Friday, February 29, 2008

Concert Review

Great concert!! If you like loud, deafening music with loads of bass and tons of energy, this concert was for you.

The night started out with Matthew West singing as his one man band. He was good, but mellow and had the crowd as his back up singers and band. He has a couple of pretty popular contemporary songs out.

Then Jeremy Camp came on stage and spoke about the purpose of the tour and how he and Tobymac are co-headliners and they flip a coin to see who goes first each night.

As a result, Jeremy introduced us to Tobymac.

All I could say was WOW!! Amazing energy. Tobymac has some great songs, lots of rap, even though I couldn't understand most words, the beat and the energy were great. I don't think we sat down for the hour plus that they sang. They ended with Made to Love and Love is in the House, along with singing old time songs, such as We are Family, and more. The crowd was very into them.

After a 20 minute break Jeremy Camp came on starting with his new hit "Give you Glory." I didn't expect as much energy from Jeremy as he had. Amazingly Toby is 43 and Jeremy is 30. I enjoyed Jeremy more than I thought I would. His dad is a pastor in Lafayette and came on and played the harmonica during a jam session. Jeremy also spoke about his wife's death of cancer when she was 21. That had the crowd sitting while he spoke, then it was back on your feet for the ending, "Give me Jesus" along with guest singer Ben Utecht of the Colts.

Excellent concert and night. We now have Joshua and Zachary hooked on some rockin' rap and hip-hop from Tobymac.

I'm ready for the next concert.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Prayer quote

Walter Wannegrin wrote in "Whole Prayer"

"God is alive. He participates in conversation. His yearning is to be heard, as well as to hear, to lead, to explain, to console, to solve, and resolve not only our problems but our very selves, to satisfy not only the petty hungers we can name, but the deeper hungers only a Holy Father can identify."

That's a good view of prayer.

Comments

Since not everyone sees the comments section, and since I received 2 comments, and my response is below -

Indy writer said...What about giving the kids more opportunities to serve others? Most little kids are pretty generous souls. If we could give them more ways to serve others, and more ways to be directly involved (as opposed to just bringing x in and dropping it in a box). If they can be a part of something and see how it helps, that might keep them involved more (and consequently also get to the parents).

Many schools run food drives and collect pop tabs for the Ronald McDonald House, but the problem is that either the campaign is short or it never ends. I think what's missing is the connection of each student to the recipients.

Indywriter said...And what about the Angel Food ministry. We might be able to reach some people through that. I think that the more you can get someone through the door, the more chance you have of getting to their heart. Maybe someone will come to feed their body, but return to feed their soul.

Pastor Michael said...Hey Indy - I like what you are saying. If you get the kids involved, there is a greater ownership at stake. There has been a greater emphasis of kids acting as tutors and peer mentors for other kids, which is good. Also, the Angel Food ministry would be a huge help in our community and I want to do it. I really think it is the right thing to do, I just need people who believe in this type of ministry. Even as a test pilot within our own church, see what we think and get the kinks out before we go public. It would help many, many people save money and help them see the church as relevant as opposed to the church as the 'enemy.'

I believe these conversations are what is needed, even if we have just a few folks willing to start, we will see a difference in lives and we will also see others joining because they see the passion and commitment. Besides this, others will join who are not part of the church simply because they believe in helping and mentoring.

Thanks for the comments.

Pastor Michael'

3:21 PM

Prayer

I will send out a prayer thought tomorrow, here are some quotes to ponder -

Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays. ~Søren Kierkegaard

No one is a firmer believer in the power of prayer than the devil; not that he practices it, but he suffers from it. ~Guy H. King

The value of consistent prayer is not that He will hear us, but that we will hear Him. ~William McGill

Prayer may not change things for you, but it for sure changes you for things. ~Samuel M. Shoemaker

We have to pray with our eyes on God, not on the difficulties. ~Oswald Chambers

When at night you cannot sleep, talk to the Shepherd and stop counting sheep. ~ Unknown

Prayer is not merely an occasional impulse to which we respond when we are in trouble: prayer is a life attitude. ~Walter A. Mueller

When you pray, rather let your heart be without words than your words without heart. ~John Bunyan

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Mentoring

I spoke about some statistics I read about today.

The fastest growing religions in the US are as follows
  • Agnostics ~ 700%
  • Atheists ~ 220%
  • Buddhism ~ 70%
  • Muslim (Islam) ~ 33%
  • Protestants ~ -5%

Yes, that is a negative 5% growth rate. What is that about and how do we turn it around? I spoke to the Bible Study group about this and how we can help the schools in Alexandria to improve. There are wonderful dedicated teachers, but we have parents who don't care, which trickles down to the kids.

I believe this is also biblical as the reason for the early church's growth was the local mission work of the apostles. They made a huge difference in the world around them. That is part of our call, as well.

So, how do we change this culture and help mentor the kids, who then mentor the parents, and we help mentor them? I am convinced we need to be in the front lines making this happen. How? I'm not sure, but in talking with Jim Willey (superintendent), the schools want our help.

Suggestions, anyone? I'll keep you posted as I meet with Willey again next week.

Made to Love

Oh yeah . . . I'm getting psyched for tomorrow night.

Matthew West
Jeremy Camp
Tobymac

Gonna be a rockin' good time at Conseco.

Of course, I'll probably be the old man there, but hey, we only live once, so enjoy it.

Made to Love is one of my favorites by Tobymac.

Monday, February 25, 2008

More School!

I received an email from the doctoral secretary offering me free advice (gulp). She said the main reader has reviewed my first two chapters and she seemed encouraged (that's the good news), the bad news was her comment that I need to address all 17 of his comments, he expects it, I think he demands it.

I have not yet received his email with his comments, but I am sure I will have lots of questions from his questions. So, it will be back to work on revising and then adding to it.

There was one other piece of good news, I think, she said they want the dissertation to be no longer than 250 pages, whew!! That's a relief, I thought I could try to write it as long as Dostoevsky's "The Idiot." Hey that title applies.

Anyway, I'll keep you posted after I receive his email and digest it.

SCHOOL!!

Last Friday Debbie and I met with Mr. Willey, the superintendent to discuss some concerns and offer our help. Well, we were put to work. We believe if you have a complaint or a concern, you should be willing to be part of the solution, if not, then stop talking, because then you become a whiner.

There was an adisory board meeting tonight and we were invited. There was Mr. Willey, Ms. Schmidt - Intermediate School Principal; Mr. Regenold - high school principal; 2 teachers; a board member, a consultant and a county educator and us. At times the meeting became pretty intense. It was fun and very educational, sadly we were the only two parents in attendance.

I can see so many ways our church and the churches of Alexandria can make a difference . . . if we want. And I hope we want to. There are great ministry / servanthood possibilities here. This is our community, we can leave it as is, or we can work at making it better, always with an eye on the future.

I'll talk more about it on Wednesday at Bible Study and blog more about it as I get my head wrapped around the information. We met from 6:30 - 8:45. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday Reflections

I really had to push myself in worship yesterday. It was a great learning tool for me. I was frustrated that the power point was off. It was nobody's fault, just the computer did not default to the proper setting. Not sure why. But it happened, and it frustrated me, we had guests and I wanted us to look our best, but in the middle of my pity party, God smacked me on the head and reminded me of what worship is about . . . Him!!!!!!!!! Duh. I think I heard something about that yesterday. So, I got my act together and was able to cruise along and worship.

Everyone did a great job during worship. I like the edge Eric had to the power point. The songs fit in with the theme, as well.

With many new guests, I hope they had a chance to meet the people and feel welcomed.

It's amazing that Sunday night (each Sunday I continue the theme started in the morning) I spoke for about 45 more minutes about worship. It's a conversation which could be never ending. It was a good time together. I really wish more people would come at night, it's a shame there are only about 35 people coming in the evening. The more the better our interaction.

Be ready for Sunday, we'll talk about prayer. Now, we can go on with that one for an hour or two.

I WON!! I WON!!

Hey amazing what happened this morning. I was reading and decided to turn on the radio to WQME and listen to some Christian music. As a Chris Tomlin song was ending the DJ said the 3rd caller wins tickets to see TobyMac, Jeremy Camp and Matthew West on Thursday night. I thought, 'why not call.' I was caller number 1, I then thought, no way I win, but I'll try one more time, to which there was no line on my end. I rehit the button, called again and was caller number 3, to which I send "Fantastic!"

So, Debbie and I are planning on a night out to listen to these three great Christian groups at Conseco Fieldhouse. I picked up the tickets this afternoon and also received the newest CD's from each artist, along with the tickets.

This definitely put me in a good mood!!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Worship thought

When we consider how we relate to God, is it with only certain faculties, i.e., when Jesus commands us to Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, and with all of your soul, and with all of your mind and with all of your body (Mark 12:30), what does that mean in terms of our approach to worship?

Do you worship God with your heart, soul, mind and body?

Do you worship God with ALL of your heart, soul, mind and body . . . or just some of it? What would happen if we gave 100%? I interpret all as meaning 100%.

Are there parts you are leaving out?

Yes, you can connect to God with one aspect of your created being, but what if all of you was involved in the act of worship, what would happen?

Remember, worship involves our whole being.

Addendum - none of this is to say you don't do this, just thinking out loud and blogging it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Worship Post

To start with, read the prior two posts today, at least the one titled "Prayer" first, then read this one.

As I mentioned in the previous blog, everyday this week I will try to send a thought provoking reading about worship.

This comes from Richard Foster's "Celebration of Discipline."

"Worship is our response to the overtures of love from the heart of the Father. Its central reality is found in "spirit and in truth." It is kindled within us only when the Spirit of God touches our human spirit. Forms and rituals do not produce worship, nor does the disuse of forms and rituals. We can use all the right techniques and methods, we can have the best possible liturgy, but we have not worshiped the Lord until Spirit touches spirit. . . Our spirit must be ignited by the divine fire. . . When Spirit touches spirit the issue of forms is wholly secondary."

What a great statement about worship. True worship, according to Foster occurs when the Spirit of God touches our spirit, and our spirit is ignited by the divine fire (Spirit) and when that happens, form and ritual no longer matter, what matters is coming before the glory of God (Shekinah).

Is your heart ignited by the divine fire of the Holy Spirit?
Will you open your heart so that it may be ignited by the divine fire?

Prayers

I wanted to make a request, it's ironic, actually, a God thing, from the previous post. You see, what has been on my heart more and more is a call for our renewal in Christ. Not that we have fallen away from Jesus, sometimes we get stuck in our comfortable ruts and we need a push or a firm, but gentle shove forward.

I would like for everyone to be praying for our church to be open to the Spirit of God this Sunday. I am preaching on Worship, and I really, really believe this has the makings of a powerful worship experience for us. From the music to the Word to my word to the fellowship, etc. I will be sending a daily reading from some of the books I am reading, some will be a sentence, others will be a paragraph or two about worship. Some you will hear on Sunday, some may not make the final cut for Sunday morning.

This is what I want you to specifically pray for - and I believe in very specific prayer . . .
  • We prepare ourselves for worship on Friday and Saturday.
    • Read Psalms of Praise and Worship.
    • Listen to worshipful music.
    • Pray for the Spirit of God to overwhelm us.
  • Pray for me, pray for Kevin as he leads the choir, for the choir, for the praise team, for Jennifer with Hoops, pray for the ushers, pray for those who have not yet entered our doors to worship.
  • Pray for people to come and not know why they came to FBC.
  • You enter the church with expectancy.
    • That is, you expect something to happen which is of God.
  • You enter the sanctuary prayerfully and joyfully.
    • You look around you and you offer yourself as a holy sacrifice in the act of worship.
      • You do everything in your power to keep your heart, spirit, mind and body alert and in tune with the Holy Spirit.
    • You pray for others you see. Ask God to give them openness to His divine working.
As you can tell, I am expecting something to happen, something of God, this Sunday, come and expect to give of yourselves and I know we will blow this place away as we experience His Spirit.

God's Movement

Since working on Spiritual Disciplines, reading, studying and writing, I have been questioning where I am at in my relationship with God and what my responsibilities should be. These thoughts will be life long thoughts, musings, ponderings . . .

Yet, over the past two days, God has done something that has not happened as often as I would like and have questioned it, and wala there was God at work.

Last night (Monday) one of the football coaches from Joshua's league approached me and we had a great conversation, about his family, life situation and faith/church. More time was spent on church and his searching, along with his family. It was a wonderful time to talk to another person about life and faith, while sitting in the bleachers watching his son, Joshua, Zachary and a bunch of other boys practice baseball. It was invigorating and renewing.

Today, a man walked into church, not wanting money, food or anything tangible. He was after a heart relationship with Jesus. He did not articulate . . . those were my words to him. He really spoke of a lifeless journey in life for a long time and needed to change. Someone (thank you) referred him to me. Fortunately, God put the right words in my mouth and I hope he heard well enough. I could sense God's Spirit here in my little office, and we prayed together for Him to accept Christ in His heart, to let go of the past, and move into a future God has planned for him.

Two renewing encounters with men who are searching and hopefully finding Christ.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Doctoral Update

I can't believe I didn't post this, I thought I did. Must be a brain cramp.

Last Wednesday, I mailed in my first 2 chapters of my doctoral project. I had 98 pages typed, a 3 page outline of what is to come next, and a 5 page Reference List (bibliography). Now I have to sit and wait for my readers to disect my writings and tell me what to delete, what to add, what to change . . . oh whatever! Glad that part is over, now a couple of days to hang out, then I plan to start writing again, so I can get a head start on what is coming up in March and April.

Thanks so much for all of the prayers, keep them coming!!

Sunday Reflections

I really enjoyed, no, more than enjoy, was really helped by the words to Word of God, Speak. What great words to this song, especially over the past two weeks as we spoke about Christian Meditation and Silence and Solitude. Great song and great job all.

I must say, I wish I had more power over the weather. It seems every Sunday it is rainy, cold (freezing cold), windy (always) or snowy. I am so looking forward to warm weather.

Working through spiritual disciplines has been a real blessing for me. I am learning more about myself, and what areas I need to concentrate on. As much as I hope they are helpful to others, they are very helpful to me.

All of the music today fit in wonderfully well with our topic. That was cool to have. Next week we will tackle worship. That is a subject that could take weeks and weeks to cover, but I will do it in one morning and one evening. If you don't come to the evening worship, I finish the topic at night, so you get 2 for the price of 1.

Next Sunday we recognize the people involved in the Hoops program and will have a number of guests at church. Let's make those folks feel like we are welcoming them into our homes, as our invited guest, which they are.

Make sure to greet newcomers before having a conversation with old friends. Let those who are new to the church feel that this is a warm and caring place. Sometimes all it takes is one handshake or hello, which helps a person to return.

So, have a good start to the week, a great President's Day, and pray for a Word from God to speak to you.

Blessings,

Pastor Michael

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

STOP!! Yes STOP!!

Did I get your attention. Read this ~ it was written in 1895 by Andrew Murray and someday we will read through this amazing book "Abide in Christ." I read this passage awhile ago, and it was good, but as I was typing it for my doctoral paper, it just overwhelmed me what he was getting at.

Don't just read it and say, 'okay, good.' I mean . . . stop, read it, pray it. It's an amazing call for every believer in Jesus, here it is, and it's only one sentence.

But more than that, Murray sees the sinful person who is filled with self-centeredness, reveling in their own salvation and happiness, but when they abide in Christ “you come into contact with His infinite love; its fire begins to burn within your heart; you see the beauty of love; you learn to look upon loving and serving and saving your fellow-man as the highest privilege a disciple of Jesus can have” (Murray 1895, 141).

What would happen if the fire of Christ really, really, really burned in our hearts? What would we look like, how might the world be forever changed?!

Click this link to read JEREMIAH 20:9.

Blessings to all!

Monday, February 11, 2008

I have Rhino

Yup, I pegged it. Call me doctor now. I said I had a sinus infection and I have what the doctor called severe rhinisitis. So, I have Rhino for short. That's what us doc's call it to one another. No wonder my head is so full. I thought I was oozing of brain power, turns out its, well, you know what's in my head, must be celery.

Anyway, it's been a long day, lots of meetings and talking to folks, which finally just ended. Now I can work for a couple of hours and hopefully finish my writing. I have my Christian Contemporary music on, maybe a cup of hot mocha chocolate, a few doctoral survivor snacks and I will be good.

Thanks to Becky W. for getting me in to see the doctor she works for. Mine was not there today and the other doctor in the practice was booked.

Blessings to all!!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Quick Sunday Reflections

What a long weekend. WOW!!

Saturday I was at church from 10 am until 8 pm, then went over my sermon.
Sunday I was at church from 8 am until 3:30, then 5:45 until 8pm. Long days, but good days.

I have come to the conclusion I need to go to the doctor tomorrow. My cold, sore throat, etc. just is not going away, and I am assuming with my limited doctor knowledge, I have a sinus infection. I almost didn't get through today's sermon. My throat became dry and I felt like there was a knife in there. Fun feeling.

I guess I can attribute all of that to eating celery. WOW!! Nobody has come forward to confess their deed of putting celery on the pulpit. What a great idea, though. I was very fortunate I was sucking on the last remnants of a cough drop, which helped kill some, only some of the celery flavor. I tasted it all through worship. Thanks to Jeanne for the mint after worship. That helped!!

We had a good weekend with Doug and his family. Doug has wonderful talents and skills and gifts in music. I am excited and hopeful the church will vote in Doug's favor to come as our associate pastor. He will focus on worship and I believe two key areas are visitation and assimilation. They are similar yet very different. I will talk about them and the needs I see at our business meeting on the 20th of February. Joshua and Zachary had a good time hanging out with Doug and Beth Anne's daughter, Vicki Jo. Paul, their son, was a trooper in playing and letting Zachary and Vicki Jo take rides on his back.

I was so impressed with the song the praise team did this week, a Mercy Me song, "word of God, speak." It was so perfect for the message about Christian meditation. Great pick. Next week is silence and solitude and it will fit for that as well.

On the doctoral front, I'm just putting all this in one long post, I am writing, actually taking a break the wrapping up. It is 12:10 pm. I now have about 86 pages written. I think I will have about 6-10 more pages, then off it goes into the mail on Wednesday.

I cannot tell you how much this project has meant to me. I am learning more and more about myself and about God. It is changing me, and I want it to change our church. I feel so strongly about this. We just cannot go through the motions of trying this Spiritual Disciplines, we must take them and make them part of who we are so we become more and more like Christ, it becomes our nature, not second nature, but we live and breath and exude Christ to the world, and somehow the world is different because of who we are in Christ. When we hear the promises of Christ, they become real to us, they are no longer idle wishes of peace and rest and love and joy and grace . . . instead, we live them and help change the world, one person at a time. I feel like I'm preaching, but I believe in this so much. It's who I am and who we must be in order to experience what Christ offers us, and to help the world experience His joy and love.

Okay, sermon's over. Back to writing!!

Monday, February 04, 2008

TREATS galore

What a great surprise in my office on Sunday after worship. The Branch class had a huge, and I mean huge bag of treats for me while I write and study for my doctorate. What a great gift!

I was able to use the whoppers as an illustration for Sunday night. The treats really made me happy, but the gift of love and kindness brought joy to my heart. It shows the great difference between joy (internal) and happiness (external)

Super Super Bowl

Great game, especially for Giants fans!

I am not a NY fan, but was rooting for them, as was the whole family. The boys stayed up for the whole game, and we were dancing in the house at the end.

What was really cool was watching a replay of Peyton Manning jump up and celebrate when the Giants took the lead at the end of the game. You could see it was so genuine and he was so excited for Eli. Great image to see.

Too bad Beleichek had to walk off the field with 1 second left, along with most of the players. At least he congratulated the NY coach, but most of the Patriots did not. It's not a rule that they have to, but it is good sportsmanship, oh well, shows why they lost, besides, they were outplayed and outcoached!

Sunday Reflections on Monday

I am more and more fascinated by spiritual disciplines. Yet, I chose the topic, but the more I read, the more interesting they are, including more about their origin and the way they are disliked by so many people. The result is that they are not disliked, they are feared, much of it because there is so much negative press about Christianity and those who act like strange people who are ascetics. Think about Good Friday, just about every year we see pictures of people flogging themselves, so they can be like Jesus. That is how the world thinks of spiritual disciplines and asceticism.

Had a fun discussion on Sunday night on a continuation of the topic of Celebration. Why is it that we don't celebrate more in worship? Why do some sing, and some don't? Why are we sitting with our hands folded? Isn't worship, about showing God His worthiness, giving thanks and praise and glory to God for the blessings in life? So, we sit there like glumps and schlumps? My words! I am not real boisterous and running around, not my nature, but I am the kind who could lift my hands and say amen, and get excited, we're not looking for running around, just a demonstration that worship is a celebration and we are experiencing the joy of the LORD.

Beth's song and testimony were wonderful. It made me think about how many husbands and wives both battle cancer and come out victorious and sing about it. Cool!!

I love the Happy Song. It's just an upbeat fun song. We need to have more of those in worship, maybe even before hand to get us listening to God and not one another.

It was a good day, plus I am onto the Historical research and hoping to write on Wednesday night.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Saturday Night Thoughts

It's only 9:40, and I feel as if it is time for bed. I have felt light headed all day. I took the Wal Mart version of Nyquil last night, and I think it is still in me. So, I'll try to sleep it off. Besides, the stuff tastes gross. If that is cherry flavor, someone has no tastebuds.

Looking forward to our worship tomorrow. Remember the theme is celebrate. Some consider celebration the backbone of all spiritual disciplines. Without joy and without a party or two, what fun would life be.

Check out Nehemiah 8:9-12, tomorrow mornings scripture, or look at Deuteronomy 14:22-26 for tomorrow evening, and a controversial one at that.

Be ready to celebrate, be ready to be filled with joy, because joy comes from the Lord.

PS - I had a good 3 1/2 hours of doctoral work today and wrote about 10 pages, now I'm up to 41 pages, and need about 2 hours tomorrow and I'll be done with the Biblical Theological perspective.

Blessings to all

Friday, February 01, 2008

Doctorate update

Being sick has not helped in my progress, today I could not get warm. I came home at 5 pm, laid in bed, with a heating pad and was freezing, then the sweats came. What fun!!

Anyway, I am up to page 30 on the writing. I am hoping to complete about 10-12 pages tomorrow (Saturday). And will try to get a head start on that tonight. Debbie has been proofreading what I have written and I can see lots of marks on her copy . . . (gulp!)

So, keep me in prayer for tomorrow, when I hopefully finish the Biblical and Theological perspective, then jump into the Historical and Literature perspectives.

updates & Sunday Reflection

Hey all -

It's been a long week. Zachary was diagnosed with a double ear infection and strep throat on Wednesday, Debbie has a sore throat and I have had a stuffy head, runny nose, chills / hot flashes and minor temparture. That's been our week. Joshua has escaped it all, but he had strep throat 3 weeks ago. It's been hard working on my doctorate having a stuffed up head and being tired. I'll update that project in a separate blog.

Anyway, I really liked last Sunday. People seemed to be interested in what I said about the Bible, the music was wonderful, the youth had a good worship at night, and I look forward to this Sunday with our topic being Celebration. We're going to hear a song from Delirious called The Happy Song. It's a good one and very appropriate.

It's 10 pm and I am going to try to sit in bed and type.

Next week I want to send out a daily blog with some of the items I am reading or have read. So stay tuned for that.

Have a great Saturday, and be ready for a GREAT Sunday!!