Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Repairmen Rule

As I'm writing this, I'm waiting for the cable repairman to come and offer us some additional service. The repair guy (or gal) is to be here between 8 and 10 AM this morning. It is amazing how repair people rule the world or at least your schedules. I can remember recently rearranging my workday to meet a repair slash delivery guy at our house between noon to 4. I got a phone call at the office that morning at 11:15 AM informing me the repair slash delivery guy was was sitting in our driveway. I dropped everything and raced home so he wouldn't drive away. These guys have more power than the Mafia. When they call "a meet" you better be there.

Because what could be worse than not having cable or new end table? What could be worse: having to reschedule everything to have them come back a second time!

Memorial Day Mission to sit on couch: successfully accomplished.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Pass The Peace

This morning in worship Murray had us "pass the peace" before we had communion. The point was that rather than shooting the breeze about Bay Bridge traffic, we wish those around us the peace of Christ.

I liked it.

I also like having tomorrow off. Over the past couple of years we've developed kind of a tradition for Memorial Day weekend: do as little as possible. It works for us. No parades. No firework displays. No gift exchanging. No lengthy travel. Just BBQ and good eats.

Here's hoping you remember to have a great Memorial Day.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

The Sun Will Come Out...

Wow, the sun does still shine. I ate lunch with a friend today who said he heard this was the coldest May on record and the sixth wettest. Or was that the other way around. It doesn't matter: it's been cold and gray for a long time.

Hey, bummer for Bo, huh? A USATODAY poll of 57,000 readers 62 percent picked Bo while Carrie got only 38 percent. I guess a different group of people call Fox. Right Murray?... Mr. "I-Voted-For-Carrie-Three-Times!"

Here's a quote for the day from Jim Collin's book, Good To Great...
"Most of us lead buy but undisciplined lives. We have ever-expanding "to do" lists, trying to build momentum by doing, doing, doing--and doing moe. And it rarely works. Those who built good to great companies, however, made as much use of "stop-doing" lists as "to do" lists. they displayed a remarkable discipline to unplug all sorts of extraneous junk."
(Page 139)

So go out there and stop doing more...
That should be especially easy for Bo.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Hump Day

Why does it seem so long from Wednesday to Saturday?

I hope your Wednesday went well. Mine did. It had a birthday party, a baptism and a bible class on Moses.

I love that guy, Moses. What an authentic specimen of faith. He had a past, he had his doubts, he had his baggage (he was 80 went he started his "ministry), he had an ego and yet he was able to be used by God to do some pretty incredible things.

I think what I respect most about Moses was his ability to forgive the people he was leading. They seemed to be always whining and complaining about him and to him. And yet in a pinch, Moses would still give them the benefit of the doubt and ask God to feed them, or give them something to drink or protect them or spare them.

He truly had a heart of surrendered love.

I probably need to remember that about Moses every Wednesday.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Bo Knows Idol; Brown Knows Championships

Put it in the bank. I predicted it two weeks ago to Murray. Bo will be the next American Idol. (Oh, course I have no clue and have seen only a handful of the shows, but lack of information has never kept me from having a strong opinion.)

And while I'm at it I might as well share my predictions on the NBA.
Detroit over Miami
San Antonio over Phoenix
Detroit the eventual NBA champion (Larry Brown is a great coach)

I would love to see the Suns and Miami in the finals with the Suns the eventual winner. I love Steve Nash. But Detroit is too deep and Shaq is too beat up. And San Antonio's team defensive scheme will do in the run and gun style of Phoenix. In final it will San Antonio will remember the Alamo all over again as Rasheed, Ben and Rip run over them.

So it's going to be Bo and Brown.

Monday, May 23, 2005

It's Late, I'll Be Brief

Most times I love my job and tonight is one of them. I just left a Elders'\Ministers' meeting where four church members came in to share with us something that was on their hearts. They talked for a little over an hour about the importance of outreach and personal evangelism. It was such a great encouragement to hear them talk of how God had placed on each their hearts the need for personal evangelism. They each came with bibles in hand and passion in their hearts for people who don't yet know Jesus.

I love being part of a church where leaders welcome people with passion for outreach and where people with the gift of evangelism come and remind me of what my life and ministry is to be about.

In two weeks FXCC is hosting our annual Senior Banquet. After tonight's meeting I now know what I'm going to preach on that Sunday morning. I hope it will help equip kids to go out into the world.

I remember all the things I became concerned about as our daugthers prepared to leave home after high school.
Do they know how to handle a bank account and write checks?
Do they know basic car maintenance? Like checking tire pressure and changing the oil?
Do they know how to read a map?
Do know how to pick a church to attend?
And so on...

Now I think another question needs to be asked,
Do they know how to share their faith?

I hope that every Graduation Sunday, that "How to share your faith" will be an annual sermon topic. I think that no one should grow up and leave a Christian home without knowing how to tell someone else the reason they are a Christian.

What do you think?

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Defining Moments

Last night was the first of two performances of "Defining Moments" put on by the FXCC drama ministry. It was amazing. The premise for the show is simple: retelling how God shows up in the lives of FXCC members. This year we get a glimpse of God redefining people who were longing to be married; who were jobless for 18 months; someone who God guided to him through her boyfriend; a drug addict who recovered through God's grace; and two families who have children who are living miracles.

Incorporated into and around these stories are songs, dance and drama. For a little over an hour and a half, you don't think of time or the "to do" list waiting for you at home and the office. You can only think of how amazing God is and how each person in the pew next to you has a story.

I hope that after this spring's production of Defining Moments is over I'll realize that every one I meet has a story that needs to be defined by God. And I hope I'll realize that I need to be a part of that happening.

See you back here tomorrow.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Nietzsche on Life and Death

Sorry to miss yesterday, but we had a family emergency. Our family pet, Nietzsche, almost died yesterday. Still less than a year old, Nietzsche likes to chew and chew and chew. Evidently Nietzsche chewed something that got stuck and it turned out to be serious.

After a trip to our local vet and two Pet emergency rooms, Nietz had surgery and fortunately survived...so far.

It is amazing how you can bond with an animal who licks your face and chews on stuff. It's incredible the way a dog can wag their way into your life.

Several times yesterday we were facing life and death decisions for our soon to be 1 year old canine friend. The experience ended up being much more emotional than philosophical.

If all goes well, Nietzsche should return home tomorrow to a house with a lot less to chew on!

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Super Support Staff

Just got back from celebrating Support Staff Day. We went to the Cheesecake Factory. Yeah, I know we're celebrating a little late, but our delay was due to some folks being out of town. So checking everyone's schedule made today work best. We had a great time. (Ask Murray about his seatbelt in the van.)

Today's celebration just reminds me of the amazing people with whom I am blessed to work. Connie, Jacque, Terry and Lynn are people who don't know the meaning of mediocrity or minimum standard. Every Monday through Friday they come early and leave late and in between they go way beyond job expectations. Though it's not part of their job description they are typically engaged in church work on the weekends as well. These are four people who exemplify what Paul urged in Colossians 3:23-24

23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Truthfully we couldn't be the church we are if it weren't for these four dedicated, godly Christian people.

I am blessed to be counted among their co-workers. If you attend FXCC and read this, be sure to thank these people who love our Lord and work so hard for our church. If you are not a member of FXCC and are reading this: send money!

Monday, May 16, 2005

Two Months and Counting

I woke up this morning with the realization that two months from today I turn 50! This humbling realization caused me to head out on a morning jog. It lasted for 33 minutes and felt like 33 hours. Due to some health issues, I've been off the jogging path for the last three months. To say I am out of shape would be an understatement in the magnitude of saying no one notices Donald Trump's hair.

On the morning jog, I took along our miniature schnauzer, Nietzsche. That was a drastic mistake. Nietzsche is about 16 inches tall and weighs in at a whopping 15 pounds. Her legs though long for her body are still really short. As you can imagine we are quite the athletic pair. And let me tell you something: as you are in minute 27 of your "run" and you look down and see your miniature schnauzer walking beside you as you run, that sight doesn't raise a fellow's testosterone level!

But it is a beginning. I'm hoping to keep at it. I'm already planning for my next run on June 16th.

Seriously, what a great weekend we had at FXCC. God used Ken Green in an amazing way to touch our hearts. Six people this weekend turned their lives over to Jesus through the efforts of many people showing them Jesus. It was also incredible to attend a Saturday morning session with FXCC leaders, Saturday night's Small Group Leader Appreciation Dinner and yesterday sitting through Defining Moments 2 play practice. God is good!

Saturday, May 14, 2005

The Big Picture

It's time for me to go on a diet. It's time to start working out. It is imperative that I start getting my beauty sleep. In fact, it may be time for me to consider Botox and plastic surgery.

Why, you wonder?

I just received notification that I have to get a new driver's license. And that means that I have to get a new picture taken.

If you don't know me well you may not realize that I rarely get a good picture taken. For example, I once, years ago, showed a photograph taken of me to an elder of our church. This loving elder quickly handed it back to me with these words, "You couldn't catch fish with that picture!" (I'm not sure why I take such bad pictures, but I think it has something to do with my looks...)

But fourteen years ago, I lucked out and had one of the best photographs ever taken of me. And since it was made for my driver's license, I've been able to look at my youthful, semi-attractive, 36 year old face everytime I have opened my wallet.

But now the DMV wants to take that away from me!

Even though I barely resemble that person pictured 14 years ago, I don't understand this DMV mandated image upgrade. I'd gladly give them a sample of my DNA, or my dental x-rays or a retina scan for their records. DMV please don't take away my wrinkle-free, before gray-hair, thinner cheeked, geek-free picture.

But they're going to.

I'm going to stay positive. Who knows maybe I'll have another good picture taken...

Sorry to end here, but I have to go buy some moisturizer, schedule a facial and write my story for Extreme Makeover.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Blink

I like the writings of Malcolm Gladwell. I've read and enjoyed both of his books: The Tipping Point and Blink. I admire the way that Gladwell draws illustrations from all over the universe to help illustrate his point. It kind of reminds me how God uses rocks, donkeys, buried treasure, fish-swallowed-missionaries and wicked queens to teach us eternal truths.

In Blink Gladwell tackles the subject of how we think without thinking. He calls it "thin-slicing." He writes his book to tell us how all of think without thinking and how some of us do it much better than others. He then enlightens his readers on how to educate themselves to become more adept at making astute assessments in the "blink of an eye."

In writing Blink, Gladwell is making an unknowing plea for biblical expertise. Gladwell argues that after years of training and experience "experts" can size up a situation properly in a "blink." He shows this truth in various arenas of life: after years of analysis and training a psychologist can predict the success of a marriage within a few minutes of observing the couple; a sage tennis coach can predict when a player will double-fault his serve before the ball touches the server's racquet; an antiquities expert can spot a fake sculpture in just a glance. All of this is possible due to properly trained and educated instincts.

If someone can develop that kind of "thin-slicing" in the physical world, think what such familiarity with the Bible could mean in the spiritual world. We would know what to say to a person who's parent lies brain dead; or what counsel to give to a parent who's child just came "out of the closet"; or how to decide about the choice of marriage, children or career; or what God desires are about issues like stem cell research, euthanasia and our culture's obsession with youth.

I'm reminded of Jesus' words. If you blink you might miss them, but regardless of their age or brevity they may be the final word on the ability to thin slice:

"If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." John 8:31-32

Hold Jesus close and you will be able to not only know truth, but also apply it.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Enrich your word-power. Go to an Elders' meeting!

Over the past fourteen years, in my current job, I have attended somewhere over 650 Elders' meetings. That doesn't include conference calls or "special meetings." Adding these "extras" in makes the total well over 1,000.

Yesterday I was reminded of one of the side benefits of these meetings. Besides teaming with some of the most spiritual people I have ever met and seeing their gracious and tender hearts at at work, these guys regularly increase my vocabulary. Our Elders seem to find just the right word for the right ocassion. And they don't mind when I ask them for a definition.

Yesterday's word was, "moribund." Once I was given its meaning, I was thankful it wasn't used in reference to me!

I remember years ago when I received my first written correspondence from one of the Elders here. We were still living in Michigan. I had to look up one of the phrases used in the dictionary. It was a Latin term for "let the buyer beware."

What's great is that as educated and well-versed as these guys are, there is nothing arcane or repungant about them. They are always convivial and philanthropic. In other words, they don't wear their education on their sleeve; they work to give a the right word of encouragement for the every situation; as they offer God's grace in warm and selfless ways.

So cancel your subscription to Reader's Digest. Join me at an Elders' Meeting.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

It's Starting to Heat Up

A quick quiz as the warmer weather approaches:
Popsicles or fudgesicles?
For me it's fudgesicles. Better still: a Good Humor Strawberry Shortcake Bar.
Sandals or sneakers?
Toss-up depending on the situation. But please no sandals and socks.
Speedo or surfer swimsuit?
I can't even image myself in a Speedo. I don't want anyone seeing it for real.
The beach or the mountains for vacation?
For years it was the mountains but lately the tide is pulling toward sand and surf.
Watching TV reruns or Major League Baseball?
Tough choice. I have to go with neither.
Fireworks at home or a downtown display?
Fight the traffic and go downtown.
Laying in the hammock or on the couch in the air-conditioning?
I'm a wimp, shut out the bugs and turn on the AC .
Grilled hot dogs or hamburgers?
Hamburgers with relish.
Road Trip or Plane Trip?
JetBlue to the rescue!
Hotel or Camping?
If God wanted us to camp he wouldn't have invented Holiday Inn.
And finally...
Homemade Ice Cream or Watermelon?
Ever see anyone spit out the seeds while eating Snickers Homemade Ice Cream? Enough said.

May your burgers be juicy; your popsicles not drip and the sand stay out of your swimsuit.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Dr. Pepperdine

I spent the last week at Pepperdine Lectureships. It's always a hardship to go spend four days in Malibu. (I kid because I love.) Actually it was great. I got schooled on some important stuff and while I was learning I also got inspired and motivated by being around several thousand Christians who love the Lord and His church.

I also got to spend a time with family and old friends. It was a great week.

It also was a time of personal reflection. I've been reading a book titled Primal Leadership that has been extremely helpful. In it the author talks a lot about the importance of personal assessment. His premise is that you can't lead others until you discover what leads you. This past week as I listened to others I also learned some new stuff about me. It wasn't exactly great stuff, but it was important. It's things about me that need to know so that with God's help, it can be dealt productively.

I'm guessing even near fifty you can still learn lots of new stuff about God, life and yourself.

Oh yeah, years ago when we went to our first Pepperdine Lectureship, our oldest daughter then three or four asked if we were going to Dr. Pepper-dine.

Friday, May 06, 2005

I'd never be a speech teacher

I've been listening to a lot of teaching this week. It's been informative, encouraging, inspirational and raised my curiosity.

My question is, "What is it that makes someone a great teacher?"

You listen to two different people who are both informed, both all "studied up" and prepared and one of the teachers connect with your heart, heart and soul. And the other who is equally prepared and passionate, makes you wonder if your watch has stopped.

What's the difference? I know that its not simply a matter of effort or genetics. It's not that simple. But there is something that makes someone a great communicator, isn't there?

I guess I'll never be a speech teacher until I get this figured out.

But it does make me realize what an amazing communicator Jesus was. His words continue to stir hearts today. No one who has listened to him remains neutral.

Jesus makes you long to listen.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

The More Things Change The More Things Change

I'm sitting at a computer kiosk typing this blog sitting next to a six year first-grader who is surfing the web on the computer screen next to me. You read that right, she's six and comfortably navigating her way through the Web.

The only thing certain in our culture is that it continues to change.

I'm sitting in class this morning listening to a teacher share that the Churches of Christ over the past decade have declined by 4 percent. Experts are convinced this trend will continue to change for the worst unless there are big changes.

Experts and exit polls show that the problem isn't with our message. The timeless, unchanging good news of Jesus continues to touch and speak to the hearts of people living in our ever changing culture.

The downward change is more about presentation and methodology than message.

That said, the challenge we face is figuring out meaningful and purposeful ways of change to help connect the gospel of old with six-year-old Internet users and their parents.

I'm ready to make that change. How about you?

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

I'm not from around here

I'm sitting in a classroom with a bunch of other preachers listening to scholar talk about Jesus in the last chapters of John. We're reading the part in John 18 where Pilate asked Jesus what he's done to make all these Jewish leaders so ticked that they would want him dead. (18:35)

In the next verse Jesus answers, "My kingdom is not of this world..." (18:36) In other words, I'm not from around here and what I'm talking about isn't from around here either.

As I re-read this passage it hit me how dealing with people who aren't "from around here" can be tough. They talk of things I haven't experienced. They speak of places I've never been. They refer to a way of life that is foreign and different.

Jesus ticks off a lot of us today because his kingdom still originates from another place. His kingdom is totally different than any kingdom that has ever existed or ever will exist. But it's important we not wipe him away with a label or try to give him a green card and a citizenship test so he can become more like us.

The fact that he isn't from around here means he can help us get out from where we are and become who God wants us to be.

So instead of being threatened and ticked off that Jesus way is foreign, we should be thankful and thrilled.

I don't know that just seemed important to me.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Rainy Days And Mondays

I'm not sure how I feel about this blog entry. I'm typing it on a Mac!

The first concert I ever attended was at the University of Maryland. I went with my best friend Tom and a couple of girls we were trying to impress. We went to see the Carpenters. That's right. The Carpenters. There was sitting center stage behind a drum set singing "Superstar" with her brother Richard tinkling the ivories stage left. It was seventies romantic music Nirvana.

That was back in my "wild and rebellious" years. Actually they had "Only Just Begun." It wasn't long before the Carpenters weren't enough. Soon I was "Baby I'm A Want You" with Bread. But Bread couldn't safisfy hunger. It's wasn't long before I moved onto the heavier stuff: humming along with Air Supply. At that point I was truly "All Out Of Love." It was while I was driving my car crying to "Loney Days" that I knew I had stepped off the precipice into the rock ballad abyss.

I'm older and much wiser now. I now know that this was no way to deal with "rainy days and Mondays." I'm grown. I've moved on. Now when it rains on Monday I blog and watch 24.

What do you do?