Sunday, September 30, 2007

Opi from the Shell Station

Great morning at church! With 40 women away at the Women's retreat, I thought we would have sparce attendance, but to my delight there were almost 350 people at church this morning. Praise God!

We learned this morning that the manager of the Shell gas station across the street from the church was shot in an armed robbery this weekend. We prayed for him in our service today and I thought of him throughout the day. I may try to go see him in the hospital this week. I am reminded that this is the street that God has called us to. Crime is all around us. Broken homes leading to broken lives and people are everywhere. God help us.

I really heard the Lord speaking to my heart this morning about our call. Why did we build here? Why did God place us in Lanham, MD in PG County? And since he did, how can we be instruments of peace here? In the months to come, I plan to lead or church into further understanding of the reality of our area and what we can do amidst it.

Lord, grant us help from the Prince of Peace!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Mayor

Today, I had a the chance to connect with the Mayor of Bowie (Fred Robinson) at Panera for a few minutes. He seemed full of joy and he said these words:

"Every day is a party, every meal is a feast and everyone I meet is a friend!"

What a positive fellow!

With the Audience

Well, today is Thursday so I am at my "off-site office". I love being out here in the community. I work better here at the coffee house or equivalent, than I do at home or in my office at the church. I love being around the people. The white noise helps me work better than silence. Today I am working on lots of different things including future messages. I am not preaching this Sunday.

You know, the thing that I love the most about working in the community is that I am preparing my messages amidst my audience. Each Sunday, any of these people could be in the audience. Every week, we have from 5-25 visitors. You never know where they are in their faith journey. I love to be among them, their hustle and their bustle while preparing a message for THEM. Every week, I meet some great people. I love it. Remember, the church is better at being the church when they are not at church. What does that mean for you?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Stuck in my head

I recently heard this song again and it is stuck in my head! I have heard it before, but this time I found out the name of it. It's called "Faithful is our God". Yesterday I downloaded into I-Tunes and into my Ipod. I have been listening to it since. Not only is it catchy, but the words have really encouraged me. Here they are:

Faithful, faithful, faithful is our God
I'm reaping the harvest God promised me
Take back what the devil stole from me
And I rejoice today, for I shall recover it all!

With this song stuck in my head, I spent some time this morning reading the scriptures in a few places that speak to defeating the adversary and gaining victory. This one seemed extra fresh and real to me today, so I share it with you:

"I don't trust in weapons. My sword won't save me. But, it's you, you who saved us from the enemy; you made those who hate us lose face. All day we parade God's praise--we thank you by name over and over!" (Psalm 44:6-8 out of the Message)

Get that stuck in your head!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Middle School

I guess Sundays and Mondays are going to be tough days to blog. As much as I wanted to, the last 2 days afforded me no time to reflect. Stayed on the run! Thanks to God for the second half of my week or I would stay on a treadmill.

6th-8th grade is not an easy time for kids or teens or whatever they are. I just got back from speaking at a local school to a group of middle school kids. They listened. They seemed to be engaged. A few even made decisions for Christ! I loved it! I really enjoy getting out in the community and spending time with young people. A friend of mine recently said these thoughtful words: "The church is better at being the church when they are not at church!" Good stuff.

2 questions were asked by these kids today that I thought were fascinating:
1. If God created just Adam and Eve, then how did we end up with all of these different looking people and different skins colors?
2. Did God make Aliens?

I'll let you answer these questions in your own blog:-)


Saturday, September 22, 2007

The way it should be...a great weekend

This weekend is turning out to be the way it should be...relaxing, enjoyable, and family centered!

Friday, I spent my day off watching the little man. My heart continues to go out to Mom's. It is a LOT of work! Last night Mom and Dad kept Davis overnight as Tricia and I went out on a hot date! It was perfect. We had a great dinner, saw a movie and relaxed together.

This morning I attended a financial seminar at the church. I found out some great news. It costs 100k-200k to raise a kid. I guess Davis isn't getting raised. This afternoon I got to do one of my favorite things...haggle for a friend of bought a new car. I love to haggle! She ended up buying for under invoice! Then, this evening we drove out to White Marsh for some shopping. Davis is down for the night and Tricia and I are turning in. I will be up by 5 tomorrow. Sundays are always early for me especially when I am preaching (which I am tomorrow).

Maybe I will blog again when I get home from the game tomorrow evening. I will be on hand tomorrow as the Skins own the Giants. Bless the Lord.


Friday, September 21, 2007

On being "Mennecostal"

Born, raised and educated in the Assemblies of God, I am a Pentecostal Christian who believes in the empowerment and function of the Holy Spirit in my life. I rely on and seek the gifts and power of the Holy Spirit recognizing that "we will receive power to be witnesses" when the Holy Spirit comes on us. (Acts 1:8)

Additionally, I am pastoring a Mennonite congregation and credentialed with the Lancaster Conference of the Mennonite Church USA. I am thrilled to be a part of this rich heritage and theology of peace and reconciliation. The message of peace, hope, restoration and justice that is such an intricate part of the Mennonite tradition is to me, fresh and vital to my faith journey and leadership in this metropolitan context.

So, here is what I am deeply hungry to explore: How might I see my life and my congregation fully embrace the empowerment of the Holy Spirit among us while also truly embracing and living out God's call to be peacemakers? What if we combined the power of Pentecost with the power of peace? You would have your hands full to convince me that this is NOT is a recipe for renewal and revival of God's people and the world!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A Fascinating Experience with TD Jakes

Last night, we (Tricia, Mom & I) had the chance to go hear TD Jakes speak at First Baptist Church of Glenarden and attend their second day of worship in their new mega-facility. This is one of the largest churches in PG County. It was a truly magnificent space! It was a captivating experience. We were not sure how it would feel to be among the very few Caucasians in an African-American Congregation (of several thousand). We felt warmly received. As I looked around the room I observed that the style of music and singing and the expressions of emotion and excitement were a normal part of their regular worship experience. This is just church...comfortable, natural, inspiring, (for them)! For me, it was entertainment. I felt like I was watching a suspenseful movie waiting on the next scene to unfold. It is hard to explain what it felt like to see these people (men and women alike) express their overwhelming sense of excitement and joy to be at church receiving what God had for them last night. It was amazing in many ways. Every few minutes throughout the night I would seem to "catch" a glimpse of what they must have been feeling, but the majority of the time, I was just staring at the dynamics unfolding before us.

I don't know what I think. As I write this I am still unsure of what I think in a lot of ways. The one thing I felt throughout the evening is that FBCG seems to be embodying who God has called them to be. Across PG County and certainly the world, churches need to continue to be who God is calling them to to be. CCF is meeting unique needs on our journey of being who God has called us to be. We must honestly be who we genuinely are. (hmmm)

I will say this...TD Jakes can preach!!! (By the way, he will be co-hosting with Dr. Phil on September 24th if you want to watch him.)


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

"Not To-Do" List

Yesterday I listened to a local Pastor Friend reflect on his growing "not to-do"list. For one of the first times in my life, I could really relate. In the last few months I have been making some real changes (or at least I think I have) in the direction of taking less on. I guess it really started in January when a little kid moved into our home.

Well, basically I am trying to train myself to say NO to more. This mean saying NO to good stuff, even GREAT stuff at times. I could give you 20 reasons why I should take this on and 25 reasons why I should do that, but I must learn to simplify. I cannot possibly say yes to everything that seems to have redeeming value! Why not? Well, because I would like to think I am an optimist and a I know I am a people I would be saying yes to everything! Everything is worth the time! Not!

I challenge you to say NO to a few things this week that might clear your calendar up a bit!

A "Normal" Week

In case you are is a normal week for me:

Monday (People/Meeting Day)- Drop Davis at Grammy & Hatme's (My folks), Have 1 cup of coffee with the parents, head to the church, meet individually with each Staff Member, tie up loose ends form Sunday Services, return emails and calls and do admin or pastoral stuff that has usually piled up over the weekend. Monday evenings are usually church board meetings, family time or other.

Tuesday (People/Meeting Day)- Grab a Starbucks (greeting my friends there as they oooh and aaaah over Davis), Drop Davis at Nana's (Wilma Johnson from Church--like another Grandma to Davis), Head to work, Meet with someone about something or do emailing and admin or pastoral stuff, have staff meeting in the afternoon where we all connect together, other stuff.... Tuesday evenings are usually some church related event, activity, meeting or counseling OR Family time or other.

Wednesday (Flex Day)- After the morning routine and the little man is in safe care, I usually use my Wednesdays for what seems most pressing for the week. It is my flex day and used pretty differently each week. Sometimes, I have to schedule several meetings with members, sometimes its visitations, other times I will start message prep, and sometimes it is Sunday Service planning, leadership development, Administration stuff that I need to do (which is a big part of my role as Lead Pastor). Wednesday night is usually spent at the church at "Halftime", but not so much these days...will blog about that later.

Thursday (Sermon Day)- Guarded quite tightly, you will find me in some local establishment that has WiFi and I will be completing my message for Sunday Service, planning the details of the Sunday Service or doing future message planning. I LOVE to do this at Panera or Coffee Houses out in the community. It reminds me of the mission...reaching the lost. I do not work well in quite. The buzz of people around me inspire me! I love Thursdays!

Friday & Saturday- My weekend! To the best of my ability and with the help of my sweetie , I try to keep these 2 days clear of engagements and try to relax, spend time with family and friends, take care of the house, shop, errands, and other fun stuff.

Sundays- Be at the church 5 or 6 am- 1pm and pour out all the energy and passion I can to see our Ministry make impact! Come home exhausted (hence avoiding other engagements if possible) and rest for the start of another week.

Maybe you found the above boring, but if you are gonna read this blog, you may find it helpful to know what I am doing most weeks. This weekly plan comes after trying different things that failed over the last 3-4 years. This seems to be working but remains under review:-)!


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Never Thought I Would Do This...

I just could not imagine taking on more thing on...but maybe this will be therapeutic in some ways. Perhaps this will help me process life in new and fresh ways. Tricia, Davis and I just got home from spending some time with my sisters and there families up in Davidsonville. Watching them tonight got me thinking about how fast Davis will grow up.

I read Psalm 96 with our staff this morning as we began our all day meeting. This is a fresh passage. How can really understand the splendor of God, anyway. Not me.