Tuesday, January 31, 2006

It went well...

The church business meeting is history...and it went well.

Thank you, Lord.

Thursday, January 26, 2006


"Church business"??? Those two words linked together can conjure up all kinds of mental images, undoubtedly impacted by past experiences or even secondhand information from someone else.

I am guessing no one perks up with excitement when the topic is introduced. There is probably a collective sigh signalling discomfort or an arched eyebrow of apprehension.

Even at Grace, the church I pastor, we all have our memories and reservations. There have been occasions where an open forum provided an unwelcomed opportunity for a staff member's reimbursement package to be ridiculed based on perceived productivity. We have grimaced as volunteer bookkpeepers were literally "raked over the coals" for incorrect entries. Many have come to approach these meetings with a sense of dread because there always seems to be an accentuation of the negative and the promotion of personal agenda concerns, overshadowing the attempts at open disclosure, congregational participation, and happy anticipation of a new year of increased ministry opportunity.

It has taken a long time--at least, much longer than we expected--to get our new facilities completed. As we near the exciting conclusion of the task we can't help but wonder about the few who suspect alterior motives, profligate spending and other assorted innuendos of incompetency. Will we speak the truth in love?

Church business meetings should be characterized by Christian principles of conduct--believing the best, in honor preferring another, edifying the body, applauding accountability, determining to walk in faith and responsible stewardship of resources, etc. At Grace we have no reason to suspect or expect anything less.

Church business is not a necessary evil. It is an incredible opportunity to demonstrate Christian principles at work, even when people have a different point of view and disagree. It should be a model for others to see of Christian brothers and sisters agreeing together to put the needs of the body above personal preferences.

We get to see how well that works on Sunday. Let's be praying together as we look back at a year of blessing and forward to a year of opportunity.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The building

We are now in our eighteenth month of construction of our 26,000 square foot facilities. It seems much longer than that, and 2-3 months of coordinated construction remain. It will be a race to Easter Sunday...on a wounded horse, I suspect.

Sometimes I avoid talking about...the building.

But as we round the final turn I am thinking about all of the lessons I have learned in route to the finish line.

1. God and I have much different time tables.

2. I am constantly surprised about God meets specific needs.

3. There are some wonderful people who have gone beyond the "call of duty" in making the building happen. They are the real heroes, and, often, unseen.

4. Adversity creates unity; at least for those who are making the daily decisions we have learned the value of working together.

5. I have had to defer to others, to much wiser men than me, in some key decisions--a gratifying experience.

There are other lessons I could mention--and more to learn, I am confident. The building has been a building experience for me personally. I can almost think of it and smile.

The building...

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

who's in control?

Our neighbors to the north in the fair state of Oregon have the backing of the United States Supreme Court, in its 6-3 decision to allow the distribution of "drugs to produce death", arguing that the "federal drug law did not give the Justice department the authority to regulate the practice of medicine". In 2001 Attorney General John Ashcroft has authorized the prosecution of doctors under the federal Controlled Substance Act because assisted suicide is not a "legitimate medical purp0se for drugs controlled under the law".

Judge Scalia wrote in the minority dissenting opinion, "If the term 'legitimate medical purpose' has any meaning, it surely excludes the prescription of drugs to produce death"...hardly a novel idea. Jay Sekulow. chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, added, "This is a disturbing and dangerous decision that can only lessen the value of protecting human life."

Of course the applause is heard from those who insist that the denial of this "privilege" violates state and individual rights, and that its acceptance allows for dignity, compassion and love in the death scene. Charlene Andrews a terminal cancer victim, says that she takes comfort in knowing that she will control when the end comes.

We like being in control--even if it means the murder of a baby in its mother's womb through abortion to insure a mother does not lose control of her life (not withstanding the fact that the mother may have been deliberately out of control when she had unprotected sex and conceived), or, in this case, orchestrating our own death scene when the "all-knowing" doctors have determined we have six motnhs or less to live. Interestingly enough, a woman from our church family was sent home to die and receive hospice care several months ago, but hospice has now left the scene because it appears she has longer than the medically-prescribed and hospice-mandated six months to live... Who is in control here?

We don't get it. We are not in control or we could have sex and say "No baby will come from this union; I am in control"; then abortion would be an unnecessary option. Abortion suggests we weren't in control at the appropriate time (The obvious control option is abstinence but that isn't an acceptable option...is it? That would require some control).

We are just as lost at the other end of the life continuum. We want to be in control of what our death scene looks like. Never mind that our obesity, drug and alcohol usage, and obsession with stuff may drive us "uncontrollably" to an untimely demise. When we get to the end of the road we simply want to say, "Turn up the music, sit me in a chair where I can hear the ocean...and give me some drugs so I can die with dignity."

We are out of control.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

trailer camping

A recent acquisition for my wife and me was a small 18' travel trailer. We have now used it a total of two (2) times and have decided this is a way of life we can embrace with enthusiasm. Now the question is can we settle for a travel trailer when a motor home is so much nicer...and more expensive...?

What is so wonderful about trailer camping anyway? I thought you would never ask!

1. We can do it together (my wife and I treasure our infrequent time alone).

2. We can get away from the frantic pace of life (I needed a break).

3. We can see the ocean (we were just at Pismo Beach) and take long walks on its shoreline.

4. We can share this experince with friends (we just camped with three other couples).

5. We can feel close to nature and close to God (...and we did!)

We are back after five glorious days of sand and sun, and relaxation.

And that's why I like trailer camping!