Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Could Be Awkward

Too, too funny. Love those kids and their questions!
(If you still don't get it, Solomon had concubines, not porcupines!)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Traits of a Real Friend

Amy and I got to go on Bob Russell's couples mentoring retreat last week and were so blessed by the week away. As we "break" from the church and the ministry we find our spirits encouraged and refreshed and our vision renewed. It's good to get away and get some perspective on ministry. One of the things that I've known for a long time but that surfaced again at the retreat was that Christians, and maybe especially Christian leaders, need some real friends in their life. We need people that we can be real with and "let it all hang out". We also need these friends to tell us the truth about ourselves and to encourage us with understanding and love.

Here are 4 traits needed in a real friend: (from Solomon and his wisdom in Proverbs)

1) A real friend will always tell you to truth. (Proverbs 27:6) Even if they think it will hurt you, a true friend let's you know how things really are. No fluffing it. They bring reality to light. Every person needs that. Do you have someone who will tell you the absolute truth?

2) A real friend will stick with you through the good, the bad, and the ugly. (Proverbs 17:17) Yes, there may be times of disappointment and roughness in your relationship, but a true friend sticks with you. You know that they have your back no matter what and that they will always be there. We all need that and desire that, right?

3) A real friend shares your same values and connects with you deeply. (Proverbs 18:24) Your real friends will share your values. You will also be able to talk to them on a deep level. There are 5 levels of communication: cliches (how are you? fine.), facts, opinions, feelings, needs. A real friend is someone who you will allow to know your opinions, feelings, and needs. You may be in denial about it, but I believe every person needs at least one real friend to connect with on a deep level.

4) A real friend will help you with difficult decisions. (Proverbs 27:9) Godly counsel from a good, trusted friend is worth so much when you are facing a tough decision. So many times we choose the quick, easy, less painful way than the right way that God desires. A real friend will help you make the right choices and walk you through them.

If you are reading this and thinking, "I have no one in my life like this," then find someone. Open yourself up to a Christian brother or sister and grow into a real friendship.

There was a man who came to me at one time who was in a lot of trouble. The law was involved and it was one of those cases that if he made one more mistake, then he was going to have to do jail time. In describing his "friends" to me, I realized that this man had no friends at all. I painted a picture of what a true friend looked like and asked him if there was anyone in his life like that. He said no, not really. He went onto say, "If I had someone like that in my life, I don't think I'd be in so much trouble." Very true. Remember, bad company corrupts good character. (1 Corinthians 15:33)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Staff Relations

And to those of you that have noticed that I haven't blogged in some time, well, you're right. Just been busy and was gone to a conference with my wife for a week. Now we're back and I'm full of it! So, hang on...and read this week. I should put up some thought-provoking entries.

Keep the faith, live the faith! -Eric

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Benevolence & Mercy

Have you ever been in the awkward position where a homeless person asks you for money? Not the one that you just drove by, but the person that actually comes and asks? You know that you have a $20 bill in your pocket, but you're not sure if you should hand it over. Truthfully you're thinking..."If I only had a $5". Perhaps you decide to give the $20. You walk away wondering, "Did I really help that guy or did I just buy a night's worth of booze?" Or...maybe you looked away or just ignored him. Then you have that gnawing guilt, thinking "I could have parted with that money. He needed it more than I did."

In Acts 3, we find Peter and John in a similar situation. A physically handicapped beggar asked them for money. By this time in Acts, a lot of people probably knew Peter and John. There was probably some serious pressure on them as all of the eyes around them looked to see how they would handle the needy man. Peter responds by saying, ""Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you." He then declares healing for the man in Jesus' name. Right then the man stood up, the people gathered to see the miracle, and Peter preached the gospel.

Did you notice something? Peter did not give the beggar money. He didn't contact the church office to ask them help the man financially. He did nothing more for the man than declare his healing. Would Peter be criticized today by our churches for not meeting the man's needs? The man asked for money, but Peter pointed him to Jesus through healing in His name. Surely this guy was broke, he needed food, clothes, shelter...but all Peter did for the man was get him back on his feet.

This man's only source of income was his begging. His only job skill and resource was begging. He used that handicap to make a living. Suddenly, he loses the selling point, his excuses are gone. What will he do now?

I believe that in this passage we find an answer to what Christians are to do in showing biblical mercy through benevolence. Many times we as followers of Christ, tend to react to need with relief rather than doing something that will help turn a life around. I think that we try to alleviate our guilt more than we try to alleviate poverty in someone's life. Giving someone money won't always help them. In fact, sometimes it makes things worse.

The beggar asked Peter for money. Let's be honest, most of us would have thrown a couple bucks his way and walked on feeling satisfied that we had helped him. But did we really? The guys real problem was that he couldn't walk and gain employment because of his condition. Even more than that, the guy needed a Savior. His problem wasn't financial brokenness, or a physical brokenness, but rather spiritual brokenness. He had a desperate need for the Gospel message to be preached and for his heart to see Jesus proclaimed.

Unfortunately much of what we do in "church benevolence" is focus all of our efforts on meeting the physical needs by handing out food, money, clothing, or stuff. Don't get me wrong here, those are not bad things to do. In fact, more Christians should be more benevolent. But it can't stop there. Jesus beckons us to "make disciples". To go and baptize them and teach them to obey everything that He showed us. So, what can we learn from Peter in Acts 3?

First, identify the real need. Many times this requires us to step back and identify the real obstacle. This man needed more than money. He needed his legs healed. Someone else may need education or help through an addiction or simply decent employment and the means to find it. Some may need to be shown another way to live life. They are repeating destructive patterns of behavior that were modeled for them their whole life. We need to find the need and the obstacle and pray about how to really help.

Second, help them help themselves. The materially poor don't need a handout. They need you helping them do for themselves. The handout is a means to an end. An old saying goes, "Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime." Ask yourself, "What can I do to help this person get on their own two feet that they can't do for themselves?" Find a way to help overcome that obstacle. Be a friend. Help them find work. Help ready them for a better way in life.

Third, share the Gospel. Isn't that what it's really all about? There is nothing more powerful than the Good News of Jesus that can change a life. Sometimes God allows people to get to rock bottom and down and out so they are desperate for a change in their miserable existence. God is giving you an opportunity to help change an eternal destination for someone. Are you making the most of that opportunity?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Move That Bus...Er Steeple

Our steeple was moved off of the crown of our main church building today. We are getting a new roof and the steeple had to go. Good thing too as there was rotting wood beneath it from all of the water flowing around and underneath it. Hopefully all of this will put a stop to our leaky roof! PTL! We had a 135 foot crane come and pull the steeple off today. It was pretty cool. We had quite an audience for it. Even the Enid police department came and watched. So, now the steeple is laying on the ground beside the building. Plan is to repair all of that roof and replace the rotting frame and fix the steeple (it needed paint real bad) and then put it back up. We are going to spray it with rhino liner truck bedliner stuff instead of painting it. That will take care of the hail damage problem, prevent conduction from lightning strikes, and make it where we won't have to try to figure out how to paint it. Hope you enjoy the pics!