Thursday, January 25, 2007

They Learn By Example

Couple of weeks ago my family and I went to Miramar, Florida, for the consecration of our new Bishop, David Simpson. After we had lunch, we went shopping. I took my oldest daughter (5 years old) with me and my wife took our youngest daughter with her. As Elizabeth and I were walking I saw a homeless man with his shopping cart sitting on a bench. As I saw him God spoke to me to give him $5.oo. In the past, I would have only asked if he wanted some food and gone and gotten it for him. But lately, God has been changing my heart. We walked over and I told the man that I felt like God wanted me to give him $5.00. He thanked me and we talked for awhile and we went on our way. Later, Elizabeth asked me why I gave the man some money and why he didn't have a house. So, dad explained as best I could to a 5 year old. I told her that God told me to give him money and I had to obey God.

Later that night at the service, Elizabeth made friends with the lady sitting behind her. She colored a picture for her and then gave her some of her pennies. That's a big deal! The lady did not want to take her money, but Elizabeth said "God told me to give them to you and I have to be obedient."

What example are we teaching by our actions?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Can Starbucks Teach the Church Anything? Part 2

One of the principles that Starbucks continues to express is they are active in the community. There is a social responsibility that they are committed to. Some of these concerns effect their "bottom line" but they are still committed to it.

What would happen in the "evangelical" church if we took the "social gospel" seriously? Most times we have left the "social gospel" for the "liberal" side of the church and have only looked at spiritual matters. Well, it is past time for us to get off our backsides and merge the two together. We serve people not to convert them - but because that is what Jesus did. St. Francis of Assisi said, "Preach the Gospel, and when necessary, use words." Our actions will speak volumes to the not yet believers. Remember, words are cheap.

This past Sunday was my youngest daughters 4th birthday. We had lunch with the Godparents at a Mexican restaurant. After we cut the cake and everyone was eating it, my wife said "I think I need to ask the family sitting near us if they would like some cake". (They had several young children with them.) I told her to go for it. She did and they accepted and were very kind. When I took out some of the presents, the father of this family asked if we needed help. My wife thanked him but told him it was OK, we could get it because there was not that much. As we were loading up the kids, they came out and got into their SUV. It had a fish logo on it, only this said Darwin in the middle of it and had feet on the fish. We began to laugh at what God had done. You see, we had just come from our Sunday service and I still had my collared clerical shirt on. There was no mistake that this family encountered kindness by someone who called themselves a "Christ-follower."

We need to go "out of our way" to touch the lives of people with our simple acts of kindness. "Small things done with great kindness effect the world."

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Preparing for Treat Me Like A Lady

This St. Valentine's week we are going to have an outreach called "Treat Me Like A Lady." We are going to give gift bags to prostitutes to let them know that they are special and God's not mad at them. In fact, He loves them more than they could ever dream. We will not be preaching to them - just showing the love of God in a really practical way.

We did this several years ago during Christmas and the impact on people's lives was unbelievable. One girl told us that it was the only Christmas present she would receive.

What would happen if all across the country groups of people and communities began to do this on Valentine's week? Well, we would be like Jesus - hanging with the prostitutes and sinners.

Quote on Criticism

"Don't mind criticism. If it is untrue, disregard it; if unfair, keep from irritation; if it is ignorant, smile; if it is justified, it is not criticism - learn from it." Author unknown

If you are the one speaking it, remember how you say it will go a long way in how it is received - vinegar or honey.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Good Quote

"I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy." Rabindranath Tagore

First Coaching Session

Last week I had my first ever coaching session. What an experience! Steve Sjogren, founding pastor of Vineyard Community Church in Cincinnati and founding pastor of a new church launch in Tampa called Coastland Tampa, was my coach. I had an hour long call with about 7 others on communication - speaking and writing.

It was a really good experience for me to have someone with the background in speaking, writing, and church planting that Steve has to speak into my life. I received a lot of very practical things to take back to St. Andrew's and apply.

I would like to continue coaching sessions with Steve. So please pray with me for the funds to do so. We are a small church and it is not in our budget to do this now. I really believe that it is a key for our growth as a community as well as my growth as a leader. If you would like to talk to me about this please email me at

Can Starbucks Teach the Church Anything?

I am reading a book by Joseph A. Michelli called "The Starbucks Experience." (Really easy read.) As I have been reading this, I have asked the question - what can the church learn from Starbucks? So, I am going to share with you what I have discovered over the next few days.

Michelli states that Principle 1 is "make it your own." Under this principle he says that Starbucks has a model for their partners called "Five Ways of Being." Here they are: 1. Be welcoming 2. Be genuine 3. Be considerate 4. Be knowledgeable 5. Be involved.

1. Be welcoming. Remember what it was like the last time you walked into a Starbucks for a great cup of Java. You were welcomed and made to feel at home. You belonged there. Michelli says that there are several questions that guests ask. Do the staff members care to get to know me? Do they remember me? Will they take care of my needs? Do I matter? Am I invisible?

Now relate that to our churches. How do we rate? I know that it has made me take a look at what we as a community do to embrace our guests on Sundays. I know that we are in for some changes to be more welcoming to our guests.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

New Podcast-Community-What is the Church

Here is a link to Sunday's sermon - "Community-What is the Church?"

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Resolutions, Resolutions

At this time of the year everyone is making resolutions. We all do it. I'm not going to do this or I'm going to do this during this new year.

Well, I am no different. I have made some resolutions that I hope and pray will help change my life.
Here they are:
1. Take care of myself physically. So many times as a pastor it is so easy to skip this - especially being a bi-vocational pastor. Well, this year I am going to eat better-eat the right foods. I'm going to exercise. Well, I'm going to begin by walking and as I lost weight and the knee is better add some other types of exercise. Got to be here for my girls!

2. Date my wife. This past year we have not had very many date nights. I have just let stuff get in the way and not having family in St. Augustine to help with the kids has also not helped. If I do not make my wife a priority and date her, my ministry is useless.

3. Spend more time with my girls. It's time to begin daddy date night with the girls. They are 5 and almost 4 years old now. They need to know how a man should treat them. I want to instill this into them now, so when some boy comes along they will not fall for his junk.

4. Spend more time reading my Bible. As pastors it's easy to read the Bible to get your messages or sermon. I have begun with a reading plan to read through in the NLT.

5. Pray with my wife. One of the dangers of being a bi-vocational pastor is that you are so tired by the time you get home and do something with the kids, or go off to a meeting that sometimes you don't pray together. Well, that's not good enough any more. This is a priority for me this year. My wife needs her husband to pray with her every day.

6. Understand my "vocation" is be a pastor/priest, it is not my life.

I want to thank Perry Noble , the pastor of New Spring Church , for his writing about this type of stuff. Perry, your blog has been a life line for me and my wife. This past Sunday I told my church that Eileen and I are going to date. If they call with an emergency it will be passed on or it can wait. If fact, during date night I am turning the phone off!