Monday, September 29, 2008

it happened again

Sara and i went to another small group last night and were renewed in our vision for what our church is becoming all over again. As we often do the evening began with sitting around a living room and letting each person share "their story". (Something I'm still not used to is the nervousness you can feel at the first because the "Sr. Pastor" is in our group. It's like every body be on your best behavior - like I'm going to report you to God if you're bad). Anyway, people began to share and there was laughter and friendly ribbing (you know how that is when people are really familiar with each other) and tears (as people mentioned how their small group had been instrumental in helping them grow - I've always believed that when you start crying together it's real). This group we shared with last night has been around since 1992 which means they were one of the original groups at our church and they are still around 16 years later!

Then of course we shared prayer requests and prayed together (is there anything more unifying?) and of course, we ate together. And it was awesome. I'll admit it, on the way there I told Sara how tired I was, but I left that place filled because of the encouragement they gave me and because what God is doing in them.

When we left, I told Sara. "it happened again. I'm just so blessed by what is happening in groups like this all over the church." My experience over the past year as I've visited probably 20-25 groups is exactly the same: real people doing real life together in Christ. It really is awesome and I thought, what if this is the way it is in 170 small groups throughout our church. And then I thought, who is missing out on this because they are afraid of getting into a small group. And then I thought, I wonder if the Dallas Cowboys won tonight? Funny thing is after hanging with this small group, the score really didn't matter.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Monday, September 22, 2008

small world

Well, after two weeks being down, I'm back in business. This means that much of what I've been thinking over the last couple of weeks has been lost in the space between my ears (and I'll bet it was awesome, life changing stuff)! Anyway, it's cool to be back - hope you enjoy my mental meanderings.

In the "it's a small world" department, let me share two cool encounters I've had the last three weeks.

Our sporst outreach pastor (Jason Probst) has a new intern named Randy. So was talking with him - getting to know him and I find out he's from Canada. As we talk I share how much Sara and I loved traveling to Nova Scotia (think North Maine) when I spoke at a youth conference over 14 years ago. Guess who was a student in the audience when I preached..yep, Randy. But there's more.

Last week I'm eating with a small group and I start talking with Jorge. I knew he was raised in Mexico, but what I didn't realize is that he was raised at a ministry in Mexico City called, Ninos de Mexico. I told him that I stayed there once in 1992 when I was working for Christ In Youth and that I spoke at this conference in Cuerna Vaca. You see where this is going right? He was a student at the conference. What are the odds? Only a huge God could take some schmuck from Indiana and let him preach all over the place to students and then bring two of those students (one from Canada and one from Mexico) together to serve in Normal, Illinois.

God's providence proven once again. And I didn't even mention that I have a guy on staff who used to hear me preach and he's from the foreign land of Mowequa!

Monday, September 8, 2008

let the children come

Jesus said it was good for children to come to him, so I can only assume it’s good when they come to church.  Yesterday we had 975 kids in this place…so if you’re wondering why we’re expanding our children’s facilities, wonder no more.  I can’t say enough thanks to all the workers in the children’s area who play with, teach, sing with, take to the bathroom (or worse, clean up after they’ve already gone), color, memorize, love, protect (just try getting through our a-1 children’s security without proper identification), and nurture the children who come each week.  I’m inspired by your service.

Yesterday (after a great second service) it was my privilege to invite more children (along with parents and grandparents) to the auditorium for a baby dedication service.  We prayed over and dedicated 47 children yesterday to God for his glory and for his purpose.  The parents also stood on the stage and committed to raise their kids in the Word and in the church.  As the Pastor, I prayed for strong marriages, strong families and a strong church to help them through.  I pledged that Eastview would do anything we could to help them raise their kids (I know I spoke for thousands of people, but I know that is the heart of this church). 

I was especially moved that many parents requested to have a picture with me and their child.  It really is an honor to be the preacher and pastor to so many families.  I’m blessed and I’ll do my best to teach the parents as they teach their kids.  We’re all in this together.  Speaking of cool kid events, we have pureNRG coming in this Saturday night for a concert at the church.  They have appeared on Disney channel and have a very cool show (you know Hannah Montanna like) and kids are sure to love it. 

I love lots of stuff about this place, but this week I’m especially blessed that we welcome kids just like our Lord.

Monday, September 1, 2008

no labor here

What a great Labor Day to do absolutely nothing.  As you know I’m committed to a weekly Sabbath of rest and when another pops up for free…I take it (especially when it’s Monday)!  Actually, my day started way early (as in 2:45 a.m. in the morning) for some prayer at the church.  I know our building doesn’t really have that stained glass, wooden pews, sacred look, but there is something spiritual about coming in the middle of the night and seeing some dim lighting and our flame burning before God.  It is a very intimate setting for prayer and I began last night by asking God to move in the lives of those in our community who are lost without Jesus.  Keep praying…God is moving.

After that I came back home and couldn’t sleep thinking about how cool it is to be at Eastview at this time and how there is a great excitement in the air on Sundays.  When I start thinking like this I can’t really stop, so I thought of my family and upcoming events and staff stuff and ideas I have for ministry and then somewhere in there I dozed off.  I woke up around 8:00 and headed straight to the coffee maker!

After some breakfast, i watched the storm coverage on hurricane Gustav and spent some time looking at Sunday’s sermon scripture.  Already stuff stirring in my heart about that.  Then i finished up the introduction to a book I’m writing.  Yes, I’ve decided to write another one and it’s about marathon running and how Christianity is so much like it.  I’m stoked about writing it.  Then what else does a guy writing about running do but run…man was it hot, but the trail had some shade so I survived.

finally, I spent some time grilling ribs and hanging with my boys.  We had a good time and it wasn’t too bad in the shade, but I’ll have to tell ya.  I thank God for creating the guy who invented air conditioning on a day like today!  Oh well, probably finish the day watching the Tennessee/UCLA game before dozing off and praying again in the middle of the night.  Thanks to all of those who signed up to pray this entire week leading into Fall kick-off.  We are becoming a place where prayer dominates and that’s got to be good.