December 21, 2009

Sunday @ Southbrook Monroe 12.20.09

What a wonderful and refreshing time we had as a church yesterday! Here are the highlights:
  • The Student Band led worship - and did an amazing job! God moved in people's hearts. I can't wait to have them back for our Christmas Eve service.
  • The elementary children enjoyed their first Sunday in the newly opened children's wing. What a blessing! After months of raising funds, volunteer work days, and a lot of work done by Dane, Joe and many others, we were able to finally start using the new space.
  • Pastor Rob reminded us once again of the true meaning of Christmas. Emmanuel - God is with us. Not "was with us" or "will be with us." God is with us, right here, right now.
  • I continue to be amazed and simply blown away by the hearts for serving at Southbrook Monroe. There is a true desire to reach out to the community and love people with the love of Jesus.
I am truly looking forward to an amazing Christmas Eve service. It starts at 3:30pm. Come on out as we celebrate the birth of our savior together.

December 18, 2009

What You Need to Know...

When I went to seminary, for so called "pastoral training," they taught me how to prepare a sermon. I learned how to dissect the Greek and Hebrew languages. I learned how to logically argue for and defend the Christian faith. I learned a lot about cults and world religions. But to be honest, I don't remember learning anything about how to console a family who is grieving over the death of a child. I was never taught what to say to someone lying on their deathbed. I never learned anything about hiring and firing church staff. Seminary didn't teach me anything about managing a church budget.

It's no secret that we have been walking through some pretty tough times as a church body at Southbrook Church. It's been a rough couple of months. I've been meeting for hours on end, discussing everything from church structure to budget cuts. I've seen and learned a lot about leadership and church business. Oh - and I did get to do a little bit of real ministry in the midst of all that! We baptized 4 people last Sunday! We saw 4 people accept Christ the week before! In the midst of the storm amazing things continue to happen.

Yesterday I received an email from a member of our church. Her mother is days from leaving this earth and going to be with Jesus. She asked if Pastor Rob could come and see her and visit with her. Now, Pastor Rob doesn't do a lot of hospital visits. It's not that he doesn't love people, it's that with a church this size he could never do it all. That's why we hire other pastors. That's why we train LifeGroup leaders. The Bible teaches that we are all ministers. It's not the pastor's job to visit everyone, it's the pastor's job to train believers to care for one another.

But this was different. And Pastor Rob felt like he needed to go. I had the privilege of going along. As soon as we walked in the room, her eyes lit up. And then I got to see a side of my pastor that many people never see. Pastor Rob pulled up a chair, opened his Bible, took her hand, and with a deep sense of love a caring he read Psalm 23 to her. He looked into her eyes and encouraged here. Then he prayed for peace.

Why am I writing this? I don't know. Maybe, in the midst of all the junk that is going on I want people to see what I saw. I want you to know that you have a lead pastor who cares deeply about the people in this church. I want you to know that he is a man called by God to lead this church who wants nothing more than to see people's lives transformed by the power of Jesus Christ.

December 10, 2009

It's For The....Pets? Really?

I was snooping through the shopping bags that Nancy and the kids brought home from the store the other day. One had pet supplies: a doggie brush, doggie treats, and a little doggie toy. So, being the miser that I am, I asked: "What are these for?" The response: "They're for a pet drive at Kara's school." A pet drive? Yup, you heard it right...a pet drive. It's that time of year. Pet's everywhere are gathering around to be close to their families, to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year. So Kara's school wanted to reach out to those less fortunate pets, the one's without families. Let's collect pet toys and treats so the lonely doggies and kitties can feel included in the cheerfulness of the season. We certainly don't want them to feel left out.

Are you kidding me? Someone hold me back, my palms are getting sweaty as I type this (I hope that's not bad for the computer). My neighbor's house just foreclosed. I know people who don't know where their next meal is coming from. Many are without jobs, barely able to keep their families clothed. And we're doing a pet drive?

I was meeting with a friend the other day at a coffee shop. The TV news was talking about the Global Warming Summit. Again - hello? There are people without clean water. There are people without enough food to eat! Why are hundreds of people gathering to talk about climate change (as if we can really control any of that) when there are millions of people dying because we care more about our SUVs and pets? Why?

I am not opposed to pets - I have a dog, a fish, a cat and two turtles. We've done the hamsters and Guinea Pigs. I am opposed to misplaced and wasted resources.

Why not focus a little bit more on people than pets and the weather? Can we come together and do that?

December 09, 2009

Monroe Campus Updates

There are quite a few amazing things happening at Southbrook Monroe.

  • We are just about ready to open up the Children's Wing. The carpet guys are in there right now finishing up. I cannot wait to see that room finally get some use! The kids are excited, the teachers are more than excited. It's going to be a great tool for advancing God's Kingdom!
  • This past Saturday we had about 15 volunteers go next door and help the Union County Christmas Bureau with "Give a Kid a Coat" day. It was a tremendous blessing. We opened up our building so people could wait inside instead of standing out in the cold. A couple of our volunteers faithfully invited every one there to come back to church the next day. About 10 of them did! Sweet!
  • I had the honor of preaching this past Sunday. 4 people (2 of them were invited the day before) prayed to ask Jesus into their lives. What a great day that was!
  • This weekend we are baptizing. I already know of 4 or 5 people who are ready to be baptized. I am looking forward to seeing God move in a mighty way.
As we quickly approach the end of the year, I am blown away as I look back at what God is doing. I am humbled to be a part of the expansion of God's Kingdom. I look forward with anticipation at what God has planned for next year!

December 03, 2009

It Was Very Large

Ever woke up in the morning feeling as though you never went to sleep? Sometimes I wake up and my mind picks up right where it left off the night before. Sometimes those things that consume me are huge! They are very large! I'm sure you've felt the same way. None of us can say that we never have a care in the world. We all have things that come up that cause us to worry, and to wonder if we will be able to take the next step.

Today in my quiet time I was reading Mark 16 - the story of the women who were headed to the tomb of Jesus on the day after the Sabbath. They were going to complete the embalming process so that they could lay Jesus' body to rest. On their way it seems they had a problem. They had something on their mind that seemed like it could be a huge roadblock. Verse 3 says "And they were saying to one another, 'Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?'" They were scratching their heads wondering how they would be able to get to Jesus' body when there was a large stone blocking the entrance to the tomb!

As I look back at insurmountable situations in my past, I remember worrying and wondering how I would ever be able to overcome them. Who will help me move the roadblock? Who will help me overcome this impossible situation?

Well the women show up at the tomb and guess what! They found out very quickly that they were worried about the wrong thing! The stone, though it was very large, had already been moved! Wow! Instead they had a completely different and unexpected problem..."Where's Jesus?"

We waste so much time worrying about things that we think are under our control. When in fact, God already has control of the situation, and He's already solved the situation! I can imagine the women sitting at home trying to decide if they should even go. After all, there's no one to help us move the stone, it's very large! But they went, and found a completely different and unexpected event instead.

As I look ahead and see insurmountable objects, very large stones, in my path, I pray that God would remind me of these women who went to the tomb. I pray that I would not allow things that are not mine to control to consume me. I pray that for you as well.