Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Great Easter Service, part 2

Read Part 1

After watching the outpouring of love and affection last Sunday, I defy anyone to say that our church is unhealthy.

Do we have failures and shortcomings as individuals? Sure, you betcha.

Are we absolutely free from problems and troubles at various levels? Of course we're not.

But I'm beginning to believe that the average church is full of problems and difficulties and the bad attitudes have become institutionalized. I've visited other churches and I talk to other ministers. We don't have a lot of what goes on in the average church.

Instead, I feel a lot of grace here. People are truly considerate of where others are coming from. We are largely of one accord in spite of our differences. And we love each other. That makes us an exceptional church.

And in areas that we've failed, where someone has felt excluded or hurt, we can and should do better. We should go and try to make peace. We should ask for forgiveness and seek reconciliation. Maybe we can win back a brother. That would be wonderful!

When everything is said and done. I wish that all the people that I love could go to WCCC. I wish friends and family that don't live near a healthy church would move to Kansas City. I wish that nice folks I meet in unhealthy churches could attend here instead. I wish that people who have left for one reason or another would all come back.

This is a good church.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Great Easter Service

We had a fantastic church service yesterday. The weather was gorgeous, the new building looked great, the crowd was wonderful, and the atmosphere was loving and warm.

We had 185 people (24 in the nursery), the highest attendance since Christmas 2001 (197), and the best Easter in the five years that I've been here.

There were some funny little hiccups in the service, which is to be expected in a new building. The projector had a few minor issues, Jarod and I miscommunicated on when the Pastoral Prayer would happen, and… oh yeah, the fire bell went off for about 20 seconds during the worship service! We had a good laugh about that one (there was no fire, just a clock that needed to be reset).

I saw people hugging, laughing, lingering to talk and get reacquainted. Going from two services back to one was like having a huge family reunion. And in my family that's a good thing.

…to be continued.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Final Offering Count

And the final tally is…


God is wonderful and so are His people! The building fund can pay its bills (about $6K) and there will be money left over for ongoing needs.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Answer to Prayer… and then some.

We needed $6000 to finish the new church building. So we prayed. Then we took up an offering… and got $6650.

God is good all the time. All the time, God is good.

UPDATE: Due to an oversight, we discovered that we actually received more money than we originally thought! We were blessed with nearly $7500!

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Nutritional Study

I found this at Snopes.

For those of you who watch what you eat... Here's the final word on nutrition and health. It's a relief to know the truth after all those conflicting medical studies.

1. The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.

2. The Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.

3. The Japanese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.

4. The Italians drink excessive amounts of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.

5. The Germans drink a lot of beers and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.

CONCLUSION: Eat and drink what you like. Speaking English is apparently what kills you.

Worship Times

We're starting church in the new building this week! The service times will be:
  • Worship @ 9:00am
  • Sunday School @ 10:30am
I can't wait. We have people up here working every day to finish all the little projects that need to get done. I was up here until 11:45 last night working with my brother.

We'll take all the help we can get. And please pray for us!

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Jayhawks Lose in 1st Round

I'll be mourning the wasted potential for the next few days. Posts may be few until I recover.

Seriously though, we have something bigger than basketball to be the center of our lives. Thank God.

Always Choose Life

I found this article by Peggy Noonan about the Terri Schiavo situation. It's a worthwhile read from an interesting perspective, the self-serving politician.

(Thank you Drudge Report)

Friday, March 18, 2005

How Safe is it in Iraq?

We are extremely concerned about our soldiers in Iraq, especially those who ride in convoys. The most dangerous part of this war has been the roadside bombs and ambushes that attack vehicles driving in Iraq.

But I found this short article at that I found encouraging.
March 18, 2005: While half the casualties in Iraq are from roadside bombs, rarely does a truck carrying fuel or ammo get hit. Some divisions have gone an entire year with none of their fuel or ammo trucks being destroyed on the road. How can this be? Simple, the fuel and ammo convoys always get the highest level of protection. This includes air cover in the form of a helicopter, often a helicopter gunship. Lower priority convoys have to make do with a UAV, or no air cover at all. Air cover is not magic, the MPs or combat troops providing the ground escort also have to be watching carefully for camouflaged roadside bombs. It’s also important to vary the schedule and routes for fuel and ammo convoys. The chances of getting attacked on the road have always been low, but if you are out there several times a week, you are likely to experience at least one roadside bomb, or some gun fire, at least once in a 12 month tour. But if you take enough precautions, you can reduce the chances of getting hit bad, to near zero. And that’s what’s happened with the most dangerous cargo of all.

SSG Dan's unit transports ammo among other things. May God continue to keep him safe and bring all of our loved ones home safely.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Major Changes

Our church is about to undergo some major change. We're changing service times, buildings, worship tools, etc. It won't be easy but it's not the end either. I found this quote that I thought was meaningful:
People can't live with change if there's not a changeless core inside them. The key to the ability to change is a changeless sense of who you are, what you are about, and what you value.
– Stephen R. Covey
I feel this means that if we are anchored to something unchanging, the changing world around us means little. But if we're not firmly anchored, then even small changes threaten to destroy us.

Some people may be tempted to keep a list of all the changes that disturb them. I would point out all the things that are staying the same: our teaching and preaching about Jesus Christ, the words of the worship we sing, our brothers and sisters and their commitment to God.

Another truth of life is that everything costs, even standing still. And often the short term pain is worth it in the long run, while short term peace can lead to long term misery.
There are costs and risks to a program of action, but they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.
– John F. Kennedy (35th U.S. President, 1917 - 1963)
To do nothing when we are called to be good stewards and hard workers reminds me of the servant who receives the one talent of money, which he hides in the ground instead of putting it to work. I don't believe the Master will be happy when he returns to see his people idle, waiting for the world to come to them.

So we are moving forward, wisely and carefully, but we are moving and we are going to continue to move.

May God bless our service to His Kingdom so that He may be glorified.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Youth and Religion Study

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill did a study called the National Study of Youth and Religion. The results are being published in a book called Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers. It had some interesting things to say.

One of the better articles I've found so far was from The Conservative Voice, which recognized both the positive and negative findings. That article is here.

David Crumm wrote about it here.

Veterans' Embrace

You may have seen this picture floating around. It shows a Marine, wounded in Iraq, being hugged by a tearful veteran of Pearl Harbor.

I don't believe SSG Graunke is directly related to Laura and her family but there's probably some kinship back there somewhere.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Revival Report

This last weekend I visited another church to do a revival. I spoke five times in less than 48 hours and it seemed to go really well. The people were kind, generous and hospitable, and most of them seemed eager to hear more. I did see a few faces that seemed bothered by what I was saying, but that's not always bad. As they say, preachers are here to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

I took my family with me and we stayed at the house of a retired army general. He and his wife were a pleasure to spend time with and I look forward to seeing them again some day.

We got back late last night and it feels great to be home. Thanks for your prayers.

Iraq Update

Which is the Greatest Generation? I thought this article by Army Reservist Jack Lewis was good. Lewis leads a small team in Northern Iraq.

Thunder 6 writes about the Italian communist reporter that was shot at a checkpoint in Iraq. His blog article is here.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Away for a few days…

I'll be away from the computer for a few days. I'm doing a revival up north and I won't have computer access until Sunday evening.

Please pray for me as I'll be preaching/speaking five or six times this weekend, including three sermons. I'll be talking a lot about grace and the church, i.e. Loving the Bride of Christ. I hope that the congregation that I'm visiting will eagerly accept what I'm saying and apply it in their lives. I know how hearts can become hardened in the church.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

The Hobbit

After watching The Lord of the Rings, I couldn't help but wish that Peter Jackson would film The Hobbit as well. [The Hobbit is the tale that comes before The Lord of the Rings.] Turns out I'm not alone.


I'm confident that if Peter Jackson is involved The Hobbit will be a great movie. But it seems that there is an obvious approach to making the movie I hope he'll take. The story is about Bilbo Baggins as he goes on an amazing adventure, but –and this is key– it's a story told by Bilbo himself.

I think the movie would benefit greatly by having Bilbo, safe at home, tell the story to a group of children (including a young Frodo perhaps). Not only would this insert a good deal of humor and showcase Bilbo's eccentricity, but it also serves as a device to explain the differences between and The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. The former is more a child's story, more fanciful and less serious than the more adult saga already on film. To make a completely serious film would not be true to the source but to make a kid's movie would not fit the expectations of most Rings fans.

The explanation would be that Bilbo's actual experiences are being somewhat edited for his young audience. Scenes could even change in tone as Bilbo modifies his story, guided by the reactions of the children and the sound of his own tale.

I feel that Peter Jackson is thinking along the same lines based on interviews I've read, but he's not said so to my knowledge. Here's hoping.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Help for Porn Addiction

Here is a highly recommended Christian site for dealing with addictions to pornography. Pure Online offers workshops, counseling and other confidential services. It is endorsed by XXX and I heard about it through Christsites.

Here's a banner for Christsites to help you find other Christian websites.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Hellen Keller on Overcoming Limitations

I found this quote and I thought it was particularly moving, considering where it was coming from.

"The marvelous richness of human experience would lose something of rewarding joy if there were no limitations to overcome. The hilltop hour would not be half so wonderful if there were no dark valleys to traverse."
- Hellen Keller

Like Flies to Honey

I've been doing some yard work recently which included digging a few holes. Before I can get them filled again, Brennan (age 4) and Tanner (age 3) swoop in. They jump in with both feet, dig with their hands, drive toy trains through the muck, and gleefully coat themselves in dirt. If there is exposed earth, my boys hone in on it like guided missiles.

It's all good. Their second favorite time of day is bath time and mom has a new vacuum. Everyone's happy.
  • Update: I may be preaching at church camp this summer, where there is a sand volleyball court. The boys are already chomping at the bit.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Tyranny of the Urgent

I just finished Freedom from Tyranny of the Urgent by Charles E. Hummel.


Basically the Christian answer to time management books, I wonder if it was not lost on me since it took me almost three weeks to read its brief 130 pages. Oh well.

One thought summed up the time management issue:
A person cannot do anything to time itself – delay or hasten it, save or lose it – much less "manage" it. The challenge is to manage ourselves under the lordship of Jesus Christ, from whom we get our goals and values.
A number of related issues were handled well but the book overall had less impact on me than I expected.

Awesome Board Meetings

How do you measure the health of a church?

One way is when you walk out of a board meeting smiling, laughing, kidding around, and wishing that everyone in the church could have been there.

We had a board meeting like that last night. What a pleasant experience! We talked about moving our service to another building, changing service times and coming up with extra money to pay for it and there wasn't one negative word. We dealt with tough issues and asked tough questions but did it all with love and consideration.

That's the way a church ought to be. Awesome.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

There Goes the Neighborhood, Updated!

Good news! The Aryan Nations will be moving to Florida instead of Kansas City, Kansas.

Way to go KCK! Sorry, Florida.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Ozark Christian College

Have you visited Ozark Christian College recently?

Training men and women for Christian service!

There Goes the Neighborhood

The white supremacist, neo-Nazi, skinhead group, Aryan Nations, formerly of Pennsylvania, has made KCK it's new home. An article in the Kansas City Star is here. After looking at their website I feel like I need my brain sanitized. It's just anti-Jewish hate mongering, and they're proud of it! They're equal opportunity haters--they'll hate anyone who's not like them.

With Fred Phelps (the Topeka anti-gay bigot) and the KKK (supposedly still active in rural Missouri if you ask around) this open bigotry is becoming all too common. I thought Christians were supposed to be known for their love. I thought Jesus and his disciples were Jewish. I thought we were supposed to love our enemy. Have I misunderstood the Bible?

The mental gymnastics these bigots have to perform to twist scripture and history into a convoluted justification for their hatred is dumbfounding. It's so warped, I hesitate to recommend even a casual glance at their propaganda, it's that messed up.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

The Secret

Can we be content in this materialistic world? We can if we rely on God's strength and assurances. Paul said:
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. Philippians 4:11,12 (NIV)

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Reasons I'm Stoked (about Church)

The top reasons I'm stoked about Church today (is stoked soooooooo 2004? 1994? worse?):
  • One Service. We are really close to moving into our new building and going back to one Sunday morning service. A few more meetings and a few more decisions and BAM, we start announcing and implementing the move.
  • The Race Track and the Legends. Wyandotte County is continuing to develop with new restaurants, shops, and attractions. The benefit to us has been new jobs and housing in the area the last few years, which equals more opportunities for the Gospel.
  • Wednesdays. Most churches our size don't have much more than an Adult Bible Study on Wednesdays, if that. We have something for every age group and it's growing. We are already seeing two or three times the number of people here on Wednesday nights than in past years.
  • Leaders. Churches have two types of leadership: the demoralizing, petty, personality focused kind and the humble, servant-hearted, Christ-focused kind. We have the latter, praise God!
  • Youth. And not just the kids, but also the number of young adults, married and unmarried, with kids and without. We have a ton of people between 20 and 50. And on some Sundays we have as much as one-sixth of the church in the nursery! That's a good problem to have.

Blogs of Despair, Part 2

I like to "Next Blog." Just hit the little button up in the corner and off you go to a randomly selected locale in the blogosphere. Mixed in with the normal blogs are the "thinly-veiled suicide note blogs of despair." Today I found one with this site description:
A blog about the New York artworld, body modification, mythical beasts, getting high, and wanting to die.
Don't you want to come back every day for a big dose of that?!

But if you consider how many people feel this way, at one time or another, how long can you just sit back and keep your hope and joy in Christ a secret? Jay-Rod's initial response was, "Man, I'd like to meet that person [and help them]." If only we all responded that way.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

No, I'm Afraid It'll Hurt Him

This story was sent to me by email. It is from Moments Together for Couples by Dennis and Barbara Rainey.

Some boys were tempting a young lad to pull a prank with them. The three young men taunted the other lad: "Come on, do this with us. Nobody will find out."

Finally, the boy mentioned his father. So they taunted him further. They said, "Oh, you're just afraid because if your father finds out he might hurt you!" And the boy looked back at the others and said, "No, I'm afraid if he finds out, it'll hurt him."

The more you fear God--the more you spend time in His presence--the more you dread displeasing Him. His presence in our lives shouldn't be a heavy yoke around our necks. But we need to have a healthy dread of displeasing or hurting or disappointing Him.

If you could stand before God today in His throne room and watch a video of your life with Him, would there be a smile on His face? Would He be nodding His head in approval, saying, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant?" Would you like to have the confidence right now that God is smiling? You beginning to respect Him, to practice the presence of God daily and to make your choices on the basis of what pleases Him.

At any point of time during the day, I would like to be ready to be ushered into the presence of God and see a smile of approval on His face. (…)

The fear of the Lord, then, should be a powerful, motivating factor in our lives. We shouldn't be legalistic about it-viewing God with a giant flyswatter in the sky, ready to crush us when we displease Him.

Wife's Birthday

How domesticated are we? Shannon's birthday is Friday (the big 2-8!) and all she wants is a new vacuum.

We've had a run of bad luck with vacuums lately. It seems that three little boys and a cat manage to generate a fair amount of filth around the house and my wife is on full-time dirt patrol. So the average vacuum can't keep up with the daily usage Shannon demands.

I'm looking at a Dyson DC 07 vacuum, the cool yellow one (yellow vacuums work better, don't you know).

I'll probably not pull the trigger for another 36-48 hours, so let me know if I'm making a mistake. And don't worry, Shannon's not reading my blog currently (that's a whole other issue).