Sunday, October 29, 2006

How's Your Grass?

I mowed our lawn last week. Hopefully for the last time this season, but I kind of doubt it. Here's how it happened.

I was sitting at home not doing much (probably writing a blog post). I heard one of my neighbors mowing their lawn. Our son, Joshua, at this point knows enough to get excited and point out the window while saying "mo mo" (his word for mower). I affirmed his reaction and said, "Your right Joshua, that's a mower."

I wondered, 'How is our lawn doing - does the grass need to be cut?' Maybe it should be mowed? I looked out the window and compared it with my neighbors newly cut grass. Our own lawn could use the mowing. So I went outside, fired up the mower, and went to town. When the lawn was done, I thought to myself - "Glad I thought of that today while I had time." But the more I thought about it, it really wasn't my initiative. It was the sound of my neighbor's mower that prompted me to evaluate our lawn.

Isn't that how it is with our conversations about spiritual things with others?

It usually isn't until I hear about someone else's life or situation that I evaluate where I am at.
For example, when I read about a live in the Bible that was changed after meeting God - I think about my own life and what I should do. When I hear about a story on Sunday at church about how someone's life being changed, I evaluate - hmmmm, I wonder where I stand on that.

Maybe I should be sharing where my "spiritual lawn" is at by having conversations with others. The conversation that I'd have would be just like the sound of my neighbors mower. Once I talk about where I am at spiritually, the others around me might wonder, "Hmmmm...where am I at with God." Besides, once I'm honest and transparent with where I'm at - others might be willing to be more open and share where they are at.

Start your mowers! Find out how your neighbor's lawn is doing. Your neighbor might think about how their own lawn is doing too.

Educational Mistakes

Learn from experience.
Sometimes 'experience' is the best education - and most of the time it's free. We'll I received an education recently when I decided to eat a combination of foods. I'll never try it again 'cause I didn't feel so good. It was right before bed too. What was I thinking? I wasn’t thinking.

Here's the list:
1. Turkey Hill "Party Cake" Ice Cream
2. Pumpkin Pie
3. Microwave Buttered Popcorn
4. Diet Caffene Free Pespi

NOTE: Eaten at appoximlatey the same time.

(Mom, if you are reading didn’t raise me this way! I should have known better.)

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” (Genesis 4:6-7, NIV)

Past mistakes ought to guide our future decisions. If someone points out my mistake by saying, "Hey Bryan, you really shouldn't eat all the stuff together," how do I react? Do I correct the mistake or deny that I need to correct it? Sure, the consequences of the food wouldn't be too bad in the short run. But how about other sin in my life that will have consequences in the long run?

After God rejected Cain’s sacrifice, God offered Cain a 'redo' to try again. But Cain refused. Cain had to live with the consequences the rest of his life. The next time someone suggests I might be wrong, I'll take an HONEST look at myself.

God, help me choose Your way instead of my own. I want to learn from mistakes I've made. I never want to be above my mistakes. I never want my ego to be placed in front of the changes I may need to make. I want to honor You with smarter living in the future. And God, when I don't learn from my mistakes - I humbly accept the conqequeces to my decisions. After all, I'm the One that has the decision to place either You in control or myself in control.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

A church is not a business, so don't run it like one.

"A church is not a business, so don't run it like one."
I'm sure you've heard this statement before. The funny thing is we tend to use this comment when it's in our favor. There are other times when the church doesn't run like a business and we express that is SHOULD. Hmmmm. But this got me thinking about what the "product" of a church is if it were to operate like a Fourtune 500 corporation. What would it's bottom line be?

What should the final product of the church be?

Incredible worship experiences. Missions trips. Dynamic messages. Impressive video. Creative expression through art. Deep level thinking. Seminary-level Bible teaching. Are these the PRODUCTS the church produces? No. These are methods the church uses. Some are by-products of the real product. So what is the product?

The product of the church is CHANGED LIVES. An irreligious person becoming a fully devoted follower of Christ. Those without purpose in life find purpose in Christ. The addict who quits his addiction due to learning what Christ offers. Becoming selfless when we were selfish without Christ. If you see a changed life, you are looking at the final product of what Christ intends for the church. Well, maybe not the "final" product…because Christ is still finishing His work through us (Phillipians 1:6). We won't be complete until we meet Christ face to face.

Sometimes we, the church, measure our "success" by numberswhich is good. Why did they count the number of people who believed at pentecost? They counted people, because people matter to God.

We seek to become deep (spiritual growth) and wide (number of people growing). Not only deep. Not only wide. Both. A desire to change AS MANY LIVES AS POSSIBLE is a great thing. Changing 10 lives is better than 1 life. The debate then becomes which is better - 1 life changed deeply or 10 lives changed not as deep as one life? How about 5 lives changed a 'medium' amount in contrast? This is where people differ.

The hard part is how you measure changed lives. How many lives have changed? How deeply have they changed? (Sounds like another post to me.)

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Lititz / Lancaster Monorail System

I'm not sure how many heard about this...

Pfizer Monorail Proposal to Be Reviewed
Thursday, August 26, 2004



Responding to downtown businesses and preservationists, Pfizer and Lititz Retailers Association monorail planners agreed last night to reconsider how a new system should serve downtown on West Lincoln. Members of the Elevated Transportation Co. board agreed to study running the new monorail with Pfizer’s new security fence. The action was a response to businesses that were unhappy with Lititz Route 501 Bypass Project because it would bypass Wilbur Chocolate and other existing main street tourist ventures.

Steve Koehler, representing the Lititz Retailers Association, told board members that a monorail is a key part of the downtown area that includes the Lancaster Queen Street stop -- "one leg of a stool that supports an urban experience."

Board members asked staffers to study the effects of the option on noise, traffic and views and to judge its cost effectiveness. The matter will be discussed at a public hearing in December and at an upcoming board meeting November 22. Board member Craig Norsen said he likes that proposal but voted for the new West Lincoln study to see how that would work and how others react. In another move, board members also agreed to set aside $25 million as a reserve fund for off-street parking and traffic-relief measures as part of the $1.2 billion system they will propose to voters this fall.

The whole monorail system would be financed with a citywide motorvehicle excise tax of 1.4 percent. The reserve money would include $15 million for 1,000 spaces and $5 million to improve access to the 4 stations along the 7-mile route from Lititz to downtown Lancaster. The number of spaces near each station would be determined by planners once voters approve the total system, company spokesman Ed Stone said. Company staffers estimated that about 6 percent of monorail riders would need long-term parking, or about 3,600 each weekday. The parking proposal, which must yet receive final approval along with the system plan in January 2005, assumes a new monorail authority would provide parking-management plans for each station, possibly sharing use of lots at parks, churches or theaters, according to a staff report.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Tired of Doing Right

Galatians 6:9-10 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

Harvest time. They say we reap what we sow. Any farmer could agree with that.

I recently had a conversation about family with a co-worker friend. He is currently caring for a family member in incredible ways. In fact, he and his wife are going beyond what the typical American mentality is for caring for families. I had to ask myself a hard question. Would I be willing to follow in their footsteps, or would the cost to me personally be too great?

Then I asked myself, “Have I become tired in doing what is right? The right thing to do many times is obvious. Sometimes I make the “right thing to do” confusing because I justify or give reasons for why “the right thing” doesn’t have to be done.

I thought, “What kind of harvet will I reap at the end of this life?”

We are all given an OPPORTUNITY. Maybe it's the same opporunity (our life). Maybe it's not (comes along in our life). Question is…whatever the I take it? Do I ignore it and do what I want anyway? Do I compromise on the opportunity? Do I rationalize a halfhearted response? Do I ever say…”Hey, I’m too busy to visit people in the hospital - besides, isn’t that Pastor (fill-in-the blank)’s job?” This verse doesn’t allow room for excuses. It calls me to cease the opportuniy to do good…especially to my brothers and sister in Christ.

Hold up. Sometimes brothers and sisters in Christ are difficult to get along with. We are sometimes more judgemental and intolerant than many unbelievers. As a result, we can justify that it’s easier at times to treat an unbeliever better. You know, kinda like arguing with my wife, then the phone rings and I answer in a sweet soft voice. Scripture says if we do not care our relatives, especially our immediate family, then we are worse than an unbeliever (1 Timothy 5:8).

Doing what is right now, without excuses, will bring a great harvest in the future.

God, You are the perfect example of doing good in every opportunity and never growing weary. Your Son had the opportunity to bail at the cross, yet He never tired of doing what was right. When it comes to my brothers and sisters in Christ - help me treat them with honor, respect, and love. I want my unbelieving friends to see that there’s something supernatural about how we love each other. I’ve failed at this…and I still need work. Help me treat everyone I run into with the same love that You’ve treated me with.