Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Monday Morning Musings .../ Tuesday Thoughts ...

Sunday was an outstanding day. God really moved. The spirit in the service, from beginning to end, was tremendous. People really participated in the singing, and more importantly seemed engaged in the messages of the songs. Attendance was the best of the whole summer, the offering was pitiful, but it was an outstanding day.

I began a new series of messages. We are beginning a new ministry the middle of September called Celebrate Recovery. It is an outstanding ministry to help people overcome the hurts, habits and hang-ups in their lives, anything that is wrestling control in your life in place of God. I am preaching through the 8 guiding principles of this ministry leading up to it's beginning.

The story is told when Hannibal drove his troops over the Alps to attack the Roman Empire they encountered a large obstacle they had not planned for. It was a huge rock blocking the pass into the valley, there was no way around this rock. They began chipping away at the rock, but it did not budge. Finally they cut many, many trees down and placed them around the base of the rock and started a big fire. Eventually that heat caused the rock to crack and then crumble opening the way for the troops to descend into the valley and attack their enemy. Many people have large rocks in their lives blocking them from healing, from a friendship, from victory over a habit, from God, from peace, from forgiveness and from true freedom in Christ. The goal of this series is to help you allow God to remove the rocks and light a fire of healing, of peace, of forgiveness, of strength and of courage to do what God has created and called you to do and help others do the same.

A theme verse for the series is Isaiah 57:18, "I have seen his ways, but I will heal him; I will guide him and restore comfort to him."

We looked at Romans 7:15-8:1 and examined principle #1 - "Realize I am not God. I admit I am powerless to control my tendency to do wrong things and that my life is unmanageable."

Obviously this is caused by our sin nature first and foremost. We really screw things up when we try to play god. We do that by trying to control things, everything. Isn't that God's job? Often control becomes our motto and obsession. We try to control our image, we try to control people, we try to control problems (ours and other people's) and we try to control our pain. The pain really comes when we realize in our quiet moments that we are not God and we really can't control everything, and that really scares us.

This attempt to control everything ourselves leads to some devastating consequences such as: Fear, we are afraid people will see the real you and find out your secrets, Genesis 3:10. Another consequence is frustration, just when we thing we have everything under control, something goes haywire and usually at the most inconvenient times, Romans 7:19. Another one is fatigue, it is very tiring trying to play God, isn't it? We often say that we don't like how we feel when we slow down so we keep working at controlling things, Romans 7:24. We also experience the guaranteed consequence of failure. Trying to fulfill God's job description is a recipe for failure, Proverbs 28:13. One of visions for our church is that we would be a safe place where real people can talk about real problems, real hurts and not be blown away by judgmental people, but instead experience loving confrontation by supportive, encouraging and compassionate people.

About now some of you are reacting by saying "My problem is not that bad." Or, "Okay, but I can solve my own problems; this is for someone else." Very simply that is called denial. Often we seem unwilling to change until our pain becomes greater than our fear of change. We don't change when we see the light we change when we feel the heat. Such as when the marriage falls apart, the kids go the wrong way, the teacher catches us cheating, we get a bad report from the doctor, we lose the job, or ... Pain can be a warning signal, we need to allow it motivate us toward God and his cure.

The cure begins, and maturity advances, when you admit you are powerless to take care of all this on your own. Realizing that you are powerless to change your past. That you are powerless to change other people and that you are powerless to correct your harmful habits, hurts and hang-ups. We need God, his forgiveness, his grace, his power and his guidance.

What needs healing in your life? What habit or hurt have you been trying to ignore?

We had so many people come forward at the end of the message that people were stacked a couple deep around much of the altar area. A great time of confession, prayer, and compassion.

It was an outstanding day.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Monday Morning Musings ...

Yesterday was a good day. I was gone the past 2 Sundays, so it was nice to be back. It always feels a little different after 2 weeks away from preaching. It is the middle of July and our attendance reflected that fact. We enjoyed a good time of singing during worship.

My messaged was from John 13: 1-17 and dealt with having the heart of a servant. How would you describe your heart? I have the heart of a ... lion?, coward?, leader?, salesman?, teacher?, or servant? How would those who know you best describe your heart?

Jesus clearly had the heart of a servant. Jesus the Messiah, God's own son, the Savior of the world, miracle worker, teacher, healer, the perfect one also had the heart of a servant. So what is your excuse not to have a servant's heart? Interesting that the disciples ignored the wash basin as they came in, even though they knew according to their culture one of them should wash everyone's feet. There were no servants in this borrowed place, so one of them needed to do the dirty job. They walked right by the need hoping someone else would do it and let them off the hook. Do you ever do that? Jesus humbled himself and served. Jesus said that the real blessing comes from serving, not in being served. What is your expectation? Do you expect and seek to serve, or do hope or expect to be served. All of this requires a servant's heart. Just like Jesus.

How is your hear?

Had a great time of discussion and discovery in my group on Sunday night studying forgiveness.

Here's hoping you have a servant's heart this week.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Monday Morning Musings ...

Yesterday was a fun day. Still on vacation. We chose another church plant to visit. It was a little over an hour away back in some familiar territory for us. The church is a video venue that is just a few years old. They are really doing some things really well. Loved the building and was envious of their technology. They also had something I have wished we had for a long time, a section this like a coffee house in the entrance area. Worship was good and I loved a couple of the songs. The message was really good. Then as we were leaving we spotted a couple that we knew. They were in the first church we pastored. It was great to catch up with them and see their kids. It was especially great to see that they are still serving in ministry. It was a very good experience.

Then we traveled to our oldest daughter's and met she and her boyfriend for a round of golf. It was a great time. We didn't play well, but it was fun anyway. We got to know him a little better and it is always great to spend time with our kids.

We made a brief stop at Border's so Jody could buy a book she had been checking out. We went to lunch at a Del Taco. It was our first time at one of those. It was okay, not great but okay. Then we headed back home. We had a very good and fun day.

Vacation is nearly done. It has been great to spend quality time with wife. It has been insightful to visit a couple of churches to be able to worship without worrying about how everything is going. It was great to get some ideas from the churches. We have fished, we have golfed, we have seen all of our kids and grandkids, we have seen some friends from the past and we have taken a lot of naps. All in all this vacation gets a passing grade.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Vacation stuff ...

As our vacation continues we have had some interesting experiences. Yesterday we went fishing for a little a while. We fished for a couple of hours, or I should say we were at the lake for a couple of hours. Just as we arrived and unloaded our stuff and claimed a couple of spots from which to fish onshore I started a conversation with a couple of high school guys who were just coming in from fishing on the lake. Seemed like nice guys who were out for a day of fishing and adventure. Talked about the ones the caught and the ones that got away. Just as I was getting ready to throw a line in the water I heard one of the young guys say to his friend that he had bad news. Their truck battery was dead. When asked how it happened he said he evidently left the headlights on, he then said "it is so ridiculous that you have to shut the lights off yourself". My how times have changed. I started to tell him about the "olden days", but thought better of it, instead I just asked if I could help. Neither of us had jumper cables, so my help was a no go. Then he called his Dad to tell what happened, the call every teen hates to make and every parent of a teen has received more than once. His Dad told him to try pushing the truck and popping the clutch to manually start the truck. I watched with amusement as the two guys pushed the truck 2 feet and tryed to pop the clutch. After they tried this a couple of times, I put my pole down and while trying to hide my laughter offered to help.

I told them it would require a little pushing than 2 feet. We pushed it back into the parking lot, my wife got behind the wheel and I helped the two guys push the truck around the parking lot. We didn't get it started. After more conversations with his Dad I suggested he flag down the park ranger and see if they had jumper cables. The ranger came with the cables but said she was not allowed to jump them, so I put my pole down again and offered to jump them. It took several minutes as they had really drained the battery. The motor finally roared to life to a big exclamation of relief from the guys.

I didn't end up catching any fish but I did get some unexpected exercise and a couple of new friends. My wife did catch 3 little fish. We were very generous and several fish were well fed with worms by the time we left. I am sure the fish were disappointed when the rains came and we left. But we did our part to help keep the fish healthy, well fed and happy.

Today our big vacation adventure was getting 2 new tires for the car since the front two had some of the steel belts showing. Do we know how to vacation or what?

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Vacation and Vacating ...

Is it possible to take a vacation without vacating? I don't think so. I believe you must either vacate your normal location, or you must vacate your vocation mentally and emotionally. I find it difficult to vacate my vocation, being a pastor, mentally and emotionally unless I am in a different location. Am I alone in this?

As a pastor it always takes me a while to unwind when I go on vacation. I cannot disengage mentally and emtionally quickly. That is why last summer when we were able to get away for 2 weeks in a row, in a different place, it was a great vacation. I really relaxed. I don't think I ever completely disengage emotionally, but I am able after a few days to turn down the flame and move the emotions to the back burner.

So does this mean that vacation is more about a mindset than it is about a place?

Monday, July 05, 2010

Monday Morning Musings ...

I began some vacation time yesterday, so yesterday was a very different but very good day. I officiated a wedding out of state on Saturday night, so we were a long way from home on Sunday morning. We attended a church plant in the area, the big bonus was that the pastor's wife was a part of the youth group at a church I used to pastor. It was a very good experience. It was great to spend some time talking with the pastor, his wife was at their district's family camp. Missing her was unfortunate, but it was a good experience.

Getting to visit another church is a unique experience for us. We saw some great things, got a few ideas and were reminded of somethings we need to do better. Got a couple of great quotes that will show up in a sermon soon. I love seeing any church that is preaching the Word and people's lives are being changed. My hat goes off to church plants and church planters. They usually have to set up and tear down each and every week and store all of their equipment and resources somewhere else. That is dedication and it takes a real commitment.

The wedding went very well. It was a real joy to do participate with a couple who love each other and love the Lord. They were a joy to work with and everything went very smoothly. It was an outdoor wedding. It was hot, but that was the only problem. The sound system worked, there was a breeze but it was not a problem. No one fainted, everyone got to where they were supposed to be, the music sounded great and they are married and on their honeymoon. There was some excitement the day of rehearsal as one of the sets of grandparents were in a serious accident on the way to the wedding. But they were, and are, okay. The car is toast. Just another reminder of how precious and fragile life is.

Everything I have heard is that worship went well back home with the exception of the lowest attendance in many years. It is nice to be able to be gone and not have to worry about how things are at home.

On vacation, and I plan to enjoy it. Have a great week yourself.