Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sunday Mind Dump - September 30, 2012


The best part of today is that four people crossed the line of faith, committing to Jesus Christ and surrendering to His Lordship.  That never gets old.

Another great part of today’s service was the music and worship.  Philip P. really did a good job leading, and the rest of the band really stepped it up too.

I really got into the last song:  This is the Air I Breathe.

Started the new series on Samson today.  Several people told me after service how it was exactly the right word at the right time.  Only God can do that.

Two quotes from the message:

There is not one single verse in the Bible – not one – that says once you become a Christian you can live any old way you want to.  It’s just not there.  What is there is a book full of commandments, promises, and instruction that reminds us of what God expects from us – that He wants our full commitment. 

Samson went to the wrong place looking for the wrong thing while rejecting the godly counsel of his parents to get it.

I’m pretty much an open book when I teach, and today was no different.  I closed the message with a moment of personal transparency. 

Another great thing that happened was a gift given to me.  Larry & Sharon P. just got back from a two week vacation that included a stop in Wisconsin.  They brought me some authentic Wisconsin cheese – three different types – and one block of the cheese is six years old!  Fabulous.  The best cheese I’ve ever eaten.  This was a real treat.

Very positive comments were turned in on the registration cards.

Seminar 101 in four weeks – the last Sunday in October.

In November we’re having a baptism service.  Plus the entire month is fellowship potluck each Sunday.

I’m working on a new message series based on the book of Proverbs.  Very excited.
I planted onions Saturday, which completed my fall garden.  Can’t wait for the harvest to come in.  I’ll be posting pictures as things progress.

Very glad that the newly blended ushers/security team is working so well.

Things are good at PCC.  Really enjoying this season of ministry.




Friday, September 28, 2012

This Sunday


New message series begins on the life of Samson.

Chuck Swindoll said it best:  Samson was a He-Man with a She-Weakness.  He came from a solid home with godly parents, but once he left, Samson entered a misguided orbit that revolved around three women - his Philistine bride, a harlot, and Delilah.  His desire for these women pulled him off God's path that eventually led to his ruin.

From Samson's life we will learn the importance of maitaining a strong faith and an unwavering commitment to God's law.



Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Burden


As I drive around the community of Pace and Milton, through the multiple subdivisions and neighborhoods, I am reminded of the harvest field that PCC has been planted within.  Beyond all the manicured lawns and shiny cars and brick facades, I know that people are dealing with loneliness, divorce, addictions, prodigal children, and, most importantly, spiritual brokenness.

May God help us to build a church that will reach people who need the Savior.


Riddle


I haven’t been in five years.  Kind of embarrassing.  I just don’t like the place.  The only reason I went was because my wife made me go.  When I walked in, I was met with a certain odor.  Reminded me of the one I went to when I was a kid.

There were a few nice people in the lobby, and a few worried-looking people in the lobby.  The reading material and brochures wasn’t interesting at all. 

After ten minutes they said, “I can tell you are new here, that you haven’t been here in a long time.”

Just before I left they told me some things I needed to do.  I nodded along in agreement just before I left.

QUESTION:  Was I getting a root-canal?  Or at church?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sunday Mind Dump - September 23, 2012



One of my favorite days at PCC.

Attendance was solid and has been holding very strong since summer came to an end. 

God was worshipped, His Word taught, and His people provoked to good works as they fellowshipped one with another.   

I am totally amazed at the number of people who attend services with us each week and consider PCC their church home.  Our congregation is so diverse that it has to be a God-thing.  If “I” were the main attraction, our congregation would be 10% the size it is now.

It was good to see Renae’s niece (Tiffany) in service today.  She has a job that requires her to travel across the county all year long.  But when she catches a break and finds herself back in the area, she attends her home church.  Very grateful.

On another note – I am overwhelmed at the amount of pain that so many people carry.  It’s so easy to look across the room on Sunday mornings as people put their best foot forward and believe they’ve got it all together, when, in reality, they don’t.  They are hanging on by a thread.  As a pastor I hear about of all the junk that is beneath the surface – beneath public appearances – and I hurt for them…. even while I carry my own personal pain.

I could just wave my arm across the room and say, “Hey you back there, you’re facing a trial right now” and would get it right every time.

Only Jesus can minister to so many people with so many different issues at the same time.

I’ve got to say that I really enjoyed the last song in the worship set – I’m Redeemed.  It was introduced two weeks ago by the youth worship team.  As we sang it today it ministered to me in a way that hasn’t happened in a very long time.

I almost called an audible as I took the pulpit…..

I think God was up to something.

One lady told me one her way out that everything in the service was, quote, “designed especially for me – from the songs, to the message, to the uplifting encouragement – God spoke to me today.”

I really enjoyed today’s message – Abigail & Nabal – Beauty and the Beast (Part 2).  We talked about rash behavior, controlling our behavior (i.e., walled cities w/broken walls), blind spots (we all have them), being peace makers, the value of wisdom, and the ruin of being a fool.

It’s one of the most memorable stories in the Bible.

Wow is all I can say!

After service we had a meeting for all the ushers and security team.  The two departments will now be combined into one, with centralized oversight.  This was met with 100% agreement from all the men who attended, which was very encouraging to me.  Additionally, there were new volunteers added to the team who possess exceptional credentials.  Finally, several men offered insightful suggestions on ways to improve the ushers/security department with better procedures.  It was also agreed that all the men need to get together soon for a fellowship activity.  I think we should call it “Man Games.”

Good things are happening at PCC.  Nothing is slowing us down.

Renae and I made a hospital visit this afternoon – an elderly widow in our church who is in ICU.  The ministry team “Commandment Projects” is slated to do work at her home in the next Saturday. 

Very thankful for the kingdom work taking place at PCC. 

PS - The FSU/Clemson football game last night was the best colleg game I've seen in a long time.


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Ten Things I Like About Fall


1.  Cool weather.  I really like it when the nights are in the 50s and daytime in the 60s.

2.  College football.

3.  Hot wings.  They go with football.

4.  Heavier clothes.  I’m a nerd when it comes to jackets, long sleeves, sweaters, and wool.

5.  Soup.  Chili.  Grilled-cheese sandwiches.

6.  Halloween.  I just like it.  No idea why.

7.  Gardening.  Fall is for planting.  I like yard work, growing fall herbs, and the working outside when the humidity is low.

8.  Pumpkins, squash, gourds, corn stalks, mums, and bales of hay.

9.  Clean air.  Fresh air.

10.  Festivals. 

Fall Garden Put In


I spent about half a day putting in the fall garden.  Renae mowed grass while I put up a fence and planted vegtables:  collards, mustard greens, turnips, rape (a member of the turnip family), rutagabas, white radish, red radish, and carrots. 


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Faithful with What We've Been Given


I suppose it’s normal for most people that they want to leave their mark on the world.  We want to leave a legacy.  And there is something positive about wanting to reach large numbers of people with the Gospel.  After all, Jesus said to ‘go into all the world’ and preach the gospel.

Yet, very few of us really get to influence large numbers of people.  That’s just the way it is.  The task is too big and we are limited in abilities and/or resources.  There are billions of people in the world and tens of thousands in our community, so it is simply impossible for me or you to reach everyone with the good news, to help everyone, or minister to everyone.  Even if we could, not everyone responds to the message.

This is where we have to accept God’s sovereignty:  We are not called to do more than God gives us to do.

In the parable of the talents, one man was given five talents, another two, and the final servant was given one talent.  These talents were distributed according to the ability of each man.  Then each servant was instructed to do business with what he was given and was not expected to do more than he was given to work with.  The expectation of those with fewer talents was less than those with more talents. 

So if you are a pastor of a small flock, enjoy the flock that God has given you and remain faithful in your call. If you are a small group leader, Sunday School teacher, youth worker, nursery attendant or parking coordinator, serve faithfully and be confident of God’s approval of your labor.  That’s what you’re called to do.

Regarding PCC, the principle is the same:  We are not called to do more than God has given us to do.  But we must be faithful with what we have.

It is a big world out there, but God has not lost track of all the billions of people in it.  We can be confident that His plan for humanity will not be thwarted by our limitations, so rest in His sovereignty. 

Be faithful with what God has called you to do, and let Him worry about the rest.  The standard of judgment is faithfulness in what we’ve been given to do, not your own grand design.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Razzle-Dazzle Not Needed


I like to cook.  Some of my cooking is pretty good.  The secret?  Buy quality food products to begin with. 

When I’m buying steak I usually choose Rib Eye or New York Strip.  When buying vegetables, I choose fresh produce.  By using a better cut of meat I can skip all the crazy seasonings or drenching marinades.  When I throw a marbled steak on the grill, all I have to use is salt and pepper  for seasoning because that’s all I need – and the steaks come out perfect.  When I’m cooking fresh vegetables, I’m careful not to overcook them (or cook the color out) and the only seasoning I use is extra virgin olive oil, and, – you guessed it – salt and pepper.

There’s no need to overpower the food with secret sauces, heavy spices, or multiple seasonings if you start with a quality product up front.  Sure, heavy seasoning is needed for foods like "Potted Meat" or "Deviled Ham" or "Vienna Sausage" because that stuff so nasty and unhealthy that it's the only way you can get it down.  But with quality food, simple is better - you never want to mask the flavor of the original food item.

Simple.  Quality.  They go together.

In church work, it’s the same.  You don’t have to dress it up with a bunch of razzle-dazzle.  A worship service with good music and a good message doesn’t need any hype added to it – like putting a bed on the roof of the building for 24 hours and calling the new sermon series SEXperiment or SucSEXful Marriage.  That’s immature and silly.

When you do a good job on the basics – like God-honoring worship, strong meat from God’s Word, fellowship with the saints, and communion at Lord’s Table – flash is not needed.  Solid food makes disciples while dazzle entertains spectators.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Sunday Mind Dump - Sept 16, 2012 (Monday Edition)


I was carrying a burden while preaching yesterday morning.  Just before service we received a call that one of our band members, Beverly P., had been in an accident on an ATV (all terrain vehicle).  She had been in Andalusia AL on a camping trip and sustained a head injury with bleeding on the brain.  She was airlifted to Sacred Heart Hospital at 4:30 a.m. Sunday.  All the band members were hurting too.  None of knew how serious or life-threatening it was.  We could only assume the worst while praying for the best.  As soon as the music time was over, a number of our band members left for the hospital.  The whole time I was preaching I was hurting.  I finally made it to the hospital myself about 12:00 noon to see Beverly.  I was relieved to see her injuries were not as severe as I had imagined; but they were still critical.  She is in CCU right now.  Remember her in your prayers for a complete recovery with no complications.

Other than that, we had a good day at PCC.  Attendance was strong, worship was good, and I really got a kick out of the message:  Abigail & Nabal – Beauty & the Beast.  We’ll finish the message next Sunday.

When sharing these OT stores I can tell that this is the first time that a lot of people have ever heard them.  Some are literally sitting on the edge of their seats.  Very exciting.  More importantly, God’s Word is being embedded in our minds and the Spirit of God is doing a work in our hearts.  

A number of people signed up for our Newcomers Class on the first day of enrollment.  I’m hopeful that we’ll have another full class this time.

God is sending us some great people right now.  I’m very excited about the future.

Some good ministry is taking place at PCC these days – both on campus and in the community.

Really enjoyed hanging with my group last night.

Looking forward to the cooler weather that’s supped to be here mid week.  Going to get down in the 50s at night.  Perfect.

I was hoping to plant fall vegetables today, but with all the rain I may not be able to.

Ushers & Security:  There will be a meeting next Sunday immediately after service for all ushers and security, as well as anyone else who might be interested in serving.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Pictures


I love it when a plan comes together. Look at those raised rows. I made them with a tractor implement called a 'heavy duty row builder.' Renae and Nolan (grandson) came over to hang out a little while. Great day. The bottom picture is the catch from Tuesday night.







Catch Up


Okay.  I’ve been a little slower on my blog recently.  I realize that.  It’s been deliberate and intentional.  I wanted to ensure that my most recent posts got read by as many people as possible (i.e., Planned Abandonment Makes the Future Possible; Why I Love PCC; and Sharing the Pulpit).  I suppose I have succeeded because there have been more than 2000 visits to this blog in the last twelve days.

This provides an idea of PCC’s future; the State of Our Church; and my position on a few leadership issues.

Another reason for the slowdown is because I have been extremely busy – more than normal – for the last two weeks.  This has created very long days, late nights, and early risings.  Thankfully, it’s about over.

Yesterday after work I tilled my garden under in preparation for planting a fall vegetables.  This morning I will use the row builder to build raised rows.  Sunday or Monday I will be planting.

The deer are destroying my field peas right now.  Not a happy camper.  Hunters welcome  (:-)

Tuesday of this week I went fishing with Robert H. and Donnie S. after work.  We got in the water about 5:30 p.m. and fished until dark.  We were doing fine for the first hour or two, catching one or two here and there.  But just before dark we caught 62 mullet in our cast nets.  All this happened in about 15 minutes time.  It was very exciting.  I love living in this area.

I must say that Pace Community Church has some of the finest servants and disciples I have ever seen.  We’ve got people in this church family who have been with us for many, many years; almost from the beginning.  They have been with us through every season – good, bad, transitional, up, down, exciting, mundane, prosperous, lean, in conflict and in harmony – yet they remain steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, and trusting of their leadership.

These are the kinds of people who make Pace Community Church WORK!  If not for them this ministry would only be a shadow of what it currently is right now.

In fact, during the last two weeks – which was extremely busy – many of them have really stepped up and performed above and beyond the call of duty, working shoulder-to-shoulder with me and others.  Thank you. 

Just so you know, PCC is stronger than ever.  We are here to stay.  We are accomplishing great things for Jesus Christ.  God is sending lots of new people to us, they are happy and excited, finances are strong, attendance has reached new levels recently, and new people are entering the ministry.  Wow!

Renae bought me the book “No Easy Day” which is about the Seal team that raided and killed Osama Bin Laden.  These guys are the real deal.

Tomorrow’s message is: Abigail & Nabal – Beauty & the Beast.  You’re really going to enjoy it.  It’s the story of how a beautiful and intelligent woman saved her husband’s neck.

This blog will be very active next week, beginning with the Sunday Mind Dump.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Sharing the Pulpit (Introduction)


I’ve always thought it to be a good idea for pastors to build a preaching team, or at least have skilled communicators to help with pulpit duties.  The reason is simple:  I want to last in the ministry as long as I can, specifically at PCC.  But if I am the only one doing the Sunday teaching, then I will shorten my ministry life.  I can’t do it all, and I can’t do it by myself.

Over the years I have made numerous attempts at doing this and my efforts have fallen short.  One ended in a colossal disaster.  Just when it looked like I had found the right person to help carry the load, conflict broke out.  It was one of the worst seasons in my entire ministry.

Yet, I have not given up.  God has promised that He would give the Church pastors and teachers (called, gifted, and raised up) who could edify the Body.  So, I’m hopeful.  And I’m still on that journey of finding the right person(s) to assist me at PCC.  In fact, I think the season we are in right now is more promising than it has ever been!

At any rate, read the two entries posted below to discover what I’m doing. 


Sharing the Pulpit (Part 1) – The Benefits


For a preacher, preparing and preaching the Sunday sermon is the essence of ministry.  Everything leads up to that single event each week.  To neglect this task is tantamount to a denial of ones calling.  But there is more to being a good pastor than just preaching.  From the beginning of my ministry people have looked to me for more than a sermon.  They wanted counsel, administration, vision, recruitment, shepherding in times of crisis, and a host of other skills that have nothing to do with my pulpit skill.

All that other stuff really does matter.  When it is handled well, a church will flourish.  When handled poorly, a church will struggle.  This is precisely why a pastor must give serious consideration to sharing the pulpit.

Here’s why.  By turning over some of the time spent preparing and preaching sermons, I will be able to give better direction to our overall ministry.  The end result could be a healthier church, and in the long run, my sermons would be more effective, even if less frequent.

Benefits of Sharing the Pulpit

1.  It will make PCC more stable by making it less dependent on me.  Let’s face it: attendance and giving at most churches rises and falls with the presence of the senior pastor. Any prolonged illness or move to another church usually results in a dramatic drop-off.  Sharing the pulpit would mitigate the problem of nose-diving attendance by giving our congregation the chance to buy into another preacher.  As a result, when I left for a mission trip or vacation, our church would hardly miss a beat and never experience an appreciable drop in attendance or giving.  In my preferred scenario, this would mean having a second pastor (or others) preach between 20 and 30 percent of the morning messages each year - about fifteen Sundays.  That's plenty of opportnity for our congregaton to get used to another teacher.

That’s not to say that my long-term absence wouldn’t have an effect.  Of course it would.  As the founding pastor of PCC, I’m still a vital cog in the wheel.  But it wouldn’t hobble our ministry nearly as much as if I were the only “first-string varsity preacher” that our people knew.

Should I be removed from the scene, our congregation wouldn’t be faced with a sudden parade of strangers in the pulpit (or an ill-equipped alternate learning on the job).  They would simply get an extra dose of “the other preacher,” someone they’ve already grown to love and respect.

2.  It would give me a chance to recharge my creative batteries.  Everyone has a limited reservoir of creativity.  For some of us it runs deeper than for others.  But for each of us there’s a bottom.  Unless we’re able to periodically replenish it, sooner or later it runs dry. When that happens, the joy goes out of preaching, for us as well as for our listeners.

In my last church I was responsible to teach four or five different Bible studies every week to the same people.  For a while it was exhilarating.  But after several  years I began to fade.  It was simply exhausting.

Preaching is hard work, and it takes an emotional toll.  It’s no small matter to stand up and presume to speak for God.  No wonder we preachers have to take Sunday afternoon naps.  The actual preaching and preparing of a sermon isn’t the hard part.  I love it.  The hard part is always knowing I’ve got another one due in a couple of days.  I live on a seven-day deadline every week of my life.  That keeps me on the edge and always pushing.

I’ve been at PCC for fifteen years now.  During that time I’ve done most of the preaching on Sunday.  More than I should have.  That means that, no matter where I go or what I do, next week’s sermon is always percolating in the back of my mind.  If I’m fishing, I’m thinking about Sunday’s sermon.  If I’m at a movie, I’m thinking about Sunday’s sermon.  I wake up in the middle of the night to scratch out an outline.  I take note pads on vacation.  If me and Renae take a two-or-three day getaway, I have to disappear for a few hours to hammer out that final point or closing illustration.

The result is a slow and steady drain on my emotional reserves.  As much as I love study and preaching, it turns into too much of a good thing.  Too often, by the time a vacation comes rolling around, preaching has become a chore instead of a privilege.

But with consistent breaks from the pulpit, I would have the opportunity to rekindle my strength, to catch up on non-preparatory reading, to reflect, and mentally rest.  Preaching can hardly become monotonous when it’s periodically taken away.

Sharing the pulpit will also help me to follow through and do a better job on my other responsibilities.  Like most pastors, I have a love/hate relationship with administration.  I love what it accomplishes.  I hate doing it.  I didn’t enter the ministry so I could juggle budgets, monitor expenses, supervise a staff, crank out policy statements, or return phone calls.  But that’s part of the package, and if I want to do a good job, I have to do those things well and in a timely manner.

That’s where my weeks out of the pulpit come in. When I’m not scheduled to preach, I have time to address these duties. Those important-but-not-urgent administrative matters that have been pushed to the side have a chance to rise to the top of my to-do list. And miracle of miracles, they usually get done.



Sharing the Pulpit (Part 2) – How to Make it Work


As valuable as sharing the pulpit can be, it can also be a disaster if done poorly or naively. We’ve all heard horror stories of an idealistic co-pastor gone bad or a trusted associate who turned into an Absalom at the gate.  It’s painful.  That’s probably why so many pastors don’t try it or move very slowly.

However, it can work as long as I pay careful attention to these key factors:

1.  Mutual Respect and Trust.  The first thing I would look for in a person to share the pulpit with is someone I can respect and trust. The second thing I look for is someone who respects and trusts me.

The power and prestige of the pulpit is too great to give to someone I’m not sure about. Once they have the platform, it’s hard to take it back.

This mutual respect and trust can only be built over time.  As we work together in a church environment, a persons loyalty and integrity can be tested by time and through actual disagreements.  Once proven, I know that I will be installing a Jonathan in the pulpit, not an Absalom.

Brining in an outsider is a lot trickier.  No amount of interviewing can guarantee that two people will work well together once they’re actually on the job.  Only time will tell.  That’s why I have to move slow before sharing the pulpit with someone I don’t know very well: I want to confirm that the person I ask is actually the person I get.

Make no mistake, sharing the pulpit can be tough on a shaky relationship.  That’s because people in the congregation choose sides – even when there isn’t a contest.  I have found that when people compliment me, they're suggesting a subtle criticism of the other person.  “Ron, your sermons are so insightful.”  The same is true when the other speaker is complemented, “I’ll be glad when you get back in the pulpit.”  It’s not that they are trying to be malicious or drive a wedge between me and another person; it’s just their way of saying, “I like you best.”

That’s no big deal as long and me and the other preacher understand what’s happening and share a genuine respect for each other.  But if either of us lacks that respect or we begin seeing ourselves as competitors instead of co-laborers, those kind of comments would widen the rift, serving as encouragement and confirmation of the ugly things we’re already thinking.

This is kind of stuff from which church splits are made.  And that’s why I’ll always wait until I am certain of the relationship before sharing the pulpit with anybody.

2.  Good Preaching.  The second thing I would look for is someone who’ll do a good job in the pulpit.  I realize that something as subjective as “good preaching” is hard to define.  But for now, let’s define it as someone who the congregation thinks is worth listening to.

A pedestrian communicator, no matter how warm-hearted and greatly loved, will only cause attendance to nose dive.

The best candidates for the pulpit aren’t always those next in line in the church hierarchy.  They might not even be on staff.  It could be a lay preacher from within the congregation, a gifted Sunday School teacher, or men in the church.

The key is to find someone the members feel good about and who can help them grow.  If I do that, people won’t care where that person fits into the hierarchy.

3.  Meet Congregational Expectations.  Every congregation has expectations (mostly unwritten), tampered with at great peril.  For instance, I think our people would expect me to be in the pulpit on Christmas and Easter.  I could probably give away any other Sunday without complaint.  But let me fail to preach on either of those Sundays and plenty of people will be disappointed.

4.  Raise Up Preachers from Among Us.  Home grown.  Farm raised.  Whatever you call it, I need to dig them up.  Such people exist in our church.  Only those who show the highest levels of character, conduct, and conviction will be considered.  Competency and skill can be taught, character cannot.

So there you have it.  This is what I’m doing.  Although I have failed in the past, I will succeed in the future.  My purpose is not only for the reasons mentioned above, but for succession planning.  I’m thinking in terms on long-range planning. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sunday Mind Dump - September 9, 2012


A very good day at PCC.  One of the best we’ve had in a long time.

Attendance was up.  Way up.  In fact, it was the highest it’s been in about four months.

The youth worship team ministered in service, doing an exceptional job.  The acoustical presentation had a different feel than our normal fare.  It was so enjoyable.  Not to mention, it was well-done!  All of the music was vertically focused too.  The communion song they selected was very meaningful.  I think they ministered to everyone in the room.  Most importantly they ministered to God.

The biggest challenge they faced was interacting with me during the communion service; especially the transitions.  It’s not easy to do that.  Me and Renae have been doing it together for so long, that a simple glance at one another is all it takes to communicate.  Yet today, Felicia and her team stepped in beautifully.  You would have never known it was our first time working together during a communion service.

Remember last Sunday’s message? – “The Next Generation” – well, today demonstrates that we’re actually doing something about it.

Exit Elijah.  Enter Elisha. God never missed a beat. 

Other things are going to be happening too, involving me.  You might want to read my blog this week to find out.

Look at today’s service this way:
·      The youth worship team led worship
·      The devotional talk was penetrating and insightful (i.e., The End of Passover & the Beginning of the Lord’s Supper)
·      We received communion – an ordinance of the church, commanded by the Lord Jesus Himself
·      We recited the Lord’s Prayer together
·      We heard the Apostles Creed
·      And concluded with the Doxology

Wow!  What a great day!  It had all the elements.  Something new, something old.

I met ten new people this morning.  Most were second-time or third-time guests.  It was very exciting to hear them say such positive things about PCC – particularly how the worship services have ministered to them, or that we are exactly what they have been looking for.

God never ceases to amaze me.  He always sends the right people at just the right time.  He never misses a beat.

The work at PCC is bigger than me, Renae, you, or anyone else.  It’s goes on with or without us.

While not theologically appropriate, I was hoping the worship team would pull of a rendition of “Are You Ready for Some Football?”  Lovin me some Bocephus.

Man, I’ve got to be careful what I say.  People take me too literally sometimes :-)

I’ve had a very busy week:  two deaths in our church family; one funeral; a wedding; six meetings with six different groups of people; a family medical crisis; today’s service with communion; and another funeral next week.  

Consequently, I missed a surgery my mother had, as well as a ministers meeting I needed to attend.

Missing the ministers meeting was okay.  Missing my mother’s surgery was inexcusable.  That will never happen again.

Seven weeks ago I began a new work-out routine.  It's a strict plan of weight training, cardio,  and better eatingI’m very committed and already seeing results.

Most importantly, my hip pain is almost non-existent now.  I’ve been a jogger all my life and hip pain (bursitis) has plagued me since I was 18 years old.  The new routine has helped a lot.

I still avoid sugar.  It makes you fat, causes cancer, disrupts your sleep, makes you feel sluggish, imbalances your blood-sugar levels, raises blood pressure, and causes your energy to crash-and-burn to.  Listen to your body after you eat sugar, and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

I have purchased two new implements for my tractor, (a middle buster and a row builder), to use for planting a fall garden.  Can’t wait to get started.  I plan to plant collards, mustard greens, kale, turnips, garlic, onions, and carrots.

I’ll post lots of pictures.

Hope to do some shrimping this week.  I’ll post picture of that too.

Thanks to all the ushers who made today’s communion service so successful.  They absolutely know how to pull it off.

I’ll be writing a post this week about the privilege of serving as an usher.  You might like to come back to this blog to read about that too.

Headed to Philip’s house (the piano player) for some dinner.

Blessings.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Why I Love PCC


Every Sunday I stroll around our campus and building just to soak it all in.  It’s exciting to see so many hundreds of people pulling into the parking lot, families walking up the sidewalk and being greeting by smiling hospitality servants, the gathering in the atrium and loud conversation, the pre-service countdown, and finally,  the call to worship as service begins.

It is a pure joy for me to see so many happy members, expectant visitors, and cheerful volunteers at their post of duty diligently carrying out their tasks.  From the parking lot to inside the building, there  is so much laughter, excitement, and enjoyment that fills the air.  Something is really happening in our midst.

Though I am a bit biased, here are a bunch of reasons why I love PCC:

--Lives are being changed by God’s power – specifically the Word, which is the power of God unto salvation.

--There is a sense of excitement and anticipation the moment you walk onto campus.

--We have more than just members.  We have enthusiastic members who love their church, their pastor, and their fellow family members.

--Our children’s ministry is one of the best.

--Our band leads us into vertically-focused worship of God each Sunday.  Plus, we have the added feature of mixing it up, showcasing new talent that demonstrates the diversity of God in different ways in different lives using different gifts.

--I know it’s not about the building or the campus, but man what a campus and building we have.  And thanks be to God for the dedicated volunteers who maintain our campus grounds and building cleanliness each week.  This involves about two dozen people.

--I love PCC because the greeters and parking attendants actually love to greet people and interact with them.

--This church is headed somewhere.

--I love the fact that we have enough Biblical knowledge and conviction that we don't have to resort to gimmicks (snow cones, egg drops from a helicopter, or free pony rides) to get people to church.  We honor God through His Word and the people come.  Nuff said. 

--I love my church because we still sing “Amazing Grace” and other oldies - particularly timeless sacred hymns of the church that are chock full of good theology and are endearing to the heart.

--I love my church because we sing Chris Tomlin songs.

--I love PCC because of the steady kingdom impact we've had for almost 15 years, and all the miracles of life-change during that time.  BTW, most new church plants don't make it past the five-year mark.  We're here to stay.

--I love my church because we honor the sacraments and ordinances – Communion and Water Baptism.

--I love PCC because we are progressive enough to think outside the box, trying new methods, but never abandoning the sacred traditions that keep us anchored to the past. 

--I love PCC because kids actually enjoy attending our church and want to come back.  Plus, we have a team of dedicated children’s teachers who actually love interacting with children.

--I love being part of a group of people who will go out of their way to help others who are sick, hurting, or in need.

--I love PCC because we have the best Care Team that I have ever seen - (they respond to benevolence needs in a way that I have ever seen in any church I have ever served in).  Hands down.  I’m not politicking.  I mean it.  Hands down, they are the best.

--I love PCC because the congregation actually loves learning the Word of God.  That’s why I teach is systematically most of the time.   i.e.,  - We cover the most difficult topics in the Bible and I say some pretty challenging things from the pulpit, yet people people keep coming back for more.  That is very, very encouraging.  Such people are the "people of God."

--I love PCC because we are the perfect church for people who aren't.

--I love PCC because my best friends attend PCC.  They are not perfect people; just people like me.  Most importantly, they give ME enormous amounts of grace overlooking my imperfections.  Also, they don't have unrealistic expectations of me as a pastor - their expectations are "right sized."   As the Bible says, "love covers a multitude of sins."  We don’t pretend to have it all together, so are free to admit to one other when we don’t hit a double or triple every time at bat.  But we DO grow together as a band of brothers as we progressively turn from sin and closer to God.  And BTW, I experience more spiritual growth when I am with people like this, (i.e., safe people), than I can sitting in a circle with strangers taking up prayer requests for Aunt Bertha who lives Kalamazoo Michigan. 

--I love PCC because I have a close group of confidants who will get in my face and tell me to get over myself… and are strong enough to let me say the same thing to them in return - which I do.  You better have thick skin (alligator hide) if you want to be in the ministry.  What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

--I love PCC because we are the Body of Christ – a real NT church – an authentic group of believers – the Bride of Christ.  It is a privilege to be part of this great ministry that God began fifteen years ago – it’s just getting started – and I am blown away to be a part of it.

--I love my church because the ministry leaders in key positions don’t expect me to interact with them minute-by-minute (which I don’t’ have time for).  They do their job with a standard of excellence, handling all the details, and approach me only when something actually needs to be brought to my attention.  Such people are pure gold.

--I love PCC because there are so many happy people in our congregation who are satisfied with their church and its leadership - some 350 to 400 of them.  That counts for something, you know.

--I love PCC because it is one of the best things that has ever happened in my life…..