Sunday, February 26, 2006

Our New Kids

We got the new kids on Saturday. Bug is the black goat and Slim is the white goat. The Almy Zoo continues to grow!

This is Slim and Robert hugging.

This is Bug!

This is Slim!

Friday, February 24, 2006

Sex in Church

Sex in church is becoming a hot topic these days. As many of you know, we at New Season are getting ready to complete a series of messages that has lifted up God's plan for sexual intimacy according to what is found in scripture. Our Making Love Last a Lifetime: Biblical Perspectives on Love, Marriage and Sex has been based on a series by the Rev. Adam Hamilton from the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection that he did at least a couple of years ago.

It seems that Granger Community Church in Indiana has taken seriously the need to talk about this issue that is spoken to in scripture and that consumes the minds of many Americans. They are doing a series entitled "Pure Sex". They have put up some billboards with just a web url for a landing page for persons to visit All this has engendered much controversy apparently and attacks from the so called purist Christians among us toward Granger. This has been picked up by Fox News and other media outlets. Perry Noble from New Spring Community Church has written a great post about it too.

Our friends at Salem Fields Community Church right here in Fredericksburg are getting into the act too with their own sex series.

It is always befuddling to me when Christians attack other Christians for seeking to faithfully engage a relevant topic in many people's life today. What if we spent all the time attacking trying to make faithful followers of Jesus Christ? And what kind of witness are we making when we attack each other? I know- the purity of the church must be defended! Good grief Charlie Brown!!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Trip to Maine

Many have been asking about Diana and mine's trip to Maine (I don't know if that is good English or not that is why I became a preacher). The trip was good. We left on Friday morning and returned Sunday evening. We went up to Maine to see my Godmother get married. I helped in the service by doing a reading and co-presiding with another pastor.

Here are some highlights.

We flew out of Baltimore. That was not too bad. The traffic during morning rush hour was not bad except for an accident near Woodbridge that had a lane blocked that we got caught up in for a few miles. I think people who cause an accident because of reckless driving should lose their license for a minimum of a year. Well, not really. But that is what you feel like when you are in it.

At BWI Airport they had these cool parking garages that have these green lights above each floor that tell you whether the floor is filled or if there are spots available. Then it tells you what row the available spots are in. Then each row has a green light if there are spots available in that row, and then there is a light above each parking spot so you can easily find spots and not be disappointed when there is a Volkswagen Beetle parked in what you thought was an open space.

We flew Southwest. It was O.K. but their boarding procedure is poop! I heard someone refer on the radio to Southwest as "a bad neighborhood in the air!" The flight was a little bumpy, a little late coming home but otherwise fine. I really do not like to fly.

Maine was cold as could be. They were just coming off a warm spell before they got this arctic blast. It was zero degrees one night. That is what we used to call as kids "booger freezing" weather. Anyone who has been in that kind of cold weather knows what I am talking about. Maine is always nice even in the winter, especially in the summer, and has a great pace of life.

We did not take the kids with us and began missing them by the time we got to Baltimore (the first time to leave for Maine!).

If last weekend was not exciting enough this weekend we are going to get our goats! I will post pictures later. And oh, the wedding was really great and beautiful and all that- the bride's dress was exquisite and all those other things we guys notice- yep it was all good.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Lessons from the Snow this Past Sunday

I used to love snow as a kid. What kid doesn't? But there are times I find myself hating snow these days- having to cancel stuff, adjust schedules, shovel, have people's snow from their roofs they were to lazy to clean fly onto my windshield.

We got a pretty good snow this past Saturday night into Sunday (though most of it's gone now with these sixty degree days!). What this weekend's snow did do was cause us to cancel and postpone some things at New Season. I was looking forward to bowling with the Young Adult small group but that got nixed. We had to cancel worship and also postpone the Grace Oughton Benefit Concert/ Prayer Service that many people had worked very hard on.

I found myself on Saturday morning under the threat of such winter storm warnings increasingly irritated that it had to snow. But then God woke me up and said "hey pal the world doesn't revolve around you and your plans and you have no control over this."

Realizing this and being humbled by God, I had a much better time dealing with the snow and got to spend some time with my family. Isn't the wonders of God's grace spectacular!! I am so thankful he can even use snow to teach, humble, smack down, melt, and mold us.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Godcasting Update

Some of you may notice that the godcasts come in spurts. I just wanted to let you know a couple of reasons for that.

1. We are not exactly using the greatest equipment. We basically hook up Steve's computer to an out on our sound board. Sometimes that works great, other times it doesn't.

2. Because it is coming through our soundboard and through my microphone, the microphone has to be working right. It was not this past week so you all will have to read about "God's Plan for Sexual Intimacy" instead of hearing about it.

3. The site we use to host our audio- - is sometimes a little quirky. For example, I have had the darndest time uploading my message from 1/22/06 "After the Honeymoon is Over".

4. Lastly, sometimes it is just human error. We forget to hit the record button or Robert pours juicy-juice all over the CD we have burned with the message.

I share this with you not to make excuses but just to let you know. We thank you for your patience and we will seek a more excellent way in the future.

Please know you can always find the text of the Sunday messages and the accompanying study guide at the New Season website under Messages and Study Guides.

The Habits of An Unhealthy Marriage

Here is the podcast for the fourth message in the series The Habits of an Unhealthy Marriage from the series "Making Love Last a Life Time".

To listen now, click on the podcast icon below.

The Habits of an Unhealthy Marriage (Length 23:38)

Just as doctors give us warning signs to help us idenitfy an impending heart attack, so too marriages display warning signs, unhealthy habits, when they are hurting. Things like a spirit of disrespect, poor handling of money, and infidelity and dishonesty serve as warning signs that a marriage needs work.

This message is from the series "Making Love Last a Lifetime." The series is based on a series first done by the Rev. Adam Hamilton at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas. The series examines issues that help to strengthen marriages and relationships.

Thursday, February 09, 2006


A couple of weeks ago I finished up Tommy Barnett's book Multiplication: Unlock the Biblical Factors to Multiply Your Effectiveness in Ministry and Business. Barnett is the pastor of Phoenix First Assembly of God, one of America's largest churches with over 15,000 in attendance. He helped cofound the Los Angeles Dream Center.

Below are some quotes in italics that I thought were good. My comments follow.

Multiplication started when we committed ourselves to prayer and seeking God.
I pray daily that the Lord of the Harvest will send workers.

Like al things we need to begin on our knees in prayer. We often get it backward. We tell God we have decided to do something and ask him to bless it.

What keeps me going when I don’t feel like preaching is the call.
I’ve been chosen by Jesus Christ. I’ve been set aside, sanctified and anointed by the Anointed One.

Whether you are in ministry, business, or work at home taking care of children it is your call that will get you up each day and keep you going even when things are going badly.

When I am asked, “When is a church big enough?” my reply is, “When everyone in our society has accepted Christ.
I got a variation of this question the other day- "Do you want to build a mega-church?" No, I want God to build the church he wants here as big or as small as he wants. He has told me that my job is to help others to come and experience his love and salvation and equip other people to do the same. We will stop "trying" to grow when every knee has bowed and every tongue confessed Jesus Christ as Lord.

The negative and critical pew sitters need to repent or go elsewhere.
All I can say is Amen.

Christians may differ in their theology about the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
But regardless of our theology, all believers need to be filled with the Holy Spirit- continually, regularly and daily.

This is a good example of focusing on the essentials instead of the non-essentials.

Remember- God is an organized God.
Jesus organized his disciples to feed 5,000.

This just warms my Methodist heart and might even do a little something for my frozen chosen friends the Presbyterians who love order too.

One enemy of the church is called average.
Enough said!

Jesus never said that he had come that we might just survive.
Rather he came that we might have abundant life. Jn. 10:10.

Jesus doesn't promise a house in the suburbs, a beautiful wife, 2.5 kids and a good 401K. He calls us to take up our cross and follow him, to lose our life is to gain it. By doing these things we discover abundant life.

Making friends with chaos- no record exists of anyone walking on water without a storm, some wind and a lot of rain.
This has been so true when it comes to church planting. It is true for any ministry setting. Make friends with chaos recognizing that God brought forth creation out of chaos.

Podcasting is Wesleyan!

Mark Batterson, lead pastor of National Community Church, has this great post. It is an excerpt from an article he wrote. It makes the connection between field preaching in the Wesleyan revival and podcasting day. I think Mark's background is that he is AG (Assembly of God). It is great to see someone apppreciate Mr. Wesley!! Below is part of the post. Read the whole thing here.

Carpe Digital
I have a growing conviction: the Church should be in the business of redeeming technology and using it to serve God's purposes.

Isn't that what Johann Gutenberg did? He redeemed the printing press and used it to get more Bibles into more hands. Why not redeem the iPod and turn it into a high-tech tool for e-vangelism or digital discipleship? The message is sacred, but the medium isn't. The church needs to use any and every medium at its disposal to share the gospel with as many people as possible. It's a stewardship issue. We're far too analogical in our approach to ministry. We've got to carpe digital.

Who said preachers have to preach from behind a pulpit and parishioners have to listen while seated on wooden pews?

In 1728, John Wesley was ordained into the Anglican priesthood. It was assumed that preaching would take place behind a pulpit inside the four walls of a church sanctuary. The hierarchy within the Church of England considered preaching outdoors a violation of canon law. John Wesley broke the law and broke the mold.

Wesley wasn't trying to be different for difference sake. His unorthodox methodology of "field preaching" and "circuit riding" led to disenfranchisement and death threats. Wesley even admitted in 1772: "To this day, field preaching is a cross to me." So why did Wesley take his preaching offsite? In his own words: "I look upon the world as my parish."

Maybe we've quarantined the gospel within the four walls of church buildings long enough?Wesley preached his first outdoor sermon on April 2, 1739. Over the next fifty years, Wesley preached more than 40,000 sermons; traveled 250,000 miles on horseback; and saw 150,000 people convert to Christ.

What does that have to do with podcasting?Podcasting is field preaching. Podcasting is circuit riding at the speed of light. Without having to saddle up, digital technology enables any preacher to travel 250,000 miles and preach 40,000 sermons with the click of a mouse!I'll be the first person to say that podcasting is a poor substitute for church. But it's a great supplement.Here's a sobering fact for those of us who are part of the preaching clan: 95% of what we say is forgotten within three days! But retention rates are more than doubled if we hear or read something twice. That's why I email a written version of my weekend messages to several thousand subscribers. That weekly evotional enables NCCers to read what they've heard. It's a double dose of every message. Podcasting has the same effect. We encourage double dipping at NCC!