Thursday, January 31, 2008

Absurdity #33- What Are They Thinking...?

...ooops, they are not thinking!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Ministry is Life Among People, not Free From Them!

Southwest Airlines has the catchy phrase- 'Want to get away?' What pastor doesn't, ah, to be free from people! On a desert island, alone.... If this is you then consider this.....

Pachomius was an Egyptian soldier won to Christ by the kindness of Christians in Thebes. After his release from the military around A.D. 315, he was baptized. Serious about his new faith and determined to grow, Pachomius became a disciple of Palamon, an ascetic who taught him the self-denial and solitary life of a religious hermit.

In early Christianity, the model of devotion was the recluse dedicated to resisting the corruption of society. These hermits wandered the desert alone—fasting, praying, and having visions. Many went to extremes: eating nothing but grass, living in trees, or refusing to wash.

Such was the popular image of holiness: solitude, silence, and severity. And such was Pachomius's early spiritual training. But he began to question the methods and lifestyle of his mentors.

How can you learn to love if no one else is around?
How can you learn humility living alone?
How can you learn kindness or gentleness or goodness in isolation?
How can you learn patience unless someone puts yours to the test?

In short, he concluded, developing spiritual fruit requires being around people—ordinary, ornery people. "To save souls," he said, "you must bring them together."

Spiritual muscle isn't even learned among friends we have chosen. God's kind of love is best learned where we can't be selective about our associates. Perhaps this is why the two institutions established by God—the family and the church—are not joined by invitation only. We have no choice about who our parents or brothers or sisters will be; yet we are expected to love them. Neither can we choose who will or will not be in the family of God; any who confess Jesus as Lord must be welcomed. We learn agape love most effectively in our involuntary associations, away from the temptation of choosing to love only the attractive.

So Pachomius began an ascetic koinonia, where holiness was developed not in isolation but in community. Instead of each person seeking God in his own way, with the dangers of idleness and eccentricity, Pachomius established a common life based on worship, work, and discipline.

In community with flawed, demanding, sometimes disagreeable people, followers of Pachomius learned to take hurt rather than give it. They discovered that disagreements and opposition provide the opportunity to redeem life situations and experience God's grace. Thus began genuine monastic life.

Pachomius, while largely forgotten in church history, points out to us that as attractive as solitary sanctification may seem, it is life amid people, busyness, and interruptions that develop many of the qualities God requires.

from Leadership Journal 1993

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Be Still and Know that I Am God-

Ps 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.(KJV)

Acts 22:7-9 I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, 'Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?' "'Who are you, Lord?' I asked. "'I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting,' he replied. My companions saw the light, but they did not understand the voice of him who was speaking to me. (NIV)

God whispers in your soul and speaks to your mind. Sometimes when you don't have time to listen, He has to throw a brick at you.


Monday, January 28, 2008

Cowboy's Ten Commandments

Cowboy's Ten Commandments posted on the wall at Cross Trails Church in Fairlie, Texas:

(1) Just one God.

(2) Honor yer Ma & Pa.

(3) No telling tales or gossipin'.

(4) Git yourself to Sunday meeting.

(5) Put nothin' before God.

(6) No foolin' around with another fellow's gal.

(7) No killin'.

(8) Watch yer mouth.

(9) Don't take what ain't yers.

(10) Don't be hankerin' for yer buddy's stuff

Saturday, January 26, 2008

First Kiss?

Maybe?... but where did this child learn to kiss like that?

Watching mom and dad? or TV?

Friday, January 25, 2008

What A Way to Wake-up & Go Thru the Day-

I've considered hooking this up so that it starts a slow drip one hour before I get up in the morning and then putting it on a portable IV stand... (you know, the kind you see patients attached to as they stand outside the hospital smoking)... to have with me throughout the day.

Any takers?

(thanks to Robert and others)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Communicating to Your Congregation-

This blog is primarily for Pastors with the purpose to try to encourage them and help them. Others are more than welcome, please keep visiting.

Today, I want to deal with communicating with the congregation. I have had a very open relationship with the congregation during my 17 years as pastor here. Nothing is done in secret and all is openly discussed (from a youth worker who got pregnant, public financial report done on Sunday morning every year, etc.). Today I want you to see a letter I wrote for the bulletin and then read publicly to the congregation this past Sunday. It involves the resignation of my Youth Pastor last week. It was a great loss for me personally, for his family, and the church. Read on:
Dear Saints,
To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often. Winston Churchill

Not many people enjoy change in their lives, routines, TV programs, comic strips and other things. Sometime change is good and sometimes it is unsettling. But change is inevitable. It is a fact of life and often necessary as Winston Churchill said.

There are planned changes, changes that are made for us, and then changes that catch us by surprise. As I write this today I write from the vantage point of a change that has caught me by surprise and it will also affect this church.

This past Wednesday I was sitting with our Youth Pastor Shaun Windle discussing vision for the Youth Ministry at the Vine in 2008. I was sharing what I felt would be our direction for 2008 and some adjustments that we would make to help Shaun and his family, the Youth Ministry, and the church. We are committed to the Youth Ministry having given close to 20% of our overall budget last year to them.

I was surprised when Shaun let me know that he was resigning. Hitting me with a brick would have been easier. I tried to talk to him about his decision but he remained resolute with it. I respect him and his decision and acquiesced to it. Pastor Shaun, Joanna and their children, Shauni and Jordan, have given their lives for the youth of this church. We all we be forever indebted to them!

What are our plans for the future? Obviously we will be looking for a gifted Youth Pastor to bring into the Youth Ministry here. At this point I have no one in mind as I am writing this the day after Pastor Shaun's resignation. One thing that Pastor Shaun did was leave us with a committed Youth Leadership team. Pastor Rob and I met with them yesterday afternoon to discuss this major turn of events. They are all on board with the vision of this church and the Youth Group. They want to see it continue and thrive. They were mature in their responses and I thank God for that.

In order to keep our Wednesday night Youth meeting going we are going to have to ask parents to help us. We need adults present on Wednesday night to be there in a supervisory capacity. You will not be responsible to lead or teach. Our Youth Leaders will conduct the meeting with worship, testimonies, and teaching from the 'Fuel' curriculum we had just purchased.

Parents, we desperately need you to step up and help at this critical time of a 'surprise' change. Are there any takers? Please contact either myself or Pastor Rob to discuss this further.

I believe that God has great things for our youth here at the Vine. Will you pray with me about that?

Saints, I love you,
So, there you have it. Pastors, we strive to be great communicators in the pulpit, let us also strive to be great communicators personally and with the church corporately.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Saturday, January 19, 2008

How We Arrived at 'Separation of Church and State'-

Who do we have to thank for the current mantra of 'separation of church and state?' Was it from Thomas Jefferson or from the minds of other Founding Fathers? Was it an ACLU conceived idea? Is it from the Liberals of this great country?

How about none of the above! How about Adolf Hitler!

Bryan Fischer, Executive Director of Idaho Values Alliance has a most intriguing and revealing article posted on their website concerning the origins of 'separation of church and state.' His source for this article was from "The Nazi Persecution of The Churches, 1933-45," by J.S. Conway, Basic Books, 1968.

I quote from him to wet your appetite. I will give the url at the end of this post so that you can read his amazing article.

"When Adolph Hitler took power in Germany, he recognized immediately that the major threat to his tyrannical designs would come from the church. If he could neutralize the voice of the church, he correctly reasoned, there would be no one else to stand in his way."

"Hitler crafted two slogans in particular...

“Politics do not belong in the Church.”

“The Church must be separate from the State.”

"Churches were no longer permitted to hold any meetings in public venues. They were instead locked up inside their sanctuaries, forbidden to speak their message outside the four walls of their church buildings."

"And the rest, as they say, is history."

For the rest of this insightful article, click here.

Are we destined as a nation to repeat the destruction instigated by that lunatic?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Good and Bad News for Coffee Lovers!

McDonald's is after the Starbucks crowd.

Who doesn't like a creamy, frothy jazzed up cup o' Joe? And with many of us grabbing that expensive cup of coffee daily, competitors of Starbucks are lining up. McDonald's is now promising coffee bars complete with Baristas whipping up everything from a cappuccino to a frappe.

"For the consumer it's a win-win," said coffee consultant Judy Ganes. "There's better coffee at more locations."

Ganes tracks production and pricing of coffee and says Starbucks first poached from McDonald's playbook by offering drive-thrus and breakfast and lunch. Now the roles have reversed.

"McDonald's is hoping this brewing competition will add a billion dollars to its bottom line and is also promising consumers their coffee will cost 60 to 80 cents less," Ganes said.


I had quit attending McDonald's after burning out on the 'Big Mac' after years of eating there with my family. Now it looks like I may be heading back- at least for the coffee! That is good news and a win win situation!

Now for the bad news, Ganes warns there could be a dark side to increased consumption. Despite years of rising demand, coffee producers haven't grown more coffee, leading to higher demand, higher prices and possibly even a shortage.

News flash-- we need to pray for the coffee producers! Or else I may have to move to Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Kenya, Hawaii, Jamaica, or elsewhere and start production! ------(I am thinking) - Nah!!!!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Hellish Black Brew - - Devil's Brew ?!?

A little church history.

Ah, wonderful Caffeine! Caffeine promotes what Christian fellowship is supposed to do. It's uplifting; the drink itself is warm and inviting. Just ask those who indulge regularly and find that abstaining from either church or coffee produces anxiety and irritability.

Christianity hasn't always cottoned to coffee. In her aptly titled book, "Coffee," Claudia Rosen explains that 16th-century priests wanted Pope Clement VIII to ban "the devil's drink." They insisted that Satan had forbidden his followers--Muslims--from drinking wine because it was used in Holy Communion. Instead, the devil provided this "hellish black brew."

The elixir made from coffee beans does in fact have a long history in Islamic regions.
--African tribes mixed the crushed beans with animal fat and molded them into balls to eat as a stimulant before battle.
--Arabs made the first hot coffee beverage, in 1000 A.D.
--Dervishes--mystic devotees of Islam's Sufi sect--consumed coffee at all-night ceremonies as fuel for achieving religious ecstasy.
--Arabs also invented the ibrik, or coffee broiler.
--As coffee lost it's strictly religious significance, the first coffee houses appeared in Mecca.

Coffee may have remained a Middle-Eastern exotic had not Pope Clement VIII decided to put it to the taste test before banning it.

"Why, this Satan's drink is so delicious," he declared, "that it would be a pity to let the infidels have exclusive use of it. We shall cheat Satan by baptizing it."

I am enjoying a cup of Jamaican Blue Mountain 'devil's brew' even as I write this! Happy coffee drinking!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Yo dogg!- Who let the dogs in?

I preached Sunday on the Canaanite mother who came to Jesus because of a demon possessed daughter. Mt. 15:21-28. Click here to go to the Vine sermon page.

Talked about Jesus keeping silent and not answering her, how the disciples dissed her, how when Jesus answered her it was not what she wanted to hear, how He called her a dog, how she responded in worship to Him, and then how He said she had mega faith and answered her request.

Actually Jesus opened the door for her when he called her a 'different kind of dog' than the Jews used when they called the Gentiles dogs. He used 'dog' meaning a little dog, lap dog, family dog vs the scavenging mongrels so common then. It was a door that she seized upon and responded properly helping her realize the desires of her heart - her daughter delivered!

Thank God that Jesus opened the door to let the dogs (us) in!

Have you ever encountered God's silence? Or an answer from Him that was not to your liking? How did you respond to Him in that?

Remember the Canaanite mother, her mega faith and not giving up in the midst of silence, discouraging friends (the taunts of the enemy), and an answer that is not what she wanted to hear.....

...She worshipped Him all the more - and so should we!

Saturday, January 12, 2008


Mike Parsons rides a huge, 85-foot wave at Cortes Bank, 105 miles off the California coast.

Friday, January 11, 2008 ????!!!!???

Annie Lobert and Heather Veitch are “Hookers for Jesus.” They are born-again Christians who used to be prostitutes in Las Vegas, Nevada. Now they are sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with people in Las Vegas, especially women in the adult entertainment industry.

Lobert and Veitch are preparing to testify for Jesus at the Adult Entertainment Expo, the biggest adult industry convention in the country, which takes place in Las Vegas every January and is the adult movie version of the Oscars. Lobert and Veitch will be working the convention floor handing out cards and telling whoever will listen about Jesus Christ. A lot of potential listeners are available as 40,000 are anticipated to attend the Adult Entertainment Expo.

Why the name, “Hookers for Jesus”? -- Veitch says it's catchy. She is not selling her body, but she is going into places where women do sell their bodies in order to introduce them to Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ came to save sinners. Pray for Lobert and Veitch as they witness for Jesus in a prominently sinful mission field. Glad God called them to this!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Messing with the Church Again-

These are two must reads that are for Pastor's:

One is from my friend Bobby Lepinay:

This is from Tony Morgan and takes Bobby's concern further by naming names, the book and expresses his concerns:

Barna is losing credibility with me! Any comments?

Monday, January 07, 2008

Great Staff Retreat 2008-

We had our annual time away as a Staff this past weekend. It is a time of worship, teaching, fellowship, and vision casting for 2008.

Personal prayer time.
Group ministry to one another with encouraging words.
I taught on 'Handling rejection in the Ministry.'
Review of 2007 (The Best and The Worst).
Great Tribond Game (Brad and I were the winners!).

These retreats continue to foster 'togetherness' and maintains His Banner over us is love!

Friday, January 04, 2008

Pastors Need to Forget Too--

I am preparing for our annual Staff retreat that begins today and ends tomorrow. Feeling better after visit to Dr. and a needle shot in the thigh!

Preached from Phil 3:13 this past Sunday:
Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,...

Stressed the need to forget and reach- these were the Apostle Paul's words- a man who had much to forget, i.e. the stoning of Steven, etc. Paul understood that forgetting and reaching are the keys to spiritual wholeness. One won't work without the other. Forgetting closes the door to your past; reaching opens the door to your future.

We must understand this: the only place the past can live is in your memory. The only power it has over you is the power you give it. You have to neglect it if you are going to forget it!

Forgetting- Greek word means to neglect- don’t feed it, to replay it over it- don’t allow it to control your every waking moment-

When I asked a woman about the tattoo on her arm, she explained, “My former boyfriend did it—he was an abusive alcoholic.” She was now happily married to another man, but every day she was reminded of the pain in her past. She would have preferred to remove the tattoo, but it was burned into her skin.

We have all met people whose past is tattooed onto their souls. We as Pastors often have tattoos on our souls because of offenses.

God in the last few months has allowed me to not only forgive but to forget! As I demonstrated Sunday before the congregation, I tore up files on betrayal. slander, the Devil's accusations-- I am free, now free to neglect them when they resurface!

Gen 41:51-52
Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh (forget) and said, "It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father's household." The second son he named Ephraim (twice fruitful) and said, "It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering."

Joseph was able to put the past behind and enter into the design, purposes, destiny that God intended for him. Had he not- had he stayed a victim and bitter it would have had serious ramifications for not only him, but the countries round about, and his immediate family. He received more than a double portion!

Pastor friend, how about you- it's a New Year, if not now when?