Friday, August 31, 2007

Selfishness is Hell!

A pastor was having a conversation with the Lord one day and said, 'Lord, I would like to know what Heaven and Hell are like.' The Lord led the pastor to two doors. He opened one of the doors and the pastor looked in.

In the middle of the room was a large round table. In the middle of the table was a large pot of stew which smelled delicious and made the pastor's mouth water. The people sitting around the table were thin and sickly They appeared to be famished. They were holding spoons with very long handles that were strapped to their arms and each found it possible to reach into the pot of stew and take a spoonful, but because the handle was longer than their arms, they could not get the spoons back into their mouths. The pastor shuddered at the sight of their misery and suffering.

The Lord said, 'You have seen Hell.'

They went to the next room and opened the door. It was exactly the same as the first one. There was the large round table with the large pot of stew which made the pastor's mouth water. The people were equipped with the same long-handled spoons, but here the people were well nourished and plump, laughing and talking.

The pastor said, 'I don't understand.'

It is simple' said the Lord, 'it requires but one skill. You see, they have learned to feed each other, while the greedy think only of themselves.'

Php 2:4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. NIV

Php 2:4 Don't be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. TMB

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Buy a New Computer???

My kind of computer!!!!! A coffee lovers delight---

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Pastor, Do You Know Where Your Church Is?

Dr. Richard Halverson, formerly the chaplain of the United States Senate, had just finished speaking in a seminary chapel service, when he was asked by some students, 'Where is your church?' Dr. Halverson looked quite perplexed and hesitated to answer. Then he glanced at his watch.

'Well, it’s three o’clock in Washington, D.C. The church where I preach is all over the city. It’s driving buses, serving meals in restaurants, having discussions in the Pentagon, deliberating in the Congress.' He knew exactly where his church was, and he went on and on with his lengthy listing. Then he added, 'Periodically, we get together at a building on Fourth Street, but we don’t spend much time there. We’re mostly in the city.'

I know where our church is-- this past Friday night the people of Vine Fellowship were reaching out to the youth of Arlington with a 'Back To School Bash.' There was a little of everything: skateboarding, obstacle course, volleyball, basketball, remote broadcast from 89.7 Power FM radio station, bands "Five Talents More" and "Strike Four," and plenty of food. There were drawings for free giveaways such as skateboards and even an iPod!

Pastors, do you know where your church is and what they are doing? If you are spending more of your time trying to get people to come to a building rather than trying to empty the building out to the world - you are missing it!

You are terribly missing it and souls are hanging in the balance.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Deconstruct & Reconstruct??????

The emerging church influence..........

Friday, August 24, 2007

My Love of Photography-

I started being a photographer in high school as a yearbook photographer. I loved it immensely. I was hooked. I built a darkroom in my parent's basement and thus began my journey with the world of creativity. My talents followed me where ever I went.

I went in to Tech Studio while a student at Va. Tech in Blacksburg, VA. I showed the owner (Paul Jewell) my portfolio of work and he hired me on the spot. Thus began my professional association with photography. After working there for awhile I applied for a staff photographer position at Va. Tech. It was a State job and I was hired for it. Loved it! A self taught young man accepted in some great jobs!

My equipment was Nikon. I still have a 35mm (that's right film?) Nikon F2 and a Nikon FE. I have 50mm normal lens, 55mm micro lens, 24mm wide angle, 105mm (all Nikon) and 28-90mm and 75-205mm Vivitar lenses. Sunpack Auto 522 flash unit. Light meter, flash meter, and various other items make up that equipment list.

I am now using a Nikon D50 Digital camera with 18-55mm Nikon lens and 70-300mm Nikon lens. I use the Nikon SB-800 flash with various Gary Fong accessories for it.

Needless to say I still enjoy photography. I have decided to share some of my pics with you from time to time. Trust that you will enjoy them. Here is my first:

I was looking out my kitchen sink window when I saw a hummingbird fly to our cannas. He drank and sped off. I remember someone had given us a hummingbird feeder but we never put it up. I rushed and got it, filled it, and hung it near the cannas. The next day something caught my eye and the hummingbird was drinking from the feeder. I rushed for my camera and from inside my house, through the window, caught this picture. I had just enough time to snap 2 pics before he sped off.

I love God's creation!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Where Do They Go When They Hurt?

More from Free 'Back to School' Backpacks

I heard blind Christian composer, singer, performer Ken Medema (click here and here) say one time 'that Jesus was a lover of losers.' That was early on in my Christian experience.

That has shaped my ethos, my world view as a Christian. Jesus was out among the people. He was there for them- saving, healing, feeding, touching, loving, crying, laughing! That comprised His definition of ministry. Sometimes that is so far from the reality of the Church's ministry.

These are more pics from our backpack giveaway. Please notice the Vine saints praying for Bobby (the lady in the wheelchair). The outreach was held on Saturday and that was her and her family's first introduction to us.

On Monday Bobby had a seizure, died, and was resuscitated by the paramedics. They were unchurched and where do unchurched people go for help? Guess who they called for prayer and support? That's right, they called us. Why, because we were the only 'Jesus ' they knew!

Missional - buzz word of the Church today (Oxford English Dictionary says the word has been around for almost 100 years). Actually it is the Church recapturing the life of Jesus and His ministry.

church focus - self-centered or other's centered?

Help us Lord to weigh our programs, finances, and ministry in the light of eternity and souls.

Let's get back to loving the losers and making them winners through Christ!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Free 'Back to School' Backpacks-

Our friend Steve gave us the idea for this outreach to our community. (Thanks Steve)! Churches are all the time trying to get people to come to them, but we like going to them! Kinda a Jesus thing.....

So Saturday morning we headed out to a local park and began to set up for the free giveaway of backpacks loaded with school supplies. We had put out door hangers 2 weeks prior and the Vine body had been buying supplies and putting them in the backpacks we supplied them and returning them to the church.

The event began at 11:30am and people started arriving at 10am as we were setting up the bounce houses, water, Popsicles, face painting tables, registration, etc. Amazingly, they stood and sat patiently for over an hour as things fell into place. We started passing out backpacks at 11:15am.

We were touched as kids opened the backpacks there and shrieked with delight as they took out each item in the bag. You would have thought it was Christmas morning!

The hardest thing of the afternoon was to turn away those that arrived after we had depleted our supply. That will not happen next year- we will have more than enough!!

Thank you Brooke and her fantastic team! Ministry well performed!

It is great to be home and we had awesome services yesterday. Did I mention how much I love this church?

Friday, August 17, 2007

Who Said This? And When?

We have given the new generation:

Religion without conviction
Science without conscience
Kinsey without marriage
Excitement without achievement
Security without effort
Knowledge without wisdom
Nightmares instead of dreams
Techniques without principles
Precepts without examples
Freedom without responsibility
The present without promise
The future without fruition
Marching orders without marching songs
Education without motivation
Prosperity without peace
War without reason
Art without beauty
Brotherhood without Godhood
Songs without souls
Enterprise without enthusiasm
Fission without feeling
Fusions without faith

This was taken from a Fred Smith speech memo dated 03-03-54. Fred muses about the challenging condition of his world and lists some disturbing contributions of his generation. As generally true of Fred's material, it is both timely and timeless.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Absurdity #29 - Minister In Skirt Charged With Indecent Exposure

absurd-ridiculously unreasonable, unsound, or incongruous

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. -- A Baptist minister has been charged in Tennessee with indecent exposure and driving under the influence.
Police said 58-year-old Tommy Tester of Bristol, Va., was wearing a skirt when he was arrested last week.

A report also accuses Tester of offering police officers sex and says an open bottle of vodka and empty oxycodone prescription bottle was found in his car when Tester was arrested Friday.

Authorities identified Tester as the minister of Gospel Baptist Church in Bristol and an employee of Christian radio station WZAP-AM, also in Bristol. WZAP issued a statement asking for prayers and saying Tester has been suspended during an investigation.

Tester was released Friday on $1,000 bail. A hearing is scheduled for October. Read more here.

Luke 12:2-3 There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs. (NIV)

Problems do get shouted from the housetops (papers and TV's)!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Well, vacation ends today and we are heading back to Arlington. It has been a time of relaxation, games, good food, weight gain, a few friends, and spending time with my great family.

Why do I take a vacation?

"There's always more to do than time allows. Pastors are never done."

"Crammed calendars, hectic homes, splintered dreams, starved intimacy and shriveled purpose." "If the pastor's family suffers, the entire church suffers."

So...... ministry- here I come!

I might consider this in the future as everyone is going to this:


Friday, August 10, 2007

If I were the Devil…this is how I would attack pastors...

Well, the Fish House was a hit with the family. We started with the Calamari with spicy Thai sauce and California Sushi Roll, salads, then the Girts a Ya Ya, and one dish of grilled Tilapia. Having had the Shrimp and Grits at Crooke's Corner (supposedly where this all started) and now the Fish House, the Fish House was the favorite!

part 3

If I were the devil, when these pastors decided to actually share the gospel, I’d have them preach a message that sounds like the gospel but is really no gospel at all. I’d get them to make the sinner "say a prayer" whether he truly understands and embraces the gospel or not. I’d have them challenge those who are unregenerate in their audiences to commit totally, try harder, submit fully, and surrender all. I’d get them to preach anything and everything but faith alone in Christ alone for the salvation of their souls. I’d empty a great word like "repent" of its true meaning and fill it with the filthy rags of good deeds cloaked as the gospel of grace. I’d deceive them into evangelizing with a self-centered gospel that focuses more on what the sinner does than on what Christ has done.

If I were the devil I’d get pastors to tolerate youth leaders who teach more devotionally and less theologically. I’d convince them that it was okay if their teens weren’t learning theology and how relevant it was to the everyday life of the average teenager. I’d challenge them to encourage their youth leaders to give safe talks about safe things, things that teenagers related to, enjoyed and understood. I’d encourage them to avoid complex theology like the Trinity, the inerrancy of Scripture, justification by faith and the like so that they "don’t lose" their teenagers. Instead I’d motivate them to embrace youth leaders who serve McNuggets of truth, deep fried in fun and dipped in sweet sauce so that their kids don’t get bored and their parents (aka “tithers”) don’t get mad and leave the church.

If I were the devil I’d get good churches to do lots of good things. I’d get them to build houses for the needy, give food to the poor and reach out to the hurting. I’d encourage them to do all of these things in the name of Jesus but without ever actually sharing the gospel message to those they serve. I’d motivate them to "hack at the leaves of evil" and feel good about it, not letting them realize that they have left “the root of evil” intact. I’d convince these pastors to convince their churches that preaching the gospel was action and service alone. I’d paint a picture of Jesus that only served the poor’s physical needs and leave out his drive to fulfill their deeper, bigger, spiritual needs. If these pastors insisted on preaching the gospel I’d get them to focus only on the proclamation of the message and convince them that serving the hurting in their community was not important at all.

If I were the devil I’d attack the writer of these words with his own inadequacies. I’d remind him of every time he has messed up and failed. I’d show him his own hypocrisy. I’d convince him that he had no right to write such judgmental words. I’d challenge him to take the kinder, gentler course of typing safe, funny things. If that didn’t work I’d convince him that he is somehow better than any struggling pastor.

But I’m not the devil. Satan is. And he doesn’t need any help. He is already doing a very good job at attacking pastors. Don’t you think?

If you were the devil how would you attack pastors?

*After writing much of this article I realized that Paul Harvey wrote his own version of "If I were the Devil" long before I wrote this one. Shout out to Mr. Harvey. Good day! this entire article written by Greg Stier

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

If I were the Devil…this is how I would attack pastors...

Vacation is great- love the beach, the rest, world's best wife, Debi, and most awesome kids, Ryan, his wife Charity, and Jason! Life is good and the devil is defeated! Also, thanks for yesterday's comments.

part 2

If I were the devil I’d convince pastors that they didn’t need accountability from their closest friends inside the church. I’d persuade them that they needed to keep up the facade and not fess up to their inner struggles. I’d convince them to avoid baring their deepest spiritual battles, hurts and sins to a close, godly friend whom they trust. I’d use scare tactics to accomplish this. Things like, “If word leaked out of your personal struggles you could lose face, influence and, maybe even, your job.” I’d get them to have close friends but not too close. I’d have them buy off on the age-old lie that a pastor cannot have a best friend in their own church. In doing this I’d be helping them to perpetuate a dual life, the fake life they proclaim truth from behind the pulpit and the real life they live when nobody else is watching, listening or applauding. The hypocrisy would make me smile.

If I were the devil I’d convince pastors that they had to do everything. I’d challenge them to lead all the meetings, do all the counseling, oversee all the marrying, do all the burying, to be involved in all the everything of the church. I’d remind them that the former pastor of their church did all these same things. I’d coerce him through the expectations of the old guard in his congregation. I would do everything in my power to get these pastors to avoid Ephesians 4 verses 11 and 12. The last thing I would want them to realize and embrace is that their primary responsibility is to equip God’s people to do the work of the ministry. If they were to read and apply these dangerous verses they could lose their inner sense of self-importance and probably gain ten, twenty or maybe fifty times their spiritual impact on the congregation. That would make me mad if I were the devil.

If I were the devil I’d undermine the typical pastor’s confidence in the Word of God. I’d get them to believe the lie that something so ancient could never truly change a tech savvy generation that is so sophisticated. I’d do this by raising up an army of brilliant philosopher "theologians" who would slowly and subtly undermine the faith of these pastors in the reliability and relevance of Scripture. I’d use these theosophers to communicate fine sounding arguments through cool conversations, hip books and brilliant blogs. I’d use all these tools and more to create doubt about the truth of God’s infallible Word, the relevancy of truth and the power of the message of the cross. Oftentimes I would come at these pastors sideways through another pastor or the youth leader on staff to make pastors feel like they're preaching an obsolete message to a too-cool-for-school crowd. I’d go beyond getting them to change their methods of communication, I’d convince them that the Scriptures, the gospel and the truth is powerless to deeply and wholly transform a soul. I’d use the vast intellect of my blogging pawns to create anger, confusion, discouragement or distraction in the minds of ministry leaders. I’d unleash a new brand of repackaged gnostic pietism on the body of Christ and label it relevant.

If I were the devil I’d convince pastors not to preach the gospel weekly. I’d try to persuade them that the service schedule was too packed with music, sermon points and announcements to take a few minutes out to present the most important message in the world. I’d soothe them with thoughts like, “The church is for Christians” or “You elude to the gospel enough in the flow of your weekly sermon” or “You present the gospel on those special outreach weekends” or whatever. I’d try to distract them from realizing what the early church embraced, that the gospel was “the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes….”

part 3- friday

Monday, August 06, 2007

If I were the Devil…this is how I would attack pastors...

I am on vacation this week- getting some rest- to all my friends that say the devil never rests, you're right and that is why he is the devil; and by the way I don't want to be like him!

This article needs to be read by all. It will be posted in three parts becasue of its length-- read on.....
by Greg Stier

Part 1

If I were the devil I’d get pastors to build great big churches where they could teach nice things about a nice God. I’d make sure they avoided the dangerous God of the Bible. I’d get them to preach a whole lot about the patience and kindness of God and leave out his holiness and justice. Or I’d get them to preach about the holiness of God to the exclusion of his love and grace. I’d have them preach a one-sided message about a one-sided God instead of the breadth of who He is.

If I were the devil I’d tempt pastors to buy into a distorted gospel of prosperity. I’d convince them to preach a message of "God wants you to be rich" while much of the world dies of starvation. I’d take them deeper into a downward spiral of heresy and greed. Eventually I’d get them to empty the bank accounts of bent, old Bettys and blue collar Bobs to finance their Lexus-driving, $3,000 suit wearing, mansion-dwelling lifestytle of "holy" hedonism. I’d help them cloak their message of greed with a "whatever you donate to this ministry will be multiplied one hundred fold in your own bank account" giving promise.

If I were the devil I’d convince pastors to stay stuck in their old ways. I’d convince them in the power of tradition and tradition alone. I’d challenge them not to think outside the box when it comes to the way they communicate to this generation. I’d motivate them to preach purely theological sermons that were truth heavy and application light. I’d push them to make every week a creedal download with little to no practical application. If this approach didn’t work with pastors, I’d do my best to convince them to trash tradition and preach purely practical sermons with no theology at all. I’d sell them on the lie that it was all about their illustrations, their jokes and their five steps to whatever. I’d challenge them to do this without truly preaching the Word or teaching theology at all. The last thing I’d want them to do is do what St. Peter, St. Paul and St. James did: preach doctrine and application in a balanced way. I would never want these pastors’ congregations to realize how practical and relevant the Word of God is to their everyday lives.

If I were the devil I’d especially attack male pastors through sexual temptation. I’d start “innocently” enough through their thought lives. I’d remind them of that one drop dead gorgeous woman in their congregation who laughs at all his jokes and stares a little too intently when he preaches. I’d then slowly get him to quietly obsess over her and secretly wish that something happened where they could suddenly be together, alone. I’d convince him that it was okay to counsel her in private, that nothing was going to happen. And then I’d do everything in my power to make sure it did. For the pastors who didn’t fall for this more obvious strategy I’d use a secondary strategy of internet pornography. I would create an endless cycle of guilt and quietly seeking forgiveness from God to slowly rob the integrity and dignity from his public preaching and his private soul.

part 2- on wednesday

Friday, August 03, 2007

Clever Sayings-

I am heading off to vacation with the family after this Sunday's service. Going to Perdido Key! Going to eat some shrimp and grits at the Fish House! I have posts already for next week- you won't want to miss them. In the meantime enjoy the following:

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

It is easier to preach ten sermons than it is to live one.

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.

People are funny; they want the front of the bus, the middle of the road, and the back of the church.

Opportunity may knock once, but temptation bangs on your front door forever.

Quit griping about your church; if it was perfect, you couldn't belong.

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.

Peace starts with a smile.

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

A lot of church members who are singing Standing on the Promises are just sitting on the premises.

We were called to be witnesses, not lawyers or judges Be ye fishers of men. You catch them - He'll clean them.

Coincidence is when God chooses to remain anonymous.

Don't put a question mark where God put a period.

Don't wait for 6 strong men to take you to church.

Forbidden fruits create many jams.

God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called.

God grades on the cross, not the curve.

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

God promises a safe landing, not a calm passage.

He who angers you, controls you!

If God is your Co-pilot - swap seats!

Prayer: Don't give God instructions -- just report for duty!

The task ahead of us is never as great as the Power behind us.

The Will of God will never take you to where the Grace of God will not protect you.

We don't change the message, the message changes us.

You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage him.

The best mathematical equation I have ever seen: 1 cross + 3 nails = 4 given.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

When Ministry Becomes a Job- Pt 2

Some people have a JOB in the church; others involve themselves in a MINISTRY. What's the difference?

If you are doing it just because no one else will, it's a JOB.
If you are doing it to serve the Lord, it's a MINISTRY.

If you quit because somebody criticised you, it was a JOB.
If you keep on serving, it's a MINISTRY.

If you'll do it only as long as it does not interfere with your other activities, it's a JOB.
If you are committed to staying with it even when it means letting go of other things, it's a MINISTRY.

If you quit because no one praised you or thanked you, it was a JOB.
If you stay with it even though nobody recognises your efforts, it is a MINISTRY.

It's hard to get excited about a JOB.
It's almost impossible not to be excited about a MINISTRY.

If our concern is success, it's a JOB.
If our concern is faithfulness, it's a MINISTRY.

An average church is filled with people doing JOBs.
A great and growing church is filled with people involved in MINISTRY.

Where do we fit in? What about us?
If God calls you to a MINISTRY, don't treat it like a JOB.

If you have a JOB,
give it up and find a MINISTRY.

God does not want us feeling stuck with a JOB,
but excited and faithful to Him in a MINISTRY.

- Author unknown -