have been, and am, really wrestling with big issues in people's lives and emotionally it seemed to really settle in on me yesterday. We were considerably short on our worship band yesterday. We are still missing our projectors so we had to improvise with a portable projector and a smaller worship band. We still had a good time in the spirit as we sang and during our prayer time. Our attendance was nearly a repeat of last Sunday, the kicker is that this was not a holiday weekend.

I continued the series of "Words of Life for Relationships", yesterday's scripture was Psalm 32. The phrase this week was "I am sorry", last week's phrase was "I forgive". I am not sure which phrase is harder to say. The words don't seem to roll off the tongue with much ease. I am not talking about the generic escape version of "sorry". That type takes no personal responsibility. I am speaking of the broken, "I can't believe I hurt you that way" version that really means I am sorry.

Umpire Jim Joyce is the perfect illustration of this phrase last week. If you are not sure who that is, or what it refers to, then google his name and read about the perfect game a pitcher had until Jim Joyce blew a call at first base as the umpire. He saw the replay and admitted he blew it, he face to face with the pitcher and apologized and he publicly admitted that it was all his fault. Yea, saying I am sorry is a really big deal.

Why make this phrase a part of our relationships? Because without it I waste away, Psalm 32:3. If I don't own up to my choices and actions then I literally waste away. We usually know when it was us that screwed up and not someone else's fault. Without it our relationships lose strength. If you can't, or won't, express sorrow for pain that you have cause with whom you have relationships then those relationships will not have the strength that they should. It will also open the door for other types of interference in the relationship. (Psalm 32:4) With it we show honesty and humility and this is true stength. With it we move to restoration, Psalm 32:1-2 describes this in our relationship with Christ. With it we have security in our relationships. Don't you trust someone who you know will own up to their own failings? Doesn't that add to the security of that relationship?

How courageous will you be? Will you own up to your own faults? Will you strengthen your relationships this way?

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Tuesday's thoughts ...

With yesterday being a holiday, with a parade, open house and another meeting I decided to wait and make my Monday morning musings into Tuesday's thoughts.

Sunday was a very good day. We had a good worship service. There was good energy in our time of singing. We honored one of my Associates and his wife because they just celebrated their 4th wedding anniversary. We had a lot of visitors (good thing because our regular attenders took advantage of the holiday weekend). The weather was outstanding. The message was on a topic that we all struggle with, but the congregation seemed to be engaged in the message.

We are still without our projectors, but were able to improvise and at least have the words for the songs on a screen for the congregation. I believe that really helped in picking up the energy during the singing portion of the service.

We had a new baby who was in worship for the first time, that is always a fun event. Yes, we had one last week as well. Hey, what can I say, we believe in church growth, one way or another.

The message was the 4th of a 7 part series entitled, "Words of Life for Relationships". Each week we are examining a phrase that is necessary for healthy, lasting relationships and understanding that these are not isolated phrases but are from scripture. We have looked at "Yes you can", "I believe in you", "Let me serve you" and this week it was "I forgive ...".

This is not always expressed in spoken words, but it is always shown through actions that are lived. Whether you say it or not, you must live it.

The scripture was Colossians 3:12-14.

I forgive because Jesus did. If I am following Christ then I need to follow him in this area of my relationships. Remember, he forgave you. He has forgiven you of much greater things than anything that has been done to you. Recognize that he forgives completely. There is nothing partial about Christ's forgiveness. This goes for what he forgives and how he forgives as well.

I forgive because I love. This is what goes over everything and literally holds it all together, see verse 14. I am not speaking of an emotion, or a warm fuzzy feeling, or of sexual actions, but of a choice that stands against all odds.

I forgive because Jesus heals as well as forgives. The hurt can be healed. Healing does not mean there was no pain, it means that where the pain was/is there can be healing. Scars are a sign of pain that has healed.

I forgive because no relationship will last without it. I know it, you know it and yet we often try to rationalize our lack of forgiveness.

Forgiveness is not easy, but it is necessary. Forgiveness is costly, it is not free. Forgiveness is about us not the person who hurt us.

We had a few young adults over to our house for a cookout for lunch. It was a great time, we cooked outside, but we ate inside because it was hot. I am not complaining about the heat, just observing. Then I went to another of our high school graduations to honor one of our teens. When I got back home, my wife and I just relaxed. It was indeed a very good day.