Saturday, March 31, 2012

Garden Update

Renae and I have spent the last two days working in this garden and the rows are starting to show signs of life.  The rain today made a big difference. 

I have planted red-skinned potatoes, a variety of tomatoes (42 plants, including heirlooms), stringless pole beans, stringless bush beans, purple hull peas, dragon's tongue beans,  yellow squash, banana pepper, bell pepper (green, yellow, and red), carrots, and radish.  Really looking foward to the radish; they should be ready in six weeks.

Here is a picture I posted two weeks ago (on March 19th) that gives you an idea of how much change has taken place.  I'll post another picture in 2 or 3 weeks. 

Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday Five

1.  This Sunday’s message is:  Four Stages of Family Life.  We’ll see what God’s Word has to say to couples during the newlywed years, the child bearing years, the child rearing years, and the empty nest years.  This will probably be one of the most important messages I have shared in a very long time.  It will also be full of transparent illustrations from my own family life. 

2.  This music this Sunday is all hymns.  I cut my teeth on hymns, like many of you have.  I’m looking forward to it.

3.  After church there is an Easter Egg hunt for the kids.  The time is 3:00 – 5:00 PM.

4.  I received a very encouraging e-mail today.  A well-timed “thank you” can lift me for days.  It can do more for my emotional well-being than a professionally trained therapist.  People who have the gift of encouragement are gifts from God to the Body of Christ.

5.  The campus grounds have been mowed and the building has been cleaned.  Our volunteers really stepped it up this week, as well as today, getting everything ready for the weekend.  I like the camaraderie we experience together on Friday’s.  Plus, the breakfast they made today was fantabulous!  I love this church.

See you Sunday!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Accepting the Reality of a Two Time-Slot World (Organic, Part 6)

When it comes to involvement in church-related activities, most people have a limited amount of time they can donate. As a rule of thumb, most people will participate in only two time slots a week. No matter what that third or fourth meeting is for or when it takes place, it’s hard to get anyone to show up.

Of course, there are exceptions. Every church has some ministry animals who show up whenever the doors are open.  In addition, there are others who serve in key positions who give more than a couple of time slots. But the pattern holds true for most people – it’s two time slots, with an occasional extra meeting or special event thrown in.

I have chosen to tailor my ministry to this reality.  If most people have only two time slots they are able to donate or commit to each week, I want it to be the weekend service (first and foremost) and one other event of their choosing during the week.  And for the people who are so busy that they don’t have the time for an extra event beyond the weekend, I’m okay with that too.  I will minister to them as they are.

If church leaders do not accept this reality about people, it will only lead to their own frustration. 

Let’s be honest.  Most people are already very busy with other good things going on in their lives such as work, family responsibilities, and friendship circles.  That doesn’t mean they are unspiritual, don’t love Jesus, or are uncommitted to spiritual growth.  It just means they are investing in their family (which is their first ministry), going to work, and living in the community as witnesses for Christ.

Instead, why not accept this reality?  Let’s preach to their heart on Sunday’s with solid Bible content in a God-honoring worship service, and then send them out into the community to live out the gospel in a way that seems right to them and how God made them?  Why not allow them to be a Christian witness when they are going to their kids’ sports games, taking an art class, or having dinner with their neighbors?  This allows leaders to not get frustrated with having the same four-or-five people to show up at every event and complaining about all those other people who aren’t mature in the faith. 

Organic ministry allows for friends to get together on their own for Bible study and prayer, or even allows them to go out into nature and behold God’s handiwork there.  Organic ministry allows for people to do ministry in every part of their lives and not see it as only as only a scheduled event provided by church leaders.  Organic ministry gives people the freedom for “hang time” with each other.  Organic ministry allows church leaders to not stress about how many people show up to their event.  Organic ministry releases church leaders to give their best efforts to God and family first, instead of their leftovers.

By tailoring my own ministry to the reality of a two time-slot world, I am less frustrated with people; I have more margin in my personal life; I am less fatigued; and I am more effective in my ministry efforts.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Power of Tradition

Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle (2 Thessalonians 2:15).

In the January 16th edition of Forbes Magazine, Amity Shales issues a plea to clergy, lamenting some of the changes made in her own religious practices.  She writes that a house of worship serves as a “place where one retreats for predictability."  She ends her one-page article with a simple plea:  Change less.”

Modern church leaders tend to pursue change at a greater pace than their congregations can handle.  It can also have a disconnected effect on generations.

It’s easy to think that everybody gets tired of tradition.  But there’s a reason traditions become popular in the first place – people like traditions.  Whether it’s watching the Detroit Lions lose on Thanksgiving Day surrounded by family, or a candlelight service on Christmas Eve, traditions can be powerful.  When we force the modernization of those traditions, we run the risk of losing their effectiveness.

Here’s a short list of traditions have been discarded by the modern church:
  • The Indication (call to worship)
  • The Benediction
  • The Lord’s Supper or Communion
  • An offertory prayer
  • The sermon
  • Reciting the Lord’s Prayer
  • Responsive Reading
Of course there are many others (and some traditons are just plain bad).  You may read this list and think, “out of date.”  But don’t be so quick.  As Proverbs 22:28 warns, we should not be so quick to remove the “ancient landmarks” established by our fathers.

Maybe a better alternative is to continue the traditions, but properly explain them. There’s power in tradition properly explained.  The Lord’s Supper is a powerful way to share the Gospel – so slow down and explain to people exactly what’s happening.  Don’t just throw out a scripture reading because it’s not as cool as a title package – there’s power in the simple reading of the Word of God.

Amity Shales might be on to something.  As church leaders, we need to understand the people in our congregations don’t like change as much as we do.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Sunday Mind Dump – March 25, 2012

It was simply a good day at PCC.  I know I say something like that each week, but it really was.  The music was good, there was great enthusiasm among the people, giving was good, and the message seemed to go over well.

The message was:  The Duty of Parents to their Children.  It was very challenging in places – especially the section on unnecessary provocations – things that parents should avoid committing against their children.  The message was also very encouraging because it affirmed that we (parents) are doing the best we can and learning as we go.

I could literally see the tension and guilt melt away in the faces of so many parents today towards the end of the message.

I really dislike the way some family experts and preachers convey a message that if you’ll follow steps one, two, three, your families will turn out ideal.  It’s not that neat and clean.  Too many things are beyond our control.

Parenting is hard work.  It’s not for the faint of heart.

This is not Little House on the Prairie, you know.  We live the real world.

The number one issue facing parents today is not merely correcting the bad behavior of their children or simply teaching them good manners – it’s bringing them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.  Our children, like every other human being, are fallen creatures and need heart regeneration.  The fundamental issue facing parents is to teach their children they are sinful, that they need a new heart, and that all of their greatest needs are (therefore) spiritual in nature. 

Parents, of course, cannot give their children a new heart.  Only God can do that.  Parents cannot ‘believe’ in behalf of their children.  Neither can parents guarantee the salvation of their children.  But parents can be evangelists in the home and prayer warriors in behalf of their children.  This is a matter of spiritual warfare.  It’s about principalities, power, and spiritual wickedness in high places, to the pulling down of strongholds.

Last night I taught Seminar 201 – Essentials of Spiritual Growth.  Forty-five people were in attendance.  It was a great evening.

I took a few pictures during the dinner break, but forgot to take a group picture at the end.  Dang!

The seminar went very well.  It still needs a little tweeking and to be shortened just a bit in one or two places.  Other than that, I’m happy with it.   

The revised version of 201 offers some great insights, but it’s still basic.  It’s not intended to impart scholarly content, but rather emphasizes the basic habits of a disciple and equips people with the tools necessary to begin practicing those habits.

Regarding discipleship, the 80/20 rule applies.  It’s 20% knowledge and 80% hard work and self-discipline.

I’m thinking about writing another seminar/class on doctrine or apologetics.  We would label it 301 – Essential Doctrines of the Bible.

I would like to do a seminar on “Experiencing God” too.

I’ve been thinking a lot about discipleship lately.  The mission of the church is to make disciples.  There is no Plan B.  That is the single goal of the church.

I’m thinking my way through some things about discipleship and methods of ministry, (I believe it’s the Lord prompting me), and it’s really shaking me up.  If I follow this logic to its inth degree it could represent a radical shakeup.

On a personal note….

I’ve got my garden planted.  It was a lot of work but I’m really enjoying it.  I  have planted potatoes, purple hull peas, dragons tongue beans, tomatoes, squash, and banana peppers. 

I also planted a large bed of sunflowers and zinnia in the garden to attract bees (for pollination).

In the next few days I intend also plant radishes, bell peppers, and Italian peas (something Renae got from a neighbor). 

The fence I put up around the garden seems to be keeping the deer out for now.  It’s probably a matter of time before they jump the fence.  Think I’ll put up some pie pans soon.

My biggest issue right now is getting a water line to the garden.  I need 450 feet of PVC pipe and a ditch-witch (trenching machine) to make it happen.  That is my main goal this week.  Otherwise I will be having to haul 5 gallon buckets of water back and forth.  Not cool.

I have two fig trees and two pear trees planted.  They are in full bloom.

I still have 20 blueberry bushes (in containers) that I need to plant, but I’m not putting them in the ground until I have irrigation.

I also have nine grape vines to plant… but I can’t make a decision where.

This morning I went to Lowe’s to buy wooden stakes for the tomatoes.  Came home, cut them to length, then went to the garden and staked the plants.  I’ve been busy all day.

Took one of my Jack Russell puppies over to the garden and let her loose while I was staking tomatoes.  Big mistake.  She was so excited to be in an open field that she took off.  With the scent of wildlife everywhere she went berserk.  I had to chase her down and tackle her.  Hurt my hip in the process.

We really look forward to the day we build a home over there.

When we get moved over there, we’re going to have a gigantic move-in party.  Maybe dig a pit and roast a pig and have a hundred people over.

 My mother’s birthday was last Friday.  Today we are having her, family, and some friends over to our home for a cookout together.  Looking forward to it.  Spent the afternoon getting the yard ready.  All cleaned up and ready to go.

POLITICS:  Gas is supposed to go over $4/gallon this weekend.  The National Debt is at $14 trillion.  Iran may blow up Israel with a nuclear weapon.  But the media has pointed out that President Obama nailed the NCAA tourney picks!


Get this.  We are going to use ALL hymns in the entire music set.  Yes, you read it correctly.  All hymns – from start to finish.  (Sorry Renae… if I stole your thunder).

We’ve been using hymns for the offertory for several months now and they are going over very well.  From my vantage point on the stage I can tell that a lot of people are really “drawn in” during that segment.  Even some of the young people!  Go figure.  So… in an effort to be fresh and offer a new presentation… we’re going to do all hymns this Sunday.

I really love our church.  I’m glad that we're not locked in the past.  But I’m also very glad that we don’t boycott the past.  There’s something about observing tradition that keeps us anchored to bedrock.

Tomorrow I’ll write about the benefit of traditions.

Thanks to all the help in the kitchen for this fabulous meal provided last night. 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Pear Tree in Bloom

This is a Kiefer Pear tree I planted a few months ago. Glad to see it's in bloom. Hope it puts on fruit.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Why my 50s are Better than my 30s

They say that 50 is the new 30.  That's because baby boomers are living longer and in better health at that age than in previous generations.  I'm not sure about all that, but I do know this: I’m embracing this season of my life and enjoying it.  Here are my top ten reasons why:

1.  In my 30s I stressed out if either one of my sons didn’t get a hit in a baseball game.  Now in my 50s, I’m perfectly content watching my grandson smile and look happy.

2.  In my 30s I strained the budget to make payments on a shiny new car.  In my 50s I’m happy to drive an old beater.

3.  In my 30s I wanted to make a name for myself.  In my 50s I’m excited about creating a platform for younger leaders.

4.  In my 30s waiting in line at Wal-Mart drove me crazy!  In my 50s it doesn’t bother me.  Well, it doesn't bother me as much.  I'm still working on this one.  Sorry for lying :-)

5.  In my 30s I wanted to be the perfect parent so that my kids would turn out awesome.  In my 50s I realize that (for the most part) kids are going to turn out how they’ll turn out.  Both my sons are pretty awesome, but it’s not because of me.

6.  In my 30s I was happily married.  Now in my 50s I’m still happily marred to the same person and I’m stoked that I get to spend the rest of my life with her.

7.  In my 30s politics fired me up.  In my 50s not so much.  I’ve been living long enough to see fourteen presidential terms come and go and now realize that things haven't changed very much...  regardless of which party was in the White House.  So why get so worked up?  More and more I rest in the fact that God is still sovereign and the sun still comes up tomorrow.

8.  In my 30s the idea of dying wasn’t even on my radar.  I was ten feet tall and bullet proof.  In my 50s I still would like to hang around as long as possible, but I accept the fact that I now have less time in front of me than I have already lived.  Besides, when I get to heaven there’s a few people I would like to see again.

9.  In my 30s my theology was pretty brittle.  Most of the things I believed in were black-and-white and I really couldn’t understand why others didn’t believe like I did.  I was eager to debate and argue.  In my 50s I find my theology is much more flexible.  In fact, once you get past the Incarnation, Crucifixion, and Resurrection of Jesus, there aren’t a lot of things to argue about.

10.  In my 30s I had to get ahead.  In my 50s I’m enjoying the journey.

Being in my 50s isn’t ideal.  I have aches in places where I didn’t know I had bones.  My body won’t do near as much as my mind thinks it can.  But I am not longing for a previous decade.  That's a fools paradise.  They say 50 is the new 30 so I’m going to enjoy it.  Now, if I can only find my car keys.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Takers, Tenants, Tippers, & Tithers

Regarding stewardship, most churches have four basic financial groups within their ranks.  They are:  Takers... Tenants... Tippers... and Tithers.

Takers are parasitic in nature, which is defined as:  (1) An organism that feeds off a host body for nutrition, such as a tick or leech.    (2) A person who receives support from another without providing any useful return; such as one who lives on the hospitality or charity of others.  These people never give, they only take.  They take everything they can.  They are counterproductive to the cause of Christ.  They are irresponsible, undependable, not credible, and lack moral authority.  Takers refuse to give their time, talents, or financial support to the very church they benefit from!   They view the Church as a provider of entitlements.

Note:  It’s important to point out that a taker is not someone who has a genuine need or a family that is in distress requiring assistance.

Tenants are non-monetary supporters of the church.  They will give their time and talent, but not financial assistance.  The tenant will volunteer and serve, but will not give any money to help underwrite the very ministry they serve in.  The tenant can be rich or poor.  A tenant can be a blessing to the church when someone is needed to help – just don’t expect them to give money… even if the electricity gets turned off.

Tippers are those people who give, but they give very little.  Like eating out in a restaurant, the tipper gives a token amount to the church if the sermon is cooked up hot and is pleasing to the taste buds.  They give only when the notion strikes them.  They are not predictable in their giving; however they are a blessing when they do.  Because of the lack of tithers in the church, tippers can be a real asset helping the church meet its financial obligations.  Still, they are living beneath God's requirment.

Tithers.  The tither is the person or family who takes 10% of their earnings (or increase) and gives it to their church without hesitation, regret, or coercion.  They do this as an act of worship to God and dedication to their church.  A tither is dependable; if they are absent from the services they will catch up.  They will not let anything stand in their way of giving. 

Tithers make the church work.  Many of them give AND serve!  They support their church financially, and on top of that donate their time, talents, and labor.  They dig down deep into a sacrificial lifestyle of discipleship.  They don't expect to be paid for their labor.  They willingly volunteer and then give 10% of their money for the privilege of working for free!  This is how they serve their Lord, and do so joyfully.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Just Finished Rewriting 201

I have spent the last week revising Seminar 201 – Essentials for Spiritual Growth – and just finished this afternoon.  Not an easy job.  Tomorrow morning I’ll give the syllabus a final look, then it will go to print.

Two major things have happened in the revision (1) It has been shortened from 4 hours down to 2 ½ hours, and, (2) The content has been improved (it’s now much stronger, meatier, and insightful). 

Oh, it’s going to be challenging too.  We’ll talk about sacrificial living, carrying your cross, why the cross is an instrument of death and what it means for us, myths of spiritual growth, stewardship, overcoming materialism by putting God first in my finances, being a “doer” of the Word and not a hearer only, how to read your Bible completely through in four months, how to prayer-journal, the value of a prayer-journal, why spiritual maturity is best measured by your behavior than your beliefs, the need for personal holiness, how to use the Hebrew Names of God as a prayer guide, and much more!

This updated version of 201 is being made available due to the changing makeup of people now in the PCC congregation, as well as the increasing maturity level of the PCC family over the last fourteen years.

Currently there are forty-four people signed up, but there’s room for more.  Even if you have taken this seminar in the past, you might consider re-taking it as a refresher.  I'm sure it will nudge you forward, provoke a new hunger, and rekindle your desire for things spiritual.  Besides, there’s a bunch of new people at PCC right now and this would be a great opportunity to meet new people, enjoy fellowship and make new friends.  Plus, we’re going to have a fabulous meal together.

The seminar starts at 4:00 PM Sunday.  Join us.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Last Sunday After Church

I-10 over Blackwater River

A Tributary along Yellow River


Monday, March 19, 2012

Fence Going Up

I put sixteen posts in the ground today and mounted field fence about 3/4 of the way around the garden.  Mike Collins loaned the fence to me, so he's going to get a mess of vegetables when the harvest comes in.

Sunday Mind Dump - March 18, 2012 (Monday Edition)

Solid day.

There was a good atmosphere in service.  Everyone seemed to be in high spirits.

The feeling was evident before and after the service too.  I really enjoy seeing people visit with one another in the atrium before service, and then hanging around so long with each other after service.

The offertory was a home run.

The message was insightful and seemed to connect with a lot of people.  The title was:  The Duty of Children in the Family. 

I also met four first-time guests.  Always enjoy that.

We need to do something about getting the speaker monitors off the floor in the front of the stage.  It’s too crowded down there, especially for the ushers who come forward.  What’s needed is a little platform that would fit over the stairs to mount them on.

Easter is just around the corner.  It’s our highest attended day of the year.  Plan to arrive early for a good seat.

I’m loving this weather.

After church yesterday Renae and I put the boat in and spent the day on the water.  The water conditions were good and the weather was perfect – mild temps and lots of sunshine.  Had a good time.  Got home late, just after dark.

I really enjoy being on the water.

I took a few pictures with my old camera, but I’m having difficulty getting my computer to open them up. 

Having May weather in March is kind of freaky.  The weather people are saying the water temperature in the Guild of Mexico is already higher than normal, which could lead to a very active hurricane season this year.

This week I will finish planting my garden and then will get a fence up to keep the deer out.  A couple of hunters in our church have offered to help me with the deer problem.  :-)  Next I have to get water to the location which means I have to run about 400 ft of PVC pipe to the back of my property.  This project is a lot of work but I’m enjoying it.

One of my Jack Russell’s goes to the vet this week to get “fixed.”

Next Sunday afternoon we are offering Seminar 201 – Essentials for Spiritual Growth.  Forty-two people have signed up.  If you are interested in joining us, there’s still room.  The seminar will last about 2 ½ hours, and we’ll have dinner together.  Aside from the class itself, the food and the fellowship would be worth showing up for.  It’s going to be a lot of fun.  Hope you join us. 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Our Humble Herb Garden

Renae and I spent the morning putting together this little herb garden.  She likes fresh herbs for cooking so we have placed these ready-pick containers just outside her kitchen window.  It was a lot of fun doing this together.  It's what Saturday's are made for.  The garden has basil, parsley, oregano, thyme, lemon verbena, sweet mint, spearmint, and strawberries.  Loving this spring weather!

Date Night

After work Thursday, Renae and I went to the beach and had dinner at Hemingway's.  Had a good time.  The weather and scenery were fabulous. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Life is a Series of New Chapters

Moving through the seasons of life is like the chapters of a book.  There are defining moments that signal the close of one chapter and the beginning of another.  The challenge, of course, is recognizing when it’s time to turn the page.

I remember when I entered the ministry.  It closed one chapter of my life and opened another.  It was a scary time for me and Renae… as it usually is when following God’s lead.  We then worked in the ministry for a number of years within the framework of a certain denominational system, but then felt led of God to turn the page and enter another chapter.  Pace Community Church came into existence as a result.

And now, here it is fourteen years later.  Now what?

Closing one chapter of your life requires looking forward and putting the past behind.  That doesn’t mean you forsake the past, but it does mean the future becomes your primary focus.  Neither do you get stuck in the present.  To get stuck is to be, well, stuck.

Change is on the horizon for me.  Renae and I recently became first-time grandparents.  We are very close to being empty-nesters.  We are making plans to build a new home, which has been a long dream of ours.  And we have travel plans, places we’d like to see.  All of these things (and many others) are indicators that the page is turning and we’re entering a new chapter.

Vocational changes are coming for me too.  I have half a lifetime of accumulated ministry experience, and this wisdom is something I should spend the next season of my life passing along to others.  My time would be better spent training others, imparting wisdom, and planning for succession, rather than working the same way I have in the first half of my life – like there’s no end in sight.

When we encounter transitions in life, either we can embrace them or we can resist them, but we cannot avoid them.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Best Kind of Spiritual Growth (Organic, Part 5)

Have you ever noticed how most programs and models for making disciples follow a strict linear pattern?  Step one, followed by step two, and so on.  First base, second base, and so on.

Yet if we look back over our own spiritual journey, very few of us will find anything close to a neatly laid out linear path like that.  For most of us, the road to spiritual growth and maturity is more like a meandering path punctuated by occasional stretches of unexpected twists and turns.

So why do we place such a great emphasis on sequential steps and orderly progression?  Why do we rely so heavily on programs for spiritual growth and discipleship?  Simple.  They are easy to administrate and results are easy to measure.

In reality, most spiritual growth happens spontaneously on a need-to-grow or need-to-know basis.  As life happens, we’re suddenly confronted by the need for personal growth and more Biblical information.  And then we begin digging.

Let me offer a personal illustration.  The last ten years have been the most challenging and difficult years of my life as well as Renae’s.  Space won’t permit me to tell you all the stories, but suffice to say that we have experienced a great deal of personal hardships.  There have been family deaths, family crisis’s, health issues, family members with cancer, stress, the loss of friends, and many other crushing experiences that very few are aware of.

Prior to all theses experiences, the sovereignty of God was a topic to teach or a doctrine to debate – but hardly one that we desperately needed to grab hold of and put to work in our lives.  Deep discussions about life and death, our future, and circumstances that were completely out of our control became normal topics of conversation for us.  Our prayer life ratcheted up a notch or two.  I found myself journaling again and reexamining key passages in the Bible.

The end result was that a once dry, overly academic subject suddenly took on new life, eventually becoming a rock we could both stand on.

It’s a pattern I’ve seen over and over for thirty years.  Life happens and growth kicks in.

That’s why so many of our information-based Bible studies and linear discipleship programs look a lot better on paper than they do in real life.  In theory, they are profoundly life-changing.  In reality, their impact is often minimal because the information doesn’t stick and quickly fades.  However, the information we learn in a crisis sticks and the lessons learned in the experiences of life builds deep character. 

That’s not to say that everything linear is bad or ineffective.  I’m simply suggesting that the linear approach is way overrated and overused by churches.  It’s not the way that most people grow.  We have to remember that spiritual growth is a lifetime process not a curriculum.

If you’re one of those types who benefits from linear models – by all means keep at it.  It’s the path that works best for you.

But if you are not so linear oriented, don’t worry about it.  You will get to where you need to be as long as you look first to God and the Scriptures when a need-to-know or a need-to-grow crisis pops us.

Ultimately spiritual growth is an inside-out job.  It’s not something we produce.  It’s something God does.  It’s organic, not organizational.

…. Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.  For it is God who works in you both to will and do of His good pleasure Philippians 2:12-13).

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sunday Mind Dump - March 11, 2012

Today the Word was faithfully preached, worship was sincerely offered, and fellowship was authentically practiced.  It was a God-honoring day.

Attendance was a little off, probably due to time change and spring break.  Kids are out of school next week.

I played bass guitar in the band.  Our regular bassist was away with his family on vacation.  I was a little rusty but really enjoyed playing.  Finally got in a groove and was able to relax.

Except for a couple of technical bumps, everything was uplifting and edifying.

Loved the old time favorite sang today for the offertory.  Nan did a really good job.  Everyone really seems to be enjoying this segment.

After service we held a farewell reception for Wade Colon who has joined the Coast Guard.  He played drums today, on his final day with us, which seemed very appropriate.  The reception was well attended.

It was great to see the front row filled with teenagers.

Today’s sermon was, well, very challenging.  Talked about submission.  The points were simple:
  • Christians Should Model Their Families After the Unique Relationship that Exists between Christ and the Church (never patterning our families after the world or culture).  
  • Mutual Submission is Required of Every Family Member (although we focused primarily on husbands and wives).
  • Mutual Submission is Motivated by Our Reverence for Christ (that is, we do this because our Lord says so).

You should see the things I notice from the platform when I’m teaching on a sensitive or challenging subject like today.  People’s body language speaks volumes.  It’s easy to tell when some people are getting it and receiving it.  It’s also obvious when others are completely shutting down.

Your family is your first ministry.  Here's why....

Of the world’s three greatest institutions, the home, the church, and the state, the home is the oldest and the most sacred. 

The family is where our faith puts on skin.  It’s one thing to have a personal relationship with Jesus, but if I spend the lions share of my time with other people or neglect my duties as a husband or father, then my relationship with Christ is out of balance, or worse, inauthentic.  In other words, my family relationships reveal a lot about the health of my heavenly relationship.

I closed the message with a specific challenge to men.  Had a lot of fun with that.  At some point a woman called out, “preach it.”  Had a lot of fun with that too.

I think most single women would love to date a man like the one I described…. that most wives would love to have a husband like that to share life with… and that most children would love to have dads like that.

Younger men and boys are looking for heroes, and there is a sad lack of them today in the church.  There are too many girlie men, too many macho men, and not enough manly men.

I wrote about manly men two years ago here and here.  Or you can just click the “men” tab on the left sidebar if you’re interested.

Manly men are not defined by how many beer cans they can smash, how much meat they can eat, or how big their sub-woofers are.  They are defined by their legacy – the things they produce and build, like families, businesses, and ministries – and the things they leave behind, like a good reputation, an honorable name, and a memory that his children cherish.

Someone asked me today “Why don’t you have Sunday night services?”
“Simple.” I answered.  “It allows our people to have a full day of rest after worship.  Additionally, it gives our congregation more time with their family.”

Tomorrow I’ll be planting red skinned potatoes in my garden.  In the next few weeks I’ll be planting Purple Hull Field Peas and Dragon’s Tongue Beans.  I have tomatoes plants, crooked neck squash, and yellow banana peppers to plant too.

I also have twenty blueberry bushes and nine muscadine vines to plant.  I’ve already planted couple of pear trees (Ayres and Keifer) and two fig trees (Ischia). 

Seminar 201 – Essentials for Spiritual Growth takes place in a couple of weeks.  The number of people who have signed up more than doubled today.

I’ve got a bad case of spring fever.  Can’t wait for the weather to clear up, see some sunshine, get outdoors, go fishing, spend time in Blackwater Forest, and get my garden in full swing.  I’m also looking forward to having fish fry’s, outdoor cookouts, cooking on the grill, using my smoker, the long days, and twelve hours of sunlight.

Yay, daylight savings time ended today.

It’s great living in NW Florida and I plan to take full advantage of the outdoor opportunities this area offers. 

I heard on the news today that Payton Manning is being courted to come to the Denver Broncos by John Elway, which means Tim Tebow will be dropped if the deal goes through.

Now to go enjoy the extra hour of daylight!