Ungrounded Finally!

Today was my first day out of the house since Wednesday. I worked for a few hours at RadioShack and then went over to church for our Mosaic musical rehearsal. Tomorrow our students are presenting a program “In God We Trust.” I’m running sound for the production, which will take most of the morning worship time. I’m am planning on a invitaion at the end — The program lends itself to that.

The nice thing is that I have a rare Saturday evening off. Usually I spend Saturday evening preparing for worship; praying, going over the songs, and tweaking and rehearsing my message. It’s a nice break.

My foot is feeling much better. The surface wounds have healed considerably, but there is still some swelling. Thanks for your prayers.

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Proper 8 – July 1

II Kings 2:1-2, 6-14; Psalm 77:1-2, 11-20; Galatians 5:1, 13-25; Luke 9:51-62

Lots of good things to think about in this week’s readings! The Old Testament readings continue to be about the prophet Elijah. This week we see Elijah’s final moments on earth. Elijah and Elisha are walking along, come to the Jordan River, and cross it on dry ground. Elijah says, “My time has come, what do you ask of me?”

Elisha replies, “Give me a double portion of your spirit.” This is quite a bold request. Elijah tells him watch as he leaves. If Elijah can be seen the request will be granted. If not, the request won’t be granted. Elijah is taken up in chariots of fire and Elisha can see the whole thing. Elisha had great expectations of what God can do.

I’m sure all of us have felt like psalmist. He was at a great low point. What do you do when you get there — Look at God — Not by who He is — but by what He has done. Good thought for when it seems like we are lower than the floor.

Paul’s letter to the church at Galatia is a good reminder of the line that we walk as Christians. On one side, we are free, not tied to the law, however, we are not free as Paul continues to continue in our sinful nature. We are changed. Paul is writing to the church and this is something that I have been thinking about lately. This idea of corporate holiness vs. personal holiness. Paul is writing to the church, not to individuals. We are given those great fruits of the Spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. We are told that 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. 25 Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.

Jesus reminds us of that in Luke’s gospel — being a disciple is tough work. There are hard decisions to make. Are we willing to follow the Spirit’s leading to do what Christ has called us to do? What would you have asked of Elijah? Christ calls us to follow Him more than anything.

Hospitality

Over the past year, Pam has been teaching something called Impressions. Impressions is a program developed by Wesleyan Women. It is a biblically-based etiquette program for Middle-school girls. Pam teaches it to both our Middle and High School girls. Over the past few months we have had special guests.

Tonight’s special guest shared with the girls the importance of encouragement and hospitality. He is pictured with Pam to the left. He is part of our military and he shared the importance of sending encouraging cards and letters.

During his talk, he told the girls that he had our church’s cards posted on the wall while deployed. He reminded them that all of us need encouragement and that our cards and letters were very important while he was away. He thanked the church for the cards.

It sounds like they had a good night, even though I was grounded (see the post below.) The older boys cooked for us and the pancakes as well as the rest they cooked were excellent (I had some take home!)

Tonight was about hospitality. How do we treat others (strangers, friends, and enemies around us? Do we treat them the way Jesus would? Jesus says when we do it to the least person, we’ve done it to Him. Great stuff to think about.

Grounded!!!

Well, as most of the congregation at Preston knows by now, I’ve been grounded. Yes, that’s a picture of my foot all wrapped up. What happened? I was up on a small footstool on Sunday night and fell off. There was a lot of pain, especially at first. It was bruised and scraped but I didn’t think much of it. It was difficult to walk.

Today, my good friend Joe came by and said it looked broken (something about the beautiful purple color) and I should go to the hospital. So, begrugdingly I went to the hospital.

No, it’s not broken. But the doctor was concerned about infection, so I have Neosporin for the cuts and an anti-botic to take. I’ve been grounded until Saturday to allow the cuts and bruises to heal. I’m such a clutz!

My Musical Worship Journey – Part 7

First Wesleyan Church, Flint, MI
FFWCLast week, I looked at the Indiana Wesleyan years. We stayed for two years in Marion, while the Lord showed us His plans. During this time I continued to assist Dr. Guy at Lakeview and continued to hone my skills. I was still primarily a bass player and vocal director. Occasionally, I would lead worship, most times with my bass with a great band. A very few times I led worship from piano and also on acoustic guitar.
I felt led to send out my resume and before long I was contacted by church in Michigan. This was to be a full-time worship position. We had several phone calls and a face to face interview. It was all set, we were moving to MI. It seems my dream had come true. I had finally arrived (or so I thought.)
Since these posts are about influence, that’s what we’ll look at. One thing that was cool was that there was a solid Wesleyan support group. The churches and the pastors got together regularly for worship, prayer, and breakfast. One of the highlights each quarter was the Fifth-Sunday Sing. Each church would take turns hosting. There would be a time of congregational singing, and special music brought from each church. This was always an enjoyable time. Because I was the only paid worship staff at any of the churches, I led most of these events. The most memorable was the Super Sunday Sing. We had a time of worship, followed by fellowship and food, followed by the Super Bowl. That night I led worship and played drums. It was very cool.
In addition to a close knit group of Wesleyan pastors, there was also a close-knit group of evangelical pastors. It gave me a good taste of what ministerial associations should be. This has been an influence even now. I enjoy fellowship with pastors across denominational lines. One of the best services we had with this group was a Good Friday service. I led worship with our praise band; and led a community choir. I was a very inspirational service.
Musically, I was trying out my wings. This was a full time position, so I was responsible for a wide variety of tasks. Those tasks included directing the choir, praise band, preparing worship for Sunday AM, PM and Wednesday PM, leading the music/worship committee. In addition, because of my computer background, I also put together a nice computer system and network. I would lead worship a variety of ways; just leading, playing keyboards, or playing bass. My musical influences during this time were Brooklyn Tabernacle, Maranatha Music Worship, and Integrity Hosanna! Music.
flameI came to First Wesleyan with a bachelor’s degree in Church Music. This means while I had the proper musical training, I did not have any ministerial training. During this time I had my first visit with the DBMD (or District Board of Ministerial Development.) This board is responsible for those pastors who have not yet been ordained. I wasn’t sure that was in my call, so they recommended that I at least get my Special Worker’s License. That means, I would have to attend classes again. My pastor forwarded my some information about this new program called FLAME.
Little did I know at the time, this would become a huge influence in my ministry. It sounded like an interesting way to get my class work done, so in the summer of 1999, I headed south to Indianpolis to attend (what was at the time the 3rd) FLAME. It was there I met Wayne. Wayne is the face and voice of FLAME. It was something for which God gave hime the vision. I had to borrow my senior pastor’s car, the church let students stay in their building for free. The bad thing was I forgot my sleeping bag and pillow. Thanks to the generosity of a fellow FLAME student, they loaned me a sleeping bag. There was something about this conference, something that I had never experienced. There was fellowship (in the koinonia sense of the word), academics (My Wesleyan Church History class was taught by Dr. Melvin Deiter, who really is the church historian) and spiritual renewal. It was amazing. This FLAME was completely different from the current FLAMEs especially in the area of worship (There was none, except for Wednesday night, when the host church led a time of worship before communion.) Those six days at FLAME made a profound difference that I wouldn’t realize until much later.
466735_GOur stay in Flint was a short two years. I still miss Halo Burger and Coney Islands. You have to be from Flint to understand. In the spring of 2000, Pam and I sensed God was calling us in a new direction. Like I said before, being the worship pastor was all I had prepared for, I wasn’t quite ready for the next turn. We resigned without knowing where God was leading us next. We interviewed for several worship positions but those doors all closed. What was happening? Didn’t God understand what I had prepared for and that I had really enjoyed these past two years? What would be next? What became a growing concern was that we were running out of time. Where was God leading us now? What would become of all I had prepared for?

Lighthouse or Life Saving Station?

If you’ve been following along lately, you’ll know that we are studying Keith Drury’s There’s No I In Church on Sunday evenings as part of our discipleship emphasis at that time. We are in the final chapters of the book and we have been discussing baptism and conversion. I recommend you get the book and study it together, because it is not meant to be read or studied alone.

As part of the discussion, we looked at the question of how we see our church. Do we see our church as a lighthouse or a life saving station? A lighthouse waits for people to come to them to save them and warns them of the danger. A life-saving station goes out (much like our Coast Guard) when the call goes out

There is much discussion lately as to whether a church should be attractional (lighthouse) where people come to church and we present the gospel or should the church be missional (a life-saving station) and go out into the highways and byways and take the gospel to them. Is it an either/or situation or a both/and situation?

If we look to Jesus and his disciples as our example, we see that it’s probably both. Jesus did not abandon the synagogue. He shared His message there even though it was not popular and Jesus went among the common people, preaching and teaching wherever there was a crowd.

We need to be ready when our church attracts people to us and we can do that in a number of different ways. We also need to go out and be the hands and feet of Jesus where the people are.

So many times we think we need all kinds of training to make disciples and yes, that is needed, but Jesus called his disciples and they began right where they were. I challenged our congregation Sunday to begin serving Jesus right where they were. God may be calling some into something more, but we are all called to serve the Kingdom. We need to be attractional and we also need to be willing to go out and meet people and be Jesus’ hands and feet.

Sunday Thoughts – June 24

Whew! I’m glad the weekend is over. Not that anything bad happened, but it was very busy. Like I mentioned on Thursday, we babysat for a couple that had two boys. They kept three adults, a teenager and a ten year old busy. It was just interesting having young ones around the house. We didn’t leave the house, all at the same time, because that would have meant packing seven people into the van and it would have been too much work. All that being said, it was a good time and we enjoyed having them. It was a blessing to minister to their parents.

That was one piece to the puzzle. Our Mosaic girls had a sleepover on Friday night at the church. I hear things went very well. Thanks to all the Mosaic leaders who helped with this. Our youngest daughter came home very sleepy Saturday morning.

Today kept us busy as well. It was interesting trying to get little ones ready for church. I forgot how long it takes and we didn’t even have to the car packing thing, because the parsonage is next to the church.

The service went well and we had a good response to the challenge at the end of the service. We took the boys to their grandparents this afternoon after feeding them lunch. This evening we again looked at the corporate spiritual discipline of baptism and conversions. It has been a very interesting study. We plan to wrap it up next week.

Because of some technical difficulties, I had to burn a CD from a tape copy this evening. I went looking for an adapter to make all the audio happen and slipped off a step stool. I thought my plans to get everything done this evening were over. I didn’t know if I had broken my leg or ankle or some combination. It turns out its mostly brush burns and surface scrapes. (And no, I didn’t go to the hospital.) At this point in the evening, I am wrapping up this post and all the other post Sunday evening work and am going to relax a while. Hope you all have a great week.