Saturday, May 31, 2008
"The one on the left is my church. The one in the middle is my house."
"What's the one on the right?"
"That's my old church."
Today Democratic front runner Barak Obama announced that he and his family have resigned their membership at Trinity United Church of Christ and are looking for a new church. Deciding to leave a church happens. The Obamas' reasons revolve around controversial statements made from their former church's pulpit that they find offensive.
I'm not so much interested in the possible politics behind this, but find it to be an American church past time - if things at church aren't to my liking I'll just have to leave.
I do believe there are legitimate reasons for changing churches. I also believe they are few because the Gospel is one of reconciliation. At the same time Jesus promised that His Gospel would divide families.
So I'll post about what I see as biblical reasons for resigning from your church and seeking another. Let's start with this one: Unchecked immorality within the congregation. By that I mean the church and her leadership close their collective eyes to immoral behavior within their ranks and let it go. See 1 Corinthians 5.
Have you left a church for that reason? How did you come to the decision to leave? Before leaving, did you confront leadership about your concern?
Reason #2 to come later.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Since they gave up the house they were renting when they moved to Durham in September, they will be moving in with Gail and I until they can find a place of their own. They have some pretty specific needs in a house due to Tricia's diminished immune system and her susceptibility to lung infections - things like no carpet and an air filtration system. So we're trusting God to help them find the right place.
In the meantime, I guess I'll be scrambling to get our house ready. Gail picked the right time to have that arm in a sling! Sarah's old room will have to get a new coat of paint. That blue just won't work for my granddaughter.
The demon cat will learn to live outside all the time - which is a good thing.
All good news and the culmination of a long strenuous but miraculous year so far.
(Today's OuterBanks Sentinel ran a nice article.)
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Each Spring I go and have blood work and a chest xray done as part of my annual physical. I try pretty hard to eat the right stuff all year (although this year I've done some back sliding), avoiding lots of carbs and sugars. So, after giving up half of my blood volume and being zapped with radiation I head directly to the NH Pier for a full plate of biscuits and gravy. I might even take it farther at lunch and have a burger and fries. Today only.
There's nothing like biscuits and gravy to make a southern boy smile. But the smile quickly vanished as my next stop was to fill up my empty gas tank.
You take the highs with the lows in life. The key is achieving balance. Too many plates of biscuits and gravy and I can't bend over to tie my shoes. Too many fill ups like this and I won't be able to buy any shoes.
Monday, May 26, 2008
Sunday, May 25, 2008
- Our church is a friendly, welcoming family and place. "You seem to care that we're here."
- The coffee and donuts help with making guests feel at home!
- Our check-in and secure children's ministries put first time parents at ease. And the kids love Kidmo and Lil' K!
- Our music! Everyone comments on the quality of our band and tech team. A guest who is worship leader at his home church commented on how well everything flowed.
- Printed outlines that make it easy to follow the message and take notes.
- Our teaching is biblical.
Next week I'll be teaching on "What if I lived with no regrets?", focusing on moral excellence. See you there!
With Gail gone to Durham for a few days I think I'll go see Iron Man this evening. Don't know much about it except it's a good action flick. She wants to see Indiana Jones and Prince Caspian, so I'll wait for her to get home to see them.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Monday, May 19, 2008
One of the notes left (and my guess is that they were anonymous notes - the sign of a coward) implied that if he didn't resign the writer would ensure that rumors would be generated and spread about him.
Pardon me while I puke.
Regardless of whether or not the pastor made the right or wise choice to remove the flags, there is a greater concern here. The Bible - and Baptists supposedly are people of "the Book" - spells out how to handle differences between believers. Guess what? Rumors and threats are not part of the plan. Jesus' own instructions were for the offended to go to the offender and for the two of them to find a way to reconcile their differences.
No one, certainly not God, gives anyone the right to use scare tactics in the church. And those who do so are less than Christian in their behavior. Apparently those upset by the pastor's decision not to display the flags are in the minority. My guess is that this church is typcial of most other baptist churches and is governed by a democratic majority. If so, then no threat is necesarry. Just bring up a motion to dismiss him and let the congregation vote him out. But if the necessary votes would not be there, then perhaps threats will get the job done.
Can you envision Jesus leaving a note in someone's hymnal or mailbox like this? I don't think so.
I hope somehow the police identify those who made the threats. Whether or not sufficient grounds exist for criminal prosecution (that depends on Florida law), certainly grounds exist for the threateners to be disciplined by the church.
Will the pastor return? Who knows? Perhaps if the church's leaders took a strong stand against the purveyors of fear and intimidation he could return and continue on as their pastor. The issue is not whether or not the pastor did the right thing in removing the flags. It sounds like he attempted to be understood and to understand those who disagreed with him. This is an issue of control by a minority who seek to irreparably harm someone's reputation.
Shame on them. There are right ways and there are wrong ways. They've chosen the latter. And now another church gets a black eye.
She's doing fine physically, other than the inconveniences that come with being "one-handed". Wednesday she returns to see her surgeon, followed up with a visit to the physical therapist. There will be a regimen of exercises she'll need to do to rehab her finger. That will continue for several weeks. Her arm is in a cast and a sling. It's amazing what a tiny puncture wound to a pinky finger can do to upset your routine.
This is her busiest time of year in her business, and that's been difficult because she is very limited as to what she can do.
Her biggest disappointment is in not being able to help out with Gwyneth like she had hoped.
But I will say that she has had most excellent care from her primary care-giver!
Sunday, May 18, 2008
At 7:00 5 young adults with Bike and Build arrived. We'll be hosting their group this week before they take off from Nags Head and pedal to San Diego. Eventually there will be over 30 of them. We're feeding them a home-cooked covered dish dinner Thursday night.
This morning went well, even though we had a couple of rough spots in transitions between teaching and songs and in some of our slides. We'll work to improve on those kinds of things. Yet, I heard good comments on the message and how we worked the songs in with the points. For newer folks that was a different experience.
One of the songs was new to us. "What if the church prayed?" (or something like that). It had a line in it about us going to Jesus instead of Oprah for life's answers. I've never heard it before and when it got to that line, I couldn't help myself. I jumped up from my chair and applauded loudly, yelling, "Yeah!!". I think I must have scared Bari sitting next to me.
Thanks to Grits Grill for the overflowing abundance of Krispy Kreme donuts today!! 20 dozen. We even had a few left over. Patrick and Grits Grill donate donuts to us every weekend. So if you're in need of a breakfast or lunch place in Nags Head, be sure to show your appreciation and have a great meal at the same time.
Today there was a SkyJack lift situated up at the front left of the stage. We're in the process of adding some new stage lights this week. Since we've moved into this building our stage has lacked good lighting. It will be great to see the band illuminated! (I'm sure it will also warm up a bit up there as well.)
Our new series we started today is called "What If?" and will be a combination look at 2 Peter 1:1-9 and stories that illustrate those character qualities from the life of Jesus. Today was "What If I Knew Jesus Better?" Next Sunday will be "What if I totally trusted God?".
After this afternoon's DNHC class we've got 8 new folks applying to become partners in our fellowship. The church rock's on! And this was an older than average group, which means we haven't chased all the more mature folks away! They were a great class.
Just getting to Sunday, after last week's craziness was a relief. Now we get to start it all over! And next weekend is Memorial Day weekend, which here on the OBX means a population explosion!
Check out Andy's blog for a post on his worship experience this morning! He asks some great questions.
Friday, May 16, 2008
Thursday, May 15, 2008
We're now home from the hospital and after a little soup and crackers and a dose of a painkiller, she's sleeping soundly.
After being up past 2 o'click this AM working my paying job, I'll be sawing logs with her soon.
Thanks for all the prayers and notes of encouragement. She doesn't know about them yet, but I'm sure she'll be surprised to read them later this evening.
She starts her PT next week.
Be careful handling glass!!
Unless there is something presently unforeseen our granddaughter Gwyneth Rose will be leaving the only home she's known since her birth on January 8 - Duke University Hospital.
Born at just over 24 weeks gestation and weighing in a just under 1 lb. 6 oz. she has amazed everyone at the NICU with her tenacity. Her growth has come slowly, but she's come through all that goes along with being a micro-preemie exceptionally well and with almost no difficulties.
Of course, our hats are tipped to the top drawer staff at Duke. At the same time our knees are bowed before the God who created Gwyneth and gives her 24/7 care, too.
You can read more of her miraculous story, as well as that of her mom's at her dad's blog. Lot's of pictures, too.
Here at our house it's a big day, too. Gail is having surgery to repair a torn tendon in her hand. She suffered an accident Tuesday with broken glass. It's out patient, but for a number of reasons (in our eyes and understanding) coming at the worst possible time for her. She'll essentially be "one-handed" for several weeks.
Your prayers for her as well as Gwyneth and her parents are valued.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Monday I attended a seminar for pastors and church leaders called "Turn Around Churches". Actually I was invited to be one of four pastors who shared the stories of their churches' comebacks from years of decline.
There were 30 something pastors and a few key leaders from their churches. Most are from churches which are either in decline or have plateaued for whatever reasons. They came to hear from churches who were once in a similar state and to pick up ideas on how to turn the ship.
I learned from these guys and was blessed by hearing how God breathed new life into their churches. The pastors who led the sessions were so passionate about what God was doing in their churches. It was really exciting.
I also was encouraged by the pastors who came to hear. They asked great questions and one indicated that being there gave him hope. Many pastors "inherit" churches that are stagnant or worse and are expected to be miracle workers. Too often those expectations are unrealistic, unfair and unachievable, especially if they don't have the support of the expectors.
Leaders are learners. True shepherds want to see God at work among the flock, changing hearts and lives. I'm hoping to hear from some of them about how they are applying the principles they heard today.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
My name is the 8th most popular first name in the country. And of 2,595,183 who share it, 99.77% are males. Who would name their daughter Richard?
So where does your name stand? And are there others with your same first and last names?
My guess is that the data base that runs this thing is going by birth certificates, not nick names.
Monday, May 12, 2008
What a year it's been! I can't imagine you've ever had more reason to celebrate than this birthday. And I can't think of a time when these words have as much meaning: And many more!!
Wish we could be there to party with you!
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Every Mom was able to have a free family photo taken today. George and Rich were set up in the lobby with a makeshift photo studio. We'll get them developed and have them out to them by next Sunday. And I want to have a collage done of them all to put up on the wall somewhere.
Families are important to us at NHC. Nothing brings smiles to moms like Mother's Day. They are so appreciative upon hearing "Happy Mother's Day". My talk today was about things moms need. Earlier in the week I did a survey, asking for the top three things they needed as mothers. The response was great. They sure didn't mind sharing! I also asked earlier for a "reason why your mom rocks". Nathan put the responses into a slide show, which I incorporated into the message.
We also did parent/child dedications today for two families. The parents promised to rear their children up to know Christ and to love them unconditionally. Great job MP 13 Band, Tech Team, Kids Team, First Impressions, Hospitality Team, Nursery...everybody!
After lunch at my daughter's along with her in-laws, we're back at home resting up. Great day!
Saturday, May 10, 2008
- To my mom, who continues to rule the roost and set us straight. You rock!
- To my wife, who has set a nosebleed high standard for our daughters. You rock!
- To my daughter-in-law, who was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to give life to her child and is celebrating her first Mother's Day. You rock!
- To all mom's everywhere, may your children rise up and call you blessed. You rock!
Friday, May 9, 2008
I don't know how many times in the past 5 months we have made the drive, either together or separately, but it's been a lot. I don't know how many hours we've sat in waiting rooms and hospital rooms, but it's been a bunch. I don't know how many meals we ate in the hospital cafeteria, but they were too many!
I also don't know how many new friends we've been blessed with around the world because of what's taken place at Duke, but they've helped us through it with their prayers and encouragement. We've also come to appreciate the medical community in a new way as well. Duke is the best.
We've been privileged and blessed to be part of a family God has chosen to use to demonstrate His kindness and power in a global way. Who could have imagined? He wanted to do something amazing, and that He chose our family to be the outlet is a humbling thought. And while it's been the most trying time of our lives, I can say we wouldn't trade it for the world.
With Gwyneth's surgery today and expected discharge next week our visits to Duke should be over. That's a good thing - the best!
Goodbye to "The Hole". Goodbye NICU! Goodbye 3rd floor. Goodbye 7800! Adios elevators and gowns and hard chairs and latex gloves!
Hello to getting back to a new normal. Whatever that now means. Anything from here on out will be a piece of cake.
Thursday, May 8, 2008
Last night I had a conversation with Gwyneth. (See the picture in the previous post.) I explained to her that if she wanted to leave the hospital she would have to drink the whole bottle and prove she no longer needed the feeding tube. That's it. She listened intently, and apparently it sank in.
Later that evening and throughout the day she has been feeding only from the bottle and they have removed the tube. Said the nurse, "Sometimes they just suddenly get it."
Yeah. I'll bet right after a talk with a grandfather. Someone should keep the stats.
It had been 3 weeks since Gail and I were in Durham to visit Tricia, Gwyneth and Nathan. In fact, at our last visit Tricia was still in the hospital. So we made time this week to get away and drove up yesterday afternoon.
Gail was chompin' at the bit to hold the baby. And I have to say it is cool to just sit beside her and watch her with Gwyneth. She's wanted to be a grandma now for several years, just patiently waiting. Me? I was in no hurry to be anyone's grandfather, much less to sleep with someone's grandmother. But I've come around!
Gwyneth has changed significantly in the last 3 weeks, really filling out and looking like she's ready to go home! Her nurse says she has quite the set of vocal cords, too.
So we're here another day, likely driving home Friday morning. It appears life has changed for us in a very positive way.
I understand later today we're going to Babys R Us for some shopping. Is that really part of the deal?
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
What I was doing ten years ago. Pretty much the same thing I'm doing now, only with teenagers at home. It was about that time my hair turned completely gray.
Five things on my to do list for today: At 6:30PM the day's winding down. But here's what I've done/will do.
1. Pick up some shrubs and grass seed so our grounds team at church can plant and sow this week before the rain comes.
2. Have breakfast at the pier with a bunch of old guys.
3. Take our doctor of administration out for lunch. She chose Mulligan's. Andy got a veggie wrap. She got a rockfish sandwich. I ate a steak salad. And we walked there and back. (If you look at the aerial photo, it's the yellow building across the highway.)
4. Staff meeting at 2PM.
5. Lots of work on my sermon and doing some prep work for tomorrow's Great Strides walk kick off meeting.
Things I would do if I were a billionaire: Give away 90% of my income and live on 10%. My church would be the major beneficiary. And I'd have in my employ a top-notch tax attorney to keep Uncle Sam's fingers out of it as much as legally possible.
Three of my bad habits: Finding excuses not to exercise regularly; I scare everyone around me whenever I sneeze; Waiting until the last minute to get things done.
Five places I have lived Only Five? Washington, DC where I was born; Decatur, GA where I did a summer internship in 1974; Jacksonville, NC where I lived during elementary school; Harbinger, NC where I killed a vicious rooster; Ft. Belvoir, VA where dad was stationed in the late 60's.
Five jobs I have had Shoe salesman at Kinney Shoes and JC Penney; Carpenter; Painter; seafood market counter sales; motel desk clerk.
Tag. You're it.
Monday, May 5, 2008
Friday night and Saturday eleven couples sat in on 9 hours of teaching and interactive exercises with the goal of building stronger marriages. We used the "Making Marriage Work" video seminar featuring Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott.
It's really good stuff, both practical and biblically based. We were challenged and at the same time had a lot of fun and laughs, too.
One of our core beliefs at Nags Head Church is the sanctity of marriage and family. So it's our vision and desire to strengthen marriages, families and homes. To us it is appalling that the marriage failure rate among evangelicals is just as high (if not higher) than that of others who are not.
Weekends like this past one can help stop the bleeding. We plan to make this not only a repeated offering for couples in our church and community, but also to make it a prerequisite for being married by a NHC pastor.
If we really believe that marriage is sacred, we need to hold it in the highest esteem.
Sunday, May 4, 2008
I'll write about our Making Marriage Work weekend later.
Today was the first Sunday of the month, which for us means a 3rd worship gathering in the evening that includes communion and a covered dish meal.
I've begun meeting with guests in our gatherings afterward just to chat for a few minutes and get some feedback from them. That's always enlightening and encouraging. Compliments are always given about our church's friendliness, and that goes a long way.
After the second gathering I had to ask folks to leave the auditorium so I could meet with these folks. It's pretty amazing to be in a church where people arrive early and aren't in a hurry to leave when it's done. They just like being together.
Today I finished the series "Gear Up". We spent 9 weeks looking at the subject of doing spiritual warfare and God's armor. Today wrapped it up with a look at the role prayer plays in the life of a believer. Next Sunday we'll do a family themed message for Mother's Day, then I'll start a new series on the character qualities of Jesus called "What If?" (what if these were in my life, too?).
Our communion fellowship night was a time for the men to do all the cooking. There was an abundance of food, lots of meat and pasta dishes, and some pretty tasty stuff! Andy read the crucifixion story and our band did super leading us in singing about our Redeemer.
It's always fun to see who shows up early and stays late to set up and reset the auditorium. We eat right in the same room where we do worship gatherings. It was intentionally designed as a multi-purpose room. So in come the tables, then out they go! Church is about teamwork, isn't it?
After a week with no time off, I'm looking forward to taking a quick trip later this week with Gail to Durham to visit our grandaughter and her parents.
Saturday, May 3, 2008
This is the 5th presidential campaign to occur during my years at this church. I've never been approached by any political campaign with such a request. I thought it was a rather bold move. But then Tuesday is our primary here in NC and he and Hillary are at war.
My response? "No, thanks. We don't accept political literature to distribute from any party or candidate."
Maybe since Mr. Obama has disowned his "former" pastor he's looking for a new one? How'd he hear about me?
All day today is my dad's birthday. I'm going to call him later so we can wish him the best on #72.
A retired pastor, he's in good health and still gets plenty of opportunities to preach. What really charges his batteries is his ministry at the local jail in Hugo, OK where he and mom live.
Don't party too hard.
That's him and mom at Sarah's wedding.
Friday, May 2, 2008
The next few days were the most difficult in many ways of her entire stay in the hospital, and not just for her.
But now, a month later the smiles abound as Tricia breathes with lungs full of air and anticipates Gwyneth's discharge and the day the three of them come home.
God is good!
This month is CF Awareness Month here in the US. Isn't it a wonder how this all comes together?
I'm all about churches being relevant in their methodology. Our message, if it is the Bible and Gospel, is already the most relevant Word on the street. Being relevant is one of my church's values.
But it's almost as though some churches are out to see how far and to what extreme they can go under the guise of "outreach". Everyone wants to be the hippest church around, it seems. The danger is when the lines are not only blurred, they're erased.
I can see Jesus entering alot of environs to interact and make a difference. That's what He did. I just can't see Jesus moshing at a concert by Killwhitneydead (described on its MySpace page as "metal/hardcore/death metal."). Can you?
BTW, I just went to their MySpace page. There's vocalist Matt giving me the finger and a promo graphic for a concert that says "Incest is Best". Listening to the lyrics being played I'm hearing the f-word and, well, you get the picture.
And a "church" wants to sponsor them in a concert in VA Beach? Hello?
You can't see me, but I'm shaking my head in bewilderment. I feel depressed.
Please, someone. Grab the envelope and pull it back.
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Catch some of what Ms. Lamott said... (she's a Sunday School teacher btw)...
"If you want to make God laugh tell her your plans."
"God is so wild...that even Dick Cheney will get into heaven." (If she gets to decide who makes it I sure want to get on her good side...But I'm curious as to why she selected Dick Cheney as the ultimate shocker on the streets of gold?) "But he'll be sitting by a Muslim"...
"There's one mountain but many, many paths..."
But maybe she got this one right (especially if God was watching this show), "I think God maybe rolls His eyes...".