Archive for September, 2009

The Lights Are On

September 30, 2009

The doors are open.

The lights are on.

The gospel is being preached.

This is the response that I sometimes give when I am at a gathering of ministers and am asked how things are going at the church.

I would love to be able to respond with all kinds of reports of miraculous growth, but, that isn’t the case.  Our church has shown little statistical change over the years.  We have been pretty steady with slight increases and decreases.   Some people come, some people stay,  some people go, the numbers remain about the same.

As a pastor, I sometimes feel as though my success or failure is determined by the numbers.  Certainly that impression is reinforced whenever I attend ministerial functions.  The speakers are always individuals whose ministries have shown dynamic growth.  Growth seems to be held up as the indication of success.  Therefore lack of growth, would seem to indicate failure.  Since my church does not show growth, it would seem that I am a failure as a pastor.

I do not accept that conclusion.

I do not believe that statistics tell the whole story.  I believe that God continues to work in us, and through us, as individuals and as a church.  Only God knows the full story of the impact that is made in the spiritual realm by the large number of small churches, like ours, in our country and around the world.

The doors are open.

The lights are on.

The gospel is being preached.

Enough

September 29, 2009

I have enough.  I have enough time, talent, money, energy, help, etc. to do what God wants me to do.

The trouble is, that it always seems as though I do not have enough resources, to do all that I want to do.

Do you notice the difference?  The difference between what God wants me to do, and what I want to do?

God will supply all that we need to fulfill His calling in our lives.  It is when we are trying to work off script that we run into problems.

May God help me, and you, to recognize His calling in our lives, and to utilize His provision for the journey.  His yoke is easy and His burden is light, and we will find rest for our souls, if we seek to do His will, instead of our own.

He will take care of us.

Changing Seasons

September 24, 2009

Summer has officially ended.  It is autumn.  Autumn is a very nice time of year.  It is still warm enough to enjoy outdoor activities, but at night it is cool; great sleeping weather.  Pretty soon I will start having fires in the fireplace on cold mornings, leaves are turning, crops are being harvested, school is pursuing its annual course.  It is that time of year. 

I really enjoy fall.

In a very short while, my son Andrew, will be moving to Minnesota.  My other son, Christopher already lives there.  My wife and I will be empty nesters.  I am not looking forward to it.  We managed to hold it off for a few years while Andrew went to college locally.  He has graduated and is ready to move on.  It will be different.  Life is changing.  It is to be expected.  Some might call this time the autumn of life. 

I really like autumn.

I hope to enjoy the autumn of life.

Who Are We?

September 23, 2009

Who are we?

How are we known to others?

I will deal with the second question first.  Others know us by our words and our deeds, what we say and what we do.  Other people can only process that information that is available to them.  This means that they will definitely have an incomplete picture, because no one knows everything that we do and say.  The more that they have observed us, the more complete a picture they will have of us.  The problem is, that it is very incomplete; and we may only be willing to allow certain people to see us in certain ways, giving an intentionally distorted presentation.  To different people, we may appear as different people.

So who are we?  We are the sum total of all that we say and do: and experience and think.   

The things that we have experienced form us to a large degree.  No one else has identical experiences.  We are unique in our perceptions of life from an experiential point of view.  These experiences have a profound impact in our identity as individuals.

Our thoughts are uniquely our own, and are private.  No human being knows what we are thinking.  They may be able to read our body language, they may observe what we say and do to some extent, but they can only guess what we are thinking.  Our thoughts reflect on our experiences and, hopefully, influence our words and deeds. 

We are the sum total of what we say and do; experience and think.  We are known by others only in part; except of course, for God, who knows ALL … and still loves us and is willing to forgive us if we turn to Him with faith in His son Jesus, who loved us enough to die for us.

This Old Marine

September 22, 2009

When I was young I enjoyed going for long runs.  While I was in the military I often ran five miles over the lunch break.  After the military I moved into a new neighborhood and went for my first run on city sidewalks.  Running on the concrete hurt my knees.  I could hardly walk up the stairs to my house.  From that point every time I tried to run, as soon as I reached any kind of distance, something would hurt.  My back, my knees, my hips, something would force me to stop running.  I didn’t run for years.

One day I decided that I wanted to try running again.  I ran a half mile on an inside padded track.  It was ok.  I slowly built up to a mile and did that at the end of my weightlifting workouts for many months. 

One day, my son, who was planning on joining the Marine Corps and was running a lot in preparation said to me “Dad, don’t Marines run three miles?”.

I was challenged to try again to build up to a three mile run.  I very slowly increased the distance that I ran until after many months was again running three miles.  I felt very good about the fact that this old Marine could once again pass the Marine Corps physical fitness test.  (The situps and pullups are not, and never were a problem for me.)

This past summer I wanted to try something different.  I thought that I would try doing the triathlon routine.  I swam, biked and ran: first for twenty minutes each, and then for thirty minutes each.  It then occurred to me that if I was going to enter a triathlon, I would have to run on something other than an inside, padded track. 

The first time that I ran outside I was very concerned.  I ran on the grass or on the gravel shoulder as much as possible. 

It worked.  I was able to run outside again without hurting.  I have been routinely doing this triathlon training now for a few months.  It feels good.

On Labor Day, the gym was closed.  I couldn’t swim, and I had the urge to try for a longer run.

I ran for an hour.  It went really well.  I checked out the distance with the car and I had made 6.6 miles!  That was the longest run I had made in over twenty years. 

The problem is… now I want more.  I am going to try going for long runs every other week.  Yesterday, I ran for an hour again.  This morning there are no ill effects.  I am going to try adding four minutes the next time that I run.  I will continue to do a long run every other week ( in addition to other shorter runs in between) adding four minutes every other time, until I reach the ten mile mark. 

We’ll see how it goes.

Serious Side Effects

September 21, 2009

Congress is considering a bill which will require everyone to obtain health care.  It will also require all companies to provide health care to their employees.  What it doesn’t say is how the individuals, or the companies, are going to pay the cost. 

Most people, and most companies do not have the same opportunity as the government to spend money that they do not have, at least not for very long, and not without serious consequences.

I am very concerned that the cure that congress is offering for our health care issues is going to have serious side effects.  I see a disruption of our economy and our health care system that will be detrimental to the well being of our country.

Church Hypocrites

September 17, 2009

Some people do not attend church because they have a tendency to focus on the shortcomings of others.  “The preacher is boring.”  “The music is lame.”  “People dress too sloppy.” “People dress too nice.”  There are a host of reasons to stay home if you are looking for an excuse.  The perfect church does not exist.  Neither do perfect people.  How can you have a perfect church, when it is made up of imperfect people?   In fact, if you think that you can’t attend a church that has people with faults and think that  you are perfect, then you are the one that is a hypocrite, because you judge the imperfections of others without recognizing your own.

You should go to church.  One more imperfect person won’t hurt, and it might help!

Science and Religion

September 16, 2009

The best focus of scientific research is the present material realm.  Science is a wonderful tool for examining the workings of the world in which we live.  It provides us with much useful information that helps to make our lives better.

Religion deals with the world around us as well.  However religion goes beyond what we see to the realm of the nonmaterial.  Of course, not everyone believes in the existence of the nonmaterial, but many people do.  Religion provides a degree of understanding, a sense of purpose, and a basis for ethical behaviour. 

Science and religion do not have to be adversaries.  Their areas of primary emphasis are different.  Actually, they are wonderful compliments to each other, when the relationships between them, and the limitations of each are properly defined.

Courtesy

September 15, 2009

Courtesy is the grease that lubricates the sometimes abrasive nature of human social interaction.

Sadly, common courtesy is no longer quite so common.  Rude behaviour is often displayed, not just by young children on a playground, but by our congress, entertainers, and media personalities.  I don’t know how many interviews I have given up trying to follow because people will not even let others finish their sentences without interruption.  I cannot follow two, or more, people talking at the same time, my brain does not work that way. 

My name, Curtis, actually means “courteous one”.  When I was younger, I wished that my name was different, something more like Lance, which means “God’s warrior”, something with a little more zing.  Now that I have matured, I have come to appreciate the difference that common courtesy can make in a person’s day.  The tone of our day can be changed by the actions of those around us.  Perhaps we should start by changing our own actions, a little common courtesy can go a long way.

The Hero and the Punk

September 14, 2009

This is a story that happened recently.   There are three characters; a middle aged man with graying hair who drives an environmentally friendly automobile, a young male who hangs out near skate parks and an eleven year old girl.

The punk grabbed the girl and tried to take her where she did not want to go. 

The hero intervened, struck the punk, and saved the girl.

The punk ran off like the coward he no doubt is, and got away for now.

The hero went home without even leaving his name.

The girl is safe with her family.

Police are looking for middle aged punk who tried to abduct the girl.  They would like to arrest him.

The family are looking for the young hero.  They would like to thank him.

I hope they find them both.