Friday, October 30, 2009

Heart Starter #2: Treasure

A couple of days ago I introduced a tool called "Heart Starters" to use at the beginning of church meetings, youth group, retreats, small group or anywhere else you want to focus a group on God. As I argued in the initial post (Introducing "Heart Starters") I believe that when the church gathers for a meeting it ought to look different than the secular meetings we attend. With this in mind I started creating Heart Starters.

Today I am excited to post a second Heart Starter titled "Treasure"! This activity will guide your group into a discussion of what is God's treasure and what is not. Click on this link for a one page PDF that describes the entire activity.

Please let me know if you have any questions. Also, I'd love to hear (and share) how people are using these. And, if you have an idea for a Heart Starter, please let me know so we can share it with everyone!


For a complete list of Heart Starters, click on the Heart Starters label below.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Creating a Masterpiece

Here's another odd part of my personality. When I have sufficient time, I really enjoy creating meals out of whatever I can find in the kitchen. I enjoy the creative process of taking what is there and making it into something edible. I jokingly refer to these concoctions as masterpieces!

The goal of my creative endeavor is to make something to eat. The challenge is to make something edible out of the ingredients available to me in the house at that time. This isn't about running to the store for groceries or planning the menu in advance. It's simply using what is available to accomplish the goal.

What if we applied this to our walk as followers of Jesus?

Jesus said, "This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples." (John 15:8)

If we are disciples of Jesus, then we will "bear much fruit" for the purpose of God receiving glory. In other words, the goal of our discipleship is to glorify the name of God, the Father, through the "fruit we bear" in Christ.

What then are the
ingredients for achieving this goal? I propose that we creatively use whatever we find in the "kitchen".

Paul wrote, "...I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances." (Philippians 4:11)

The ingredients for the masterpieces we are creating are found in every circumstance, person, difficulty, and joy that we face today. Our masterpiece depends upon our willingness to take what we find and do something creatively with it with the goal of bringing God glory!

This isn't about wishing things were different. Rather, it's about taking what God places in our path and creating a masterpiece for His glory!

Get creative!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Introducing "Heart Starters"

I attend a LOT of meetings! And, a LOT of the meetings I attend are church meetings! I struggle with the fact that church meetings don't look much different than the secular meetings I attend.

Wouldn't it be great
if we could engage in an activity that would change the tone of the meeting? And, wouldn't it be great if these activities focused the meeting on God? And wouldn't it be great if along the way the participants grew together as people, parts of the body of Christ?

I answered "yes" to all three and began developing "Heart Starters: Defibrillation for the Heart of Christian Meetings". Heart Starters are simple activities designed to change the look of our church meetings! And [drum roll please] it is FREE!

Here's the first one:

Please let me know if you have any questions.

If you like these, please let me know and I'll share more of them!


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Why We Must Study

Imagine a child that quits school after completing eighth grade. Wouldn't we feel sorry for the kid? Wouldn't we be deeply concerned about how he will make it in this world with such a limited education.

Funny isn't it? Funny - in the sad ironic use of the word - that we don't think much at all about a child that stops learning about our faith at about that age. We do little beyond wringing our hands about the fact that most kids stop attending Bible study of any kind around eighth grade.

This past weekend I had, yet another, paradigm shift in my theology. I had previously held an understanding related to my faith as sacrosanct. That all changed when I participated in a relatively short and simple Bible study on the subject.

Now my understanding of God is expanded! Now my faith is deeper! Now my life is healthier! Now my walk as a man of Jesus is stronger!

There is so much to learn! How can we quit our faith education at such a tender young age? How can we stop studying?

2Timothy 3:16-17
Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God's way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.

Please pick up your Bible and start reading it today! Then join a small group or a Bible study!

We must study so we can be trained for our work in God's kingdom.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Pastor Appreciation Month

I just read Robb McCoy's blog about Pastor Appreciation Month. Robb made a list of the pastors that have influenced his life (Robb's post) and I'm inspired to do the same thing!

My list will include both traditional pastors (those that had a pastoral responsibility for me) and non-traditional "pastors" that also influenced me. I will approach this chronologically.

David Bultemeier led my confirmation class. I remember his gentle spirit and his intelligent sermons. I also remember he and Joanne (his wife), my parents, and another couple (The Dillows) laughing hysterically in our dining room. He taught me that a pastor is a regular person with a sense of humor and everything! We're still in touch after almost 40 years!

Dan Moran for patiently guiding me to a relationship with Jesus during the summer of 1986 at YMCA Camp High Harbour (GA). Dan was involved with InterVarsity and working as the water front director that summer. I wish I knew where he ended up.

Dr. Mike McGowan taught me at Western Illinois University. I know that doesn't make him a pastor, but I credit Mike for putting the first intellectual legs on my faith.

Lori Bultemeier is a friend from high school who is an ordained deacon in our conference. I deeply appreciate her friendship and encouragement, because she knows where I've been and how far I've come!

Mark Caldwell is the director of Dickson Valley Camp and Retreat Center (Newark, IL). He is a tremendous influence on my faith walk.

Jason Woolever nursed me back to spiritual health after serving 6.5 years in our conference camp and retreat ministries program. He's incredibly well read and keeps my "books to read" list full! In addition, Jason asks me the toughest questions about my faith walk. Iron does sharpen iron!

Keith Zimmerman is my District Superintendent. He's a tremendous encourager and is responsible for my current appointment, which is going great! He also teaches me regularly that administrators can continue to be pastoral, encouraging, and competent!

Grant Armstrong is the associate pastor at my home church. He has taught me that "excellence" doesn't have to be a dirty word in the Church.

This list could go on and on...but I'll stop (for now).

Please take a few minutes to write your list. More importantly, please tell your "pastors" about the difference they have made in your life.

1Thessalonians 5:12-13 (The Message)
And now, friends, we ask you to honor those leaders who work so hard for you, who have been given the responsibility of urging and guiding you along in your obedience. Overwhelm them with appreciation and love!