Saturday, April 22, 2006

Saturday in the park, or the office...

Sorry I've missed blogging the past couple of days. It isn't that life is hectic; it's just that I'm disorganized! I'm still on an emotional and spiritual high after last weekend's Easter worship assemblies. I hope tomorrow will continue to build on what we experienced last weekend.

Life is good. I fertilized the yard and it actually rained as predicted. Good news for our grass, bad news for our weeds.

I'm getting really excited about my upcoming sabbatical. I've chosen to use it during the month of May. I had no idea that I would be this excited about the time off for personal renewal and development. I'm so blessed to be granted this great gift by the FXCC Elders.

Because of Rubel Shelley being here the first week of June to teach and preach, I will actually not preach for six straight Sundays. I have not ever missed more than two Sunday's preaching in a row since 1978. That's like 28 years...

I do have a master plan for my month off. I'll share more details later. But I will say that I don't plan on blogging during the time I am "sabbaticalling." I know that this month off may cause all three of my readers to stop reading my blog forever, but that's a chance I'm willing to take!

If you're a member of FXCC please keep our church in your daily prayers. These are exciting times for our church. I truly feel that great things are on the horizon.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Baby News and more...

I could barely contain my excitement at the news about Tom and Katie having their baby. And then to learn that Brooke Shields had her baby in the same hospital just a couple of hours later. Oh, I'm dizzy. I just hope the nurses don't get the new mother's medicine mixed up...

I'm still trying to figure out why our culture is so caught up in the lifes of celebrities. Why are we so fascinated by what's going on with Brad and Angelina? Why do we care if "The Donald" just had another child with another wife? And why don't we care about the couple in our condo complex having a new baby?

Any ideas?

Oh, and do we need any more books, articles and interviews that are trying to make "tie-in" money off the releases of The Da Vinci Code in movie and paperback? Time magazine this week has a cover story on Opus Dei and earlier this week, Diane Sawyer reported from Opus Dei headquarters. I was in a bookstore recently and there now seems to be section dedicated to this growing genre of work. If Tom Hanks wasn't in the movie, I might boycott.

That was my whine for Wednesday.

See you soon...

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

I feel so grown up

A couple of weeks ago I got an email from Gallup Press asking if I wanted to preview a new book and provide feedback to them prior to it's being published. I feel so grown up!

I picked up the book after I returned from vacation last Friday. The book is entitled, Growing Engaging Churches How to Stop "Doing Church" and Start "Being the Church" Once again. It's written by Albert Winseman who has written Living Your Strengths which is work on the Christian spin to Gallup's Now, Discover Your Strengths.

It was pretty cool to read through this book but what was most exciting is the books content and perspective. The author explains why some churches are flourishing and others are floundering.

In the opening chapters he mentions three things that cause churches to flounder:
They don't make new people feel welcomed or wanted.
They have no stated standards or expectations for members.
They downplay the role of an "emotional connection" between people and the church.

He asks this question: If new people are showing up at your church every Sunday, will you be ready to welcome them, and make them feel like they are valued and have something meaningful to give?

Interesting questions that are making me do more than think...

Monday, April 17, 2006

Holy Easter

Wow, it was a great day yesterday. An Easter I'll long remember. It started a little earlier than usual with our "Sunrise" worship assembly. But it was glorious. The weather was cool and crisp, the sunlight was shining through the trees, the dogwoods were in bloom, the trees were covered with their new leaves, birds were chirping and an occasional flock of geese honked as they flew by. The singing and communion service were inspirational. It was a great start to a great day. Our next two services just seem to build and build. Darla Robinson and our worship ministry put together an amazing video that we shared at both our "inside" assemblies. It was right on point about what Easter really means. If you're not a member of FXCC it might be something you would want a copy of. I'll see if we can put it on the FXCC website for you to view.

Dozens and dozens of FXCC members helped set up and take down chairs and tables, they cut fruit, bagels, and muffins, they cooked biscuits and prepared juice, coffee and tea. Others hid thousands of plastic eggs for kids and their parents to find. Dozens of FXCC members road the shuttle to leave parking spaces for our extra 250 guests. Still others helped out in communion prep, taking digital photos of everything and everyone, and still others greeted and welcomed guests.

What also was a highpoint for me was the number of FXCC members who invited their friends to come to worship with them. I can't think of any greater indicator of how "church" is impacting someone than if they are willing to bring people with them to worship.

Thanks to all of you who have been praying during our 40 days of prayer asking God to make our Easter service the great success that it was.

Friday, April 14, 2006

I'm Back

We had a great week visiting our oldest daughter and her husband. Southern California with family is always great. We slept late, ate great and spent a week just hanging out. And we went to several restaurants that had great iced tea. In fact, Southern California may have the best iced tea in the U.S.

Today I was again reminded of what a different world we live in. I was reading an ad in the Washington Post for a bicycle store. The ad talked about what the bike store sold, it gave its four D.C. area locations and each location's phone numbers. Then at the bottom of the ad were these two words: Financing Available. I pretty sure that when my parents bought me my one and only bike; a 26 inch (they just knew I would grow into it... I didn't!) red and white "Huffy" they didn't have to finance its purchase!

On a much more serious subject, I'm involved with a funeral service tomorrow. One of our FXCC families lost their 24 year old son to death this past week. It is such a tragedy. Life is hard enough as it is, but when faced with such a loss, life can almost seem impossible. Keep our church family in your prayers as we try to help serve and minister to this hurting family.

I hope you have a happy Easter. If you're in town on Sunday, come join us at 6:30, 9:00 and 10:20 AM.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Chicken Little May Be Right

I believe I just lived through the Apocolypse. I went for a short jog this morning at 7:25. As I left the sky was sunny and the wind was calm. Within 12 minutes, the wind picked up to gusts of 30 miles an hour, the skies grew black and it started to snow and then rain. It was lovely. The good part was that it made me cut my run short!

My dad and I stayed up late last night and watched the Maryland-Duke Women's Basketball Championship. It was an amazing game. A Maryland freshman hit a three-pointer with 6.1 seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime. It was one of the great moments in sports. Maryland won as you probably know. It was great game made better by being able to watch it with my dad.

I'm taking a week break from blogging. I'll be back late next week. I'm sure you'll use the time to dye Easter eggs.

See you soon.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Tuesday Thoughts

Okay, so UCLA didn't win last night. I think orange and blue uniforms are nice too! Actually once George Mason lost, my interest in the tournament was lost. And besides it was on at the same time as "24." There is no contest between Jack Bauer and Joakim Noah. And I wasn't disappointed. "24" was another slam dunk last night. Who would have ever guessed the ending?

We live in a very different world. If you don't believe it, then think about CBS offering Katie Couric more than $15 million a year to become the first solo female news anchor in TV history. I hope that Katie gets the job. She's a UVA graduate and our youngest is attending UVA right now. Maybe Katie can help find her a job!

If you don't live in the D.C. area you may not know about Wolf Trap. It is the only National Park for the Performing Arts. Each summer Wolf Trap is host to a large number of musical, dance and dramatic performances on it's outdoor stage. I just got a copy of their 2006 schedule. It ranges from the Doobie Brothers to Marvin Hamlisch to Ian Anderson from Jethro Tull ("Sitting on park bench...) to the Beach Boys to Disney's Beauty and the Beast. Bonnie Raitt is performing in early July. I'll see if Jeanette wants to go.

We try to go to Wolf Trap at least once a summer. It's a great experience.

Speaking of being in a different world... This summer the National Symphony Orchestra will perform "A Video Game Symphony" at Wolf Trap. Do you really need to pay $42 a ticket to hear the background music to Mario Brothers?

Monday, April 03, 2006

bic pens, floss and the "J" key

If you knew me well you would know that attention to detail is certainly not one of my long suits. Jeanette calls my office "the Black Hole": things go in but they never come out! I intentionally never carry expensive pens or personal items on my person because I end up losing them.

That's why I count it as one of life's great victories when I kept one 19 cent BIC pen until the ink was completely gone. It was incredible. It's never happened again.

I had the same "rush" when I was able to keep the same container of dental floss until the floss was completely gone. Yeah for me!

And this weekend, I can't believe it but I have typed on my laptop keyboard so much I have worn off the "J" key. It fell off. Maybe it was from the sermon series I preached last year on "J"ames. Or maybe it's from writing to "J"eanette and typing, "you are the "J"am in my "J"elly-roll. I wonder if it's from reflecting on and writing about whether "J"ehosophat really was a "J"umper.

But for whatever reason, I've kept a computer long enough to wear part of it out.

By the way, anybody know how to fix a laptop keyboard?

Now if I could just find my "J"ump drive I could save this entry.

I hope your having a "J"ubilant Monday.