Monday, June 24, 2013

Things I miss in the summer

I truly am a midwest guy and one of the things that marks a midwesterner is that we are truly accustomed to four distinct seasons. Of course, summer is the season we are in right now and there are many things I love about summer - long days, ice cream as a social event, shorts and sandals, baseball games (Cincinnati Reds, Indianapolis Indians, Normal Cornbelters) and vacations - just to mention a few. But there are some definitely drawbacks to summer. Here are three things I miss most in the summer: 1. The people I love being together. This happens on two fronts. Our staff is so busy doing ministry during the summer, that our schedules are difficult to coordinate. There are some staff members, even those I work with the closest who I will not see for three weeks at a time. The other miss are the people in my congregation who have a variety of kids activities and vacations as well. I just miss the congregation and staff I love during the summer. 2. Sitting outside. There are too midwest nemeses to enjoying an evening on your back porch this time of year. One is the skin-melting humidity that absolutely makes outside unbearable and the other are these pesky little things called mesquitoes. "Why don't you put repellent on?" you say. So I can make my skin a greasy mess of sweat and oil? No thanks. Longing for those days in fall when the cool weather has run off the mesquitoes and a sweatshirt can keep me plenty warm. 3. Soup. Yes, I said it and I'm the guy who thinks that a meal doesn't count unless there is meat. But I also love a variety of hot soups, stews and chilis and you just can't eat them in the summer time. It makes my head sweat. Well, that's it. If you were reading this post hoping for something insightful...well sorry...maybe I'll think something brilliant when things cool off a bit.

Monday, June 17, 2013

New Version

Some things die hard, like old versions of the Scriptures for preachers who have notes, underlines, and coffee stains marking a favorite Bible or two (okay, I have 17 at last count). For 28 years I have preached out of the NIV (New International Version) that was brand new 29 years ago. At the time, someone said that it was written at about a fifth grade reading level making it very understandable. I was hooked. I've always leaned toward the simple. But it was not just simple, it was a good translation by some scholarly people. It has served me well over the years, but on June 30, I will preach my last sermon from this preaching companion. I'm switching to the ESV (English Standard Version) that came out in 2001. You may wonder be wondering why. There are three simple reasons. 1. The people at NIV came out with an updated version in 2011 and stopped production and sales of their 1984 NIV. I'm not a fan of some of the stuff they've done with the 2011 edition (who am I - not a scholar for sure, but I believe they compromised a little with some translating! These are not "crucial" issues. The NIV is still a perfectly acceptable translation of the Word of God and if you like it...keep with it. For me however, I began searching for another version. I considered the New King James Version because I grew up with the original (yes 1611 version) as a kid and like it poetic symetry. But alas, thou woulds't be more confused if I preached from it. I also like the New Living Translation - very readable, but it's not as scholarly. Hey, it's still the Bible and if you like it, go for it. It just leans more toward readability than word translation, so I searched on. Finally, I came to the ESV. I like it because we have become a going deeper in the word church and it is the most literally translated Bible on the market. You'd have to go to the Greek and Hebrew manuscripts to get closer to the original. 2. The people who publish ESV are easier to deal with in quoting their sources and reproducing them. The publishers at Crossway seem to give permissions to use their material with less restrictions than the Zondervan folks. Since we are using the Scriptures more and more for on-line communication, the Eastview app, and a whole host of publishing things, we find this a better fit for us. 3. Change is good sometimes. Honestly, I like my old familiar Bible. We have journeyed many sermon together. I have studied it's pages and still have notes that are useful. But a Bible can become too familiar. Since I've picked up my new Bible, it's like discovering the Word of God all over again. It's fresh because the pages are all free from notes, etc... I begin another journey with a Bible that I hope will last me another 30 years. The implication for our congregation is that you'll hear sermons from the ESV not the NIV. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BUY A NEW BIBLE! You may just hear some of the wording sound a little different. Well, that's enough for a Monday morning. Whatever the version, we are so blessed to hold in our hands what "regular people" never held in their hands for the first 1600 years of the church. The only versions of the Bible were in churches and synagogues. Don't take you Bible for granted today. It is a great gift!

Monday, June 10, 2013


Heading to Lincoln today for two days of video teaching that our small groups will use for our all church study this fall. When we began to think about how we could teach our church to be more evangelistic or what we call "dangerous witnesses" the word "open" kept coming up. Things like open lives, open arms, open to all, open doors, open mouth...and so was born the theme for our faith-sharing teaching - OPEN. We began to think about those "open" signs in old cafe's back in the day and thought something like that would be a great place to film this. We were blessed to find an old cafe' in Lincoln that is no longer open for business. However,for the next couple of days it's going to be open for God's business as our graphic arts team, video crew, and my dynamic duo of administrative assistant and wife make it look like a real restaurant. All J.K. and I have to is teach 6 really insightful Bible lessons. I really enjoy this part of my job-the camaraderie and mental challenges bring the good kind of kingdom work that can only be described as joy. What mental challenges? Well, you know I can get a little distracted..and that means the cameras, people in the background, the coffee in front of me, and even J.K. just listening can be a distraction. Not to mention I rarely say things the same way when we cut and our director says - "say that last line, starting with _____, but with more emphasis this time." I usually say, "Huh?" So we pray, and we open the Bible, and we laugh at our mistakes, and we marvel at how the Holy Spirit pulls it all together. Honestly, I can't wait to see the finished won't be long...September 22nd is our starting date. But God is beginning his work for our congregation today.

Monday, June 3, 2013


I thinking about breathing a lot today, because in a few hours, I'm doing a funeral for Becky Stubbs - a great young lady who struggled her entire life with Cystic Fibrosis and never truly breathed deeply, but breathed deep of God's love through Jesus and the Spirit (breath) who lived in her. There was a breath of fresh air yesterday in our congregation as I announced that the elders have committed to give away the amount of money in our general fund giving that is over our projected budget need. As of Sunday, that total was around $350K and I can't wait to see what it is at the end our fiscal year (end of August). We are being generous because God has been generous with us and we are trusting He will be generous in meeting our future needs. I'm catching my breath ahead of a really busy summer in which we will start a new study (Unchained - study through Paul's prison epistles) in July, host the Global Leadership Summit (video site) in August, and vision Sunday August 18th. Even now we are writing and planning our video taping of the all church study for this Fall. whatever you're doing today...take a deep breath and thank God for it... Here is an excerpt from Becky's funeral sermon: Psalm 150:6 - "Let everything that has breath praise The Lord. Praise The Lord!" Becky may not have been able to breathe deeply, but she added her praise to God with every other breathing thing in this world. And today, in spite of our sadness at losing her in an earthly sense, we too can be those who breathe and praise The Lord. And we can be sure that because this breath, this wind of the Holy Spirit filled Becky's soul while she was with us, that His presence in eternity is allowing her to breathe more deeply of the love of God than you and I can even imagine. So we keep breathing and we wait for our last breath - that will actually be our first eternally in Christ!