Monday, July 13, 2009

Pursuit of a Bible

I was greeted in the parking lot this morning shortly after 8am by a women from the church seeking a Bible from the church. No brainer, right? Well I am new to the place less than 2 weeks. I have not unpacked my 25 boxes of books for the office and I do not know where things are in the church. No secretary for another hour and the woman needs/wants a Bible from the church. The church library is still in boxes... no help there. I looked in the chapel... sanitized of any small items that could be taken. Nothing. so I decided to give my packed boxes a look. Maybe, just maybe I had labeled well enough to find what I knew I had. Voila, I found a good condition of the the NLT and gave it to the woman with some Bible 101 teaching.

What makes a person think - I want to read the Bible or "I need to read the Bible" ? Holy Spirit? Something in the air? Another person? A change of heart or circumstance? Don't know, but I do know it can lead to great things. God, send more who are looking for a Bible to read and also a place and people to read it with.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The 30

Last Sunday was my 30th anniversary for Ordination as Deacon and my 25 anniversary of Ordination as Elder in the United Methodist Church. Oh what things we have seen in these years. I remember some of the benchmarks I thought would be important. I remember some of the dreams. I think I have always focused on souls, but sometimes did not know what process to use. I think I have always wanted to serve God first with a whole heart, but things got in the way. A couple of turning points or change points would be first trip to Uganda - wow, that was a big one. then call to church planting and that was a major step of change. I remain a missionary and that fed into church planting. I have that desire to approach all of ministry as a missionary. I also know that does not sit well with everybody. But I press on.

I believe that I am entering another of those turning points. It will be a good one and a large one. Every appointment I have had called out new and different leadership skills in me. This phase might just be more "coach" than "expert." A coach calls out the best in those on the team. The discipline of a coach is that even if you know how to do what needs to be done you must call it out or call whatever it is out of the ones being coached. We'll see how this goes. And, in this case, again I submit myself to coaching.

There's that funny thing - Tiger Woods - great golfer, millionaire, father... still gets coaching to keep on getting better. Several pastors I respect, learn from and enjoy are getting coached even as they coach others. What am I afraid of?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Counting it a privilege Acts 5

In the book of Acts we find the disciples and the church doing what Jesus charged them to do... Go spread the word of forgiveness and salvation. Check this out... Acts 5:38-41
“So my advice is, leave these men alone. If they are teaching and doing these things merely on their own, it will soon be overthrown. But if it is of God, you will not be able to stop them. You may even find yourselves fighting against God.”
The council accepted his advice. They called in the apostles and had them flogged. Then they ordered them never again to speak in the name of Jesus, and they let them go. The apostles left the high council rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer dishonor for the name of Jesus. And every day, in the Temple and in their homes, they continued to teach and preach this message: “The Messiah you are looking for is Jesus.”
This got me thinking - is what I am up to today of me or of God? Second - Have I ever really felt dishonor for the name of Jesus and rejoiced in suffering for it? I am not thinking of anything right off the top - there was the time I was nearly arrested in Home Depot because of an electrician I had hired to do some work on a building. But real persecution, no. Maybe a bit of stress, too much change, or some frustration ... dishonor, no. Maybe I should work on that? Often I have had privilege and blessing because of the name of Jesus. It is not easy to uproot and move again for the connection and as a UM preacher. But that is not dishonor.
As I come the newest change and appointment to Rome 1st. UMC I say goodbye to some great people and wonderful friends. Most inside the church and thankfully some outside the church. I am engaging a Coach for this changeover process so that I can do my very best in a new congregation. It is exciting, always has been. I get a lot of new energy going into a new appointment. But truly I have a deep desire to be focused on the right things and doing what God wants and not what I think is good.
So we go ... less than a month now. Lots to do. And when I whine or complain or feel sorry for myself let me pause and think - isn't this for the sake of the Name of Jesus?


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

it all goes in the box

I think that John Ortberg wrote a study on that subject. With a month and a half to go before moving I have to get it in the box. Should take time to sort, but that is more time consuming. We try to get much done early so that we can enjoy the people the last few weeks. That is what we try to do. Sometimes it even works.

Luke 8 includes the parable of the sower or the farmer. He goes out to sow. The farmer broadcasts the seed - path, rocks, thorns, and fertile ground. as I think of the various places I have preached and pastored it is always true - you scatter seed and some of it boinks and some if it really does grow. When that seed hits the fertile and ready soil.... watch out, you can hardly keep up with the growth in that person and it brings great joy.

Then at the end is the great phrase - HE WHO HAS EARS TO HEAR... LET HIM HEAR. When I read that I go back and always re read the words or story right before it. Extra attention needs to be paid.

Back to the boxes and all but remembering the seed sown here and preparing to sow in a new field called Rome.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Philippians 1 and other

The letter of Paul to the Philippians is a letter of love and appreciation. He is not pounding on a problem or something similar to many of his other letters. My touch point in this chapter is NLT vs. 21 "For to me, living means living for Christ and dying is even better." The way I remember it in rsv or other is "For me to live is Christ and to die is gain." I often ponder over this one. I remember pondering over it when I had to preach it in seminary. I love life, I want to live for Christ. Heaven is going to be fine, just fine, wonderful, extraordinary... but I can wait. In loving life I am not wanting to avoid heaven. But I am here for a purpose. So I want to be doing that purpose till I die. Ministry keeps me busy and challenged. The current economics are tough on all of us. But we need to live with purpose. I need to live with purpose. I live to support ministry with my friends in Uganda and to see to it that rural pastors get trained. I said without thinking the other day,"I would rather lose my right leg than give up the work in Uganda." I guess that is pretty passionate. I caught this quote today on a leadership CD I was listening to while driving. IF WE ARE NOT ANXIOUSLY ENGAGED IN A GOOD CAUSE WE'VE NO BUSINESS BEING ALIVE ANYWAY. I love the sentiment. I love the passion. I believe it is true and yet to say it does not have a lot of mercy gift in it. I tried to track down the source or at least where it had come from and it appears to have come in part from some Mormon teachings. I can live with that. I just love the passion. So what cause has you anxiously engaged and how passionate are you?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

1 Cor 9:22 b Common Ground

In some other translations Paul says he tried to be all things to all men that he might save some. In the NLT (new living translation) he says he tries to fine common ground. The point of finding common ground - helping others find or take steps towards Christ. To me, that is what it is all about. Common ground for conversation, common ground for relationship. It could be Nascar, biking, rowing, books, beer, music, some craft or collection. We show an interest in them and their life. Does that mean I am going to start collecting Barbie dolls to save the Barbie doll lover, NO? maybe a common concern, maybe just something I can learn from the person to improve my knowledge. Today I simply asked my friend about optical work as he has been an optician. I am not trying to save his soul, I am being human and trying to see if I can bring something of help in vision care to Ugandans at some point. He had a lot to offer in something I know nothing about except that people have trouble seeing, need correct glasses and that I need 1.5 magnification to read things near at hand.

If you google common ground you will find housing, pubs, reconciliation resources, coffee shops, something with gay and lesbian concerns, computer language, a radio show and lots more. As a man, human and pastor I want to find common ground that God may open a door to Godself in Jesus Christ through me. I know a couple of churches and friends that have opened coffee houses named "Common Grounds" great idea and I love coffee and coffee people.

Our president, Barak Obama "No one is exempt from the call to find common ground."

I like it FIND COMMON GROUND and see what happens.

Monday, February 16, 2009

First Corinthians

1 Corinthians Chpt 1
The Apostle Paul hits the nail on the head. "Let there be no divisions among you." Out with nit picking, out with petty quarrels and power plays. Why? The world is lost, dying and going to hell. Do we hammer out policy? Yes. Do we push to understand and sharpen each other as iron sharpens iron? Yes.
What I have observed in churches and in other organizations is that there is nothing easier for Satan than to start a little fight and blow the whole thing up. Over the years I get lots of excuses from inside and outside the church. I left because they were fighting over... Frequently it involves money, but not always. Nothing stunts or stops church and individual spiritual growth like division. "A house divided against itself cannot stand." Jesus. We had best not be too idealistic on friction. Whenever there are people there will be friction. A good resolved conflict or division is often a strength. But everyone has different tolerance levels for such things.
In the later section of this chapter I find some fun phrases. God uses the foolish to shame the wise. The powerless to shame the powerful and the despised by the world to bring to nothing what the world considers important. Why? So no one can boast in themselves. It's kindof like the trick up God's sleeve - the child that blows your mind by simple kindness, the stereotype that is wrecked in some way and simply when God does a wonder. Let us only boast in Him!