Just to let you know in blogland that Carla and I will be on vacation beginning Sunday, April 30 after worship. This may explain my blog hiatus...
Saturday, April 29, 2006
Thursday, April 27, 2006
I hate to wait. I admit it, I'm a product of the "gimme it now" generation. So I really don't like (forgive me, Lord) verses like Psalm 27:14. "Wait for the LORD;be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. " Now notice he says wait twice. That gives me a double dose of waiting. As Henry Blackaby said, "waiting on the Lord will wear you out!" This is one of my favorite quotes.
But do you know what, waiting on the Lord really works! When will I learn this? Just this week, there has been a painful issue going on in my realm of being. My immediate inclination was to "jump right in and try to fix it." The reality was, it wasn't mine to fix. A wise friend said "Brett, stay out of it." That was his way of saying "wait on the Lord." So I tried something new, and listened!!! And guess what? Go ahead, guess....I'll wait....
....it worked!!!! God, not Brett, is working this out! Thank you Jesus for your patience with me and thank you for making me more patient. And by the way, Lord, could you hurry up the process?
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
I'm glad to be alive today...it is by God's grace. I'm glad I'm His in Jesus Christ today...again by God's grace. I'm glad to be following His plan today...again by God's grace. Are you beginning to see a pattern at work here?!?!
You created my inmost being;you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;your works are wonderful,I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them,they would outnumber the grains of sand.When I awake,I am still with you.
Monday, April 24, 2006
What is your strength today? I'm trying to figure out where I'll get mine, because I'm tired. Let's see...I slept very well last night, but I am still not feeling too strong so I guess it isn't sleep.
I went to the gym this morning and had a good workout. But I'm still feeling weak so I guess my muscles won't be my strength today...
It's not our upcoming vacation. We're very much looking forward to it but we also know that it isn't going to significantly increase our "strength". So what shall it be.
Well, maybe HERE is the answer....
Yes, the joy of knowing God in His son Jesus Christ will be my strength! I need to spend a few moments gathering around to hear His voice and listen to His Word! It's from Him that I'll find my joy, and that joy will bring me strength!!!
What about you? Where do you need strengthened today? How do you find your joy in the Lord?
Saturday, April 22, 2006
Carla and I took the day off yesterday and had a blast. We did breakfast at Eat'n Park...the buffet...yummm!!! Then we went and did a little shopping, including Dick's sporting goods where we checked out the lastest in Life is Good wear...
Then, we went a did what you see in this pic. We took a 12 mile bike ride, got lost, and ended up at Knob Hill Park...cool place...great ride...what a blast.
Then we threw the kayaks on the van and headed to Moraine State Park for an afternoon of kayaking....it was beautiful. The wind was blowing like crazy and creating all kind of chop, which we love. Then we headed back to Cranberry where stopped at the motorcycle dealer. One-a-these-days....
Then it was home for chicken on the grill and a Scrabble tourny. Carla beat me 317 to 314...a real squeaker.
Life is good. I love my job as a pastor...but I also love time off I get to spend with my lovely wife Carla. We enjoyed the day together...we enjoyed one another...we enjoyed God's creation...and we enjoyed Him in it and in each other...
Thursday, April 20, 2006
That dream is being lived out as I have the privilege of pastoring at Cornerstone... Here are some of the pieces to the dream:
1. Vision. I believe ours is right on: ...reaching out to accept people as they are and growing together to become all that God intends us to be--fully devoted followers of Christ. ...it is Spirit-given, Jesus-like, and having God's heart.
2. Mission. Ours is really being lived out in two ways. One is our Stepping Stones ministry, which is an intentional discipleship process. Becoming fully devoted doesn't just happen, you know. The church must provide for that. That's why God put us here!!!! The other is our growing opportunities to be in mission and ministry in the world. From prayer groups to Bible study small groups....from after school ministry to retirement home connections...from Habitat for Humanity to "mission trips".... Cool!!!
3. Structure. When will the church universal wake up? We NEED functional structures to carry out the work of the Kingdom. And it doesn't work the way many churches try it...a main control board who acts as a report collection committee and permission giver. OUCH!!!! It needs to go the other way!!! The main group of people responsible for the oversight of ministry needs to be a group of visionary, outward focused people. They are not to receive reports and give approvals, but to set the course and give assignments! The flow of information should go from the vision team (called the Lead Team at Cornerstone) to other teams and task forces to go and live that vision out.
The structure piece is, in my opinion, where we need to be working the hardest. This is what will serve to grow the Kingdom. This is what will keep us focused on following Jesus to be in, but not of, this world. This is what will allow the Finance "Committee" of a church to see itself as providing for the financial needs to live out our calling. This is what will allow a "Board of Trustees" to see itself and providing facilities for the vision to be lived out. This is what will allow "committees" not to come to report what they've done, but will bring them to receive their assignments and to guide their next moves to BE Jesus people in the world....
What do you think? Am I off base here? I think this is becoming a reality in the people called Cornerstone, but we need to keep working toward it. Any ideas????
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Boy, what a night. Talk about an awesome class. How cool it is to get some people in a room sharing how Jesus is impacting their lives. I was in heaven last evening...
Here is what I shared about my struggle to overcome past sins:
I have been there…haunted by my own past at times. I have been smothered by the regrets of my mistakes and wondering how I could ever run from it. I have felt like I was drowning in a sea of guilt. I hated it, but nothing I ever did could rescue me from it.
I’ve since become a Christian…I have come to understand that I can never earn my way to God’s love and favor. Every time I tried, I would fail and the past would hover over me again. Then someone shared with me that God doesn’t expect us to earn His love. He gives us His love in His son Jesus Christ. He gave Himself in death as a sacrifice for our wrongdoings and lives again to give us victory. I made the decision to ask Jesus to live His life in and through mine.
Ever since, I have found new hope and a future. I have discovered that I cannot forget or run from my past. But that doesn’t mean that God holds it over me. In fact, I have come to learn that God forgives and forgets my mistakes. He uses my memory of my past to help me to grow stronger and to become more like Him. I have found some verses in the Bible in Psalm 130 to be very helpful in showing me how to ask God to overcome my past and how to receive peace. I am very thankful that God sent Jesus Christ to die for me and to bring me forgiveness. All He has asked of me is to believe and receive. Since I have, I have found that I can take my burdens and struggles and place them on Him.
Monday, April 17, 2006
Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD; O Lord, hear my voice.Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins,O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness;therefore you are feared. I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. O Israel, put your hope in the LORD,for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.
Now that'll preach. I'm teaching the third and last class in the Sharing Your Faith segment of Cornerstone's Stepping Stones ministy. I'm using this as the basis for my "testimony" in answer to the question: How do you overcome the mistakes of the past that haunt you?
I'll post my testimony tomorrow...after class is over. In the meantime, how do YOU overcome the skeletons in the closet?
Sunday, April 16, 2006
Saturday, April 15, 2006
I met with a good friend the other day...a friend who is struggling with God's call on His life.
BTW, who isn't? Only the pagans... OK, I digress.
Anywho, we were talking about allowing God to speak through time and being patient in the process of discernment. After all, the question of what does God want me to do with the rest of my life seems important. I wouldn't want to answer that too hastily!
But then my friend says "well, I prefer the "poof" method myself." I nearly hit the floor with laughter. But it got me to thinking...how do I develop patience with God? How do I begin to see time from His perspective instead of mine? How do I wait on God? As Henry Blackaby says, "waiting on God will wear you out!" How true...
On this Saturday before Easter, I wonder what was Jesus experiencing in death? I'll bet He would have preferred the poof method too....with God for deliverance, and me, for holiness...
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
the world is changing (duh)...it is a t9 world how does the church respond do we fight it how do we txt a world the good news of jesus how do we use todays tech to preach & reach people who dont sing who dont even email who blog who txt who dont punctuate who are tired of status quo face it people want to see the real thing they want to see jesus not the church so how do we reach them how do we show them jesus how do we reach someone in their 20s
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Are we missing the boat? I have lived in Cranberry Twp now for almost a year. I love it here. There are some pretty cool things about living in the happenin' 'burbs. One thing I love is the plethora of restaurants! And that gives me lots of discussion time with waitresses. I have discovered something very unnerving. I have not spoken to one yet who is involved in a church! Most have had some church background, but don't participate in any active way in the life of a church. When I ask what it would take to get them to come to church, I get some interesting answers. I ask you: why do you think our younger community is unchurched? What will it take for us to really reach a lost and hurting world? What will it take? I'll share some of my discoveries soon... but I'd like your input.
And, just for fun, try it! Next time you're at the restaurant, strike up the conversation and see the insights we can gain to build the Kingdom. Then leave a BIG tip as a witness that we don't want to take something from them (i.e. their money) but we want to give them something!
Monday, April 10, 2006
...and boy could I use some!! Jesus said in John 8:12 that He is the light of the world. He goes on to say that if we follow after Him, we will not have to walk in the darkness. He is a light for our path and illumines in us what is of Him. So today I am trying to allow Jesus to be my light...to the One who brightens my world and brings to light that which HE wants me to see.
And I need it, for the world is very dark. The darkness of the world tempts me away from Jesus with infinite temptations. The darkness of the world shows me despair, and lies, and filth. The darkness of the world brings up my past and my faults. The darkness of the world shows me that I'm number one...that I'm the only one or thing that matters.
So Jesus, be my light today. Help me to allow you walk before me as a flashlight. Show me you. Show me hope. Show me Truth. Show me purity. Show me forgiveness. Show me what I can be in you today. Show me that it isn't about me, but that it is all about YOU!
Saturday, April 08, 2006
First of all, click HERE to follow a link to a friend's blog. He dealt with the subject well.
The only others thing I would add are these:
1. We have over 2,000 copies of the New Testament works in the original Greek. Most predate this work. We now have ONE copy of the "gospel" of Judas. This calls into great question any authenticity at all, and suggests the ramblings of a rogue theologian.
2. The word "gospel" is not a universal word to describe any musings about Jesus. It means, quite literally, good news. It is a word reserved for the writings that show us the good news about Jesus, not about others. In recent years, many questionable texts have arisen and the pagan media immediately slaps the title "gospel" to it. Don't believe the media!
3. It's about Jesus, not Judas. God desires a relationship with people, and He has made that available through the life, death, and resurrection of His son Jesus Christ. THAT, my friends, is the GOOD news!
Thursday, April 06, 2006
You know the coolest thing about the Bible is how it applies to our here and now. God is amazing, in that He always seems to provide what we need just when we need it. Our men's small group met this morning to study Philippians 1:3-11. Read it HERE.
That is my prayer for some of my friends this morning, and for those with whom I work. And the coolest thing is to know that I've got some people praying for me today. And I need it.
Did you ever feel paralyzed in prayer? Have you ever felt like you know you want to be in the Lord's presence but just can't seem to get there in your own strength? Then check out this cool story in Mark 2:1-12. The bottom line is that the paralyzed man had some friends carrying him to Jesus' feet. There he received what he needed and wanted. I'm thankful for those carrying my mat today. And who's mat can I help carry today...in prayer?
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
Monday, April 03, 2006
I have been loosely following Oswald Chambers' writing in "My Utmost for His Highest". He is a challenging devotional author. Here is today's reading:
"If You Had Known!"
If you had known . . . in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes —Luke 19:42
Jesus entered Jerusalem triumphantly and the city was stirred to its very foundations, but a strange god was there-the pride of the Pharisees. It was a god that seemed religious and upright, but Jesus compared it to "whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness" ( Matthew 23:27)
What is it that blinds you to the peace of God "in this your day"? Do you have a strange god-not a disgusting monster but perhaps an unholy nature that controls your life? More than once God has brought me face to face with a strange god in my life, and I knew that I should have given it up, but I didn’t do it. I got through the crisis "by the skin of my teeth," only to find myself still under the control of that strange god. I am blind to the very things that make for my own peace. It is a shocking thing that we can be in the exact place where the Spirit of God should be having His completely unhindered way with us, and yet we only make matters worse, increasing our blame in God’s eyes.
"If you had known . . . ." God’s words here cut directly to the heart, with the tears of Jesus behind them. These words imply responsibility for our own faults. God holds us accountable for what we refuse to see or are unable to see because of our sin. And "now they are hidden from your eyes" because you have never completely yielded your nature to Him. Oh, the deep, unending sadness for what might have been! God never again opens the doors that have been closed. He opens other doors, but He reminds us that there are doors which we have shut-doors which had no need to be shut. Never be afraid when God brings back your past. Let your memory have its way with you. It is a minister of God bringing its rebuke and sorrow to you. God will turn what might have been into a wonderful lesson of growth for the future.
Some challenges to think about:
Could we ever walk so far away that God won't take us back?
In what ways is God using your past to teach you for the future?
Yesterday, our dog Shadrach was misbehaving. He knows better. He is 6 years old for heaven's sake. I got so angry with him. I competely lost my temper and was acting like an idiot. (Mom, don't say a word!) Even this morning, I woke up feeling mad at him. Now this gets me to wondering...what is God trying to teach me? How am I like Shadrach...knowing but sometimes not doing anyhow.
Lord, thank you for taking me back, even when I act so stupidly...like my dog...like the Pharisees...