Friday, July 3, 2015

Old Glory


Tomorrow is the 4th of July, which brought this to mind. For years I have gone on a camping and floating trip with some friends. A few years ago a new tradition was introduced. Close to day’s end, as things begin to settle down, we retire a flag that has served well but is ready to be destroyed in a dignified manner.  It is a ceremony.  One at a time we each take part of the flag and share words about those we know and don’t know who have served as patriots in and out of uniform. The pieces are laid on the fire and as it burns we close singing God Bless America then a moment of silence.  It is a good and powerful feeling. 

Happy Independence Day.  Thanks to those who have made this celebration possible.

Peace,

Lion’s Den Man

Thursday, July 2, 2015

1992-Last of the Mohicans


One of my all-time favorite movies. Maybe because it is about a simpler view on life. Maybe because it displays pure love between souls, or because it shows a life based on integrity. Maybe all of the above and more. The scene near the end always hits me hard. A father and his son, and how the father feels for the son, and how he does what is needed for the son. He seeks to honor his son and avenge those who took his son’s life. All this, because it feels to be the right thing to do…..

It is a human movie with human themes and I can’t draw a comparison to God and the Son except to say that we, as a people, love vengeance and how it makes us feel whole….for the moment. But, God unconditionally loves us and needs none of that…..that is what makes life as a follower so very hard at times to do and understand.

Peace,

Lion’s Den Man

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

three steps


I often wonder what it would be like to be fully invested in life. To live freely.  What would I being doing differently. What thoughts would guide my days? It seems the older I get the more I think about this and the more I realize it is what I need.

Richard Rohr writes, “We become free as we let go of our three primary energy centers: our need for power and control, our need for safety and security, and our need for affection and esteem. “  

That’s a tall order but I couldn’t agree more.

Peace,

Lion’s Den Man

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

babies

Everyone loves babies.

Since my wife isn't around feeding me all the time, I have started frequenting Taco Night at Brew Top.  I watched this momma bird build the nest, then sit on the nest, and finally......... babies!!  First you could not see them, only hear them....... now, they are big and fat and I wonder how they all fit in the nest.

This picture reminds me of the nursery rhyme "there was an old woman who lived in a shoe, she had so  many children, that she didn't know what to do."  This mother bird must be very harried........ triplets........ loud, noisy, hungry triplets.  No wonder momma birds finally kick the babies out of the nest.

Keep your eyes open for the wonders of nature, the wonders of God's world.  They are all around you.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Monday, June 29, 2015

my lucky day

Do you hate waiting in line?  Do you notice that you always pick the slow line?  I always seem to get behind the person who wants to write a check, or the person who is lonely and wants to talk to the checker, or the person who has picked up an item that does not have a price tag.  If you see me in the store, say hello, but never get in line behind me.  If you do, you will be sorry because I never choose the right line.

Well, the other day, I hit the jackpot.  Not only was there a line open with no waiting, there were three!!!  And the employees at Price Chopper all looked happy, as if they were glad to be there and glad to help me.  How delightful!

It was a great moment.  I had to take a photo of it.  May I remember moments like this the next time the line is 5 people deep at some store.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

fear or faith

There is an all church meeting tonight at 5pm in the main campus sanctuary.  And so the topic of today's blog.

Fear or faith.  We humans are faced with the decision every day.  Churches and organizations face similar decisions.

Having done my due diligence, do I step out into an opportunity, or do I shrink back?  Do I opt for safety or am I willing to stretch for the kingdom.

Ahh, the kingdom.  Let us make no mistake- the kingdom of God is never about our comfort or us having enough.  It is entirely, completely, 100% about us discomforting ourselves for the sake of the mission.

What might God ask of you?  What might God ask of your church?

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.  Gal 5:9-10

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

another campus for Woods Chapel?

We announced in church on Sunday that the conference was asking us to take on another campus.  There will be a meeting on Sunday night June 28th at 5pm in the sanctuary to hear about this and ask any quesitons that you may have.  

Here is a Q&A sheet about the opportunity.

St. Peter UMC
Q&A Packet

St. Peter UMC in Blue Springs has closed, primarily due to lack of finances and a decline in attendance.  The Conference Office has asked our church to consider stepping in to help. 
St. Peter is located on the south end of Blue Springs, which is rapidly expanding.  Hundreds of homes have been built over the past few years, with plans for many more to built in the area.  The Conference Office wants to keep a Methodist presence along 7 Highway, as they know this is a prime mission field for the United Methodist Church. 
Rather than start a brand new Methodist church in the building, the Conference Office has asked Woods Chapel Church to start a third campus, thus creating Woods Chapel Church – Blue Springs Campus.  This strategy of asking growing, vibrant churches to create additional campuses has been successful in Missouri and in other states, and the Conference plans to continue this strategy in the future. 

1.    What does this mean in the near future? 
The St. Peter congregation, with advice from the Conference Office, voted to close their church but continue holding a heritage worship service each Sunday in their building until a new church is started in the building.  WCC will begin holding the heritage service on Sunday, June 28 and will continue this service each Sunday morning as long as attendance is approximately 20 or more and giving is regular.  If attendance dips below that threshold for several weeks in a row, or giving stops, we will look at discontinuing the service and asking the church attendees to attend one of our services at WCC.

2.    What does a heritage service look like?
WCC will provide a pre-recorded sermon.  We will provide musicians, a sound technician, and hospitality.  Services will have the same format as WCC 9:05 sanctuary worship.  The music at St. Peter has been contemporary using a piano and instruments, and this will continue.  The time of the service has not been determined.  Services at St. Peter were previously held at 10:00 am.

3.    How will we advertise the heritage service to the community?
We will not advertise this service to the community or invite others to join us.  This heritage service is strictly for the current St. Peter members who do not want to leave their church building and are waiting for a new church to be started there.  We are simply helping out during this time period and are not trying to grow the service.




4.    When will we officially start the new Woods Chapel Church – Blue Springs Campus?
The timetable is very tentative at this point.  The Conference Office has suggested the following:
·         Hold the heritage service for nine months to build trust with the attendees.
·         Appoint a campus pastor for the Blue Springs Campus with a tentative start date of January 2016.
·         Discontinue the heritage service in the summer of 2016.
·         Launch the new Woods Chapel Church – Blue Springs Campus in October 2016.
           

5.    Who owns the building, land, and assets now that St. Peter has closed?
All assets now belong to the Conference Office.  Transfer of ownership to WCC would take place effective January 1, 2016.

6.    What is the financial status?

The church does not have any money.  The total debt is $200,000.  A parsonage will be sold for approximately $150,000, leaving $50,000 of remaining debt.

7.    What is the size of the property?
The church owns approximately 6.8 acres.  In addition to the land the building sits on, the church owns the empty land behind the church and eight-tenths of an acre along 7 Highway to the south of the church. 

8.    What is the condition of the building?
The building is in great condition.  Paint and décor has been updated.  The church has a commercial kitchen, a large fellowship area, and a sanctuary which seats approximately 250.

9.    Who maintains the building and grounds during the heritage service period?
WCC staff and a team of WCC members will maintain the property, with service and maintenance bills being paid by the Conference Office until January 1, 2016. 

10.  Who pays the utility bills during the heritage service period?
The Conference Office will pay the utility bills until January 1, 2016.

11.  Who pays the speakers and musicians during the heritage service period?
The Conference Office will pay until January 1, 2016.



12.  Will an offering be received at heritage services?
Yes, an offering will be received, and the money will help pay for utility bills.

13.  Will there be any Sunday school classes or weekday programming at the building during the heritage service period?
No.  We will invite heritage service attendees to attend programming at WCC during the week.  We will provide a copy of our bulletin each Sunday so that they can hear about the various opportunities. We will not print any separate publications for the heritage service.

14.  Who will provide pastoral care for the heritage service attendees?
Pastoral care will be provided by our team at WCC.  The heritage service attendees will call the main WCC phone number for pastoral care. 

15.  Will the conference help with finances in 2016?
Yes, the conference will provide $300,000 for the new campus, with $125,000 the first year, $100,000 the second year, and $75, 000 the third year.  This grant is intended to be used for ministry and music staff, and facilities and maintenance costs.

16.  How will a campus pastor be chosen for Blue Springs?
The conference will work closely with WCC to determine the best fit for a campus pastor.  It may be a current pastor from WCC or a new appointee. 

17.  What is the role of the campus pastor from January until the new church launch?
Beginning immediately, the campus pastor would work to build interest at the main campus and make connections in the community.  This could be done at the main campus by inviting interested parties to cook outs, bible studies, social hours and such.  This could be done in the community by getting involved and known in the community via Rotary, Chamber and the local schools.

18.  What is the role of the campus pastor after the launch?
The campus pastor will be onsite most Sundays, leading the worship.  We envision this campus being a video venue, meaning the sermons will be brought by the Senior Pastor via video approximately three Sundays a month.  The campus pastor will preach 9-12 times per year at the satellite campus and several times a year at the main campus.  The campus pastor will provide pastoral care and officiate funerals, weddings, and baptisms. 



19.  What will happen during the summer of 2016?
The summer of 2016 will be a quiet period, meaning there will not be any worship services or programming at the Blue Springs campus.  This time will be used to make changes to the building so that it looks and feels like WCC. 

20.  What renovations will be needed?
The signage will need to be changed.  Minor façade changes may be made to give the building more curb appeal.  Interior decorating changes will be made to mimic the feel of WCC’s main campus. 

21.  What programming will there be for children and students after the launch?
Children’s Sunday school and nursery will be held each Sunday.  We are also exploring a parent’s day out.

22.  How will we invite people to the new church?
The first step will be identifying our current WCC attendees that live in the mission field around the Blue Springs campus.  We will gather this group together and gauge their interest in becoming missionaries in their own neighborhood by attending the new campus.  This ‘launch team’ will be crucial to the success of the new launch by inviting their neighbors and friends to the new church.  In addition to the campus pastor’s efforts to engrain him/herself in the community, we anticipate mailers, events, small groups, and missions efforts. 

23.  What recommendations have we received from the Conference Office for the new church launch?
a)    Choose the right campus pastor who is engaged with the community.
b)    Maintain communication with the main campus so that all campuses are working together for the common mission.

24.  When will we have to start paying apportionments for the new campus?

Apportionments would be paid beginning in 2020.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, don't be afraid of change, and don't be afraid of being stretched.  God is with us - be sure to see the good. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

I am normal

I don't tell people that I am a pastor.  Many people have no idea what to do with that knowledge and they start to act weird when they find out.  I love it when members introduce me as "their friend, Jeff."  I love it when months or years later, a person finds out that I am a pastor....... They got the chance to know me as a person, without the trappings of being a minister.  When I am introduced as someones pastor, I always follow up with, "but I am normal."

I am normal.  What does that mean?  It means that many people have a preconceived notion that pastors are going to guilt them or pressure them or act holier than thou.  I refuse to do these things.  I don't wear the ministry garb, I won't guilt you and I am certainly not holier than anyone else.

We are all on this journey together.  We are all the same.  Pastors are people too.  They are all normal, whether they know it or not.

Thanks for keeping me around to be your pastor, and thanks for allowing me to be normal.

It's a beautiful normal day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

so what

I don't want to minimize sin, but some people will never let a thing go.  They suffer for years over something that they have asked for forgiveness for many times- as though God might grant forgiveness if we keep pestering him.

You only have to ask for forgiveness once.

 A long time friend thanked me for something.  He said that at a time when he shared his deepest hurts, his biggest sins, I said, "so what."

What have you done?  What evil secrets are in your past?  Go to our Father, ask for forgiveness, then let them go.  You did a bad thing?  So what.  You are forgiven.

Accept the simple gift that God actually does forgive you and he separates us from our sins as far as the east is from the west.

God is good, all the time.  Bad things?  So what.  God is with us and God is for us.  If God is for us, then who can be against us?

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Insecurities

Insecurities run rampant.  I don't like how I look so I dye my hair, I get hair implants, I have plastic surgery.  I can't wear the same outfit again.  I must have a new, fresh and flashy look at all times.  I must drive a cool car, I must be seen on the outside to be hip and together.

And on the inside, person after person that I meet is hiding behind a curtain of insecurity.  How sad.  How very very sad.  Oh, if you knew how much God loves you!  Oh, if you knew how beautiful he thinks you are!

We need to think less about what others think of us and more about what God thinks of us.  We are loved and accepted into the household of faith.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Charleston

I finally decided to write a few words on this topic...... it is such a painful one.

Nine people shot dead at a Methodist Church in Charleston.  Murdered.  Executed.  Why?  Because a very young man decided that he hated another race.

We shake our heads.  We take a deep breath and wonder who could do such a thing.  We pray for the families of the victims.  We pray for the family of the killer.  Although part of our brains does not want to do so, we pray for the shooter.  May God reach in and change his heart.

Hatred is ugly.  Very ugly.  May we all do everything that we can to eradicate it from our hearts and minds.  May God's love prevail.........

Monday, June 22, 2015

joy

Joy.  I received an email from a friend last week that reminded me that there is a joy in doing God's work.

We think joy is found when we do what we want.  That is a form of taking - sort of a "I will do what I want, and that will make me happy." 

There is a different kind of joy that comes when we do God's work.  When we give ourselves to him, believing that the greater joy comes when our priority is no longer what we want to do but what he wants. 

Not my will but thine be done.  Missing some joy in your life?  Ask God who you can touch for him today, get about doing it, and see if you don't find the joy rekindled.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Father's Day

Today is Father's Day.  Hip hip hooray!  It is a day to feel proud of my kids.  It is a day to be happy for the gift of having children.  My children are the best and I love them very much.  I want them to know that I am proud of them every single day of my life.

I was 38 years old when my dad told me for the first time that he loved me.  I want my kids to know that they are loved, every day, every moment of their lives.  Even if they are having a bad week or a difficult time with something, they are dearly loved.

May each of us understand that God feels the same way about us.  We don't always get it right, sometimes we get it wrong, but we are loved, dearly loved by our heavenly Father.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

spelling

Sometimes I think that I am not a very good speller.  Even with spell check, sometimes, I cannot figure out how to spell a word.  I thank God for every time that the word is fixed automatically by spell check.

Words I have trouble spelling.............restless, occasion, familiar, commitment.  On and on the list goes.  It is like I mis-learned them with I was in 3rd grade, and I have never learned to get the correct spelling inside of my brain.

I hope that you have words that you have trouble spelling.  It is a small reminder that we still have things to learn.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Friday, June 19, 2015

words

I rarely post on facebook.  From time to time, I do read what others post. 

I would like to take a moment to remind readers of this blog that facebook is not private.  Even if someone is not your facebook friend, your posts and comments can easily be captured [copied or screenshot] by others and forwarded to anyone they wish.

I witness comments about people's pastors, about their churches, about other brothers and sisters that attend their church.  Sometimes the comments are nice, but sometimes they are not.

Dear friends, the tongue, whether words spoken or written, the tongue is a restless evil.  Most of the pain that is delivered in this life, comes from our mouths or our pens.  I beg you as fellow Christians to be very careful about what you say and what you write.  Nothing is private, for on the internet, all things done in private have ways of becoming known.

May the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in the sight of our God.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

belief and practice

Some Christians insist that you believe it all, and believe it just right.  Their faith is rooted in doctrine and belief.  They want to make sure that others believe it, just as they do.

There is another way.  Other Christians live out their faith rooted not so much in belief, but in practice.  Not that doctrine is not important, but these are those who understand that we do not know it all.  We do not have all the answers, and what we think we know, we are often wrong about.  And so they practice.... they love others, they pray, they give thanks, they live a life of faith.

Belief or practice.  What is most prominent in your spiritual life?

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

conditions

I talk to people all the time who want to do God's work, but on their own terms.  They want to follow Jesus, but they put conditions on many things.  This seems an acceptable thing to do for them, because we humans are so used to having it our way.

Jesus rejects our conditions.  He accepts nothing less than unconditional surrender.  If you dare to be used by God, you must deny your self, and follow him.  There are no excuses and there are no conditions. 

Do you want to listen to and for God's leading?  Then be prepared to be made uncomfortable.  It's all about unconditional surrender.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

showing love

"You can show your love for others by not wishing that they were better Christians."  St. Francis

What does that mean?
It means that it is not our job to make people better Christians, that is God's job.  It is our job to love and welcome.  Anytime we meet someone and their is an air of "you need to improve-" we are hurting them.

Yes we must sometimes tell that to employees and our children, but when we do it just because we think we are right and someone else is wrong, then wounds are inflicted.

Release others from your preconceived notions about who they are and what they are doing.  Love them and place them in the hands of our loving Father.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Monday, June 15, 2015

refugee

I have a friend whose mom was a refugee from Vietnam, leaving with the "boat people" after the fall of Saigon in 1975.  In case you are good with math, yes, he is younger than I am.

I was emailing with one of my buds the other day and I was reminded of the old saying, "we are all refugees from something."

Maybe it is a difficult upbringing [me.]  Maybe it is insecurity [me.]  I have a friend who grew up homeless.  I know people that spend the rest of their lives trying to recover from a divorce, a death, or a hurt of some kind.

We are all refugees from something. 

The good news is that we refugees have a place to go.  Thank God for our friends, but mostly, thank God for God.  In him we can find comfort and hope, even when our past tries to drag us down.  We may all be refugees, but thanks to Jesus, we are going somewhere.  We are on a journey of learning to love and see the good in this life.

It is a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

to take

Children take things from each other.  "That is my toy!  Give it!"  Adults take things too.  We may not steal from each other, but we take things from God.

We grab on to a thing and hold onto it, insisting that we have a right to it.  It is mine!  Mine! 

What if instead of clinging to a thing, we gave it over to God.  What if we released it to Him?  Then and only then he could bless us by giving it back to us as he saw fit.  As long as we cling to a thing, it cannot be given to us by God.  The moment we release it to him, we allow him to show his generous love by giving that thing or any thing unto us.

To hold a thing is to watch it slip through our fingers.  To release a thing is to gain our proper place in life.  After all, we are stewards, not owners.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

friends

There are a few people in this world that are amazing.  I loved them from the moment I met them.  We have moved in and out of each other's lives over the years.  We have carried each other in difficult times.  We have celebrated the joys.

When we can't get together, it is still ok.  Nothing high maintenance here.  When we do get together, it is the best.

I am smiling.  That is an amazing friendship.  I hope you have people that just seem to keep filling you up.  Be sure to tell them thank you.

It is a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Friday, June 12, 2015

you finally did it

You finally did it.  You pushed me over the edge.  Was it your comment after church?  Was it the comment that you posted on the blog?  Was it the email that you sent?  I don't know for sure, but I have had it.  After all the kindness that I have tried to show to you, I get this?  Really?  Well, I want you to know that I am not going to take this lying down.  I have already acted.  Yes, I did it. I snuck over to your house and kidnapped your pet rabbit.  You can have him back only if you apologize.

Hmmmm.  Did any of you wonder if I was mad at you?  Did any of you think I was really mad?  I am not mad at you.  I am not mad at anyone.

I have been thinking lately about how we collect things that aren't necessarily ours, like blame and guilt.  If you read the first four lines and wondered if I was talking about you, you have made my point.  We spend too much time thinking that something is wrong, that something is broken, and that something must be worried about.

Make your default something else.  Nothing is wrong!  All is well.  No one is mad at you.  And if they are, relax.  Don't let their unhappiness spoil the day.

But I am still going to hold your rabbit hostage until you say uncle.

It's a beautiful, joyful, guilt-free day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

enmity

An enmity was created.

He thought it was done to him out of spite. He thought the other was intentionally trying to hurt him.  But, the other person just thought they were doing their job.  They did not realize the hurt that was being delivered.

And so in response to one hurt, one misunderstood hurt, a lifetime of retaliation was unleashed.  One being surprised by the other at random times with strange looks, odd words and various forms of rejection.  They gathered their friends together and encouraged them to mount up in attack against the foe.  A lifetime of warfare ensued.

All of this was completely unnecessary.

How many times in our lives have we taken offense when no offense was intended?  How often have we let our pride get in the way instead of looking for a milder response?  Give the person that hurt you a little slack.  Maybe they are simply reacting to your reaction to them.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

my life

A friend asked me the other day about my life.  The value of my life and my greatest joys and accomplishments.  I think that they were surprised when I told them that the most important thing to me was that at my funeral my children stood up and said that I was a good Dad.

Yes, being a pastor is important and I have seen many wonderful things over the years.  But if I succeed with the church and fail as a father, what does that say about my life?

I love my children and I would take a bullet for them.  I love the church too, but if I were ever forced to choose, I  would have to stand with my family.  I wasn't always a pastor, and someday I  will stop being one.  But I will always be a father and a husband.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

spiritual

When something is truly spiritual, it does not need to be announced.  People will see it for what it is.

Imagine a person wearing a shirt that said, "I am spiritual."  It would be a bit off-putting.  If someone is spiritual, you can tell.  They don't need to tell you, you will just know.

If a church is experiencing a revival, you don't need a sign out front.  In short order, everyone in town will hear about it from those who are being revived.

It is far better for someone else to say something nice about you then for you to say something about yourself.  Self-promotion smells bad and leaves a bad taste in our mouths.

May we be those who waste no time and energy on self-promotion, but learn to focus our energy on being the kind of people that are living the Kingdom life. 

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Monday, June 8, 2015

The All

We humans tend to gravitate to our own interests, only loving the parts of a thing that seem relevant to us.  I only care about my service, the 9:05 service.  I only care about education.  I only care about mission, my favorite mission to be sure.  I only care about Upwards.  I only care about landscape.

Is this healthy for a church?  Imagine a family where the Dad said, I only care about the lawn.  Where the Mom said I only care about the kitchen.  Where little Suzie said I only care about my bedroom.  Not a very healthy family is it?

At a church, each of us needs to be committed to the whole.  We need to be behind every department, every mission, every group.  They may not be our favorite, but they are all important, and they are all ours.  The church is not just my little corner.  The church is everything.  The church is all of it. 

There is a joy that comes to us when we start to support areas that we had not been involved with up to this point.  How can you celebrate each member of the body?  How can we support each person's interest?

We are in this together.  All of us.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

great churches

Great churches lift up the name of Jesus.  Great churches teach people to be in mission, to live outside of themselves, to do unto others.

Great churches do not shrink back from opportunity.  When given the chance to make a difference, great people and great churches do their due diligence, set aside their fears, and step into opportunity.

It is easy to lift up the name of Jesus.
It is harder to live outside of ourselves.
It is very very difficult to not want to pull the wagons in a circle when opportunity knocks.  Sometimes big things come along that scare us.  We like our comfort so much.  Don't be afraid.  You never hit the ball until you step into the box.

Your potential awaits.  Our potential awaits.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

persecution

On occasion I get asked why we don't talk much about the persecution of Christians around the globe.  Make no mistake, I am saddened, angered, enraged by what groups like isis does to Christians and others.

However, I do not know how to affect change in this matter.  I am not sticking my head in the sand, I just can't do anything about it.  I do not want to talk about it at church every Sunday.  That would give the sermons an angry, sad flavor that I don't want on the table.  We need to focus on being positive and loving others.  We need to focus on not being selfish and engaging the part of the world where we can make a difference.

On a side not, I have a friend that is very connected to the military who tells me that our drones and such are doing a very good job.  They are doing much more than we hear reported on the news.

So, this is the end of the post.  persecution is very bad.  We should pray for those who experience it.  We should also welcome them into our country as immigrants without complaint.

On to today, and the life that you can affect.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Woods Chapel

In response to a post the other day, a reader made a comment and asked a question.  They said:

"......Jeff, can you tell me if I'm picking up accurately on this. It still seems to me that although the folks who leave now and then can cause some concern, Woods Chapel is still such a vital church, that it appears to me that we have quite a few more people "coming" "seeing" "liking" and "staying" than we have leaving?" 

I would agree with the writer.  But of course I do love this place and the people who call this church home.  Although some people do not stay, Woods Chapel is a very vibrant place with lots of great and amazing people who are growing in grace and learning to live outside of themselves.

The traditional measurements for health in a church are attendance, membership and giving.  All three of these markers continue to improve for us, but there is another measurement that I think says a great deal about institutional health.  That is the degree to which a church and it's people are engaged in outward focused mission.

In mission locally.  In mission globally.  In mission at Westport, at the Ronald McDonald House, in the schools, in Russia, at Costco, at Taco Bell.  In mission, everywhere.  Yes friends, we are on a mission for God.  To the extent that a church stays engaged with it's call to be the hands and feet of Christ, the future is bright.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Ethiopia

I have a test for Christian theology.  All good theology works in Ethiopia.  What does that mean?  It means that many of the things that we talk about, that we are so sure about, are cultural.  They relate to Christianity only in our culture, and therefore, probably are not truly Christian ideas.

For example, those who teach that if you have enough faith, God will give you more stuff and money.  That will never fly in Ethiopia.  So to me, that means it is a heresy.  There is no guaranty that God will give you more stuff.  Ethiopians know this.

What about purpose in life?  Some believe that they will only find purpose when they find their right vocation.  Can people in Ethiopia yearn to be a pilot, a doctor, or an astronaut?  Yes, but their opportunities are so so much smaller.  Purpose has to be available to all.  It cannot be measured by our culture.  So to me the question of purpose is much simpler, and is measured in terms of how I treat people today, not by if I make it in the NFL.  That works in Ethiopia.

What are you thinking about that is cultural?  The purest form of Christianity is cross cultural.  It works everywhere.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.