Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Developing Your Shape to Serve

For the next six weeks Lighthouse Community Church will be working through the small group study: Developing Your Shape to Serve from the folks at Doing Life Together (http://www.lifetogether.com/leader/SmallGroupCurriculum/tabid/598/Default.aspx). As has become our habit, each Sunday morning sermon will be tied to the small group lesson that week.

On Sunday, Feb 22 we looked at the reality that God has made each of us unique. He has gifted and "SHAPED" each of us so that we may be a part of extending his kingdom through the church. There is not a single believer who has "nothing to offer" by way of time, talents, or treasure. We also said that God uses the Holy Spirit to develop a servant's heart within us. Part of that development happens as we respond to those God has placed within the church to equip us (Eph 4:11-13).

Over the course of the next few weeks we are going to examine:
Spiritual Gifts: what are they? do you have one?
Personality: how does your personality "fit" with kingdom service?
Experiences: if God never wastes a hurt in our life, does that give new meaning and purpose to the hurts we have experienced in the past?
Heart: what is your passion? what has God put in your heart to do for the sake of his kingdom?

Now...back to the first study...The test I suggested for how well we are doing at developing a servant's heart is this: to what degree are you giving yourself away for others?

For discussion, let me ask...is this a fair test? Is it conclusive? What are it's limitations?

Friday, February 13, 2009

2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Predictions - How did I do?

The season is upon us...for those of you who have not watched three non-points races AND qualifying, I am sure you think I am referring to baseball or some other "ball" sport. O contraire! The OFFICIAL start of the 2009 Sprint Cup Season is Sunday, February 15 when the green flag drops at Daytona...so, in the spirit of wondering "what might be" I offer the following predictions:

1. The 2009 season will have greater parity than ever. With all of the contractions of teams in the off season, this is a year that a "little guy" can make some noise and win some races.

GRADE C - Several "little guys" won this year, including Brad Keselowski (Talladega Spring), David Reutimann (Charlotte), Brian Vickers (Michigan), and Jamie McMurray (Talladega Fall). However, the guys from Hendrick and JGR still dominated.

2. One of the "big guys" will win the championship. My money is on a Hendrick driver - surprise, surprise - but not JJ.

GRADE D - Probably should be an "F." Truth is...until somebody beats him, Jimmy Johnson has to be the favorite...

3. Mark Martin will win a big race...and maybe a championship.

Grade A - Martin won 5 races: Phoenix, Darlington, Michigan, Chicago, and Loudon. He finished 2nd (again) in the points, but could have won the championship in Miami...so...not a bad year at all!

4. Dale, Jr will win more than one race....but probably not a championship.

Grade F - Jr had a terrible year, finishing 25th...one spot below AJ Allmendinger. He won no races. In all honesty, Jr needs to pick it up in 2010.

5. Tony Stewart won't lose his cool until AFTER the July Daytona race. (Because he will have yet to win AND will have just gotten wrecked!)

Grade C - Tony actually won 2 races before the July Daytona race (but only one points race). Of course, he WON the July Daytona race, too...and, obviously, wasn't wrecked! He did maintain his cool until well into the season...but his tempermental competitiveness emerged nicely at Miami...

6. Juan Pablo Montoya will win an Oval Track race.

Grade C - JPM was closer than ever with 7 top 5's this year...PLUS, he had all but won the Indy race when a silly mistake cost him dearly. I look for JPM to be VERY strong in 2010.

7. Kyle Busch will win more than anyone else PRIOR to the race for the Chase...at which time he will choke, again.

Grade C - Busch managed to win 5 races this year, including three in a row early. Unfortunately (for his fans), he didn't make the chase...in fact, the implosion I expected during the chase began to happen earlier...so...I was close...

8. The championship will be decided in the fall race at Phoenix, making Homestead a Ho-Hum race.

Grade D - I got this one wrong. Homestead was a race that mattered...albeit only to two people: JJ and Mark Martin. Only if JJ made a mistake could Martin capitalize, so, again...close...

9. The Daytona 500 will be won by someone NOT LEADING at the White Flag.

Grade B - since the White Flag never officially flew, I cannot take credit for an "A." However, Kenseth passed Sadler just before the caution came out and a rain delay ended the race. So, I give myself a "B."

10. By November, the season will seem too short and the winter ahead too long.

Grade A - Absolutely...let's go racin boys!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Economic Recovery or Spiritual Awakening


During the election cycle...you remember that, right? It was when you couldn't watch 10 minutes of TV without seeing repeated commercials for candidates...commercials that usually contradicted each other...sometimes back to back...OK...now that you remember the election cycle...One of the statements made during that cycle was by then-candidate Barack Obama. He described the situation (way back then) as "the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression." I'm not going to go all stat-geek on you and question the accuracy of that statement...others have already done so (http://www.reason.com/blog/show/129762.html).

Rather, I wonder why there is such an emphasis on our current economic crisis needing to be "the worst." I think it is because we want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. And, while it may not be "fun", being a part of "the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression" gives credibility to the stamina and perseverance of a segment of the US Population known more for its weaknesses than its strengths. To whom, pray tell, am I referring? Baby Boomers. That larger than life, wonderful bunch of post-WWII, hippy-era folks who are suddenly coming to the end of their careers and realizing the utter emptiness of it all. For them, their HAS to be something they have accomplished, something they have withstood, besides building a retirement account and a house with a three car garage...only to see their slacker son/grandson (the one sleeping on the sofa and who prefers body spray to showers) inherit it.

This economic crisis finally provides the opportunity Boomers have been wanting - a chance to prove to their old man that - just because they didn't serve in WWII and protested Vietnam - they really are resilient after all. Now, perhaps I am being a bit hard on the older generation...I'm a Buster you know...a Gen-Xer...a, well, whatever we are called. I'm in that next group down the age chart...and we aren't much better. Listen, here's the deal...we have no business comparing ourselves to the people who lived through the Great Depression...do we have 25% unemployment? NO. Have we seen our GDP contract by 33%? NO. Sorry...the stat-geek lives!

What we have seen in "this economic crisis" is a reduction in our expendable income. For Boomers (and Busters), "economic crisis" means we go on a shorter vacation. It means we complain because we paid $4 a gallon to drive to our vacation destination. (NOTE: we paid it...but we complained!) It means we pay a little higher interest rate on our new car loan. (OR, it means that we may have to actually demonstrate the capacity to pay off a debt before we are extended even more credit! the audacity!) It means we cannot believe the airline is going to charge us extra money to take our luggage to the resort in the Caribbean...how dare they!

Now, what does all this have to do with spiritual awakening? I was in a meeting about a month ago and heard this statement: "With every economic crisis in American history there has also been an increase in evangelical churches and converts." In other words, when our toys and financial security are removed, people start to ask the "big questions" once again. You know: who are we? where did we come from? what is the point of all this? Of course, I suspect things will have to get worse (i.e. a REAL economic crisis) before that happens. But, you see, it is when financial security disappears that people turn to God. It is then that they realize that the money, the company, the 401K, the cars, houses, etc were all a facade...and the desire to be a part of something that is REAL and BIGGER than their own lives remains stronger than ever.

So...if you are a follower of Christ I ask: do you want an economic recovery or a spiritual awakening?