Friday, February 25, 2011

Doing the Right Thing

A lot has been made of the story of the Overland Park man who returned the money he accidentally got (instead of his food order) at the KFC over on 119th Street and Metcalf.

It's just the right thing to do to return it.

Here's a story I haven't told too many people. I was tootling down ___ street ready to make that turn onto N___ when I saw one of those aluminum clipboards in the street. At first, I drove by it, but then I stopped and turned around to pick it up. It turned out to be a Time Warner cable guy's clipboard.

It had forms filled out with names and such, checks for payments and CASH money in it.

Oh, boy.

Where could I take it? To the police station? Too complicated. Time Warner had little offices then--places where you could order cable and pay your bills. Where was the nearest one? My brain whirred. (No BlackBerry then.) It came to me: Grandview, in the Grandview Plaza, near the little bar and the Chinese place that used to be there.

So I took it there. And they were amazed. Seriously amazed. They offered me three months of cable for returning it. I turned them down, since then, as now, I have peasant vision only.

It's just the right thing to do.

Friday, February 18, 2011

We Cry Out

We need Your mercies, O God...

I love the building intensity of this song...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Foreign Policy Debate

I was deeply troubled by another encounter with Victor--this time over foreign policy.

This world is so big and complicated, I don't know how those who really can influence the situations therein can make the decisions they make.

I got upset with him because all he wanted to do was list out what America had done wrong all these years. When I called him on it, he took it as a personal attack.

He backed off after I refused to press him--revealing that he questioned the DeVry prof who had introduced him to the concepts he was sharing with me the same way: "Do you hate America?"

He tried to lord it over me that he was from elsewhere and had traveled and "knew Muslims".

I did not deal perfectly with him--I got profane and loud--but I think in the end, we agree more than disagree.

I think that the world over the next 50 years is not going to have an empire or a dominant power as it has had so many times over the years.

I also think that until nations and peoples loose their grip on the past--holding onto past wrongs both large and small, that really good problem solving will never happen. It drags in crap that does not help with the current problem at hand.

I'll take some time away from the McD's at Holmes and Minor, then figure out what to do with my relationship with Victor.

Our God...

...needs no real introduction!

Only You Can Save

It's not theologically perfect, but our understanding of the interplay between God's Spirit and our will is not perfect either! However, the role of witness and willing sidekick to God and His work has been placed squarely in our hands...for better or worse.

Everlasting God

I believe this is one of the first songs I sung after I joined the contemporary choir...

Very Spring-y today...I worked on the front door--I can now open it about 2 or 3 inches more than before!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Few Random Thoughts on a Sunday...

Jeremiah was given an almost impossible task: prophesy about disaster. Like Pastor Adam said, he probably went home and had nightmares, if he could sleep at all.

What a visual! The pastor had good water and drainage water today to illustrate the difference between living water and cistern water. In addition, the cups he poured the water in--the one the drainage water went into had holes in it. So when all was said and done, when he had the two cups one was almost full of clear clean water and one had about an inch of nasty melted snow water from the parking lot. (I think I need a still from the video!)

Yes, we can make idols of good things like the church itself, or of the preacher! Bold to say that from the pulpit of a 18,000 member megachurch that you founded.

Made me think of College Church, which survived the loss of Paul Cunningham. It's not the same church as when he was pastor, but it's still there and still proclaiming that Jesus Christ changes lives.

Shared the College Church of the Nazarene Wind Rule with someone. They concurred. Could change the name I suppose, but it was Pastor Richard Neiderhiser who imparted this priceless bit of wisdom to me while we walked to College Church for the very first Kansas City District event that I went to after moving here. That makes it important to remember where it came from.

The Rule: "It is always windy here, no matter what it's like at home. Plan accordingly."

Saturday, February 5, 2011

10 Steps out of Homelessness

You could easily use this list of 10 steps to solve lots of life's problems, not just being homeless.

1. You are special.
2. Overcome barriers
3. Be realistic.
4. Take Responsibility.
5. Pay your debts.
6. Value relationship.
7. Don't do it alone.
8. Always have hope.
9. Personal renewal.
10. A lifelong journey.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Megachurch Troubles

Jerry Johnston's church, First Family Church, is being foreclosed on. Links for your reading pleasure: Good information and lots of snarky comments from atheists in the comment section.

and copied from their website, their reply to the situation (they declined to talk to the Kansas City Star.

As the Board of Elders informed FFC membership in March 2010, Regions Bank unexpectedly called the church's mortgage demanding full payment within 30 days; terms which were financially impossible for the Church to comply with. Regretfully, since that time despite our sincere and on-going efforts to work with Regions in finding a long term solution which insured our full repayment of all debt owed, on January 26, 2011, Regions filed a foreclosure notice against First Family Church in Johnson County, KS. Since its occurrence, your church leadership, pastors, elders, deacons, and ministry leaders have been praying and in a spirit of unity. We are confident to resolve this situation while all ministries and worship services continue as scheduled on our campus. This is happening to churches across the country according to the Wall Street Journal, 1/24/11 - another reality of our country's economic crisis.

  • FFC remains proactive with the lender in working out a successful financial debt restructuring that will bridge the challenges of the current situation.

  • The bank filing was something the Church was expecting, as it is standard Administrative Process required of lenders while working to restructure the debt.

  • FFC has demonstrated by internal financial management that it has the capacity to enter into a restructuring with Regions that will repay this debt in full. We are confident that a resolution will be accomplished.
  • This development toward First Family Church by Regions is consistent with the Bank's actions since they accelerated the mortgage maturity from 30 years to 5 years recently forcing this situation even whileFirst Family Church was current in its obligations. We recognize banks today are under immense pressure by federal regulators. These are uncertain economic times.

  • While FFC continues negotiations with Regions Bank, the mission, ministries, worship services, and Conquest Initiatives will continue without interruption on our campus. We will resolve this matter to the satisfaction of the bank and First Family Church.

  • Please continue to pray and rest assured your Elder Board is working diligently to resolve this matter. Church members are encouraged to contact the Elders and Chief Financial Officer of First Family Church at the church office with any questions.

  • We look forward to seeing you on Sundays @ 9:00 & 10:45a.m. for regular worship services as well as on Wednesdays @ 6:30p.m. at the new "Christian Thinkers Society" in our worship campus facility. Thank you so very much for your continued prayers.
Now, they've had troubles before with money. This is not the first time the local paper has gotten after them. There is a lot here that I don't understand and also a lot here that demonstrates that Christian churches have to be very transparent with the money. (Being smart with it is good too, but sometimes I think transparency and integrity are more important than saving or making money smartly.)

Christians are not perfect and they will make mistakes. However, you cannot set yourself up for a fall in this type of fashion. Two more things and I'm done.

The previous problems Jerry Johnston had with money accountability:

A fine couple of comments from the Star article.
It is unfortunate that some very good people that are on staff at First Family could possibly lose their jobs. I don't wish that on anyone in this economy. I am a member of this church and have from the beginning wished that finances weren't so secretive and that there was more oversight from the members. I think that Jerry Johnston is an excellent preacher when it comes to sermons and is well-versed in the Bible; though he is severely lacking in people skills and knowing how to keep the members the church does have. I have had much support from one minister (not Jerry) when I needed it most and I am grateful for his love, support, prayers, and concern. Jerry Johnston could take some lessons from some of his other ministers on how to be a pastor to the membership. The initiation of quarterly business meetings with an actual vote from the membership on expenditures would be a good start for this church. I have attended Baptist churches my entire life and all finances were published right down to how much the pastor made, including his housing allowance. Also, the Board of Deacons were the main control on finances for the church along with voting approval from the members. Projects seem to get announced in this church as the next "big" thing and then months go by and nothing happens. Then something new is given the hype and the previous "big" thing is never discussed. I hope the church can get it's finances in order because we need to worship and praise God, and now more than ever we need to rely on God in these terrible times. Praise the Lord, keep the faith, and God bless our Military!!!

and this in reply by another reader:

You described Jerry's slight of hand perfectly. He always has his congregation excited about something that is coming up. When he brings up the next exciting event, people forget that the last one didn't happen.

The lack of financial accountability at FFC was brought front and center in March 2007. It's too bad a lesson wasn't learned. I believe the doors would have stopped revolving and the church would be healthy spiritually and financially if Jerry was forthright and honest with the congregation. But, Jerry is not going to do that. Anyone thinking members of the congregation should have a say in financial matters will hear from Jerry that their vote is whether their feet walk in the doors of FFC or not

The message? A double edged one:
God's followers must be gentle, yet wise. They must be transparent. They must avoid being fake. They must accept accountability. They should err on the side of thinking small in the stuff of the world. (I've asked myself sometimes, even in the 125 member churches I've been a part of if the church building is such a good idea...)
The second thing: The only thing that is completely perfect in Christian faith is God Himself. His followers? Not so much. And those who are arguing with God and are running from Him will use God's followers imperfections as reasons to reject faith. It happens. Remember who actually convicts and saves. We are witnesses and ambassadors, not the ones who bring the power of God for forgiveness and love.

In the meantime, we--still!--need to live remembering that our witness may be the only "Bible" nonbelievers read!