Friday, October 31, 2008

Dear Mr. Obama

I have tried not to be vocal concerning politics during this election season. I believe each person involved in this democratic process is entitled to their rights as allowed by the Constitution of our great nation. However, when a man is running for the right to lead this great nation, he must understand completely the foundation upon which this nation was built. Our nation fights for its freedoms and it fights to defend the freedoms of those who cannot fend for themselves. Anyone who is not willing to fight for what is good and right is a coward. Anyone who is not willing to defend the defenseless, bring hope to hopeless, and free the oppressed is a coward. Especially when we have the resources and people willing to do it.

"Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty." - John F. Kennedy

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


You probably know what I mean when I say, "where do I begin?" As a pastor, at times it seems that there are so many things vying for my attention. Something to do...someone to see. None of these things are bad. (I know you can't read inflection in the written word, so know that I am not complaining...I'm actually very hopeful.) Along with that something to do or someone to see, there are priorities. Things that must be done. Stephen Covey has the Time Management Matrix.

The struggle I have is not with daily tasks. It's with "prioritizing" the church. If you followed the link above, it's the things that reside in Quadrant II. The things that are Important and Not Urgent. These are not emergencies. These things are the "meat and potatoes" of church life. I'm trying to figure out where to begin on those things. Most pastors will tell you the pillars of their ministry are evangelism and discipleship, outreach and education, width and depth. Whatever monikers you assign, I agree these two build the foundation for a growing church.

So where do you begin? In a place where both are sorely deficient, do you deal with reaching the people or teaching the people? I'm pretty sure I know what you'll say...but the dialogue is welcome either way.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

the right thing...

Wonder if you would chime in on the following scenario?

What do you do - in a situation where you believe you've handled everything correctly, clearly defined expectations and spoken in such a way that the other person knows the responsibility lies with them - when the person won't take that responsibility and the circumstances deem you go against the expectations you clearly defined and lapse on a commitment that you made to that person? By lapsing in that commitment, you go fundamentally against the original premises of the "argument" that called for them to take the responsbility.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Shack

If you've read this book, I'd like to hear your thoughts on it. Lauren and I have differing opinions...

good, hearty discussion, if you please...


What is so hard about mobilization? I feel like there are so many things we need to do as a church. I'm trying hard to centralize our vision around the "one thing" that is most important. Obviously, our "one thing" is the Gospel and its advance to our community, area, state, etc...but what does that look like? Trying to hang flesh on this skeleton is tough! People are needy - do we accomplish the "one thing" by meeting needs then sharing the Gospel truths? People are lost - do we present the "one thing" as the solution to their problems then meet their needs? Gospel first, Gospel last...which one? Both? Hmmm...

Bottom line for me is, what is our church willing to do for the cause of Christ? Meet needs? Share the Gospel message? Be risky...I hope so...


Monday, October 13, 2008

Do it anyway...

After a few days in Atlanta at the '08 Catalyst Conference, my motto is "Do It Anyway." I'm going to adopt it for '09. I've never thought of myself as a cutting-edge leader in the "traditional" sense. However, as I heard all week last week, if not you, then who? If not now, when? For me, it calls for a "Do It Anyway" attitude, regardless of people's opinions or perceptions. Life is short, the average American church is spinning its wheels and there are people who need the Gospel in a relative way. I'm not saying the Gospel message is changing, but the context is and so is the way people hear it. It requires a "Do It Anyway" attitude. People need to hear it and I don't do anything about it, who will? I am poised atop a great mountain of potential in our church. Mediocrity won't do. It may not be popular but the call is to "Do It Anyway."

You in?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

It's October...

So far my blogging track record is not good. 2 posts in 4 months is not a successful blog in my are a few musings from the past 4 months...

  • I've been busy. Since my last post we've decided not to sell our house. Lauren is keeping her job at Presby-Dallas. I still have a long commute and it is such a blessing.
  • I never thought being forced to drive at least an hour a day would be a good thing, but I've really enjoyed it. Thanks to podcasts (thank you Matt Chandler, John Piper, Andy Stanley, etc) my drive time is consumed with some incredibly challenging teaching...most of the time. Not that their teaching is lacking, sometimes I just drive in silence. The beauty is I have at least 60 minutes to prepare/decompress every day that I go to my office. It's a good thing. Church is not all I think about. I don't bring much work home (except the days I use the dining room table as a study desk) and my wife and son get to experience a more "even-keel" husband and daddy. Before, I drove just over a half-mile to my office. Most mornings (if I didn't hit the elementary school traffic) I was at my office in a shade under 2 minutes. On cold mornings, the car wasn't even warm by the time I pulled in the parking lot. Definitely not any "thinking time" during that commute. On top of that, coming home did not allow me time to decompress enough to leave church stuff at the office. I was usually upset that I hadn't finished whatever tasks needed finishing or worried about the meetings and unreturned phone calls of the day. I can honestly say it wasn't fair to my family...and I see that clearly now.
  • I'm the happiest I've ever been...doing exactly what I was created to do. Not to say I've not been happy doing ministry these last 10 years, but I've finally found my "niche." And I like it...alot. It's hard - there are differences of opinion, wrestling with vision and providing leadership, trying to plan a budget and recruit volunteers - nothing that any other uni-staff Senior Pastor would not experience. I just didn't expect it...but I love it. It's a challenge everyday. Sometimes I just stare at the challenge in disbelief, i.e. How the heck am I gonna do that? Sometimes it gets no second thought, i.e. That's finished and it was easy... All in all, I'm satisfied. God has given me a clear place where I can exercise the ideas that have been rolling in my head.
  • I'm not afraid...before I was afraid to share my opinion. I'd been "shot-down" (yeah, in a church no less...) so many times, I just quit talking. Not normal, at least not for me anyway. I quit giving my two cents, sharing what I thought about the way things were going...and nobody was the wiser, except my wife and maybe a few unsuspecting coworkers. I've had 2 chances in the last fews to let my opinion be heard. I shared it, even though extremely difficult and it required some "force" in one instance, and it was well-received. It's good to be recognized as someone with a valuable opinion. It has taken away my fear...I like that.
  • I still have so much to learn. I hope I can say that when I'm 80. Every day I realize that 9 years of college/grad school was not enough. I think I've learned more in 95 days as a pastor than I did in 9 years of school. But there's still more...I hope I catch all of it.
  • Above all, I want to be found faithful. I officiated the funeral services of my oldest church member earlier this week. She was 97 1/2 years old and lived a full life. She cooked meals for senior citizens when she was 85 years old. Knitted afghans for her grandchildren and great-grandchildren into her 90's. She was sharp in her mind and able-bodied until a fall broke her pelvis 2 months before she died. When she fell, she told the doctor she was ready to go "home" to be with Jesus. That she had served her time here and served it well. I agree. Ask anyone who knew her and she was faithful. To her Lord, to her family, to her community. She was faithful. I want to be like Nellie Trail - faithful unto death.

That's it for now, I guess. I hope I'm not so consumed that it's another 4 months before you hear from me again. I doubt it, with the election coming and all. There'll be plenty to talk about, I'm sure...until then

grace and peace - sb