Monday, September 28, 2009
Yesterday I heard a lot about some very dangerous men.
Story goes....it all started some months ago, when on a Saturday morning they met quietly in the church basement for breakfast, giving every appearance of being godly and fair-minded....and then suddenly, after eating....they simply tore the kitchen of the church completely apart.....nothing was spared, not the cupboards, not the appliances....everything went under their blows and prying.
The next month they did it again...but this time it was the carpet in the church....they tore it out completely. Gone...not a trace left.
Dangerous men indeed.
Thankfully though, their actions did not signal destruction, but the outset of a months-long process of refurbishing the kitchen, and indeed, the entire church in Brush, Colorado.
And some of the MAPS people showed up on four different occasions to "attack" other parts of the building, especially the outside.
You should see it all now....fresh tile on the floor, the smell of new carpet in the air, paint in soft tones on so many walls, some old walls removed for a bigger look, and a fresh outside touch as well.
Calvary Assembly, Brush, Colorado.
We were there yesterday in a service given over entirely to celebration. (I spoke from Ezra 3)
One of the "dangerous" men was presented with the "golden knee pads award" - you should have seen it! Another worker received a "golden paintbrush" - for you-can-guess-what.
Over $20,000 was given and hundreds of hours were volunteered.
And the impact of it all is being felt already - in the love and unity in the church, the faith that is palatable and the people crowding the facility - more during the week than on the weekend!!
Way-to-go Pastors Don and Wendy Lott....and the great family of God that have worked with you.
...home to some very dangerous men.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Wildfires are a terrible thing.
Everything affected...the ground, the air, trees, flowers, homes, people, pets.
Only ashes left....and smoke....and rubble.
Memories, peace, life, comfort - gone.
Wildfire in a person's life is just the same.
So, building a firewall - a perimeter that provides safety - is a great idea.
>Establishing personal boundaries and maintaining personal strengths can go a long ways to protecting marriage and families and ministry.
>Open confession, accountability measures with self and others is just the same.
Here are five firewall standards that I (and church staff I have overseen) have practiced and found helpful:
1. No one-on-one alone contexts with the opposite sex (or troubled same-sex) including in the following situations: a. driving a car or other mode of transportation
b. eating with a person of opposite sex - even in a public place
c. making visit/s to a person in a place of residence
d. responding to emergencies in private locations
e. meeting a person in the office when the offices are closed.
2. If you have to meet someone when the office is closed, do so with a third party present, or near enough to be have their presence felt.
3. If married, at all times your spouse should know where you are and be able to reach you.
4. No touch....even in public places, exercise extreme caution. This is tinder for many fires.
5. If your mind rehearses immoral constructs....confess that as sin and plainly to God, and take that as a warning that you need to build an even stronger firewall.
"God wants you to live a pure life.
Keep yourselves from sexual promiscuity.
God hasn't invited us into a disorderly, unkempt life, but into something holy and beautiful - as beautiful on the inside as the outside.
May you (and I) be infused with strength and purity, filled with confidence in the presence of God...."*
* From I Thessalonians 3&4 - The Message
Monday, September 14, 2009
"In the last analysis it was (George) Washington
and the army that won the war for American independence.
The fate of the war and the revolution rested on the army.
The Continental Army -
not the Hudson River or the possession of new York or Philadelphia
- was the key to victory.
And it was Washington who held the army together
and gave it "spirit" through the most desperate of times.
He was not a brilliant strategist or tactician,
not a gifted orator,
not an intellectual.
At several crucial moments he had shown marked indecisiveness.
He had made serious mistakes in judgment.
But experience had been his great teacher from boyood,
and in this his greatest test, he learned steadily from expeience.
Washington never forgot what was at stake
and he never gave up."*
(*Concluding assesment of David McCullough
- Pulitzer Prize winner - in his account of "1776.")
Leadership has always been the key.
The kind of leadership that..
Learns from experience...
Remembers what is at stake.....
And never gives up....
(at least until Jesus says, "enough.")
Keys to greatness.
Deep inner qualities of person....past the showy, easily seen stuff.
May we be full of that kind of greatness.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
I received this e-mail several days ago.
"Music is pleasing not only because of the sound
but because of the silence that is in it:
without the alternation of sound and silence, there would be no rhythm.
If we strive to be happy by filling in the silences of life with sound,
productive by turning all life's leisure into work,
and real by turning all our being into doing,
we will only succeed in producing a hell on earth.
If we have no silence, God is not heard in our music.
If we have no rest, God does not bless our work.
If we twist our lives out of shape
in order to fill every corner of them with action and experience,
God will seem silently to withdraw from our hearts and leave us empty."*
May your life and mine be full of the rhythms of grace.
*From: Through the Year with Thomas Merton
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
We traveled over 2000 miles by car in the last week. To Houston and back...plus some zig zags.
Listened to some radio during. (and some Garrison Keilor sp?)
Some of the christian stations were playing hymns...some in the original style, some instrumental, some vocal, some with contemporary edges.
Hymn: (Webster) "a song in praise to God." That's ok for starters and most basic definition, but I would prefer to add, "normally with verses, rather thematic focus, and most often with a memorable chorus."
We were in church on Sunday morning - a deep south, rural, small, pew-and-pulpited Texas church - and they sang hymns. To a quick tempo, with twangy words, and guitar to match, nodding heads and deep heart expressions. I had discovered a new style of church - Texas style.
Our family shared several days all together - days of rich conversation, good food and lots of laughter. (And some NU football.) Part of the family is now on the road to Florida....so we cherished this time to all be together in a special way.
And just before we said "good bye" we sang hymns. Mom had requested it and so we circled up and sang in parts, and I for one had to drop out quite frequently because it touched me so deeply inside. At times as we went deeper into the verses the clarity surrendered to jumbles of guesses, but the choruses....ah the choruses!
The youth among us stood willingly with us, but it seemed to take the adults to know the hymns by heart. And it occured to me so strongly that so many of our children are not learning hymns. What will they do when they need a hymn?
Jesus needed a hymn on the night he went to his death - "they sang a hymn and went out" - Matthew 26:30.
The early church saw what it did to Jesus and decided they did too. (See too Acts 16:25)
Paul, told us all that the Spirit energizes and equips us through hymns within us - "singing to one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs." (Eph. 5:19)
And Paul praised the Corinthian church for their gatherings that contained - "hymns" - I Corinthians 14:26.
Seems to me for thousands of years the people of God have been greatly strengthened (and catechized) through hymns.
Do you sing hymns?
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
We met for the first time in an old eatery.
I was a church- planting pastor looking for a place for the flock to meet.
The on-campus Episcopal chapel location was moving to an end and we needed more space.
Marvin was the head of a fraternal order, the Knights of Pythias….and they owned an old bingo hall just blocks from the chapel we were already meeting in…Lodge #14.
The Marvin information was being given to me by someone I had met with to seek ideas. And that person was telling me about Marvin and the Lodge and "maybe they would let you rent it on Sundays. They have bingo on Saturdays, but perhaps…– You need to contact Marvin. He is in charge, but he is really hard to get with" - and then they paused and said…"well, could you believe it, there is Marvin right over there." He too was getting food.
And so we met, Marvin and I.
A crusty, stocky, button-nosed middle-aged man with guttural voice and a fearsome reputation in the business community. Hair flying in all directions and a few warts to boot…with story after story of wheeling and dealing, profit and loss. Glee and anger.
And me, a young church planter, thin, with tenor voice and a smallish nose and knowing nothing at all about business.
And he rented the Bingo hall to us – gave us a good deal…and after a time started dropping in on our guitar-led, half-circled, long, long services.
My first understanding of how he really felt about us was when he attached us to the Lodge in a formal introduction…and did so with evident pride.
And when the Lodge just didn't work for the church any more, we found a Seventh-day Adventist building – aren't you glad they worship on Saturdays? – and Marvin followed us there.
And finally we outgrew that place too, and now 10 years into the life of the church we were trying to buy land. And Marvin emerged again to help us negotiate and contributed greatly to the process.
And when the building opened he was there…..with his wife, Dorothy.
And on some days he would wipe tears. And sometimes he would just get angry over something. And I remember one day when he raised his hand.
And on some days he would write his own version of beatitude: "blessed are the gruff for they shall take the earth by force."
And after so long there were occasions of prayer.
And on a cold windy day, I conducted Dorothy's funeral.
And this week………………………………………..I have paused long knowing someone was doing his funeral.
And I marvel at the intricate journey of life….
The way God uses people, all kinds of people, to build His church.
The combinations of people He puts together to provide the chemistry that ignites.
The way He rescues the ignorant and insecure J and surrounds them with strength.
The orchestration of inches that produce miles of progress. (1400 people, 15 acres, a huge building)
It is after all, all about….