Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Teen Retreat/Mission Trip

I wanted to take a moment and post some of the activities that we are looking at doing on this year's retreat to help you all understand what this summer is going to be like.

  • Waterpark
  • Painting
  • Minature Golf
  • Great times with God
  • Go Carts
  • Hiking
  • Learning from the Word
  • Bowling
  • Swimming pool at our hotel
  • Working together as a team
  • Beach
  • Landscaping work

These are all possibilities of what we could do. Our schedule, finances and the weather will determine which of these will actually happen. I also do not want you to forget the main point of this trip is not the fun (but there is going to be lots of fun), the main point is for us to get closer to God and also serve him by helping out with the remodeling of the church. Let me know if you have any questions!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Just One Strike??

I just finished watching one of my favorite tv shows tonight and it got me thinking... In the show there was a former FBI agent who had been forced into retirement after 30 years of exemplary service because of a bad decision. This former FBI agent wanted to be involved in a case that he felt he could help with. He did not want his lone mistake in his FBI career to be the only thing people remembered him for, nor did he want to sit on the sidelines just because of one mistake. Many of the FBI agents gave him the cold shoulder or even suspected him of wrong doing, but there was one agent that extended grace and say the best not the worst in this former agent.

As I sat there watching this, I thought of all the pastors that are treated this way after one mistake. As Christians we have a bad case of selective memory. We (and I include myself) can forget everything good a pastor has done as soon as there is something negative that comes in his life. And even if the pastor is able to get his life back together it seems that we only remember his mistake. My question is this: Should we only be giving one strike?

Maybe some would say "yes, we should only give one strike to pastors."

But let me ask the question differently: Do you only want one strike?

How should grace effect our reaction to these situations?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Fraternity of Suffering

Suffering is not a good word in the English language. It is not something that we long for; it is not something that we want to be a part of our lives. In fact, we have learned that it is not supposed to be part of our life, especially as Christians. But I have found out that I was taught incorrectly! I was lied to, I was tricked, swindled, mislead… Whoever made me believe that Christ would keep me from suffering sold me a bucket of lies.

I have come to understand what many of you already understand, life = suffering. There is not suffering without life, and there is no life without suffering. My wife and I have recently come through the roughest 9 months of our lives! Suffering stopped being an abstract concept and somehow became part of life. Since last August Jill and I have been pregnant 3 times only to lose all three of our children through miscarriages. I thought I had learned what suffering was after the first miscarriage, and definitely after the second. But now after three, I can only hope I understand a portion of what suffering is, this is a hard lesson to understand.

One thing I have noticed about suffering is that there seems to be a fraternity of suffering. It is a somewhat exclusive club of those that have suffered. It’s one of those groups like “Fight Club” that is secret, unless you have been initiated. If you have not joined the “club” then you don’t know the other members, but as soon as you join the Fraternity of Suffering it is easy to pick out the other members of the club. Through the look on their faces, the half hearted smiles, and laughter that is keeping them from crying you see the other members of the club all around you, and you love them. There is a saying “Misery loves company.” I had always heard that, and thought it was a negative thing, but now I have a new understanding of the saying: those in misery love the company of others in misery. We love the fact that there is a Fraternity of Suffering, and we love that we can tell who all the members are.

Through this time one of the biggest changes in my life has been the change in the kind of music speaks to my heart. I do not mean the genre, but rather the message. I no longer identify myself with songs like: Victory in Jesus, He Set Me Free, and Victory Chant; but now I find myself identifying with songs such as: Blessed Be Your Name, He will Come and Save You, Who Can Satisfy, Mighty to Save, and God Will Make a Way. Pride in my current condition does not really ring true (not that it is not true that I have victory, and have been set free), only looking forward to the fact that my God is Mighty to Save. That is what gets me through the day, the week and the year.

Maybe you are part of the Fraternity of Suffering as well, we can relate, we can share communion. The best news about the Fraternity of Suffering is that we get to point each other to a time when our club will no longer be needed, when Christ will wipe the tears from our eyes. Oh, what a day that will be!