Sunday Night Thoughts

Wow! was today a hot one on the Southside.  Even as I write this at 9:45 PM, the temperature outside is 88 degrees.  The temp topped out at 100 at about 4:00 this afternoon right as I was grilling dinner (which was great!)  We had beef cubes marinated and then grilled along with peppers, onions, tomatoes, and mushrooms.  We love grilling, but I’d rather do it when it’s not so hot outside.

Church was good today.  We had a great time of worship.  The whole worship team was back for the first time in several months.  We are in the middle of a five-week stewarship emphasis. I don’t remember if i mentioned last week, but we now have the ability to stream audio of our services.  Check it out [here].  I have the last two weeks up.  What’s nice is that I don’t have to trade out older sermons for newer.  The best way to access them is to go to www.prestonwesleyan.org and look for the sermon player on the bottom.  I love the fact that there are so many companies committed to providing low-cost resources. 

Several of the resources we use are www.forministry.com for hosting our website; www.wordpress.com is hosting this blog; www.sermon.net is where we are hosting the audio.  I actually use both Google Video and www.youtube.com for hosting videos, though I prefer Google Video, because it has a separate uploader and I can load videos of greater than 100 MB.  I have a shell of a site set up at www.mychurch.org, as well as I do have a facebook profile.  “Why?” you may ask.  My desire is to build the Kingdom of God.  Through our internet ministry, I can reach people who would never check out our church in person.  It’s been amazing to watch the search terms that are used and how people end up here.  Just this afternoon, I checked out the search terms and one said “joysucker.”  I couldn’t remember where I had used that, so I googled it and found a sermon I preached last summer.  In fact, I was convicted by my own words as I read that post, that I had let some people suck the joy right out of my ministry. 

Since I started writing the temp has dropped to 81 degrees (in fifteen minutes!)  This evening we had a great time together as we sang.  We reprised a song from this morning, “Are Ye Able?” Said the Master.  It’s not in our new hymnals so we put it up on the screen which is unusual for a Sunday evening.  I do use PowerPoint for teaching on Sunday evenings.  We had a great time of worship, singing out of the hymnal which took us right into prayer.  Then we had our teaching time as we get ready to finish up the ten commandments. 

In a rare move, we took the kids out after church to Dairy Queen.  It was a nice treat on a hot SPRING day.  If it’s a 100 now, I’m not looking forward to the rest of the summer.  Besides who turned on the switch to summer anyway? 🙂 

Yesterday, began our denomination’s General Conference.  It should be interesting.  I have been following via several blogs.  Have a great week!  Stay Cool! Carp Diem!

Red vs. Blue States and Other Colors

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Yes, it is 2008 and I’m sure we will hear of blue states and red states.  But, here a blue vs. red state map even more colors on it.  It represents the predominent denomination in any county in the US.  It comes as no surprise to me that we are surrounded by Baptists.  It also came as no surprise to me that the area of Upstate New York that we lived in was primarily Catholic.  This really does help us understand the world view of the people in the community around us.

A Little Background

If you’ve been around here awhile or if you’re new to this blog, you will see that this blog is about worship. You will notice that most weeks, I will have commented on the readings from the Revised Common Lectionary. As a pastor and a worship leader, I have more than a passing interest in what some would call “high church” worship. You might ask me, how does one who grew up in a “low church” free-worship church like The Wesleyan Church, develop an interest in “high church” worship. The short answer is, it’s been a work in progress.

For many years most Wesleyans, Pilgrim Holiness, or Wesleyan Methodists would have only known about Christmas and Easter in the church calendar. About 25 to 30 years ago, many Wesleyan were introduced to Advent. Just about every church that I have been in since, at least references Advent as a season in the church year. Most even have an Advent wreath with candles, but other than that most Wesleyan wouldn’t know the other seasons, like Dr. Keith Drury has said, we typically celebrate Mother’s Day over Pentecost, which is strange when you think about it because Pentecost is about the birth of the church and the coming of the Holy Spirit to the church. Wesleyans have typically had a strong emphasis on the Holy Spirit.

My first introduction to the church year came at Indiana Wesleyan University during a class on church music. One of our semester long projects was to put together 52 weeks of orders of worship based on the church year/lectionary. It seemed strange and then there were all those colors and they didn’t make sense to me at all. I remember looking through the themes of Advent for that project. I was ready to do Christmas carols, but they didn’t fit the theme. This still affects my thinking during Advent. Advent is a season of preparation for the coming of the Lord; it is not the celebration of the coming of the Lord. My prof was impressed because I probably took about 16 to 20 hours to put this project together. Even though we attended in a college town, most of the Wesleyan churches worship times were more based on the revival model — Song service, preaching service, altar service.

After graduating college, I took my first worship leader position. What is really ironic now is that they were pushing me to add the Lord’s Prayer, Apostle’s Creed, and Doxology to the worship service (and being young, I was a bit stubborn.) Now I would gladly welcome those suggestions. (Isn’t it amazing how we mature.) I’ve documented how God moved us from Flint to Fort Miller. One of the churches that I interviewed at in the process was Houghton Wesleyan Church. They sent me several bulletins and orders of worship. On the top of the order of worship was Second Sunday of Easter or something like that. This got me thinking, would it be possible to combine our low church tradition with a bit of high church?

It didn’t take too many weeks at Fort Miller to incorporate the day of the church year into the bulletin. The church was used to having colored cloths on the cross, so that was easy to incorporate as well. They were also using the Doxology. While I was there we did some more formal services — not everyone liked them, but some did. One time after coming home from FLAME, we did a Covenant Renewal Service and we did a few formal Maundy Thursday services. Two years before we left Pam and I became acquainted with the community clergy association, most of those churches followed the church year, so we became more acquainted with it and were involved in the community lenten services.

While I doubt I will ever be fully high church — I enjoy the spontaneousness of the free worship. There are times that we used a more formal style of worship. At my current church, we mark time in the bulleting two ways; the regular calendar and the church calendar.

Maybe I’ll share a little more next week about this.

Cancelled

To say that this evening got a bit interesting is an understatement. I got off work at 4:00 PM and headed home to get ready to head up Mosaic tonight. I was on the schedule to drive the van to pick up our students. Pam and I were ready to leave the house and head to the church, pick up the van and then pick up the students.

One of our Mosaic staff called and asked if we were still having Mosaic tonight. (It had been raining hard for the last hour and thunderstorms were in the area.) The one fact I didn’t know was that there was a tornado warning for our county. It the first real rain we’ve had in a couple of weeks. What should we do? What was the plan? Do we pick up the students in the heavy rain? We pick up between 15 and 20 students for Mosaic. Me and the other van driver with the help of Weather Underground made the decision to cancel Mosaic this evening. There were just too many variables. We had the safety of our students to take into consideration. We quickly made some phone calls and the leaders all felt we made the right decisions. Several students were disappointed. Several parents were also relieved.

So get to the point…The point is that this little crisis made think about what we would do in a real crisis — weather, van accident, or other wise. Yesterday I provided a link to Tommy Mitchell’s Rurban blog. He had a great article following the Virginia Tech shootings that is good for us to ponder — to see this article click [here]. How well are churches prepared for times of crisis?

A Visit to Martinsville Speedway

As noted in the title of my blog, NASCAR visits Martinsville twice a year. However, the speedway is here year round. As part of the speedway’s 60th anniversary, they had an open house today. We had full access to the entire speedway to take a look around. The track gave away hotdogs and Pepsi and even let people take their cars on the track for a few pace laps. It was very cool.

A rare view from the back side of the track. Directly behind us our the Norfolk and Southern railroad tracks. They were moved back several years ago to create this space. There are only a few hundred bleacher seats along the back straight just beyond the parking barriers.

Turns 1 and 2 from the Main Grandstand

Turns 3 and 4 from the same placeThe start/finish line from the flagman’s position

Looking down the front straight from the flagman’s stand.
They also showed various classes of stock cars. Here Pam has her picture taken in front of one of them.
Getting ready to take a few pace laps around Martinsville Speedway in the Kia Sedona. Wayne, I can’t believe I actually did this! Don’t be too jealous 🙂
I’ll give tons of credit to NASCAR drivers. This is not as easy as they make it look on TV. Martinsville’s corners are tight and very flat.
During our pace laps, I had three motorcyles following me. It was very interesting and very cool at the same time, but it also required all of my attention.

In less than two years our church will be celebrating it’s 60th anniversary. This little open house got me to thinking, how could we use our 60th anniversary to reach out to our community? How could we give them a way to “test drive” our church? It leaves me something to think about.

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.

Midge’s Pillow

How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD…Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you. Blessed are those whose strength is in you…(Psalm 84 – NIV)

For five years Pam and I ministered in the greater Schuylerville community. During the last two year of our ministry, we were privileged to be part of the community clergy associate. Sometimes you don’t miss what you have until later. This is one of those times. The the latest issue of Jacob’s Well from Old Saratoga Reformed Church, there was this quote that rings true.

The church is to be a community of hope where people trust that the church will go on even when they’re no longer there; a community of love where people truly care for others in Jesus’ name; a community of faith, where people believe that when their own strength falters, their true strength is in God.

Thank you, Joyce, for that wonderful thought and encouragement.

A Little Writer’s Block

Last week was a busy week on this blog, so at the moment I’m having difficulty coming up with anything. In addition, the usual Monday Night Bowling League has run it’s course for the year. We didn’t win any awards, but I think we knew that going in. Like I’ve said in the past, I enjoy the fellowship. I enjoy competition, so to put that aside and enjoy the fellowship is saying something. In lieu of me sharing something today, let me share with you two links.

The first is from my blogging friend Mark O. Wilson. It’s titled Nine Reasons Men Should Go to Church.

The second is from Indiana Wesleyan University professor, Keith Drury. Let me warn you, it will make you think! It’s an article on Wesleyans and intentional sin, “I Didn’t Mean To Do It.”