Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Post to Consider... my other blog. I posted last night on some valid questions David Gushee, ethicist at Mercer University, asks of those holding to a complementarian view of Scripture.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Friends or Friendly?

Being new in ministry, other pastors felt the need to give me advice and lots of it. Standing in the Danville Mall, my family had bumped into another pastor and his family. Talking shop, my brother pastor related the story of how a church member, who he claimed was a friend, "stabbed him in the back" (I'm not very fond of that phrase.)

He then offered this piece of advice: "You can be friendly; but don't be friends."

That piece of advice I have not followed. Yesterday, as I stood behind the pulpit preaching yet another funeral service, I understood how atrocious that piece of advice was.

Brother Billy and his family have grown very special to my family in our tenure at our church. They have nearly adopted us as part of their own family, something (unfortunately) unheard of in many churches. There seems to be a presupposed distance between church member and pastor, as well as his family. I understand this distance, but it just does not mesh with my personality and who I am in Christ. I am a very relational person, and I think that is vital for being a successful minister.

The distance breeds an artificiality that is simply impossible to overcome. How can you minister to a flock of God's people and not get close to them? Relationship implies nearness.

Billy's wife regularly kept nursery and my wife and I, as has been said of us, "are determined to keep the nursery full." Billy had progressed to the point where the pulmonary fibrosis he was diagnosed with several years ago needed constant care. Billy's wife had been unable to come to church since our new baby was born, so my baby boy and I made a trip over about six weeks ago. He was passed around like a sack of taters and Billy was thrilled to get to hold him for a short time. There is something about the "babyness" of a baby that just makes elderly people feel good.

About two weeks ago, I made another visit to see Billy, his situation having gotten worse. He felt like the end was near, but still seemed like he had not digressed; there was no noticeable difference in his health. However, this past Monday evening, Billy's son called and said that his daddy had gone on to be with the Lord. I quickly got dressed and spent the next four and a half hours with the family.

As Billy's wife and I stood at Billy's bedside, awaiting the funeral home to come pick up the body, I remembered a promise I had made. I had told Billy the last time I visited that I would bring my boy back over to visit. He was elated and said he couldn't wait to see the "little feller".

As I was preaching yesterday, I related the story to the assembled family and friends. I made a public apology to Billy and his family for failing to keep my promise, and then it happened. The tears began to flow. Perhaps it was because I had failed to keep that promise; perhaps it was because I had sinned, fallible as I am. However, I think I know why. Death is unexpected. We cannot predict it. And Billy's death also caught me off guard.

The shortest verse of the Bible has profound and deep meaning. Jesus wept. He was not afraid to show His emotion. He was not afraid to be transparent. He was not afraid to get close. At the grave of a close friend, Jesus' eyes dripped water, an indication of His humanness, His identification with frail humanity, His love for those to whom He was close. Why should the pastor be any different?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Hits Just Keep on Comin'

Friends and family are catching on with this church sign thing. I really need to post something of substance but man, these are just too much fun. Blog friend with the solid, respectable name of Gordon Cloud dropped this beaut in the comment thread of my last post and it is too lousy to let it sit in there and rot, so I brought it out for the world to behold its lousiness.
Even Jesus had a fish story.
My response mirrors Gordon's. Huh?

And my dear, sweet, loving, mother-in-law emailed me this one, horrid as it is.
Sunday School, Worship, and a Sweet Afternoon Nap. Priceless.
Mother-in-law replied to just combine worship and the nap and you got the afternoon free. I say don't give them any ideas.

Keep 'em comin'!

Monday, September 10, 2007

More Lousy Church Signs

If you are saying I should begin a whole 'nother blog for lousy church signs, its already been done, so, I cannot in good conscience do that. However, I can in good conscience post these, the first from a Baptist church in Lynchburg, VA.
Just because you were made from the dirt
don't mean you got to wallow in it.
Sound theology, bad grammar, and a pig reference; all in one sign. I wonder how they do it.

And this self-motivational piece on the local Pentecostal Church:
It is better to try and fail than to fail to try.
Thank you for that wisdom, Mr. Miyagi. Or was it Master Yoda?

Knowing my penchant for lousy church signs, blog friend Chris out at Evangelism Coach emailed me this one; it made my day! Though it isn't a church sign, it is lousy nonetheless.

In case you cannot read it, it says "Prebuy The Rapture Today." Funny, I didn't know you could get reserved seating at Family Christian Stores for that. I'll be by to pick up mine "Soon", I mean, I wouldn't want to get "Left Behind" or anything.

Thanks, Chris!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Not just Lousy...Pathetic!

My disdain for church signs has grown by leaps and bounds, but these two really do not help my outlook nor help me to search for some redemptive quality in them.
Prevent truth decay.
Brush up on your Bible.
Clever, that one is. This one is worse.
The Great Physician heals Sunday sickness.
But is He out of the office on Monday through Saturday? What if I am stricken with a severe case of Monday melancholy? Or afflicted with the Tuesday tantrums? Or Wednesday woes? I'm going to stop now, I'm making my own self sick.

A Post to Instill Jealousy...

...or something like that. For all of the Starbucks junkies out there, the family made a short junket to Danville today and boy, that grande cinnamon dolce latte was fabulous.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

sbc Impact! Launches Today

The new collaborative blog of which I am blessed to be a part of launches today. Brother Geoff Baggett has written an initial piece outlining where we will go on this new blog. I hope you will give it a read and drop a shout-out to us in the comments. Don't forget, there will still be regular programming here at The RP and The RP2. God bless for a great day.