Friday, January 12, 2018

Personal Log 1.13.18

“The unthankful heart... discovers no mercies; 
but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, 
as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, 
in every hour, some heavenly blessings.” 
― Henry Ward Beecher



I've been thinking about my Grandma Cooper lately… this May she'll have been gone 3 years & I really, really miss her; she & I were very close. I used to drive up to South Haven to pick her up & bring her back to my folks house for a few days during the Summer & repeat that during the Holidays. During those long drives we'd have the best talks & I wouldn't trade one second of those conversations for anything this world could offer.

My grandma was a very thankful woman but I didn't realize just how thankful she was until I picked her up on the Thanksgiving before her death. I noticed the following words/phrases that weekend:
  • thank you for picking me up
  • thank you for opening the door for me
  • thank you for driving safely
  • thank you for walking me to the door
  • thank you for filling my glass
  • thank you for getting my sweater
  • thank you for checking on me
  • thank you for making a fire in the fireplace
  • thank you for tending the fire
  • thank you for driving me back
  • thank you for taking me grocery shopping 
  • thank you for reaching that on the top shelf
  • thank you for putting my groceries away
  • thank you for fixing my clock, etc

I finally asked her why she was so thankful all the time:

“I've had a good life, God has blessed me. 
I've done a lot of things on my own but when you get to be my age 
& can't do what you used to, you realize you took those things for granted 
& you become thankful for even the simple acts that people do for you.”

She taught me a great lesson that week, one that I've tried to actively & consistently incorporate into my own life, so now, pretty much every day in my prayer life I'm like:
  • thank You for a good night's sleep
  • thank You for a place to lay head
  • thank You for another day
  • thank You for protecting me
  • thank You that I walked away from an accident
  • thank You I wasn't seriously hurt
  • thank You for the healing process
  • thank You for the family I have here now 
  • for those who've passed on thank You for the time I had w/ them
  • thank You that I have all my limbs
  • thank You for America (as flawed as it is right now)
  • thank You for Your love/grace/mercy

& then really, truly thanking people:
  • thank for pastoring
  • thank you for leading worship
  • thank you for teaching the kids
  • thank you for helping
  • thank you for doing this
  • thank you for heading this up
  • thank you for caring/calling/texting
  • thank you for checking on that for me
  • thank you for inviting me over
  • thank you for meeting w/ me
  • thank you for serving (military, police officers, teachers, church workers, waiters/waitresses, etc)

There are so many things & so many people to be thankful for; never take anything nor anyone for granted, a thankful life is the best kind of life…

Colossians 4:2 
“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful”









 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Personal Log 1.10.2018

I try not to make New Years resolutions; of course there's goals that I set & try to meet but resolutions? Nah… too many times I've said, “This year I'm going to do this… & that..  & all these things…” & too many times I've fallen short on every single one.

One of my favorite verses concerning goals & aspirations is 1 Kings 20:11 AMP, “… a man who puts on [his armor to go to battle] should not boast like the man who takes it off [after the battle has been won].”

Here it is in the GNT: “Tell King Benhadad that a real soldier does his bragging after a battle, not before it.”

James 4:13-16 AMP has something to say about plans & schemes too: “Come now [and pay attention to this], you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and carry on our business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know [the least thing] about what may happen in your life tomorrow. [What is secure in your life?] You are merely a vapor [like a puff of smoke or a wisp of steam from a cooking pot] that is visible for a little while and then vanishes [into thin air]. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and we will do this or that.” But as it is, you boast [vainly] in your pretension and arrogance. All such boasting is evil.”

These verses have a tendency to ground me, bring me back to earth so to speak. I'm all for goals, I'm all for having a vision & working toward it but I've learned to be very flexible on how & when those things come about; especially if the vision & goals involve other people.



One of my goals for 2018 is to be more sociable. By nature, I'm an introvert, I'm a very quiet individual & I have no problems being by myself for long periods of time. I think if I had lived 200 years ago I would have been a mountain man or a hermit…  but one of the reasons the Lord brought me back to my fellowship was for me to be more sociable, to connect w/ people where they're at & w/ their interests. I'm trying to make a concerted effort to engage more in both social media & real life fellowship. 

So many times people have a tendency to sequester themselves in their own little bubbles, I don't want to be that way. 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Ideas For Church Growth

The local & global Church is a living organism, however as long as I've been alive it's been treated as an organization & as a former pastor's kid I can attest to this. I've seen the ins & outs & the working mechanisms of “Church” as an organization (salaries, utilities, etc) so I'm going to be a realist & approach this topic as such. 

Over the last few years I've been intensely researching Church growth & what's worked/hasn't worked for fellowships all over the country.

Here's a few ideas that have worked:

Add Another Service

This is the number one thing that has worked; people generally like options: if an ice cream store only served vanilla it probably wouldn't last…  because of our 24/7 lifestyle/work shifts people not only like but need options. 

For some, a Wednesday night service/Bible Study more suits their community, for others an additional Sunday morning service works but for the ones who saw the most growth in sustained attendance it was adding a hour long Saturday evening service.   

If you're going to consider this option then it has to be something different. I know of a fellowship who tried a Saturday evening service but it was the same format as their Sunday morning service: same songs, same sermon & it was a dud; no one wanted the same thing but leadership didn't listen; live & [hopefully] learn...

For a Saturday evening service to work, it must be different:
  • try a seeker sensitive approach = up songs & up message
  • try a soaking/acoustic worship/corporate prayer approach

There's a fellowship in my area that has a successful Saturday evening service; I personally like it, it's nice… & it's not only the senior pastor who takes it, sometimes it's the associate or youth pastor or an elder/board member.  I like the option of a Saturday evening service, who doesn't? 

In the Spring/Summer, I have a lot of family functions: reunions, dinners, various activities... so I may occasionally miss my Sunday morning service & this is where a Saturday evening service is convenient.  

Community/Interest-Based Events

Despite the name, Small Groups are huge; they really are. 

I read of one fellowship in Texas who bought the woods behind their church building & converted those woods into a disc golf course! They got w/ their township & co-designed it, then built it. It was a huge success. People would come on Sunday mornings for service & play afterwards (they eventually created a special early service to accommodate all the new members who played disc golf). The course is open to the public weekdays/weekends, it's a very popular course & their sustained attendance grew by 40-50% annually. 

I read of another fellowship who had a large number of golfers; it was a major ministry outlet for them. They'd meet on Mondays at the course, pray/minister then play. It got so big they added a Sunday morning golf ministry. Some people balked at this, “On a Sunday morning? Are you serious?” Well, because leadership didn't make a big issue out of it or pressure people about attendance, people started coming to their services. 

Note: I can't remember but I think this fellowship also added a Saturday evening service to minister to the ministers who headed up the golf ministry on Sunday mornings & to the golfers.  

One last example: Saddleback Church has a badminton ministry; so every Wednesday morning & evening, people from all over the community would gather for prayer, ministry & badminton. They'd open the gym about 11 & then again at 7. Rain or shine, Summer or Winter, this is ongoing.

Things like these are great, if your fellowship owns land then consider using it to engage w/ your community:

  • create a bocce court
  • create a croquet course
  • create a putting range
  • create a coffeehouse/open mic setting

Find out what your community lacks, what your community is interested in & fulfill that need. Start w/ once a month events designed around these interests & invite the community to be a part of it. Promote it in the newspapers, on your social media accounts, take videos of these events, put them on your church website so people see you're human & like to have fun.

Preach Jesus

Of course preach/teach whatever the Lord lays on your heart to preach/teach but Jesus fascinates most people; they were drawn to Him when He was ministering on Earth & they're drawn to Him now. I read of where this one one pastor felt led to just preach Jesus for one year = His character, His Person, etc & word soon got out & again, his fellowship exploded in attendance, so much so that he extended his teaching another year & they had to add onto the building & add staff to accommodate all the people coming just to learn about Jesus.

These examples worked for these fellowships; they may or may not work for yours, each fellowship & each community is different; only God knows what will cause growth but these  are some examples of how different fellowships thought outside the box & it worked for them...

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Personal Log: 1.2.2018

So, this is the second day of 2018, January 2nd, a brand new day in a brand new year; it's also the 9th Day of Christmas, according to the song it's where nine ladies dancing were given. I wouldn't know what to do w/ nine dancing ladies or even one lady (dancing or not): I don't have time for women right now anyway... 

I've been taking a few days off from social media: no Twitter, no Google+ & definitely no Facebook, I think I can do without people posting pics of their lunch or the shoes they want to buy or moaning about the weather. Sometimes it's just good to take a break from those things. Except in this instance to upload this blog, I'm turning off my pc (& it's staying off) & I'm not turning on my phone either (& it too is staying off) so I can rest, refocus & reset. 



I'm typing this blog on my old HP IPAQ 110 w/ the Think Outside Bluetooth Keyboard; yeah it took a few minutes to change the batteries on it & establish the bluetooth connection but it's worth it not to have the distraction of wifi & multiple notifications from multiple social media & email accounts, I have nothing urgent demanding my attention, it can all wait.

Early Sunday morning, on the last day of 2017, I was in a car accident: it was whiteout conditions, freezing temps & before I knew it I had driven off the road & rammed into a tree; both my car & myself were slightly banged up but any accident that you can walk away from is a good accident. It was the first accident I'd had in 20+ years... Thank God for His protection; there must still be a purpose for my life, 'must still be more things for me to do so I'd better be about the Father's business & get it done because life is short & there's really no guarantee of how long you have... 

I'm not sure what direction this blog is going to take this year but I'm open to just about anything.

Here's to 2018!

Friday, December 29, 2017

2017: The Final Post

Observations

2017 was unlike any year I have ever seen in my life & was replete w/ the following:

  • protests
  • riots
  • marches
  • boycotts
  • resistance
  • obstructions
  • offenses
  • divisions
  • investigations
  • accusations
  • resignations
  • revelations
  • domestic/global tensions
  • chicanery
  • general shenanigans


It was polarizing to say the least. Whether it's Americans or Christians we all have core/different beliefs but if there were two things I came away w/ in 2017 it was these:

1)
Not everyone is an _______ist.
Not everything is an _______ism.

2)
Define your core values & find those values in others, make those values a bridge instead of a wall.

Completions

I finally went to a Neal Morse concert. The Neal Morse Band is a phenomenal Christian progressive rock band w/ intense lyrics & complex compositions all wrapped up in concept albums. It left me speechless… & I was challenged to up my game in regards to my musical skills.

I spent the better part of 2017 creating a music room for my fellowship. In 2016 I was wrestling w/ whether it was God's will for me to come back to my old fellowship but I felt it was & acted in faith & rejoined. One day I was walking around & saw all these instruments laying around & felt in my spirit to create a music room for teaching, writing & recording. So I got permission from leadership & converted a spare room where creativity is exploding.



My folks love croquet & they've had this certain croquet set for around 50 years; it was in halfway decent shape but in my spare time I cleaned it up, painted some mallets & built a case for them. We played quite a bit this year & I wouldn't trade those times for anything... 

Projections

Looking forward to 2018 here's what I'd like to do:

  • record at least 2 CD's and/or EP's from musicians in my fellowship 
  • record a Christmas CD w/ said musicians
  • record a solo acoustic worship CD
  • record another instrumental rock CD


We'll see what happens though, I'm not forcing things nor am I sweating things, 'just taking life one day at a time & really desiring a greater revelation of Jesus for myself, my fellowship & for America.

Here's to 2018!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

2017 Pics & Posts

As 2017 comes to a close I thought I'd post a collection of some of my favorite tweets, posts & pics from Twitter & Google+; some are humorous, some are serious but for whatever reason, I liked them.

Tweets & Posts:

"15 years ago, the Internet was an escape from the real world. Now, the real world is an escape from the Internet." - Noah Smith

“Both optimists & pessimists contribute to society. The optimist invents the aeroplane, the pessimist the parachute.”
- George Bernard Shaw

@RascalTweets
“There is no safety in a significant life, and there is no significance in a safe life.”

“I would suggest that faith is everyone’s business. The advance or decline of faith is so intimately connected to the welfare of a society that it should be of particular interest to a politician.” 
― William Wilberforce, Real Christianity

@JohnCMaxwell
“People who blame others for their failures never overcome them. They simply move from problem to problem.”

@ThomasSowell
“It is usually futile to try to talk facts and analysis to people who are enjoying a sense of moral superiority in their ignorance.”

@ATTACKATHLETICS
“If it's not acceptable, stop accepting it. You get what you tolerate.”

Pics & Memes:


I've never seen a guitar like this, apparently it's a lap guitar. I thought it was cool...




This was my brain for the better part of 2017...




I couldn't have said this better.




I've seen this alot more in 2017 than I ever wanted to.




So true...




I knew something was familiar...




Just face it, this is how most of the world sees the rest of the world... 





There's a right way & there's a wrong way to go about things.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Cinematic Fractionation: The 2000's

This is the final post in my favorite-movies-by-decade series; due to some eye strain I've had to dig into some sandbagged blogs & I've always wanted to do this series. 'Gonna try to get back to some devotional blogs here soon; in the mean time check out my personal favorite movies of the 2000's!

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)



A master & a student fight another master & their student when a legendary sword is stolen… a great martial arts film!

The One (2001) 



Jet Li fights an alternate universe version of himself who grows stronger with each alternate self that is killed.

The Bourne Identity (2002)



A super secret agent w/ incredible skills & bad case of amnesia as he hunts for his true identity & is hunted in the process.

Hulk (2003)



The much maligned Ang Lee superhero film about the jolly green giant w/ anger issues. Watch it at 2x the speed & it all makes sense...

Napoleon Dynamite (2004)



A goof, a doof, a friend, a new student, an aunt, an uncle, a time machine, a llama, a snob, her friend, a dance, tupperware & a school election all come together in this microcosm of small town American lunacy.

Passion of the Christ (2004)



A film about the last few hours of Jesus Christ before He was crucified: powerful acting, direction & soundtrack. I like to watch this movie at Christmas, it's a powerful reminder of why He came...

House of Flying Daggers (2004)



A visually stunning martial arts romance film; yes, you heard that right.

The Lake House (2006)



A doctor & an architect, separated by years, somehow correspond, go on a date & fall in love...

Honorable Mention:

Casino Royale (2006)



I've always been a James Bond fan so I approached this remake/reboot w/ some skepticism but Daniel Craig + Eva Green + an intelligent plot + well directed action scenes = a very re-watchable movie.