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Just a couple of years ago we were holding three Kairos retreats a year at Angola and averaging 42 guests for each retreat. It was a strain on our volunteers and support base, but the results have been real and dramatic. Because of a new commitment to follow precisely the rules from Kairos International we are down to two retreats a year averaging 30 guests each. That’s less than half of the number of residents served each year. Because of financial restraints our November retreat may have to be reduced even further. I understand the need for rules and I know that bigger isn’t always better, but I have to think that numbers matter.
Our church, for example, lost some folks a few months ago. Our numbers are down. We are seeing some new faces, but are low on experienced members. I would think that almost everyone who remains believes we have a better church because of it, but we have fewer dollars coming in and fewer volunteers to carry on the mission of the church.
Last Sunday our Pastor taught on being “Better Before Bigger.” It was a wise and good word. Nevertheless, I have to believe that numbers matter. Obamacare is based in substantial part on the idea that getting more healthy young folks to buy health insurance and pay premiums would make it possible to insure older and sicker folks for lower premiums. Numbers matter and so far, they aren’t getting the numbers.
The idea of a remnant, a small group of committed followers carrying forward the faith, is a very real part of scripture, but so is the Great Commission. How do we strike a balance between a better and more committed remnant and the charge to spread the gospel? How do we keep up quality and quantity?
On this blog I like to offer encouragement, an occasional uplift, some clues on how to be a better follower of Jesus. Today I don’t have any of that. Only a sad, nagging question, a substantial challenge for the church and for all who follow Christ. Sorry about that.
Be blessed anyway.
I have mentioned several times on this blog my involvement with the Kairos Prison Ministry at Angola. We have a retreat weekend planned beginning November 7. We are very short of financial support for this weekend. If you are able to help in ANY way please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will advise you where to send checks. You can find out more at kairosangola.net
Preparing for this ministry and a family wedding next weekend have kept me busy. I hope to be back to regular blogging soon.
It was an interesting weekend in college football. Four of the highest rated teams in the country lost to unranked opponents. LSU, Texas A&M, Georgia, and South Carolina all lost. They lost in what we call “Trap” games. They had either come off of great victories the week before and/or were looking forward to “bigger” games in the coming weeks. They got trapped.
We are subject to trap games in our lives. We tend to prepare ourselves for the obvious challenges: operations, tough tests, difficult weeks at work. We tend to think “I got this” for the fun things, the holidays, the routine events of our lives. Like great football teams, we can get trapped. We forget some of the most important lessons of life.
1. Everyday is an important challenge. No day is meaningless. Any day can be a turning point.
2. We need Jesus for everything. We don’t have anything under control. Stop trying to grab back the steering wheel just because you think you are on the right track.
3. No one should be overlooked. Anyone can trip us up or lift us up. Everyone is important and potentially powerful as an enemy or an ally.
4. Cover all things in prayer.
5. Jesus has a plan for our lives. It just might not be the same as our plan.
6. His plan rules.
7. There is always another game next week. Life isn’t just a 12 week season and God is a God of second chances. Thank God.
I am no political expert and I will prove it today with this blog. It seems the government shutdown/slowdown is over. The parties have reached an agreement. It seems no problems have been solved and the agreement is really just an agreement to put off the disagreement until next year. Each side is blaming the other for shutting down the government. I don’t care who’s right and who’s wrong. I did learn a few things from this.
1. My life was not affected in any way by the shutdown. This makes me feel a little better. I think we are way too dependent on government. It seems the government had to really go out of it’s way to make the shutdown noticeable. I understand it wasn’t really a shutdown, but any sign that our dependence on government is not complete is a good thing.
2. This country is run by clowns.
3. I am reminded that many of those who spend time studying the end times note that there is no mention of the United States at the end. Now I think I know why.
4. The end must be really close.
5. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.Psalm 20:7
6. I will continue to follow my policy of not watching the news on television, listening to it on the radio, or reading about it in the newspaper. If something I really need to know happens, someone, probably my wife, will tell me.
7. I don’t want to think about turning 65 next year. Social Security and Medicare… isn’t the government involved in that?
8. I tried using the Obama care website to sign up for health care. Although it didn’t work for several attempts. The last time it seemed to work and gave me options. I don’t know if it was real or if the site had been hacked by terrorists. One of the options was coverage through something called Jihad Health Care. 🙂 Now I’m afraid to enroll. I don’t want to be the first in Louisiana to do so, or to be in the first 100 nation wide. I certainly don’t want to be labelled a terrorist.
9. Ignorance, at least political ignorance, really is bliss.
If I end up in a nursing home, I want to lead a bible study. Max Lucado
When I read Max’s words yesterday, they summarized for me so many thoughts I have been having lately.
1. It’s all about service. Max is a really smart guy, but it’s not about what he knows, it’s about what he does. He has written a ton of books, leads a church, blesses the body. We are so tempted to judge our Christian experience by how we are blessed instead of how we bless. Some of us think Christianity is a school of thought. Although we can always learn more, at some point we need to put it into practice.
2. Our obligation to serve never ends. He isn’t looking forward to a “rest” home. He intends to serve just as long as he is able.
3. Fewer words are best. Max has written a lot. I have always enjoyed his books. They are short, readable and convey a simple message. His one sentence above is a great example.
4. We don’t know the end of the story. Max begins his thought with “if.” We really don’t know what lies ahead. I don’t like to think I’ll end up in a nursing home, but the odds are, like most of us, I will. We shouldn’t spend too much time planning for what we will do later. We should focus on doing something now. When the future arrives, we just keep putting one foot in front of the other. The walk doesn’t end, ’til it does.
5. We have a SALT meeting tonight at Amana. We start at 6. If you are over 50 your invited. Bring a dish if you can, don’t worry if you can’t. There is always plenty of food. Come hungry, but come with service on your mind.
Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. — Acts 4:12
Have you ever told an older person how you hope you have their energy and clarity of thought when you get to be their age? Have you ever really meant I wish I had those qualities NOW? That’s how I feel about Billy Graham. At his age he has written yet another book. In what could be his final book, Billy Graham presents in The Reason for My Hope: Salvation the core message that has guided his life and calling for more than 70 years.
Billy has never gotten “fancy” with his message. He is the most recognized Christian in the world and perhaps the most respected and his message is the basic message of the gospel. He hasn’t modified it to make it acceptable to a “modern” world. He hasn’t showcased it with flashy lights or a hip band.
Here’s just a sample:
What is the ultimate victory of the cross? That it could not hold the Savior of the world, who triumphed over sin and death, winning salvation for mankind. The resurrection story of Jesus Christ is what gives meaning and power to the cross. What a failure Christianity would be if it could not carry our hopes beyond the coldness and depths of the grave. You see, the resurrection means the salvation of our souls.
What does the resurrection mean to you? Many have never thought about it. Some believe that Jesus died leaving a legacy of “Do good to your neighbor,” never believing that He was raised from the dead. Others think the resurrection was a hoax. There are those who question whether Jesus even existed.
True believers in Jesus Christ have no doubt that He lived among us, died for our sins, and after three days was resurrected to life, conquering the sting of death, offering the human race the greatest gift— His sacrificial love.
Billy: When I get to be your age I don’t hope that I have your clarity of thought or energy. I hope that I have gone home to enjoy all that Jesus promised and that my descendants are still following Him in basic faith and hope.
I am officiating at my grand daughter’s wedding next month. She is very special to me and I really want to do a good job. I have been working on my comments for the wedding for weeks. Every time I see or hear anything good about marriage or love or weddings, I mentally add to my comments. I know, however, that I need to keep my words few. Attention spans are short.
It’s amazing how wasteful we are with words. It seems we are bombarded daily with more words than ever, yet fewer really meaningful words are spoken. We all admire the person who speaks rarely, but when they speak it is well worth listening. We don’t seem to learn from this but keep dumping out words like a garbage truck at the end of a full day of collections.
We need to learn that words are precious. They provide us with the opportunity to really make an impact and a difference. They have to be carefully chosen and wisely released. Like most things timing is everything. We can’t learn the value of our speech from television or social media. I’ve learned I can’t learn it from my fellow attorneys who seem to believe they get paid by the word.
Here are some thoughts about making our words precious.
1. Think precious thoughts. Our spoken words are just the vocal expression of our thoughts. We need to think on good things.
2. Listen. We have to stop looking at conversation as a competition. We don’t win by saying the most or by being the cleverest. If we are really listening, we may discover that the best “word” is merely a smile and a nod.
3. Pray. When we pray we should be listening to God. He’s got the best words, the ones really worth repeating.
4. Encourage. The purpose of our words should be to lift up others, not ourselves. If we can just remember that, our words will be appreciated and precious, not just to us, but to those who hear them.