Archive for November, 2011

Turkey, Chicken, Ham or Lamb?

November 22, 2011

We would agree that you can celebrate Thanksgiving by eating any of these meats or even just vegetables. My wife shocked the family last year when she announced  she would be making dressing with rotissirie chicken, which was delicious by the way and we are expecting an encore this week! Some families have to have turkey for the day, others are just happy to see the meal and have enough to share with others. Change is hard, interesting and can even be good.

This will be our first Thanksgiving without our daughter. She and her husband now live in Missouri where he is in officer training with the US Army. I don’t like it yet I am happy that she is happy and has made new friends there to share a feast with. Change is hard and can be good.  I am sure the pilgrims were happy to have any meat and bread on their table. The first year in America had been difficult and they were scratching out an existence. By the second year, life and crops were better and they had a humble feast.

In worship this time of year, we sing “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come.” That’s a good way to come to our tables this week, thankful for what the Lord has provided. A thankful heart gives way to acts of thankfulness. I recently read of a man who took cangoods to the local Food Bank as an active way of showing his thankfulness. He said it was not enough for him to just say thanks. He had to live it in a real and tangible way. Will we say thanks this week for our blessings? And will we take the next step and act on that gratitude in concrete ways?

 

Does Your Church Have IT?

November 8, 2011

The staff and I have been discussing this question for the past six weeks. I guess it’s because I required them to read an interesting book by Craig Groeschel, How Churches and Leaders Can Get It and Keep It.” Craig really never defines IT or says how to get IT. He just states that when you have IT, you know IT and you like IT. We have surmised that having IT has to do with being focused, not trying to be all things to all people, being prayer centered and expecting IT to happen in our church.

This past Sunday it was obvious that we had IT on the hill. That is, here at Sugar Hill United Methodist Church, the church located on the highest point in the metropolis of Sugar Hill, a small suburb of Atlanta close to Lake Lanier. Enough geography – the bottom line is that the fellowship, worship and hospitality was IT this past Sunday. The music connected with our hearts, the sound was good & balanced, the choir was confident & the folks said the message was sincere and right on with the needs and hopes they are wrestling with. The key factor is that the presence of the Holy Spirit, the living God who created all things and is the source of all life, was real and tangible to the worshipers.

This is what IT is all about. So how do you keep IT? We liked IT, folks are excited about IT and we want to stay connected with IT. Again, Craig does not explain how to keep IT.  His book and our discussions keep pointing to these factors to obtain IT and keep IT:   a core group of praying believers who expect the Spirit to show up and move mightily, a focus on addressing hurts and hopes in the community, an openness to change, doing a few things well, not getting too comfortable and listening to the Spirit and the voice of God speaking through the body of believers.

I do not believe you find IT. I am convinced IT comes to us when we seek IT, expect IT and are open to where IT wants us to go and who IT wants us to be. IT flows from the very heart of the God who loves us and has a kingdom purpose for every church and every follower of Jesus. I am glad IT comes not on my schedule. IT comes on the divine timetable of the holy one who loves us and gives us new life.