Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday Download

Here's a few ADD/shotgun thoughts for you:

  • Amanda and I still don't know what our baby is going to be. On the bright side (for her anyway), she gave blood for the last time!
  • Youth Camp is coming up really fast. I love Camp, despite the extreme fatigue that I will have to fight off on the drive home.
  • The CM Camp will be this weekend. We're going to my old stomping ground: Coffee County. We'll be ministering in the service at my granddad's church Sunday night, then doing our own thing the next two days.
  • I am convinced that the kids of VRC are great. Wouldn't trade them for anyone else.
  • I've already started working on the soulimpact calendar for next year. I'm hoping to have it completely (well the big stuff anyway) finished by August.
  • This July, we're going to be having "Open Mic" nights in youth. It will be an opportunity for the teenagers to get up and say what they feel God wants them to say.
  • I'll be using July to study up and plan out the preaching calendar for 2010. I've already got some ideas, but I'm going to do my best to get a lot of background stuff done.
  • School's just gotten out and I'm already excited about the next school year. We've got some pretty cool stuff planned (including a water-ballooning). It's going to be awesome

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Uninspired Blog Posts

It's been several days since my last post (for which I apologize). But, to be honest, I am having a little trouble finding something inspired to write about. Most of the things that pop up in my head are pretty lame and would be a waste of both yours and my time.

So, I have a question: "How do you overcome un-inspiration?" What do you do when you feel creatively empty to refill the tank?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Office Season 5 Finale

Weekly Update

Well, I finally managed to get back on a "normal" schedule. For whatever reason, I had gotten completely out of sync and it was driving me crazy. Good to feel ahead of the game this week.

Speaking of this week: it's really busy. I'm exploding with excitement about tomorrow night's service. We always try to do something huge at the end of school. Last year we really didn't, but this year we're bringing crazy back. Rented some of those Sumo Wrestler costumes so everyone can Sumo Wrestle. It's going to be hilarious. Worship will be awesome and the message has already been a fun one for me. With all the info I was able to dig up, I could have made a VERY, VERY, long sermon. But I was able to deny the Teacher within and cut it down to what's most important (I think this is a desirable trait of a pastor).

I'll be in the office (or around somewhere, working) Thursday and then hittin' up graduation that night @ 7p. Congrats to Codie's brother Chase for achieving Valedictorian. I always get nostalgic at this time of year.

After graduation is over, we're bee-lining for my parents house. First thing Friday, we're making the quick drive from my parents to PC Beach. After an exhausting day, we'll head back to my parents and spend Saturday with them. Then we'll be back for Sunday.

Busy week. Exciting week. Exhausting week. It's going to be great!

What about you? What's your week shaping up to be?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Mac Strikes Back...Again

For those of you who may not know this, I'm a Mac. Ok, that's not entirely true, because I don't actually own a Mac right now. But, I absolutely love them. A few months back I thought my office computer crashed and I was pumped because I thought I would be able to replace it with a Macbook (unfortunately it hadn't crashed, it was just moving really slow).

The folks over at Apple are marketing geniuses. My favorites are the "Hello, I'm a Mac, and I'm a PC" bits. Recently PC fought back by showing all these commercials of regular folk shopping for computers and choosing PCs. PC always seems to be a step behind these days. Well, their commercials irritated Apple, and when they retaliate, they go for the throat:

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Drive-By Evangelism

This post was inspired by--of all things--a lightbulb. This morning as I searched for a lightbulb to replace the blown one in the children's pastor's office, I found hundred of old bulbs in storage. These bulbs were special though; they were part of an old "evangelism" effort.

I know this for two reasons:
#1) They had a little poem attached to them with the church's service times and phone no.


#2) Because, when I was in High School, we did the exact, same evangelism idea.

I very vividly remember the outreach. The Assemblies of God declared a nationwide Outreach month (or day) and sent a letter of potential outreach ideas. The one my church partook in was giving people lightbulbs and inviting them to church. Being the naive and energized teenager I was, I thought it was a great idea and risked life and limb (I was surrounded by three rottweilers at one man's house, who didn't seem to happy for me to be near their owner). We even had a little catch-phrase: "Just like these bulbs give light, so Jesus is the Light of the world. We hope to see you Sunday." Then we'd get back in the car and go to the next victim.

Now, having gained a little more perspective, I realize how horrid an idea this was. It's like evangelism drive-by. You stop by someone's house, whom you've never met, throw a lightbulb in his/her hands, say a witty (or not-so-witty) poem or invite, hop back in the car and take off. Exchange the bulbs for guns and what do you have...? A drive-by.

The thing is, drive-by evangelism rarely works. More times than not, a person whom you have no relationship with will not respond to your frail attempts to "save" them.

The reality is that evangelism is best served in the context of relationships. Now that doesn't mean you can't share the Gospel with people unless they're one of your closest friends, but it does mean that people don't want to be handled--they want to be loved. Evangelism drive-by makes people think that all you want is to bolster your attendance numbers and raise the offering. But, when you develop a genuine relationship--even a small one--in which the person knows that you care for them, you now have fertile ground in which to plant seeds of the Gospel.

Easter Egg Hunts, Fall Festivals, even door-to-door invites cannot replace people sharing the work that God has done/is doing in their lives, with the people they have relationship with (not that those things are bad, just less effective). If the church is to grow, it will grow through the relationships we have with other people.

Let your light shine!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

When People Let You Down

In light of the new controversy surrounding Miss California (click here for article), I wanted to get on my soapbox for a minute.

First off, shame on me for being quick to jump the gun. When I first saw that she had "nude" pics, I was angry. Angry, not because she failed or sinned, but because I was now going to once again be labeled a hypocrite because a "Christian" had a double life. But, now the info I'm reading is saying that these were less severe (but still wrong) pics that she took way back when (maybe she wasn't saved then, who knows?).

Second, this just goes to show that you cannot put your trust in men (or women). Time after time we--especially those of the Christian community--build people up into superheroes. We put expectations and labels on them that they could NEVER live up to. And when they fail, we get ticked off and angry because they made us look bad.

It's not like God didn't give us a heads-up on this. Psalm 146.3-4 says, "Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing." And yet we do it every time. Think of all the men and women who have failed, especially people who were considered the "face of the Church" [which is a-whole-nother blog post]. Jimmy Swaggert, Jim Bakker, Ted Haggard. The list could go on and on, but the story is ultimately the same. Person comes along to do good, people make them a god (despite the warning from Psalms), they crack under pressure and do something really, really dumb, people get ticked and begin looking for the next hero.

So the lesson of all this is simple: Don't build people up to be more than they are. In one way or another they will let you down (hey they're just human too!). There is only one God in whom we can have full confidence that He will never fail us. We need to make sure that our trust and hope is in Him.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Blog Repost

In my morning digest of blogs, I found a very interesting article from Brad Leach commenting on a leadership team meeting he had at his church last night. They were looking at some of the things the church needs/to be aware of during our current economic crisis. You can read the whole post here.

Here are some highlights:

Awareness: The church (which is the people) can't meet each other's needs if they don't know what those needs are. We talked about developing a website, a catalog, or even a simple bulletin board where people can post their needs as well as the resources they have available to help others (finances, talents, skills, time, etc). I think small groups become even more critical, since they are an intimate setting in which people can be real about their needs in relationship with people who are committed to lifting each other up.

Practical Discipleship: When money is tight we've got to teach people to live on less. That means teaching on budgeting, cooking, and strategic shopping (fancy word for coupons). We can do classes, but I think the better approach is life on life mentoring.

Partnership: If the economy continues to struggle for some time, it will become more and more important for churches to cooperate by sharing resources rather than competing for them.

Hope: The Great Depression didn't just refer to a depressed economy. The term describes what happens to people emotionally. It is obvious that problems like disappointment, depression, fear, anxiety, and hopelessness are on the rise in our city. This is an opportunity for the church because we're hope dealers. It's time for a hope campaign.

Thanksgiving: If you focus on your problems long enough you start to think that's all there is. But let's be honest. Even in a recession we've got it better than most of the world. We're surrounded every day by real, tangible, gifts from God. It's time to stop complaining and start drawing closer to Jesus through praise and thanksgiving.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A Life Lived Fully

Yesterday I had the privilege to take part in remembering an awesome woman of God. Mary Edgar is one of my heroes of faith. I can remember when I started attending youth group at El Bethel, how she would sit in services on Sundays, and--no lie--pray the entire service (mostly in tongues too, I think). She had such a passion.

But her story is so much more than that.

Though she came from a small town (or really out in the woods from a small town), she had a global impact. During her lifetime she went on 20 missions trips. She also had a passion for teenagers, serving with our District's Youth Camps for over 30 years. The stories I've heard (which probably come nowhere near accurately describing the impact of her life) of how she would pray and cry and laugh with people all over the world amazes me.

Sometimes, we buy into Satan's lie that we cannot do anything to change the world. We feel unusable. But, no matter where we're from, no matter how badly we may have screwed up in the past, no matter who are family is...we can still be used by God to bring healing to a broken world.

Maw Al did.

And if a woman from a little church outside a little town with no formal ministry training, can make such a GLOBAL impact, then surely you and I can too.

May her memory live on forever in our thoughts and deeds.

Friday, May 1, 2009

My First Award

Well, I received my first "blogger award" the other day from Codie. There are a couple of rules involved with this one though:

1. You have to write about 7 things that you love.
2. You have to give the award to 7 other people.

Unfortunately, most of the blogs I read are from people who have no clue who I am--mostly pastors from across the country. Of the people I do know, who I could give the award too, Codie already stole them. So, I guess I'll have to settle for rule #1.

1. Jesus, my Lord
2. My wife, Amanda
3. My baby. We don't know if it's a boy or girl, but either way I love them with all my heart!
4. The Office. Best Comedy Show Ever.
5. Chinese and Mexican food
6. Football
7. Basketball
8. Ministry
9. Nerdy TV Shows (Discovery, History, etc.)
10. Car Washes (just kidding; I absolutely abhor car washes)