That settles it for me.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
That settles it for me.
Recent Sermon Series by the book or verse-by-verse
- Acts – Church Without Walls....
- Luke 15 – The Prodigal Son...
- Philippians – The Secret of Contentment....
- I Peter – Certain Faith in Uncertain Times...
- Numbers – In the Heat of the Desert...
- Revelation – Future Shock....
- Malachi – Our Awesome God & What He Expects of Us...
- Jonah – Running & Restoration...
- 2 Peter – Transformed by Truth...
- Ruth – Hanging Tough in Tough Times
You’ll notice that there is a pretty good balance between series based upon books from the New Testament AND the Old Testament. There are six from the NT and four from the OT. I prefer this style of teaching the best.
Recent Topical Series from selected passages
- A Clearer Picture of God
- Church & Family
- Eternal Realities
- Great Stories from the Bible
- What the Bible Says about the Family
- The Greatest Commandment
- Pursuing Spiritual Transformation
- Growing Up is Hard to Do
- Confronting Casual Christianity
Sometimes it’s important that a series be built around a specific topic using selected passages from throughout the Bible. Topical sermon series are determined by specific needs within our congregation, the level of interest in the particular subject, or area’s of weakness in the preaching calendar where a topic has not been adequately addressed. This is why I sometimes use the topical method.
Monday, June 28, 2010
- Yesterday was a good day at church. Good things are happening at PCC. Attendance in the second service was higher than normal – a good thing to see.
- The morning message was the fourth (and final) part of the series based on the book of Ruth. It was an excellent journey and a lot of people rated this series very high.
- A lot of good reports have come in over the last four weeks too. Two people said to me yesterday how much they enjoy coming to PCC, specifically mentioning how much they enjoy actually learning what the Bible says.
- Facebook is usually buzzing with good comments about PCC. Always enjoy seeing that.
- Spent the last two days involved with a family funeral. I must say that I enjoyed seeing some relatives and kinfolk who I haven’t seen in many years – it was kind of fun to catch up.
- After the funeral today, we (mom, my sister Rhonda, Renae, and myself) went to the home of my grandmother to reminisce. She’s been gone for years – since about 1980. Her home is abandoned now and is barely standing; it must have been built 100 years ago. As I looked in through a broken window at the interior of the house, it brought back a flood of memories. I even found my initials inscribed (scored) on the chimney from the 1970s. We took a picture of ourselves standing in front of the place. Felt good to do that.
- Renae and I have made the decision to sell our house here in Pace. We are now upgrading everything to get it ready for showing. We own five acres off Berryhill Rd and would like to build there – an empty nest home. Last week I had a water meter installed in preparation for an eventual move.
- Recently on this blog I have written about Free Will, What it Means to be Chosen, and Predestination. I will resume on these topics again.
- Thinking about Ruth again – One pinch of God’s favor can beat fifty years of hard labor.
- Take care of what God has already given you, and He will be sure to take care of what is about to to give you.
- Forget about your past. Your future is spotless.
- Church styles and man's theologies change all the time. God’s purposes remain the same for every generation. Psalms 33:11
- You can impress people from a distance. But you can only influence them from up close.
- God considers the depth of your repentance, not the depth of your sin, when deciding how he uses you. See Isaiah 57:15
- When a church stalls in its growth, 99% of the time the causes are due to factors inside the church, not outside it.
- The US Government has spent $1 TRILLION on recovery (and bailouts to big business), and we STILL HAVE high unemployed. What if they'd given it as tax relief to small businesses instead? Just asking.
- Some people just want to belong so much... that they try too hard.
- Who we truly are eventually manifests itself. It may take time or stress or illness as the trigger, but what’s inside us tends to come out. Our character serves as the wellspring from which our behavior emerges.
- Will be writing as much as possible this week.
What does it mean to be “broken by God?” Brokenness is not only something God DOES to us, but it also a PLACE we find ourselves in. There are two primary places of brokenness.
First, brokenness can be the result of SIN. We mess up our lives through sin and self-willed behavior. Then we begin reaping the consequences of those choices. i.e., My life is broken and it leads to a brokenness of spirit in which I am ready to repent before God.
Second, brokenness can be the result of SURRENDER. That is, we have submitted ourselves to the purposes of God and the mighty dealings of God so much so that we are now experiencing pain; the pain of self-less-ness, submission, death to self, and being misunderstood by others.
Both can result in transformation. On one hand you might pray, “Lord, please forgive me.” Or you might pray, “Lord, give me the strength to stay the course.”
What are your thoughts or experiences with this topic of brokenness?
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Saturday, June 26, 2010
I use this blog to mainly communicate five subject matters:
(1) Personal information. Most of this information is totally useless, but some people find it interesting. Sometimes it is humorous. It rates high on the response list because people like to know what is going on with their pastor and I’m glad to share. Sometimes I am probably too transparent. In fact, there have been several times that I have posted a blog and then have removed it because it was too transparent, too revealing, or inflammatory. For me, it is very important to be authentic – but sometimes I go too far. Just chalk it up to me being a regular guy.
(2) PCC related topics. This includes upcoming events, past events, or current events. Sometimes I’ll talk about new initiatives, structural or staff changes, or special events. It’s another way of communicating what going on at PCC; something we don’t always have time to do on Sunday mornings. This blog is an important communication tool about PCC and I wish more people would take advantage of the communiqué’s found here.
(3) Leadership Principles. For me personally, as well as vocationally, leadership is a big issue. It is a gift that comes from God. Pastors and other church leaders must learn to be better (and more effective) as leaders. Exercising leadership is not easy, but it must be done. I write about this topic often, even though most people don’t find it to be of much interest. But for the people who do have an interest in leadership principles, thes blogs are very helpful.
(4) Devotionals. These are short, Biblically based insights from God’s Word. This area seems to generates the fewest comments. I suppose the Sunday sermon, small groups, and personal Bible study habits meets the need more than my devotionals do.
(5). Doctrinal teachings. Okay. This is another area that I am very passionate about. I have more to teach than I am able to address on Sunday mornings, so this blog gives me an outlet to talk about other (and just as equally important) doctrinal matters. Whether you know it or not, doctrine is very, very important. It’s important to God, and it’s important to a local church in order to maintain spiritual health and to resist false teachers. As the senior pastor of PCC I am responsible for teaching doctrine. I am also charged with exposing false doctrine. Strangely enough, blogs on doctrine seem to be only of marginal interest to members at PCC (generating only a few comments), but generating a lot of hate mail from others who do not attend PCC. I use this blog as a platform to teach members of PCC - not those people who don't. If you are a member of PCC, you should take a deep interest doctrine. It’s that important.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Sunday, June 20, 2010
- We had a very good day. I love speaking to a packed house. Attendance was about normal, even though there were a lot of new faces and visitors. A lot of our regular members were away on summer travel, etc, so that the influx of guests for Father’s Day didn’t take us over the top.
- We introduced two new songs in the second set. They were moving and meaningful, as well as well-done. I think I seen some people crying during the song service. At least two people walked forward to get tissue to take back to their chairs. It’s good to belong to a church where the services are so moving that people are moved to tears. This is clearly a GOD THING.
- I love it when a lot of unchurched and irreligious types are in the house. There are there because God has drawn them, their hearts are open and receptive, and the Word always finds its target like a well-aimed arrow.
- We unpacked some great truths from Ruth chapter 3 today. Had a lot of fun with Ruth going to the threshing floor in the middle of the night to “uncover Boaz’s feet.” As I looked across the congregation I could tell that people were riveted to the story… to God’s Word… which is always a good thing.
- I have received a lot of positive feedback from the Ruth series.
- Today we talked about finding the fingerprint of God in our lives. Even when it seems like God is not there, He is. We are always under His gaze. And if we look hard enough, we can see traces of His handiwork in our circumstances.
- In the first service, I saw a guy standing in the back who I did not recognize. He just stood there for the entire sermon. I was a little freaked out and it distracted me for a while. I thought, “What is he doing just standing there?” At some point I relaxed and figured he was looking for someone who was already seated. Besides, I knew our security personnel could handle him if they needed to.
- Yesterday evening (Saturday) Renae and I went for a boat ride with Robert & Joyce Hughes on their pontoon boat. We put Blackwater River at 4:30 PM. Boated our way to downtown Milton, docked at the boardwalk, and walked up to a restaurant called Blackwater Bistro and had a nice dinner together. After dinner we took a leisurely ride upstream. It was very nice. But then we got caught in a squall. I mean a squall! It started raining, lightening, and blowing. The wind must have been 40 mph because it was driving the rain horizontal. We raced back to Milton and tied off on the dock near the bridge. Then we hid under the bridge for an hour & ½ shivering in the rain to escape the lightening. I thought Lightening was striking all around and the thunder was very loud. I thought I was going to meet Jesus any minute. Then we started telling each other stories of lightening strikes we have seen, or other electrocution incidents. It only added to the drama. It was quite an experience…. and a lot of fun, actually.
- I am still not eating sugar. This is not a fast. It is a new way of living. I have lost fifteen pounds, sleep better, and my food cravings are under control. The VOLUME at which most Americans eat sugar is actually POISON. Read the labels; avoid white processed foods, and all sweetened beverages. You’ll be the better for it.
- I would like to lose ten more pounds. This would much healthier for me.
- It’s time to me to make another visit to the doctor for a general check up. I haven’t been in about four years. Need to have my blood pressure and cholesterol checked.
- Back to church-related matters. Did you know that a lot of people attend PCC who would NEVER set foot in another church? While I recognize that we are not a perfect church (and we don’t do things like other churches do), what we ARE doing WORKS for a lot of people. i.e., They come to church and experience God-honoring vertically-focused worship (that is well done), and they hear a clear, concise message from God’s Word. Then there is the amazing fellowship that takes place among our church family. No one is pressured to do cart-wheels, somersaults, or emote in front of a room full of strangers. No one has to pledge their allegiance to a set of denominational creeds or confessions of faith. Rather, they hear God’s Word and it either takes hold (is grafted) or either it does not. Our church is full of people who are mature believers, growing believers, new believers, and not-yet believers (seekers). What’s not to like about that?
- Today I talked about the difference between being a person of faith and a religious person. Big difference.
- Carole Bryant said this on Facebook about today’s service: "Great service today, who ever said the Bible was boring is crazy we were glued to our chairs. Talked to a lady today that came last week for the first time, she said she wasn't going to come but felt something was drawing her to come. When she got to church and heard the message, she said that message was for her, she also said PCC is a very comfortable place to be."
- God’s plan for our lives are much greater than OUR plans for our lives. Wait until you hear Ruth chapter 4.
- God is not looking for our advice. He is looking for our submission and availability.
- Jesus didn’t die on the cross to simply establish a behavior modification program. He died in order to bring the dead back to life. You know, so sinners could inherit eternal life.
- The book of Ruth is mainly about the woman Ruth, but is told primarily from Naomi’s point of view. I’m loving this story and especially like seeing how God moved in their circumstances.
Friday, June 18, 2010
If you've been thinking about checking out Pace Community Church, THIS SUNDAY would be a perfect time. It's Father's Day, the music will be good, and Dad will love the message - it will be insightful and encouraging. The coffee will be hot, and the fellowship deep. And, oh yea, Jesus will be there too. People will be saved this Sunday.
Sundays Message: Finding God's Fingerprint in Your Life (Ruth 3)
Thursday, June 17, 2010
REFORMED? We need a new reformation; one in which the pure, simple, and unadulterated Gospel of Jesus Christ will retake Bible-believing churches.
MISSIONARIES. Do our missionaries travel overseas to win a single convert, and make them twice the child of hell that we are? (See Matthew 23:15).
EVANGELISM. I think we are nearing an end, of what church historians will, in the future, call the Billy Graham era of evangelism.
CHRISTIAN FUNDEMENTALISM. People are sick of the self righteous who believe they are more spiritual than everyone else in the Body of Christ.
BUT “I’M RIGHT and THEY ARE NOT.” Really? Are you sure? How do you know that your slant on the Bible is the right way? You might have a belief system that will betray you (its victim) in the end. Then it’s too late.
THE RELIGIOUS RIGHT. Please don’t mix your politics with Christianity. It corrupts the gospel.
KNOWLEDGE PUFFS UP, BUT LOVE BUILDS UP (I Corinthians 8:1). Which group is more loving? More gracious? More thoughtful? More supportive? More joyful? More peaceful? You decide.
GOD DOES IT DIFFERENT. I’m glad that God forgives me, saves me, redeems me, fills me, and loves me. I thankful that He doesn’t treat me the way most some Christians do.
MORE INSIGHTFUL. Could it be that those people who do not attend your church have more insight than you do? Maybe they know what’s wrong in your church while you can’t see it. Maybe they should be reaching you instead? Just a thought.
MINISTRY TEAMS. Volunteers who serve on ministry teams are really the heartbeat of our church. These action-oriented groups make things happen every single weekend. When you're a part of a team you play a vital role in creating environments where people can go from where they are to where God wants them to be. You'll connect with a team leader who will care about you, pray for you, and "pastor" you. Below are some of the primary volunteer areas:
- Age Level Ministries. If you have a heart for kids and a desire to help them follow Jesus, then our age level ministries might be a good choice; this is nursery, pre-school, elementary, middle school, and high school ages. For example, you can work as an assistant in one of these environments, lead a group discussion, or work with sound/ projection with the teens. You could assist with crowd control, help with security and check-in procedures, or become involved in short-term projects like Vacation Bible School. You could even help cook and prepare a meal for the teens on Wednesday nights. Note: Background check required.
- Production. If you know sound, lights, video and computers, then the production team is the right place for you. On the projection side, you would be responsible for projecting the song services, sermon notes and scriptures, pre-service announcements, countdowns, and videos. On the audio side, you would be responsible for the sound system for the music, all microphones, and CD duplication. As this area expands, it will also involve running cameras and editing video. Training provided.
- Guest Services. Every weekend our greeters, ushers, parking attendants, the Welcome Center, and hospitality team help our guests have an amazing experience at church. If you’ve got a great personality, are friendly, and love to serve others, then guest services might be a good place to plug in.
- Housekeeping. If you believe that keeping God’s house clean and in top shape is a high priority, then housekeeping is for you. Each Friday a large group of volunteers arrive at the church around 9:00 AM. We have breakfast together at 10:00 AM. After breakfast we resume cleaning the building (sanctuary, lobby, bathrooms, hallways, etc), washing windows, bulletin assembly, putting out pens and cards in the chairs, and watering plants. This is the last effort in preparation for Sunday.
- Security & Emergency Response. Nobody expects an emergency, but everyone needs a plan in case of an emergency. Our security and emergency response team works on plans and procedures in the event of child abduction, combative or armed persons, fire, severe weather, theft, power outages, or medical emergencies. Training provided.
- Campus Grounds & Landscaping. This dedicated group usually comes on Thursday or Friday afternoon to mow grass, trim, and edge. When you drive onto the PCC campus on Sunday morning and it looks mowed, maintained, and well-kept, it is because someone has worked very hard during the week. It like working outdoors and serving God at the same times, this group would be a good choice to consider.
- Building Maintenance. When a building gets used it needs repairs. Our facility is no different. It needs regular maintenance involving things like changing light bulbs in the sanctuary and parking lot, painting the walls, fixing leaky windows, checking exit signs, changing A/C filters, water heaters, inspecting weather stripping, storm drains and gutters, and the like.
Of course there are many more opportunities to serve at PCC, but this should give you an idea for now. If you are interested in any of these positions listed above, contact Gene Tharp at: email@example.com or call 994-4319.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Does God’s Word ever cause you discomfort? When you are listening to a sermon, does it seem like the Scriptures are aimed directly at you? Does your heart ever soar with encouragement after reading the Bible? You are experiencing the reality that God’s Word is alive and can actually read your thoughts and judge your intentions.
When God’s Word speaks to you it is always for a purpose. God knows your heart and knows what you need to hear and knows what you need to do to bring your life into conformity to Christ. If you have a problem with sinful talk, the Word that comes to you will address the tongue. If you are struggling to forgive, God’s Word will confront you with the call to forgive others. If pride has a hold in your life, God’s Word will speak to you about humility. And if you are suffering, God’s Word will give you hope. Whatever needs to be addressed in your life, God’s Word has the ability to meet you where you are.
Of course, we have a part in the process. We must have open and receptive hearts. God will not force His Word upon a harded heart or closed mind. If you don’t want to be convicted or taught, then you can simply avoid church and stop reading the Bible. Or you can avoid people who uphold the truth of Scripture in their own lives. The best response, however, is to pray as the Psalmist did, “Search me, O God, and know my heart” (Psalms 139:23).
Regularly allow the Word of God to wash over you like cleansing water to uncover any impurity or sin. Always make the connection between your life and what God is saying to you through His Word. Make a habit of taking every word from God seriously, knowing that it is able to judge your heart and motives.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Spent to day working on Sunday's message. I feel pretty good about it. The book of Ruth is such an amazing story. This Sunday is Father's Day and would be a good time to have your men in church. This will not be a whimpy message.
Monday, June 14, 2010
Just talked to Ray Patterson, the father of Cameron who was in the motorcycle accident sixteen days ago. Cameron is now out of a coma. The ventilator has been removed from his throat, and he is breathing on his own.
It gets better.
He is actually talking now, though it is only in whisper because his throat is sore. He has his eyesight, his wits, and some memory of the accident. He is acknowledging the mercy of God and is asking his parents to pray for him before they leave the room after their visit.
Each visit today showed improvements.
There is likely to be some rehabiliation in his future, but there is a real miracle here. Not only did he survive the accident, he is now 'coming back.'
Sunday, June 13, 2010
- It’s 7:30 PM and I just got home. It’s been a long, long day.
- I had the honor of teaching God’s Word at PCC this morning. I had a blast and I count it a privilege to do so. I never take this for granted.
- The congregation of Pace Community Church is the real deal. We are not perfect. We are not overly pious. We are simply a group of people who are seeking God and trying to live spiritual.
- I’m glad that so many people come to PCC on Sundays. It seems like every week I am meeting new people or seeing new people show up. They come from all walks of life; younger, older, married couples, singles, etc. I can only attribute this the God and/or the Holy Spirit drawing them. It is so good to see people that I went to High School with coming to PCC. People I havent seen in 30 years. This is a God-thing.
- A lady approached me after first service today – someone I have never seen – and told me how amazing she thought the church service was. She specifically commented on the message; how God’s Word spoke to her.
- The same thing happened after the second service too.
- In fact, several people were talking about “Ruth’s story” today.
- Only God’s Word can do that. His Word has universal application. It speaks to anyone and everyone who listens with an open heart.
- I must confess, I had a difficult time in the first service with the message. I struggled with my delivery. Renae said she did not notice anything unusual. I’m glad… because if anyone can notice something is wrong, she can. I can only put it in God’s hand because He said His Word will not return to Him void,
- My delivery was much better in the second service.
- What spoke to me most about the message today was the part about Ruth not living the life she had envisioned for herself; yet she stayed in the game and got on with the business of living.
- Sometimes we get to do what we want to do. And sometimes life throws us a curveball and we end of living a life that we never envisioned for ourselves. Either way, we must do what is right and live for God anyway.
- Thank you to everyone who gave me encouragement today. I need you as much as (I hope) you need me.
- I am so interested with kingdom advancement that I hope God raises up many more new churches in Santa Rosa County that focus on reaching the unchurched.
- I know God has PCC here for a reason and that is my focus.
- Renae and I have finally made the decision to move forward on selling our house. We are ready. We have to paint the walls, replace the carpet, and take care of a couple of other small items, and then we’ll be ready. We own five acres off of Berryhill Road and want to build a new home there. I would be our “empty nest” home. With that much property, it would be great for entertaining too.
- This is a big step for us
- When we get out there, I plan to roast a whole pig in a fire pit and have half the church over for a time of over-indulgence. Oh yea.
- Have I mentioned that it is so hot I could scream?
- Vacation Bible School is coming up and it’s going to be a blast. Christ Klein is spearheading this effort and is doing an exceptional job. The VBS team had a planning meeting after church today. Love to see that kind of initiative.
- The youth ministry is meeting tonight for a strategy session and making plans for the summer. Love to see that kind of initiative.
- The grounds keeping team is doing an exceptional job of keeping the PCC campus looking like it should look. Never take it for granted. When you drive onto the PCC campus on Sunday morning and it looks mowed, maintained, and well-kept, it is because someone has worked their fanny off during the week. Take the time to find out who is doing this, and tell them how much you appreciate it. I know I do. It’s so important to me, that if no one else was doing it, I would do it myself! Thank God, He has sent us willing men and women who take pride in their church.
- I got a report tonight that Cameron Patterson (the 24 year old who was in the motorcycle accident 2 weeks ago) is doing much better. He is just beginning to come out of his comma and is (slightly) communicating with his parents. This is amazing. I am very happy for Ray & Linda.
- A few weeks ago I was fully engage in a process of “changes” at PCC. Even blogged about it a little. But some family emergencies at PCC have kept me busy and away from that task. Soon we will be coming back to that “organizational” matter. As of right now we have made a few changes in the order of service, in the band, and in the age-level ministries area. A lot more is to come. This summer is the perfect time to pull the trigger on a few initiatives we would like to try.
- As a reminder – we are still planning to change the times of our Sunday services by moving them up 30 minutes earlier. Right now the times are 9:30 & 11:00 AM and would change to 9:00 & 10:30 AM. We think this will balance the attendance between the two much better.
- If you know anyone who is looking for a church home, tell them about PCC. The music is good. The worship is as safe or as radical as you want it to be. And the sermons from God’s Word are most often verse-by-verse – people actually learn what the Bible has to say.
- Oh yea, it’s one of the friendliest places in the county. You can wear jeans. You can wear a suit. You can wear shorts. And you can wear flip flops. We don’t care. We’ll even serve you coffee. And the people at PCC actually LIKE each other. Not all churches can say that.
- I’ve been watching World Cup – you know the world-wide soccer matches – but I just can’t get into it like I can American football or baseball. In fact, give me COLLEGE FOOTBALL any day.
- Father’s Day is going to be awesome. That’s NEXT SUNDAY you know. Invite YOUR MEN to be in church. The music and message are going to be just for them. We will continue in the Ruth series… and it will be R-Rated
- Let me say it again. Next Sunday is FATHERS DAY. Get them there.
- Jesus is not for wimps.
- Invite. Invite. Invite!
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Tomorrow will be a great day a Pace Community Church. Believers will gather in corporate worship to honor God; we will humble ourselves before Him. Unchurched people will be encouraged. We will honor God by remembering the Lord's Day; giving Him the first part of the first day of the week. The music will be uplifing. The series through the book of Ruth continues. Tomorrow's message: GOD CAN TURN IT ALL AROUND.
Friday, June 11, 2010
The pass is being closed today for skimming.
How would you like your fish? 10W30 or 10W40?
Our federal government (both political parties) has acted more like a BP subsidiary than an oversight agency. According to today's Pensacola News Journal, the number of oil spills and safety violations in the last ten years has grown steadily, with BP being the leading offender - yet very little was done. All of which has resulted in the current crisis.
Worst of all, there is a good chance that this oil geyser could continue spewing oil for months, completely ruining this area, representing a "new normal" for us.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
- What I want is a safe environment that is simple at to the point
- I want a church that is filled with people who love God and enjoy each others company
- I don’t want people yelling at me from the pulpit all the time
- I don’t’ want to be forced to attend a bunch of meetings to talk about things I am not interested in
- Life is too short, so I want to develop long-lasting relationships with people I enjoy connecting with
- Sometimes I want an in-depth Bible study or rousing discussion on the Great Commission and reaching the lost. But there are other times when I don’t want to attend a Bible study. I just want to talk about guitar, bike riding, current events, or the BP oil disaster
- Sometimes I just want to hang out with other believers, drink coffee, and vegetate
- I need a church that will improve my life, not burden it
- I want a church that will not wear me out, drain me dry, and then leave me hanging
- I need a church that actually helps me
- That means that I don’t want to leave church feeling like I have been beat up. The world is already demanding enough, so I need a worship service and Christian friends that are a place of refuge.
- I want my finances in order, my kids trained, and my wife happy
- I want friends who are a delight to be with, and who can provide me and my family with protection should life become difficult for us one day
- I want a church I can stay in for years
- I don’t want surprises, secrets, or sex scandals from my church
- I want a church that is not having a split every other year, or one that keeps itself alive by stealing sheep from other churches
- I don’t think this is too much to ask, because I have found it at Pace Community Church. What I experience there is friendship, community, fellowship, and it’s one of the ways God meets some of my deepest needs.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
I don’t think church should wear people out. Yes, work is involved in carrying out the Great Commission – sometimes unpleasant work – but that’s not what I’m talking about. Work is good. Work is healthy. Avoiding work is not the goal. I’m talking about doing too much. I’m talking about having too many irons in the fire at the same time. If you think the goal of church is to be at every event that is offered, then you may as well go ahead sign up for the burnout program at the local mental hospital because that’s where you are headed!
Some people like to go to church every time the doors are open. They will be there every night of the week. Myself, I don’t have the energy or desire to do that. I don’t have the strength or conviction to minister in that kind of culture. Keeping people this busy takes away time from getting to know their neighbors, not to mention putting a strain on the family.
Church attendance on Sunday should be the first and most important thing on the list. Absolutely. There, you gather for corporate worship with other believers, honor God, are instructed by God’s Word, and are empowered to go back into the community as a missionary and ambassador for Christ.
Yet, many churches have turned themselves into conglomerate of assorted programs, committee meetings, and ministries that is overwhelming. It keeps people too busy; they have little time for their families or getting to know their neighbors. Instead of being a place of joyful relationships, church becomes an institution whose mammoth sized machinery must be maintained.
I want a church that helps me, not drains me.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
From time to time we are asked if we have a particular ministry. Or sometimes people will ask when we will be starting such-and-such a ministry. Sometimes they ask because their last church had it. Sometimes they ask because they are passionate about a certain ministry.
Here’s a few examples.
Do you have a men’s ministry? Yes. It’s called attend church every Sunday, get involved in serving, and lead your family like a Christian man is supposed to do. If you want to make friends with other guys, there are plenty of ways to do that. If you want to go camping, riding, or fishing, you don’t need me to call your hobby a ministry. Just get some guys and go.
Do you have a women’s ministry? Yes, it’s the same as above. Attend church every Sunday, get involved in serving somewhere, and lead your family like a Christian woman should. If you want to meet some other ladies and make new friends there are plenty of ways to do that. If you want to have a date night out with the girls, you don’t need the church to call that a ministry. Just get some ladies together and do it.
Do you have a couple’s ministry?
Do you have a singles ministry?
Do you have parent’s ministry?
Do you have a senior citizens ministry?
Do you have a support group ministry?
Do you have a counseling ministry?
Do you have a recovery ministry?
Do you offer Midweek services?
Do you offer Sunday night church services?
You get the idea.
WHAT’S THE POINT? We are decidedly simple at PCC. Trying to do too much results in a bloated church calendar, organizational complexity, burn out, manpower shortages, ineffectiveness, and competition between the ministries for limited resources. The evidence is in – simple churches are more effective than organizationally complicated churches who try to do too much.
Sunday, June 6, 2010
- Great day at PCC. I love what God is doing. It’s pretty exciting.
- Attendance was 477 I think. Music was good. The message seemed to connect.
- Had a large stack of visitor cards turned in this morning. A lot more than normal.
- I seen some people in church today that I went to high school with. Have only seen them once or twice in the last 35 years… yet God is drawing them. I’m glad they are coming to PCC.
- The music was very good.
- We started the new series based on the book of Ruth and got off to a very good start. The message could not have been more timely.
- I love preaching, and especially enjoy unpacking a text. Character studies are my favorite. It’s very easy for everyone to relate to the human experiences of the main characters. That's why God has put these stories in His Word.
- I’m glad that I’m not having to do a weekly set up of equipment each week. Did that for 8 ½ straight over at the high school – never missing a Sunday. God has been faithful to give us a home. Sweet.
- Last week was a very long week for me. Renae and I witnessed a motorcycle accident at 7:00 PM last Sunday evening. We were first on the scene. Within five minutes we were able to ascertain that it was a son of a family who attends church with us. I couldn’t believe it. This couple was in church that very morning receiving communion, and within a matter of hours, tragedy struck. As a result I have been with them all week long at the hospital, and a few times I didn’t think I would be able to hold it together.
- Friday night we held a pray-vigil at the church in behalf of the young man, Cameron. About fifty people came. Most were friends of his or of the family. A lot of family members came too. I was impressed at how many young adults were there – most in their 20s. Most of those who came don’t go to church anywhere. Some confessed they have never been to church in their entire life. I talked to them about how fragile life is and how events like this remind us of that fact. We talked about God and other spiritual matters. Finally, we joined hands and had prayer for Cameron, his parents Ray & Linda, and his two brothers Nick & Wes. Finally I prayed for all the young people there that God would open their eyes. It was a very special moment. I think God was doing some heart surgery beneath the surface. The picture above is of this event. (Click the picture for an enlarged view. Then backspace to return to this blog). The father and rest of the family is standing to my left.
- You never know what God is doing in the hearts of people. One plants, another waters, but God gives the increase (I Corinthians 3:6).
- I’ve been sitting in my easy chair all afternoon. I need the rest.
- Okay. My mind has been dumped.
Friday, June 4, 2010
• God deepens and equips us through suffering
• God works in mysterious ways
• God’s providence and provision
• God calls men and women to partner together in serving Him.
The book of Ruth is a very old book. The events took place over three thousand years ago (1000 years before Christ). Yet it is still relevant for us today. In its pages we see human suffering, sexuality, racial distinctions, faith, and the sovereignty of God. This remarkable woman shows us what it means to maintain faith and to obey God in spite of life’s hard consequences.
The first message in this series is WHEN LIFE IS NOT FAIR and begins this Sunday. If you know anyone who is hurting, experiencing pain, or wrestling with unanswered questions, bring them to Pace Community Church. They will find healing in Christ.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Notice how level the top coarse of block is - it's within 1/4 inch. That was the biggest challenge; keeping it level and appealing to the eye while the bottom coarse disappears into the slope.
In addition to exercising daily, I work on projects like this all the time. I like the manual labor. It's one of the ways I release tension. Plus there is a definite point when the job is "finished" (unlike much of my minsitry work which is never done). Even cutting the grass gives me the same feeling. My father gave me a strong work ethic and this kind of work like this keeps me connected to my blue collar roots.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
If one member suffers, all suffer together... (1 Corinthians 12:26 NIV)
There was a motorcycle accident last Sunday about 7:00 PM. Renae and I seen it happen. We were the first on the scene. The young man who was injured happened to be the son of a dear couple who attend PCC. I have been sad for the last three days; but nothing compared to what the parents are experiencing. I love Ray & Linda like family – because they are family – they are part of the PCC family. I have known them all my life; since we were kids ourselves.
I have been in a pastor for 25 years; more than half of that time has been at one church – this church – Pace Community Church. Admittedly, there have been times when the prospect of doing something else for a living (even digging ditches) had a certain appeal for me. But I know God has called me to be a pastor – specifically to PCC – and I have never seriously considered bailing out. I am fully committed to this church family for the rest of my life.
I could leave PCC if I wanted to and still have a fruitful ministry by preaching on the radio, or accepting preaching engagements from time to time in other churches, thereby avoiding the hassles of leading a church. But I wouldn’t do that either. Being a moonlighter preacher is not in my DNA.
I am fully committed to being a pastor. While there are many reasons why, here are three:
1. I am directly responsible for the lives of the people God has given to me to shepherd. As a traveling evangelist, radio preacher, or spare-time pastor, I would not be personally responsible for how people apply God’s Word to their daily lives. But as the full-time pastor of a congregation, I have a relationship with people like that of a shepherd and his sheep. I watch over their souls as one “who will give account” to God (Hebrews 13:17).
2. The pastorate embraces all aspects of life. I share the joy of parents over the birth of a child, as well as the pain of children over the death of a mother or father. I grieve when families suffer a crisis or tragedy. I am able to celebrate at a wedding; and offer comfort at a funeral. I'm there when divorce occurs, and when a couple celebrates their golden anniversary. There is a certain unpredictability that accompanies my calling as a pastor – an uncertainty (or adventure) that may begin at any moment. It is at those times that I go beyond my sermons to stand in the gap for the lives of people in this flock.
3. The rewards in this life are worth it. I feel loved, appreciated, needed, and trusted as a pastor – all of which is a result of being called of God - (it’s not anything that I possess within myself). I know that the people of PCC pray for me and care deeply for me. I owe a debt of gratitude to God for the privilege of this position and responsibility. I am honored to be a channel through which the grace of God, love of Christ, and comfort of the Holy Spirit can be made real to people.
I love teaching and preaching. It is my primary gift and I could spend the rest of my life doing only that. If I had my way, there would never be another funeral or hospital visit for me to make. But I am a realist; we are not in heaven yet and life is full of hardships. I accept the fact that I will often be pulled into the midst of difficult situations for the sake of others.
Here’s the way I see it. At PCC, we are simply a group of Christians who are doing life together. We share one another’s hardships, victories, tragedies, and celebrations. Every one of us has a different role in the Body of Christ, but somehow, some way, we minister to one another in the rhythms of life. This is the mutual ministry of the Body to itself – to “care one for another” (I Corinthians 12:25).
I’m glad that I am part of the Body of Christ and a member of PCC in particular.