A blog dedicated to starting conversations.
I’m comforted during this specific time that we know that this is God’s church and not ours. What we do certainly matters, but ultimately the growth and expansion of this church and accomplishing the vision of what we believe God is calling us to do is up to him. That’s why our Vision2020 starts with this phrase, “God is equipping and empowering HCLM…” We are not doing anything in and of ourselves…we are doing our best only to go where God is leading us.
With Jon leaving, does that mean our vision changes? No! God has given us this vision and though how and through who we accomplish that vision may change a bit, our goals remain the same. We believe God is still going to do great things throughout Central Florida and we want to be a part of that. We want to be a part of 7 new congregations in 10 years. We want to be a part of supporting those ministries with finances and resources and especially by promoting the teams in each one of them. We want our school to succeed at a level it hasn’t seen yet. The important thing to remember through change is recognizing that there is Someone who is greater than all of us who has it all figured out. Romans 8:28 says that God works it all out for the good of those who love him. He doesn’t tell us he’ll explain to us why it’s good or even that we’ll see the good in it. He just promises that it’ll be good. It comes down to a matter of trust. Do you trust God in change?
Jon, we will miss you! I personally wish I could have had more time to spend working with you, though I won’t miss all the obscure Michigan references. And we know that God has great plans in store for Salem Lutheran Church in Orange County!
It has to be frustrating for true Seminole fans to see so many people hop on the bandwagon after the humiliating loss of the Gators on Saturday afternoon. And if anyone knows humiliating losses, it's a Michigan fan. What is it about human nature that we want to be associated with a winner? Where were all those flags, t-shirts and banners over the last several end of Bowden era years? I know...they were on the shelf at the store. So I'm with you true FSU fans. I hang my Michigan banner every week, even over the last few years when the winingest team in college football history had a losing season...and then another one...
I'm so glad that God isn't a fair weather fan. Could you imagine what life would be like if God only was for us when we were "winning?" It is rather humbling to know that "while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8) We have a God who is for us...all the time. Granted, this is nothing incredibly profound...just a random thought...one of my many earthly examples of the profound love that Christ has for us.
Next blog will be thoughts on wrestling with God through the call process. That one may be intellectually a bit deeper. :-)
Is anyone else tired of all the signs, commercials and mailers on politics? It seems to be rare to find a candidate that can break away from telling the world why their opponent is unqualified and/or incompetent to actually tell us what THEY are for. And when they do miraculously take a moment to do so, they are so generic and shallow (lower taxes, pay down the debt, create more jobs) that they lack any substance. Enough!
I wonder what it must have been like for Paul when he wrote to Timothy, "For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear." 1 Timothy 4:3. Enough.
So instead of getting angry or not vote, I'm going to be thankful that I follow Jesus who doesn't tell me what I want to hear but what I NEED to hear. Refreshing.
Thursday night I was picking up the leftovers from Panera across the street from church. I really didn’t want to. It was a long day. I had just finished a meeting and wanted to go home. Esteban, our student ministry intern who also works there while going to school, texted me and asked me if I could do it. He had arranged for us to be the recipient of those gifts starting tonight. There I ran into one of the workers and through our conversation said that she was looking for a church to go to. Even I can walk through a door that is open that wide. In the course of our conversation, she shared that she had to drop out of school to care for her ailing mother. She works on Sunday mornings but was looking for a place to belong; I imagine looking for hope and support. I thought Esteban’s team would be perfect. I invited her. I knew she needed to finish her closing responsibilities but I didn’t want to end our conversation using a Christianize phrase, “I’ll pray for you.” Then I thought of another team, led by Michelle Bergman. Once a month, on the first Thursday, they break from their routine of praying through our prayer list to hold a prayer service so we can specifically pray for healing. I got over my fear of rejection and also invited her and her mom to come on November 4. She had tears in her eyes. I hope she comes. More importantly, I hope in those few moments, that she felt as if God was connecting with her.
Zach, Paul and I take turns doing chapel for the Pre-school and Academy children. Today was my day. We have been using the theme, blessed to be a blessing. Today's characters were Abram and Lot, Genesis 13 if you want to give it a read. I shared a few simple truths with them and now I share them with you. 1) Having more stuff is not always a good thing. It caused problems between Abram and Lot's people. 2) Everything we have is God's. We are just stewards. I spent some time on this second point, holding up toys, chairs and even my shoes. "Who's is this?" To which the children responded, "God's." 3) God can take back His stuff whenever He wants. (Cool side note...the section of land that Lot picked, having been given the honor of choosing first, is now desert.) Isn't it cool that God thinks enough of us to give us anything to begin with and that He doesn't love us less when we forget these simple truths.
After chapel and the high five's and personal blessings for the kids, one of the teachers reported to me what one of the children told her on their way out. "My shoes don't fit anymore. I guess I should give them back to God." I think she got it.
We should all spend more time listening to children. You'll hear the voice of God.
I like to listen. There is always a lot to learn. Whether it is books on CD (from the library...frugal or just cheap?), sermons or podcasts, I like listening to things. One of my favorite podcasts is This American Life.
It was really quiet in my house this morning, Margaret is in Iowa on business. I broke the silence with my ipod. This episode was entitled, "Unconditional Love." I have heard it said that pet owners get the closest to experiencing unconditional love. After this podcast, I was humbled by the acts of love by the two sets of parents that they interviewed. Sitting alone at home, I found myself enveloped by a feeling of thankfulness for my family and friends. Then I found myself with a new resolve to allow God to use me to express His unconditional love to whomever I meet today. You can listen to it here.
I had a voice mail today when I arrived from a family that have been worshiping with us for about a year. Her husband was killed in a boating accident this week. We're doing the funeral this Thursday. I pray they experience the unconditional love of God.
I was waiting my turn at the chiropractors office this morning. Just one person in front of me so I could quickly get back to the to do list. A few seconds either way and I would have missed this gem of a conversation between a dad and his small daughter.
This man's daughter, probably about 2 or 3 wanted to go to the play room. I assume she really wanted to go because she asked several times, rather politely, in that little kid kind of way. The father refused each request but I guess he finally thought it would be beneficial to reason with her, giving her an explanation for his denial to her requests. "You can't be in there alone," he finally said. "But dad," in a beautiful, polite, little girl voice, "I'm not alone. Jesus is with me." I waited with a smile for a comeback. "How do you argue that?" was his reply to me, obviously seeing that I was interested.
Oh the concrete thinking of a little child. I was so proud that here was a little girl that got it. I wish I would keep that truth in the forefront of my mind. I confess that I have begun many days with "get out of my way, I have a lot to do." God, forgive me for those moments.
The dad was saved by being called into the room. He said he wanted her to be with him. Already thinking of a blog, I was waiting for a great line like, "you want me to be God with skin on for you?" but there was no such line. Just a gentle reminder of the presence of God in our lives. I needed that.
I was recently reading an article in the August edition of the Reader's Digest (still not sure why the August issue comes the second week of July but that's for another blog). The story was about Sobibor, a Nazi death camp deep in the forest in Poland. It reminded me of the emotions I felt visiting the Holocaust Museum while I was in Israel. Can human nature really be that bad?
Was struck me about this particular story is what the Germans had done, or more accurately, tried to do. After a semi-successful escape attempt, the Germans destroyed the camp, burning it down and burring the remains underground. What is it about human nature that can justify doing something so inhumane and yet still have the need to hide their behavior?
When in Israel, I thought of the mass killings that have taken place throughout history. Christians against Muslims, Jews against Christians, Germans against Jews...and the cycle continues. Unfortunately, there is part of that sinful nature in us that can justify behavior but still have the desire to cover it up. So goes the wrestling match with sin. We (or at least I) want to be a living sacrifice for God (Romans 12:1-2) but I find myself (because I'm a LIVING sacrifice) crawling off the altar and doing my own thing. God help me to be "transformed by the renewing on my mind." Then help me to share that with others. You are the only hope for human nature.
I had a lot of firsts this summer. First time having an
electrical bill over $300. First time burying a pet. First trip to
Paul shared with me an e-mail he received an e-mail from a
I realize that most people are uncomfortable walking up to someone they do not know, ranked right after getting a root canal and Add to that the fear of greeting someone as a guest who is a long time member and the task can become crippling. Since we have a God who welcomes us, perhaps we can cast aside our fears and be stretched to extend the same courtesy to those around us. After all, the next person you see on Sunday might not be connected to a church community. Why not be first?
On a related note, a new L-team season is starting on August 15. One of the new teams is a guest team that will connect with guests, the ones that write down their names in the blue folder (a good indication they want to be contacted). Perhaps that will become your team.
- What’s Your Resolution? - by Pastor Zach
- Nigeria Mission Trip Review - by Pastor Zach
- The Lydia Question - by Pastor Zach
- All In! - by Pastor Zach
- The Weight of Sin - by Pastor Zach
- Common and Ordinary Guys Making a Difference - by Pastor Zach
- Different Doors - by Pastor Zach
- Nouwen is no Dummy - by Pastor Ben
- woulda, shoulda, coulda - by Pastor Ben
- That's so Rich - by Pastor Ben
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