Saturday, August 28, 2010

Strategic Thinking

When you make any decision in life you usually think it through. Well...maybe ony the wise think it through. When you make a decision in haste or without weighing the pros and cons or consequences of that decision, it can always come back to haunt you. I've made those mistakes before. I don't want to be "that guy" again.

It's been bugging me this week as I think about the church today. Do we strategize? Do we think through our decisions and all of their ramifications before we act? Is our mindset on maintenance or forward motion? I feel that this is the worst of times for the church to "rest on her laurels" and not be active for the Kingdom.

Gone are the days when churches could count on the unchurched wandering into our midst based on the vague conviction that they are "supposed to". Without personal contact and repeated invitations (and I mean repeated) the church today cannot expect to see people just flying in the door to meet Jesus. To reach the lost today, church leaders need to think--at certain times and in certain circumstances--like marketing gurus hawking the latest and greatest product. After all, we have the greatest product in the world (God's grace) and people actually need it!

Similar to a missionary on foreign soil, congregations today need to know who their main demographics are and how to strategically reach them. This does not mean that we must blindly submit ourselves to every cultural whim to stay "relevant". But it does mean being more purposeful and serious about communicating the gospel of Jesus Christ in ways that are heard, understood, and impressed on the lost.

We must demand more from ourselves, Christians. The status quo church of 1998 is not reaching the lost person of 2010. The principles of the Bible will never change, but the methods for reaching and pricking the hearts of lost people should always change. Look at the example of Paul in the New Testament. He was always leveraging culture and methodolgy to his advantage. We must do the same.

Let us not forget also to do everything with excellence in our churches. Let us demand excellence from our staff, ministers, and elders. Let us strive for high standards in the programs and ministries we produce. Let us aggresively steward financial and spiritual resources. Let us think strategically about the communities we serve and how to reach them. Let us taste like salt that never loses it saltiness and work hard at the gospel. Let us think strategically about our churches and their outreach. And then...let us act!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Big Needle

So, my foot still bothers me from my sports injury this summer. (See the blog from July 2 on Plantar Facia Rupture for more info). Anyway, it's still bugging me so I went to see my real doc this time (not the coverage doctor) just to see if there was anything more that we could do. It hurts especially first thing in the morning and as the day where's on, it seems to get worse. It's just tender all of the time.

So I'm sitting with doctor and he's looking at it and presses on a spot that really tender. He gets up, sticks his head out the door to the hall and calls for Barbara (the nurse) to get a 1 on 1 for Mr. Keller. He then comes back in and tells me he's going to give me a cortisone shot but that he's going to go in from the side of my foot, not straight in from underneath because it's too tender. I'm thinking...what?!

So she brings in this huge tube of gel looking stuff with a huge needle. He immediately tells me, don't look at the needle and asks me to look away while he;s doing this and not to watch. I'm sitting here thinking, "What ever happened to a patient's choice?" But you must understand that Snyder and I go way back...he taught my Sunday School class when I was in high school. Great class too!

Anyway, he goes in from the side right away and I'm like, "Ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, that hurts, etc!" He keeps telling me to hold still and don't look and that he's almost done. As the injection is taking place, I'm trying not to look and to hold still and everything. But he has to keep repositioning the needle because he's try to shoot this stuff all over the injured area...that now feels even more injured. Pulls the needle back, pushes it in, shoots it up, then down, and then side to side. It was pretty painful. Afterwards he tells me to get my shoe and sock back on and asks me to step on it and asked me how it felt. I could actually feel all of the gel stuff in there. Weird (and I little painful, I must admit.

Anyway, it was painful and I've felt like I had a deep bone bruise the last couple of days, until this morning. When I got up today there was a noticeable difference in my pain and I walked around a long time today with little or no pain. That's pretty good considering I was on my feet for more than 7 hours today between preaching, Sunday School, walking the building talking to people, and our class 101 right after the service this morning. But overall, it felt much better.

He said that my injury will take 6-12 months to fully reheal itself. I can do whatever I can stand in that time and he gave me some stretching stuff that I need to be doing everyday, etc. That's a bummer, but I'm not going to complain because it could be worse, right? I just want my old normal foot back.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Can You Truly Love Jesus and Hate His Wife?

The church is called the bride of Christ throughout scripture. With all of it's faults and blemishes, the church is what God has called on to spread the news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Ephesians 3:10 says, "His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms." The church, with its imperfect people are to be sharing the perfect message of God's grace and mercy. After all, who has experienced this love from God more than us, right?

Sometimes we go through phases of life where we get caught up in negativity about the church. We must understand that this is Christ's bride that we are talking about. Can you love Jesus when you don't love His wife? Can you love God when you don't love the church?

These are questions that we need to wrestle with and we also need to compare ourselves against. Someone once said, "If you find a perfect church, then don't go there. You'll mess it up!" It's true, there are messy people with messy lives in the church, but we are nonetheless, even with every spot and blemish, still loved by God and married into His Son. How can we love Jesus truly if we don't love His bride?

There are some who will say that they can be a "Christian" but not go to church. If there is not some type of Christian fellowship going on, then I think that's a weak argument. How can a person practice the biblical one anothers (love one another, admonish one another, serve one another, forgive one another, bear one another's burdens, pray for one another, etc.) if you have no contact with a body of believers? How could you participate in the Lord's Supper as it states in scripture if you never meet with anyone? How can biblical koinonia (true Christian fellowship of sharing lives) happen if you never associate with brothers and sisters in Christ?

I think, actually, I know that there are many Christians who struggle with the church. Most of the time it's past woundedness from a bad experience where they were hurt or mistreated, or something along those lines. We must forgive and progress and move beyond the past and reengage with God's church. I know that there are many congregations out there that are full of God's love and grace. Every fellowship will have it's warts and blemishes, but God uses the church to accomplish His mission. We just need to be a part of it.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Something Fun

So much to catch up on

So, I could sit and type for a couple of hours right now, but I don't have the time. This is a short week for me because I just got back to work yesterday (Tuesday) from a trip to a family reunion in Iowa. The trip was fun and it was great to see and reconnect with ones that I hadn't seen in a long time. The girls were pretty good travelers all things considered and I think that they had a good time as well.

I read some on the trip. If you haven't picked up the book "The Christian Atheist" by Craig Groeschel, I highly recommend it. It is very convicting on many fronts and is really a good read for anyone. You need to check it out if you haven't already.

One of the highlights of Iowa trips besides seeing family is our trip to the Dutchmen's Store in Cantril. The Dutchmen's store is run by Mennonites that make their own handspun goods and candies. The candy is the best. They don't have turtles this time of year, but when they make them in the fall and winter...they are the best ever! The girls like to get their gummy stuff and it's all sod in bulk. Great place to visit. They are so reasonably priced and they have some items that you wouldn't find anywhere else. Cool deal.

So, I'm back to the church and heard how great this weekend was. We worshipped at Stockport Christian Church, our home church from long ago. Great people there and a great minister. Their congregation runs about 35-45 weekly and when Grandma Keller and her 19 showed up, we nearly doubled attendance. It was great. Sweet fellowship with the believer's there, great time of worship and communion, and a good message. I heard the same happened here at Oakwood. Tracy Morris preached (one of our elders) and I heard from many that all went well. It's great to be able to be gone a week or so and know that all is well and in good hands. We have a great team of staff and elders here at Oakwood.

So, back to reality and the 110 degree heat index. Looks like toward the beginning of next week we might get a break from all of this. That would be great. The last church league softball games are tonight. I'm planning on playing, even though the heal is still tender a bit. I'm hoping to go but not reinjure or set myself back. We'll see what happens!

There it is. Everything in my head (or at least mots of it). Hope this entry finds all readers reading the Word of God everyday and growing in understanding of who He is and what He wants from us. Blessings on all that pursue Him!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

2 Peter 2

1But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 3In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.
4For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment; 5if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; 6if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men 8(for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)— 9if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment. 10This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature and despise authority.

Bold and arrogant, these men are not afraid to slander celestial beings; 11yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not bring slanderous accusations against such beings in the presence of the Lord. 12But these men blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like brute beasts, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like beasts they too will perish.

13They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you. 14With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed—an accursed brood! 15They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Beor, who loved the wages of wickedness. 16But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey—a beast without speech—who spoke with a man's voice and restrained the prophet's madness.

17These men are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. 18For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. 19They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. 20If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. 22Of them the proverbs are true: "A dog returns to its vomit," and, "A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud."

This past weekend I taught about angels, demons, and spiritual warfare. I read this passage yesterday and thought it was interesting on many levels, but especially some of the comments on angels in this passage. As for the rest of it, a stiff warning about false teachers, which are many in the world today. In a future blog, I'd like to write about my theory of going astray in teaching, which I think that many will find interesting. Remember, Satan is crafty and deceptive. He is going to try everything he can to get you off base in life and with God. Be aware. Be alert. And don't get off track. Reread verses 17-22, paying close attention to 19-21. Let the Holy Spirit convict where He wills and be open to God speaking straight to your heart. Keep the faith!