Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Lent: Assist in setting up the worship service

About two months into my new-found relationship with God, I arrived early to the New Testament Church in Tampa, Florida and found the pastor, Rev. Charles Strickland, vacuuming the church. My entrance to ministry
was as simple as volunteering to vacuum before the Sunday evening service. This released the pastor to pray and become more prepared for the service
to come. 

It is easy to become active in any congregation if you don't mind serving. It was also a very happy and fulfilling time. I discovered you can pray while vacuuming and took this discipline to work with me. At that time I was the lead custodian of a 60,000 sq. ft. building and my specialty was floors. I was "forced", or "blessed" to have to pay my own way to higher education, and my job became not only a mission field, but also an opportunity to pray.

Lent activity:
Volunteer to assist in setting up for worship service.

Your partner in sharing the gospel,

Monday, March 30, 2015

Lent: Assist in preparing communion in your community of faith

Yesterday was Palm Sunday. This is the holiest of all weeks. How will you remember the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus? More importantly, how will a first time guest remember the way your congregation remembers Jesus?  

Our church has an open communion policy and offers the preparation of communion to volunteers. (Not every church does.) Most likely Holy Communion will be served sometime this week. Depending on a church tradition, either on Easter Sunday, Maundy Thursday or on Good Friday, Holy Communion most likely will be served "in remembrance" of the life, death, resurrection, ascension and soon coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Lent activity:

Volunteer to assist in preparing communion, taking time to pray for the elements to bring the congregation into remembrance of the body and blood of Jesus.
Your partner in sharing the gospel,

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Lent: Assist the Hospitality Team

palm sunday

Blessed Palm Sunday to all!

Coffee, conversation and community form a trinity. It is as much a part of our culture as anything. Something about sharing good coffee and delicious treats creates a hospitable atmosphere for any congregation. A church family can be inhospitable, and not be aware of it. Palm Sunday is today; consider being a part of the hospitality team in your congregation.

Lent activity:

Volunteer to assist the hospitality team at your church.

Your partner in sharing the gospel,

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Lent: Assist the Hospitality Team in your congregation.

I will never forget the advice my father gave me as he drove my brother and me to our first real dance.  (I was in the 7th grade and there would be 12th grade girls at the dance.)  He said, "Son, you MUST dance with every girl at the dance tonight.  The shy ones, the outgoing ones, the pretty ones, the older ones, especially the ones who seem to be nervous."

At that stage in my life, I wasn't rebelling and had a marvelous time as a 7th grader asking to dance with the wide range of girls at the dance.  I was on a mission, and it was good to be able to report back in that, indeed, I did fulfill the mission.

I learned something valuable.  Everyone is shy, nervous, uncertain, and some are painfully so.  My dad was teaching me to be hospitable to everyone, even the ones who were much older than I was, and were the very popular upper-grade girls.  In the process I also learned that the very shy are often overlooked and passed up simply because they were introverts.

When someone visits a church, they need someone who will be hospitable to them, and be treated the same no matter their outward appearance.  One of the most valuable ministry teams in a congregation are those first responders to a guest. 

Lent activity:

Volunteer to assist the hospitality team at your church.
Your partner in sharing the gospel,

Friday, March 27, 2015

Lent: Welcome Guests

The most important attendee at any congregational gathering is a guest. Another way to say it is 'the most vulnerable.' The first visit is very difficult for anyone, so why not serve your church by making it LESS difficult for a first time guest. 

Lent activity:

Volunteer to assist the parking lot attendants, ushers and/or greeters for a service. Optional activity: While on Spring Break or vacation, visit another congregation and feel what it is like to be a first time guest. Bring your learning experience back home, and partner with your own congregation to make your guests FEEL more welcomed.

Your partner in sharing the gospel,

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Lent: Go to a networking event in your community as a representative of your community of faith.

There was an Assemblies of God congregation in the town I grew up in, but I did not know about it. No one in that congregation ever introduced him or herself to me or invited me to church. I would be two years out of high school before knowing there was such a thing as an Assemblies of God church. 

Every week there are networking opportunities within every community. Why not encourage your pastor to do less administration and more networking.  Better yet, why not assist him/her in this most important ministry. 

Lent activity:

Volunteer to go with your pastor to a networking event and meet the community as a representative of the congregation.  

Your partner in sharing the gospel,

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Church children can be unpredictable, chaotic, perfect angels, worship deeply, all in a space of a few minutes.  Anyone involved in children's ministry will be emotionally spent after a few hours of ministry.  I had lunch with a guest this past Sunday, and together with my wife, five-year-old granddaughter and her four-year-old daughter, we attempted to connect in deep conversation.  We were mostly successful, but the 4 and 5 year old were done before we were, and it required more energy than normal to deal with it.  I was tired afterwards.

Lent activity:

Volunteer to assist a Children's Ministry leader. Optional activity:  Do something special for someone in children's ministry.

Your partner in sharing the gospel,

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Lent: Pray for Politicians

Local, regional and national politicians make decisions that affect our lives in many ways. Why not include them in your prayer life? 

Pre-election activities have already begun. Why not pray for current and potential candidates for political office? It can't hurt, and will help.

Lent activity:

Pray for any and everyone in authority that affects your life, that they would follow Jesus, and make wise decisions.

Your partner in sharing the gospel,

Monday, March 23, 2015

Lent: Pray for your immediate neighbors

Prayer precedes the blessings of God. You can take a virtual prayer walk through your neighborhood with whatever map application you use. You can also take an actual walk. 
Focus your prayers for a spiritual breakthrough in the lives of your neighbors. 

pray for my neighborhood

Lent activity:

Pray for a breakthrough in the spiritual lives of the people in your immediate neighborhood. 

Your partner in sharing the gospel,

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Lent: Give Grace and Peace

grace and peace
Our Heavenly Father is a giver of grace and peace.  As His children, we are born again, and have the capacity to also give grace and peace.  Grace and Peace are greater than the Law and the Prophets, yet many in the church seem to more likely to give judgement than grace.  Make a relationship with God, both attractional and missional.  Give some grace to someone undeserving.

Here is a Lent activity you may want to continue way past Easter:

Give grace and peace to someone who deserves judgement and anger. (example: a driver cuts you off or annoys you, a waitress is not prompt, a checkout person makes a mistake, a person holds up a line you are waiting in, a spouse or friend falls short of expectation.)

Your partner in sharing the gospel,

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Lent: Leave people and things better

I have a good friend, who I enjoy having him borrow a tool.  Why would I enjoy someone borrowing something of mine?  Because he always brings it back better than when he found it.  Everything from sharpening blades, re-wiring the wiring harness on a trailer, filling a vehicle up with gas, whatever it is, he ALWAYS brings it back better.  I have other friends, whom I cringe anytime they want to borrow something.  Why?  Because they bring it back worse than when they found it.  Sometimes it is broken and they don't feel a need to replace it.

Here is a Lent activity you may want to continue way past Easter:

On this Saturday if you borrow a tool or vehicle, bring it back better than you found it.  Optional Activity.  Every person you meet today, make them a better person after spending time with you.  

Your partner in sharing the gospel,

Friday, March 20, 2015

Lent: Ask someone if you could pray with them.

God has a divine purpose in blessing a person with enough finances to eat out every now and then.  To be an agent of that blessing, consider this idea: ask someone if they have anything you could pray with them about.  An example is to ask a person in a retail establishment if you could pray for them.

Here is a Lent activity you may want to continue way past Easter:

Ask someone if they have anything you could pray with them about.  Optional activity:  Before praying over your meal, ask the serving person if they would like to be prayed for.

Your partner in sharing the gospel

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Lent: Ask Someone if they would like a relationship with God

There has been a purpose to these posts about partnership. Would you join God's missional work on earth by asking at least one person a life-changing question? "Would you like to be in a loving relationship with God, through Jesus Christ?"  

I would have "been saved" from a lot of heartache and unwise choices if those who already were in a relationship with God had invited me in. I am eternally grateful for God sending Craig Kirby to the TSPS GTE building in Temple Terrace, Florida, to share the wonderful possibilities of a relationship with God. 

Here is a Lent activity you may want to continue way past Easter:

Ask someone if they would like a relationship with God, through Christ Jesus.  

Your partner in sharing the gospel,

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Lent: Do Not be Anxious

A few years ago I had a deep sense of urgency to fast and pray. I took that season of a sense of urgency longer than the Lord desired, and it became an anxiety issue. A good and normal spiritual discipline, if taken to an extreme, can turn into a negative thing. (At least it did with me.)  

Three major disciplines helped me overcome the anxiety issue.  
  • Regular reading of God's word led me to Phi. 4:6 that told me to "not be anxious for anything". 
  • Regular fellowship brought me into contact with other members of the body of Christ, and I discovered that they were not living under a cloud of anxiety. 
  • Regular praying in the Spirit re-captured for me a sense of the Lord's leading. 
Sharing the good news of Jesus is hindered if a messenger of that good news is suffering from anxiety.


Here is a Lent activity your close friends and family may want you to continue way past Easter:

All day, do not worry about anything, at anytime.  Exchange worry for a smile and give away a few "God bless you's"with that smile.

Your partner in sharing the gospel

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Lent: Resist the urge to complain.

A friend of mine was recently informed that her work hours were going to be drastically cut. We, her friends took it worse than she did, and began fighting for her. She, on the other hand, just took it in stride, made some jokes about it, and never complained about the situation or the people. Her family and faith upbringing had instilled in her the virtue to not complain about anything or anyone. In her early forties, it has become a habit, and though she had many reasons to complain, she chose not to. (It is a good habit to form, and today is a good day to start.)

Here is a Lent activity your close friends and family may want you to continue way past Easter:

All day, resist complaining about anything or anyone and be thankful in all things.

Your partner in sharing the gospel,

Monday, March 16, 2015

Lent: Compliment a health care professional.

A medical doctor's training, expertise and intuition led him to order extensive tests for me. He knew something was terribly wrong with me. In 2004, prior to a CT-Scan or any test he knew I had cancer. God used his medical school training and years of practice. 

Today is the 6th anniversary of beginning R-CHOP Chemotherapy.  I remain thankful to God for the many people who followed Him into becoming a health care professional.

It is easy for me to compliment people who are in the health care profession. I am especially respectful to nurses, and always try and remember to affirm and compliment them.

Here is a Lent activity:

Send or give someone in the medical field a compliment.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Lent: Affirm a Receptionist

The evening of June 29, 2012 a severe storm, called a Derecho moved from the Ohio Valley, and passed overhead as my wife and I prepared for sleep. It was an incredible storm, and we lost our power. The next morning, my wife, who never complains, informs me, she needs to go to the emergency room. We load up, and weave our way around fallen trees and my wife is being treated at a center that had not lost power. While waiting, I witness a cranky old gentlemen severely criticizing the receptionist for something that she had no responsibility for. It placed a cold chill over the entire waiting area. She had to sacrifice her safety to show up for work, and did not deserve this antagonism. Afterwards I went up to her and affirmed her. It brought tears to her eyes.

Here is a Lent activity:

Every receptionist you talk with today, compliment them and do NOT complain about anything to them.

Your partner in sharing the gospel

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Lent: Give someone a dollar

I turned 60 this past November. I realized how blessed I am, and asked for my friends to celebrate my birthday by NOT giving me any gifts, but to do random acts of kindness. My old friend Alan Scaglione did one of those random acts. He anonymously placed a dollar bill on a co-worker's keyboard. Later he heard the same co-worker exclaim something like, "I needed a dollar for coffee and left my wallet in my car. Who knew? Thanks be to God." One dollar opened up a friendship and partnership in the gospel.

Here is a Lent activity:

Anonymously give a dollar to someone.

Your partner in sharing the gospel,

Friday, March 13, 2015

Lent: Locate a Homeless Shelter and Pray for the homeless in your community.

By the grace of God, I have not been out of work all of my adult life except for a five week leave of absence I voluntarily took so I could participate in a youth group summer choir tour. Others have not been so fortunate, and find themselves homeless as well as out of work. There are homeless people in every community, and most communities have people who care deeply about this, and have organized shelters and care centers to assist those in need. 

Here is a Lent activity:

Using a computer search engine, locate a homeless shelter near your home and spend 60 seconds in prayer for it.

An optional activity is next time you pass by a homeless person, stop, look them in the eye, introduce yourself and ask them their name. Call them by name and let them know you will be praying for them.   

Your partner in sharing the gospel,

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Lent: Anonymous Service for Chemotherapy Patients

In 2009 I went through 18 weeks of R-CHOP Chemotherapy that left my bones brittle and very weak. At about the 16th week, while cleaning my gutters, I developed back pain due to four to six of my vertebrae being crushed. Simultaneously I lost two inches of height and entered a two-year season of pain that is indescribable. 

Here is a Lent activity:

Shovel a driveway from snow, clean a gutter, wash someone's car, or some other random act of service.   Try to do it anonymously. If caught in the act, say something that gives glory to God.   Try to find a senior adult and/or a chemotherapy patient and do this act of service for them.

Your partner in sharing the gospel,

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Lent: Open a door for someone.

My good friend, Don Webb has a habit of opening the car door for his wife, Linda. He and Linda are not newlyweds, and somehow by the grace of God, Don opens the car door for his wife, every time. Don is in his mid sixties and a very busy person, and has many reasons, to just let his wife open her own door, but he chooses to open her door and help her in the car every time. Every time. 

I am not like that. At best I do this randomly and occasionally. 

Here is a Lent activity:

Open a door for someone, smile and give him or her a "God bless you."
Your partner in sharing the gospel,

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Lent: Household Chores unto the Lord.

Our most important partner in sharing the gospel is our nearest neighbor. As a married man, that person is my wife, Brenda. As marriage partners we join together in following the mission of God.  

I personally do not like to make our bed, and one reason I don't like it is that I am not very good at it. The harder I try, the more I cannot seem to make it look right. In contrast, Brenda is excellent at it, and every day, without fanfare, or drawing any attention to the chore, she just does it. Sometime in her life, she transitioned from not liking a particular household chore to doing it as unto the Lord, without fanfare or drawing any attention to her work. 

Here is a Lent activity:

Do a chore around the house that you do not like doing, and do it unto the Lord, without fanfare or drawing attention to one self. Just do it.  

Your partner in sharing the gospel,

Friday, March 6, 2015

Lent: Be complimentary today

It has been snowy/icy in Vienna. This complicates physical exercise and affects logistics for an exercise class. Yesterday, our spin class instructor braved the snow and let us know (via email) that class would be held. A simple piece of exercise etiquette is to thank the instructor after the class concludes. It is easy, simple and is a way of exercise life. Yesterday she was complimented a lot.

Here is a Lent activity:

Over half the people you make contact with today, give them a smile, a compliment, and a witnessing phrase, like God bless youJesus loves you, God's grace to you.

Your partner in sharing the gospel,

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Lent: Affirm a professional.

In October of this past year I had gotten a cold while visiting Williamsburg, VA.  It grew into a sinus infection and as of today, I still have congestion with coughing.  As I met a new ENT doctor who was trying to figure out how to treat me, I spoke to him affirmations.  Something like, “Doctor, thank you for choosing to be a health care professional.  I really appreciate it.”

He stopped what he was doing, locked his gaze on me and said, “No one has ever thanked me for being a doctor before.  I am moved. I am profoundly moved.”

Here is a Lent activity.

Affirm a professional today.  Sincerely thank a professional for being who they are, and add a God bless you.  If you really want to go missional, ask them if there is anything you can pray with them about.

Your partner in sharing the gospel,


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Lent: Take a snack to a fire department.

In 1988 our congregation had just welcomed a homeless Christian school into our facility. A fire technician, followed by a stream of media, asked to gain entry into our building.  He took one step inside, and ordered an immediate evacuation, saying all of the inhabitants were in danger of being burned alive.

The action was motivated by an antagonistic political system; it made national news for a week.  Together with the church board, we determined that if we were safe on Sundays, we were also safe during the week.  We did not obey the evacuation order.

The crisis became a catalyst for change; the next election, most of the antagonists were voted out and a new wave of favor and partnership between our local government and churches began.

Even though that day was a 'trial by fire' for me, I have positive relationships with the Fire Officials in our county. They have ultimate authority and responsibility for safety, and most handle it gracefully.  Our brick and masonry building took relatively little in the way of improvements to bring it up to current fire codes for a school, and within a month, all was settled.

Here is a Lent activity: Make a healthy snack, and take it to a local volunteer fire department as an expression of thanks. Include a note of blessing.  An optional activity is to befriend the Fire Marshals and other officers and take interest in them as persons, offering to pray for them.   

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Lent: Day 14

After a Three Dog Night concert in 1974, in Tampa, Florida, I had a policeman behind me with his lights on, while we were passing around a joint of marijuana in the car.  Paranoia about all police activity was a side benefit of the drug, along with munchies and the 'praying mantis' look. Now, this was more than paranoia, it was real; the four of us had to think quickly or we would be spending some time in jail. As he approached the car, I hoped the smoke had cleared sufficiently. He then informed me that I had been speeding. I agreed with him and I said, "It is true, I know I was. Sir, I was showing off to my friends from Brooksville. I apologize."  He had mercy and gave me a warning, and we drove off.

Thanks to a transformed life, I no longer have that paranoia at the sight of a police car. Now I have prayer in my heart and on my lips for them. They put their life out there for all of us, and they deserve our prayers.

Here is a Lent activity: Pray for a particular police force, and notify them on a non-emergency number that you did so. An optional activity is to not avoid a police person, but to walk up to them, look them in the eye and communicate appreciation for them. Then let them know you are praying for them.  

Monday, March 2, 2015

Lent Activity: Pray for a politician

It was 1981 or 1982, and our guest speaker at First Assembly of God in Montgomery, Alabama was former Governor George Wallace. As an impressionable senior in high school, I saw him shot down during the presidential election in May of 1972. It just added to my chaos and growing disenchantment with tradition and Americanism.

Politicians risk their lives when they choose to enter a campaign, and they deserve our prayer; in addition, the Bible tells us to pray for them. George Wallace had come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, and had committed the rest of his life to making peace with God and others. Many came to the Lord that night as he shared his testimony.

Here is a Lent activity: Pray for a politician, and then let them know that you've prayed for them, without commentary or advice.  (As another activity, consider spending an equal amount of time in prayer as you do in criticizing others.)