Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sunday Night Reflections (The Week After...)

It was so good to see a LOT of fresh faces in church this morning... After last week, I kind of wondered if there would be anybody that would come back. Before services, I was able to walk around and greet several people that I didn't recognize. All of them were so positive about coming back to church. That was encouraging!

Something that you may not realize is that the service that we did this morning was the service that was PLANNED for last week. Reggie and I consider that a God thing because we had several conversations about service elements leading up to Back to Church Sunday. We wanted that day to be WAY good. As plans were made, we felt like it was going to be really effective. However, Reggie and I had several conversations about the week AFTER Back to Church Sunday (yesterday) and Reggie wasn't really thrilled with what he had planned.

That's one of those weird things in ministry. You make plans, but you realize that God holds the final say. I talked a little about this this morning. You can't do what we do without planning. Choir, Orchestra, Soloists, Tech just won't come together if there's not a system in place. HOWEVER, we also live in the spiritual side of things where we realize that sometimes our plans don't happen the way we had them planned. To put it simply, we make plans for what's going to happen KNOWING that God may change those plans.

For example, the last two weeks. We made plans for last week. Those plans did NOT include the lights going out!! (God changed OUR plans). We had also made plans for this week (even though we weren't thrilled with them.) God changed OUR plans and we were able to shift our plans for last week (which we were excited about) to this week (which we were not excited about.)

I said before that's one of those weird things in MINISTRY, but it's not just relegated to ministry. NO...this is a truth in life as well. How many times have we had our plans made for God to throw a roadblock in the way and suddenly our plans change? In those moments, we usually shake our fist at God and say, "I can't believe you're not going along with my plans." However, when we look back on our life, we realize that those "changed" plans are what got us to where we need to be today.

I don't think that's an argument for being lazy. I believe that God calls us to plan, but then He requests that we constantly submit those plans to him for HIS WILL to be done.

Proverbs 16:9--In his heart, a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.

GREAT advice from the wisdom book! I can be guilty of making plans and then asking God to bless my plans. I don't think that's how it works. I make plans and then submit them to God for review and revision. He has the right to scrap everything I've done. I have the responsibility to follow His plans regardless of my own!!

What about you? Do you struggle with allowing God to be the "determiner of your steps"? When you make plans, do you expect God to just "rubber stamp" your plans because you're so good at planning?

Sunday was a great day...I look forward to what God has in store for next week!!!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sunday Night Reflections (September 16, 2012--Back to Church Sunday)

That's how my day started this morning!! "Big boom, we just lost power. No, I'm not kidding!!!" Wow. Our church has been preparing for Back to Church Sunday for a MONTH. We had prayed, taught, inspired, encouraged, and instructed our church about inviting people to church TODAY. And THIS is how our day started.

I had made up in my mind that "Sunday Night Reflections" would be a good blog post. I had decided to start on this day, but as it happened, I couldn't think of a better day to give you my perspective on our services. So...consider this a pastor's perspective of the Sunday when the lights went out at Stetson Baptist Church (insert Reba McIntyre song)

Honestly, when I got the text from Reggie, I figured this would be just another of those momentary hiccups that most church staff members are used to. i can't tell you the times that we've been moments from a service and power goes out, sound system freaks, etc. It's always been a momentary hiccup...until today.

When i got to the church, I walked all the way to the Worship Center FULLY expecting that the power would be on. It was NOT. I found John, our maintenance supervisor. He said that it was going to be about two hours. If you know John, then you know that he is a big prankster. He loves to "mess" with people. I thought he was messing with me. I realized quickly he was very serious. I walked out to the Progress Energy truck. They affirmed John's message. Suddenly, I realized that we would be doing AT LEAST one service without power. OUCH!!!

I walked back through the Worship Center. It was really dark, but people were starting to gather in the room. It was about 8:50. 10 minutes...TEN minutes. What were we supposed to do? Send everyone home? Combine Sunday School classes then try to combine services and hope the power was on? Scrap the whole thing? What do we do??? Reggie and I had a quick staff meeting. I asked him what he thought we should do. "I don't know." He asked me what I thought we should do. "I don't know." This is not the kind of stuff that they teach you in Seminary. Here we have two very sharp minds that have a great deal of ministry experience, but I can tell you that neither of us have ever been HERE!!

Somebody had to make a call. I told Reggie that we would sing a couple of familiar worship songs and then I would preach for a few minutes. I suggested a couple of songs. He took it from there. He went to meet with our pianist, and I went to tell the church our plans.

As I entered the Worship Center again, it seemed even darker. I didn't know how that was possible, but it did seem like the light had gotten even dimmer. I stood before the congregation and told them that we were going to have a service. They seemed genuinely pleased! I told them that we believed that God had a divine reason for everyone that was there and we weren't going to deny that reason. It was time to have church!!

After I got through talking to the church, a well meaning and very intelligent church member came up and told me that he felt the light was inadequate for keeping people in the room. He was RIGHT!! It was too dark to keep that number of people in there safely. What if something happened and we had to exit quickly? It was a bad situation. I asked that church member to give us a few minutes. I was praying for something miraculous to happen. Another church member had gone to get flashlights, but that probably wouldn't be enough.

Suddenly a light came on. Yes...light. I was so hopeful! wasn't light like we were used to, but it was one of our spotlights. Apparently, our sound technician had begun running extension cords from an adjacent building that DID have power. He had found a way to plug in two of our spotlights. THEN, he had the bright idea of plugging in a third and aiming it at the ceiling. That gave us enough light to make the room safe. was time to have church!!!

I opened in prayer and asked people to be understanding. They were more than that. They were encouraged!!! We sang. We prayed. We worshipped. We preached. GOD moved!!! It was a service like I have never been a part of! God blew our socks off!!! I was so glad to be a part of such a wonderful service!

I made a mistake this morning. I said that there was no power in the Worship Center. There WAS POWER in the Worship Center. It just didn't come from Progress Energy. It came from a completely different source!! I'll go out on a limb and say if we could tap into THAT power more often...this world would be a different place!!

Here's a little taste of worship from this morning. It was AWESOME!!!

Oh yeah...AND we got to end the day by announcing Jon Robinson as candidate for the Student Pastor position at Stetson Baptist Church. We are SO excited to have Jon and Jessica joining our team. God has done so many great things through Jon during interim. We know that God has some exciting plans for our Student Ministry under Jon's leadership going forward!! Here's the announcement flyer. I hope you'll take a chance to attend one of these opportunities to get to know Jon and Jessica a little better.
It was a GREAT day. As I said before. Not a day that I'll soon forget. I believe that what happened at Stetson Baptist Church today is what was supposed to happen. I'm glad that I got to be a part of such a special day of worship. I hope that the people that came today will come back next week to see what's in store. One thing I can say for don't want to miss church because you NEVER know what's going to happen!!!