Touching Heaven, Changing Earth  

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This last weekend I had the privilege of attending a youth rally with the teens of our church. It was one I had been apart of before, but hadn't been for a few years. This year's theme was "Touching Heaven, Changing Earth". Among the three speakers, one of them described it in a way that I connected with easily.

He described those times when we are on a mountain, figuratively speaking, and we have an awesome experience...aka mountain-top experiences. But, inevitably, we have to come down off of that mountain, sometime.

We talk of heaven being 'up'. So, speaking from a perspective of mountains, we would be getting closer to God if we were up on a mountain. Several people in the Bible, like Moses and Abraham, all had grand experiences on a mountain top. However, they had to come down and be with the people, eventually.

The best part about their experience, was that when they came off of that mountain, they were changing people (aka earth). They had experienced something hardly anyone else had experienced. They were closer to God, literally. Some heard from God or 'saw' Him in some way.

You have had or will have experiences that take you closer to heaven...that is the touching part. However, since you've touched it, use what touched you or moved you, and allow it to help make a difference in others' lives. Help the motivation that you experienced to change something on this 'corrupt' Earth to point someone or several closer to Him.

May your day be filled with a touch of heaven, so that you will be motivated to change earth!

Touched heaven...excited to see how I can change earth!...Share/Bookmark

A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of attending the Colby High School's "Freshman Retreat". I participated in helping the Regional Prevention Center do their Jeopardy-like game to educate kids on drugs and alcohol. It was very enjoyable to see the kids come through before they begin another venture along life's path.

The very first thing on the agenda was a "welcome". Colby High's principal, Don Krebs, was one of the ones giving an introduction. His was also met with a charge to these new students. One of the things that he said stuck out. It was something that mayl come across logical and, possibly, kind of elementary. He said that the word freshman was a good name, because it meant that you get to have a fresh start as you begin this next chapter in your life.

High school is memorable for almost everyone. Something significant happens to almost everyone in those four years. I could write many stories on my ventures in high school. Some of these significant events are highs, where others are lows.

Though January is a time when resolutions are made (and dropped), this time of year is also good time to give yourself a fresh start. There is something psychological about the fall. It marks going back to school, fall sports, people getting together, and the temperatures start to cool down.

For a lot of students going back to school is a time they anticipate. They've had fun in the summer, but now they are ready to see their friends, get their new clothes, get their new school supplies, meet their teachers, and just get back into the swing of things. Each student begins the year with straight A's, regardless of how they finished out last year.

Whether or not last year's seasons were successful, this year's can be. A new start for every sports program out there. This is a good time of the year to start 'fresh'!

What about you? What are some things that have been dragging you down? What has been stressing you, lately? How can you use the fall to 'start fresh' again?

You may not be able to erase any situations, but this 'starting fresh' could be as simple as getting a new attitude about something or giving it another chance.

September is National Back to Church month. Have you been away for awhile? Maybe the reason you quit going was one of several. Everyone has their reasons why they may stop attending. Maybe it is because religious people are just 'hypocrites'. Maybe it is because you took a job. Maybe it is because you no longer believe in God. Maybe it is because there were not enough kids for yours to be around. Maybe it is because the preacher, or someone else, offended you by something they did or did not say. The list could go on and on.

Why not use the fall to make a fresh start? Not only are kids returning back to school, but maybe this is the time to return back to church.

It may not only be good for you, spiritually, but it may be a good idea to return to church from a physical standpoint, too. According to WebMD website that I checked out last week Harold G. Koenig, M.D., of Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, did a study consisting of 4,000 64-101 year olds and found that even after dissecting the group down in age, race, current illnesses and other health and social factors, "there was still a 28 percent reduction in mortality." (http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/spirituality-may-help-people-live-longer)

Which means that part of one being totally healthy, you not only need to exercise and eat right, but another factor is to be apart of a church!

So who's with me? Let's go to church and get a fresh start in the fall!!!Share/Bookmark

Let Your Heart Dance  

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The week is over half way through. The weekend is just another day away. Look forward to the weekend, even if you have to work, it is still the end to the week.

When I was in high school track I learned one important fact, if you want your legs to move faster, pump your arms faster. Try it some time. I've tried it, I know it works, especially when you are getting fatigued. It is ironic how the arms and feet coincide during those moments, but they do. Sometimes certain things just follow, that brings us to this week's quote...

Today, let your heart dance.
You will find no shortage of dance partners, as your feet join in.
And your eyes.
And your smile.
And every part of your body and your feelings.
Let your heart dance all day long. ~ Unknown

My soon-to-be 20 month old son enjoys moving his body when music/songs are heard. All kids his age dance cute and without rhythm. His innocence is so freeing to watch. Hear some music...let me just move a bit to it. Who cares who's watching, he's going to move.

Use today to 'dance'. When your heart starts to dance you will find others to join in...feet tapping on the floor, eyes attentive, smile broadening, and soul shaking. Let the fluttering begin as you look at the highlights of life. If you don't see them...look for them, then let your heart dance!

Don't end your dance after a song or two, keep your heart dancing all day long. Just like your arms and legs coinciding together when you run, the longer your heart dances, the more partners that will be working together and you soul will be more jovial!

As you let your heart dance, share what it is dancing to...what is causing your spirits to lift.

Letting my heart dance!

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Going Green: Renewable Resources  

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In the last house we owned, we had a bathroom that was a little outdated. It also had some areas on the wall that were in need of repair, partly due to the previous owner's "shortcuts". One of the repairs we made was to redo the finish on our bathtub. This was quite the project. However, upon completion, it was renewed. Going from almond pristine white, in color. We didn't have to buy a new bathtub, just spend a little money, time, and breathe in some nasty fumes, and voila, a renewed bathtub!

It was interesting to see the transformation. When upon completion, the transformation was amazing. It looked brand new; hence the term 'renew'. We used something that was already there and made it look new, again.

You, self, your body, are not going to be something different. Of course, I am speaking of the intricate parts of you. However, you can be renewed. Whether you need to plug in to have your batteries recharged or you need to have a bit of paint put on the outside of you to make yourself look new again. Whatever the case, we can use 'us' and be someone 'different' if we give ourselves over to Him and allow Him to renew us daily.

Yesterday, we concluded our series on Going Green and talked about 'renewable resources', from Lamentations 3:22-26. Here are some applications to choose from to use this week...

  1. "This is the day..." from Psalm 118:24 - Wake up and realize that God is good...all the time, and has given you this day. He's given us a full cup to use throughout the day. He's refilled you. He's given you abilities that are unique. He's given you interests that are unique. He's given you grace. Use this day!
  2. Hope in Him - This hope is the expecting kind, hoping IN Him. However, it isn't the immature kind. The hope you have in His promises are good. The hope that you have for a terminal patient to live or a paralyzed person to walk, veers toward the immature. The reason it's immature is because if they don't become better, will you get mad at God or feel that there is no hope with Him? He will fulfill His end and His will...hope in that!
  3. Get filled up - We've all probably filled a cup at a soda fountain. You stick the cup under the spigot and pushed something to fill our cup. Each time you need a refill from God just go to the faith fountain and push the button, drawing closer to Him with your need, and be filled. Don't forget to pour out any burdens while you're there!
  4. Praise Him - We often forget to do this...take time(s) to express your gratitude for any and everything as you see and experience things.
Day by day...we are able to be renewed. Scripture tells us this. Lamentations 3:22-26 describes to us a fact that His mercies/compassions are being filled daily. They are new every morning. Great is HIS faithfulness! Let us hope in Him!

Have a blessed week!

Appreciating the renewed cup of mercies I found beside my bed...Share/Bookmark

Book Review of "The Expanded Bible: New Testament"  

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“Study the Bible while you read” is the theme statement of a newly released Bible called The Expanded Bible. As a minister, I possess many bibles of various versions. Everyone has their preferences. Some Bibles are good for their modern language while others are good for their “close to the original text” format.

I was excited upon seeing the opportunity to review this newly released book. And upon receiving the book and examining different passages, I was quite pleased.

The positives that I took away from the review: 1) It takes away the need to go to several different translations to see what words or phrases mean or alternate words, 2) It makes it easy to see scripture references to verses or quotes from the Old Testament, 3) It gives you symbols that indicate what study aid is being used (C = comment, L = literal, and T = traditional rendering, and ‘or’ = an alternate wording), 4) Space on the sides for personal study notes, 5) The single column style makes it easy for reading, and 6) the font is clear and easy to read

The negatives that I took away from the review: 1) The symbols mentioned above are at the beginning of the book, so until you learn them you must flip back and forth, 2) with all the study notes, it may be hard to read aloud, if used in that type of a setting, but if you used it for study sake, that would negate this negative, and 3) it only gives helps to, what I presume, the most common words or phrases that give confusion.

It only comes in a New Testament edition at this point. I am sure that an Old Testament edition will be coming out in the future.

For people who would like to have a study Bible that focuses on alternate words and phrases, with some commentary, then this is a good Bible to consider. It is a Bible that I see best to be used for studying and not taken to class.

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Don't Miss the Opportunity  

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The first part of this week was a lot of fun! It started off by going to five different campuses to pray for the students and teachers in our congregation. What better way to start off a school year than to pray over our students and teachers? We also prayed for the school and staff, etc. It was followed by a fun get-together. It really pumped me up for the week.

Then, on Tuesday, our church had the opportunity to be apart of a 'welcome back' day with the local community college. We had free packs of gum with a website to visit and a "mega" movie basket to give away to one lucky winner. The basket really caught the attention of those passing by!

Both of these situations could be identified as "opportunities". They were opportunities to ask God to be with our students and teachers as they start their school year and to expose ourself to the college students. They were not something we had to do, they were something we chose to do...and boy, am I glad we did. Speaking of 'opportunities' that brings us to this week's quote...

Opportunities are like sunrises - if you wait too long, you miss
them. ~William Arthur Ward

Though the first 'activity' was an 'inreach' activity, meaning that it specifically centered on our church people, the second was 'outreach'. I was blown away at how many kids seemed interested in needing a place to go to church. They wanted to know where we were, and I fully believe they were sincere (I am not saying they will all come our way).

What would have happened if we didn't go out there and spend about 3 hours of our time (not counting all the prep we did)? Would the kids have thumbed through the yellow pages looking for 'us'? Probably not very many, if any. However, the fact that we took the opportunity to go to their campus and meet us in an informal manner, may make a big difference. If not right now, who knows what the future will hold, after the seed has been planted.

Take opportunities...they're not here for very long! Just like a sunrise!

Take opportunities...
- to smile
- to say hi
- to open a door
- to welcome a newcomer
- to leave a big tip
- to leave a kind note
- to say "I love you"
- to compliment
- to shake a hand
- to hug a neck
- to write a nice card
- to be appreciative
- to be kind
- to play with your kids
- to tell your spouse how beautiful/handsome they are
- to send a text of kindness or appreciation
- to leave a comment on this post with more suggestions

Don't waste them...they're gone in a bit...don't wait too long!

Learning to take each and every opportunity...Share/Bookmark

Courting Your Visitors/Customers  

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Ever thought of treating the visitors/customers that come your way like you were courting them? Probably not.

I am not describing that one should hold their hands and whisper "sweet nothings" in their ear, but there are other concepts to think about. The main point is that you "do all of the steps necessary to grow the relationship". Right???

You will put in the time, make the phone calls, send flowers, cards, or e-mails. You do one or several of these things because you are truly interested in that person. You want them to be interested in you. You hope to see them again. You want to make a good impression on them.

That is the way we should be thinking about your visitors/customers or even those that show an interest that haven't yet entered into your building. We shouldn't be leaving it up to one, two, or five people. All should take some ownership and interest in people that come by to check us out.

Jesus is a great example of putting in time. That seems to be what much of his life was about. What an example! Someone we should be trying to model. Someone who showed interest in those that were interested in him. Someone who did take the time for others. Though our life may be busy, we can show people we are interested. It doesn't take much to do some of those things - phone call, send a card, e-mail, or text message. The impact can be great!

Let's not pass the buck to someone else when we have a visitor. Especially, in the cases where you know them. Knowing them and following up with them, will make an even greater impact.

Remember the time you dated your spouse (or if not married, dated someone)? The attention you put toward them? How your mind was consumed with them? How you took the time for them?

Let's put a little bit of that type of energy toward creating an atmosphere for our guests. Let's put that toward following up with them. Let's make them feel that important.

Take the time...it will make an impact!Share/Bookmark

Going Green: Wind Power  

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When we lived in Illinois, we shared our experiences of the wind from growing up in western Kansas. The interesting thing was, that part of Illinois was not accustomed to receive much wind (except on an occasional storm), so many didn't believe that a 25-30 mph wind, wasn't a gust, it was much of a norm for a day (maybe a couple of days). Gusts could get into the 60's and just start to be on the brink of worry. Some days the wind would get even higher than that.

For you golfers, try playing east-west with a southern wind of 20-30 mph! What isn't fun is when then wind decides to die down a bit just when you hit it toward a side of a fairway and it doesn't come back to the fairway - like you thought it would!

God has created wind for various reasons. It is one 'fuel' which we can/have utilized so that other fuels aren't used up. It is almost unlimited! Especially, if you use it correctly.

As Christians, we have a fuel that is probably not utilized in most people, like it should, and this fuel is basically unlimited (we are the only ones that can limit this fuel). The 'wind' that drives our sails is the Holy Spirit. As we are "filled" with Him, we should take advantage of His guidance. As we looked at this "wind power" yesterday, here are some applications to choose to use this week...

  1. Cooling Off - Ever worked physically hard away from a breeze, say inside a building? It is miserable! That is what it is like to work all your life's situations out without tapping in to the wind power of the Holy Spirit...it is miserable. Open yourself up to His power!
  2. Sailing Away - Being a father of a young child, I am now watching cartoons. My son likes basically one cartoon. One episode has the group sailing, until they hit the 'doldrums'. There, the wind stops and they must row their big boat. A sailboat was created to utilize the wind. You were created to allow the "wind" in the Holy Spirit to fill your sails to take you through life...don't row, let Him take you places! Maybe some you never thought possible!
  3. Transporting Seeds - We've all probably blown on a dandelion, causing the seeds to be blown all over. The wind of the Holy Spirit can act like that. What I'm getting at is that through you and the seeds you plant, the Holy Spirit starts to work in other places. We don't know where that seed will take root or after it grows, another seed will be spread. We may never see what comes of it...that is an awesome mystery of the working of Him...tap into it...relish in it...God is awesome!
  4. Fuel Your Fire - Oxygen is an important ingredient in keeping a flame going. Air is fed into a fire to keep it going stronger. A quenched fire will go out. Don't quench the Holy Spirit as that will cause your fire to go out...open up the vent and allow the air to come in to your life to keep the fire going or build it up! Utilize the power of wind!
When people are using wind turbines to capture the energy of the wind, they are utilizing an energy that is natural and good for the environment.

When you allow yourself to tap into the power of the Holy Spirit, you, too, are utilizing an energy that is natural and good for your environment.

Capturing this 'energy' will cause your environment to be better. It will cause your outlook to be different. Your attitude to be different. Your faith to be different. Make someone else's environment cleaner by utilizing this 'wind power' yourself and make a difference in others' lives!

Enjoying the breeze...Share/Bookmark

The Hope Found in Country Roads  

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My wife and I used to drive in the country of Southern Illinois with coffee in hand and conversations on the lips. We would go at night and just putt around the countryside. We often saw deer (more times than we didn't) and other animals.

Our practice was to go for a while, then turn. Repeating that until we were ready to go home. There was one occasion where we took a "wrong turn". We ended up in the middle of a field. Because we were not on a real time frame, then there was no need to panic, just laugh at the situation. There was also a time when a road looked "travelable" but became something no sedan should be going down.

Those were memories that her and I shared and will ever treasure. Some of those roads that might have been "wrong turns" or that ended up being not so "travelable" roads, were probably marked out by farmers, going down them to get to their fields or where they parked their implements. They were only there because the farmer created them, then others followed behind, over time. As we think about that, it brings us to this week's quote...

Hope is like a road in the country; there wasn't ever a road, but when many people walk on it, the road comes into existence. ~Lin Yutang
As you go through life, what road will you go down, that may not be a road in the beginning? However, as you trailblaze the path, the road comes into existence. It also becomes one that people will follow as they continue to go down the same road...one that you helped carve which gives people hope.

You can be a hope giver. You can take out the scariness of a dark path/road. You can be one that shows them, "It is OK" to go down, cause you're ahead, and you've seen what's ahead.

Or maybe you are going to go down a road that others have already gone down, so it gives you hope. It could be any tragedy, news of failing health, unknown surgical procedure, relationship difficulties, bullying, peer pressure, etc.

Go down and make new roads, giving others hope and go down existing roads, which give you hope! Don't think a turn in life is a wrong turn, it may be just the turn you needed to make.

Enjoying the "roads" I take!Share/Bookmark

What's He REALLY Thinking - Book Review  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer

So, you want to know what men are thinking. Do you really want to know? It may be pretty scary getting into that mind your guy possesses. The journey to understanding why he responds “Fine” when you ask how his day went and when the wife is asked about her day, it can go for several minutes.

In Paula Rinehart’s book, “What’s He REALLY Thinking?”, she explores various areas of a guy’s life. She touches on what guy’s do, why they hurt, and how they change. She also helps you understand him by exploring areas such as: expectations, respect, conflict, getting through, and intimacy.

These are some basic areas in a guy’s life. Her goal is to make the female in their life, be it a mom, girlfriend, sister, or wife, understand why he does the things he does or doesn’t do the things he doesn’t do.

She has even provided a question section which can be used for personal study to explore the man in one’s life or could be used for a small group setting. Another option would be to use it with your husband, to dig deeper into his psyche.

As I have read a number of books dealing with relationships, I was a bit skeptical going into this one. I also wanted to see for myself if she knew what a “guy was really thinking”. My impression is that she definitely has nuggets of information that can be used to help create facilitate a good relationship with your man, as you get to understand him better.

If you’ve never read any books on a guy’s psyche, this is a good one. To be fair, but not be a “title-dropper”, there are a couple of other books that I would place above this in getting the information across.Share/Bookmark

Thinking Like a Customer  

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Anytime you get to be on the other side of a situation, you gain an experience that is priceless. You get to see things from a different perspective.

Take for instance, baseball. I participated in baseball most of my young life. It is my favorite sport. It may be slow to some, and to me, sometimes. However, it still remains my favorite. When I was 16, the small town I lived in didn't have enough players to form a team. So, I took up something I had never done before...umpiring. I thought it would be a piece of cake. These are the "tiny" leagues. Not just little league. These were small town kids, who were probably not that talented, due to the fact they were so young.

It may be true that they were not that talented, but the seriousness of the game wasn't little. This town didn't have the extremely bad parents, etc., however, seriousness was evident. Little Johnny or Susie was just as important to Mom & Dad as a Major League Baseball player was to most fans. Call a close play wrong, and you generally "heard about it". Don't call the close strike, and the murmurs behind home plate were far from whispered about.

What is this all about? It is just a game, no World Series. Though the tension and attitudes worsened as you moved up the league level, it all taught me a valuable lesson, that I learned to look forward to (believe it or not).

Like that story, things look different on the other side of the line. As you come into your church building, you are quite familiar with the good and the bad part of things. You know the people, the schedule, and everything else. However, when you go somewhere else - as a visitor - you do not know all the things about that church (building or people).

Do you know that uncomfortable feeling to go into an unfamiliar place? Keep in mind any visitor that comes our way has that same feeling on any given morning. Our greeters are in place to play a part in welcoming our guests, but we all have that responsibility. When you have visited a place, be it a church or a retail store, how could someone have made it more comfortable for you?

Part of what makes people come back is their "customer service experience". How they are treated will make or break the chances to have them return. Make it enjoyable for people. Be hospitable. Be courteous. Be lively. Be smiley. Be Christ.

Think like a customer, then treat our guests the way you'd want to be treated.Share/Bookmark

Going Green: Eradicating Pollution  

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How much do you pollute? It may not be with plastics, aluminum, or oil spills, but you are probably still a polluter!

Though I do not have any memory of ever throwing an entire fast food sack of trash out the window, I do remember throwing things out the window when I was a young boy that I would never think of doing now. It is ironic how the norm changes. I hesitate to throw a toothpick out the window! After watching a childrens movie a couple of years ago that had an animal who wore one of those six-pack plastic ring binders around their neck, I even break those rings apart, when I buy them, so that no animal could get stuck.

Pollution can destroy thousands and thousands of areas of earth. However, each one of us also pollutes in different ways. As we focused on yesterday, in this week's message, we pollute when we get caught up on complaining, grumbling, gossiping, and those of the like.

Reflecting on that lesson, here are some applications to choose from to use this week...

  1. Start caring about your environment - Don't dismiss the fact that you can make an improvement to any area you are at. You are an important variable in making someone (or more than one) have a better day because you came across their path.
  2. Pray for awareness - It is too easy to be caught up in the every day monotony. One must be conscious of their environment to make a difference. If we develop a callousness we will lose sight of trying to make a difference. So, ask God to keep you aware.
  3. Be aware of your intent - What is your intent when you open your mouth and speak? Is it to tear someone down, drag someone through the mud, or elevate yourself. This may not apply to EVERYTHING one says, but often when we are at the "watercooler" and get to talking in our groups of friends.
  4. Don't pollute - The words we speak have the potential to tear down someone, negate an idea, or lower morale. Think about this as you are going about life. It may allow you to help out someone who is one who pollutes the 'environment' frequently.
Pollution can destroy an environment. Whether it is trash being tossed out or trash being spoken, it all pollutes. One of my big pet peeves is receiving editorials which puts down brethren in the church. To them the intention is good, but that intention is simply pollution. Why spend so much time "trashing" someone when you can spend more energy trying to "save" someone else?

Let's try to make our environment cleaner and greener by saying something encouraging or something else that is positive, instead of doing something that just pollutes the environment.

I will end the same way I ended my sermon..."Give a hoot, don't pollute!"Share/Bookmark

Problems That Resemble a Nail  

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Have you ever seen the cartoon where an object looks like a piece of literal meat? I remember the classic Tom & Jerry cartoons where there were scenes like that, where Jerry, the mouse, would have scenes when he looked like food, not just a menace, to Tom, the cat.

Along the same lines, if you've ever made the mistake of going grocery shopping when you are hungry, so many things start to seem appetizing. Everywhere you look, that item looks good, and that item looks good. Before long your cart is more full than you intended.

The same effect can take place when you look at problems in your life. That inspired this week's quote...

When the only tool you own is a hammer, every problem begins to resemble a nail.
~Abraham Maslow

When you have problems, especially those that tend to pile up on each other, the can have the same effect as shopping for food when you are hungry. You see that one item in your tool box is a hammer and you want to use it to solve all the situations you're entangled in.

The big problem can be to see that every problem doesn't resemble a nail. Not every problem needs to be hammered. Some may need to be glued with care. Some may need to be squeezed with pliers. Some may need to be tied with some rope. Problems don't all look like nails.

If you've got some problems lingering around (or when you do), don't go picking up hammers and swinging them around. Look for other tools in your toolbox to use. Or if you only have a hammer, go out and buy some new "tools" so that you do not have to use a hammer for every problem.

Utilizing my toolbox full of tools...

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Basis of Our Efforts  

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What would it take to cause us to grow or attract people? I'd really like to know, if you have any ideas.

Too often the answer to that question is broad...very broad. Also, we may look at Church A and see what they are doing and their success, and want to try what they are doing. This is the model approach instead of the principle approach. This isn't the best option because you cannot replicate everything about what they're doing. As Scott McKain says, are "my efforts...based upon what my competitor is doing, not what my customers desire"?

He writes from a business perspective, however, points like this make it easy to transfer the situation over to a church setting. Understand, since it is from a business perspective, the "competitor" is other churches and the "customers" are those we are trying to reach.

We must be willing to stand out, in a good way. Stand out to show that church doesn't have to always appear the same. Or our demeanor doesn't have to appear "churchy" but real. Or our "customer service experience" can be very personable and down-to-earth.

As times change, so will the appearance of everything we do. We use computers with colored backgrounds for our bulletin instead of a typewriter. We use songs that make us "feel" different than songs of yesteryear. We use multimedia to help people learn, instead of nothing or slides. We are to be free to demonstrate our personal choice of praising God instead of scowled at for doing something different. As our young people shift into adults, they will create a change, across the board, that is unlike anything ever seen before. All of these things are still "scriptural", though different.

So, how do we attract people? We make it comfortable for our "customers". We do things that will make them want to come back. That is a very broad statement, but we must find a way to all be involved in making that come about, here. Think about what makes you return to certain places...those are concepts/principles we must apply. Those same "reasons for return" will cause people to come back to see us, too. Think about it...it's really elementary!

What will be base our efforts on...competitors or customers? Our direction will be reflected from your answer.Share/Bookmark

Going Green: "BE" Vitamins - Part 4  

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"BE" vitamins enhance our life. They make us better people, and this "BE" vitamin is no different. You've seen the caplets with two colors, that is what this week's "BE" vitamin looks like. It has two different parts that make it one.

Jesus sent his disciples out into a dangerous land. This environment was created by Jesus, both theoretically and literally. Literally, because He is the Son of God, who was here in the beginning of creation. Theoretically, because Jesus had done so much to cause a lot of stirring and strife amongst the religious people that they were out to get Him. This environmental setting caused the disciples to be in an area that was dangerous.

Jesus knew this was the 'temperature' of the land, so Jesus is letting them know that they are going to be "sheep among wolves", from Matthew 10:16. As they are sheep among wolves, they need to be sharp and innocent at the same time, so Jesus challenges them to be "shrewd as snakes and innocent as doves" - the two part 'vitamin'.

If we are on an extreme, then problems can occur. If we lean to much toward the shrewd side, we can become manipulative and controlling. If we lean to much to the innocence side, we can become naive and unrealistic. There must be a balance.

As we examined this passage yesterday, here are some applications to choose from to use this week...

  1. Examine yourself - Do you tend to lean to one side or the other with situations? Be conscious of situations you're in and how you operate. Ask God to help you balance the two.
  2. "BE" Shrewd - Be aware of the environment you are in and how you can share Jesus in that environment, knowing there may only be openings big enough for a "snake" to get in, so go through it.
  3. "BE" Innocent - Be aware of the sensitivity of people to religious talk so that you can be harmless in your delivery
  4. "BE" Shrewd - Be aware when the environment is one you need to walk out of or stand up for yourself.
  5. "BE" Innocent - Be aware of how walking out or standing up for yourself may make you appear snobby or impersonal, so find a way to do it without drawing attention to the reason you are doing it.

Being shrewd and innocent at the same time reminds me of a detective. They are on alert to their environment while trying to blend in to the situation. They don't want to cause others to be too alarmed if they are spotted, but to appear nonchalant.

Though we often refer to a snake as a "scary" creature, but Jesus uses one of its characteristics to show how His disciples must be. Whereas a dove is not even close to a scary creature, but Jesus uses one of its characteristics to do the same thing.

We live in a malicious world, as did these disciples. We cannot back down from this challenge as we need to be as "shrewd as snakes and innocent as doves" as we go about carrying out the Mission which Jesus gave us.

Being shrewdly innocent...Share/Bookmark