Thursday, December 20, 2007

Yeah, it's kinda' like that...

I friend of mine sent this to me. Thought you'd get a kick out of it.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Have you ever been so proud that you felt as if you could burst into a song about peace, joy and love? OK, maybe that's a stretch... But this whole last month I have seen things that have truly warmed my heart and deeply encouraged and satisfied my soul.

Some of you might know that Willow Community Church nearly closed its doors just over two years ago. There were very good people working very hard to keep that from happening but things had to change. Apparently, Willow had three pastors in about four years. They had seen the congregation dwindle to around 30 people on any given Sunday and they were being buried under a mountain of debt. Kimy, my wife, started working for Willow's daycare program a few years ago, so we were able to meet some of the people and learn about some of the struggles they were encountering. As we learned more, we began to pray that God would change the situation and allow His people to see victory in Spiritual and financial health. Eventually, I caved in to the pressure I was feeling from God to inquire about the problems at Willow from the West Michigan District of the Wesleyan Church. It was during that time, the decision was made bring me to Willow as the Senior pastor.

Willow has since seen the number of people triple to around 90 on most Sundays and even 100 on occasion! We have also seen people's lives transform right before our very eyes. Younger and older alike, have asked Jesus into their hearts and have grown from seekers to fully devoted followers of the Messiah.

Because the work of the church is multifaceted, God has placed His people in key positions to get that work done. Pastor Dave Kallenbach is not only one of my very best friends, but he is also a wonderful leader and man of God. He does just about anything I ask him to do and he sees what needs to be done. I have seen him grow into an awesome Christian man and I know that God has major plans for him and Annie, his wife. They have both have been very instrumental in the inner-workings and structure of Willow. They both have made big sacrifices in order to see God's work fulfilled in North West Lansing. I could never thank them enough for all they have done.

Willow also needs solid lay leadership and God has provided for that as well. Each Wesleyan Church needs a Local Board of Administration (LBA). This board is responsible for, yeah, you guessed it, the administration of the church. Recently, the six people on the LBA have had to deal with the financial struggle that Willow has been dealing with for several years. We have worked and reworked the budget to get it inline with current giving and income trends. We have had to make deep cuts and limit all spending to just the necessities of keeping the doors open. All through this process, these leaders have stayed positive and encouraged. They have lifted my mood to the heights of joy by staying the course and working very hard to make things balance. Sue VanderJagt is the treasurer and has done an amazing job putting all the numbers together. She is very gifted at using QuickBooks and explaining things in terms that anyone could understand. Annie Kallenbach has also been involved with all the spreadsheet stuff and has exercised extreme faith when paying the bills with our last few dollars. The other members of the LBA have been key in helping to allocate the funds we do have and then praying, in faith, that God has already provided for the needs that we have. My heart is totally overwhelmed at the work, faith and example of Troy Pence, Sheree Ritchie, Bob Hodges, Paul Brehob and Kyle Glashower. These are true men and women of renown! we still have significant financial needs, but because of the prayer of these people, I have every confidence that God will provide!!

Then there is Kimy. She is the best thing God has given Willow Community Church!! She does nearly everything that no one else wants to do. Not only is the church's chief administrator, she is also the book keeper for the daycare and the women's ministry leader. The thing is... she is also my best friend, confidant and wife. I can not imagine being in the role that I have without her by my side. She has a heart that is just huge for God's work at Willow, but her true ministry is to me and her family. I'm not sure I can put this into words that will capture my thoughts, but I don't think Willow would be as strong as it is becoming if it were not for the work Kimy has done for me and my family. Again, my heart just swells as I think of her and the things she has done for me, which in turn impacts nearly everything at Willow

Wow, I've blubbered way too long! I know I haven't mentioned everyone that has helped Willow become successful, but I hope they all know how much I love them and how much they are prayed for.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Come, they told me....

I have been playing the drums for Willow Community Church for just about a year. I never really played before. I did play the conga's, tambourine, rain stick and various other percussion instruments at Faith Church for a few years, but I never sat behind the floor kit. I gotta' tell ya', I LOVE IT!! I never thought someone could love something so much. I have the very fortunate opportunity to practice just about any time I want because the drum set it set up on the platform in the Sanctuary adjacent to my office. I have actually found that I receive thoughts about my sermons and wisdom about situations in life while I sit and bang the skins. I can't really explain it, but I actually worship while I'm playing. On Sunday mornings for instance, I try not to get too carried-a-way while playing with the worship band, but sometimes, the words and message coupled with the emotion of the music flat out overwhelms me. I try not to be showy, and I hope that isn't what people see, but sometime I just gotta Praise!!

I wonder if that's how God feels about His favorite instruments? Think about it... If God's children can find so much joy in playing an instrument for the intended purpose of worship, how much more joy must the Creator feel when His created instruments fulfill their intended purpose?

Check out this little bit of scripture. It's the drummer's permission slip!!!

Psa 98:4 Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.
Psa 98:5 Sing unto the LORD with the harp; with the harp, and the voice of a psalm.
Psa 98:6 With trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the LORD, the King.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Friday, November 30, 2007

Are you ready to vote??

January 15th is slated to be the day Michiganders vote for their parties candidate for the next President of the United States of America. Yep, January 15th. That seems really early to me. Does anyone think that, too? Now, there could be some legislation that would change to a later date, but I haven't heard anything about that. Have you? I have heard a lot about the Iowa caucus which is going to be held on January 3rd, but I haven't heard much if anything about the dozen or so other states having primaries in January as well. I have also heard that the people who actually run the day of voting in Michigan could not get ready in time to meet the Jan. 15th deadline.

Assuming that January 15th is the Michigan day of voting, then where is all the mudslinging and add campaigning? I have only seen a few commercials and very few yard signs. It seems to me that in the past we would have been inundated with TV adds that most of us either tuned out or changed the channel only to find another political commercial. I also remember pulling yard signs out of the ground for some candidate that I really didn't like only to turn around and find another one from a candidate I didn't like even more. Come to think of it, I pulled the signs out for the people I did like because I never gave them permission to put one in my yard in the first place.

Most of you might not be too surprised to know that my political tastes lean to the right side of things. I consider myself to be a conservative when it comes to religion and politics. I look for candidates that reflect a conservative fiscal outlook and a conservative social agenda. I have to admit, I'm not sure I know enough about any of the policies from any of the candidates, both Republican or Democrat, to make an informed decision on January 15th. I have seen some of the commentary from the debates that have taken place, but I've never been all that informed by thirty second sound bytes. I haven't seen a voter's guide put out by any PAC or anything from the two big parties that explains each candidates position on all of the hot issues. I have, however, seen a cool add spot about how Mike Hukabee would protect our U.S. boarders (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MDUQW8LUMs8)! Well, it appears that I'm gonna have to do my own research and look up the candidates voting records and personal policies all by myself with just a little help from Mr. Google and Mr. Yahoo.

Let me know what you have seen or who you would endorse if you had to pick someone you like on January 15th.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Saturday, November 24, 2007

What to do?

I know it's been a while since my last post. By the time I get to sit and relax and do something I want to do (as opposed to what I have to do) I really don't want to have to think very much. Between preparing Sunday messages, ordination prep and the all too real human factor, my brain is pretty much spent!

But... something keeps coming up that is worth bringing me out of my self imposed semi-retirement from the blogosphere. The issue that keeps coming up is the Willow Sunday Morning Experience. I am struggling with how much weight to put on all of the comments that have been made, both positive and negative.

I have been given solicited and unsolicited feedback about every possible aspect (and some I would never have thought of...) regarding the Sunday morning worship service, so much so that the comments seem to be contradicting themselves. Here's a good example of what I'm noticing: recently I heard that the music was totally awesome and filled the room just right and then I heard that the music was way too fast and a little too loud. Keep in mind that the people speaking to me were speaking about the exact same service! Now I know that taste in music is very, very personal, so I don't read too much into those comments.

If I followed and applied all the advice I've received just over the last few months, I would have to make sure that we sing mostly rock-n-roll worship songs because that keeps people excited and gives new people something to identify with and do mostly hymns because that helps people remember what God has done for them in their past and allows new people to understand the theology of past church fathers and to learn how to read music from the hymnal and turn up the sub-woofer because people need to "feel" the music and that the bass needs to be very soft in the background just to give the music a little depth and to read a Bible verse or two before or during the music portion of the service because people need to know what the songs are referring to and to not include certain portions of Scripture because new people wouldn't understand what was read because they may not have heard it before and that we need to read creeds in order to express the beauty of the ancient church's liturgy and that we need to read creeds that agree with everybody's theology and that would lead to people growing in their understanding of God and that we need to be careful what creeds we use because we could lead others to be confused about what we believe and that I need to come down off the platform once in a while so people don't think I'm lording over everybody and that I need to stay up on the platform because coming down could be very intimidating to visitors and that I need to preach deeper messages so Christians can grow in their understanding of their God-given purpose and I need to preach messages that are not too deep because that will discourage new people who aren't as mature in their faith as seasoned Christians and that I need to quit worrying about the length of my messages and just let God be my clock and not go too long in my preaching because people tune out after about 30 minutes and I shouldn't use terms like preaching because our culture hears that word as negative and that I should use any of the words that are in the Bible because Jesus used them and that makes them fair game. Oh, I forgot to mention all the advice I've gotten about what version of the Bible we should use during the service and that I shouldn't even use the Bibles in the pewbacks and just put the words up on the screen so everyone can see them and read along with me from that and that I need to have a "sermon notes page" available with a three point outline and that would help people stay engaged with my thoughts and that I shouldn't use three point outlines because that is going to restrict the Holy Spirit from speaking through me what He wants me to say and that I need to be very aware that I don't speak about stuff that may be uncomfortable for new people or visitors because we want them to come back a second or third time and that I need to be the only person to speak from the platform so people know who is the pastor and that I should let more people speak from the platform so we can put out a team effort for people to see that we are all about others exercising their gifts and purposes and passions and that we need to be very careful about using words like gifts, purposes and passions because those words mean so many things to so many people.

I said all that with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek! I don't mean to offend anyone. I believe that for every person who says something about anything there are at least a few who think the same thing. If you see yourself in any of the statements above, please understand that I have heard you and that I have considered your thoughts, but please also know that I have to look at everything in light of what I think God wants. If your suggestion doesn't make it to reality, then know that it was considered and, in most cases, prayed about. I truly welcome suggestions, observations and criticisms because I do need to know if the purpose and message of Willow Community Church is getting through. Let me know if you have anything you would like to add to the list above or if you would like to take issue with anything on the list.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Christians in America

In the 1800's most people assumed that there was a God and that the Bible was true. Most people took for granted that they were Christian because they knew that they were not Jewish or Muslim. Most people had been to church and most people knew what and believed what the Bible said about Jesus being God's only Son and that He died to set them free. It was during this time that America experienced a spiritual awareness called the Second Great Awakening. In fact, this era helped shape the theology and doctrine of the Wesleyan Church and many other denominations existing today. It was also during this movement that many churches and denominations were formed to help shape political and cultural norms and standards such as the abolition of slavery and temperance.

Just recently a friend of mine made an observation about the difference between then and now that I thought was very interesting. He said that back then people took for granted that God was real and that the Bible was true. He also said that evangelism was different in that convincing people to get saved wasn't so much the issue as was telling them to change their ways and live the way they should.

So what about today? Do we need to just convince people to live the way they should? If so, then what standards would you use to set up the right way to do that? Do we need to convince people that God exists or that the Bible is true? Are we Christians just because we live in this country or are we Christians because we aren't anything else? For that matter, what is a Christian and how do you become one?

Let me know what you think and click the answer to my poll that best answers the question posted.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

To Willow With Love & Respect

Over the last several weeks, we have been promoting a new sermon series to be presented for the month of October that would deal with relationships between men and women and between man and God. We have called this series "Diamonds and Dogs". You'll notice the tag line on the pic at the top of the page as "Diamonds are a girl's best friend and a Dog is man's best friend". The idea behind this series is the fact the women and men value very different things. Most dogs have unconditional love for their master and respond with unconditional respect. Every woman I have ever met craves unconditional love and every man I have ever met craves unconditional respect.
The first two messages in this series talks specifically about how men and women are just plain different. It speaks to the thoughts of having very different opinions and ways of expressing and receiving love & respect, by using the story of Samson and Delilah found in the book of Judges in the Old Testament of the Bible.The next message deals with faithfulness and serving one another in love with respect. The fairer of our species needs to feel cared for and secure. They need to know that things are taken care of. They need to have clear and concise goals met in order to relax and enjoy life. The not so fair side of our species needs to feel understood and have some say in all things concerning the relationship. They need to have authority and know that they have been heard and understood. Take a look at Ephesians 5:22 - 33 in the New Testament of the Bible for the Scripture to make these points. (Oh, please keep in mind that when Paul addresses husbands he is talking just to husbands. The things he mentioned are between the man and God. The same is true when Paul speaks to wives. For instance, when he tells the wife to submit, he is saying that that is between the woman and God. He is not saying for men to make a woman submit).The final message is about the face only a Father could love! This is a call to a relationship with Jesus Christ. We will deal with how God loves us even if we don't feel all that lovely. We will focus on why God loves us and how He shows unconditional love & unconditional respect.
(Join me in thanking Mr. Mark Goggin (Kimy's cousin!) and our very own Pastor Dave Kallenbach for the awesome art work!!!)

OK, now that have said all that, let me deeply apologize for dropping the "Diamonds and Dogs" series for the time being. Yeah, I think I really screwed up this time. You see, at Willow we talk a lot about people following God's will for their individual lives. We try very hard to help people fulfill the purpose that God has for them that only they can do. We ask people all the time to reach deep into their faith and discern what God is asking of them. We feel strongly that God will always let you do what ever you want to do, but that He will give the conviction and then the power to do what He wants you to do. I feel the conviction in many different ways, but lately I have felt it mostly in the depth of my sermon prep time and in the depth of the night when I am all alone with just my thoughts. I actually felt God telling me to remain with "Through the eyes of Matthew" because of the momentum and response we have felt on Sunday mornings. But I followed through with what we have worked so hard on and have spent so much time preparing for and ignored the internal pressure to stay with Matthew. I can't really explain why God is so insistent on me staying with Matthew, but I must obey and follow the conviction that I have taught all of our people to follow. If you have invited someone to come to Willow in order to hear a message about relationships, please let them know about the change, but encourage them to come with you anyway because we will still be talking about the ultimate relationship with God!

If you would like to get a jump on this Sundays message, read Matthew 9:14 - 17. I've entitled this message, "In The Straight Jacket".

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

American TV?

So the new TV season has kicked off. There are so many new shows that I couldn't name them all in this post, but I do want to draw your attention to a couple of them. But first let say something about the summer time TV stuff.

Earlie this summer, ABC TV launched "National BINGO Night". I really liked the show! In fact, the American Broadcasting Company really did a great job promoting the show by having BINGO cards available for the American public to play as they watch the show. American..? Now get this, the host is a very popular TV personality that received fame from his other TV show (and also a family favorite!) on ABC called, "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition", Ed Sanders. Ed Sanders is from England, accent and all. I like him a lot, and really have no problem with his performance, but aren't there any Americans who would have done just as good a job?

NBC launched another season of "America's Got Talent". Again, I like this show a lot (I think that is because I sometimes make my self out to be a buffoon in front of people on occasion!), but two of the three judges, Piers Morgan and Sharon Obourne are from England and David Hasselhoff is apparently an International Man of Intrigue. And then there's ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" that has Leo Goodman, also from England as one of its judges. And we all
know about FOX'S "American Idol's" Simon Cowell.

"Bionic Woman" was released just this last week. I think this is going to be a great show! I do have a little problem with the lack of detail to the source material like Jamie Sommers having a long lost sister that shows up on her door step, an illegitimate pregnancy that ended up terminating because of a horrible accident, and the presence another Bionic woman!?! I also like that the National Broadcasting Company has combined elements from in the body of the new bionic women with parts from the "Six Million Dollar Man." Think about, in todays terms, the bionics used would have cost a lot more than the bionics of the 1970's which would mean Jamie would have only a bionic little finger if they called the show "The Six Million Dollar Woman". The actress that plays Jamie Sommers is beautiful (maybe not compared to Lindsey Wagner!), and she does capture a kind of innocence that lends well to her character. The actress' name is Michelle Ryan and she is also from England. She tries very hard to cover her accent, but if you listen closely, you can hear it sneak in once in a while.

"Journey Man" is going to have to really catch up in order to have a shot at staying on the tube. It follows "Heroes" on NBC. "Heroes" is fast paced and always changing. "Journey Man", on the other hand, is bit slower and the story telling drags on without a lot of answers to questions that seem to be very important to the blot. This show really reminds me of "Quantum Leap" mixed with "Early Edition", so I don't think there is a room for lot of originality (I could be wrong about that, let me know what you think). Oh, by the way, the lead actor in "Journey Man" is Kevin McKidd (love the name!!) from Scotland.

These are just a few of the things I've seen recently. I would love to hear your comments about what you have seen and what you think about current American TV.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Follow Me

We will be looking at Matthew 9:9-14 this coming Sunday (Sept. 21) at Willow Community Church. I love this passage because it explains why God became a man. Matthew first tells about his decision to follow Jesus and then tells us that Jesus didn't come to here to be a doctor to the healthy but to be a doctor to the sick. The implications from this account are enormous! After I recount the story of my own personal calling into ministry, I will explain the purpose that Jesus has for the church and for each Christian that attends the church. Notice I didn't capitalize the word church. That is because I'm not talking just about Willow Community, I'm talking about the entirety of the body of Christ on earth. I know that there is a school of thought that teaches that the church is a place to be separated from the world we live in in order to be faithful followers. But I strongly subscribe the school of thought that the church exists to be a part of the world and not separate from it in order to be the doctor to the sick that Jesus is.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Names

All right, here's an observation I just made: Church planters choose interesting names for their new ministries.

I went to a meeting with a bunch of pastors from the West Michigan District of the Wesleyan Church, the denomination Willow belongs to. I love being in a denomination that is proactive about getting the truth of Jesus Christ to communities that need to know Him! It is truly amazing to me that here in mid and western Michigan four or five new churches are planning to open just this next fall!! Among the churches being planted are; The Deep, Journey, Rivertree and Overflow. Those are just the new churches I heard about today, or had heard about in the past but just now found out that they are up and running and will be in full service to their communities in the very near future. Impact, Engedi, Greenhouse, Compass and Epic are just a few that have launched over the last one to three years and are also doing wonderful work in their communities. I also have a friend that is working at a church plant in Fort Wayne, Indiana called Level 13. I think most of the above mentioned ministries have "community church" or "a Wesleyan Church" or "a Wesleyan Ministry" after the first name or as a tag line on a business card or letterhead, but for the most part they are called by just their first name. For instance, Willow is actually called Willow Community Wesleyan Church, but we, in daily use, just call it Willow.

Now for a few questions: What do you think the name of a church says about it's people, mission and community? Should a church have the denomination name attached? Is it good to have to explain what the name of a church means in order for people to understand the mission of that church? Does a name have anything to with the identity of a ministry? Does any of this matter at all?

Monday, September 3, 2007

Sunday Sunday, so good to me,
Sunday Sunday, it was all I hoped it would be
Oh Sunday morning, Sunday morning couldn't guarantee
That Sunday evening you would still be here with me.

Sunday Sunday, can't trust that day,
Sunday Sunday, sometimes it just turns out that way
Oh Sunday morning, you gave me no warning of what was to be
Oh Sunday Sunday, how could you leave and not take me.

Oh... wait... that's not the way that song goes... but I think I like this way!

I love Sunday!! Everything about it! I love getting up early and spending time alone with my Savior and God. I love replaying the words that I'm about to speak over and over in the shower, in the kitchen, in the study... I love opening up the church and being the only one in there! I love spending time with Pastor Dave before anyone else arrives for lead worshiper's rehearsal! I love lead worshiper's rehearsal!! I can't believe this, but I have even learned to really love preaching!! I love the response of the congregation during and after each service! I just love Sunday!

Over this past winter and spring, Willow Community Church worked very hard at putting our purpose for our existing on paper. You would think that wouldn't be too hard to do, but you try putting your own personal purpose into a sentence that is easily remembered and yet captures the entire reason that you exist. Now try doing that for an organism as large as a local congregation.

The hardest thing about this job was whittling down all the things that the Church does into one sentence that is easy for everyone to remember and articulate that states why we we exist, not what we do. Through a series of exercises, we discovered that there are really only two reasons for the Church in the first place: 1) We exist for the faithful who know Jesus, OR 2) We exist for the people who do not yet know Jesus.

As a pastor, I thought this would be a no-brainer. Boy was I wrong! There were very, very good arguments against making our statement follower based and there were very, very good arguments against making our statement non-follower based. The key passage in the Bible that we looked at to draw us to a conclusion and yet hung us up at the same time was Matthew 28:19&20:
Mat 28:19

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

Mat 28:20

and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”


Since this passage ,and several others, speak to both the people who do know Jesus growing in knowledge and people who don't yet know Him at all coming into a relationship with Jesus, we decided to include them both into our purpose. We decided that we, as a church, are supposed to help people understand their purpose in order for them to know how to share their faith and bring people to Jesus. So, after all the hard work and hours of prayer for wisdom, we now know why we exist:

Willow Community Church exists to draw people to the Truth of Jesus Christ!

Now, everything we do, from Sunday morning worship to outreach to children's and youth programing must work from the above statement. How does the Sunday morning experience draw people to the truth of Jesus Christ? How does the outreach program draw people to the truth of Jesus Christ? How does the children's and youth ministries draw people to the truth of Jesus Christ?

I have been amazed at how each ministry, that has put the hard work into working out their own purpose statement for their own programs into action with the church's stated purpose, has found that they know what they have to do and are now eager to change into what God created those programs for!

I feel strongly that every person has a reason to be on the earth. I feel very strongly that each church and congregation has a reason to exist. I feel strongly that churches who actually realize and understand their purpose will be so much more effective at drawing people to Jesus than those who don't to the work. I feel equally as strongly that the hard work that must be done in order to find that purpose will pay off in a huge way! In the next few posts. I'll chronicle some of the ministries that have done the hard work to come up with a statement and how they are going to put that statement into action! So come on back and see God work right before your very eyes!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Surprise!


OK... here we go again....

When did God's children (Born Again Believers, Christians) forget that pastors usually follow the Biblical examples of Jesus and His apostles? Recently people have approached me about marriage. In three separate cases, there has been one thing in common; a Christian marrying a non-Christian. I told all three of them that I'm bound by Biblical mandate not to marry couples who are not equally yoked. Each of the inquiring parties seemed utterly surprised that I wouldn't even consider their request. I did tell all of them that I would consider the possibility of leading them through 6 to 8 weeks of pre-marital counseling, but I could not marry them in the eyes of the congregation and God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. On second examination, each of the couples in question back peddled and mentioned that their significant other person did have some Catholic or other religious background but hadn't attended church or mosque in quite some time. One of them even mentioned that they live with there boyfriend, but do not engage in anything improper.

Don't get me wrong, I love each of the people that have talked to me. In fact, I love them all so much it makes me want to help them see truth through the eyes of the Bible and Jesus Christ. I desperately want them to know why the Bible has such high standards for Christians and the life God has in mind for them. I want them to understand that I will not help them live in blatant disregard for Biblical truth only to have them suffer throughout the rest of their marriage and possibly the rest of their lives because I endorsed something unendorsable in the eyes of God. That is why it is so hard to not help them as they think I should. I am not judging any of them on any basis but Scripture and their words and admissions. I'm not saying that they are bad people, I'm just saying that if what they told me is true, then there is no way I can help them the way they want me to.

Since I made a commitment to allow Jesus Christ to rule my life, I gave up the right to make my own decisions in regards to doing what I want to do. I want to do the things asked of me by people, especially people I like and love, but I can not do anything that goes against what I already said I would do for my Saviour and Lord, Jesus Christ.

I love you guys to much to be a part of leading you away from God's explicit, revealed truth. I'm still not sure why that is so surprising...?...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

I've tried to write this blog about 10 different times. I think I really have something to say, but I'm just not sure how to say it. I don't want anyone I've spoken with over the last six months to think that I'm talking about any of them in particular. So here goes...

There are so many Christians out there that are desperately seeking God's will for your lives. You pray and pray that He will show you what you should do when you grow up and how to live until then. But here's the thing... You will never understand God's special revelation about your life if you do not follow His written and revealed will about you first. Think about it... If you really want to understand why you're having such an awful time with your relationship with your boyfriend, stop living with him. If you want to change your financial situation, then start tithing. If you want to get a better job, then work really hard at the one you already have. You see, all three of these things are discussed in the Bible, so you already know God's will. It's all there. And so much more.

It still just amazes me that some Christians are clueless about why they just aren't hearing from God to deliver them from the jam that they are currently in. Believe it or not, God will always allow your will to supersede His. You can do anything you want, and He'll never stop you. He just won't. He wants you to allow Him to work within your heart, but He will never force you to do His bidding, which also means He won't force you to do something you don't want to do. But... you will live the consequences of the choices you make. If there is total sincerity in your confession and apology, God will forgive you, but He will most likely allow the consequences to happen. You will then have to trust Him that He will take care of you anyway. I guarantee, for example, that if you start tithing, you will see God take care of your needs (food, rent, doctor's bills) not necessarily your wants (cable TV, high speed Internet access, cigarettes).

So, I contend that most of the problems you face are most likely consequences of your own choices or choices of the people you hang around with. I also contend that you will never know the unrevealed, abundant life that God has in mind for you until you start living in the revealed will of God found in the Scriptures. God doesn't take control of your life unless you are willing to be obedient to what He has already told you to do if you are a Christian.


'Nough said.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Passion


Today was a great day! I invited all of our ministry leaders to say a little something about the ministries they lead. All of them did just awesome! Each one of them told our congregation about the new programs that they are launching in September and how the congregation can get involved. Each one of them shared that they were not just leading these ministries, but that they felt called by God to fulfill their purpose. I love that! Every one of the people who spoke made it very clear that God had developed a deep passion for the ministries that they lead. Each one of them described how they felt compelled to do what God told them to do. That was really cool! You see, at Willow Community Church we believe that every person has a purpose to be on this planet. We believe the everybody has a reason to be here, and these people have found their purpose.

It was just incredible to hear all them speak, but one lady, in particular, really touched my heart. Heather has been coming to Willow for about two years. She has a Catholic background, but married a wonderful man who has a Protestant background. So, when they moved to Lansing to attend MSU they found Willow. It has been really cool to see how Heather has grown! When I first met her she was a little shy and didn't seem to know where to fit in at Willow. In fact, on a scale from 1 to 5 (1 being unchurched without much knowledge of God or Jesus, 5 being a fully devoted, reproducing Christian) she would have fallen squarely in the 3's. She knew Jesus and understood His work on the Cross and considered herself a Believer. But over the last several months, she has sensed God calling her to go deeper with Him. She had been feeling that she needed to make prayer more important in her life and is now leading the front for a movement of prayer for our entire congregation! She has moved from a 3 to 41/2 in just few short months. She has gone from showing up on Sunday to leading one of the most critical ministries any church could every have.

I'm not sure where the church got this idea of producing a bunch of programs and then struggle to find people to lead them or even just work in them. I have found that the most effective churches pray and ask God to raise up people with passion for things that the church must do. If your church needs a children's ministry then God will bring you children's coordinator or a children's pastor. If your church needs a trustee to keep the building together, then God will bring a handi-man. You see, effective churches ask what a person is passionate about or what do they think God is calling them to do and then helps them fulfill that purpose. Philippians 4 makes it very clear that Christians are all called to serve in expanding the Kingdom of God on earth. But the church must help God's people discover their purpose and prepare them for works of service.

Seeing people discover what they were created for is the biggest kick I get out of pastoring! I love knowing that Willow is helping our people fulfill God's purpose for there lives. Today was just about as big a day for me, personally, than just about anything I have ever experienced!!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Ok, Ok, Ok, I have heard your cry for more from yours truly! I'll start crankin' stuff out very soon! Please let me know that you're reading (it really does motivate me to write more!).

Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Amazing Race 12!


Ok, this is going to sound a bit crazy to some of you; Dave Kallenbach and I have sent in applications and a 2 1/2 minute video requesting that the producers of The Amazing Race consider us as a team for the filming of their 12th season!

We both have loved the show for several years and think we would do well. We really want to see how well we can work together under the microscope of the world lens and we know that we would grow in trust and understanding as a result of spending 30 to 40 days, 24/7 together! The idea of funding Willow Community Church with the prize money is also just little bit in the back of our minds.

If the producers of the show call us for an initial interview, Dave and I would go to Chicago on our own ticket. If we do well there, we would be sent to L.A. on CBS's ticket! We should hear something sometime in early March.

Check out the Amazing Race Website for more information about the show.

oh, yeah... I just created a new website on MySpace. My 14 year old daughter had been bugging me for quite some time and I finally caved in. But the only way to let her do it is if I did it with her and at any point I find something I don't think is appropriate, then I have the right and responsibility to pull the plug on her space and mine! Point your browser to: www.myspace.com/kiddsplace

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

WHAT THE BLEEP? I'M BACK!!

I've been out of touch for a long time in the blogosphere. Things have been good for me and my family. Yeah, good but consuming. The last two months have definitely been consuming. Maybe, sometime in the future, I'll catch you all up on the inner-workings of the Lawson's 2006 last quarter... maybe.

As far as Willow Community Church... Things have been fantastic!! We are now averaging 90 people every Sunday morning. We saw 15 people give their lives Jesus Christ and a number of those have made a request to be baptized. We have made a few changes in the Sanctuary that has enhanced our worship experience, and the worship music has become something I very much look forward to participating with each week, and we are starting to offer a decent children's program, and we have reached over 1200 people a free gift with no strings attached, and, and, and... But the thing that is bringing the most people into our church is our people! They just keep inviting their friends and family! And their friends and family are sticking around! It truly is fantastic!!

There has been a lot of stuff going on right now around the world that I could write about and that I have opinions about, but something just recently came to my attention that apparently has been around for quite sometime. A friend of mine lent me a DVD over the week-end. I had heard about this DVD through the internet and I think I saw it at Blockbuster, but the title didn't seem to catch my attention enough to rent it. So... out of respect for my friend I watched it. "And now, a word from our Pastor..."

"What the Bleep Do We Know? Down the Rabbit Hole" will definitely intrigue just about anybody who takes the time to watch it. It's a slick production edited in a drama/ documentary/ cartoon/ classroom filmstrip/ human interest/ computer animation kinda' way. "What the Bleep?" hit two theaters in up state Washington back in 2004. It gained a bit of a reputation and started opening in art house theaters all over the Pacific Northwest. Eventually, it gained a place at every independent film festival around the globe and even won top honors in just about every contest it entered. Last year, the producers packaged it in a super expanded, six (6!) DVD set with three hundred minutes (300!) of extra footage and interviews and named it "What the Bleep Do We Know? Down the Rabbit Hole". This is the version I watched.

I'm not even sure where to begin...........

Oh, how about here: the producers of the DVD setup a pretty cool way of feeding you the stuff not included in the original release. In the opening menu you have the option of automatically being sent to the extra footage (called rabbit holes) when it is actually talked about in the movie (this will add about 300 minutes to your viewing experience) in an integrated and seamless way. Another option allows to see at random the footage in a "you don't know what you're going to get next" kinda way and (what I thought was just a little weird) could start and end in less that 30 minutes or include all 300.

Or, how about with the proposed premise of the film: Quantum Theory. Yep, that's right, Quantum Theory. Specifically, Quantum Mechanics. (Are you still with me?) The writers of the script interviewed several "experts" from the scientists/ physicists world and included almost all of the footage they shot.

Or, how about with the drama that is interspersed throughout: A woman in the middle of an emotional breakdown. Yep, intriguing, isn't it?

But what I really want to tell you is that this film is really about a group of people from Washington who are trying to merge science with spirituality, individualism with Universalism. Yep, Transcendental Meditation Universalism. In fact, all but one of the scientists follows a New Age guru who goes by the name Ramtha. Oh, maybe now would be a good time to tell you that Ramtha is channeled through a housewife from Tacoma named JZ Knight (the "J" stands for Judy!).

I could go on and on about the theories in the film, but what good would it do? The very nature, as I understand it, is that Quantum anything can not be fully understood because when there is an "observer" (a person or measuring device) introduced into the experiment, the results will change into actuality instead of a probability. Watch the film and see how they dance around explaining something they themselves admit can't be explained and how they try over the course of hours, to draw the conclusion that God is the Universe and that we are all connected to God through Quantum Mechanics and that we all will see soon enough the merging of physical and spiritual reality.

What the Bleep DO I Know, is that as a Christian I already know the answers to life, the Universe and everything (besides, didn't Douglas Adams already discover infinite probability way back in the 70's?).

I would love to debate about this with anyone else who has seen the the film or anyone interested in how God is not the Universe but the Creator of the Universe from a close minded, rugged individual who knows a little bit about religion and philosophy.