Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Planning for the National Day of Prayer

This Thursday is the National Day of Prayer here in America.  I believe that nothing of eternal importance happens apart from prayer.  In my mind, prayer is striking the winning blow while service is gathering up the results.  Based on this, here is how I am planning to celebrate this special day:

On Wednesday morning, the day before the National Day of Prayer, I will make prayer the topic on my live radio show on The Eagle 101.5FM here in Gaylord, MI.  The Apostle Paul told Timothy to offer prayers for  kings and all who are in authority.  On this 10-15 minute show I will share four ways that I will be praying for those in authority over me on the National Day of Prayer.  The show usually begins around 8:20am.

I wrote an article this week for The Weekly Choice Newspaper that comes out this Thursday - the National Day of Prayer.  The article will be in the Pastor's Perspective section answering the question, "Does Prayer Work?"

Thursday morning I will meet with several other Lead Pastors in our community for sharing and prayer.  We meet the first Thursday of every month, which this month just so happens to fall on the National Day of Prayer.  We all pastor different brands of churches and have some differing views on theology, but all of us believe that the Bible is the Word of God and that faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus is the only way to heaven.  It is a joy to pray with these men each month.

Thursday afternoon I will be attending the National Day of Prayer program at the Otsego Christian School here in Gaylord, Michigan.

Thursday evening at 5pm I will have the privilege of being part of the program for the investiture of Judge Geroge Mertz at the Otsego Club here in Gaylord.  I will be giving the benediction at the end of the program.  What a fitting thing for the National Day of Prayer.

Thursday night will end with our Life Group from church where along with a lot of fun, fellowship, food and time in the Bible, we will also spend time praying together.

So how are you planning to spend your National Day of Prayer?

Monday, April 29, 2013


OK, Glen, just checking to see if you really still do check my blog every morning even though it has been quite some time since I blogged regularly!  Sure hope you and Jeanne are doing well!  I appreciate your friendship and your partnership in ministry, my friend!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Game Day for Pastors

For me as a pastor, Sunday is game day.  This is the day that I am called upon to preach the Word of God to the hundreds of people that God will bring into our church here in Northern Michigan.  I take Sunday very seriously.  To me, it is the hub from which all of the other ministries of our church branch.  Here at Gaylord E-Free, a lot of time is put in by many people during the week in meetings, preparing, studying, rehearsing, building sets, downloading videos, praying, etc., to prepare for Sunday. 

When it comes to sports, athletes have a system or routine they follow on game day to prepare to play.  I think the same is true of pastors.  Most preachers have a routine they follow each Sunday leading up to the worship service.  Let me share a little “behind the scenes” look at how I personally prepare for “game day” each Sunday morning:

6:20am – I get out of bed and get ready with the goal of being into my office at church by 7:00am.

7:00am – I spend 30 minutes with a cup of coffee in prayer and browsing through an additional commentary or two on the passage I am preaching on that morning just to solidify one more time in my mind the main thrust I want to communicate that morning.

7:30am – I do a final run through in my office of my sermon, preaching it in the same way I am looking to preach it in our morning services (a dress rehearsal of such).

8:15am – I go upstairs and check-in with our sound techs, video techs and our Worship Arts Director to make sure there are no last minute changes or problems I need to be aware of.

8:30am – Back in my office I get my microphones on (I wear two mics in case one gives us any problems we can easily switch to the other without much disruption to the flow of the service) and watch any videos that I might be introducing as part of the service.  I then spend a few minutes in personal worship.

8:50am – I go upstairs and meet with the Worship Team for prayer prior to the start of our first service.

9:00am – Our first service begins.

10:10am – Our first service ends following which I remain out in the foyer greeting people

10:25am – I spend about 10 minutes in my office catching my breath and having a yogurt as our second service begins

10:35am – I head back upstairs and into our second worship service which started at 10:30am.

11:40am – Our second service ends and again I remain out in the foyer afterwards greeting people.

12:00-12:30pm – I wrap things up in my office and get ready to head out to lunch followed by a nap as I watch whatever ballgame might be on television.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Sculpture On My Desk

I have a friend who years ago led a travelling singing group from a Christian college.  One of their stops scheduled was a Sunday  night service at a very large church that was pastored by a delightful gentleman who was a nationally known radio preacher.  If I said his name many of you (perhaps most of you) would easily recognize it.

When the group arrived at the church about an hour prior to the service, my friend desired to meet with this pastor to go over the details of the service with him before the singing group did their final microphone checks.  He asked a man in the foyer where he night find the pastor.  The man pointed down a hallway and said, "Last time I saw him he was down that way."

As my friend walked down the hallway all he could see was the back of a man who was running the vacuum cleaner outside a side entrance to the auditorium in preparation for the upcoming service.  He figured he would ask that man if he knew where the pastor might be.  He approached the man with the vacuum from behind and lightly tapped him on the shoulder as not to startle him.  To my friend's surprise, when the man who was running the vacuum turned around, lo and behold, it was that famous pastor.

My friend was amazed to see this nationally known Christian leader pushing a vacuum to prepare their church facility for the evening service.  Wasn't that the janitor's job or at least a Trustee?  From that moment on the preaching my friend heard from that man on the radio made a double impact because he knew it was coming out of the mouth of a servant-leader who understood the value of humility.

I have to be honest and say that I have not always modeled that same characteristic over my years of ministry (and for that I am truly sorry) but it is the desire of my heart, especially as I grow older, to be more and more like that pastor.

I told this story once to another friend who in turn had a sculpture made of a pastor vacuuming by his pulpit (that sculpture is pictured above).  It sits on my desk as a daily reminder to me that if I want to be first in God's Kingdom I have to learn to be the servant of all.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Today I Stood On Holy Ground

This morning I drove downstate to the University of Michigan Hospital with Joshua Rupp, our Worship Arts Director here at Gaylord E-Free, to visit a very special couple in our church.  The husband is battling acute leukemia and, in spite of several chemo treatments and a bone marrow transplant, the disease is still present and still multiplying in his body.  It has been a long haul for this couple but, as of now, the prognosis is a very difficult one that will require a Divine miracle to offset. 

As we sat in the hospital room today with this faithful couple, I experienced what it is like to “stand on holy ground.”  After an hour of talking and laughing together, Joshua pulled out his guitar and sang a beautiful and powerful song to Bill and Robin called, “Not For A Moment (After All).”  The words are amazing!

After all, You are constant!
After all, You are only good!
After all, You are sovereign!
Not for a moment, will You forsake me!
Not for a moment, will You forsake me!

Joshua than moved into the hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness.”  I sat in my chair watching this couple’s faces as they sang along with Joshua, tears streaming down my face as I listened.  As the song ended and Joshua continued to “finger-pick” on his guitar, I read Psalm 139 aloud without any additional comments, allowing the Word of God – the Word that never comes back void - to speak for itself. 

I then prayed for them expressing my confidence in God’s power that He could heal (and if He were to choose to do this, there would be no doubt that it would be Him that did it).  As I continued to pray I also expressed my confidence in the person of God, that His will is perfect and that He doesn’t make mistakes.  Joshua than also prayed and sang one more song:

Oh, no, You never let go!  Through the highs and through lows!
Oh, no, You never let go!  Lord, You never let go of me!

I wish I could have had the ability to freeze time and spend the rest of my live living within that special hour with Joshua and this dear couple.  As a pastor, one of the hardest things I am called on to do is to come along side of people going through some of the hardest struggles in life.  But these times are also one of my greatest privileges as well. 

As I looked in this couple’s faces and listened to them sing those amazing promises to a God they deeply love and deeply trust, I was overwhelmed with the fact that these are not just church members and they’re not just friends.  They’re heroes because in my book a hero is someone who goes through the fire of adversity and stays faithful to God! 

Today, I prayed with, sang with, laughed with, and cried with two heroes as we leaned together into our great God!  Today, I stood on holy ground!

Thursday, April 04, 2013

If Jesus and Peter went to Pizza Hut, what would they order?

“If Jesus and Peter went to Pizza Hut, what would they order?”  I have been asked a lot of theological questions in the 26 years I have been a pastor but this one has to rank as the most unique.  I even put it on Facebook to see what my FB friends might offer.  Some of the ideas I got from them were as follows:

·         Bread sticks - after all Jesus is the bread of life!
·         They are Jewish - no pork toppings!
·         He'd order 2 pizzas and 5 breadsticks - then multiply them to feed the hungry!
·         Jesus would order water and then turn it into Pepsi!
·         They would order thin crust as that is the closest thing to unleavened bread!

Those are all clever possibilities but I like what another of my FB friends suggested.  She said,

“Since Jesus is the Creator of the world, He would order the ‘create your own’ pizza with every topping available on it.  After all, that is how He makes up His church.  He includes all kinds of people in His body--some spicy, some sweet, and even some that you look at and say, ‘that just doesn't belong on a pizza.’"

There is a lot of wonderful theological truth in that answer.  Jesus is the creator of the world and anyone who puts their faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins becomes part of His Body – the Church.  Our gender doesn’t matter.  Our nationality doesn’t matter.  Our family heritage doesn’t matter.  Our economic status doesn’t matter.  Our appearance doesn’t matter.  And our past mistakes don’t matter either.  As someone has said, “The ground at the cross is level.”  When we put our faith in Jesus as our Savior and Lord we become part of the family of God, no matter who we are or what we look like.  The Gospel of John states it this way, “But to as many as received Him (Jesus Christ), God gave the power to become children of God, even to those who believe on His name.” (John 1:12)

So, in answer to the question, I too am going with the fact that Jesus would order the “create your own pizza” with every topping available.  But what about Peter?  What would he order?  If he’s smart, I think he would simply point at Jesus and say, “I’ll have what He’s having!”