Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Day 181: VERY OPINIONATED "Call Me Old Fashion"

If you are like me and born in the 70's or earlier you might remember being a teenager and many of the stores being closed on Sunday. If a store was open, they would only be open until five or so because it was a Sunday. You would never see a Christian owned store open on Sunday because this typically has been held in high regard as a day of rest. I realize there is a whole theological debate on "sabbath" but let's not go there right now. It is interesting to see how the times have changed. I used to work for Family Christian Stores back in the early 90's, we were always closed on Sundays. If they were open on Sunday it was for Christmas season but now they are open all the time. Why?

Now call me old fashioned but I have also noticed another disturbing thing of our time. I realize that I am not alone in this, in fact in talking with people, I have found surprisingly that I am not alone. What I am talking about is parents letting their kids be involved with sports, gymnastics, etc. that requires them to be gone from youth group, church, etc. There was no way in the world that I would have been involved with soccer if it meant playing on a Sunday morning or Wednesday night. Why? Because those were days you went to church. There was no way my parents were going to let me miss church and there was certainly NO WAY my parents were going to miss church in order take me to something that would cause me to miss church. You know what? I think they were onto something with that because our church had great programs for all ages.

I know there is the argument out there that "our kids have to be involved with something" but never before have I seen so many kids missing church for different reasons. Does it work for people to do this? I would have to say "proof is in the pudding." How deep spiritually is a teen or kid that is at a sporting event more than church? How many parents have made church a weekly decision instead of a lifestyle change? I realize this sounds ultra-legalistic but this is part of training that Proverbs talks about in training up a child. I am living proof and I know a few others are at the church I pastor who were made to go and not miss for sporting events and I am forever grateful to my parents for being the parents...not me telling my parents what to do.

This is one "old-school" trend I would love to see come back to families at churches all over. Why did sports not happen on Wednesday back in the day but do now? Perhaps it is because the church culture has caved and put more of a priority on sports and extracurricular events rather than church. Show me a family who let the kids events dictate how their week should go and I will show you some people who have a weak foundation biblically. Parents...like it or not we have to lead by example and are called parents for a reason...so let's parent.

Day 180: Best Friends

Even though we've changed and we're all finding our own place in the world, we all know that when the tears fall or the smile spreads across our face, we'll come to each other because no matter where this crazy world takes us, nothing will ever change so much to the point where we're not all still friends. One of the greatest compliments a friend can have bestowed on them is ““A friend is someone who understands your past, believes in your future, and accepts you just the way you are.”

Life has a crazy way of giving us new friends, losing old ones and rekindling old ones. I remember growing up in Milwaukee and my first best friend was Dennis. He was from a Greek family and we were probably 4-5 years old. We had allot of fun and then one day we moved. Soon after we moved I met my new best friend, Mario. To this day Mario and I are friends even though our lives have taken two different directions. Through the magic of Facebook we have reconnected and even met with our families for dinner...it is a great thing. Would we be considered "best friends" today? Probably not, but friends none the less.

What is a best friend? I heard it once defined on a radio show that a best friend is someone you can tell stuff you cannot tell your spouse. We all need a best friend but sadly as we get older they can sometimes become hard to come by. The sad part is when we have those close friends or those we thought were close friends and they end up bailing when times get tough or poor decisions are made. This is something that has never made sense to me because unless the person is literally pushing you away...a "good" friend is one who sees through everything. No matter what you have done or are going to do a friend is one who sticks with you to the end. We all know the Sunday school answer is "Jesus" and I don't doubt that. I have to say though that a friend who is there with you physically is awesome as well. Be that friend to someone and you will see a friendship that lasts and stands the test of time.

"Truly great friends are hard to find, difficult to leave, and impossible to forget.”

Monday, November 22, 2010

Day 179: State of Consciousness

From Keith Green singing "The Scripture Song Medley" with "This is the day, this is the day......." to Children's churches everywhere singing the same song, you hear this scripture over and over again. Psalm 118:24(NASB) says, "This is the day which the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it."

Now have you have you ever thought? How could this be after finding out you need a $500.00 repair on the car!? Today, for me was one where I had four massive throw ups from Emma which included three full change of clothes straight down to the skivees for Emma and I. It also included me spraying Emma with the Green Machine cleaner because I did not know how to work the machine. So..."This is the day the Lord has made........"?

I get tagged often as being an optimistic person and that is because being a pessimist wouldn't work for me anyway. You see, Psalms just like Proverbs are not promises...this verse found in Psalm 118:24 is about a state of consciousness. That means the Psalmist pretty much used this verse as a daily affirmation. It is to literally take control of the mind and say, "This is going to be a good day." There are some times where it does not turn out so great but still there is something to always be thankful for and realize this is a day God has made.

This really helps me in my daily life even when some days include seeing way more barf than one person should have to see in a day. It is very easy to stay miserable and woe is me, but it is time to move beyond that get going with life!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Day 178: My Sleeping Babies...READ THIS DAD'S

This evening Tracy is having to work late at the hospital and because I am home alone while the kids are sleeping, tonight I get to do something I love doing. James is a pretty light sleeper and so this does not work all the time because of our squeaky floors. However, tonight I snuck into Emma's bedroom while she was sleeping. You may ask, "what do you do?" I simply sneak in and sit down in the chair in my jammies in her bedroom and listen to her breathing, her talking in her sleep, the squeaks, squaks, etc. After awhile I silently begin to pray blessings on her or James. Tonight I prayed for a healing in her little body and a great week as she experiences her second thanksgiving. I even prayed for health and a great spouse in the future. This is a part of parenting I love. Dads....if you are reading this and have babies...let me encourage you to do this, it really melts your heart and I am quite confident God smiles on you and your family as you are the head of the household and spiritual leader.

Ephesians 3: 17-19(NIV) These children are rooted and established in love; we pray that they may have power with all the saints to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ towards them, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge, that they may be filled to the measure of the fullness of God.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Day 177: Not What You Know But Who You Know PART 2

In yesterday's blog I talked about it's not what you know, it's who you know as it pertains to the life of a pastor. At the end of it I said, "to be continued." I remember very strongly my brother working for a pastor in the Fox Valley area. This pastor who was running a small church for a few years had the audacity to tell my brother, "you will never speak to a crowd larger than 200." I think there is a Greek word for a pastor like this...it is "jerk".

There seems to be a mindset that if you are not a part of this family or a relative of so and so or college buddies with that group that you may be accepted into friendships but you will never be IN. It is like a group of lifelong friends all of a sudden meeting someone new and letting them into the group. You are in but you are not IN. Always remember that those who gossip to you will usually gossip about you.

This is the reality I faced in ministry which is fine, we are all only human and we get along with who we get along with. After the second difficult time as a youth pastor and becoming a "senior pastor" the opportunities I once had to get involved in different events were dwindling quickly. I honestly think it was because I was no longer working for a who's who. This proved to be beneficial though because I got locked into things that weren't going anywhere while God was loading the bases for more outreach and coaching.

Once again God took a kid that was the first in his family to become a pastor and used me once again in a great way. Last year I was a speaker for a ministry at Cornerstone Music Festival in Bushnell, IL and now this year I have been asked back to be a seminar speaker. To be honest with you I am freaking out a bit! This is a crowd of free believers from all walks of life and for me to share with them thoughts from my upcoming book is quite honestly a scary and humbling thought. To each seminar speaker (only 6) for this 30,000+ person event we each get our own carny sized tent with a few hundred seats. I am thankful to God for what he is doing with me and I owe it all to being faithful as best I can to God with no personal agenda on who I can get in close with in order to be with the "in crowd".

God really does take nobodies and make them some bodies and out of spite to prove that pastor wrong...I have asked my brother on multiple occasions to share in front of large groups. Side note...that pastor's church has since shut down.