Saturday, December 29, 2007

Better late than never!

I was going to wait until Monday to write this blog, but I decided I couldn't. Here is my first IL deer. I got it Thursday evening during a last minute quick hunt in cold drizzly weather. I got to my stand about 3:20 and he came by at about 4:30. At first he was only about five yards away, and when I drew my bow back he jumped and ran out to around 20 yards and stopped giving me a clear quartering away shot. He only went about 70 to 80 yards before dropping mid-stride about fifteen yards off the corn field. It's been a long hunting season trying to figure out how to hunt a new place and how to get close to deer who had hundreds of potential travel routes. I saw bigger bucks, but needless to say, I'm happy to get this one. With two weeks left, I'll still be chasing that big fat doe that I have a tag for. I've spent a lot of hours hunting over the last three months and they've all been good. It really is about enjoying the outdoors and the challenge of bowhunting. The success of the experience is not measured by arrows shot or deer harvested. Spending time in God's creation, enjoying the fellowship of good hunting buddies, and trying to outsmart one of His smartest critters is all part of the bigger picture. I'm thankful that I got to do them all. I'm especially thankful for some new friends in IL who graciously let Danny and me enjoy their beautiful property. Have I said it before? God is good!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Myth Church

It's been a busy week and I've been in and out of the office only when necessary. So, I haven't had much of a chance to share last weeks Myth. For many reasons it's my favorite Myth because it's - I think - the biggest challenge for the church right now. Myth Church is all about how what we do and think about church comes more from our culture and traditions than it does from the Word. It's time to get it back to what God intended. Be Real?
Myth Church
Introduction: (If you need the scriptures that go with this you've proven my point.)
A. Like the survivors in Spartacus, who showed their love and commitment for their leader by declaring "I am Spartacus!" and die with him - we need to say "I am church!" It IS WHAT WE ARE not the building, not the cathedral, the temple, shrines, organizations, institutions, religious bodies, or even denominations. Ekklesai is the "called out people!" It's the institutional church that is so negatively perceived in our culture now.
B. Our cultural training teaches us: You go to church to show that you are a good person. (and right people go to the right church - right?) Our culture built the church we know not the Restoration Movement. And now our culture is rejecting it!
C. It's time to Be Real rather than Be Church. Some cultural myths:
1. Church is a place. God says church is people!
A. Acts 2:42-47 early church was people helping people grow.
B. Like the difference in a house vs. a home - which do we have?
2. Church defines our faith! God defines our faith!
A. You're not faithful unless church says you are? Why?
B. We believe biblical knowledge must come from church. Why? Haven't we diminished personal study with that thinking? Same for worship, giving, witnessing, and our walk with God. ?That's why little happens outside of assembled church!
3. Church is about religion! God says it's about relationships!
A. First & always with Him, Son, and Holy Spirit.
B. With His people - love one another & learn to love Him!
C. Fear of error has become more important than love! Why?
4. Church is a Temple. God says it's a tool!
A. Church is not an option! What you are! How you grow!
B. But it's building love! Love is essential not traditional church!
C. Family of God? Body of Christ? Goal is relationship with Him and the church together is the support system. Others support us, we grow by supporting others!
D. The definition of faithfulness is love (Gal.5:4)
E. 1 Cor.13:1-3 love over extreme acts of church!
Conclusion: We have "churchitosis"! Like halitosis - stinking! Only cure is mouthwash! Our wash is "The Living Water" Jesus.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas 2007

There were actually other people at the dinner table when I took this picture, but it looks like Donna sat down to a huge dinner of crown pork roast and all the fixings by herself. She did her usual awesome job and we did our usual awesome job of eating too much. Mmmm!
After dinner and before the gifts, we had the traditional family pictures. Here are all the grand children. Ashlyn, Caleb, Curtis, Joshua, and Carter. Only Curtis wasn't very excited about the whole deal!

And then - the handing out of all the gifts. There really was carpet under all that! The kids handed them out, but Nana had to help them read the tags and tell them who to take them to. It actually took awhile.

Here is Curtis and one of his gifts from Uncle Jonathan and Aunt Holly. I think he's saying, "We missed you!" Another wonderful year and another reason to praise God for His ultimate gift of Jesus.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Top Ten Disney Observations

One morning last week, while we were at Disney World, I woke up at 5:30 and found myself sitting in the foyer of our resort drinking coffee and writing in my journal. I worked on a sermon some and did a little work on our Be Real adult Bible classes that start in January, and then I jotted down a few observations about Disney World. I hesitate to call them Top Ten anything, but I like consistency, so I'm just calling them my Top Ten Observations about Disney World (that day).
1. I love their incredible attention to detail. They are masters of the BIG, but what gives them class is all the little touches that they put into everything.
2. Every employee - they call cast members - is happy, positive, personable, helpful, and attentive. Impressive.
3. Everything is clean, neat, and in it's place - heaven for us borderline OCD-types.
4. It's a wonderful place for an adult vacation, even though it's usually thought of as being for kids. If you're an empty nester - try it!
5. It's a very physical vacation. It takes a lot of walking to see everything and do it all. I did see lots of wheelchairs and motorized chairs. If you can't do a lot of walking, you must have something like that.
6. It's not a place for people or families who are stressed, impatient, or who have children we politely call "strong willed". The crowds, the wear & tear, and the waiting are hard on the competitive, the confrontational, and the non-compliant - regardless of their age. But it's really not a place for small children who'd just as soon ride the children's train at your mall.
7. It's top rate, first class entertainment. Every show is big, beautiful and Broadway quality. (i.e. The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, Finding Nemo, and the Lights, Camera, Action Car/Stunt Show is unbelievable - yes, even the High School Musical show at MGM was fun)
8. The Expedition Everest ride is incredible. A guy died of heart attack on it the day after we left. Been there - done that - never again! And the new "Soaring" ride is worth the price of the whole trip and the long wait!
9. The organization and coordination of transportation from airport to resort to whatever park and back is impressive - not to mention convenient.
10. For us, we know its a great place because of all the times we found ourselves saying, "Wouldn't the kids and grand kids love this!" So yes, it's a great adult vacation, but even better when you can share it with loved ones. This time it was special friends. Next time - who knows - maybe the whole family!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Myth No-Truth

I recorded this lesson last Tuesday, before we left on Wednesday, so it could be presented on Sunday and we wouldn't mess up the schedule of "Myths" as we've advertised them. I still had almost no voice, because of the botox shot Nov.30th, but I didn't want to not deal with the topic when I said I would. Last weekend, while we were at DW, St. Louis got 7-9 inches of snow, so they only had about half the congregation here Sunday morning. Anyway, for those who have been trying to keep up with my lessons on the Myth America Contest, here are the main points of what I shared about Myth No-Truth.
Introduction: There's not enough room here to tell my joke I used, but I made the point that it's really hard to know the truth about others. It's hard to know the truth about yourself sometimes. I believe this is one of the reasons so many people believe that truth is relative, situational, in flux, or always changing - because people are always changing. People are un-true, therefore life is un-true. They reject absolutes and values. People know better, but they are trying to escape responsibility or guilt. "The fool has said in his heart there is no God." Three thoughts about why the world view is wrong.
1. Truth is situational! Wrong! The world is confusing absolutes with application! Because people differ about the application of a truth, doesn't mean the truth itself is wrong or relative.
A. That's why Paul warned us to "handle the word of truth" correctly.
B. Mk.10:42-45 Jesus taught on servant leadership, but in the very next chapter (11:12-18) He made a whip and cleared out the Temple. Is that a conflict of truth or and application of truth?
C. Eph.4:15 "speaking the truth in love" is very difficult. Requires different applications.
2. Truth is "in the eye of the beholder." Wrong! Truth is in the One we behold!
A. Rom.3:4 "Let God be true and every man a liar."
B. Truth is the gospel - the gospel is God's Word & will! Jn.17:17 Sanctifies; 8:32 sets free; 14:6 in Jesus; Phil.4:8 fills our minds.
C. Man conveniently changes the truth to fit himself. See Rom.1:18-25
D. A country w/o values has problems! It's hard to have values w/o recognizing the giver of values.
3. Truth is elusive - unknowable! Wrong! Truth is knowable - it's just uncomfortable and convicting!
A. Col.3:16 Read it - what's hard to know? Hard to do - is the problem!
B. Gal.1:6-10 Another gospel? Really? No, just pleasing men!
C. Gal.2:20, Know, sing, memorize - but real?
Conclusion: Here's the truth! God made you, loves you, wants a relationship with you. He made a way for the unholy to unite with the Holy - because of Jesus' sacrifice! If we seek Him, serve Him, and sense Him - we will BE REAL in our spiritual walk.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Back From Florida

We arrived back from our five day Disney adventure yesterday afternoon. I was worn out - Donna wanted another five days. What can I say! It's her favorite place, so I think I hit a home run by giving her this trip for our thirty-fifth anniversary. I had originally intended for it to be a last minute surprise, but with the children's musical, a new grand-baby due, and a dozen other things all merging at around the same time, I decided to spring it on her for her birthday back in October (see blog from then). I didn't mind doing that because the best part of the surprise was hearing her scream when we walked off the plane in Orlando and we were met by Don & Kathy Rose, two of our best friends and travel buddies from TN. Donna was so surprised that she thought for a second that we'd landed in Nashville. But - there was more to come!
I put this in here mostly so you could see the new Expedition Everest in the background. We'd just ridden it minutes earlier - I'm not really that white! I'm glad I did it, but don't be looking for a repeat. These pics are just a small sample of what we have. I took about 80 pictures and Donna has about 400 on here camera. Even after cutting out the bad and the blurry, it's still a mess of pictures.

(Everyone but Eric and Diana Crawford, who were there but not with us when this was taken.)
On Thursday evening we rushed to a dinner reservation in the Mexico pavilion. As Donna turned the corner in the restaurant, she found a table with 14 more good friends waiting for her. To say she was surprised is an understatement. These are all wonderful friends who we were in a small group with for about six and a half years in TN. We love them all dearly. We've shared a lot together and done the very things God put His church here to do - love another. When I asked them to consider this - back in January - they all jumped at the opportunity for us all to be together. Thanks guys. I can't say how much it meant to both of us - Donna especially, but I got to enjoy the love and commitment for 11 months. Thanks for helping to make it an unforgettable anniversary. Isn't God wonderful?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Myth Death

According to Weather.Com, it's 83 in Orlando today and it's supposed to be 81 tomorrow when we arrive for our 35th anniversary trip. Oh, it's going to be tough to enjoy that with so much ice and cold here in St. Louis - but we'll try to have a good time in spite of that. Needless to say, you won't be seeing a blog here until we return next week. So before we head south, I wanted to share my outline from last Sunday's Myth America Contest series. It wasn't a fun subject, but a very important one. Hope some of the thoughts bless you in some way.

Myth Death
Introduction: I asked everyone to hold there purse or wallet and imagine someone else handing it to their "next of kin" because you're dead and don't need it anymore. Here are three introductory truths I shared. 1) The single biggest indicator of lack of faith is the denial of the fact that we are going to die. Because we don't live like we believe it. 2) The foundation of faith is the belief that there is more to us than this physical life! There is nothing more real than death and nothing more important than our soul. 3) Everyone who has every lived has died! Bible characters, historical people, and famous people. All just like us! Some cultural myths about death vs. God's Truth!
1. It's predetermined vs. it's undetermined. World says it's fate, luck, or "numbers up" - almost predestination. The physical elements of life are choice, the fact we're mortal (dying), accidental and intentional death. We add to that the spiritual elements = God's will, which includes the natural (He created) and the providential (He intervenes).
2. Avoidable vs. Unavoidable - Heb.9:27 says is unavoidable!
3. Fear vs. Fearless - God/Love takes away the fear 1 Jn.4:16-18
4. The End vs. The Beginning - 1 Thess.4:13-18 even early Christians had a hard time with that.
5. Ultimate Loss vs. Ultimate Win! World says to die is to lose, God says it's to gain (Phil.1:21) and a victory (1 Cor.15:51-57) At death we receive every spiritual blessing the physical can't have - and we call it losing?
Conclusion: Be Real - nothing reveals how genuine our walk with Jesus is like how we feel about death. We're going to Disney World! I starting planning and preparing back in January. If you want to go, that's what you have to do - start taking the steps! Want heaven? Start taking the steps that get you there. Start seeking God!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Da Play! Da Play!

This is the best cast picture I could get. There was a swarm of parents and grandparents squeezing into the narrow aisle to get the same picture. The kids were awesome and the play was truly cute! I was extremely proud of them and of Donna for deciding to do it, plan it, work so hard at it, and pull it off beautifully. I think she has started a new Florissant tradition of having a Children's Christmas Musical every year.

Watching these little pre-schoolers get up there and perform was very touching. Of course, some were more hams than others, but all were sweet.

At the risk of sounding non-PC, it sure seems that little girls are a lot more comfortable on stage than little boys. I don't even want to speculate why.

Here is the amazing Children's minister and director of the play talking to the audience at the end. They are all "hearing unimpaired" but that doesn't keep Donna from talking with her hands. Have I said how awesome she is?

This is our "Mini-Supremes" doing a number in the play. I could hear the buttons popping off parents and grandparents all over the auditorium.
Congratulations to all the kids and adult helpers who worked hard to make it a great experience for the performers and the audience. As wonderful as it was, I know Donna is glad to have it behind her. Now she can focus on our thirty-fifth anniversary trip to Disney World this Wednesday.
We had a wonderful but quick trip down to Nashville to see all the family. I was great to see Jonathan and Holly, even if it was just a couple days. Click on Deborah's name on the side-bar and see our new family pictures on her blog. I don't have them transferred over to my computer yet. We just had them taken last Thursday. Thank you Father for letting us be together for a while.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Myth Goodness

It's hard to believe that my last post was my 15oth blog posting. That could have been another book if I'd planned it better. I also can't believe that my last blog was already last Friday! Wow - were does the time go. I was hoping, after spending all day out hunting, and mostly freezing, on Monday, that I'd have a story and picture to share, but - well, there's always a story - mostly only other hunters would appreciate - but there's no venison for the freezer yet, and that is the ultimate goal. Anyway - this is a busy and hectic week. We are running down to Nashville for a quick two day trip to see family, so a lot of stuff HAS to get finished today (i.e. sermons, classes, bulletin outlines & articles, etc.). We plan to leave TN early Saturday and return to Florissant by lunch-time because Donna has her Children's Musical rehearsal that afternoon and I'm hoping to get in a short afternoon hunt (the season is rapidly coming to an end). Obviously, there won't be any additional blogs this week, so save a click until next week. Just in case you're wondering, I do try to blog about three times a week, but it's hard at times to do that - like this week. So with that explanation and longer-than-necessary-introduction, here's some of my notes from last Sunday's Myth American Contest Series.
Myth Goodness
Introduction: I used the final scene from "Saving Private Ryan" where 50 years after the war, Ryan is in France at the grave of Capt. John Miller, one of several men who died to try and get him home to his mother. Miller's dying words were"Earn this" and now Ryan asks his wife if he has. She tells him he's a good man. So just what is a good person? In Romans 5:7-8, Jesus died for us because we were "no good" to make us good. The world's definition of good is not God's. We talk about people being "basically good" or "mostly good" but good is good - not basically, partly, almost, or sometimes. God's creation was good - not basically good. God is good - not sometimes good, but all the time good - period!
The problem is that there are multiple definitions and uses for good. I shared all thirteen dictionary definitions of good and they don't even include slang. And "goodness is the state or quality of being good" - so what in the world is it? Which definition are you using.
1. In the world, goodness is a relative term.
A. Like labels - it all depends on the starting point! Are you a good person? Church people are always good people -right? Good compared to crooks & perverts? Compared to other Christians? What about compared to Jesus?
B. We have a vision problem? 2 Cor.4:4 blinded by the god of this world.
C. We have a sin problem? Eph.5:1-10 lost our focus on Jesus
2. In the Lord, goodness is an absolute term!
A. Only One is good (i.e. Best) Matthew 19:16-26
B. Our job is to choose good (i.e. the better) Luke 10:38-42
C. Only then can we be called "good" by God. Matt.25:14-30
Conclusion: Real goodness is being real about seeking Jesus! Staying close to the One who is good! Sign at convenience store at Halloween "Remove your mask before you enter!" Need to know if it's a real costume or a robber! Are we real seekers or robbers stealing the appearance of goodness?