Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Walking Circumspectly!

There are some wonderful and interesting King James words that get lost in the current translations. One such word that I like to say as well as live is the word 'circumspect(ly)'. When is the last time you used that word? Have you ever? Chances are if you said it people would stare at you with a blank look on their faces! Do you know that it is one of the most important words for a Pastor and Christians?

Ex 23:13 And in all things that I have said unto you be circumspect: and make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth. KJV

Eph 5:15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, KJV

circumspect- Latin circumspectus, from past participle of circumspicere to look around, be cautious, from circum-'around' + specere 'to look' - 'specere' means 'to spy' (remember I Spy on TV or James Bond?)

Strongs- OT-A verb meaning to watch, to keep, to preserve, to guard, to be careful, to watch over, to watch carefully over, to be on one's guard. NT-Diligently, accurately, exactly, rightly.

My loose definition would be to look around and into (spy on) yourself, as to your state of being body, soul and spirit. For the Pastor it would also mean to look on (spy out) the state of your flock.

We are to:
1. conduct a thorough examination of ourselves. We spy on ourselves with God's heavenly microscope-His Word and Spirit.
2. keep ones self in the right direction. David declared he was blameless since he had kept himself from sin (2Sa 22:24; Ps 18:23).
3. conduct ourselves as one walking circumspectly- it will show forth in our speech, conduct, attitude, and other areas of our lives. Your friends, family, and Church will be 'safe' (protected) around you.
3. protect, pay close attention to, and care for God's people. Eli the priest continued to observe Hannah's lips closely as she prayed. What are your people saying and experiencing?

Why walk circumspectly?
Three young evangelists who burst onto the American scene in 1945. Their names were Billy Graham, Bron Clifford, and Chuck Templeton. All three were in their mid-twenties, and rose to quick prominence because of his speaking abilities. Each packed out auditoriums across the country.

One seminary president heard Chuck Templeton address an audience of thousands, and he was so impressed that he called him the most talented young preacher in America. One magazine featured him in an article and called him "the Babe Ruth of evangelism." It did not mention Billy Graham.

Bron Clifford was tall, dashing, intelligent, and elegant. He was so gifted that he was called the most powerful preacher in the church in centuries. People lined up for hours to hear him. At Baylor University he gave a discourse, and the university president ordered the class bells turned off so that nothing would interfere with Clifford’s message. For two and one-half hours the students sat on the edges of their seats, spellbound as he gave a brilliant dissertation. He was so attractive and charming that Hollywood tried to get him to play the lead role in the famous movie The Robe.

But a few years later, things had changed for two of these three men. In just five years Chuck Templeton left the ministry, declaring that he no longer believed Jesus Christ was the Son of God. He pursued a career in radio and became a newscaster. The "Babe Ruth of evangelism" gave it up entirely; today, his name resides in the annals of evangelical obscurity.

By 1954, Clifford had lost his family, his ministry, and his health because of financial irresponsibility and alcohol abuse. He left his wife and their two Down’s syndrome children. At the age of thirty-five, he died in a cheap hotel on the edge of Amarillo, Texas. Some pastors collected enough money to purchase a casket and ship it back east where he was buried in a pauper’s cemetery.

Only Billy Graham remained and succeeded- why?- he walked circumspect in every area of his life!

Examining ourselves regularly is not only necessary but disastrous if we don't!

Eph 5:15 So watch your step. Use your head.

Eph 5:15 Therefore, pay careful attention to how you conduct your life — live wisely, not unwisely. CJB

Learn the importance of the word 'circumspect,' meditate on it, speak it, teach it, and then practice it every day!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Repairer of the Breach-

I read an interesting statistic concerning Pastors. They generally leave a church because of conflict with just three people. Wow, if that were true I should have been gone in the first few weeks of my current pastorate here at the Vine! I have been here for 18 years. And I have had my fair share of conflict, breaches, and people leaving. (With multiplied heartache.) Fortunately, I don’t belong to the denominational flavor that threatens leaving people with excommunication and/or resigning them to hell! (Remember, they are God’s people- He gets the final say so.)

Isa 58:12 And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in. KJV

Breach- It refers to a rupture, a tear, a breaking up or shattering of something: a breach created in a wall; the breaking or rupture occurring in the process of childbirth. It is used figuratively of separation created between persons or groups.

Breaches occur. People come and people go. I remember a group of close to 15 people that came to the church in mass and eventually left the church in mass! That is the nature of the church especially in this consumer driven church culture- you build it bigger, better, livelier, and on entertainment and they will come until the next church trumps what you are doing and then they go. But I digress… why do breaches occur?

1. Because I do big pieces of stupid! That’s right; sometimes it is the pastor’s fault. Hey, did I say clay feet?
2. Sometimes it is their fault. They do big pieces of stupid also. Like becoming pharisaical with a religious nature and spirit that won’t budge and is always right. "Your wrong"… they win by leaving the church. ("Take my toys (tithe and talents) and go elsewhere!")
3. People get their underwear in a knot and that becomes painful not only to them but to all those around them! ...ooops, did I really say that?
4. Contention and disagreements separate, period.

So, you might be able to add more but the truth is the Kingdom suffers, churches suffer, and families suffer. Nobody wins but the accuser of the brethren!

But God is the ultimate restorer and repairer of the breach. And we as His people are to be too. There is no greater triumph and a slap in the face to the devil than when two are reconciled! God is glorified, forgiveness received, friendships restored and unity achieved!

My Christmas present this year of 2008? To be restored to a dear friend.

Why aren’t more breaches healed? PRIDE continues to bring contention!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

God Come in the Flesh!

The coming of Christ gave us a living picture of who God is. Christ’s coming put a face on God.

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible” (Colossians 1:15-16).

The incarnation — God came to earth wrapped in a human body. The God of heaven came to live among us that we might know what He is truly like. He came to teach us. He came to die for us that we might be forgiven. He rose from the dead to help us know that we too will be raised. He promised that He will return so that eternal hope would burn in our hearts. He opened the doors of heaven.

May you experience a new revelation of God this Christmas. May the eyes of your understanding be truly open to behold Him - the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords!

Merry Christmas to you all. Please click here for my e-card to you.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Another Reason to Go to Church!

This is a time of the year when depression, loneliness, and despair is often rampant. The holidays are generally for family get togethers and friends. But there are lonely, cut off, and hurting people out there who have no family or are facing the first holiday after losing a loved one. It is hard! I try to get such people to connect to the church. Why? Because we are family and there are benefits!

A Parade Magazine article this past Sunday(12.21.2008) dealt with Spirituality and Health. There were interesting observations made in the article. Here they are:

1. People who attend religious services tend to be healthier than those who do not.
2. Weekly churchgoers have a lower risk of death than those who never set foot inside a place of worship.
3. Research has found that prayer and meditation seem to be associated with improved immune systems and fewer episodes of chronic inflammation.
4. People who identify themselves as more religious reveal lower rates of depression.
5. There are generally lower suicide rates among people who regularly attend religious services.
6. Religious people often take better care of themselves.
7. People who make church a habit—and the same goes for people who worship at mosques and synagogues—are more socially integrated, which means they have more friends and acquaintances and a better support system to help them cope with stressful life events.
8. Regular churchgoers are also people who don’t smoke, drink rarely, and see their doctors regularly.

Researchers conclusion: Praying, meditating, or attending religious services may not cure a disease, but those activities may make you feel better and contribute to a more positive outlook on life.

Where will you be this Sunday? If not, why not?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Stop It!

A training vid for all the Pastoral Counsellors out there. Enjoy!

I enjoyed this and loved this. Is that wrong? HeHeHe...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ed's Thoughts on Commitment-

What are the terms of my commitment to a friend?

How serious am I about commitment? What is the level of my commitment? Where did I get my example of commitment? At what point does my commitment stop? What happens when the people I am committed to have a different opinion? Am I willing to yield in my commitment? How do I decide when my commitment ends? Do the rules of my commitment change whether I am committed to a task or a person, a person or a group? Are my expectations of others’ commitment to me the same as my commitment to them? Can I be partly committed? What is the cost limit to my commitment? What is the time limit to my commitment?

Do I let others know that I have made a commitment to them, or do I assume that they know? Am I judgmental in my commitment? Do I have rules for my commitment, what are they? Do I believe others are confident in my level of commitment? Have I really thought my commitment through? Do I learn from my failed commitments? Do I try to reinforce my idea of commitment? Do I make a commitment because of peer pressure? Do I make a commitment because I feel it’s the right thing to do?

You are my friend; I am committed to you, and your benefit. I have considered all of these questions and many more about my friendship and commitment to you. You can be confident that you never have to look to see if I have your back, I am there. You never have to worry about your relationship with me because I am committed to you. My commitment is like driving a stake in the ground until it penetrates bedrock, it can not be moved. My opinion of you will not be changed by others or circumstances. Whatever you are going through, you can count on me. My commitment is not based on your choices, or behavior. I will not allow ill things to be said of you in my presence. I will always protect your good name when I speak of you. My commitment will never end; it is a personal challenge for me, and I am ever aware of my commitments.

Commitment should endure all tests against it, it should always be the last thing standing, it should never be made without all things considered, it should be protected with the fiercest fury, it should be my delight that others feel the benefit of my commitments. The things that I have learned about commitment came from my relationship with God, He is the one that created it, and so I know that I can follow His perfect example.

Given to me by a special friend after another dear friend and family walked out of my life and the church. We all need friends that have considered the cost of commitment, regardless.

Thanks Ed, I needed that!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What Type of Leader are You?

Good Leadership vs. Bad Leadership
by Chris Johnson

1. Passionate about one’s job vs. It is just a job
2. Values one’s team vs. Has employees
3. Knows one’s team vs. Should not be personal at work
4. Takes time to develop their strengths vs. Focuses on their weakness
5. Gives people a chance to fail vs. Controls every decision
6. Takes time to reward good work vs. It is their job
7. Leads team to believe they are the heart and sole of the organization vs. Only the boss matters
8. Spends time learning how to be a better leader vs. Got it all figured out
9. Creates a fun working environment vs. All work no play
10. Secure vs. Insecure
11. Admits mistakes vs. Blames the employees or organization
12. Confrontational vs. Ignore problems hoping they will go away

This was forwarded to me by one of my staff. He gave me a good grade! Whew!!!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Enough said!

This speaks to the issue!
Some of it wasted on the napkin!!!!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas Party-

Jack wakes up with a huge hangover after attending his company's Christmas party. Jack is not normally a drinker, but the drinks didn't taste like alcohol at all. He didn't even remember how he got home from the party.

As bad as he was feeling, he wondered if he did something wrong. Jack had to force himself to open his eyes, and the first thing he sees is a couple of aspirins next to a glass of water on the side table. And, next to them, a single red rose!! Jack sits up and sees his clothing in front of him, all clean and pressed.

He looks around the room and sees that it is in perfect order, spotlessly clean. So is the rest of the house.

He takes the aspirins, cringes when he sees a huge black eye staring back at him in the bathroom mirror. Then he notices a note hanging on the corner of the mirror written in red with little hearts on it and a kiss mark from his wife in lipstick: 'Honey, breakfast is on the stove, I left early to get groceries to make you your favorite dinner tonight. I love you, darling! Love, Jillian'

He stumbles to the kitchen and sure enough, there is hot breakfast, steaming hot coffee and the morning newspaper.

His 16 year old son is also at the table, eating.

Jack asks, 'Son, what happened last night?' 'Well, you came home after 3 A.M., drunk and out of your mind you fell over the coffee table and broke it, and then you puked in the hallway, and got that black eye when you ran into the door.'

Confused, he asked his son, 'So, why is everything in such perfect order and so clean? I have a rose, and breakfast is on the table waiting for me??'

His son replies, 'Oh THAT... Mom dragged you to the bedroom, and when she tried to take your pants off, you screamed, 'Leave me alone woman, I'm married!!'

Broken Coffee Table $239.99
Hot Breakfast $4.20
Two Aspirins $.38
Saying the right thing, at the right time:

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Coffee Wars- Taking the High Road?

When your #1, everybody attacks you! sound familiar? Now we have the coffee wars which should be good for all us addicts. From Dunkin' Donuts, 7-11, to McDonald's, Starbucks is under siege. Consider the McDonald's sign above.

The coffee wars have received much media and Wall Street trumpeting this year, but Starbucks has been mostly silent, maintaining that its customer base is different.

Starbucks could fire back that not all of its coffee costs four bucks, or that extra cents help pay for health care for baristas. (A 12-ounce cup of brew starts at $1.40 at Starbucks, a penny more than the average McDonald's brew price. A small McDonald's latte costs $1.99 compared with $2.45 to $3.15 at Starbucks.)

Instead, it is fighting back in a more subtle way. Executives have hinted that Starbucks is taking the high road.

Well good for them, but let the coffee wars continue- who wins? We do!!!

BTW, go to this link (By McDonald's) and play the pinball game- cool!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Blog #500- Things I've Learned in Life!

Well, who would have thunk it- today marks my 500th blog. No big deal to many of you - but for me it is! Blogging has challenged me in so many ways... keep at it, be relevant, love & help pastors as well as others, stay humorous, appreciate the people that do stop by...

So what do you post for your 500th blog? How about 10 things that I have learned in life...

1. Jesus really did save my life- literally, when I was bent on self destruction. (Jn 3:16-17)

2. Make your election and life's calling (job) sure- you will be tested on it many times. (2 Pet 1:10-11)

3. People will fail you and betray you- but Jesus is an ever present help in times of disappointment. (Lk 22:47-48; Ps 46:1)

4. Humble yourself often under the mighty hand of God- don't take yourself too seriously- it is Christ in you the Hope of glory! (James 4:10; Col 1:27-29)

5. Time does prove all things... and people. (I Thes. 5:21; kerrism)

6. When facing critical opposition, listen rather for the voice of God singing over you. (Zep 3:17)

7. Stay teachable and flexible... stay out of ruts! (Mt 9:16-17)

8. Stay true to the wife of your youth, be captivated by only her, be satisfied by her... cherish and nurture her. (I love you Debi, more!) (Pro 5:18-19, Eph 5:28-29)

9. Leave a legacy your children and God can be proud of. (Ryan and Jason, you have blessed my life.) (2 Cor 12:14; Eph 6:4; Pro 4)

10. Laugh a lot! (Pro 15:13; 15:15; 17:22)

So there you have it. Ten things that have influenced my life, molded my character, propelled me to finishing my race and receive the crown that is laid up for me in heaven.

To my readers, I am humbled by your continuing to read my 'Pastoral Ponderings.'

Friday, December 05, 2008

So, What are you Preaching Today?

“What are you preaching?” I get asked that a lot because I am a preacher! But I am not the only one who ‘preaches.’

As a matter of fact, most people preach more than I do. Everyday, in your daily conversations you tell others more about our faith than I, as the preacher, ever will. You see, we all preach to the world with what we do, what we say, and what our attitudes are. Whether it is face to face, or somebody just watching us or listening to us, or reading our blog- we are preaching!

I told Vine Fellowship this past Sunday that I spend a lot of time preparing for each sermon. Countless hours go in to everyone! I told them that I expect them to spend as much time preparing their daily sermon before they go center stage to the world!

I have to admit that I get frustrated trying to grow a church and add new people and then have some careless unprepared ‘church member’ run off a guest because of course, crude, and unloving comments! Yes sir, they preached, but it was the wrong sermon! AAAAGGGGHHHH!

Acts 2:36-39 Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God hath made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified. Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brethren, what shall we do?" And Peter said to them, "Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself."

From the passage above, I challenged the Vine members to concentrate on 3 things in their sermons everyday:
1. Talk about Jesus
2. Talk about salvation
3. Talk about the promises of God (hope)

The world needs to hear about Jesus, salvation, and hope. They are not beating the churches door down to get in and hear it. Every day we are taking our ‘sermons’ to the world.

So, what are you preaching today? I hope yours is one that blesses rather than destroys!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Religious Truths--

During these serious times, people of all faiths should remember these four religious truths:

1. Muslims do not recognize Jews as God's chosen people.

2. Jews do not recognize Jesus as the Messiah.

3. Protestants do not recognize the Pope as the leader of the Christian world.

4. Baptists do not recognize each other at Hooters

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

And then the Fight Started...

This post may get me in a lot of trouble and... then the fight started....lol

Couples please don't try this at home....


When I got home last night, my wife demanded that I take her some place expensive.... So, I took her to a gas station.....

And then the fight started....


I tried to talk my wife into buying a case of Miller Light for $14.95. Instead, she bought a jar of cold cream for $7.95. I told her the beer would make her look better at night than the cold cream.

And that's when the fight started...


My wife and I were sitting at a table at my high school reunion, and I kept staring at a drunken lady swigging her drink as she sat alone at a nearby table. My wife asked, 'Do you know her?' 'Yes,' I sighed, 'She's my old girlfriend. I understand she took to drinking right after we split up those many years ago, and I hear she hasn't been sober since.' 'My God!' says my wife, 'Who would think a person could go on celebrating that long?'

And then the fight started.....


I took my wife to a restaurant. The waiter, for some reason, took my order first. 'I'll have the strip steak, medium rare, please.' He said, 'Aren't you worried about the mad cow?' 'Nah, she can order for herself.'

And that's how the fight started.....