Sunday, June 30, 2013

7 Reasons To Be Excited About Next Sunday (July 7) at Gaylord E-Free

SUNDAY IS COMING!  And there are many reasons to be looking forward to and inviting others to join you here at Gaylord E-Free this Sunday morning (9:00 and 10:30).  I could list many more, but here are just seven reasons (in no particular order of importance) - one for each day this week as we count down the days until Sunday!

#7 - We will conduct another live text poll in church in which you get to pick the opening song we will use in our Contemporary Worship Services for the following week (July 14).  I am already fasting and praying in hopes that the country song does not win!!

#6 - This will be the inaugural Sunday of our live radio show as it will be the very first Sunday that our 9am Contemporary Service will be aired live on the Eagle 101.5FM (a classic hits station that reaches into 21 counties in Northern Michigan!

#5 - We will watch a very thought-provoking video entitled, "Three Answers to Prayer!"

#4 - We will celebrate communion together as a church family as we remember, proclaim and give thanks for the sacrifice of Christ on the cross for our sins!

#3 - We will remove another obstacle from our prayer lives as we continue our current message series, "Can You Hear Me Now?"

#2 - We will start two brand new Equip-U Classes - Pastor Joe will be teaching on the Beatitudes and Jack Dutton will be leading a class that relates to the book of Hebrews!

#1 - There will be great worship in both our Classic and Contemporary Services as we focus our attention on worshipping our great God!


Thursday, June 27, 2013

After living in Gaylord, Michigan for the past 27 months, I have hit most every restaurant and eating establishment in town.  Below are my personal favotites (though most of them I have to bypass now based on my post for yesterday!

Stampede Saloon

Best Salad Bar:  
Ruby Tuesdays

Best SHAKE: 
Four Star Nutrition

Best SOUP: 
Alpine Eatery (White Chicken Chili)


Tim Hortons

Big Bear Deli


Best PIZZA:  
Alpine Eatery (though I've heard The Loon has very good pizza - haven't tried it yet)


Tim Horton's (Canadian Maple)


YUK!  Doesn't exist!

Best STEAK:  
Haven't found a "best" yet in Gaylord

El Rancho

Glen's Deli (now Family Fare)

Best WINGS:  
Treetops Sports Bar

Best GYRO:
Sugar Bowl

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Which comes first...The MOTIVATION to change of the ACT of change?

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?  That question brings about an endless debate.  But this one is a bit easier.  What comes first, the motivation to change or the act of changing?  Most people I ask that to say that the motivation to change is needed before the act of change occurs.  I believed that for years but I am starting to rethink my opinion on this.  The truth is that in many cases if we wait for the motivation to change to come first, then the act of changing is likely to never take place.

Let me give an example.  When I first moved to Gaylord a little over two years ago I was at a very respectable weight.  Over the last 2+ years I have abandoned good eating habits which have resulted in my becoming about 30 pounds over my ideal weight for my age and height.  Over the past year as the clothes have become tighter by day and the snoring has increased by night, I have thought often about my need to change my behavior.  And during that last year I have tried to round up the motivation so I could start to cut back on the calories and eat more healthy.  During that whole year my eating never changed and my weight never did any better than maintaining the 30+ pound of overage.

Two weeks ago I made the decision to change my behavior even though the motivation was no place to be found.  I plunged headlong into the "2 protein shakes a day" plan (one for breakfast and one for lunch) with low calorie - high protein mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks followed by a colorful dinner with no second helpings and another evening snack before bed.  This took a lot of will power, especially since the second week was a vacation week.  The result over these 2 weeks has been a lot more energy, a lot better sleep, and the feeling of some looseness in my clothes.

Now here is the interesting part - two weeks after the act of change was put into place (even though the motivation was lacking), the motivation has now showed up to the party.  I noticed it for the first time at our last restaurant stop on vacation this past week.  We went a little out of our way to have dinner at one of my favorite restaurants - Cracker Barrel.  In the past, whenever I would go to Cracker Barrel for dinner I would always order the same exact meal:

Country Fried Steak
Mashed Potatoes (with extra gravy)
Fried Okra
Fried Apples

Now that is some really tasty eating but the calorie count is through the roof.  As I opened the menu on our vacation pit stop I bypassed the staple meal of my past and ordered off the "Lighter Calorie" side of the menu.  My dinner consisted of:

One Pork Chop
Garden Salad (with the dressing on the side)

As I ordered I realized that bypassing the Country Fried Steak meal wasn't hard at all.  I finally had the motivation.  What caused the big-mo to finally show up?  I believe it was the fact that I had first made the decision to change and acted on it even though the motivation was lacking.  This resulted in seeing some good results which gave birth to the motivation to keep going.

So what comes first, the motivation to change or the act of changing?  I can assure you that when it comes to country fired steak and mashed potatoes with extra gravy, if I had waited for the motivation to change, I'd still be on the 30+ overage side of the coin and wiping gravy off the corners of my mouth.  If you know there is a personal change you need to make but you are having the trouble finding the motivation to do so - try acting on the change first.  You just might find that the motivation will then show up when you least expect it.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Generosity Pays

Since preaching on the topic of generosity back in April, I have tried to make "generosity" an active part of my life - literally looking for ways to be more generous.  I am convinced that generosity is one of the keys to seeing God's blessing on my life.  I saw this demonstrated in a very real way while on vacation this past week.  Here's the story:

While driving to our hotel in North Carolina, my wife and I pulled into a rest area (we tend to pull into just about every rest area while travelling which is why no matter what the speed limit is, we will only average about 50 miles per hour on any trip we take - but that's not really part of the story).  As we were walking back to our car from the restrooms another car pulled in right next to ours.  A man got out of the car and with a look of panic on his face said the following words to me,

"Sir, I promise you I am not a bum but I just got a call telling me that my mom was rushed to the hospital and I left quickly without my wallet and am about out of gas.  I have never asked anyone for money like this before but could you help me out?"

At this moment my mind immediately went to "skepticism" and "caution."  I guess society has conditioned me to think that anyone who asks for money most be some kind of a con and this guy was probably no different.  I had to make a quick decision.  The way I see it, there were two options.

Option #1 - This guys was a con needing another drug fix or alcoholic drink.

Option #2 - This guy's mom was really just rushed to the hospital and he really did forget his wallet in the frenzy of leaving and his tank really was on empty.

The safe reaction would be for me to say that I couldn't help him.  There were, however, two problems with that.

Problem #1 - I would be lying as I had more cash than usual in my wallet due to being on vacation

Problem #2 - If his story really was true he needed the help

So with my own sermons on generosity racing through my mind I reached into my wallet and gave the guy a $20 bill.  $20 isn't much but it could certainly put some gas into his tank (if that truly was his need).  Yeah, maybe he laughed as he drove away to visit his drug dealer or to head to the nearest bar, but who was I to judge if he was telling the truth or taking a preacher from up north for a gullible ride.  As I drove out of the rest area I wondered if I had helped...I wondered if God was pleased with my decision.

A few hours later we pulled into our hotel and I had pretty much forgotten about my $20 encounter until I checked in at the front desk.  Prior to vacation I had spent a lot of time on the internet searching for a hotel room for 4 nights in Raleigh, North Carolina that was clean yet affordable.  I was proud of my conquest as I landed a hotel with a total cost for 4 nights including tax resting at $333.00.  As I checked in, the sweet gal behind the counter took me by surprise when she said the following,

"I noticed you booked your room for 4 nights for $333.00 including tax.  That's a good rate but I think we can do better. We are running a special right now which is for 5-nights and the total cost including tax will be $253.00.  Why don't you let me book you for 5 nights at that rate and you will save $80.00 even though you are only staying 4-nights instead of five."

I smiled as she spoke.  Out of a desire to be obedient to God and live a generous life, I took a chance on a guy in a rest area that I did not know - a chance that cost me $20.  I don;t know if I got ripped off by him or not but I do know that a few hours later, completely out of the blue, I got $80 knocked off my hotel bill.  The way I see it - that's a 400% profit.

Yes, generosity pays!  But the biggest payday wasn't in the $60 gain to my advantage,  The biggest windfall was in knowing that I had stepped out on faith and obeyed God's Word which tells to be ready to be generous and I believed God was indeed pleased with my decision!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


Most of you know that I have a live radio show every Wednesday morning (around 8:20am) on 101.5FM here in Gaylord.  We now have been approached by 101.5FM with the exciting opportunity to also put on air our 9am Contemporary Worship Service live each Sunday.  101.5FM is a Classic Hits Station that reaches more than 20 counties in Northern Michigan and the upper Peninsula.  This is an opportunity that is right in line with our 3-year vision plan.  Below are some questions and answers:

When would this opportunity start?  Sunday, July 7

What station will our service be aired on?  101.5FM

Will this service be aired live or taped and edited?  This would be a live broadcast of our 9am Contemporary Service

Will we have to shorten our service from 70 minutes down to 60 minutes to keep it within an hour timeframe?  No!  The radio station is willing to air the whole service (9:00–10:10)

How much will this cost us as a church?  This will cost us just $100/week.  That’s $100 for 70 minutes of live air time

Are there any technology needs/costs for this to happen?  All we need to do is purchase one device (roughly $200).  Using our high speed internet, we would then take a main audio output from our sound board and plug it into this device and we are set.  Our sound man will then initiate the connection each Sunday and the radio station will have a person back in their studio who would confirm the connection and text back and forth to our sound man if anything needs adjusted

Is there any drawback to doing this?  The only drawback is the quality of the music as it is aired live.  To do that right, you really need to run the music through a separate sound board so it can be mixed differently than it is in the Gospel Center.  However, we are not ready to do that.  As a result, the quality of the music element over the radio will not be to the level it is in the Gospel Center but it will still be good.  This is something we can improve upon as we move forward.

Will putting our services on radio really bring about fruit?  There is no doubt that it will.  Technology is a very powerful tool.  Earlier this month I opened the Michigan State Senate in prayer.  We posted a video of this 2-minute prayer on our church Facebook page and in less than 24 hours over 5,000 people had watched it.  Our services on radio will move us from “addition” to “multiplication” when it comes to “meeting and moving.”  We have the advantage that the 101.5FM listeners are already familiar with me through my weekly live radio show.  As I use this Wednesday radio show to promote our Sunday morning services on the radio, they will be much more likely to listen. 

Won’t putting our services on the radio result in many people stopping to attend and just listening at home?  That is highly unlikely.  The people who attend are here for more than just hearing the service.  They are here because of the atmosphere and the fellowship that cannot be experienced over the radio.  While there may be a handful of people who quit attending, the hundreds (perhaps thousands) of people who will begin hearing our message that do not go to church anywhere will far outweigh this in fulfilling our vision as a church

How do we come up with the money for this?  Obviously, this is not in the budget.  Our cost for July-December should not exceed $3,000.  If 30 people were to each give a one-time gift of $100 over and above their regular giving, we would be set.  If you would like to be one of these 30 people, mark your gift “radio” and give it through the offering or by mailing it to or dropping it by the church office.  We do ask that this gift be above regular giving so as not to hurt our present ministry.  

Why should we do this?  This opportunity is a bulls-eye to our vision and will allow us to go to the next level in meeting as many people as possible right where they are so we can move them closer to where God wants them to be.  God has opened this door of opportunity.  As an Elder Board we are 100% convinced that this is an opportunity that we need to take as a church and we ask you to join us in praying for it. 

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

E-Free Vision Update

Last fall we unveiled our 3-year vision plan here at Gaylord E-Free Church.  We are now 6 months into that 3 year span and things are about ready to explode on the scene (in a good way) as God is working and doors are opening,  Let me give you a few updates.

ATTENDANCE!  Our 3-year vision plan set a 15% growth rate goal per year in our worship services.  We are excited that God is doing "abundantly more" as currently we are averaging 22% ahead of this same time last year including a 32% increase on Mother's Day and a 51% increase over Memorial Day weekend last year.

TECHNOLOGY!  Our 3-year vision plan includes a technology upgrade that will allow us to broadcast the sermon from the Contemporary Service in the Gospel Center down to our Classic Service in the Chapel.  This will also allow us to broadcast our services on the internet (goal of 2013); on the radio (goal of 2014) and on television (goal of 2015).  We have all the monies now raised to complete the first phase of this technology upgrade including new lighting, cameras and environmental projection that will allow us to turn the entire front of our auditorium (in both the Gospel Center and the Chapel) into any scene we desire it to look like.  The picture above and the two pictures below are examples of what can be done with this technology and what it would look like in our auditorium  We also have been contacted about the potential of actually having a radio ministry started yet this year.  By fall you should be seeing a lot of these changes implemented as the ball is rolling to give us even more avenues to meet as many people as possible right where they are so that we can move them to where God wants them to be.

CAFE AND NURSERY!  Our 3-year vision plan also includes a cafe where people can connect and where a whole lot of "Meeting & Moving" can take place over some excellent coffee.  The plans for this are close to being completed so that we can present the plan and the costs to our church family.  Our vision pan also calls for an expansion of the nursery as we are beginning evaluations to decide if that is possible where our present nurseries are located or if it would be better to relocate our nurseries to another part of the facility.

BUILDING IMPROVEMENT!  Over the years many aspects of our facility have been overlooked and our Vision Plan calls for upgrades and renovations needed to bring our building up to where it should be from a quality and aesthetic standing.  A lot of painting and dry-walling is already under way and soon you will be made aware of the other areas where improvements are needed.

OUTREACH!  Our 3-year vision plan is all about being an outward focused church so our goal is to get to the point where 20% of our giving is going toward outreach and missions.  This year we have committed 14.5% of all our our general fund giving to go toward outreach.  Next year this will go up to 17%.

STAFFING!  Our 3-year vision plan calls for the hiring of a Director of Children's Ministry in 2014.  However, we have moved that up to 2013 and currently we have a search committee that is actively seeking and evaluating resumes.  The hope is that by the end of June the names of three finalists will be passed on to me for final interviews and a selection.  We are also looking to add a qualified and engaging worship leader for our Classic Service that will put in 5-7 hours a week in helping to increase the quality of our Classic Service worship experience.  Our plan also calls for the addition of a Facility Manager to help ensure that the cleaning and maintenance of our facility is done with efficiency and excellence.  We will soon be working on a job description for this position.

This is just a partial look of the way God is working in and through our 3-year vision plan here at E-Free.  We are looking to relaunch our vision to the congregation beginning in August for the many,many people who have become part of our church family since we originally presented it.  Please be praying for God to continue to open the doors so that we can meet as many people as possible right where they are so we can help move them to where God wants them to be!