Tuesday, July 29, 2008

More on Obama and McCain at Saddleback Church

Alex Chediak has more information on the Obama/McCain joint appearance at Saddleback:

The folks at Saddleback have set-up a website describing the August 16 joint appearance between Senators Barack Obama and John McCain (moderated by Pastor Rick Warren). Ticketing information will be available August 1st.

This historic forum will be the only joint event for the two, and the last public appearance for either candidate prior to the two-week hiatus during each party’s national convention.

Due to Secret Service mandate, tickets will be required for the event in the main auditorium, but the program will be broadcast live in multiple venues on the Saddleback campus, as well as on several national broadcast networks and online. It will also be streamed live on www.SaddlebackCivilForum.com.

Update: Ross Douthat has a post on Obama and Evangelicals. He concludes it by saying: "Obama's performance at Saddleback (and McCain's) will probably be at least mildly important in determining how those undecided evangelicals cast their votes."

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Sermon - Rethink: Rethinking what it means to be a church - Matthew 28:19

New sermon posted at WasecaChurch.org.

To say I got carried away with my sermon today is a slight understatement. A video I intended to use wouldn't play on our worship center's computer (and that would be the Pastor's fault, A/V guys did their part) because it was in a format that our computer would not play. The time it would take to download the software, or to download the video in a new format made it an impossible to fix problem. So with no video, I tried to fill in the gaps, and boy did I fill. I had planned 10 minutes for the beginning of the sermon, 5 minutes of video, and then 3-5 minutes for conclusion and challenge. While I didn't time it, I suspect my sermon hit around 25-28 minutes! It's on video, so I'll wait and see what the official count is.

I have a lot more to post on coming soon. I apologize for this blog being fairly inactive this week. I was ordained this afternoon, and that has been my complete focus. More on the ordination tomorrow.

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Vicinage and Ordination update

Today I presented before a vicinage council made of of pastors from regional NACCC churches, as well as moderators from those churches, Pastor John Carson from the NACCC national office, and Pastor Brad Wickersheim from Christian Assembly Church in Waseca. I presented my statement of faith and life story, and then took and responded to questions related to my presentation. After a period of deliberation, they voted unanimously to approve me for ordination. The question and answering period was both exciting as well as stressful, but all-in-all I really enjoyed it.

So that means tomorrow I will be ordained! at 3:00PM at First Congregational Church I will be officially ordained! Family and friend and most of my church will be in attendance. I'm exicited, but a bit worried that it is going to get hot tomorrow. They are predicting 85 degrees, and my sanctuary is NOT air conditioned. So pray for 70, low humidity, and overcast.

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Go and Be Reconciled – Colossians 3:13

The sermon I preached today is now posted on our church's web site - Wasecachurch.org. Along with that I posted a video I showed to start the sermon off. The video is the YouTube version, and we played the high definition version in the service. But you'll get the idea. It got a lot of laughs! This sermon brings to close the series I have been preaching that came out of Ken Sande's book The Peacemaker.

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Eagle Brook Church moves from megachurch to gigachurch!

I'm not certain that it's newsworthy (they crossed the 10,000 barrier a while ago) but Eagle Brook Church of Lino Lakes/White Bear Lake/Spring Lake Park is in the Star Tribune today. The author seems to be a bit slanted in his perspective, but any publicity is good publicity is how the saying goes, and this isn't really negative, just not quite positive. Nonetheless it is great to hear of a regional church who is making a difference in their community. I have a number of friends on staff at Eagle Brook -e.g. I was Pastor Bob Merritt's teaching assistant for a couple of years in Seminary, Jason Strand who is reference in the article for his sermon went to Bethel Seminary with me, and I was on staff at Spring Lake Park Baptist Church with some of the Eagle Brook staff before SLPBC became a campus of Eagle Brook Church.

Reading the comments on the Trib article, you'll find a lot of uninformed people lashing out against Eagle Brook. In spite of the size of Eagle Brook Church, they have worked very intentionally to connect people in small groups so they have a strong connecting point at church. They have more volunteers on a given weekend than 95+% of all churches have attenders. They preach the Word, making Jesus know, giving Glory to God. They are making a difference in their community and the world. They are helping other regional churches in many ways. They are doing great things! But because they are big, some people will blindly lash out against them. That's silly and immature. I pastor a small church, and understand that not everyone will be comfortable in a sanctuary that seats 2200 people, but that doesn't make it wrong. Lives are being transformed by Jesus there, eternities are being changed. Glory to God for that. May they continue to grow and may their influence multiply as they give credit to God for all their success!

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Saturday, July 19, 2008

And Can It Be That I Should Gain? lyrics

Written by Charles Wesley, Psalms and Hymns, 1738..

And Can It Be That I Should Gain?

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain—
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

’Tis mystery all: th’Immortal dies:
Who can explore His strange design?
In vain the firstborn seraph tries
To sound the depths of love divine.
’Tis mercy all! Let earth adore,
Let angel minds inquire no more.
’Tis mercy all! Let earth adore;
Let angel minds inquire no more.

He left His Father’s throne above
So free, so infinite His grace—
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race:
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

Still the small inward voice I hear,
That whispers all my sins forgiven;
Still the atoning blood is near,
That quenched the wrath of hostile Heaven.
I feel the life His wounds impart;
I feel the Savior in my heart.
I feel the life His wounds impart;
I feel the Savior in my heart.

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

The music most would be familiar with to go with this is Sagina by Thomas Campbell, though there are other scores for the music.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Desiring God National Conference 2008 - See you there!

Last Sunday the leadership of my church approved my request to attend this year's Desiring God National Conference. So earlier this week I got registered so I could make sure I would get in (they WILL sell out) and so I could get the lower price (goes up August 15th!).

The theme of this year's conference is as you see above - The Power of Words and the Wonder of God. The speaker line up is fantastic - I am especially looking forward to the words Mark Driscoll and Sinclair Ferguson will be bringing.

I also got word today that there is possibly going to be a luncheon at Bethlehem Baptist Church prior to the conference with D.A. Carson as the potential speaker. Nothing is set officially in that regard, but I'd walk all the way there if I had to in order to hear Dr. Carson speak! It was at a pre-conference event that I first got to hear Dr. Wayne Grudem speak, and Dr. Grudem knocked it out of the park. I expect Dr. Carson (if he comes) will do the same.

I will also be meeting up with a commenter on this blog - Ovidiu - some time during the conference for a meal and connection. A couple of years ago I had a nice meeting with another commenter on this blog - Paul Schafer. The unfortunate thing with my meeting with Paul was that it resulted in my truck being towed by Minneapolis! The result of that was that I've avoided downtown Minneapolis pretty much since then. They can't have any more of my money if I can avoid it.

The "Churched" and the "Un-Churched"

(From FotF's Pastor's Weekly Briefing)

New Ellison Research asked 1,007 American adults to report on their attendance at worship services. Results of the study showed that the traditional definitions of "churched" — people who attend services monthly or more often — and "un-churched" — people who do not typically attend frequently enough to be considered "churched" — often doesn't tell a complete story about how often people actually attend religious worship services. If adults in America are placed in more realistic categories based on their normal behavior, attendance stats at religious services would look like this:

* Attend more than once a week (11%)
* Attend once a week (22%)
* Attend two to three times a month (14%)
* Attend once a month (5%)
* Attend occasionally, not on a regular basis (9%)
* Attend only on religious holidays (10%)
* Do not attend at all (29%)

The study also showed that if an adult attended worship services regularly at some point before the age of 18, there is a 55 percent chance that person is currently attending once a month or more. If the person never attended prior to age 18, there is only a 21 percent chance that individual is currently attending worship services on a regular basis.

When someone grows up in a home where both a mother and father occasionally attend religious services, there is a 62 percent chance that individual is now regularly attending services as an adult. If only one parent attends services occasionally, there is a 50 percent chance that grown adult is now regularly attending worship. But when an individual grows up with neither parent regularly attending worship services, the chances that person is now regularly attending is only at 33 percent.

Ron Sellers, president of Ellison Research, noted, "There's often an assumption that people either do attend worship services or they don't. But what we find in this study is that up to one out of every five Americans is attending worship services at least occasionally during the year, even though they are not regularly involved. That has huge implications for local congregations who are trying to attract new people." Sellers said, "We estimate that up to 43 million adults who do not regularly attend worship services will visit a church or place of worship at some point during the year." [Ellison Research]

Monday, July 14, 2008

Sermon - Gently Restore - Galatians 6:1

The sermon I preached yesterday is posted at our church's website - wasecachurch.org.

This sermon series comes from Ken Sande’s book “The Peacemaker”. Sande's book is an exceptional text covering Christian conflict resolution.

Gently Restore

GAL 6:1 Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Talking to other people about a conflict is usually an unpleasant experience. We often let tensions build to the exploding pint and then confront people with a list of their wrongs. Anyone else ever done that? This causes the other person to become defensive and to react with a list of our own wrongs – yep, that unfortunately sounds familiar too. This of course often leads to a painful battle of words of who did what and who wronged who, how and when. This never turns out good, it is like adding fuel to the fire of conflict.

The gospel opens the door for an entirely different approach to talking to others about their role in a conflict. Remembering God’s mercy towards us, we can approach others in a spirit of love rather than condemnation. And instead of using guilt and shame to force others to change their ways, we can breathe grace into them by showing to them the wonderful news that God wants them to be free from their sinful attitudes or actions.

Matthew 18:15 says: If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.

Conflict presents unique opportunities to serve other people. One of the most challenging ways to serve others in the midst of conflict is to help them to see where they have been wrong and need to change. Although many offenses can and should be overlooked, some problems are so harmful that they must be discussed. This is of course tricky and delicate work, but if done with a Godly attitude it can be done in life changing ways. Today I hope to give you some tools, some guidelines on when and how you should go and talk privately to another person about his or her contribution to a conflict.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Weird things going on in Wisconsin

Which scares you more - that Wisconsin had to create a law banning sex with dead bodies or the fact that it has taken them this many years to ban it? Yikes!

Step out there...invite someone to church

I have an article in today's copy of the Waseca County News. The article is reprinted below for your viewing.


It is summer again here in beautiful Minnesota. That sweet time of the year where we can switch from three layers of clothes to three layers of suntan lotion and insect repellent.

Summer is the best time of the year to do many things. Things like water skiing, motorcycle riding and eating hot dogs at the park. Summer is also the best time to invite a friend to church.

Research shows that roughly 80% of first time church attendees come because they were invited by someone they knew. Not because they heard the pastor was good. Not because they thought the music was going to be good. Not because they liked the architecture of the building. Not because they wanted some free coffee. They came because someone they knew invited them.

Why do people tend to come only when they are invited? An invitation takes down a lot of barriers. They don’t have to worry about being there alone. They don’t have to worry about not knowing what is going on. A church can be an intimidating place if you have never been there before, or haven’t been there for a long time. A church can be scary place if you have had a previous bad experience. Going with someone you know helps take down those potential road blocks. Don’t wait for Christmas or Easter to invite people, invite someone today. Give someone a call, invite someone at work, send a friend a text message and invite them to church. Take a chance to impact their eternity.

Really, it is that simple. Now, I am not delusional, so I don’t believe that everyone will come every time you ask. What asking does is it opens up a dialog with that person, and you never know when someone might say yes. It is as simple as saying “Hey, I’m going to church Sunday, would you like to come along?” If you really want to kick it up a notch, offer to buy them lunch afterwards, or invite them over to lunch or hot dogs at the park.

Step out there, invite someone and leave the rest in God’s hands.

For those who might be reading this who don’t go to church, then take this as an invitation from me to come visit my church. If you don’t want to visit my church, call me, and I’ll make sure you get an invitation to another nearby church that you would prefer. I value you, and more importantly, God values you.

You can contact Pastor Chris Meirose at 507-835-4548 or through the church’s web site at http://wasecachurch.org

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Sermon - Get the Log Out of Your Eye - Matthew 7:3-5

I have posted the sermon I preached this last Sunday on our church's web site - Wasecachurch.org

This sermon is part two in a series on Relational Revival that I have been preaching. I am sticking closely to Ken Sande’s book “The Peacemaker”. Sande's book is the best resource that I know of for approachable information on Christian conflict resolution and reconciliation. This coming week we will look at Gently Restore, and then the following week Go and Be Reconciled.

The sermon series has been very well received. It is a tough one to preach, because I know that everyone, myself included, has experienced conflict and strife in my life. It is part of living in a sinful and broken world.

I also used this message as the foundation for a sermon I gave today at Lakesshore Inn Nursing Home - a nursing home here in Waseca where area churches take turns in providing worship services each week for those who live there. Many of the people in this nursing home are unable to get out and go to church for various physical reasons. So we bring the church to them. It was very well attended today, and I think the message was pretty solid. It is an abbreviated version of what I preached on Sunday because by the time we get done singing a few songs at the nursing home, I generally only have 10-15 minutes left of the 30 minutes allotted for the church service. I am happy to provide this service.

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Saturday, July 05, 2008

Leadership and vision

I have a Masters of Divinity with a concentration on Transformational Leadership. What that means is that I spent extra time in Seminary studying great leaders, studying leadership theory, studying all thing leadership. Vision is something that regularly comes up when discussing leadership. Leaders must possess vision, and leaders must cast vision. Andy Stanley deserves a lot of credit for influencing my thinking on vision.

One thing that I am learning as a Senior Pastor is that I do a lot of vision casting. A LOT. I am learning that I really enjoy this, and that planting seeds, getting the buy-in from key people, and building a consensus is more enjoyable than I had anticipated. It has been one of those nice surprises of full time ministry. I have had opportunities to do this previously, but never to this degree, and never with this sort of influence and responsibility, which is at times a bit scary. Scary because you don't want to lead people down the wrong path, or waste time or resources that are precious in a small church. The margin of error is pretty slim, but thankfully I have a gracious group of people in my church for when I will undoubtedly screw up. And thankfully I have a God who can see His work completed in spite of me.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

A thanks to Brenton Balvin

I just wanted to publicly thank Brenton Balvin for filling in as preacher at First Congregational Church of Waseca on June 22nd, 2008. Brenton preached a message called "The Sanctifying Purpose of Marriage" and knocked it out of the park. The people of my church soaked up his good words from the Word. I told them that he was better than me. I wanted to leave my church in good hands, with a man I trust, and Brenton admirably fit that bill. If you are ever in need of someone to fill pulpit supply, I highly recommend Brenton. He can bring it, he is gifted. (But I got dibs on him first!)