Saturday, September 29, 2007

Busy! Busy! Busy!

It's been a busy and tiring past few days. The more I want to get out of church and more into the community, the more I find myself in church. My goal is to be out the doors of the church more than in the church. I want to know more people in the community, especially those who do not know Jesus, form relationships, then help lead them to Jesus and church or vice-versa.

This week shapes up to be busy already, between meetings, funerals and visitation, the week is already filling up. Remember me in prayer. And speaking about prayer, for the next couple of weeks, we are going to attempt to get as many pictures of people in the church that we can. I want the staff to be able to look at your beautiful picture and be able to pray specifically for you and your family. After worship on 9/30 and 10/7, we will have a group of folks taking pictures in the family life center. I am looking forward to praying specifically for our folks.

We are up to 100 people signed up for the Network study. That is AWESOME!!! That means over 30% of our average Sunday morning attendance has signed up. I am so excited about this class. I really believe it is going to open up some eyes and hearts of people in the church, and lead them to ministries they never thought possible and never thought God called them to.

All I can say is LOOKOUT Alexandria, we are ready to rock and roll for God. Okay, maybe you are ready to waltz or samba or twist, or rap, or grunge . . . whatever it is I sense the readiness to move.

Tomorrow 9/30, we will have a really cool video during worship. I'm not into American Idol, but this one is great, it brings a tear to my eyes, and I 'm certain it will tomorrow. Ernie and I were working on the laptop trying to work this out, and I think . . . we are ready to show this video. I've had it for a couple of months, and it will speak to our lack of confidence in how we are gifted. So, be ready!! Be a Tiger (listen to the message to get the point)!!

See you!! I probably won't be able to sleep much tonight, the adrenalin is already pumping!!

Michael

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Venti Anyone

One of my favorite coffees is Starbucks Bold coffee. When I drink it, I know I am drinking coffee. To my surprise there was an article about Starbucks in Psychology Today. Here's a recap of the article along with thoughts about Starbucks and the church ~

Vision. "From a base of just 100 stores 15 years ago, Starbucks has grown into a 13,000-strong coffeehouse armada. It operates cafes in all 50 states and in 37 countries... The company now opens more than 2,000 coffeehouses per year, an average of six new stores a day."

The company's goal is to have 40,000 stores worldwide. Does anyone else think our (universal church) vision for the Church pales in comparison? We complain about one another and even discredit the ministry of churches that are unique and leading tons of people to Jesus, while this company (that's just trying to sell more coffee) is trying to open 40,000 unique locations. Are we thinking too small?

Intentionality. "At Starbucks, nothing is accidental. Everything the customer interacts with, from the obsessively monitored store environment down to the white paper cups, is the product of deliberation and psychological research. The coffeehouse as we know it is a calculated creation..."

Is it only me or does it tick you off, too, that Starbucks has demonstrated this much intentionality in selling coffee while the Church is not quite intentional about much, or maybe we just embrace a passive (or maybe it's just lazy) approach to spreading the Gospel.

Community. "Starbucks filled America's need for a public gathering spot--...a 'third place' with home and work being place one and two. This became Starbucks' community rallying cry: It wasn't a coffee company, but a place for bringing people together through the social glue of coffee."

I couldn’t believe that statement, because I just spoke about the church being a 3rd place last Wednesday night at the business meeting. Maybe we should open a coffee house. I say that not in passing, but with all seriousness.

Atmosphere. Starbucks interviewed coffee drinkers and found that they "talked very little about the coffee itself, but quite a bit about feelings and atmosphere... The coffee wasn't the point--the feel of the place was."
Here's the reality--Starbucks just wants to sell more coffee. But, we don't hear blogging baristas (I love that word) complaining about how Starbucks has watered down the coffee because they're actually paying attention to people's feelings and the atmosphere of their stores.

What if God gifted artists to create an atmosphere for people to be more receptive to hearing the Gospel? What if God created some people with the gift of hospitality to design a welcoming environment for people to hear the Gospel? What if God gifts people and directs them through the Holy Spirit to think about effective building design, sound systems, video capabilities and children's ministry so that more people might hear the Gospel? Is it possible that we're trying to put God in a box by limiting how he chooses to reach people?

That is why it is so important to know our purpose and how God has gifted us. God will use methods we have not seen before to reach people who have yet to commit their lives to Christ. I'm amazed at the variety of different approaches God used in the Bible to get people's attention and transform lives. God is not done creating; and He is not done redeeming.

Just some thoughts. What are yours?

A Ribbiting night

I was on the way out the front door to go to the hospital to see David H. and on our front porch was a cute little frog. I stopped in my tracks, should have taken a picture, called out to Debbie, and of course what did the frog do, it hopped away.

But, alas, I found it under a bush and got it hopping, called the boys down and Joshua wanted to chase it down in the rain.

So, it was a ribbiting night. HA!

On another note - David Holmes was taken to Community via paramedics. It was cool to walk in and see Kenny Hand and Jim Nelson already there. David was admitted and will be undergoing tests to see why he passed out.

Hope your night is not too . . .

Michael

Friday, September 21, 2007

Living a Paradox

What a day! I feel like I was the source of Mark Twain, when he wrote "it was the best of times, it was the worst of times" (A Tale of Two Cities). That was how the day went.

It started out with a very slow moving computer. I updated my anti-virus protection and it dramatically slowed down my computer at church, and I have to admit, I was losing patience. Just ask Damon. What was amazing was the fact that we used to wait 15 seconds for a page to change, now that it is 1-2 seconds, waiting any longer drives us crazy. Thanks for putting up with me D.

Rita also helped me out by showing me how to make a pie chart in excel. You'll see the fruits of her labors on Sunday. We'll take a look at how we spend our lives. I felt frustrated since I wanted my message done early in the day, but it had to wait until later to finish. Had a great talk with my best friend Tim, ABC pastor in Dubuque. I would be lost without him. We talk every week about ministry, pastoring, family, life, football - especially Penn State football (Tim's from Pennsylvania).

Ernie's CD burner died, so it must have been a bad computer day at FBC.

Finally, after coming home we had been invited along with a few hundred others to attend the Colts training camp in Indy for a Juvenile Diabetes program. I didn't think we were going, since Zachary had been sick, but was better Thursday and today. What an amazing facility. We learned about a new type of computer program to help track blood sugar and to stay in touch with Riley hospital, then everyone was able to go into the indoor training facility for the Colts. Next to it is the outdoor facility. What a massive building and facility. Being on the field always gives you a different perspective. That is true in life. When we get involved, we see life in a very different way.

Joshua and Zachary were awestruck. They had balls to kick field goals, to throw passes, tackling dummies were out. Joshua couldn't believe that the artificial grass was really fake. I must admit Dad was pretty psyched, too. I punted a few, made a couple of 35 Yard punts, only about 7 yards short of the NFL average. I kicked some field goals. Amazingly I kicked a 30 yard field goal, without a kicking tee. It seemed like the ball traveled forever, it was pretty cool. Yet the pros kick 50 yarders with ease. I decided next year, I want to work on my kicking and kick a 40 yarder. Sadly, my right quad (thigh) really hurts. Talk about being out of shape. But, I'm going to work on it. It was a blast. I think I enjoyed it as much, if not more than the boys.

Well, it was a mixed bag day. I expect tomorrow to be better. Zachary has a soccer game at 9:30 a.m. and Joshua has his first football game at 10:30 a.m. He is the kicker and wide receiver. We went over blocking schemes, so the boy is ready. I remember our old junior high cheer, B-E A-G-G-R-E-S-S-I-V-E - - - BE AGGRESSIVE - BE AGGRESSIVE. That is the theme for tomorrow. I can tell he's a little nervous about getting hit, yet, I look forward to watching this once little boy continue to grow and mature and try new things.

In spite of the bad moments, overall, life is really, really good. Pictures of the boys to come in the next day or so.

Have a great Saturday, pray for Sunday, be ready for Sunday, be ready to worship . . . Jesus!!

Michael

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

More Networking

We are now up to 54! I am going to try to talk to some Sunday school classes about what this can do for the individual and the church.

This is also open to invite a friend. Maybe you know someone who is wondering about their purpose and plan in life . . . this may open the door for them in their relationship with God.

If you could not read yesterdays post, I played with the color, sorry, just highlight it and you can read it or click on the title of today's and it will take you to the blog at blogger.com

I heard about a great ministry idea today. Anyone hear of Angel Food Ministries. I know 2 churches doing it in different parts of the country and these ministries have taken off. I think our area, with a depressed economy may be ripe for this. Navigate the site http://www.angelfoodministries.com

You purchase food at a discounted price. It is open to everyone with no membership fees, etc. One friend in Texas has orders of over $10,000 per month. Because of the numbers, he has moved his office into the reception area, so he could hang out with the people who are ordering and picking up food.

Just a thought. What are your thoughts for outreach and ministry in Alex?

Michael

Sports Boys / sick boy

It was really hot out there tonight. We watched the Z-man or Zach attack in soccer practice. He is holding his own against older kids. He's the youngest out there, he's 7, playing with 8-12 year olds. He really hustles and blocks a good deal of the other kids. It helps that he is pretty fearless. Don't tell him I used the word pretty in a sentence about him.

Then it was onto football practice for Joshua. He is learning to be more aggressive on the field, but there is that fear factor when you first play tackle football. He really wants to play wide receiver, unfortunately at this age there is not a lot of passing. Too bad, because he is one of the faster kids out there. They did tryouts for the kicker. That is the person who kicks off from the tee after touchdowns, etc. They had the kids line up and kick, Joshua made the first cut, then the second cut, then it was down to him and one other boy. Joshua ended up being selected as the kicker. It was great to see your child succeed right before your eyes. Every kick but one was good to great. Now he wants to be the wide receiver/kicker.

While Joshua was at practice, Zachary was complaining about his stomach hurting, saying another kid kicked a ball which hit his belly. Turns out the boy ended up with a 102.8 temperature. Amazing he played that well, and was getting sick. So . . . keep him in prayer over the next day or so.

It will never cease to strike me at the tugging on your heart when one of your children is hurting. We had to change Zach's pump site tonight, which hurt him a lot, probably because he didn't feel well to begin with. I don't care if he is 7, 17 or 47, it always hurts mom and dads heart when they hurt. I hear him sneezing as I write, it's 10:10.

Okay, have a great night.

Michael

Monday, September 17, 2007

NETWORKING

Wow - two days in a row. I was really excited today when I saw how many people signed up for the Network class on Spiritual gifts. I expected maybe 15-20 for the first week would be a good start, instead we had . . . ready for this. . . are you sure . . . I know, I'm playing with you, teasing you, and I love it. Oh, what was I saying? Oh yeah, we had 53 people sign up. How cool is that. And I know more will be signing up.

It tells me we are hungry to know what God is planning for us, and I know the word great is involved. It would be so great if we could hit 75 people signing up for the spiritual gifts class. 100 would blow me away. I'd have to sing a song for that one.

Go to this link and you can read more about the book at Christianbook.com

http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/product?isbn=0310257956&event=AFF&p=1011658

Anyway, wanted to share the great news with you.

Michael

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Coming and Going

Hey There -

It's hard to imagine the week has gone by so quickly. Ever notice they start slow and and fast? That's how they go for me. It all gears up to Sunday. Weekends are not the same for me as they are for most. All the weeks preparations lead to Sunday morning worship. In essence, the fruits of my labors is made evident to about 300 people on Sunday morning.

Last week was filled with meetings, Deacons, trustees, staff, CE, tech and finance. I had something going every night from last Saturday - Friday. I'll gladly take a night or two off. This week the Deutsch family gears up for Joshua's first football game. They play next Saturday morning at 10:30 at the high school field. Joshua is excited, he wants to be a wide receiver. It's fun to watch him slowly become more aggressive. I have to admit it's fun to see him getting in the action. Zachary is the youngest of the kids playing soccer. They range from 8-12 years old, but he was more advanced than the 5-7 year olds, so he's in the older league. He's actually holding his own.

I took some of my sermon to heart this evening and treated my body well. Instead of my usual desert, I had cholesterol free egg omelet. Sometimes I do listen to me.

Remember to pray for Maryann W. for her back surgery which is tomorrow morning (Monday).

I am going to try to post to this blog every couple of days, so pray for me to have the discipline to do so.

The community band did a wonderful performance tonight at church. When you think about it, most towns of 6,000 don't have bands that large. Pretty cool. I wonder if they could do a little Pink Floyd? You know Pink Floyd used an orchestra at times. Maybe they could do a laser show a la Trans Siberian Orchestra.

Anyway, have a great week, help others to see the greatness inside of them.

Michael

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Hey Folks -

This is the start of the blog. If you like it, tell others about it, have them sign up.

What an awesome weekend we had! We walked in the juvenile diabetes walk, enjoyed our time with other families, and most importantly raised money to help find a cure for diabetes.

Sometimes, actually, oftentimes, Joshua and Zachary amaze me.

Catch these pictures... could you hold a python. The best I could do was to touch it. The owner said it eats 3-4 pound rabbits. Yummy!

They also posed with the Super Bowl trophy, but we superimposed the Bears logo on it! Just joking.
Anyway, we had a great time.
Sunday always arrives faster than I can imagine.
I was glad to hear a great deal of positive feedback about today's message, not for my ego's sake, but I want to know that I am striking a chord with people, and touching upon what needs to be discussed.
I preach from my heart, (golly, there's that heart word), but was glad to receive a great deal of positive feedback about the need to guard our heart. It's something we don't often think about, yet, the most important part of our being.
I have a sense that people are relaxed in worship. It was great to have Damon and Ernie getting tongue tied and Ernie poking fun at me. It helps me to feel included, that I belong, and isn't that part of community, a sense of belonging, we all want it. Of course, Joshua coming forward and wanting to be baptized because he believes in Jesus is great, it left me speechless. I'm not sure how I will muddle threw his baptism!!
It was a tiring day, with a tiring week ahead. Meetings this afternoon and on many nights this week are reminders of the work which needs to be accomplished by the whole group. And I believe, firmly believe, we will do the work which is needed, and see the fruits of our labor, because we will be doing it with God first.
It's kind of ironic, as tired as I was this afternoon, I become energized with our group on Sunday night. I feel the freedom to experiment and play, yet to preach and teach God's word. Tonight's focus was Psalm 30 and our need to embrace God's healing in whatever capacity it comes to us, and to know we will have our nights of weeping and mourning, but after that comes celebration and dancing. And for those at the Sunday night worship, I took out the old guitar and danced and jumped on furniture and picked up the boys and Debbie as I played to Lynyrd Skynyrd's Gimme Three Steps.
So, it's time to get ready for sleep. Have a great spirit filled, Christ centered week. Pray for our staff meeting and trustees meeting and a worship meeting tomorrow night, and CE on Tuesday night, and Bible Study on Wednesday night.
Next Sunday we will focus on Mark 12:28-34, what does it mean to love?
Michael