Thursday, November 23, 2006

I'm Kinda Cranky, but Still Thankful

I've been really cranky lately, and I think I figured out why. It's complicated when all of the dynamics are examined, but to get right to the root of the issue, I can say that it comes down to "performance" issues.

Now I know the root of the problem, and I prayed this morning that God would :
- give me the grace to accept people and myself for who we are, not what we do
- help me use the wisdom to make different choices on how I react to things, and how I perceive things - and to know my perception is not what God sees
- let me have His compassion to love people, especially when they're not "performing" to my expectations
- allow me to live out and exhibit the fruit of the spirit:
that I can LOVE people, not their deeds
that I can have JOY in knowing we are His creation, made for good works in Christ
so I can have PEACE knowing God is God - and I'm not
that I can practice LONGSUFFERING and KINDNESS, and show the love of Christ
that I would practice GOODNESS in my life for His sake
that my manner would be a reflection of Christ's FAITHFULNESS
that the GENTLENESS in me would be warm and inviting to those that are hurting
and that I would practice SELF CONTROL, and keep my feelings from overwhelming my understanding of what God desires for me
- let me operate in mercy, because He's had mercy on me
- show me how to bring light and hope to those around me who are in darkness and despair.

My feelings are just feelings. I'm thankful today that I can make choices based on truth, and not my feelings.

I'm thankful that God's word is relevant to whatever situation I face.

I am thankful for my family, who love me even if I'm a cranky old man sometimes.

I'm thankful that God is helping me understand the difference between perception and reality.

I'm thankful for my church family, who encourage me and pray for me.

I'm thankful that I love my work, because I know it is helping me fulfill my purpose in life - it's not my whole purpose, but a part of living it out, and I am able to help many people.

I'm thankful for a wife that prays for me, prays with me, and loves me enough to hold me accountable.

I'm thankful for brothers in Christ, the men who love God, and are a part of my life; that ask me hard questions, counsel me when I need counsel, and help keep me accountable.

I'm thankful for you reading this blog, and I pray that I can somehow be an influence in your life, that I might encourage you, and bring hope into your life.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Typical House Church

It’s Sunday morning- 10:30 a.m. Typically, we would be having our church service in our living room, but we had “church” Friday night with a group of leaders and other friends. We started the evening with fellowship (Christianese: FOOD),

A pile of kolache

An abundance of donuts

The table discussion

then moved into the living room where we had a time of confession, sharing with each other the different struggles we have as we each walk out this life of faith we proclaim. Sometimes it’s not easy, and we become convicted of the things we preach but don’t act on. Hmm…can Christians be human too?

I’m beginning to understand how much I desire, even need, a relevant church. The act of “going to church” for the sake of attending an event or to get my spiritual feeding has long passed. The time of sitting in a pew and “getting fed” is over too. The Friday night group met all the criteria for church: we met together in Jesus’ name, we broke bread together, we shared our struggles, encouraged each other, and had communion. We listened to each other and prayed for each other. Simple. Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do?


I made the bread for communion. The bread was made from a mix of wheat flour, tortilla mix, and Ezekeil 4:9 cereal, mixed with a little olive oil and some water, and baked for about 15 minutes. It was something we all could enjoy together, and not only was it healthy, it tasted good too. The grape juice was crushed by the feet of 2 young virgins in our church (just kidding - some guy name Welch made it).

My communion message was that at the last supper, Jesus was doing what he normally did with his disciples – having a meal. And much like any family or even a business dinner, there was discussion going on. I can imagine the 12 sitting around the dinner table with their leader. Some of the discussion may have been light, some may have been serious. No doubt (at least in my mind) there was some time for some laughing. At some point though, Jesus brought up a subject that was relevant. He reviewed the mission, and He gave instruction. He discussed the relevance of bread and wine – His body and blood – and what we were to remember when we broke bread together.

The Friday night before, we met for fellowship and to spend time with Tony and Felicity Dale, authors (Foundations of Simple Church, An Army of Ordinary People) house church leaders, and contributors to Rather than have a traditional meeting where Tony and Felicity might have been “center stage,” we actually all shared our hearts, about our ministries, and our passions for about an hour or so before Tony and Felicity began to facilitate the rest of the meeting. I guess they spoke for about 30 minutes and facilitated the rest of the discussion for the next hour or so. It was great. We had church – and it was relevant.

One caution we seem to get, usually from someone new, or unfamiliar with the way our meetings flow, is that we are in the same danger as the institutional church of becoming traditional. Yeah, it’s happened. We come to service with our 3 lb. bible tucked under our arm, we smile at everyone and exchange the usual, “Howyoudoin’I’mgoodthanks,” then we get our coffee and wait for someone to kick off the meeting. Of course, that always begins with someone being asked to give the opening prayer, and then we have P&W, announcements, the offering, and a message. The church that meets in my home has been careful to move away from that, and instead, we try to facilitate relevant discussion and meet people where they’re at. Much like Friday’s meeting, it flows. People share, we pray for each other, and we are encouraged. Everyone is encouraged to bring their gift to the service. If someone has a word, a song, a scripture, or a message – great! We want to hear what God is doing, where He is moving, and what He wants to speak to us. We allow anyone to speak. And God moves.

Here are some more pictures of a typical service. Although, each meeting is unique, and far from typical.

The youngest participant of the evening gets greeted by my lovely wife

And yes, she's part of the service

There's always time to laugh

This is ONE CRAZY street preacher - this guy's ministry is going into the bars and hanging out with the prostitutes and pimps on the street - and yeah, people get saved, fed, and some are given a place to stay and get straightened up. Greg had just led someone to Christ that afternoon after having a church service in an oil-change waiting lobby.

Ellen and Bob usually meet with us Sunday mornings