Thursday, October 30, 2008

Rambling Thoughts....

- No matter who wins the election Tuesday, God reigns.

- I am reading a good book. FAITH AND DOUBT by John Ortberg is an honest approach to the questions about faith that we all have. Yes, we all have doubts.It is not an easy read like some of his other books. it takes some brain power...but I think it will be worth it. i will let you know more as I finish the book. I like the fact that Ortberg has written about Faith and Doubt in light of all the press that Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins have accumulated with their atheistic writings in the past couple years.

- I came across this passage in some reading. It spoke to me.

" You've kept track of my every toss and turn through the sleepless nights, Each tear entered in your legder, each ache written in your book." Psalm 56:8 ( The Message)

Lots of tears in people's lives around me. Lots of tossing and turning. Financial woes, election concerns, parenting issues, marriage struggles,health problems, job layoffs, retirement accounts taking a hit.... I am sure there are alot more than I know. I find comfort and strength in the fact that there is not a tear that comes from our eyes that is unnoticed by God. Not one!

- I have been writing study guides for 2009 Sermons. I finished January's today. I am finding this to be very exciting and am hopeful that the guides will challenge our congregation to "go deep." it will be available on Sundays and on the website after the first of the year.

- We get to see Baby Grace, Elizabeth and Nathaniel this weekend. There is a rumor that she will be a ladybug for Halloween. Maybe I will get a picture next week.

- I am very proud of all four of our kids. They have all turned out to be fantastic adults.

- Last night we had our second FIGHT NIGHT at the church. It was great to see families of all ages worshipping and then playing games. Our staff and their teams were awesome. It was a great night.

- I start a series on Stewardship this Sunday. "THE OFFERING." May seem like a bad time to talk money..but God's ways of handling money are recession proof. The problem is not what He says. The problem is what we do.

VOTE ON NOV. 4th. Its your privilege and responsibility.

Friday, October 24, 2008


The church is a body... a living, breathing body. It is full of people, people who love God, love the mission, love the purpose and love its people.

The church has a head. The bible says, "...Christ is the head of the church." ( Eph. 5:22) It is good for everyone who attends a church to remind themselves of this one simple fact. Christ is the Head of the church. It is HIS Church.

The Church has leaders that the Bible calls "Elders". They are men. Men who seek God, shepherd the flock, guard the doctrine of the church, work to guide christians through tough times, disputes, and difficulty. They are not perfect men by an stretch. But they are godly.

I will put our 9 Elders up against any group of leaders anywhere. I trust them completely. We do not always agree. Sometimes our conversations are spirited and passionate. But they respect and love me. They love my family. And I respect and love them. and their families.

Last night we had one of "those meetings." One friend who has served on the Eldership would often say, "It was a bag of cheetos" meeting. I did not eat any cheetos, last night but I stayed up late, thinking through the evenings discussions. The more I thought, the more I was encouraged. They made some good decisions. I felt heard... respected... and I felt like we covered some things that needed to get out on the table.

If you are a member of our church, you should know that these men are great leaders who need our prayers. I need your prayers. Our staff needs your prayers. Why? Its pretty simple really. We are in a war with the Spirit of Darkness for the souls of so many who are lost. We are living in a time where people are feeling the crunch of bad economics, debt, loosing jobs and houses. We live in a community where marriages are under attack... even in the church.

What do we have to fight this battle with. Prayer. The Word of God. Good Godly leadership. And our own unity. Life is better together... and our unity is essential as we tackle the issues of our day.

I am proud to say that as I talked with a member today, I saw the love for God come out. It was a difficult conversation, but one comment caught my attention. "I will serve the Lord at this Church... that is what I will do." It was said with humility.. It was said with a commitment to our leaders. And I believe this person, because they are alot like you... is a person who just wants to obey Christ by helping others know, love, serve and share Him." That is who we are.



Thursday, October 23, 2008

Whatever you do....

I am on a blogging roll!!!

Today I had the pleasure of eating lunch with 2 other leaders from our church along with a banker who has helped us with our relocation. We talked about life, business, and church. He took a tour of our building and was very impressed. But as we talked I think I was drawn to his heart for God and how God could use his influence to build the kingdom.

Along the way, he shared some "God-moments" in his business, Later I reflected on how there are so many Christians who are in business, being used by God to help people, to lift people up , and to give God glory.

You know, the power of the gospel extends far beyond what happens in church buildings on Sunday Mornings or Wednesday nights. That is just a fraction of what it means to extend the Kingdom of God here on earth. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, because of your faith, you are a conduit for God's blessing. In business, in your community, in your neighborhood, you have such an opportunity for influence. So go for it! Let people know that you are a child of God... that you have been blessed by God and see where it goes. Remember, we do not go to church...we are the church! Wherever we are, whatever we are doing!

I am reminded of what Paul said in I Corinthians- "So whatever you do, whether you eat or you drink, do it all for the glory of God." You don't need a Bible College education to do that. Awesome opportunities await you!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Crisis? There is still a mission.....

Stock Market tanked again today. Bad news everywhere....

Today i started work on the series "The Offering". Every November I talk stewardship. I have looked forward to this series for a while because we have so many new people coming to church. I have no idea where they are stewardship wise, but I imagine for some the talk about money, possessions, offerings, and related matters may be challenging.

I was doing some reading about this and came across this simple statement. In light of the current financial crisis, as a church we should respond, but not retreat. I thought that was good.

We should respond by reminding people that we will be good stewards of the money they give to the Lord's work. We should be careful all the time, but especially vigilant in spending $ in these times. We should also respond by being ready to help hurting people. There will be more people this winter who are hungry, more people who are cold. There may be people we know who are homeless. We should be ready to respond to them.

But along side of that, we should remember that we have a mission. Our mission is to help others know,love, serve and share Him. It is a mission that reaches out, reaches in and reaches up. It is a life-saving mission. It is a mission that has weathered tough financial times in the past, and it is a mission that will weather tough times in the future.

We should never give an inch when it comes to the mission, no matter what is happening on Wall street, main street, or anywhere in between. No matter who is president, no matter who wins the senatorial race in Oklahoma, no matter if the bailout works or not, there will always be a mission. Jesus came to "seek and save the lost." Nothing got him off his mission.

My prayer is that all of us will remember that no matter what comes next, our mission has not changed, and will not change. People need Christ. People need a church. People need help...and God has called us to respond,

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Plowing new ground

People count. People are important to God. They are important to me. God has blessed First Christian Church with lots of people, more people than ever before.

Our church has been building buildings since May 2006. Phase I took about 8 months longer than it was supposed to, but we moved in last march. When we moved in, Phase II ( Youth Worship Center and Gym) had begun. God has paved the way for this to happen in many different ways. From the use of Bailey Hospital to the selling of 86th street to Rejoice, to God providing the funding for Phase I, and the debt-free building of Phase II, to the growth we have seen in our church since we moved, there is so much to be thankful for.

This afternoon I walked through Phase II. It is coming along quite fast. The construction crews are working hard. What struck me was that we have been so blessed. Each step of the way, we have seen God provide. Soon ( very soon), we will have the additional space we need to continue to grow in our Youth and Children's Ministries. Phase II will also open up other opportunities for the use of Phase I, which is needed.

I am most impressed with our congregation. There is no doubt that the relocation has stressed a lot of people. ( me included). There have been alot of hard moments. There have been doubts, some criticism, amazement at what God has been doing, and some wondering along the way. However, the vast majority of our church has been so accomadating, so flexible and so committed to making this about more than buildings. Our church family is excited about the future like never before.

There will always be people who see the negative. There will always be people who get really weary and struggle with changes, whatever they are. Our job is to hear their concerns, be reassuring, but confident in the way God is leading us. There are times when we do not handle the demands of change very well. We all are human. We all have alot to learn.

The truth is that plowing new ground is hard work. It always is. But our people have been so gracious. For example, We have had a number of funerals in the past 6 weeks. Some have the result of sudden death, some the result of long illnesses. Each one of them have required that we provide a funeral dinner. And each time, a group of members ( sometimes classes, sometimes, groups, sometimes ministries), have brought food in, ice in, dealt with no real kitchen facilities , set up, cleaned up, and through the whole thing never complained one bit. Each time, I have seen people rise to the occasion to care for people who were in need. Always with a cheerful disposition, knowing full well that our facilities were not quite optimal... they just have made do with what they have... because people count.

Phase II will bring some facilities that can help us with meals, fellowship and other needs that we have. All along the way, people have seen what we have, and been flexible to make things happen... because people count.

We have along way to go. Some areas of our leadership and ministries are not as strong as they need to be. But I feel like we are making a strong effort to "help others know, love, serve and share Christ." We do that because people count.

FCC people rock! There is no one I would rather plow new ground with.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Lord' Supper

Today, we led a worship service that is one of my favorites each year. At least once and sometimes twice a year we plan an entire worship service around Communion.

"The Breaking of Bread" ( Acts 20:7) is one of elements of worship that we include in every Sunday worship service. All three of our services participate in this each week, because of our conviction that it was something done by the early church on the first day of the week.

When we do a service like this, We usually divide the 65 or so minutes into sections, do worship along with explanation and teaching. Today, I thought was one of our best. Tim did a great job of building a service that used special music ( Jesus Messiah and My Redeemer Lives ) along with both contemporary songs and hymns. We had a great video to the song "Jesus Paid it all" which was effective and engaging. The Production Team had a table with chalice and loaf of bread, which provided the visual.

Ultimately this was a hour long communion service which gave us the chance to remember that Jesus willingly gave his life for us, and that the blood of Christ provides us with forgiveness, purifies us from sin ( I John 1:7), and unites all believers like nothing else. It is an opportunity to teach about Grace. It is an opportunity for us to "examine ourselves". It is an opportunity to declare that Jesus died, was buried and rose again. It is an opportunity to declare that ONLY Jesus has done this and therefore He is the only way to God ( John 14:6)

It is easy to get on the kick about felt needs, how to's and never take the time to study such foundational truth. So I am glad when we can do these kinds of services. We take communion each week, and every week it is meaningful to me. Some say, "Take it every week and it becomes commonplace and mundane." I don't get that. How could the sacrifice of Jesus be mundane? If it is, that is our problem...a problem with our heart.

It is important to do this as a reminder to those who come to church services all the time. But it is also so important for the newer people who attend to know why we take communion each week ( most of them coming from churches where it is done monthy, quarterly or semi-annually,) and what is really behind this Passover meal that Jesus instituted in the upper room.

It's good stuff....and from my perspective, it is great to work with creative people who can put together a service that engages people on so many different levels.

Friday, October 17, 2008

2nd greatest comeback

Last night the Red Sox got pummeled (through 7 innings). I was disgusted and went to bed. I have followed the Red Sox since the late 60's. I don't exactly know why since I lived in the Pacific Northwest. Through the 70's, 80's and 90's their futility could only be matched by the Cubs. But things got better.

So last night, when I realized that they were on the verge of losing 3 straight at home, and looking bad doing it, I turned my back on them. I walked away. The TV was on, and then I saw the "crawl" at the bottom of the screen. I immediately turned it back to the game, just in time to see the game winning hit. 8 to 7- Red Sox.

I am glad that there will be another game, hopefully two games resulting in Red Sox wins. But, I also have to face the fact that I turned away from them.

There is a lesson in this for all of us. We disappoint God. We lose and lose and lose.... We make mistakes, commit sins over and over... each of which really do hurt the one who created us and who sent His Son to die for us. And yet, God does not turn his back on us. He stays with us, always ready to forgive when we are repentant. He stays with us, always ready to help us pick up the pieces of our broken lives. He stays with us, reminding us that there is a tomorrow, and it will be better. He stays with us, telling us that "the best is yet to come."

I love that about God. Do you? If so, turn over that part of your life that is hindering you from a complete relationship with Him.

Fights and quarrels

Over the summer I preached through the book of Proverbs. Even though I am done preaching from Proverbs, I still am drawn to the book each day.

Proverbs 17:27-28 says, " A man of knowledge uses words with restraint and a man of understanding is even-tempered. Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue."

Those words are pretty strong. When we reject the notion that we can just throw words at a subject and somehow be thought of as wise, knowledgeable, or "in control", we really do become more like Christ.

Holding our tongue, keeping silent, using words with restraint, being even-tempered are all effective ways of being a better listener, a better communicator, a better friend, and in some cases a better opponent.

I know people who just love to get into arguments. They go around looking for verbal fights. It feels good to them. It makes them feel like they are in control. But Proverbs says something different.

" He who loves a quarrel loves sin, he who builds a high gate invites destruction" Prov. 17:19

" Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam, so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out." Prov. 17:14

I can recall several times where I failed to "drop a matter before a dispute breaks out." . In the end , I may have felt vindicated, even victorious. But there were usually some wounds as a result. Was it worth it? Most of the time the answer is no.

I think that this counsel from Proverbs also helps when we are being drawn into a fight or dispute. Recently this has happened to me. People with strong feelings about a particular subject have not gotten the response they wanted in a dispute with others. So they come to me. In one case, I engaged and regretted it. I should have just stayed out of it, and let the parties work it out between themselves. In another case, I said, " I am not going to get involved in this." I just decided that this was something that the two or three needed to work out themselves... I did not need to ride in on a white horse and save the day. I have not regretted that decision.

I think the writer of Proverbs could be talking about alot of different things here. But one thing that speaks to me is that it really does take two people to argue. Nothing is more frustrating to someone who is looking for a fight to go around looking for someone to "put up their verbal dukes" and find no one.

This does not mean that there are not times that we need to stand up and defend truth, defend ourselves, and even defend others. But maybe the old saying is true...."You are wise to pick your fights carefully."

Proverbs 17 counsels us to look at our hearts. Do you love a quarrel? Are you the one starting quarrels? Can you be the person who steps away from a quarrel and remains silent?

One more word from Proverbs 17. Verse 3 says, "the crucible for silver and the furnace for gold,but the Lord tests the heart. ( vs. 3)

Good stuff to remember in the heat of the battle.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


Did you watch the debate?

I did- certainly not inspiring on either front.

We have an economy that is bleeding... confidence is down.... the Fed and Treasury are trying to stop it all.... Congress wants to go home... and we are electing a president in 30 days.

What did I get out of it? They say the same things in a Town Hall format as they do in a stump speech. They don't like each other. National Security has gone to the back burner. On the Economy, neither of them really want to say much because they don't know what the economy really looks like.

And one other thought- McCain better do something... or he loses. And it has to be more than smearing his opponent.

Be an interesting 30 days.