Monday, March 28, 2011

Easter Musical

For the first time since Junior High, I am a part of a play. I am terrified. It is an Easter Play called "The Easter Song." I play Thomas...I said yes not understanding that Thomas is the main character! Of course many people assume that since I preach every Sunday that I am not nervous about getting in front of an audience. It's true that I don't fear public speaking, but acting is totally different. We had our first entire cast rehearsal. It is a musical - don't worry, I'm NOT singing - so the choir was there, the other actors were there, some family of participants were there. I learned very quickly that practicing with 2 people in the room is very different from having everyone there! It's amazing how little noises, or side directions can totally throw you for a loop. We had no mistakes in our small practices, but yesterday we had some 'lost' lines between us. Please pray for me as I memorize my lines. Please pray for the entire cast as we all memorize our songs and parts. Most of all please pray for our community that many would show up and hear the Gospel of Jesus and in hearing we all would believe.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Jalen Rose, Grant Hill, & America

I usually don't read NBA news, and somehow I got a very important story confused as an NBA story...not an American story...which this really is. The more I looked into it and listened, the less I wanted to comment, and the more I thought we should all listen.

Jalen Rose had this to say in a recent documentary about the Fab Five.

Grant Hill, a wonderful basketball player, student, and person, on the 92' Duke NCAA Championship team, had this piece in the NY Times.

This is a very interesting and important dialogue. It may anger, sadden, annoy, or bore you, but this is an important discussion for our nation.

I'd be lying if I didn't want to berate Rose. I hated everything about the "Fab Five"...which is why I had to stop and listen to what he was really trying to say...and there is more to Rose's statements than what is on the surface. I make no comment in regard to agreeing or disagreeing, other than saying, "Stop. Listen to his point." You can make your own determination.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Firing the 20 for the 80

I subscribe to Seth Godin's blog. I enjoy reading his leadership and organizational insights. They usually spur me on when I need a kick in the tail.

In the interview below, he speaks of a hotel owner who "fires" 20% of his customers so that he can focus on the other 80%. Having a clientele devoted to a particular vision allows the provider to focus on that vision. How do you get that clientele? Seth suggests firing those not on board. Risky? Controversial? Yes.

I know Mike Slaughter of Ginghamsburg UMC has said, "The biggest growth we ever had was from 100 to 60." Mike essentially "fired" attenders of his church and lead the church to devote their ministry to a core that ended up growing exponentially. To this day, he is unflexing in regard to the aims and direction of the for thought. Lots of good stuff here, check out the video.

Exclusive interview with Seth Godin from GiANT Impact on Vimeo.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ashes to Ashes

Mortal Reminders
[Hold up gold tube] Anyone know what this is? This is a burial record holder. Long ago, when a funeral took a casket to the cemetery, this was a part of the luggage. It went with the casket, and inside was the information about the person, casket, and plot.

It was given to me by a funeral director as a gift because he saw that I was always looking for dirt. You see I put dirt in here to take to graveside services, so when you die and I do your funeral, I will take dirt from this receptacle, pour it over your casket and say, “We commit this body to the ground; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.”

Ash Wednesday is an odd day. Christians around the world take a moment to stop and remember: “I am going to die. My days are numbered.” You and I came from the earth, and to the earth we will go. It’s pretty sobering.

I will never forget the first time I put ashes on someone’s forehead, someone I knew, someone I sat with as their spouse had surgery, someone who prayed for me before every Sunday worship service, I’ll never forget thinking as I made the Ash Cross: God, I’m telling this person they’re going to die!

Fast forward a couple of years, and my wife came forward with our son. It truly was all I could do to smear ashes on my boy’s head and get those ancient words out, “Remember, from dust you came, to dust you shall return. Repent and believe the Gospel.”

So why do we do this?

Numbered Days
We do this because our days are numbered. We have approximately 26,000 days to live. It sounds like a huge number, but when you consider that at only 33, I’ve lived 12, 174 of those days, nearly half, it doesn’t look like so many...and when one of those days is over, it’s gone...There’s no getting it back.

We have so many ways to dull that reality: TV, make-up, cosmetic surgery, games, sports, beer, drugs, relationships, even religion.

But the reality is: Our days are numbered. When Jesus came he invited us to live the abundant life, and living the abundant life means living intentionally, deliberately, thoughtfully, faithfully.

This day we make the sign of the cross in ashes to symbolize our mortality and frailties. The dust and ashes are a sign to us that we will someday die. They are a reminder to us to live each day to its fullest. What is important? What do we want to live for? What do we believe? What do we want to accomplish? What legacy do we want to leave? The dust and ashes bring these to mind...

But we the ashes also remind us of our sins, our failures, our shames, our regrets, our pains, and our sorrows. In the ancient world covering oneself with ashes was a sign of sorrow, humility, and repentence. A loaded word, repentence, means nothing more than “Turning around.”

And so the ashes are made in a cross, the symbol of the God who lived, and breathed, and died with us. The symbol of the empty tomb, and the symbol of Christ’s victory over sin, death, and the grave.

In amazing irony, the ashes reflect God’s exchanging death for life, sin for forgiveness, regrets for joy. This sign is a sign of hope to those who believe in God through Christ Jesus. It is the sign of new life...not just in eternity, but right now.

Living Signs
So we hear the words of Isaiah tonight, admonishing us not to just play at the religious game, but to go out and life the crucified life.

For the next 40 days, we are to take a special time to reflect and hear God’s calling in our lives.

This Lenten season, God invites us all to a fast of addition. A fast of righteousness. The Isaiah 58 fast: This Lent I encourage you not to just subtract or fast from something, but to add something to your life.

Call it a fast, call it reflection time. In our church we’ll be calling it 40 for 40, reflecting 40 minutes for 40 days You can call it whatever you want. but I invite you to give to others by sacrificing our most precious possession: Time.

Take some time to give. Take some time to love. Take some time to feed the hungry, clothe the destitute, heal the sick, free the oppressed.

And when we do that, we will have no need for ashes. No need for sackclothe, no need for public humiliation. For then our light will rise in the darkness, and our night will become like noonday. And we will be known as Children of God. We ourselves will be living crosses of earth and ash, living signs of the hope and the forgiveness, and the love of God.

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Weekend of Ups and Downs...but More Ups!

Purdue lost to, 10th place in the B1G, Iowa. A team everyone has mauled, except IU, we lost in what was amazingly only a one point loss. We didn't hustle or play hard, and the shots didn't go in the bucket. That always equals a loss in the B1G.

Other than that, though, it was a great weekend. The local Girl Scouts had an overnight and joined us for worship. It was fun having almost 30 girls and their parents join us worshiping God!

I've been wanting to fix some sound equipment issues, and I invited Terry LeMaster to check it out. Friends from CCUMC, Terry brought his whole family, and we had a great time after church.

Later in the evening, Steph and I did Youth Group. The bright spot of any week, the DVD was very powerful. John Ortberg's The Me I Want to Be is OK, but this video was worth the entire lesson.

What a great weekend!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Transfiguration Sunday

I love Transfiguration Sunday...

It has so many meanings....

Jesus on the Mountain Top with Moses and Elijah, a clear connection with the OT that Jesus is the Messiah.

Jesus' Transfiguration, a symbol of the glory to come.

Peter's fully human desire to capture the moment, enshrine it and focus on the place and not the Who.

The foreshadowing of the Resurrection to come, a glimpse of glory before the darkest days ahead. A glimmer of hope in the night of Jesus' ministry. Like a cancer victim receiving news the cancer is in remission. Or that the storms are over. Or the report card with a C+ instead of an F. And those times when we feel the real presence of God working in our hearts in worship and prayer.

Moments that can change our day, week, even life. Little Resurrections of hope barging into ordinary life and changing it forever.