Stewardship and the Abundant Life (with video blog extra)

We live in a culture that is full of messages of scarcity and excess.  These two ideals seem to be in conflict when looked at on the surface.    Yet, our sacristy mentality leads us to act out in excess.  The old adage, “the one with the most toys wins” is the embodiment of that reality.  The basic message is that the supply is limited and thus you need to hoard as much as you can.

This, of course, is in fact precisely the opposite of the Christian view of the world.  As a Christian, we are called to live a life that is situated in the power and providence of God.  The world’s view of life is that of a beginning, middle and end.  This is a limiting view of life.  As a Christian, we have gained a powerful insight into time and space. We know it is infinite.  There is no way to overstate what this knowledge does in our lives.  To know that God is infinite and our lives are eternal reorients our understanding of life, death and all that is involved. Continue reading

The Ruling Elder (Part one of a three part series on the ordained offices of the Presbyterian Church)

ordination_50521_web   Each year our congregation goes through the discernment process of selecting leaders for our congregation. The nominating taskforce is working to recommend a slate of officers to the Session for the next class of Elders and Deacons. This is perhaps one of the most anxiety ridden times of the year. The nominating taskforce is concerned with not only getting the people to fill spots, but perhaps more importantly, the right people to answer God’s calling. Today, I will discuss the specific calling to be a Ruling Elder.
    A few years ago, Christ Presbyterian Church made a conscious effort to be more fully open to the leading and discernment of the Spirit in this process. In the past, like most congregations, our congregation would approach the selection of Elders by trying to find people who were going to be Elders for specific areas of our ministry. Examples of this would have been an Elder for Finance or Christian Education. In this model, the ability to fulfill a specific role would often trump the spiritual calling to such a leadership role. I’m sure that you have experienced in you life those who are at the top of their field for their ability, but once given leadership, fall apart. Continue reading

“For Crying Out Loud!”

Once again our liturgical year has come full circle as we enter another Advent.  It almost seems unreal that it was a year ago that we were preparing for the coming of the New Born King with our readings, studies and songs.  Yet here we are, ready to embark once again on a journey to the manger.  The prophet Isaiah has some very profound words to describe what we should be doing during Advent.

A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” Continue reading

Popeye was right when he said… “I am what I am.”

    Each week at Christ Presbyterian Church we come together and express the unique character of community that God has called us to be.  One of my favorite things about being Presbyterian is that while we have many things in common with other Presbyterians we are free to be who we are.  In worship we incorporate many aspects of what people would call “traditional” Presbyterian worship, and we ensure that we adhere to the prescriptions of the Directory for Worship.  Like most of our sister churches, we confess and receive pardon.  We also read Scripture and hear the Word proclaimed in the sermon each week.  Along with many other aspects of worship, we could be judged as being like any other Presbyterian Church.  Continue reading

Changing Seasons and Seasons of the Spirit

    Each year as summer begins to give way to fall and the days get shorter, I can’t help but have a mix of emotions.  Just over the horizon of the year stands the busy fall.  The beginning of school, the kick off of fall ministries, fall sports and many more things are looming.  Today I sit and wonder why it is that this is the image of the future I hold.  Should the future be a burden?  Perhaps personal and corporate history says yes, but it doesn’t have to be so.

    Looking to the future with dread is not a healthy or faithful response to the world.  Our God has promised good to us and we should hold that hope out in front of us not as a reward for suffering but a current reality.  Far too often we use the “pie in the sky” as a motivation rather than reveling in the goodness God has provided around us. 

   As you begin to look forward to what the fall holds, I pray that you will be blessed with a deep and abiding knowledge that God is present in your life.   I offer these questions as way to help you discern God’s presence in your life.

  • In what events or experiences have you felt God’s presence in your life this summer?
  • What are you most looking forward to this fall?
  • How can you open your heart to God’s presence?
  • Are there things in your life that are not spiritual blessings but instead spiritual drains?  Can these things be eliminated?
  • How can the spiritual community of the Church help you find ways to celebrate the blessings in your life today?

I pray that God will help you to find blessings in your life.  I also invite you into conversation about how the church and I can help you grow in discipleship. 

Holy God, as we transition from summer to fall, we seek your guiding spirit in our midst.  Help us to recognize your blessings in the midst of the chaos of our lives.  In our recognition of blessings, may we find strength and hope.  Finally Lord, guide us to make our lives conform to your will and help us to make decisions about our time with your loving Spirit. AMEN

 

Do you see what I see?

             At times I worry that as the Pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church I might have blinders on. I wonder if the perspective I see from is somehow skewed and leading me to the wrong conclusions.  The past two weeks have done more to affirm my understanding of the Christ Presbyterian community than anything else I can think of in recent memory.

             While at the Evangelism and Church growth conference in St. Pete Beach, Florida, I found a deep sense of God’s work in our midst.  I have to admit that I was a  bit disappointed with the content of the conference.  Much of the information and ideas that were being presented were “old” to me.  As I sat in the plenary and workshops, I found myself feeling underwhelmed because I was looking for fresh insight.  It took a good soak in the Gulf of Mexico to find the morsel that I believe God was seeking me to discover.  As I reflected on my disappointment I found something I wasn’t expecting.  My disappointment turned to affirmation.  I realized that over the past few years, Christ Presbyterian has been employing many of the best practices for congregational transformation.  I found God affirming what we have been doing and that led to a deep sense of joy. Continue reading

The Christian Life Means More Than Minimum Code

             I have talked about Mike Holmes from the HGTV series Holmes on Homes in sermons before.  Mike is a burley man who is most often seen in a pair of simple overalls.  His exterior image is very different from what you find out about him by watching the show, for he is in fact a caring and almost soft-hearted individual.  The premise of the show is that he goes into homes of people that have experienced either poor building practices or unscrupulous renovation contractors.  Continue reading

Chasing the American Dream vs. Taking Time to be Holy… A video follow-up

This is a video post of “The American Dream” by Casting Crowns.  I have posted this to Facebook a few times but think that it’s a great follow up to last week’s blog post about “Taking Time to Be Holy.”  Being a father, mother, child, neighbor and friend provide many opportunities to share Holiness with the world.  Are we spending our time chasing the American Dream or are we finding ways to have balance and sharing ourselves with those around us.

A responce to the viral video of Middle School boys bullying a 68 year old woman. Over coming evil with good.

   I’m sure that many of you have seen the viral video of middle school student’s bullying a 68 year old bus monitor.  The video, which I didn’t watch all of because I don’t want to allow such poison in my heart, has been viewed by over one million people (you can find it on YouTube.  This has sparked a conversation about kids and how they are raised to treat others.  For some this video has a voyeuristic appeal as they enjoy the meanness they watch.  Others are being moved by this video to have conversations about civility and the practice of parenting. Continue reading

This Summer, “Take Time To Be Holy”

             As the summer season begins, I was considering how over the past few years worship attendance at Christ Presbyterian Church hasn’t trailed off as much as it had historically.  I hope that this reflects a positive spiritual reality in our worship.  I have always been uneasy with the fact that during the summer you will find many Churches almost drop off the map. 

             During the summer, worship attendance falls, Sunday School shuts down and even pastoral calls seem to taper off.  On one level, this is a very good thing.  Giving teachers and students time to renew themselves can be a positive thing.  Our practice of going to one service at 10 AM serves more than just a numerical need.  Yes, it is true that as folks travel, our attendance drops, and by offering one service we have a larger congregation.  More importantly, it allows the participants of our two services to worship together for two month in a unified service. Even the amount of pastoral calls or visits I make seem to lessen during the summer, even though it is a great time for such visits since I am freed from many of the other concerns that take my time. Continue reading