Church Membership

from Grace Hills Church

from Grace Hills Church

We live in a world where joining organizations is becoming less and less popular.  It affects us in churches as we invite people to be members of our congregations.  The cultural resistance to joining comes into conflict with appeals to join a local congregation.  Recently I had a young friend who was visiting a church that she liked a lot, but was wondering if she needed to join write to me about joining.  Here is what I said: Continue reading

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Change!

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 3.35.57 PMOne thing most of us want is change. We want to be improving. We want to sin less. We want to grow into the man or woman God has called us (and designed us) to be. As followers of Jesus Christ we want to be people who are being changed into His image. We are told in Romans that God determined that those who are His will be formed into the image of His son. In II Corinthians 3:18 we learn that this brings God glory—our transformation!

The problem is that change can be difficult. It also forces us to admit a need for something else. It is humbling to face a need to be different. Continue reading

Eyes in the back of her head

Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 2.54.07 PMGrowing up my brother, sister and I thought our mother had “eyes in the back of her head.”  What we meant was simply that she so aware of what we did we could not get away with anything.   Our mother had that ability because as her children we had her attention.   She turned her attention away from her needs and desires to focus on our needs.

Recently I was in the audience when a person conducted some business for the whole group.  In terms of the presentation, it was good.  But when she concluded someone near me said, “That wasn’t about our group or our business, that was all about her!”  She was so preoccupied with herself and how people perceived her that she missed what the group needed her to do.  Her leadership in that group failed. Continue reading

Angry With God?

Screen Shot 2013-07-11 at 9.49.33 AMI have had the regular privilege of being a guest on “Life Questions with Pastor Michael” a radio show that a friend of mine, Michael Bannon produces.  It is a show where he talks about spiritual questions ordinary folks might have.  I that find interesting.  I want a faith grounded in real life so I like to try to answer questions real people are asking.  A recent question was from a person who asked if it was permissible for a person to be angry with God.  It was an interesting discussion.

Michael asked, “Do we have the right to be angry with God?”  I was not sure that was the question that helped me get at the root of the issue.  I believe that at times we are all angry with God whether we have the right or not.  Continue reading

The Danger of Familiarity

Our dog is a Great Dane.  Having him has helped me conclude that he has something to teach me spiritually.  After 4 years, I have gotten used to his size.  It seems odd when

Our Dog

Our Dog

people encounter him and say, “Wow, that’s a really big dog!” or  “Do you have a saddle for him?” (I hear that one a lot!)  At 137, he just seems normal to me.  As Great Danes go, he’s not very big.  I’ll sometimes call him a ‘mini-Great Dane.’

The other day when I was walking him I thought to myself, “If we ever get another dog, I want a really big one.”  I have become used to his size.  But even though I am used to his size, not everyone else is.  As an interim pastor I move around a bit.  We have discovered that landlords don’t want big dogs in their houses or apartments.  Actually the little 7-pound dogs we’ve had have been much more challenging to train.  Although I think he is no danger, others do.  I see him as normal; others are startled by his size. Continue reading

Always Changing–Staying the Same

The old Hymn, “Great is They Faithfulness” begins, “Great is Thy faithfulness, oh God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Screen Shot 2013-03-08 at 10.03.57 AMThy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.”

In Hebrews we read, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Heb 13:8)

God may be the same, but our lives are full of change. We need to learn to find and experience God in new circumstances.  Certainly Joseph’s encounters with God were different when he received his dream, when he was in prison and then when he was ruling Egypt.  Yet God was the same.  The Apostle Peter must have had a very different experience of Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration, stepping out of the boat in a storm and finding the forgiveness of Christ after Jesus’ resurrection. Continue reading

New Beginnings

Yesterday I was driving down a road near where I live and coming down the street heading toward me was a big yellow school bus.  It’s lights had begun to flash as it slowed to a stop.  I stopped too as the “Stop” sign was extended.  I noticed it pulled up right in front of a house where a mother, father and what looked to me to be a five-year-old son stood.  He had a brand new backpack on his back.  His shoes and his clothes looked new.   As he ran toward the bus and began walking up the steps, his mother snapped a quick picture.  The bus lights stopped flashing, the bus began to pull away and the mother and dad stood there in each other’s arms.  I think I saw a tear running down her cheek!

New beginnings are often hard.  Continue reading

Exemplary Behavior

Aaron Collins

There have been a number of recent events involving shooters who kill one or more people in public outbursts with guns.  The speculation rages that maybe these events have the ability to stimulate others to similar acts.  This is especially true when events are highly publicized.  One theory is that the publicity is a reward in itself.  Everyone wants their fifteen seconds of fame, even if it results in being shot by the police or a lifetime in jail.  Another kind of logic suggests that someone who is on the edge sees the publicity and is pushed over the edge.  Anecdotally, it does seem that one violent event seems to spawn others.  We call them ‘copy-cat’ incidents. Continue reading

Remembering Chip

Several years ago our church started a new ‘contemporary’ service designed to reach out to newcomers.  We determined that folks who had never been to church were more likely to come to a neutral site instead of a sanctuary.   Fortunately there was a large room directly across the street from the church.  We negotiated with the owners to rent that facility every Sunday morning for our service.  The room was often rented out for Saturday parties and receptions.  Their custodial staff was not available late on Saturdays.  So the agreement we came to was that we would clean the facility before we used it.  We really did not have any idea of what we were getting in to. Each week a group of volunteers would arrive, often before the sun was up, to haul the needed equipment across the street, set up chairs and clean up.  It took 150 volunteers each month. Continue reading

Stuck in the Mud!

My youngest daughter drove a Jeep Wrangler when she was in high school.  What a fun car to drive!   One of our favorite activities was to go 4-wheeling.  Getting off the road and muddy or climbing or dropping off a steep hill made our blood pump a little harder.  I remember one particular afternoon when we were following a trail and came across a particularly muddy path.  There were two tire paths filled with muddy water where Jeeps before us had gone.  We ventured in.  About halfway through we encountered a large rock in the center of the paths.  It lifted the car so we could not get traction.  We were stuck!  We called it being high-centered.  But for the one rock everything was fine, but that one rock held us up. Continue reading