Wednesday, October 7, 2015

I seldom blog or post on Facebook any more because part of me wants to stay out of the arguments everyone is having.  It seems in many Christian circles if you do not hold right wing opinions you are not allowed to have an opinion without being seen as an unbeliever.   BUT - there are moments that so sadden my heart that I cannot be silent.

Listen folks - no one is coming to take away your guns - they haven't and they are not even though the NRA and politicians have used this idea to their advantage.

We are away for a vacation and I saw something that just felt like a stake was driven into my heart.  There was a family of Christians.  They were very conservative in dress, etc and the church slogans on their t-shirts made their Christianity clear.  They were not doing anything wrong - simply taking family pictures as they too were obviously on a trip together.  All the generations were getting into the picture.  However, all of the men were wearing sidearms. The father was setting the example and the sons were in his image.

First this made me feel uncomfortable.  I'm not used to this as part of the culture I grew up in.  We all had guns and enjoyed hunting but we do not live in the wide west.  Who were they intending to shot?  Would it be a policeman?  Would it be a member of the US military, which so many Christians profess to support?  It was clear that in spite of their church slogans they were ready to shoot not turn the other cheek. 

Most of all I wanted to know - who is it that Jesus would have them kill?  I'm sorry but you will not find that in the words of Jesus.  You see this has nothing to do with politics it has to do with Jesus.  If you follow him Who would Jesus have you kill?  Now you can be mad at me the rest of the day.  

Thursday, March 5, 2015

I think this is an incredible article so I am posting it here - it appeared in the March 4 issue of the Christian Century.

Lone leaders

Pastors often talk about their loneliness, even though in their work they’re surrounded by many people. What pastors mean by loneliness is not what most people think of it as. And it’s not unique to their calling.
According to more than one editorialist, President Obama has given up on building a grand American consensus and is now focused on what he always wanted to do as a leader. His old slogan “Yes we can” has become “I’ll figure out a way.”
This makes me wonder exactly what goes on in the mind of a leader who tires of building consensus and just strives to get things done. Americans have never agreed about anything. So our greatest presidents eventually found ways to be loyal only to the still small voice that kept whispering in their ears, “You know what you need to do.”
This is how Washington found himself leading a revolution, how Lincoln got us through the Civil War, and how Roosevelt pulled the nation out of a depression. They were never leading a parade.
Opponents threw everything they could at them. All of these presidents had flaws that made them easy targets for gossip. And the politics of accomplishing their goals were staggering. At the end of every long day they were completely alone, but they kept moving in the right direction, haunted by a still small voice that would not let them stop.
The most striking portrait of John F. Kennedy depicts him standing alone in the White House with his head bowed down, lost in a ponderous thought. I think he’s arguing with the still small voice. I can hear him saying, “They will never buy it.” But the voice just kept pushing him into his lonely convictions about leadership.
It doesn’t matter if you are leading a nation, company, congregation, school, or family—a time comes when you just have to do what you believe to be right. You give up on consensus, being admired, or even appreciated. It’s the inner voice you have to serve.
This is never how the leader begins. Even the process of being chosen implies a contract to serve those who made the choice, and all leaders assume that means figuring out a way to bring everyone together around a spectacular dream. But it just doesn’t work out that way in the end. We shoot our dreamers. Sometimes literally, but always metaphorically.
There is something in our ever-so-democratic, antihierarchical, big-on-transparency, questioning-the-process affections that make us resist this core of leadership. But the Bible is filled with examples of women and men who had a vision from God and knew they had to throw their lives into fulfilling it even if it meant leaving town in a shower of rocks. It’s hard to find a prophet, apostle, or Jesus in search of a grand consensus.
I understand that crazed suicide bombers also listen to voices in their heads. But that involves mental illness. And I know that many churches have been devastated by a messianic, narcissistic pastor. But these abuses of power cannot prevent a congregation from living out of a vision from God. There is nothing in the history of Christianity to support the “best practices” principle that a vision arises from a strategic planning retreat.
What we’ve always needed is a visionary leader, someone who hears the still small voice and is made lonelier because of it, but who understands what God means by a “calling.” It’s more than a bureaucratically sanitized job description. It’s a holy passion that overtakes your life.
I often have the opportunity to talk to young adults about their calls. Some are clear about what they must do and just need advice on how to do it. Others struggle with the whole notion of calling. They talk in circles, show me their journals, and offer exegesis of their Myers-Briggs personality patterns. We pray. But they leave my office without either of us getting a glimpse of a burning bush. Then it occurs to me—they have no visions worthy of their lives.
Every leader has to begin with a passion for at least one or two great visionary ideas. In time the ideas will mature, and offer strategies for a focused leadership. But we don’t shop for these holy ideas. They seek us.
A vision from God doesn’t have to arrive through a supernatural revelation. The call can be stuck in a theology textbook that was abandoned after a final exam. It can arise through a late-night conversation with friends or on a trip to the West Bank. My wife once heard Nat King Cole singing “O Holy Night” on the radio. When he came to “till he appeared and the soul felt its worth,” she couldn’t stop crying. Heaven is inflaming bushes around us all of the time. The question is, are we paying attention?
I am certain that we must. There is no such thing as a vibrant congregation without a leader who’s been called to burning bushes and great ideas and is willing to surrender everything to them.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Why we need to built!

Why do we need to build our new addition?  I want to answer that question as best I know how and trust you will prayerfully consider these points.  

First, we are building because we need more space.  The activity level of our church is increasing and we need space for multiple activities and different activities.  This certainly includes classroom space but the space will also be multipurpose space.   Our church is no longer just one hour on Sunday morning.  Added space enables us to also improve our office layout for the vital work Donna is doing.  Having space is important.

Second, we need to be ready for our next growth spurt.  When we had our last growth increase, especially in terms of families, we were not ready.  Only one classroom left us with no ability to have age appropriate space for children, provide a nursery or even begin to think about reaching teens.  When you are not prepared and cannot meet the needs,  people will fade away.  We're considering basic needs in this simple addition.  I believe a new growth spurt is on its way.

Third and most important, we need to invest in the future of our church.  We need to plant trees under whose shade we may never sit.  I've shared that so many times and it is such a critical truth.  We never want to go back to five years ago when shutting the doors was a real possibility.  The only way to avoid that is to change and to grow.  The one thing I believe is essential is to think in terms of having a healthy church in this community that can not only appeal to seniors but also to families.  This church must be thriving long after most of us are gone or it will be you and me who have failed the generation that will follow us.

Let's get this done for the glory of God!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Worth Reading!

President Carter just released his new book and I went right out and bought a copy the next day.  The book is important because anything that addresses issues of discrimination should be important to those of us in the church.  Doing our best to end discrimination of any sort is part of what it means to me to follow the way of Jesus.

This book focuses on issues critical to girls and women in terms of inequality.  I found this an easy read.  I read it off and on in two days. This is especially helpful if you have little knowledge of the issues or think that this is no longer an issue.  It will help open your eyes.  This issue really matters!

I really appreciate President Carter because I consider him an exemplary Christian who has always maintained the courage of his faith.

Monday, December 2, 2013

This isn't working for me...

This isn't working for me: Have you said those words or heard others say them?  As we head quickly toward the end of another year let's think about those words for a minute.  It is true that there are things in our life that are not working but we keep doing them anyway.  If they are not working to the betterment of your life why keep doing them?  I know you have to be smarter than to fall for the words, because we always have.  Then there are all the things we keep hanging on to - we become material as well as emotional hoarders.  There is no better time than now to clear out the clutter in your life.  Get rid of stuff you simply do not need.  Stop doing things that don't work.  Do not carry all that baggage into the coming year.  Learn to travel light.

However, look at some of this from a different viewpoint.  This isn't working for me.  Could it be that somethings are not working for you because you are not investing anything into making them work.  You're just satisfied to say they aren't working.  It may be time to walk away from some relationships but could it be that some relationships are hurting because you are not doing anything to make them better?  It terms of church, your faith and your spiritual relationship with God, is it working for you?  Give it a serious look before you write it off.  Are you doing anything to make it work?  How are you invested in the important things.

So it's just the right time of year (NOW) to clean house and make changes.  Do the important things.  Get ride of the clutter in your life.  Sort through and decide what is really important and worth your emotional and personal investment.  Drop what really ins't working and then invest yourself in what really needs to be working in your personal and spiritual life.  

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Because of my faith...

This magazine began in 1884 and after the turn of the century became the main independent magazine for mainline Protestant churches.  Earlier this week I found a point of research revealing that the magazine was important in the ministry of our founding pastor, Orvis T. Anderson.

I enjoyed each biweekly issue and the September 18th issues just arrived today.  The current editor, John M. Buchanan wrote something I think is worth sharing from his column the "Editor's Desk."  I share it here:

I ... continue to believe, that the welfare of all is the shared responsibility of all, that government has a role in protecting individual liberty and guaranteeing the equal treatment of all citizens.  I think that government can be a force for good.  To that degree, I am a liberal not in spite of my faith in Jesus Christ but because of it.

I continue to make this point week after week, that what we learn about the Christ of the Gospels should inform and share our world view.  While is may seem corny it does come down to, what would Jesus think and do.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Must See Movie

Yesterday was my wife's birthday so last night we went to see "The Butler."  We both loved the movie and were deeply moved throughout.  It was amazing to feel the sweep of history over the years we have lived.  For me it was one of the finest movies I've ever seen.  So I'm recommending it as a "must see" for all who read this blog.

It was a moving day yesterday as I started the day reading Dr. Kings speech from 1963.  Before the day was over I had listened to it in its entirety several times and heard some of the speakers from the Mall in Washington.  Then to see this movie brought it all together.  As I noted in yesterday's blog, I am humbled.  We have a lot to answer for in this country for how we have treated others and I think what stands out to me is how insensitive so many are to how deeply this is still being felt.  You cannot wipe this long history of racism and oppression under the rug. We have a long long way to go.

May God bless my brothers and sisters of every race, color and persuasion.  We are one human family.