Helpful? New blog?

So, we (by “we”, I mean my good friend Adam and not me at all) are in the process of developing and creating a new blog to replace this one. I’m told it’s going to be so much better and cooler (which will be a big feat because to make something I do “cool” is an extreme makeover of supernatural proportions). And one thing I know about blogs and really any online content is the design is only a small part of the deal — you’ve got to have something worth looking at, reading and processing through. So as we prepare for the launch of a brand new blog – I’m thinking this might be a good time to reach out to you, the readers to ask:
is what we do here helpful? what would you like to see more of? less of?
what kinds of topics would be helpful?
do you like the thoughts on church leadership? behind the scenes at Grace?
How about the sermon snapshot videos? how about the blogs about Christian growth and spiritual life? how about the extras I can’t cover in a Sunday message? what about the random rants about nothingness?

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Gift Cards

The following blog post is completely random and offers little to nothing of value, so you’re warned – this is just me rambling.

I like gift cards and I’m not sure why. I’ve heard all the reasons I shouldn’t like them: how cards get lost or how there can be like $1.47 left on one and it never gets used, and how it limits your spending to that store etc etc. And ya know maybe they aren’t the best use of money, but here’s what I found… I like them because it “forces” me to go places or buy something that I might not do otherwise. I don’t know if you’re like me, but for example, when I get a check for my birthday, that check tends to wind up in the checking account and while the person giving me the check meant for me to enjoy it, I don’t get to see that money. Now, to be clear, I’m not crying “foul play” on my wife, I don’t think she has any intention in keeping that from me — but it’s just what happens (except for this year when she gave me the cash from the check I received – yeah, Lisa!) So my “birthday money” gets spent on household things that we need. Not a horrible use of money to be sure. However, when some of that money is put in the form of a gift card let’s say to one of my favorite gift card places: Caribou Coffee or Itunes, then I get to spend that money on something I would actually enjoy. Now, one could make the argument that I don’t need another cup of coffee, that I don’t need another app or song from itunes store — but gifts aren’t always about what we need – they’re gifts! And hence we come back to the place we started: “GIFT cards”. So, I’m just saying, I like ’em and I use ’em. End of purposeless rant.

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Is it possible to educate too much?

I just returned from a trip to Aurora, IL and an effective church in that area that I’ve been in connection with (in a coaching network). I was amazed at how simple and focused they were. They do a lot less programming and education than we do at Grace, yet they are very effective at the things that they do. This got me wondering – is it possible to “over-educate”? Do we take time to question our assumptions or do programs we’ve had or even developed become “givens” too quickly? Do we create room to breathe? Do we allow for breaks and rest in our programming and scheduling so that people can practice, rest and re-gear for more?

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Finding Beauty

We live in a beautiful world created and designed by God Himself! Yet I’m not sure we all see the amazing beauty around us. We’re trained (it seems) to look for what’s wrong, what’s not working, what’s not what it could be. And I wonder if you and I began looking for the beauty if we would learn to live lives of worship? I wonder if we began to see things differently if we would discover untapped potential and reasons for gratitude? Beauty is here because God is here – do we take the time to see it, enjoy it and worship and thank God for it?

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Implications of different thinking

I am amazed at how the way we think about someone or something truly does impact the way we live.

So let’s think about the implication of a statement I made in yesterday’s message. I said: “The church is not for us, we are the church and we exist for the world. We are the physical presence of Jesus on the earth. It’s not an accident that we’re called “the body of Christ”. The world will learn what it learns about Jesus from watching the church. We are the people of God called to be a blessing to the world.”

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Last Wednesday-chaos calls for leadership

I gotta tell you about this past Wednesday morning – things were crazy in our house, the alarms went off before 7am, Lisa and I were both pushing for time in the bathroom before the kids got up, Lisa rushed to get Jessica, our oldest out of bed and dressed before the bus arrived; our almost 2 year old, Christina was chattering so we got her out of bed and put here on the couch, (I’m usually out of the house before the pandemonium so I don’t usually see this scene, but I tried to be helpful, even though I was running late) Our middle child, Sydney got up and wanted to watch TV, Dad, can I can I – Lisa ran to the kitchen to make Jessica’s lunch while screaming upstairs for the 38th time for Jessica to get going and eat breakfast – Sydney now was moving on to her wardrobe for the day and wanted to know how cold it would be and if she could wear shorts and then there was Christina – she sat on the couch watching all the action and listening to all the comments and then she decided to get up from the couch and walk her almost 2 year old body into the kitchen, where she opened the closet, took out a large box of honeycomb cereal which she brought to the table, then grabbed a plastic bowl and a fork and proceeded to pour her cereal – at which point I jumped in replaced the fork with a spoon and got her some milk to which she responded, “thank you da da” – it was awesome
In the midst of a chaotic morning, a leader arose in a diaper and a jammy shirt, armed with a fork and plastic bowl

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Leadership: A Problem with Politically Correct Tolerance

I’ve been studying for this Sunday’s message on leadership and thinking about the idea of good leadership. There are many reasons why our world is in need of leaders, or should I say “good leaders”. There has been a moral bankruptcy that is not new but affects the trust on any leaders. There are too many “people-pleasers” who are in position of leadership and don’t make the hard, yet right decisions. But one of the things I’ve been thinking about lately is about what our culture holds up as its values or ideals. I can see some value to being politically correct, kind and understanding of others. There may even be some value to tolerance, but in my opinion these values push against the call for Godly leaders. You see the concept of “leader” means a person who will “lead”, which means they will take people some place that they aren’t currently. If we’re supposed to tolerate and value where people are now and allow them to stay where they are in beliefs, in expectations etc etc then essentially we’re saying we have no need for leaders. If we’re where we want to be, why would we need a leader? You don’t need a leader to stay where you are, at best you need a manager. A leader is called to lead which means to take us somewhere where we aren’t. And a Godly leader is following Jesus and taking us to the place where God is calling us to go.

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Spiritual Running Partners

Yesterday we talked about the importance of spiritual friendship — that when God called us as a church together, He intend(ed/s) that we are engaged with each other in ways to inspire Godly living. I personally feel that this is lacking and it seems so difficult to break through to this. So what happens is we move all biblical community to the counseling office and we shirk our responsibility as believers with each other. I’ve found it difficult even in many of the friendships that I have to turn the conversation to things of a spiritual nature, and I’m a pastor — I’m guessing it’s not easy for others as well.
So how do we begin as a church to move towards God’s design in this regard? Well, my experience tells me that things like this (that go against many “norms”) require intentionality. It won’t happen if a few of us don’t decide to get active with it.

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Untangling the Mess ends-Book Recommendations

I should have posted this a lot earlier in the series, but in case you’re interested in further exploration on the topics we hit in “Untangling the Mess” here’s a few selections and ideas.

Ordering Your Private World by Gordon McDonald – it’s an old book – read it in college – but still some thoughts particularly on clarifying things and ordering things in your world. Probably could pick this up on Amazon if it’s still in print.

Boundaries by Henry Cloud — it’s a little “psychological” but I think some critical aspects of relationships. I think so few people have acquired the skills and aspects from this book — it probably should be a required reading.

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