Friday, January 30, 2009

Escalator video

Stuck on an Esclator

Ever feel this way about life?

Watch this 2 minute video . . .

Great Outreach Idea

A friend from Huntley, IL, northwest suburb did a great outreach event which shows the church is trying to meet the needs of the people in relevant and real ways, read below what they did and what happened. All it takes is a little creativity and a little risk.

This is what BRUCE WROTE:

The last two Thursday nights, we've hosted a speaker who teaches people how to use coupons effectively to save a lot of money. Part of our journey into relevancy. Both nights, we've had over 250 people attend. Parking overflowed into the streets. Last night, a resident on the street called the police to report some illegal parking (which we're going to fix pronto).

The presenter -- Jill Cataldo -- put this on her website last night. I thought it was pretty cool:

Super-2 busted for disturbing the peace!

Super-Couponing 2: Saving on Everything came to Huntley in a BIG way tonight... I don't have a final count on attendees, but it was over 250. And, in a Super-Couponing first, the neighbors called the police on us. Due to the large numbers of people parked in the street, some of the class attendees found themselves with a very unwelcome "bonus" after class... a parking ticket. However, there is a bright side. The Faith Community Church, which graciously allowed us to hold the class in their beautiful facility, has also incredibly generously offered to reimburse attendees for the value of their parking tickets that were obtained while attending tonight's class. A big thank-you to Pastor Bruce at the church for allowing us to hold the class, and for his offer to "make things right" for those who received tickets as well.

(I am just incredulous that we had so many people at a coupon class that neighbors called the police at all. Instead of complaining, they should have just come over, squeezed in, and checked out what we were doing! :)

The Economic Impact on one church

This week I was reading about the difficult decisions which were made at Granger Community Church in Mishawaka, Indiana. Granger is considered one of the top 20 or so churches in the USA. They have multiple campuses for worship, average over 10,000 in worship and are making a tremendous impact in their community.

Below is a blog by Senior Pastor Mark Beeson about the need to lay off 8 people because of the economy. It is impacting churches as well as other industry. What I find interesting, even refreshing in the midst of despair and sadness is the commitment to fulfilling the mission of the church.

Below is the entire blog from Beeson.

Horrible Difficult Day

RMB Two November 2006 - photo by Corey Mann

Some guy on the TV looked me in the eye this morning and announced that more than 70,000 Americans were laid off yesterday. It was a terrible day. Numbered among the 70,000 who lost their jobs are several of my friends at GCC.

The downturn in the economy has had a serious impact on all of us.

Though most of Christ’s-followers are unpaid servants, some are paid. We ask them to let us buy their time, so they can focus like a laser on specific ministries that help the rest of the church. These Christians we pay, so they can better deploy their gifts to help us fulfill our mission. We all benefit from their dedication.

I’m responsible to our GCC staff. I believe we should take good care of the people who take care of us. The staff at GCC does an incredible job. They deserve good pay and what the Bible calls “a double honor.”

But, I’m also responsible for leading this church to fulfill her mission. So what I feel like doing I can't always do. (Isn’t that often the case? You want to have your way, but if you fully gratify yourself and indulge your desire, you’ll damage your soul and mortgage your future.) I struggle when my desires are thwarted. I hate limitations in time, or money, or energy, or wisdom, or courage. What I want is the freedom to do what I want. But in many cases I can’t because I’m limited by responsibility.

When limits collide with desire something has to give. Limits are either recognized, or desire is unleashed. Responsibility is accepted, or it isn’t.

Why do weak parents produce weak children? Often it's because they operate out of their feelings instead of their responsibilities, that’s why. They want to do what they want to do more than they want to do what is right.

Why do weak pastors produce weak churches? Often it's because they are more concerned about their own feelings than they are about failing Christ, that’s why. Their desire for easy satisfaction is greater than their willingness to act responsibly. Weak leaders lack resolve, give up too easily and quit too soon.

It was reported today that Consumer confidence has fallen to the lowest level ever recorded. This season of political upheaval, and economic downturn, is no time for weak leadership.

I know my responsibility. I hate it, but I know it. Yesterday I did one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. I eliminated the jobs of several friends. I cried. I hated every minute of it. None of the people losing their jobs was failing. Some have been on staff with me for years. None lost the privilege of serving on staff because of poor performance. They were all doing good work. They are family.

Even so, I signed off on the most thoroughly processed decision my leadership team has ever made. My lead pastors are positive this was the right decision. We’ve done everything possible to avoid it. We know it was necessary. It was difficult but it was right.

I’ve heard it suggested (from others and from the voice of temptation in my head) that we should reduce outreach efforts, stop launching new ministries, reign in multi-site evangelism work and stifle innovation. Some of those tempters have proposed we stop helping other churches and focus on ourselves. These voices call for an inversion of orthodoxy; they recommend we turn our concerns top-side-down, making it our highest priority to keep every paid person on staff, even if it means we have to abandon our mission. Not a single person of GCC’s staff would ever want that!

We’ve already reduced everything possible, so I authorized the elimination of staff positions - cutting more than half-a-million dollars of staff wages and benefits out of our budget.

My advisors are in full agreement. GCC’s Administrative Council has recorded their complete support. Our Strategy Team has advised me. The Senior Management Team has absolute unity. As hard as it was, this was the right decision, and it positions us for strong ministry in the days ahead.

Please pray for our friends whose jobs were eliminated this week. They served us well in their paid positions and I know they’ll serve Christ well in their future ministries too – whether they’re paid or not. And pray for those who remain on staff; they’re charged with the task of leading GCC into the future.

If we are faithful to discipline our lives to do what is right, even when it’s difficult, God will bless our obedience.

Hebrews 12:11 - “At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God.”

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A doll

Folks I read about a doll made by Fisher Price which is spewing some very interesting verbage, and according to Fisher Price there is nothing wrong with the doll.

Check out these links, especially the bottom two of the videos which are shorter and tell you more about the dolls. Don't think we are in a spiritual war . . . guess again!!

click on this link or paste it in your browser and check it out.

Very scary in my opinion.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Debbie Update

Debbie had leg surgery on Monday. We went to Community East and she had an Ambulatory Phlebectomy and Endovenous Laser Therapy. The procedure lasted about 2 hours, however, Debbie became sick afterwards, vomiting, etc. She had passed out just prior to the surgery from low blood sugar, so that may have had something to do with it.

The medicine they gave her to take away the nausea was pretty potent and knocked her out yesterday and for much of today.

She is up a little more and feeling better, albeit with leg pain. The Dr. felt the surgery was successful and this should dramatically help her left leg to be relieved of a great deal of pain. It may take up to two months to feel the full impact of the surgery.

So, keep Debbie in prayer for a full recovery and success for the procedure.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


I am amazed at how people blog daily with lots of deep thoughts. I have posted almost 400 blogs, more than I probably ever thought I would do. . . and I'm not coming to the end, but I need to say that I am investing more time in my Bible reading and writing of my thoughts and devotions than to blogging.

So, you may not always get a blog, it may be a week or so before you get the next one, but hang in there and keep reading the Word, that is far more convicting than my words. The Word is life giving and life changing.

If you are not reading through the Bible, please join the fun and shoot me an email to get the reading schedule and daily thoughts/devotions.

Thoughts about Change

Change - - - some deep thoughts on a Sunday night. . .

  • Sometimes I have to act before I experience a change of heart.
  • Sometimes I have to experience a change of heart before I act.
  • I think the church focuses more on actions rather than heart.
  • People outside the faith think we're all about the actions and not about the heart.
  • When the world sees actions and no heart, they're skeptical.
  • When churches focus on the heart and not action, they have little immediate impact outside their walls.
  • When churches focus on action and not the heart, they have little lasting impact outside their walls.
  • When churches focus on action and the heart, they make a lasting difference everywhere they go.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

285 Years Ago Yesterday

On January 12, 1723, Jonathan Edwards made a solemn dedication of Himself to God. It was one of the defining moments of His life. And I'll share the written vow in a moment.

Few people have left the kind of legacy that Jonathan Edwards did. He is famous for his sermons, including Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, that helped spark the Great Awakening. He graduated from Yale at 13 as valedictorian. After graduating, he is said to have studied thirteen hours a day. He also served as President of Princeton.

But the thing I find most impressive is that he spent one hour every evening with his eleven children. He prioritized his family and the results speak for themselves. Of his known descendants, more than 300 have become ministers or missionaries; 120 became university professors; over 100 became lawyers; 60 became prominent authors; there are 30 judges, 14 college presidents, 3 members of congress, and 1 vice-president.

How would you like to leave that kind of legacy?

Back to January 12, 1723. Edwards gave himself to God with these words:

I made a solemn dedication of myself to God, and wrote it down; giving up myself, and all that I had to God; to be for the future, in no respect, my own; to act as one that had no right to himself, in any respect. And solemnly vowed, to take God for my whole portion and felicity; looking on nothing else, as any part of my happiness, nor acting as if it were; and his law for the constant rule of my obedience.

Time Off

Hey all -

It's been awhile since I posted, I took a break after Christmas. It was needed, maybe it is still needed, but I want to get back to it. A part of the time off has been to contemplate what God is calling me to be doing as pastor. How can I fulfill His desires in my life? How do I make that real to the world around me?

Secondly, writing daily thoughts/devotions is time consuming and I have placed more energy in that.

Thirdly, lots going on in life and wanting to spend more time with the boys during the Christmas break. So, today, we're back at it asking about "The Call."

The Call

So, what is it Jesus wants to be doing?

What is it He is calling you to do in your life?

In some ways, those should be the only questions we are asking ourselves everyday. It should be an everyday type of question, so we really know the will of God. This is just my thought. I have been wrestling with these ideas and themes for awhile now. I don't have the answers for everyone, maybe even for anyone, because it is hard enough at times to determine what God wants for us on an individual level. Remember it is about abiding in Christ as we surrender ourselves to Him.

When we can answer these questions and then with passion and commitment serve Him, doing it within family, with friends, at work, school, in the community . . . imagine how much people will see what we are doing and what the deep abiding passion is all about, it's about Jesus, nothing more, nothing less. That sets us free, and ultimately sets others free.

You see, life in Christ is supposed to be about setting us free, you know that scripture, "The truth will set you free" (John 8:32). Also "perfect love casts out fear" (1 John 4:18); so we should have no fear when it comes to the love of Christ, it's perfect, or as the Greek translates it, it is complete, finished and total agape love. The greatest love of all.

So, friends, what is God calling you to do? What are you to be in life?

As the Nike slogan goes, "just do it" and you will not be sorry.

Fun Kids Devotional

God Gave Us the Bible: 45 Favorite Stories for Little Ones is a very well done, hardcover introductory Bible for parents to read with thei...