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September 2008 entries

Encouragement at the Right Time

Thanks to everyone who wrote or spoke words of encouragement after the last blog. It means a lot to know people are praying for you. It's never been harder to be a pastor than it is today. I don't think I could do it if were not for people like you.

I wish I could say this week was much better, but as a pastor and a Christian I try to refrain from dishonesty every chance I get. Not only was the offering Sunday not good; giving for the month failed to even meet fixed costs. You know what that's like I'm sure; when the ending balance in your checkbook this month is less than the last. With continued numerical growth there were more than two hundred less givers than normal. That means ministry expenses go up while the ability to meet those needs goes down. Ouch!

In an attempt to let the congregation know of the situation our minister leading the prayer for the offering Sunday asked me if he could be blunt about our situation. I said sure. Honesty never hurts, right? Wrong. There were some who have since compared us with a certain church that often plays the "were going broke card." Others began to question if we are hurting for money why are we about to enter a fund raising campaign to build again. 

So in the midst of it all I was beginning to allow the enemy to get me down again. In what I can only attribute to your prayers, the Lord sent a young lady with some great words of encouragement. She came up to me after last Sunday's DB101 class in the Met. She explained how much Dallas Bay had meant to her and her husband and asked how she could learn more about the Bible and grow in her faith. She had never been in church before, but found Dallas Bay a place where she was accepted and did not feel out of place as she had other places. She said her friends were also attending DBBC and were unchurched and from all different backgrounds. They had all found a place they could learn and not be judged. Yeah Baby!!! Thank you Lord for sending this lady by just to affirm the vision you have given to me and so many others have bought into. Suddenly money problems and space issues became less oppressive. People, not buildings, are most important to our Lord. He's never had a money problem, anyway! 

In His Shadow,

Pastor Ken   


Lord Help Me, Is This Monday?

This is Wednesday, but if I weren't looking at my day planner I could swear it was Monday. I know I usually talk about religious stuff because, after all, that's what I've been trained and paid to do most of my adult life. Right now I'm just running to get out from under this black cloud I seemed to have been stationed under this morning. Well, it's not just this morning, it has been for a while now. 

It started with my doctor and good friend telling me I needed to go have some tests made on my heart. It seems I have a leak in my heart. That's a little more serious than the faucet in the bathroom leaking but not a death sentence. He did say, however, it may end up someday requiring heart surgery. I told him I would have to get back with him on that one.

Then my wife's mother was having back pains and went to the doctor. What should have been a slipped disk or an alignment problem became lymphoma. She has been through one chemo treatment now and has several more to go. My wife, being an only child, is pretty much consumed with taking care of her and filling in at the family based. Don't misunderstand, neither she or I resent helping her mother. She is a great lady and has always been a good mother-in-law to me. It's just that this one more worry to add to others.

Then there's the economy. Wait a minute, you say, the economy is rough on all of us. I agree, but not everyone has just finished a new multi-million dollar building that now has to be payed for. I can't blame people for cutting back especially with $4 gas, if you can even find any. But, regardless of the economy we have so many preschoolers we have run out of places to put them. 

Finally, this morning, something to look forward to. The minister of administration and I were supposed to walk through the completed building to fill the punch list with the builder and architect. That is one of the last steps before being issued a certificate of occupancy by the city. Guess what, during the night a water heater burst and flooded the floor of the new building. Lord help me!     


Is Membership Necessary?

Sunday was another big day at Dallas Bay. At last count there were 23 additions to our membership. There were 13 first time families who registered as such. What we have come to realize is that visitors may attend for a while before they choose to identify themselves. So, given that fact, I'm sure there were others who will register later. Which brings up an issue that has been brought to my attention by several outsiders looking in. Why do we count embers? Is registering as a church member even a Biblical mandate at all? 

This issue was brought to the forefront the other day as I was attending a conference in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Several hundred pastors, pastor's wives, staff and assorted other religious type were sitting around tables waiting for the evening meal. I was one of the "holy hungry" crowd also waiting for the anticipated "rubber chicken" to be served. I thought I would try my hand at small talk with a fellow sitting just beyond my executive pastor and his wife at my left. Just a word about small talk. I hate it. It is woven into the fabric of my personality to hate it. I'm a choleric and cholerics only want to talk about stuff that is important. (At least to us.) So I benignly inquired of this man, whom I had learned to be a senior pastor of a church of around 1,000 attendees, how many of his members were attending small groups or Sunday School. He quickly chirped back that he did not have members in his church. You know how a person responds when you unknowingly slap them on the back when they have a sunburn? Yeah, that's how he responded. He said, "Church membership means nothing." What I've come to realize is that membership is not important to a pastor's ego especially when the person to whom he is speaking has a larger membership than he does. I think psychiatrists call it "church role envy" or something like that. 

I honestly was not wanting to brag about or flaunt our numbers in his face, I just was trying to make small talk. Did I tell you I hate small talk. (I figure the fewer words you say the less opportunity for sticking your foot in your mouth.) His antagonistic response to my question caused me to once again evaluate why we ask people to join. Once again as I pondered the question the same word came to my mind; commitment. I ma ware that on any given Sunday that a large percentage of people who worship at Dallas Bay are not members. Some are first time guests and some people have been attending for years. It's like going to a football game. There are some people who like the idea of going to a sporting event and some who are ardent fans of the home team. Some will come if the team is having a winning season and others will come even in those seasons when they occupy the basement of the league. Some dress in team colors while others paint their body to match the team's mascot. They are all different levels of commitment in sports and that is true in church as well. I need to know who is going to be with me in dark times as well as in the light. When there aren't 23 people Joni each Sunday and the economy is going south. I need to know if we hit a rough spot in the road that a certain group of people aren't going to jump off the bandwagon. I don't know how to identify the committed as opposed to the observers without something saying in writing. It may not be the only way, but right now church membership is the best way I know how. It isn't for bragging rights at religious functions, but is a way of knowing how many people have enlisted in this battle with us. So, no Mister pastor preacher friend sitting to my left, it may not be a Biblical mandate, but it is good to know how many are committed to the same cause as I am. It's a comforting thought to know they are not just showing up on Sundays as long as it is convenient with their busy schedule. I feel better now.

Pastor Ken     

     


Thanks Jordin for Speaking Out

While it may be true that a large number of American youth may be going to "hell in a handbasket" as they feed upon the garbage corporate America is greedily dishing out, I was glad that at MTV's Video Awards last night some of the next generation pushed back. Just read Fox News account of how the audience responded when Jordin Sparks put Russel Brand in his place for making morality a reason to laugh.

 Sunday night's MTV Video Music Award host Russell Brand took several digs at young stars wearing "purity rings" to pledge their virginity until marriage — and "American Idol" winner Jordin Sparks wasn't having any of it.

Brand's running theme for the evening centered on the Jonas Brothers and their rings — until Sparks stepped on stage to have her say about his constant remarks.

"Not everyone wants to be a slut," Sparks spat back, the auditorium filling with applause. Sparks, Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez are also among the young stars who have vowed to remain chaste.

Sparks told Pop Tarts later at the In Touch magazine after-party that she was more than happy to put Brand — known as Britain's ultimate playboy — in his place.

"Somebody had to do it," she said.

The "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" funnyman also encouraged Americans to vote for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama in the upcoming election, referred to George W. Bush as a "retarded cowboy fella" and took a shot at Republican VP nominee Sarah Palin and her pregnant daughter.

It's good to see some positive press for the many Christian and moral teens that are willing to stand up against their peers and the establishment when it comes to doing what is right. Too much attention is given to the negative role models. There are still plenty good kids out there.      

Pastor Ken               


More Thoughts on Prayer

As I was preparing for this week's talk at Dallas Bay formulated these thoughts. I thought you might like to read them:

Once again, we ask, why pray?

 

We first learned God likes to be asked.

By our asking we once again are drawn nearer in a relationship that God often wants more we do. God yearns for relationship with the creatures He made in His own image.

For example, confessing my sins before God communicates knowledge He already possesses. Yet some the act of confession strengthens the relationship and achieves a closeness that wasn’t there before the confession was made.

 

Now we know that there are things only God, and only God, is able to do if He is asked.

C.S. Lewis: “He seems to do nothing of Himself which He can possibly delegate to His creatures. He commands us to do slowly and blunderingly what He could do perfectly in the twinkling of an eye. He will do nothing of Himself which can be done by His creatures.