Monthly Archives: November 2007

Parental lessons

I learned a couple of things this weekend as a parent.  One of those was the depth of emotion that you can feel simply because one of your children is hurting.  We finally lost the last goldfish in our house.  A nearly six year run came to an end Sunday morning when my wife found Dorothy floating motionless in the tank.  Jonathan had been very upset by hear near death experience a couple of months ago, so we weren’t looking forward to breaking the news that she had really passed.  He took it quite well overall, but watching him cry over the goldfish that I never particularly wanted to have in the first place, brought more emotion to me than I had expected.  The second lesson from the weekend comes as a corollary to the first.  It is amazing the things we will do as parents for our kids that we would not do for ourselves.  I was reminded of the trouble I went through during our most recent move to make sure that this fish got into the hotel room so it didn’t freeze overnight in the van.  And here I was Sunday afternoon, in the store here in town looking for a tin box big enough to put this fish in (there was no way this fish would flush) and then trying to find a shovel to dig the hole.  I had to ask the store clerk and then wait while they got a shovel out of the back, where they had packed them for the winter.  Then, when I took that shovel to the backyard, I quickly found out why the shovels weren’t on the shelf.  The ground was so hard (frozen) that I spent a half hour to get a hole about an inch deep.  Definitely not big enough or deep enough for this box.  So we convinced our son to place the fish in our backyard shed to await burial in the spring.  I later had a brainstorm that resulted in pouring hot water into the starter hole to soften the ground, which actually worked, and we were able to bury the fish after all.  What does this have to do with ministry?  Nothing really, except that when I think of what I am willing to do for my own kids, I think with awe on what our Heavenly Father is willing to do for us.

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What do we know really?

Recently, God has placed some questions in my path to give me a fresh challenge and perspective to my beliefs and faith.  Some of the questions and issues are ones that I have faced and considered before, but some are new to me.  The chief thing that I have gained from this internal debate is the realization once again that God is much bigger than we can comprehend.  I know it sounds like a duh statement on its face, but there are so many things that we can not and will not know for certain here on earth.  The good news is that God has given us His Word and revealed the things that we really need to know to us.  There is an overwhelming desire amongst humanity to complicate the simple.  What we need to learn to do is appreciate the simple things that God has given us and work our way forward from there.  

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How we do church

I ran into a fascinating article a couple of weeks ago about Willow Creek and their admission that the old way that they measured success in church had been inaccurate.  What they found was that having lots of programming to attract lots of people didn’t necessarily equate to those people being growing, maturing Christians.  In the article, Bill Hybels is quoted as saying the following:

We made a mistake. What we should have done when people crossed the line of faith and become Christians, we should have started telling people and teaching people that they have to take responsibility to become ‘self feeders.’ We should have gotten people, taught people, how to read their bible between service, how to do the spiritual practices much more aggressively on their own.

This got me to thinking about my own ministry here.  God has moved me into a small church in a small town.  Recently I was reading a book by Francis Schaeffer called No Little People in which he reminds us all that with God there are no little people and no little places.  When I saw this article about Willow Creek I thought about the times in my life that had resulted in the greatest growth in my relationship with Christ.  Two things stuck out.  One was the times that I was committed to these same spiritual practices.  Two was that those times were often highlighted by a mentoring or discipleship type of relationship with other believers.  The encouraging word here is that those can be done in any church, anywhere; even without a budget for it.  Pray for me as I ponder and work on implementation of these ideas in the life of our church.

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