Saturday, August 29, 2009

One Scary Place

We really like our house. It had to be a gift from God. We are just taking care of it for Him. We are purely stewards of what He has entrusted us with at this point in our lives. One day someone else will live in it, but right now we are the occupants. Thank you Lord.

My favorite rooms in our home are the den, where we spend most of the time, followed by the master bedroom, bath, and kitchen. We don't eat many meals in the dining room and I don't get to the other side of the house very often, except when I am emptying trash cans. I used to spend some time in the office, but since I bought the laptop, I'm not back there very much. But, there is another room that I want to tell you about.

We have a walk-in pantry that Patti really enjoys. I was standing in it the other night and I thought, "This is one scary room." I try to stay out of that room, but sometimes you can't avoid it. What is wrong with it? It is jam-packed with a year's supply of everything. I probably don't know everything that is in there. The scariest part are the shelves right in front of where you are standing. It is a giant "seasoning" area. There is every kind of spice you can think of. They are able to "walk off" the shelf so easily. Have you ever seen a floor full of red pepper mixed with all-spice?

Most people whose lives are out of balance, or who may not be living up to the Christian life that they could be living, all have a room like the pantry. It looks like a pantry, it smells like a pantry, and it is arranged like a pantry, but something is scary about the room. Maybe it needs to be re-organized and some thing thrown out. Maybe there are old things in there that need to be replaced with the things that would seem new. Sometimes our lives need a fresh spring cleaning where we get rid of the old and replace it with the new.

The "room" in our lives is turned into what it should have been all along.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Couple of Goals Before School Starts

School starts Monday. At last count I will have 77 students and saw some of them at "Meet the Teacher Night" this past Thursday night. Most looked like they had grown 3-4 inches and looked older facially. I look forward to seeing then in class on Monday morning.

I had three goals the past three weeks. One was to be ready for school to start, the second was to read Daniel Silva's new book, The Defector, and three was to finish designing a new assimilation thrust for the church. Let me tell you how I've done.

First, I've spent hours creating a six-year Bible plan for our junior and senior high classes. It begins with three basic courses for seventh graders, progresses to Bible book studies through eleventh grade, and culminates with a special year of course for seniors.

I designed a Biblical Backgrounds class for our new seventh graders, planned special projects for junior and senior high, and completed all the administrative start-up duties. I think I am close to being ready.

Second, I read The Defector, by my favorite author, Daniel Silva. Lest you think that he is the only one that I read, these are my other favorites as follows:
Vince Flynn
John Lescroart
Robin Cook
David Baldacci
Stephen Coonts
Steve Martini
Robert Ludlum
Jack Higgins
Patricia Cornwell
Allan Folsom
Patrick Robinson
I have just started The Assassin by Stephen Coonts and one of Patrick Robinson's books is waiting in the wings.  I try to read most of these authors each year.

Anyway, back to The Defector by Silva. It is the best Thriller that I've read in the past two decades. It is Daniel Silva's best yet obviously. I am not one of these armchair critics. I don't even deserve to critique any of these writers, especially Daniel Silva. I 'll just tell it from the heart.

Silva always does a terrific job of researching for his books. It is so obvious that any reader just knows it, even if it never crossed your mind when you read another author. I am also amazed at how he develops his characters. They come to life and have great depth. Silva spins a story that will keep the reader spellbound and not wanting to put the book down. I feel like I know his characters and can picture them in a movie. His settings are so real that they can likewise be visualized easily.  Daniel Silva is one of those rare mystery authors who really pulls the story together in the last 75+ pages. Most authors seem to rush the ending and sometimes it is so abrupt it leaves you in shock. You will we amazed at what the author does with two main characters  during the last few chapters. It is just one of the best novels that I've read in recent years.

If you want to have a good read this fall, pick up a copy of The defector and you will not be disappointed. You will probably start reading Silva and may even attend his book signing next July in Houston. It was a great way to end the summer.

Third, I did the basic design of our new Assimilation Thrust while I was on vacation, but now I have it all on paper. This thrust will affect how we relate to guests, regular attenders, and potential members. It will lead us into our discipleship program for spiritual growth.

Today I wrote up final drafts of the communication tools we will be using with our new targets. Now they will be put on the computer for easy access. Then we will need to enlist some needed workers and get ready for implementation the week of September 13. I am pleased with the way it looks on paper, but workers and implementation will be the key to success.

This has been a good summer, but it is just about over. New challenges and opportunities lie ahead.  The same holds true for you. Keep your eyes open.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The journey today took me to the pool.  I had been walking on the beach 2+ miles a day, but today was our last day and I decided to devote all day at the pool.

I took my new novel, The Defector, by Daniel Silva, with me to the pool.  I would read for awhile, speed some time in the pool, and then lay in the sun.  It was great.

We met a couple from Texarkana this afternoon.  They grew up in Texarkana, so it was like 'ol home week around the pool. It was a wonderful time talking about our time there from 1982-1990, people that we both knew, and what was going on there since we left.

We are just about ready to leave for an early dinner.  It is our last night in Orange Beach.  Tomorrow I head home.  Patti will stay until Monday morning.  Our family has had a great time together. It just went by way too fast. Wish I had one more week of this, but I do feel rested and ready to begin teaching again.

I hope you have a chance to take a break sometime soon.  At least make it a long weekend away from the everyday grind.  Get your batteries recharged and maybe you will even look at things differently.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Need for Change

If you are over 40 years of age and still functioning, we've got a problem. If we don't do something about it, we will end up leaving it for our grandchildren and I'm not talking about our national debt.

If you are over 40 years of age, we all have something in common with each other. It is how we relate to a world that is living increasingly without Christ.  Sometime in our lifetime we were exposed to the church being in a building and a popular movie told us to "build it and they would come".  We've been waiting ever since!

Around the same time in our lives we were exposed to Relational Evangelism, but we said, "If Evangelism Explosion was good enough for the 70's, it's good enough for the 80's and 90's."

By the 90's we thought that a vital Children's Ministry would bring them in and it did, but we didn't know what to do with the parents, except put them in an unpopular Sunday morning study, or put them to work helping out in what??? The Children's Ministry.  We thought the parents had not had enough of the kids during the week and surely would not want some adult time. Maybe we just needed vast numbers of parents to make it work.

Now, I've said a lot of this with "tongue in cheek". I wish it was as simple as I've stated it.  A whole book could be written about our transition from the 70's to late in the first decade of the 21st century.  What bothers me is that the gap between us Christians and the world is widening!

Today there are a lot of 20 and 30 Somethings who have never been to church. Their children will not go to church unless something profound happens.  If they are lucky, maybe a high school campus ministry will reach them, but if we wait for them like we've done for so long, our churches will not reach them. 

We, the over 40 crowd in our churches, have got to change. We have got to start going to them.  We need to know how to welcome people to our churches, but that is only if someone is coming, or there is a chance that someone will come.  As my son-in-law, Steve Corn, would say, "We need to become "The Welcomed".  That will only happen if we are going out into the marketplace and creating such a love that they will be glad to have you around them.  

I'm sure I'll have more to say about this in the days ahead.  Until then, think about what the lost around you need. Obviously, it is Jesus, so don't go there. That is a given.  Don't tell me church.  They don't know that they need the "family" and there are some families they would do better without.  The question is--what do they need and how do we get an audience to be the provider??

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Life Is Often Not As It Seems

This is vacation week at Orange Beach, Alabama and today was golf day at Craft Farms. My son, Jared and I had a reservation for an 8:00 tee time.  We had a great breakfast in the club house before we went out. It was a wonderful start to a day on a resort golf course.

[You may remember that one of my summer goals was to play golf with some regularity to see if I could improve with at least two rounds a week.  I can't say that I really improved this summer like I expected to do. I always wondered what kind of a golfer I could be with some kind of regular play. Disappointingly, I think that I know.]

Jared and I went to the driving range and hit a few balls to get warmed up.  I was hitting a utility club like I owned it, straight as an arrow.  I felt pretty good, even though I had not played in 2-3 weeks.  I was ready to tackle a course that was in absolute top condition.

I hit my opening drive down the middle. My second shot dribbled into a fairway bunker. The third shot made it to the front of the bunker. A fourth shot within pitching distance to the green and a fifth shot to the apron of the green. Add two putts and you've got a triple bogey 7!

The next seven holes were more of the same with triple bogeys on six of the seven. I never played the ninth hole, but with a triple bogey on it, I would have shot a 62.  I could not stop from picking up my left foot during my swing. I struggled with it all summer. My highest score ever was a 63 when I was 12 years old.  I "caddied" for Jared the rest of the way around.  I can't ever remember quitting in the middle of a round...ever!

Maybe 52 years of not being able to play golf regularly is enough. After playing this summer, maybe regular play would not have improved me either. I always pictured myself in retirement like these old men that you see hitting the ball about 150 yards straight down the fairway, never getting the ball more than 50 feet high. They would usually score bogeys, with a few pars and a double bogey.  I no longer see that. Maybe I just need to find something better to do with my time and money.

It was bitter sweet leaving the golf course today. It was sort of like leaving a job on the last day. You knew what you had experienced, but did not have a good, clear image of what was to come. Now I'll have to find something that Jared and I can do together. I'm sure we will find something.

What I experienced today is part of the journey that we call life.  I will miss the idea of playing golf, but not like I was playing. I can leave that behind. What about you? Has anything in your life changed this summer and you know that it will never be the same again? But, need I remind you that it can be better!