Adrian Christian Church Stuff

Three or Four times a year I use my blog to inform people about the working of the Church I lead. I apologize to everyone who does not attend here, but it is a necessary part of leadership. So here it goes …

1. Nursery Changes –
We have an ever increasing number of children who qualify for our nursery which is meant for ages 4 and under. Because of this, we are changing rooms in the Church to better accommodate the growth. We are now going to have a larger nursery located by the Children’s Church area. We are also trying to divide the infants from the toddlers. So if you have a small child, please be looking for the new room with new paint and new toys on Sunday. Also, if you would like to help in this area please let Jaime (our Children’s minister) or me know.

2. New Sermon Series –
This Sunday I am starting a new series called “I’ve Got a Friend Who …”
October 23 “Wonders About the Existence of God”
October 30 “Needs to Know Jesus”
November 6 “Wonders Why Bad Things Happen” (Daylight Savings – Fall Back)
November 13 “Is Making Poor Choices”
November 20 “Has Questions about Heaven”

3. Operation Christmas Child –
On Tuesday, October 25th we will finish filling the boxes and getting everything ready to deliver. I will be at the Church building from 5:00 till 8:00 or until we are done. I will buy some pizza for everyone working since it will be happening during dinner. If you have items to donate, please bring those ASAP. If you would rather donate money, that would be even better. On Monday a group of us are going to purchase toys (the main item we need) to be ready for Tuesday. I hope several of you can make it on Tuesday night.

4. Membership Class –
On Sunday, October 30th I will be hosting a membership class for the Church. This class is for everyone who is already a member along with those who want to discover membership for the first time. It starts at 5:30 and runs until 8:00 pm. I teach for an hour and then we pause for a bigger snack and then I teach for another hour. We are going to provide childcare, but we need to know how many kids are coming. Let me know if you would like to attend.

5. Children’s Fall Party –
Also on Sunday, October 30th there will be a fall party for those in children’s church during worship. Be sure your child is registered and ready at 9:30 am for the fun and activities. Talk to Jaime for details.

Thanks for taking the time to read and may God bless you and whatever Church of which you are a part.

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Bigger Than Me

One of the most wonderful things about being a pastor is that I get to partner with God. I spend my time planning and preparing each week but somehow God puts it all together in ways I can never imagine.

-The couple whose marriage is falling apart walk in the Sunday I am preaching on marriage.
-The week I speak about helping people in need, a family hears of a need while in line at the grocery store. The quickly step up and help out.
-A guest speaker is at the Church to tell about their ministry to children, while a woman is in the audience who needs to find a place for her grandson. It is a perfect fit.
-Someone’s week has been depressing and the songs that week speak directly to their emotions.
-The person who has the communion meditation that week picks the same topic and possibly text as the preacher for his sermon. Both work together in perfect harmony.
-A sermon offers a possible solution to a problem that a woman has had all week.

I could go on and on and on. Through all of my years of ministry, I continue to be amazed at the ways God puts everything together. It is a great thing to partner with him in my service.

Here is a little secret, I think he is trying to do the same thing in all of our lives. The sermon you heard, the passage you just read, the song on the radio and the person who walks by you today might in some way be connected. You may have just been exposed to something that will be helpful to you. Maybe the greater possibility is that God has spoken something into your life that you can use to help someone else.

God has a way of taking all of the seemingly random pieces of life and putting them together into one grand concerto. All we have to do is look closely to see it. I see it in my ministry and I bet you can see it in your life.

Mistake I Make as a Christian

This November I will celebrate 37 years as a Christian. I accepted Jesus as my savior when I was 7 years old on the last Sunday in November. Coming to Christ as a young boy and living with my faith through numerous life stages leading into ministry has been a unique experience. Through those years I have struggled to keep my faith just like every other believer. Frequently I find myself slipping into ruts that hurt my faith.

1. I try to live out my faith alone.
I think there are two reasons for my withdrawal from others. One, I am a natural-born introvert. I find being with a large crowd exhausting. Two, I believe a lie. The lie is that faith is a personal matter. It is meant to be lived out alone. When I try to do this, I become lonely and frustrated. I spend too much time inside my own head. I start believing the lies I tell myself.
I firmly believe that faith is something we need to experience with other people. For me, that needs to be one or two people I feel close to personally. I need to speak my thoughts and get feedback. I need to hear the truth from other people. I need people to help me on my journey.

2. I think I have it all figured out.
I have been a Christian a long time. I am a Pastor. I should have this faith thing figured out by now. I mean, I have heard some of the same Bible stories a thousand times. I should know this stuff by heart. When my thoughts get like this I find that I quit reading my Bible, I quit listening to teachers and I quit reading. Spiritual growth stalls and finally dies.
I firmly believe all of us have to keep learning in order to grow. None of us has everything in the Bible mastered. We have to keep reading and listening and growing.

3. I rest on my past accomplishments.

I have done a great deal for the Lord in my life. I have organized programs, I have spoken of faith repeatedly and I have even started a Church. I have probably done more by 44 years old than most people do in a lifetime. I think it is time for a rest and let some of the other people carry the weight of ministry. I have done enough.
I firmly believe that God wants us to serve him. It is easy as I get older to see it as someone else’s job. When I start thinking like this I slowly drop out of serving others for the Lord into a self-serving malaise. My faith becomes something for Sundays or whenever I attend Church. My gifts are wasted and my faith stalls and stagnates. I think we need to keep serving – to stop focusing on ourselves by helping others. It forces us to trust God and it utilizes my gifts and abilities. Serving stretches my faith and keeps me growing.

Every Christian can easily slip into one of these ruts. I know they have been ongoing traps for me. They catch me and won’t let go until my faith is weak and frail. For me, I have to continually work hard to keep my faith active and growing. Maybe these are not your struggles, but they are mine and maybe like me you need to fight back to keep your faith alive.

Finding Jesus is Half the Battle

Throughout my ministry, I have spoken with hundreds of people whose lives were a mess. They had reached the bottom of the barrel. They were at the end of their rope. They were caught in sin. Their relationships had fallen apart. Life had taken a drastic and unexpected turn. Now they were searching for answers and a new path.

Their search for a better future had brought them to Church. They had heard about grace, mercy, love and compassion and they were all for it. The Lord had brought them to Church and they want to follow Jesus and turn over a new leaf.

As a Pastor, I applaud their decision. I wish everyone would come to a saving relationship in Jesus. I believe there is no greater decision.

BUT …

I also believe that find Jesus is only half of the battle. The other half is transformation.

Making Jesus your Savior changes your relationship with God but it does not immediately change everything else. True change in life is achieved in the hard decisions of every day.

Finding Jesus won’t save your marriage unless you selflessly serve your spouse like Jesus.
Finding Jesus won’t change your children unless you teach them to live like Jesus.
Finding Jesus won’t stop that addiction unless you walk away from it through the power of Jesus.
Finding Jesus won’t heal your relationships unless you learn to forgive like Jesus.
Finding Jesus won’t stop your harsh words unless you start speaking like Jesus.

Far too many people think that finding Jesus and making him your Savior will change everything. Soon after they are disappointed that nothing really changed. Jesus is not a magic wand you can wave over all your problems and make them go away. He is a teacher pointing you toward a new way to live. Following him in everything is the only way to make things new.

Positive Thinking Friday

I am naturally a pessimist. The glass is half empty. The bad news just hasn’t arrived yet.

I am reminded of this sometimes when I replay the conversations of each day in my mind. It hits me when I read my old blog posts. I see it clearly reading through some of my old sermons.

I have to work very intentionally on being positive. Today is one of those days when I tell myself that I need to see the good in the world.

Here are 10 positive thoughts for today.

1. I believe in a God who cares about me.

2. In Christ, all my sins are forgiven.

3. No one can separate me from the love of Christ

4. God has me right where he wants me.

5. I am part of a Church full of wonderful people

6. Even those who oppose me are helping me to grow.

7. I have all of this life’s basic necessities – food, clothing, and shelter with clean water to drink.

8. I have been given more than I need, I even have enough to share.

9. I have been given a wonderful family.

10. This is a day that the Lord has made, and he gave it to me.

*[Bonus] – Even if this day falls apart, I still have eternity with Jesus as my reward.

Hope you have a happy Friday and a wonderful weekend. May you see the Lord’s blessing today and everyday.

Blind Spot Mirrors

Through the years I have driven a lot of miles. When I think about the vehicles I have owned and the mileage when I bought them versus the mileage when I sold them, I would guess I have driven close to a million miles in my life. That is a pretty big number for a person who does a limited amount of driving as part of his job.

As a person who spends a lot of time on the road, when I purchase a new vehicle the first thing I buy for it are blind spot mirrors. These are simple little mirrors you put on the corner of your current rear view mirror. When you are driving down the highway and you need to change lanes you look in the big mirror for any approaching traffic. Then you look in the little mirror for anyone in your blind spot. This little mirror has saved my thousands of dollars.

The truth is that we all have blind spots. Even the best driver in the world has little places where another vehicle can get lost from their field of vision. This truth also applies to our lives. Each of us has blind spots where we cannot see everything clearly, even when the truth is close to us.

All of us need some blind spot mirrors on our life. I believe God gives us those in other people.

1. We need other people to get close to us.
Before other people can speak truth into my life I need to allow them to get close enough to really know me. There is a tendency to keep everyone in my life at arm’s length. That keeps us from letting people know the real us. I mean, if people really knew what happened with my parents or my spouse or my children, they might never want to talk to me again. Keeping people away keeps me from hearing the truth but it is terribly unhealthy.

2. We need other people who love us to tell us the truth.
The Bible says that wounds from a friend can be trusted. If you do let a person into your life who truly cares about you, then they need to tell you the truth about what they see. You need someone who loves you enough to tell you about the flaws they see in your life.

3. We need people who will tell us the truth, even if they don’t love us deeply.
This one is hard but necessary. It is easy for us to gather around ourselves people who are just like us. They have the same blind spots in their life as I do. We need a few people to speak to us who are not overly friendly. This might be a counselor of some sort or a boss or even a pastor. Outside input is important. I have to remind myself of this truth when it comes to critics. I often ask myself, “What is the grain of truth they are saying that I need to hear?”

4. We must be willing to listen to others, even if it hurts us now.
I could look in my blind spot mirrors and see another car, I could guess I have enough room and go ahead and change lanes at my own risk. The other option is to trust what I see and make adjustments in my thinking. The same is true in life. If someone points out that my marriage is headed for destruction or my children are walking a dangerous path, I have the choice to listen to them or not. A wise person listens and makes the changes necessary to end at a better destination.

The reality is that all of us need people in our lives. We need a few close people who can help me on my journey and I can help them on theirs. We need to hear and see the truth in order to navigate life with minimal injury. My little blind spots mirrors are worth their weight in gold. Good friends are worth more.

I’m a Christian and I Don’t Like It Either

Honest confession time for me. There are a lot of things labeled as Christian do that I do not like. I say this as a Christian and as a Pastor. I simply do not like these things.

1. Gospel Tracts. I especially hate the ones that look like money. Do you know what I am talking about? They are a piece of paper that looks like a $100 bill folded up. You open it and it says, “Disappointed” and then it explains the gospel. There are other ones I have seen through the years stuck in various places trying to spread the gospel. Has this ever worked?

2. Cheesy Christian Movies. Because of the success of a couple of Christian movies, everyone must have decided to make one. My wife and I have started a few on Netflix. They combine terrible writing, bad acting, and a low-budget into something that makes my children beg for mercy. How it get four stars? Oh yeah, it’s Christian so it has to be good, right?

3. Preaching at an Inappropriate Time. I have a friend in ministry who like to preach a “turn or burn” sermon at funerals. He has a slight variation he does for weddings. Needless to say, but he doesn’t get many invitations to speak anymore. I believe there are a time and a place to share the gospel of Jesus. There are also times to keep quiet and follow the agenda. That is not cowardice, that is a courtesy.

4. Religious Junk. At one point Christian bookstores sold books. Most of them I visit are now religious junk stores. They have all types of foreign-made plastic trinkets with something remotely Christian written on them. Apparently, if you slap a Bible verse, Jesus name or a cross on something it has immediate religious meaning. Then there are pictures, decorative pieces and even toys that fill the shelves. You can purchase almost anything. Unfortunately, most of it is poorly made and way overpriced. When did Christianity become about owning a so-called religious item?

5. Most Christian Music. There are a few great Christian artists out there, but people who make great original Christian music are very few. Most of what I hear are knock off versions of pop songs with second-rate poetry. That is not to mention the poor theology and scripture twisting. I check the top 40 Christian song list every month and it is usually a big disappointment. My children hate most of it, not because of the lyrics, but because it is just poor music. I tend to agree.

Honestly, I know this blog sounds judgmental and I don’t want it to be. I have heard a lot of non-Christians complaining about Christian stuff and these five are usually on the list. I want people to know, I am a Christian and I feel your pain. Most Christians I know are extremely well-intentioned. They love Jesus and they cherish their faith. They are looking for real and practical ways to do that. Unfortunately, many of our efforts turn people away from Jesus and not toward him. I want to declare, “I hate that too and I am sorry.” Then I want to be motivated to do better in every way.