Monday, March 30, 2009

old friends

every once in a great while, the Lord just gives you a blessing that you weren't expecting. About a month ago a good Dr. in my church gave me a gift of tickets to the Bulls game versus the Pacers for this past Saturday. Cool thing is he had four tickets and gave them to my good friend Gonzo (Steve Sugai) so that we (and our wives - Sara and Lynne) could go together. Gonzo and I go back a long way. He and Lynne went with me to the teen convention in November of 1995 before I had even moved from Missouri to B/N. They were great sponsors and became lifelong friends to Sara and I. Gonzo and I love talking trash about the Cubs/Reds and Bulls/Pacers...and anything else we can think of. But there is a real brotherhood there and although we don't get to connect as much (their kids are young and ours are old)...Lynne and Gonzo remain good friends. How good? We can hotwire a hotel room in Chicago and turn the Saturday game into a Friday overnight! And that's what we did.

We hit town around 4:00 p.m. and checked into the hotel (Indigo or something like that) and just - you know - kinda lounged around and relaxed. By 5:00 we were in a cab to Gibson's (great steak) and just a walk around town a little. It is good for this city boy to be in the city every once in a while...I just like all the people. Anyway, after supper we headed up to the top of the Hancock building (like the 92nd floor or something) to get a great view of the city on all sides. Now my fear of heights doesn't really like this too much...but the view is incredible. Anyway, back at the hotel we spent some time sitting in bar kind of watching sports and mostly talking. IT was great to catch up. The next day we walked around town, chilled out, saw a game (yes the bulls beat the pacers, but the pacers scored over 90 which Gonzo had bet me $5 they wouldn't) and made it home by 5:00 on Saturday. It was a great weekend trip.

Old friendships are the ones I treasure most...the kind you don't have to work on, the kind you should work harder at, the kind that always pick up where you left off.

Monday, March 23, 2009


yesterday we talked about leadership in the o.t. people of God and laid out the responsbilities of priests and judges. It was an honor to have some of our elders represented on stage yesterday. This group of guys I have prayed with, cried with, dreamt with, planned with, debated with, laughed with, eaten with, traveled with, etc... You probably get the idea. None of them are perfect, but they love the Lord and are trusted men of God in my book. Pray for them when you think of it. Here's my brief description of them:

Marv Detloff is the senior member (mid to upper sixties). He's one of the first people I met at Eastview and a great man of wisdom and encouragement. He has been an elder for 25 or 30 one's really sure because some of it happened in the 1900's.

Brad Burns is a young, caffeineted guy who is always on the go (except for the first part of elders meetings at 6:00 a.m. but he gets going eventually). He came to Christ in New Community in the old building while he was a college student in town.

John Ashenfelter has been a leader around here forever. First as leader in New Community and then as one of the youngest chairman of the elders ever. He is an attorney for state farm who has the gift of giving.

John Moses is a contractor/builder who has helped immensely with the actuall construction of this building along with his quiet, but confident leadership. Great guy.

John Farney is another "farmer" who is one of our younger guys. He is the guy in school I would sit next to to laugh and get in trouble with. His wisdom is beyond his years and when he talks people tend to follow.

Rick Schaumburg has been an elder for several terms. When I came he was one of the younger guys, but now he's a trusted and experienced (so as not to say older :-) guy around the leadership table. All three of his children were in my youth ministry in the early days around here.

B.J. Armstrong followed in the footsteps of his father. His father Brian was part of the elder team that hired me and B.J. has the same encouraging and confident leadership style (but he doesn't like to hold hands during prayer and hug like his father did!).

Barton Shaw is the current chairman of the elders and as you can tell yesterday he is very articulate. He has a gift for preaching which is no surprise since his father is a legendary preaching professor at Lincoln Christian Seminary.

Jim Connolly is the owner of a leadership consulting firm. He brings great perspective to the leadership discussions we have. He can articulate the ins and outs of leadership. First worked with him on the men's adventure weekends when they started.

By the way, there are four more in month three of a five month process for nomination and selection to join the elder team. Please pray for John Barr, Rod Hoff, Darrell Douglass and Dave Brucker.

What a cool thing that these guys are a part of a leadership structure that goes back 2,000 years to the first church. I know they consider it an honor and take it very seriously.

Monday, March 16, 2009


Do you have a desk? In your office? In your home study or work space or computer area? What's on it? Here's what's on mine this morning.

A paper weight from Dr. Tom Tanner at Lincoln Christian College from when I taught youth ministry there 8 years ago. It is holding down (although it's never windy in my I don't know why I need a paper weight) some census information about our town and county that may be useful for ministry strategy (although it's been there for weeks and I've not really looked at it that much).

I have some leftover sermon notes from the weekend. One was a sermon I preached at our first preaching conference (over 60 registered - it was awesome to spend time with preachers from over 30 different churches and several states preaching and talking about preaching). On top of that sermon is the one I preached in church both services yesterday. Sometime today I'll get around to hole-punching them and putting them in a binder. I have all the sermons I've preached here at Eastview since 1995 in hard copy (I'm still old school). I have three Bibles on my desk (I hope that says something about who I am!). One is for a funeral I'm preparing for this morning for Rick Eilts. He was a former member who moved to Missouri and is being buried here today. His obituary is also next to it. Another Bible I have opened all the time to a Psalm. Honestly, I don't use it much, but occasionally I'll grab it for a reference. The other Bible is the one I preach from and it's opened to this Sunday's text from Deuteronomy 17. I have a note pad next to it with a few notes already on it.

I have a stack of business cards with the names of all my family, staff, elders, and small group members written on the back. These are prayer cards that keeps these people constantly in front of me so i can pray for them. sometimes I take these cards to my prayer room and pray for all of them at once. But mostly I go through about 10-15 a day with 30 second prayers.

I have an envelope addressed to a long time member who recently lost his wife, a reminder that I need to write him a card of encouragement (I try to do this for every member at our church). There is also a business card with the quote I used in church a couple a week ago from Hudson Taylor "It is possible to move men, through God, by prayer alone". I believe that...and we are seeing that around here these days.

I have a copy of last year's Easter bulletin thingy. We are preparing for this year and I need to write something from the pastor (probably won't get to that today).

I have three note pads on my desk. One with the start of sermon notes. The other with every meeting and conversation and to do list I've had since October (it is a spiral note book and I keep everything in's nearly full time to start a new one). The other is a note pad for my daily devotion time. I'm creeping through Luke right now and have some notes and thoughts written down (this is where Deuteronomy look for a Luke sermon series at a church near you).

I have two cups of coffee on my desk. One with coffee that was hot an hour ago and the other with coffee from the 1800's. Which I drink will depend on the day :-)

I have three books on my desk. One I have read and am re-skimming called Spiritual Leadership. The other is called the Five Dysfunctions of a Team that I and several staff members are supposed to read ahead of an upcoming retreat. I haven't started it yet. The other is "Desiring God" by John Piper. It's devotional in nature for me and very intriguing. I'm wading through because it has a lot of big words.

finally, a photo of me and my lovely wife Sara. She's still the love of my life. Well, that concludes the tour of my desk...hope you're not bored to tears. Oh, one more thing that I think is cool. This desk is pure walnut made in the late 1960's for the Sr. Pastor of Eastview Christian Church, Bob Phillips. In 1975 Gary York inherited it as the Sr. Pastor and used it until two years ago June (June 2007). So this is a desk with history almost 50 years of ministry has been done on this desk and by God's grace some more will be done today.

Monday, March 9, 2009

random thoughts

Lot's of things fill my mind as I sit here in between meetings hoping the flat top grill creation I made for lunch doesn't make me sleepy. Some thoughts.

Got home from preaching yesterday and my mom wonders outloud if she could get me to start wearing a bullet proof vest when I preach. You probably heard another pastor was shot in church...very sad. "Am I scared?" Honestly, not really. I've not really ever been afraid of death...don't know why (I'm assuming the hope I have in another place far from here) but dying is not something I lose sleep over. I know it would be a big bummer if I got shot in church while I was preaching (we do have security measures in place mind you), but it's not something that I'm losing sleep over. See Nancy's comments to last blog - I agree.

If you would have come into our building on Friday night and Saturday you would have encountered 850 4th and 5th graders crawling all over the building (yes like ants when you kick an ant hill - or so I've heard). Our Kidsview ministry hosted CIY's Super Start program for pre teens. It was cool as Rachel Warren (kidsview events) and all her volunteers served. We are blessed to have the facility to minister to many churches. The look on the faces of adult leaders when they arrive lets me know that God has been very generous to us as Eastview. Hope we do lots more with kids running amuck (maybe amoch? or amock? I know it's something weird like that and I probably could have spell-checked it by now, but whatever) throughout this place.

This weekend an event that makes my heart beat fast - preaching conference we are hosting for preaching guys from all over (there are several states represented) to come and geek out about this wonderful thing called preaching. Can't wait...more on this next Monday.

One more thing. Talked yesterday of grace from Deuteronomy - as in dropping or cancelling of debts every seven years. What could be more unfair than letting someone off scott-free for something they obviously can't repay and for a forgiveness they don't deserve? I love the grace of God, don't you. Also mentioned the ear-piercing ritual that happened when a slave didn't want his freedom and declared lifetime allegiance to his master. To the doorpost, drive an awl (sharp pointy thing) through the lobe and stick an earring that says, "lifer" on it. One of my favorite Psalms points to this as we serve God, "Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but my ears you have pierced." Psalm 40:6 Here's to lifetime service to the master who freed us with his own body piercing.

Monday, March 2, 2009

this day

been a long day - I'm not complaining, it was another exciting day to be a part of God's work in the world. Don't know why this is somehow important to you...but it's reflection for here's what my day was like: started with 5 mile run around 5:45. I thought it was cold when frost was forming on all my clothes, but when I got back Sara said it was 5 below wind chill...yeah that's about right. I was cold all day. Anyway after some breakfast and showering I hit the office around 7:30 for some prayer and Bible study (my favorite time of the day - even though e-mails and stuff start piling up). By 9:00 I'm meeting with my admin. asst. Sandi - she's a great help and keeps me organized so I meet with her to see what has to be addressed. Then by 9:30 I'm in a meeting with our Sunday programming team. We evaluate the service (yesterday's was great by the way!) and talk about, plan for and prepare for upcoming weeks. Spent a lot of time today talking about Easter Sunday. By 10:30 i'm meeting with one of many bright young pastors on my staff, Cedric. I just spend time with him each week just sharing whatever wisdom I have (mostly as a result of all the mess ups in 24 years of ministry). By 11:00 the staff comes together for an hour of prayer (every Monday this happens). We share ministries stories (one of our sr. high staff (charlie) was in a video store last night when it got robbed at gunpoint), laugh a lot and then pray for just about everything. After that, I headed to Biaggi's for a 12:30 appointment with a good brother seeking some spiritual counsel. By 1:50 I was back at the office checking messages and taking a breath for my 2:00 with our executive pastor Mark Warren. By 2:30 Amy Randazzo joins us for financial updates (by the way, incredible day yesterday, $23,000 over budget and over 830 families or family units participating in giving). At 3:00 Amy is done confusing me with numbers and Doug Rutter joins Mark and I for our Executive team meeting. We talk about everything from personnel stuff to finances to upcoming teaching emphases, to strategies, to issues within the congregation, to whatever... By 5:15 my wife is tapping on my window for me to come and join her for supper. In a rare appearance of both sons for supper, we were joined at Outback Steakhouse by both Mikey and Caleb (I really have to buy them steak for them to eat with me). It was a good time...conversation was great: "What did you do today dad?" "Not much."