It is hard to write blog post that both fully expresses your thoughts while also being short enough that people read them. Yesterday’s post Setting Sail “Is the Church a Rowboat or Sailboat?” has sparked some pretty good conversation. As such I thought I would follow it up today with a bit more about what Joan S. Gray says in her book,“Spiritual Leadership for Church Officers: A Handbook,”says are the differences between Rowboat Churches and Sailboat Churches. One part of this is expressed by the images below. When I read her descriptions of the two I am more apt to think of the rowboat church as a galley ship rather than a dinghy. That makes the oarsmen slaves not a crew. More than once I have felt that the Church (Universal) has treated people in this way.
I think that at the heart of it all is where the starting point for our ministry and life is found. She reminds us that we need to be dependent on the power and will of God. Like it or not, many times the Church (Universal) has often thought of itself as the master of the mission of the church. Rather than seeking to discern, follow and work towards the “Missio Dei” or the Mission of God. Continue reading →
Today we are reminded of the reality of our two citizenships and the struggle between our earthly and heavenly commitments. Jesus was confronted with this question in Matthew 22 when he is asked about taxes. Jesus reminds us that God and civil authorities have their claims on us, but we should not forget what part of our life belongs to each. Current events highlight the struggle to govern and the way that our brokenness has real consequences. The government shutdown shows us just how hard it is to find ways to find unity in the midst of divergent world views. Continue reading →
This past week in worship we reflected on the words of Paul as he speaks about Spiritual Gifts. Paul writes to the church in Corinth with regards to how the gifts of the Spirit are given:
“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” 1 Corinthians 12:4-7
Today as we shift our discussion of the ordained offices from Ruling Elders to Deacons, I believe this is a great place to start. In this passage Paul is encouraging us to remember that the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in our lives is varied and as such enables us to perform various activities. This is a critical lesson for us to learn when discerning who is called to the different ordained offices. Each office calls for different gifts. Yet they are all brought to life in the shared ministry for the common good. Continue reading →
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 →
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
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 →
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.
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 past Sunday we celebrated Pentecost. Often we tout Pentecost as the “birthday of the church.” This is a great image and an easy way to connect kids with the concept that the coming of the Holy Spirit marked a special event in the life of those who follow Christ. On the other hand, this birthday image can fall short. There is more to Pentecost than what our contemporary birthday celebrations mean.
I have heard more than one person say at the occasion of a birthday, “Congratulations, you survived another year.” Birthdays mark a chronological advancement, but Pentecost is more than the fact that the Church has made it through another year of Christmas, Easter, Sunday School and all the rest of the things we do in our life together. Continue reading →
In a conversation last week, I was told by someone who is a recent addition to a church choir how much they appreciated being “upfront” during Easter. This person had discovered that as a worship leader you must reorient your approach to worship in order to be both participant and leader. It is easy for those who are in worship leadership to become doers of worship. By that I mean that a leader can often find themselves in a place of making sure worship is right for everyone else and miss their own opportunity to worship. Continue reading →