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Archive for June, 2009

We have completed day two of our local sports camp.  Our attendance was much better last night.  We played baseball with the kids and everyone had a great time.  There was one little girl who was there last night who reminded me of why God calls us to reach out.  She had been at the camp the first night as well and was very shy and did not want to participate much but was content to sit and watch.

Last night she came out of her shell and swung that bat with the best of them.  She was all smiles.  As we drew the evening to a close, we were saying our goodbye’s to all the kids and I watched this little girl, who the night before would not participate, go from adult to adult and give each one a big hug.  She didn’t miss an adult.

Somewhere through the process of games, and stories and smiles and encouragement, this little girl had begun to feel loved and accepted and she responded.  Now that is what God’s love looks like!  That is a visible picture of God’s plan in action.

That’s why we are called to show God’s love to those around us –  to give of ourselves. That is where we find real joy!

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Blood and Skin

We had our first night of our local sports camp last night and it was a blast.  We did not have very many kids there but I was really proud of our church folks who showed up to give of their time and to show the love of Jesus to kids.  There will probably be  many stories for the blog over the next few days, generated from this 3 day event.

Last night, when it came to the snack station, the snack crew had all the kids sit around the picnic tables and then served them red coolaid and animal cookies.  One of the little boys, Grady, got all excited and asked, “Is this Jesus’ blood and skin?”  We explained that it was simply a snack, but I had to move away so that no one could see me laughing.  It was great!

I have thought about that question since then and have been touched by Grady’s understanding of communion.  When we offer the sacraments in a service, we try and make it a worshipful experience which normally takes a very serious and solemn tone – and it should.  We state that the worship experience is to remember our Lord’s sacrifice of his blood and body when he died on the cross.

But how often does it become vivid and real to us?  Has it become just another ritual? Grady, so wise at 7, understands.  The sacraments symbolize something very real. They don’t just symbolize something intangible – they symbolize real blood shed, and real flesh that was broken and beaten and pierced – skin that can be touched.

Wow!  Thanks Grady for your wisdom!  It reminded me that Jesus’ sacrifice was very real and very personal!

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To Tweet or Not to Tweet

I had the unique opportunity yesterday to be interviewed by the local Fox affiliate as part of a story they were doing over the use of Twitter in our community.  Dave Quinn has done, and continues to do, an amazing job with the City of Levelland in the area of economic development.  He has been encouraging area businesses and community leaders to become more involved in the social media realm.  So Fox came out to interview him and others in the community who are using social media – specifically Twitter.

All that to say, it has prompted several conversations with different folks about the usefulness and benefit of social media – particularly in the church world.  I am interested to hear your comments on this.  I ask that you take the time today to leave me a comment with your thoughts on the subject.  

I believe that if we are going to stay on the forefront, as a church, with the changing world, we have to learn to communicate with the world.  As I see it, a transition is going to have to happen in the mindset of many of our folks.  What has been seen as a waste of time (blogging, Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc) has now become crucial.  I believe that what was once seen as a diversion from the daily work we should be doing, this very thing has become (or at least is becoming) our daily work.  

I would not have ever jumped off into the social media scene had I not been convinced that this is the way our world is moving.  Now I am passionate more than ever that this is one way (albeit just one way) that we can reach people for Christ.

I would really love to hear your thoughts on this issue.

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Still Waiting

Are you any good at waiting?  I hate waiting.  I don’t like long lines at the grocery store or at Six Flags.  I don’t like red lights and I despise the waiting room at the doctor’s office (appropriately named).  If I have to go to the doctor, I always take a week’s supply of reading and work with me so that I can use the time productively.

If you are like me, you aren’t crazy about waiting.  But I read a good book a few months ago that I still go back to occasionally when I get frustrated with waiting.  The book is titled, Deep-Rooted in Christ – The Way of Transformation, and it is written by Joshua Choonmin Kang.  In this book, Kang uses Moses as his example of what God does while we wait.  

I am in the midst of the desert in many respects, waiting for God’s plan to be revealed and at times, I confess, I get very impatient.  But the quote that I go back to from time to time from Kang is this: “In the school of waiting, servants of God behave differently than others do.  Some are tempted to complain about time wasted, but they resist; instead they use their time to pray and plan and fuel their dreams for the future.  And God is at work while they are waiting.”

I find this is not easy to do, but a good reminder from time to time.  You may not find yourself in this situation now, but most assuredly you will sometime in the future.  If you find yourself in a time of waiting right now, take heart.  God is at work – your job is to stay focused on the call God has given you.  

Easier said than done but hang in there.

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Late Night Square DanceI was only at youth camp for one evening before returning home, so I am sure there will be better things to report but this was one of those moments that is most likely more funny to me than you might find it – but here goes.  The schedule included “Late Night” each night at 9:30.  Monday night the agenda was square dancing.

A real live square dance caller was brought in to make it a real experience.  So here is the scene:  300 middle school and high school students, excited to be at camp on the first night – boys trying to impress girls and girls doing the same (you know the scene) – all crammed into a long narrow room 35 feet wide and 100 feet long.  It was chaos.  The caller, a tall, thin man in his early 100’s (ok probably really in his 70’s) was at the mic trying to get the students to follow the calls.

Finally, the frustration got to him and he yelled out through the mic, “You wanna dance or you wanna visit?”  I was just observing all of this and I lost it.  It was the funniest thing I had heard in a long time.  The sad thing was, I am not sure that many of the students heard it or even cared.  But he finally got them going in the right direction and the overall effect was that they all had a good time.

I still plan on having the man’s picture put on a T-shirt with the tag line, “You wanna dance or you wanna visit” emblazoned across the front.  But the experience has come back to me several times this week.  It got me to thinking about how often that question could be asked of me.  How often do we go to church because that is what we are “supposed” to do?  We put on a joyful face and put on aires trying to impress our peers.  But we rarely really join the dance.

As a Christian, God has a wonderful plan for each of us – one that will require everything from us but be the ride – or the dance – or our lives.  But so often we stand by and never participate.  So my question for you to ponder this weekend is this – “You wanna dance or you wanna visit?”  The choice is yours – but as for me – I wanna dance!!!

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It Takes All of Us

I just had the best meeting with a gentleman in our church.  He lost his wife a few months ago and we have gotten to know each other a little better through that experience and since.  In one of our conversations a few months ago, he told me about his career and how he had spent his life working in the electrical industry.  

I mentioned that we are always needing people knowledgeable in that area on our mission trips.  He said that he could not attend and participate in a trip like that but he would be happy to help if he could in some other way.  Marvin does great getting around but he uses a walker to assist him and so he didn’t feel that a construction site would be the place for him.  I told him we always have plenty of help but not always the needed knowledge so if he could design the electrical layout of the house, we could probably take it from there.

This past Sunday, Marvin came and found me.  He wanted to know if I still needed him to help with the electrical plan.  I told him I did and so today, I took him the floor plan.  He took the plan and began to tell me how he would design the layout and color code it so that anyone could pick it up and understand what needs to be done.  

It was in that moment that I was reminded that it takes all of us.  The key is understanding who we are and what God has called us to do and then the most important element of that formula – actually getting involved and doing it.  Thanks Marvin for reminding me, once again, that everyone has a part in God’s plan.  

You are truly an inspiration to me.  You reminded me that everyone has a part to play and that in order for the plan to work, we all have to do our part.

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This past Saturday I had to finally bring myself to cut down three trunks of an oak tree.  We noticed last year that the leaves were not coming out as well in that area of the tree but thought maybe next year . . .  But, no that part of the tree is truly dead.  So I spent the day cutting, hauling and stacking wood and branches. 

As the first trunk crashed to the ground, I noticed in the cut I had just made, some white worms.  As we looked at the wood, we found holes bored all through it.  It appears that we found the culprits.  The first thought I had was, “I wonder if these little guys have friends and family eating away at our other oak trees.”  From the outside, the other trees look fine, but so did this one just a few short months ago.

The tree may have looked fine on the outside, but the inside was a different story.  The tree was being eaten away and was rotting.  It got me to thinking about people (as do most things I encounter).  Do people ever get into this situation – looking normal on the outside but suffering death on the inside?  Jesus used the metaphor of whitewashed tombs,  you can read about it here.  

What about you.  Do you work at appearing great on the outside but neglect the inside?  When people look at you, do they see a true picture or are you hiding what is really going on?  The point of the story today is not to make us feel bad, but rather to alert each of us to two facts.  The first is that we cannot ignore the inner life.  We must be committed and disciplined to spend time in God’s word and in prayer.  We do not ever want to fit Jesus’ description.  

The second fact is that we must never forget that the people we encounter may look like they have it all together but in reality, on the inside, they may be hurting.  God calls us to show grace and compassion – to everyone.

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