Archive for the ‘ministry’ Category

I was hungry and you formed committees.

I was thirsty and you preached sermons.

I was naked and you said, “That’ not in the budget.”

I was sick and you sang another chorus while internally debating traditional verse contemporary style of worship.

I was lonely and you rushed to the restaurant to get the best booth.

I was in prison an you held another congregational meeting.

I tell you the truth: whatever you did to the least of these, you did unto me.

There are people who have been a part of my life that have left a legacy for me. Their names have never been in bright lights. People are not surrounding them with cameras flashing asking for their autograph, yet they have left a legacy. They have made an impact in my life which I am forever grateful. It was often the small things they did that made the greatest impact. The 3rd grade teacher who gave me a Bible when I did not have one of my own. I do not remember her name or any of the classes she taught. I did not understand the words in the King James Bible she gave me, but I remember that she cared about me enough to take me to the church book store and buy me a Bible.

I recall the man who took me to the basketball games at Oklahoma Christian when I was in middle school. I don’t remember what class he taught at church, but I do remember the way he cared about me and it left a legacy for me to love others.

My parents have always cared for me and wanted the best for me. They have left a legacy for me. I do not remember all the words they have spoken, but I do know their love for me.

I want to ask you the question—what legacy are you leaving? How will you be remembered? I hope to be remembered as one who loves people. I want to live my life in such a way that all those who know me understand that I loved them. I like when people remember a sermon I preached. I love when kids remember an illustration I gave to explain a Bible point; but more than anything I want people to know I loved them and that God loves them. I want to leave a legacy. However, sometimes life gets in the way. I get so busy going from one task to the other and one activity to the other, that I fail to love. I fail to leave a legacy.

How about you? Do you find yourself so busy that you do not have time to love people? Do you find you do not have time to serve others? Maybe you are going through life staying busy and you even have your name in the paper and you make the headlines, but you are not leaving a lasting legacy—is it really worth it? We have a lot of kids at our church who need someone to leave a legacy for them. They need to know they are loved and cared for. Yet, in our busy way of life, we cannot find the time to love them. We cannot find the time share our hearts, to teach a class, to leave a legacy. What legacy are choosing to leave?

Last month we had a fall festival at church. Kids came and played games and were rewarded with candy. We tried to be as intentional as possible about setting it up in a way that we were able to interact with the kids and their parents. I think we succeeded in some small way with interacting with the families. I got to spend some good time playing and talking with the kids. I worked three games and it was so much fun. I loved meeting the families. It seemed the most popular game of the evening was the soccer ball kick. Basically we had a goal and the kids kicked the soccer ball into the goal. What I liked about it was the way the kids took their time to aim their kick. This gave us a great opportunity to talk. There were lots of names and faces and I know I will not remember them all, but I will definitely remember one family. There were 4 kids of varying ages and a mom. They were friendly as I said hello and introduced myself. One of the girls came dressed up in a home made costume. I could tell she felt uncomfortable with some of the other kids wearing their store bought costumes and the look in her eyes told me she wanted to fit in and have a nice costume like the other kids. I could tell from her hair style and the sparkly jacket she was dressed as Hannah Montana. I watched this family as they went to various games. Understand that most of the people working were of retirement age and had no idea who Hannah Montana was. However, they could recognize Spiderman, Batman, and Batgirl This made the girl feel even more inferior. When she came to my game, I decided to treat her like a star. I walked over to hand her the ball for the game and said. “Wow! Hannah Montana is right here beside me.” The girl smiled because I recognized her costume. I began to ask her what her favorite song was, what she liked about performing, has she ever done a talent show at school, would she be willing to sing for us. Her mom got teary eyed as I asked “Hannah Montana” for her autograph. As the girl walked away with a big smile, her mother stayed behind and said “thank you.” The family was so moved by the experience, they stayed after everyone else had left to help us clean. We loaded their arms with left over candy and food. I walked with the family to their car and thanked them for coming. I especially thanked “Hannah Montana” for coming to visit us. Their eyes and smiles were beaming with joy and happiness as they drove off. I said a silent prayer for the family and went to hug my own kids and tell them how much I loved them.

What I did was nothing significant. I did not solve world hunger. I did not explain the deepest mysteries of life. I made a family smile. I made a little girl feel good about herself. I made a mom cry tears of joy. It was so small, yet it made a difference to that child and to that family. I often find myself around people who want to make a difference but do not know how. They feel in order to make a difference, they have to do something really big and life changing that converts hundreds of people. I understand where they are coming from. I used to have those same thoughts. I thought if I made a difference in the world – it would have to be huge and gain national attention. But the fact of the matter is I made a difference to that little girl and her family. She went from feeling awkward and inferior at the beginning of the evening to confident and filled with laughter by the end of the evening. Her mom went from feeling sad for not being able to buy her daughter a costume to feeling so happy that her daughter’s costume brought her so much attention. Making a difference in someone’s life is not always some big act of kindness like giving them a car or house; sometimes it’s making them smile and feel good about their life. I thank God that I met “Hannah Montana.” She reminded me that life is about building others up when the world tries to tear them down.

Excitement building

Posted: August 1, 2007 in church, ministry, Sallisaw, worship

Things continue to progress in Sallisaw. We are still staying in Muskogee, but it is not too bad. My time so far has been spent getting adjusted to the town, setting up my office, and brainstorming on ways to meet people and reach out to them. David (our senior minister) and I have spent a lot of time talking about what we want the new service to look like. We know there are certain elements we want to focus on:

Community experience,
Corporate and personal worship
Active, participatory worship
Transformation
Reconciliation
Conversational
Dialog with God
Calling upon God for help, guidance, deliverance
Family, togetherness, community
Search for something to base life on, truth, meaning
Genuineness, authenticity
Intensity
Worship experience, engaging all the senses.

It will be a church that is Personal yet built around Community.
A church that practices acceptance, yet seeks transformation.
One that provides a foundation and truth to build life around.

I am so excited to get started and begin putting these theories and principles into practice. Please keep praying for us as we seek to live out the Gospel to the people around us.

It was a great and exhausting week of spring break. A group of students and faculty members from Ozark Christian College came to work with Memphis Urban Ministry for the week. It was a great time of outreach and service. Sunday evening we passed out flyers and registered kids for the two day kids camp that would be taking place on Tuesday and Wednesday. It was a good opportunity for the people to see Memphis and the neighborhood they would be working with during the week. The area of focus was Clearborne homes which is saturated with poverty. Monday was a day spent preparing chili and serving lunch to the community. Many homeless men and women came through the line as well as many families who stated they would not be able to feed their children if they did not have that meal that day. About 70 people were served lunch on Monday.
Tuesday and Wednesday was spent conducting a kid’s camp. It was basically a two day VBS. About 30 kids participated in the full two day camp and there were many more who were able to attend only certain portions of the camp.
Thursday was also a great day. Hot dogs were served and clothes were given out. About 50 people came in for clothing and approximatley 10-15 more people came for lunch only.

It was a great week. I am thankful to the group from OZark who gave up a spring break to come to Memphis to serve a hurting and impoverished community. The smiles on the faces of the children and the parents who were served tells of the great appreciation.

What is church?

Posted: October 2, 2006 in authenticity, church, ministry, prayer, service, unity

I suppose you get various answers from different people based upon their knowledge and understanding of ecclesiology. For some, the church is simply a building – they say things like “That church has unusual architecture.” They are not able to separate the building from what the church is. Others view church as the assembly or public gathering. They view church as people coming together for an order of worship that includes the leading of a public prayer, singing songs, partaking of communion, public reading of scripture, and a sermon. While I agree that part of what it is to be a church involves coming together for an organized assembly involving prayer, communion, teaching, (where do the announcements come in?), and Scripture reading – I feel there is so much more to being the body of Christ.
Yesterday, Raleigh Community Church experienced what it is like to be a church. We had our corporate assembly where a praise team led the congregation in singing, public prayers were spoken, Scripture was read, a sermon was preached, and communion was served. There were even a couple of baptisms! Praise God! But what followed was church. We left the building and most everyone who attended the assembly gathered at the house of one of the members. We had a meal together. It was a great time of fellowship. We then gathered in the living room for spontaneous worship. It was amazing. It was a time of sharing our hearts through song, prayer, and testimony. If someone needed prayer, they would take the chair in the middle and we would all gather around and place our hands on them and pray and cry and rejoice with them. Tears of pain were running down the faces of the church. Shouts of victory were proclaimed. Peace was received. I arrived for worship service at 11:00 AM, by the time I got home it was nearly 6:00 PM. We were Christ’s church functioning as Christ’s church. We were white, black; young, old; highly educated, and not so highly educated united in the name of Jesus. We were the church – the body of Christ. I learned an important lesson about church that went far deeper than a sermon ever could. I learned about community in a way that reading a book could never provide. I am a part of Christ’s church.
The church is not an hour on Sunday, it is Christ’s community of people living in unity. A church is not what happens in a building with a sign out front, the church is also showing each other love and support in a living room. The church is not just what happens within the walls of a building, it is God’s people being the hands and feet of Jesus in the world around us.
Have you had an experience that taught you about what church is supposed to be?