Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Monday Musings ... on Tuesday

Sunday was a very good day. Our new Associate Pastor began his ministry with us and he was put right to work as a drummer in worship and helping with the Baptism service in the afternoon. We had good spirit in our worship. There was 1 at the altar. Our annual outdoor Baptism service went very well in the afternoon. We had decent attendance, especially considering that we were just over a week away from school starting.

The message was the final (at least I think it was the final one) in the series "Why This Waste?" from Matthew 26:6-13. The key question this week was "What breaks you?". That answer to that question is important because you must be broken in order to pour out everything for Christ. When are broken there is nothing to be held back, we pour it all out for Christ. There is the breaking that takes place from our own wrong choices, from the poor choices of others that impact us and there is the breaking that comes from God. Psalm 51:17, "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God you will not despise." Brokenness makes pouring much more likely. Too often we want to just sprinkle ourselves out for Christ. A little here, a little there and we want to control where we go and how we are used by Christ. Brokenness makes refunds impossible. You have seen the signs in stores "You break it you bought it", it is similar with Christ. If you allow yourself to be broken for Christ you have bought in completely. If you give all of yourself, if you are really poured out, there is no chance for a refund and nothing can be held in reserve. What are you holding back in your service for Christ? This type of broken living is impossible to ignore. In verse 13 of Matthew 26 Jesus said, "...wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told..." John 12:3 tells about this incident "...And the house was filled with the fragrance...". Everyone who was near were aware of what she had done for Christ. Pouring yourself out for Christ in brokenness will have an eternal impact.

Are you being poured out for Christ? If not, why not? Will you allow yourself to be broken so you can be used for Christ?

Our Baptism service was so good. Three were baptized, they shared their story and followed Christ in baptism. We had a lot of people in attendance. The weather was perfect. The picnic after the baptisms was great, people hang around for a couple of hours talking and eating. Kids were swimming and there was even a fishing pole that made an appearance. It was a very good day.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

What do you wish wasn't true?

What do you wish wasn’t true in your life? Is it something about someone else? Then pray about what you can do to help them or about the situation without condemning. Then pray for them. Pray that God would bless them, that he would show himself in a powerful way to them and that they would be obedient to God’s will. Is it something about you? Then pray about your choices. Do something different to change it if possible. If it is something from your past then recognize the forgiveness Jesus has already offered you. Believe he forgives and live in this forgiveness. Then use the experience to help someone else. Remember, God never wastes a hurt.
We must be careful not to spend too much time, focus and energy on this aspect of life. The issue to understand what we can, and often should, do about things we wish weren’t true. There is so much we can do to make changes in us and the world around us. But sitting around bemoaning what we wish was not true is not beneficial to anyone and will only make you and those around you feel miserable. Evaluate honestly and then constructively make changes that God shows you in his Word and through prayer.
Let’s move forward and let God work in and through us to change us and our world.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Monday Musings ... on Tuesday

Sunday was another good day. The spirit in our worship was very good, some youth coming on their own, a good time in small group and a fun surprise for a couple's 25th wedding anniversary. Also, the vote was very strong for us to purchase a second parsonage for our youth pastor, so we are getting a phenomenal deal after looking for 3 years. Our new Associate Pastor will arrive this week and be on the job next Sunday.

Sunday was the 5th sermon in the series "Why This Waste?" from Matthew 26:6-13. The key question this week was "What offends/upsets you?" When the woman poured out the expensive perfume on Jesus others (the disciples) were upset and offended at what she did. It illustrates the old Ben Franklin quote, "Anger is never without a reason, but seldom a good one." In my 28+ years of ministry I have heard some interesting tales of what upsets people. Your answer to this question shows your priorities. After all you are not likely to get too upset at anything that isn't important to you. Does what you get upset at reflect what you claim are your highest priorities? The reason behind what you get upset is important to understand as well.

We need to follow Jesus' lead in this area. What upset Jesus? Look back through scripture and see what Jesus got upset about, that would include what he cried over. Does your answer to the question match what upset Jesus? We need to re-evaluate what we are sensitive about. One study says "90% of the friction of daily life is caused by the wrong tone of voice." A lady came to Billy Sunday to rationalize her angry outbursts. "There's nothing wrong with losing my temper, I blow up and then it's all over." Billy Sunday replied, "So does a shotgun, and look at the damage it leaves behind." The spotlight in this area is that we need to show the world Jesus in this matter, they don't need to see anymore selfish actions by those who claim to follow Christ.

What offends/upsets you? What are you sensitive about? Are these in line with the actions of Jesus?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Monday Musings ...

Yesterday was another good day. God is doing some great things in the lives of a few people and I am excited to see what will happen next. We had a good spirit in our whole worship service, there were a couple of people at the altar really seeking God's will, our small group had a great time of sharing, we have more new people attending and our new Associate begins in 2 weeks. Our attendance was not good yesterday but it wasn't terrible.

I continued the series "Why This Waste?" from Matthew 26:6-13. The key was that you need to choose who you will please. Which means the key question is "Who are choosing to please with your life?" This matters because this choice will impact your actions. Who you feel the need to please will greatly influence what you do and what you don't do. Are you living to please Christ or others? In this passage the woman was solely focused on Christ. We need to follow this pattern. Her actions were for Christ. She obviously was not focused on what others would think of what she was doing for Christ. If she had been worried about the other people's reaction she would have sprinkled a little and watched the reaction. Instead she poured it all out. We all must realize that you cannot please everyone. This doesn't mean you should try to make others mad, or that you should be concerned with the feelings of others. It means that you focus on Christ and his will and let him care for you no matter what others think. Live with the knowledge that pleasing Christ will have eternal impact. Too often we choose to go for the momentary impact. The impact that matters most is what will be eternal. Look at Jesus' statement about her actions. He said that she did will told wherever the gospel shared. That is a pretty big impact and that makes a difference in eternity. If we obey Jesus' call we will please Christ.

Whose reaction are you most concerned with? Are you focusing on Christ's pleasure or pleasing others? Look at your actions and ask who you are trying to please by what you are doing? You might be surprised by the answers.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Who are you trying to please?

Who are you trying to please? This is a great question. Don't answer it too quickly. Think through your personal relationships, your work, your friends, your family, your neighbors and especially your relationship with Christ. In those areas and relationships, who are you trying to please?

This question is a key to my sermon for tomorrow morning. This is another message in the series "Why This Waste?" from Matthew 26:6-13.

The answer to this question, 'Who are you trying to please?', impacts how you live. It impacts your actions in each of the above areas and relationships. You really need to be aware of who you are trying to please.

Join us tomorrow morning at The Naz in Morenci. Worship begins at 10:30 am. It will be uplifting, challenging, fun, thought provoking and relevant. The coffee will be ready and casual is always the norm.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Here We Go again ...

Yesterday was the beginning of another volleyball season. It is my 4th as varsity coach at our local high school following 1 year as the JV coach. It is has been a wild and fun ride so far. I have enjoyed it tremendously and love working super youth who work really hard. They crack me up often and they frustrate often as well. I have learned a lot in the few years. This will be a really different season this year. Last year 6 Senior graduated who were freshmen my first season. Yesterday was the first time I have coached without any of those 6 playing for me. It seemed a little odd. They will be missed, but I am really excited for this season. We have a lot of adjusting to do in many people playing different roles this year. But that is the fun of coaching, trying to figure all of that out and get them to believe and work together.

I am really looking forward to this year and if our first practice was any indication this is a group that really wants to learn, to work hard and play together as a team. I was encouraged by much of what I saw. It may be a little rocky at the beginning as we all adjust to the changes and the fact that 2 players are currently out with illness and injury. One will be back in 2 weeks, we hope, and the other not for another 6 weeks it appears. So we will dig in and work really hard in the mean time.

This is a very busy time of the year for me as volleyball begins and we head into fall programming at church. Also, I have a new Associate who will begin at the end of August. It is a time of year where most days start earlier and end later than normal. Well, I am not sure about that because I am not sure what normal is, outside of a setting on a clothes dryer that is.

So here is to busy schedules, here is to new roles, here is to working great kids, here is to seeing God doing great things, here is to another season of life and here is to enjoying life. Here we go again...

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

A Love Story continued ...

(I am going out of order in the Love Story because today is our 36th wedding anniversary.)

36 years ago today I stood holding Jody’s hands and pledged my undying love for her and vowed to be her husband for life. I realize now that I didn’t have much of a clue as to what that really meant nor how much work is involved in making a marriage work and last. I don’t regret it all and am more in love with her today than I was that day in Michigan 36 years ago.

She is the love of my life. She is more beautiful today than she even was on our wedding day and she really good that day. But the beauty today is not just physically but I see the physical beauty, the spiritual beauty and the beauty of her character. Wow! I see her through eyes filled with 36 years of memories. Not all of the memories are good moment, but that are memories of us facing everything together.

36 years later we have 3 children, 2 wonderful kids in law and soon to be 3 kids in law. I couldn’t have hoped for anything more in my kids. We have 7 terrific grandkids, and #8 is on the way. I could never imagine the joy of being a grandparent, but I love it. I cannot adequately express my joy in the way our kids have turned out and the choices they are making. They love the Lord and are serving him. They are great people of character. They don’t mind having us around and talk with us often. I am very proud of my children, their spouses and the grandkids.

I could not imagine 36 years where we would be today. I imagined me teaching school and coaching basketball. I would not have imagined starting in education and now having pastored for over 28 years.

We have buried 3 parents and 2 grandparents. We have moved more times than I care to remember. We have lived in 8 states and have traveled to Kenya (we would go back in a heart beat). We have lived in apartments, a couple of trailers, a couple of parsonages and few other homes. Through it all we were together.

So today I wish very Happy Anniversary to my bride. We are together, off on a brief getaway. I can’t wait to see what the next phase our life will be, I don’t pretend know where we will be, but I know who I will be with.

I love you, honey.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Monday Musings ...

Yesterday was a very good day. There was a good spirit in our worship service, we had a good small group last evening, there were people at the altar and our attendance was good for the first Sunday in August. We had some spontaneous testimonies following our prayer time that were very encouraging.

I continued the sermon series "Why This Waste?", using Matthew 26:6-13 as our foundation scripture. We looked at the fact that the actions by the woman who poured the whole jar of perfume on Jesus was considered risky or unwise by most who observed her actions. This was considered risky, but it was by the world's standards but not risky by Jesus' standards. John Gardner wrote, "One of the reasons people stop growing and learning is that they become less and less willing to risk failure." You cannot discover new oceans unless you go far enough to lose sight of the shore. It appears that she put her future at risk. This perfume was worth a year's wages, it could have been her retirement plan, or at least a major part of it. It could have helped her to be comfortable in the future. But that is not promised to us as we follow Christ, nor should it be our goal. We are called to obey not be comfortable. To obey not wait for everything to become clear to us. Ed Stetzer & Thom Rainer say, in their book "Transformational Church", that many people "try to take a 'don't rock the boat' approach. They think that if we all remain very still in the boat, it won't turn over. But it also won't go anywhere." Obeying Christ's call on your life involves risking it all. After all that is what he did and we are called to follow him. Hudson Taylor said, "Unless there is an element of risk in our exploits for God, there is no need for faith."

It is a fact that we are called to risk it all, but we must realize that this risk for Christ is worth it. Look at the eternal reward and notice that Jesus praised the woman when she poured it all out for him. This type of risk will impact the future. What are you doing that will make a difference for eternity? A ship wrecked off the New England coast many years ago. A young member of the Coast Guard rescue crew assessed the situation and said "We can't go out. We might make it back." A grizzled old member of the guard replied, "We have to go out. We don't have to come back."

What are you risking for Christ and his call? What are you doing to make a difference in eternity? Are you trying to stay safe in service to Christ, or are you risking it all for the sake of the call?

Sunday, August 07, 2011

A Love Story continued ...

(I know it has been a while but the Love Story really is continuing.)

The goal was reached, I was a college graduate. Now what? I began the process of trying to find a teaching job and that led to … a move half way across the country to North Carolina. My brother and his family were living there and told me that there were jobs available. I looked hard, filled out numerous applications and had a few interviews but there were no teaching jobs in P.E. with a business minor that I could find. After what seemed like a long period of searching we decided that we were ready for a complete change of location. So I made a solo trip to North Carolina to search for work. I didn’t find any teaching jobs but I did find a job and we decided to go for it. The job was at place called Moore’s Building and Supply, my role was mainly as a “yard dog”. That meant I did whatever was needed, including loading and unloading everything in the lumberyard that was outdoors and stocking most items that were inside. I found us an apartment and we prepared to move from Kansas to North Carolina.

This move was not met with happiness by my in-laws, especially my mother-in-law. Not only was I taking their daughter (their baby) halfway across the country but I was taking our son, their grand child, along as well. (I must insert, now that I have 7 grandkids and have #8 on the way I understand this emotion much better. At the time I was not very sensitive to this issue. Plus we were already about 12 hours from my parents while we lived in Kansas.)

So we packed up our few belongings that were worth moving and prepared to make a big move. Just after we made the decision to move we got some exciting and complicating news. Jody was pregnant. So we were now expecting our second child and doubts began to creep in about the wisdom of this move. But we forged ahead anyway.

The day came for the move, with our U-haul trailer behind our car and our 2 year strapped in the back we headed east. What were we thinking?!? We were thinking that we were ready for a fresh start after the struggle of the last few years of me finishing college. As we attempted to say good bye to everyone it was a tough day. My father in law had tears in eyes as smiled, hugged us and wished us the best. My mother-in-law had tears in her eyes but couldn’t bring herself to speak to me. She hugged Jody and Todd and then we got in the car and started a whole new chapter in our lives.

We arrived in North Carolina in late July or early August (can’t quite remember which is driving me nuts). As we moved in, as I began my job and as we found a church, we discovered “we really aren’t in Kansas anymore”. One of the first evidences of that was …

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Overwhelmed...but Intriqued

The last few days, actually the last few weeks, I have become overwhelmed by the situations many people find themselves in and from the choices others are making. The weight of the burdens is impossible to describe. I have been a pastor long enough to know that some of what I am feeling just comes with the territory of being a pastor. But I must confess that after 28+ years of ministry I believe this is the heaviest burdens I ever recall carrying. The great news is that I serve a God who can handle anything I bring to him and that he calls me to hand my burdens over to him. My prayer life is certainly growing through all of these burdens.

Part of the overwhelming is that Chist is really working on me about me. He is showing me areas that need refining, areas that need to be removed and areas in which I need to move into. This is exciting, scary and necessary. Again this is impacting my prayer life in a positive way.

So I am overwhelmed but intriqued to see what God is going to do.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Monday Musings ... on Tuesday

Sunday was a very good day in the midst of a lot of turmoil. There is, and has been, a lot going on in many people's lives. A lot of big things going on. Worship Sunday morning was intertwined with one of those big things. My wife stepped in to lead worship since our worship leader made an emergency overnight trip to see and care for adult children who had an accident. The spirit in worship was powerful right from the beginning. I am convinced it was because so many people have been in extra prayer this week for all of the big things going on, at least the ones they are aware of, and our hearts were already ready to hear from God.

We had a very special and powerful prayer time early in our worship. We had 2 people in attendance who we had recently been praying for who had been in a coma. These were separate situations where the coma's were for entirely different reasons. It was time to rejoice, gain confidence in the power for prayer and to keep remembering them as they recover.

Our attendance was reasonable, partly because we also had a child dedication. I love baby/child dedications.

The sermon was #2 in the series "Why This Waste?", using Matthew 26:6-13 as the foundation. Last week we looked at "the facts" from this passage and asked everyone to examine the facts in their own life. Is Jesus present: Are you giving him your best, completely and irrevocably? Are you holding out for a refund promise in case things don't go the way you think they should?

This week we also looked at this incident from John 12, especially the phrase in verse 3, "...and the house was filled with the fragrance...", asking what is your life filled with and what is your fragrance?

The Filling: There must be an infilling in order to be full. What have you chosen to be filled with? We need to be filled with Christ and his Holy Spirit. You will be filled with whatever you immerse yourself in, or nothing at all. What you are filled with becomes obvious when the vessel is squeezed and especially when it is broken. What came out the last time you were squeezed or broken by circumstances.

The Fragrance: What aroma are you sharing as you live? Is it the aroma of Christ, or the aroma of your own desires? Is it the fragrance of our loving Lord, or the smell of self? Does it attract others to Christ, or repel them from him? Is your fragrance one of service or of demand? Do you seek to serve others in the name of Jesus, or do you expect others to notice your needs and serve you?

Remember: Pouring yourself out for Christ will often be misunderstood. Pour yourself out anyway. Great service is done and great things accomplished when ...
You Care more than others think is wise;
You Risk more than others think is safe;
You Dream more than others think is practical and
You Expect more than others think is possible.

What are you filled with? What are you leaving behind?