Monday, July 30, 2012
From time to time I receive "input" from "anonymous". In fact many of the responses on this blog come from are "anonymous". At a glance we get this,it's easier to be bold when no one knows who is writing, but after receiving two pretty hateful responses from "anonymous" in the last two weeks (which I deleted and did not publish) it got me thinking about whether or not being "anonymous" is a good Christian thing to do. Here are some thoughts about a variety of "anonymous" communications. ANONYMOUS THANKS/PRAISE - Often we get really nice anonymous words from people who appreciate what we do and I must admit, these kinds of anonymous are easier to read, but I do wonder if when the Bible says to encourage one another it's not talking about speaking to someone with full disclosure of who it is - if nothing else to build a bond of love and unity. ANONYMOUS CONFESSION - I receive lots of e-mails and nameless prayer requests that are confessions of sin. But here's the deal, this belies a fear of being "outed" as a sinner and in our world...all are sinners. Real confession is open and vulnerable and I'm not sure if confession has really taken place until we personally own the sin. ANONYMOUS CRITICISM - The Bible teaches that if you have something against your brother you should not give an offering until you have reconciled. It also teaches to speak the truth in love and talks about restoring an erring brother gently. I'm sure I'm not the only one who gets anonymous criticism, but when I do it bothers me. I had a former associate that refused to read an unsigned letter, note, or email. I'm too curious, but I often wish I didn't. As Christians, if we have a criticism for a brother or sister, we should love them enough to speak to them. ANONYMOUS MEANESS - This is the biggest problem with being anonymous. We shoot from the hip, and say things we shouldn't (and wouldn't if our names were attached) say. Often the words are judgmental, hateful and one-sided. There is no place for this kind of dialogue between Christians. I'm sure I'll continue to get "anonymous" responses to my blog. But maybe these thoughts are helpful. In the meatime, to my "anonymous" hater...I'm praying for you because though I don't know you, God does.
at 10:58 AM
Monday, July 23, 2012
I'm excited to announce that my fourth book "Recalculating" will arrive this week, Lord willing. It is a book based on Paul's travels through the Bible lands of Greece and Turkey and is designed to be a 40 day study for groups or individuals. The cool thing is that the book comes with 8 video teachings from J.K. and I at the the Bible locations studied. I hope it is a helpful book. God has been gracious in allowing me to write and by His grace I'll write until He decides I won't. You may wonder how a book comes into being and why I decide to write. Here's what guides me. 1. I write first and foremost to help the congregation at Eastview to grow in their faith. Others may find it useful, but my heart beats for Eastview. 2. I write with simplicity...because, well, I think in simple terms and want the complexity of God to be as understandable as it is in His Word, the Bible. 3. I preach first and write second. I love words, obviously, but I prefer preaching to writing and they are very different things. 4. I write when something catches my heart and God won't take it away. This means that by the time you see a book, it has been on my heart for years usually...lot's of prayer, rewrites, edits, etc... Recalculating is the culmination of a two year journey. 5. I have a great group of fellow pastors and writers that often speak into my life about what they think I should write about. Their perspective is priceless for me and a blessing from God. 6. I don't write for money...this book belongs to Eastview Christian Church and all the proceeds will go back into future writings. This also allows us to keept he prices low. This is not to say I have not made money on books...I have made about $1,300 since I first publised "How Teens Do Church" in 2000. It averages out to about .25 cents/hour! No big contracts for me at this point! If you are interested in the book, I'm sure it will be at the Harvest Bookstore this Sunday morning and if you don't go to Eastview, you can get on line and contact our bookstore from there.
at 10:54 AM
Monday, July 16, 2012
yesterday, I was physically on vacation in Tampa Florida, just soaking up some sun and reading a lot. As we do on Sundays when we are away we searched for a church within walking distance of the hotel and found this new church plant called "Reality" church in downtown. The pastor's name is Pilgrim Benham and his sermon from Titus 3 was good. This church was small (27 adults) so there was no "inconspicuousness" about being there. We enjoyed the friendly brothers and sisters in Christ and I was reminded again at how wide and diverse the kingdom of God is. While we were worshiping in Tampa, my heart, mind and prayers were also in St. Louis at Harvester Christian Church where my son Caleb was preaching the three morning services. I tried to take note of the times ever so often and added to the hundred prayers I had prayed for him before. In one service, Ben Merold, a preaching legend and hero of mine sat in the third row. After the service he gave Caleb a note of encouragement that he had jotted down. What a cool experience. Caleb told me what I have feel all the time, "when I preach, I feel the most alive!" Proud of him. At the same time, I kept checking my watch and praying for my spiritual family at Eastview Christian Church. A week ago, I recorded a vision sermon which was shown in all three services and again I asked God to use it to ignite a passion in our hearts for fearless Christ following, ridiculous loving and dangerous witnessing. The overwhelming feeling in my soul yesterday is how much I really longed to be with the people of Eastview. This is a true love that God has created between us, so even though I wasn't there, I was there in spirit and heart.
at 12:31 PM
Monday, July 9, 2012
Sorry, It's so late for me to get to this, but it has been a long day of travel that finds me in Orlando for the North American Christian Convention. Orlando brings back some special memories for Sara and I because from 1989-1992 we served as youth pastor's at First Christian Church in Kissimmee Florida. I was a 24 year old youth minister in my second church and it was a great place for us. Great memories of Disney, Florida Christian College, Fat Boys Barbeque, Spring training baseball, etc... But mostly we love the people we ministered with. Tonight, two young ladies from our youth ministry here who are now in their mid thirties came to see us. Missy and Heather have not changed a bit and we laughed as we caught up, shared stories, etc... They haven't changed a bit and this is the rich stuff of doing ministry for a long time. Tomorrow we are scheduled to do supper with Rich and Alisa - he was an intern with us while we ministered here and is now preaching in Clearwater. Alisa played volleyball at Florida Christian College when Sara coached...more good memories. We'll see lots of friends here over this week and hear lots of great preaching. My sould is in refreshment mode. God is good.
at 9:21 PM
Monday, July 2, 2012
It happens every time I go somewhere in Bloomington/Normal - someone recognizes me as the pastor at Eastview. This is revealed in several ways, "Hi pastor" is a dead give-a-way. Sometimes, someone will say, "Hi Mike" and still other times someone will simply nod,smile and say "hi" like they are familiar. Last week I spoke to people that go to Eastview at Starbucks, Wal-mart, and Subway. A young guy named Ross that I met at Subway made me think (I had made eye contact with him on my way to the bathroom to wash my hands and he said 'hi mike" and I said "hi bro" - so eloquent - then as I left, he said, "I go to your church" and then introduced himself by name and told me how he and his sister have been coming to church for two years), I wonder if people really know what to say to the pastor when they see him outside of his natural habit (church)...so, below some tips for dealing with pastor in public: 1. Please say "hi"...I'm honored to be your pastor and am never disturbed or put out. Even if I'm eating at a restaurant, you are more than welcome to come and talk (just don't sit down and talk for 20 minutes and this is not a time for a complaint or theological question :-) 2. Please introduce yourself...I'm at a distinct disadvantage on several levels. First, I'm not great with names (I recognize faces, but names are tough for me). Second, if you sit in the balcony and never come down to say hi after church, I don't know your face! Third, if you introduced yourself to me six months ago, and we haven't spoken since, and you've changed your clothes or your hair since then, please reintroduce yourself. 3. Don't be shocked that I'm smaller in real life. My silly mug is projected on a 20X20 foot screen each week...this is not my actual size...I'm 5'10" and 195 lbs. 4. Don't just nod and me and hope that I guess you go to my church. Say, "hey pastor" or "are you the pastor at Eastview" or something that gives it away. 5. Feel free to give me a hug...I am a hugging guy so this is our chance to share the love of Jesus. 6. Tell me a little of your story...your family, where you work, how you got to Eastview. 7. Come see me at the cross after service. I really want to get to know you and hear what God is doing in your life...really it's not that scary and I've not bitten any one in years. 8. Don't be shocked that I'm dressed like a bum on my day off or am sweaty from running or something. I'm normal...kinda. Well, those are just a few things you can do when you see me in and around B/N. Again, I'm so blessed when we meet and hope to see you soon picking up my chinese order, or at the restaurant, or at the coffee shop, or pumping gas, or at the doctors, or at...
at 1:24 PM