Friday, December 30, 2005

New Year, Fresh Purpose

In the upcoming year we are going to try to implement a new emphasis for our church. We will continue to emphasis sharing your faith with those around you but I also feel like we should be doing more outreach in our community. As I have prayed and sought the Lord for His vision for our church, I have felt impressed that we are supposed to be an asset to our community. Our church should make our county a better place to live. We should be meeting needs and helping those in distress. We need to put our religion into practice.

I am not quite sure what form this will take but I am sure that it will mean changes in the way we do things. We will need to shift our focus somewhat. And we will need to maintain our focus which is not something I have been good at as a leader. It is easy to get distracted. Andy Stanley has said, "Vision bleeds." What he means is that unless you continue to repeat vision in fresh ways people lose focus.

So if anyone has ideas about how your church is reaching out to your community speak up. This is different than crusades or door to door evangelism. What we are attempting to do is to become relevant, which is a loaded word, to our community.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Surviving Christmas

I haven’t written anything for a while now. First I had a head cold that nearly sapped all my strength. Next it was the stomach flu making its way through our family. Then there was a quick trip to Wisconsin overnight. On the way home we stopped in Schaumberg to shop. Most of our time allotted was sucked up by rubberneckers on the tollway. The next day my mother nearly died and so three days were filled with hospital visits. I am very thankful to God that it was all sorted out and after a pace maker was inserted in her heart she was able to go home. Then there was a mad dash to finish Christmas shopping, clean the house, prepare for Christmas Eve supper and Christmas dinner. All of that and I had to prepare a sermon for our service Christmas Day. I survived Christmas this year!

Now I am looking ahead to a new year. We have spent four years in Bethany and I feel like a vision is starting to develop. It is bold and it will require faith. And as I have been praying about these things the number one thing that God has been speaking to my heart is that above all else He is walking me through Romans 5:3,4 and especially developing perseverance. The one thing about developing perseverance is that it requires time, a lot of time. I am impatient and definitely not a fan of this virtue. But God has promised that if He begins a good work in us He will be faithful to complete it. Have a Happy New Year!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Death of a Salesman

I have at different times tried to sell things for a living. I tried telemarketing. I tried fundraising over the phone. I tried to sell cars. I was a miserable failure at all of them. I failed to sell the products effectively. And I was miserable because I didn’t enjoy trying to sell the products. Even growing up I wasn’t very good at selling candy and oranges and light bulbs to raise money for different groups of which I was a member. I remember the pressure of trying to sell products knowing my pay check and my job was on the line.

I am by nature reserved. Because of this personality trait I was uncomfortable meeting new people in the process of trying to sell them something. I can’t really explain how much I hated being a salesman. I also remember the fear when they would object to my sales pitch. I was inclined to take them at their word when they said no thank you. But I was taught to overcome their objections, to steer them to the product I wanted to sell them rather than the product that they wanted to buy. I was to control the conversation. Mine is not a forceful personality and I felt unnatural in this role. I failed as a telemarketer. I never sold a single car. I am not a salesman.

I remember having the same unnatural feeling in a college class I took. The class was an evangelism class. We were taught a script. We memorized scriptures. We learned how to walk people down the “Roman’s Road.” And then we role played scenarios in class. We practiced leading our fellow Bible college students to Jesus. I felt unnatural when people had objections. I felt like a salesman. We were to go with our partners to witness to x amount of people using this approach. It never worked out to get together with my partner. I didn’t lead anyone to Christ during this class. I think I got a B.

Now as a pastor I am trying to lead my church. I want my church to grow. I believe we have great people in our church. But when I am out knocking on doors I feel like a salesman. I think that is why I hate knocking on doors. It feels unnatural to me. Plus I don’t like it much when people come to my door trying to sell me on something. But anyway, I feel like I am trying to sell my church to someone who could really take it or leave it. My church may not be what they are looking for in life. I often feel like a failure.

However I do try to share my faith with people I come across on a regular basis. When I the conversation turns toward spiritual things I tell about my faith. I talk about Jesus. It feels natural. I really like to do it. I have led some people to Christ. Not as many as I would like but still some. We need to understand that we are not called by Jesus to be sales persons. We are called to be witnesses. A witness of course can only talk about what they have seen and heard first hand. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses.” Acts 1:8

When I can help someone to put their faith in Christ then I tell them that they really need to become a disciple of Jesus. Our church can really help them in this process. And when they realize that they need a church to help them to grow we have a match and I am really not selling them anything. I am helping them to find what they want and need. This feels natural. I love to do it. I hope that I can do it more often.

I don’t need to sell Jesus. It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict people of sin. I just need to tell them what I know. "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. " 1 John 1:1

Friday, December 09, 2005


I haven't posted anything in a long time. I have a cold virus. It has beaten the snot out of me. All week long I have been exhausted. I take a shower and then have to rest for twenty minutes. I wash the dishes and then have to rest. Since my wife also has a cold and she is a bigger baby than me I still have to try to take care of kids and stuff. ;-)

So I have had things to talk about but lacked the sustained concentration to write. Monday I fixed the washing machine. It was a big deal to me because I am not very handy. I struggle to do it myself but I also didn't have the money to pay someone else to fix it. So I disassembled the machine. I took apart the pump that pumps water out of the basket. And I found some debris that had prevented the pump from draining the machine. Since we have four kids laundry has been piling up. We had to drive to my parents and stay for hours do laundry. When I reassembled the machine and it worked I felt like a knight in shining armor! I was the hero to my wife. Which is cool. And something every man wants to be at some point.

I have more to write but it has snowed at least four to six inches. So despite the head cold I have to shovel snow, sled with the boys and finish my sermon for Sunday.