Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas Eve service

As busy as it has been, it seems this has just jumped upon us but folks, we are staring Christmas dead in the face!

I can't wait for tomorrow. I've never considered myself to be an appropriate "theme" style speaker. Meaning that I usually have difficulty preaching by the Calendar. As a Pastor, I do my best to preach Easter, at Easter, Christmas at Christmas, so on and so forth but I've never considered that style of speaking as one of my strengths. I usually attempt to speak what God lays on my heart and He doesn't always follow the Calendar, in my way of thinking. I have covered Christmas this month in a series that I called, "Seeking Treasure." I think it went fairly well but I decided to do something a little different for Christmas Eve.

I've turned my Minister of Music loose and told her to take the day and run with it. Tomorrow will be a day of the music of Christmas along with some instrumentals and some people taking part, for the first time, in special singing. The only thing I have planned for tomorrow is to set back and enjoy and then lead the congregation in Communion. I think it will be pretty cool and I haven't stressed this week over what I'm going to speak. (not that it's always stressful)

I'll let you know how it turns out and if I don't get the chance to tell you in person, MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Boycotting Boycott's

Boycotts, especially "Christian" prompted boycotts, are something that I have been wrestling with of late. "WallyWorld" out of Bentonville (if you don't know what store that is just e-mail me) was the latest target of a "Christian Boycott." The reason for the boycott? WallyWorld had decided to donate a percentage of it's Black Friday profits to a Gay and Lesbian based group.

Well, the boycott began and WallyWorld quickly relented and the Kingdom of the self-righteous scored a grand victory for the Cause of Christ. (please not the intended sarcasm) I'm sarcastic about it because we, (Christians) come off looking like we are being bullies with our dollars. The Headlines didn't read anything about Christian groups doing anything but the headlines, for the most part, read like this: "Anti-Gay groups bring WallyWorld down."

Now don't misunderstand me. I've not changed any tune and I'm not about to be nominated as a spokesperson for gay/lesbian groups. Far from it but I believe our "anti-gay" stance is playing right into the hands of those with agendas. I believe that homo-sexuality is sin but I also believe that drug addiction is sin, alcholism is sin, gossiping is sin, many, many things are sin that can seperate us from God. So I ask myself, "Self, when was the last time you saw a "Christian boycott" of liquor stores, etc. etc) Or, "Self, are we anti-gay or anti-sin?"

What's the difference, you may ask. I believe it is in the ability to love the people involved in the sin without making their sin, their identity.

I think this boycott business is dangerous ground for Christians to walk on. What is it that we are saying? I believe it is saying that our power is in our money and that ideology not only frightens me to the core but I also find it highly hypocritical.

For example, let's take Pastors. A man works in a Church for a number of years, serving them to the best of his God given ability but on one particular Sunday, with no malicious intent at all, he offends his biggest tithe payer. That tithe payer starts a campaign to get rid of the Pastor and how does he do it. The power of money by withholding tithes and attempting to get others to join him.

I ask you, fellow Pastors, what is some of our typical responses to this scenario? I think the most widely used one is this. "When you tithe, you should be giving your money to God and not to man." As correct as that may be, is the bell of hypocrisy ringing in anyone elses ear?

When I shop, I am buying goods for my money. If I am suppose to maintain control of where that money goes, then I couldn't shop anywhere that I didn't know the lives of all of those on the payroll, the Board of Directors and even the Stockholders.

Now I know some of you that are reading this are probably steamed and mumbling something under your breath about "maintaining standards of decency" or something of that equivilent. You know what, I agree with you. I just don't believe a boycott does that. Oh, like the disgruntled Church member, you may get your way but there will be great animosity involved somewhere along the line.

Now, here's an idea that just might work. Instead of being watchdogs for wrong doers and attempting to bully or coerce them into doing things our way, why don't we focus on the positive? How do we do that?

Why don't we (as Christians) organize positively and create an organization that recognizes and endorses stores that maintain the values that we believe in? Sort of like a "CSA" (Christian Seal of Approval) Then, why don't we, as Christians, support those business's to the hilt, even if it costs us more, (shudder to think it) MONEY?

Some may say, it is the same difference as a boycott but I assure you that it is not. If we recognized, endorsed and supported Christian value oriented stores then instead of being confrontational, threatening and bullying to other stores, I believe we would become pursued by them. Instead of listing our demands, I believe others would begin to enquire of our requirements. Instead of trying to win a battle with the "power of our money", I believe we would show the world the power of our beliefs.

Goods and services are going to be bought by everyone and I can fault no one for doing so. And when I recieve my goods or services that is the end of my responsibility over that money. But if I choose to buy those goods or services from people of like mind, I believe I can maintain my standards without bullying anyone.

I've never liked bullies. I doubt I ever will.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

What makes you tick?

Have you ever given much thought to how you would describe yourself to someone else? No, I don't mean the false bravado, macho front that most of us put up but what is it that really make you tick? I've been thinking about that in recent days and in some ways I'm hard pressed for an answer. I've come to the conclusion that I've managed to build a complicated and simplistic life, all at the same time!

I love to laugh. I told my Grandfather at a young age that I wanted to be a Comedian when I grew up. I decided that after my Grandfather confirmed my suspicion that Jerry Lewis had a million dollars!

I don't mind crying. I don't sit around working one up but I'm not afraid too either. I think it's foolish to equate manhood with the absence of tears. It's a release of emotion that is healthy for the most part. Now, if you are sitting around crying all day and every day then there is something else at work there but if you shed a tear when the Bears lose, you're OK in my book. (cause the Bears don't lose!)

For the most part, I do my best to maintain a consistent mood. I'm not real fond of moody people. I try not to take it out on others when I've had a bad day. I attempt to live balanced and sometimes I succeed. That doesn't mean living with a lack of emotion either. I can get pretty ticked at times and for the (hopefully) right reasons but I've also learned that "I'm sorry" doesn't hurt near as much if you really mean it.

Sometimes I think I have really deep thoughts and sometimes I think I just have gas and a few times I can't tell the difference between the two. I believe I was put on this earth to be a Leader and I try to live by Mark Twains definition. "A Leader without anyone following him, is simply a man on a long walk." (not an exact quote)

I love life! Some people serve God because of what they hope to get in a life to come. I believe He has a great life for us here as well. No, it doesn't always go according my plan our even my hopes but it ain't bad!

The longer I live the more I'm convinced that there is a purpose for everything you encounter. Sometimes the purpose remains hidden until a later time but it is constantly there. My current job is a good example. Two years ago if you would have asked me why I was working there, I would have mentioned the need for Health Insurance and the ability to pay bills on time. It was true then as well as now but it is only part of why I am there. I have a great group of "kids", as I call them, that do a great job and are fun to be around. Occasionally, I attempt to impact them positively and I believe that is truly why I am there. Sometimes I cut up with them a little too much but hey, did I mention that I love to laugh?

My life is many, many things but one thing that it is not, is boring. I've been called a lot of things and most of them have been good but my two favorites are Debbie's man and Sam's Dad. It don't get any better than that!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Crippled by technology

As I had stated in my last post, my computer crashed at some point, while we were gone over Thanksgiving. Thankfully, I had it under warranty and thought it would be fixed by now but---- not just yet. They did call to tell me that it can't be fixed so the even better news is that I will get a brand spanking new one. The bad news is that it will be a few more days.

For now, I am limited to making an occasional blog entry at work. Yes, I am slaving away! ;<)

It's funny how dependant we have become on computers. This predicament has really altered my day to day operation. I have an old lap top at home but I can't access the internet with it so I'm finding out how weird it is or maybe more accurately, how dependant I have become upon computers.

I'm not saying it's a bad thing but it was something I was unaware of, for sure. I read somewhere then other day, (can't remember the source so please excuse me) that we live in an age where we have to go to coffee houses with internet access so that we can communicate electronically with people we don't really know, while we sit surrounded by strangers!

That is funny and sad at the same time. It's got me thinking about rediscovering the art of communication, the old fashion way. Actually talking to people! Novel concept, isn't it?