Month: August 2011

Catechism for 4?

A new school year is upon us.  Some places have even started already this week, but most will begin after the “last weekend of summer” (Labor Day).  That means it is time to begin Catechism.  As the pastor, it is my privilege to teach the seventh and eighth graders of the congregation the truths of God’s Word.  It is an exciting time, but it might be more challenging than others.  While it may be challenging to have a classroom full of young men and women who are studying God’s Word with you, it might in some ways be more challenging to have a small class.  (more…)

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Evangelical Inreach

I don't know why, but I hate using knockers and doorbells. If you have a good doorbell but hear knocking, it's a fair chance it's me. Sorry about that.

Did you know that evangelism isn’t about introducing Jesus to people who don’t know him?

Well, not entirely. Obviously the goal of telling all nations is to make disciples. We want others to hear that they are sinners, but Jesus loves them anyway. This is a good thing!

But!

It’s not the only benefit of evangelism. (more…)

Lord Grant Me Wisdom

 

King Solomon had some big shoes to fill when he took the throne as the king over all Israel.  His father was the great and legendary king David.  For 40 years, David ruled Israel.  Now the throne was his son’s.  Imagine the pressure and the thoughts that must have been going through his mind realizing all of the duties he would have as the leader of God’s chosen people.  So when God came to him offering to give him whatever he wanted, Solomon took a look at how God had already blessed him.  Solomon knew God’s love for him and his father David, but in his zeal to serve as the king, he thought he needed the knowledge and the wisdom to rule.  He knew that he needed God’s help to fulfill the task that God had placed before him. 

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Eggs in a Basket

Have you ever put all your eggs in one basket? Have you ever risked everything on one gamble?

Worldly speaking, I may be doing just that.

I’ve been called to a congregation that has struggled for many years. I serve in a position that is limited; it is a one-year call. In that year, if God does not bless us in a way that makes it appear that the congregation will survive, I will receive a call to serve elsewhere. The congregation knows they’re on a timer and it’s created a bit of a survival mode. Some days that appears in a pessimistic, “Well, that won’t work, so why even bother trying?” Sometimes it appears as a frantic, “We must do everything!” whirlwind of mass chaos.

One of the ways that I’m leading the congregation is attempting to foster a spirit of evangelism. The council has chosen to encourage every member to attempt to invite one person to join them in worship. I think this is a great idea. To that end, I’m attempting to make it easier for the congregation to do just that. I’m broadcasting what services will be about; if a member here knows that someone is struggling with guilt and the next service directly deals with such guilt, well, that’s a good idea to invite to that particular service. (more…)

Don’t Say It!

I said something in my sermon this past Sunday that may get me in trouble. I told the congregation, “Belonging to a church will not get you to heaven.”

In that part of the sermon, we were talking about how on the Last Day, all our comforts and distractions will be taken away. The ways we hide ourselves now from the knowledge that we WILL die and face judgment will be stripped away and we will face the Judge, with nothing between us and him. The distraction of TV — gone. The distraction of the internet — gone. The distraction of friends — gone. The comfort of what-I-did — gone. The comfort of but-I’m-better-than-him — gone. The comfort of church membership — gone.

It’s true. Church membership won’t get you into heaven. There will be plenty of people who belong to churches to whom Jesus will say, “I never knew you!” (more…)

Blessings in Moderation

We have all felt the bite of technology before. It doesn’t have to be the “blue-screen-of-death”. In fact it is more often something pretty simple. You send an email and a server is under repair so it never makes it or something like that (I am closer to a Ludite than a tech-wizard, so I don’t even know for sure if servers get repaired). But technology in the parish is a strong drug. In proper doses it is something good that can help. It is something that can make some aspects of worship and study easier. But taken in quantities too large, or laced with poor quality ingredients, technology can hurt.

The congregation I serve makes extensive use of technology. The sermons are podcasted. The services are recorded. The orders of service are projected. And the membership directory is digital. Sounds like a lot doesn’t it? Not really, each of those elements is done in appropriate moderation. In addition, we have professionals who volunteer their time to make those things good things. They are done well.

There are so many ways to go overboard with technology today. Don’t you dare give me a sermon outline on a powerpoint. If you do that why should you talk anymore? People can read. Is your technology a help or a hurt. I once gave a sermon which used “The Last Supper” as an illustration. When it came time to use that illustration a picture of it was projected, then afterward it was returned to the generic background slide or turned off all together. A little bit goes a long way. I have a personal opinion and theory, that if it is an acceptable amount or type of material for a corporate or academic powerpoint divide it by four and it might be good for worship. Not a law, but my personal measurement.

Technology, what a blessing of God! But like many of our Good Lord’s gifts, moderation is key.

The Word Works

Last Sunday I preached on Isaiah 55:10-11.  “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”  What wonderful words spoken to us through the prophet Isaiah.  God uses his Word to bring people to faith, to communicate to sinners that their Savior is Jesus.  The Word works!   (more…)

Stupid Blessing.

This is not how my cell broke, but how awesome would it be if I could say that?

This week marked two firsts for me.

First, I realized how dependent on technology I am in my ministry. I do a fair amount of texting with my teens, I call my members as I drive around town, and I make appointments using my phone on a daily basis.

And now, my cell is kaput.

I’m getting a new one (hopefully arriving today… hopefully… hopefully…), but for the past week… well, let’s just say I wasted a lot of time going back and forth and trying to get stuff figured out. It was annoying, to say the least. I lost some important calls. I had to apologize to numerous people. More than one teen has asked me what the heck is going on since I’m suddenly ignoring them (or, rather, simply not getting the texts!).

It’s the dumbest thing ever, how so little an object can control how a ministry goes. If James wrote today, I think he might have written this: “When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise the cell phone is a small piece of technology, but it makes great boasts.” (A slightly changed wording of James 3:3-5)

So, yeah. Stupid technology.

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The Power of the Pastor Revisited – An Office of Trust

Firstly, hello, this is my first post to the blog. I will be posting regularly to the blog, Deo volente. I am excited to be able to comment on the topics my brothers suggest. My situation is a little different. I am an associate pastor of a fairly large congregation. This means that there is a different dynamic. Additionally, I have the great pleasure of having fellow workers: a senior pastor, a staff minister of worship, a staff minister of spiritual growth, and a principle.

In the encouragement given in The Power of the Pastor I am compelled to say that trust is most certainly present. I am given a trust that isn’t quite the same as others. Here there is a senior pastor, a good man, who people have known for long years. I am a new pastor, fresh out of the box, so to speak. I am consciously striving to show this wonderful group of God’s people my love I have for them as one of their pastors. I hope they see the heart I have for them in Christ.

I am certain as my time here lengthens that I will be see more people who want to talk, who desire place a deep confidence in me. This is something that comes with being a pastor. A pastor holds a duel trust. We hold a trust from the people that we serve. They see us as their shepherds. Additionally, we hold a trust that comes from the Good Shepherd. We are the undershepherds of Christ. He has placed us in this situation of trust and tells us, “Be like me, do what is good.” We gratefully and willingly do this because we know God’s grace. We, by the strength of Christ, hold up that trust. And some day all who know this trust hope to hear those loving words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

In the meantime, we are trusted to write sermons that are faithful expositions of the Word, my sermons no longer go to a supervisor for inspection. We are trusted to be going about the work of the church, while still being accountable to an Executive Council. We are trusted to love people to our greatest ability, strengthened to the task by the Lord of Love. Do I marvel at the trust that I am given by God’s people? Certainly YES! What a blessing and privilege! But I marvel most that God would allow this cracked jar of clay to pour out the living water of the Gospel to his sheep and lambs.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Let’s talk

I have only been here a little over a week and already people have been wanting to meet me.  This is great!  I want to talk to the members and get to know them.  I want to communicate better with them.  What goes through your mind when it is someone who has been inactive?  Last week I called to set up a home-visit with someone who is unable to come to church.  Little did I know that the rest of the family that lives with them is inactive.  When I talked to another member of the family trying to reach the home-bound member, she told me that she would like to talk to me as well.  What a great surprise and joy! Yet at the same time fear. 

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