Wednesday, January 30, 2008


If you could change one thing about church what would it be?

What do you think?
Share your thoughts.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

You Want Me To Do WHAT????

Many religions depend on ritual. There are prescriptive requirements and practices which bring the thought of God into daily life.

For example, in Islam, each person is required to obstain from certain foods and alcohol, pray at certain times a day prostrate toward Mecca, and take a pilgrimmage at least once in their lives.

In Judaism, there are certain ritual practices relating to dress, cleanliness, food preparation, etcetera.

Catholic Christians and some who are considered Protestant Christians have services, liturgies and practices which are ritualistic in nature.

In these religions which have a common root, as well other world religions, ritual tends to bring God to the minds of those who participate in them. If one must think of a ritual everyday with regard to food preparation, that ritual brings God into a person's daily life.

My questions is, are we, those of us who come from "minimalist" Christian heritage, at an advantage or disadvantage with regard to ritual? Since we have so very few rituals, do we miss something in our daily existence? Should Christians create their own rituals to this effect in their own lives? Is binding people to ritual a good or bad thing? Do we bind people to rituals which have no basis in scripture? Do we need to bind ourselves to ritual to feel closer to God?

What do you think?
Share your thoughts.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

King Arthur, Jr. Day?????

I know that a lot of you are enjoying a long weekend. My son told me the other day that he was excited to be off for King Arthur Jr. Day. :-). My wife and I, of course, laughed corrected him and told him it was Martin Luther King Jr. Day. We told him of the great leader he was and the difference he made, not just for people of color. Tomorrow we are going to read the speech together as a family to let our son know the dream the he had and take some time to remember him.

The questions I have are: Has his dream come true? What has hindered his dream? What can make a difference? Can the church influence the dream? Should the church be more involved in social issues? Why or why not? Would our country allow this kind of speech to be made today? What does that say about our country? What does that say about his dream? Are we really free? Have our rights changed in any way today? In a good way or bad way?

Here is a portion of his, "I Have A Dream" speech:

"I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.'

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together in the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the moutain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, 'My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing, Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrims pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.'

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississsippi. From every mountside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestents and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, 'Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!'

What do you think?
Share your thoughts.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Keep Going-The Art of Perseverance

The following is from the Joseph M Marshall, III's book, "Keep Going: The Art of Perseverance," page 34:

"Though you fall many times, you rise again and again, stronger and more balanced each time. You are determined so failures do not deter you, and successes only strength you. You are encouraged to keep trying. But though life beckons it is not a sign that it will always look on you in favor. It beckons because you must make your journey, and you soon learn that in that journey there is also disappointment, failure, sorrow, frustration, weariness, and doubt. Just as you were carried along by your determination, you find yourself dragged down by failure. Then you learn that inside that inside you, along with the will to win is a willingness to lose, to stop when the hill seems too steep, when the road becomes too narrow and rough. That willingness will speak to you of self pity, and sometimes it will plead, and sometimes rant. But always it tries to make you stop."

What does this tell us about life?

What do you think
Share your thoughts.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Releasing The Power of The Smaller Church

When I was in Abilene this past week, I went to the Abilene Educational Supply. I love going there and buying books to read. I may mention some of the books that I've gotten over the next couple of months, but thought that one particular book would help those who are planting churches and those who are currently in smaller congregations. The book is entitled, "RELEASING THE POWER OF THE SMALLER CHURCH," edited by Shawn McMullen.

I know we live in a world were everything has to be big. "Supersize me."
" I want the mega super bucket of popcorn and the bladder buster diet coke." We want the big screen plasma televisons with high definition. We want the biggest house on the block. We even measure success of the church on the size of the congregation.

The majority of churches in America are smaller churches (churches with an average worship attendance of 200 or below). I believe this book might be a good tool for your congregation if your congregation is 200 or under. I know and understand that not everything in the book will be useful for every congregation, for example, I work at a small country church and we would be our own small group. :-)

The questions I have for you ministers or those of you who attend smaller congregations are: What is the benefit of a small congregation over a larger congregation or vice versa? Is it easier for a smaller congregation to find it's talents? What about getting lost in the crowd? Is is easier to "get connected"? When someone is sick, how do people know about it? How do people pray together? What about the love and unity of a small congregation? Is there a difference between a small and large congregation in this area? Are there different styes of leaderships depending on the size of the congregation? Ministers, what have you found most difficult or challenging? Why? Are there some benefits of a Mega-Church or a larger congregation? What would they be? Do sometimes we compare our small churches to the Mega-churches? What can happen when we do that? What happens when we base the health of a congregation on its size?

What do you think?
Share your thoughts.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The God Of Second Chances

I love New Years' time because it is a time of new beginnings, fresh starts and second chances. I thought if things didn't go so well in 2007, then perhaps they might be better in 2008. Can I make the year I want?

The more I pondered and thought, the more I thought about God. I thought about a God who gives people second chances. Think about it. Adam and Eve were given a second chance after the fall in Genesis. Lot and his family were given a chance when God destroyed Sodom and Gamorrah. King David was given a second chance when he killed Uriah and slept with Bathsheba. King Manassah was given a second chance and drove all the idols and Ashara poles out of temple and made the decree that God was the only god of Isreal.

As you look at the New Testament, Jesus gave people countless second chances. He gave the woman at the well a second chance as well as the woman caught in the act of adultery. Zaccheus the tax collector, "doubting" Thomas, Peter and Saul the persecutor of the church who became Paul all were given second chances.

How about you and I? How many second chances does God give us? Why not thank the God of second chances?

What do you think?
Share your thoughts.