Saturday, December 30, 2006

Best Part of Waking Up!

A sweet little boy surprised his grandmother one morning and brought her a cup of coffee. He made it himself and was so proud. He anxiously waited to hear the verdict on the quality of the coffee.

His grandmother had never in her life had such a bad cup of coffee, and as she forced down the last sip she noticed three of those little green army guys in the bottom of the cup.

She asked, "Honey, why would three little green army guys be in the bottom of my cup?"

Her grandson replied, "You know grandma, it's like on TV, 'The best part of waking up is soldiers in your cup.'"

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Emotional Deficit of a Pastor - pt 3

Trust all had a very Merry Christmas- we did at the Kerr household- had Jason, Ryan and Charity, Harry and Arleen, Jeremy and Jennifer Huff and 2 children, Brianna and Bradley, over for Christmas dinner. We ate, watched the kids, gave up on Dallas football game, and played games. Great Day!

Continuing on with my post on Emotional Deficit...

A number of years ago I read an article by Bill Hybels that revealed his struggles with emotional deficit.

The spiritual and physical aspects of life were important, but I had failed to consider another area essential to healthy ministry—emotional strength (deficit). I needed a third gauge on the dashboard of my life. —Bill Hybels

He essentially said that he was keeping himself built up in the spiritual and physical areas of his life but one day found himself depleted emotionally. He had failed to gauge himself in that area.

He found as myself and others have that signs of emotional deficit are:
(1) One begins to feel vulnerable morally,
(2) One becomes short and testy with people (esp. your family and staff),
(3) One feels an overwhelming tiredness even though you are sleeping,
(4) One questions whether they are really a Christian at all,
(5) One feels a desire to get out of God's work.

The results of dysfunctional pastors is surfacing with newspapers reporting about spiritual icons that are failing plus the numerous things that we hear about others that yet have been made public. It is not so much the lack of any value system by those individuals but the fact that the emotional deficit trap has not been addressed to Pastors nor them being taught to be aware of it and how to overcome it.

We all in ministry have to be aware of this emotional deficit. We need to have a gauge that we can read to see how we are doing in this aspect. Just like a fuel gauge on a car we can not afford this one to run on empty either.

Running on empty or running out will have the same debilitating effect of running out of gas- you will be stopped eventually. I guarantee this is a tool the enemy uses to destroy many servants of the Lord.

Next time, steps to replenishing the emotional tank…

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas-

click to enlarge pic

It is all about God come in the flesh for our salvation!

Merry Christmas to my readers. You are greatly appreciated!

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Emotional Deficit of a Pastor - pt 2

I preached a 6 part series on Desperate Households this year (2006). These are desperate times in our churches and homes. We've heard a lot about dysfunctional families with family members blaming each other for their ills and poor choices in life. It is true that many are living with an emotional deficit in their lives. They are being overwhelmed.

But I probably should also go one step further and teach on Desperate Pastors. I think that we are witnessing a generation of dysfunctional pastors. They too are living in an emotional deficit. What I mean by that is that what is surrounding them is more demanding and commanding on them than what is being put into them. They are having trouble handling the emotional volume in their lives. Ministry is demanding and draining regardless of the size of the church- big or small.

Size of the church in no way equates to faithfulness before God. Jesus had only 12 disciples and did quite well. In fact, He only had one leave him- I have had a lot more. Church size does not equate with being more effective but really is more about what you do with what God has given you. The width of a church does not speak to the spirituality of the church.

But having said that, we find the difference in a big and small church is the emotional weight of the church on the pastor. Every day of every year with every person that is added the emotional weight of the congregation becomes greater. Consider Paul:

2 Cor 11:23-28
23 Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again.
24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.
25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea,
26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers.
27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.
28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. (NIV)

He was talking about the emotional content for/of the people he loved, prayed for, cared for, cried with, rejoiced with, etc. It was as tough if not tougher on him than all the other things he had experienced in the flesh. It was emotional, caused him to lose sleep, and weighed heavily on him.

The pastor needs to learn how to handle the emotional content or he will become a casualty of the very ministry he loves.

more to follow...

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Emotional Deficit of a Pastor

Col 3:12-15
12 Since God chose you to be the holy people whom he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
13 You must make allowance for each other's faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.
14 And the most important piece of clothing you must wear is love. Love is what binds us all together in perfect harmony.
15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are all called to live in peace. And always be thankful. NLT

This verse reminds me that God does not ignore the emotional content of life. The emotional needs of our lives are more a part of us than we often acknowledge, they are real, and need to be met.

Pastor’s have feelings and emotions too. I am reminded of the time when a couple was in my office and she especially was chewing on me. (Why is it choleric women do this while their passive husbands sit by? ‘Yes, dear,’) Anyway, I had had enough of the debilitating attack and told her she was hurting my feelings. She responded that I could not have hurt feelings because I was a Pastor. (Memo to self, Pastors must relinquish their feelings upon entering the ministry.) When I told her I did, she went off on me again. (Talk about a Roman candle igniting and right there in my office!)

Here is a principle I want to discuss in a few blogs:
Pastors are in danger in living on an emotional deficit. That means what is surrounding them is more demanding than what is being put in them.

The result- a generation of dysfunctional pastors!

A dysfunctional pastor is one who has not learned to handle the emotional volume of his life.

They are pastoring dysfunctional people and when you get dysfunctional leadership ministering to dysfunctional people in the same way leadership is always a multiplying equation, instead of multiplying strengths, they end up multiplying weaknesses!

Is it no wonder that Pastors isolate themselves, ignore the emotional deficit or better yet turn to something (meth) or someone (sexual relationship) to mask the hurts?

More to come on this...

Monday, December 18, 2006

Christmas at The Vine

December is a busy month of activities at Vine Fellowship. Below are pics from some of those activities. Click pics to view larger image.
This was our annual Church Christmas party- A Night Under the Stars. Plenty of great food, karaoke, dancing, and fun fellowship.

Debi and I hosted our church Leadership Team, 30 guests, at our home for our annual party. Again some great food, fun games, and great fellowship. 'His banner over us is love' continues to be the motto our our leadership at the Vine.

We also had a dynamic Children's Christmas Program last night. They did skits, sang, danced, and had a great time entertaining the guests.

A big thank you to all that made these events possible. You are the greatest!

Pastor David's blooper for the day- I was waxing eloquent about the nativity scene and all those congregated around it- I said, "There were Joseph, Mary, baby Jesus, the shepherds, and the three white men."

The three white men???- that is not something you say in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, and multi-racial church setting! Where did that come from? Help me Lord!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Top 10 Signs You are Broke This Christmas

A kindly 90-year-old grandmother found buying presents for family and friends a bit much one Christmas, so she wrote out checks for all of them to put in their Christmas cards.

In each card she wrote, "Buy your own present" and then sent them off.

After the Christmas festivities were over, she found the checks in her desk!

Everyone had gotten a Christmas card from her with "Buy your own present" written inside, but without the checks!

With just 10 days til Christmas here are top 10 signs you are broke---
10. American Express calls and says: "Leave home without it."
09. You’re formulating a plan to rob the local food bank.
08. Long distance companies don’t call you to switch.
07. You rob Peter… and then rob Paul.
06. You finally clean your house, hoping to find change.
05. You think of a lottery ticket as an investment
04. Salvation Army sets a kettle outside your door complete with bell ringer.
03. Compassion International sends you food and asks to sponsor you.
02. McDonald's supplies you with all your condiments.
01. At communion you go back for seconds.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Nativity- I was brought to tears!

We had a staff outing today that included an early movie, The Nativity, and then a late lunch. I had an enjoyable time as my staff is a delight to be with. They truly are the Dream Team!

But the movie! It brought me to tears a number of times. I was able to control an all out burst of crying, the kind with snorting and snot, etc. But it wasn't easy. Points where I was obviously touched:
1. When Elizabeth heard Mary's voice and the child in her womb, John the Baptist, leaped.
2. Mary and Elizabeth in a field gleaning and Mary feels the baby Jesus move and runs to Elizabeth with excitement.
3. When Joseph goes to Mary after having the dream of the angel and knows that he is to take her as his wife.
4. Seeing Mary and Joseph ostracized by the village people.
5. Seeing Joseph sacrificing food, etc., for Mary.
6. Mary and Joseph talking about what the child was going to be like, Joseph says, "Will I be able to teach him anything?"
7. The tension and joy of the birth of Jesus.
8. The wise men laying their gifts before the couple and Jesus.

Well, you are right! That was almost the entire movie! I highly recommend that families see this movie this Christmas season.

You can also check out my sermons on the Nativity at the Vine Fellowship website.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Church's All-time Biggest Blunders

I wonder if the boater saw this coming? Did he read the signs? Did he learn anything from this blunder? I hope so.

Jesus said, "I will build My church." (Matthew 16:18) However The Church has made some pretty big blunders and it isn't the Lord's fault. Here is a list of 8 from my perspective (you can add more in the comments).

(1) We've made unbelief a doctrine. While third-world nations believe God for New Testament results, we teach our seminary students that God doesn't do miracles anymore.

(2) We've tolerated division. Who needs the devil when we're so adept at hating one another in the name of denominational loyalty?

(3) We've cultivated a religious spirit. We've taught that Christianity is about avoiding things like smoking and drinking. As a result we've lost our joy, because intimacy with God cannot be achieved through performance.

(4) We've encouraged "super stars." Consequently, some of our preachers have stopped modeling servant hood, and forgotten that Jesus washed feet and rode on a donkey.

(5) We've equated money with success. We've found a way to 'theologize' greed, instead of using our God-given prosperity to feed the poor and reach the world with the Gospel.

(6) We've stayed in the pews and become irrelevant. We freak out when somebody uses rap or rock music to reach the younger generation. Instead of engaging the culture we're hiding from it.

(7) We've taught people to be escape-artists. Instead of "occupying till He comes," we'd rather be astronauts and fly away. We read rapture novels when we should be praying for those living on the verge of martyrdom. Why can't we have their kind of faith? We can - if we're willing to pay the price and commit ourselves fully to God!

(8) We've made 'size matters!' We employ Madison Avenue marketing techniques to attract attention. The guy with the most money wins.

It's never too late to learn from our blunders.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

attitude pt4- a matter of training

Since attitude reflects what is already in us, we've got to clean up the junk that fills our hearts and minds.

If your general attitude towards life is poor I can almost guarantee it's because you're doing of one two things. You're either dining at the emotional trash heap of life, filling yourself up with self-destructive lies and bitterness, and reliving past hurts; or, you're spending your time filling your brain with negative and destructive thoughts.

... let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. 2 Corinthians 7:1 NIV

Are you taking anything into your mind that is contaminating your attitude? What kind of music do you listen to? What kind of TV, books and movies go into your brain? If your attitude is in the dumpster (true dumpster diving), you've got to stop eating at the dumpster.

For some, maybe the emotional garbage heaps and moral cesspools we've experienced are still polluting our hearts and mind. Cleaning that stuff out means bringing those wounds to God. "Father, I've been hurt in this way and I need to let go of it and be healed." Or, "I did these things, I was wrong and I am sorry. Thank you, Jesus for paying for these sins."

Don't try to have a good attitude. Train for one.
I hear people say, "I'm trying my best to have a good attitude, but I can't do it."
But think about it. If you hoped to run a marathon this spring, you wouldn't wait until the day of the race and say, "Ok, now I'm going to try my best." You'd start working out now, building up your strength and stamina. You'd train for it.

The Apostle Paul's training regimen:
Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. Philippians 4:8 NIV

1. Fill your mind with the right thoughts.
Sit down and add it up some time. How much time do you spend filling your mind with things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy? How much time reading the Bible and letting God speak to you? How often do you go to the Christian bookstore and buy books that build your vision, your faith and your character? Do you ever just sit in quiet and reflect on the awesomeness of God and His love for you? Do you ever sing to Him and worship Him?

Compare that to the amount of time you spend ingesting the mindless fluff that saturates the media. For you to build and maintain a good attitude, the scale has got to tilt away from that stuff and in the direction of the good stuff. And that requires an intentional and disciplined effort on your part. There's no other way. You've got to train your mind.

Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me--put it into practice. Philippians 4:9aNIV

Paul knew that we learn from the example of people around us ...
2. Fill your life with the right people.
Ask yourself ... who is around me all the time and what am I learning from them?

Now some of those folks you can't do anything about. But some of the people in your life are there because you invited them. You may need to un-invite them - with a good attitude of course - and invite some new ones who will model good things for you. Then intentionally schedule yourself to be in the same place at the same time as those people.

As a pastor, you have to decide whether to hang with your critics or hang with your encouragers. It is really not a tough decision!

Attitude is a matter of training - not trying.

Monday, December 04, 2006

attitude pt3- how you got that attitude

Ever consider how you got that attitude? How are our attitudes formed? Consider this:

1. What is in me determines what comes out of me.

"... Out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts of lust, theft, murder, adultery, wanting what belongs to others, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, pride, and all other folly. All these vile things come from within; they are what pollute you and make you unfit for God." Mark 7:20-23 TLB

Jesus is saying that our behavior, in this case very negative behavior, comes out of what is already in our heart. It works the same way with attitude. The outward attitude we display is only a reflection of what's already on the inside.

2. For the most part, I choose what goes in me.

I'm sure you've heard the one about the two guys who sat down to eat lunch. The first guy opened his lunch box, took out his sandwich and said, "I can't believe it! Baloney again. I hate baloney sandwiches. This is the fourth time this week I've had baloney. I can't stand baloney!"

The second guy said, "Well, why don't you say something to your wife?" The first man said, "What good will that do? I make my own lunch."

The truth is, that when it comes to attitude, we all make our own lunch. Most of the baloney in our lives we have put there ourselves. I choose the majority of what enters into and resides in my mind. And so do you.

To be fair, some "input" you can do nothing about - some of the people you work with or live with have so much junk on the inside of them that it eventually spews over onto everyone around them. And it takes a lot of work to keep it from dragging you down.

But what about the stuff we voluntarily invite into our minds? According to Jesus, they affect our entire life, including our attitude.

[Jesus said,] "The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness." Matthew 6:22-23 NIV

What did he mean by that? He meant that whatever we focus on and allow in will eventually fill us up.

3. I choose my attitude and am solely responsible for it.

If my attitude is positive, it is a direct reflection of the positive stuff in me that I chose to put in there. If it's negative, it's a direct reflection of negative stuff that I have allowed to enter into and take up residence in me.

That's why none of us can make excuses for our attitude. We chose it. I chose mine. You chose yours. No one else is responsible for the attitudes!

Today, you are responsible for your attitude. How is it?

Friday, December 01, 2006

attitude pt2 - attitude adjustment gauges

Vick's attitude
Attitude ... it's often the key difference between seeing life as terrible or wonderful. It's often the key factor in obtaining personal success. It's a little word that makes a big difference.

How would you describe your attitude these days? Good? Bad? Middle of the road?

How do you know which it is? I think there are many ways to gauge our attitude but probably the simplest is to say that our attitude can be measured by our response to challenging circumstances and/or people.

When life is going smoothly, almost everyone has a good attitude. Our disposition is pleasant. We smile, we're courteous, and we’re willing to go out of our way for others. But let the road get a little bumpy - let things go crazy on the job, let us be treated unfairly, let us be around others who have rotten attitudes - what are we like then? That's when our true attitude is revealed.

It's helpful to identify some gauges that warn you when your attitude is in need of adjustment. You need to have some sirens that go off in your head that say, "do something now, because if you don't your attitude is going in the tank.” If you ignore these warning, serious trouble is up ahead.

1. One warning sign that my attitude is in trouble is that little outbursts of temper increase.
2. Another trouble gauge is that interruptions produce irritation.
3. Gauge number three is that my emotions become overly sensitive.
4. A fourth gauge that my attitude is in danger is that defeatist thinking begins to dominate.
5. Finally, I know my attitude is headed south when my view of people begins to lower.

Well, those are five gauges of an attitude that is in need of adjustment.

I'm curious ... how many of the things on my list describe where you are today?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

attitude - how I react to what happens to me

Once upon a time, there was an old and very wise man. Every day he would sit outside a gas station in his rocking chair and wait to greet motorists as they passed through his small town. On one particular day his grandson knelt down at the foot of his chair and slowly passed the time with him.

As they sat and watched the people come and go, a man who surely had to be a tourist (since they knew everyone in town) began looking around as if he were checking out the area for a place to live.

The stranger walked up to the old man and asked, "So what kind of town is this that I'm in?" The man replied, "Well, what kind of town are you from?"

The tourist said, "Well, in the town where I'm from everyone is very critical of each other. The neighbors all gossip about everyone, and it's a really negative place to live. I'm sure glad to be leaving. It is not a very cheerful place."

The old man in the chair looked at the stranger and said, "You know, that's just how this town is."

An hour or so later, a family that was also passing through stopped for gas. The mother jumped out with two small children and went into the restroom. The father also got out of the car and, he too, struck up a conversation with the old man. "So," he asked, "Is this town a pretty good place to live?"

The old man in the chair replied, "Tell me about the town you're from. How is it?"

The father looked at him and said, "Well, in the town we're from everyone is very close and always willing to lend their neighbor a helping hand. There's always a hello and thank you everywhere you go. I really hate to leave. It's almost like we are leaving family."

The older man gave him a warm smile. "You know, that's a lot like this town." Then the family returned to the car, waved goodbye and drove away.

After the car disappeared in the distance, the young boy looked up at his grandfather and asked, "Grandpa, how come when the first man came into our town you told him it was a terrible place to live, but when the family came into town you told them it was a wonderful place to live?"

The grandfather looked down at his grandson and said, "Because, sonny, no matter where you move, you take your attitude with you - and that's what makes it terrible or wonderful."

"The longer I live," writes Chuck Swindoll, "the more I realize the impact of attitude on [all of] life. Attitude", he says, "is more important than fact, it is more important that the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, that failures, than successes, than what other people think, say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company, a church or a home." And then he concludes, "I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it."

How's your attitude today? I will discuss this in the next few blogs--

Monday, November 27, 2006

Things that trouble God and me-

Ever wonder what ticks God off? Would He be?

Well He gives us an insight in Prov 6:16-19 (THE MESSAGE):
16 Here are six things GOD hates, and one more that he loathes with a passion:
17 eyes that are arrogant, a tongue that lies, hands that murder the innocent,
18 a heart that hatches evil plots, feet that race down a wicked track,
19 a mouth that lies under oath, a troublemaker in the family (a person who sows discord among the brothers NLT).

I would like to add to the list above some of my ponderings and dislikes(ok, maybe hates):

1. When the pastor has a guest speaker, people seem to take that to mean that they can stay home.
2. When the pastor is gone out of town for a Sunday, people use that as a sign that they can miss that Sunday too or better yet visit another church (go figure).
3. How could someone spend the church’s limited benevolence gift to pay their cable TV bill?
4. Churches that schedule and announce a guest speaker that only Christians would know for a Sunday morning and say they are not trying to draw people away from other churches.
5. Churches that have no ‘outreach’ but only ‘in reach’ to other churches to take their members.
6. Churches that are described as ‘fastest growing’ and all they are doing is sucking the members out of other churches to fill theirs and are not making new converts.
7. Number of church splits that happen because “God told me too.”
8. I think God hates many of the things that are attributed to Him that are not His doing but just stinking thinking, wrong actions, poor choices, evil desires or corrupt authority.
9. People who tell you they love you and are gone the next week without so much as a goodbye.
10. Just because a man is successful in the world and makes money he thinks he is qualified to run the church of God.
11. Christians who deceive the pastor.
12. Christians who hurt the pastor’s family.
13. Apostles, evangelists, prophets, and teachers who are not even though their card or ad in Charisma or other promo says they are.
14. Pastors who arrogantly think it is all about them when it is not.
15. Pastors (TV preachers too) displaying inordinate wealth and fleecing the sheep.
16. Pastors who are not available for the sheep. Why pastor?

Whoa, this has gotten entirely too long, I think I need therapy!

What would you like to add to the list? Do so in the comments.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

animals in the womb-

"A dolphin swimming in the womb, just as it will have to swim in the ocean the moment it is born. An unborn elephant, tiny but perfect in every way. Each one amazing and now, thanks to these remarkable pictures, they can be seen for the first time."

If it looks like a dolphin it is a dolphin, if it looks like an elephant it is an elephant...if it looks like a human baby it is a fetus...

Since these pictures show remarkable development in the womb and we can identify them as animals and approaching life, should we then reconsider the practice of discarding unborn human babies? Shouldn't we give them the same respect and awe as these animals pics are eliciting?

Hope these precious animals weren't aborted soon after the pictures were made.

Just a thought.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

A 'Thank You' note from Ted Haggard

Eddie and Alice, please tell your list "thank you" for praying for Gayle and me, and our family. We desperately need prayer. Our hope and prayer is that this horrible situation, which was created by my awful sinfulness, will demonstrate to everyone how God can take a wicked man like me, turn my ashes into hope, and put some flesh and life onto these dried bones.

I, the greatest of sinners, pray that my story will provide more living proof of how Jesus' redemptive and transforming power, works together through the Church and the Word of God to bring restoration. Even with all of this, I believe that in Him there is a tomorrow.

Jack Hayford is the point person leading my restoration to Christian living. Please pray for him as well.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving,

Ted Haggard
"We are Easter People"
From email I received sent to Prayer Partners by Eddie and Alice Smith from US Prayer Center.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

You Burnt the Bird?

You Burnt the Bird?
A Dozen Reasons to Be Thankful!

Salmonella won't be a concern
No one will overeat.
Everyone will think its Cajun Blackened.
Uninvited guests will think twice next year.
Your cheese broccoli lima bean casserole will gain newly found appreciation.
Pets won't pester you for scraps.
The smoke alarm was due for a test.
Carving the bird will provide a good cardiovascular workout.
After dinner, the guys can take the bird to the yard and play football.
The less turkey Uncle George eats, the less likely he will be to walk around with his pants unbuttoned.
You'll get to the desserts quicker.
You won't have to face three weeks of turkey sandwiches.

Mr. Bean cooking a turkey!

We are in Kansas City with our son Ryan and his lovely wife Charity. I picked up a bug of some sort so Jason and Debi did all the driving (Debi 6 1/2 hours- a God thing!) on Monday. We all have a lot to be thankful for. God Bless America and us all!
Have a great Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Monday, November 20, 2006

Proud Parents!

Ryan, Charity, Jason

Awesome Marriage Seminar this past weekend at Life Gate Church in El Paso. I also ministered in the morning service. Great time of preaching and ministry afterward. I prayed for people for over an hour!

Jason, Debi and I are heading to Kansas City to spend Thanksgiving with Ryan, Charity, and her family. We have great children and are very proud of them!

As parents we prayed continually for God's understanding on how to raise them, care for them, and see them grow into Godly men. We also prayed for their future wives! God has answered one of those prayers by giving Ryan a great wife in Charity (BTW, she was praying for her future in-laws and she got us, bless her heart!). We love her dearly as a daughter we never had! We are still praying along with Jason for his wife to be. She will be a great daughter too!

God has great plans for families which the enemy desires to destroy. We have to stand firm and pray for them continually!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Rekindle the Fire Weekend-

Deb and I will be heading to El Paso to do a marriage seminar for our friends Buster and Judy Russel at Life Gate Church.

We fly out this morning. We have a session at a restaurant tonight and 2 sessions on Saturday morning. I will preach for them on Sunday morning then fly back that afternoon.

Eph 5:25
Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church — a love marked by giving, not getting. THE MESSAGE

Eph 5:33
However, let each man of you [without exception] love his wife as [being in a sense] his very own self; and let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband [that she notices him, regards him, honors him, prefers him, venerates, and esteems him; and that she defers to him, praises him, and loves and admires him exceedingly]. AMP

Debi and I have been married for 35 years. We have learned some things along the way about maintaining a great positive, fun-filled relationship and how to keep the fire burning through the years.

2 Great books for every husband and wife:

For Women Only

For Men Only

I enjoy being the 'husband of one wife.' 1 Tim 3:2-3

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Oh, to see clearly-

God grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway, the good fortune to run into the ones that I do, and the eyesight to tell the difference.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

You Know You've Had Too Much Coffee When . . .

* You can type sixty words a minute with your feet.

* Instant coffee takes too long.

* You chew on other people's fingernails.

* You answer the door, before people knock.

* You sleep with your eyes open.

* You go to sleep, just so you can wake up and smell the coffee.

* You don't even wait for the water to boil anymore.

* You're the employee of the month at Starbucks - and you don't even
work there.

* You help your dog chase its tail.

* You lick your coffeepot clean.

* You go to AA meetings just for the free coffee.

* You're so wired you pick up FM radio.

* You have a picture of your coffee mug, on your coffee mug.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Why I Pick Up Coins-

You always hear the usual stories of pennies on the sidewalk being good luck, gifts from angels, etc. This is the first time I've ever heard this twist on the story. Gives you something to think about.

Several years ago, a friend of mine and her husband were invited to spend the weekend at the husband's employer's home. My friend, Arlene, was nervous about the weekend. The boss was very wealthy, with a fine home on the waterway, and cars costing more than her house.

The first day and evening went well, and Arlene was delighted to have this rare glimpse into how the very wealthy live. The husband's employer was quite generous as a host, and took them to the finest restaurants. Arlene knew she would never have the opportunity to indulge in this kind of extravagance again, so was enjoying herself immensely.

As the three of them were about to enter an exclusive restaurant that evening, the boss was walking slightly ahead of Arlene and her husband.

He stopped suddenly, looking down on the pavement for a long, silent moment. Arlene wondered if she was supposed to pass him. There was nothing on the ground except a single darkened penny that someone had dropped, and a few cigarette butts. Still silent, the man reached down and picked up the penny.

He held it up and smiled, then put it in his pocket as if he had found a great treasure. How absurd! What need did this man have for a single penny? Why would he even take the time to stop and pick it up?

Throughout dinner, the entire scene nagged at her. Finally, she could stand it no longer. She casually mentioned that her daughter once had a coin collection, and asked if the penny he had found had been of some value.

A smile crept across the man's face as he reached into his pocket for the penny and held it out for her to see. She had seen many pennies before! What was the point of this?

"Look at it." He said. "Read what it says." She read the words "United States of America". No, not that; read further. "One cent?" "No, keep reading." "In God we Trust?" "Yes!" "And if I trust in God, the name of God is holy, even on a coin. Whenever I find a coin I see that inscription. It is written on every single United States coin, but we never seem to notice it! God drops a message right in front of me telling me to trust Him? Who am I to pass it by? When I see a coin, I pray, I stop to see if my trust IS in God at that moment. I pick the coin up as a response to God; that I do trust in Him. For a short time, at least, I cherish it as if it were gold. I think it is God's way of starting a conversation with me. Lucky for me, God is patient and pennies are plentiful!

When I was out shopping today, I found a penny on the sidewalk. I stopped and picked it up, and realized that I had been worrying and fretting in my mind about things I cannot change. I read the words, "In God We Trust," and had to laugh. Yes, God, I get the message.

It seems that I have been finding an inordinate number of pennies in the last few months, but then, pennies are plentiful! And, God is patient...

Saturday, November 11, 2006

a New Staff Member?

A little light hearted fun today-

What do you think of this possible choice as a new addition to our Staff. Do you know who this is? Answer below the picture (spelled backwards).


Have you thought about this?.....

Don't let your worries get the best of you. Remember, Moses started out as a basket case.

Some people are kind, polite, and sweet-spirited - until you try to sit in their pews.

Many folks want to serve God, but only as advisers.

The good Lord didn't create anything without a purpose, but mosquitoes and sand gnats come close.

When you get to your wit's end, you'll find God lives there.

If the church wants a better pastor, it only needs to pray for the one it has.

God Himself does not propose to judge a man until he is dead. So why should you?

Some minds are like concrete, thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.

I don't know why some people change churches; what difference does it make which one you stay home from?

God loves everyone, but probably prefers fruits of the spirit over religious nuts!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

A Neuroscientific Look at Speaking in Tongues

click to enlarge

"The passionate, sometimes rhythmic, language-like patter that pours forth from religious people who “speak in tongues” reflects a state of mental possession, many of them say. Now they have some neuroscience to back them up."

Got your attention? This is an amazing article on a scientific study on speaking in tongues. Here are some quotes from it:

"Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania took brain images of five women while they spoke in tongues and found that their frontal lobes — the thinking, willful part of the brain through which people control what they do — were relatively quiet, as were the language centers."

“The amazing thing was how the images supported people’s interpretation of what was happening,” said Dr. Andrew B. Newberg, leader of the study team, which included Donna Morgan, Nancy Wintering and Mark Waldman. “The way they describe it, and what they believe, is that God is talking through them,” he said."

"Ms. Morgan, a co-author of the study, was also a research subject. She is a born-again Christian who says she considers the ability to speak in tongues a gift. “You’re aware of your surroundings,” she said. “You’re not really out of control. But you have no control over what’s happening. You’re just flowing. You’re in a realm of peace and comfort, and it’s a fantastic feeling.”

"Contrary to what may be a common perception, studies suggest that people who speak in tongues rarely suffer from mental problems. A recent study of nearly 1,000 evangelical Christians in England found that those who engaged in the practice were more emotionally stable than those who did not."

1 Cor 14:18
I'm grateful to God for the gift of praying in tongues that he gives us for praising him, which leads to wonderful intimacies we enjoy with him. I enter into this as much or more than any of you. THE MESSAGE

Looks like science is once again confirming God's Word! Imagine that!!!

Here is the link to entire article.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Humility Linked to Success

Prov 11:2-3
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity. NIV

Name recognition is the goal of every politician this election season ? marketing yourself and your achievements in a positive, assertive way is how you succeed in life, right? Not necessarily, according to a study by Baylor University in Texas.

"If you are humbled by something, some would think you would get depressed and question your self-worth. But our findings indicate that humility is a positive quality associated with self-esteem, well-being and even performance benefits," said Dr. Wade Rowatt, head of the team that studied 200 college students.

Athletes, in particular, were researched. Nearly every top athlete in every sport was associated with humility, according to Rowatt. Those traits may influence things such as the way they prepare for a game to how they respect their opponents.

In another study, Rowatt examined whether humility is associated with higher academic performance. The preliminary findings indicated that college students who showed more humble traits got higher grades than those who were arrogant and narcissistic, reports NewsWise.

Rowatt defines humility as a psychological quality characterized by being more modest, down-to-earth, and respectful, rather than arrogant, immodest, or egotistical. This conception of humility implies that one acknowledges mistakes, realizes limits, avoids bragging, and is respectful of others."

Humility is living in the truth about ourselves… and the truth is I am not God, I’m not the center, I have needs, I have things I can’t control, I am dependant on God. That’s humility.

1 Peter 5:5 In fact, everyone should be humble toward everyone else. The Scriptures say, "God opposes proud people, but he helps everyone who is humble." CEV

Monday, November 06, 2006

Secret Chambers of our Minds!

Gal 6:1 Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day's out. THE MESSAGE

I don’t want to pontificate in this blog. As the scripture says above I might be needing forgiveness before the day's out. However, my heart is broken and hurting for my friend Ted Haggard and his lovely wife Gayle. He spoke to Liberty Fellowship at our summer family conference a few years back. He is one of the Pastors that I admired most. I wept and now I am praying for them.

That is the source of my sorrow and yet a lesson.

Ted Haggard said in a letter read to the congregation on Sunday the following: (click Here is Gayle's letter)

I am a deceiver and a liar. There is a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I’ve been warring against it all of my adult life. For extended periods of time, I would enjoy victory and rejoice in freedom. Then, from time to time, the dirt that I thought was gone would resurface, and I would find myself thinking thoughts and experiencing desires that were contrary to everything I believe and teach.

The public person I was wasn’t a lie; it was just incomplete. When I stopped communicating about my problems, the darkness increased and finally dominated me. As a result, I did things that were contrary to everything I believe.

He was battling images and thoughts in his mind. They were his secret thoughts and images that no one but he and God could see. There is an example of leaders in the Bible fighting those similar thoughts and images in their own minds:

Ezek 8:10-12
10 So I went in. The walls were covered with pictures of all kinds of snakes, lizards, and hideous creatures, besides all the various idols worshiped by the people of Israel.
11 Seventy elders of Israel were standing there along with Ja-azaniah (son of Shaphan) worshiping the pictures. Each of them held a censer of burning incense, so there was a thick cloud of smoke above their heads.
12 Then the Lord said to me: "Son of dust, have you seen what the elders of Israel are doing in their minds? For they say, 'The Lord doesn't see us; he has gone away!'" TLB

We’re to control every thought and image that we have or else it will become the trap that will lead to our own personal fall. Sin is conceived in the mind and has a corresponding action.

Pastor friends, we have to get rid of the secret chambers of our minds. If not, they will be tragically revealed.

Special Note: I follow the 'Out of Ur' blog (see sidebar) and here is an article by Gordon MacDonald on Ted Haggard issues. Click Here

Friday, November 03, 2006

Treasure Island Revisited!

AHOY MATES!!! Captain Dave Sparrow and his misses here...

We had a grand time this past Tuesday Night (yes halloween night) as we treated our kids and the neighborhood kids to a wonderful time of candy, fun, cake walks, painted faces, and giant turkey legs!

The theme was Treasure Island and there were plenty of pirates on hand, both children and adults. In fact Captain Dave Sparrow showed up in the services last Sunday eating a turkey leg and encouraging the children to come to the event. Enjoy some pics below:

This was a great outreach for the church and many from the neighborhood joined in the festive activities.

Thank you Saints at The Vine for making this happen!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Pastors, serve with all your heart!

With our Volunteer Appreciation Banquet a great success- the cards and comments continue. Here is what one couple wrote:

To all the Staff and Advisory Team,
Words cannot express what a wonderful time we had at the Volunteer Appreciation Dinner Sunday evening! The atmosphere, decorations and service was outstanding and the food, was “classic Robyn!” Just delicious!

It’s true that you never see the numbers of willing workers that we have at the Vine, But I think that last night just gave us the answer to why we do serve. When the leadership, from the Pastor right on through, is such a true “servant” of God, we, the body cannot help but learn by example.

It’s said that we retain some 80% of what we see and only 5% or so of what we hear. Maybe the key is what we see day in and day out! We love you all and thank you so very much.

Ed and Pat

Key to great pastoring is leading by example! Jesus did- we as pastors can do no less!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Cannonball Baptism!

Now this is one brave boy and a very composed pastor!

Volunteer Appreciation Sunday!

We have a great number of people that serve at the Vine. I am sure that you have heard the 20/80 rule. 20% of the people doing all the work. Well, we were pleased to note that our numbers are more 50/50! So, how do you show appreciation for that special group?

Sunday night we held a dinner in their honor. The staff and leadership team planned, setup, greeted, served and cleaned up for them. You know what we found? It was hard for some of our volunteers to sit there and do nothing! They couldn't stand seeing us doing it all.

We also produced a great video about what a Sunday at the Vine would look like without the volunteers. It had its special debut at the dinner for the volunteers. It is hilarious! Click here to view it. (38.8mb, 6:54 min) Or you can view it on YouTube.

Here's the staff and leadership ready to serve:

The event happening:

click on pic to enlarge

And the cleanup:

It is with joyful and sincere hearts that we thank all the volunteers that make great things happen at the Vine! The staff and leadership team love you.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Father - Son Paintball -- ouch!

This past Saturday we had our Father-Son Paintball outing. It was a perfect day for it and we were on the course from 11 AM until 3 PM. We shot a lot of paintballs and each other of course.

We played as private teams on a number of courses at Hit and Run. Dodge 'em City is my all time favorite as well as capture The Fort.

We have some awesome players that know how to maneuver and move in for the kill shot. I have my fare share of welts to prove it as well as contributed to others having welts also. We all wore our welts and bruises as badges of honor!

Playing together teaches the importance of team play, having a plan, and executing that plan.

We all agreed that Hollywood is not true to life in its showing of someone dodging a hail of bullets. In paintball you are facing a barrage of paintballs travelling at 280 feet per second (fps). This is roughly equivalent to 300 kilometers per hour (185mph). You are going to get hit!

In spite of getting hit, it is fun! We will be doing it again!!!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

A Matter of Maintaining Integrity-

I recently ministered on the subject of Integrity. It was somewhat in response to a previous post entitled 'Another Black Eye!'

As Pastors the most important character quality we have is our integrity and trust. We lose that, and we lose. Old saying, 'after you have lost honor, what is left?' Obviously nothing!

In my preparation I ran across a quote by Robin Williams who had committed himself into an alcohol treatment center after being on a private drinking binge of three years. He thought he could stop but found out he couldn't do it alone.

This is what he said,

'I was violating my standards faster than I could lower them.'

We need to make sure that we don't allow anything to begin to erode away our integrity or cause us to lower our standards. When we lose them, we have lost all!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Malignant Narcissist- Rules Don't Apply!

Nancy Grace, on a news program was highlighting the "Foley Scandal" on Capital Hill, where a Florida Republican, that was involved in legislation to protect our teens from internet predators was in fact sending sexual messages to the teen Congressional Pages in Washington DC.

She used a term that describes that situation and others like it- "Malignant Narcissist". It's described as a person usually in a high office or public eye that has gained power over people or that people look up to, who has such a high opinion of himself that he feels he is "above" having to live by even the rules and regulations that he may even expect others to live by.

That is how they end up getting caught and exposing themselves, because they are so conceited (full of themselves) that they can't even believe that they have done anything wrong. They will do anything to deny and try to prove their innocence, REALLY believing that they have done NOTHING wrong!!

This term is not just about misconduct among politicians but can be used to describe how a husband treats his wife and family; or an employer his employees, or how about a Pastor with his congregation.

We all are in peril of thinking the rules don't apply to us; that we are somehow exempt from them and 'above' them.

The remedy: live the crucified life and walk in humility!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Pastor Appreciation Blessing!

The Pastoral Staff were blessed yesterday by beautiful baskets full of cards of appreciation and many gift certificates! I responded on behalf of the staff that the saints at the Vine make our job a delight! We serve the best congregation in the world.

To Pastor and His Wife
Your LOVE for the Lord,
DEDICATION to His church,
and COMMITMENT to each other
are beautiful in God's eyes--
and they are BLESSINGS to so many.

You are APPRECIATED for the work
you do and the EXAMPLES you are.

Joyfully thanking God
for both of you.

Friday, October 20, 2006

The 48.8 Million-dollar Elbow

I am sure by now you have heard of the elbow through the Picasso 'Le Reve' (The Dream).

Steve and Elaine Wynn were in a very good mood because he had just sold the Picasso for $139 million. He was showing the painting to some friends when the accident happened. He raised his hand to show them something about the painting -- and at that moment, his elbow crashed backwards right through the canvas. There was a terrible noise.

Wynn stepped away from the painting, and there, smack in the middle of Marie-Therese Walter's plump forearm, was a black hole the size of a silver dollar - or, to be more exactly, the size of the tip of Steve Wynn's elbow -- with two three-inch long rips coming off it in either direction. Steve Wynn has retinitis pigmentosa, an eye disease that damages peripheral vision, but he could see quite clearly what had happened.

"Oh _," he said. "Look what I've done."

The guests were speechless.

"Thank God it was me," he said.

For sure.

The word "money" was mentioned by someone, or perhaps it was the word "deal." The deal was off obviously.

Wynn said: "This has nothing to do with money. The money means nothing to me. It's that I had this painting in my care and I've damaged it."

The painting wound up in the hands of an art restorer, who has told Wynn that when he’s done with it, in six or eight weeks, you won’t be able to tell that Wynn’s elbow had passed through Marie-Thérèse Walter’s left forearm.

One Friday morning weeks after the accident, when Wynn’s alarm went off, at 7 A.M., his wife turned to him in bed and said, “I consider this whole thing to be a sign of fate. Please don’t sell the picture.” Later that morning, Wynn called and told the purchaser he wanted to keep the painting, after all.

So have I become an art collector extrodinaire; one who is well acquainted with the world of art and have many originals hanging in my modest home? No not at all. So what is the point?

The point is as Pastors, parents, and leaders we have something very precious in our care- it may be our children, or God's children. God forbid that we would damage what we have in our care! Some may be irrepairable!

1 Cor 8:9 Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. NIV
The reason for not showing the photo is because of the interpretation that some apply to it. I do not want to offend so that you miss the point of my post!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Do Barbers Exist?

A Christian went to his favorite barber shop for his weekly hair-cut and beard trimming. In the course of their conversation, they touched upon the subject of God.

The barber said: "Look man, I don't think that God exists as you believe."

"Why do you think that?" asked the Christian.

"Well, it's so easy; you only have to go out in the street to realize that God does not exist. If God existed, would there be so many sick people? Would there be abused or crippled children? If God existed, there would be no suffering or pain. Would there be murder or even war? I can not imagine a loving God who would permit ANY of these things."

The Christian didn't want to enter into an argument and could think of no immediate response to the barber's logic. The barber finished his job and the Christian fellow left the shop. The moment he stepped out the door he saw a man sitting on the curb whose long hair and beard were in need of a barber's attention (It looked so long, dirty and untidy).

The Christian turned and reentered the barber shop and said to the barber: "You know what? Barbers absolutely do not exist!"

"How can you say that barbers do not exist?" exclaimed the barber. "Well, I'm here and I'm a barber. I just cut your hair!!!"

"No!" the Christian exclaimed. "Barbers do not exist; because if they did exist, there would be no people with long hair and stringy beard like that man out there in the street, sitting on the curb."

"Oh, barbers do indeed exist! What happens is that people first have to come to me. They seek me out and find me!"

"You are exactly right!"- affirmed the Christian. "That's exactly the point. God does exist, what happens is people don't go to Him and do not look for Him. That's why there's so much pain and suffering in the world."

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Snorkel and Scuba Excursions-

click pic for larger view

Debi and I enjoyed some off ship excursions while on the Liberty Fellowship Leadership Cruise last week. Above are pics from a Catamaran Sail and Snorkel plus Beach Party we went on. Do you see us looking at you with the fish around us?

The next day I went for my first ever Scuba Dive. It was beyond my expectations. We stayed down, as under the water on life support system, for 45 minutes. A little panic for a few brief seconds as we went under by yours truly when I realized we wouldn't be coming back up to 'real air' for awhile. But it passed as quickly as it came and I was off swimming like a fish, well, sort of.

Debi was off shopping in Playa Del Carmen while I was under water. We both survived!

Again, we had a great time and are looking for friends who would like to go with us again. How about you?

Monday, October 16, 2006

What a Great Cruise!

I am hooked! Wow, what a great time we all had on the Liberty Fellowship Leadership Cruise.

The accommodations were great and the food- I came home packing a few inches. Besides the gourmet meals in the dining room, the other buffets and a special all Chocolate Lunch Buffet were tops on our list. And I was able to get a slice of anchovy pizza- yum!

The fellowship was great- it was nice to be able to share the enthusiasm of the trip with friends. That was what made the trip special.

Also, we had devotions with all the Liberty Fellowship attendees each morning. Bill Stamp, Mike Collins, and Jim Darnell led those and Danny Tice and I shared in the evenings on Leadership. In fact, we had people join us who heard there were gospel meetings taking place on the ship!

Special thanks to Ruthie from Cruise Away Travel Agency for coordinating this wonderful cruise. She and her agency did a fantastic job!

It was great and we definitely plan on doing it again in the future.

Now back to earth and reality- sigh!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Heading out to Sea!

click pic for larger image

Ever been on a cruise? Debi and I haven't, but this Monday, Oct. 9th we head out to sea for a 5 day cruise. We are attending the Liberty Fellowship Leadership Cruise. We are sailing on Carnival's Holiday ship, stopping in Cozumel and Calica/Playa del Carmen.

We are excited as we will be joining friends from Liberty Fellowship as well as some our own church people will be traveling with us. It will be a time of fun and relaxation.

My good friend Danny Tice and I will share the teaching time onboard. Of course, we will be teaching on Leadership.

I will give you an update with pics when we return.

Wish us well and God speed!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Must Still Seek Him

I met God in the morning
When the day was at its best
And His PRESENCE came like sunrise,
Like a glory within my breast.

All day long, His PRESENCE lingered.
All day long, He stayed with me!
And we sailed in perfect calmness
Over a very troubled sea.

Other ships were torn and battered.
Other ships were sore distressed.
But the wind that seemed to drive them
Brought to us a peace and rest!

Then I thought of other mornings,
With a keen remorse of mind,
When I, too, had loosed the moorings
With the Presence left behind.

So I think I know the secret,
Learned from many a troubled way;
You must seek Him in the morning
If you want Him through the day.”
Ralph Cushman