Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Curran Girls take on NYC

This week , I find myself alone at the house. Pam, Elizabeth, Lydia and Abigial are in New York City. Joel is in Maine. It is kind of strange to know that the rest of your family is on the east coast, "enjoying" HOT weather and no rain ( so far), while I am here in what is usually sunny and HOT Oklahoma, contemplating building an ark. ( No, God did not show up to me like Evan in the movie, but afte 18 days out of 22, it feels like we might need something other than gasoline powered vehicles to get around-that may help with the gas budget)

Anyway, each time a child graduates ( from HS) we have allowed them to pick a place to go as a family. We have been to Orlando and Destin, to Panama City and to Corpus Christie. For years Abigail has said, "I want to go to California." But I guess I was a party pooper and said I did not have California on my dad approved lists of places to go. Conversations continued. Would everyone be able to go ? Joel would have a job, the other two girls are married. If they could not go, could Abigail invite friends to go? ( I was not too keen on that.) Imagine this, a 18 year old girl on a vacation with her Dad and Mom. That was going to be okay , but not preferable.

So in January someone came up with the idea of NYC. Pam and I had been there the previous March. What a great time we had. The only negative is that it was 40 degrees and the wind blew like crazy. We were so cold. That was two weeks before the stroke, we were celebrating our 25th anniversary... and having a great time.

So, I said, "Why not.?" Abigial and Pam to NYC... and then it turned into a girls trip. So all the girls are there. They must be having fun, because I have not heard a peep from them since they got to the Hotel. That is great...

What's my point? I don't know exactly, except that for years I have traveled alot and Pam has stayed home, worked and managed getting the kids where they needed to be. I have been on the East Coast, the West Coast, and in between. Sometimes for a few days , sometimes for a week or more. She never complained, never griped about why she didn't get to go anywhere etc. She just did her thing. So I look at this trip as a big thank you to her in addition to a
"way to go" to Abigail.

All of our "girls" are great... and I am sure they are having fun.

And if you are wondering about Joel... well, he is at a sports camp for the third year.. He the veteran counselor, the head of the basketball program and someone they wanted very badly this summer. I have emailed him, but no reply... not surprised, He is having a blast.

And me? Not to bad really. I am not known as an "alone kind of guy,." But this time I am doing pretty good. Reading alot, writing some, and meeting with people.

I am trying to lay low for the next three to four weeks, just trying to refuel and gear up for more great things God has in store for me .

Its all good.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Happy Birthday!

18 months ago, I was informed that the church I serve would be celebrating 100 years of existence in 2007. Sounded like a great opportunity for a party. I mean, who does not love birthday parties?

So I made a decision. I decided we would have a party. Not just any kind of party. But a big 100th party.

The party was this past weekend, and it was a blast. People came from all over the country to celebrate 100 years of ministry. We got letters from Presidents, Govenors, Mayors and College Presidents. We viewed videos of congratulations and appreciation from many people.

But we also worshipped God. After all, it really was His party. What made it so good was the fact that many former ministers, members, and friends came as well. We worshipped God with southern gospel, contemporary worship songs, hymns, preaching, testimony, and alot of hugs and love. It was not a bad way to spend a weekend.

Lots of people worked hard on the weekend. There was a centennial team that planned, prayed and executed the plan and prayers. And it was flawless!

Three people were amazing... Ben Killion and Jim Schnorrenberg were the leaders of the team. 18 months ago, I knew that I could not plan this and lead it. ( that was before the health problems). So I asked them to lead it out. They were so willing. They did exactly what I asked them to do... "put a team together and let's have a party." I could not have been more pleased with thier leadership.

The other person is our Worship Minister, Tim Tibbles. He worked so hard to have an orchestra, 100 voice choir, band, for Sunday morning. And the services were great. Saturday night he and some others put together a Revivial worship service , again involving many different people that shared the talents and gifts.

I think the one of the best things about the weekend was that there was something for everyone. And I can't count how many times people said, "This has been so great."

Why was it great? Because God is great. And God has been great to this church for 100 years. We have had ups and downs, great victories and a few defeats...but consistently God has been there every step of the way.

I said my part of the message that this weekend is just a "comma" , not a "period." ( thanks to Gov. George Nigh and my friend Jerry Whited.). I love that picture because the best is yet to come.

Lots of people are tired, there is alot of clean up to do, but I think everyone would agree that it was a great party.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Funeral Directors, Preachers and death

I am part of a "profession" that deals with death on a fairly regular basis. Just today, I visited with a trio of sisters whose 82 year old mother has suffered a series of strokes and is near death. After 25 years at this, I pretty much know what to do, what to say and what not to say. There are times I get surprised, but not oten.

I have been very blessed because I have not had to deal with death in an intense way, at least personally. All my siblings are alive, my parents are alive as are all of Pam's . I have wondered from time to time what it would be like if one of my close family members died. Who do I turn to? Who helps the preacher get through something like that?

That was brought home this morning by a phone call I got at 7:30 AM. It was one of my closest friends... a guy named Steve. He called to let me know that his mother passed away last night. She had cancer, had been up and down, in and out of the hospital and had struggled for a while with this.

What makes it more interesting to me is that Steve is the best Funeral Director around. He is a close friend. But professionally he is the guy that I would trust completely. When people ask, I say, "Mowery's..." It automatic.

I thought this morning, "Who does the funeral director turn to when his mom dies?" I mean, he deals with this all the time. He is well connected in our community. He is loved and respected by many. So who does he call?

I am sure he called his pastor. But I also know he called me. I don't deserve a medal. I am sure that he called other friends to. But we just have the kind of relationship where we call each other, and lean on each other in tough times. We also have a great time together as well.

And it makes me remember... Preachers and Funeral Directors need friends too. We need people to lean on. We need people that will let us cry when our loved one dies... who will laugh with us when we need that... we need someone we can call.

Steve is that guy for me. I have several others in the church, and one other who lives out of town that I could call. This morning's phone call from Steve made me thankful that I would have several calls to make if one of my parents died. It also made me happy that I am that kind of friend for Him.

We are normal people with normal kinds of needs. We are around death alot, but when it reaches deep into our lives, we need good friends too.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Assuming Postive intentions

Several years ago, our church staff watched a DVD from Southeast Christian Church. One of the main points the preach of this church with a large staff made was that we have to "assume positive intentions" with each other. The idea is that if we give people the benefit of the doubt, and assume that they did something that affected us adversely, that it was done with no malice or hurtful feelings. At least as a starting point, that helps us maintain our cool, and helps us realize that something just happen. I have not always been the best at this... but I am trying more to take a deep breath and wait for a while before reacting.

This came up today with a particular situation at our church. Apparently someone, not really knowing the rules about email communication within the church, sent out something soliciting business. This person is a relatively new to our church.

Some members of the church got the email and sent notes back asking that they be removed from the email listing that got them this solicitation. That is okay. No problem in my mind. But it seems that is possible that some of the communication was bit testy in nature. Our office got some phone calls and even a couple emails as well, wondering how this could happen.

It caused a bit of a twit for some people. I understand that... I really do. But sometimes our reaction to things like this can cause more harm than we intend. The person who did this was genuinely upset , thinking that they had really messed up.

I called them and talked with them today. I assured them that from my vantage point this was an honest mistake... we don't want people using the membership email to solicit business. But I think thier mistake was done with positive intentions. They had been encouraged by other business associates to do something like as a way to touch their sphere of influence. They believe in their business and its potential to really help people.

Inexperience in the church world kind of caught them here... That is what I think.

The one thing that the Devil likes to do is take innocent little things like this and blow them up, thus derailing someone from their service in the church, and/or giving them reason to think that this is not a place of love and grace. Boy, is he good at that!

I hope that will not happen in this case. This couple serves in several areas. They are fairly new to the church, and one of them is fairly new to the faith. Certainly no one would want a negative reaction to an honest mistake to be the thing that derails them....would they?

I know our church pretty well, and I am assuming postive intentions of those that reacted as well. I know that love is the order of the day.... and that people in general would understand if they had all the information and knew that it was taken care of.

We have a great church, with lots of new people. Sometimes it is a bit messy, but thats okay. Whats most important is that people know that even in our church, mistakes are made every day and we move on. And as I said in my last post, sins are committed every day, and we confess and ask for forgiveness, and God moves on. Psalms says, "As far as the east is from the west, so far have I removed your trangressions from you." Psalm 103:12

Aren't you glad that applies to you? I know I am glad it applies to me.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Mistakers or sinners?

THIS IS NOT MY IDEA! But it is good. Andy Stanley talks about the difference between "mistakers" and "sinners" . Think about it... How many times have you done something WRONG and just passed it off as a mistake.

I didn't wear my seat belt- that was a mistake. ( not really- I decided not to wear it and disobey the law.)

I let some information slip to someone that I am pretty sure will pass it along. Big mistake. ( not really- how about gossip as a possibility?)

I harbored some thoughts in my heart. They led to hateful actions toward someone. It was a mistake ( Not really- Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.) Matthew 12:34

I think we do a big diservice to ourselves when we don't call sin what it is - SIN.

Here is why. ..

We are never told in the Bible that God will forgive mistakes. He forgives sin. ( Psalm 103:3)

We are never told to confess mistakes. We are told to confess sins to each other ( James 5:!6)

We are never told that mistakes will find us out. We are told that sin will find us out. ( Numbers 32 :23)

When I think of the things that I do that are wrong as mistakes and not sins, I am basically saying, "Hey, I am who I am and I don't need forgiveness. I just need to do better."

And we miss out on forgiveness, the blessing of confession ( leading to prayer and accountability ) and we think we are getting away with it. We are not, because God knows the difference between a sin and a mistake. His son did not die for mistakers, but for sinners.

Interesting idea... I guess I am a little ashamed at how often I just blow it and call it a mistake. It suggests to me that I need a dose of biblical reality.

Just something to think about.