Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Monday Musings ... on Tuesday

My musings are different today, because I was not at my church on Sunday. My daughter oldest daughter got married on Saturday and we visited a good friends church on Sunday. It was a great weekend. The wedding went well. My daughter was beautiful. I was able to give her away to great young man who loves Jesus. I was honored to do most of the ceremony. My son began the ceremony then handed it off to me after I gave her away. Amazingly I made through the whole thing without crying. During the prayer I came close to losing it. 3 of my grandsons were ushers. 1 grandson was supposed to be a ring bearer, he made in rehearsal but not so much for the wedding. 2 granddaughters were flowergirls. The 7 year was in the height of her glory and did wonderful. The 1 and 1/2 year hesitated, went half way and then I picked her up and carried her the rest of the way while escorting my daughter down the aisle. My youngest daughter and daughter in law were bridesmaids. My already son in law sang a solo and did great. So you can see it was a family affair which is exactly what my daughter wanted.

My challenge to the couple was from Romans 15:5-7. It was obvious early in their relationship that this would be a divided relationship. She loves Notre Dame football, he bleeds blue and gold for Michigan. She is an avid Colts fan and he says "Bear Down" for the Chicago Bears. She roots for the Pacers and he cheers for the Bulls. But the saving grace, and what helped ease him into the family is that they are both big Cubs fans. Thus my challenge was that they live with a spirit of unity in their marriage. Not in sports, but in their life. The sports are fun and sometimes more important to us than it should be, it is not vital or eternal. The unity starts with their personal relationship with Christ and must continue in their relationship with each other. I challenged them keep the big picture in mind when they have disagreements, and they will. The big picture is the relationship with Christ and their marriage for a lifetime. I challenged to have one heart and stayed united in their relationship. Voice their differences and work them out with the goal to be united. To be accepting of their differences and to work on being unified because they put the needs of the other first.

It was a real joy to have the best position in the house as they shared their vows, exchanged rings, lit the unity candle and spoke with each other during the song. To be able to pray over them for the first time as married couple. To pronounce them husband and wife. To have the honor introducing them for the first time as Mr. and Mrs. All of these things were so much fun and a real joy. I am blessed that each of my children have married such wonderful people and they all love the Lord.

The reception was a blast. Great times of catching up and sharing with family and friends. Getting to know my daughter's inlaws was a real blessing as well. Then on Sunday morning to attend the church of one of my former staff members. He planted the church a couple of years ago and it is doing great. To hear him preach, to see the people being reached and to sense the excitement in the place was a real treat. We spent some time with great friends and then we brought 2 grandkids home with us for a few days.

It was a special weekend. I was reminded many times that I am blessed way beyond what I deserve.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Monday Morning Musings ...

Yesterday was another good day. Had good discussion in our Sunday School class, a good worship service and another great time with our small group Sunday evening. I had my 6 year pastoral review with the District Superintendent and church board earlier in the week and they unanimously extended our call for another 4 years. I love moving past those things.

We had good attendance again Sunday and we even were able to record the message on video. It is very simple and the lighting isn't the best but we finally got it recorded.

Sunday was part 2 of the series "Not A Fan". As we examine our relationship with Jesus to see if we are really a follower or just a fan. We are using Luke 9:23-24 as the foundation for the series. Last week asked some questions to define the relationship. This week we asked "who can become a follower?" Jesus answers that question in verse 23 when he says "If anyone would come after me. ..." Anyone can become a follower if they choose to follow Jesus. Anyone is welcome to become a follower. But, who is anyone? In our culture many things are advertised as being all inclusive, or available to anyone, but then you notice there is an asterisk attached to invitation. When you read the fine print you realize that it really isn't available to anyone. Jesus said anyone, and there is no asterisk attached. One way people could tell Jesus meant anyone, was by looking at who he had following him. Peter, Matthew and other were not the type of followers you would normally put on the front of your advertising brochure. In Acts 4:13 the religious elite noted that Peter and John were "unschooled, ordinary men".

The invitation is for anyone which means there are no qualifications. No qualifications means there are no excuses. Getting rid of the barriers that keep people from following means there are no legitimate excuses. What excuse have you been hiding behind recently?

Following Jesus is available to anyone, but it means everything. A follower will follow Jesus everywhere. Wherever he calls you to go. It may be right where you are, but a follower will go wherever he calls you to go. A follower will follow Jesus anytime. Not just when it is convenient for us, but whenever he calls. We are not to show Jesus our calendar and tell we have a little time on Thursday. We are to lay our calendar, our life, out before him and ask him fill it. A follower will follow Jesus no matter what.

Anyone means you. Are you ready to follow? Are you willing to follow? Will you follow?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Monday Morning Musings ...

It has been a couple of weeks since I posted. I wasn't gone, just busy and get anything posted. Yesterday was a very good day. The weather was gorgeous. The spirit in worship was good. Our small group was good as usual. Attendance wasn't great but that was one of the few things that didn't go well.

I began a new series of messages yesterday. The series entitled "Not A Fan" and that title comes directly from Kyle Idleman's outstanding book by the same title. I highly recommend the book. The series, and book, are book answering the question "Are you a fan, or a follower of Jesus?" Jesus is not, and never has been looking for fans. He wants followers. The scripture foundation is Luke 9:23-24. The message yesterday was all about defining our relationship with Jesus Christ. It was about examining our relationship with Christ to determine whether we are just fans, or if we are followers. We are defining a fan as "an enthusiastic admirer". Some characteristics of fans are that they cheer for Jesus, they wear witness wear and cross jewelry. Fans are great admirers of Jesus. Fans can find the scripture reference the pastor gives faster than most people in the worship service. Fans make donations to the cause of Christ. Fans attend church as long as it doesn't interfere with anything else they have scheduled. In our culture it is a real possibility for our church to become a place full of fans. We come, sit down and open the program. We applaud at certain times, we fill in the blanks for the sermon and sing a little and then we leave somehow thinking this was all done for us. As we leave we evaluate the sermon, the song selections and the performance of all involved and give it a grade. Then we come back and do it again the next Sunday if we attend. You need to realize the truth that Jesus has never cared about having fans. He wants followers.

We examined 3 questions to define our relationship with Christ. 1) Why are you here? Not the philosophical question of why do we exist, but why do we attend church and claim to follow Christ? What is your honest answer? If it is because your parents are making you, then I applaud your parents. It could be to pacify your spouse, to help your business, to see your friends, or it could be to glorify Christ and worship him. In John 6 Jesus addresses some of the reasons people showed up. In verse 2 he said many followed him to see the next miracle. In verse 66 he said many left him when defined their relationship with him. Then in verses 67-69, Jesus asked the 12 if they wanted to leave also. Peter answered for the group and said that Christ had, and was, the answer and that Jesus was "Holy One of God". That is the reason to be here.

2) Is it personal? Have you made it your own? There is a danger that you can become a fan and actually create a faith that is not your own. You can fool yourself into believing that you have faith when it is really your parents, or your spouse, or your friends, or your Pastor's faith and not your own. Look at Luke 9:23-24. They are very personal verses. Deny yourself, carry your carry, lose your life and follow Jesus to save your life. You cannot do this through someone else's faith. This is about your relationship with Christ, not someone elses.

3) Are you all in? Being a follower of Christ requires complete commitment. Meaning you will do whatever, whenever and wherever Jesus asks. Absolute commitment is a struggle for us. We would prefer to customize our Christianity. We want to follow Jesus our way. We want to pick and choose which parts of Christ's call we will follow. That might work on Twitter, but with Jesus. Following Christ is not a multiple choice test. There is only one answer.

Are you a fan or a follower?