Tuesday, December 30, 2008
First, Christmas Eve's worship gathering was phenomenal. This was our 17th consecutive year for doing this, and every year it grows. Nate did a great job putting it all together, and the MP13 Band and our NHC Worship Choir are both top notch when it comes to leading us in worship. Instead of a the usual Christmas sermon we used a series of short videos we got from BluefishTV that I recommend highly for advent. There were 5 of them that told the story from the Old Testament prophecies through the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. In between each video clip the Band and choir led us in a Christmas song. The link above will allow you to view them.
One of the results of being a growing church was that we almost ran out of communion elements. Gotta pick up another tray or two! We were set up seating-wise for 185 ("with so many people out of town...") but had about 225 in the service. So, thanks to Mike and his team for scrambling (again) to get more chairs set up. Thanks, too, to the children's ministry and nursery teams for providing child care. The little ones had a birthday party for Jesus. Guests were there from as far away as Australia and Canada.
Sunday was a breather for me. Not having to preach allowed me to relax and enjoy Christmas a little more with so many of our family in town. So, a special thanks to our missionary to Honduras, Larry Benson for taking the lead Sunday and bringing a great message on our "missional" God and what that means. I took lots of notes and he had my brain working overtime.
The 9AM gathering was really sparcely populated! It's the one most of our local congregation attends. But I knew that meant 11:00 would be slammed, which it was. Even though it was after Christmas we still enjoyed some Christmas music, too. Next Sunday we'll put up some round tables in the auditorium again, which is a luxury we can afford in the winter months. We tried it last year and the tables became hugely popular, giving attenders a place to spread out their notes, Bibles and coffee!
It's hard to believe another year has come and gone. For so many reasons 2008 was the best year ever for our church. More was accomplished for ministry and missions and by more people being involved than we've ever experienced. The church continues to grow in health and strength. 2009 will, no doubt, pose some new challenges with the economy, etc. So we will get to see God work even more as we learn to trust in Him.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Obama's getting flack for inviting Warren to give the invocation at the inauguration because of Warren's conservative views, esp. in the issues of homosexuality and abortion.
Warren's sure to get flack from the extreme religious right for being "chummy" with a liberal like Obama. But, as a pastor, how do you say "No" to an invitation to give a prayer, esp. when the Bible tells us to pray for those in governmental authority?
Kudos to Obama for demonstrating some diversity. And for my bud RW, can you get me tickets?
If he had invited me to pray, I would. Just so you know.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
So should being a Christian family make a difference? Shouldn’t we be worshipping on Christmas morning? After all, it’s Jesus birthday! And the answer is “Yes!”. For NHC this will be one of those “Acts 2:46” worship events when we worship from “house to house”. Our church will be worshipping, just not all together. But how do we do that?
For some of you, having family worship at Christmas is nothing new. But for many of you, it will be your first attempt. Let me give you some suggestions to make your Christmas morning extra special. Many of these ideas are things Gail and I have done at our home through the years.
1. PUT YOUR FOCUS ON CHRIST
How difficult is this in our society? Everything we see and hear on the media tells us that Christmas is about giving and receiving to and from each other. But very little is said anymore about the gift God gave in Jesus.
Before we allowed the kids to tear into their presents we had our worship time. What a better time than this to teach them that life is “not about me”? Isn’t that hard to do? If it’s your first time to try it, yes, it will be. It’s also a great way to teach them patience.
But don’t wait until they get up on Christmas morning to announce it! You’ll have a revolt on your hands, and angry people don’t make good worshippers. Prepare your kids in advance by talking at meal times about how Christmas should be a special time to worship Jesus. But we’re not going to worship at church. Tell them, “This year we’re going to start our Christmas Day with worshiping Jesus right here at home.”
God’s principle of worship always includes sacrifice, and giving God the “first fruits”, not the leftovers. And think about it for a second. Once they open all those toys you’ve lost them for the day! It’s easier to do the worship first than to try to corral them in later.
2. EAT A MEAL TOGETHER
We start with a big family breakfast together around the table. Gail has this recipe for a breakfast casserole that she prepares on Christmas Eve and keeps in the refrigerator overnight. Then early on Christmas morning she pops it in the oven. Thankfully, as the kids get older, Christmas starts a little later!
Now, if you just can’t see that happening in your house, let me give you an alternative. Later that day have a big family meal together and turn your meal time into a worship time. By the way, whether you have your worship time early or later, include in it the opportunity for everyone to serve – do ministry – by helping with the meal and clean up. Don’t let Mom do it all!
Eating together was a big part of the New Testament church’s worship experiences. And since you have everyone around the table at the same time, it’s an excellent place to have your worship time.
3. MAKE IT AGE APPROPRIATE
When I say “worship time” I don’t mean you have to go for an hour or preach a sermon! The younger the children, the more you’ll need to make it brief (10 minutes max for little ones) and use some visual aids. We always have had a manger scene that we used when the kids were very young to tell the Christmas story. We also have done a “Birthday Party for Jesus” and sang Happy Birthday to Him. They understand birthday parties! That helps teach them what the day is really about.
Whatever you do, be creative. If you have a wide age span, try to have something for everyone, and include the older kids in helping the younger.
By the way, your children will likely see plenty of “Christmas” shows on TV this time of year. Why not invest on a good video that tells the real Christmas story and watch it together that afternoon? There are some productions (Hanna-Barbera for example) that have it in a cartoon format.
4. READ THE CHRISTMAS STORY
When they’re very young, find a good Bible story book with pictures. Make the story come alive. As they get older, read it from the Bible. Have the kids read it. Ask questions. Let them ask questions. (You might want to study up on it!) Keep in mind the incarnation (God becoming Man) was a miracle. And miracles can’t be explained by science. You’ll find the Christmas story in Matthew 1 and Luke 2. Don’t forget to explain why Jesus’ birth was necessary for our salvation.
5. SING CHRISTMAS SONGS AND PRAY TOGETHER
For your worship time sing a song or two that honors Christ. Little children all love “Away in a Manger” and “Silent Night”. Older ones love them, too! And if you’re family isn’t necessarily musically inclined, put on a Christmas CD and sing along with those who are.
Encourage everyone to say a prayer and in the prayer include something about Christmas for which they can thank God. With the very young expect prayers of thanks for their toys. But allow your Christmas Story time to lead into the prayer time. If you do a good job of telling the story, they’ll get it.
6. DO A FAMILY CHRISTMAS PROJECT
Christmas is about giving. “God so loved the world that He gave.” If your children are going to learn to be givers and not takers, plan a giving project.
Maybe as a family you can find a way to give to something special. Perhaps you put together a shoebox for operation Christmas Child. Take a moment to pray for the child who is receiving that box. Some families intentionally give up one gift on their list and use that money to give to missions. On Christmas Eve our church will be giving out goodies to the public safety and hospital employees who will be working that night. Visit someone (even a stranger) who is spending Christmas in the hospital. Send a card or package of cookies to a serviceman/woman in Iraq. One year we visited seniors in their homes and sang carols with them.
Most of all let them know the greatest gift they can give Christ is their own lives.
7. DAD: TAKE THE LEAD
Here’s another opportunity to take the God-given role of spiritual head of your family. Don’t leave all this to Mom. Let your family see that this is important to you. Too often in our American culture the men leave the spiritual things to the women. Dad, you be the initiator. Of course, if you’re a single mom, you’re the spiritual head of your home, so you make it happen.
8. INVITE SOMEONE TO JOIN YOU
Look around. Not everyone has a family with whom they can celebrate Christmas. There are singles and older folks who are alone or just the two of them who would love to come over to your house for Christmas. There are still international students here on the beach working. It may be someone at work or a neighbor or someone in your Connection Group. We’re always looking for someone outside our family to invite. Practice biblical hospitality. Share your Christmas with others. It will only make your celebration that much better.
©2008 Rick Lawrenson
Sunday, December 14, 2008
FPBC has a different dynamic than NHC in many ways, but has a heart to reach their community. Friendly folks! Using Acts 2:41-47 I talked about God doing new things and the church being ready to take the opportunities He brings to accomplish His purposes. Nobody (that I could tell) fell asleep.
If you struggle with insomnia Terry says the message will be up on their podcast page soon. (Be warned, when I mentioned being "busted in church" it was right after a grandma got up from her seat to discipline her grandsons who were less than engaged in the message.)
After church we were taken out to lunch to the Lobster Shanty on the river in Vero Beach. Good seafood! Tonight we're going to a hand bell choir concert.
I hear things went great back home at NHC to day. (But then I heard it from the guy who did the preaching.) I'm excited to see the pics from the baptism.
Home tomorrow night!
Thursday, December 11, 2008
We took a looonnnggg drive across the state to Busch Gardens in Tampa. A zoo with rides. Because of the morning rain the place was nearly deserted. No lines. Lots of birds. Everywhere. Rode one pretty wild roller coaster. One of those high speed twirly loopy g-force rides that make you wobbly when you get off.
On the way back we randomly stopped in Bartow at Fred's Market Restaurant. We we actually looking for Perkins but not seeing it, pulled in to Fred's. Lots of cop cars in the full parking lot. That's a sure sign there's good food inside.
Good food is an understatement. Fred's has a buffet of nothing but Southern style food. I had more than enough of the food that makes life wonderful. Things like fried green tomatoes, collards, baked talapia, stewed tomatoes, sweet potatos, fried catfish, black eyed peas, cabbage, barbecue pork ribs. There was much more that I never even got to sample. Things like corn pudding, fried corn bread, chicken and dumplings... If you've eaten Southern you get the picture.
Two thumbs up for Fred's. Five stars. My new favorite buffet in the universe. And the bread pudding was totally outrageous. I did start with a salad, by the way.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
I gotta say this: my airline experience today with Southwest was the best I have ever had. The departing flight left on time; the plane was not packed, in fact was probably only 25% occupied, which meant the seat between us was empty; Southwest jets have far greater leg room than Delta, for example; the flight landed in Orlando on time and went straight to the gate. They won me over today.
Temps will be around 80 tomorrow.
And the big news today is that our second grandchild will be a girl. Congrats Rachel and Ramon. What's wild is that she is due on the same due date as our first granddaughter Gwyneth, only a year apart. We're hoping this one takes the full ride!
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Next Sunday Andy will pick up where I left off. Then the following Sunday I'll bring a seasonal message on the Sunday before Christmas.
Nate chose Steven Curtis Chapman's song "The Mountain" to introduce the message today. If you know his family's story this year you have to appreciate the insights God gave him well in advance of the valley they would traverse with the tragic death of their daughter. Here are the words from the 2nd verse:
You bring me up here on this mountain
For me to rest and learn and grow
I see the truth up on the mountain And I carry it to the world far below
So as I go down to the valley
Knowing that You will go with me
This is my prayer, Lord
Help me to remember what You've shown me
Up on the mountain
They also plugged in some Christmas music including a rendition of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" that sneaks in a lead guitar part from "Carol of the Bells" (with distortion, of course). It's fantastic. Can't wait for more.
Tina tells me our Lil K class (pre-schoolers) was maxed out today at 9AM. The place is crawling with young children.
Following the second worship gathering a lot of folks stayed around to get the place re-set and decorated for tonight's annual Christmas dinner. We don't have a separate "fellowship hall", so our worship space is multi-purpose. In came the tables and chairs for tonight's meal. We set up enough to handle 216, utilizing the lobby as well. Good thing!
Talk about a ton of food! Our Fellowship Team did a great job setting up the food lines, getting nearly 200 people through pretty quickly. Shawn P., who has been around a few years looked around and was remembering when things were much smaller. It's quite amazing to me, too.
The stack of coats donated to give away next week to the needy in the community is becoming a mountain! Keep it up! And I don't know what was given tonight to send Bibles to youth and children in countries where believers are under persecution, but it looked like a pretty healthy offering. Thanks for giving to Jesus' body like this in celebration of His Birth, especially when it's not so easy to give.
My Flashback next Sunday will not be about NHC. I'll be speaking in a church in Vero Beach, FL while visiting our daughter and son-in-law. Hope the weather's warm!
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
And I get to be a part of it, which is way cool.
This is how we roll at NHC.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
The older looking girl went up to the desk and said she needed to see a doctor. She had a sore throat. The other two girls continued on to the vending machines. After filling out a form and presenting her ID, the girl seeking medical attention was then told by the Triage Nurse to come in for her evaluation. At the same time one of the other girls started to follow her in. The nurse said, "You can wait out here" (referring to the waiting room), "but if you're going to be in the hospital you need to put on some shoes. Do you have some shoes in the car?"
The girl was barefooted. In December. Obviously she had no clue that shoes might be required attire in a hospital. And just as obviously, she didn't care. But she went out, and came back in with some shoes on her feet.
In the mean time, the third girl came back in to the waiting room with a Mountain Dew. She asked the girl with the shoes why she went outside. "To get some shoes on." "Why did you have to put on shoes?" "Because the f____________ b_________ woman in there is stupid!".
She pushed my button. Yanked my chain. "Hey. You think they might have some rules in the hospital? And there is no reason to call her what you just did. You're not old enough to be using that kind of language. Show some respect."
"You don't know how old I am", she smartly replied. "No. But you obviously are older than you act."
A couple of questions.
Where were the adults in these kids' lives? Why is a minor coming to seek medical attention without a parent? And what's with her bringing along a couple of friends to the hospital? Why hasn't someone taught this foul mouthed girl some manners and respect of authority? Does she have any concept of why there are rules?
It was pretty sad. Respect is a value that begins to be understood at home.
We have to reach this generation. Somewhere the passing on of values is being interrupted. Witness last week's trampling death of a Wal-Mart employee on Black Friday by me-first consumers.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
The songs were celebratory. Our decoration team made the place festive with balloons. And during the message we heard from a number of believers, both seasoned and babes, about their groups, their answered prayers, their worship. Nothing pumps this pastor up more than hearing God's people tell of His mighty works in their lives.
Let's live what we learned and pass it on.
It was rainy today (even inside during the worship!). Thanks to our First Impressions guys with the umbrellas helping keep folks dry from the parking lot to the building. That's a great first impression!
Tonight our church approved our 2009 budget at our annual church conference. Who knows how the coming economic picture will effect us, but who knows how many doors it will open to ministry and mission either? Let's be ready for whatever and show ourselves to be faithful and useful to our God in our community and world.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
The proclamation read: "We ordaine that the day of our ships arrival at the place assigned for plantacon in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually keept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God."
"Holy" means set apart for God. So at the least we should not forget to Whom our thanks is owed.
(Please don't dare teach this to our children in the public schools. It would confuse them as to the origins of our nation. And they might ask about this God.)
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
But he really didn't want to ask about Nags Head Church. What he wanted to do was "educate" me about the "new world order".
Him: "Have they contacted you yet?"
Me: "Who is 'they'?
Him: The "new world order".
Me: "And who is that?"
Lots of nebulous answers to my questions. All the while he's holding a copy of Christian author Larry Burkett's fictional novel "The Illuminati". It had been sitting in a pile of books on sale.
"You need to read this", says he. "It's all in here. This is the most important book you'll ever read."
"How about the Bible?", says I.
"OK. After the Bible it's the most important book...".
"But this book (Illuminati) is fiction." I'm wondering where he's going from here.
"No it isn't. Do you see who wrote it?" (Larry Burkett, now in heaven, was known for his financial counseling from a biblical perspective.)
"Yes", I said, taking the book from him and turning to the author's intoduction page. "Look right here. He says it is 'purely fiction'."
His response didn't surprise me. Conspiracy theorists have the answer to everything, even when the facts refute them. "He had to say that in order to get it published."
Right. Burkett was willing to risk his life's work under the pretense of a lie? I think not. He was a man of integrity and character.
Then he asked, "Do you know what they're going to do to you? They're going to exterminate you."
I said, "That's OK. I know where I'm going and Who wins in the end and Who is in control."
"And", he continued, "they're going to exterminate your church".
He didn't care for my answer. "That's all right, too. We're citizens of another kingdom and this life is just dress rehearsal for eternity anyhow. God's got a plan and His plan wins, not any 'new world order'."
Everybody believes in something, don't they? I've heard his fables before. And even if they were true, God is sovereign. Any "new world order" will one day be replaced by a kingdom yet to come. For that reason I don't have to live in fear of what may or may not happen.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
The Marine Corps is a part of my heritage. And one that brings me pride.
Dad went from the reserves to active duty when I was three. I grew up watching him clean his rifle, spit-polish his boots and shine his belt buckles. I remember when I was, I don't know, five or six, how ecstatic he was when he was promoted to sergeant. I've had my share of "high and tight" haircuts from the PX barber. We saw him off to a year in Okinawa, then two years later to a tour in Viet Nam.
But it goes farther than my dad. My great-grandfather (mom's maternal side) was also a Marine. He lied about his age and as a 16 year old joined the Marines and served as one of only 500 sailors and Marines in China over 100 years ago during the Boxer Rebellion. I have fond memories of Pop sharing his personal pride in being a Marine. A cousin still has Pop's uniform, in mint condition from his days as his company's bugler.
So to all the Marines, past and present, Happy Birthday. You are the few, the proud.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
I got up at 5AM and was at the Fire Station at 5:30 to grab a cup of coffee, a Sonic sausage and cheese sandwich and get instructions for traffic control duty for today's OBX Marathon. FF Kidd and I were at our post at 6:00, which was conveniently at the corner of Soundside Road and Croatan Hwy, and the location of Nags Head Church.
After 4 hours of directing traffic and drinking coffee I had to be excused to get ready for my "day job". I volunteer with the fire department as their chaplain, and this was a great opportunity to give back.
Thanks to our Hospitality Team (Barbara, Les, Carol and Cindy) for coming in early and setting up a coffee stand for spectators. It's another way to reach out. 5,000 runners and not that many spectators came by us this morning before church started.
We only had one gathering this morning due to the congestion the Marathon causes. So it was a full house crowd and with lots of energy. Everything was crowded today, but that's a great sight. So here's a special shout out to our First Impression team for getting extra seating up as we filled up; to our Hospitality team for keeping up with the coffee and pastries; and especially to our Childrens and Nursery staff for handling the double dose so well.
Today I talked about God's 3rd purpose for our lives: discipleship. God made us to become like Christ. That's a lifelong process involving changing our character. The focus today was on the things we don't normally think about as tools God uses: trials that He designs to help us; temptations Satan throws at us to hurt us and trespasses against us by others that hurt. God uses them (Romans 8:28) to teach us to trust, obey and forgive. Easy? No. But no one who is a Christ follower (something about taking up your cross) would describe the Christian life as easy.
Great songs complimented the message today as usual. Our band does a fantastic job tying in just the right music with the message before and after.
We're again partnering with Samaritan's Purse with Operation Christmas Child. I don't know how many years we've done this - 12 or 13 I guess - and the response is always great. A short video today explained it. If you don't know about it, check out the link.
We gave a shout out to our Veterans today. Freedom isn't free. Thanks to all who have served and are serving our country in our military. If you get a chance Tuesday, attend a Veterans Day ceremony.
And Semper Fi to all the Marines out there as you celebrate your birthday tomorrow.
Friday, November 7, 2008
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
It’s November 5. And as the old song from “The Poseidon Adventure” sang, “there’s got to be a morning after”. I realize that today’s news is likely captivating the attention of the majority of us who read this paper, so I don’t have any grand illusions that what a preacher writes today will gather much attention. But I want to speak to the Christian community in the aftermath of yesterday’s much anticipated vote.
There are some biblical principles that need to be remembered by us who claim faith in God regarding government and our responsibility to it. So whether this morning’s news makes you smile or kick the cat, these should apply to you. And take a minute to break out your Bible and read the passages I’ve included.
Human government isn’t perfect, but it is a God-ordained institution. Perfection was tossed out the window in the Garden of Eden. (Genesis 3) Whether your candidate is viewed as some kind of a messiah or the lesser of two evils, he isn’t going to usher in utopia. Yet God has created government to protect us from harm and to provide justice. (Romans 13:1-7) If our government misses those marks it will answer to God.
We’ve heard from all the politicians and pundits that our government is “broken”. Well, it was never perfect, not even when the ink was still drying on the Bill of Rights. (I will interject that it’s still the best the world has to offer!) Broken people can’t produce anything perfect. So, as God has done toward us, let’s extend a little grace.
Taxation is part of the deal and we’re to submit to it. Jesus gave that instruction to those listening and during great governmental corruption. (Matthew 22:21) Jesus said we’re to give to God what is God’s and to support our government. Caesar’s government, by the way, wasn’t known as being particularly fair. Regardless of what you may think, you still live a lifestyle higher than the rest of the world. Travel to a third world country and you’ll realize how blessed we are. Be grateful. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
Sometimes we get what we deserve. Over and again when the nation of Israel in the Old Testament turned its collective heart away from dependence on God they found themselves in dire economic times. What’s a better wake up call? Unfortunately the American church in the last generation has tried to enact spiritual awakening via political and man-centered means. And judgment, we’re told begins in the “house of the Lord”, and rightly so. (1 Peter 4:17) Before we try to clean up our country we need to clean up ourselves first.
You have a dual citizenship. (Philippians 3:20) By God’s grace you are a citizen of a coming Kingdom. A perfect government is in our future. We just have to wait and be patient. The answer to all our ills is not in any man who occupies the Oval Office, sits on Capitol Hill or dons a black robe. Let’s hope things get better. But whether they do or don’t, your future is a bright one if Christ is your King.
One day wars will be over. (Isaiah 2:4) The economy won’t be a concern. No one will be needy or hungry or disenfranchised. Race won’t be an issue and borders will be removed. And we won’t have to watch any more political advertisements or hear any more speeches from candidates! We’ll live under the rule of a perfect Monarch, giving us a world we could never imagine. (Sorry John Lennon.)
Our responsibility is to pray for our leaders. (1 Timothy 2:1-2) Whether your man won or lost, it makes no difference. He needs your prayers. Why? “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord” (Proverbs 21:1). God is the only One Sovereign in the truest sense. He’s got things under control, whether we can see it or not.
Rick Lawrenson is the Lead Pastor of Nags Head Church.
© 2008 Rick Lawrenson
(This appears today in The Outer Banks Sentinel.)
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Got there early. At 7:15AM. Stood in line about 25 minutes, which was far longer than ever before here in Kitty Hawk, and I've voted here since '92.
I did inquire as to why no one asked to see any ID. All I had to do was give my name, my address and sign an paper saying I was me. The answer was that in NC identification is not required. How stupid is that?
My daughter Sarah is registered in her state of residence and voted there. Yet her name was below mine in the local registration. My wife could have come back and voted as Sarah and unless someone knew she was not, "Sarah" would have "voted" twice. I wonder how much this is happening... I'll try not to lose too much sleep over it tonight.
Then I got an email telling me that a friend's entire batallion in Iraq has not been able to vote because someone over there dropped the ball in getting ballots to them. Guys (and gals) are asked to be willing to fight under our flag but haven't been able to vote to choose their next Commander in Chief. How wrong is that?
So, despite all our technology we're still not much more than a banana republic when it comes to counting legitimate votes, it seems.
I'm glad my faith is not in America but in a God Who has it all under control. Yet, (before some of you crucify me), this is still by far the greatest nation on earth.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Was it expensive? A little. Did it take a lot of work? Yeah. About 80 volunteers from our church made it happen. Was it worth it?
Along with the 1,000 children who had an incredibly fun night there were another another 500 or so adults who witnessed a church giving back to the community.
Everyone was smiling. Where do you find that anymore?
Every family received a printed presentation of the Gospel.
Every family was welcomed and told "Thanks for coming. We're glad you're here!" And they heard that without being asked for anything in return. "Wow" was a frequent response.
The whole event screamed loud and clear, "This church loves kids and their parents, knows how to have fun and do it in an excellent way".
At least one that I've heard from so far was able to share his personal faith story for the first time in a long time.
Once again "TEAM" was emphasized as a huge part of being a church.
Was it worth it?
Thursday, October 30, 2008
When my granddaughter was born at 24 weeks gestation earlier this year I found myself later that day staring into a NICU incubator with the very somber realization that across America thousands just like her are never given the chance.
Phil Keaggy wrote a song a few years back that asked, "Who will speak out for the little ones?".
For that reason alone I could never allow myself to vote for a candidate who supports abortive rights. Life is sacred, and the lives of the innocent have to be defended, not discarded.
Fortunately we still have choices in this country. For how long, I'm unsure. My daughter in law's doctors advised she abort to save her own life. But what if the government via socialized medicine and not private insurance was paying for the costs? Would she have had the choice? Makes you wonder where we may be headed.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
I have some basic, fundamental problems with that sentiment.
1. Jesus (the real Messiah) said the world would know we are His disciples because we love one another.
2. Unless I divulge the information, how I vote is known only to me and God. So, how will the world identify me as a Christian by my vote? Instead, the world may choose to identify me as a racist or a homophobe or a war-monger if my vote is my “witness”. But love for other believers? That’s a witness that can’t be confused.
3. It assumes that genuine Christians have only one choice in the election. And with that assumption is the implication that if I don’t vote that way, I must not be a Christian. Yet, quoting Jesus again (He is the Founder of the movement, and therefore has the authority to define the terms), Christians are born into God’s family by believing that God sent His one and only Son to be their Savior. That simply means that Christianity is not procured nor is it maintained at the ballot box.
There’s a lady here locally who gets revved up every four years and goes on her own personal email campaign to ensure that everyone else understands the issues and where God stands on them. Somehow I’m on her list, although I’ve blocked her on one of my email accounts. It’s not because I prefer to be ignorant of the issues, however. It’s because I see people placing their hope in men and women, not in the eternal Sovereign God.
Bottom line is this: As one of His children I’ll answer to God for my vote. It is my responsibility to both know the issues and whether or not God has given clarity on His position by studying His Word. I believe He has given clear doctrine on such things as life, mercy, justice and our role as stewards of the planet we call home.
Should my faith influence my vote? Absolutely. How can it not? Is my faith proclaimed to the world by my vote? The world that needs to know the salvation offered by God isn’t going to find it by how I vote. What will attract men and women to Christ is how we love one another.
By all means, vote! And base your choice on principles not party. But the genuineness of the Christian culture will be shown in the days ahead by how we love each other. And my hunch is that the opportunities are going to be increased.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
No kidding. And it wasn't HGTV.
I think that with the plethora of 24 hour news outlets they just must be running out of newsworthy topics. Or maybe America really cares where she bought her clothes?
If we do, we're in deeper trouble than I thought.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Friday, October 24, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
The link is new and the podcasts have been updated and are current. Recent series now available for listening and download are:
40 Days of Prayer - August 10, 17 and 31
Radical Generosity - September
Teamwork - a message by Burnie Staples on October 7
40 Days of Purpose - Current series beginning October 14
Thanks for your patience.
The link is also maintained on the right of this page under "Nags Head Church sites". You can "subscribe" to the podcasts, letting you know when a new one is added. And Nate tells me they will be up on itunes in a few days (whatever that means).
Monday, October 20, 2008
Why even have an election day? Let's just have an election year, then add up the totals on Dec. 31. That makes just as much sense as letting dead people's votes count on Nov. 4.
Just wondering. But what difference would it be if on election day I went and cast a vote for someone who had died six weeks earlier and in a sworn affadavit said, "Here's how I will vote on Nov. 4." Would that vote be allowed? No way. He's dead and can't vote. But if he had voted early his vote counts? Go figure.
But the biggest laugh to me is that I can walk into my local polling place, give the folks there a name with a corresponding correct address and without checking any ID they hand me a ballot and allow me to vote. Yet without ID a young adult can't buy a pack of cigarettes. Go figure.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Friday, October 17, 2008
Spread whose wealth? That's my question, sir.
Republican presidential nominee John McCain argued on Wednesday the U.S. government should take up his $300 billion plan to buy troubled mortgages in order to put an end to a protracted housing crisis.
And from where will Uncle Sam get that 300 billion? You get 3 guesses and the first two don't count.
It sounds to me like whichever one wins, a revisionist Robin Hood is coming to Washington. Our pockets are about to be picked by the Merry Men (and women) of Capitol Hill. You and I who have worked hard for whatever "wealth" we have are getting ready to part with more of it. Or do the candidates have another way for the Fed to come up with funds? If so, please share it with us.
(Note that I am fair and balanced.)
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Don't misread me. I'm a "people", too. And not the easiest in the world to deal with.
But somedays you gotta wonder, "OK God. What's the deal. Do I really deserve this?" You know, someone did something you didn't like. Someone forgot to follow through. Someone looked at you cross-eyed. There's an elephant sitting in the room. Whatever. But none of it really is stop the world and get off stuff. In fact, I don't think I've ever had one of those.
Then I stop and consider what others are dealing with; things that truly would not only rock my boat but likely capsize it. And it's then I'm a bit ashamed of my little pity parties.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Nathan, Tricia and Gwyneth will be returning home tomorrow from Duke.
We all had hopes that this round of chemo would kill the cancer, but it hasn't. Thanks for your continued prayers.
This guy was far from a failure. He was the most celebrated and read Christian of his era. The church he led in London was by today's standards a "mega-church". Every week men and women came to faith under his ministry. But on Mondays he was down.
That's a very common hazard that comes with the job. I know. I often feel it as well. A lot of spiritual energy is expended on Sundays. The "point man" often goes toe to toe in battle for the souls of men with the opposition. And then there's the devil to contend with, too!
In my prayer time earlier God reminded me that it was Monday and prompted me to pray for a number of my pastor friends. Some are struggling today and I know it. Others I don't know, but still need encouragement to keep on.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
- What does God want from my life?
- What does it take?
- Why should I do it?
Then tomorrow we actually begin Day One.
Nags Head Church first did 40 Days of Purpose 5 years ago, and it triggered a renewal in the life of our congregation that God used to launch us to greater things than we had ever seen before as a church. So we're looking forward to a second time; especially since in the last 5 years so many more have hooked up with us.
God willing, this is going to be a great 6 weeks with eternal results.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Burnie Staples, our pastor of missions, gave us a challenge this morning about what it means to be on the team. Using a couple of good sports analogies he reminded us that the name on the front of the jersey is more important than the name on the back. And then he applied 5 principles of teamwork to our strategy here at NHC. Great stuff, Burnie! If you missed it, look for it on our podcast page soon.
Our congregation is taking on more and more a local appearance as the out of town guests become fewer and fewer. It's this time of year that we ramp up the local ministry a bit more. And this weekend kicks off the highlight of the fall as we get pumped for 40 Days of Purpose.
Lots of donuts today! Lots of coffee and lots of brothers and sisters just spending time together before and after each gathering.
The MP 13 Band, the video "This is not This" about our current financial insecurities, and Taylor Edmonds (who is going to Rome for 2-3 years as a missionary) asking for our prayers made it an awesome worship day.
Then (and this really is icing on the cake) our pastors (and most of our wives) met for lunch with five who have requested to become partners with us at NHC. Thanks Hospitality Team for the lunch! And we look forward to welcoming our newest team mates soon!
But to top it all off, the Redskins beat the Eagles. Dallas last week. Philadelphia today. It can't get much better!
Friday, October 3, 2008
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Bush 2 couldn't.
It's really not that hard. And it's a word that's still in vogue.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Grief in the case of an elderly person who has lived a long and full life is somehow eased with all those memories and the realization that it was their "time".
But death of a young person, especially a child, is a horrible experience for the surviving family and loved ones. I witness the initial shock of hearing the news that a child is dead often as a public safety chaplain.
And I see the worst - the cases when there is no "forewarning" like a known illness or risky surgery. There's no preparation. Most that I am involved with are sudden and totally unexpected. One minute the child is enjoying life as chldren do. The next they are lifeless.
Sunday I was involved with one of those heart-wrenching cases as a just-turned 13 year old girl suffered an apparent cardiac arrest while sleeping. While on vacation and away from home, friends, family, church.
I met with the parents at the emergency room to offer support and prayers. They actually quoted Romans 8:28 to me. This young girl has a vibrant relationship with Christ. Spiritually we're told that knowing there is eternal life ahead because of the work of Christ and our belief in Him takes the sting of death away. I saw that.
That trust in God's sovereignty doesn't, however, answer the inevitable "Why?" questions. Those may never be answered in part much less fully here.
As I do regularly in these situations, I asked the parents if they would consider organ donation. What parent considers this in advance and already has an answer ready? Precious few, I'm afraid. But without hesitation they looked at each other and said, "Yes. If her organs can allow another child to live, yes."
I informed the nurse and the papers were signed. And I hope that somewhere someones' sons or daughters are being given a chance at a longer life because of such an unselfish act.
It doesn't erase the pain, but it does help.
If you would like to know more about organ donation, please click the link to the right of this page.
Monday, September 29, 2008
I want to. I like thinking I can fix and mediate. But Jesus said that until the parties involved have come together and made the attempt I'm to butt out. I shouldn't even know what's going on. And as a shepherd I shouldn't allow other sheep to get involved either. Because when they do, thinking they're helping, they are in reality falling off the beam as well. It's not about motive or sincerity or even compassion. It's about obedience.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Very early I made a gaff with my email and lost all my files. So I emailed technical support and within minutes (at 4:30AM!) the phone rang. It was the support guy from the other side of the world. "Is this a bad time?"
He got my email back up, but because I didn't know key info (like password and server info) it wasn't yet functioning. That I would take care of later in the day with the help of genius friends. Thanks for the bowl of chili while we tried to get it straight.
Back to bed at 5:15 and up again at 7:00 I got ready to drive to VA Beach (100 minutes each way) to see my dermatologist. The last visit's biopsies revealed a couple of non-melanoma cancers, and he got to pull out his scalpel and scissors again. He even decided to biopsy one more suspicious spot. Have you ever heard someone cutting your skin with scissors? Trust me, I don't look.
So I'm stitched and bandaged in three places. And I get to go back again in two weeks!! Playing out in the sun as a kid is way overrated. Burn baby burn.
And the weather...The wind and rain made it extra miserable. The only thing that could have made the storm more miserable would have been temps in the 30's. At least it's still warm.
It's after 6PM now. I've been getting some work done, but the eyes are telling me I'm soon down for the count.
The only thing that could complete this day would be for my pager to go off. At 11 tonight.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Monday, September 22, 2008
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Saturday, September 20, 2008
The conference went really well. Several times I was told NHC was a great host. The reason why those comments were made is because of the volunteers from our church who made it happen. There was an advance housekeeping team who came in and cleaned the building prior to the conference and a follow up housekeeping team who got it clean again for Sunday. There was a team who came in Thursday night and set up the tables and chairs in the auditorium and a team who came in after the conference and reset the auditorium for worship tomorrow. There was a hospitality team who made sure the food and beverages were always on hand. And there were volunteers who helped with the conference registration. Our band was there Friday night and Saturday morning to lead worship. One of our youth ran the video tech table.
We also got some volunteer help from Ocean View and Kitty Hawk Baptist churches! Thanks for wanting to be a part.
My hat's off to those who serve the body because they know the Christian value of service. I never heard a complaint. Smiles were abundant. And it made a difference for our guests. The body of Christ was well served by you all.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
If you haven't yet registered don't panic. You can register at the door Friday evening. Registration will be open from 5-6:30. The conference begins at 6:30. Please don't bring children. There is no child-care provided.
For you pastor types who plan to attend the luncheon, you need to register in advance today by going to the website. If you prefer, there is a phone number posted on the website you can call.
Over 100 are expected for the conference. In addition to some excellent speakers, the MP13 Band will be leading worship throughout the conference.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
But my nemesis Murphy showed up. You know Murph. He somehow set a law in motion that seems to work regularly in my life.
First, upon examination of the part received from Andersen revealed it was not the same part I needed. In fact, this was the second time it wasn't the part. Or so I thought. A phone call from Andersen late this afternoon told me this was the replacement part. It screws in to the frame. The old one snapped in. "Do you have any instructions?" "No." A snap on stop would have been a much quicker fix than this one now that I'll have to drill holes into the frame.
After spending too much time on hold with Andersen and then searching the web site for the right part and emailing them with my find I finally got away to do the mowing around noon. After digging up a ton of sand spurs first I couldn't get my mower to start. It would crank up for a few seconds then die.
Now, I'm not the most mechanical mind in the world. I played with the throttle a bit, but couldn't see anything obvious. Maybe it was flooded? Then a phone call required my assistance in another location for about 30 minutes. I hadn't eaten since a bowl of raising bran in the morning, and it was not approaching 2:00. So I pulled into Burger King.
My guess is that I haven't eaten a burger at the King for over 4 years. I had no idea a Whopper with cheese and a medium diet coke would be over 5 bucks. I seem to be able to recall a Whopper with cheese for just under a dollar at one time. But it hit the spot. Back to the lawn mower.
Giving it a crank, it ran for 5 seconds then died. Maybe it's the spark plug? So I pull out the plug and sure enough, there's enough carbon there to create a 2 carat diamond. No big deal. KMart is just around the corner. But guess what? Nobody told me KMart no longer sells lawn mower parts. Not a spark plug to be found in the store. I seem to recall a day when you could buy everything you needed to tune up a car at KMart. So it's off to my Kitty Hawk Ace Hardware. I know I can count on them.
Ace didn't let me down. A quick installation of the plug and the mower was running like new. By now it's 3:00 and the hottest September 15 on record. It's 91 degrees. By 4 o'clock I've mowed, weed-eated (is that a word?) and even did some mowing on my neighbor's lawn and used the electric blower to clean it up. Tomorrow, btw, the high is supposed to be 76. Can I pick 'em or what?
I do have a couple of things I'd like to accomplish this evening. I just don't know if Murphy is still hanging around or not.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Today I watched God work in lives and was humbled by how He is captivating hearts and lives.
One of our new guys at church (who was just baptized a few weeks ago) came to see me this morning between gatherings with tears in his eyes. He had signed up to take my Discovering Nags Head Church class. Then he found out he has to attend another function that conflicts with the class. Tears because he had made a commitment he couldn't keep. Give me some more of that.
In each of our gatherings there were men who received Christ as their Savior. Both guys have been attending for a while, but today was the day when, as Phil Keaggy wrote, God's "love broke through". Just a couple days ago the wife of one of the guys had emailed me this:"The fact that he is interested is an answer to one of my prayers. Slowly he is getting there." Today he got there.
The response to my current series, "Radical Generosity" has been quite positive. Today's big thought was that for the believer God owns everything I possess. And He is the original generous radical. With all the opportunities confronting us to be generous right now, I'm watching for some God-sized things to break loose.
The MP 13 band was most excellent today in leading our worship. I can't think of anywhere I'd rather be on a Sunday morning. It's just way cool to be in a church and watch people come in the door excited to be there and anticipating the worship.
After lunch Steve and taught our NHCU classes from 3-7PM. Both classes went well, and we'll have some new partners in the fellowship as a result.
Tina Hodgson gets it. She's our children's ministries director and is busy on Sunday morning making sure our kids worship gatherings are running smoothly. Then she was at the church from 3-7 providing child-care so that parents could attend NHCU. She knows what "it" is. I hope "it" is contagious.
Oh yeah. The Pinkertons from Lancaster Co., PA brought me a shoo fly pie. Oh my. Have you ever had an Amish baked shoo fly pie?
Next Sunday morning is less than 7 days away. I can't wait!
Saturday, September 13, 2008
I'm Not Good At It
Friday, September 12, 2008
And let's pray for all those who live in this hurricane's path. Those of us living on the coast would do well to remember Jesus' words to "Do unto others...". Ike could have easily been our nightmare.
Let's also not forget to pray for those already crushed by recent storms, especially in Haiti. The story there is particularly grim. Over 1000 have died in that country from hurricanes this month.
So please today and tomorrow be sure to use your prayer time to remember those affected by these storms.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Nags Head Church collaborated with several local restaurants to put on a lunch spread for our public safety community today on September 11. It was our first attempt at this event and it blew me away. I'm usually pretty good at estimating response, and had guessed about 30 would attend. Wrong. Double that amount.
Dare Co. Communications (the 911 people)
Dare Co. Emergency Management
Dare Co. Fire Marshal's office
Dare Co. EMS
Kitty Hawk Fire Dept.
Kill Devil Hills Fire Dept.
NC Highway Patrol
Nags Head Ocean Rescue
Nags Head Fire Dept.
Nags Head Police
Restaurants participating (they all rock!) were:
NY Pizza Pub
The Butcher Block
Pier House Restaurant
Volunteers from NHC who made it happen were George and Paula Farah, Tina Hughes, Jan Martz. Barbara Kay and Andy also worked hard setting up and cleaning up.
So thanks again to our public safety men and women who serve us all so well. And thanks for a church that reached out to them in appreciation and service. God will bless it, I know.
Plan on it being an annual event. I'm going to encourage other churches in our neighboring communities to do the same next year.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Then in January our family turned it's attention to more pressing matters, and because I couldn't commit to regular times at the Y, I canceled my membership and stopped playing. Actually I stopped exercising altogether.
This morning I renewed my membership. Soon I'll be back on the court and for a while suffering due to using dormant muscles. But I look forward to feeling better and my pants not fitting so tight.