Monday, December 31, 2012

2013 Wardrobe

I don't normally re-hash sermons in this blog but by popular demand- well, a couple of people asked at the door- here are the key points for "A 2013 Wardrobe" from Colossians 3:12:17-

Whenever we feel isolated or dismissed by others we should remember that we are "God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved."

Paul follows this affirmation with an instruction to "clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience; that we should forgive one another, and above all, put on love."

My challenge was that we use these seven virtues as guides for prayer in the new year- that each day we could ask God to help us grow in each characteristic:

  • Monday- Lord, help me be more compassionate
  • Tuesday- Lord, help me be more kind
  • Wednesday- Lord, help me be more humble
  • Thursday- Lord, help me be more gentle
  • Friday- Lord, help me be more patient
  • Saturday- Lord, help me be more forgiving
  • Sunday- Lord, help me be more loving
Wouldn't it be incredible if we were as easily recognized by these Christ-like characteristics as we are by the clothes we wear!

I closed- and close- with Paul's beautiful prayer in vv. 15-17:

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body, you were called to peace.  And be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Confessions of a Pastor

One of my favorite aspects of this calling is the opportunity to plan and lead worship.  Jonnia, Chris, and I approach worship planning with the genuine desire to create a service that will honor God and help people experience God. Many others assist in making this possible- accompanists, choir members, sound and graphics coordinators, ushers, and extended session volunteers- by sharing their gifts and time.

Unfortunately, planning and leading worship can make it difficult for me to actually worship. I am constantly aware of "all the moving parts."  As I scan the crowd I making mental notes of who's present... and who's missing.  My attention is drawn to last minute notes handed in the hallways or distracted by a look of concern on the face of a worshiper.  For me to get "lost in worship" can mean missing my cue!

But, this last week, in a darkened gym on the Third Sunday of Advent, I worshiped. My moment came as we sang a song we don't often sing.  The words of the song were moving, but I've sung them scores of times over the years.  This time it wasn't the words or the music that led me to worship... it was the voices. With each successive stanza I found myself blinking away a tear and my voice faltering as we united our voices with the voices of the ancient church and the prophets of old to sing, "Rejoice!"

It was as if together we sensed the promise of advent, the promise of  joy was ours. No matter the challenges, no matter how great the disappointments, no matter how crazy things seemed, we, as God's people could "rejoice!"  And I worshiped the One we call Emmanuel, Dayspring, Wisdom, and the Desire of nations.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

Monday, November 19, 2012


Though we observe Thanksgiving Day, I prefer to think of this as a "season of thanksgiving." One day shouldn't be able to contain our gratitude!

I am thankful for family.  We'll travel this week to see my parents in Florida for a couple of days and I am reminded of the example Pop and Granny have given me and my children.  I remain thankful for the family where I am husband and Dad- what a great wife and children God has given me!

I am thankful to be called "pastor" by this church family. It is overwhelming to consider the love and encouragement we so generously share. There aren't many churches that could remain open to God's leadership in the ways we have encountered in this last year.

And yes, this week as I am thankful for family and faith, I am thankful for food, football and freedom! This is a great land we call home.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day Decisions

I've always had an interest in politics... but boy, am I glad this election will be over today.  The ads, the hype, the misrepresentations, the general nasty tone of the campaign has left a sour taste in my mouth.  Whoever wins the election there are decisions that remain:

  • As a Christian I have a responsibility to pray for those involved in positions of leadership- whether or not I voted for or "like" them
  • As a citizen I have the right to remain involved- not just to vote, but to call write letters, attend meetings, give money, and let my voice be heard
  • As a Christian citizen I gladly recognize that God is neither a democrat nor a republican and that His kingdom is bigger and better than the agenda of any political party 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

No tricks, lots of treats!

Last Wednesday night's Fall Family Fun Fair was a great event for our church and community.

No tricks- just lots of planning by folks like Erin Moss and Teresa Denmark.
No tricks- just lots of folks contributing time and energy.
No tricks-  food, games, and children are always a recipe for fun!

Lots of treats- in the smiles and laughter of children.
Lots of treats- in seeing how families enjoyed a good night out in a safe environment.
Lots of treats- in seeing how much fun our volunteers had in serving.

Now... what are we going to do next year?!?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

I Stand Amazed

The last four weeks have been incredibly busy around here... at least that's been my excuse for not being faithful to blogging.  For me, the blog is reflective exercise- and we all know that busy-ness is the enemy of reflection! I can look back now...

  • and see how touched so many were to participate in our last Sunday morning service. I am amazed at the little things that trigger big experiences and add to life-long memories.
  • and see just how many people participated in the move that afternoon. The efforts of scores of younger and older folks, long-term and more recent members (and some college student volunteers who have never worshiped with us) allowed us to literally move a worship center and set-up 15 classrooms.  I am amazed at how much work can get done when everybody pitches-in.
  • and see how much skill, "know-how," and experiences we share in this family of faith. I am amazed at the gifts that God has given us and the willingness of our folks to share them.
  • I am amazed at how much can be accomplished when nobody's worried about who gets credit.
I am glad that I found this time to reflect... now I've got work to do!

Monday, September 17, 2012


Change is in the air.  I could feel it this morning as I walked the dogs.  A little cooler, maybe a little crisper. Oh, we'll still have a couple more warm, maybe even hot, days- but autumn is on the way.

My family, like yours, is experiencing change.  Our kids are getting older- even if we're not!

Our church is certainly in a period of significant change.  The biggest challenge may be the simple fact that the most immediate changes are only stepping stones to even bigger changes.

It's probably not a bad thing for all of us to be reminded that change really isn't a four-letter word!

Brian McLaren offers the following prayer in his book, Naked Spirituality:

All that I'm now going through
Will make me better or bitter,
Break down or breakthrough.
Learning this patience-- it takes so much patience.
It's a great education,
But why is the tuition so high?
Why God, why?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


The call came early Monday evening.  I could barely recognize the voice I knew in the voice I was hearing:
This is recruit Conrad calling to inform you that I have arrived safely.  Please do not send any food or packages.  I will be in contact by mail in the next 7-9 days.  Thank you for your support. Click. I wonder what the voice will sound like when I hear it again in thirteen weeks?

Since we first laid eyes on Thomas twenty-three years ago He's become quite a young man.  His Marine Corp packing list included only the clothes he wore, razor and toothbrush (forgot both), and Bible (which he remembered), and $20 (I guess there aren't too many vending machines on Paris Island).  As he undergoes this intense period of preparation and transformation I find myself praying:

  • that the body God has blessed him with will stay safe and strong
  • that the mind God has blessed him with will master knowledge and skills that will serve him for a lifetime (and some, I pray, that he will never have to use) and 
  • that the spirit God has given him will be strengthened by the Spirit that indwells him.

Our son is a Marine. I ask you to pray for him.  I hope you will pray for his parents.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Happy New Year!

Yes- I know it is the end of August, not the first of January!  But you don't have to look far to celebrate the start of new things around us!

Those big, yellow, traveling prayer reminders- most people call them school buses- mark the beginning of a new school year for children, families, teachers, and support personnel.

We are surrounded by plans for "new things" here at church as we work on building plans and arrangements for the transition period.

The arrival of Chris Robertson on our ministry team is not only a new beginning for him but for our fellowship as we further develop ministries with students (youth and college) and reach-out into our community.

I sense a renewed spirit of expectancy in our worship- easier experienced than described. Jesus makes all things new- get out the party favors- let's celebrate!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Best-laid plans

This weekend we welcome Chris Robertson to our staff as our Minister of Students and Outreach.  I am confident that Chris and Katie will quickly feel at home as they share their gifts with us.

In preparing/clearing/cleaning-out his new office I stopped to look at the marker board I had commandeered late last summer.  A quick review reminded me of what was "on my plate" as we entered the fourth quarter of 2011:

  • plans for an adult mission trip to New Orleans
  • plans for the senior adult trip to Blue Ridge
  • notes about our directions for our Site Planning Committee
  • sermon plans for the next Sunday and on through advent
  • Minister of Music and Minister of Youth search committees
  • calendaring for budget development, deacon election, and nominating committee
What was missing from my planning in August 2011? No mention of land sale/ purchase, relocation, building committee, meeting with architect, or transition committee!

God has plans we can't see... or maybe just a wicked sense of humor!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

What a day!

For all the drama involved in getting to a closing table- the closing itself is somewhat anti-climatic.  The lawyer organized our church officers around the table and soon documents were circulated for signature.  In less than 45 minutes we closed one chapter of our church's history and turned the page to another exciting chapter.

My sermon this morning was an attempt at helping us see the clear evidence of where God has been at work in tangible ways in the history of our church.  The original purchase of the tract at Shiloh and Frey has been blessed and multiplied by God in incredible ways.  It has certainly been a "beyond all we could ask or imagine" process.

How am I feeling this afternoon?  Quite honestly, a little numb, a little scared, a little excited, a little overwhelmed- something like when you squeak-out "I do," or the doctor says, "congratulations, it's a boy... or girl!" Something big and dramatic has just happened, life will be different, the future has taken a new twist. Yes, it will be different... challenging, exciting, tiring at times... but good.

I am glad that we are in this together: pastor, people, and God.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Going for the Gold

It is once again time for the Olympic games.  After our experience in 1996 I almost feel sorry for the people of London!

There is something, though, about seeing the best at anything compete.  You don't have to understand a competition to know that those who compete at this level are masters of their craft.

Features will fill-in the back stories of these athletes and their quest for gold.  It is truly amazing to see teens and young adults who have sacrificed "normal" life- dating, dances, college, jobs, family in a single-minded pursuit to be the best.  For the rest of their lives they will be known as "Olympic competitor," "Olympic medalist," and the fortunate few as "Olympic gold medal winner"

Maybe we can watch and learn something about what it takes to be the best.  What will it cost me to be a better spouse, parent, friend, co-worker, follower of Christ?  Paul uses the imagery of a runner when he states, "But this one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Farewell to a Faithful Friend

Last Saturday I traveled to Montgomery AL to attend the funeral of Dr. Bob Franklin, former director of Missions for Noonday Baptist Association.  Bob was critically injured in a car accident last fall and died the previous Sunday.

The funeral was decidedly not a sad affair. The service featured music by Bob and Louise's grandchildren, inspiring recollections from their sons, and rousing songs of missions and the kingdom.  It was a fitting tribute to a faithful servant.

Bob Franklin saw things that others simply didn't see.  He saw in lay people the untapped power of missions and the church.  As his son, David remarked, "Bob didn't see men's work or women's work (or preacher work or layperson work, for that matter)- he just saw kingdom work." He saw in communities the potential for new churches.  He saw in churches the capacity to reach people and change lives.  He saw in relationships the potential for partnerships that would multiply possibilities.

Bob Franklin was a friend of Towne View Baptist Church. It was under his leadership that Noonday Baptist Association developed a commitment to starting churches as Cobb County grew.  It was Bob who helped connect the new church start with key supporters like Monroe Swilley, Bob Eubanks, and First Baptist Church of Rome. Bob's commitment to volunteer construction missions led to the development of Noonday's Builders for Christ- a group that helped to build our church-  both in its facilities and in opportunities for growth through service.

I am grateful for servant leaders like Bob Franklin.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Future is Now!

I always cringe a bit when I hear someone say something to the effect of "the youth are the future of the church."  I know these well-meaning friends' intentions are good but it only takes some time at Camp Wherry to realize that the future is now!

I am watching (...and cooking... and preaching a little) as our teens spend some incredibly HOT mornings working on housing remodeling projects.  A brief break for lunch and then they are back at it for Kidz Kamp.  I love the energy and love they share with dozens of children each day- most of which live in homes where English is not the first language they learn.  We re-group at night for heart-felt worship.  Along the way they encourage, challenge, and support each other.  Service... ministry... discipleship... worship... fellowship... sounds a lot like church to me!

These teens are today's church.  But, if my well-meaning friends from above are right... the future is in pretty good hands!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Big News?

Southern Baptists have been in the news again recently.  Nothing new there. Though this time, the SBC was seen in a positive light, maybe that is news in itself!

Rev. Fred Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, has been elected as the first African-American to serve as president of the SBC. For a denomination birthed in the slavery controversy, this is good news.

Sunday, as I looked across our gathering I was reminded of what we sometimes take for granted. Our church family is a grand mosaic of ages, colors, languages, and backgrounds. Those distinctions have not hindered anyone from serving in leadership as ministers, deacons, or ministry leaders--- we even allow men to teach in Vacation Bible School!  

It's nice to be in a church where leadership is gift-based... where men and women; black, white, and brown, younger and older; single or married can lead in worship and serve in ministry. That's not big news around here... but it's Good News!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

In Praise of Vacation Bible School

It's a little, no, make that a lot, quiet around the church this afternoon. We have completed four days of Vacation Bible School, are wrapping-up plans for Family Night, and are readying the finishing touches for Friday.  This week I have been reminded again of the importance of VBS.

It is obviously an important week for the 150+ children who have participated.  They've heard Bible stories, built friendships, sang some great songs, experienced the joy of creating, and consumed lots and lots of snacks.  Seeds have been planted that will nourish their souls for a lifetime. My prayers is that their families will encourage this growth in the days ahead.

This has been an important week for our church.  We have stretched our facilities and people resources to their limits.  Each day we have had over 225 children and workers in the building.  I am impressed by workers of all ages who have committed their time and energy to providing a great experience for their students. Along the way they have discovered new gifts... and some new, sore muscles!

It has also been an important week for me.  I have enjoyed my time on the floor with 15 four year-olds- though it is getting a bit more difficult to get up!  I am blessed and fortunate to be called pastor by a church that so generously invests its gifts in service to children and our community.

I remember that many of my earliest memories of church, God, and the Bible were shaped in Vacation Bible School.  In VBS I learned the stories of how God loved people and how that love was expressed through people. For many of us participation in Vacation Bible School is a trip down memory lane... that winds-up on the highway to the future!

Monday, June 11, 2012

"Are We There, Yet?"

How many times did we excitedly ask "are we there, yet?" as children?  And how many times have we wearily answered as adults?

My Dad used to answer, "just around the next curve" or "just over the next hill." Traveling south Florida's flat. straight roads meant "curves" and "hills" tended to be few and far between!

A friend once told me that the vacation begins when you back out of the driveway- not when you get to your destination. Do we sometimes miss possibilities because we're so focused on the finish line?

Does it help to know where "there" is? "There" could be Disney World, the beach, a certain car, a key promotion... or a new building.

How will we know when we're there? Sometimes in the journey of life and faith it's not as easy as "x-marks the spot" or following mapquest. I have always been intrigued by God's instructions to Abram to "get packed and go to a land I will show you."  In other words, I will let you know where "there" is... when you get there.  God trusted Abram with a call... and Abram trusted God with a response.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Thank God for unanswered prayers

No, I'm not singing country songs this morning!

I am, however, processing last night's business meeting.  Now when a pastor is "processing" a business meeting it can mean he's re-playing, parsing comments, and maybe just stewing over things.  But this morning I have a smile on my face and a glad spot in my heart!

As Trey left last spring we went through a process of discernment to figure-out how to handle ministry leadership.  Our Personnel Committee ably guided us through times of congregational conversation, information assimilation, and focused prayer.  The process led us to a search for a full-time Minister of Music and Education and a part-time Minister of Youth.

The respective search committees prayed, processed resumes, prayed, interviewed candidates, and prayed some more.  Along the way we discovered that matching job description, minister, and our church wasn't working-out as we had planned.  God provided another plan.

We shifted our youth minister search to a full-time position involving expanded responsibilities with college-aged young adults and outreach.  I cannot convey how excited I am that God has led Chris Robertson to join our ministry team and provide leadership in these areas!  God did answer our prayers- just not in the way we anticipated.

Last night we affirmed Jonnia Smith to serve as our Minister of Music on a part-time, interim basis.  After looking all over the country we found the right minister here at home.  Again, God did answer our prayers- just not in the way we anticipated.

As I "process" last night's meeting I am ever more confident that God will lead us faithfully into the future.  And I am thanking God for unanswered prayers.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Biggest and best?

What a great day we enjoyed Sunday!

The day started with a good crowd for a wonderful worship experience.  We were Towne View "at our best" with the variety of music we sang... from the choir's rousing "Are You Washed in  the Blood" to Austin Fowler's encouraging "How He Loves Us" and congregational music that spanned the generations.

By the time we arrived at Bartow-Carver Park our Recreation Committee and helpers had prepared an abundance of burgers and hot dogs and laid-out the contributions prepared by our members.  I've never seen so many desserts!  Somebody counted 160 or so folks at the picnic- our biggest crowd ever!

To answer several questions: This was the largest group (10) that I've ever baptized at once; this was the first time I had baptized three generations of a family, three brothers, or two parents and their child. What a powerful testimony to the family and friends present... as well as to boaters, skiers, and others enjoying the lake.

The psalmist said "this is the day the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it."  This Sunday was our gift and maybe, just maybe, in the glint of the sun we caught a smile from God.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

I lift-up my eyes...

I was so excited when I walked the dogs this morning--- Kennesaw Mountain was back!  There's is something comforting about its presence.

I missed it over the weekend.  On a late night walk it was gone.  Through the darkness I caught the vague outline of its two soft peaks but that was all. What happens to the mountain when the darkness falls?

One day it was raining, storming actually (why I am walking the boys' dogs-- in the rain-- is for another post!), and the familiar mountain was nowhere to be seen.  Where was the mountain during the storm?

One morning the fog was so thick I could feel the moisture tickling the hairs on my arms-- I looked out over the horizon, but no mountain.  How do you find your way when the fog hides the familiar landmarks?

Where is the mountain when the clouds limit our view, when the storms come our way, when darkness falls?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

This is the day...

As I walked the dogs this morning the musicians, under the watchful eye of the Conductor, were tuning-up in their tree-top studios.

The Propmaster had carefully put everything in place- relationships, jobs, health issues, family issues, financial concerns.

As the actors scrambled to their places: bus stops, car pools, and morning commutes, the Lighting Director slowly lifted the mist to unveil the beauty of the morning sun.

The Audience settled into his seat, "Let the day begin!"

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Repeating Myself

Over the last couple of days I have noticed that I am repeating myself. Now I am used to the pained look from my children of "do we have to hear this story again?" This is something different- different audiences, different conversations, different circumstances- just the same recurring theme. Some may already be thinking, "here he goes again!"

My thought? What a wonderfully gifted, talented, caring, and diverse group of people God has brought together in Towne View Baptist Church! I have told this story while impressed with the efforts of those who contributed to our Holy Week worship experiences. I repeated this line while being amazed at the diligence and knowledge that members have brought to the work of key committees. I shared this impression as I observed the energy and enthusiasm that made our Easter Eggstravaganza such a special occasion for so many families.

Our job as ministers is to enlist, equip, and encourage. We enlist successfully when we help people find the right opportunity to put their gifts into service. We equip as we provide the training and resources necessary to help people do what God has called them to do. We encourage through prayer and affirmation (public and private)as people use their God-given gifts, enhanced by God-provided resources, to accomplish their God-directed task.

Its a good story... worth repeating!

Monday, April 2, 2012


Monday mornings are usually consumed with "clean-up" from Sunday: checking through fellowship pads, a quick review of the offering, sorting through notes scribbled in the margins of my bulletin and randomly stuffed in my Bible, a mental "sorting" of conversations, and a post portem of the sermon.

This morning I realized that I forgot something. This isn't a novel experience for me- I all too often forget to pick-up a gallon of milk on my way home and there are days where it may take two (or sometimes three) trips to get out of the office. But this was something good, something that impacted me and I wanted to share in the context of the Palm Sunday sermon. This was a big "oops!"

Sooo.. here we go: New testament scholar Fred Craddock reflected on John's record of the triumphal entry as follows, "Jesus is Lord and King by virtue of who he is, totally apart from public praise. Faith does not make him who he is; faith recognizes who he is."

Lord, this Holy Week, give us eyes to see.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Praying for the Preacher

Sometimes folks ask me, "Pastor, how can we pray for you?"

Jonanthan Edwards- no, not "that" Jonanthan Edwards- the current General secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain helped me find words for my need:

We have a lot of facts and a lot of opinions. But amidst these facts and opinions we need wisdom.

That's how you may pray for your pastor today, and he will gladly return the favor.

Thursday, March 15, 2012


Last weekend we were in Jensen Beach, Florida to be a part of my niece's wedding. The bride was beautiful, the groom and his men appropriately anxious, and, though the priest kept mis-pronouncing Kristin's name, the ceremony was "just right."

My sister-in-law's tears as she was escorted down the aisle were a poignant reminder of the death of her and my brother's son, the bride's brother. Hugs were gifts of comfort and hope.

The reception was a grand celebration. Relatives and friends from across the state and across the years swapped stories and laughter. And of course, there was food!

I was amazed at how much my cousins' children had grown and changed- even since last summer's reunion! It was sad to see first-hand Pop's further decline- and I was reminded again about how strong Granny has always been.

Family gatherings are occasions of an incredible mixture of laughter and tears, young and old, past and future, memories shared and memories made. They are powerful reminders of where we came from, that past failures can become stepping-stones into a brighter tomorrow, and most importantly- who we are.

Church is a lot like family.

Monday, March 5, 2012

I Wonder

I shared the following prayer by Ruth Harris Calkin in Sunday's sermon. I first discovered it in "Improving Your Serve" by Charles Swindoll.

You know, Lord, how I serve You
With great emotional fervor
In the limelight.
You know how eagerly I speak for you
At the women's club.
You know how I effervesce when I promote
a fellowship group.
You know my genuine enthusiasm at a Bible study.

But how would I react, I wonder
If you pointed to a basin of water
And asked me to wash the calloused feet
Of a bent and wrinkled old woman
Day after day
Month after month
In a room where nobody saw
And nobody knew.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Thankful for "the one"

The "buzz" after Sunday's vote on the motion to sell and relocate was "do you know who the one 'no' vote was?" In the very positive affirmation of a 122-1 vote, that "one" really stands-out.

Me, I'm thankful for the "one." It means the process worked and the way we choose to do church was affirmed. All along the way on this issue we have encouraged our members to pray, participate in discussions, and seek God's direction. Don't get me wrong, I am very excited by the outcome, and feel that the will of the congregation was clearly expressed. But, I am glad that one person felt the freedom to express themselves in a different way.

Congregational church polity (governance) is based on the idea of the priesthood of all believers: we all have equal access to God and all are equally accountable to God. The outgrowth of this bedrock baptist understanding of the Christian life is that everyone has a voice- and a vote- in the life of our church. We choose not to follow a model where entities outside our church have authority over the affairs of our congregation; nor do we have have small group of leaders who make decisions on behalf of the congregation; nor does the pastor have executive authority.

Congregational decision-making can be messy and time-consuming but ultimately it makes each member responsible for participation in the process and to prayerfully seek to gain an understanding of God's leadership. This week I am thanking God for the hard work of our Real Estate Committee (Scott Conti, Jerry Jansen, and Jim Smith); for the partcipation, discussion, and good questions of our membership through the process; and for the "one," who reminds us all that we have a voice and a vote.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Looking into the future

This Sunday is an important day in the life of our fellowship. Actions we take in this gathering will say a great deal about our future.

Yes, we'll be voting on the recommendation from our Real Estate Committee to sell our current location and purchase land just up the road for a new church site. This will be the first step of many to come in the process of relocation.

We will also be sharing in a time of parent-child dedication for the Miller and VanHentenryck families. When I hold those boys I will catch of glimpse of our shared future.

At the appropriate time we will receive the offering. I know we do this every week- but each time we give we express our commitment to the future of our church and its mission.

My sermon this week, "His Message-Our Mission," will come from Mark 1:9-15. My prayerful goal is to clearly set before us the challenge of the future.

And, as is our custom, we will offer a time of response. This will allow each of us present to consider our future participation in God's plan.

As our song of dismissal we have chosen "In His Time." What a thoughtful, beautiful prayer to have in our hearts... as we step into the future.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Herding Cats

Leadership in a church can be challenging- I have often likened it to "herding cats."

Sometimes when folks say "lead us" their request actually means "lead us where we already want to go."

Sometimes "help us change" really means "I'm quite happy where I am- help that other guy change."

Some like to lead from the conquered hill, "I've accomplished this, now the rest of you need to get on board."

Others will lead from behind, "I've told you what to do, now go!"

I know of pastors who lead their churches on a military model- as generals commanding the troops. Some follow a business model where the pastor functions as Chief Executive. Every now and again a pastor will think that he has filled a vacancy in the trinity and lead from a sense of spiritual superiority.

Our church is in a time of significant decision-making. Each decision simply opens a door for future decisions- all holding great challenges and possibilities for our mission. My biggest prayer is that I stay in tune with God's leadership and that as a church we will clearly hear his voice and follow his leadership... with minimum hissing, clawing, and scratching and as much purring as possible.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Unexpected Answers

I asked the Lord for a bunch of fresh flowers
but instead he gave me an ugly cactus with many thorns.

I asked the Lord for some beautiful butterflies
but instead he gave me many ugly and dreadful worms.

I was threatened, I was disappointed, I mourned.

But after many days, suddenly,
I saw the cactus bloom with many flowers,
and those worms became beautiful butterflies
flying in the spring wind.

God's way is the best way.

prayer written from prison by Chun-Ming Kao
from The Doubleday Prayer Collection

Monday, February 6, 2012

Thoughts from the beach

It was nice being back on the beach last weekend for the wedding of Hope Stewart and Michael May. We couldn't have asked for a better day to be on Amelia Island.

As I watched the waves I was reminded of Jesus' words to the disciples when the storm rocked their boat: "don't be afraid."

With my toes in the sand and my eyes on the sky I remembered God's promises to Abraham that his blessings would be greater than the grains of sand or the stars in the sky.

Looking across the horizon I quietly recalled the old hymn "there's a wideness in God's mercy like the wideness of the sea..."

Meanwhile, it's Monday morning in Kennesaw, a dreary, 45-degree, overcast Monday morning... and I am thanking God for a day at the beach!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

It's Been a While

It's been a while since my last posting- over six weeks, in fact. I don't know what this blog does for those who read it (assuming there are those who do!) but for me- writing the blog is mostly a time for reflection- which is probably why I haven't been here in so long.

I haven't had- haven't found- haven't taken much time for reflecting since December 7. In that time I've had weddings, funerals, advent services, more sick people to visit than I can remember, made a trip to Florida for my Dad's 80th birthday, a 21-year old son to get his tonsils removed, and Christmas happened somewhere in there! Oh yeah, now someone wants to buy our church land and help us move-up the street. Time for reflection... puh-leeze!

Then, late this afternoon I heard a gentle pleading... "Be still and know that I am God."(NIV,KJV,RSV)

But God, we just elected three new committees and have a huge decision to make as a church... "Calm down, and learn that I am God!"(CEV)

But God, one of the kids is sick, there are bills to be paid, and the mechanic just called with bad news..."Cease striving and know that I am God/Let go, relax, and know that I am God."

But God... "Stop fighting and know that I am God." (TEV)

Be still...calm down...cease striving...let go... stop fighting... He is God!