Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Just a few quick thoughts before I take a blog-break for Christmas:

1.  Merry Christmas everyone.  May you know that "God became flesh and dwells among us!"

2.  We can't wait to move into our new home...closing date is January 15 and moving date is January 18.  This is a picture of the front of it.

3.  I hope everyone enjoys the gifts we bought for them this year.  We cheerfully give, because He has given us so much...

4.  Thank you all for your prayers for Carla's dad.  We continue to commit him and his health into the Lord's's always in His hands anyhow, it's just that now we seem to know it a little more...

Merry Christmas, and may you be blessed and be a blessing in 2010.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

And the Lord sayeth "Behold! I watcheth over the clunker!"

So I'm driving along the other day in my "quart of oil every 1,000 mile/gallon of antifreeze every 2,000 mile/quart of tranny fluid every 3,000 mile" ten year old Saturn when alas, there is a buck.  I mean alas too 'cause there was like no time whatsoever to do anything about him.  He was big and beautiful and running about 275 miles/hour.  I hit the brakes just about the same time I hit him!  BAM!

So I'm thinking...great...there goes my beautiful clunker of a car.  Prolly took out the radiator and all those doo-hickey's under the hood.  I pulled over into a parking lot, got out of the car, and to what did my wondering eyes appear?  But a couple of strands of deer hair on the hood.  That's it.  No dents (OK, that's a NEW dents!), no broken anything (OK, NEW broken stuff), no steam from under the hood (or at least more steam than it usually puts out...keeps the wrinkles in the hood under control...).  And I'm like, literally, thank you Lord!

At this time when I'm stepping out on faith, looking down a new uncharted road, and buying a house, I don't need to Bambi-ize my poor car.  Thank you Lord for watching over the clunkers...both the cars, and the people!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Backwards, Part II

So a few days (weeks!) ago I blogged about how we have the "great commission" of Jesus to His followers kinda backwards.  This is the second thing that I've been kicking around lately that I think the church (universal) in America has backwards.

I believe that we have become almost incapable of interpreting Scripture except through the eyes of Paul.  Not that Paul is a bad guy.  Not that Paul's writings aren't a crucial part of the Bible.  It's just that Paul interprets the gospel to how it applies to organization.  That's not bad, but that was contextual to Paul's world at the time.

It seems to me that we, however, can no longer read the Bible apart from the lens of the organization...the church.  So we miss the point.  We don't understand the radical nature of the gospel...the message of Jesus. 

My prayer is that I might be able to start to read the Bible with fresh eyes...not the eyes of the organizational church, but the eyes of one simply seeking to follow Christ....

Monday, December 14, 2009

Reflections on Shopping

So I was doing some Christmas shopping on Saturday.  I spent some time at the Ross Park Mall.   Incredible...a bunch of rude, sorrowful, pushy, selfish people gathered in one place ostensibly to celebrate the birth of the Savior of the world!  I mean, I had a good time, but more because I just treated it as an adventure and a study of humanity.

I was also shopping in the Strip District in the 'burgh.  If you've never been there, shame on you!  It was a totally different experience.  The streets and stores were jammed, but the attitude of people seemed very different.  People were polite, smiling, and seemingly enjoying their time together. 

In fact, I was in one store and was standing waiting to check out.  The lady at the cash register was older and was super friendly despite the fact that you could barely move in this little hole-in-the-wall place.  There were like 7 people in line, but it didn't bother her at all.  She greeted each guest with a hearty Merry Christmas.  The person in front of me was an acquaintance of hers and as he prepared to leave, she leaned over the counter and gave him a big hug.

I was next and she rang me up and I handed her my money and she gave me the change, I remarked that I must not have been as lucky a customer because I didn't get a hug.  She reached over the counter and gave me the biggest bear hug and said with a grin Merry Christmas.   I left the store with a huge smile on my face, and saw the other patrons smiling too.

Now I'm nearly done with my shopping, but do you have any guesses where I'm going back to?

Friday, December 11, 2009

I Have Sinned

Yes, all you Steeler fans, I have sinned.  Last night, in order to speak some hope to a friend, faithful blog follower, and twittermate who just happens to be a Cleveland Browns fan, I tweeted "Go BROWNS."

As you know, it worked.  They won.  We, the Steeler nation, are in deep mourning.

I feel that I must confess that it was I, and I alone, who must bear responsibility for this heinous transgression.  Please forgive me!

And BTW, if my twitter account holds such sway over national events, anyone wanna like pick a stock for me to tweet about and we all invest in it and watch what happens?!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

eW evaH tI llA sdrawkcaB

So I think we have it all backwards.  What do you think?  Look at Jesus' words of instruction to the apostles...their marching orders (found in Matthew 28:19-20):

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you."

He told them (read: US) to do three things:
1. Go
2. Baptize
3. Teach

As I reflect on my leadership of Cornerstone Church over these last 4 1/2 years, I realized that in many ways, I have it all backwards.  Oh we do these things, or we try.   But maybe one of the reasons why we don't see the "kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven" to the extent we would hope is because we do them in the wrong order.  We attempt to teach Scriptural truth.  As we do, we hope that somebody will actually come and listen.  Then if they do, we baptize them...we indoctrinate them into the faith.   Then, and only then, we attempt to get them to "go." 

Problem is, we didn't "GO" to them, so we don't seem to be able to inspire them to "go" to anyone else.  So we keep teaching, and hoping someone will show up to listen.  And we keep baptizing...indoctrinating those few who stumble into our midst.  And we keep trying to get them to go, all the while not going ourselves....

ebyaM ew evah gnihtemos denrut sdrawkcab!!!  tahW od uoy kniht?

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Have We Lost Something?

Have we lost something?  By we, I mean the church...the body of believers in this American culture.  The numbers are shrinking, you know.  We're not seeing people come to the Lord like once did, you know.   I'm sure there are lots of reasons and stuff behind it, but one thing I suspect is that we lost something...

What have we lost?  The call to change.  We say we accept people as they are.  And we do.  And we should.  Because God does.  We say come as you are.  And we ourselves do.  And we ourselves should.   Because that is the call of God.

But that's it?  I mean it goes no further?  We just come into a relationship with Him, and that's it.  We just live, and die, and heaven.  The end?

I don't think so, and I believe that is something we have lost.  God calls us to be accepted just as we are.  But He DEMANDS that we change.  He DEMANDS sacrifice...of our old lives for His.  And that is hard.  Very hard.  And so we resist.  And we don't change.   And we don't demand change of others...

...and we wonder why the grip of faith is slipping in our land?

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Livin' For Sunday Mornings...

Here is a recent photo from one of Cornerstone's worship services...NOT!  If you have not ever been here, well we meet in a converted warehouse space and it looks just a little bit like nothing like this!

But we do faithfully gather every Sunday at 10:30 to sing, to pray, to praise, to share the Word of life lift up the name of Jesus Christ.  And in the past 4 1/2 years that I've had the privilege of leading this congregation, I've loved every minute of our worship together...

And yet as I work through my own transitions from being a pastor to serving the Lord in some missional way, I am reflecting on my accomplishments here....and on where I have failed.  And as I lead this church through a time of transition and preparation for a new leader, we need to be reflecting on what we have accomplished together...and where we have failed.  I believe one of the things that we have found it most difficult to do is to be the church in any big way other than on Sunday mornings.

Our budget reflects this...our money, our time, and our facilities are primarily focused on enabling the Sunday morning worship service.  Not that it is bad to come together in is essential to our faith.  But we must also be the church to the world the other 6 days.  I believe one of my greatest shortcomings in my time here has been to be able to lead us in reaching out...boldly...recklessly...unceasingly...into this lost and hurting world.  One thing I believe we need to strive for as we move forward is to be livin' for Monday mornings, and Tuesdays, and so much as we do for Sundays.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Well I'm a Mouse, and I'm Stirring!

So I'm coming from the gym to our ministry center this morning and there I am, sitting in traffic at a red light.  That is life in Cranberry.  Sitting in traffic at a red light.  I had just been talking to Stan this morning about the old Christmas TV special where the voice recites the beginning of 'T'was the Night Before Christmas.'  When he gets to the "not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse" part, there is this little mouse in the kitchen stirring something in a bowl and she says "well I'm a mouse, and I'm stirring!"  Funny stuff.
So anywho, I'm sitting at this red light and all of the sudden I see this little mouse run out right into the middle of the intersection (228 and 19, no less!)!  As he begins to scurry about on the pavement, he starts acting very strangely.  You know, going this way, then that.  Running very fast in one direction, then stopping and running very fast in the opposite direction.  He finally and frantically made his way safely to the other side of the highway, hopped the curb, and took off into the grass.

And I'm thinking...I'm that mouse, and I'm stirring!  As I ponder God's ever renewing call on my life, I realize that my time in the suburbs has been like this mouse on the road.  It is just unfamiliar territory to isn't where I really belong.  It's not that it is a bad place...if you're a car.  But I'm a mouse, and I think I have been stirring to find the grass where I belong. 

Lord, make me faithful to follow you....may my prayer be your commands to me iin Proverbs 4:26-27:

"Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm.  Do not swerve to the right or the left..."