Friday, October 29, 2010

Day 164: Legalism, Churches, and Halloween...ZIP IT!

So this is the time of year that I will never understand in some churches. When I became a pastor I had a hard lesson to learn at the end of the first year as a 22 year old. You see I began in February and thought I had a grip on how they (board and leadership) thought. Fast forward a few months to October and I planned to have a get together at the church. The only problem is that I was using orange paper! You may be asking yourself, “What is so wrong with using orange paper?” Well, when you run orange paper through a printer which uses black ink at the end of October…IT’S THE DEVIL because it is Halloween time. I remember this because I put a lot of time into making this flier back in 1995 and ran off 200 copies on the church copier. After a few of the “powers that be” saw these I was asked to throw them out and use a different color paper. I am guessing it would have been fine in March.

This was the time of year when I would receive tracts on “The Dangers of Halloween” and more. It really made me wonder why churches and their leadership would spend so much time each year talking about how evil people are for carving pumpkins, handing out candy, or doing church Halloween outreaches. I just want to tell those that harp on these things and point out the faults of Christians who do have fun with it to simply….SHUTUP! I am guessing these are the same kind of people that think they are the only way and their church is the ONLY church and all other churches are shams.

It is so liberating to see churches like the one I am a part of to look at Halloween as not an evil thing but rather an outreach opportunity. This Sunday all of our kids will be coming dressed up to church…it will be fun. I can only hope that all the boys come dressed up as Oompa Loompas. So dressing up as a hobo, Elmo, Princess, Zombie, etc. is evil? No…evil is much worse. It is probably a safe assumption that true Satanists don't dress up as Bob the Builder on Halloween. I can own a pumpkin, set it on my porch but the minute I carve it…it is evil? Those people who think so need their heads examined.

I just don’t see it. Ever since that time with making copies on orange paper I have always thought those in the church I was at that had an issue with those copies had issues themselves. Attention Christians…have fun and use this time of year to reach people. Don’t listen to those who are living a legalistic lifestyle. They are miserable unhappy people who will never be able to be pleased and will ALWAYS find fault no matter what you do that might be a little on the edge. If they think churches doing outreach at Halloween is evil…what until they get a load of the Christmas series at Radiant Fellowship. We are reaching the unreached on this one! Video to be posted facebook Sunday afternoon!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Day 163: Thought

This is a short blog, but I have been milling this around for awhile....that if you want to see the true nature of someone, give them a little power. Hmmm....you know in every case I am replaying in my head this really seems to be true for good and bad.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Day 162: Judging

Someone used this verse on me with my "That's Not My God" ministry so I thought I would educate the young man...this is what I posted about "judging".

Matthew 7:1(NIV) "Do not judge, or you too will be judged." How many times have you heard people use that and think, that cannot be what it means? The Greek word for judge is "Krino" and used 3 different ways? Which way is Jesus using it?

Look at Titus 3:12(NIV) As soon as I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, because I have decided (krino) to winter there. Krino "to decide"-make decisions. Is he saying, "Do not make decisions" No.

How about John 18:31(NIV) Pilate said, "Take him yourselves and (krino) judge him by your own law." is Jesus saying do away with court if someone robs you? No.

How about I Corinthians 4:5(NIV) "Therefore (krino) judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God." This Krino is to bring to light...Only God does this because it involves exposing darkness motives of people's hearts

Lastly, (same Krino as I Corinthians) how about John 7:24(NIV) "Stop (krino) judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment." When Jesus says, "Do not Judge" it means stop the third kind of Krino and go back to the first.

So back to Matthew 7:1...he is not saying don't make any decisions, he is not saying get rid of the court system. He is speaking of a way in which we evaluate, critique, and draw conclusions about others. It is to confuse a person's action with their essence (at the core, who that person is).

Couple of ways we can define this. To judge than is to raise you up by lowering another Make a conclusion by lowering them-point out all the ways they fall short. Judging is to critique and attack the very motives of their heart so that in lowering them I raise myself up.

To judge is to confuse action with essence and identity. The I Corinthians passage is God's job. This basically looks like this, instead of saying "that thing they did, that is pretty messed up." To judge would sound like this, "They at their core are less than, not good enough, off, deeply off center."

You ever do something dumb? We all have. Have you ever had someone instead of just pointing out some dumb thing you did once, you felt they were pushing your whole self down on a soul level and sort of raised themselves up?

Judging is when you assume divine responsibility for evaluating the worth and value of another.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Day 161: Excellence at Any Level

I have always been a strong believer in making the most of what you have regarding ministry. It has been my desire to do things the best I can with what I have. When I was a youth pastor, I always tried new ways to raise funds in order to do what I wanted to do. Whether it was with less than impressive equipment…you make do with what you have. I recall using an old tube driven Peavy amp/soundboard with a youth group of 50+ kids. This thing was really a piece of junk but, because it was all the church could afford…we made it the best youth group experience we could. The key was not to complain to the teens about it but rather be thankful for what we had. It was always first and foremost on my mind, what could our youth group could offer that none other could and how we can reach more teens in our area. I was NEVER satisfied with just reaching our own kids in the church.

This same principle applies now that I am a pastor of a church. We started off with a mediocre at best sound system. Without a doubt it worked fine for the time we had it. I would never get down or discouraged because we didn’t have this or that. Rather what I would do is figure out how we could use it best and pray that God would bless us for being a good steward of what we have. In the past five years we have seen some great blessings come and most recently was an upgrade to our sound system. We were blessed with a brand new digital soundboard that I am quite confident will take our worship team to another level. This soundboard will also improve the overall experience of the church service and the recording of our podcasts.

I am firm believer in not complaining about what you have to work with in a church setting. There is nothing wrong with dreaming and making a wish list though. What I think though is that if you are not doing your best with what you have now…you won’t do your best with what you have then. No matter what you have to work with, you can always work at a level of excellence within those means.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Day 160: Advertising

One of the hard lessons in being a pastor has to do with advertising. No matter how good a price the newspaper offers to advertise one thing stands true, “the only one that benefits from paid advertising is the one you are making the check out to.”

Here is a tip, most papers will have a community calendar or even do a write up regarding an upcoming event. These have been very beneficial for us and our church. Just a thought for the night.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Day 159: This IS Radiant Fellowship

The book of James in my opinion is a great guideline on how the church should be run. It is no wonder my friend, Ted Haggard began a new church called, "St. James Church". Check this verse out...

James 2:14-17(NIV) What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

What I love about Radiant Fellowship is the willingness to help each other out in our own church. We understand that missions has a place and other worthy causes but, we also know we have to take care of our own first. That statement right there is a bomb dropped in some circles. Let me give you three great examples. There are many more like this that the average Radiant Fellowship goer doesn't know.

1. A few years back a widow in our church raising kids on her own needed a new roof on part of her house. The drywall ripped away...the room was trashed. The same time this was going on we were raising funds at our church to do a "gas buy down" outreach in which we raised $1000.00. Instead of spending it on doing outreach to the community, we decided to fix this ladies home because CAP services was jerking her around. What a blessing for those that gave of their time. Here is the kicker...she was fairly new to the church and there was no, "let's wait a month to see if she sticks around" before we would help her.

2. A young lady in our church found out she has breast cancer and will be taking an exceptional amount of time off from work due to the appointments and evasive surgery. Currently she was making car payments and realized she may lose the car. I sent a letter out to the church and within two weeks we raised enough money to take over her car payments for a year. EPIC!

3. This week a couple in our church has a sick 6 month old boy who is requiring multiple trips to Milwaukee. Most recently he had to have a bone marrow draw...you can imagine how the parents were. To complicate the situation, he is without a job though he just graduated with a business degree and aggressively looking for a job. She is a nurse but with raising 3 kids and a house every little bit helps. I sent out an email and within a 24 hour period from the time they would have to go to Milwaukee again we were able to bless this family with a $300.00 Visa gift card. This would cover their gas and food a couple times. Get this....because one of her co-workers heard about what her church was doing for her...this ladies co-worker walked up to her at work and gave her a $50.00 check as well. AWESOME!

This, in my opinion is signs of a church that is alive and well. Oh, get this...we are only a church of 80 people since the re-launch 5 years ago in a city of 5500 people. After we helped the lady with cancer out I had many MANY people from other churches ask me, "Bob, aren't you opening a can of worms by helping her out like that? Won't more people ask?" I wanted to smack them upside the head and ask...have you read your bible? THE CHURCH is not about hoarding cash to build a bigger building. By all means build to suit your needs but when is enough, enough? Missions? Yes I enjoy giving to missionaries and buying a water buffalo from "Heifer International" for a needy family overseas (we did that one year). But how much better is it when those who are fiscally sound are able to give towards a common cause in order to help each other out?

So what about those who receive? What do they give? This is where a pastor only sees what goes on behind the scenes. I can honestly tell you that if these that give are not able to reciprocate financially than they offer to help at the church in other ways. EVERYONE who has received though has blessed back financially as well when there is a need. In fact they do more with what talents the Lord has blessed them with.

THAT is a church I am glad I am a part of. To me...THAT is church and what a church family should be. I don't say this boastfully but rather relieved as to what a church in my opinion should be.