Tuesday, January 26, 2016

"Invite a Friend"

Last September, when I came to Sardis Presbyterian Church to serve as Interim Pastor, I asked, “How many members belong to this church?” The answer was about 2500.  I looked at the attendance numbers and raised some questions as to the accuracy of the membership records.

Thanks to John Schneider and his team, they entered into the challenge of determining an accurate membership roll for Sardis Presbyterian Church.  Many members had moved away from Charlotte.  Some had joined other churches.  Children and grandchildren no longer considered Sardis their spiritual home.  After a determined, sensitive, purging process, the accurate membership is more like 1500.

Only 2% of the 10,000 congregations in our denomination have more than 1000 members.  In our denomination, Sardis Presbyterian Church is still in the 1% category.  In the Presbyterian Church (USA), more than 50% of our congregations have fewer than 100 members.  Among those congregations, the average membership is 45.

Now that we have an accurate membership roll, let’s grow!  Your circle of influence is huge.  How about inviting someone to join you in worship next Sunday?  You will be pleasantly surprised when they say, “I appreciate that.  I would love to join you.”

I pray for our growth both spiritually and physically, for the Glory of God.


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

"An Effective Spiritual Leader"

During worship on the 17th, we ordained and installed newly elected elders and deacons. What a privilege to welcome these people into the ministry of Sardis Presbyterian Church!

These leaders are charged with the responsibility of providing spiritual leadership of the congregation. They are to “encourage others to seek and do the will of God.”

What defines an effective spiritual leader?
  • A passion to share the good news of God’s grace in Jesus Christ.
  • Daily commune with God through the reading of the Bible, reflection and prayer
  • Listen for the counsel of the Body of Christ and the Holy Spirit.
  • Risk failure.
  • Embrace discipline.
  • Appreciate others spiritual gifts.
  • Welcome creativity and imagination.
  • Enjoy the community of faith.
  • Practice discernment.
  • Be generous and genuine with affirmations.

How is that for a list? We all make choices daily that affect our spiritual well-being. One of the many tasks is to provide encouragement to our leaders. I pray for wisdom related to that challenge. Humility is not all that common in our culture. God grant me that as well.


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

"Amazing Grace!"

Amazement is not foreign to me. God loves surprises! Why else the Incarnation, Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension?

The electronics in my car surprise me. How does Siri keep track of me and keep me on track? I am amazed by the birth of a child. How does the kangaroo’s Joey know how to get to the pouch and the milk source? How do those NFL receivers make those one-handed catches, get pounded and then get up and calmly walk back to the huddle? Wow! That is an inadequate reaction.

Some of the most sensational sunsets I have seen were overlooking the Pacific Ocean – the sun appeared to illuminate in brilliant colors the clouds, the sea and the sky just before sinking into the Pacific. Amazing!

So is God’s grace. Grace is God’s unconditional love for those who don’t deserve it. Amazing grace!
I find the Gospel of Luke amazing. Luke the physician presents many eye witness accounts of miraculous experiences with Jesus. These people were still amazed by what they had witnessed many years earlier. There are at least five Greek words for amazement. Luke is the only gospel writer that uses all five of them.

Stay open to amazement! 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

"A Word of Affection"

Today, we have twice as many cars per person than we did thirty years ago. Yes, as a nation we are richer but unhappier. The nasty D’s have caught up with us; depression, divorce, domestic violence, and drugs. They cause pain that defies measurement. 

Satisfaction is not getting what you want but wanting what you have. Jesus said, “I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
John 15:11 

Joy is an unexpected gift growing out of our intimate relationship with the Christ. The tell-tale traits are self-esteem, self-control and optimism. We are not momentary blips on the big screen of the universe. What makes for significance? Our prayers, patience, charitable giving, hope, time and community investments all start with a simple step of faith. Nothing good comes from apathy.

Leo Tolstoy, the great literary Russian superstar, walked past a street-corner beggar. Tolstoy reached into his pocket to give the beggar some money, but discovered his pocket was empty. He said to the beggar, “I’m sorry, my brother, but I have nothing to give.” The discouraged man brightened and said, “You have given me more than I asked for – you have called me Brother!” 

To the world, a word of affection is a crumb, but to the love-starved, a word of affection can be a feast!