Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Love Story continued ...

(Sorry it has been a while since posted about the Love Story, so for anyone who is still paying attention I apologize. I will try to keep this going more regularly.)

The next morning dawned and I realized that I was now a father. What?! Now what? That was a brand new feeling to awaken as a father. To be honest I was feeling the glow of fatherhood but not the real pressure of being a father yet. That began to grow with each passing day and especially when Jody and our little guy came home. One of the enduring memories of that time was how I kept looking at him and remarking that “he is a little person”. I had been around babies, and even had 2 nephews, but now I was really paying attention. This was so much more than a baby, this was a whole person. This is about the time that the pressure began to build.

With the realization that our baby was a real, whole person he was just a miniature version at the moment. That realization began to produce thoughts of providing for him and all the questions about the future. I went through this phase with each of our children, but it was most pronounced with our first.

We went through all of the normal first time parenting stuff. Wishing the baby would sleep longer then worrying because he slept so long. Wondering what every sniffle or cough meant. We were sure that everything he did was remarkable, and it actually was because he was our child. We had to learn that to go anywhere now meant several extra minutes packing up and that a lot more space was needed for all the stuff. Jody seemed like a natural at this mothering thing. The biggest regret we had at this time was having a 2 story apartment, those steps got a workout.

My parents lived within a half mile of us and that was cool. I just realized that this was the only time they ever lived in the same town with any of their grandkids. Several years later we lived 30 minutes away, but this was a special time for all of us. Not only did we live close, we were attending and active in the church my Dad was pastoring so they saw us, more importantly their grandson, at all the services. Now that I have had that experience for a couple of brief periods of time as a Pastor I realize how much that means.

He was growing, we were learning and things were going well. So of course that meant it was time to shake things up. So we …

Monday, April 25, 2011

Monday Morning Musings ...

Yesterday was a very good. Easter is always good and this one had some extra special elements to it, and one disappointing one. The first special part was doing the dedication for baby Drew. He was in ICU for 10 days or so, most of those in a coma and on a ventilator. He was in the hospital another 7 days after getting off the ventilator. He was very sick and some of the prognosis(es) were not encouraging. People really rallied in prayer and he is doing great. His doctor called it "miraculous" and one of the nurses just said "Wow!" upon seeing the turn around. This was a very few dry eyes dedication, including yours truly. I love baby dedications, but this one was extra special.

Another special part was the conclusion of the service. While the worship team sang "Jesus Paid It All" 8 of teens and a sponsor painted a 5 panels that turned out to be Christ's blood stained face, hands and feet. The congregation was on their feet as they finished, it was a powerful moment.

The attendance was good, it was the largest Easter attendance in my 6 Easters here. That was encouraging. In that number was a few of my former volleyball players, it was great to see them. A mother and daughter attended who said it was the first time they had ever been in a church service and are planning to come back this Sunday. That is awesome, and way to go to the person who reached out to their neighbor and invited them.

The message was entitled "It's Not Over". I told about the Cal vs. Stanford football game that finished with a last second kick off return that won the game as the band came on the field. Everyone thought that game was over since the kick off happened with 4 seconds remaining, but it wasn't over. I told of a couple who divorced after a few years and then God got hold of his heart and his life was changed. They ended up remarrying each other and served the Lord for many years. It looked like it was over with the divorce, but it wasn't over. Then came to Christ dying on the cross and it looked like it was over, but on that first Easter he rose again and it's not over. No matter what you are facing, no matter what your past is, not matter your economic or physical condition, it's not over. There is hope in Christ.

We examined Matthew 28:5-10, 16-20. The scripture reminds to not be afraid. We are paralyzed and kept from living for Christ when we choose to live by fear instead of faith. We need to remember that Christ is here and that he has risen. We don't go looking for him in the cemetery and we don't flowers to the tomb, because he is alive and he is with us. In all of this you need to remember that no matter what, it's not over. We are reminded to go and tell others about Jesus. In fact this passage says that we are to go quickly and tell them. We are not to tell them quickly, but we are to quickly. Too often we go very slowly, if at all, and if get to others we tell them quickly and quietly. They need to know that no matter what they have done it's not over. We must also come to grips with the fact that we have told the truth. No more excuses. It's not over.

What are you fearful of trying? It's not over. What has you paralyzed? It's not over. What have you been slow to do that you know you should do? It's not over.

The disappointing part of yesterday was that I don't know if anyone made a decision for Christ. That is always the hope and prayer, and no one responded in the service or to the insert they could have filled out. But, it's not over, so I will keep praying for the word that they heard to take hold.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Monday Musings ...

Yesterday was an outstanding day, in fact the whole weekend was tremendous. Powerful spirit throughout our worship service. I was able to share a tremendous praise with the congregation as an 11 month old who had been in ICU for 10 days was improving rapidly. He had been on a ventilator the entire time and was now off of it. We showed a picture of him without all the tubes and wires. We had called people to specific times of prayer on Thursday and Friday and Saturday we got the news. We celebrated! Our children came during worship to a special song waving palm branches. There were 34 children who paraded through and that wasn't all the children. It was great.

We had a great time of prayer during the service with the altars nearly full as people brought requests and praises. It was a powerful time. Our singing had extra juice in light of the praises and the children. Our attendance was very good which added to the excitement. A couple of people shared very uplifting observations from our District Assembly and Missions Convention.

The message looked at what we should say and what we should do in light of who Jesus is and what He has done and is doing. We examined Matthew 21:7-11 and Psalm 118:25-29. We have to start with "Lord save us, and Hosanna". Everything starts with our relationship with Christ. Hosanna is a phrase of praise and especially connected to salvation. We need to say "You are my God". This is personal and it needs to become personal. We need to make it a relationship not just a fact. This is part of our testimony. We need to be saying "Thank You" a lot more than we do. We need to do to the Lord so much more and to each other as well. Thank you is a powerful phrase. It changes our attitude when we say it and when it is said to us. We have so much to thank God for, in fact we should be thanking him always. An attitude of gratitude changes the world, and it grows churches.

What should we do? Beyond our words, in our walk we need to "Praise Him" in fact we need to be shouting this praise. We need to quit being shy about Praising the Lord. Scripture tells us that if we don't praise Him even the rocks will cry out. I want to stay at least one step ahead of the rocks. We should do everything in the name of the Lord. Your work, your family, your friends and all you do and are should be in the name of the Lord. Not in your name, but in the Lord's name. Which means we need to do many things differently. We should lay everything down before the Lord. On Palm Sunday the people laid their cloaks, in essence their identities down before the Lord. We need to be in the parade of celebration for the Lord, in fact we should be leading the parade. Wouldn't it be awesome if we all "paraded" into worship next Sunday? We should not only say thank you, we should be thankful. Be thankful in all things. Not that all things are good, but God is good and God is still God in all things. Our thankfulness is about Him not our circumstances or our stuff.

What are you saying? What are you doing? What needs to change?

On Friday evening I was one of the sponors for our youth lock in. This was an all night event with 75 teens in attendance. We did a survivor theme and I did survive. The kids were great, but my wife and I had not done an all nighter for quite a while. I am being reminded of why I haven't done that in a while. But our youth are worth it. We had great people who helped, 12 adults helped and 7 stayed for all 12 hours, these are awesome people. Gotta go, it may be time for a nap.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Necessary and Powerful

Every year we have something called Missions Convention and Assembly. These are annual events on the District in which our church is located. Most denominations have something like with slightly differing names. Often these necessary, but real beneficial events. This year however the necessary became the powerful, meaningful and very beneficial event.

The first service was a great missions service. The music was powerful and very moving. The missionaries who shared were so real and God used them in a powerful way. Than continued into the next morning when the Missions Convention kicked off the "business" portion. The music was not my styler but again the missionaries were so good as they shared. I really liked that he was wearing jeans and she kicked her shoes off when she spoke. They are my kind of people. The reports were very good as well.

That evening was our District's annual Ordination service. There were 8 being ordained and 1 who was beging recognized as they moved from another denomination. The music was not so good but the message was great and the prayers and installations for those being ordained was very meaningful. The only thing that it kept it from being a grand slam was that I had to wear a suit and tie.

The next morning was the business side of our Assembly and that went pretty well. We concluded everything by having a concert of prayer. This was a very powerful time and God really spoke, at least he did to me.

I left this necessary event encouraged and really feeling like I had some things to keep wrestling with which is a good thing. It is not often that I have left District Assembly feeling this way, so I am rejoicing in all that took place at this necessary and powerful event.