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Another Chance

Hey.  I need to start blogging again.  I hope you’ll take me back, blog world.

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Willow Creek Repents?

Check out these two short video clips about how Willow Creek Community Church is having to reinvent how they do church.   This one is from Greg Hawkins, one of their executive staff members,  who talks about research they’ve done at their church and others that has revealed to them the need to restructure their efforts in regard to disciple making.  This one is from Bill Hybels himself in talking about what it means for their church.   An article entitled Willow Creek Repents? can be found here.  This is some fascinating stuff and one that all church leaders need to see and read.  These guys have my respect.  I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts.

Outpouring of Love

We were overwhelmed with love and support yesterday as I announced to the church our intentions to leave.  Much love was expressed, great sorrow and sadness felt.  We will definitely miss this place and all the people who loved us so dearly and cared for us in such a special way.

Our plans are to move to Valparaiso, Indiana and work with the Valparaiso Church of Christ.  Valparaiso is a community of about 25,000 (I think), about 45 miles southeast of Chicago, Illinois where they tell me it’s cooooooold in the winter.  I think some coats, gloves, hats and warm shoes will have to be bought.  Though our hearts are hurting about leaving here, we feel God is taking a bad situation and “working for the good” in leading us to Valparaiso.  We feel a great amount of excitement and anticipation for what awaits us up there.  To those of you in Indiana, we can’t wait!!

My last official Sunday here will be December 9th.  I will go ahead and go up there and begin work, finding us a place to live, getting things settled for the rest of the family to come up the week after Christmas.  We want to be there in time for the kids to start the new semester.  Tim is going to remain here to finish out his senior year in high school.  He will live with Roger and Randee McDaniel until the summer where he will come up and live with us until he goes off to college at Oklahoma Christian University.

I plan to keep blogging during this whole transition and beyond right here, so those who are interested can keep in touch through commenting or e-mail (when I get my new e-mail account set up in Indiana).  I cherish all of you and covet your prayers during this difficult time.  May God be honored in it all.

Moving On

Last night after church I announced to our elders that I would be stepping down as preaching minister here.  It is a decision I am extremely sad and disappointed about, but one that was necessary.  

As for the reason, it has become painfully clear over the last several years that there are irreconcilable differences within the leadership of this church that make it impossible for me to stay and serve God here with a clear conscience.  Those differences are known to some.  I won’t go into them here and have vowed to stay positive as we leave.  But what’s critical in all of this is the differing paradigms have caused a lockdown of any forward progress in this church, and that cannot be allowed to happen.  My leaving will hopefully give the leadership here an opportunity to bring someone in who will be allowed to take this church into the deeper, higher, and richer things of God, and that this church will settle for nothing less.  That is my prayer, at least.

I do feel good about what God has accomplished here in the past 5 ½  years.  We’ve grown in our faith together.  We’ve reached out to the community together.  We’ve labored and perspired together.  We’ve endured criticism and rejection together.   So I leave with no regrets or ill feelings, just sadness that it can’t continue.  But I will forever remain hopeful and prayerful for this church and the wonderful people here who embraced us and loved us as one of their own.  That will never be forgotten.

I’ll let you know of our plans in a few days.

Do you ever have the problem of hearing a new song that you really like and listening to it over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over until you really don’t care for it anymore, and that whole process only lasts about a day and a half?  Is that some kind of addictive behavior that I should be concerned about?  I would like to know.  And if so, where does that recovery group meet?

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I am really enjoying the Dallas Cowboys this year.  They are exciting to watch, though a bit nerve-wracking this past game.  Holy plummeting-quarterback-rating, Batman.  For them to get that win says something special about them and their quarterback, even though Buffalo isn’t that good.  Can’t wait for Sunday against the Pats.

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I don’t feel sorry for Marion Jones.

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The Christian Chronicle advertisement on acappella music, paid for by those associated with the group ForAcappella.org , is not about promoting acappella music.  It is about drawing lines of fellowship.  Sign the paper, you are in and a faithful brother.  Refuse to sign, you are a heretic.  I’ve heard from several who were invited to sign the list, being told it was only about promoting acappella music in our churches.  That would be well and good.  But it turned into something completely different.  It turned into an opportunity for some to condemn the instrument’s use as sin and a means to condemn those who use it.

A group tried that same thing a while back in our community.  The full page article in the newspaper was about salvation, denominationalism, etc. At the bottom was a list of all the “faithful” churches who supported the article.  The preview of the article anonymously appeared in our men’s business meeting one Sunday, and those who were behind it (they still haven’t revealed themselves) wanted our signature.  We said no.  We got labeled.

 The neat thing about that whole story is we got an incredible amount of positive feedback from the community for not having our name at the bottom. 

The ForAcappella.org people need to realize that we’ve heard their arguments, for years and years we’ve heard their arguments, we know what they believe and it is void of foundation, scholarship, and reason.  We don’t buy it.   They are making rules where rules were never made.  They are speaking for God where He has not spoken.   Promote acappella music if you wish as a beautiful way to honor God in our singing and leave it at that.  I could sign something like that.  But stay out of the realm of making it a salvation issue.  You have no right.

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On a lighter note, I am proud of my children for who they are and who they are becoming.

To continue the previous post on missional thinking and transformation, the question comes up, “Well what do we do with our worship services if we aren’t using them to evangelize people who don’t know Jesus?”  After hours and hours of thinking, I’ve come up with this.  Let’s let our worship assemblies be about worship.  Hmm.  Worship being about worship.  Maybe that will fly.  Instead of worship being the catering to the needs and desires of the unbeliever, let’s keep it what it is designed for,  God’s people and them giving praise, adoration and thanksgiving to the Almighty.  And if an unbeliever happens to wander in, the draw won’t be that everything makes perfect sense to them and that they understand everything about God, that they’ve heard some kind of 5 step method to being saved.  What will get these folks attention is witnessing a people with their hearts and minds given over to God,  leading them to the conclusion, “God is really among you!”.  (1 Cor 14:25)  The evangelistic draw of a worship assembly is the worship itself, God and His people communing together, people’s hearts and minds tuned into His Spirit.  That is a powerful witness to people on the outside.