Church Mission vs. Church Business

 

churchbusinessI was sitting in the waiting room of the service department waiting on my oil change when I overheard the phone conversation on the man next to me.  I wasn’t creeping on him but his conversation was unavoidable to overhear.

He was deep in conversation about the politics within the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and the local baptist churches. It was all about who was doing what and who wasn’t doing their job in their positions. If I had listened more intently I could have probably gotten some real juicy gossip to write about. Instead, I started writing this blog post because this makes me sad.

Once upon a time I was all about the business of “doing” church. My life revolved around who was in what position and which church had the largest membership. I think sometimes people who are in the church for a long time can easily slip into this business about the church and lose sight of the true reason for the church in the first place.

The business isn’t about the Southern Baptist Convention or any other church organization, it is about THE mission that Jesus gave in Mark 16:15:

“He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”

What about that’s mission? What about that business? All too often churches are more concerned about their buildings, their group of people and their organization than they are about loving people and reaching people.

I am happy to say I am not about the church business anymore. It was frustrating and unfulfilling. When I was growing up in the church if you became an overseer then you made it. You were big time. I remember how we would basically roll out the red carpet when any overseer would visit. For a pastor to get one of the big churches, you had to be in good with an overseer. Politics. Pure and simple. I remember seeing church deacons politicking to get the pastor they wanted to be appointed to their church.  It was about who you know and not the God you served. It all really disenchanted me about the church.

Fortunately, I learned to separate church from my relationship with God. I was never with the “in” crowd anyway so it was silly to chase any of that.  I reflect now on how I remember the popular ones were always in front of everything and had their photos taken for church youth camp annuals. They were the life of the party.  Yeah, I will admit that as a teen I wanted that but now I’m glad I never was part of any of that. The church was too much about pleasing man and being cool rather than about God.

So this man next to me in the waiting room of the service department is deep into his opinions about leaders in the SBC. I have not heard one word about God, reaching the lost or helping others. All political talk. That’s disappointing.

To be fair, I think people mean well but sometimes lose their sight of what’s really important and why these churches exist in the first place. God certainly does appoint people and leaders to carry out the mission of the Gospel. There are some who are doing that while others what to be the next big thing in their church or seek to further their own agenda in doing God’s work.

As I was sitting here waiting on my car, I also read about people like John Knox, George Wishart, John Welsh and others who were early pioneers of the church and sacrificed their lives for the Gospel, not some church denominational political agenda. I can’t help but wonder how this man next to me would do in the face of what these pioneers faced.

In today’s world, people need help, hope and love, not church politics. I have had people through the years who assumed that I was going to be a preacher just like my father. I would tell them that being a preacher is not something hereditary but a God-called.  Everyone can’t be preachers.  All believers won’t be able to get behind a pulpit but everyone can do something to support the mission.  The mission is God’s commission, loving others and people of integrity.  People who are hurting don’t care what you church title is.  They don’t care if you are an overseer, pastor or assistant worship pastor.  None of that matters in the grand scheme of things.  When people are hurting, they need healing, hope and love.

I wonder if this man understands this?

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Friday Flashback: 1970 Stanley Cup Final

stanleyIt has taken 49 years for this Stanley Cup rematch between the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues.  While Boston has had more recent success, winning the title in 2011 and losing in the final in 2013, the Blues have not returned until this season.

In the 1970 final, the Bruins swept the Blues in four games.

Boston, coached by Harry Sinden, finished the regular season in second place in the Eastern Division behind the Chicago Blackhawks but defeated the New York Rangers in six games and swept the Blackhawks in four games to get to the final.  The Blues, led by Scotty Bowman, finished first in the Western Division then dispatched the Minnesota Northstars and Pittsburgh Penguins in six games to make it to their third straight Stanley Cup final.  They had been swept by the Montreal Canadiens in the two previous finals.

The Bruins breezed through the first three games winning 6-1, 6-2 and 4-1.  The most competitive game of the series was the fourth game.  Larry Keenan scored 19 seconds into the third period on a power play goal to give the Blues a 3-2 lead.  The Bruins tied up the game with 7:32 left in regulation on a goal from Johnny Bucyk.   The game went into overtime but not very deep as Bobby Orr scored the game winner – and series winner – just 40 seconds in to complete the sweep.  It was his only goal in the cup final.  Orr was named the Most Valuable Player.

The image of Orr flying through the air, his arms raised in victory — who was tripped by Blues’ defenseman Noel Picard immediately after scoring the goal — is one of the most famous and recognized hockey images of all time.

Click here to watch Orr’s game winning goal.

orr

Since 1970, the Bruins have been in the Stanley Cup final nine times (1972, 1974, 1977, 1978, 1988, 1990, 2011, 2013, 2019).  The Blues have not been back until this season.

 

 

Letting Go Letgo

I tried it and now I’m done. Commercials for the Letgo app got my attention. I wanted to turn stuff I didn’t want into money. Easy right?

Let me say this – it was an improvement over Craigslist where at least you knew the basic identity of the people you were dealing with and, unlike Craigslist, you had to register and were rated as a user. But even with those improvements, it was still the same experience. Yes, if you are willing to deal with the headache of accommodating people to sell stuff then you can make money.

Whether it is Craigslist or Letgo, you still have to deal with people and I don’t have the patience for it.

The last straw for me was my recent potential buyer. I posted a loveseat with all the specs, measurements and photos. He messaged me through the Letgo app and said he was interested. He later asked if the loveseat would fit in a sedan. Seriously dude? Do you not understand measurements?

He later texted some weird jibberish that I could only decipher that he was going to pay for it and pick it up later. It wasn’t completely clear. I decided to just shut it down and take the loveseat off. He was texting some weird crap. Regardless of how much safer Letgo tried to make it, I know that people are still unpredictable and it can be just as dangerous.

Since using Letgo I have made some money but the hassle that goes with it makes it more work than it needs to be. People are damn divas. They want you to deliver or load it and almost gift wrap it for them. One buyer asked if I would give them the sectional I had listed for free. Or when the buyer arrives they want to talk you lower.

The worst part of it is when people say they are interested and you set up a time and they are no-shows. No message. Nothing. I don’t really understand that or why people would do that. Then you also have people who message you that they are interested and you hear nothing else from them.

One of the things that is annoying is how people expect you to help them load it. I have been specific in the ads that I can NOT help them load due to a neck injury and yet people still show up with no help to load furniture or bring their kids to load heavy pieces of furniture.

I honestly don’t know what people are thinking. It is silly to assume people will treat you the way you would treat others. They don’t.

If you are thinking about doing this app or any other service like it, let me give you some advice:

  • Always be safe. If you feel uneasy about the buyer, don’t do it. Don’t do any transactions at night. Don’t give out your address until the buyer is on the way.
  • Don’t assume the buyer will buy your stuff. Even if they do show up they may decide they don’t want the item. That’s okay. Pictures don’t always capture it properly. Colors might not be what the buyer wants. Don’t force the buyer to take it. If anything, be willing to lower the price.
  • Don’t hold items for people. I know this sounds harsh but if you want to sell something, sell it to whoever gets there first. I have held items for people who were apparently messing with me and never showed up or responded to messages. Sell it and move on.
  • Don’t load stuff for people. If they don’t have the help or way to load the item, turn them away. Sorry but you don’t need to throw your back out if someone didn’t plan properly. If you are selling a sofa and someone pulls up in a sedan, it’s not your job to make it work.
    Have LOTS of patience. Trust me you will need it. People will not show up. They will be late. Expect anything.

Can you make money using Letgo? Yes, you absolutely can. Is it worth the hassle? That depends on the level of your patience. If you are working a full time job or a set schedule, it might not be the thing for you.

It’s not for me. I’m letting it go.

Pro Scooter League Teams Finalized

The new kids on the block will be rolling into eight cities in October.

Last week, the teams adopted their nicknames and assigned team managers for the X-treme Scooter Quidditch League (XSQL) inaugural season this fall.

The teams will be:

  • Atlanta Avengers
  • Austin Scorpions
  • Los Angeles Sunbirds
  • Nashville Boot Scooters
  • New York Juggernauts
  • Orlando Wizards
  • St. Louis Sorcerers
  • San Francisco Muggles

Teams will now focus on filling their rosters with local talented electric scooter talent.  Open tryouts have begun in most cities and should continue through the end of June.

The Nashville Boot Scooters held their first open tryout last Wednesday in the Gulch.  Team Manager Ryan Cooper was overwhelmed with the response as over 200 riders reported to the open tryout.

tryout
Scooter rider takes a spill during Nashville’s Open Tryouts

“I was stunned by it.  We expected maybe 50-11 but we had 223 register for the tryout.  We will definitely have a large group of players to pick from and some difficult decisions,” he said.

Teams will eventually fill their rosters with 21 players.

A parking lot was blocked off in the Gulch for the tryouts as players showed their skills with their scooters as well as some drills involving Quidditch rules.  Players were excited about this new sport.

“It’s not on broomsticks like Harry Potter but it’s pretty damn close,” said Cyrus Antonio.  “This is going to be awesome and I’m glad Nashville has a team.  I hope I will make the roster.”

Players not only have to maneuver their scooters but they also have to have possession of a ball at some point in the game so being an expert rider is crucial.

“Yeah, you have to be good at it because you can’t always keep both hands on the scooter.  Some players are out here wiping out or not too steady with it,” said Antonio of other players.

While the XSQL adopts the rules of Quidditch, some modifications have been made to incorporate scooters.  This is a process that is continuing to be modified.

The Nashville team is still attempting to narrow down where their home games will be played in October when they will play seven games at home.  While the Gulch remains to be the most likely choice, finding the location to install the specially designed SportCourt will require space even with it being a temporary venue.

“We would like the Gulch, we won’t deny that.   It is the hip area of town and location where we will have a lot of scooter riders,” said Cooper.  “We hope to secure a place soon so we can set up and scrimmage to get ready for the season in October.”

[THIS IS A FICITIONAL SPORTS STORY.  IT IS INTENDED FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY.]

Another Year Wiser?

Today I add another year onto my life. I would like to say something profound about how much wiser I am but I can’t say that I would believe it. Experience teaches us all and we hope it helps us to become wiser.

It would be nice if we always made the right decision but as we all know, it doesn’t always turn out that way. We do the best that we can.

I grew up with a strong church influence and have had to make my own way through it. It hasn’t always been easy and I have done some really stupid things but that’s all a part of life.

I have learned to pray about things, make the best decision I can and trust God with the results. Some people stress about making the absolute right decision on everything but life is filled with twists and turns. Sometimes you just don’t know if you made the right choices until you are down the road and look back.

One thing I always say is that the best ability that someone can have is the ability to adjust. We all get into routines and when those routines change, we have to be able to deal with them. Whether it is a job, new home or other changes we face. My wife and I recently moved and this move changed several routines and my ability to adjust has been tested. I am still a little out-of-sync but I also realize it will take time and then the new changes will be the routine.

Today as I reach the number of 55 years, I can say I don’t think of myself being 55 but physically I feel it. I can tell you that at this point in life the years add up quicker than you want. The world seems to move faster around you while you slow down. I guess that’s the way life works. I can’t say that I am happy about that but sometimes you just do best to accept things that you can’t change.

Am I wiser today? I don’t think so.

You just live and be happy. Everyone has their own idea of what makes them happy and how to live their dream. Some actually realize their dream while others continue to chase theirs. Sometimes you have to make difficult choices to be happy. I know I have been there myself and you just have to do what you have to do to get there.

Don’t rely on looks because looks fade. When you find love, hold on to it and fight for it. True love is ageless. It is always wise to choose love. Yeah I know that sounds a bit mushy but if I am wiser about anything, it is love. Love is worth it.

Live your life and make wise choices and hold onto love.

Surviving The House Process

 

overwhelmedMy wife and I just experienced one of the most stressful events that an adult experiences – selling and buying a house.

I won’t lie. It was a pain in the arse and this wasn’t our first rodeo as they say.  Between us we have moved over 100 times in our lifetime.  I always say I will never do it again but somehow I always find my way back repeating this experience.  It could be that we are just wandering souls or something.  I do know that I’m getting too old for this.

This most recent experience was the worst. Do you know what the worst part was? Dealing with people who are part the process. If you have never bought or sold a house I would suggest you prepare yourself for a rollercoaster of emotions. If you’re married, you’d better have a strong marriage too.  It will test you in ways you can’t imagine.

Let me tell you some things you need to know about this process based on my personal experience:

#1 – It will always cost you more than you think.  There is always someone that has their hand out for your money.

#2 – You will have trust issues with realtors.  I don’t know a nice way to expound on this so I will just leave it at that.

#3 – Unexpected things happen.  You can never prepare for the things that come up in the process.

#4 – Expectations are not equal.  People will ask you to do things and expect immediate action; however, when you ask for something you get the delays, excuses and BS answers.

We are in our new house and we love it but it wasn’t easy. One thing we never figured we would have a problem with was radon. I didn’t even know much about radon until our test failed. Unfortunately most people don’t take it seriously and you have to fight to get things done about it. We were able to have a mitigation system installed to make it safe.

The financing went through pretty smoothly. You just have to get the finance people the information as soon as they ask for it so they can get the loan processed. One thing that has always gotten me every time is the cash-to-close. This is the amount of money you have to bring to closing. The amount always fluctuates up to the very day before closing. This part always drives me crazy. I use my VA benefits to finance me and they always say it is 100% percent financing but don’t let that fool you because there are always things you have to pay so it’s not totally 100%

Let me get my soap box out a moment and step up on it in regards to Comcast/Xfinity.  We did the responsible thing and called our cable/internet provider well in advance of our move.  One week before our move we discovered that our services had already been transferred to our new address.  It was an all-day ordeal and took SEVEN people before our service was restored.  That is utterly ridiculous.  Why can’t a customer call ONE person, explain the problem and they get on the big Comcast/Xfinity computer and correct their mistake?  They have good service but their customer service is terrible and that is if you even get a live person on the line.

Home inspections are not all created equal.  You never know what the inspector will find.  They all have their thing they focus on and it could be anything.  Many times they simply have to write something up just to prove that they are doing their jobs.  Just be prepared to fix something.  Many years ago, the buyer asked me to put a “z-brace” on a gate on our fence.  I had no idea what that was and it took some doing to get it done.

The moving process is an unnerving experience for sure.  You really discover how much crap you have.  If there is one piece of advice I could give you is that you don’t need to go cheap on moving.  We hired movers and they were awesome.  Even on a day when there were heavy thunderstorms, nothing got wet.  This still amazes me. Don’t skimp on hiring movers.  You definitely get what you pay for.

Right now I am emotionally spent and we face a long transition ahead to get this new house the way we want it.  I am just happy the move is done and we overcame the people in the process who made it difficult.  They all have their money now and we have our new house.

If you are considering buying or selling a home, just be prepared for everything and manage your expectations.  Also, if you think you can sell or buy it without representation, I would suggest you think about it.  I know the possibility of holding onto all of your profits is tempting but do you really want to deal with all the real estate things you would have to handle yourself?  Please think about representation to cover you.  You will need it.  Trust me.  You need to find the right realtor for you.  Sometimes this is quite difficult to do.  We didn’t have a pleasant relationship with ours.  I won’t go into details but it will push you to the limit if you don’t have a good one.  You will need encouragement during the process and not just advice to lower the price.

This experience is a process – a long process.  You will have to prepare yourself for it.  It is torture but if you keep your focus on the end result, you will make it.  Don’t let the people in the process ruin it for you.  If there’s one thing I kept in mind it was that after we close, we never have to see these people again. Once the papers are signed, they move on to the next client.

Buying or selling a house is stressful but a necessary process to accomplish your goal.  The process doesn’t last forever.  I promise you that sometimes it sure feels like it will never end but it does end.  It is quite a relief when it is over.

 

Is This A Sign or A Test?

I still get a little confused about this sometimes.

I have been a believer for most of my life and I still can’t always tell when God is giving me a sign or whether he is testing me. I think many times I look for signs rather than admit that God is testing me.

Right now is one of those times. I have asked God for a clear sign about something but I haven’t seen it. I have, however, dealt with some obstacles in this situation. I think we all want that “burning bush” sign but we don’t want to be in the fire during a test.

It is certainly difficult to keep one’s focus. I really try not to make things super spiritual but there are times you just have to depend on God.

I have thought about the story of the three Hebrew children in Daniel 3.  This is where the king issues a proclamation that everyone would worship the image of the king.  If they didn’t, they would be thrown into a flaming furnace.  Well, there were three dudes named Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who refused.  They stood up for their worship to God alone.  They told the king that God would take care of them.  The king threw them into the furnace and even turned up the heat seven times hotter.  Now, you have to wonder how they were feeling.  They had to be scared at this point.  Today it would be “Okay God where is the sign?”  but none came.  God didn’t rescue them from the fire but preserved them IN the fire.  Not only did God protect them but they weren’t even touched by the fire.

This shows us that when the time for the test comes that we might still feel the intensity of the heat of the situation but God can protect us while we are in the fire.  Too many times we whine and complain when something happens to us.  We assume that because we are a believer that we won’t have a flat tire or someone will fuss at us about something.  We have to deal with these situations just like everyone else so the important thing is HOW do we deal with these situations.

I have had to deal with people recently that has made an experience very unpleasant.  I have been tested.  I am sure I haven’t passed every time.  I always look back and wonder how I could have handled things differently.  I am easily frustrated when someone doesn’t do their job and it creates an unnecessary stressful situation for me.   Silly me to expect someone to do their job.  At times I have not been so nice and others I have.  Yes, this has been a season of testing.

I don’t propose that I am anything like the three Hebrew guys that survived the fire but it is comforting that God was in the fire with them.

So why does God test us?   I have asked that question a lot recently.  I think He does it to show us what we need to work on.  Will we trust Him or will we try to do it ourselves?  After the last few weeks, I see that I need to work on a LOT.  I didn’t get an “F” but I didn’t get an “A” on the tests either.  It’s easy to trust God and sing songs when things are going your way but what happens when someone is in your face about something?  The test is when we can’t hear the praise soundtrack playing in the background.

Life is hard and it isn’t always fair.  We have to deal with it.  Even for believers.  Crap happens to us just like everyone else.  The tests are important to teach us.  I can’t say I like them but I know they are instrumental in developing my character.  Testing hurts.

So, if you are looking for signs, you might want to consider if it is really a test.  Is it a burning bush or a fiery furnace?

And, not to offend our spiritual views, but sometimes things aren’t a sign or a test. Sometimes things just happen. Mechanical things break. People are buttheads. That’s just part of the world we live in. We don’t have to make something spiritual of everything that happens to us. The microwave is going to break and sometimes people coming out to fix it will be totally incompetent. Stuff happens. God isn’t against us and sometimes neither God or the devil have anything to do with what is happening to us.

So whether it is a sign, a test or just stuff happening to us, we can still get through it without us losing our minds. Is it easy? Nope. Can we avoid it? Nope. We can only do the best we can and make the best decisions possible and leave the results to God.