Thursday, December 31, 2009

Amazed and Thankful

This week in staff meeting we were thanking God for the good offerings in the month of December. We had exceeded our projections for income and had held the line in spending. And yet it was apparent that we would end the year in the red. The Finance Committee and Deacons were aware of this situation. Still, in staff meeting on Tuesday, December 29, I led in prayer to ask God to miraculously provide some unexpected offerings that would put us in the black.

The next day I ran into people who had brought in some offerings and most of the time I never even know the details. On Wednesday the 30th I was interrupted and was shown something that took my breath away. It was an offering for $100,000.

God does not always do what we ask. In those times we trust His goodness and remain grateful. But when God steps in like this it is amazing. I am glad to report we will end the year in the black with all reserve funds intact.

Conversations around the office have been amazing. Things like, “Why are we surprised when God answers our prayers?” I think the feeling of being surprised is the same feeling that comes when we are amazed and grateful altogether. God is good and we are overflowing with thanksgiving at the close of 2009.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

One Vision.Two Services.One High Street

I don't think we all know just yet what God is going to do with our plan to expand our services at High Street. I do know that when I invited someone to come to church today they asked me what time the service started. I answered, 10:30. They expressed some disappointment when they answered that they worked on Sunday. After loosing their job, they work whatever hours they can get at their new job. They said that they would not be able to go to church and make it to work on time. And then it dawned on me, we are going to have an early service in just a few weeks. I told her that on April 19 we would be adding an 8:30 service. They mentioned that an early service might allow them to come.

We will need to go back to some of our friends who have not been able to accept an invitation because of the the time of our service. With both an 8:30 and 11:00 service there will be a greater chance that something could work for them.

A NEW SERVICE - NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR INVITATIONS. We have a message we need to make it easy to hear. This new schedule will do that.

Friday, March 6, 2009

One Vision.Two Services.One High Street

I am glad to announce the latest breaking news regarding our plan to expand our Worship Services.

After some very good and gracious feedback regarding our plan we have made some changes.

Some were glad for the additional time options for their families.

Others were concerned about being able to stay in their Sunday School classes. I was so blessed to receive emails and letters where people expressed how much how much they loved their Sunday School class. They talked about how blessed they were by their teachers and the people in the class. They talked about how much these relationships meant to them. It became very clear that with the new options to choose between the "Blended Classsic" and the "Blended Contemporary" people were disappointed when the option of their choice meant they could no longer be a part of their current Sunday School class. In response to this feedback we are glad to announce the following revised schedule that will begin the Sunday after Easter, April 19.

8:30 - Worship Service: Blended Classic
9:45 - Sunday School
11:00 - Worship Service: Blended Contemporary

The vision is to provide meaningful worship opportunities for everyone. Our goal is to have two well done, energetic services. There are many details yet to work out. I am looking forward to these changes.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Family John Experiment

Tonight we began the John Experiment as a family. All the kids were home and so after dinner we sat around the table and read through the first chapter of John. There are a couple of truths that drive this experiment for me:

1. The Word of God is alive.
2. The Holy Spirit is at work.

With that in mind we began and I shot up one of those prayers kind of like, "Lord please show up here tonight". A couple of the kids shared the reading of the 54 verses. I then asked the question, "What stuck out to you tonight?" Each kid shared the verse that stuck out to them and why. Here are a couple of their responses.

* John in one chapter summarizes the most important truths needed to understand salvation.
* The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world was a favorite theme.

We ended our discussion commenting on how John predicted that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit. I asked if anyone could share an instance when they felt the Holy Spirit speaking to them. One kid described how they left their group of friends watching a DVD movie because they just did not feel like it was something they should watch. A simple nudging was what they felt and so they left. Another one followed with a comment about having watched something with so much profanity and vulgar words that they walked away feeling "grieved" by it. They determined that the Holy Spirit within them had been grieved. We all shared how that caring for James sometimes pushes all of us to our servant limits. And yet somehow we concluded that caring for him fell within the serving of the "least of these" that Jesus describes in Matthew 25.

My prayer had been answered. The Holy Spirit's presence was evident. The level of sharing penetrated deep within our souls and we shared a special moment not often found. I am even more convinced now.

1. The Word of God is alive.
2. The Holy Spirit is at work.

If you have not given the John Experiment a try in your family yet, try it. There is something about reading the Bible out loud together.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

"My Story"

This year we added a new tradition to our Christmas morning. After breakfast we all took the time to write out "My Story". With stories in hand we gathered before we exchanged gifts to each read our story. I will never forget that moment. Nothing in this world matters to me more than the salvation of my children and their walk with the Lord. It was my greatest gift to be able to hear their stories written by them read to all of us. The conversations continued as we asked questions and celebrated our individual and personal journeys and walk with the Lord.

Now the gifts of toys and and clothes and bath gels and on and on were great too. I really loved the simple dollar store basketball game I gave to James. Literally, I had to intercept it from James while he was opening other things to get the hang of it. Christmas is fun.

Special thanks to the photography of

Christmas Eve

I love our Christmas Eve service at church. There is something very nice about starting the Christmas Day with extended Church Family. There is a real sense of community as people come together for a moment of worship with each other. Meeting with people who you love is what makes Christmas special.

After the service we spent a few minutes for some Christmas pictures. Somehow Christmas marks the passage of time for a family. The kids are growing up and every year that change a little bit. There is real love and peace around the table as we laugh and tell stories. I am so grateful for God's Word. It gives us instructions on how to keep the peace at home. It makes loving each other a joy. Peace on earth is great, but peace at home is especially sweet.

Monday, December 22, 2008

"Plastic Baby Jesus"

We had some guests over at the house until late evening Friday night. When we went to the door to thank them for their visit we saw a "plastic baby Jesus" on the porch in front of the door. It was one of those lighted plastic Jesus figures in a manger that belongs with a nativity set. Well, what do you do with a stolen "plastic baby Jesus"? It was the perfect prank, someone stole it from a neighbor and implicated the pastor by putting it on his porch. The next day Cindy and I drove around the neighborhood looking for nativity sets missing baby Jesus. There were quite a few of these plastic nativity sets. All of them had their Jesus and then finally we found it, the Nativity set with the missing baby. I went up and rang the door bell excited to tell our neighbor we had their missing baby. An elderly lady came out to talk to me on that cold winter Saturday. I told her that I had a baby and maybe it was hers. She said, no, her baby Jesus was in the corner of her porch waiting for Christmas Day. She said “you can’t put out the baby until Christmas day. The baby isn’t born yet.” Well we still had a missing baby. So what do you do with a "plastic baby Jesus" that is stolen? You can’t keep it. You dare not throw it away. You would return it but don’t know where it belongs. Keep it and hope that the thief brings you Mary and Joseph the next year?

So what do you do? You work it into an illustration for Sunday's Christmas sermon. The illustration actually worked well with the message theme. After the service a very repentant prankster came up to confess that she (and her accomplice who was not with her) had done the prank. Well the story has a happy ending. I got a good illustration for a sermon. The pranksters made everything right by coming to get "plastic baby Jesus"and returning it to the waiting Joseph and Mary on somebody's yard.

The point is that for all of us Christmas is about some great things like trees and decorations, Stanta Claus and cooking and giving gifts and shopping and getting the most for your money and bargains and time off from school and work. But the truth is, if we forget that it really is about the Baby born to mankind who was God Himself we miss it completely. I want to wish you all a very MERRY CHRISTMAS.