Pastors Meeting, Complete With Steak

Today I went to a meeting of Mennonite pastors at Sandy Hill Community Church in Coatesville, Pennsylvania.  Normally I don’t make these lunch meetings because they’re three hours away, but I found out about this one several weeks ahead of time so I made it a priority on the calendar.

It was good to see the other pastors, most of whom I hadn’t seen for quite a while.  We had a good time of prayer, discussion, and sharing.  The Sandy Hill pastors, Dale and Dave, set the bar very high for future hosts: they served us steak for lunch!  I’ve never been to a pastors lunch meeting with filet mignon; Chick-Fil-A, perhaps, but never filet mignon.  Quite impressive.  The macaroni & cheese and baked beans were also very good.  And they had the coffee freshly brewed and waiting for us when we arrived, which was especially nice after a long drive.

Eastern Pennsylvania is such beautiful country!  Even though it’s a bit far to go there frequently, it’s great having plenty of excuses to indulge in the opportunity.

Published in: on September 18, 2008 at 4:56 pm  Comments (4)  

Dates

Isn’t it weird how some dates stick in your head?  September 18 is one of those days for me.  It was 18 years ago today that I lost my first grandparent.  My mom’s dad was Herman Robbins, though we called him “Pa-Pa” (pronounced “Paw-Paw”–it was Texas, what do you expect?).  It’s strange to think that was 18 years ago, and I was only 15 at the time.  He’s been gone longer than I’d been alive when he died.

Seems like nearly every other day is a reminder of something or someone: a birthday, a wedding anniversary, the anniversary of a death, a holiday, the date of a national disaster, or some other significant event.  I guess that’s one good thing about our calendar system–it helps us to remember those who have gone before us.

Published in: on September 18, 2008 at 5:49 am  Leave a Comment  

The Sympathy Card Dilemma

Have you ever noticed how difficult it can be to buy a sympathy card?  As it is, I’m already rather particular about the cards I give to people.  There are just so many cards out there that are horrible.  I didn’t realize how bad they could get until I tried to find a decent sympathy card for two different guys whose fathers recently passed away.

One discovery I made quickly: Apparently, men were never intended to give each other sympathy cards.  Every single card in the “Sympathy” section had pastel flowers on the front of it and really bad poetry inside.

The flowery stuff was enough to disqualify every card from consideration for one man to give to another.  But what disqualified them all from giving even to a woman was the poetry.  Have you ever read this stuff?  Every card had something like this inside: “The pain of a migraine, getting hit by a brick/ Losing a loved one, or getting stabbed with an icepick/ Words can’t express/ So I thought it best/ To write you this stupid limerick.”  Okay, so maybe they weren’t quite that bad, but pretty close.  I can’t imagine actually giving those things to someone.  It seems like it would make it worse.

Anyway, the next time you need a sympathy card, I found that a simple solution is a blank card where you can write a comforting Bible verse, a personal note… and if you can’t resist, your own bad poetry.

Published in: on September 17, 2008 at 5:25 am  Comments (5)  

Elders: More Than Just Old Guys

Last week the elders and I met for the first time in the new church year.  All four of us were there and it was great to get things moving again.  We’ve certainly got our work cut out for us!

One of the things I’d like to see the elders accomplish these next few months is the completion of some important projects, especially regarding important church documents and membership.  We’re also going to carefully study two books together.  From now through December we’re studying Next Generation Leader by Andy Stanley.  This is one of the best books on leadership I’ve ever read.  It’ll be great to read it and discuss it with the elders at CrossWay!

Last year was the first time I’ve led a group of elders, so it was very new.  I bombarded them with random messages and books on various topics, and there wasn’t much follow up discussion.  This time I’ve plotted out our agenda for the whole year so we can be strategic in accomplishing some things.

Published in: on September 16, 2008 at 5:12 am  Leave a Comment  

Oops

I tried to set a reminder on this blog about our church’s game night this Friday, but accidentally posted it as if it were tonight.  Sorry ’bout that!  Game Night is this Friday.  Sorry for any confusion.

Published in: on September 15, 2008 at 1:59 pm  Comments (2)  

Real Life: Living in Christ

Yesterday at CrossWay Church was the second week of the Real Life series, where we’re studying 1 Thessalonians.  We looked at the whole first chapter, which explains the growth cycle of the gospel message and how we can participate in it.

First, the gospel comes not only with words, but with power, the Holy Spirit, and deep conviction.  Sometimes people might hear the good news about salvation in Jesus and just go along with it, or mentally agree to it as an acceptable idea.  But when that happens, the gospel has not actually been received.  When the gospel of Christ is welcomed, it’s obvious because there is life change.  That’s what happens when the gospel comes with power, the Holy Spirit, and deep conviction.  The gospel is like a seed, and at this point it takes root.

As the message sprouts and begins growing, God gives us three ingredients that produce specific kinds of fruit.  Our faith motivates us to work productively, our love causes us to labor, and our hope in Jesus inspires us to endure.  At this point the gospel seed is growing like a tree that is sprouting fruit on its branches.

The next thing that happens in the gospel growth cycle is that the message rings out.  Other people begin to notice.  The seed from our fruit begins to spread, take root, and sprout.

And then the cycle happens all over again with new people in new places!

The theme for this series, Real Life, is how living in Christ makes an actual, extraordinary difference in our otherwise ordinary and routine days.  So at the end of the message the church was given two challenges:

First, to honestly evaluate whether they had truly received the gospel or not.

Second, once the gospel has been received (evidenced by power, the Holy Spirit, and deep conviction, along with faith, love, and hope), the church was challenged to write down one way in which they will let the gospel message ring out from their lives.  I encouraged them to keep it simple and practical so everyone could actually do it.  I look forward to hearing the stories of what people do in response!

Published in: on September 15, 2008 at 9:44 am  Leave a Comment  

Happy Birthday Jazlyn!

Today my little niece turns 10.  It won’t be too much longer before I can’t call her “my little niece” anymore.  Hard to believe it’s already been a decade since she arrived.

Happy birthday, Jazlyn!!!

Published in: on September 13, 2008 at 11:12 am  Comments (2)  

I Think I Know Some of These Guys

Last night in our small group we were studying the ministry of Paul, Silas, and Timothy in Thessalonica.  As we were reading Acts 17:1-10, one of our readers read from the King James Version. 

In the New International Version, Acts 17:5 says that some Jews who were jealous of Paul “rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace.”  But you gotta love the KJV translation of this verse–instead of “bad characters” it calls them “certain lewd fellows of the baser sort.”

While I’m definitely not a big King James guy, there’s something to be said for turning a phrase like that.

Published in: on September 12, 2008 at 10:23 am  Leave a Comment  

Lunch with Jason

Yesterday around noon I got a call from my older brother, Jason.  He said, “Hey, want me to treat you to lunch?”  He lives about three hours from here.  Turns out he had a conference out here in Ocean City for his job.  So he stopped by the church and we went to Applebees for lunch.  It’s not often we have family visit out here on the Shore, and usually I see them about two or three times a year.  So it was nice to sit down and enjoy a very filling meal while we caught up.  I don’t even know when the last time was that we did that.

Published in: on September 11, 2008 at 5:53 am  Leave a Comment  

A 9/11 Thanks

Once again we mark the anniversary of a date in our nation’s history that will never be just another date on the calendar.  The only other day I know of that is marked simply by its date is July the Fourth (we even capitalize “Fourth”).  As we reach another “nine-eleven,” let’s be sure to thank the emergency personnel who daily risk their lives to save ours.  To all the police, firefighters, and other rescue workers out there: THANK YOU!

It’s also a good time to honor Jesus Christ, the ultimate rescuer, who gave His life to save us.  THANK YOU!!!

Published in: on September 11, 2008 at 5:01 am  Leave a Comment