It was a good day of worship @ Maranatha Church. I preached two different messages at our two campuses. Results are mixed, the 3 crowds took on their own personalities and I felt different about each service. But the highlight of the day for me took place before any of the services. I got to the Beach a little early and caught the sunrise. I strategically had my camera with me. These pictures are the results. These photos are unre-touched (no processing). I can relive my moment of personal worship as I look at them again.

3 services, 2 messages, 1 church

Last Sunday at 4 AM, I knew something was changing. I was wide awake with the feeling that God was adjusting some of my plans. As the day went on and we worked our way through our worship services schedule, I realized what was happening.

We worship in two locations, one in Palm Beach Shores, our 7:00 Sunrise Service, and the other in Palm Beach Gardens at our main campus. The main campus includes two services, 9:00 and 10:45. As a rule, I preach the same message at all three services. Poor Letha has to hear the same thing 3 times!

Tomorrow will be different. God has instructed me to preach something different at our Palm Beach Shores location. The main campus will feature the conclusion of The Nearness, a series where we have been discussing the dynamics of worship. At 7:00 tomorrow, I will be bringing a message called Much is Given. I will be talking about all the blessings that God has provided for us and, as a challenge, what we are supposed to do with those things.

So today I am wrapping up two messages. Tomorrow I will preach three times, in two one locations, two different messages to one church. If you feel so inspired, you could come to more than one service, if for no other reason, to acquire a heart of compassion for what Letha has to endure every week.

For service locations, see: Palm Beach Gardens, and Palm Beach Shores.

Happy weekend to all!

hiking with Letha

I got Letha to take a hike with me this morning. At first, she was concerned that it was too cold. It was 49 degrees when we left home. She has forgotten her mid-western roots. We ended up out in the fresh air for a couple of hours. We took a few photos of the wildlife. One of my favorite things about living in South Florida is the abundance of wild animals, I don’t just mean the kids in our church.

Enjoy a few pictures. (The gator in the picture is about 8 feet long, notice the nest of little ones behind her)

a good morning song

This morning Letha and I received a voice mail message from a friend. On the message, she sang a worship song for us. It was a little unusual, but we found it refreshing. I am not asking for people to start leaving these messages for us on a daily basis, but it was a nice reminder of the importance and power of worship.

A good way to start the day! Worship Him!

changing expectations

I am in an ever-continuing process of discovering and addressing the missional context of our ministry. This is basically an attempt to be effective in connecting the people that we serve with the message that God has for them. Believe it or not, this is a very consuming effort in which I have invested years.

Let me provide some context. We need to know that what we are doing works. If it does not work, we need to adjust. By “work”, I mean “are we developing Christ-followers?” Are our efforts resulting in spiritual awakening and growth in the lives of the people around us? If not, I am responsible to figure out why not and to do something about it. If our church is not successful at making disciples of Christ, we are failing.

So I am measuring. Using the scriptures as our scale, I am weighing out the spiritual development of the people who are under the influence of our ministry. The Bible details some basic non-negotiables when it comes to discipleship. It is daunting task to boiling down the entire Bible to come up with a list of essential Christian behaviors. I dare not assume this role. But I will point out a few of the basic things taught in scripture that certainly reveal the heart of a true follower of Jesus Christ. In other words: if we are doing these things, there is a good chance that we are serious about our relationship with Jesus. If we are not, we are not.

Basic Christian activities:

Prayer. If our prayer life is not solid and we are not growing in our communication with God, we will not be making progress as a Christian.

Bible reading. If we do not read God’s Word, we cannot know what He says. If we do not know what He says, we are doomed to be disobedient.

Worship – both personal and corporate. If we do not love God enough to worship him at church with other believers and in the privacy of our homes, we are not getting closer to Him.

Service. If we are not serving God and others, making a difference and sharing and showing the love of God to others, the Spirit of Christ is not growing in us.

Giving. If we do not share what we have, we are more controlled by the spirit of the world than we are the Spirit of God.

Of course, there are many additional concepts that could be included, but we have to begin somewhere.

So, using these basic activities as a foundation, I ask: Am I making disciples of Jesus?
My response: Not many, not enough. On a good day, I’d give myself a C-.

So I am beginning to work on a change of expectation. I am not sure what this looks like yet. I don’t know what the final outcome will be. But I know for sure that I have to do a better job in getting people connected and committed to Christ. I am hopeful for some measurable progress sooner rather than later.

more fuel

I am weak in the area of assessing the success of a worship service based on the visible response of the people. When people don’t come to church, I assume they were not changed by the message I preached. When people sleep in church, I assume that they were bored. When they slump down and roll their eyes and look at their watches, I ascertain that they would rather be somewhere else. Thankfully, the last two of the three don’t happen very often. But yesterday, something on the other end of the spectrum happened that really got me charged up.

I told you last week (Thursday, Feb. 11 post) about a young man who is new to our church and new to a relationship with the Lord. He and his fiancé are planning to get married this week. So in our 10:45 services yesterday, they had an entire section of chairs filled with people from their families who were in town for their wedding. This was incredibly inspiring to me. They had such a great excuse to miss the service. Every week, we hear from people who can’t make it to one of our services because they have out-of-town company. Like their families and friends have them tied up at home and won’t let them out of the house until it is time to go to the beach or out on the boat.

This brand new believer gets it. He took the non-typical approach. Among his family are spiritual backsliders, an atheist and several who are curious about a relationship with Christ. They were in our worship event yesterday and heard a Gospel message about hope in Christ! This was, in my estimation, the best thing that happened all weekend.

This fuels me. I hope it spreads.