Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sunday Flashback

(It's about time...it's Tuesday already...)

The past few weeks we've had a homeless fellow worshipping with us at NHC. In some locales, especially in urban churches that might not be unusual. But we really don't have many homeless here (I know of two), so for us it's a "new" experience. He shows up early, parks his bike and the "trailer" with his belongings out by our picnic table, gets out his Bible and enjoys a cup of coffee before the gathering begins.

A couple of weeks ago he made the comment to me that "This is where God wants me right now". I have no argument with that. So I'm watching from a distance to see how he is received by the flock. James 2:1-13 is the background support for my observations. I'm looking to see if grace, mercy and hospitality is being shown across the board.

Sunday's message from Numbers 11 perked up a lot of ears. Who among us hasn't complained to God about how life is going? I gave these three points from the stories there on how to avoid being a whiner:
1. Learn to be content.
2. Listen to godly influencers.
3. Lift one another's burdens.

At the 11AM Gathering something else got our attention! Just as I was talking about God's anger about their whining and His response to it, suddenly it thundered. Eyes (including mine) got big! Hello! It couldn't have happened at a better moment.

It was a great worship morning. But I think the 9:00 crowd needs to either get up a bit earlier or be sure they get tanked up on caffeine! It took them a while to loosen up.

I was glad to see a pastor friend and his wife from another community worshipping with us on vacation. They've been through some rough waters at their church (it's full of Eds and Ediths), but they're seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. He came up to me afterward and gave me a big hug. He was "blessed" he said to have been there.

I hope we all were.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Soap Box

"Praying" about obeying words that come from the mouth of God is a cop out. Think about it..."Dear God, do you want me to do what you just told me to do?". I have NEVER understood Christians who hear the Word and respond with "I'll pray about doing it".

It may sound spiritual to say "I'm praying about it", but really it's just disobedience.

Soap box over.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Presidential Dictionary

It seems American Presidents speak a different language than the people they serve. Or maybe they just have their own dictionary. Have you noticed that?

For example, (and let's be fair and balanced here) we can go back in my recent memory to Richard "I am not a crook" Nixon. How do you define "crook"? Wasn't Watergate a break in and didn't segments of incriminating Oval Office audio tape vanish?

Bill Clinton's struggles, too, with American English are well documented. He was unsure of the words "is" and "sexual relations". Wonder how he would fare on "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader"? I'll bet they know what "sexual relations" are.

George W. Bush had a different understanding of the word "accomplished" (as in "mission accomplished") than the populace. We still don't have a clue as to where Osama Bin Ladin is hiding or how to get him. We do have modifiers in our language that could have helped such as, "somewhat" or "partially".

Our current President is confused over a word that we hope he would know well: "tax".

What is it about living in the White House that renders men with above average intelligence suddenly ignorant of simple words?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sunday Flashback

A picture perfect weather day on the OBX, with the exception of a still strong NE breeze keeping the ocean stirred up. But we had a back up plan for our baptism today and went to the sound instead. Five believers in Jesus proclaimed their new life by rising from a watery "grave". It's always a great moment of celebration for NHC.

Nathan is in recovery from his surgery on Monday so the MP 13 carried on superbly without his leadership. It was good to see him attending at 9:00. They're quite the capable team. The songs focused on being in Christ and His glorious presence, which is where the message from Exodus 33 took us.

Although we've been telling Moses' story now for 24 weeks, each new step in his journey brings us fresh insights into our own. Today was about staying as close as possible to God. That's where He wants us to be. But, as Israel learned, disobedience can remove us from that place.

The Kidmo kids got into it in the room behind us, especially at the 9:00 Gathering. I could see the looks on guests' faces as they wondered why the kids were screaming so loud! In the next few weeks they should be moving into the new Kids Zone upstairs and I know they can't wait.

After the baptism I had lunch with Gail, who is up in the air somewhere between here and Las Vegas. She says she's going to a wedding convention. Then Gwyneth came over to play for the afternoon with her dad and later her mom. We watched the Redskins win a pretty boring game and the Steelers lose a good one to da Bears. Pizza courtesy of Papa Johns.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Race Card

(I'm thinking like Jimmy Carter here, so bear with me.)

If you stop and ponder it, our nation was founded on racism. After all, at the original Tea Party a bunch of white guys dressed up like Indians when they turned Boston Harbor into Earl Grey soup. Wonder what Jimmy C. thinks about them?

Where's Billy when you need some sage wisdom? Would you please pass me a piece of that peanut butter pie? Forget the politics. Let's get a softball game going here.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday Flashback

Today was the final day of a 4 day reunion I've been attending at my alma mater. Some 300 of us who were involved in youth ministry during our college years from 1971 to 1980 gathered for the first time since then. It was enriching in many ways, relationally and spiritually renewing.

Part of the reunion involved attending the worship service at Thomas Road Baptist Church. About 100 of the group had rehearsed an old song they were requested to sing and did an amazing job with it. Our leader, Gordon Luff led the "choir" and had to be about to explode with emotion. TRBC has indeed come a long way since I last attended there in 1977. Their new pastor, Jonathan Falwell is doing a great job.

After that service my friend Richard from CA and I grabbed breakfast then went to worship at Blue Ridge Community Church, which is where my brother Scott and his family are partners. Scott was playing in the band today and I've been wanting to sit in on this cutting edge church. The whole experience was great.

After hanging out with Scott and Julie in their home for a while we hit a local Mexican restaurant for a late lunch/early dinner. Then back to the LU campus to pick up a couple of things for my granddaughters.

Word is that things back home went so well that I should take another week off. Sounds great to me!!

A chapter closed today

Today my Aunt Nita was buried next to her husband, parents and sister. She died Thursday after a long illness. It was her time and she was ready.

In November Aunt Nita would have been 99 years old. Think of all the changes she has seen in her lifetime. It's mind-boggling.

The last of her generation in our family, she was a great little (I don't think she ever quite made it to five feet tall) lady with quite the sense of humor. Laughing at things she said and did was great sport in our family, from her fondness for burnt toast to her calling team mates Andruw and Chipper Jones when they were on the Braves "salt and pepper".

I guess her death moves me up one more step on the ladder to the position of "next to the oldest generation". There's a sobering thought.

Last night at the reunion I'm attending I heard the word "legacy" mentioned more than once. That's an important concept to me - leaving behind a legacy. I heard it put this way (reminding me of what we used to say as Boy Scouts about our campground): "Leave it better than you found it."

Aunt Nita did. Any life she touched was the better for it. I hope the same will be said of me, whether my time is now at 54 or (heaven help my children) at 98.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Find a way to remember and say "Thanks" today, Sept. 11

Stop by a fire station, police station or rescue squad to say "Thanks". And fly your flag at half mast today.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


I'm at the age when reunions are in vogue. You know, before the memory totally fades away it is good to come back together with friends from those "thrilling days of yesteryear". (5 points to the old timer who can pinpoint the origin of that quote.) We're literally coming from around the world.

This week I'm converging with a couple hundred others who together were pioneers in a fledgling college and were trailblazing an innovative major in church related ministry. Most of us haven't been together for over 30 years. But it is very much a special group. The ties that bind are still strong.

My guess is they're all old. But knowing this group, they'll still be a lot of fun. You have to be partly insane to want to work with adolescents. For some I'm sure the flame still burns brightly. For others maybe not.

So we'll stay up way past our bedtimes reminiscing about those good old days, showing off pics of our kids and grandkids and wondering how the time has flown by so quickly. Then before we know it we'll be back to reality.

But escaping, even for a brief time will be good.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Bully Pulpit

That's what Teddy Roosevelt called the presidency. When the man at the top speaks, people listen.

Tomorrow our president will address the nation's public school students, encouraging them to strive for excellence; to be responsible; to stay in school; to listen to the adults in their lives. I read the speech and it's my opinion that here is good use of the bully pulpit.

Especially among the black American community President Obama is a role model, as is his family. I find it refreshing that he is communicating with our student population (although my guess is he'll lose the younger ones quickly) about being their best.

But I do have a question. Will the liberals like the ACLU renounce his speech because (in our public schools!!) he will say the words, "God bless you and God bless America"? I think not; at least not this time.

I'll be doing some substitute teaching this year in our public schools. I wonder what response I would get if at the end of each class I said goodbye to the students with a "God bless you"? Now that our president has set the precedent, I just may give it a whirl.

But because I speak from a different pulpit I think I'll get censured. What do you think?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Sunday Flashback

This was one of those long Sundays, but a whole lot of fun.

It began in earnest with our two worship gatherings. A holiday weekend on the Outer Banks means extra guests with us at church. Several came up to talk after the gatherings to let me know how much they appreciate the ministry and worship and spirit of the church. That's always an encouragement!

Mike and Tina H. were MIA today due to sickness in the family. They both are big time volunteer leaders in our Kids and First Impressions teams. But they're such good leaders that their absence, although noticed, didn't cause a hiccup as far as I could see. That's one sign of solid leadership. The troops can carry on when you're down.

I tried my best today to condense the Tabernacle and Ark of the Covenant into one Sunday message. My purpose wasn't to get into the details, although that's an incredibly rich study, but to put a handle on worship. Here were my main points:
1. God's Desire is to Dwell Among His People
2. Worship Begins with Sacrifice
3. The Design for Worship Belongs to God

Then I made several practical and contemporary applications. After all, we don't have a Tabernacle or an Ark. We don't have a pillar of smoke or fire or altars and animal sacrifices.
1. If my life's activities are a wheel, worship is the hub.
2. Worship always takes me into the presence of God.
3. Jesus Christ is the only one worthy of my worship.
4. God's dwelling place is me!

God gave us perfect weather today for a church picnic. It was a huge turnout with amazing food and fellowship and fun. Lots of children. Corn Hole, kickball, soccer, football, horsehoes and farkle were being played. It gave me the opportunity to meet some new folks who have been attending our church.

And I have to say it: Nathan and I were undefeated as a team today in horseshoes. They tried, but couldn't quite defeat us! Better luck next year!!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Connection Groups - So easy...

A big part of the DNA of our church is our small groups which meet throughout the week all over the community. It's in small groups that we really get to "do church".

Here's a link to the last of a series of "commercials" we produced to show in church in August to promote the September re-launch of our groups. (Most of them take the summer off.) You can find the rest of these and other videos we've done at NHC by going to Youtube. Look for "Connection Groups" and you'll find the caveman videos.

As you'll see, we like to have fun and to laugh.

History repeats itself...

This is from the 1934 Chicago Tribune. Be sure to read all the fine print.

Enlarge by clicking on the image.