Thursday, January 31, 2008
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Monday, January 28, 2008
Friday, January 25, 2008
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
My ‘check engine’ light went on yesterday, so I did what I was supposed to do: Have someone else check the engine. So today I came to a place that really specializes in tires. But they were willing to check it out and not charge me 68 bucks just to look at it (like the Mazda dealership yesterday).
Apparently the spark plugs needed changing, as did a corrosive wire. Thirty minutes later a dude came to me and explained that one of the wires, which didn’t technically need to be changed, wouldn’t come to the shop until today. So he awaited my decision as to what they should do.
I simply asked a question that I always ask when I trust someone: “What would you do in my case?” If that person knows more about the situation than I do, that advice usually gets put into practice. That’s the advantage of having people one can trust.
I just can’t read everything (I read really slowly, which makes ‘everything’ that much more impossible-as if something can be ‘more’ impossible than something else), I can’t do everything (I pastor, husband, fish, watch football, workout, play guitar), and I can’t know everything (I’ve even forgotten a lot that I’ve learned-sorry Mom and Dad, my educational benefactors).
So I often have to rely on knowledgeable people I trust to assist me in decision making. Having people you can trust makes life a lot easier. And that is by design.
A local church community, the Church at large, and even those in the community all play a role in helping us make tough decisions.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Monday, January 21, 2008
This weekend, we took the youth group camping. I say "we" because I didn't, and would never dare do anything like this alone. An elder and another young adult came along and were incredibly helpful. I'm forever grateful for all those who've helped serve alongside of me (for free!), and particularly grateful to have had their help this weekend.
Friday, January 18, 2008
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
I think that the Mac will be hard to use at first. I'm used to doing things a little differently. And honestly, I'm comfortable with my computer-even though its slow. Really slow. At least I know how to do what I want it to do.
But if you think about it, everything that is new is probably going to be weird or hard at first. Praying out loud, praying with people, sharing your faith, building new relationships with neighbors, etc...All of which are part of being a Christian, even though they might make us feel weird at times.
Singing new songs or new arrangements of songs in worship is also weird, and sometimes hard. Some songs seem harder to sing than others. And some folks like to claim that most new music is harder to sing.
But if you're honest, most songs that you've never sung before (or are not familiar with), with the exception of Hansen's "Um-bob," are difficult at first to sing. If you don't know what I'm talking about, be glad.
There are many 'old' songs we sing at our church that I've never heard before. And guess what, they're hard for me to sing. Sometimes really hard. But Amy and I try our best, and we know that they are not hard for everyone (because they're familiar to many)-and you will never see us with our mouths shut. We'll sing because we like who we're singing to.
And with newer songs or arrangements, I can only trust that people will show love and do the same. Even though it will be hard at first. Like using a Mac.
I'll update you in a few months to see if this whole PC to Mac switch is really a good analogy. It might be a bad switch for me and never become familiar and easier-thus making it a bad analogy.
Many folks have just as strong opinions on this issue as they do on worship songs!
But know this, I'm not trying to argue that one computer or one worship form is better than another. I think they (computers and worshipers with varying tastes) can exist in one congregation.
Monday, January 14, 2008
So I asked our waitress if those women with the head scarf things were, like, veterans who had worked their way up to the head scarf status (although that doesn't necessarily seem like a desirable goal to shoot for). She explained to us that those were the 'conservative' Mennonite ladies. She was a lot more 'liberal.' And BTW-there were actually NO Amish waitresses at all, so I'm thinking about a false advertisement suit.
These words 'conservative' and 'liberal' are loaded with meaning. So I was curious about exactly what she meant by the word 'liberal.' Thus I inquired a bit.
Those who were conservatives didn't believe in much electronic stuff. 'Liberal' meant that she was open-minded. So we inquired in regards to her open-mindedness: about life, church, social issues, etc...?
Since we had very limited time (Amy reminded me to let her go since she technically was working), I couldn't exactly figure out what 'liberal' meant. It could have been liberal in the sense that she drives fast cars, uses an Ipod, believes in signing more modern music in church, or using power point slides for worship and preaching. Or she could have meant it socially. Or she could have meant 'liberal' in the sense of accepting every religion as equally truthful (I did notice a book in the store library while I was waiting that was a little concerning to me).
Regardless, I'll probably never know what she meant by that word, even though Amy advised me to leave my business card on the table. Nevertheless, there are scores of words loaded with meaning. The only problem is that they mean something to one person and something totally different to another in a different context.
Then how can we know if we're saying the same or different things? Do something I don't like and am not good at: take time, ask the question "What do you mean?" and (this is the hardest) LISTEN.
Otherwise you may be fighting with someone you actually agree with (been there, done that) or agreeing with someone (or them agreeing with you) who you should be 'fighting' (been there as well).
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Its amazing that a church without a pastor would grow as it has. There were very few empty seats this morning, far fewer than there were last time I preached (when we found out Amy was pregnant, and she's about 21 weeks or so; I lost track). The fact that it had grown significantly in size and giving, and perhaps in health as well (they were going to reach out through a homeless ministry this afternoon) showed a lot about God's faithfulness to this church.
No pastor, no problem. If God desires a church grow, it shall grow. And in the absence of a pastor, the newly installed elders have begun to take charge of ministry, lay leaders are continuing lead, and people are really giving sacrificially. Nevertheless, I do hope they can call a pastor or stated long term pulpit supply sooner rather than later.
But it is interesting though, that the main things which seem to be attractive to visiting folks were this: friendly community, good music (though not my particular 'taste') and something for the little one's (children's ministry) and bigger one's (youth group). There's probably been great preaching at this church for a time; but hearing the same pastor week in and out has obviously not been a high priority.
Of course I didn't interview anyone; these were just some of mine and Amy's thoughts as we drove home.
Friday, January 11, 2008
Solicitors. You either love them, or you hate them. Just kidding, you probably hate them. But how should Christians respond to solicitors or telemarketers over the phone? I mean we are to love our neighbors, even our enemies. And they probably fit somewhere in the middle, although closer to the enemy side of things if you ask me.
Amy and I went out to dinner with a couple from church the other day and this conversation came up. The wife mentioned something like, "You probably think I'm a bad person for dealing with them in this way." I thought nothing of the sort. In fact, what she explained to me showed she had absolutely done nothing wrong.
Then this week (and you might think I'm a 'bad' person), but someone with the police department called looking for money for a specific benevolence fund. We already give 10% to the church, some to missionaries, sponsor a kid in Bangladesh in addition to random things here and there. So I didn't feel like I was hoarding money which God has provided. Since one of the reasons we work is to be able to have something to share with those in need (Eph 4:28).
Anyway, this officer's presumption that I would give an expected amount, and the fact that solicitors rarely call when you're not really doing anything-I was cleaning up the kitchen-led me to say ,"Thanks for calling," and then hang up. Of course that wasn't good enough as I could hear him continue to solicit as I quickly hung up (why is it hang 'up' when you're clearly putting the phone 'down?') the phone.
I can't imagine being a telemarketer. I really can't. I also can't imagine asking for money for a good cause. So how should we deal with the latter, and even the former? Should we let those soliciting for good things talk first (or is it just wasting their time) because it at least shows love? Should we actually listen? Or should we cut people off if they're selling stuff we don't want? Does it matter how rude we are (I mean there is a person made in God's image on the line)? Or is this just a time to be firm, and by saying "Thanks," we can cross the 'love' component off the list? Just some thoughts.
I personally am quite firm, and don't feel bad unless its for something good (usually not for the lack of giving, but how I treat the person). But please respond and let me know what you think. But I'm not soliciting, mind you. I'd just love to hear your thoughts. Thanks.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Amy and I are driving home from the gym on Tuesday and she asks me to stop at the grocery store. I wasn't excited because it was already quite late, and we still needed to make dinner and do some other things in the house. I don't know much, but I know you don't say "No" to a pregnant woman.
Well as we were checking out, a woman who we had kind of lost contact with, shows up with her brother. Fortunately her brother speaks near perfect English and was able to communicate well with us. We got her new phone # and she specifically requested one of our members to pick up her kids for church this Sunday. Had we not gone through the self-checkout line, we probably would have not seen her come inside. Pretty cool.
I ordered a Macbook computer after getting back from Xmas. More about that later (its still in the box right now). Of course Fed Ex tries to drop it off at 4pm one day, and 11:30 am the next day, so I had pick it up at the Fed Ex place. I grabbed the necessary paper-drop-off-thing and headed out. When I stopped by the pharmacy, I realized I grabbed the paper-drop-off-thing without the pick-up address. Frustrated, I drove back home (all of a 2 minute detour).
And as soon as I got home, a neighbor backs into my driveway and we talk for about 10 minutes.
He asked me if the Homeowners meeting would be at "my" church. It is by the way. I'm hoping that may be the next step in seeing some more neighbors come to Hope.
Anyway, in our time of conversation I learned a bunch about him. Our usual conversations last about 30 seconds, so this was huge. All because I picked up the wrong paper-drop-off-thing. God used my lack of attention to detail as part of His plans that day. Sometimes I need reminding that all things really do unfold according to His plans. I can't thwart them through my responsibility or lack of responsibility.
Maybe I can relax a bit more when my plans change. And then maybe my blood pressure will drop even further (if it still needs to).
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
First of all, unless you regularly drink a lot of coffee, do not have Cafe con Leche (literally Cuban coffee w/milk) before you go to your annual physical. Before I had to put on that lovely gown they give you, one of the 'nursish' (I don't know what here real title is) took my pulse and blood pressure. My blood pressure was 160 over some other large number, and she was really concerned. My pulse turned out to be 101 beats a minute, which in case you're not up to date on pulse rates, is WAY HIGH!
I was a little 'on edge,' probably mostly (not blaming everything on the Cafe con Leche) due to the coffee. After the physical it went down to 130/90 or some not as high number. But now I've got to go somewhere else and find out exactly how much the coffee was to blame for my pulse and blood pressure.
The second thing related to literally practicing what you preach. I preached this past Sunday on 3 components of prayer (Corporate, Confession, Confidence) found in James 5:13-18. When it comes to praying for the congregation, I use Outlook to divide people into different groups and pray for specific people on specific days:
Tuesday-College/Wed-Outreach/Thursday-Youth/Friday-Young Adults, etc.....
Well I preached on taking confidence that when we pray, it does make a difference, even when we can't see it. Yesterday I was extremely convicted for not regularly, and certainly not confidently, praying for a youth outside the church. He hasn't come to youth group or church in a long time, although he once came off and on. Well, one of our youth still has contact with him and said that he was actually planning on coming to church last Sunday. I had no idea.
And it is true we often have no idea what's going on in people's hearts. Another youth that I had been praying for regularly and desperately, just showed up at church two weeks ago without invitation or ride from a member. You never know what God is doing behind the scenes. I need to practice more often what I preach, specifically this area of Confidence, that our prayers do make a difference. I've seen it too many times to justify 'giving' up on certain folks outside the church, or on the fringe.
However-I'm not tooting my own horn-I just realized that I at least am practicing one of my "C" points: Confession. So at least I hit one out of three! A 333 average is at least a start, and darn good in baseball, eh?
Anyhow, if you want to hear my sermon on prayer, click here
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Regardless of likes/dislikes (it was probably 50-50), our discussion was very helpful to me, and I think to most of those who participated. A few things came out of our discussion.
First of all, before we talked about what we didn't like or what was 'bad' about the movie, we had to say something positive. That's what Paul did with the Athenians (Acts 17), and so I think he leaves us a biblical model to follow. Here's what we discovered.
1.) Affairs are very clearly depicted not so much about love, but escape and adventure, and how they make one feel (contrary to love-concerned for the happiness of another). And they really do hurt people.
2.) Andy Griffith's character (who was worth the price of admission alone) did not approve of her affair, and continued to be the voice of reason and wisdom throughout the movie. Randy even compared him to being sort of a Proverbial character. While old and seemingly crotchedy at times, Proverbs come to us via the Holy Spirit working through a heart of experience, love, and fear of the Lord. Nice work Pastor Randy.
3.) There was never ANY thought of abortion throughout this unwanted pregnancy from ANY woman in the film. The only one who mentioned it was her husband, but he didn't want to go to Hell for suggesting and having her follow through with it. In an abort first, ask questions later media/movie world, we were all pleasantly surprised with this.
There are always negatives as well. Perhaps most unsettling was the depiction of marital infidelity and lack of commitment to wedding vows. Someone mentioned that this was what we should expect from our culture. True, but it is also something that we've seen out of the church as well. Divorce is unfortunately nearly as common in the church today. And that is to be expected since people don't commit to anything these days-why should it be different with marriage?
In addition to discussing characters, positives/negatives, worldviews presented, I was simply blessed to be with a number of different thoughtful minds. Several women helped me see some specific flaws in the main character, as well as some good traits with the hated husband. These women weren't digesting the perhaps pro-feminist theme! Way to go ladies.
Anyhow, I hope others learned as much as I did. I still like this movie a lot. But the discussion made me question some of the things I liked about it and see some other likeable things I ignored. Whether you like this movie or not, it does bring about some intelligent discussion.
Watching a movie by myself can be good, but only through discussion in community can we get the most out of them.
Monday, January 7, 2008
Someone in church yesterday encouraged me greatly with some kind words about my blog. Only those who receive encouragement understand how important it is!
Anyway, he told me that I see God in everyday life. And that was what he appreciated most about the blog. I told him, "You get it!" For that really is one of my hopes in this blog. Everyday as we go through the mundane, ordinary experiences (although getting ultra-sounds is not all that mundane or ordinary unless you have like 20 kids), we have opportunities to turn them into 'devotions.'
Since all of life is to be offered to God as worship-not just corporate worship on Sundays (although this is a non-negotiable, even though people try to negotiate out of this privilege/responsibility)-we ought to look at our world with a 'devotional' eye.
At times it is seeing comparisons and analogies in movies or in our experiences. Other times it is simply reflecting on the beauty of sunny Florida, or the people around us at the grocery store. Wherever we look, if we look closely enough, we can see the world declaring His glory-even in the movies of fallen humanity. Psalms 8 and 19 remind us of these truths.
While a typical devotional life may start very early in the morning for some (not that early for me), it really doesn't need to stop. And it doesn't have to if we can train ourselves to see God in the ordinary. The ordinary can be quite devotional if we let it.
Friday, January 4, 2008
Apparently "Little T" is probably a misnomer. Although only 20 weeks young (or T-19), he has the legs of a 21 weeker. Even now the kid is all legs! We don't expect that to change until late high school.
One of the more shocking things about our time yesterday happened as the doctor told me to turn to the side. I thought she was trying to make me miss the penis, or lack thereof, as she maneuvered the magic pen (like Mortimer on Bill Cosby's "Picture Pages"-although it didn't make any cool sound).
But no, she was checking out my profile. Apparently "Little T" and I have the same 'gently sloping nose.' I was thrilled. But she said my gently sloping nose was a good nose. I'll have to take her word for it. Its not that I hate my nose; its just that I never thought it was a 'good nose.'
Also, "Little T" would not stay put to pose for pictures. He was all over the place. At least he didn't do anything embarrassing like pick his nose. But I'm not sure kids get 'boogs' until they actually get out of the womb. After some poking around, we left him with his privacy. Regardless, some things you can learn from an ultrasound.
I'll try to scan some pictures and put them up here so you can see "Little T's" gently sloping nose and gargantuan, mammoth-like femur that belies that of 21 'weeker.'
One more thing I learned-or rather was reminded of-is that God's process of growing babies inside peoples stomachs is like, really in depth, cool, and amazing. Everything just knows where to go. Wow.
Thursday, January 3, 2008
But before Amy and I went to bed that night our prayers did at least take on a somewhat festive tone. In our short time of thanksgiving, prior to our regular supplications for a healthy baby, family concerns, and for fruitful fishing (I'm kidding), I led us in a brief time reflecting on God's faithfulness in 2007.
I guess its really not a whole lot different than what we ought to do at Thanksgiving. But faithfulness goes beyond just having provisions-its God's presence with you when provisions are low or absent. Before starting a new year, I did find it helpful to remember how God was with us through the thick and lean times.
NowI think I'm about ready for this new year to start. Not bad, I'm only 3 days late.