Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thank you and the Story of a Painting

I really need to start blogging again. 2014 has kind of been the year that I ignored my blog. I think I let Facebook take over my blogging.



I need to blog again today because I want to thank the Sisters of St. Joseph Sister of St. Joseph on the web (They're in Australia!) They have created a beautiful prayer book titled "Act Love Walk." The title of the book is taken from Micah and it states the "values and relationships underpinning Josephite spirituality."


This is what the Living God asks of you:
only this,
to act justly
to love tenderly
to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8



The book is illustrated with photographs and paintings chosen to reflect the thoughts of each prayer guide. Many people in this Internet age feel free to snag pictures from web sites without ever acknowledging or compensating the creators of the images. The Sisters knew it was important to ask permission to use the photographs and paintings in the book. 
My painting on page 150


As an artist I appreciate their integrity and honesty.  I was very honored for them to have found my painting and then to have liked it so much they wanted it for their book. I was happy for them to use my painting without charge. (Seriously?! I'm going to charge the Sisters?!) :-)


I painted this picture for the Passion Play Hilldale was doing in 2010.


The Passion Play that year was titled "Journey to Emmaus" and followed the story of the two disciples that Jesus walked with from Jerusalem to Emmaus after His resurrection.
The Road to Emmaus

I saw a painting on line that I liked - but rather than snag the picture off the net and use it I decided to paint one that was similar. So my painting is actually based on someone else's painting, but it isn't exactly the same. What's that saying about imitation being the greatest form of flattery? Something like that.

At the time my son and his family were living with us. My grandbabies were 8, 7, 3 and 18 months old at the time. So it wasn't a time to leave paints and canvases laying around. So I locked myself in my bathroom one morning with some paint, some brushes a canvas board and I painted. Not quite that romantic ideal of setting up an easel and watching a sunset for inspiration...

Now "The Road to Emmaus" is hanging up in my office. (Please ignore the boxes in the corner. I should move them...)




One of the things I like about painting is the cool things that happen by accident when you paint. Not every spot of color is planned: Some just happen, or spill over from another place or what was pictured in your mind gets overtaken by what's happening on the canvas. (If that makes your head hurt to think about, stop thinking about it and just keep reading.)

That's how the "glow" or "halo" ended up around Christ in this picture. I painted the three men walking and it just ended up that the sky made a glow around the center man. I think that's cool.

One of the things written in the book on the two pages that feature my painting is:
* We ask that we may be alert to your presence in our everyday realities.

Walking with Christ each day can be a lot like painting. We plan many things, but we need to be ready to see Him in unforeseen ways. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

8 things that may surprise you about Divine Appointments

I just saw that my last post was in February just before our football mission trip to Portugal. That's interesting because it was a mission thought that prompted me to post here tonight.

Oh, and I've noticed that people love reading those bloggers who post "9 things about this that will surprise you" or some other list - so I'm going to number the paragraphs below so you'll want to read all of them. hahaha. Then I'm going to change the title of my blog from "Divine Appointments" to ____ things that may surprise you about Divine Appointments. hahaha

1. When we go "on mission" we talk about "divine appointments." I've always noticed such things, but it may have been Andy and Michelle Milam who helped put the term "divine appointments" in my vocabulary. I don't really remember... but we do talk about that each time a take a group with me to Portugal.

2. We're fixin' to (for my friends in Colorado, that means "getting ready to" here in the South) anyway, we're fixin' to go on mission in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I've talked a little about this to my mission team, but will more as we arrive and make preparations for each day.

3. A "divine appointment" is what we call it when someone comes your way and you strike up a conversation and are able to have a spiritual conversation of some sort. Hmmmm. Writing it like that doesn't sound very interesting or like it's any big deal, but it is! Your just sorta talking to someone when all of the sudden you realize that God sent this person your way just so you could mention that one thing that got their interest in spiritual things and they respond in a positive way and you can just tell that God is working in their life and you got to be a part of that.

4. The cool thing about divine appointments is that they don't just happen in other countries. God is at work everywhere - all of the time. We just pay better attention when we are on mission.

5. I had a divine appointment (a DA) tonight - at Food Lion (a grocery store chain in this part of the world). It happened in an odd, unexpected way - which is often the case with DAs. I had stopped for some ingredients for supper, gathered them up, checked out and on the way to the car remembered that I needed some sour cream. "I think I have some at home and I can get by without it." but I thought of my lovely wife and how she likes sour cream, so I put my groceries in my car and went back in.

6. I checked out for under $2. A lady that works there and knows me from TV and often says something was next to the girl checking me out. "I may bring mom to Hilldale this week. When she can't get to church she always watches you all. I think she'd like to see you in person." We talked a little about how we didn't check your card at the door and it was OK for a Methodist to come to a service. I told her I was playing the violin this week and she said her mom would love that. Nothing grand or exciting. But then the girl who checked me out said, "I may come to church Sunday too." And I said, "that would be great. I'll look for you Sunday."

7. Now that probably doesn't seem like a DA, but I know that it is. For me to suddenly care about sour cream and end up in this girl's line and for the other lady to mention Hilldale and tell the girl where the building is and who I am and all of that is just the kind of thing God does to get His message to someone.

8. Why would I blog about such a boring meeting in a grocery store? God doesn't only speak through burning bushes. He speaks in gentle ways too. We just have to follow His lead. Pay attention this week and see how many DAs you have. You'll probably be very surprised!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

It Looks Like Rain - a Football Update

I suppose that if you are here reading my blog that you probably already know that I am taking football players and coaches with me to Portugal next month. (If you haven't read how I ended up with my own football team you really should read this post How I ended up with my own football team! We'll be working with the Lumberjacks football team.


Plans are coming along great. My team has worked on football things and we have talked about how there are some great parallels between football and living life as a follower of Jesus Christ. And I've already become "friends" on Facebook with one of the Lumberjack's players.


I am learning - well, no, let's just say I'm reading - a new foreign language. No. Not Portuguese. Eu falo bastante Português para minha viagem para Porto. Na verdade, eu diria que o Português é mais fácil de aprender do que jargão do futebol americano.

For example - here are the titles of some of the videos I could watch as I prepare to go to Portugal.

"Defending the Wing-T out of the 3-4"

"GJHS No huddle power pistol"

"Transitioning From Under Center to the Gun in the Wing-T Buck Sweep Package"

Sério? Português é muito mais fácil de entender.

Now all I need to finish getting ready for my trip is to find some good rainwear. This is the rainy season in Portugal! Oh my!


Monday, January 6, 2014

Preparing to Go on Mission

Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was. Looking at His answer is a good way to prepare yourself to go on mission.

You probably are familiar with what He said.

Mark 12:30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' 31 The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."

Here's how you can use these verses as a guide to prepare yourself for missions.

Preparing to go on mission 


 Love the Lord your God with all your heart.   

This is the best motivation for going on mission. Where are your passions? Before you go, examine your heart. Have you taken back parts of your heart?

 Spend time in the Word every day so your heart is in tune with His heart. 

 Love the Lord your God with all your soul

 If you’ll think of your soul as your spirit then you’ll find many verses that tell how to live out your life. Practice – work at – living a life led by the Spirit as you prepare to go in the Spirit on mission. 

 Let God’s Holy Spirit bear fruit in your life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness,self-control. 

Love the Lord your God with all your mind. 

 Know how to share your faith – the basic Gospel message. 

Know why you are there. Are you doing a sports camp? A backyard Bible club? Prayer walking? Different mission projects require you to know different things. Are you ready? 

Learn some basic phrases in the heart language of the people you will be working with. Eu estudo Português! 

Love the Lord your God with all your strength

Get in shape physically. Many mission areas require a lot of walking. Will you be able to keep up? Begin adding more walking time to your days a few months before you go. 

How is your overall health? Do you have medications that you need to refill so you don’t run out while away from home? Some mission opportunities will require vaccinations. Ask your doctor if there are things you need to do before you go. Now that we’re on the subject, you probably need to be eating better all of the time. J

Love your neighbor as yourself
How can you love anyone more than by introducing them to Jesus?

Here's the surprise ending!

Being on mission isn't a place where you go. It is a lifestyle. Your mission field is anywhere you are! You don't have to wait until your church's next trip to _________. You are on mission today! 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Advice for Worship Ministry

Advice for Worship Ministry (probably applicable to other areas of ministry)

I guess now that I'm an old guy I've hit that age where the younger guys look at me like the old bearded guy on the top of the mountain handing out advice. I'm having lunch with one such younger guy right after the New Year. He's just starting out and wants some advice. He did NOT call me an old guy. I just figured that part out myself.


In the spirit of the great list maker (it is Christmas after all)


here's a quick barely-edited list that I came up with in just a short amount of time of contemplating about the advice I would give someone just entering the music/worship ministry. Sorry.... that was way too long and complicated of a sentence. But it's Christmas and I don't feel like editing. Which will be obvious when you see how my list got longer and longer as I wrote.

I'd love to hear what you would add to this list - or delete from this list.

I'm not giving the reasons behind this list as that would make this post even longer and would require more thinking than I'm willing to put in at the moment.
J

And I should mention that prayer and Bible study are a given in this and any other list of how to do your best work for the Kingdom.

Without further ado, here's my quick list.


      1.      Remember it’s God’s work, not yours
2.      Love people more than you love music
3.      Don’t throw out the old as you add in the new
4.      Be willing to learn from your critics as well as your friends
5.      Dream big
6.      Plan smart
7.      Work hard
8.      Change is difficult. Let people know the how, when, why, etc. give advance notice and keep walking them through it
9.      Don’t sacrifice your family for the church. Ministry opportunities never end. One of your best testimonies is your family life.
10.  Just because it’s new doesn’t mean it’s good (or bad)
11.  Just because it’s old doesn’t mean it’s good (or bad)
12.  Just because they do it at ______ church doesn’t mean it will work at your church or that it’s good (or bad)
13.  Text is as important as melody. Worship music has to have good theology.
14.  Your volunteers could be doing a lot of other things. Treat them with kindness, love and respect.
15.  Work toward excellence, not perfection (there is  a difference)
16.  Don’t wish you were at _______ church, make the one you’re at the one someone else wishes they were at
17.  Don’t compare yourself to _______ or your church to ________, compare yourself and your church to what God wants you and your church to be
18.  It’s OK to borrow ideas from others but adapt them to your church and your people
Well, obviously I got on a rolllllllll. What do you think? What did I miss? If you could only give one word of advice, what would it be?
 

 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Rehearsals for Sunday, November 24

It's here! The final countdown before our non-tree Christmas. (If you don't know that "the Tree" got a case of Dutch Elm disease and had to be retired then you haven't been paying attention.)

Here is THIS Sunday's rehearsal schedule.


Here it is in an easier format. :-)


2:00 – wisemen and shepherds and attendants

2:30 – Middle and High School youth for “Jingle All the Way”

3:00 – children (grades 1-5)  join youth for angel song and then for the car song

3:30 – adult choir in sanctuary to practice with words

4:30 – drama actors in the choir room to go through all lines. Should be very close to memory

Friday, November 8, 2013

I'm a Rich Man

I’m a rich man.


I’m rich because I know how to invest.

You not as young folks will remember Richie Rich


I’m an investor, an optimist, a dreamer… I have hope for the future. I plan for the future. I work for the future.

In the Fall I plant bulbs knowing in the Spring I’ll have daffodils and tulips for everyone driving by to enjoy.
Daffodil
 

Instead of spending $50 for a dozen red roses from the florist I buy bare-root rose bushes and plant them in February knowing I’ll have vases full of roses from May until November.
 
 

I teach violin lessons to develop current church musicians and with the dream of future players for the Nashville symphony.

The biggest investment I am making right now is between today and March. I’m taking young men on mission to Portugal. I’m taking football players and coaches my football team to work alongside of our IMB partners to reach out to Portuguese men who play American football in a country-wide community league.  As we go on mission there are immediate short-term results that have long-term benefits.

1.      The Kingdom will be advanced in Portugal.

2.      Our IMB personnel will be encouraged in their work.

3.      Local churches in Portugal will be inspired and encouraged as they try to reach their communities for Christ.

4.      As we prepare for and then go on mission my “football team” – players and coaches –will spend time praying, planning and working together and will get first-hand experience in sharing their faith.

 

Our mission trip to Portugal, however, is much more than just a one week trip. Not only are there some immediate benefits, but there are some important long-term benefits from a mission trip like this. I am (we are) investing in the lives of men: Men who will become deacons and pastors and LIFE Groups leaders and better fathers and faithful church members who tithe and give and serve and witness.

What? You get all of that from going on a mission trip?

Yes.

How?

Because men need other men to care about them and model for them and teach them to be godly men of faith and action. As we plan and pray together, as we prepare to go on mission and then as we work side by side, share our faith together, pray together and all of the other things that happen while on mission, God uses these experiences to shape and build men into faithful followers of Christ. We become invested in each other’s lives. We are iron sharpening iron.

You can be rich too!!

 
You may not be able to go with us on this mission trip but you can invest in it. You can pray for us – not only that we prepare well, but that we become the men we need to be to be effective witnesses. You can invest financially. Some of the guys going are young men with young families working in their first jobs or even looking for their first job after graduating from college. Some have young families and students loans. They are willing to pay their own way, but your investment will ease their minds as they learn to trust God for provision. (and for that matter, God may have YOU in mind as part of that provision)

When the children of Israel went into battle some of the men had to stay behind to protect and care for the women and children. Even though they couldn’t go into battle, they shared equally in the spoils.  You can "share" in the "spoils" of our mission trip as you invest in these men.

My prayer is that you will choose to invest in Kingdom work and in the lives of young men. Contact me or call the church office and talk to Donna if you want to invest financially. At the next Man Church I’ll have the names of men going with me so you can join together in praying for us.
 
Invest! Become rich in God's work!