Aug 31, 2009

Monday Morning Clarity

Well I missed last week's Monday morning update. Lots going on and not much time to get clarity last week. All in all, it's been a good first month on the field here in Alexander City. Lots of stuff has happened rather quickly. We did a lot of work to prepare our house in Alabaster to sell and then got out as soon as it was done. We moved into a temporary lodging provided by one of my church members. (Thanks Tina and Dewayne) We enrolled the kids in new schools, met teachers, learned the drop-off lines, etc. We've also learned the Sunday morning routine here at the church. Here are some random thoughts now as we enter into September.
  • Great day of worship yesterday. The band and worship team sounded as good as they ever have in my first month here. There was a real sense of expectation among everyone yesterday.
  • I'm enjoying preaching through this series on the Kingdom of God. Yesterday we tackled the Parable of the Weeds in Matthew 13 focusing on the truth statement "Eternity is too long to serve the wrong kingdom." Felt like it was the best sermon in the series so far for me.
  • This weekend we are looking at the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant in Matthew 18. Gonna learn a lot about being grace receivers and grace givers.
  • The worship center was very full yesterday again. It looks like we can comfortably sit 250 people in there and then it's full. We are already at 80% capacity so we need to start figuring out the next step. It was suggested to me last night that we need to start looking at 2 worship services.
  • I also heard that several guys from the CACC Baseball Team showed up yesterday at 10:50 only to find out that worship was almost over so they left. That breaks my heart. We need to do a better job of communicating publicly as a church who we are and inviting people to come.
  • I looked out over the crowd yesterday and I saw a great group of church members excited about their church. However, I didn't sense many visitors or unchurched. We may have become too complacent at doing church instead of being the church. We need to capture desperate prayer for the lost and unchurched around us.
  • I have begun a routine that has left little time for personal prayer on my part. I must be leading out to make this a "House of Prayer" so I need to make some adjustments in the calendar.
  • We had a great meeting with some of the parents yesterday about our children's ministry. We are bringing back the AWANA program to Sixth Street starting October 21 on Wednesday nights. We will need a lot of parents to support and volunteer to put on a first-class program for our kids. We have an awesome responsibility to train our children and a children-friendly church is a family-friendly church.
  • We were led musically last night by a three-man group of students from Troy University named "Transistor". Great group of guys that blessed my heart and showed me that God is still doing something amazing in the generation of 20-somethings right now.
That's about all for now! Lots of stuff to consider, but I must get back to business (and prayer).

Aug 26, 2009

Swine Flu Hysteria

Someone sent this to me today and I thought it was classic.
This is what happens when Swine Flu hysteria goes too far.

On a serious note, the swine flu seems to be spreading rapidly. Protect yourself, keep your hands washed, and pray that this epidemic doesn't get too serious.

Aug 22, 2009

Review of Rick and Bubba's Guide to the Almost Nearly Perfect Marriage

My latest book review from Thomas Nelson was a favorite and one I felt lucky to receive. Rick and Bubba’s Guide to the Almost Nearly Perfect Marriage is a great read for any and all married couples. I have been a member of the Rick and Bubba Army for over a decade now. These guys are the real deal. I have had the privilege of personally talking to them several times and these guys are great entertainers who are also passionate about their faith in Jesus Christ.

In this book, Rick and Bubba move from their opinions about life, hunting, and politics to the subject of marriage. They do a good job of bringing in the good and bad of their unions with the lovely Sherry Burgess and Betty Lou Bussey. The bad is always done so with a great deal of comedic timing. Most R&B fans will remember some of the stories they share in this book from earlier radio spots.

In this book, Rick and Bubba tackle the issues of fighting effectively, how to make sure you have the right mate, why married couples have it better than singles, how to deal with your spouse’s annoying habits, and why husbands get blamed for everything. They even give guys the long-awaited “Book of Blame” helping you know why you get blamed for not getting the perfect Christmas gift, making everyone late, how you got everyone lost even when she had the map, and how you ruined supper when you were never in the kitchen.

This book is a great read for you and your spouse. Like most of their other books, it comes with a CD in the back with some of the best bits on marriage from the show. If you are a fan, you need this book. If you’ve not been a part of the army, get this book and get on the wagon.

Aug 19, 2009

Most Memorable Sports Moment #2

Mississippi State Upsets #1 Alabama

As most of you know, I am an avid fan of all things Mississippi State. As you also know, MSU hasn't had a lot of historic moments in football. Until Jackie Sherrill came to MSU, there had been few winning seasons and great moments since the days of Allyn McKeen and Darryl Royal. One of those historic seasons though was 1980. That year, Mississippi State combined the power "wishbone" offense with the "Bulldog Blitz" and had a season to remember. The highlight of the season was the game against #1 Alabama and legendary coach Bear Bryant on November 1, 1980 in Jackson, MS.

Before the 1980 game, MSU had not beaten Alabama in 36 years. 36! True Bulldog fans know that we consider Alabama as big or bigger a rival that Ole Miss. At the time, I was 12 years old and had just begun to understand the game of football. In addition, most games were not broadcast on TV because we only had about 13 channels at the time. All MSU games were on the radio and not much fun for a 12-year old. On this day, my dad was listening to the game on the radio that Saturday and working around the house. I was outside in the yard and not paying much attention. However, at the end of the game, my dad came running out the house whoopin' and hollerin' (those are Mississippi terms for excitement) like fat man at a buffet. We had a guy living with us at the time who drove a big van whose horn played "Dixie" and my dad commenced to driving down the road playing the horn and ringing his cowbell. It was the biggest upset in MSU football history and is still so to this day.

MSU was led offensively by John Bond, still one of the most beloved quarterbacks. It had a stout defense that inspired a local song called the "Bulldog Blitz". The game was extremely memorable because Alabama had a chance to score late in the game when MSU forced a fumble. Bama was ranked #1 at the time and was the defending national champs. MSU had spent years mired in mediocrity. This helped propel MSU to a 9-3 record and a game in the Sun Bowl. MSU played better, but still not great for the next few years until Jackie Sherrill came and restored a winning attitude.

I have posted a clip I found on youtube of the last few minutes of the game for you to enjoy. Excuse me while a grab my cowbell.

Aug 18, 2009

Monday Morning Clarity (one day late)

Alright, I intend each week to start off the blog with observations about the past week in ministry and the gathering of the saints on Sunday. However, the tyranny of the urgent, the opportunities of the day, and the tendency to have a brain drain (especially after preaching twice on Sunday) all join together to keep me from writing. Nevertheless, here are my observations about ministry and pastoring this past week.
  • The great momentum here at Sixth Street continues. I meet new people each Sunday morning that are returning. There is a real sense of hope and purpose here. There is a real pioneering spirit among the remnant here that wants to see great things happen.
  • My prayer for each and every one of us in the church is that we continue to see that the church does not exist for me, but I exist for the church. I want to develop in them a missional lifestyle that helps them to see themselves as missionaries living among one of the largest unreached people group on the planet.
  • I hope that we can dumb-down religion and elevate our dynamic, powerful relationship with Jesus Christ so that we don't substitute religious activity for relational affection.
  • I am loving the studying and preaching on the kingdom of God for Sunday mornings. I believe as we elevate the kingdom, we gain purpose and meaning in life.
  • I have had some great "after church" conversations that make pastoring exactly what its meant to be. God is breaking down our walls so that we can be empowered to serve Him and reach others.
  • I have to spend a lot of time in the next few weeks on several priorities: 1.) Define who we are as a church (vision, core values) and create a strategy to make disciples (mission, strategy) so that what we do makes sense and is not just what we do. 2.) I have to fight the tendency to create programs and instead facilitate ministry. 3.) We have to become much more family friendly in our programming and make great programming that reaches children. 4.) Create systems that help people feel welcomed and help them get where they need to go. We are not very visitor friendly in our structure right now. We have great people at the door to greet them, we just don't know what to do next.
  • I am pumped about working with our men in developing a life-changing men's ministry. I mentioned this Sunday having a BBQ in a couple of weeks and we already have a location along with cooking a whole hog! Nothing more powerful than men who love Jesus sharing experiences and burnt pig flesh. I believe that Sixth Street will experience powerful spiritual renewal in the next year because of the men in our church.
This Sunday's message will be a good one. We'll be looking at the kingdom parable of the sower and the soils. Looking forward to it. See you Sunday!

Aug 17, 2009

Old Skool Memories

Just saw this on a friend's blog and laughed so hard. Brings back lots of memories. Enjoy.

Aug 10, 2009

Monday Morning Clarity

Being new of the field and first time as senior pastor, I want to take advantage of my blog to do more communicating my thoughts and observations as pastor and use this blog as a tool to communicate with my church. (Although, most of my church doesn't know yet I have a blog.) With that in mind, here is a mind-dump of my thoughts about the weekend.

  • I am loving being called "pastor". It's a new role for me, but an exciting one. I love that people look at me as their spiritual leader. I also recognize I am still in the "honeymoon" phase.
  • The people at Sixth Street at a very loving and exciting group. I know as we begin to reach people on Sunday mornings that our ushers and front-door people will do a great job of welcoming.
  • We need to do a better job of making room. At the start of the service, most of the back rows were full and people were coming in looking for room. Got to get a "First Impressions" team going and trained to help make room. I think there is an expectation from some that we may have to go to 2 services sometime next year. Don't know what kind of schedule change that will prompt, but we will need to do something to make room.
  • I had a wonderful surprise visit yesterday from some dear friends in Alabaster. I looked out the window at my office to see 4 motorcycles driving across the parking lot. A great reunion with Scotty Vines, Doug Archer, Susie Mattis, and some of the guys from the Westwood Motorcycle Riders ABS class.
  • We have some immediate programming challenges with children on Sunday and Wednesday nights that need to be solved soon. Praying for wisdom as we evaluate and create a programming schedule that is friendly to families.
  • Started a new series on the importance of the Kingdom of God for the believers. It's called "Kingdoms Collide: Finding Spiritual Sanity in an Insane World". Seems to have started good. Coming soon, we'll look at the kingdom and our possessions. We'll also look at the parables that Jesus taught about the kingdom and what he was trying to teach us.
  • Got to get some balance to the schedule quick so I can do a good job in sermon prep and planning and also get to visit some members. Give me balance Lord!

That's a quick dumping of my thoughts and observations from my second week as pastor. I consider it an honor to serve the Lord Jesus as pastor in advancing the cause of Christ in Alexander City. I pray that God will unite us as a missional force in the community and around the globe.

Aug 2, 2009

Most Memorable Sports Moment #3

Reverse the Curse - Red Sox Win World Series

No doubt - one of the greatest moments of my sports fanhood was October 27, 2004. On that day, the Boston Red Sox ended 86 years of frustration and failure. It was the culmination of a great season in which they dominated the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series.

Some have asked me how I became a Red Sox fan. Admittedly, I am not from Boston, I have not followed them all my life, and as excited as I was to see them win, I had nothing on the long-suffering Bostonites who lived and died with this team their whole lives. I grew up in central Mississippi. We loved baseball where I am from - especially MS State Baseball. However, there is no central team close by to which we give our allegiances. The closest team would probably be the Atlanta Braves. However, I grew up just prior to the TBS expansion that would put the Braves in each household in the South as the only baseball choice. Plus, honestly in the 70's, the Braves were horrible.

When I was entering my love for baseball, the dominant team was the Cincinnati Reds. I loved the Big Red Machine of Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, Dave Concepcion, George Foster, and Ken Griffey Sr. They were my first love. I also liked the Detroit Tigers since half of my family is from the Michigan area. However, one thing was consistent is that I have always HATED the New York Yankees. I have never liked them at all, never wished for them to win a game. I deeply respect the historical contributions of the Babe, Gherig, Dimaggio, and Mantle. I love the way that Jeter and Mariano Rivera approach the game. I just hate the Yankees. I could list 100 reasons I hate the Yankees, but that would be the subject of another blog. I will summarize it with a couple: 1. They are the best team money can buy, year after year. They have consistently weakened competetive balance by outspending everyone simply because they have the resources to. I don't think it's wrong. They are perfectly right to do so, I just despise it. 2. Every Yankee fan I know is totally obnoxious because they have been so successful. Success breeds arrogance and Yankees fans are by far the most arrogant.

By the time of the late 90's, I was a man without a team. The Yankees stated another area of dominance in the late 90's and I searched for a team that could take them down. Enter, The Boston Red Sox. I knew of some great players like Mo Vaughn, John Valentin, and Wade Boggs played for them. I became intrigued when they signed Pedro Martinez who became the most dominant pitcher of his time. So I began to keep up with box scores and standings. In 2003, I felt the agony of a Red Sox fan when Aaron Boone homered off Wakefield. I followed each and every game in 2004. The comeback in the ALCS (which we'll discuss later) was an epic moment for me.

So when the Red Sox started the World Series in Boston, I had the feeling it was inevitable that they would win but also knew that feeling had been there before. In game 1, the Sox slugged the ball all over the park. By game 4 when Folke came in, my brother and I were on the phone giggling like 3rd grade school girls. It was awesome! (even for a hick from MS)