Archive for March, 2009

life change, sorrow and death

Posted: March 20, 2009 in death, God
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Death is something that as a Christian we are taught is a “good thing” because if you are saved then leaving this life means that you are with God in heaven for eternity. That is a whole lot better then going to hell but death can still be a scary thing.

In the last week, two young people from our area passed away in automobile related accidents. My heart has sunk to a lower low than it’s been in quite sometime.  Having children the exact same ages as both of these girls made it even more real to me. Both were connected to my family in different but similar ways. 

 I was not devastated because I saw them every so often or even talked to them all that often. I was devastated because they were young, and had their whole earthly life ahead of them. I thought of the sorrow that their parents, brothers and sisters must be facing knowing that they are never going to see their wonderful daughter or sister on this earth in person again.

I then begun to think about my wife and kids and how sad it would be for them if I were not around to see them grow up. It was a lot to take in. There is a time for mourning but you cannot stay there too long without it affecting you and those around you.

This morning I spent some time alone with God to just sort out what I was feeling and why.  In the stillness of  just “being in His presence”, I felt God’s comfort reminding me that this is a big world and although tragedy happens, He is still large and in charge.

I came to a couple of conclusions that allowed me to have some closure on the issue. If anything, it has given me time to reflect on my own life and to value it. It has allowed me to look at me life and the lives of my family and see how blessed we truly are.

Philippians 4:8-9 says –

8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.

9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

What God helped me to realize was that even though these two beautiful girls were gone, I was still here. I needed to take a look around and see the blessing that were in my life and think about these things.

The mind is far more powerful then most people understand and we as Christians have to be in control of it. We can choose to dwell on death and sorrow or we can look at the good things that God has done for us.

There is a time and place for mourning, but stay there only as long as necessary because although someone may have left, you are still here.

-tom

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Over the course of time (really, everyday), much has been made about leadership. Leadership does many things, some of which goes noticed and some is behind the scenes.  For those who have never lead a major project, planned a new business or built something from scratch…..well, it looks easy from the cheap seats. Over my career in healthcare as both a staff member and in management and in planting churches, much of my own experience has taken notice of some of these attributes about leadership (and NO,  I don’t claim to have many of these, but am prayerfully working on them):

1. Leadership provides the courage to begin – it’s about action.

2. Leadership is about self-control – respond rather than react.

3. Leadership has a keen sense of awareness in what is just – to gain respect of those they lead and work alongside.

4. Leadership is about definiteness of direction – not about meaningless activity for activity’s sake.

5. Leadership is about definiteness of plans – not about guesswork, but knowing what the next best step is.

6. Leadership is in the habit of doing more than your are paid to do – it’s all about going the extra mile (even when you are a volunteer).

7. Leadership is about likeability – nothing can substitute for a smile, a handshake, eye-to-eye contact, and engaging people.

8. Leadership is about empathy – they don’t care because it’s their job, they make it their job to care.

9. Leaders have the willingness to know more than anyone else – they are students, learners, readers, and constantly gaining knowledge about the subject at hand. If they don’t have the knowledge, they find someone who does.

10. Leaders seek and gain cooperation – they understand that you don’t pay people to excel, you pay them to show up. They create an atmosphere of cooperation.

Lastly, a great leader understands and applies the principle of collaboration and alignment, and he/she sets the standards for those who follow them and their teams.

Many people call themselves leaders and yet we are in desperate need of leadership in churches, families, government, businesses…..me on the other hand, am a prayerful work in progress.

Attend a bible teaching worship service this weekend!

-tom

grace is enough

Posted: March 5, 2009 in character, God
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This is the second time that a different friend has sent me this passage this week, saying that it spoke to them about me. So,  prayerfully I share it with  you. In our lives, we will come under attack for various things and from different people (even the ones closest to us) who have different opinions.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” I read 2 Cor 12:9-10

I have had a couple days of disappointment this week. These can get us off track. Like apostle Paul, with grace, I am asking for God to help me find the delight in my weakness and the weaknesses of those who have hurt me. That’s not the worldly way to deal with life’s “ups and downs”, but let it be mine and others too.

May His grace be sufficient for ALL of us. Amen!

-tom

I can’t wait for the day that God leads Crossroads to  pull this one off. Read about the church that Ron Edmondson leads and how they laid it out for all to see. I thank God for churches who are not afraid to be transparent before God, the community, and those who may not know Him. God can and is moving mountains….let Him breathe new life into all of us.

-Tom

This is a post by Steve Timmis  that I read a couple of weeks ago about “Pastoral Care”, but find it very appropriate at this time to share with those of you who follow me,  but maybe not Steve. Church is many things, but sometimes I think some of us get it confused with our own ideals…..

-tom

Therapeutic community” is a phrase in vogue in the areas of mental illness and addiction. Groups are formed in which patients or clients live together for an extended period and take responsibility for each other. It sounds suspiciously like church to me.

The Church: The Ideal Therapeutic Community

When we become Christians, we become members of God’s household, but we all bring with us our baggage and brokenness. It might not always look like that in many of our churches, but that’s only because of the facades we erect to hide the truth. So given that we’re all broken, sanctification is about grace putting us back together again as we grow more like Jesus. This is best done in community, which means that church as the community of the Holy Spirit is the ideal therapeutic community.

Brokenness and Self-Worship

Sadly, this is often another situation in which we are keen to outsource. Anything too complicated (like depression) or too weird (like psychosis), and we’re on the phone to the local therapist before you can say “Freud was a basket case.” The gospel tells us that our brokenness is an expression of our broken relationship with God. This is the essence of sin, and sin is insanity. However we express our brokenness, in some way it is because of our refusal to worship God and our obsession with self-worship. You’re not going to hear that at the local Mayo Clinic.

The Gospel Makes Us Sane

But a word of warning. Seeing church as a therapeutic community doesn’t mean that it’s an exercise in self-indulgence; a context where we all huddle together and wallow in our condition. The gospel is that which, by the power of the Holy Spirit, makes us sane and heals our brokenness so that we live for Christ as our healing commends him and his grace to others.

Whew……..I’m ready for bed. But before I turn in, I thought I would share my day with you!

  • My day started with Sharon waking up to not feeling well…..sore throat and achy (she is still feeling YUCK), pray for her.
  • Had worship stuff  finished, was able to have extended prayer time before leaving for worship.
  • We had 3 new families at Crossroads this morning, and 22 kids in our kids worship environment. Good work Karol and student helpers! God keeps blessing, and we keep loving it every Sunday.
  • So proud of the a couple of new attenders who stepped up to be greeters this morning, with a smile!
  • Our drummer (Bill) was out at the last second, so we went acoustic for worship music, it was a lot of fun…thanks Maurice!
  • Performed 5 songs, 4 were new……..hope we don’t that again.
  • Mark did a great job filling in the ProPresenter worship stuff……nice “glassy eyed” look–Thanks Markus!
  • Craig‘s message (week 2 of “The Vow” series) was amazing, useful and can’t wait for the “Gomer Pyle” look at my house…
  • Got a great series of text messages tonight from one of the visitors from this morning saying how blessed they were to be at Crossroads this morning and they felt they have found a church home and how their kids loved our kids worship…….dang, I love it when God moves hearts like that!
  • Spent time praying this afternoon for current and future leaders at Crossroads, that we would be strong like David and faithful like Paul in all we say and do.
  • Worked out (hard) tonight at the gym….seemed to have had a desire to beat the crap out of the elliptical machine for some reason.
  • Finished a movie with my family…….and man, do I love my family. I am so proud of what God is doing in their lives and in their daily walk. Even though we are soooooo far from even being good (actually extremely broken and humble), I know each day we grow closer to Jesus Christ and being home with our Father in heaven.
  • Finally, I’ve been thinking about all the relationships being built at Crossroads since August 2008. This week is another milestone in the life of our church. LifeGroups started tonight….I got a report from one of the attenders already and she said it was so good, that she couldn’t wait until next Sunday! Two more get started Monday and Tuesday night. Please pray them up!! Thanks to Steve and Mark for working hard over the last two months to get leaders ready.

Ah, yeah. got a different look on the top of my head on Friday. Pretty high and tight (real cold in the wintertime, ya know)!

-Tom