Saturday, April 30, 2005

Pray for Friend Day

Pray for those who will be at Friend Day. The sermon is about how God chose us to be his friends (a lesson on Grace). I hope that we have many who have each been prepared by God to hear this message tomorrow.

God bless and see ya Sunday!

Friday, April 29, 2005

Friend Day 2005, part 2

Read part 1

Friend Day is this Sunday. We putting together some last minute gift bags for our guests and putting the finishing touches on the service.

This Sunday look for the following:
  • A special letter from Dan in Iraq.
  • A new member will join this Sunday.
  • Our largest worship team yet (ok, only by a little, but we'll fill the stage).
  • Hopefully our largest crowd ever. Our old record is 197. It would be cool to beat that!
Remember to "park far, sit close" to make room for all of our guests. We're asking those who can to come early, park at the end of the parking lot or in the grass, and sit toward the front to make room for others.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Joining the Church

I get asked a lot of questions about joining the church. We don't use any high-pressure tactics, which is good, but that does leave an "information gap" sometimes.

Q. Do I have to join the church?

A. At WCCC, we understand that if you are a "Christ-follower", then you are a member of Christ's Church. So technically, by being a Christian you belong to His Church, even if you were trapped on a deserted island for the rest of your life.

But an essential part of God's plan for your growth is getting plugged-in to a congregation of believers. God never meant for you to fly solo. The best way to grow and serve is to be a part of a church family.

Q. What does the process involve?

A. Assuming that you are already a Christian, not much. We don't have a lot of hoops for you to jump through and it's pretty informal. If you're not sure whether or not you're a Christian, ask to talk to us. It's what we do.

If you are an immersed believer, you're probably ready to join immediately, so we would like to sit down and talk to you. After that, we'll have you come up front during a service and we'll ask you to acknowledge Christ as your Savior publicly. That's about it.

Q. Why do I have to come up front?

A. The primary reason is that our Elders want an opportunity for the congregation to put a face with the name. Remember, church membership is about being connected to a church family, in fellowship and in service. We want to know who you are!

The Profession of Faith (the part where I ask you to acknowledge your faith in Christ publicly) may not be important for the reasons you'd assume. We are encouraged when someone professes their faith in church, but it is far more important that every believer is also professing their faith out in the world. Remember, we are God's ambassadors in the world, not his secret agents. So getting up in front of the congregation is good "practice" for the real world.

Q. Why do you want to talk to me first?

A. First, we are a church that encourages questions and has Biblical answers. People have such diverse church backgrounds and experiences that it's almost always helpful to sit down with the preacher and get on the same page.

Second, we want to help you get involved. If you're not certain what your gifts are, this is an opportunity to discover where you might fit in.

Third, we live in a broken world and many of us have broken pasts. If you have special needs, the church wants to help and we want to be your advocate as you start on the road to spiritual health.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Triple Double

We took the kids back to the doctor today. Turns out they each have ear infections (for a total of six infected little ears). Brennan, the oldest, seems to have the worst. The flu/cold/virus/bug/plague thing is the worst!

Monday, April 25, 2005

Happy Chiefs Fans?

You hear that? It's the sound of millions of Chiefs fans NOT crying foul.

After a draft that significantly improved the Chiefs' defense, most fans actually seem content for now. Maybe even hopeful!

Most fans define themselves by what they're complaining about. They whine about the players, second-guess the play calling, bluster about the management of the team; they pounce upon anything remotely negative. But right now there aren't many obvious faults to latch on to.

So the boo-birds are hibernating and the critics are on vacation… at least until mini-camps start next month.

How The Unchurched View Us

Thom Rainer has produced a good article from his research on people who do not go to church. Read it here.

In a nutshell, non-churchgoers assume that Christians are good people that would make good friends and don't understand why they won't share that with them. It's pretty eye-opening. This is the article I've referenced in my sermons this last month.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

NFL Draft

I was still sick Saturday so I curled up in my chair and watched the NFL Draft. Though it could be the fault of my illness, it was more than a little painful (the first three rounds took eleven hours). Here are some suggestions to make it a little better next time:

Make the first team just pick already!
The 49ers had something on the order of 160,000 minutes to make a decision about what they were going to do with the first pick of the Draft. Do they really need fifteen more to make their choice? The new rule: we will give you enough time to sign your card and walk it up the commissioner. It should be all you need.

Time Savings: Fifteen minutes.

Reduce the first round to 12 minutes. I firmly believe some teams are just sitting around wondering if someone is going to suddenly offer them a goldmine for their pick. Sorry guys, but 99.6% of the time it's just not going to happen. The trade you were offered three weeks ago is as good as it's going to get, so if you already know what you want just sign your little card and turn it in to the commissioner.

Time Savings: Up to hour and a half. And hours more can saved by shaving off minutes of the other rounds.

Lose Chris Berman. What happened to this guy? He practically invented sportscenter but now he's gone the way of John Madden, Ryan Seacrest, and last week's leftovers. Though they've lost their usefulness, no one has the heart to let them go. Berman apparently now subscribes to only two sources for his sports commentary: the Dennis Miller school of obscure references and the Howard Cosell Library of forty year old soundbytes.

Time Savings: Priceless!

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Preaching as an Art

Here's a post by Mike Cope that I completely agree with. He expresses well how I feel about sermons.
I USED TO THINK of preaching as science. Take the text into the lab, dissect it, and carve it into three points and an application. Above all, make points.

NOW I THINK of preaching more as art. The goal isn't to make points but to arrive at a point (destination). The message, like Christian discipleship itself, is a journey -- informed by the text, shaped by the text. Instead of seeing myself as the one who explains the Bible to everyone, I see myself as a leader in the journey who escorts people into the messy, marvelous, unbelievable, life-altering world of scripture.

Read More.
My biggest influences in narrative preaching were primarily Fred Craddock and Eugene Lowry. I heard Craddock's sermon "When the Roll is Called Down Here" several years ago in college and it immediately connected with me. After reading several books and taking snippets from my talented professors at Ozark, I've decided that even intellectual sermons connect by being overheard. When a sermon involves me in discovering a truth and I get to have an "aha" moment, then the truth becomes mine.

So my attitude each Sunday is that of a tour guide, leading others on a journey that I've just recently taken, recreating the emotions of figuring it out. I'm just trying to arrive at one point and make that point well. It's harder to preach this way and I'm not always very good at it, but it's more rewarding.

It's not abandoning structure. On the contrary, it's more structured than the traditional "three points and a poem" sermon. I think the "boring" preachers out there put their three points in random order or at least not in the best, most intuitive order. And what if an aspect of the faith has more than three nuances? Or less? I put a lot of thought into each "movement" and I'm definately trying to follow Lowry's homiletical plot, where the structure of the sermon takes the listener on an intellectual and emotional journey. People comment that it's more listenable and that they've never heard it "like that" before. I think they have.

It seems to me that Jesus preached this way. By telling stories. By leading his listeners through a thought process until they reached the proper conclusion themselves. Jesus rarely, if ever, gave lessons pre-packaged in predictable standardized units. Even Paul, who you may consider a little more left-brained, chased rabbits in the middle of heavy theological discourse. It was as if you had a transcript of a dinner-table discussion. More natural than artificial, designed for the listener rather than for the speaker.

It seems reasonable to follow that example.

Mr. Mom

Previously, if my wife leaves home for a few hours, it's just about all I can do to keep the children from starving, wandering off, or tearing the house apart. But no longer!

Now I've worked up the courage to venture out with all three boys. The older boys are getting more obedient and Elijah (the youngest) has reached his maternal emancipation. It seems that my boys will be consoled by no one else but Mom for the first several months. But about the time they start crawling, substitutes for Mom (Dad, Grandma, random strangers) become acceptable. Now that Eli is okay with me, we can go to Wal-Mart, or out to eat, or whatever.

As long we don't have any more children, that "Mom" chick is becoming purely superfluous.

The Spring Flu

I thought everybody got sick in the winter?

I also thought that if someone got sick in our house, it would be me.

But my young, healthy wife and healthy kids have been sick off and on for months now. Shannon went to Denver for a MOPS convention and came home sick… really sick.

I guess some people just don't take care of themselves like some of us do.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Bush Haters

There has been a tremendous amount of hatred for President Bush for quite awhile. But this last week there was even a tshirt and other memorabilia with the slogan "Kill Bush." How terrible is that?! Where would you where a shirt like that? Sick and wrong, just sick and wrong.

The website selling this junk took it down and put up an apology.

However, if Bush were to die, a blog article by "King, Ruler of New France" shows what would happen. Are these wackos sure they want Bush gone? Would that actually help them?

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Famous Last Words

The next few days should be interesting. My wife is heading to Denver for a few days and leaving the three boys with me. I would be in total panic mode right now, but my dad and my mother-in-law are going to help quite a bit and I'm still recruiting more help.

Nevertheless, this would have been impossible just a few months ago. My kids just don't want anybody but Mom until they start crawling. Once they become mobile, Dad and others become acceptable care-givers. Now that Elijah is almost walking, this weekend should be a breeze.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

We Forward Anything!

I got a good chuckle from this pic. I found it at (be sure to read the caption).


Who hasn't been fooled by an urban legend or scam of some sort? And who doesn't have a friend or relative who blindly passes these on to you by the truckload? Gotta love it.

The New Uncle Sam Wants You

Here's the newest version of an Uncle Sam recruiting poster. No more finger pointing but the point still gets made.

Thanks to BlackFive for the tip.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Update on 1st Sgt Kasal

Read about 1st Sgt Kasal in an earlier post.

Here a blog from someone who actually knows this brave Marine (who by the way could be up for a major medal for heroism).

Description of Injury

Post-Surgery Update

When Elders Count

There is mounting evidence of just how treasured our Elders are here at WCCC. One of our Elders spoke yesterday during a brief ceremony recognizing the babies born in 2004. In just a few minutes he gave some of the most profound, Biblical, fatherly advice and exhortations I've ever heard. It was just absolutely perfect. And it impressed the socks off of most of the congregation. He didn't have any coaching or a lectionary to follow, instead it came from the deep well of his own faith.

I think most people's experiences with Elders is both limited and somewhat negative. In many churches the Elders (or the Deacon Board, or the one CEO-like pastor, or whoever is really in control) come off pretty bad. They may be overbearing micro-managers, or perhaps they are old-guard stalwarts whose sole job is to apply the brakes to anyone showing enthusiasm. Some are just generic board members, or deacons with seniority, or they are just transplanted businessmen who are there to apply their business acumen to the church, not considering the spiritual part of the equation first.

There are probably a thousand ways to misunderstand what the role of an Elder should be. And apart from a healthy, functional family, there aren't very many examples for the church to follow. And imperfect people at church (like ministers) are often reluctant to give up control and prestige. But when the Eldership is working, it really works. And it feels right, like a family get-together where everyone feels loved.

These men are the fatherly shepherds of our congregation. They are respected for their deep and long walks with the Lord. Deacons and Sunday school teachers, preachers and little kids all heed their advice and guidance. We trust them. And they are humble, self-less, encouraging, and servant-hearted.

I was talking to an individual about yesterday and asked them, "But didn't you know this is the way it's supposed to be, the way the Bible describes Elders?" And they answered, "Well, yes, but I didn't think it was actually possible."

Saturday, April 09, 2005

200 Hits in 24 Hours

Hmmm, I think someone discovered their browser's refresh button. And they seem to have a lot of spare time.

Sick Again

It's amazing how often a bunch of little kids can get sick. One day they're fine, the next day it's the sick Olympics. We've seen synchronized puking, vomit tag (you don't want to get tagged, trust me), and even a diarrhea shell game ("ok, which one of you…"). You really know your kids are sick when they ask to go to bed! And just about the time you get all three healthy again, one of them will walk up and say, "Daddy, I don't feel so… glurgh!!"

In the midst of this I've decided a few things.

First, kids get sick. It's no one's fault and I can't blame the same source every time. They get sick from friends, church, school, Wal-Mart, the pets, outside, inside, things they eat, things they touch, germs from Mom and Dad, and, oh yeah, the air. It's no use to declare that any particular event or person is off limits, your kids will still get sick. And if they didn't, they would just get sick later as adults. It's part of being healthy later to be exposed to things now. I even read once that kisses and cuddling help babies build their immune system. It makes sense.

Second, the preceding paragraph means nothing to the average mom who is out for blood because the kid with the sniffles ten days ago at the gas station is the obvious source of her baby's sour stomach. Obviously.

Third, it'll be nice when it's over. And I mean completely over; no sickness, no disease, no death. I will be so glad when we are not subject to the curse anymore and the old order of things has passed away. We live in a fallen world of disease and corruption. Things wear down and break, including us, and entropy is increasing. What a joy it will be when God changes the very laws of physics and all of that will be no more.

Friday, April 08, 2005

500 Hits

My blog passed 500 hits today! That means it's been looked at 500 times. Cool!

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know that's like saying, "Look my book was checked out of the library… three whole times! And it was me only twice!" But I'm getting there.

My evaluation so far is as follows:
  1. I need more posts. Part of the reason for having a blog is to get myself to write more often. And the #1 way to make your blog more popular is to have a steady stream of fresh content.
  2. It's hard to keep on track and at the same time not get too narrowly focused. I feel like I could easily do a mil-blog on Iraq news. But that's not what I'm here for and others have already beat me to it. I could also just do church news, but again that is only one facet of a larger picture that I'm shooting for. I want to show why I'm so content with God and the life he's given me. I was just telling my wife that I could die young and have been robbed of nothing. God is good all the time. All the time God is good.
  3. This has already been a good place for my family to read my thoughts. What an excellent communication tool for someone who tends to keep to himself.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

The Key to Contentment

Sometimes the simplest things are the most profound.

In the Crown Financial video series we're studying in Sunday School, they said that the key to contentment is recognizing that God owns everything.

This wasn't new to me and it was so simple I nearly didn't hear it. But, duh.

Materialism, envy, jealousy, greed, and discontent all disappear when we recognize who really owns all the stuff around us. God gave us some things to manage and have stewardship over, but it's not really ours.

How easily we forget that.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Best Sunday School ever

We had a great Sunday School. Over 80% stayed for classes and we had the highest attendence, 110, that we can remember.

We also started a new study from Crown Financial Ministries.

Don't miss the opportunity to be a part of Sunday School. Whether you're a child or adult, it's the place to meet people and build relationships. You learn the Word of God. You get connected. Don't skip this essential part of your church experience!

Medal of Honor

President Bush presents the Medal of Honor today to the family of Sergeant 1st Class Paul Ray Smith, killed in Iraq exactly two years ago. This is the first MOH since 1993 (Somalia) and only the third since Vietnam (although according to Denzel Washington movies, both Meg Ryan and Liev Schreiber received the MOH during Desert Storm). SFC Smith receives the Medal of Honor posthumously, as did the two Delta Force commandoes in Somalia.

To my knowledge there are at least three other candidates for the medal, of which only one is still alive. All three were marines in Iraq. All three protected fellow marines from grenades.
  • Corporal Jason Dunham, covered a grenade with his helmet and died nine days later, saving the lives of his friends.
  • Sergeant Rafael Peralta was shot and wounded while fighting house to house in Fallujah but he was still able to cover an enemy grenade with his own body. He died to save several other Marines' lives.
  • First Sergeant Brad Kasal was also fighting in Fallujah when, lying wounded on the floor of a building full of terrorists, he shielded a fellow marine from a grenade with his own body. Kasal was also shot 7 times. He suffered some thirty to forty wounds, fought off his attackers for over half an hour by himself and saved the other Marine's life and still survived. Here's a picture of 1stSgt Kasal after he was wounded.

We're Healthy Now

Sorry the posts have been so infrequent the last week and a half. Between Easter, a few minor crises, and a nasty bug that got us all sick, I've been a little preoccupied. We had Shannon sick one day, Elijah vomiting in his car seat the next day, and Brennan and Tanner throwing up in their beds simultaneously the next night. Hmmm, good times, good times…

Well, back to work.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Friend Day 2005

Friend Day 2005 at WCCC will be May 1.

What is Friend Day, you ask? It is the day we invite our friends and family and neighbors to Sunday morning church. It will make for a huge crowd, a great excuse to get our loved ones to go to church, and possibly a life changing day for many.

During the month of April we will be promoting Friend Day by doing the following:
  • A letter from me to your friend will be included in the bulletin each week explaining what we're doing.
  • Attached to the letter is an "acceptance card" for your friend to sign and return. These cards will then be posted for everyone to see.
  • Each week in April we will preach a message concerning the value of church, the Great Commission, how to be saved, or how to do "relational evangelism."
Invite your friends now! May 1, 2005