Sunday, March 30, 2008
Technorati Tags: Epistles, Crossroads, Crossroads Church, Church, Chuch Video, Bible, Divine Mentor, Wayne Cordeiro, Grasping God's Word, J. Scott Duvall, Scott Duval, J. Daniel Hays, Daniel Hays
Friday, March 28, 2008
I just got back from the Doctor's office and the news wasn't good. I have strep throat. I haven't had this in a really long time. My throat started to be irritated Tuesday night, and by Wednesday night it was like I had been drinking lava from Kilauea in Hawaii.
I told the doctor all my symptoms, and he agreed that it didn't sound like strep. He looked down my throat, and agreed it didn't look like strep (I've been looking myself for a couple of days). He said let's do a culture anyhow while you are here. Shazam! You've got strep!
So I got some drugs, and hopefully I'll be on the mend. My biggest concern is that it has begun to affect my voice some, and I have to preach on Sunday. So I'll be pumping fluids and popping penicillin for the next 10 days.
Technorati Tags: Strep, Strep throat, Doctor, Doctor's office, Kilauea, Hawaii, Hawai'i, Preaching, Penicillin, Penicillin VK, oral antibiotics, antibiotics, Pharmacy
Below is the statement of faith I inherited when I took over as Pastor for First Congregational Church of Waseca, MN. Other than there being some unbelievably LONG sentences it seems to be pretty well thought out. Anyone have any thoughts on this?
Statement of Faith:
We believe in God the Father, infinite in wisdom, goodness and love; and in Jesus Christ, His Son, our Lord and Savior, who for us and our salvation lived and died and rose again and lives evermore; and in the Holy Spirit, who takes of the things of Christ and reveals them to us, renewing, comforting, and inspiring the souls of His children.
We are united in striving to know the will of God as taught in the Holy Scriptures, and in our purpose to walk in the ways of the Lord made known or to be made known to us. We hold it to be the mission of the Church of Jesus Christ to proclaim the Gospel to all mankind, exalting the worship of the one true God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; and laboring for the progress of knowledge, and promotion of justice, the reign of peace, and the realization of human brotherhood. Depending, as did our ancestors, upon the continued guidance of the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth, we work and pray for the transformation of the world into the kingdom of God; and we look with faith for the triumph of righteousness and life everlasting.
Technorati Tags: First Church, First Congregational, Congregational, Congregational Church, Waseca, MN, Waseca Church, wasecachurch.org, Statement of Faith, God, Father, Wisdom, Goodness, Love, Jesus Christ, Son of God, Lord, Savior, Salvation, Resurrection, Heaven, Holy Spirit, Holy Scriptures, Scripteure, Gospel, Statement of Faith, Justice, Truth, Transformation, Kingdom of God
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Pastor, here are just a few ways your life is different:
- You prepare new messages every week for the same crowd. (I can’t think of any other profession who does this without the help of curriculum or speech writers.)
- You do what many managers or business owners do. (The short list includes: maintaining the building, building new facilities, hiring, training and firing staff, overseeing the budget, raising money, recruiting and leading volunteers, etc.)
- You shepherd the flock. You might counsel someone who is suicidal, meet with a couple who is about to divorce, do a funeral and a wedding before your preach on the weekend.
- You are rarely “off duty.” Like the doctor who might be on call one weekend a month, you are almost always “on call.”
- Though your hours are flexible, they are generally long and unusual. You work many nights, weekends and most holidays.
- You have the pressure of life in the “fish bowl.”
- Your role creates many social obligations.
- No matter how much you do, your ministry is never “finished.”
Technorati Tags: LifeChurch, LifeChurch.tv, Craig Groeschel, Pastor, Pastor's Job, Preacher
A few choice quotes:
Something broke this weekend, spiritually. I’m not sure how to explain it, but God’s favor was evident everywhere. We had 8,070 people attend on Sunday, plus however many could not make it into the Eastside Campus or stand up outside the building to listen on speakers because there was no room in the parking lot or on the sidewalk. We had 3,648 for Good Friday services plus however many hundreds got turned away from the 7 p.m. service at Ballard. We had at least 11,718 people altogether this weekend, somewhere near 200 baptisms yesterday alone, and are still trying to figure out how many people got saved.
Yesterday while singing with the congregation at each of the five services I preach live, I could not stop weeping. People were singing loudly with their hands in the air. They cheered all day as people came forward to give their lives to Jesus and be baptized. The pastors were up front laying hands on people, praying over them, and leading them to Christ by the dozens at every service.
Wow. Praise God! God is good!!
Technorati Tags: Mark Driscoll, Mars Hill, Mars Hill Church, Bible, Jesus, Baptism, Easter, Good Friday, Maundy Thursday, Worship, Seattle, Influence, Salvation
Monday, March 24, 2008
I was using Amazon today, and had a thought that I figured I'd share with you, as it has been an annoyance of mine for some time. I fully understand this isn't your department, I'm passing it onto you because maybe you can get some credit for it or something.
I love Amazon and nearly all of it's functionality. The one thing that annoys me is the wish list. It annoys me in two ways. The one that prompted this email is that when I am viewing a product (today it was a book called Fusion by Nelson Searcy) I see "Add to Wish list" in the right side bar. You may question why is this an annoyance? Because this item is already on my wish list. But my wish list is long. Hundreds of books (and other things too). Too long for me to remember them all. Could Amazon code something to tell me this is already in my wish list (switching the button to say "In Wish list)? This would be saving me from clicking the add button to only then find out that it is already in my wish list, wasting my time and frustrating me. Or maybe Amazon could tell me "Hey, you've looked at this book 3 times now." Amazon could offer an incentive like "If you buy this widget you've looked at 4 times now with this other really good widget that pairs well with it (or that many other buyers are also buying) and we'll give you free shipping." Obviously more concisely stated than that, but you get the idea.
My other annoyance covers two areas - the wish list and the recommendations. When I am looking at my wish list and editing it (removing things generally) the system is pretty crappy. Say I am on item #34 and I delete it. When the page refreshes it moves my location on the screen. Ideally I'd like to see the screen updated with the old #34 deleted and what was #35 now as #34 so I can continue on editing from this point rather than scrolling all around trying to figure out that I was indeed on #34 (since now that one is gone I've lost my marker for where I was working). The recommendation system is similarly screwy, but worse in that it will change the order of things as I work to improve my recommendations. I understand it triggers a reassessment of what would be the best recommendation for me, but I'd suggest a built in time lapse function so I can edit my recommendations without new recommendations being updated. Then have a button or something where I can manually trigger a new set of recommendations. Set a cookie for this to expire a few hours later, so that I have time to make my edits, but the next visit I will be able to get all my recommendations fresh without having to manually trigger updated recommendations.
I really think this would trigger an improved customer experience on Amazon.com.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
I ask that you stop for a minute or five and offer up a prayer for our worship service (or the service you might be attending). As Perry Noble says, "Pray like crazy for this weekend's service." I have no idea who will be in our church, but I know they will hear about Jesus. I'm sure there will be people far from God who need to hear this message, I pray their hearts are soft, that they are fertile soil. For others I pray it will be a sweet reminder of the Christ we follow.
Easter has an inherent tension for pastors. The "C & E Christians" (Christmas and Easter) will be making an appearance. People who don't normally come to your church will be visiting. There is a chance that lives will be transformed and eternities changed. I don't take that lightly, but I always fear that many do not take that serious enough. There is added tension because Easter is the celebration of the risen Christ, and the joy and grace we are afford through what he has done for us, that which we cannot do.
For my sermon I will be stealing a framework from Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. I will be talking about the words and works of Jesus Christ. I believe it is a good sermon, but more importantly is is a God-honoring Christ-centered message that makes clear who we worship is fully worthy of that worship. To borrow a bit more from Perry Noble, we will make His name famous and we will push back the gates of hell a little bit further.
So pray. Pray for me, for those coming to the church, for my message, for God to act in amazing ways, both in our church and in this world.
Technorati Tags: Easter, Easter Service, Easter Sermon, Prayer, Sermon, Pastor, Preacher, Jesus, Christ, Jesus Christ, He is risen, Empty tomb, Words of Jesus, Works of Jesus, Joy, Grace, Mark Driscoll, Mars Hill Church, First Congregational Church, Waseca, Waseca Church, 1st Congregational Church, 1st Congregational, First Congregational, Congregational, Congregational Church, Church, Perry Noble, Life transformation, Eternity, Passion, Passion of the Christ, God, Christian, Christianity, Bible
Thursday, March 20, 2008
The best part of the trip was being with my wife for a few days. We haven't had a few days off together in quite some time, so it was a great get away. My next favorite part was the water park at Wilderness. The lines weren't too bad this time of year, though there were quite a few Spring Break families visiting.
Technorati Tags: Vacation, Wisconsin Dells, Wilderness, Wilderness Water Park, Cave on the Mounds, House on the Rock, Alex Jordan, Taliesin, Frank Lloyd Wright, Dodgeville, Spring Green, WI, Wisconsin
Friday, March 14, 2008
so that you may belong to another,
to him who has been raised from the dead.
R o m a n s 7 : 4
You are not your own,
for you were bought with a price.
1 C o r i n t h i a n s 6 : 1 9 - 2 0
Care for the church of God,
which he obtained with his own blood.
A c t s 2 0 : 2 8
The ultimate question is not who you are but whose you are. Of course, many people think they are nobody’s slave. They dream of total independence. Like a jellyfish carried by the tides feels free because it isn’t fastened down with the bondage of barnacles.
But Jesus had a word for people who thought that way. He said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” But they responded, “We . . . have never been enslaved to anyone.
How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?” So Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin” (John 8:32-34).
The Bible gives no reality to fallen humans who are ultimately self-determining. There is no autonomy in the fallen world. We are governed by sin or governed by God. “You are slaves of the one whom you obey. . . . When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. . . . But now . . . you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God” (Romans 6:16, 20, 22). Most of the time we are free to do what we want. But we are not free to want what we ought. For that we need a new power based on a divine purchase. The power is God’s. Which is why the Bible says, “Thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart” (Romans 6:17). God is the one who may “grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may escape from the snare of the devil, after
being captured by him to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:25-26). And the purchase that unleashes this power is the death of Christ. “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). And what price did Christ pay for those who trust him? “He obtained [them] with his own blood” (Acts 20:28).
Now we are free indeed. Not to be autonomous, but to want what is good. A whole new way of life opens to us when the death of Christ becomes the death of our old self. Relationship with the
living Christ replaces rules. And the freedom of fruit-bearing replaces the bondage of law. “You also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God” (Romans 7:4).
Christ suffered and died that we might be set free from law and sin and belong to him. Here is where obedience ceases to be a burden and becomes the freedom of fruit-bearing. Remember, you are not your own. Whose will you be? If Christ’s, then come and belong.
Technorati Tags: Easter, John Piper, Christ, 50 Reasons Jesus Had to Die, The Passion, The Passion of the Christ, Romans, 1 Corinthians, Acts, Christ, Jesus, Jesus Christ
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Does your church erect invisible barriers toward people getting connected with your church? Is it easier to find the Lost Ark rather than your church on a Sunday morning?
Certainly there may be many legitimate reasons why someone may not come to your church (personal preferences, driving distances etc..). Those are issues that you can't control. But there are plenty of other issues that you can. So, if you are determined, for people to not come to your church or get connected then,
Here are 10 ways to Stop Me (or anyone else )from Discovering Your Church
1. Don’t have a website: This is the information age, even 107 year old women have blogs, but not your church. No website, no blogs, nothing, nada, zero. In order to feel more comfortable before I visit, I want to see something about the the church. I want to be able to kick the tires before I show up on Sunday. And even if you must have a website, make sure it is poorly designed, lacking in information, hard to navigate, lots of rainbow and dove graphics, and definitely out of date.
2. Be completely inactive in the community: If you’re not doing anything in the community then no one will talk about your church. That makes it a lot harder for me to accidentally find out anything useful. So don’t serve the community or partner with other churches or non-profits. In fact it’s really just best if you stay completely inward-focused and don’t do anything missional in your town or city.
3. Don’t answer your phone: Regardless of what time I call (weekday, weekend, morning, afternoon, evening) don’t answer the phone and don’t have an answering machine or voice mail for me to leave a message or prayer request. If you do have voice mail, don’t include your website address, service times or directions to your church on your message, and don’t ever answer the phone on Sunday mornings. That way when I’m lost en route to service, I’ll have no choice but to drive around aimlessly until I give up and go home.
4. Allow misinformation: When contact information changes about your church, make sure you don't update websites, online directories and phone books. It is important to make sure you keep me on my toes and misdirected every chance possible.
5. Lack clear signage: Even if I’m determined to visit your church, you have several on site options to discourage me. The first is to play hide and seek. Is your church in a nondescript building or on a street with several other churches? Have absolutely no signage; none, whatsoever. Except maybe on the mailbox, where you abbreviate things beyond comprehension.
6. Have insufficient parking/seating: Other discouraging on-site options are lack of adequate parking and seating. Does your church seat 200? Only have 30 parking spaces and make sure that all the church volunteers are using them. Been running at capacity for weeks or months? Don’t start another service, so that there will be standing room only. Have visitors’ parking? Put it in the corner of the lot away from the entrance. Have adequate parking? Don’t stripe the lot or have parking attendants; chaos is best. Have adequate seating? Make it as uncomfortable as possible.
7. Ignore Visitors: Despite your best efforts to discourage me, you think that you have won -but I have found and attended your church. In fact, I even filled out a visitor’s card requesting more information. Don’t acknowledge my visit in any way. Don’t call me, don’t send me a thank you card, don’t answer any of my questions or give me any information about how to become involved or learn more about Jesus. Also don’t have any literature available for me to take home and don’t train your volunteers to be courteous or helpful in anyway.
8. Respond half-heartedly to inquiries: If responding to information requests at all, do so extremely slowly and only partially. Wait 1 week or more to return emails or phone calls and if I ask several questions, don’t answer them all. Instead just tell me I should come to a service to find out more. That saves you a couple minutes of response time and makes you look very busy and important. Whatever you do, do not start a dialogue with me.
9. Be evasive about your beliefs: When I ask a direct question about the church’s beliefs, ignore the question or act like you don’t understand and then start telling me about your denomination or church programs. For “What We Believe”, only include the Nicene Creed on your website or literature. If I’m adamant about wanting positional clarity, instead tell me about the love of Jesus and how Christianity isn’t about division. For those times you do answer my questions, act offended that I would even ask, then try and make me feel stupid or sinful for questioning you.
10. Continue to be difficult: You might just get a few months of attendance out of me before I just give up out of frustration. Don't help me get into a small group. Don't help me find ways to volunteer and use my gifts. If you keep making the process of involvement and connectedness difficult and unclear, you will eventually wear me down and I will go elsewhere.
(adapted from a post at Church Redone)
Technorati Tags: Ministry Best Practices, Big Creek Church, Bill Reichart, Forsyth County, Georgia, Church website, Church Visitors, Ministry, Marketing,
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Today is a glorious day! The audio from the Text and Context Conference at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA is now available. For those of us poor saps who were unable to attend (and who have poor DSL service so watching it live via webcast wasn't an option), this is the next best thing.
Mark Driscoll - Putting Pastors in Their Place
CJ Mahaney - Pastoral Character & Loving People
John Piper - Why I Trust the Scriptures
Jim Gilmore - Fear & Trembling in the Experience Economy
Matt Chandler - Preaching the Gospel from the Center of the Evangelical World
John Piper - How My Pastoral Ministry Shapes My Pulpit Ministry
Mark Driscoll - The Ox: Qualifications of a Church Planter
Matt Chandler - Vision of a Church Planter
I'll be burning down my DSL line tonight to download these sessions.
Technorati Tags: Conference audio, sermon audio, Resurgence, Acts 29, Acts29, Acts 29 Network, Mars Hill, Seattle, Mars Hill Church, Mark Driscoll, CJ Mahaney, C.J. Mahaney, John Piper, Jim Gilmore, Matt Chandler, Text and Context, Text & Context, Pastor, Scripture, Gospel, Ministry, Vision, Church Planter, Pulpit
Monday, March 10, 2008
If you are reading this, I want you to stop and think for 10 seconds about who you are going to invite to First Congregational Church of Waseca (or your church) for Easter. I'm serious. Start thinking. Who do you know who is far from God? Invite them. Do you know someone looking for a church home? Offer them a ride. Is there someone new to town? Invite them to church and lunch afterwards.
I'm working hard on my sermon for Easter. I have actually been working on it for a couple of weeks now. I have listened to at least 15 hours worth of other Easter sermons in the past 3 weeks just to get me in the right mindset. I have to tell you, it is getting me excited! I can hardly wait for Easter to be here! No, that's not because I'm a Cadbury's Eggs addict.
There are no secrets about my Easter sermon. I'm preaching Jesus, the resurrected Christ. I will bring Him glory and make His name known.
I'm praying for God to work in and through First Congregational Church, and I challenge you to do the same.
Technorati Tags: Easter, Easter Sermon, Preaching, Pastor, First Congregational Church, Waseca Church, Waseca, MN, Cadbury's Egg, God, Jesus, Resurrection, Evangelism
Sunday, March 09, 2008
I just want to thank Pastor Phil Print and everyone at Crossroads Church for their encouragement and prayer. Today to close our 11:00 service Phil asked my wife and I to come to the edge of the stage where he introduced us, explained that we were leaving the church to serve in a new church, and then led the church to pray for us. That was really awesome, and I deeply appreciated it. He didn't have to do this, but he understands having been there before, and cares enough to disrupt the "normal" flow of a weekend worship service to pray for us. I'm both humbled and blessed.
I'm going to take this opportunity to brag on Phil Print for just a couple of paragraphs. Phil Print is without question the most gifted preacher I know personally. His ability to regularly craft sermons is at a level few others can hit with their very best sermons, and no, I'm no where near that level. He is a preaching freak. If you could rate preaching ability, he'd score at the top of the charts. Not only is he gifted in preaching, but he raises the level of everyone else around him as well. James Brown, Brad Kindall, Ryan Lunceford, Jake Kirchner, James Racine, and everyone else who serves under Phil get the opportunity to learn and be refined by one of the best. Beyond that he is a great leader, having done amazing things at Crossroads Church in Cottage Grove, MN. Phil is passionate about Jesus and making Jesus known. He also leads his family well. I both respect and admire Phil for who he is, and what he has done.
If you would like to hear Phil preach you can download sermon audio. They don't (yet) have the fancy iTunes setup.
A bit of background to my knowing Phil Print:
I first met Phil at Bethel Seminary - he had been called in to grade one of my sermons for an Intro to Preaching course everyone is required to take. He gave me a good grade, but had some piercing insight into how to improve my preaching. A year later I found myself as his Teaching Assistant, as he had taken over the Intro to Preaching course from Pastor Bob Merritt of Eagle Brook Church (Phil and Bob are friends).
At first I wasn't sure what to make of Phil. He comes off as both focused and unassuming. He's a fairly high energy guy with a laid back approach. He has a runner's build, a well trimmed mustache, and a voice that is very unique. As I served him, I came to see his genius. He is a truly gifted communicator. Little did I know then at how gifted he is in preaching and crafting a sermon. I always told Phil that I'd like to visit his church, but Cottage Grove is more than just a short trip from where I was living (on campus) in Arden Hills. I also was on staff of another church, an additional 15 minutes away from his church.
When I got married, I moved to East Saint Paul, a short 15 minute ride from Crossroads Church. I had been telling Phil for the better part of 3 years that I would someday come visit his church, and now I had nothing holding me back. Crossroads Church has been our home since that first visit.
Technorati Tags: Phil Print, Crossroads Church, Cottage Grove, Bethel Seminary, Preaching, Bob Merritt, Eagle Brook Church, Teaching Assistant, Intro to Preaching, Professor, Prayer, Best Preacher, Brad Kindall, James Brown, Jake Kirchner, James Racine, Ryan Lunceford
Saturday, March 08, 2008
Check out CJ Mahaney over on the Sovereign Grace Blog. His passion for Jesus inspires and challenges me. His humility humbles me, and his humor tickles me. His preaching is completely engaging, and his writing (books) has never let me down. That's not to say I have high expectations for his blog or anything...
Technorati Tags: CJ Mahaney, Sovereign Grace, Sovereign Grace Blog, Jesus, Humility, Preaching
Friday, March 07, 2008
Below are some data nuggets for Waseca County, MN where First Congregational Church is located. These are based off of the 2000 Census, so there will be some variation that isn't reflected. It will still give a good general overview of the area I will be ministering in in the years to come.
A few thoughts - Ethnically, it is very white. I have more ethnic diversity within a 3 block radius of my current house in East St. Paul than in the whole county. A very low rate of rental - 20%. A low rate of unemployment - 2.5%. A low poverty rate - 6.5% living below the poverty rate.
Any reader thoughts?
Technorati Tags: Waseca, Minnesota, Waseca County, Demographics, First Congregational Church, Pastor
Thursday, March 06, 2008
Last Sunday, at Mars Hill Church, Mark Driscoll preached a sermon on the Regulative Principle. For a few minutes, just at the end of the sermon, he discussed some “behind-the-scenes” time he has spent with both C.J. Mahaney and John Piper. In this brief audio excerpt, posted below, he explains to his congregation some of the ways he has failed to serve them and how he hopes to grow in and by God’s grace. This is in light of some private brotherly correction and feedback he received from John Piper and C.J. Mahaney at the recent Resurgence conference.
When I hear things like this, I am filled with gratitude for this incredible, unique body called the church. I love to see Christians serving, challenging, exhorting and blessing other Christians in this way. I thank God for Piper and Mahaney and their ministry to Mark Driscoll and, through him, to the church at large. Listen and be encouraged.
Technorati Tags: Mark Driscoll, CJ Mahaney, John Piper, Tim Challies, C.J. Mahaney, Mars Hill, Mars Hill Church, Seattle, Text and Context, Church Conference, Resurgence, Ministry, Pastor, Grace, Regulative Principle
Monday, March 03, 2008
OK, not really. But it does look like it doesn't it? The photo is from the Text and Context Conference Q&A session.
If you didn't hear about this conference, a quick synopsis is available on the Acts 29 site by Scott Thomas.
Justin Buzzard did a good job of capturing some notes from the conference.
Desiring God Blog has John Piper's thoughts and resources from the conference.
Acts 29 will eventually make the audio and video available from the conference (for FREE!) and when I catch wind of that I'll pass it on. One session might not be fully available, as Mark Driscoll brought his wife Grace Driscoll on stage to answer questions. Last I heard he is debating whether to open this segment to the public, as he wants to protect his wife. I for one would LOVE to hear what she had to say, but I understand and respect his need and desire to protect his family. I'm sure he'll make the right choice.
I watched a bit of this via streaming video, and am excited to see it all when it becomes available.
Technorati Tags: John Piper, Mark Driscoll, Chuck Norris, Christ, Text and Context, Church Conference, Seattle, Mars Hill Church, Acts 29, Church Planting, Preaching, Scott Thomas, Desiring God, Desiring God Blog, Justin Buzzard, Grace Driscoll