Monday, January 31, 2011

whirlwind weekend

After conducting a very sad funeral (for 44 year old, single mom Kelly Puckett), Sara and I headed to Knoxville Tennessee to see our youngest (caleb) play basketball for our alma mater (the Johnson Bible College preachers!). We needed to swing by Cincinnati on the way to pick up Sara's sister around 7:00 p.m. so she could go down and see our niece and her daughter (Kelsey) who is a student there as well. We had some time to kill, so we stopped in Indianapolis for a couple of hours. Got my haircut at my favorite old time barber (and a peanut donut from Dunkin Donuts (this is bliss) :-) we made our way to Cincy and picked up Sara's sister.

By 9:00 we were nearing Lexington and I thought to myself...I'm tired, we should stop...but I passed the Starbucks sign AND the one at I really tired, so we pulled off at Renfro Valley and stayed at some Motel there (think John Candy in planes, trains and automobiles) and think ever stereo type you might about rural Kentucky (I would mention them here, but it would probably not be politically correct...just let me say, less than a full mouth of teeth...sorry, couldn't resist). the room was clean and warm (after we turned the wall unit on).

The next morning we hit the road and were in Knoxville by 10:00 (starbuck in hand). The three of us reminisced as we made our way to the college. We had lunch with Sara's mom and dad, Caleb and Kelsey at a pizza place down in Knoxville called "the mellow mushroom". Then we headed to my second cousin (Penny) and her husband Jody's house. Her parents (my great uncle who was a student at Johnson in 1948!) live next door so we saw them. Then to the 8:00 p.m. game at the college. Caleb and the whole team played well - got beat by a superior athletic team (there is a lot of disparity at this level of college competition) - it was a blast seeing my 19 year old play. One of the great joys of fatherhood! I caught up with many of our former college classmates that live in the area. I was blessed to catch up with Jerry Estes - my roomate whom I hadn't seen in about 24 years! Way cool.

Anyway, after the game, we went to Ruby Tuesdays so that Caleb could eat (and we had some food too). We were at my cousins house by midnight. We ate breakfast with them too and by 10:30 we were picking up Caleb to just talk. We made our way down to Market square in downtown Knoxville to a place caleb likes called "soccer taco". Really authentic mexican with flat screens showing soccer matches from all over. I got to enjoy some time reading and looking over my sermon in the 60 degree weather surrounded by mountains...very refreshing. By 4:00 we were in another game. This time Caleb and the team blew their opponents away (Caleb scored 18 and they had fun). After the game we hugged Caleb and headed for home. By 1:00 a.m. we were home and ready for Sunday morning. Tiring physically, but refreshing in every other way.

Monday, January 24, 2011


Yesterday we preached about how God's desire for his church is that the many should be one! The illustration from I Corinthians 12 was the body as many members, yet one body. I like the imagery because it's simple...and it's something that a child can understand (I kinda reverted to old school children's ministry talking about the fingers poking the eye who said he didn't need the hand and the pinkie competing with the biceps muscle for strength - flex your pinky now!)

I taught yesterday that this oneness is possible by the Holy Spirit that lives in each of us and works towards our unity. He is constantly moving inside of us helping us have the proper attitude towards others. Unity and peace are big Holy Spirit words. But how does that play out in every day life? Below are some Monday morning pastor thoughts.

1. Pray for weaker members. Is someone in your church struggling, pray for them.
2. Pray for humility. Are you a visible body part, pray for God to help you remember that He is the head!
3. Care for the people around you. Talk to everyone you can. Ask how they are doing? Genuinely get into their lives with conversation. Spend time with the people in your small group outside of meeting time. Meet their needs.
4. Give members of the body you don't see eye to eye with the benefit of the doubt. Trust the hearts and minds of everyone in the church to be set on Jesus. Ultimately, that is the desire of Christ followers even when they disagree with you.
5. Forgive members of the body who have harmed you. Don't make them ask...forgive them before God and move on. Over time and many prayers you will find you heart goes out to them.

Just some food for thought.

Had a great weekend speaking at the men's retreat for Grace Church in Normal. Great time with some cool, Jesus-loving brothers. What a privilege to share in this audience that is easy to relate to (after all I am a guy). Last night, got to pray with some college age people at FUEL during a decision time. What a great ministry going on there. This week, I'm heading to Knoxville TN to watch my youngest play basketball on the campus of the holy land (my alma mater - Johnson Bible College). Looking forward to it. After all the years of watching him play as a kid, it's always cool to watch your kid do something...even if he is 19 years old.

Monday, January 17, 2011

1/2 hour before class

I'm in between my Monday work as a pastor and getting ready to be a student in biblical imagery for spiritual formation class I'm currently in. As my mind slows down a bit I have some reflections (random though they may be)

I knew first service would be packed since the Bears played the early game (it was), but I was blown away when the second service was even more full. What a great start to our all church study!

The maze has attracted hundreds of kids this weekend. The kidsview staff and countless volunteers have made this a great way for kids to invite their friends. Half of the kids that have visited the maze this year are first time at Eastview. Praying God will bring these kids and families to know Jesus (if they don't already). As for me - no maze. I'm claustrophobic and had a bad experience as a kid in some carnival "house of mirrors". No thanks.

The theology questions continue to trickle in to J.K. and I via e-mail. We love answering these as we have the time...I'm finding a truth that I already knew. 99.9% of the questions have Scriptures that speak to them. The Bible has answers for our lives. Many people think God is distant and hard to get know, but so much is right there in His word.

Most of you like Martin Luther King as a civil rights leader (and of course he was), but he was also (and I secretly hope first and foremost) a member of the brotherhood of preachers. I know God positioned Him in a special way to help change American history. We have made progress as a nation (and still need more), but I still believe (and I think MLK would agree) that the answer for this is still in the preached word and not a social movement.

Two great new songs yesterday. One was written by our super talented worship leader - Matt Ludwig - just for this "give" study. The other called O the blood moved me to tears. What powerful words (or maybe I'm just a cry baby).

Finally, God is good when he gets even. Jim Probst made fun of me in between services because i forgot the name of one of our newest staff members (Jason Sniff - not Jason Smith who is also on staff). Then, as he welcomed everyone in our second service, he reviewed our new vision statement with everyone...and forgot the words. I was sitting on the front row laughing. That's the kind of nice guy I am.

One more thing, go check out our new web-site ( - it's good and we're making upgrades and improvements all the time.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A very important brother

I received news today that Galen Skinner passed away. I'm late as happened last August, but I just read it today in a periodical I read called "The Christian Standard". Who is Galen Skinner? He was the first full-time pastor of the church of which I'm now the pastor (although he wasn't called pastor, I'm sure, the Christian church movement really wasn't into that title back then). But from 1960-1962, he preached at the church location on Emerson Street (now Bloomington Bible Church). This means a lot to me, because I build on a foundation that he and many other faithful people have laid. I like to think that 3-5 years before I was born, God was thinking, "I'm going to give Galen this calling to preach at this little church in Bloomington, IL so that they will have a love for preaching and the Bible...then I'm going to create this chubby little kid from Indiana who will have a passion for my Word. When he grows up, he will preach in this place that loves to hear the Bible."

It makes me feel very small. I wish I could have known Galen. I did speak briefly with him on the phone when I was planning our 50th anniversary of the church. He couldn't come because he was in poor health in 2004. He was gracious enough to send a video greeting and prayer which we played on September 2005 to the congregation in both services. I could tell from those brief encounters that he loved the Lord and he loved people. In some ways, his DNA is all over this current body. Thank God for this brother. I know he is hearing, "Well done, good and faithful servant!"

Someday I plan on hearing the same words and standing by Galen's side as we worship our Savior together. I'd like to think we'll be joined by the kid or student or young adult that God is preparing to take my place eventually.

Monday, January 10, 2011

used building

Ever wonder how much goes on around Eastview during the time in between Sunday services? Well, a lot of ministry takes place here nearly every day of the week. Literally hundreds of people file through week after week - but this weekend the ministry participation was absolutely electric...every where you turned and every hour you can imagine people were ministering or being ministered to. Here's what I observed just walking around Saturday and Sunday:

Saturday - As the elders met and prayed in the morning, thousands of kids, grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, nieces, cousins, dogs (o.k. so there were no dogs - unless you count the hot dogs at the concession stand) came through this building for the beginning of Upward basketball. When I came over to church around 8:00 p.m. to pray and run through my sermon for Sunday, the last game was wrapping up! This is not to mention the five hours of basketball on Friday night.

Sunday - Great attendance for church Sunday as we shared our new vision statement - "A fearless church of Christ followers whose ridiculous love and dangerous witness are irresistible". I was absulutely blessed in both services when we all went to our knees (wasn't looking around so I don't know who all did - but it sounded like many) to pray tha tGod bring our vision to fruition through us, here. Then I passed through the staff offices to see 20 or so world outreach all-stars planning and praying for Eastview's future ministry moves. This as a dozen volunteers reset the stage for our all-church campaign Sunday. While dozens began setting up the MAZE for the annual kidsview event in the little kidsview auditorium. On the other end of the building -in the evening hundreds of college students gathered for the first FUEL of the season. In the rest of the building - 200 small group leaders trained and prepared for the beginning of GIVE all church study. And then another 200 came to get into a group!

My heart is full and my God is big. This building was used for His glory this weekend...which is exactly why we have it.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Answers for a New Year

Well, yesterday we did something in church that was both scary and exciting, dangerous and confirming. Yesterday during both services, J.K. and I fielded theology/biblical questions in both services for one hour of our hour and fifteen minute service time. Of course, we had recieved over 100 questions on-line leading up to the first worship service of our year, but our tech guys made it possible to tweet, text, and e-mail during the services as well. The response was overwhelming. Imagine my ADD mind looking at three monitors, dozens of pages of notes, an open Bible, audience reaction, and conversation with J.K. - all at once. It was crazy. But we got to answer dozens of questions in both services. By the way, both services were remarkably different so we are trying to include resources available on our website ( and in our bookstore. Questions ranged from "Will pets go to heaven?" to "What is Eastview's millenial stance?" Here are some thoughts and responses from yesterday:

"I had to go home and look up some words in the dictionary I've never heard before. This has shown me I need to study more."

"We should do this again." (Lord willing we will)

"I was tempted to text "Can God make a rock so big that even he can't big it up?" (jokers!)

"This was great."

"I wanted to hear your answer about "homosexuality" - (We did second service)

"I wanted to hear your response about divorce" - (first service)

I hope this exercise showed a couple of things about us here at Eastview: 1) We believe in the Word of God and trust it to have the answers for our lives. 2) We are not afraid to tackle the tough questions about life. 3) We are not afraid to try new things when it comes to preaching/teaching the word of God. 4) J.K. is really smart :-)