Monday, June 30, 2008
These Russian grandmas are on the cutting edge of interactive ministry to Seniors.
I am bringing them to the United States for a tour.
You'll want to sign up soon for a seminar coming near you.
Your church will never be the same!
Neither will your Seniors.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
I had a SMALL knife with scissors in it. (When I say SMALL, I mean like one inch long)
And it was confiscated.
Interestingly, that SMALL knife had passed security going to Vietnam, flights to and from Alaska, one other trip to NYC and now.... "I lost my knife in New York City....almost on a plane to go with me..." (sung to the tune of I Lost My Heart in San Francisco).
I'm not grieving, it was not that great of a knife - I have bought several Swiss Army knifes over the years and this one should have not passed security - at Swiss Army, that is. But know, it didn't pass security at NYC.
I have followed Bill Easum's work for years. He has been doing church consulting for at least 10 years that I am aware of and he is one of the most widely sought advisers on congregational health in North America. He has more than 30 years of congregational experience, including 25 years as a pastor.
He founded Easum, Bandy and Associates and has authored over 12 books. Bottom-line.... the GUY KNOWS HIS STUFF.
Here is an article he wrote that is very impressive.
It is titled - Eight signs of spiritually dead churches and six signs of resurrection.
You can read the entire article ChurchCentral.com
For much of the past three decades, denominational officials have been promoting seminars and programs aimed at revitalizing the church. I know because I have been the speaker or consultant to many of these groups. For many of these leaders, their goal was to breathe new life into churches experiencing declining memberships and lack of commitment. Yet after years of trying to revitalize these churches, the vast majority of them are still declining. What gives?
Reformation, renewal, and revitalization assume some preexisting foundation of faith from which to raise up a new church. But what if that assumption isn't correct? What if the assumption is part of our problem? What if being a member of a church for 40 years doesn't automatically guarantee any spiritual depth? What if holding every office in the church doesn't automatically mean someone is a disciple of Jesus Christ? Do we dare look deep enough into our souls to find answers to these questions?
Based on the conversations and actions of the thousands of Protestant leaders with whom I worked over the years, I have concluded that most of them are spiritually dead and their institutions have ceased being the church. They have the form but not the substance of what it means to be the church.
Let me define what I mean by spiritually dead churches. If your church spends most of its energy on itself and its members, it's spiritually dead.
Such churches are living corpses. They are physically alive; some may even be growing; but they are spiritually dead to the mission of the New Testament church—to make disciples of Jesus Christ. They've turned inward and exist solely for themselves. They look for ways to serve themselves, and the kingdom be damned.
They're like baby birds sitting in the nest with their mouths open waiting for momma bird (pastor) to feed them with no concept that Jesus intends them to feed others. Oh, they might collect money to send away to some distant mission field, but they're all thumbs when it comes to sharing the good news with their neighbor or community. What growth they might experience is not of their doing—it just happens because of the population growth around them.
Here are eight death clues. Spiritually dead churches:
- Have lost their sense of mission to those who have not heard about Jesus Christ and do not pant after the Great Commission;
- Exist primarily to provide fellowship for the "members of the club;"
- Expect their pastors to focus primarily on ministering to the members' personal spiritual needs;
- Design ministry to meet the needs of their members;
- Have no idea about the needs of the "stranger outside the gates;"
- Are focused more on the past than the future;
- Often experience major forms of conflict;
- And watch the bottom line of the financial statement more than the number of confessions of faith.
Bringing life back
The starting point for unfreezing a stuck organizational system is the development of a solid community of faith that includes spiritual leaders, the absence of major conflict, trust, and a desire to connect with the unchurched world.
True spiritual maturity is approached when people turn their attention to those outside the church and seek ways to spread the good news rather than exercise their entitlements as members. Unfortunately, too many pastors assume their church has spiritual leaders and skip right over this starting point. It has become apparent to me that most church leaders do not understand that the decline of their church is due to the lack of spiritual depth on the part of their leadership.
Revitalization is a waste of time. You can't breathe life into a corpse. Only God can do that, and that is resurrection.
My experience has taught me the resurrection of a church happens in three stages. It begins with a new pastor. Either the pastor experiences a personal resurrection or the church actually gets a new pastor. Next is the resurrection of the leaders of the church either by transformation or replacement. Finally, the church itself is resurrected and turned around through some tactical change. Then, if resurrection happens, our behavior changes:
- The church turns outward in its focus.
- Jesus, not the institution, will become the object of our affection.
- The Great Commission will become our mandate, and we will measure everything we do by how many new converts we make rather than whether we have a black bottom line.
- Membership in the Kingdom will replace membership in the church.
- Pastors will cease being chaplains of pastoral care and will become modern-day apostles of Jesus Christ.
- And those who try to control the church with an iron fist or intimidate the church at every turn of the road will be shown the door.
The primary reason society is shunning the institutional church is because for the most part it is spiritually dead. Spiritually alive churches, no matter what their form or where they are planted, always grow. That is the nature of the beast. That is the kind of church God honors. That is what the church was put on earth to do—spread the good news. When a church faithfully does that, it grows. Period.
All I can say is.... "AMEN, BILL"
Sunday, June 15, 2008
It was a wonderful Father's Day.
The only thing that would have made it any better would to have been able to have had the whole family here. But even though we may be several miles apart, we are TOGETHER!
Joy and Jill fixed a fabulous meal - prime rib, broccoli casserole, 3 bean salad, fruit salad, meringue dessert with fresh fruit compote.... YUMMY!!!!!
My family gave me this willow tree in 2000. It had about a 1 1/2" diameter trunk when I planted it. (I just remembered that when I dug the hole to plant it, the very first shovel full, I "NAILED" the cable TV line - out of about 300 feet across the back yard, what are the chances of that!?). Anyway, the tree has flourished. Willows are one of my favorites.
Joy was checking out a bird's nest up in the tree.
We looked at some houses for sale in Naperville.
One of our wonderful traditions is a trip to Caribou on these holidays.
Look at this beautiful lady holding her favorite Caribou drink!
And as I bring this post to a close, I want to remind you that the sun is setting over Joliet. The time is late and we must work.... oops, I slipped into a missionary mode there.
Great cloud formation. Look at those two holes in the cloud.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Buildings and debris are seen floating in the Cedar River against a railroad bridge Saturday, June 14, 2008, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Days after it rose out of its banks on its way to record flooding in Cedar Rapids, the Cedar River has forced at least 24,000 people from their homes, emergency officials said Saturday. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
The flood impacting so much of Iowa (Cedar Rapids, Iowa City and Des Moines right now) is being defined as a 500 year flood. And this is just a few years following what was defined as a 100 year flood in July of 1993.
The pictures and stories are amazing.
Interstate 80 was closed from west of Davenport Iowa to west of Iowa City. This has created a 110 mile detour. I 80 carries SO much truck traffic. I don't know how many times I have driven over this bridge.
This picture is looking down East 14th Street toward downtown Des Moines. This is the area where the levee failed and flooded the Birdland Neighborhood.
This shot shows flooding near Birdland Marina and Park. When Joy was a young girl, she took swimming lessons here.
This is some great video of the flooding along the Des Moines River - all the way from Saylorville Dam. It is a little long but important to see.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
He started a church in Accra, Ghana Africa and has seen it blessed by God and now he has started many other churches and is influencing a nation.
What a wonderful testimony this man has of God's saving grace and power!
Bless you Bishop Justice.
Pray for him, for his ministry and his family.
He also had another experience that I believe may have been a first for him... chopping wood!
Bishop Justice, you did a great job!
Here he was on the "Pope-Mobile".
Monday, June 9, 2008
I'd love to hear from you.
You can post on the blog.... you don't even have to identify yourself - just your country or city...
I do moderate the posts because I have had some less than nice people attempting to "share" things with me that they don't have the courage to tell me in person.
If you want to reply completely confidentially, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My wife suggested this because I keep saying to her... "You wouldn't believe where I am getting hits from!"
I see that I don't have any hits from Africa.
I'm going to have to email my friend in Accra.
UPDATE - In 1 1/2 days I have had hits from 14 nations: Canada, France, Brazil, India, Portugal, Spain, Saint Kitts and Nevis(I want to visit my friends there!), Malaysia, United Kingdom, Greece, Singapore, Australia, Dominican Republic and of course USA. Comment or send a message!
Yes. That appears to be packing tape.
But it is really easy to repair... just add another layer.
Here's what's funny.... I was driving home to get some.... yup...
This past week I drove by a restaurant that I enjoyed from just about the day it opened.
Fat Terry's had a great product. Their ribs were awesome. I heard nothing but good about the pulled pork sandwich. I most often ordered the spice-rubbed chicken breast with coleslaw and baked beans..... oh yes, with their habanero sauce.
Fat Terry's has closed. It is a sad day in Shorewood.
I'm sure the competition from Chiles, Buffalo Wild Wings, Portillos and the latest addition... Babe's Jumbo Hot Dogs put Fat Terry's under.
They had a great product, but they had no ambience.
A few days ago I talked with the owner of Lucky Bamboo (great Chinese food) and their business is way off. He attributed it to the high cost of gas. It is impacting the cost of their food (he said the price of rice has tripled) and the public only has a certain amount of disposable dollars and fuel costs are eating into the budget.
Well, so long Fat Terry's.
One of my favorite memories is taking my in-laws to the CUBS baseball game and we ordered ribs takeout. I drove all the way to Wrigley smelling the aroma as my family savored the ribs. I carried mine into the ball park and I barely got them past the security guard! He approved (after offering me money!) and I enjoyed Fat Terry's Rib Crib at Wrigley. Hey.... much better than the hot dogs!
Sunday, June 8, 2008
Watch the effect of hail in the lake at this golf course.
This tornado went through Windsor, CO.
My nephew, Doug Williams, said it was about 10 minutes north of his home.
At one point this tornado was a mile wide at the base.
We have been having some interesting weather these last couple of days.
Saturday, June 7 (my grandson's 3rd birthday - by the way) the Midwest was hammered by a number of storms. A large thunderstorm showed up near Pontiac and basically drove up Interstate 55 to Wilmington and then headed toward Richton Park and Chicago Heights.
ABC (Channel 7) news just reported (Sunday at 5:05 PM) that this was a series of 6 tornadoes.
These radar shots are from today as another storm system came through along the same track.
Sunday, June 1, 2008
Here's some miscellaneous posts.
I love this picture I snapped in a mall parking lot in Aurora.
If you can't read the sign in front of the RED Corvette... "Reserved. Expectant Mother Parking..."
The car was there when Joy I went in to have lunch and when we came out.
I didn't hang around to assess if the driver was
2. male/female (I know, see #1)
3. HOW pregnant... it is a confined seating area.
There is not much of anything better than sitting on the deck, enjoying our beautiful yard.
I am thankful when I look at all of the trees, bushes and grass.
My family and I worked so hard to plant and cultivate all of it.
(that's Joy relaxing in the hammock. It almost looks like she has been captured!)