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.