Sunday, May 23, 2010

Good Day at the Ballfield

My son had a good day yesterday! I took him to see his friends' baseball games in Baton Rouge. This was the first time to make it to one of their games, so B. was excited. (He loves playing ball in the yard, but before yesterday, he had not been to an organized game.)

When we arrived at the first game (B.'s own age group)... by the way, we were late thanks to my spending too much time with Mr. Weedeater... we discovered that his friend's team was short a couple of players. Before we knew what was going on, they were asking B. if he wanted to play. Wow! He grabbed a glove and headed to left field. The excitement didn't end there. He was even able to have an at-bat. He hit a hard shot right at the first baseman for a put-out. Thankfully he was able to run all of the bases anyway. That's what every 6-year-old dreams about.It was so much fun watching him enjoy the game. It looks like he'll be asking to play next year!
[picture above: B. (left) with his friend G.]

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Shannon O'Dell's Transforming Church in Rural America (Book Review)

Yesterday, I finished reading Transforming Church in Rural America by Shannon O'Dell. I must admit that before I started the book, I was skeptical. I had seen Shannon in a promo video for the church where he pastors (Brand New Church), and something about his intensity (and his hair) kinda freaked me out. I suppose I'm guilty of being superficial.

Anyway, the doubts are gone. This book may be one of the most encouraging reads for anyone who is passionate about being a part of a growing church in the sticks. Wait a minute! Is that possible? Yes, it is.

Shannon shares his story of being called from a large, suburban church with 70 staff to a rural church of 31 members. It's a fascinating ride as he shares dreams, struggles and adjustments that he had to make.

The biggest lesson I learned from his journey was the importance of calling and vision.

Grab a copy of this book and prepared to be encouraged and challenged!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Where are they?

Last Sunday, I visited the church where I grew up. During the service, the church honored its graduates. The thing that struck me was that there were three little ones who had graduated from kindergarten standing up front holding a gift Bible, one college graduate holding her gift, and three "no-shows." The three high school graduates were not in attendance, and there was a sense of bewildered surprise by the adults that they were absent.

Lifeway Research conducted a careful study in 2007 of the issue and discovered that 70% of young adults (ages 23-30) dropped out of church for at least a year between the ages of 18-22. That 70% includes many who spent their teenage years as active members of their church youth group. The sharpest drop occurs between the ages of 17-19.

Sunday was a vivid picture of that reality.

Fast forward twelve years. Where will the three five-year-olds be on a particular Sunday morning in May, 2022?

What will make the difference?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Prepare for Bloody Toes!

A couple of days ago, I finished reading Jerry Bridges' latest book. Respectable Sins was a fairly slow read. One can only break so many toes at once. Bridges' voice and tone are much like having a casual coffee with a good friend. He acknowledges his own sin and presents the various topics with much grace. Nonetheless, he pulls back the logs of our everyday lives to expose the wormy underworld of the sins we so often tolerate in ourselves and those close to us.

The two big ideas for me in this book are as follows: First, a solid reminder that the gospel is not for lost people, but for sinners. Second, the primary sin that we put up with that holds the door for so many others is what Bridges refers to as ungodliness. Simply put, he means the sin of living our everyday lives as if God does not truly exist. From there, all manner of subtle wickedness takes hold in even the most churched among us.

If you're looking for a challenge, pick up a copy of this book and read slowly. Then, get ready for a dose of conviction.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Random Thoughts pt. 1

I have been noticing lately that I never see people in a gazebo. Is this some type of conspiracy? The next time you see a gazebo, pay attention... I bet it will be void of people.