Monday, December 21, 2009

Comments We Made in 1955

I found this in a SAS Shoe Newsletter:
  • If prices keep going up, we'll no longer be able to buy a week's groceries for $20.00.
  • Gasoline now costs 29 cents a gallon.  I may be better off leaving the car in the garage.  Besides it won't be long before $2,000 will only buy a used one.
  • And I am afraid the Volkswagen is going to open the door to a whole lot of foreign business.
  • The drive-in restaurant is convenient in nice weather, but I doubt seriously that they will ever catch on.
  • Have you heard?  They are making electric typewriters now.
  • If they raise the minimum wage to $1.00, nobody will be able to hire outside help at the store and the post office is thinking about charging a dime just to mail a letter.
  • Some baseball player just signed a contract for $75,000 a year just to play ball.  It wouldn't surprise me if someday they'll be making more than the President.
  • I wonder if I'll see the day when Government takes half of our income in taxes.  Makes me wonder if we are electing the best people to Congress.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

My Child Doesn't Want to go to Church- Part 6 (final)

Schedule Input
We've been talking about being GIVERS and the challenge of getting our students to church (or, really, getting ourselves to church.) After church, spend a couple of minutes talking about the day. Who did we greet? Who did we help? Who were new friends we met? Remember what is said and use these things to quiz your students about the Sunday events during the week. The time to prepare for next Sunday is this Sunday,

Here's reality. You do everything you can to get your students to come to church with you. They come, seem to enjoy it, and when they get 18, graduate from high school, go off to college or begin a career, they quit coming to church. Wait! Wasn't there a guarantee? What went wrong? What did I forget? Probably not one thing. As a parent, we can only do what God directs us to do. He tells us to lead our family in the things of God. We are responsible to a point. Eventually, every tub sets on its own bottom. (My way of saying, "Eventually, everyone has to make a personal choice how they will serve and honor God.)

Do not give up. If you have no plan, offer no direction, I can give you ONE guarantee: our students will not have a standard by which they follow. Help them make the choice for God while you can..

Gather Friends
Intentional Talk
Verify Attitude
Enter Early on Sunday
Rehearse the Day
Schedule Input

Am I a GIVER or a Taker? Our students are watching.

Friday, December 18, 2009

My Child Doesn't Want to go to Church- Part 5

Rehearse The Day
Not many people can process big events or decisions in an instant. Students need reminders about church before Sunday arrives. To wake up the family on Sunday and announce, "Let's get ready for church," may be the only thought a student may have had about church, God or spiritual things all week long. Share things the family plans to do on Sunday starting a day or two before Sunday morning arrives. Getting the details about any sleepovers, visits or interruptions to the schedule out in the open on a Thursday or a Friday, gives Sunday an opportunity to be a day the family anticipates and even looks forward to.

Dad, consider starting a Family Time once a week that sets the family thinking about Sunday. Do everything you can to make Sunday worship and Bible study happen. It is amazing what small, temporal things can come up and "buy off" all our good intentions, planning and practices when Sunday rolls around. If parents PLAN for Sunday worship and Bible study, it will probably happen. If you have NO plan, anything will be the highest bidder for the most important day of the week. The goal here is thoroughness: knowing what factors will diminish my effectiveness for God if neglected.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

My Child Doesn't Want to go to Church.- Part 4

Enter Early on Sunday-
This is a challenge, especially if there are younger children in the family which may require more hands on preparation for church. This, however, can be an unexpected blessing. You now get the opportunity to greet people, rather than being greeted. Our church has a great HOST Ministry which offers so many possibilities for families and their students.

I find it useful to use some extra minutes preparing for Bible study or worship. Why rush into the most important one or two hours each week? If there are few people in your student's assembly room, take time to go with them and help them discover a place to plug in. Volunteer to bring donuts, straighten the room, or help with any last minute preparations Mark or others may need. This is a great time to build relationships with those who your students interact with or who guide them through the Bible and into life applications.

Initiative. This takes initiative. Initiative is looking for ways to serve, especially in areas others may overlook. Usually families don't stick because they aren't involved. Students especially need significance. We all need something to look forward to. Enter early on Sunday. Try it!

If you are interested in the HOST Ministry, see Aaron Franklin.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

My Child Doesn't Want to go to Church-Part 3

Verify Attitude

"What does Jesus expect me to do?" Isn't that the real question we must ask ourselves and our students? Parents can't be at two places at the same time, but God can. Somehow we must help our children make the jump from what we want and expect them to do to "What does the Lord expect me to do?" This takes consistent reminders that God is at work in our family and our individual lives. It does matter what others expect me to do, but it matters even more what the Lord wants.

For parents, this means we pray about stuff- all the stuff, all the time! Our students must see that we take it all to God. This makes it simpler to give God the credit rather than taking the credit for what happens in my life.

Perhaps you can begin to see where this settles out. There are two types of people: givers and takers. If we can give God the credit, our children will begin to hear, see and follow the example of a life surrendered to God.

Gather Friends.
Intentional Talk.
Verify Attitude.

Shouldn't we be givers?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My Child Doesn't Want to go to Church-Part 2

Intentional mentoring.
This one is a challenge. I can't expect my child to go any farther than I have lead them. Granted, there may come a time when their heart for God and worship exceeds ours, but until that happens parents must do things deliberately, thoughtfully and craftily. Our goal is to guide their souls without breaking their spirit. Ask yourself: "Am I guilty of the same offense I am trying to build in my children?" Or, "Am I persistent in my worship and Bible study attendance, no matter what?"

John 1:46 (HCSB)46 "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Nathanael asked him. "Come and see," Philip answered.

Come and see. Not Go and see. Each child needs a persistent guide if they are to ever discover the usefulness of regular worship and Bible study.This is not a self-guided tour. So, how's our habit of worship and study going? Barna research reveals that at the age of 18, 78% of students abandon their faith upbringing. To me that says there may be a 78% inconsistency issue in our homes. Not always, but something is at work.

Take time to talk about worship, Bible study and ministry throughout the week. We shouldn't expect to "spring" church on our students on Saturday night or Sunday and expect to gather a crowd. Do a little each day of the week. Water your garden with a garden hose , not a fire hose!

Monday, December 14, 2009

My child doesn’t want to go to church.

I see this happen too often. A child doesn’t want to go to church or Bible study, or they don’t think they fit in the group designed for them or there isn’t a group for them. What can parents do? There’s got to be an answer. The answer isn’t to drag them to church. They are usually too big or old for this (and they are probably bigger than us, anyway.) Parents, we’re not off the hook on this one. In fact, we are the key to our children coming to church and discovering that it is important and fulfilling, (OK. It’s fun!)

Gather Friends
One reason children resist coming (oops. I believe we started using the work “going”) is that they “won’t know anybody.” NOTE: Going implies “You need to GO to church.” Coming says, “We’ll pave the way by being a good example.” While parents can’t guarantee who will be there that their child knows, we can do a couple of things.
· Invite one of their friends to come with your family one Sunday. This will require a little advanced effort. Call the friend’s parents and ask permission, preferably earlier in the week. Waiting to the last minute only adds to the challenge. If a sleepover happens on Saturday, make coming to church a requirement (for the student and their friend) for the sleepover. Not every sleepover needs church attendance as a requirement, but we are looking for something that gets the family to church. This week a sleepover, and next week something else. If your child sleeps over at another home, make sure they know the family plans to pick them up, and perhaps the friend, before church. The goal is consistency.
· Call other parents in the student group and see if their student is going. Networking works for the parents just like it works for the students. The goals are only different in the beginning. Other parents will appreciate knowing that they are not alone in the challenge of getting children to come to church.

More in the next part.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Excuses for Not Giving to the Lord

“If I had more money, then I could give.”
America’s biggest givers are the lowest income earners. Those who earn less than $10,000 give 2.3% of their income. Those who earn $70,000 or more only give 1.2%. (Source: Passing the Plate. By Christian Smith, Michael Emerson and Patrician Snell)

“I have so many bills and so little money.”
Pick a starting point and move toward giving a tithe. Many don’t do anything or give God only “a tip.” Ask yourself, “Would God lead me to make this purchase (have this service or have this perk), if it meant decreasing my giving to Him?” Giving has little to do with prosperity. When Americans earned less following the Great Depression, they gave more. When income went up, they began to give less of it away.

“I live on a fixed income.”
No one lives on a fixed income. We can make money by decreasing expenses, skipping an activity, trip or “night out friends.” Look for ways to surprise your self in this area of giving.

My greatest joy has been to watch God work in my life through the area of giving. Each year, actually each calendar quarter, Jan & I look for ways to give more. God never fails.

The Chapel at the
U.S. Air Force Academy
Colorado Springs, CO

Thursday, December 10, 2009

What Jesus' Call Means to Me- Part 2

The call continued to Austin, Texas in the spring of 2001.  I received an unexpected call from a friend in a Houston church who asked, "Would you be interested in making a move to Austin?"  Jan & I had never moved.  That would certainly be an adventure.  Shortly, I received a call from Pastor Rod Minor who wanted to meet and talk about the work at Anderson Mill Baptist Church.  I was very excited about a fresh opportunity to serve.  The call was at work again.

(Yes, there are lots of details that get us to this point, but this is a blog, not a book!)

What does Jesus' call mean to me today?  In a word- relationships. What wonderful relationships we have in Austin.  Austin continues to be a great place to give your best.  My prayer is that each of us would invest in people whatever is necessary to make disciples that honor Christ.  In our lesson this week in Mark 2, Jesus issues the call to follow Him, serve others, and tell others how to discover and accept the call.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

What Jesus' Call Means to Me

It was in the summer of 1994 that I began to sense God's call on my life to give Him all.  I had given Him, I thought,  my best, but I discovered that giving my all IS the Best.  I began to see God close the chapter in my life that had been a great chapter for 18 years.  Jan & I were blessed by a family business in the petroleum distribution arena.  Time for a change- a new adventure.  God had me serving in churches for years in every capacity imaginable.  So why change?  The Call!  God had fresh ideas for me.  Ideas He had set in motion while I was a student at Texas A & M.  It was there that I learned to love the Lord with all my heart.  In general, the Lord had be in an intense learning environment of work, the Bible, and ministry.  It was during this time I received the best Biblical training imaginable- one-on-one.  God placed me in the path of Arthur "Prof" Smith.  For the next 22 years I learned about life from God's perspective as Prof taught me to love God and serve people.  

The call to a paid position with a church in 1994 was a new idea for Jan & me in, but God was at work.  The Call was to leave the corporate world and serve Him in a new place with a new income and new relationships.  After a series of events and lots of prayer, Jan & I accepted the call to enter the adventure of a church staff family for the next 6 1/2 years in Santa Fe, Texas

For me, Jesus' call meant change. 

Monday, December 7, 2009

What’s the right size for me?

As a follow up to the last posting, I would like to ask these questions: “What’s the right (optimum) size church for me?”, “What’s the right size ABF class for me?”, or “What is the right size small group for me?” Often things fit because they are the right size for us. Things feel good, comfortable and we just fit well. I find myself asking some other questions about these same subjects: “Has my class size changed since this time last year?” or “Has my church sized changed since last year?” or “Has my small group size changes since this time last year?” Really, the question should be, “Have I become comfortable with the size or my class, group or church?”

Thoughts like these are only good for me and my situation, but they are deadly for the next generation or even those who will come next year. My goal for 2010 is to help create an environment that will impact my community. If you are interested in seeing our church go forward in 2010, will you join together and create an environment for motion, growing and maturity? I’m making necessary adjustments to my comfort zone that will include more people, more touch points, and, more relationships. I’m praying that people will come to our church, classes and groups because they were invited by us and not because they drove by and saw the church.
(The picture above is a Pizza Hut delivery car stopped in front of McDoanlds. The driver was outside his comfort zone as he purchased a "Happy Meal" for one of his children.)

Friday, December 4, 2009

“We’re looking for a smaller church.”

I have heard this from many who have moved from larger, sometimes, “mega” church locations. “Looking for a smaller church” may not be true. What most mean when they say this, “I’m looking for relationship.” As leaders in ABF, ministry or administration, we must constantly be looking for sticking points- places that people pause at and begin to build relationships. Some come for programs. Some come for productions. Some come for convenience. All, however, stay because of relationships. There are challenges to every attender, member and guest of Anderson Mill Baptist Church: to find friends, deepen relationships and invite others to join your sphere of relationships.

One danger needs to be avoided, whether the church is large or small. Look around the church. Do you know everybody, or at least most people? If you do, perhaps we’ve overlooked the Great Commission. In the coming year, purpose to invite new people to join you for worship and Bible study each week. Ask them to consider Jesus as their Savior. My prayer is for our ABF classes to be filled with more unfamiliar faces than members. To have more new faces than comfortable faces.
You do not have because you do not ask. James 4:2

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Read Through the Bible This Next Year

In a recent ABF lesson from Psalm 119, we were challenged to read the Bible more, read it intentionally and if necessary use a plan. But read the Bible. I am challenging each of you to join Jan & me in reading the Bible through in 2010. You 'll discover interesting facts such as these:
What kind of man was Boaz before he married?
(Ans: Ruthless)
Who was the greatest financier in the Bible?
(Ans: Noah. He was floating his stock while everyone else was in liquidation.)
Who was the greatest female financier in the Bible?
(Ans: Pharaoh’s daughter. She went to the bank of the Nile and drew out a little prophet.)

We were challenged to begin this discipline several years ago while on vacation. Several saints in our path have read the Bible though dozens of times. Though just reading won’t bring a changed life for some, it will provide us the tools the Holy Spirit can use to challenge us in every area of our life. Begin 2010 reading more than you have done in the past. If you need a plan, let me know. There are several which just might give the “push” you need.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Holiday Withdrawal Syndrome

Jan & I spent a great two weeks in Colorado this September. We camped most of time and so we saw some pretty wonderful things. One morning at the base of Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado Springs, I was enjoying the Word and some coffee as the sun was coming up. I heard an all too familiar sound coming through the grass. I kept silent and motionless so I wouldn't disturb the flock of 25-30 young turkey hens passing through the area. They talked to one another, traveled with one another and foraged with one another. They were together and for a very important reason-safety. They chose to be together, support one another and share their discoveries with one another. Whether in good times, uncertain times or bad times, they were together.
The holidays can trigger memories of our past that may tempt us to withdraw from our friends and church family. The unexpected loss of a key family member or the break-up of a relationship, or the stress of finances can lead us away from the crowd and into a lonely place. "No body cares, calls or comes to check on me," can become our lonesome dirge for the holidays, if we chose so. This holiday season, chose life! Run to your friends and church buddies. Be the first to reach out to others who you may see as having "withdrawal symptoms." Turkeys don't let turkeys be lonely for the holidays. Stay safe.
NOTE: The picture above is of one of the turkeys that came within 15 feet of me that morning.