Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Just me thinking....

I have been thinking.... Are we too busy? In the church, I mean. Lots of discussion and thoughts have contributed to an ongoing discussion. Some of it comes from reading two very good books. One is "7 practice of Effective ministry" by Andy Stanley ( and his team). The other is an excellent book by Eric Geiger and Thom Rainier entitled " The Simple Church."


What is our process for making disciples? Do we even have a "process?" Is it easily identified by those who want to sign on? How does someone know from the beginning? Or is church life so complicated that people just have no idea?

What are the two or three most important things we do? Who prioritizes activities, programs, special events? Who says "no?" Who says "yes".

Do we scare people off by demanding that they give us three hours on Sunday morning, one on Sunday night, two hours for Choir, 2 hours for Music Rehearsal, 1 and 1/2 hours on Wednesday for classes, and a Men's or women's Bible Study on Tuesday, with a service project here and there, and a few extra events along the way?

Could it be that we scare some people away because they just see no way? Some may say, "They need to prioritize, get rid of all the other extra stuff, so they can engage in the church." Sounds so 21st Century! Not First Century. Those people still engaged in the culture and spent time being salt and light, instead of just gathering on the Holy Hill with others of like mind and heart.

Seems like we need some balance here.

With all the other things that fill our lives, do we consider doing less, for more impact? Baseball comes to my mind. 162 games a year. For the dyed in the wool fan, I suppose it is a good thing. But really, who pays attention until this time of the year ( the last week of the season- Yeah Wild card races) and the playoffs? Most people don't, except when the go to a game.

Football on the other hand has 16 professional games and 4 preseason games, which they are trying to shorten to two. Then you have the playoffs. But in pro football, stadiums are pretty much full every week. Why? Maybe because they only play one time a week for 4 months. Less exposure producing more impact.

I wonder about the same for the church. Mike Cope mentioned in his blog ( www. preachermike. com) that his family was a Wednesday night family ( meaning they were always at church then). Boy did he get some responses... some of which centered on households who have both spouses working, getting home at 6-6:30 PM , kids having 2-3 hours of homework, and so on.

It is true that most people, even in the church live somewhere between overcommittment and exhaustion. ( Not just staff, or leaders either, but most everyone)

It's just me thinking out loud.... Could it be that we ( the general church) do less, and make more impact?

I know the struggles with this. We have equated busyness with spirituality. We have said, "If I do more, then I must be more pleasing to God." I live with that one alot in my own mind.

So, we add services, special programs, events, more groups, and more classes, retreats and conferences. And we ( mostly preachers I am sad to say) get frustrated when fewer and fewer people come, especially to the extra stuff.

It is just me thinking through my fingers... I have no real solutions at this point. But I am thinking. And some people around me are as well.

What got me to thinking? Well, today was a bad day for me... I felt tired and weary all day. I needed rest, so I stayed home tonight. I did not feel good about first. As the night has wore on, I felt a bit better.... but still guilty. Maybe a bit more rested, but uneasy. I should be in know.

So If I miss, does that mean I less of a disciple? Does it mean a black mark on my record? Does it mean one less jewel in my crown? Or does it just mean I needed some rest tonight?

Remember, it is just me thinking and writing. I may feel different tomorrow...but maybe not.

In the meantime, if the goal is busyness , then we are right on... let's fill the calendar! But if the goal is making disciples who know, love, serve and share Christ, maybe we need to look at some things along the way.

It's just me thinking....

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

This is too much....

For the most part, I don't want to use the blog as a "rant." That gets tiresome, and is not good for me. But there is something I have to get off my chest.

I watched the OU-Oregon game with alot of interest. Being from Oregon I had been excited about this game for a year. But I rooted for OU. Why? Well, I live here. We have three teams in Oklahoma. OU, OSU and TU. I root for all of them... even when they play Oregon. I like the Oregon team. I like their uniforms. I like the stadium. I like them every week, and root for them every week, except when they play OU. Then it is about 55-45 proposition.

So to Saturday's game. Everyone saw it for what it was. There were mistakes made. Big mistakes. BUT NOT FATAL MISTAKES. Not mistakes that will change the course of world history. These were mistakes that altered the outcome of A GAME.

I was frustrated and disappointed on Saturday. I let it go on for half a day or so. But Sunday was a new day. Sure coaches would be asked about it, and they have to respond. They need to stand up for their team. They need to point out the mistakes. They need to say that everyone is accountable. That includes the 19 year old that blew the coverage at the end of the game on Oregon's last touchdown. That includes coaches who made curious calls during the game. And that should include officials.

But maybe, on the Wednesday following the Saturday game, there needs to be another group of people held accountable. The OU fans.

Don't you think that our priorities are a little out of whack? The paper reports that the replay official is getting death threats. There has been constant whinning about the result, to the point that it makes me sick. It makes be just a bit ashamed of where I live. IT IS JUST A GAME PEOPLE....

One player was asked, "How do you feel?" He said, " I feel like we were robbed." ROBBED? Because someone made a mistake in a replay booth at a FOOTBALL GAME?

ROBBED... Hmmmn... I can understand a mother of a 21 year old soldier who was killed by a IED in Iraq saying, "We were robbed." That computes with me. I can see someone saying that Corporate corruption "robbed" them of their lifelong savings and retirement. That is "being robbed." I can understand the parents of a teenager who was killed in a car acccident by a reckless driver saying, "We were robbed."

I think it is high time that all athletes and people in general understand that little in this life is fair. ( Ask Jesus about that one.) There are always going to be instances where a mistake is made and at some point someone has to say, "Get over it and move on." That is where character is built. That is where perseverance is cultivated. That is where lessons learned become the springboard for victories in the future.

In this case, Bob Stoops has said all he is going to say. Hopefully the AD and the University President ( Doesn't he have more important thingst to tend to than this?) will do the same.

Who knows....maybe both teams will win out... Oregon will be 1 and OU will be 2. And then their will be a rematch in the BCS national championship game. I might suggest that we leave TV out of it.... maybe play the game like to good old days, where you had to listen to it on the radio, or read about it in the paper. Then it may be possible that all this wonderful technology we have will be left on the sidelines and the game will be left on the field, where it ought to be.

By the way...all this has really hurt BOTH teams. Oregon and OU played a fun and entertaining game. They fought thier hearts out. But the only thing anyone remembers is a blown call. Too bad. They ALL deserve better.

I am done ranting...

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Day after....

For the last 5 months or so, I have been looking forward to September 17th. This was the day I was to resume preaching. As the day approached, I had more anxiety than I exepected. The reason was that I did not know what to expect. Would I be 'presentable?" Would the added stress of speaking before 400 people twice in one morning send my word processing into orbit? How would people respond? How tired would I be?

It all went well. I earnestly prayed that God would take the efforts and make some sense of them, and get me through it without falling down, or passing out. God gets an A+ on all three.

The people of the church were so good. The "welcome back" song ( from the show Welcome Back Kotter) was a nice touch. It surprised me, but it should not have... sound guys have all the power. The only problem with it was that only people 35 and older would have known what the song was!

I finished first service, and walked to the back of the stage. There, I sat, and started to cry. Sobbing kind of crying... It was the emotion of the last 5 months just pouring out. They were tears of joy. They were tears of fatigue as well. I was so tired. Pam whisked me home for a 20 minute nap. A bananna and some Peanut Butter helped my energy level and then I was ready to tackle it again

Second service was different. About 1/2 way through, my energy level was quickly diminishing and I could literally feel that I was running out of gas. The message was too long to begin with. Then when the wave of fatigue hit me, I was trying to get out of the sermon as quick as possible.

I went back afterwards and waited for Pam. By then I was wasted, totally out of gas... My best friend came back, looked at me and said, "Go home!" That is what I did. I went straight to bed and woke up somewhere between 4:30 and 5:00.

Yesterday was a big step. But it was not the end point. I still exercised alot yesterday ( morning and evening) I still got up this monring and headed to the Owasso Fitness Zone. And I came to the office for a bit. I determined long ago that while September 17th would be a big day, it was not the finish line. So I continue to strive to get better, get plenty of rest, workout each day and eat right... and work on the next sermon. That last line sounds so good.

I will be back Sunday with Lessons from the Desert.... Church edition. I learned alot about churches during this time.

The day after really becomes "the day before..." for me. As long as God will, I will look forward to tomorrow too.

Thursday, September 14, 2006


I have had some trouble accessing my blog for a couple weeks... that is why there have not been posts. I have had a lot to say, but I couldn't get in. But now I can. Therefore, I have something to say.

Sunday ( Sept. 17th) will mark my return to the pulpit at Church. I was reflecting on the past 5 months, while walking this morning. Some observations...

One, I am healthier. I have lost some weight, and am exercising regularly. This is a good thing. Too bad it took a stroke for me to take these things seriously.

Two, I am back at the office half days. I am glad to be back. It is great to engage with the staff, albeit on a limited basis.

Three, I went back to the the Nuerologist on Tuesday. She is very pleased with my progress, but warned me that it would be slow from here on out. She confirmed that the fatigue, word processing problems and balance issues were to be expected, and they won't go away overnight. Brain injuries heal on their own time. But overall she said I was doing great.

Four, I am nervous about Sunday. Lots of people are praying. Lots of people have expressed support through calls, notes, and personal contact. But preaching is what I do. And I want to do really good. I think it will be okay. One thing that I am thankful for is that God makes good even out of our feeble attempts. I found comfort today in Moses' story... God spoke for him before Pharoah. I am praying that He will speak for me as well.

Five, I thank God for the progress. Things were pretty uncertain in April and May. I see that I have a future, and a place in this church. I am encouraged about how great the church has done. Our future is awesome!

If you read this, thanks for the prayers... keep them comin'.

Friday, September 01, 2006

The Simple Things...

I get so wrapped up in big things. Big dreams, big hopes, big plans... God has a way of reminding me that the simple things are often the things that mean the most. For instance...

Last night Pam and I went to OKC to watch Lydia play volleyball for Ozark Christian College. . I was very thankful when I asked Lydia if her back hurt after the match, and she said, " No." Seems like a little thing, but last year her back really hurt after every match. I don't like to seem my kids hurt. By the way , they won in five games... They are better this year.

Last night as we were driving back, Pam needed to take a break at the McDonalds on the freeway. She apoligized. There was no need to apologize. I told her that I had no where else to be but with her. She reached over and held my hand. That was a simple thing. Her hand was warm. It communicated love in a special way. I liked that. Touch is an amazing thing...simple but amazing.

This morning I got up a little late. Abigial was already up and was "bouncing" through the house, happy and perky. I like that. It is a simple thing. I look at Abigail and wonder how our life would be so different ( not for the better) if we had stopped at three kids. What a blessings she is.

This morning I went out and walked. Rain was in the air, although it was not raining at my house. Three blocks down the road? You guessed it... it was raining. I wore a windbreaker, which helped. Rain is such a simple thing... a gift from heaven. I love my green grass, my healthy flowers, my growing tree (yes its the only one in the yard.) I love the fact that God gives the gift of rain, even in August... and COOL weather...

This morning as I was walking, the rain let up a bit and there it was. Maybe you saw it on your way to work... The Rainbow. Complete and full. Multi-colored and beautiful. I turned off my IPOD for a minute and thanked God. I thanked him for his creativity. I thanked him for
His Promise that he would not destroy the earth with water. And I thanked him for Jesus.

That's what rainbows are all about... Promises...Ultimately, it is about the promise of another way... The only way.... Jesus.

It's been a nice 24 hours...full of simple things... that probably are not all that simple. There will be many other days that will be full of complications and complex issues. So I was reminded that when a "simple things" day comes along... enjoy it!

One other thing about today... TONITE! High School football. Is this not a great time of the year!