Hebrews 12:1-2

"..let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith..." - Hebrews 12:1-2

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Questions & Answers

This afternoon, the Pastor Search Commmittee that I am on presented a candidate for Senior Pastor of our church, FBCH. While originally scheduled for our fellowship hall, the event was moved to the main auditorium to accomodate what we were hoping was going to be a large crowd. We were not disappointed. The main floor of the room was basically full, with approximately 500 people in attendance. The candidate gave a brief testimony of how God has brought him to this point in his life while the PSC collected written questions from those in attendance.

The PSC, with a few of the deacons, then read each question and sorted them into rough categories. For instance, if one question was about his thoughts regarding the use of a choir or organ and another question was regarding our diferent worship services, we rolled them all up into the category of worship style preference. Even after attempting to group questions together we had a table filled with note cards. Knowing that we only had an hour and a half to have questions answered, we chose to ask those categories that had received the most questions first, working our way to the outliers if we had time.

We were very careful to not discriminate against any questions based on how difficult they might be for the candidate to answer, and sent several questions to the microphone that revolved around some hot-button issues in our church. This man answered question after question for the entire time, answering somewhere around 20 questions in the allotted time. Naturally, this meant that the content of some of he estimated 100 received questions was not touched upon, but considering the amount of questions we had received I feel we consolidated and touched upon as many popular issues as possible.

It was hard to read some of the questions and not get upset or angry with whomever had submitted it. Some of the "questions" were accusations against the PSC and the current leadership of the church. Some of the "questions" were loaded down with so much animosity in the wording that you didn't want to ever read them again, let alone "ask" this man in front of other people. Some of the "questions" had absolutely nothing to do with this man, but reflected a bitterness and anger toward the church for some previous decision or perceived slight. It was heartbreaking to know that someone in that room had a heart so full of this mess that they felt compelled to write it down for us to read.

For the most part the questions were born out of a genuine curiousity or desire to learn more about the candidate. Most of the questions we received centered around issues of vision for the church, leadership style and methods of delivery, all of which I believe this man answered honestly, openly and without hesitation. I feel as if most people in attendance appreciated the opportunity to hear from this man his stance on a variety of issues.

This day, as much as any other since I have been a part of this church, allowed me to catch a glimpse of the attitudes and hearts of the members of this body. I was not at all suprised by what I saw. I found us to be a body comprised of broken people living broken lives, attempting to seek out the man God would have lead us in the future. It's not an easy process and sometimes it isn't pretty to see a bunch of nastiness written down in ink on an index card, but that is a reflection of where some of our people are at this moment.

Overall, I think the event was a success. People had some of their questions answered and for most people, that was enough. As I looked around the room, it struck me that there were a lot of people standing around, deep in conversation. I cannot say that everyone was talking about what they had just heard, but I am sure that is what most people were discussing. I cannot say that everyone who was discussing the candidate was doing so in a positive manner, but I am sure most people were. In that moment, looking around the sanctuary, the thought crossed my mind that I could not remember the last time this many people stayed around after a service or event and talked. In my 10 years at the church I do not ever recall that many people lingering around after an event. It wasn't just that they had hung around for a bit trying to figure out where to go for dinner, but that they had stayed for a long time discussing something of importance. It is in that moment that I caught a glimpse of what I hope will be the future of our church.

I want to see people impacted by what they see and hear on Sunday mornings. I want people to stand around and talk after a message and discuss the topic at length. I want to see people taking the time to invest in others through conversation and relationship building. Most importantly, I want to see people's lives changed through not simply the power of the Word of God being boldly proclaimed from the pulpit but also through the evidence of God's presence in our lives as we live day by day. This is my desire for our church.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Blessings and Trials

While driving into work today, I was listening to Pastor Adrian Rogers on Love Worth Finding and he stated the following:
When God opens the windows of Heaven to bless us, Satan opens the doors of Hell to blast us.
I want to remember that statement, as I believe there is a great amount of truth in it.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

One Outing, Multiple Blessings

Last night, Lisa, Lydia and I made our way to the Realm to stop in for a few minutes and visit with the college group. I had not been to Tuesday night since a few weeks prior to Lydia's birth and had only been a couple of times since I joined the Pastor Search Committee last July. I wasn't sure who would be there, but I knew I wanted to visit for a bit.

We went downstairs to see Bruce in his office. As I came to his door, I was greeted by a student whom I know is absolutely nuts about babies and I knew that she would be thrilled to see Lydia. This student became incredibly excited and then teared up and informed me that her aunt had passed away in the morning. She then stated that seeing Lydia was exactly what she needed and that the timing was perfect. I thought to myself: She's right, it is perfect timing and that is of God.

After we spent a half hour with the students passing Lydia around, we left as they began their message time. We talked on the way home about our time with the college students and we were reflecting on how God is working in not only our lives, but our friends and church's as well. As I was about to turn onto our street Lisa asked me if I saw a woman by the side of the road that we had just passed. I hadn't, but I honestly wasn't paying too much attention to what was happening on the shoulder of the dark street. Besides, I wouldn't have expected to see anyone outside as it was in the low 20s. I asked if she wanted to turn around to see if this person needed help, all the while knowing what she would say and what I wanted to do. So I turned off into a parking lot, backtracked to the point where Lisa had seen this person and pulled to a stop in a gas station parking lot about 15 feet away from the woman.

Lisa hopped out to see if we could help in any way, and I sat behind the wheel praying that God would allow us to bless this lady in some way. I even told Lydia, who was asleep in her car seat in the back, that we might be having a visitor spend the night tonight with us. I was prepared to offer this woman a hot meal, a warm bed and a king word and I knew that Lisa wouldn't hesitate to do the same. Lisa spoke briefly to the woman who was obviously distressed about something and crying. She had been rolling a suitcase behind her when we came upon her and as Lisa turned back to the car, the woman followed suit.

I hopped out of the car, popped the trunk and placed her suitcase inside. She thanked me several times and stated that she was incredibly embarrassed. I assured her that it was our pleasure and that she had nothing to be ashamed of. Lisa offered her the front seat but stated that she was more than welcome to sit next to our little baby. The lady climbed into the back seat. By the time I had entered the car she was already talking about Lydia and Lisa was introducing them. Through tears the woman told us she was on her way home and that she lived just down the street. I proceeded to head in that direction.

As I drove this woman could not stop crying and answered several phone calls through her tears. Each conversation was short, with her stating that she would return the call after she arrived home in a few minutes. She pointed the way and I drove about a mile down the road to where we ended up in her driveway. She thanked us again for our kindness and I asked if there was anything else we could do for her. After she declined further assistance I asked if we could pray with her real quick. She stated that she would like that. I grabbed her hand as Lisa placed one on her shoulder and asked her what her name was.

I prayed a quick prayer for her and asked that God would comfort her and provide her with rest and I thanked God for allowing Lisa and I to help her. It wasn't a long prayer and it didn't need to be. As we exited the vehicle, one of this lady's friends pulled up and hopped out, thanking us for picking her friend up. She then turned to her friend and said something along the lines of "You haven't exactly had a great welcome home have you?". We were both thanked again as the two made their way into the dark house.

Lisa and I made the 3 minute drive home beginning a conversation about how much God has blessed us with so much and allowed us to be a part of people's lives in a special way. We have no idea where this lady was coming from or why she was walking along a dark road out in the cold. She was well-dressed and lived in a brand new villa in a nice neighborhood, yet here she was totally exposed to the elements and the world while being heartbroken and alone. For 5 minutes Lisa and I were allowed to be a blessing to her and provide for her.

The night was an amazing display of God's perfect timing and perfect provision.

Please pray for the people who have lost family members and for the people who have lost hope.
I find myself, even now, praying for this woman, Karen, and would ask that you do the same.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Song in My Head

Last night I awoke from my sleep sometime in the early morning hours with a song in my head. As I lay there in bed with my eyes open, I softly hummed through what I thought was the chorus of an old hymn. I could remember only the majority of the words. I lay there repeating them over and over in my head attempting in vain to recall the lost phrase. I finally fell asleep without remembering the missing lyrics.

When I awoke for work, the tune was immediately in my head again. Yet again I could not complete the chorus as the words would not come to mind. I drove to work singing the same phrases over and over both in my head and out loud. I whistled the tune. Although I could sing most of the chorus, I could not not recall any of the verses. This confused me, as I began to wonder if I was singing a portion of a verse rather than the chorus. The words were so familiar, yet they were eluding me.

Upon my arrival at work, I immediately looked up the lyrics that I was recalling and learned why I was confused as to whether or not I was singing the chorus or a verse. This great old hymn contains a portion of the chorus in two of its verses.

Now that I have listened to the song and read through the lyrics several times I wonder as to why God placed that song in my heart and head in the middle of the night. It wasn't just that I woke up with it in my head and forgot about it when I went back to sleep. No, this song was persistently upon my mind, travelling with me to work and throughout the day. So much so, in fact, that I felt compelled to tell Lisa about it during dinner tonight. I value her response and am praying that God would show me why this song was riveted to me for so many hours.


Rescue the Perishing by Fanny J. Crosby (song background)

Rescue the perishing, care for the dying,
Snatch them in pity from sin and the grave;
Weep o’er the erring one, lift up the fallen,
Tell them of Jesus, the mighty to save.

(Refrain)
Rescue the perishing, care for the dying,

Jesus is merciful, Jesus will save.

Though they are slighting Him, still He is waiting,
Waiting the penitent child to receive;
Plead with them earnestly, plead with them gently;
He will forgive if they only believe.

Refrain

Down in the human heart, crushed by the tempter,
Feelings lie buried that grace can restore;
Touched by a loving heart, wakened by kindness,
Chords that were broken will vibrate once more.

Refrain

Rescue the perishing, duty demands it;
Strength for thy labor the Lord will provide;
Back to the narrow way patiently win them;
Tell the poor wand’rer a Savior has died.

Refrain



This is what I was recalling:
"Rescue the perishing, care for the dying, duh duh-duh duh duh-duh, Jesus is Lord."
I'm not sure if some hymnals use the "Jesus is Lord" line instead of "Jesus will save", but this is what I was singing all morning long. I feel kind of bad that I was forgetting that "Jesus is merciful", but I am glad that I have now been reminded...

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Blessed by Family

I am blessed.
I come from a large family of 9 children and have two parents who have remained committed to one another for over 30 years.

I am blessed.
I married a wonderful woman who has one sibling and two parents who have remained committed to one another for over 30 years.

I am blessed.
My wife and I now have a beautiful daughter and pray that God allows us over 30 years to remain committed to each other.

I am blessed.
I enjoy time spent with all of Lisa's large extended family and she enjoys being with my large extended family.

I am blessed.
God has called me into His family and I am destined to spend eternity with Him.

I am blessed.
God has given me a local church body to serve in and has allowed me to do so for over 8 years in various capacities.

I am blessed.
God has placed a large group of Christians in my life to challenge me and encourage me.

I am blessed.
God has blessed me with a family of my own, two families through marriage, a relationship with Him, a local church family and a Christian peer family.

I am blessed.