Monday, June 27, 2011

travel tips

well it is that time of year, when many of us are going on vacation. You can tell with church attendance and just the casualness of the season. It is laid back and of course, God designed rest for us to renew our energies and spend quality time with our families. I'm looking forward to some vacation soon myself. But how do I keep God in the forefront as I relax mentally and physically (it should be obvious that we shouldn't ever take a vacation from God). So here are a few traveling trips for you to stay connected to your faith while you are away.
1. Attend another church. Sara and I have been so blessed in our travels as we fellowship with complete strangers in complete unity. This may be a chance to try a church that is way different from yours - it's good to see how others worship ... and it makes you appreciate your church.
2. Don't forget to give to your church. Just because you are in Disney World, doesn't mean that real ministries with real needs are continuing back home. Your church still needs your financial support. Don't vacation from giving.
3. Use the outdoors as a great cathedral. Some of us will bein some beautiful places. Use the ocean, mountains, lakes, etc... to just take in God's greatness.
4. Read a Bible verse early in the morning. Make it a goal to get in the the Scripture early and let it be on your heart throughout the day. Read it to the entire family and then have them think about it all day.
5. Pray together at the end of the day. This can be a great way to recount all that has happened together and worshipping God as a family.
6. Play worship music in the car as you drive. This can help the attitude in the car as well.

Monday, June 20, 2011

a father's day

yesterday was just another sunday in so many ways...I did my sunday routine with coffee and prayer and bible in hand. a lot of people are on vacation this time of year...visiting dad etc... our worship band did a great "loud, proud dad medley" as an opener with several old rock tunes and we shot breakfast for our dads (twinkles) out of our worship canon. It was a fun service. and of course it was father's day so I got to choose lunch - chinese take out (low key and easy). Then i settled into the couch for a short nap, but only for a half hour or so...then I went into the backyard just to take in the day. It wasn't too hot so I spent time staring at the bunnies that have taken our yard over. and I reflected...first on my dad.

He's been gone for almost 15 years...that's a long time. I thought of him yesterday. Thought of all he had missed in my life. He visited Eastview in the old building, but never saw this campus and his son as the sr. pastor in this place that God is powerfully moving in. I imagined him telling me he was proud yesterday. He would have been - he was over-the-top optimistic. He loved preaching and church stuff and I know if I could still talk with him, we'd spend hours talking about Eastview and her ministry. and we'd talk about the reds. I really missed him yesterday...then before you know it my wife and two boys had joined me in lawn chairs on the back patio in the cool of the evening.

It was cool. I didn't beg them to spend time with me because it was father's day and we didn't plan anything at all. Just the woman i love and the boys I hope I'm a good father to. We laughed and talked trash (this is a guy thing, especially when your sons are 19 and 22) and talked about the summer and the future. we talked about relationships too. It was perfectly impromptu...a father's day blessing from God. i got to see my two boys...really close to manhood...still my little boys in so many ways. I hope when i'm gone they remember times like this...I know that I did and I will. well, let's stop there, my eyes are watering

Monday, June 13, 2011

Spring News

Well, it's sunny, blue skies and a cool 70 degrees. It's Spring in Central Illinois. Enjoy these two days it probably won't last.

Yes, many of you have responded to my sermon intro yesterday about comments following sermon with "that was your best sermon ever". Very funny's why I love you so much. Hey it's better than critical emails right?

It was very touching to have thousands of people praying for the elders yesterday at the end of the Acts 20 study - we really do spend many hours praying over, for and about the sheep of this flock and it was very humbling to have the flock pray for the shepherds.

The atrium is coming! In about a week, the ground breaking and work on our expanded atrium will be begin. Lord willing, we'll be done by December 1 in time to invite our lost friends, family and neighbors into our home for Christmas. The builders are really working hard to disrupt our ministry activities as little as possible, but there will be some weeks in September and October that will definitely challenge our traffic flow and crowd us even more. Pray for our patience as a congregation and staff as we move through this time.

I'm running ludicrous amounts of mileage again as I train for my fourth "last" marathon in October. I'm really enjoying running with a goal again. I'm spending lots of time on the trail these days, so if you see me, say "hi" - but forgive my winded response. I don't listen to music when I run...never liked things in my I invite God on the runs with me. We have good conversation that ranges from "thanks for that beautiful cardinal" to "be with the staff at Eastview" to "please come back right now!"

It is summer time and many of our staff, volunteers and members are all over the country on vacation - summer is such a hectic time. Just a word of reminder...don't make it so hectic that you miss God in all of it.

Monday, June 6, 2011

How to read the Bible

Yesterday, I met a young lady at the cross who called me on my challenge to read the Bible. Her concern? I don't know how to. I read it and don't understand it. So what should I do? It was a great question and her hunger for learning was inspiring. So, here's what I told her with some other tips thrown in. You know it really is important to read these 66 books that make up one book - the written word of God. Try some of these easy ideas for getting the most out of your Bible time.

Read Mark (the shortest and most straightforward of the gospels) and simply keep a notebook and pen handy to write down all the stuff you learn about Jesus as you read. Before you read, ask God to show you His Son clearly and then read. When you come to something about Jesus, or that Jesus says, or that Jesus does - make a note about what you learn about him. For instance when he heals lepers, you may write, "Jesus cares about sick people." After you finish the book you will have dozens of things you have learned about Jesus and after all He is the focus of our faith. You might go back and review some of your favorite verses about HIM.

Next, I suggested the reading of James. Probably the most practical Christian living book in the New Testament. With James, I suggest reading through in the same way, but this time writing down everytime you learn something about how a Christian should live. For example, when you read "pure religion is to keep oneself pure and to care for orphans and widows"; you may write "A Christian should live a pure life and care for those who can't care for themselves". Again, when you are finished you should have a dozen or so things that you can pray about. Those two should get you started. Here are some other simple ones:

Get a Bible concordance and look up a word like "faith". Read all the Scriptures that have faith in it (this word will be a long list, so you may pick 5 or 6). Write what you learn about faith. You can do this with literally hundreds of words (money, anger, divorce, love, sharing, hope, crying, satan, etc... are just a few).

Get a Bible that is easy to read and one that has helpful notes at the bottom or in the margin. As you read, read the notes that go with each verse for explanation (I personally like and use the NIV study Bible)

When you read a verse that you don't understand write down what you don't understand about it and ask a Pastor (I know one who'd be glad to help, along with most pastors I know:-).

Go to our website for a daily Scripture with devotion.

However you start, let me encourage you to start. God's word is a really powerful tool that we have to help us grow in our faith.