Monday, December 17, 2007

Ten for Jesus

Each month we have a neighborhood focus area at New Season. It is a neighborhood we pray for and seek to make contact with to share Christ's love with them and introduce them to our church.

One way we are reaching out to our neighborhood focus area for this month is to write them handwritten Christmas cards inviting them to our Christmas Eve service. We asked people in our church to take ten and write them out.

I am praying these cards find there way into the hands of people who need to know God's love this Christmas.
  • The person who just went through a divorce.
  • The person that just lost one of their parents this year.
  • The family struggling to make ends meet.
  • The person who has given up on the church but not on God.
  • The person who is at their wits end.
  • The person about to cheat on their spouse.
  • The person who just needs to hear that God came as a little baby to offer salvation to the world.

Ways to Know You are Old

As I turn 33 this day and reflect on my aging here are some ways I know I am getting old:

  • I have hair growing out my ears (that is just nasty).
  • I have noticed some white hairs on my head and especially in my beard if I do not shave a for a couple of days.
  • I find myself saying that no good music has come out since Guns N Roses.
  • I look at people like the nurse that cared for Nolan in the hospital and think "How old are you 12?"
  • Even though I exercise my gut continues to grow!
  • I say find myself saying the same things to my kids that my parents said to me (i.e. you want to cry, I will give you something to cry about).
  • I talk about the wonders of Atari 2600 with young kids and they have no idea what I am talking about.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Nothing New Under the Sun

Before there was Bill Hybels, Rick Warren, Andy Stanley, Adam Hamilton or Mike Slaughter there was John Wesley who knew that the main thing was not about the people already in the church but it was about the people outside the church. Wesley and the Methodist got in trouble for taking the Gospel to the people in the fields through what was known as field preaching.

Each morning as part of my devotional time I read a little Wesley (part of his sermons, letters, etc.). I am currently in parts of the minutes of the early Methodist conferences where the minutes are recorded in a question and answer format. Check out this from Thursday, June 18th from the Fourth Annual Conference in 1747.

Q. 1. Have we not limited field preaching too much?
A. It seems we have:
  1. Because our calling is to save that which is lost. Now, we cannot expect the wanderers from God to seek us. It is our part to go and seek them.
  2. Because we are more peculiarly called, by going out into the highways and hedges (which none of us will do if we do not) to compel them to come in [cf. Luke 14:23).
  3. Because that reason against it is not good, "The house will hold all that come." The house may hold all that will come to the house, but not all that will come into the field.
  4. Because we have always found a greater blessing in field preaching than in any other preaching whatever.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Cold Snap

We have been having a pretty good cold snap here in Virginia. It reminds me of growing up in Massachusetts. Back then it seemed we did not have cold snaps but long drawn out cold spells. Is that proper weather lingo?

One of our favorite activities was ice-skating. Sometimes this happened on a cranberry bog after they flooded the bog to keep the plants from dying. The good thing about skating on the bog was if you feel in because the ice was not thick enough you only fell in up to your waist. When I was older we would visit a pond behind the apartment complex I lived in. It was a wonder we all didn't fall in and drown. We would step gingerly out onto the ice listening for cracking noises which indicated the ice was not thick enough.

It was during these cold spells later on when I was a teenager working at a sporting goods store that we would have tons of people come to get their skates sharpened so they could go skate. It was three dollars a pair to sharpen. Some days we all we would so is sharpen skates. By the end of the day we would have nose bleeds. I am sure that was good for us breathing in all that metal. I guess that is why we used to pocket the money. Yeah, I know that was before I followed Christ. I repent.

So, here is to toe numbing, booger freezing, stick your tongue to a lamppost kind of weather!

Pearl Harbor

It is amazing to me how quick we as Americans forget. As more and more people who experienced firsthand the devastation of Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941 die, the bravery and American spirit demonstrated during and after this attack fades from our collective conscience as a nation. As one of three times our nation has been attacked on the homeland (the 1993 and 2001 World Trade Center attacks being the other two), let us not soon forget the men and women who were American heroes who gave their life that day in defense of our great nation. They truly were the greatest generation.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

First Snow

The first snow of the year is always awesome and it reminds me of how God is so creative and his creation so masterful and beautiful.

We got the perfect first snow today. It snowed pretty strong for an hour or two, stuck to some tress and grass in some places and is now basically out of here. It didn't close school here, cause events to be postponed or cause a mad dash to the grocery store to buy five gallons of milk and seven loaves of bread.

Above is a view of the snowfall outside my office window. Well, not really. My real view is a gas station, CVS and Dunkin Donuts. A guy can wish right?

Andy Stanley on Going Public with Your Vision

I am making my way through Andy Stanley's Visioneering and it is chaulk full of great insights, teaching and quotes. Here is what he says about preparing to cast vision:
1. Ask what is the problem?

2. Ask what is the solution?

3. Ask why must something be done?

4. Ask why now?
"Answering these four questions gives you the potential to engage people's minds, hearts, imaginations, and energy. When you can verbalize your answer to these questions, you are ready to go public with your vision." p. 106.

Nolan Update

I'm glad to report that Nolan is back home now. The little man is doing much better. We need to give him some breathing treatments over the next couple of days and take him back to our doctor. Thanks so much for your prayers and offers to help. I give glory to the God of healing!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Prayer Request


Please pray for our youngest son Nolan (2 months old on Wednesday) who was admitted to the hospital with RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus). Most older kids and adults can pretty much deal with RSV but it is harder for little ones under 6 months of age. Thanks in advance for your prayers.

For-giveness Follow Up

We started our Christmas if For-Giving Series yesterday with a hard hitting message on forgiveness.

Let's face it- forgiveness is hard. Yet the call is clear "as you have been forgiven then forgive others." Or, as we sometimes pray "forgives us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us."

There is no way to give a full treatment of forgiveness in a twenty minute message. But hopefully, we all started to ask some questions and experience some holy discomfort if we have been slow to forgive.

Here are some other questions when it comes to forgiveness that many people have that we did not cover:
  • Does forgiving mean forgetting?
  • What if the person we need to forgive doesn't even think they need my forgiveness?
  • Does forgiveness mean that the former relationship has to be restored and if so does that mean you are you have to be around an abusive person?
  • What if granting forgiveness to somebody else verbally will cause more harm than good?
  • How can I come to a place of forgiveness for the person who has already died and is out of my life?

These are just some other questions to ponder that I have heard expressed when it comes to forgiveness.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Determining Factors

I received some useful info before having the privilege of beginning a new church when it came to what should be the determining factor for all the components of the church. That info said apart from the Gospel (the determining factor) what shapes all your other ministries, strategies, styles etc. is your mission field (the people you are trying to reach).

So, what determines your:

Music and worship style- your mission field.
The name of your church- the mission field.
Whether you have small groups or Sunday School or both- the mission field.
How you will do marketing- the mission field.
What kind of people gathering/ bridge/ connection events you will do- the mission field.

You get the picture. After the Gospel it is the mission field that is the determining factor. That is nothing new for foreign missionaries but something to think about for domestic missionaries.