Sunday, April 20, 2008

On a Personal Note

I had a great weekend (besides the problems). Isn't that usually the case! I was in charge of building (which I had help with) two doors that had signs above them that read, "Jesus, the Door of Hope" for the weekend services. This idea came to us in staff meeting on Tuesday, which left little time to accomplish it. I had great help, but I don't think Satan wanted people to get the message of Jesus being their door of hope this weekend. The doors looked great, but we had a time getting them to the church (one fell off the trailer on the way and broke 1 hour before the service began). Even though I was frustrated, God used them to illustrate His Hope and many lives were touched by the example.

After church on this past Saturday night, we had a baptism and I needed to video it. I led kids church and then ran across church to video and almost slipped in water. Little did I know what went on during service! We had the baptistry water line plumbed in this week and someone left it on for about 45 minutes. The baptistry overflowed, no exaggeration, about 1,000 gallons of water. IT WAS EVERYWHERE. It filled the 2 conference rooms beside it, the front of the prayer room, the hallway, and the student center and literally flowed out the door and under the walls into the parking lot.

We got all the water out and everything dried out fine. People were mopping, using wet vacs, squeegees, push brooms, towels, etc. What a team!!! No one owned up to leaving the water on though. Shame, shame, shame. Anyway. The lesson for kids church that night was "God is in Control" and we used the bible story of Moses parting the Red Sea - how appropriate! God was in control of the doors we were building and He parted the baptistry waters that flowed down the hall. We are going to install an overflow drain this week (why we haven't already, I'll never know. Whoever is in charge of the baptistry should do a better job - oh, wait, that's me).

One of my Life Group guys and I went to measure and make a materials list for a wheel chair ramp we are building for a little girl in our church. What fun! To know we are really touching that family's life and making a real difference. Sometimes, you don't know if you make a difference or if you are even being taken advantage of - which is really beside the point anyway. Its all done in faith. Its great to know we can be used of God to help a family with a real need - imagine that - being real and being church at the same time.

Our Life Group went great with 19 people present. We had three guests we reached out to as well. I ran into a couple who had been out of church for a while and began to get into their lives again. We encouraged the group, as we talked about hope (Prov 13:12; 1 Corinthians 13:13; Romans 8:28; 1 John 3:2-3) to watch for the open doors into the lives of people who need the kind of hope only Christ offers.

We've had several families join the church lately and we decided to add another membership class because of it. 8 people were baptized last weekend and we've had several saved recently. God is doing great things. We just need to stay humble and on track with what the Word says.

I just finished a book "Honor's Reward" by John Bevere. He wrote "Undercover", "Drawing Near", "The Bait of Satan", "Thus Saith The Lord" and several other great books. We are about to start teaching it in all our Life Groups. I love it because its full of scripture and it has brought me back to placing huge honor on those in authority (spiritual, civic, etc.) once again. When we grasp honor, I think we'll grasp a lot more Christ-like characteristics.

I'm starting to build a play fort for the girls tomorrow. That's right - a fort. Two story, with a slide, fireman's pole, and tire swing. Well, we'll see. It could turn out to be a kit from Walmart.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Marital Maintenance

“Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Ephesians 5:24-25 NIV

A good friend recently gave me a riding lawn mower that was in pretty good shape. At first glance, it appeared to be in good condition. But, as I tried to start it, I realized it needed a little TLC.

After changing the battery, I noticed it needed new belts and blades. After changing the belts and blades, I noticed more that needed attention - a new spark plug, an oil and filter change, new air filter, new fuel line and filter, and repair reverse drive and air in the tires.

After those repairs, which mostly were routine, yearly maintenance, it purred like a kitten (more like a tiger). I cut my lawn and had no problems.

At first glance, the mower looked fine. My friend had mentioned the repairs to me, but I still wanted to undertake the task. Why? Some people would say, “Its worthless, hopeless or useless.” Others may say, “Just get a new one and get rid of that old thing.” But I saw the value in keeping it. The repairs may have seemed time consuming and numerous, but I got a $1,200 mower for under $100. You can’t beat that. A little maintenance goes a long way and put that mower back to its purpose - mowing.

Marriage, while more complex than a riding lawn mower, requires routine maintenance as well. Some people will look at an imperfection in their marriage as a headache or useless to tackle. Others may have lost vision for their marriage - what it could be or even what it used to be.

That mower worked at one time. It could work again. The same is true for marriage. Paul tells wives to submit to their husbands as their husbands submit to Christ. Husbands should love their wives as Jesus loves the Church. That requires daily maintenance in a personal relationship with Christ.

While you may have issues or conflict in your marriage, remember this: there is nothing too big for God to repair. He’s in the business of reconciliation and restoration. Daily time with Him and submitting to His will for your life and marriage will get you back on purpose.

So when you are tempted to “scrap” your marriage or give up because of minor repairs, just remember that Christ gave himself for the church. Jesus wants you to have a marriage that is fruitful and joyful. He wants you to win in your marriage.

What needs attention in your marriage? What needs a tune-up? Are you giving your marriage over to Christ or the “dump”. Do you wish your relationship with your mate would thrive again? Then let Jesus, the Master Mechanic, help you with your Marital Maintenance.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Tabliod Mentality

"Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them."
—Romans 16:17

I hate the tabloids. They are full of gossip and lies. But it seems as though we are living in a day of tabloid mentality. I have never seen a culture and society so obsessed with gossip, innuendos, and rumors. Just turn on the TV and you'll find all kinds of programs that probe into the personal lives of others.

This tabloid mentality is all the news media is concerned about. Reporters hunt for that juicy piece of gossip. The tragedy is that if someone is charged with a crime today, we try him or her in the media before they ever have had the opportunity to enter a court of law where evidence is presented and where they face their accusers.

Sadly, this kind of thinking can even enter the church. When conflict arises or a problem (which usually can easily be solved)springs up, Christians go wild. When we hear something about someone else, immediately our ears perk up. While Christians should be the first to run away from rumors and run to the source to get the real story, we sadly fall into the trap of gossip or being upset at another believer - without ever talking to them first! What happened to going to a person one on one to discuss something before we bought into a lie, rumor or misconception?

Christians shouldn't let petty things divide them. I've seen Christians get upset over the smallest issues and build an offense. Sometimes even ministries quarrel. One ministry leader or worker thinks they are the "red-headed-step-child" and always being done wrong. They think they are always getting short changed by another "more important" ministry. I thought we were on the same team? I thought we worked and served together? I think the Bible says we don't wrestle with flesh and blood. Jesus flesh and blood spent on the Cross took care of that. People, especially other Christians, aren't our enemies (no one should be).

But what does the Bible tell us? It says that love believes the best of every person. It doesn't say that love believes the worst. This means when someone says something about a Christian brother or sister, you should immediately have some disbelief in your heart. The reason is that you are to believe the best of that individual. We must be very careful, because many times we accept rumor as truth. Then to make matters worse, we start repeating what we've heard without checking the facts.

What ever happened to going to another brother or sister in Christ FIRST and working through a situation instead of spreading negativity? Negative people breed negative people. Some people thrive on gossip and when the smallest issue comes up, they are all over it. These actions aren't Christian and divide and distract what Christ intends for the Church. And if these people are leaders - it will spread to everyone under them. Some under them will pick up this attitude and imitate this nonsense. Others will hear it and leave that ministry or lose respect for that leader.

To correct this, repentance is the key. The person stirring up gossip or strife should repent to everyone involved. If strife and conflict are always where these people are, they usually are the reason. Repentance is the only way bring wholeness and represent a true Christlike lifestyle.

One of the things the Bible says that God hates is the one who sows discord among others (see Proverbs 6:16–19). This is the person who spreads rumors, who spreads innuendos, and who slanders others. God hates this.

Be someone who resolves conflict, not someone who starts it. Be someone who desires peace and reconciliation, not gossip and tension. Be someone who runs from rumors, not someone who can't wait for the next juicy bit.

Don't be someone who spreads rumors. Don't be someone who gossips. It's wrong. It's sinful. And it displeases God.