Monday, March 25, 2013

At the cross and the well

I was excited Sunday for the maiden voyage of what I am calling the "10 minute shepherd walk". As you Eastview Christians know, I routinely meet visitors, people newer to Eastview, and those in need of prayer at the cross in our auditorium after each service and while I love this, I found my extrovert heart needing more. It was suggested by a friend that I could walk through the halls of the church in about 10 minutes and still get to the cross to greet visitors. So I tried it Sunday and it was awesome! I got to say "hi" to so many people Sunday, giving each a high five, a hug, or a pat on the shoulder. There really isn't enough time to have long conversations, but long enough to share the joy of being in fellowship with each other! I still had time to get back to my office to pray, veg, and get ready to preach again. So now, every Sunday you can see me at "the well" or "the cross" - sounds very biblical and it was fun. Obviously, Easter Sunday is upon us and we celebrate because of The Christ who spent time at the well talking with people the rest of society had no time for and then went to the cross to die for the sins of all mankind. Are you praying for friends, family, and neighbors to be at some church on Sunday to here of the greatest thing ever - resurrection from death?!!!! If you bring an unbelieving friend to Eastview Sunday, introduce them to me I'd love to meet them, but more importantly I'm praying they are introduced to Jesus through the message and through His church celebrating His victory!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Preaching convictions

Since today begins our annual "Power of the Word" conference at Eastview, I have been thinking a lot about preaching and why I preach the way I do. THIS IN NO WAY IMPLIES that the way I preach is the right way. One thing that intrigues me about preachers is the incredible variety and diversity in delivery, voice, background, personality, etc... I believe God uses everyone he has called to preach for His purposes...and here are some things I feel pretty strongly about: 1. I don't put Scriptures on our video screens because I think it causes people to rely on us to get their Bible reading. I prefer everyone having their own Bible - this is why we give Bibles away for free. 2. I hold a Bible (a rather large, old-fashioned black one) when I preach. It is a visual of authority - not mine, but the word of God - that an i pad just doesn't give. I use my ipad for notes, but read out of and hold the Bible. 3. I read the entire text every time I preach. It is the word of God and has inherent power simply in the reading...I'm not going to miss that! 4. I use Bible words to make the points and subpoints of my sermon. I think that using Bible words instead of my words again reinforces the Bible as the authoritative word. 5. I think the Bible is the story, so I don't use a lot of illustrative stories for application. Again, a story about my aunt is fine, but it rarely makes the point that the story of Scripture does. 6. I think each gathering of listeners for a sermon has a different experience even though I have preached the same sermon. This means that each of the three services I preach at on Sundays has a different feel and result. This is why we don't do "video sites" because it misses the live element of preaching 7. I think preachers should try and preach the whole Bible. There are many passages preachers will never preach unless they systematically work through a book of the Bible and tackle every verse. Of the six years I have been Sr. Pastor we have spent over two of those years in Deuteronomy and Genesis AND I have not gotten bored, nor has the congregation. God's word - all of it - it amazingly powerful and interesting. 8. I don't take many preaching breaks. I preach as much as I can because God has given me this gift and trust. Some say I should pace myself for the long haul, but I don't know how long I'll I'm going to preach as much as I can now. 9. A sermon that is not "entertaining" is just as powerful (if not more as) as one that is less "exciting". I don't want people to say, "that was funny" or "that was awesome". I want them to say, "God has spoken" and not everything God speaks is "entertaining" - it's just true!

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Bible on history channel

My wife told me to just relax and not be critical, but I couldn't help it. I'm probably the only Christian in America who is not a fan of the blockbuster "The Bible" production on History channel. It's not that I really don't love the fact that much of America is tuning in to potentially see the Bible in action, it's just that I'd like it to be a little better representation. Again, I'm glad that the Bible is getting is the greatest book in the history of the world and my favorite...but a few observations about "The Bible" miniseries verses the actual Bible. 1. The mini-series is not very bibically accurate. Last night I watched both episodes back to back and was absolutely dismayed at how they shoved many Scriptural realities into the same scene thereby changing the facts of the Bible. I don't mind "artistic license", but something simple like David being annointed by the prophet Samuel alone with the sheep is just not the story of the Bible - in fact it was before his father, brothers and all of the elders in Bethlehem. A serious miss and this is only one of them. In another, it was Samson's mother who influenced him to turn himself in to the Philistines when in fact the tribe of Judah bound him and turned him in before he broke the ropes and killed a thousand Philistines. I don't understand how the producers could decide to alter the facts of the Bible in order to tell a more interesting story. 2. The mini-series is not very historically accurate. I know we live in a "politcally correct" climate where every race needs to be represented, but Samson was Jewish, he was not African and Saul was not a white dude with an English accent. I actually appreciate the different races represented in the angelic messengers throughout because we are never really told what the angels look like (skin color) and we can assume that God has the same variety of angelic beings as he has in human beings. But if anything, the producers should pick one race for all Israelite people represented in this series and let them all look alike - they were all descendants of Abraham. 3. The mini-series is not as exciting as the actual Bible. The Bible does not need anyone's help in being intriguing, interesting, filled with action, etc... I felt that if this series just told the Bible story as accurately as possible the action would be so much better. For instance, Samson's first wife getting her father's house burned down only makes sense with him outwitting the attendants at his wedding. Well, there you have it...don't be too mad at me. I'm just ultra-protective of the Word of God and this doesn't cut it for me. But I'll watch the rest of them.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Ordination services

Yesterday, I was privileged to lead an ordination service for one of our staff members. This is a time when someone who is called to ministry has the spiritual leaders of a church pray over them and set them aside to a life of working for the kingdom of Christ. We find Scriptural basis in Acts when the men of Antioch laid hands on Barnabus and Saul before sending them off on their first mission and Paul also mentions that they laid hands on Timothy near the beginning of his ministry. We really don't know a bunch about how the biblical practice went. There was physical laying on of hands and prayer to be sure. These days the ceremony is relative simple: A Scriptural challenge (Isaiah 52:7 was yesterdays text- beautiful feet of those telling good news), some questions of commitment about ministry (kinda like vows taken at a wedding), and then praying over the person with hands on their shoulders or head. Every time we do this, I flash back to my ordination 28 years ago this month! It is a truly humbling and scary experience. You feel like God wants to use you for his service, but you're not sure you're useful. Yesterday I was reminded again of God's faithfulness in the journey. As we prayed yesterday, I wondered what the journey for our staff member would be and how God would use them throughout the years. At any rate, it is a life-changing moment for sure.