Saturday, September 29, 2007

Why Can't the Church on Sunday Look More Like the Stadium on Saturday?

Ever go to a college football game and just look at the people? I hope not, but if you do, what you'll see is something very interesting. You'll see people of every age, gender, race, socioeconomic level and more in one place for one purpose, to cheer for their team.

What I wonder is why, when the church has Christ in common, is it so segregated? How is it that we can feel "comfortable" in a football stadium and yet "uncomfortable" in church with people "different" from us?

Scripture reminds us that someday "every knee should bow, . . . and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11) If eventually people from every tongue and tribe will gather in one place to confess Jesus Christ as Lord, why shouldn't we do it now? My dream is that the "sanctuary" on Sunday would look (and even sound) more like the stadium on Saturday. P.S. Go Bucks!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Hot Dogs

Last week a friend and I took a last minute road trip. We went to a Church Planter’s Conference in Raleigh North Carolina. (more about that later) Anyway before the conference started we stopped for lunch at place called Hot Weiners. Like their name says, they only serve hot dogs. They serve them plain or with your choice of coney sauce, mustard, and onions. It’s an old school “lunch counter” kind of place, so you just come in and sit at the counter wherever there's a seat. Consequently you end up setting next to people you don’t even know, but who eventually become friends.

Remember this is the south, so I decided to talk to the two ladies next to me. One was 80 and the other was 85. I know how old they were because they told me! Anyway, they had just gotten done delivering meals on wheels to shut-ins and were treating themselves to lunch. I asked the "girls" if they eat here often. They said, “all the time.” I also asked them where they were from. They said they were locals and were quite proud of it. Later they left and the owner/waitress came over and said to us, “You made their day.” I think they loved just having someone talk to them, not to mention somebody younger call them "girls".

Later two more people took their place. They were a husband and wife, a bit younger, only 70 something. (I choose all the really “hip” places to eat!) I asked them if they come here very often. They said, “all the time and they would come more often but they aren’t open for supper.

When we left I realized what happened. I had a chance to do carry out the truth of something John Wesley said hundreds of years earlier, “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you can.”

While I was in Raleigh, someone called and wondered if I would do her mom’s funeral. I knew them from the church I was a long time ago. They don’t go there any more. I guess they don’t go anywhere. (I suppose 27 years isn’t enough time to find another church?!) Anyway, pray for me. I’m doing the funeral tomorrow. I think it’s a test, a test to see if I willing to do all the good I can, by all the means I can, in all the ways I can, in all they places I can, at all the times I can, to all the people I can, as long as I can, even when I don’t feel like it!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Top Ten Things I've Learned by Being a Church Visitor

I'm a pastor, so I don't get a chance to visit too many other churches, unless I'm on vacation. Right now I'm not on vacation but I'm inbetween ministries so I've had the unique opportunity to visit quite a few churches. While visiting I've learned a number of things about myself and churches in general that I thought I would share with you.

The Top Ten Things I've Learned by Being a Church Visitor.

10. Coffee is a great thing to help people feel welcome. (Some even let you take it in the worship center as long as you put a lid on it)
9. Reclining theater seats are way to comfortable to sit in and expect people to stay awake during the sermon.
8. People are going to know you are a visitor in a church of 30 people who are all under 30 years old! (especially if you are 54!)
7. It's easier to go to church when you already know someone who goes there
6. God can use His Word to give you just what you need, when you need it, even if you are "just" a visitor.
5. Church can be done almost anywhere, at anytime with any number. (ie, "Where two or three are gathered there I am also")
4. If you visit enough churches in the summer you are sure to hear a youth pastor preach at least once while the senior pastor is on vacation.
3. I won't raise my hand to admit I'm a visitor, except to get a free CD.
2. The OSU Fight Song makes a great prelude if you live in Columbus and the Buckeye's won the game the day before.
1. I don't want to be a "church visitor" forever.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Lessons My Dog Taught Me

As a parent I can’t tell you how many “life lessons” my kids have taught me. But now that we are almost “empty nesters”, God uses our dog to teach me lessons. Our dog’s name is Beckham. (I didn’t name him, the boys did, but that’s another subject) Anyway we’ve had him for four years and we still can’t trust him to stay in the yard unless he’s on a leash. Well winter is coming and I don’t want to have to stand outside in the cold another year waiting on him to do his “business”, so this summer we bought one of those electric dog fences, you know the kind that zaps the dog with a “small” electrical shock when they go out too far in the yard. The problem is you have to train the dog to know how far he can go before he'll get shocked. Well sometime, somewhere, in the training Beckham got zapped pretty severly. (Could be that "6" is a little too strong a setting for a Cocker Spaniel). Now he won’t even go out in the yard, unless we drag him out on the leash or “bribe” him with little bits of meat or cheese. Eventually he goes out in the yard and does his “business” but then rushes back to the house and to “safety”.

What frustrates me is that because he got zapped so bad, he refuses to go out in the yard and enjoy the new found safety and the freedom that is his without the leash. What I wonder is how many times we are like Beckham. I mean sometime, somewhere we got “burned”. Maybe by a spouse, a child, a co-worker, an employer, or even God. And now we are afraid to even go out of the house. Instead we stay where we think it is “safe” and forfeit the freedom and fun we could have if we would just go back out in the yard and try again.

I am reminded of the promise of Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” So get up and go outside again. I’ll see you there!

Monday, September 10, 2007

What's in Your Wallet?

So what's in your wallet? You can tell alot about a person by what's in their wallet. I have some pictures, my driver's license, Matt's soccer schedule, my Sam's card, a library card, a debit card and a credit card, a few receipts and some money. (the boys are away at school!)

God doesn't ask Moses what's in his wallet but what's in his hand? (Apparently they didn't have wallets back then.) What he seems to be asking was something more than, "what's in your hand?" but rather "what are your resources, abilities, experiences, opportunities and skills?" For Moses it was shepherding, so the thing that was in his hand was a staff. For forty years Moses had been a shepherd. He knew how to care for, guide, and protect sheep. He also knew the desert, every crack and craig of the country side of Midian, the desert between Egypt and Israel. And now God was asking him to take what he had in his hand and make it available to Him.

Often when God is calling us to do something new, he doesn't call us to use or even develop all new abilities or skills but simply make what we have in our hands available to Him. At least that's what he did with Moses. "Then the Lord said to him, "What is that in your hand?" "A staff", he replied. The Lord said, "Throw it on the ground." Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, . . ." (Exodus 4:2,3) Moses gave God what was in his hand and when He did, look what God did with it. He did all kinds of supernatural things.

  • He turned it into a snake to get the attention of Pharaoh.
  • He used it to part the waters of the Red Sea so the children of Israel could cross on dry land.
  • He used it to bring water from a rock so the children of Israel wouldn't die of thirst in the desert.
  • And He used it to defeat the enemies of Israel.
What I like about this story is that God doesn't ask Moses to do anything too difficult or impossible. All He asks him to do is be available and obedient. I can do that or at least I want to. What happens after that is up to God. How about you? What's in your wallet, . . .I mean hand? What unique experiences, talents, skills and opportunities are yours? Will you make them available to Him? Imagine what He can do with them!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Favorite Movie Clip

My buddy Aaron tagged me last week to share my favorite movie clip. I love this one because it shows how to face our fears, even if just thinking about it makes our lips numb!