Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I was pleased to get another text message last night that someone (from area code 707) was listening to the sermon from Sunday morning.

Click here for the audio message.

I had a great conversation over the brush pile yesterday. Two men had the day off and were both helping get the grounds prepared for visitors. The parking lot was being freshly-striped as well. We shared stories of where we had come from.

I am being challenged to go further with the cul-de-sac where these guys both live!

Here's a bit of this morning's chat with my son, Joe.

me: good morning

joseph: hey papa

me: how's my boy-man?

joseph: great

me: good to hear
hey, your testimony Sunday night was thought-provoking
I am pleased that you pointed to 'the songs' as vital to the present-day working out of one's testimony

joseph: That is one of the ways that the Holy Spirit uses to help us pray.
and to teach us the scripture
and to meditate and pray without ceasing
the music can penetrate the mind differently than a sermon. It catches us off guard and is comforting.

me: yup
I'm reading a copy of "The Shack" that a member of our church gave to me on Sunday.
and read some from those who warn people not to read it.
but since I heard people talking about it since last summer--and that this particular member is being so moved by it, I felt it is important to read it.

I'm nearly halfway through it.

Of course, my way of reading...I had already sampled a few pages at different sections (including the end) before I could get into it
Here's a USA TODAY article that speaks about the author's peculiar testimony and the birth of this book.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Today, I preached a message entitled
"Holy Co-Incidence" from one of my favorite stories in the New Testament. We worked through the entire tenth chapter of Acts.

As illustrative material, I shared about my old buddy, Doug, pictured above on the right. I hope to get the message uploaded later tonight or tomorrow.

I have already received 14 text messages as a result of mentioning my phone number in the sermon:

(530) 366-2924

I have never before sent a text message but I think I will have to learn how now!

Click here for the audio message.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Cathy and I met with Barry Friesen for a couple hours on Friday afternoon for a walking video-tour of 'what-needs-to-be-done' around the grounds at Bell Road.

We covered spraying, fertilizing, pruning, weeding, pests, long-term and short-term vision.

All very spiritual as well as practical.

We plan to publish an in-house DVD for those who are called by God to serve in the groundskeeping ministry during the years ahead. Barry has done this as a freewill offering and as personal worship for several years.

We're supposed to have a small group of people gathering to do some churchyard preparation looking toward Easter at Bell Road.

Friday, March 27, 2009

For me, this day started around 4:45; rather than drive to the Newcastle Exit for morning prayer, I called in...
The 3-way prayer-conversation with my deacon-friend was quite helpful as we rehearsed Acts 10 and Nehemiah 6-7.

Yesterday, I added the soundbites-theme to the front end of my last sermon.

I also prepared Pastor Matt's message and posted it last night.

Tonight, our local church choir is joining forces with the Choir at Cool Community Church. That should be a rewarding investment of this Friday evening.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I just returned from a seven-day trip to Michigan. I had received news that my father had been hospitalized. He was released the same day I arrived. I spent every day with him.

Having forgotten to pack a Bible, I looked on a bookshelf for one to take with me on a walk. I located a red, pocket-sized Gideons Bible (New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs). My name, in my handwriting, is written on the presentation page. It is circa 1967. I don't remember how I obtained that Bible but I am pleased to have it as a present-day pocket sword!

My family met together at a restaurant and we were blessed to have Jamie Bailey share the meal with us. Jamie wondered about a recording session we had done a couple years ago. I sent him this link which documented the songs upon which he had played.

Later that night I received the phone number of an old friend, Doug Mott, who lives in Florida. I hadn't seen or talked to him for ten years. When I called him, he was profoundly touched because, get this, he had just been to a church service...and as the preacher was sharing God's Word, he thought about our shared days of youth. During the sermon, Doug decided that he was going to go home and relocate me on the Internet. I ran back down to the Library parking lot (where they have wireless) and chatted with him online. We shared a couple links back and forth.

From a note Doug sent the next day:

"...This how I interpret God, when that happens someone out of the blue comes to mind--the Holy Spirit is telling me to pray for them. They are in hard times or need to hear the good news. So as I was reminiscing of you I was praying, thinking "I am going to hunt Rob down", and out
of heaven came a phone call from you."

This type of co-incidence somewhat reminds me of situations detailed in a controversial book given to me by some friends called 'The Heavenly Man'. It was personalized for me before my trip to Michigan with these words:

   "Enjoy and Be Inspired!"

The book documents the imprisonments and torture(s) of Brother Yun (a Chinese Christian) during the eighties and nineties. The book tells many stories of God's intervention in desperate circumstances.

My recent interaction with Doug reminded me that the Holy Spirit is actively engaged with those whose hearts and minds are consciously set upon the things above.

I had told Cathy that it was hard for me to fully let go and enjoy the book because of the trust factor. Mike Warnke's story had been been widely-believed by many. Then, a journalist at Cornerstone magazine exposed his testimonies as being fabrications. Still, I had heard so many great devotionals by Brother Yun (and translator, Paul Hattaway) in our prayer meetings that I consciously remained open to the stories written in this book.

Especially interesting was 'a new kind of persecution' on pages 306-307 where he tells of being accused of fabrications.

Here's a link that describes the controversy surrounding Brother Yun and his testimony. Here is an open letter by Paul Hattaway describing the accusations made against the testimony published in the book: click here

The dramatic personal stories in "The Heavenly Man" are interwoven with Old and New Testament passages about tribulations and trustful sufferings with Christ.

The passages from God's Word were inspiring to me regardless of the validity of the stories to which they are attached.

On a more personal note: I am hungry for fresh manna!

Mary, Daniel, Cathy and I had a family meeting and devotional built around Proverbs 18. It was a blessing to let God's Word bring wisdom into the day-to-day of our current home life.

Monday, March 15, 2009

Late last night one of our Seniors sent me an email. Since 'words of affirmation' is the number one factor for this love-tank, I'm off to a great start on a drizzly Monday morning. Here's an excerpt from the much-welcomed email:

Hi, Pastor Rob:

We will start back to Sunday Night meetings when the weather warms up a bit. The way it is now makes our bones hurt.

I want to tell you that in all of my 81 years I have heard probably 160 sermons on tithing and I have never heard one better than the one I heard today. You dared to mention the T-word. You dared to tell us in God's words what we need to do. It was an interesting and very clear sermon. I hope everyone responded as I did.

I almost wished I didn't already tithe so I could start. The video was A +100. Thank you for being God's person for Bell Road Baptist Church!!!

Last night, Jonathan introduced a new song that he wrote during the family's vacation. He's a promising songwriter.

Today, I'll get yesterday's tithing sermon uploaded. I noticed that all but two boxes of offering envelopes had been picked up--that's a good sign.

Here is a link to the video that is referenced above. If you have an iPod you can download it from the link below.

...or just click below to watch it on your computer:

Giving Regularly

Sunday, March 14, 2009

Here is the video I am showing as part of this morning's message:

Giving Regularly

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Last night I uploaded this message.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

We shared the Lord's Supper this morning. It was a very special day of celebration. Here is a 6 minute clip that features yesterday's joint ministry on the grounds at Bell Road.

I'll upload the message sometime tomorrow.

INTRO: In the Body of Christ, we need to have a few
               people who will shake it up a little bit
               because there might be something more
               than the status quo that God has for us.

                      I don't mind shaking your tree
                          to see if any fruit is gonna fall.

               You, me, all of us...
               We are to do the work of the ministry.

Last night's worship service went well. Our daughter-in-law, Sharon, blessed us with a testimony of her development in discipleship. I shared passages from 2 Corinthians 3-7 which have enhanced my understanding of 'the ministry' God we have in Christ Jesus. I may experiment with a 'remix' of those devotional thoughts if I find some free time.

I'm scheduled to visit with one of our seniors today for the purpose of filming the fruit of her uniquely poetic ministry.

I humbly pray that the Lord will direct my steps. I pray for a useable camera angle and adequate lighting.

We have a Leadership Council meeting tonight at 6:30pm. I pray that the Spirit will have His way among us.