Category: short devotions

Advertising Your Church

Let’s consider how to grow your church. If you run your business like we run most churches, it would probably be flat and dying. For the most part, churches count on word of mouth only to increase members. Let’s look at some ideas:

  1. Why would anyone want to come to your church? What makes it stand out different from neighboring churches? Do you have anything special to offer?
  2. Who do you want to reach – down and out sinners or easy care already saved Christians? Poor and needy souls or wealthy and giving independents?
  3. Do you really want more people or do you need more money to meet the budget?
  4. Young people, old people, children, families, bikers, hippies? Who do you want to attract?

Ok. How’s that going? Do you know who you want to reach?

Let’s look at some tag lines:

  1. “Brand new pipe organ and choir.”
  2. “Worship band. We’ll get you moving. Bring your earplugs.”
  3. “Padded Seats.”
  4. “Dynamic Children’s Ministry.”
  5. “Free Coffee.”
  6. “Hip Cafe.”
  7. “Mom’s Group and Men’s Ministry.”
  8. “Air Conditioned.’
  9. “Free Wi-fi – you can check Facebook if the sermon is boring.”
  10. “Plenty of off-street Parking.”
  11. “You can give your tithe on-line.” – you may not want to start with that one.
  12.  “Come as you are. Shorts, ripped jeans, t-shirts are welcome. Our pastor is a slob too.”
  13. “We care about appearance – Dresses and Suits required.”

Try thinking out of the box. Personally, I like the padded seats and free coffee.

Next, you will need to set a budget.

  1. Let’s say you want to spend $100,000 a year in advertising. You are hoping to get new members that make an average of $50,000 a year and that tithe faithfully.  You will need 20 new members a year to pay for the advertising. You don’t want to hurt your ministry projects so you really need to get that money flowing. It kind of cuts out the down and outers though.
  2. Will you advertise on TV? Newspaper?

Last of all. Will you hire an agent who builds a campaign or do it in house?

This is a lot to think about. How will you sell your church?

Mark 13:10
And the gospel must first be preached to all nations.
Childcup

 

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What you see

You live 5,000 years ago. You look around and see a land that is relatively flat. Yes, there are hills and valleys but from your perspective the world is flat. There would be no other reason to think differently.

Someone knocks on your door and  says, “My friend, the world is round.” You argue with him and point out the land is flat. It is obvious. No one could live on a ball.  He responds, “Stop looking at the land around you. Look at the moon. It is round. Look at the sun. It is round. If they are round then so is our world.” You shut the door in his face and walk away.

Before we had proof that the world was round, you would have had to take a huge step of faith (vision) to imagine that the world was not flat.

If you are trying to see God based on the people sitting in church, you will probably shut the door to anyone who comes knocking. If you try to see God through established religion, you will probably turn up your TV so you don’t hear them knocking.

If you want to see God for the first time, you will need to be willing to accept the idea and then take a HUGE step of faith to understand. Forget the step. You’re looking at a huge leap. When you land, you will still have a million questions. All of us do.

Let’s go back to the world. Do you totally understand gravity? Do you understand why people in the southern hemisphere don’t feel like they are upside down? Do you understand why magma is hot in the core and bubbles up sometimes? Do you want me to go on? Believing that the world is round is only the beginning. But it is the beginning.

Don’t make the mistake of slamming your door to God before you take that leap beyond what you see every day. Don’t filter Him out because you don’t understand everything. If you could fully understand God, He wouldn’t be God.

Isaiah 40:26
Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.
world fell apart

Interpreting God’s Message

Try speaking in tongues to Siri.  You won’t get very far. Siri can’t interpret tongues and most of us people can’t either. Wouldn’t it be great if you could ask Siri to translate what God wants us to do? Don’t be surprised if your friends are not any better. Look at Job. He might have been better off talking to Siri than to his friends.

Prayer is not just talking to God. We also need to decipher what He is saying. Don’t be deceived. The Bible is full of examples of deceit and misdirection. It is also full of people who claimed to speak for God when they are only speaking their demands in His name.

Look out when people loudly proclaim, “God told us to……”  I may follow that person but there better be substance behind it. In other words, they get one chance. If they are wrong once I will probably not listen again. I will also not listen if it goes off the instruction in the Bible.

Be careful out there. There are no simple answers.

1 Corinthians 14:28
If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and to God.

A Rapist in Heaven

This is a shocking idea and one that will make you realize that God’s job is above your pay scale. I picked up the idea last week in a news comment online. If you ever want to read putrid hate from people, read the online comments to any news article.

Here is the scenario: 1) A man has given his life to Jesus and has followed the guidelines for eternal salvation. 2) Same man has sexual issues (you pick it – there are plenty). 3) Same man rapes a woman. 3) Woman has no relationship with God. Has never given her life to Jesus. She doesn’t forgive the man who raped her. Hates him for the rest of her life. 4) Both man and woman die on the same day and stand at judgment together. They recognize each other. Man asks for forgiveness for what he has done. Woman refuses to forgive and spats hatred at him for what he did.

God walks up to the judgment stand. 1) The man has clearly sinned but he has confessed and repented and has given his life to Jesus. 2) The woman has not confessed or repented to anything and has not given her life to Jesus. She clearly has not forgiven the man for what he did.

Looking at this scenario strictly from Biblical outlines, the man will walk into heaven and the woman will walk into hell. True or false? If you don’t like this scenario, pick another –  How about the guards in the concentration camps during WW2? How about the settlers and the Native Americans?

My pay scale of administering justice is very far from even imagining this. How about you?

Romans 14:10
You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.
cross

 

Church Hopper or Glued on Pew?

Let’s take a test. Are you a church hopper, glued on pew (will you die in the same church you were born in?), or do you make adjustments as God or your heart leads you?

Here’s a statistic: 13 percent have been attending their current congregation for less than a year. Another 16 percent have been at their current church for one to two years, 11 percent for three to four years, 18 percent for five to nine years, 16 percent for 10 to 19 years, and 26 percent for two decades or longer.

People who are 55 or older are particularly likely to be longtime participants in the same church, with a median length of attendance of 15 years.

Lutheran and Presbyterian denominations are particularly likely to have people attending the same church for years and years; the median length of attendance among Lutherans is 12.5 years, while it is 10.6 years for Presbyterian congregations. Nondenominational churches (median of 3.9 years) and Pentecostal/charismatic denominations (median of 5.0 years) are among those with the shortest time of attendance.

https://baptistcourier.com/2007/02/church-loyalty-reflects-length-of-membership/

The definition of a church-hopper in Urban Dictionary is:  A church-hopper is an attendant of different churches who avoids church accountability groups because of rejectionembarrassment, hostility, and control.

I don’t know if that is totally true. I know people who hop just because they get bored. I do know that most of them say “God led us to another congregation”.  I don’t know why God leads some people to different congregations but I guess it’s possible.

On the other hand, I know people who were born at a church, baptized in the same church, married in the same church and they will die in the same church. Not saying there is anything wrong with that, it just makes me scratch my head at times.  If they are happy and God doesn’t lead them away then I guess they should stay.

Most of us are in the middle. We change churches when we move or get married, change in life – (for example we have children and we want a church that has better children’s ministry), our worship style changes, our church’s worship style changes, leadership changes, etc.

I don’t know if there are any right and wrong answers. I’m just curious. How many times have you changed churches? Looking back, were those changes positive or negative? Would you do them again? Were they for good reasons or bad reasons? Did you change because you were hurt? – oh! there’s a touchy one! I bet you’re angry now! It’s ok. You can vent.

Here’s a bigger question. WWJD. Would Jesus hop churches or stay in one place his whole life? Would he attend yours? Would you leave if he did? Would your elders accept him? Would he accept your elders? Would he be allowed to preach on a Sunday morning? Would he dress right? C’mon. Think about it.

Matthew 21:12
Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves.

 

Chariots of Fire

It is one of my favorite movies of all time. Imagine my thoughts as I walked out of the theater with a friend who responded, “They could have done without that nude scene.”  I had seen the movie several times and I was in shock. I said, “What nude scene?” and “That’s what you got out of this story?” When I watched it again, I purposely watched for this supposed “nude scene”.  Sure enough, in the blink of an eye, a naked man walked into the shower exposing his rear.

I took away a couple thoughts from this and they have stuck with me for many years:

  1. We see what we want to see. We can see good or evil in almost anything. What we choose to see is often buried in our own hearts.
  2. We can learn a lesson in what we experience or choose to be negative and become critical.
  3. A beautiful story can be made ugly in one second – if we let it.
  4. We simply can’t help some people to see the good.

You will face multiple issues today and the rest of your life. What you choose to see is up to you. How you choose to react is up to you. Remember that those reactions go to the root: Your heart.

There are 725 mentions of ‘heart’ in the Bible. It was hard to choose which one to post here. What is your favorite ‘heart’ verse?

Luke 5:22-23 Jesus knew what they (the Pharisees) were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts?   Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?

Death

I heard the sirens from several miles away and I knew they were coming to my house. Sirens blare every day, but when they are coming for you or a family member it is very eerie. For years I cringed when I heard sirens thinking they too were coming for my dad having another heart attack. I was only 18 at the time. 19 on the second call. I lived for another 20 years before I had the final call on dad.  Since then, I’ve had to experience the sirens several more times  – sometimes for myself and sometimes for my son. It’s an awful sound.

I’ve faced death more openly than some because of facing it at an early age. Actually, my journey started much earlier with my dad being a pastor. He talked often about death and dying with me. He shared about people fighting death and those who welcomed the next step. Some are at peace. Some aren’t. Some go quickly. Some take a long time. Some are expected. Some are a surprise.

Currently, I’m still recovering from my neighbor Tom dying suddenly. Tom taught a Bible study on a Sunday titled “You have two weeks to live, what will you do?” Exactly two weeks later, Tom died.  He laid down on his bed to take a nap and never woke up.  I found out when the sirens came down our street.

Last week our family said goodbye to our little dog, Sammie. She was 14 and we knew that she was going. We held her as she took her last breath. I buried her in the morning under a tree. Death is a part of living but it sure isn’t the fun part. We live by faith for a new life and home. None of us know the time or circumstance when we will go. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could know we had two weeks left?

What would you do? Who would you see? Where would you go? What is left on your bucket list that needs to be done? Are you ready to go? Is your house in order?

Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
tree

Page 300

Pick up a thriller novel or watch a thriller movie. In most, the hero and villain are developed throughout the first 300 pages and the suspense builds. Around page 300 the hero realizes who the villain is, and alas the villain takes the hero captive.  This is where fiction and real life begin to separate.

In real life, the villain pulls a weapon and immediately kills the hero. In fiction the villain takes the hero hostage and develops a ‘mousetrap’ game of slow death – a good one I remember as a kid – the hero hanging upside down over a boiling pot of oil while a candle slowly burns the rope overhead.  While the suspense of this is happening, the villain runs off and leaves the hero unattended to fall into the boiling vat. But… just before the last thread of the rope is burned the hero finds escape! The hero is energized by this miraculous rescue, pursues the villain and eliminates him.

The question always comes to my mind: Why? Why would a villain risk all of his plans when he had the hero at his mercy and could have walked away to destroy the earth or steal 500 billion dollars? The short answer is he wouldn’t.  But if that happened there would be no book or movie.

In real life, there are no mysterious mousetraps. We are taken out or we take out. We don’t waste time and risk defeat to come up with a glorious plot to end our nemesis.  There are rarely heroes that come to the rescue at the last minute. Look at a different venue, when was the last time you saw a community come to the rescue of someone accused of robbing the savings and loan as they do in “It’s a Wonderful Life”? Nice story but doubtful no matter how nice the banker is. The community would sit at home and talk about switching to another bank.

We hope for heroes. We hope for salvation. We hope for a young David to come out and kill Goliath.

The Hebrews were hoping for that with Jesus. They were hoping for a hero. They were hoping for a miraculous turn of events just as the last thread of rope was about to burn. People bet on it. Judas lost his life betting on the hero saga. Peter cut off a guards ear. Women and men cried. Their hopes were shattered. What went wrong?

I said that in real life the book or movie wouldn’t be written if the hero died. This was one case where the book (and movie) were still written even though the hero died. The Hebrews didn’t get the salvation that they wanted but a few pages after pages 300 we all learn that we received the salvation that we needed. That’s why the book was written and the movie continues. Read the book until the end and see how it all ends!

Matthew 28:The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.

cross

Person of the Year 2017

If an alien came to earth right now and settled in America it may think that all men are abusers, cheaters, demanders of personal rights and refusing to stand for the national anthem.  What happened to the greatest generation that fought for our freedom, worked hard, paid taxes and lived a life of honor?

Understand that no person yet alone generation is perfect. I’m sure women were abused in other generations. We just didn’t hear about it. I’m also sure that citizens have criticized the government and it’s leaders as well.

But…it seems like we are missing something and I picked a person this year to remind us of those long ago values.

Ray Chavez. You probably don’t know the name. He didn’t make billions of dollars with an internet invention. He didn’t get rich in real estate and become President. He isn’t an illegal immigrant or a mass murderer. He never created a protest group to fight against unjust laws. He doesn’t play football or participate in the Olympics.

Ray was born in San Bernardino and grew up in San Diego. His parents, immigrants from Mexico, both died young. Juanita Chavez died of exhaustion, her son said, while Atilano Chavez succumbed to disease.  Ray was 9 or 10 when his father passed away. In his early 20s, he married and had a daughter. Then, at 27, he joined the Navy and was assigned to the minesweeper USS Condor at Pearl Harbor base in Hawaii.

After leaving the military he became a landscaper and ran his business until he was 96 years old.  He drove his car until he was 99.  At 106 he credits his longevity to clean living, no alcohol, no smoking and little red meat. In the 1950’s his only daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter were killed in an auto accident. He and his wife adopted a 5-year-old daughter from an orphanage in 1957 to help ease their pain. His wife Margaret died in the mid-1980’s.

At age 101 his health began to decline and he lost weight. His daughter encouraged him to join a gym and get some training. He gained 20 pounds of muscle and began working out 3 times a week.

I skipped over the reason Ray caught my attention. He is the oldest surviving serviceman from the attack at Pearl Harbor. 

At 3:45 a.m. Dec. 7, 1941, Seaman First Class Chavez’s crew was sweeping the east entrance to the harbor when they spotted the periscope of a Japanese midget submarine. Another ship blew up the sub and the rest of the morning passed uneventfully. He was asleep at home in nearby Ewa Beach when the Japanese bombing raid began at 8:10 a.m.

“I will never forget it as long as I live. It goes through my mind every day like it happened yesterday,” Chavez said. “My wife ran in and said ‘we’re being attacked’ and I said ‘who’s going to attack us? Nobody.’ But when I got outside I saw the whole harbor was up in smoke.”

Chavez ran back to his ship and spent the next nine days on continuous duty. Over the next four years, he rose to the rank of chief, serving on transport ships that delivered tanks and Marines to shore in eight Pacific battles.

Last December, he and Kathleen flew to Hawaii for events marking the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

 

 

“I have no secret except I don’t drink, I don’t smoke and I try to eat a balanced meal,” Chavez said. “I just keep on going.”
That’s a great motto from someone who can testify to it – just keep on going.

1 Samuel 25:6 Say to him: ‘Long life to you! Good healthto you and your household! And good health to all that is yours!

Credits:

Crazy Presidents

President Trump came under consideration as my Person of the Year. While under consideration I decided to look up some other “extreme” Presidents. I wonder what they would have tweeted while in office.

Grover Cleveland became the guardian of a girl when she was 11. He then married her when she turned 21 and she became the youngest first lady in history.

Andrew Johnson was stone drunk and passed out at his inauguration.

John Quincy Adams skinny dipped and swam the Potomac river nude every morning. A female reporter wanted to interview him and sat on his clothes until he talked to her.

Herbert Hoover permitted his son to keep 2 alligators in the White House as pets. The would crawl around the grounds and terrify everyone.

Grover Cleveland avoided military service by paying a Polish immigrant $1,500 to take his place.

Thomas Jefferson crippled his hand jumping a fence to meet his (married) girlfriend Maria Cosway.  Yes, he was married too.

Calvin Coolidge hat 2 pet lions, a pet raccoon and a pygmy hippopotamus named Billy.

James Buchanan was nearsighted in one eye and farsighted in the other. To compensate for this visual weakness, he would constantly open and close one eye at a time, depending on whether he needed to see close or far. He would also cock his head on an angle to compensate for his strange ocular condition.

Lyndon Johnson was very well-endowed and was not averse to proudly proving it now and then, often displaying his manhood to unsuspecting female journalists. Johnson was especially fond of whipping out his manhood, which he’d dubbed “Jumbo,” in mixed company.

John Adams started smoking when he was 8 years old.

Harry S Truman would get up at 5AM so he could practice the piano for two hours.

Dwight D. Eisenhower hated cats and enjoyed shooting any that came near his house. He also had squirrels trapped at the White House and re-located because they buried nuts in the yard.

The song “Hail to the Chief” was written specifically for James Madison. Because he was so small, no one ever noticed him when entered the room.

Calvin Coolidge loved having his head rubbed with Vaseline while he ate his breakfast in bed.

Ulysses S. Grant changed his name from Hiram Ulysses Grant because he hated the initials “H.U.G.” He hated music- all music. He also evicted Jews from certain parts of the country because he believed they were running a black market for cotton between the north and south.

Benjamin Harrison was the first president to have electric lights in the White House, but he was terrified of turning them on himself. He had servants turn on the switches because he was afraid of electrocution.

James K. Polk was plagued by diarrhea all through his one term as president. He finally died of what he called “a derangement of the stomach bowels.”

William McKinley‘s wife was an epileptic. He would sometimes cover her contorted face with a handkerchief during formal dinner parties.

Martin Van Buren liked betting money on the outcome of elections.

Ronald Reagan once broke his leg in six different places when he ran into first base during a celebrity baseball game.

Woodrow Wilson was a gifted mimic and loved to tell racist jokes. He also liked to imitate drunks.

John F. Kennedy confided with friends that he could only be satisfied with three women a day.”  JFK’s sexual conquests allegedly include Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Jayne Mansfield, Angie Dickinson, Brazilian actress Florinda Bolkan, famous burlesque stripper, and rap name pioneer Blaze Starr. Jack could be shameless in his sexuality, simply pull girls’ dresses up and so forth. He would corner them at White House dinner parties and ask them to step into the next room away from the noise, where they could hold a ‘serious discussion.'”

George Washington opened a distillery at Mount Vernon.  It produced 11,000 gallons of whiskey in 1799 more than any other distillery in the U.S.  He also ran up a pretty big bar tab at City Tavern in Philadelphia.

William Taft, our largest president, once got stuck in a bathtub and had to be pryed out by four men and the aid of a pound of butter.

I take no credit for these and do not guarantee their accuracy!  Sources:

Read More: http://www.grunge.com/11730/u-s-presidents-pretty-weird-people/?utm_campaign=clip

Read More: http://www.grunge.com/11730/u-s-presidents-pretty-weird-people/?utm_campaign=clip

Read More: http://www.grunge.com/11730/u-s-presidents-pretty-weird-people/?utm_campaign=clip

Read More: http://www.grunge.com/11730/u-s-presidents-pretty-weird-people/?utm_campaign=clip

http://www.collegehumor.com/post/7035613/8-presidents-way-crazier-than-trump

http://www.neatorama.com/2016/11/03/Our-Wild-and-Crazy-US-Presidents/

http://www.neatorama.com/2015/04/08/Those-Wacky-US-Presidents/

http://www.grunge.com/11730/u-s-presidents-pretty-weird-people/

https://listverse.com/2014/06/30/10-strange-things-us-presidents-have-done/

Romans 13 

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority?
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