Sunday, June 29, 2008

Speakers remorse and Sundays

I don't know if you have ever experienced "buyer's remorse". It is the feeling you get when you have purchased something (especially something expensive) and you get away from the store and something like guilt sets in. You feel like maybe you shouldn't have bought it ... or maybe you should have bought the blue one instead of the green one ... or maybe you should have added one more option ... or ???

Anyway, there is such a thing as speaker's remorse. I get it almost every Sunday. It is that feeling of "I should have said it differently" or "I should have added this" or "Why did I forget to say that?" or "I should have thought about this other thing to put in there" ... you get the idea.

Sundays almost always bring speaker's remorse. I have talked to other Pastors about this. Some of us are more afflicted with this than others of us. I used to think it would subside the older I got and the more I spoke. It doesn't.

I wonder if Peter or Paul ever experienced it. I think Jeremiah probably did ... poor guy.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Praying for the Pastor

I will never forget the first time I met him. He was a guest that Sunday morning at the church I served as pastor in Marietta, GA. As he was leaving that morning he introduced himself to me, told me his daughter and son-in-law were members of that church, told me he was from out of state but would be visiting from time to time with his family members, then he asked me how he could pray for me. I suppose I gave him some lame answer. He looked at me and said, "No, I want to know specifically how I can pray for you in role as pastor of this church".

Well, I don't often have this kind of clarity this quickly, but two words came to mind. I firmly believe they were prompted by the Holy Spirit on the spot. The first word was "wisdom". While at LifeWay, I found myself facing big decisions every day. But for the most part they were business decisions. Seldom did I find myself needing to make a decision of how to counsel or how to respond to an individual life situation of someone I had responsibility to shepherd. I seldom felt as though eternity hung in the balance for someone based on what I said or how I responded. It was not my role to be spiritual advisor or guide. However, as a Pastor, I find myself in that place almost daily. Wisdom is needed.

Because of the role of shepherd (particularly the protection of the flock for which I have responsibility) I also need "courage". This was the second word the Holy Spirit brought to mind that day. When leading a group of people with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and opinions, I know this may come as a surprise, but they don't always agree. There are also times when persons must be confronted due to any number of reasons (leaders practicing immorality, false doctrine being taught, gossip, slander, and the list goes on). Change leadership always requires courage ... and change is about the only constant we have these days.

So, when you wonder what you might pray for your pastor (here at ClearView) or in your church wherever you are, these two would be a great start.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A chance to help

There are many things in life that cause me to ask "Why?". One of those was just after coming to serve as Pastor of ClearView just over a year ago.

I had met them several times during the period of time I was interim pastor at ClearView. The thing that impressed me was the consistent smile and joy in their eyes. Terry and Carmen Thompson were so unassuming, but such an encouragment each time they spoke with me.

Just over a month after becoming Pastor, I got an email sharing that Carmen had been in a horrific accident. You can read the full story here.

I would see Terry and Carmen again in Louisville where Carmen was rehabilitating before coming home to Franklin, TN. Despite all the physical and emotional pain brought on by the accident and the resulting paralysis, you can still see the smile and the joy in her eyes. Not to say Terry and Carmen have not had their down times over the past year ... they have. But there remains an inner joy reflecting an obvious relationship with our Lord.

As you might imagine, this event changed their lives in many ways. One of the areas impacted is the financial burden this adds to these newlyweds. You have an opportunity to minister to them in this way this week. There will be a benefit concert (Amy Grant will be appearing) this coming Tuesday night at The Factory in Franklin, TN. For more information click here. Then click on "The event".

Friday, June 13, 2008

Tiger ...

Here he comes ... and the rest of them know it ...

It is still alive

About 5 or 6 years ago I was asked to write a book helping churches rethink their strategy. I thought it dead by now, but John Gardner told me today that some of the new materials sent out by LifeWay are promoting the book again.

We had worked with many churches across the country and several on an intense level locally to help them re-think who they were and how they were going to accomplish their mission. I was honored to be asked to write the book. I hope some churches have found it helpful.

But here's the thing. If you have ever written a book, you know what I mean. There are some things I would change if I were writing on the same subject today. But once you put it in writing and it is published, there is no retraction. The changes would not be dramatic, but there are some adjustments I would make to the content. Anyway, sounds like the LifeWay team feels it is useful enough to continue to provide it to churches.

You can read a synopsis and gander at the cover here. It's my only book ... so far :-)!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Preparation for the Inevitable

I shared something last night at the end of our Bible study I will share here. We are studying the life of Abraham. We were in Genesis 23 last night where Sarah (the life long wife of Abraham) died and Abraham mourns and walks through the funeral arrangements and the funeral.

God's timing is impeccable. I was to leave the Bible study time to be with a couple who had lost an adult son. So, as you would imagine, my mind really was on death, dying, and things related. Not necessarily a pleasant subject, but a necessary subject. As I stated last night, statistics are astounding ... 1 out of every 1 person will die!!

Fact is, most of do all we can to avoid discussions about the subject though every one of us will face it (if Christ does not return before). I closed the study with several thoughts on preparation for death.

1. Get comfortable with the idea of death. It's going to happen. Talk about it with your family. Of course you don't want this to be the subject at every meal. In fact, you probably don't want to talk about it at meal time at all. But, I can't tell you how many funerals I have been a part of in which the family is scrambling to put together thoughts and plans for something they have not thought about, but now make decisions in the midst of grief.

2. Get your house in order. Is your living will up to date? Is your insurance in place? If you are a parent of a younger child, do you have it clearly spelled out as to who will take care of the children should something happen? Does your spouse know where to find all the information they will need to contact insurance companies, banks, etc.?

3. Clear up relationships. Unresolved anger, unforgiveness, bitterness all make things complicated when someone passes away. This might be the biggest issue of all. If you have been distanced from a family member do your best to mend the relationship.

4. Build your friendships now. If you lose someone you love, you don't want to be left alone. If you are in a church, connect to those in some kind of small group or Sunday School class. If you lose someone you love, they can support you.

5. Prepare spiritually. Ask yourself if you are prepared to confidently stand before God. Will you spend eternity in heaven? Are you sure? On what basis are you sure? One nano second on the other side of death's door is too late to find out the answer to this one. Prepare spiritually.

I know this may not be the most uplifting post you read today, but it could be the most important.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Guilty as charged

This may only make sense to pastors, their wives, and their children ... but I stand guilty as charged. This is funny ... but not as funny as my wife thought it was :-).

This is all I know about this video. I picked this comment up from the blog from which it was sent to me.
"This video was produced for an annual church retreat where the Florida Hospital Church enjoys a Saturday night program geared to laughing at themselves. Last year's "Adventist All-Star Trading Cards" was produced for the same reason. Stanley Pomianowski is the gifted media producer for both, and Caitlin Rushing (the fiance' of a member) is the extremely talented singer on this year's video."