Monday, October 22, 2007

Rainy days and Mondays

Mondays are not usually a preacher's friend. I heard a well known preacher once say that he had a rule..."Never write a resignation letter on a Monday." The afterglow of Sunday ( good or bad) can sometimes influence decisions on Monday. I usually try to limit the "big stuff" on Mondays... just in case I am little foggy.( No resignation letter here)

Due to fall break , and I suppose other factors, Sunday's church attendance was not stellar. However, it was a tremendous service. We dedicated the entire 75 minutes to what Christ is doing through a missions team from FCC and missionaries in Honduras by the name of Jim and Teri Riley.

We had alot of video elements,a powerful drama , an internet conference call with Jim Riley and more in the service. That all sounds good, but the potential is there for any one element to not come off well.

Well yesterday it all went well. Each piece seemed to fit with the rest, all the technology was effective, and the spirit of the services was so positive. So many had a huge part in it... I can't really name them all.

The best response came aftewards when a woman came up to me with tears streaming down her face. She said, "I need to know where I can sign up to go on a missions trip... I have to do this." I hugged her, told her who to talk to and she thanked me.

Last evening I had another note from a couple who thanked us for the service and the part that we all do to bring the Kingdom of God alive.

It was a good day... A great day. And it goes to show you ( and me ) that the numbers do not always tell the whole story.

Even though it is rainy today, and is a Monday... it is still a good day

Friday, October 19, 2007

"Face Down"

Many of you know that my Dad has had a real struggle with his eyes. Macular Degeneration is a difficult disease to contain, and his journey with this has been up and down.

At some points in the past year, the news has been good... stabilization and improvement. But other times, it has not been so good. Last week, his left eye completely went blind.

This week he had a procedure done which brings about the possibility of some restoration. It involved putting a gas bubble into his eye, which might push some of the blood clots aside, enabling his eyesight to improve.

What makes this particularly difficult is that as a part of the recovery he is supposed to spend 23 out of the 24 hours a day "face down." Think about that for a second. To give this bubble its greatest chance, he has to spend almost every waking moment and every sleeping moment on his face.

I really can't imagine that. My Mom and Dad are trying to take advantage of some technology that will enable him to sleep, sit, and even watch some TV ( although that is limited because of the lack of eyesight), but this still has to be a very difficult situation.

I was praying for them this morning and couple thoughts came to mind...

* This is what growing older is about. Body parts wear out. Things don't work as well as they used to... and sometimes there is nothing you can do about it. You can't stop it, stall it , or suppress it... It just happens.

* This is why we all have to live as though this life is not all there is. My parents are Christians. They love God, and they love their church. Their faith is in Christ... and although they both have had fairly long lives and lots of blessings, they totally understand that "this is not all there is." Heaven awaits, and in heaven there will be no more tears, sorrow, or death. (and there will be no eyesight maladies....) Whatever Dad is not able to gain back here, he will have in full living color in heaven.

* Sometimes you try things that are really difficult to handle. I thought.."Three weeks face down..." Could I do that? I love my Dad and Mom's attitude. It is going to be hard... really hard, but you do what you have to do. If this gives him some eyesight back, it is worth it.

* Last, I realized that my parents are teaching me some of life's greatest lessons in the late years of their lives. The lessons about resilence, faith, perseverance, and doing the right thing are life lessons that I need reminders on. These lessons that they are living out are treasures to me.

2007 has not been an easy year for them. You could make the case that it has been one of the toughest... but they keep plugging away. They have not given up. They look to God for strength and peace. And they are quick to run to each other's aid, no matter the cost.

I would ask you to pray for mom and dad. They really need those prayers right now.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

A different kind of Sunday

Today, I took a Sunday off. Part of the plan for my return from the stroke was that I would limit the long run of preaching which I had been doing in the past.Six to 8 weeks in a row seems to be the limit right now. So, this was a day when I sat back and became a congregational member.

I went to two churches. I attended a downtown Tulsa Church at 8:30. It is always nice to viist, see how some people do things differently. The preacher is one of my favorites... he makes me think and challenges my way of preaching in some very real ways. His messages fill my soul. I am convinced that regular exposure to good preaching is vital to good preaching on my part. And there is something about hearing it in person in the context of the church, not just on the tapes or CD's .

Then I came back to FCC. I sat in the back with Pam and Joel, which was intersting. Some observations....

One, We have some sound problems. I can see how people don't want to sing, because it really does feel like you are the only one singing. So people don;t sing.

Two, people don't know exactly what to do with me when I show up and I am not preaching. Some were making assumptions that I was not well, which was not the case. Others thought that maybe I have had a set back on the health front. That is not the case. Still others took the opportunity to "talk business."

Its pretty hard to be a regular member when you are the preacher. But I also appreciate their concern and confidence. One thing I do have is a small group who allow me to be me, not the preacher.... what a blessing.

Three, Matt Thomason is good preacher... I like his heart.

It was a good day... different for sure,but good.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Interesting question...

I had a friend ask me if I would ever follow the lead of a church out east which had a series entitled, "Our Rotten Sex Life...." The question got me to thinking and doing a little dashing around the internet.

Some observations....

One, several churches have done this. There efforts have garnered some churches nationwide media attention, some have apparently not. Not all of it has been positive. ( but is that what we are looking for?)

Two, my opinion is that it is a good thing to talk about what the Bible talks about. ( Sex is in the Bible, its a gift from God. Its a good thing when done in the right place, with the right person, and with righ motives.)

Three, Squash is still squash to me. My parents love squash. I have never liked it and avoid it at almost all cost. You can cook it, bake, it, bar-be-que it. You can fry it, drown it in butter, or brown sugar... I will not eat it. ( Please, no attempts to change my mind here... It is what it is to me.)

In this case, I am not interested in judging motives... Some will say that such a "marketing" effort is wrong, innappropriate and insensitive. Others will say, " Go for it, More power to you, way to be on the cutting edge."

I figure that if I am going to make a decision about what is good in this case, I ought to at least listen to the messages.

No matter what the outside looks like to me, I am interested in content... Sometimes our efforts can cloud the content. We need to be careful.

Four, In our attempts to be relevant, we all need to be careful that we do not take away from the real message. I did not say, "Do not be relevant." It just seems to me like some discretion is a good thing here.

What may work on the coasts, may not work here. God himself will judge the fruit of such efforts. I am thankful that God is able to use all efforts to share his Word to change people. That is what makes it fun to be in Owasso. There are lots of churches, doing great things, with many different approaches. I am glad that not all churches are not like the one I help lead... Many preachers and churches preach the Word. They just come at it a little different than me.

My calling is to preach the Word in the location I live in. Some like the effort, some don't don't. Some like the packaging, some don't. But my goal is that when people finish listening they will know more of the Word, and the Word will change them. ( Content and application)

I will leave the judging to Him.

So to answer his question... "Probably not..." It's not me.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Catching up

I am back!!!! I don't know if that is good news, or if it should constitute a warning.

Blogging takes time and brain power..neither of which I seem to have alot of. But today, I have a litte of both, so I am going to catch you up a bit.

Health- GOOD! The blood clots have cleared up and the tests seem to be encouraging. More scans in 8 weeks, and go from there. My energy level is up and down, which I am learning to accept and manage. The foggy feeling I have comes and goes. It seems to be related to stress and energy...It is not overwhelming like it used to be. I keep being reminded that the Dr's said, "This is a 2-3 year process" Its been 18 months.

Church- On the one hand it is really good. The people are amazing, encouraging and challenging. I could never imagine a better group of people. On the other hand, it is a real challenge. With the building on North Garnett coming along, we are knee deep in transition planning. ( kind of feels like quicksand) It is like going into a tunnel and seeing a bright light come right at you. ( Yup... that is a train!) This whole process has given new meaning to the "tunnel of chaos." But we have a good staff team and building team. I ask lots of questions and keep saying, "We need to be creative problem solvers." That is good advice, but I sometimes fall into the mode of "Let's sovle the problem" rather than, "Lets pray about this and see how God solves the problem."

Family- All are good. Pam has been going to lots of Volleyball, and I have been tagging along. I enjoy watching Abigial play, and she is really good! Joel is living here while looking for a job in his chosen career field. Lizzie and Nathaniel are gearing up for basketball, which means he is coaching 6 days a week. Lydia and James had a great launch at their church in Joliet Ill. She is doing pretty well.

What have I learned in the past 6 weeks? Good question. I have learned that I am predisposed to say "yes" to almost every request and I have to change. I have learned that what I think I am saying to people is not neccesarily what they always hear.( Especially true when people have requests or demands...) I have learned that with me looking better, people assume I am back to normal and I am not. As a matter of fact, there is a new normal, which I am not even sure about. I have learned that if I don't take the time to replenish my soul, my heart shrivels up. ( Nothing new there... but I need the reminder). I have learned that the future is bright in God's kingdom, but that I ought to enjoy it more, worry less, slow down even more than I am and work better, not neccesarily harder.

I am reading alot more. Good books on the shelf include, "The Big Idea" by Dave Ferguson, "The Truth War" by John McArthur, "The Simple Church" by Thom Rainier, and "Communicating for Change" by Andy Stanley.

Oh, I have noticed something else... I read too much "Church stuff". I am branching out into some fiction ( Pam brought home "Playing for Pizza" by Grisham), a biography or two and see if I can broaden my horizons.

I want to promise that it will not be 6 weeks between posts again...but I can't. My supsicion is that I will pick it up.