Thursday, July 29, 2010


The other day someone mentioned to me that a local church was looking for a new pastor and that I should ask the search committee for an interview. The pastor of the church she was talking about had suddenly quit before the Wednesday service and he had only been there a few months. About 2 weeks before I happen to hear someone else talking about the same church and a recent interim pastor that had preached a couple of Sundays. They had mentioned how much they enjoyed the pastor that was filling in the void left by the younger pastor. The person also said, "I wish we could get him to be our full time minister". The only problem I saw with their request was that the interim pastor they were talking about was almost 90 years old and no one would relate to this pastor but the older members. How would that attract younger families?

So back to the original conversation with the individual that mentioned that I should apply at this church. My response was probably taken the wrong way but my reply was this, I said, "that church wouldn't want me!" Any more when I see a red brick building it makes me turn away because most of those congregations are running the young ministers off because they don't want a pastor to reach the young families that live in the communities around them, they want church to be like it was when they were young, 40 years ago.

Why do I keep coming back to the red brick church? Because there is so much pain and turmoil behind those walls. It's on my mind because God has put it there and I've got to address it. Now I'm not some influentional member of a denominational board or even looked upon for advise from church leaders but if I were I would be telling the older generation of the church leaders to wake up or get left behind. But no one is asking my opinion.

That opinion, by the way, is not only mine but the voice of so many crying out in our communities around us. If we go out and reach people for Christ, invite them to church and then drop them into 1974 it is not going to last. Those families won't stick around for very long. Recently I was having a conversation with a pastor that was afraid for his job, he was the pastor of a very volatile small town church, he had tried change with the church and almost got fired, so he bowed to the pressure and went back to the way it was. But he told me that he was afraid to try anything new because if he invited some of the young families around the church he didn't want them to come in and leave. So do you see the delima, a pastor afraid of new people because of his churches tradition. He is also afraid of losing the big tithers because they have threatened him with withdrawing their tithe. Wow!

Who will go!? Maybe someone who is reading this has an answer to reaching the young families today with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Someone with influence, fearless in the face of tradition, yet humble in the delivery of the saving message of our Lord and Savior. A new generation of the church, not the organization of Christians doing the business of the church which usually leaves in it's wake a path of disappointment and conflict, but a movement of Christ followers moving with the Holy Spirit leading and guiding their every move. This requires integrity, trust, strength and the ability to stand up for the cause of the Cross. Savy!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Red Brick Church

Do you think the church of 2010 is relevant today? You know the one, a red brick building that's been there since "19 something", and each Sunday there are 10 or 20 cars in the parking lot that could park 50 or 60. It's the one you remember from your childhood, the organist and pianist played each week and hymns were sung with every ones face buried in a songbook. It's "church from 1974".

If you walk in that church today it looks like, sounds like and operates like it is 1974. There may be 4 young families there only because they are related to someone in the church. The rest of the congregation is slightly older than retirement age. Does this sound familiar yet? This church is run not by the pastors leadership but by a few local families and if the pastor or staff do anything that doesn't fit into the "1974" model he may be a sermon away from getting kicked out. Another unemployed, young pastor. Seem familiar?

I'm not writing this to upset anyone but rather to hear your feedback.

The New Testament Church which Christ ordained is very different from most churches that are operating today. I see churches dying on the vine every day and the congregations that are the stewards of theses churches letting them fade into the past by not embracing the communities within their ministry. A lack of real leadership and vision.

Would Jesus accuse us of being "graves full of white washed bones"? Ill equipped to reach the communities around us.

Recently Earl (GPS Outdoors) and I were camping and ran out of fresh water. Since we were next to a large river we refilled our canteens with the cool, clear, rushing water within easy access of the camp site. Now, did I drink this water directly from the stream? No! If I did Earl would have to carry me out (not an option) or end up being air lifted out. It's a pretty river but not for drinking. Instead we used a water purification system to make this water drinkable and quench our thirst. The same may be true of many of the congregations today. Hearts are hard and proud. Only one person can wash us clean and purify us. Jesus. Do you hear what I'm saying?

God doesn't like proud or hard hearts. That's our will. How will He work if the church is an institution more concerned about individual feelings and traditions or how long this family has been in this church? Many of these places are almost empty today, I know I've been in them and the congregation sits distant and with arms folded not wanting to hear "that kind of music or a message like that"! Alot of church administration today is like trying to drink that water from the river, it may look good; cool and clear, but if you try it without being prepared it'll make you sick.

So tell me, what do you think? Where is Gods word of salvation in Christ going to be preached? That's His will. Can the Red Brick Church survive?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Is It In You

God, at times, can seem so far away. Understanding His plan for our lives seems complicated. The church establishment seems to create more questions than answers. Let me help you clear up some of the confusion.

First ask God for forgiveness of your sins. You may think that's corny or not cool but you've got to do it. Second believe that Jesus Christ is Gods only son, it's ok if you have questions but the only way we have access to God is because of what Christ did for us on the cross. Jesus provides that access for you and me. Third say it; Jesus I want you to live in my life, come into my heart, make me into the kind of person you want me to be. To have Christ in your heart you have to say it yourself, no one can do it for you. He'll change you from the inside out.

Seems too simple doesn't it but God says if you want to have eternal life you first have to know His son Christ Jesus. All your talents and all that you live for are because of who God made you to be. If you are wondering who God wants you to be just ask Him, he will show you, it's in a book called the Bible. You can do it. Get around other people who believe it, they can help. If you have questions about where people that believe in Jesus are just ask me and I can help point you to Bible believing Christ followers.

Don't put it off, do it today.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Two Cigars

Leadership is not something to be taken lightly. A true leader not only manages their position with which they are entrusted, the rights with which the position entitles one to, but by example always raising the bar. I've had many examples of leaders in my life some were my supervisors others coworkers and some working side by side on projects. Even though some had the authority to lead they fell short of being an example of leadership. I would guess that their short fall in ability was due to lack of experience maybe even fear. But they still maintained a posture of leadership. Some leaders just take charge when given the keys to the office and plow ahead with out a real plan other than they have the authority to order others around. Then there are those with who have the title of leadership is bestowed upon them and they have the ability to move people to action and everyone seems to jump into action at their request. True leadership is an art form, a delicate balance of politics and personalities. So begins our story.

Recently I was feeling beat-down needed a way to get my head back in the game. Do you know what I mean. It's time to power-up. So who do I share this with? Earl, my friend and ministry partner with GPS Outdoors. He had just finished an over night hike on Friday and Saturday. I told him how I felt and the next thing I knew we were planning an overnight hike into the Pisgah National Forest South Mill River. It's a trip he has done many times just not with me.

We held Drive-In Church on Sunday morning, then we all went to breakfast and planned our trip which would depart by 3:00 PM that day. I wasn't sure if I was ready for this but it was already in the works and we were going camping. It's a 7 Mile round trip hike along South Mills River. Note; I haven't been hiking in 20 years.

Earl came on over to the house and even brought a Backpack for me and so I packed it up and kissed Suzanne, my wife and the kids good-bye. As we were pulling out Suzanne told Earl, "have him back by dinner Monday night" and off we went.

We got to the Trail Head, donned our equipment and headed out on the trail. Trust me when I say I needed to reboot and this trip was going to be the maintenance I needed. Even my daughter told me "Dad, you're always On!" She meant that I'm always working in ministry in some form and it was time to put it down for a while. So here I am on a mountainous trail not exactly in the best shape of my life physically and I'm hiking into the Western North Carolina wilderness. It's not Mount Everest but still... you know.

It takes us about and hour and a half to hike to our camp site. Once there we begin to setup and get settled in for the night. It's a beautiful location right on the river. Earl and I go after some firewood and begin cooking dinner. As we start cooking Earl unveils a pack of steaks and two tinfoil wrapped potatoes. Then it happens Earl realizes that he forgot the grill for the steaks. With out even hesitating he cuts off some Maple branches and makes something that resembles a tennis raquet. This becomes our grill. With the potatoes in the coals of the fire and the steaks hoovering about the flame all we could do is wait.

With the steaks done and the potatoes unfolded we then realize that we don't have any plates, so we put the steaks on the foil the potatoes were cooked in and get ready to eat. I took a moment to say the blessing over our meal and then put the feed bag on. I didn't even bother to cut my steak, I picked it up and to a bite and wow, it was perfect. Earl always says food tastes better when your camping, he was so right. It was one of the best meals I've eaten. It was the kind of meal that you savor every bite.

As we were finishing up our meal Earl reached over and handed me a cigar with a lighter in the other hand and he said, "this is how we end this meal". Now I'm not a smoker but this was an exception. I lit my cigar and Earl lit his and we stood there below a clear, star filled sky, on the bank the river rushing by and enjoyed the solitude of the wilderness. Now that's how you clear your head.

We sat by the fire until it was embers and then we turned in for the night. As we were putting the food away we saw a small creature come into our camp near our tent and then it decided to buzz by giving me quite a start.

The next morning I got up and spent some time with God and in His word. After Earl got up we read Proverbs 27:17 and it was just what we needed to start our day. We put our fly rods together and headed up the river. Since I have never been fly fishing Earl took some time to show the mechanics and then let me try it for myself. Once I got the motion I was fly fishing! Wow!, it's fun. We continued up stream for about an hour and a half. At one point I was throwing my line down stream and ended up having two Brook Trout hit my line. Each fish was only two inches though, they went back to swim another day. We had decided to head back to camp and as I was navigating the river one wrong step sent me off my feet and head first into the river. As refreshing as that was I still had to hike out. So we went back to camp, changed into dry clothes and then headed back to the trail head.

Our hike out was at record pace but I wanted to see if I could keep up with an experienced hiker like Earl. At one point on the trail Earl asked if I wanted to stop and rest I said "if I stop now I won't want to pick my pack up" so we headed back to the trail head were the car was parked.

As we reached Earls truck and we finished our hike side by side, just the way we began.