May 29, 2010

Walmart and Church - The Saving Place

I like Walmart prices but I don't like the Walmart chaos.

It always seems so crowded, so busy, so chaotic.

  • There's people and stuff everywhere. 
  • The parking lot is littered with carts, cars, and people. 
  • The check out lines are at least five people deep no matter how many lines are open.
I go to Walmart at several times a month because all my prescriptions are there, and because Walmart is nationwide, I can go to any Walmart and have my prescriptions filled. That's awesome. That's so convenient. And plus, it really is the saving place.

But, every time I go I find the shopping experience so unpleasant.

The reason why I'm whining about Walmart is because I am wondering what people would say about their experience with the church on a typical Sunday. 

For those who go to church, is it a place where they truly desire to be or is it a place they go because of habit, because that's what they've always done?

For those who don't go to church, for those who are hanging out at Starbucks on Sunday, or chilling at the house, or taking their kiddos to the soccer games or, would the church be a place that would be of the slightest interest to them?

I am convinced that the church has to do a better job of becoming a place where people would actually want to be. But here are some questions rattling around my head about all this:
  • What is the main purpose of the gathering on Sundays?
  • Can one glorify God and be a place that is fun to be?
  • Can a church both worship God and have that worship be awesome?
  • Should the church do what it can to cater to the needs of the visitors? members? 
  • At what point does the church begin to lose its very identity when trying to accommodate visitors?
  • Entertaining vs. informing
  • Can one be entertaining and informing?
Walmart can get away with the chaos, the long lines, shopping carts strewn around the parking lot, etc. because it normally is a place where a person can save money. So people go.

However, the church is an entirely voluntary place. Not only that, it is a place where people have to be quite intentional about going.

If we are going to grow and make a difference in the community, if we are going to have the opportunity to be heard so that the good news of Jesus Christ can be heard and understood and received by the people in our communities, we have to get better at being the type of place where people would want to be.

If the church is ever going to be the saving place again, it first has to be a place where people want to be.

Lots to think about...

May 28, 2010

WOW!!! The Church

Ephesians 3:14-21 is one of the greatest prayers ever prayed for the church. But because of the greatness of the prayer, I never noticed how the prayer ends.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Did you catch that? 

I get so caught up in the "immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine" part that I kind of skim over the rest. 

But the rest is just mind boggling!!!

Where is the locus or the place in which God will do "immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine"? It is us, the body of Christ, the CHURCH!!!

Look at what Paul says, "to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus..." Did you catch that?

I always think of glory and then automatically think of Jesus Christ. But Paul reminds us of something huge. You can't have Jesus without his church, which is his body. 

When I think about the church, I see a place that's filled with sinners, and therefore, filled with all kinds of issues and problems and stinky situations. There has never been, and there will never be until Christ returns a church that is free from sin. 

But the reality is that this is not a complete picture of the church. 

Sure, an imperfect church is who we may be now, but that's because Jesus is not done perfecting the church. And that's because we are not done being sanctified - or becoming more like Christ. 

This passage has blown me away about the understanding of the church. I thought I had a high view and esteem of the church, even with its warts and all, but it's nothing compared to the reality of who the church is in God's eye.

When the church gets it right, the fullness of God's glory resides there.

How awesome is that?!!!

May 27, 2010

My Office

Typically, my office is a haven. It's a place I go to think, to read, to write, and to reflect. But without my stuff around, the office has been a place to go work.

For the first times since I've moved to the Little Church, the office feels like my office again.

The books are finally in the shelves where they belong. I had piles upon piles of books laying around chairs, tables, shelves. I stayed up until 4am this morning putting my books in order. And it feels soooooooo good. I finally have my office back. For the first time since I've been at the Little Church, the office finally feels like my office. Yay!

May 21, 2010

Riding through Hail

The Olympia Presbytery met for at Pacific Beach, Washington yesterday. An absolutely beautiful spot on God's earth.

The only thing is, it is out in the middle of no where.

When I knew about the location of the presbytery meeting, I decided that I would take my motorcycle out there. It is about 125 miles each way and it has some pretty awesome twisties, not to mention the incredible sights along the way.

I had been excited about this ride for a long time.

The only thing I had not counted on was the weather being so...what's the word...hmmm...nasty. Yeah, that pretty much describes it. In the short ride, I rode through:

  • pouring rain
  • sunshine
  • mist
  • hail. that's right hail! at 70mph, with no windshield or fairings!
  • all at 40-50 degree temperatures
I had to stop three times on the way out to the meeting. First, because it was so stinking cold. I couldn't feel my fingers or legs. I have excellent gear but it had no chance against the cold temperatures, freezing rain, and hail. I was sooooooo cold! I really needed more protection (windshield, fairings, and deflectors) and I needed better gear (heated grips, leather chaps, heated gloves, etc).

Then, as I was traveling at highway speeds through the rain, the rain really started getting painful. And then I noticed that the rain was bouncing off my bike and off my helmet. It wasn't rain. It was hail! I can testify that getting hit by hail at 70mph on a bike really, really, hurts. I had to pull over until the hail stopped. The only thing was that I ran into hail three times! Thanks a lot Washington!

But, I did have a good laugh. Really, I was laughing out loud because when I first realized it was hailing on me, I said to my self, "What the hail?!?!?!" and started cracking up.

The third time I stopped was because I saw a Big 5 (sporting goods store) in Aberdeen, WA., and I knew they had something I desperately needed - hand warmers!!! I bought a pack of 10 - each capable of reaching 132 degrees, and lasting up to seven hours.

I wasn't going to take any chances. It was freezing cold!

But you know what? I would do it again. It was beautiful! 

But next time around, I will be better prepared.

What I really need is a new bike!

May 19, 2010

God's for Real!

It's been a while since I've blogged.

That's been intentional.

There has been a lot happening in my life. One day, I will write what's been going on. But right now, the wounds are too fresh. I haven't been blogging because I did not want to write something that I would regret.

I have been journaling and talking with God a lot. And it's been wonderful because God has filled me with a sense of peace that's just been awesome. It's so good to have an awesome God like that.

I will start writing and blogging about random things. I just have been overwhelmed for a little while.

It feels good to just be writing this right now.

All in all, what I want to share with you is that God is good. God is awesome! God's not just some grandpa figure sitting up in the heavens. God is real. When we open ourselves to the love of God, his presence, his peace, and his guidance is real. I could not imagine what life would have been like the last couple of weeks without the real presence of God in my life.

Look, if you don't know what I am talking about, open yourself to the spirit of the living God and let Jesus come into your life. If what I just wrote doesn't make any sense to you, email me. If you would like to receive Jesus as Lord in your life, and don't know how, email me. I would be honored to guide you to a new life in Jesus Christ.

Bottom line, life is just too crazy and unpredictable to go through it alone. And the thing is none of us were ever meant to live life alone. God loves you. Jesus loves you. Now, let him love you.

May 9, 2010

Compelled to Blog about Health Care in US - scary...

Okay. This is a touchy topic. The topic is the health care system. I confess up front that I don't have a clue how to fix our current system, but I am overhearing a conversation at a coffee shop that compels me to blog.

As some of you know, I had a quadruple by-pass surgery in February 2008. That surgery, rehab, angio-plasti, and a bunch of other procedures and doctor's appointments cost about $175,000. That same surgery with the absolute best doctors and in the best hospitals in Brazil costs less than $30,000.

Something is not right with this picture.

Part of the reason why my procedure cost so much is because of what I just over heard.

I am sitting next to some Russians. Mixed in with their Russian, I am overhearing a little bit of their conversation. What they are talking about is how a few of them (not all but three of the seven people sitting next to me) came to the US because they needed medical procedures done and knew that the hospitals here would perform the surgeries while hospitals in Russia would not. I don't know what surgeries they had, but one of the guys had over $150,000 in medical bills, another $130,000, and another $100,000. None of these individuals had insurance. They shared how they've negotiated with the hospitals and they now only owe a tiny fraction of the total bill - and were laughing how they are paying less than $25/month. And a couple of these guys plan on going back to Russia as soon as they earn enough money to pay for their plane ticket.

Now, I know this is an incredibly sensitive topic.

First, I am thankful that we live in a country that will care for people even though they cannot pay for the procedures. I think that is awesome that we can do this. After all, we are talking about human lives. You cannot put a price tag on human lives.

But we cannot keep doing this before we bankrupt the entire medical system. At some point, the numbers reach a point where the dollars are no longer sustainable.

I don't know what to do about this.

Is there anyway to still hold people accountable to their bills even if they were to go to a different country? After all, we live in a global world.

Don't have a clue on what the answer is. But, I am incredibly frustrated by what I just heard, and because I am still paying big time on my medical bills, and these guys are going to walk. That's not right.

I am glad they received the care they needed. I am glad they are alive. But it's not right that they can just walk away without being held responsible.

How do we fix this???

Happy Mother's Day! Mom's You Rock!!!

Tony Compolo’s homemaker wife was attending a faculty gathering at the University of Pennsylvania with her husband. A sociologist confronted her with a question, “And what is it that you do, my dear?”

Here’s her reply: “I am socializing two homo sapiens in the dominant values of the Judeo Christian tradition in order that they might be instruments for the transformation of the social order into the teleologically prescribed utopia inherent in the eschaton!”

I love that! You go mom!

That’s what mothers do – they socialize homo sapiens not just intellectually or emotionally or physically, but spiritually.

What the mother is, the child usually becomes.
- Moses’ mother was as courageous as her son became.
- Samuel’s mother was fervent in her faith as her son.
- Paul said to young Timothy, “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also” (2 Timothy 1:5).

Moms, don’t let this world tell you who you are. You shape eternal destinies.
  • You heal and bind wounds and broken hearts
  • You inspire dreams and encourage your children into believing that God can use them to change the world
  • You show us that all things are possible, that the world can be a better place through our participation

Moms, you are incredible, wonderful, shapers of eternal destinies. Not a one of us would be here without you! You make this world a better place.

Happy Mother’s Day! We love you!

May 7, 2010

What is up with all the F-bombs???!!!

My wife and I went out on a date last night. 

That's cool. Really cool. I love spending time with my wife.

But here's the thing. One of the things we did was to go see a movie and I was shocked, disgusted, disturbed, bothered, irritated, annoyed, offended by the cussing of the young people in the theater. They were late teens to early twenties - a group of about 20 kids. And the language they were using was so obscene, so obnoxious, so inexcusable. All this in a public place!

Why do people have to cuss like that? Does dropping the f-bomb like there's no tomorrow make you cool? Make you feel powerful? What is the deal with the cussing? It just makes you sound ignorant! And to top it all off, it's offensive.

Stop with the cussing please!

May 1, 2010

Godly Elders in the life of the Church

The ordination vows of the clergy and of elders in the Presbyterian Church (USA) are identical. The only place where they differ is in the vows that pertain to preaching and the administration of the sacraments for the pastors.

Congregations, on average, spend two years searching for the right pastor. But these same congregations elect elders into positions of leadership with almost ho hum matter of factness year after year.

That's nuts!

There are fewer things more important to the health of a congregation than Godly leaders.

If careful and prayerful consideration is not given to the leadership of the church, it won't be long before the most vocal, the most networked, and the most pushy people start asserting themselves as leaders causing great division in the life of the church. Their varying demands and their personal agendas quickly sidetrack the mission of the church. And internal strife quickly overshadows and overwhelms the mission of the church.

It is a misnomer to think that elders are "chosen" by the congregational vote and through the nominating committee. It is God who calls leaders. Our process of nomination and congregational vote is merely affirming God's call for certain people to take positions of leadership in the life of the church.

What we ought to be looking for in our leaders who demonstrate their capacity to follow God's will in the personal, private, familial, church, and public lives. If they fail in these areas, it would be crazy to put people who have not proved their leadership in leadership of the church. That is what Paul is saying in both 1 Timothy and Titus with the qualifications of leadership.

God loves the church, and therefore, God gives to the church the best leaders.

It is up to the church to hear and discern God's leading.