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



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

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

Dead Ends

Screen Shot 2013-03-08 at 9.26.06 AMHow many times has life been confusing for you? One does not need to live very long to have encountered or known someone who has encountered a confusing time in life. The cool weather this week is certainly a bit of a change, but we are talking here about genuine conundrums—those places in life when it seems we are at our wits end and cannot make sense of the circumstances of our lives. Sometimes we call those places ‘dead ends.’ 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

Jesus and the Religious

The Return of the Prodigal Son by Guercino

Sunday I quoted a person I heard several years ago.  I struggle to remember who it was, but they said,  “If you’ve been a Christian for more than three years, read Jesus’ words to the Scribes and Pharisees with great care.  They’re written for you too.”  The point this speaker was trying to make (I think) is that the Bible is full of a description of what is a common problem, we come to God in a moment of clarity and then we seem to forget.  I like to think of the Pharisees as the elders or officers of the church of Jesus’ day.  That is a very analogous position.  They were the folks most excited about their faith.  Yet these are the very people who clashed most violently with Jesus.  That is a caution to you and me. Continue reading

Introducing Jesus

Steve Harvey is a well-known comedian and television personality.  Some time ago someone shared with me Steve’s introduction to Jesus Christ.  Evidently Steve Harvey has been asked to introduce a number of famous people. He answers the question of how it would be if he had to introduce Jesus. Evidently it was a part of one of his comedic routines.  From some of his interviews, I understand that Steve is a person who claims faith in Jesus Christ. His introduction to Jesus is a lot of fun and I enjoy sharing it with others.   I even used the video in a Palm Sunday service.  I hope you’ll click the link and enjoy it too.

Continue reading

One plus one plus ‘one on one’

 One of the main callings of the church is to make disciples.   I have heard people suggest that if we just    ‘feed the sheep, they will naturally reproduce.’   The times I have seen churches try that approach, the result has always been a church focused on those already present and those who have not known Jesus yet are left to fend for themselves outside the church.  That doesn’t meet with the call to make disciples for me.  Jesus said He came to “seek and save those who are lost.’  (Luke 19:10) Those who want to follow Him need to be about the same things.  Continue reading

Deep Wounds

A lady in my neighborhood takes in a few children whose parents work.  Some of them go off to school from her home on the bus.  Others are there all day.  Many times in the morning as I leave she is sitting out front with the younger child while the older ones wait for the bus.  Yesterday as I drove past a little boy that I’ll estimate at four years of age was standing in the driveway, distraught and crying over and over again, “Mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy….”  Continue reading

Who Moved My Cheese?

The other day I was in a conversation with a friend about changes.  We talked about change and he said, “It’s not just one thing.  It seems to be everything!  And not one of the changes is one that I would choose. —It’s not just one piece of cheese, but all of them that have moved.”  He was referring to a motivational book that appeared in 1998 by Spencer Johnson titled, Who Moved My Cheese?   Spencer Johnson points out in this wonderful little book that often we can see change coming, we really ought to expect it, but when it comes we are too often unprepared and change can cause us to be afraid. Continue reading