Saturday, July 21, 2007

John Deere Green

Andrew got a new room for his birthday. Turning 6 means that the hand painted dinosaurs on the wall were covered with hand painted tan. Thanks to Uncle Mike for the all the John Deere collectibles, Andrew's room now resembles something between a museum and Cracker Barrel. Here are some pictures....

Friday, July 20, 2007

Sleepers RSV

Well, yesterday's post on sleepers created no little email storm of opinion. First, let me clarify that none of the aforementioned people were sleeping this Sunday, but they did have my permission to,,, although not in writing as that may raise legal issues in the future. However some of the discussion led to how much church does one need to attend. All we have as far as instruction is that we are not to forsake assembling together. What does that mean? Is one service enough should 2 get us through or do we really need to go 3 or 4 times a week. To answer this from my perspective unless otherwise prohibited a person ought to attend every service that his or her church holds. And before you go and say "you're only saying that because you are the preacher" Let me explain. We have three "services" at Cornerstone. Worship, Bible Fellowship, and Wednesday Prayer & Bible Study. These are not three identical services and they don't even serve the same purpose. The church is designed for the attendee to get the most out of every service, but in different ways. For instance Sunday's message is a challenge pure and simple. Bible Fellowship is exactly that, applying Bible in the context of a small group fellowship, and Wednesday nights are a lot like a college course with extended time of prayer. To choose to attend only one would leave you thinking that this church is out of balance. Most of us would know that if we ate an unbalanced diet physically then we would be sick. The same holds true spiritually. If we only come on Wednesday then we have knowledge without being challenged to use it. If we only come Sunday we are poorly equipped to do much because we have not take the time to train. That is why churches hold extra services. Some churches even have a Sunday night service to allow for Salvation messages only on Sunday mornings with Life application messages on Sunday night. No matter how many services your church holds, there is probably a reason for them and thus for you to attend.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

I love people who sleep in church

From time to time some people do fall asleep during my message on Sunday. Every pastor has to face the fact that it will happen and get over the distraction of totally boring some people, but there are some people who have my permission to sleep (and even snore if necessary) in church. They slip under the radar of most church attenders, but these are the ones who by their very presence preach to me, while I preach to them. For instance last Sunday Ed Gilliand and Chuck DeVane both told me, at separate times that they worked until 3 a.m. on Saturday. I told them both to feel free to take a nap in church, they had my permission. Also, a few weeks ago Polly Bee Amato was caught sneaking into church still in her scrubs from working a 12 hour shift in the Trauma ICU unit. I can't even imagine how tiring that must be, but these people speak volumes to me of what it means to be faithful. So (those of you who are too quick to judge) the next time that you see someone sleeping in church sit in awe of the faithfulness of these faithful few who serve past the point of exhaustion.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

What do you do when you are in a valley?

I love to watch survival shows on Discovery channel. My favorite was Survivorman, a Canadian guy who would lose himself somewhere and video tape his escape by himself, but he must be lost somewhere in syndication now. Man vs. Wild hosted by Bear Grylls is the new top survival show. He is followed by a camera crew, so he is not as destitute as the other guy, but he is much cooler, and better looking, plus his resume includes being the youngest Brit to climb Everest. All that being said, I was reading C.S. Lewis describe life's ups and downs and how that it is all part of life and the it only matters what we do with those ups and downs.

All this started me thinking about the survival shows and what they did to survive the long hikes out of the wilderness and back to civilization. This is the nugget of truth that I learned and want to share with you. When Bear is dropped off, the first thing he will do is to climb to the peak to gain perspective and catch a vision for his walk. However, he cannot remain on the mountain top because 1. He will never reach his destination and 2. There is no food to sustain him on the mountain top. Application: When God allows us to reach mountaintops in life it is only for perspective and direction, not a place to camp out, no matter how great the view. (Read Matthew 17:4 for Peter's thoughts on this)

Bear knows that life sustaining water is actually in the valley and if he is going to live and complete his journey then he is going to need to pass through the valleys. Spiritually, we tend to depress the valleys. We talk so much about how we pass through the valley of death and how miserable it is to be in a valley, but maybe we are not thinking correctly about the valleys. Maybe we need to change our thinking about what we do when we are in a valley? Bear takes time to get fresh water in the valleys. The pools of water on mountain tops are often riddled with bacteria, but the springs of the valley give pure water. He will also build a shelter for a place to rest, the weather on the mountain top is too extreme for rest, the valleys are the best place to rest. Finally he will gather food for the journey in the valley. Because of the water in the valley, there is fruit for him to carry with him.

So what do you do when you find yourself in the next spiritual valley? rejoice! No, you can't see the future from here, but this is the place to find living water, rest and nourishment for the journey ahead. So when you find yourself in the valley, take some time to rest, spend some time to refresh yourself with the Living Water, and gather the fruits of the spirit into your life for the journey ahead.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Watermelooza Schmooza

What a fun event. Everyone was so helpful, from Extreme Jumpers who provided the water slide, to Larry the HOA president of Westridge subdivision who hosted the event. We were able to give away 100 melons, but we had to cheat a little at the end by sending our volunteers home with up to 5 or 6 to pass out to neighbors. I learned some valuable lessons last night about ministry.

1. People don't trust the church (in general)
We are often as guilty of the bait and switch as the business community so much that to give something away totally free is met with skepticism. It requires a total reprogramming of what the church is about.

2. It is always best to meet people on their turf
It would have been very hard to attract people to come pick up melons if it was not right there in the subdivision where they live. We need to be more mindful of taking the good news to the people.

3. FREE doesn't matter to some people
Whether it be free watermelons or the freeness of salvation, some people will always turn it down. We heard excuses for why people couldn't receive a free melon. two great ones were, "We are on vacation." (I didn't know that was a rule) another excuse was "we just ate" (like they would have to take it straight home to eat it.) In reality, some people just didn't want it no matter the cost. Sadly, they tell this to the one who gave His life for them too. It is our job to help them discover their true need for Him.

4. We have some of the best volunteers ever
I am so proud of the way that our volunteers worked to pull this off, then came back out to meet the guests and open the door for sharing Christ. Jodie and Shawn Ciccarello really shined bright and I am proud to be part of their church.

5. Not very many people are aware of Cornerstone
Putting the signs up on Saturday and taking them down on Sunday means that there is a very small window of opportunity for people to find our church. It teaches me that we as a church need to raise the awareness of our presence in the community and the best way is for every member of the church to love it so much that they invite others to come.