Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Christian and the Recession

You can't avoid hearing about it: the recession. Radio, TV, news web sites ... it's everywhere. Banks going under. Major companies folding. Massive unemployment. Record foreclosures. On and on the list goes.

As a Christ follower, how do we respond? What does God's Word have to say?
14 In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity, consider: without question, God has made the one as well as the other, so that man cannot discover anything that will come after him.
Eccl 7:14 (HCSB)

So, God is sovereign over our days of prosperity. And He is also sovereign over days of adversity? So He is in control. What could He possibly be trying to teach us? We will looking into this March 1 at ClearView. Learn more here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Text-Driven (A peek into a Preacher's World)

I am continuing to look for language to express what I feel and sense as a Preacher / Pastor. I cam across this video by another pastor (Matt Chandler, Pastor of The Village Church) that says so much of what I feel these days. In a brief 5 minute clip Matt shares advice to preachers. But I thought you might be interested in peeking over my shoulder as I hear advice from Matt.

One sentence you will hear early in the clip is that for many preachers, "preaching becomes just one of the things preachers do". Not the place a preacher wants to find himself. It is a constant battle to push aside other important things I could be doing in order to do the one thing no one else can do for the people of ClearView ... preach. I am re-discovering more and more that preaching is not something I do, it is who I am. I think you will understand what I mean as you listen ...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Lunch with a 7th grader (and her mom and dad)

I had lunch today with a young lady who is a member of the church I pastor. She is in the 7th grade. (Or course, her mom and dad accompanied her) Seems the question was asked in her SS class if they could have lunch with anyone, who would they choose?

A few thoughts:

1. I can't think of a greater honor than to have a young student make such a request. Really, I was so humbled by this.

2. When told she could ask anything she wanted, her first question of me was, "Why is it true that once our names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life (her words) can it not be removed?" Talk about deep thinking! I almost didn't recover from that one. :) By the way, the major part of the answer has to do with God being a God of promise. He cannot break His promise and continue to be God. Let's just say in 7th grade, I was not thinking about these kinds of things ... and you probably weren't either.

3. Solid families tend to produce solid kids. When you watch moms and dads interact with their children, you can tell a great deal about what goes on at home. It was so obvious this mom and dad loved their little girl and she loved and respected her mom and dad. Combine that with the fact her mom and dad love the Lord and serve Him faithfully and you have a great combination for raising a Godly young lady. So encouraging to see these parents interact with and encourage their daughter toward godliness in a crazy world.

4. This is why I came back to pastor. I want to be around in this church long enough to see this young lady grow up chronologically, but most of all spiritually.

This is an open invitation for any students at ClearView that would like to hang out some time. Shoot me an email ... or give me a call ... or simply approach me at church some time.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Changing World; Changless God

This video gives us a great picture not only of the changing world in which we live, but just how fast things are changing. The reason change leadership is so valuable today is because the speed of change is now exponential. It is in times like these we can rejoice our God does not change:

8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Heb 13:8 (HCSB)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

I did something dumb today ...

OK, no snickers out there. Yes, I do something dumb most days ... but ...

Ever do something and as soon as it's done you think, "How stupid was that!" Well, today was one of those days for me. But what makes this even harder and more complex is that in the process I hurt someone that did not deserve to be hurt and I never intended to hurt.

The details of the event are private and there is no need to go into them. But the big picture is that I said something that got back to the person I was talking about that hurt them. The dumbest part of the whole thing was that I did not really even mean what I said. I apologized as soon as I heard of the hurt I caused. And this person graciously forgave me right away.

I have been sitting in my office the past hour or so (since the incident) unable to focus on the message for Sunday (Thursday is study day) because I just can't get this heart-sick feeling to go away. So I thought I would take a few moments and share some of my take-aways on this and hopefully help prevent you from being as dumb as I was today.

1. Words are powerful. Be careful how you use them. James warned us of this. James 3:5-6 So too, though the tongue is a small part [of the body] , it boasts great things. Consider how large a forest a small fire ignites. 6 And the tongue is a fire. The tongue, a world of unrighteousness, is placed among the parts of our [bodies] ; it pollutes the whole body, sets the course of life on fire, and is set on fire by hell.
I was careless today in my choice of words.

2. This one is for Pastors: We are to be most careful. I sense today that the hurt I caused was multiplied because this person is a part of the congregation for which I am given responsibility to love and shepherd. Today was a warning shot into my life as a Pastor that I am to be especially careful in this area. It seems my words are weightier in people's lives ... the good and the bad. All of us have the power to build up and the power to tear down, more especially for Pastors. In the very same passage James gives the warning above, he begins that chapter with these words: James 3:1 "Not many should become teachers, my brothers, knowing that we will receive a stricter judgement". As a Pastor, even casual conversations are being measured. That's not a bad thing, just a fact.

3. Technology is not the best way to communicate. Yes, we use it as naturally as breathing these days. But we still cannot communicate emotions and feelings as well through any form of technology as we can face to face. Nothing can replace face to face communications. My blunder was made via technology and it magnified the issue.

4. I am grateful for mature followers of Christ who can demonstrate grace. This person today was quick to forgive me, though I did nothing to deserve forgiveness. Grace. What kind of world would this be if there was never any grace extended? What kind of church would I be a part of if we did not extend grace. Not everyone gets this. But I thank God the person I offended today does.

Part of what has gone through my mind over the past hour or so is: To whom do I need to extend grace?

May this be a reminder: Think before speaking or typing. Guard your tongue and your finger tips on a keyboard. My mom always told me if I could not say something nice, don't say anything. Again, Mom was right.