Saturday, December 27, 2008

Weird Weather

I think we have had a little bit of everything this December. Last weekend we were experiencing sub-zero temps and frigid wind chills. Today I think we reached a high of 68 degrees. But we are also getting a lot of rain, so it's not too enjoyable.

Tomorrow is the last Sunday of the year. I'm looking forward to preaching (especially since I didn't get to preach last Sunday because of the power outage).

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Have a Blessed Christmas

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!"

Luke 2:1-15

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Heat Is On!

Hunkered down under a bunch of blankets on Saturday night, but woke up to 48 degrees in the house. Brrr! Spent the day with some friends. Came home to check the house, then the juice came back on. Kudos to those guys working round-the-clock to restore power.

Still no power at the church building. Cancelled services (duh!). It's COLD in there. But really COLD outside (zero, with a minus 10 windchill). Worshipped at the Auburn Church of Christ today. Enjoyed hearing my friend John Scott preach.

Now I'm drinking coffee, watching football, blogging, and thanking the Lord for a warm house.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Ice Storm

We got a nasty ice storm this morning. When the weatherman predicted a half-inch of ice, I thought he was exaggerating, but it turns out he was right. Ice everywhere. The tree limbs are groaning with the weight. We lost some very big branches. Limbs and power lines are down all over town. We lost power about 9am and the house is getting COLD. They say power might not be restored until Sunday. Wow. We are getting warm at Starbucks now.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Friday, December 12, 2008

Larry Russell


Tracy and I just got back from a trip to Virginia for the funeral of Larry Russell. Larry and his wife Betty became dear friends when we ministered at Northampton. He was diagnosed with cancer just three weeks ago. He went to be with theLord on Sunday night. His funeral service was a celebration of his life and the fact that he knew the Lord. He will be missed.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Christmas Pics




After yesterday's service, a friend took some family photos for us to use for Christmas cards. Here's a sneak preview.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Rush Limbaugh and Barbara Walters

I got home from a meeting last night and the Barbara Walters “Most Interesting People of 2008″ special was on t.v. Tina Fey and Rush Limbaugh made the list. Surely I’m not the only one who noticed this: Babs was very chummy with Tina, joining in the mocking of Sarah Palin, laughing when Tina called George Bush an idiot, celebrating Tina’s success, etc. The Rush interview came next. She was hostile & accusatory, chastizing Rush for his big salary and essentially calling him an intolerant bigot. The double-standard was obvious.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Ouch!

This post from Craig Groeschel kicked my butt:

In ministry, I’ve had seasons of full blown passion for Christ and His Kingdom. At other times, my passion leaked and I was spiritually empty. Here are a few signs you might be a lukewarm pastor from my own life and experiences helping other pastors.

A lukewarm pastor:
Prays as much, or more, publicly than privately.
Is almost exclusively dependent on others’ sermons to preach than directly hearing from God.
Cares more about his church than The Church.
Preaches about evangelism but doesn’t practice evangelism privately.
Tolerates and rationalizes unconfessed sin.
Preaches for the approval of people rather than the approval of God.
Is overly sensitive to criticism.
Harbors bitterness and unforgiveness.
Reads the Bible to prepare sermons but not for personal devotion to God.
Is jealous or critical of someone else that God is blessing.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Wintry Sunday

I had a rare Sunday off today. It's really weird to be on "vacation" but still at home. I enjoyed sleeping in and waking up to enjoy some coffee and the morning paper. We worshipped at Christ's Church at Georgetown today. I enjoyed hearing my friend Chris Steele preach.

I wonder if other preachers struggle with being able to concentrate on the service when they are visiting another church. While worshipping, I find myself thinking things like, "I wonder where I can get that cool PowerPoint background" or "How can we get our lights to do that?" or "A fiddle would sound great in our praise band" or "we need to copy this thing that they have in their bulletin." Anyone?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Weekend Off


I have the weekend off. We aren't doing anything particularly special. Just hanging out together. Probably will get some of the Christmas decorations out. Spent some time today raking leaves. I hope to finish the job tomorrow. Have a great weekend everybody!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Holiday Mania

Hey Christians, how 'bout we do something different this year and not freak out about merchants saying "Happy Holidays" instead "Merry Christmas"? I started thinking about it while preparing to teach a Bible School class tomorrow. We've been talking about issues over which Christians disagree (alcohol, role of women in the church, tattoos and other cultural things, etc). My topic is holidays. You know, that whole pagan origins thing. A couple of key Scriptures that I will use are Romans 14:1-8 and Colossians 2:16-3:4.

One of the problems with the line of thinking that says, "You can't celebrate or participate in anything which has evil origins" (even if nobody but fanatical Christians remember what those origins are) is that it is impossible to be consistent. Are we going to start calling the days of the week by alternate names (they are based on pagan gods)? And the same guy who would never go to a Maundy Thursday service (too Catholic or denominational) has no problem celebrating the Christ-Mass.

But I digress... For the past few years, some Christians have freaked out because retailers are using the phrase "Happy Holidays" (there's no mention of Christ you know). Let's think about this:

1. They are trying to sell merchandise.

2. "Happy Holidays" includes several holidays for a diverse shopping crowd, including Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year's Day.

3. If we are not sharing the name of Christ during the other 11 months of the year, let's not gripe about other people (MOST OF WHOM ARE NOT EVEN CHRISTIAN) who don't do it.

Chill out folks. And Happy Holidays to you!

P.S. I started to post this when I suddenly realized that it sounded familiar. I checked the archives and found that I did a similar rant a couple of years ago. Oh well.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Catalyst One Day


The Catalyst event at Granger was awesome. I was so thrilled to have most of my staff and several elders with me today. Andy Stanley and Craig Groeschel are excellent communicators.We were challenged and convicted, and we left excited about ministry.
Some take-aways:

If you don't know what is causing your momentum, you are only one
stupid decision away from killing it.
I said, "God, do something in our church. And God, 'that's why you're there.' I mean, who built the ark?" (God worked through a person).
Do anything short of sin to connect people to Christ.

Mark Waltz put some great notes on his blog (scroll down past his anniversary post).

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Snowy Message


Roger Cook leads our grounds ministry at The Creek. He has mowed a message into a little ridge on the edge of our property. The message really stood out this morning after a little dusting of snow.

Real Men of Jesus - Mr. Really Really Really Long Prayer

A Little Cheesiness

Jon over at Stuff Christians Like had a post about re-claiming 80's songs for Christ. It reminded me of some stuff we did at church camp. We re-worked some songs that were popular at the time (it seems so cheesy now, but back then we were amazed at our own awesomeness):

Born (Again) in the USA
Born again in the USA
(I was) Born again in the USA
When Jesus Christ washed my sins away
(I was) Born again in the USA

Karma Chameleon (I am not making this up)
Become a (come a come a come a) come a Christ-ian (in the Church of Christ or the Christian Church)
Your sins will be forgiven when you become a Christian
So come, let's go, c'mon let's go

WHAT were we thinking?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Catalyst One Day Promo

Steve Fee - All Because Of Jesus

Going to the One Day Catalyst at Granger on Thursday. Andy Stanley and Craig Groeschel, with Steve Fee leading worship. It's going to be great.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Sunday Preview

I'm excited about the message I'm going to preach on Sunday. I'm in a series called Down to the Core (based on Acts 2:42). I'll be preaching about fellowship this week. I learned some new things about this important topic. I can't wait to share it at The Creek.
Fellowship -- Why is It Important?
Because of the danger of isolation
Because of the joy of celebration
Because of the power of consecration
Because of the impact of inspiration

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Preach the Word


Currently I'm preaching a sermon series called "Down to the Core" based on Acts 2:42. Tomorrow I will be talking about the apostles' doctrine. My friend Dave Willis posted this reminder on his blog. Thanks bro!
Phil Johnson wrote: "That’s why preachers ought to preach the Word instead of telling stories and doing comedy. That’s where the power for ministry resides: in the Word. It’s not in our cleverness or our oratorical skills. The power is in the Word of God. And our task is simple: all we have to do is make the Bible’s meaning plain, proclaim it with accuracy and clarity. And the Spirit of God uses His Word to transform lives. The power is in the Word, not in any technique or program."

Sometimes I'm tempted to trust my own cleverness, wit or skill and I need to be reminded to keep the Word central. I sure I'm not alone in this regard. Maybe you need this reminder too.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Day After

This morning I prayed for President-elect Obama and for our country. I was disappointed in the outcome of the election, but I am encouraged that these things are still true:
1. God is sovereign and still on His throne.
2. The local church is the hope of the world.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Sunday at Cedar Creek


God showed up in an amazing way at The Creek this morning. We had Dean Trune as our guest for a Going Deeper with God weekend. Last night Dean taught about developing spiritual roots, and journaling. Today he taught during Bible School about spiritual warfare. During the worship service he preached about prayer. At the end he offered an invitation for anyone who would purpose in their hearts to become more committed to prayer. Dozens of people came forward in the first service! It was incredible. Then God did it again in the second service! Clearly, the Holy Spirit was at work. I was so excited to see so many people expressing a desire to get more serious about their faith and their walk with the Lord. 95 people made a public commitment. Wow! I can’t wait to see what God is going to do in the lives of His people and His church.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

King's Servants

I’m studying for some leadership teaching that I’m going to do for the next three Thursdays at a sister congregation in Ohio (about an hour from here). My father-in-law has put together this training. About two hours each week for a couple of years. He brings in a lot of guest speakers. Kind of a “Joshua’s Men” type of discipleship and leadership development thing. It's called "King's Servants." I did this last year and really enjoyed it. I'm looking forward to it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Good Dog

About six years ago, our family went to get a dog from the SPCA. We looked at several candidates. We nearly got a German Shepherd puppy, but another dog had caught our eye. A Border Collie who was older, about six years old. She had been passed over many times and they weren't going to keep her much longer. We chose to take "Midnight" home. She was a great dog. She loved the kids and they loved her. She was house-broken and she didn't run away when we let her outside.

In recent months, she started to show her age. Her hearing was nearly gone and she didn't do much but lie around the house. The past few days, she had become very lethargic and was not herself. We took her to the vet today, fearing what we might have to do. The vet said she had a tumor on her spleen. Long story short, we had to say "good-bye." But we have lots of great memories.

Real Preachers of Genius - Mr. Really Really Bad Preacher

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Communion

This past Wednesday night I did a lesson on the Lord's Supper. I'm teaching the series: The New Testament Church -- Then & Now. We had a good discussion. Tomorrow I will be teaching on the same subject in the Homebuilders Bible School Class. Our class has been studying controversial or disputable matters. I think some of the class members are going to be stunned to learn that some people have very strong convictions about this (frequency, day, participants, etc.). Isn't it just like Satan to take the very things that are to unite us and point us towards Christ, and use them to create such sharp division within the Body of Christ? Worship, Communion, and Baptism -- those topics never fail to generate a spirited discussion.

Some of you know that I have been on a personal journey with regard to the issue of the Lord's Supper. See posts here. My friend Al Maxey has written so well on this subject. He asks many of the same questions I have been asking. Especially here and here. Enjoy!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Fun With Gas






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Friday, October 17, 2008

Teenage Pyros


This one is for all the parents of teenage boys. A couple of nights ago, Luke and his friend were coming into the garage with a spray can. I asked what they had been doing and they said they had been burning stuff. What?! (cue the fatherly lecture about playing with fire, especially while using an accelerant, "you could have burned the barn down", etc.).

Yesterday I walked into the house and it smelled like oil or smoke or something. I suspected that they had been in the barn. So I walked out to the barn and it was full of smoke (a chemical smell). Furious, I found them in Luke's room and got them to confess that they had been burning the old pool noodles. I can only imagine the noxious chemicals that stunt produced. I'll spare you the details, but the Wrath of Dad came down.

Later, my repentant son said, "Dad, teen boys like to burn stuff. Just to see what it will do." I know son. I once was one.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

It's My Birthday and I'll Blog If I Want To

Another year older. Forty-three! How did THAT happen? I still feel like I'm in my twenties, but the mirror tells a different story. It has been a great day so far. I've received several phone calls from family and friends. Mrs. Soren and I are going to a quiet, romantic dinner tonight. Life is good.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Book Bonanza


The local Christian bookstore had its annual ministers appreciation breakfast this morning. We had a nice breakfast, then listened to some publishers hawk their new books, then we walked away with 8-10 freebies. LeaderShift by Don Cousins. Ed Young’s book, Outrageous, Contagious Joy. A sampler of the ESV study Bible (the book of Luke). The Blazing Center by John Piper. A workbook companion for Hybels’ Holy Discontent. A few others that I can’t recall right now. We always have a good time at this event.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A Glorious Sunday

It was a great Sunday. A good day at The Creek. I took a nap this afternoon, then went for a ride on my motorcycle, stopping by the local children’s home and playing a little dodge ball. Attended a Revival meeting at a sister church tonight. Now I am watching baseball.

Friday, October 10, 2008

ESV Study Bible


The new ESV Study Bible debuts next week. It has been getting a lot of hype in the blogosphere. Crossway has been doing a good job of promotion. I have been enjoying reading through the ESV this year, so I'm curious to see what the Study Bible looks like. I have not been a big Study Bible fan in the past (Mrs. Soren has the NIV Study Bible and it's HUGE), but it is hard to ignore the hearty endorsements from people whom I respect.

Although I have some very good Bible software, I've always been a "book guy." I would rather read a printed commentary than read it off a computer screen. But it's easier to take my laptop to Starbucks than all my books.

Okay so this is probably the most boring post of the week. You get what you pay for.

Have a Great Weekend Everybody!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Wednesday, October 08, 2008






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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Fireproof

Or small group went to see Fireproof on Sunday night. It lived up to the hype. Every married couple should go see this movie. Only one or two real actors were in it, but the storyline more than made up for that. This is a must-see!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Wait 'Til Next Year


I awakened to find that the Cubs had lost. D'oh! Couldn't they at least have made a series of it? Swept two years in a row. And that's what makes them the Cubs.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Why Do I Ever Get My Hopes Up?


I have been a Cubs fan since I was eight years old. That means they have been breaking my heart for 35 years. Yes, they can still pull it off. But they looked like the Bad News Bears last night.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

This Kicked My Butt

David Foster had a great blog post today:

Seven Things I'd Like to Say to the Men of America

I have a bone to pick, a frustration to voice and here it is. Where have all the men gone? I’m not talking about Neanderthals who drag their knuckles along the ground and beat up women and small children. I’m talking about good men, strong men, godly men; men who stand tall in the saddle.

I’m seeing way too many wimps and whiners; men who cop out and walk away at the first sign of trouble. So here is what I want to say to the men in America based upon what I see in them.

1. Do everything in moderation. Whether it’s drinking, sports, work, or exercise; the watchword is moderation. Everything is good in moderation. There’s nothing wrong with a glass of wine, everything wrong with a bottle. There’s nothing wrong with attending a football game, everything wrong with turning your car into a helmet. Exaggeration and going overboard are what gets us in trouble.

2. Sweat the small stuff. You hear people say glibly, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” I say you do sweat the small stuff. That’s where integrity is won. That’s where trust is kept over time.

3. Fight for your marriage. I’m absolutely amazed at how many tough guys run away at the first sign of a marriage getting hard. Your wife nags you or something doesn’t go your way. You get frustrated and tired and you give it up. If you’re not going to fight for your marriage, what in God’s name will you fight for? And I might add, that’s worth fighting for. You fight for your job, you fight for your team, and you fight for your parking spot. You need to fight for your wife and your kids; to love them and take care of them, to be their hero, and to be there for them.

4. Stop whining. Yes, times could be better but this is a business cycle and if you’ve lived more than 20 years, you know that this has happened before and it will happen again. Things come and they go. Markets correct themselves. That’s the wonder of democracy in an open market. It’s called capitalism. It’s a good thing. You might even say, it’s a God thing. It’s the way life works. So stop whining about how bad things are. You’ve never seen them that bad. Well, you’re 25 years old. Look around at some guys who have a few scars and they’re still swinging. Stop whining and start working. Work hard. Work hard at something you’re good at. Work hard at something you’re good at and that matters.

5. Man up. This simply means be a man. Live up to your responsibilities. Be tough and strong, and most of all, smart. Real men don’t walk away or run away when the going gets tough. Man up.

6. You’re always one bad decision away from wrecking your life. We are people who get up after they’ve wrecked their lives and say, “I made some mistakes.” No, you made bad choices. Every decision has an effect on your future. The smallest thing can open you up for ethical, or moral failure from which you may never recover.

7. Your wife is not your mommy. You didn’t marry a maid or a housekeeper. You married a woman, a good woman, with strengths and talents and abilities who, in many ways, is far superior than you are. You don’t need a mama. You need a lover, a leader, and a good companion. Stop expecting your wife to do for you what your mama did and do it for yourself. Here’s a novel idea: start serving her and loving her. If you want a good example of that, go watch the new movie “Fireproof.” It illustrates it well.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Art Bush

My friend Art Bush sang at Cedar Creek today. He was in town to sing at the Annual Meeting for the Wooburn Christian Children's Home. I have known Art since I was a teenager when he did a concert at my home church in Three Oaks, MI. I have had him come to all the churches I have served. I always appreciate his humble spirit and his servant's heart.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Presidential Debate

I watched the debate last night and thought is was rather boring. Although Obama did much better than expected when he had to speak off the top of his head, without a teleprompter. Both candidates were clearly well-prepared. McCain seems like he has to force a smile when he probably would rather blow his stack. I was waiting for him to go-off on Obama, like Jack Nicholson at the end of A Few Good Men.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Auburn Fair


My family and I went to the Dekalb Free Fair tonight. It was a lot of fun. And the weather was absolutely perfect. A gorgeous autumn evening. Enjoyed some Homemade Apple Dumpling with ice cream. We also caught most of Lady Antebellum's concert.

Podcasts


I got an iPod a couple of years ago and I love it. I do have lots of music on it, but I have several podcasts on it as well. Mostly sermons and stuff dealing with church leadership. I thought I would share some of my faves:


Regularly Listen
The Relevant Podcast
Internet Monk
Catalyst Podcast
ESPN Daily Podcast
Napkin Scribbles (Len Sweet)

Frequently Listen
Jeff Walling
Rick Atchley
Mark Driscoll
Grammar Girl
Savannah Christian (Cam Huxford)
Rochester Church of Christ (Patrick Mead)
John Piper
Andy Stanley
Brian Houston

Occasionally Listen
Jon Weece
John Ortberg
Rob Bell

Recently someone told me about the Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast. It's new (only one episode posted so far). If you are a church leader, you MUST listen to that podcast about assumptions. Good stuff.

So who are you listening to these days?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Cleaning House at Cedar Creek

We have several interns and high school students doing community service at the building today. So we are using the manpower to clean out closets, back rooms, and the attic. Wow, the collection of “Jesus Junk” in this place is incredible. A huge lace depiction of the Last Supper, an antique lighted picture of Jesus (only his neck glows), choral music from the 60’s, the “latest” evangelism techniques from the early 70’s, several generations of hymnals, and more. Typewriters, slide projectors, filmstrips, and of course, flannelgraph. When coming across this stuff, I have to wonder what was going through the mind of the person who stored it: “Hey, maybe we’ll have a use for this again someday. I’d better put it in the closet just in case.” And yes, I have authorized the pitching of several old Bibles (yellowed paperback copies of NIV’s from the 80’s and several copies of “Good News for Modern Man”) – pray for my soul.

Another Dorky Video

Wow.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Dorky Video of the Week

I love how the guitar player is really into it. And the bald guy in the back looks like he wants to be anywhere but there.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Big Z Pitches No Hitter


Awesome Baby!

Sunday at Cedar Creek


We had a great day at The Creek today. There was a lot of energy and enthusiasm as we worshipped together. Our friend Tonja Rose sang a few songs and we announced that we are calling one of our elders to join the full-time ministry staff.