Thursday, December 15, 2011

Celebrate...with a Fast???

I think one of the things I really enjoy about leading a church, just one of the things not the only thing, is God has given us freedom to be a bit unorthodox.  To challenge the way things have always been done...or the things you do to be more successful as a know, get your church bigger.  Now I am not opposed to growing larger in fact that could be kind of fun...not at the expense of allowing God to be God...and have His church back.  This is not criticizing anyone else...because I suspect they are doing what they feel God has called them to do and they should have the same freedom I want to do what God has called them to. 
A couple of years ago God lead us as a church to begin the New Year with a 21 day came at a time of desperation for me as a leader. It was right after Christy Wimber had been with us and really challenged me to be a leader...when people were angry with me and leaving...many did not even know why they were mad, they just were.  I started in December to get a head start on the rest of the body and did a forty day fast.  The whole thing was life changing...and church changing. Couple of things happened for sure...I had to call the church to the fast and lead them in it. They had to respond...and they did. For me it was a somber time as I sought God for huge changes in my life...healing had to happen for me to go on...and it has...with more to come.  It brought the church together...the stories from families were was a somber time for sure.  
Last year we did the fast again...not as hurting as the year before...but crying out for God to move among us.  In the past I have always come up with a saying for the New Year, but last year I did not come up with one. In the middle of the year God really began to lead us into some really cool thing...hard things, but awesome.  It became a year of choosing life...over death.  Hard things were preached and people responded...really felt challenged to challenge us to live a life that honors God and not to live for ourselves and our own happiness....the American dream. We wanted to be a people “preoccupied with God” giving Him room to work in our lives individually and corporately.
So this year I was getting ready to write a devotion to send out to the church for the week and begin to prepare them for the time of our fast together. I began to sense God was speaking something to me concerning the fast...this will sound weird but I think it was Him...that this fast will be one of celebration and gratitude.  As I thought about it my heart filled with thanksgiving as I thought about God and His blessings.  Then I wondered can you fast and celebrate?  Can you fast and be joyful?  I mean can you really be happy without food? Or technology? Or TV? Or????  I am thinking YES YOU CAN! Jesus said...”I have food to eat that you know nothing about.  My food is to do the will of Him who sent me..” “I am the bread of life...” That’s it...i want to celebrate the Bread of Life...I am going to wash my face...comb my hair...well shine my head...and celebrate the bread of life...sent from God...for my consumption.  So it may seem odd but I really believe this will be a season to celebrate taste and see that the Lord is good. Doing a fast forces you to slow down...slow down and focus...On Him. 
As a regular guy who leads and amazing church family...I have much to be thankful step aside as I fasting...hmmm. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas thoughts...where will you be on Christmas morning?

I cannot believe Christmas is on Sunday again this year!  Seems like it was just a couple of years ago it happened, turns out it was seven.  What’s the problem?  Culture, Church culture has changed so much over the years that the question comes up, “Are we doing a service on Christmas morning?”  In the past the answer would have been, “Of course we are! It’s Jesus birthday!”  Well yes and no about the birthday thingy, but it is the time we celebrate His birth, I get that part.  So what do we do?  A reporter from our local newspaper called the other day to see what we were doing on that Sunday since it has been kind of a hot question all over.  I love when he calls because I know the way I answer will never be the right answer for many of his readers.  I usually read the paper online and the online edition allows readers to make comments.  Oh boy!  
He had called me another time to get my opinion when a big time college football coach was fired for doing some cheating, well mostly for not being honest.  This coach is well known and had written books on ethics and integrity and he was known to be a Christian.  The reporter asked how the church should respond to someone like this.  Well I gave my response and used some scriptures to talk about our responsibility to walk with him through this hard time.  Well the comments that came from that was amazing...and mean!  So now I get to be quoted as saying, “ We are not holding services that morning, not wanting to interrupt family time. Also we will let our people know who is doing services on Sunday so if they feel the need they can go.”  Sure enough as I read the article, there was my name and quote.  Ahhh...we all want to be in the paper don’t we? (well not if we broke the law...but to be quoted..sweet!)  Not really...not if you are going to read the comments...”those churches who are not having services on the Sunday are not churches at all! they are fake!” (not the exact words but close)  Goodness, I don’t feel fake. Well sometimes I suppose I do when I read about Jesus and look at my life...but not about church.  
Kind of harsh words from someone who does not know me...or our church family.  Well part of the disconnect is this...we don’t go to is who we are.  Will our church family be in the same building on that Sunday celebrating Jesus? No...but we will the our homes...our family homes...and we will remember why we are together.  Do I feel guilty about not doing a Christmas celebration on that Sunday?  Not really...well in a religious way, sure I do.  But I remember Jesus having numerous arguments with the Pharisees over the Sabbath and how religious they had made it.  It was cumbersome and was a heavy load put upon the shoulders of the people...not at all a rest like God had intended.  Not a day to focus on God and all He had done for them...instead it became another rule to be kept and not broken. Jesus healed on the sabbath...and got threatened...set people free...and was criticized...because He broke a rule. 

So I can feel bad about not keeping a religious tradition...or I can freely worship the One who the day is set aside for...with my kids and grandkids, in-laws and outlaws and friends.  I choose that. Sorry...well no I am not sorry...should I be...I don’t think so...what do you think?

Now as I finish this blog, please do not hear me accusing those who will do Sunday Services on Christmas morning as being religious or legalistic...I just want the freedom to lead my fellowship the way I sense God giving me permission to lead...I may go to a friends celebration that Sunday...and will enjoy myself.  


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Can I Have This Dance???

This blog is mostly about my struggle with being a leader...or at least being in a leadership role.  I believe some of my older posts have covered my struggle with it and how, during some services with Christy Wimber, things began to change inside of me.  A few years ago Barb and I took some ballroom dance classes with some friends from the church at a nearby Y.  We took 4 or 5 set of classes...swing, box step, rumba,etc. Well, it was kind of fun...but not a lot...see we spent most of the time on the dance floor fighting over who would lead the dance.  Barb would argue and say she was letting me lead but the whole time we were dancing she would say things like, “I want to do what that couple is doing!...why can’t we do that move?” Now it is hard to lead when you are just learning yourself...and even harder when the one you are leading is looking all around the room seeing what others are doing and wanting to follow them...not me!  
So with some fear and trepidation we joined a small group at church, a common interest group, for ball room dancing. Same instructor as before...would we get the same results? It has gone really well...and Barb is following my lead!  Really! One difference, I believe, is that I am leading...with some confidence as we learn the steps.  It is hard to lead when you are unsure yourself where you want to go next.  Also I am the kind of person that can get comfortable doing something one way and not really press myself to do something different.  If I am happy doing a box step and walking in the same pattern over and over why try to do a new step?  Why can’t the box be enough?  Barb on the other hand is always looking for the next new adventure...the next step...the next trip...the next... 
As I grow more to understand the steps and the act of leading it is more fun for both of to be stretched...and she can quit looking around the room to see what others are doing.  She has to focus on being me.  
Now an odd thing has happened in my leading the church...and the staff.  Now this may sound arrogant here, but stay with me for a moment.  As long as I have been leading the church it has seemed to me like God has been working on me night and day for 17 years.  Healing stuff...pointing out junk that needed to go. Then Christy comes and seems to spend 3 days preaching to me...right to me...about leadership issues...and without mentioning my name, pointing out what happens when I do not lead.  Someone will. They will look around a the success of others and want to know why it is not happening here. The other thing that happens is people wear out trying to follow a leader not sure of where he is going.  
Now the arrogant part...I always wondered why God never seemed to be doing anything with Barb or Dave..(my brother in law and worship leader) why could they just stay the same?  Where was the crushing they needed to go through...why just me?  Lately God has been doing some big time work in both of them...that is their story and not mine but trust me...BIG.  As I thought about this a bit more it came to me...God really would not move to change things or maybe more likely, they would not be in the right position to change until I took my role as leader more seriously.  Until I chose to be PASTOR and lead they were frustrated by the wobbling around...would challenge me...would be angry with me.   They both were better at leading what they were called to lead than I least more sure of themselves.  Now as I take my position and calling seriously and am still growing in it...God is breaking through in some areas they needed to address...and He does it so well. It changes the atmosphere around the whole church family...tension is leaving...probably not gone fully but on its way out.  God is moving with freedom and power in our celebrations...we are making room for the Spirit to move and to touch people.  I think I am sorry it took me 17 years to address some of my own stuff...but then again, God never seemed like He was in a hurry.  
Am I saying I am a finished product??? Not at all...I am still a work in progress...I have confidence He will finish this work He began in me...and I have a desire to finish this race well.  So I will keep dancing...leading those I am supposed to lead...and being led by the One who knows all the steps.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Yeah, What Ray said!

After my last blog a good friend of mine, I will call him Ray,(could be his real name:) left me this on my facebook page: “I've never thought it was either-or, this or that. Power Evangelism and Spirit-filled church planting is what we're about!”  I think he made my point for me really or at least helped me sort it out a  bit more.  Yes, church planting is a big part of the Vineyard and my point would be it needs to be more from the leading of the Spirit than just a numbers kind of deal, trying to reach a quota...and we have been a movement, a kingdom of God movement, that should have signs and wonders following.  Shouldn’t we? Isn’t that what Jesus said?  I was talking with a friend just yesterday who is on staff at a church, not a Vineyard, but very much in the vein of a Vineyard church. I remember a time when he brought some of the people from his church body to one of our worship nights and he had a word of knowledge for someone with a fibula problem. No one came forward and we still laugh about it...but he was going for it...and they look grow bigger. He said they are now realizing that even though they began with inviting the Holy Spirit and moving in the things of the Spirit, they had moved away from that to become a little safer for those visiting.  Kind of like, “Sure we speak in tongues and pray for the sick but you won’t find that out for quite a while.” Now they are moving back towards the move of the Spirit...where they began.  At one point he sensed the Spirit said this to him, “ Remember the scene in the garden where Peter cuts of the ear of one of the soldiers?  This is what it has been like for Me trying to move around are always protecting others...from Me!  From what I was trying to do!”  That cut close to the heart there.  
So sure church planting is part of the Vineyard movement...but so is is experiencing God and His is ministry to the poor.  It should all be the part...even the part we cannot control...His Spirit.  I love what Bill Johnson has to say about the move of the Spirit.  It kind of goes like this, “People always want to quote 1 Corinthians to us, you know everything done decently and in order...well what if we used Acts 2 to define what decent and orderly looked like?” (not perfect quote but close) My friend yesterday said it is time for us all to recognize the real trinity...Father, Son, and Spirit...not Father, Son, and the Bible.  I think we have become a bit embarrassed by the Spirit, you know like He is our odd relative that we have to kind of apologize for ahead of time...but He is God! Not like God...or a part of God...GOD!  He does not move on His own, randomly, He moves in complete unity and coordination with the Father and Son...a dance like no other dance.  And we have been invited to join this be loving community with them.  What an invitation!  
So my little rant concerning my Vineyard family is just a cry to let God out of the box! Remember He is a supernatural God and we desire to be naturally supernatural...let Him be supernatural...and let’s join Him. Dust off “Power Evangelism” and read it again...dig out “Power Healing” and give it a whirl.  Then read “Empowered Evangelical” and remember that is who we said we were...with an emphasis on “empowered” . Then as we work to save our planet we are ready for the Spirit to lead us into divine we fight for social justice we also heal the we become “Vineyard scholars"  we can also prove from scripture how the Spirit still moves today.  It should not be an either or as Ray is a both and.  Look up the series, “Signs and Wonders and Church Growth” (something like that” and remember that teaching as we go.  
So I love my Vineyard family...and I am too old to make much a difference in the movement now...but I can sure try, can’t I?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

How did I get here?

Ok as I think back to our coming into relationship with the Vineyard there are a few thoughts I would like to put out there.  Barb and I were coming out of a charismatic church that had been quite large at one time and at the time of its closing was still running around 300.  As we visited the Vineyard in Cincinnati we found a group doing many of the things we felt the Church should be about.  They were feeding the poor, evangelizing, praying for the sick, and loved worship, everything we felt like a church should be about.  Our good friend Doug Roe began coming up to start a small group that would be a church plant.  He was  a mad a good way of course.  He and Marci would come up on a Saturday and they would bring groceries that we would take and pass out in some low income housing area.  Doug would find the apartment complex for us to go to even though he was not from the area...and I did not know they were there!  Then they would drive home and then Sunday afternoon they wold drive back to hold a small group and talk about Vineyard values. 
This went on for a few months and we thought they were going to send Doug up to be the pastor...but back in Cinci they changed their mind.  At this point one of the conversations we had was about me maybe being the pastor.  I shot it down very quick...I did not know much at all about the Vineyard and really did not want to start just another church in the area...sooo they sent another guy up.  I still believe I was right to say no at the time...but this did not work out so well.  After five years the guy decided he did not want to be in the Vineyard anymore and that caused us some real pain.  We did.  Long story shortened way up, he pulled the church out (it eventually died) and we began in our home again, to plant another Vineyard Church...this time I said yes.  WIth about fifteen to twenty people we started over...but by this time I knew the values of the Vineyard...they were mine also...I could do this...hopefully!  
Being a pastor had never been a goal of mine least not the lead guy...but here I was...well here I am.  Now when I said no the first time I said no because I was not interested in the church being just another charismatic church...and that is what I knew.  We wanted more than that...not being critical at all but if you go back to the late 70’s into the 80’s there were lots of charismatic churches began...and flourished...for a while.  Many of them do not exist today...if they do they are a shadow of their past...and many of them do not even believe in the things that made them charismatic to begin with.  That was our problem...many of these churches, including the one we belonged to...did not know what they believed...what their theology was...and they floundered and wandered about trying to find an indentity. Most were independent works with no accountability or structure...chaotic.  
As we came into the Vineyard we found a that valued worship, healing the sick, going to the poor, and valued the move of the Spirit today.  As we dealt with the first pastor wanting to leave the Vineyard, he wanted to leave because he was no longer comfortable with the idea of the Spirit moving in the church least in things like prophecy, healing, well just signs and wonders in general.  So I asked him how he came into the Vineyard in the first place, since these things were so prominent in the Vineyard.  He replied, “ I came in because of their church planting focus.” Well I won’t tell you exactly what I said but it was something like, “You are full of....” (you fill in the blank) He had been on mission trips and saw many healed...he had friends that were gifted prophetically...and so much more...and he came in because of the church planting philosophy? Give me a break. Well a big part of the church planting philosophy at the time was signs and wonders and church planting!  
I guess the odd part of this story is as a movement the last 10 years or so, after John Wimber passed, we began to hear from the leadership about how we are a church planting movement first and foremost. Hmmm. Same thing this guy told me as he left...he was very uncomfortable with things like the Toronto Blessing and stuff like that.  And we as a movement became uncomfortable with it to.  So we really became a church planting least in words...helped diffuse the lack of Holy Spirit movement I suppose..become something else.  Now we have always planted churches as a movement, as I said we were a plant from Cincinatti and we ourselves planted a church in Bowling Green.  But if you asked guys like my friend Roger Miller from St.Paul’s Lutheran Church he has always viewed the Vineyard as a signs and wonder movement.  I hated to burst his bubble.
So I write this to get it off my chest (it is my blog) and to explain a bit why Barb and I so aggressively pursue and defend the move of the Spirit in and around the church today.  The need to walk in power...We see no Church without the Spirit moving and touching...we are people of His presence.  We don’t pursue manifestations...well other than healing, if that is a manifestation.  We do not hype it up or try to fake it...if nothing is happening then we go home.  But there is a passion for a genuine move of God...I don’t think it stopped right after Pentecost...or Azusa Street...or the charismatic movement...the Jesus movement.  Jesus said in John 5, “My Father is always at work to this very day, and I, too, am working.”  I do not think there are stops and starts to God moving among us, rather I think it continues all of the time...we just need not try to control it. Acts 3 talks about “times of refreshing coming from the Lord.”  Jesus talked of “streams of living water” flowing from us. Why would I want to stop that?  
Now some will question our desire for the lost to come to Jesus...I have two words for them...”Power Evangelism.”  

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Really!!! They are?

OK...I did not write this as quick as I thought I would...actually I did but I wanted to sit on it for a while before I sent it out.   
I was trying to think how I could begin to put into words my concerns for the Church and our political involvement and I ran across this quote in another blog so I thought I would borrow it to kick my blog off.  Sometimes it is nice to run across someone else who can follow your train of thought and help you realize you are not crazy or back slid:) I want to make a statement right out front here...I love the fact we have political choices here in our country...and I dislike...strongly...what has happened to the Church by others who bring politics inside the church.  The church has been brokered as a special interest group for one political party...and we have been compromised and weakened by this union.  Phew...glad I got that you can either read on...or bail now!             
In an article written by Brian Sahnd, End of the Line, he writes about God shifting the church from one seasonal platform to another. In the article he addresses many of these issues.
Have we embraced, due to our frightened response to uncertainty and shifting culture, an angry “Ann Coulter Christianity” and made apostles of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity without recognizing they are simply entertainers and profiteers in America’s culture war? If so, we had better disembark the protest train before we are marginalized into complete irrelevance.
Now that we are a full decade into the third Christian millennium, it’s time to take stock of a movement that in Western culture isn’t moving forward much anymore. How then have American evangelicals come to be identified?
Largely by our protests and our politics. We are mostly known for what we are against and what political positions we hold. We have unwittingly allowed our movement to be defined in the negative and to be co-opted as a useful tool in the cynical world of partisan politics.”
I would say in answer to his comment about being “ marginalized into complete irrelevance.” that is may be too late for most situations where the church should be involved...the lives of people who do not yet know Jesus...we are irrelevant to many.  I hear all the time people quoting Limbaugh or Beck and assuming they speak for the Church in some way.  NO THEY DO NOT!  They are entertainers who would not be on the radio or TV if they did not have an audience to sell products to.  Earlier in the year Beck had a big rally in Washington with Christian artists performing and such and I heard people claiming it was one of the most spiritual events ever...and he is such a godly person...a Christian leader we could really get behind...speaking for us.  He is a Mormon...he says so...He is not a my life Mormonism has never been accepted as being Orthodox Christian and yet today we are now ready to close our eyes to scriptures and creeds and wave them in.  
Mitt Romney is a candidate for President and he also is a Mormon...and now there is debate on is he a Christian. Romney said at one time in an interview,”I am not a creedal Christian, I am Biblical Christian.” Really? Then why the Book of Mormon?? So God had to put an addendum onto the Bible...other people get angry looks when they say they have written more scripture... Joel Osteen and Pat Robertson say “sure he is”...others say “no he is not”.  Now I have to tell you I am on the “not” side here.  Does not mean I would not vote for him...but making him a Christian does not mean I will vote for either.  Rob Bell gets into all kinds of trouble for writing a book espousing the virtues of universalism...where everyone gets in because of the work of one misses out.  Well, here we go again...we are willing to ignore scripture to embrace a whole group of people...and this part makes me the most we can have a political candidate to vote for.  Or we can have successful talk show hosts on our side...PLEASE JESUS....COME QUICKLY!  
My personal feelings...these talk show host are mean...they call people names...they mock others who disagree...they become fear mongers trying to stir up fear and worry.  And they are ENTERTAINERS....nothing else but actors and talking heads.  I have tried, as a good evangelical follower of Jesus, to Limbaugh...Hannity...Beck...and I just cannot do it...sorry...just can’t.  Don’t find mocking others, asking questions then interrupting, scaring people, yelling, entertaining.  And they do not speak for me...they at times feel like bullies and I do not like bullies of any type.
So please Church wake up before it is too late.  Don’t sell out to the politicians around us. Don’t compromise a biblical standard to find a candidate you can endorse...if they support your values go for it...just don’t do what only Jesus can them.  
Now I have this dream or hope that Mormons could become followers of Jesus...they have a prophet that speaks to the whole group...if one of their prophets got revelation of who Jesus really is...and who Joseph Smith really was not...multitudes would come to knowledge of Christ...the religious group itself would split...but many would come to know Jesus as He truly is...the Son of God.  So I pray for them...for the Truth to be known... 
So there...hopefully not an angry rant...but a concern over the condition of the church in the’s people.  So as a regular guy who has turned 60  just this year and happens to be a leader...I have to speak out.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

wonderings about my vineyard family

I think I am feeling a bit feisty today so I want to let my feelings be known on a couple of subjects.  Now I want to say this is my personal blog and the things I write here are my personal feelings...but really most of what I say I tell my church family.  But it is still my thoughts and my thoughts only.
So let me begin with this...I am part of and association of churches called Vineyard...we are kind of in denial about whether we are a denomination or not but...if it walks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a is a duck!  As we connected with the Vineyard the leader, John Wimber, was still alive and giving leadership tot he movement...and it was a movement.  We were part of what was labeled the “Third Wave” movement in which the things of the Spirit were being embraced by more evangelical churches and people were not leaving their churches, just allowing the Spirit to have more freedom. (very simple explanation)  So we did not see ourselves as pentecostals or even charismatics just empowered people.  Two fellows in the Vineyard wrote a book titled “Empowered Evangelicals” to give a little more background on how we saw things in the church and the things of the Spirit.  
I can remember when we would get together it could get kind of crazy really....laughing, crying, jumping, falling all going on at the same time.  Us crazy Empowered Evangelicals...we are so much more civilized today...calm...accepted...loved. At one point the prophetic moved powerfully in and around us and now most of the prophetic voices have moved on to other families...places where they are accepted and not looked down at.  Todays modern prophetic movement could use some leadership I wonder if we did not miss out on what we could have had there if we would have stayed with it and gave them some care...hmmm...oh well. So let me tell you what I see now a days...we are no longer “Empowered Evangelicals” we are evangelicals...period.  Not a bad thing really...but we had so much more...and others have gladly ran with it while we choose to look more together.  My friend Roger from the Lutheran  Church asks me questions about the Vineyard and assumes we are a signs and wonder movement and I have to tell Him no not really...we are just a group I wonder about...not many signs.  We were birthed out of a power evangelism move and one where healing was out in front and even servant evangelism was spawned out of us and yet others have taken the banner of healing and evangelism and run with it while we point to our books about it and remind them we started it...we might not be doing it now...but once we did.  Even servant evangelism at its foundation was supposed to be immersed in the Holy Spirit looking for divine encounters as we passed out drinks or washed cars.  We were not just trying to be nice people, although that isn’t all bad, but we were empowered people serving those that Jesus loves.  Anyone can give away a coke but not everyone can give away  a coke and also have a prophetic word for the person that might unlock his heart and let God move.  
So we are now a group of churches where it used to be if someone visited from another Vineyard they would know they could expect passionate worship, helpful message and allowing time for the Spirit of God to move.  Now if they come to us they are expecting short worship time, funny videos, short message and to be home in under an hour or maybe 65 minutes.  So we worship long, allow God to speak, read lots of scripture and more ministry...and we may be there for 90 minutes or even longer! OH NO!!!! 
So what happened on the road to success? Well, maybe that is the problem...success...being accepted by the larger church family.  Having our books read and loved...being more seeker sensitive than Willow Creek...where did we go?  
We had a guy in a couple of weeks ago on a Sunday morning while I was out of town. Dave wanted Him in and I trust Dave so we went with it.  Now this guy was pretty much classic Pentecostal in his approach to the Holy Spirit and tongues...he was gifted as an evangelist more than a teacher so he offended a few.  But some were healed...some were filled with the Spirit and spoke in other tongues...yes tongues...I said it...and on a Sunday morning!  Some went out door to door doing evangelism man lead his neighbor to Christ after helping him work on his lawnmower and then helped the fellow pray to follow that does not happen every least around here. So when we got back home there were some questions that needed to be addressed and such...but that is like the old days in the Vineyard...let God move in someone...explain some stuff later...but enjoy the move of God.  Some of my friends may be more grown up than me and do not need the mess to clean up...cause it is about souls you know...souls being saved. Well after they are saved what do we tell them...hey there is this secret thing we did not want you to see before but now that you are look at this. I forgot to tell you this part of that Sunday...two people came to Christ that the midst of people being healed and being filled with the Spirit two souls were rescued...three if you count the lawn mower story.  Imagine that...God rescued people in the mix of all that commotion...imagine that. 
Now before this sounds just like a cranky old 60 year old let me say I see some signs of life in our family of churches.  There is a real dissatisfaction with where we are concerning the Holy Spirit...we have some young guys and gals wanting more and going for it. Sadly we also have a lot of young leaders who have never had any experience with a move of the Spirit...don’t really even know what I am talking about right now.  How did that happen...we have a ministry school...we have large churches...why don’t our young leaders know these things?  You tell me....God move among us now and forever...remind us of our heritage who you called us to be.  I am not looking back longing just for the old days...I am longing for the God of the old days...the todays...and the tomorrows.  He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow...come Holy Spirit.  Will write more tomorrow on my other thoughts....

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Israel trip thoughts

We are leaving this week end for 10 days In Israel...I really cannot believe we are going but we are.  People ask me if I am excited and I my own way I guess...not heart pounding, giggly high voice excited for sure.  I leave that to Barb.  But I can feel it build inside as I think about going to the places I have spent years reading about, places where Jesus may have walked.  I was comparing it to traveling here in the U.S. and how when we go south you experience things like civil war history...slavery and such.  Places like Savannah that work so hard to keep the historic places alive.  Then we have traveled in the North east to Maine, New Hampshire, places like that where you run into some of our earliest history...where the Pilgrims landed...or our founding fathers worked in things like our constitution.  Where Revolutionary War battles were fought...and you realize that is only 200 years or so of history.  
We are going to a place with thousands of years of history...where 2000 years ago our Lord walked, preached and healed.  I recognize I have a hard time wrapping my mind around a place with that much history...and I realize I have a hard time wrapping my mind around serving a God with no beginning and no end...who always was and always will be...and this is the land He made Himself known to an insignificant people group.  And I will be there...hmmm.  
Someone will lead the tour...take us places of interest...tell us great stories of the area.  Hopefully, they will be experts in the history of the land...the biblical history...hopefully they won’t be reading a Triple A booklet of the places you would want to see and do.  Wouldn’t that be a drag?  Then as the person leads and as we begin to have confidence that they know what they are talking about it will be up to us to listen and to follow their look at what they direct us to look hear the story behind what we are looking at.  I think it would be kind of easy to be an expert on study and memorize the important things in an area.  To even find stories that would make the place kind of come alive again. Maybe easy is not the right word but after you have lead a tour over and over obviously you would not need to keep looking at the visitor would know.  
I wish it was that easy or maybe simple in leading a just memorize the book...and the best places.  That once you had the manual down or once you had told the stories a few times people just trusted that you know what you are talking about.  I don’t think it is that easy...because we are not dealing with a God that stands still...oh He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow for sure.  But he is not just a historical God...He is an everlasting overwhelming God...a huge God.  Heaven is His throne and earth is His footstool God! 
So I guess like a good tour guide my role is to keep pointing to Him...He is the point of interest...He is the point!  He is the God of our ancestors and He is our God now and He is the God of my kids and my grandkids...HE HAS NO END!  So unlike the tour guide I really cannot take anyone to a certain place and say this is where God lives...and I have to experience Him for myself everyday...not just point back to an event I had 10 years ago...or a place I prayed one time for a half an hour.  I cannot approach God like a history teacher or tour guide...I do enjoy thinking about experiences I have had with God...great stories.  God wants to make new stories today...and so do I.  
I will enjoy Israel...and I will love the history...and I will connect with the God if today.  Sweet!

Friday, September 30, 2011

I am thinking of one of my grandkids, Will, who is two years old going on ten just like most two year olds.  Will simply loves anything that has a ball involved in it...he loves shooting baskets in his small plastic basket and backboard learning how to dribble.  I have never seen anyone, young or old, who can do some of the things he naturally does with a ball...he can drop kick a this is a term from about the 30’s in football and no one really does it these days...well except Will. A drop kick consists of dropping a ball in front of you, kind of like you were going to punt is, but you let the ball hit the ground lightly and then kick it on the bounce.  Timing is everything.  He can throw a baseball...straight...well you get the point...he loves playing with any kind of ball.
Well, his brothers both are playing many sports also and you can see Will mimicking them.  This week Stacy bought him a small football uniform and he hardly wants to take it off and he loved wearing it to the boys football practice.  He looked just like the big boys...kind of.  But he ran, he kicked, he dodges, he squats down in his stance...he mimics...copies.  He wants to do what his big brothers he tries. He sees his heroes..his brothers and he does what they do. 
Hmmm. I wonder if that isn’t what we as the Church are not supposed to be doing...mimicking Jesus.  I always thought it was...I know it will never be easy...but what if we decided to follow Jesus...just like the song. What if His will outweighed ours?  What if His word became more true than ours?  What would it be like if the words “For God so loved the world He sent His only Son” could have an addendum added to it...”and He left His church.”?  It sure seems to me like that would be world changing...
This past week I got to watch two local churches kind of have an argument with all the world can see.  One from a small congregation states...”Being gay is a gift from God.”  Now I don’t think you have to be a biblical scholar to know this a pretty off the mark...I always think it is kind of fun when the Church decides to be nicer than God Himself...Who is love.  So now the fun begins when a big church decides to do 9 billboards with the message, “Being Gay is NOT a gift from God.  Forgiveness, Love, Eternal life are.  Well, I do agree with this message more for sure...but really.  It strikes me like a mom and dad fighting in front of the kids...and the neighbors...and CNN...and...What’s the point here? Billboards...words...division...who wins?  
We have people that are hungry...out of that could use school clothes...moms that could use gas money...and we do billboards.  Sigh. Why not...oh never mind.
I think I want to be like Will...I just want to mimic my big what He did...say what He what He did...serve like He did.  Give me the ball Will...I want to give it a swift kick.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Good sermon Bill! What?

OK this is going to be a bit personal again today...and I can say that a year or so ago I would have responded much differently than I can today.  We have been doing a series at church that I have titled or called “Choose Life.”  God dropped these thoughts on me as I was struck by the shallowness of the commitment of so many Christian leaders and the seemingly constant fall into immorality I was hearing about.  How could someone stand in front of a congregation, filled with family and friends, and live a lie...preach God’s word...counsel...and commit adultery?  So we began to look into God’s word and allow it to remind us that more is expected from us than living like the world...having the same morals...the same standards. 
Well as we began this series I have to also say we broke two or three major rules of doing church on a Sunday.  First our celebrations are running over 90 minutes...I know horrible huh? Sometimes they go an hour and forty-five minutes...well maybe even longer. Two, then we are reading long passages of scripture...I mean long passages...more than one maybe two or three...long passages.  I have watched many of the heavy hitters and read the books and know you should only read short passages...if you actually read any!  People cannot sit through a lot of reading of the word I guess...kind of boring...hmmm. think that may be a problem? And then we have talked about sin...yes sin...falling short of God’s glory.  Wanting to deal with it before it destroys us. Also the series has been going for quite a while now...again the books and experts tell us a series should be four to six weeks so people can know when it will end...sorry.
So I began this series with much angst and passion because my heart was broken over the condition of the Church...God’s church and its’ leaders.  The cornerstone passage has been 1 Timothy 6:11 where Paul tells young Timothy to “flee” certain things and to “pursue” things like righteousness, godliness, faith, etc.  I had to wonder when did we stop running away from ungodliness and running towards godliness?  When did it seem like a good idea to stand so close to the edge that when we slip over the edge it then seems like it is ok...God still loves us...we are under grace aren’t we? Don’t get legalistic now...oops I am getting sidetracked a bit here.
Well, the series began and I did not know how it would go over or how it would be received.  Since we began this journey to choose life, not pursue be holy as He is holy, I have heard one thing over and over. (I have heard many things but this is one) It is said in many ways but the subject is the week or the sermon or another.  Someone stops me and says,....”Bill, that is the best sermon I have ever heard you give.”  Hmmm. In the old days I would have cringed and figured well the others must have really been bad...I mean sixteen years of mediocre sermons...might need some counseling here.  But what I am sensing it is more that I myself received some major healing this past year that has removed a lot of the timidity I used to speak out of.  I also receive it in the vein that I am always trying to learn and improve what I do...I believe God deserves my best and for me to continue to grow in all areas of my life. And my church family deserves to have someone stand before them that is continuing on the journey just like they are...continuing to grow in following Jesus...being led by His Spirit.
I also know this subject has gripped my heart deeply...the condition of the Church...its leaders...of which I am one.  It comes from deep inside...a place only God could draw also comes from a fear...the fear that I am not better than any of these people who have failed...I don’t think I am any stronger...more mature...more loved by God.  I am just me...a former factory worker that God has thrust into this role...and I am aware of my frailty...and the strength He gives.  I rest in Him...I desire to live from Him not me...His life in me. 
So when I hear the compliments I am encouraged that He still trusts me with His word...and I can give it right back to Him...the belongs to Him.  He allows me to hear the words to encourage me...and they do...a lot...but I cannot hold too tightly to them...they belong to Him.  After all it is His word...

Friday, September 16, 2011

I am all wet!!

You know I did something kind of crazy last Sunday morning...and it had nothing to do with running!  We had a baptism this week end and we held it during our worship time.  We had about 12 people to baptize, all ages, shapes and sizes and it was so much fun.  As I was preparing to talk to the candidates that morning I felt the Spirit nudge me a bit...towards doing something that seemed to make no sense at all.  I kept arguing with him as I was seemed too weird to me...would people get it...would seem to be off the wall?  
After I talked with the group I asked my two leaders who were going to assist me in the tank to be ready for something that might happen at the very end...but I don’t think I actually told them...I might have hinted.  But they said OK.  So we did the baptism and it was so much fun...I so enjoy this part of my job.  The last person I baptized was my oldest grand child...Ian. Stacy came into the tank to help me do the honors...tears were flowing...amazing the things God has allowed me to do.  As Ian was exiting the tank I turned to my leader friends and asked them to come back into the tank...they came alongside me wondering what was next.  I then asked them to baptize me...yep...dunk me again.  Now I have already been baptized two times in my a follower of Jesus...well one was to join a church...i always thought that was kind of strange. 
I just sensed God leading me to ask my friends to do me the honor of baptizing me...again.  I told the church that part of the reason was that Barb and I have this huge desire to finish our race well and in order to do that I need to be immersed in die to myself so that He can live. Still.  Everyday.  I know people who celebrate communion everyday...every morning.  I think it is a great idea...I know it is not practical but I think it would be great to be baptized everyday and I know we can in His Spirit...but every once in a while I think water helps.  To be buried in Him and to be raised with Him to walk in a new way.
So I got baptized on was strange I am sure for some to watch...but I am so glad I did.  To be baptized on the same day as my grandson and the be baptized on 9/11. I also hope it spoke to others that this life we live for Jesus is a life of constant dying and living...dying to ourselves...our desires...our live for Him...His body...His church...His cause.  That, yes I am the leader, yes I am to be in front, to be in front of God on their behalf...and yes, I also need to die everyday to finish well...hey to live well now!  
What can I say...I so enjoy God...I so enjoy being His child...what did you say? I can’t hear you...I have water in my ear:)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

worship like a man....

Man it has been raining for about 40 days now!  Well two or three but it seems like riding for the last four days...think I am going through withdrawals.  No bugs...arrrghhh!  How long can this go on?  Well soon it will go on for six or seven months so I might as well prepare for that.  That is when I really envy warm weather places...also when I am shoveling snow.  As I lead a church body I realize that so often what I am passionate about, others in our fellowship become or are already passionate about the same things. I think one of the biggest roles a leader has is the role of being one who leaks...whatever is inside of a leader should leak out onto those close by.  I think too often, especially in the church, we see leading as the leader moving the herd or the group to the next place.  Prodding, motivating, coercing, getting them to move in the direction he, or she, sees as the place for them to be.  I have to confess, I have never been real comfortable with a role like that...but I do think I can leak out on others well.  Let what God is doing in me to pour out on others...and then they can choose whether or not it is for them.
An example of a passion of mine is worship...I love to worship God...and I love to do a part of that with music.  When I say a part of my worship is music I mean I do see my whole life as being worship for God...if I live to honor obey serve Him.  And I love to worship Him with songs...the hard part is I know for many this is not comfortable for them, especially guys.  I have read articles on why church can seem so irrelevant for guys when the celebration time is filled with about 30 minutes of singing.  Uncomfortable...seems like a waste of time...cut to the chase and talk and let us go home.  I get it...but then I don’t...I understand some being uncomfortable with the singing...then I guess I don’t either.  Listen I can be as macho as the next guy!  I love sports...played football, loved baseball, endured basketball...ride a very large and loud motorcycle...used to be able to life heavy objects...not so much anymore.  And I love to worship with songs...and the odd thing is I love songs with titles like “Beautiful”, “You’re Beautiful,” “Oh How He Loves,” “I Am Free to Run,”...well you get the point.  They are not even manly kind of songs about blood or wars or demons! Oh well.
So what is the point here?  Well, I have come to the conclusion that my role is to continue to model what I love for and women...worship.  Worshiping God...with music...and our lives.  I sometimes struggle with the idea that we will lose some because we just sing too much...could our service be more manly?  Then the Spirit reminds me of David...a man after God’s own heart.  He killed a lion and a bear with his bare hands.(impressive)  Killed a giant with a sling shot. (very impressive)  Was a soldier and warrior. (hmmm) Became the king of Israel. (pretty big if you ask me)  And he was a worshipper...he wrote many of the Psalms which have been sung as worship for centuries...he played a great guitar, well harp.  He danced in public!  Oh man, what was he thinking there?  And he said it was for his Lord and no one else.  I am going out on a limb here when I make this next statement but here goes...I really do not think he accomplishes most of this stuff...if any of it...if he is not a worshipper.  If he does not spend hours worshipping and praying while watching sheep for his dad, I do not think he can slay a giant...because he would not have an intimate knowing of who God really is.  Worship helped form him from his youth until he became helped make him who he was...a man after God’s own heart.  I think that is a pretty good testimony, don’t you.  If at the end of my life maybe the only thing that could be said was, “Well, he was a man after God’s own heart.”  I can tell you that if I am laying in a casket they would NEVER be able to wipe that smile off my face.
So I have chosen a path as a leader that says I love to worship...I may not be the manly, macho, gung ho leader you are looking for.  If you choose to hang out with me I will leak all over you...a passion to worship...a passion for His presence...hopefully, Him.  So that is the type of leader I will be...because in the long run He is the leader and if He is leading I want to be in a good position to follow.  

Friday, August 26, 2011

Angry rant on telling the truth...and listening

OK this is an angry rant that I will share...maybe...if the language is clean.  I just spent about two hours on the phone (and you know I just love being on the phone) trying to straighten out our TV/internet bill.  I won’t tell you the company but the name has an “A” in it and two “T’s” just for a hint:)  The hard part is this whole ordeal came from a lie...I was lied make a sale...not unusual I guess. Sad.  I was quoted a price, a low price, to join this company for my internet service and TV.  Now Barb and I had gone for quite a while without TV and really were quite content but this was pretty sweet deal...I thought.  How could a guy come into my own home without me calling him and then just lie to me?  I know to make a sale...well he did.  Lying...again right in my own home to my face...with no conscious...well I can say for sure he was not a follower of Jesus from our discussion...but still.  
What is it inside of us that makes lying so it the sale..sure in this case, and you know it was a you a young guy with a family and he makes money from the sale...not making new friends?  I guess I struggle with the question, would I lie to make a sale?  To improve my stature in the eyes of others?  To move up the proverbial ladder?  I don’t think so...but...except for the grace of God maybe  I go there.  But the grace of God should empower us to say no to ungodliness, right? Paul says so in it is in the Bible.  This guy did not have the grace of God working on his behalf and I do it working?  Is God’s grace directing you away from ungodly acts?  
I know when I was on the phone I wanted to scream and swear (well not swear too much) and try to bully someone to at least recognize I had been lied to and by their company.  The first four people I talked to (that’s right four with one more to come) kept telling me, “Well according to your bill this is the correct amount.” And I kept saying, “Well according to what I was quoted it is wrong!” (See no swear words) Back and forth, from one person to the next the same line, “Your bill is correct.”  I realized later all I really wanted or needed really was a listening ear, someone to actually hear what I was saying and tell me I had been lied to and they were so sorry.  Finally the last person they put me in contact got on the line.  Now you know if I was him and could see I had already talked to four of his peers before him, I would have asked for a bathroom break or left sick...but he waded in.  And he listened to me...he heard me...he believed me...he worked with me...he knew I had been lied to.  Finally. And he worked with me...he did what he could with no promises he could not keep.  It was so refreshing to just be sense some empathy coming from the other end of the phone.  He had  the same pat answers available to him the others had and yet refused to use them.  Even if he came back and said there was nothing he could do it was huge knowing he understood and refused to fall back on cliches and systems in place to try to placate an angry customer.  
I wonder how often I have came across people that just needed an ear to hear, no answers or counseling, just to be heard.  Someone treated them unjustly...maybe even another leader in the church...maybe me.  How often have I slipped into my Christian mode and let fly with some cliche...I will pray for you...God will work good for you...or worse.  When just being heard could bring healing, empathy shown without trying to answer and make everything better. Listen.  
I despise being lied make a cover a promote themselves. I think one of the reasons politics leave me feeling so uncomfortable is all the promises being made with no intentions of being kept...isn’t that lying?  Feels like it to me.  And I have to say right beside being lied to is not being heard or listened to...just hear me out. I feel valued and honored if I am listened to and I suspect others do also.  Father I repent for times I quit listening maybe so I could say something that I thought would help.  You know as I think about prayer I realize God rarely interrupts, even the most selfish of prayers, but listens and hears...then maybe He responds...or maybe He just listens and you feel the silent nod that He understands...and is on our side.  
Well, this has been quite a ramble hasn’t it...cheaper than counseling. I am not is my blog and I can rant about whatever I want!  Don’t you ever wonder what life would be like if we just knew no one would ever lie to us? And that when I had a need or had been treated unjustly or poorly I could go to someone and they would hear?  The hard part is the church should be that place...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

To tell the truth

In John 18 there is this discussion between Pilate and Jesus that really captures our culture today.  Pilate says, “ You are a king then!  Jesus answers, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.  Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”....”What is truth?” Pilate asked.  What is truth?  In the Church we claim to know what truth is...well really Who truth is...but do we? I discovered again today that telling the truth may be harder than knowing the truth.  Cannot fathom why we decide it is easier to live telling the same lie over and over again hoping, I guess it becomes least to the teller...and hopefully to the hearer.  We have watched sports heroes, our government officials, and also our spiritual leaders stand up and deny wrong doing, over and over and over only to finally come forward, with tears maybe, and say oh yeah I guess I did do that after all.  Sorry...sorry??  Does that really cover it?  Sorry...can we now get on with life?  Now I can handle this pretty well with athletes, movie stars, and even politicians somewhat...but I expect more from the family of God...the leaders...pastors.  
I have told you before I came to this role very reluctantly...I did not raise my hand, jump up and down asking Jesus to please pick me.  Really I kept my head down and avoided making eye contact hoping to remain anonymous...let me just retire from Ford and travel the land.  Part of the reluctance has been things I have seen over the years of  being in the church.  How many times have I heard leaders preach, “don’t touch God’s anointed,” misusing the scripture to avoid accountability when in reality when God calls a man or woman to be a pastor he does not do it because “they” are really “special”...He does it because He can.  Man I am rambling now...I guess I wonder, like Pilate...what is truth...or why is it so hard to tell?  Can there be anything more draining than going to bed at night knowing I have to get up tomorrow and tell the lie again all day long hopefully getting to bed before the truth comes!  What a way to live! In Eph.4 Paul gives instructions on living as children of light...v,25 “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.”  Part of me wants to scream at Paul and say, “come on, of course we will speak the truth....we are Christians!”  Paul obviously knows much more than I do about human nature...Listen from the Message, “What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth.  In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other, after all.  When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself.” No more more pretense.  I think the biggest killer in the Church is trying to keep up some kind of facade to save face in front of a lie...looking good on the outside when in the inside you are dying.  Listen I understand the temptation to keep appearances up...hoping we will get our act together and no one will find out...what they don’t know won’t hurt them...really?  It might not hurt are right...but you are dying...inside...the weight of living a lie...keeping it hidden from others...maybe a spouse even.  Heavy.  I HATE RELIGIOUS PRETENSE...DESPISE IT...IT KILLS.  Jesus said He came to set the prisoners free...a part of that freedom He gave was freedom from living under a religious system that was more about how you looked than how your soul was.  One built on wearing robes and rings and having places of honor set up for you to sit at.  Pretense...not truth...everyone on His side, the side of Jesus listens to truth...listens to Jesus.  
A sinful woman breaks in on a “religious people only” party and falls at His feet and anoints His feet with her tears...pours an extremely expensive perfume on His head...and gets religious people...pretentious people.  If He were a prophet He would know what kind of woman she really was...this perfume could have been sold and the money given to the if they cared about the if they cared about if they knew truth.  The only person in the room who got is was the “sinful woman.”  I wonder how she got the money for the perfume?  Probably do not want to know, do I?  You know what??? She was the only person n the room who knew the truth...the truth was she had great sin in her life and was extremely excited to meet the One who could give her freedom.  Everyone else was content to live under the pretense of their religion...they were fine..they were righteous...they were...wrong.  Truth was in the room and they could not hear Him or see Him...they enjoyed the pretense of living in truth over the real thing.  
This past Sunday I had to confess to my friends at church that I had lost something...I lost the understanding of what it meant to say that God was good. A wrestling match was going on inside of understand His goodness...outside of my experiences. Since I had lost that I could not longer pretend to believe it by beginning our services by saying God is good, all the time, because that is His nature.  I could not pretend any longer...then I could not hide it from those I consider my friends...I want it back...I believed a lie over the truth...the truth of His word...I was not listening anymore.  I had to tell someone so that I could be free from the guilt of that and begin my journey to get it back again.  If I stand in front and lead the congregation to say this short declaration but in my heart I don’t really believe it, I am living a lie, living a pretense...cannot do it. I want to be on the side of truth...on Jesus side.
Hopefully others will want to go there with me...well really with Jesus...I am on this journey towards Jesus and I want to go there with many...but it could be just a be it...come Holy Spirit. What if we chose to live in the truth...knowing the truth...speaking the need of pretense...what if??  I want to find out...don’t you?  It won’t be easy at first but it will come...don’t you want to be free?? I do...I never signed up to join a religion...I signed up to follow Jesus...the Truth...the Way..the life...CHOOSE LIFE...Please choose life.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Blowing in the wind???? Again....

This is another thought on “the wind” as it corresponds to motorcycle riding and then also in the church.  I won’t mention any names, but a friend of ours bought a motorcycle a few months ago.  He had ridden in his past so he was excited to get back on a bike again...his wife on the other hand was not real keen on the idea.  So he went through the process of getting his license by taking a class and was putting some time in on the bike getting acclimated to it again. Finally the day came when she climbed on the back for a went well and he was cautiously optimistic she would learn to like it.  
Now I am going to interject here, I have never recruited anyone to ride a motorcycle, never.  I know how fun it is and how much I enjoy it but I also know it can be seen as dangerous.  So I don’t recruit...period.  Barb on the other hand would want everyone to ride...and tells them so.  I have found we are like this with faith also, I am not a huge evangelist when it comes to my faith.  I mean I want everyone to know Jesus but I also think being a Christian is is so much more than going to church.  Jesus wants it all...and I am not always good at sharing that...He wants everything.  Now Barb goes for it because life is an adventure to be lived holding nothing back...dive in and enjoy the water! Sure He wants everything so just give it to Him!
So back to the story, we all went on a short ride this week end and something clicked for our friend...she is hooked!  She is ready to ride all the time...any time!  What changed for her?  The experience changed everything for her...she understands “the wind” thing now.  She said this, “ It's also----unobstructed vision---being able to see everything as it is, without any interference blocking the view.  (yet another analogy for life in the Spirit / clear vision.”  “Unobstructed vision” seeing clearly now that we cannot see normally...the KJV says in 1 Cor. 13:12 “For now we see through a glass, darkly.”  One day we will see everything more clearly but now we have an obstructed view...we long for an unobstructed view...which I do believe the Spirit brings to us on occasion...maybe not in everything but in increasing portions.  
Now as we enjoy the wind together I am again reminded that even in church where most of us long for the wind of the Spirit to offends some.  Or at least messes with their theology.  It is difficult to invite or recruit others to ride can be dangerous and your hair will get messed up! (if you have any...I took care of that a long time ago)  It can even be difficult to invite people to come to church if we have to say, “Well we are not sure how this will go today...the wind is blowing and we make room for the wind to blow.” ( More common terms, “the Spirit is moving and we make room for Him to move.”) Not comfortable...can be messy...even dangerous I suppose.  Some will always choose to stay in the safe confines of their vehicles of choice...they can turn the air conditioning on when it is hot...heat on when it is cold.  They can stay dry if it rains...they can even roll the window down a little if they want to feel a little breeze.  They can choose. On a bike the choice is to ride or not...faster for more wind...slower for less...rain gear for rain...or pull over...either way you probably will get wet.  You will experience the elements...all of them...and you will have an unobstructed view.  The sky is all in view...the fields around you...the lake or the river beside you...trees and more.  All in view.  
We have decided to go for an unobstructed view in church do not get me wrong, obstructions come along for sure but when you have experienced an unobstructed view you know the difference...and you will move to a better spot to see.  I don’t understand all there is to know about life in the Spirit...but I can tell you when the wind is blowing...and how the wind makes all the difference in the worlds.  As our friends fall in love with riding, they really cannot get enough...they want to ride all the we fall in love with the Holy Spirit...we can never get enough...we want to be in His presence all the time.  As my friend Ray says when asked why he enjoys riding his motorcycle so much, “It’s the’s all about the wind.”  Why choose to go about church life like we do?  It’s the’s all about the wind.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Broad shoulders

I was thinking today...well it is Wednesday and that is a good day to start thinking
on, don’t you think?  Anyway I have said on here that I came into being a pastor pretty reluctantly, truth be told.  I have always joked that I was a worship leader and everyone likes the worship person...not always the same with the pastor:)  Just my observation.  Anyway so I reluctantly say yes to God’s call but I will also say I have not stayed in reluctantly but love what I do.  I think as we put off the expectations of others and rested in God’s expectations it has become even more joyful.  
This week I have had a couple more “father” moments to think about.  One, our former college pastor is now at another local church body.  This week he announced the vision and plans for his new adventure with God and while it is fun hearing him dream and plan...part of me wrestles with hurt and even bit of jealousy maybe.  This is one of “my” kid not theirs...I am so proud of him and yet want him to be where I am not over there.  He has a new vision...for a huge group of people...but what about the one he had set the campus on fire for God?  Is it in there?  Oh well, I am 60 you know...I can feel a bit melancholy if I want to.  But I am SO PROUD OF then becomes clear this is just part of being a dad...growing them up and they leave to go out on their own...hopefully knowing I have his back.
Met another young leader today...just got back from overseas trip...doing amazing kingdom things.  I have heard Pastor Bill Johnson talk about building things in such a way in the church, that our ceilings, our high points are the floors the next group will work from. I don’t want our young leaders to have to start from the ground up, as we like to say.  I want them to begin in the highest place and go up from there...higher and higher...bigger and bigger...better and better.  The image Johnson gave was them standing on our shoulders to be able to see better, to get a better view.  These two are two of many God has brought across our path and I have such a hopeful outlook for the Church if Jesus tarries a bit will be in good will go forward and higher.
I am at a point of my life where many of my friends my age are transitioning out of leadership...I am just transitioning in while it is getting closer to pass the baton it is not time yet...I am still running...slower...gimpier...enjoying it more.  Go get ‘em kids...just know I am still running with you...maybe in the back of the pack...but still running...cheering you on to greater things...but not dropping out.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

blowing in the wind????

Last week I mentioned we had been on a four day motorcycle ride with some friends in Indiana.  This really is a great group to hang out with and to ride with.  One evening we were sitting and talking and Don had a recollection of a conversation he had been in with Ray.  Someone asked Ray, what was it that Ray liked so much about riding motorcycles.  What was it that kept Ray coming back for more on his motorcycle? (Don’t worry this is not going to be a motorcycle recruiting story)  Ray quickly said, “It’s the wind, really it’s the wind.” (not sure if I have the exact quote but close enough for MY blog)  I thought about that this past week as I got on my bike one day, leaving the church after VBS.  I had the opportunity to meet my wife and another person for lunch...I headed that direction...and kept riding...just kept going.  The thought entered my mind of how much fun it would be to just keep going one day...see where I might end up...(well if I did not take Barb, I would end up in big trouble:)  
Then I thought, it is the wind that makes riding so enjoyable, something about feeling the wind blowing and not being cooped up in a car that just feels so freeing.  I am sure there other things that you may do that gives you the same feeling...but too bad, this is my story.  Well, Sunday after church I had some down time to reflect...I so enjoy our celebrations when we gather to worship and enjoy God’s presence.  I thought about what is it I so enjoy about this time we gather?  I have been in hundreds of worship services of different kinds and I enjoy most of them for sure.  But I really enjoy our times together...the worship, the kids, the chance to teach, all of it.  Then the thought came to me, “It’s the wind...I enjoy the wind in our services.” 
Wind!!!??? Now you may think I have lost my last marble, but hear me out.  If you remember in Acts 2 as the spirit fell on the believers it said, “Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven.”  The Hebrew word “Ruah” is translated “spirit” also means, breath, air, wind...In John 20:22 “ And with that He breathed on them and said, “ Receive the Holy Spirit.”  The Spirit moves about and you cannot see Him...yet you can see the impact of Him moving on may even feel Him move yourself. I talked to a young guy Sunday, someone kind of new to our celebrations...he said, “I don’t get it...during worship I will just start reason...tears.”  Me too...I don’t understand everything that happens when He moves about...but I so enjoy when He does.  
Jesus talks to Nicodemus in John 3 and He then says, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and Spirit.  Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.  You should not be surprised at my saying, “You must be born again.” THE WIND BLOWS WHEREVER IT PLEASES. You hear its sound,  but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”’s the wind...I love the wind...But...but you know some people are not big fans (no pun intended) of the wind.  Wind messes up your hair...makes waves on the water...might cool things off a bit.  We have a willow tree in our front yard and if we get a big wind, our yard will be full of little branches that have to be cleaned me!  Hate it. 
Wind in the church has some of the same effects...can cause a mess...move things around...”Blows where it pleases” Jesus said. The Spirit moves about and can irritate know messing with schedules...sermon lists.  Moves where He wants...who He wants...when He wants.  I prefer the wind moving to a room filled with stale air...don’t you?  So I guess what I am saying is, when I invite the Holy Spirit to come, I am asking for the wind move across the room and rearrange things, if need be.  
So what is it about motor cycle riding that makes it so enjoyable??? As my old friend Ray says, “It's the wind, man, it’s the wind.”  What makes the church gathering different from any other type gathering?  It’s the wind...all in the wind.  Without the wind it is stale and boring...I like the wind.  Come Holy Spirit, come.