Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Why are Christians so Political?

Sunday at Oakbrook Church
Oct. 28, 2012
click here for a PDF of my message text, "Why are Christians so Political?"
Listen to it on iTunes: search "Oakbrook Podcasts"

Upcoming topics in the rest of the series, "Why are Christians..."
so Hypocritical? Nov. 4
 so Old Fashioned When it Comes to Sex? Nov. 11
Always Trying to Convert Someone? Nov. 18
Against Everything? Nov. 25

Monday, October 22, 2012

Special Letter from Haiti

Found this gem in my email this morning. It is from Pastor Gary, a good Haitian friend who pastors the church where we served last year for their annual crusade. As this crusade is coming around again, Pastor Gary was reminded of how our trip ended last year. Here are his poignant words:

Dear friends and Family in Christ,

As we approach November, the period of our annual crusade, the church and I can't prevent our self to think about you and keep reminding of your love, kindness and your service for the Lord among us.

Since this regrettable event, I feel so guilty and never find strength to write you but you were constantly and regularly in our prayers. The Sunday morning that follows the week of the crusade, we had a thanksgiving service for the crusade and was praying for you for physical and emotional healing. It was with tears that many people interceded for you.

We know this experience leaves a bitter taste about Haiti and our community especially. We are desperately sorry. If you can't come in Haiti again, know we will keep preciously in our mind the time we had shared in His service together.

We will not forget your music Joel Larison.

We can't forget the Leadership Camp at Villa Mamika with you Jason Lee.

Your leadership and sacrificial devotion to your team Jason Braun(that's a servant & a man).

Your courage Bruce Donaldson( you are in our prayer).

Your life changing football team Curtis Stout.

Your encouragement (it was amazing to see a smile on your face the morning after the tragedy. I see it again while I write this) very dear pastor Morgan Young.

Thanks to pastor Mark Malin who allows you to come each time.

And to all of you who had helped in a kids Camp, build the stage for crusade or had involved in any other ministry at Double Harvest, we say two words that come deeply from our heart:
Thank You and we love you.

Keep doing the good work. If we don't meet again here, nothing can prevent our sure appointment in heaven with each other and the Lord Jesus where we will rest eternally from our works.

Pastor Jean Garry Auguste

Monday, October 8, 2012

Beautiful Attitudes: Mercy (1st Congo)

Sept 7, 2012

click here for a PDF of my message text, "Mercy, Matt 5:7"
An audio version may appear here.

Not a Fan: Choosing Intimacy

Sunday at Oakbrook Church
Sept 30, 2012

click here for a PDF of my message text, "Choosing Intimacy"
Listen to it on iTunes: search "Oakbrook Podcasts"

I AM CHURCH: Sun. +2

 Sunday at Oakbrook Church
Sept 2, 2012

click here for a PDF of my message text, Sunday +2
Listen to it on iTunes: search "Oakbrook Podcasts"

Rich Week: Impacting People w/Pen & Voice

 In the last eight days I've done three talks for two churches and a manufacturing company, a book review for Tony Morgan's latest eBook and a wedding for long-time friends. I am tired, yet I am full.

What a great diversity of people I had the privilege of serving: my own cutting-edge church, a company of both blue and white collar employees, a church of 20-somethings to nonagenarians, and a family I've known for 30-some years. People who love & live for Jesus and Jesus-not-so-much people.

The great thread of the week was Jesus; He was in every writing, every talk. Maybe my favorite talk was the wedding. Getting to speak with a group that may or may not be into Jesus vibes with my soul, I'm sure because of my non-Jesus past. Many knew me in this setting who know little to nothing of a Morgan that is trying to live for Jesus. (Seriously, the stories they could tell...)

So to them, lines like these made sense: "Was it the apostle Paul or Jerry Garcia who said, 'What a long strange trip it's been?'" And, "Who would of thought that 30 years ago, hanging out around the pool at 1530 Taylor street, that today we'd be here--I'd be marrying you, and it would be legal?"

I'm glad that God gave me a sense of humor. Glad that He gave me a sense for the poignant and serious. Glad I get to blend them together so people can laugh and moments later, tear-up. I'm honored that the Holy Spirit uses a schmo like me to evoke those responses from people. I'm glad I can write and speak in ways that serve people and honor God--and even perhaps pull people closer to Him.

Who'd a thunk some thirty years ago when I thought about writing that God would give me such rich opportunities to serve people and Him? Who would've thought that the guy who was pounding margaritas and beer like a sailor around that pool on Taylor St. would be used to serve that family thirty years later? So humbling. So grateful.

Indeed Jerry--what a long strange trip it's been! And I wouldn't trade it for anything. Tired, but full.


Monday, October 1, 2012

eBook Review: "Take the Lid off Your Church"

 subtitle: 6 Steps to Building a Healthy Senior Leadership Team

One thing I love about the eBook concept is books can be concise, to the point, and practical (because printing costs don't need to be justified). Tony Morgan's latest is a great example.

His premise is a simple one: so go your senior leaders, so goes your organization. I used the word organization because I believe this book is applicable to all organizations, not just churches.

Being on the senior leadership team at Oakbrook Church, this was a sobering read. Sobering because this book is an honest reminder that time and position do not justify a seat at the leadership table. Sobering because the health and state of your organization is directly tied to its senior leadership.

Having been on a leadership team for almost a decade and a half, his lists of must do's and must not do's rang true--sometimes eerily, conjuring up our past mistakes. What mistakes could we have avoided had we read this years ago?

Like so many things in our Christian faith, the concepts Tony Morgan lays are seem clear and simple. Yet, I can tell the application and appropriation of them will be much more challenging. I loved that he included evaluative questions. I predict our team will wrestle with these in the days and weeks ahead.

I read this book with anticipation, as our church is stuck. We've been hovering around the same number for more than a few years now. It was sobering that a person who's expertise in helping churches get unstuck put so much emphasis on the make-up of the senior leadership team.

"Determining who is on your senior leadership team will shape every other decision."

I am anxious to begin the process of self-evaluating our team and optimistic about the process of it-- not because it will be easy (I'm confident it will be tough), but because this simple and clear eBook will serve as a dependable and legible road map for that journey.

If you are part of a senior leadership in your organization or church, pick this up. Who knows how many mistakes it will prevent and how much healthy leadership it may usher in.

My one bit of constructive feedback might be that it could have actually been a little longer. Yes, longer. Some real life examples here and there would have created some higher def points along the way. Still, well worth it!