Wednesday, April 29, 2009

New Beginnings

Well, the trip to Wisconsin was good. We left on Thursday morning (Marie and I) and arrived in Chicago after 3 1/2 hours, for an hour layover. While there, I grabbed a Chicago dog (hot dog) and really enjoyed it....for some reason, I have always liked hot dogs, and I especially like Chicago dogs....they are just delicious. Anyway, after that we got on a plane and made it to Appleton, WI in less than 35 minutes. The conference had already begun, so we got there in time for the evening service, spent time with some friends and went to the hotel. We have a few churches that we planted in the area, and it was a blessing to see some of the guys. Jeff from Madison, WI and Bill from Moline, IL were there, as well as Mike Whitney who came all the way from Great Falls, MT showed up, too so it was a blessing to see them. We have a brother from Iowa City, IA who wanted to come, but at the lost moment was unable to...bummer. It would have been nice seeing him.
We taught on the church in the Last Days, and looked at the 7 churches of Revelation to do so. We are definitely living in the end times, and as we went through those churches, you couldn't help but see how they are pictures of the church today. 
Upon returning home, we had the joy of being in church on Sunday. Originally I had planned on taking the day off, but it just didn't work out. Still, it is always a blessing to be with the church, which brings up current news.
I am blessed to know that between 13-1500 people think their faith is important enough to make it out for our Truth Project series. That blesses me, because the teaching is different in style but so rich in content. If you are reading this and are able to make it to the study, and haven't been yet, please make an effort to be there. It will enrich your faith tremendously.
Also, next Monday is the first 18-35 bible study in the Song of Songs. I will be teaching from the direction of love and romance in relationships. We don't have childcare, but I think we will have around 300 or so there, at least for the first study! People have a tendency of jumping on the wagon quickly, and falling off even quicker! Still, Marie and I look forward to spending time with that age group, taking questions afterwards, and spending time with them. We have looked at taking that age group to Israel next year, and have a bit of get a good price will require 35 sign ups, so let's see how many people actually can go. The price is still high, and I am trying to find a way of bringing it down to something more manageable, but we shall see. As for now, the price is around $3700, give or take a couple of hundred dollars, so let's see if anybody actually can afford the trip. If they can't, then I will have to think this one through. I really want to go with that age group, and we will do what we can to make it possible. It would require being able to save around $300. a month for the next year to go, and I sure hope people are able to do that. We really love Israel, and the trip is so worth it as it makes your bible come alive. We shall see!
Well, time to sign off....tonight we go into Ezekiel 7, and that ought to be interesting! Judgment, judgment, judgment! Heavy book...pray for me to give the full counsel, but to do so remembering the grace and mercy of God, even if it isn't being spoken of in that passage!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Random thoughts

Well, I am planning on starting the Song of Songs series in May, probably the first Monday night of the month. I am still deciding where to hold it, as I really am not sure how many people actually will take the time to come to such a study. We aren't going to be able to have childcare, as I can't stretch the childcare ministry that far. We just don't have that many people with the heart, desire, willingness or whatever to serve in that area, and as a result I can't expand some ministries or even think of starting new ones. Sad to admit, but understandable. So, with that in mind we will start the ministry but cannot provide childcare for it.
Still, I think it is going to be a good study, and Marie and I look forward to it. As I see it, the overwhelming majority of young people I know have a genuine need to look at relationships from a biblical perspective. I am really amazed at how unprepared people are for dating and marriage. I have come to believe that the majority of young people that I see who are presently in a dating relationship most definitely haven't learned to put other people first. The ones I am familiar with are so centered on getting what they want, when they want it, no matter what that they honestly seem blind to the feelings of others. They also don't seem to understand that sacrifice in a relationship (as long as it isn't sinful!) is normal, but that it takes two to make the relationship work, so one person isn't supposed to do all the sacrificing! I could go on and on about this, but I do see this as a real need and hope that by teaching this book, people will get a clue and start working on their dating relationships, not to mention marriages and child rearing. Though the study won't have childcare, married people are invited, as the book ministers to some basic elements of marital relationships too.
I am leaving this Thursday to participate in a Pastor's/church leaders conference being held in Wisconsin. I have been asked to teach two studies out of Rev 2-3, which is the section containing Jesus' words to the 7 Churches. It ought to be interesting, as we are looking at it from the perspective of ministry in the church. I will be teaching on the churches of Ephesus and Sardis, and it should be an interesting study fo me to prepare. I often desire to gain practical insight into ministry, and this is good for me and hopefully, will bless those in attendance. I am pretty tired at the moment, and am a bit concerned because of the strain I have put myself through recently. Traveling to Israel, and then returning jet lagged to do Wednesday, two Good Friday studies, and four Easter day studies has taken its toll on me, and I am pretty fatigued. Now, I have to travel and then return to do my Sunday morning study, soooooo...I am a bit concerned (not to mention Marie being concerned). I am considering asking somebody to handle a study or even have guests for my Wednesday and Sunday morning next week, but it really is too late for that. Still, it might be wise for me to do so, so I can get some rest. We shall see.
Finally, today is my son Joseph's birthday. He is 28 years old today, and to be honest it seems that the days since he was born have just flown on by. Of course I remember his birth vividly. Marie told me around 6 AM that she was having contractions, and within 3 hours or so, we had our son. I held him in my arms, and raised him before the Lord and prophesied over him, saying "this one shall serve the Lord"....I remember it vividly. Funny thing, but pretty much everyone who knows him sees him as a loving and caring man, and indeed he is. He is going to school now, just made the Dean's List (I am blessed by this) and has been accepted into the school's nursing program. Joseph feels that he is to enter the medical profession to help people in their time of sickness and pain, and I am blessed that he feels that way. I pray the Lord uses him mightily in this field.
Well, enough rambling for a Saturday morning. I think I'll get a cup of coffee! God bless!

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Well, here we are....Easter week! This is one of those seasons that we as believers rejoice to participate in, because the entire reason for our existence as Christians is spoken about, debated, embraced and many times, rejected but it still gives us wonderful opportunities to simply repeat the grand story of God's love and redemption. Just think: God soooo loved the world that He gave us His precious and wonderful Son. 
With this in mind, we must remember that Easter is about Him: what He has done, what He is doing, and what He is about to do. It is not about us: it is not about our needs, our wants, our wishes, visions, or even our heartaches but is all about Him. How He loved us, how He reached out to us, how He gave His Son for us, and how He is willing to forgive and even save us. We are the objects of His affection, but they are His affections and are given to us simply because He desires to have them for us! Amazing, isn't it that God would even pay a moments thought to such as we. 
I think the psalmist says it well when he writes When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? (Ps 8:3-4) Great question, isn't it? What is man that You should even spend a moment of Your time thinking about us? But He does, and O how grateful I am to Him for doing so. No only does He think of us, but He has acted on our behalf that He might rescue us from an eternity without Him. He gave us His Son, to rescue us from our own mad and destructive ways, and for this we must all stand humbled and thankful.
While in Israel, we once again had such a blessed opportunity of seeing the locations of so many of the stories that we have read in our bibles, and have been influenced by. When asked which site is my favorite, the absolute top of the list is the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem. Regardless of whether it is the actual site of Jesus' burial, the fact is there is just something about being in that garden, seeing an open and empty tomb, and celebrating communion with your church family. How I wish everybody who calls on the name of Jesus could experience such a trip. Obviously, it is so personally enriching that I have decided to return to Israel every year that the Lord allows me to and this next year, I am hoping to take a group from the ages of 18-35. 
Some may wonder why I would want to take people to Israel who fall into that age category. The fact is, that age group means much to me for many reasons, not the least being that they represent the future of the church in America. Not just CCCV, but the whole future of what God is doing in our beloved nation until Jesus returns. It is a critical age group, a group that has so many challenges before them: unprecedented challenges that my generation did not have to face.
Take for example marriage, and its definition. Because so many come from broken homes, marriage has no special meaning to the vast majority. For them, whether they marry or not really doesn't matter. Living together, trial marriages, and a host of other alternatives are presented as all having pretty much the same value. Even kids raised in Christian homes have seen such carnality in their homes that they do not really see marriage as preferable. For many, "love" is more important than "right", so for them if two same sex individuals love one another then why should they be denied the right to be in a miserable marriage? Listen, when Jolie and Pitt are looked at as role models, and when Madonna is looked at as being a humanitarian and a good example of a loving mother, you have some major disconnection here! When well known "christian" people are caught in homosexual affairs, or divorce their wives, or are caught with prostitutes, the church which was intended to shine brightly in the darkness loses its luster (no pun intended, but hey, that was pretty good!) and as a result, the name of God is blasphemed amongst unbelievers. 
With that said, I desire to invest more time in the lives of this specific age group, hence we will be having the Song of Solomon series starting very soon. It will last for 9 weeks, and what is keeping me from announcing its start date is simply the fact that my calendar is full at the moment. I leave on the 23rd of this month for two days to participate in a pastor's/leaders conference in Wisconsin, then in May do a couples retreat in Northern Cal, our men's retreat, and our annual men's conference which leaves little time/energy to do the Monday study. Still, I am looking for the start date and will have it settled by next week! Why? Because Marie and I greatly desire to be with our young adults, and the sacrifice is more than worth it!
Well, time to sign off! Good Friday services tomorrow will be a real blessing, and I am looking so forward to being here! Easter Sunday is going to be electric....God is going to move mightily. The wave is coming in, and it is huge so invite all of your friends and family to come to church, catch the wave and enjoy the ride! 
It's all about Him! He is risen, He is risen indeed!