Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Lessons I have Learned and People I have Met - 4

I heard some noise in the auditorium and I went into check it out. When I looked in i saw 3 or 4 children playing church. One little girl was leading the singing. One little guy was the designated prayer leader and after a little singing he stood and said "it is time to pray."  After he said amen another little girl got up behind the rostrum and starting preaching. She shouted ,No. No, No, No! Then they had the invitation.   It was so cute and yet disturbing. Is that how they saw preachers and Christianity.  Was it all about, "No?"  

There is a saying that I have heard through the years, "Little pictures have big ears."  Our children are devoloping their God views by what they see and hear at church and at home.  Wouldn't it be terrible if we were giving them the idea that God's favorite word is no!? 

2 Corinthians 1: 18But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not "Yes" and "No." 19For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by me and Silas] and Timothy, was not "Yes" and "No," but in him it has always been "Yes." 20For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ. And so through him the "Amen" is spoken by us to the glory of God. 21Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Lessons I have Learned and People I have Met - 3

The bathrooms were in the back of the building and you had to walk by the pulpit to get there. I was preaching (waxing eloquent)and a little by got loose from his mother and ran down the aisle past me and said, " Hi preach!" The door was left open and I tried to get everyones attention but it was impossible. You could hear everything that was going on. Finally after what seemed an eternity I heard flush and a little sweet voice hollering out, "Mom come and wipe me." For a moment there was a stunned silence and then a blushing mother ran back there and I heard her saying I am going to kill you!" The congregation erupted into laughter and it got louder and louder. When the embarrassed mother and little boy emerged the congregation went hysterical. One old fellow who always sat on the front row and never cracked a smile laughed so hard he fell in the floor. One of the leaders finally got up and said "I think the Lord will understand if we dismiss now." And He did and he does. You can't read the Gospels without knowing that Jesus would have laughed as hard and harder than anyone. Nehemiah 8:10 has always impacted my life 'The joy of the Lord is my strength." Laughter is good medicine. "A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones" (Proverbs 17:22, NIV) I bet that Sunday added years to my life.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

40 Years - 2

We had 90 on Sunday morning and 105 in Sunday night.  A few months earlier the attendance had been at 35 on Sunday mornings.  I couldn't believe how God was blessing this little congregation in this tiny rural community.  I am pretty sure it wasn't about my oratory skills because I still got ill every Sunday morning before speaking. Sometimes moments before sermon time and immediately afterwards.  I know Diane and I were working hard but it had to be God moving in the hearts of the people.  A couple of the older men asked to speak with me after the evening service.  They said, "Mike you are doing a wonderful job and we have never had so many baptisms and our attendance is the best it has every been. In fact our building is overflowing and if you keep bringing in people we will have to build."  I was very thrilled to here their assessment. But that wasn't all they had to say. "Mike we want you to quit bringing in folks because  we have enough and we are not going to build."  I couldn't believe my ears.  I will never forget that moment. I know they were good men and in their way loved God and the truth.  But  the phrase "we have enough" still echoes in my heart. 

Through the years I have been surprised how many times I have heard that same thought. Oh it might not be spoken as bluntly but the idea was the same.  I pray that I will never have that attitude. I pray that "church" will never be about me, my kind, and my comfort in the auditorium.  My we ever have the goal of "bringing many sons to glory'

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Lessons I have Learned and People I have Met

Today I am going to begin 40 blogs of walking through my 40 plus years of of ministry. Some stories, incidents, and characters will be combined.  Each posting will have include an incident or person and a lesson learned from my past 40 years.

A long time ago and in a galaxy far away... I was a 16 year old at church camp.  I loved camp. Most of the staff were preachers and this particular year they were all really cool guys.  I loved Dean who was a great preacher and a wonderful singer. He could play the guitar and sing and often did for us during talent night. Layton (my hometown preacher)was also a counselor and he knew a million jokes. He was old (about 40) and I was amazed at how athletic he was. Then there  was Bobby who was a dramatic speaker and who could hit a softball a long way.  One of my favorites things was when we would have camp news during lunch at Sherry's Beanery. Bob with his booming voice would give a very funny news broadcast. Sometimes  around a campfire Russell (one of the smartest and kindest men I know) would play his guitar  and sing "I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly..."  It was great fun.

Then Bob, with the booming voice, shook up my world. He asked me to do chapel and he wouldn't take no for an answer.  Didn't he know that the last time I stood before a crowd, except with a basketball in my hands , was when I was 13 and I was leading singing and my voice cracked and  people laughed and I vowed never to stand before a crowd again?  But somehow he talked me into it and for days the food that enjoyed at Sherry's Beanery, and the softball games, and Dean singing, and the campfires lost their joy. I had to stand before a crowd again. Even worse they were teenagers.

Wednesday came, I preached for ever (5 minutes) and I set down. No one laughed, I didn't die and camp became fun again.   Interestingly (at least to me) the sermon I preached had three points about the cross of Christ that I later in life used in a Bible Study Course for Africa that was study by thousands.  

When you surround yourself with positive people who love you they will often see things in you that you do not see in yourself. If you surround yourself with negative critical people they will help you confirm the worst in yourself and other people.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Get out of the Baby Bed

My youngest Grandson Caden is a little hoot. He is getting ready to have a little brother and he doesn't quite know what to think about it. His mom and dad are working on the babies room and he decided last night to sleep in the baby bed. When he awoke he just laid there and cooed and giggled like a little baby. It was really sweet. I am sure when the baby comes  he will adapt and be happy, but for now he is reacting like a little child might react.

It is not sweet when those who have been a Christian for quite awhile don't understand why the "new baby" is getting a lot of attention. No doubt we everyone is  important in the Kingdom of Jesus but it is natural and expected that we grow up and teach, nourish, and love the next generation. Caden will soon do that for his baby brother Jude and Jude will pass it on. And we will all be loved by God. We have to get out of the nursery. God expects us to grow.

Hebrews 5: 11 - 114 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

Friday, January 15, 2010

I Am Jesus

There is a true story of a boy who suffered under the Nazis during World War II that clearly communicates what I am trying to put into words. This Jewish boy was living in a small Polish village when he and all the other Jews of the vicinity were rounded up by Nazi SS Troops and sentenced to death. This boy joined his neighbors in digging a shallow ditch for their graves. Then they were lined up against a wall and machine-gunned. Their corpses fell into the shallow grave and then the Nazis covered their crumpled bodies with dirt. But none of the bullets hit this little boy. His naked body was splattered with the blood of his parents and when they fell into the ditch, he pretended to be dead and fell on top of them. The grave was so shallow that the thin covering of dirt did not prevent air from getting through to him so that he could breathe.

Several hours later, when darkness fell, this ten-year old boy clawed his way out of the grave. With blood and dirt caked to his little body, he made his way to the nearest house and begged for help. Recognizing him as one of the Jewish boys marked for death by the SS, the woman who answered screamed at him to go away and slammed the door. He was turned away at the next house as well as at the one after that. In each case, the unwillingness to risk getting into trouble with the SS Troops overpowered any feeling of compassion that these people might have had. Dirty, bloodied, and shivering, the little boy limped from one house to the next begging for somebody to help him.

Then something inside seemed to guide him to say something that was very strange for a Jewish boy to say. When the next family responded to his timid knocking in the still of the night, they heard him cry, “Don’t you recognize me? I am the Jesus you say you love.” After a poignant pause that must have seemed like an eternity to the little boy, the woman who stood in the doorway swept him into her arms and kissed him. From that day on, the members of that family cared for that boy as though he was one of their own.

This story was told by the woman who took him in on that horrible night. She told the story not to elicit praise for herself, but to tell others of the joy and happiness he had brought to her over the years. She had discovered that when one labors to help hurting people, one labors to serve Jesus Himself. What could be more fulfilling work than that?

-Tony Campolo, Who Switched The Price Tags?, Word Publishing, 1986, pages 119-121.

Heart Problems?

Today I took Diane to have a Echo Cardiogram. This test will allow the doctors to see her heart function. Unfortunately there is not a Echo Cardiogram for our "spiritual heart." Of course God can see it but we cannot. Thankfully we have the living and active word of God to reveal the thoughts and intents of our heart (Hebrews 4:112) But the Echo Cardiogram does no good if you don't let the technician view your heart and the Word will do us no good if we don't invite the Spirit of God to search our heart.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Monday, January 11, 2010

I love my bed!!!!!!

I love my bed. Diane and I live a pretty modest life in most things such as car, home and etc. But we did splurge in one area. Our bed. I bought one of those with memory foam that can be raised up and down. It is so comfortable. No matter how many hours I sleep I never want to get up. It is so so comfortable and so warm. I love my bed. I love my comfort.

I wonder if some times that's is not the way we live our christian life. We know we need to get up. We know we need to be challenged but "our pew" and the way we have always done things is just so comfortable. Here is the truth, unless we are perfect we need to get up, get out, and get going. We need to remember what Jesus said about those wine skins that wouldn't stretch.