Friday, February 29, 2008

He took my place…..

One day, a man went to visit a church, He got there early, parked his car and got out. Another car pulled up near the driver got out and said, " I always park there! You took my place!"

The visitor went inside for Sunday School, found an empty seat and sat down. A young lady from the church approached him and stated, "That's my seat! You took my place!" The visitor was somewhat distressed by this rude welcome, but said nothing. After Sunday School, the visitor went into the sanctuary and sat down. Another member walked up to him and said, " That's where I always sit! You took my place!"

The visitor was even more troubled by this treatment, but still He said nothing.
Later as the congregation was praying for Christ to dwell among them, the visitor stood up, and his appearance began to change.
Horrible scars became visible on his hands and on his sandaled feet.
Someone from the congregation noticed him and called out, "What happened to you?"
The visitor replied, as his hat became a crown of thorns, and a tear fell from his eye,
"I took your place."

Have you ever thought about Who took your place? (Same guy)

During my freshman year of college, I was forced to take Psych 101. One of the few things I actually learned from that class is that human beings are very territorial, and are creatures of habit. We like our space. We like our routines. Most people do not like change. Being brought up Baptist, I could easily understand that.

Dude: “How many Baptists does it take to change a lightbulb?”
Baptist: “Change?? What do you mean, Change?”

People like their space. In the Psych class I learned that people have their own personal comfort zones. Imagine a three foot circle with the individual standing in the center of the circle. The perimeter of that circle represents their comfort zone. When speaking to someone else, they will stay outside of other people’s comfort zones and try to keep people out of theirs. Every now and then, I like to test people’s comfort zones and step just inside their “circle”. I don’t get “in their face”, I just casually step inside their circle to see if it makes them uncomfortable. Most of the time, it does, and most people will slowly try to back away or change their stance or position to re-establish their “zone”. Most folks don’t even realize that is what is going on. Just watch a group of people mixing and mingling and see how they move and interact. Sometimes it can be funny to watch.

Even though I was raised Baptist, I now am a member of a non-denominational church, for reasons you can read elsewhere in this blog. One thing I noticed, even there, is that people will still follow a general pattern. We have four services each weekend and most of the people who attend their particular service have chosen to attend that one, for whatever reason (so do I). What I have noticed is that the majority of these people will sit in the exact same seat, every time. Or, at least in the same general area. I love messing with those types of people. Sometimes, when I notice this, I try to get to church early just so I can sit in their seat and see what happens.

This is also how I met one of my very best friends. I didn’t do it on purpose (this time). I had just started attending this church and I liked to sit towards the front, about the third row, near the center (see? I do it too!). Apparently, so did someone else.
One Saturday evening (‘cause, that’s when I go, usually), I got to my seat and just before the service started, the guy behind me tapped me on the shoulder and said,
You’re sitting in my seat”.

And, due to my sarcastic nature, I replied, "You should have gotten here sooner."
He was smiling and we hit it off rather well, right from the start.
Now, whenever we see each other at church, one of us will say to the other, “I’ll save you a seat”.
He and his wife are awesome people. We’re in the same Life Group and we serve in our church together.

But they’re not just friends, they have become family. Jesus Christ hung on a cross and paid the price for your sins and for mine. He took your place. When you accept Him as your Savior, you become a member of the family of God.

So, how will you respond the next time you find someone sitting in your seat?


Thursday, February 28, 2008

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Usher-ly Fun

My wife and I serve on an Usher Team at our church. We have Saturday evening services, as well as the ones on Sunday mornings. There are four Saturday night teams, so we’re on a four week rotation. Sometimes I wish we could serve more often since I really enjoy interacting with people as they come into church.

One of the things we get to do is greet folks as they enter the auditorium/sanctuary (or whatever you choose to call it) and hand out bulletins (or programs or whatever). I like to greet each person with a smile and do my best to make them feel welcome. There are two sets of double doors we use to enter and we are normally at the ones on the right. I like to tell people as they enter that this is the cool kid’s side. (Our side fills up pretty quick).

We have name tags at our church and most people stop by the board and put theirs on. It’s just a little sticker with their name on it and makes it easier to get to know people by name. Anyone coming through the doors without a name tag either forgot to go get it, or they may be a first time visitor. I make an extra special effort to make them welcome. After all, we’re about Connecting People with God, Connecting People with People.

One couple came in and the gal was smiling and joyful, but her husband looked kind of bummed.
So I told her, “Wipe that smile off your face!”
As the look of shock appeared on her face, I added, “And give it him, he looks like he could use it”. They were both laughing as they entered the church.

Ushering is a lot of fun and a great way to meet people you probably should already know (but didn’t). Our pastor is Steve Poe (we’ve met, but you need to know that for this part of the story).
The usher director had previously asked us to try to notice people without name tags since this might be their first time visiting our church. A couple of years ago, one lady came in not wearing her name tag. She seemed really nice and I welcomed her and asked if this was her first time here.
Oh, heavens no”, she replied.
Do you not have a name tag on the board?
Oh, I’m sure I do
She seemed like the type of person you could pick on a little, so I chided, “Why aren’t you wearing it? Are you embarrassed about your name or something?
She stood up straight and with all sincerity and seriousness, said, “My name is Sandy Poe!
So I said, “Gee, our pastor has a wife by that name!” (He’d spoken of her from the pulpit from time to time, but I’d never met her and had no idea what she looked like).
Yes, that’s me. I am the pastor’s wife
Well, then you should know better
She smiled and went on inside.
Gulp. I was certain I was about to get fired from a volunteer position at church.
After that, I started taking her name tag off the board and handing it to her as she enters the church. She now expects it and gives me a hug when she sees me and tells people I am her friend (whew).

We have a sign by the doors that says that no food or drinks are allowed inside the auditorium. So last month when a young girl, about 12 or 13 years old, I think, came up eating a cookie (we have a snack area where you can get them) I jokingly told her she can only have that if she brought one for me too. Little did I know that she had one in her other hand, and she handed it to me. She shoved what was left of the first one in her mouth, smiled and went inside. And that chocolate chip cookie she handed me……..was delicious.

One of the duties of being an usher is that we help take the offering. Yeah, we’re the ones who pass the plates.
I think one of the funniest things involving this happened last weekend while were passing the plates during the first Saturday night service. After passing the plates down the first couple of rows, I noticed that plates were coming back empty. Then I started to laugh as it occurred to me the name of the song that was sung just prior to the offering.......

Jesus Paid It All.

Sometimes God just cracks me up. No one else realized it until I mentioned it to the ushers later on. Needless to say, during the second service, the ushers were giggling somewhat as we headed up the aisles to collect the evening’s offering.

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

So, if you’d like to come visit us at our church, you are most certainly welcome. Come prepared for some awesome worship, a great message and some fun fellowship. And feel welcome to come over and sit on the cool kid’s side.

We’ll save a seat for you.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Worth More Than a Thousand Words.......

A Stone Kiss

A Famous Kiss

A Forever Kiss

Best Friends ForeverHope your Valentine's Day is a special one.


Thursday, February 07, 2008

Be confident and Follow Through…..

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
(Philippians 1:2)

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God's grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:3-8)

Have you ever been involved in sports?

When I was in Junior High, I was involved in our small town’s local bowling league. I guess my parents thought it would be a good idea for me to be involved in some sort of organized sports, since I was too small to play football or basketball (even though I did for a while later on).
When I started bowling, I knew absolutely nothing about the sport, but it looked like fun so I gave it a try. We had an actual league and there were coaches to teach us and encourage us to do our best. Each Saturday, we would all gather at the bowling alley (our town only had one) and start the day in the classroom. We’d watch a video about how to bowl, and then go out to the lanes with our teams and practice what we learned. Each week was a different lesson and each built on to the previous week’s lesson.

We learned about the different characteristics of the lanes, what the lines meant, what the arrows on the floor were for, how to hold the ball, how to walk to the approach, proper backswing, how to release the ball, etc…..

The most important thing I learned was, in my opinion, to follow through. I had a great coach who taught me three simple things to remember if I ever got flustered and began bowling poorly. In fact, I still use these three principles in every day life.
1. Slow down.
2. Keep your eye on your mark.
3. Follow Through.

I was the smallest kid in my class, and not all that strong back then, so I used the lightest ball I could find. It weighed only ten pounds. Bowling pins (there’s ten of them, y’know) weigh around 3 ½ pounds each. By learning proper technique and applying those three principles, I finished my first season with a 130 average. By the time I was in high school, I was shooting a 181 average. My senior year, my team-mate and I won the state championship, and my average was over 200 pins per game. My highest game ever so far is 267. So I know this works.

Just ask any golfer what is the most important part of his swing and they will tell you, “Follow Through”. You can’t just hit the golf ball, you need to follow through to the end of your swing (of course, the way I play golf, you may not be able to tell the difference). I could give a long physics explanation about the importance of follow through, but it would most likely bore you to tears, make you sick and cause you to possibly never visit here again.

Be the fact remains that follow through is important. I know too many people who would like to write a book, or act on stage, or speak in public, or lead a Bible Study, or go back to school. But they don’t do those things. Why? Well, they all have a lot of reasons why they do not pursue their dreams. But all of those reasons sound a lot like excuses to me.

A wise man once said that, “Excuses only sound good to those who make them”.

I read a story in Ann Landers a long, long time ago. It was a letter from a woman who was in her mid 40’s and she told Ann Landers that she really wanted to go back to school and get her degree, since her youngest child was about to graduate from college. But she wasn’t too sure it was a good idea. Her reason for not going was that she was too old to go to college. She was afraid of being the oldest person in her class. She asked, “Ann, do you realize how old I will be in four years if I go to college now?”

Ann Landers wrote a simple one line response.
“How old will you be in fours years if you don’t go?”

That letter was one of the main reasons I went back to college in my 30’s.

Just the other day I was talking to a friend about making a long car trip.
I was telling her how proud I was that she was able to do that.
“But I couldn’t have done it without you”
“You did do it without me. You drove that distance all by yourself”
“But I was following you”
“Yeah, but how did you know that I knew where I was going?”
“I just trusted you to lead the way”

Let that one sink in for a moment.

That’s how it is supposed to be with God and us. Just trust Him to lead the way. Have faith in Him that He knows where we’re going. Think about the story of Abraham in the Old Testament. God told him to pack up everything and just go. When he asked God where they were going, God told him, “I’ll tell you when you get there”. Now, that’s faith!

Think about that little white golf ball. The ball represents your life, your purpose, God’s will for you. All you have to do is swing the club, hit the ball, and let God determine where it goes.
It’s pretty hard to do sometimes. Life moves pretty fast and as Ferris Bueller says, “If you don’t slow down once in a while, you could miss it”

When life seems to be moving a little too fast, and things get hectic and you get confused about God’s plan for your life, try this……..

1. Slow down.
2. Keep your eye on the mark.
3. Follow Through.

Always remember to follow through. And don’t forget that “….he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion….”

But, you have to keep moving forward. Remember His promise.

Trust in Him.
And follow through.


(In case you didn't know, the "mark" in step number 2, is Jesus.)

Monday, February 04, 2008


I rear-ended a car this morning.

So, there we are alongside the road and the driver slowly gets out of his car. . .
and you know how you just get sooo-stressed and life-stuff seems to just get funny?

Yeah, well, I could NOT believe it . . . he was a DWARF!

He storms over to my car, looks up at me and says, 'I AM NOT HAPPY!'

So, I look down at him and say, 'Well, which one are you then?'

.. . and that's when the fight started ...