"God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in him in the midst of loss, not prosperity." --John Piper

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Hey Ref, that was not a foul!

Matt Chandler offers the following in one of his sermons...

Religious people, they're like referees. They don't score any points, they don't sweat, they don't play, they know nothing of the highs and lows of the game. They just run around blowing their whistle. And when they retire, no one cares.

The only problem with it is there is always another one.

I have heard him say that church can be a hinderance to conversion. Amen, Matt!

I struggle sometime with what to do regarding church. I don't want to be a part of the problem, but running from what God has ordained is not the answer either, at least not in my heart.

So I work. Slowly. Waiting. Sometimes in anguish. Until He leads somewhere else or until He comes again, I work. Not because it somehow makes me better in His eyes, but because I love Him and His bride.

So I slaughtered a sacred cow in the process. That was not a foul, Ref.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda

My younger brother would have been 47 today.

My brother was an amazing individual, with great stories to tell, but I never heard most of them. I do know of his move to Las Vegas, his climbing mountains, his creating huge machinery. I even know about the time he spent the night trapped in a snow cave on one of his climbs. I have seen some of the pictures he took from atop the mountains. Breath-taking and beautiful.

He told me, not long before he took his life, how he knew that this life did not happen by accident, that just did not make sense to him. But then, a god who who let little children suffer did not make sense to him either. And he could not honor such a god.

He told me of his trip to Seattle. And about how the whole reason he left Las Vegas and went there was simply because a voice told him to go. A literal, audible (to him at least) voice that spoke to him. He did not know where the voice came from or who it belonged to, but he followed. He followed it again as he was in Seattle, and got off an exit. There he drove past a machine shop, stopped in and was hired. His new boss became an avid fan and supporter of his climbing efforts. He was on top of the world, literally and figuratively. But like any mountain-top experience, it did not last for long.

When he came back home again, it for a different reason. This time it was not a voice, it was his circumstances. Homeless, living on the streets of Seattle, near death and out of options, he asked mom and dad for a plane ticket home. They loved their son, and got the ticket for him. They were not prepared for what they saw when they picked him up at the airport. He was not the son they remembered. Instead, before them was a tall man who was nothing but skin and bones, the effects of a heroine addiction.

He recovered. Not through a 12-step program or a religious experience, but just out of sheer will-power. An amazing feat for anyone who understands the power of the drug. For ten years he stayed clean. But then he gave in again. By now, Mom and Dad were gone. He reached out to me and my brother. We did what we could to help. We took him in, took him to recovery centers, helped him get things back in order while he sweated out the withdrawl process. He found another job in a machine shop. His boss found him to be an amaingly talented machinist. His talent so impressed the owner of the company that he invested in new machinery that he would operate. But the power of the drug was too strong for him.

He tried to commit suicide, but his roommate found him before it was too late. Barely. Another treatment center. A 12-Step program was a part of that treatment. But he wouldn't have it, he refused to let any kind of a higher power run his life. The lies and deceptions began again.

It wasn't long before tried to kill himself again, and this time he was successful. I remember getting the call from my older brother, not wanting to believe it, but knowing it was true. He was gone.

He left a note. In it, he apologized. He spoke of how he loved his family, his brothers, their wives and his niece and nephews. He also said that he just couldn't take it anymore.

Not all stories have a happy ending. This one certainly didn't.

I have an older brother. We were talking recently about our younger brother, about God, about life. He told me that believed that Jesus died for our sins and that everything happens for a reason. He also told me that he couldn't worship a god who would not let his youngest brother into heaven.

I can. I do.

I don't like the thought that he might not be there. But I will leave that in God's hands. I know that God loved him and pursued him. What I don't know is if that made a difference for him. Perhaps at the end, he cried out, like the thief on the cross. Maybe not. But I cannot and will not put my own brother before God.

There is a Scripture that puzzles or puts off a lot of people. It goes like this.

"If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple." Luke 14:26 (NIV)

It is not that God is an egomaniac. It is not that He is jealous of my brother or any other family member. It is just that He is God. And as such, I need to trust Him. For me to say that He shouldn't allow so much evil in the world, or that I wouldn't serve Him if He wouldn't let someone into heaven is just me putting myself in His place. I don't have to watch Bruce Almighty to know that I don't want that job. Besides, He doesn't really want me to hate anyone. In fact,  I am told that a more accurate translation of the word hate in this instance is "to love less."

My younger brother would have been 47 today. He could have beaten the addiction. He should have surrendered. I love him. Always will.

Monday, December 28, 2009

What matters most

What matters first and foremost to God is not what you have gotten others to do, it is what you are doing!

It was one of those days within the first year or so after the divorce. I had just dropped off my son and was on the hour-long drive home. It was always a time of reflection and sadness. On this particular occasion, it was also a time of prayer and self-pity (not a good combination, by the way).

I remember thinking about all that I had lost. Not just in family and material things, but also in my job. Things were going so well with the church and the youth at the time. They were growing both in numbers and in energy. I was excited, and so were they. "How could you let this happen, God? And at this time! There was so much potential, so much more to do. Don't you need me anymore?"


What in the world? Where did that come from? No one was in the car, the radio was off, where did that response come from? I still am not sure, but I know that I heard it. It brought tears to my eyes. Which, by the way, is not a good thing when you are traveling down the interstate. Had God actually said that? Was He through with me? Had He given up on me? The tears continued to come as I just dwelled on what I was sure that I had just heard.

It took a while, but I began to feel His presence. A comfort. An arm around me. I started to understand something. It was true, God did not need me. But he still wanted me. And it wasn't for what I could do for Him, because there is nothing that I can do for Him that He cannot get done through other means. He does not need me, yet He wants me.

I carry that thought with me to this day. Every time I mess up or something doesn't go the way that I think it should, I know that He is in control. I am not perfect, but through Jesus I have been made perfect in His eyes. He doesn't need me, He wants me.

That is what matters most.

Added 11/13/2010

As I reread this post, the opening thought bothers me now. What matters most to God is not what I am doing. It is what He has done for me. To God be the glory. Amen.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Rose

I have just recently found Matt Chandler's preaching, but I find it powerful and convicting. It is no wonder that the church he minsters at has grown dramatically.

If you aren't aware, he has been diagnosed and begun treatment for a malignant brain tumor. Please consider praying for him.

A Long Journey, Part 12 (...and the universe went crash)

This one might get a bit hard to follow, because some of the events took place at different times. Oh well...

After about 4 years at this church, the youth started to take off. What had been 6-8 kids on a Sunday night was now 30, with 6-8 kids now being the core group. But the minister had left. My mentor. The replacement, let's just say he was not a mentor. I was offered the preaching position, but turned it down because my heart was in Youth Ministry. I don't think that set well with the replacement. Oh well...

I was spending a lot of time with "youth stuff." There were meetings and attending youth ball games and activities, youth conventions and even meetings to work on youth conventions. 60-70 hours a week was not unusual, if not more. See where this is going? Yup, I was neglecting my own family. So it is no wonder that we began arguing more. Something was going on, but I didn't have the time to or didn't want to see it. Oh well...

She said she needed to go and visit her parents. She came back a week later with a restraining order and I had to get out. I was in the process of losing my job, my family, maybe even my faith. It was a difficult time.

FAST FORWARD: It was not until about 9 years later that any hidden suspicions were confirmed. She had been having an affair with a friend of mine. I found this out because he had threatened to kill her and tried to commit suicide. He called me from the psych ward. He needed to unburden himself. He asked me for a favor. Could I bring him something so he could finish the job? I went, but not in response to his request. I needed to forgive him.

REWIND: I was given two months 2 find a new job. I went to school to learn to drive a tractor trailer. The divorce costs were eating me alive and I needed something to pay the mounting bills. It was the best and worst job ever. Too much time to think, and then again not enough. My Bible and journal became my constant companions. My son was 3 at the time, so I would see him anytime I was in the area. He loved trucks.

The story doesn't end here, there is so much more. But I am going to take a break from it for a while. One thing I have learned from this is how God's hand is in everything. He has been so patient with me. I am thankful for that. He made me (but did he have to make me so pig-headed?).

A Long Journey, Part 11 (We're gonna have a baby. Tomorrow!)

It had started out as a pretty normal week. I was away from the house when my wife got the call. Her cousin, about 16 was pregnant. She was planning to give the child up for adoption, when she found out at the last momment that she could have a say in naming the adoptive parents. She called her uncle, a preacher, and he suggested us. That was on Tuesday. On Wednesday we decided to adopt, and plans were set for the child to be in our home the following MONDAY!

Of course, this matter was discussed with our preacher, and he immediately asked if he could announce it at services the next day. We agreed.

It was the end of the service when he announced it, that we were expecting a child. It got the expected, Aw... response. Then he lowered the boom...TOMORROW! Of course, he then explained the rest of the story.

Kids change things. I love my son and always will. Once again, God had presented us with a situation, and we followed. I would like to say it was in complete obedience to him, but I am not so sure about the "complete" part.

And life went on...

Next: ...and the universe went crash (quote from Harry Chapin, Dance Band on the Titanic)

A Long Journey, Part 10 (The Tide Goes Out)

It was kind of an awkward situation. I continued to preach a few more weeks until the "real" preacher came. Life went on and I was working my regular job and back to my regular life. Then my wife got a call from one of her college friends. She told us that her church was looking for a Youth Minister. Even though we were not pursuing such a move, we thought that the unexpected circumstances warrant that we at least consider the possibility.

But did we really want to get involved with a church in that way again?

That is the wrong question. The real question is, "What did God want us to do?"

Now let me say at this point, I was still not the spiritual person that I should have been. But I didn't know that. I thought that I had had enough life experiences and was prepared this.

Thankfully, the preaching minister was an incredible person who was also a great mentor. I will not dare to judge his walk with God, either positive or negative, but I will say that the enthusiasm and love that he displayed were an inspiration to me.

I spent 4 years there. There were ups and downs. We adopted a child while we were there. (An up!) The tide went in and came out as it always does. There are so many things I could write about, so many stories, but time does not allow. Suffice it to say that it was a learning experience for me. In more ways than I can express.

Next: We are going to have a baby! (Tomorrow!)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Long Journey, Part 9 (Look out! There's a big wave coming!)

Shortly after the decision to fire my brother-in-law (the preacher), one of the men in the church had a thought. He knew that many in the church would be leaving, and he wondered if there was any interest in keeping some together. He made arrangements to host a meeting at a local community center and got the word out. Then he waited to see who would show up.

About 80 people were there.

The group decided that they wanted to stay together if possible. They were not interested in a legal battle for the current facilities of the church. Instead, they started meeting at that very same community center on Sunday mornings. One of the men in the congregation who had previously been in the ministry was asked if he would preach. I was asked if I would teach a joint adult Sunday School class. We both said yes.

At some point (maybe a couple of months?) into the venture, we were asked to switch roles. Again, we both agreed. Not to long after this, they started to look forward. With such a strong starting base, and offerings with little overhead, they began to look for a building. One was located and purchased. Again, looking forward, they wanted to hire a full-time preacher. Yay! Or so I thought...

I was asked if I was interested in the position. I said no. I felt that since my training was in Youth Ministry and that I lacked experience I was not the man for the job. But they were persistent. They argued that I was already familiar with the congregation and well thought of. After discussing it with my wife, I applied for the position.

As they went through the process, they looked at several candidates. They informed me that their desire was to narrow it down to 3 and have all 3 presented to the congregation for their selection. I told them that was great, but that I wanted to withdraw my application. I did not feel that this was the way to select their leader, by a popularity vote. I believed that this would only open the door for more division. They asked me not to, and assured me that they agreed with my thoughts.

It was about a week later that they asked to meet with me on a Tuesday evening. As I came into the meeting, I sensed something was up. They told me that they had narrowed their serach to 3 candidates, and that those 3 would be speaking on 3 consecutive Sundays. I was also informed that I was not one of the 3. Splash!

God is funny. I don't know why I was put in that situation. I felt that I had done everything right. But I was also relieved when I was not chosen. Even though I would rather they have let me withdraw my application, it all worked out. Looking back, I now know without a doubt I was not ready for that job.

Next: The tide goes out.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas. As you celebrate the coming of God (via Jesus Christ) into this world, may you find Him and respond to His purpose, which was to save you from your sins.

Emmanuel! God IS with us (still)!

A Long Journey. Part 8 (Drifting)

Leaving that job was difficult on a number of levels. I was an adult, yet had no place to go. I suppose I could have looked for employment in that area, but I did not have the desire to stay there. My wife had some family about 90 miles away, so we decided to move in with them and look for employment there.

My wife's sister's husband was a preacher. So moving there meant getting involved in a church again. They hired me as a part-time youth minister for a while. But once I found a decent job I gave that up. I still went to church there and still worked with the youth, but not as their employee.

There was a family in the church who liked to rule things. They felt that the minister was not under their thumb, so they fired him. This upset the congregation, so they changed their mind. However, it was only a matter of time until they fired him again. By this time were were in a place of our own and both working.

Of course, this ended up splitting the church. About 90 people out of a congregation of 120 left. My wife and I did not know what we would do. We were comfortable lifing in the area and had decent jobs, but it was not what we really thought we would be doing. We were just drifting, going with the flow until something changed.

Next: Coming Together

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Long Journey, Part 7 (So this is church)

By the time I had graduated I still did not have a job. I had a few interviews, but looking back, I recall at least one that I an glad I did not get. I recall the minister in the interview telling me the importance of making sure that I did not get too close to any of the church members, as this has a tendancy to cause people to pick sides and can cause division.

I had another interview over the summer. This church talked to me on 2 occasions and invited me down for an interview. After retruning home, I received a call. Turns out they were going with their first choice, the one they had in mind all along. They just needed to do some interviews to confirm that they were correct in their first choice. They apologized, because they felt all of the candidates they had interviewed were quality people. They should have just gone with their guts in the first place. Apparently they were hoping to interview a bunch of idiots so it would be an easy decision. God decided differentlly. Or did he?

I finally was offered a job by a church in Virginia by the end of the summer. I remember walking into my office on the first day thinking, "Now what?" I was hired, but not given much direction on what to do. I guess I was expected to know that!

The Senior Minister left about 3 months after I arrived. They hired another and he left within about 8 months. I had been there a little over a year, and was asked to meet with one of the elders. He told me that they were letting me go, as I was not meeting their expectations. I guess that is true when you really don't have expectations.

No other answer was given. I know there was a lot of strife, and the leadership generally chose to deal with it by not dealing with it. I think I became a casualty of that. Unfortunately, I think that is common in a lot of churches. And maybe ministers too. I turned in my resignation and left quietly because I felt it was the thing to do.

A rude introduction to church politics. A rude introduction to being in the adult world. But lessons were learned...

Next: Drifting

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Long Journey, Part 6 (College Years)

There I was, at a small college in Eastern Kentucky. I really wasn't sure why I was there. I was looking for answers and thought that this was where I would find them. After all, I was cramming my head full of information, and some of it was about the Bible.

I was always a good student, so getting good grades was not a problem for me. One year turned into two, two into three, and three into four. I just kept riding the waves, going where fate would take me. But all through this time, I had never been taught the one thing that mattered most, what it meant to have a personal relationship with Jesus. Oh, sure, I had heard that phrase. I was even good at saying it. I even thought I had that. But now I don't think that is true. Just going to Bible College, or even becoming a minister does not make for a relationship with Jesus.

I guess I had never been good at relationships. I had dated one girl in High School. Well, we hung out together for a month or so anyway. Does that count? I thought we had made a commitment but she was hanging out with other guys. So I stopped hanging with her. High School years are funny that way.

I ended up in another relationship in college. We were married between my sophomore and junior year, she had graduated (BS degree and now MRS too.) She was a preacher's kid, and I was going into ministry. Perfect match, right?

Only if by perfect match you mean two people getting together who both had issues and were too dense to realize it. Only if by perfect match you mean two people who were letting life take them were it would and had no idea of what really following God meant. Only if by perfect match you mean two people who were adrift in the American culture and dream and really didn't know how to have a personal relationship with God. If that is your idea of perfect match, then we were it!

It is funny where life will take you if you just float down its stream.

Next: Life After College (May be a few days, since this is a busy time of year and I really should be getting some other things done before Christmas...) Speaking of which, have a Merry Christmas, one and all!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Long Journey, Part 5 (Leaving the nest)

Mom and Dad had given their lives to Christ. My older brother was working in the steel mills in the Calumet region. My younger brother was struggling to find himself, and looking in all of the wrong places. And then there was me. In some ways I was viewed as the shining star.

After high school I worked the summer for an engineering company. Sounds impressive, but I was doing some simple soils and concrete testing for just above minimum wage. I wanted to go to college, but didn't have the money. My dad finally convinced me to apply for an apprenticeship with his company. He said that even if I decided to go to college later, I would at least be making some good money in the meantime and could save up some for college if I chose.

Dad's workplace was a small union repair shop that did a lot of business with the steel mills. The money was good, but working in the adult workplace was a big shock for me. For some reason, I expected adults to act like adults. WRONG! There was such a bizarre mix of personalities among the 5 other mechanics and boss. I could write a book just about them. But I did enjoy the work. I was good with my hands, and my dad was an excellant mentor.

However, after about a year I decided to pursue college. Bible college. And even though mom and dad had become Christians and said they supported me, I don't think it was their first choice for me. After all they had sacrificed to come here and give their children a better life, I was choosing a career that might give me less. At least in the material realm. I did admit to my mom years later that part of my decision was that I felt dad took a lot of extra abuse at work because I was there. She made me promise not to ever tell him that.

I am still not sure why I decided to go to a Bible College. My intention was to just go for a year. I felt that there was something that I was missing, and I thought that this was the answer. Looking back, I see that I was wrong again. Not that it was all a bad thing. But attending classes and hearing theories does not make one a better Christian. I was getting an education, but I was not being discipled.

Next: The Bible College Years (You read it right, I ended up staying more than 1 year.)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Long Journey, Part 4 (Conversion Coersion)

So we started attending church. That was a start, but it wasn't the end. My sophomore summer, I gave my life to Christ and was baptized. I am not sure what the timing was, but some point after that (at least a year or so) Mom and Dad decided to get baptized too.

The only relatives we had in the states at  that time were Mom's aunt and uncle, who lived about 30 minutes away. Mom and Dad had stayed with them when the first came to the states, and we all had remained close.

Mom talked to Tante (German for aunt) Freida about her decision. Freida's response was emphatic, "Your mother would turn over in her grave if she knew what you were doing!"

Now that could have hurt mom. It could have made her doubt her decision. But it didn't. Mom's response was on track. She said, "No, I don't think she would. I think she would want me to do what I think is right." Way to go Mom!

Conversion coersion: Those things that make you doubt. They can come from anywhere. I am sure that my aunt did not mean to be a stumbling block, but she could have been. And they don't stop at conversion either, they continue all along the way. That's why I always prefer Luke's version of the temptation of Jesus, because he ends it with the words, "When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time." (Luke 4:13) The temptation in the wilderness was only the beginning for Jesus!

That is Satan's job, and he is darn good at it. Conversion coersion, doubt, anything that will weaken and ultimately break our bond with Christ. Paul's admonistion to Timothy comes to mind, "Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers." (1 Tim 4:16)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Thought for the Day

"It is much easier to go to church than it is to be the church. But I think the latter is what God really wants of us." --I said that! in reponse to this post.

A Long Journey, Part 3 (Across the Border)

Dad was always a hard-worker, looking for ways to make things better. When the foundry that he worked at went on strike, he would look for other jobs rather than just collect unemployment. On one of these strikes, he found employment with a company across the state line, in Indiana. It turned out to be a good job. So much so, that when the strike was over, he stayed with it.

A couple of years later, we ended up moving across the border. We still weren't attending church anywhere.

It was a huge change for me, going from an elementary school where I was one out of a class of about 30 to a Jr. High school, where I was one out of about 750. I hated it. But over time, I found some friends, many of whom were connected to a local church. I had also gotten involved the the choir at school. And it just so happened that the church where many of the kids were going had a good youth program which was based around a youth choir.

One of our big events was an Easter Pageant which was a combined effort of the youth and adult choirs. The presentation would be on Easter Sunday in the evening. Mom and Dad decided to go to the pageant. It was a good show. Our director was excellent not just at the music, but the drama as well. When that cross was laid on the ground, and the you could see the hammer raise up and hear the sound as it struck metal, you could also hear the sniffles as people fought back the tears.

When Mom and Dad got us home, they made a rather surprising declaration: we were going to start attending church there as a family. Catholic mom and Lutheran dad had found a home.

Next: Conversion coersion

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Long Journey, Part 2 (Confirmation)

The wheels were set in motion and I was along for the ride. In third grade I had attended catechism and had taken my official first communion. The best part? You got a lot of cards and most of them had gifts in them. As a matter of fact, it was more than I have ever seen for any birthday up to that point. Cool! Other than that, I really don't think I had much of a clue about what I was doing and why. But I am sure that it all looked nice.

So fourth grade was the year for my confirmation. Although I think it really was more of a conformation, where I was just conforming to what was going on around me rather than confirming what I supposedly believed. But I digress.

Confirmation was to take place in May of that school year. A whole year of catechism. That meant getting out of school a half-hour early every Wednesday. Yeah!

Apparently confirmation is a big thing in the Catholic church. If you don't know much about it (and I claim to know very little), here is my understanding of what confirmation is: It is you saying to the Catholic church, "You know that thing you did to me when I was a baby, sprinkling that water on my head to baptize me, I am okay with that and I will be a loyal member of the Catholic church from this day on."

Problem is, does that really happen in droves at 4th grade? But that is a topic for another post.

Because this is such a big event in the Catholic church, my mom's mother was going to come over from Germany for the first time. I cannot imagine how much that must have thrilled my mother. A chance for her mom to see how things were going for her. Nice house, car, 3 kids, the American dream.

But things changed in January when the telegram came. In those days, bad news always came by telegram. My mom's mother had a stroke that took her life. Mom was devastated.

It was sometime shortly after that that mom came to me with a question. She wanted to know if I could put off my confirmation for another year. It would just be too soon after her mom's death for her to deal with it. She wanted it to be a happy occasion, but she knew how that cloud of sadness would overshadow it. My response was quick. "Sure, Mom, I don't mind." And I really didn't. I still had no real idea of what it was all about anyway.

Mom stopped sending us to mass after that. And that was probably a good thing.

Next: A move across the border.

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Long Journey, Part 1

God does not want to see effort in us, He wants to see CHRIST in us.

As I wrestle with this thing called Christianity, I find that a lot of my thoughts and ideas have changed over the years.

I grew up in a home where God was recognized, but not taught or followed. Mom and Dad came from different religions (he: Lutheran, she: Catholic). They came here as immigrants. When we were younger, we were sent (not taken) to Mass.

I remember one day specifically. I must have been around 8 or 9. It was not a Sunday, but I went into the church to find my brother (who was an altar boy). There was some kind of a service going on. I just stuck my head in to see if he was around and attempted to leave. A priest stopped me and asked me what I was doing. I told him. He told me that I shouldn't go in a service and then just turn around and leave. He told me that I had committed a mortal sin.

Now, I didn't know much, but I knew that this was not a good thing. Dang, only 9 years old and hell-bound already. I wondered if there was any way out of this, or if I should just accept my fate. The thought of demons for roommates was a real bummer. Mom wasn't gonna like this either, so I had better not tell her.

I see things differently now.

I feel sorry for that priest. So wrapped up in trying to serve God, yet so blind. Catholics do not have a corner on that market by the way.

How can leaving a church service be any worse that not going at all? Is God really that petty and controlling? I don't think so. I have left services early since that time, and haven't thought twice about it.

What Satan intended to be a spiritual scar actually became a means of grace in the hands of God. I could have left that night defeated, doomed, feeling lost with no hope of redemption. But God had other plans for me.

Tomorrow: My Confirmation. Stay tuned!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

God is enough

I love the line "God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in him in the midst of loss, not prosperity."

I love that line, but will I live it?

Found the video on this blog.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Have you heard this?

There is just something in this song that speaks to me. What is it saying to you?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Budget Woes?

One of the responsibilities that I have taken on this year is that of becoming an Elder at my church. And one  of the responsibilities of the elders is to come up with the church budget. Not an easy task in this economy! I live in an area that has been hit hard by the recession. In what used to be a booming GM town, there are now nothing but empty fields where huge factories once roamed. Add the current economy to an area that was already in decline and you have a mess!

We were looking at cutting about $100,000 from an $850,000 budget. Not pretty. I feel good about the budget we came up with, although I am not a big budget person. And I am not really here to talk about money today anyway.

Tuesday we made a preliminary presentation of the budget to the congregation at a meeting that was open to anyone, attended by few. But sometimes those few can be vocal and oppositional. It didn't happen. That in itself really impressed me.

One of the comments made during the meeting was "we have to learn to do more with less." What a concept! Actually putting ourselves into ministry instead of just throwing money after things. Whoa! This could change things.