Posts Tagged: Prayer

Help! Adventist Ed is Dying!

I haven’t blogged in quite a while & I haven’t written a blog on one of my most passionate topics in a while, so I am going to do both now!

Adventist Education…

Over the last two plus years I have had the opportunity to serve as a member of the Pacific Union Conferences’ Executive Committee. Every committee we receive reports. Reports on baptisms, tithe, race demographics, education. Let me just say all of them are scary sad…well the race demographics are good if you’re not Caucasian, us white folk need to learn how to share Jesus…but that is another topic for another time…but the rest are frightful.

The statistic that saddens me the most, because I credit Adventist Ed and praying friends and family with leading me to Jesus, is the consistent decline in Adventist Education primary & secondary enrollment! Consistent decline, not an aberration, a trend, a consistent trend. And from what I hear it’s not just our Union in North America that is experiencing such declines.

So what do we do? Well take ‘em or leave ‘em here are 13 of my thoughts on what should change in Adventist Ed in no particular order.

  1. We should go back and analyze all the principles of the book “Education” by Ellen G. White and ask ourselves, “is our school applying and living by all these principles. Some methods may be different, but are all the principles from this book being incorporated and maintained within our schools?”
  2. As parents we should never criticize the teachers in front of our kids! And even if we side with our child we should not do it in such a way that our children will learn to disrespect their teachers. Just within the last 5 years I have found out there were times my parents went to bat for me with a couple of my teachers. I’m actually glad I didn’t know this then; if I had I might have been even more disrespectful than I already was. In our home the rule always was, the teacher is ALWAYS right, even when they aren’t, because he/she is the teacher. Unless they ask you to do something immoral or they physically abuse you, they are the teacher. Period!
  3. We need to remember that our education system was established to serve the church, not the other way around. What do I mean by this? Our schools were established to develop missionaries (in whatever field God lead them in to) for Jesus through the church. This means that the children were taught that the value of a career was only found in as much as it gave opportunity to lead people to Jesus and connect with His body, The Church. This also means that schools should not have their calendars dictate the calendar of the church, rather school calendars should be built in such a way as to decrease the time students and their parents are away from their local churches. Third, schools need to recognize that the growth of the schools is dependent upon the growth of the church, thus a financial system should not be put in place that would hamper churches from providing ministries and training that leads to growth.
  4. When I was a child many of the teachers in the schools also taught Sabbath Schools. Now almost not a one can be found. To at least some extent this may be in part to number 2 above; if you’re criticized by parents at school why would you want to come to to church and be criticized as well? That is a fair enough point, but often the reasoning I hear that teachers don’t teach Sabbath School is because they need a break from the kids. Again though the counsel we received in the founding of our education system was that school teachers should also instruct on Sabbath mornings so that children would see their teachers in service to God & His church. Yes, it is hard and wearisome, but maybe that could be lessened by the following…
  5. Decrease the busyness! This needs to happen in church and school. We are doing far too much of unnecessary things! I speak with parents all the time that are run ragged (and their pocketbooks are shrinking) by all the extra events they are taking their kids to at our schools. Both church and school need to impress upon families the value of being at home and spending time in a home environment. This can’t happen if there are a million different activities happening week in and week out at both church and school. Also, our teachers are then exhausted and the last place they want to be on a Sabbath is with the kids…but that is exactly where they need to be on a Sabbath, at least for that one hour of Sabbath School time.
  6.  We must change the way finances are managed within our schools it is a stress that pastors nor teachers should have to deal with, in fact here is the counsel given, “This matter should not be left to ministers or committee men, who have no time to take this burden. The teachers are not to be left with this responsibility. These matters of school business call for talent which has not been provided (she is saying not provided by the conference which she says it is their duty to provide).” 2TT 474
  7. Of course we must also acknowledge if we are in financial difficulties why that is, “If our educational work had been carried on in accordance with the instruction given for our guidance, the dark shadow of heavy debt would not today be hanging over our institutions.” 2TT 474. This is a repeat of number one. If the system as a whole is suffering then the system as a whole must have gone off course at some point. Let’s get back to the basics of who we are what we’re about.
  8. We need to stop trying to raise money through gimmicks: raffles, benefit concerts, special meals, etc.. We should do as was done in the Bible, place the need before the people and then pray for God to sustain. By doing the events above we actually make it harder to receive the next time. We are teaching our people to give only if they have received.
  9. Devalue sports! I am one that absolutely loves sports! I played organized sports all the way up into my first year of college. In our schools though sports has become of far too much value. These “friendship tournaments” are not so friendly. But even if they were, they are just another thing that take away from the true purpose of our schools, which is not competition but service to Jesus. You want to take kids away multiple weekends a year, take them to serve the poor, not serve themselves in sports. Take them to spend time in nature or at prayer conferences. Not sporting events that we try to make pseudo Jesus centered by having a church service with all the teams on Sabbath morning. I again love sports, I don’t mind folk playing sports, but in most of our schools where one maybe two days a year are given to “community service days” isn’t it shameful that one to two days A WEEK are given to sports either through games or practices? Also, am I the only one that finds it sad that we can afford an abundance of sports activities yet most of our schools are now lacking those who teach outdoor education: gardening, camping, whatever? Isn’t it sad that most our schools no longer have true home economics instructors, true librarians, true shop and wood working teachers? Is anyone else depressed that there aren’t high quality bands and choirs in ALL our schools? But hey, we have sports. This saddens me.
  10. We need to stop being silos! Churches and church members need to affirm ADVENTIST EDUCATION, not a particular school! By the way churches should stop being silos too! A pastor that tries to make a member feel guilty for going to another Adventist church should go into a closest and pray ’till their priorities are straightened out. But I digress…the question shouldn’t be, “which Adventist school are our kids going to?” The only important question is, “are they attending an Adventist school.” And guess what, this includes home schooling! Adventist parents that home school should be as soundly affirmed and prayed for as those that teach within our school systems! (And Adventist teachers that teach outside of our Adventist schools should be affirmed and prayed for as well since they are local missionaries in a foreign field!) I believe we have devalued Adventist education by fighting over schools! When you make the thing of value the institution, the structure, the building, the location, rather than the message and the movement, then ultimately that value will fade; because the only people that value institutions, structures, buildings, and locations are the people that built those institutions, structures, and buildings. Teach people to value a philosophy, affirm the ideals of Adventist Ed above all, criticize no one, and all our schools will ultimately benefit!
  11. Pay teachers more! I wish somewhere along the way we had created a system where every time the health institutes fork out higher salaries for their administrators they had to at the same time set some aside to increase the pay of our Adventist educators. I pick on the Adventist health system b/c they are paid a lot more than the rest of us and thus must have the money somewhere.  But somehow we need to compensate teachers better…
  12. That said, I think we should screen better for teachers as well…a pastor has to explain his/her calling, talk about their faith in Jesus, share his/her commitment to the teachings of our church, discuss their views of evangelism and reaching people for Jesus all before we are hired (and yes I know some bad ones are still hired). Having a Dad that was a teacher in the Adventist Education system for 35 years. A sister that has been in the Adventist Education system for 13 years. Having dated some teachers pre-marriage, I can guarantee you these questions are not often if ever asked. Even having two former teachers on my church staff, I have been told that they were never expected to know what we believe and why we believe it, they were never even firmly taught what we believe and why we believe it…well they had to know that the Sabbath was the Sabbath & we sleep when we die, but as far as the expectation of really teaching our students what we believe and why believe it. They were not held accountable on church attendance. They were not asked about their personal daily devotions. They were not asked if Jesus was their absolute best friend. If Adventist Education is truly about educating for eternity, shouldn’t these things come up?
  13. Last but not least, to make it a nice even 13…our schools should be prayed over in every single Adventist home!

Take ‘em or leave ‘em as a parent that will soon have three kids in Adventist Ed, these are my thoughts.

P.S. I would encourage everyone to click on this link and buy (after Sabbath of course) the documentary “The Blueprint: The Story of Adventist Education it is wonderful! In spite of all our difficulties I still think Adventist Ed is the best option, but we could be so much better and not dying a not so slow, but oh so painful death!

 

Our Growth Part 3

In this final post of this blog series on the growth of The Visalia Seventh-day Adventist Church I will be looking at some of the specific things we will be focusing on moving forward in order to place us in the best position to continue to receive & handle the blessings of God’s growth in this community. This blog will probably we a little more specific and not as broad as the other two, but I believe there are still principles that I’ll be sharing that can be applied in any and all settings.

In part 1 we looked at some of the principles behind the growth of the Visalia SDA Church.
In part 2 we looked at some of the reasons why we didn’t grow more over the last five years.

And now for the third and final part (Sorry it took so long, I got sick and then the holidays but here it finally is):

What about the next five years?

Prayer. Yes, I want to start in the exact same spot I started the other two lists. It is vital for our continued growth that we continue our focus and emphasis on the power and importance of prayer. We will continue to look for ways to facilitate more prayer, encourage the participation in corporate prayer, recruit more prayer warriors. I’ve spent quite a ‘bit of time on this subject in the other two posts so I won’t say more here, simply this has to remain a priority. It can’t be something we did and then move on from!

What happens when I’m gone? This has been a question on my mind a lot lately. I’ve observed far too often within our denomination that a church may be doing well, then the pastor leaves and everything slows way down or even ceases completely until the next pastor rolls around. Attendance drops, evangelism is nonexistent, the church goes into maintenance mode. I am asking myself heading into 2014 and beyond, “if this is my last year at this church are we in a position to thrive in the absence of a Senior Pastor or under the leadership of a new Senior Pastor?” I want to be thinking and working on behalf of my successor. I want to make sure that when I’m gone systems are in place that are not pastor dependent. That a clear vision is established which is owned by the membership of the church and not just in the heart of the leader, a vision though that is based on principles that should be universal and embraced by all Seventh-day Adventist ministers, thus flexible to the ideas of the new leader. As leaders I think it is our responsibility to think about the well being of our churches not just when we are here but after we are gone as well. We need to think about our colleagues that will come after us and what we are leaving behind. So this is a goal we’ll be working towards.

Sabbath School: Sabbath School, you know that time that is the least attended activity at church (in North America)…oh wait sorry, that is the prayer meeting, the second least attended activity at church (how depressing and pathetic both those realities are!), it has been a burden on my heart recently. The scriptures say this, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman who needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15. This text of course has been applied almost exclusively to the idea of personal Bible study, and personal Bible study is very important! But as I was taught in Seminary and as I have read in Christian literature, most of what was learned and understood Biblically in the Biblical era was not done in isolation! In fact Jesus when He was a boy in the temple was participating in a Bible study. A discussion on the scriptures, questions asked, answered, leading to more questions (“Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers.” Luke 2:46, 47). We don’t do enough of this anymore! Sabbath School is a venue in which this should be done. I’ve also been convicted about this based on the reality of where the Seventh-day Adventist Church is growing significantly in the world. As I’ve had privilege to do a little traveling, what I have observed is that Sabbath School is well attended in the countries where our church is really thriving, in fact in some of these places Sabbath School attendance is higher than church attendance. Our Sabbath Schools in the United States may not look like theirs overseas, but the principle I believe still can be applied. Good things happen when folk get together to study the Word of God, emphasis on together, and the sermon time does not count, that is one person who has studied sharing with others what he or she studied, upon which most will go home and still not study it out for themselves to see if he or she was accurate in their studies. We need Sabbath School and I have a desire to see it thrive in my churches (The Ark & Visalia SDA). I’m not sure how yet, but this will be a focus!

Lost Sheep: I’ve heard it said that if we reclaimed all those that have simply stopped associating with the Adventist church our membership would be double in the United States. Here is the sad truth if we reclaimed those that just don’t attend, then our attendance would be double for sure (yep only 50% actually much less on average of the Seventh-day Adventist Church membership attend church from week to week). Here is something Jesus said, “These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying:

“Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” –Matthew 10:5-7.

We know that Jesus had a passion for the Gentiles, we know that He had a special plan for reaching them (read the book of Acts), but I also see in scripture that Jesus had a special burden in His heart for those that were raised in the truth, had known the truth, and yet were not walking with Jesus. I haven’t, in fact I still struggle with this burden, but I want to be like Jesus and I feel that I should have a deeper commitment to reaching this group of folk, “the lost sheep of Israel” aka former or inactive Adventists. This will be a special focus for us in the years ahead. We have already seen some success in this area without being intentional about it, I want us to be intentional and see what happens!

Getting beyond 10%: You may have heard the statistic, 20% of the people do 80% of the work. The new reality in churches is that 10% of the people do 100% of the work. We must help folk to understand that one of the privileges of membership is responsibility! I don’t find a single story in all of scripture about a true disciple of Jesus that went to church once a week and then went home, had lunch, took a nap, did yard work on Sunday, went to their paying job during the week, clean the house Friday, and back to church Sabbath and considered this an acceptable pattern for a follower of Jesus. There is not a story in scripture that even remotely follows that pattern, then why on earth do so many of our members find this type of Christianity acceptable blows my mind! Yes that is a rebuke to any that may be reading this and saying, “hey that sounds like me.” Jesus said very clearly, we are to feed the hungry, care for the sick, visit the imprisoned, shelter the homeless. He also said we are to “GO” and witness. Paul said that we are all members of one body, and just as one body has many parts we are all separate parts to the same body and that a part is not actually part of the body if it is not functioning. And James said, that if our faith doesn’t display itself in actual works for the Lord then we really don’t have any faith. And in the book of Revelation the folk that are the marturos–witnesses. I want to know exactly how many of our members are actually serving Jesus in a proactive intentional way and then I want to grow each year on that 10% or so that it is and see lives saved and thus the church grow!

Small Groups: This is different than Sabbath School, though part of this can occur at Sabbath School time. But if we’re going to get bigger then we must simultaneously get smaller or more connected, this will only happen through Small Groups. The book of Acts is very clear, there were two aspects of the early Christian Church “house to house” gatherings and larger “temple” (corporate) gatherings (Acts 2:46). Ellen White wrote this,

“The formation of small companies as a basis of Christian effort is a plan that has been presented before me by One who cannot err. If there is a large number in the church, let the members be formed into small companies, to work not only for the church members but for unbelievers also.” (Evangelism p. 115).

A church will grow if the members are split into small groups to worship and serve together. I have yet to see a thriving small group ministry in a Seventh-day Adventist church. If you are reading this and you are in an Adventist church with a “thriving” small group ministry, please contact me! But we will continue to work at it. I believe there is plenty of evidence Small Groups are Biblical!

I am sure there are a million more things we could work on, but if this is my last year in Visalia (which I pray it is not) this is the direction I pray God will get us moving in.

Thanks for taking the time read these three blog posts. I pray that they have been beneficial to you and that you will be able to apply for sure the principles and possibly even some of the specifics that we have been focused on here in Visalia.

Remember The Church is the Body of Christ which means if your church is lifeless, if it isn’t growing, it isn’t functioning, it isn’t reaching the lost, and loving on everyone, well then it is not really the church and it is definitely not the body of Christ. But don’t despair make a decision now to see that begin to change. Even if you are the only one in your church that is committed to see your church become the Body of Christ again, Jesus will honor your commitment and work with you to bring that desire into reality!

Keep praying, keep studying, keep serving. May Jesus be glorified through the Seventh-day Adventist family!

I Used To Not Believe In Prayer…

So a literal five minutes ago, from when I am writing this, I found my wife’s iphone.

I tell you that because it was an answer to prayer.

All day long Christina has been looking for her phone; at church she borrowed my phone to film our boy blowing out his birthday candles in Cradle Roll Sabbath School. I asked her, “What happened to your phone?” “I don’t know I thought it was in my purse but it is not there.”

After our morning services, when I stopped in before going to The Ark (our church plant) she asked me to try and help her find her phone. I looked several places, I went through her purse, I called it and listened for the buzzing, but nothing.

Tonight when I got home from a prayer walk she asked me to look again. To search the cars. I did. I found nothing. I dug through her purse again–my wife isn’t one of these women that has a ton of stuff in her purse–but still nothing. I called and stood in the kitchen. Nothing. I called and stood in the bedroom. Nothing.

Christina searched everything behind me. So after I was done with her purse she went through her purse. After I was done with the cars, she went through the cars. After I searched the boys rooms she…you get the picture. Nothing!

So I said honey let’s kneel down and pray. We knelt by our bed held hands and I prayed, “Jesus You know the exact location of that phone. You know where it is and You can help us to find it. Jesus we are trying to be better with our money, we can’t afford another phone, Jesus please show it to one of us or to our boys sometime before the end of this weekend. And Jesus help us to keep this in perspective. Amen.”

Three minutes later I walked out to the kitchen lifted the flap of Christina’s purse that I had searched twice and she had searched many times and sitting at the edge of the purse, I didn’t even have to look into the purse, in plain view at the edge, was Christina’s iphone.

I used to call things like that a coincidence or say I must have just overlooked it before.

Then again I used to not really believe in prayer…

Thank You Jesus for the returned iphone!

The Most Exciting Numbers!

I look at a lot of numbers. If you follow this blog, you know that “Church Growth” is the most tagged topic, and that naturally is about NUMBERS.

But of all the numbers I have written about I believe the numbers I am going to share with you in this blog are the most exciting thus far.

At the end of 2011 we decided to be a host site for the John Bradshaw/It Is Written evangelistic meetings being broadcast from Las Vegas.

One of our prayer warriors came to me with the idea that we get folk from in our church to pray for every single name on our membership roster and any others that we have in our “friends” list. That was a list of over 750 persons. I thought it was a great idea and so we went to our Prayer Director Kristin to see if something could be set-up. The decision was made to call folk to see if they would take a list of names to pray over.

After much calling & some emails Kristin had 7 individuals, not the number we were looking for :),  that agreed to take a list of names to daily pray for. So they started with praying for all our active members.

But maybe more importantly, we began to pray for more prayer warriors!

That is a prayer we knew God wanted to answer in the affirmative, and He definitely has!

Today (ALL) just shy of 800 folk connected with our church are being prayed for daily by at last check 60 prayer warriors!

We started with 7 and we asked God to send more prayer warriors and now 5 months later we have 60 folks hitting their knees daily for their church & their church family!

I believe we have seen the difference. Between the Visalia Seventh-day Adventist Church & our northside church plant The Ark we’ve had 20 baptisms, 2 Professions of Faith (so 22 new Adventists), & 7 rebaptisms. An entire family is attending our church because they were led to do so in a dream, and 12+ more are in Bible studies.

In the past those are the things we have primarily prayed for, this year, while we have still prayed for decisions for Jesus, without much forethought our primary prayers and emphasis in church have been, “Jesus give us a greater spirit for prayer.”

The numbers the conference will look at & the numbers church growth statisticians look at are nice, but I believe that all those numbers are a direct result of the most exciting number of this year–SIXTY–60 interceding on behalf of the names on their lists.

I am so thankful for those 60 and I praise the Lord for the many more He will convict to be warriors in prayer for His people and for the city of Visalia.

Where do you live? What do your prayer warriors pray for? What would happen if you started praying less for church growth and more for prayer growth? Would your church grow anyway?

“It is a part of God’s plan to grant us, in answer to the PRAYER of faith, that which he would not bestow, did we not thus ask.” –Ellen G. White, The Spirit of Prophecy, Vol. 4, p. 348.

 

 

The Negativity Pandemic

Dr. Jack Haskins a professor at the University of Tennessee did s study to determine the effects of a five minute radio program that was filled with negative news stories: children blown up, earthquakes, riots, etc. One group listened to these types of stories JUST 5 minutes a day, the other group, the control group listened to positive news stories for the same 5 minutes.

Haskins in evaluating the subjects at the end of the study found that those who listened to just 5 minutes of negative radio reports daily were: (1) more depressed than before; (2) they believed the world was a negative place; (3) they were less likely to help others; and (4) they began to believe that the negative things they heard would soon happen to them.

How could this be? Could 5 minutes of negativity really have that much impact on someone?

What happens with a life of negativity?

Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he,”

Like it or not we are in part products of what we “THINK.” If we think negative all the time, more than likely our lives will be somewhat negative. Now I am not a “name it and claim it” preacher. I don’t believe in prosperity theology or the idea that bad things never happen to people who are positive. But I do believe that life for many is miserable because they think “half-empty” thoughts 99% of the time rather than “half-full” thoughts.

I know this because negativity was my life. In high-school and even early in college I had a VERY negative thought pattern. I could always find the negative in a situation: I complained about my job, I complained about school, I complained about relationships, I complained about the government, I complained about the church, I complained about my sports teams, I complained about…well you name it I am sure I complained about it. I was consistently negative. Christina, my girlfriend (now wife) at the time, wanted to introduce me to her friends, I hadn’t even met them and I was already being negative towards them. I remember Christina asking me if I liked anyone? I told her, “I like you and I like my friends. But that is about it.” I was negative!!!

You know what is weird all those years of being negative, I found myself obsessed with death! My best friend Scott regularly used to tell me how morbid I was and that I didn’t need to constantly talk about dying. But I couldn’t help it, my negativity was effecting everything about the way I thought.

Then I went to Africa…many stories here to share but I’ll save them for another time…but while in Africa I daily did two things: I served others daily and I spent an abundant amount of time in prayer & Bible study.

My day would consist of rising around 5:30 or 6 in the morning spending at least an hour in prayer and Bible study. The rest of my morning would be spent in preparation to share the Gospel, then in the afternoon I would go out and visit locals, walk around the streets, appreciate the simplicity of things. Then in the evening I would preach. I would end each night studying the Bible more, reading The Great Controversy, and praying–then I would chat with my roommate Ben Martin ’till I fell asleep.

After just about a month of this I found my outlook on life completely changed. I didn’t even fully realize just how much ’till folk back home began to comment on how different I was. My parents, my friends, Christina. They all will testify that since that time in Africa I have never been the same.

I went from extremely negative to extremely positive.

Daily I meet people and speak with people that are just like I was. If I say something positive, they find the negative. If I try to encourage they retort with a complaint or negative remark. I have come to see negativity as a great pandemic within our society…a pandemic that is spreading with the help of media and even our own peers who speak negativity around us and so we get sucked in and join the negative dialogue.

So how do we break it? I believe my Africa experience is key!

Does that mean you have to go to Africa to become a positive person? NO! Because what ultimately changed me can be experienced right here in the U.S. of A..

Two things:

(1.) Daily time with the Lord in Bible study and prayer

(2.) Daily looking for opportunities to serve others

1.) When our lives are void of the presence of God we will be negative, yes if you are not spending time in prayer and Bible study your life is void of the presence of God. God is not impacting our lives simply b/c we hope for it, we must connect. Just like I can’t impact my kids lives if I never spend time with them. It doesn’t matter how much I love them from a distance if I am not around them, I have no influence. In like manner, if God is not around us, by us allowing Him to speak to us through prayer and Bible study, we are not influenced by Him.

2.) And when we are not serving others and only living for ourselves, we’ll find that negativity takes deep root! Self-centered living is negative living. Whenever I spend too much time worrying about me, I find that I tend to become consumed with what is happening in my life and when I become consumned with anything other than God I tend to become negative. I have noticed that as I have grown as a pastor I have lost negativity. Why? Because I have a passion to reach people! And being consumned with the desire keeps me positive. Also being a parent has forced me to become more and more positive. What my kids do, even when they frustrate me, isn’t ultimately about me! My free time is about my two boys! And therefore I don’t have a lot of time to think about maybe what is wrong in me, but rather I am living in service to my wife, my sons, my church, my community. This outward focus builds my positivity.

The verse I quoted earlier said “as we think we are!” I guess I am basically saying, if you think about God and you think about others honestly and sincerely by doing actions of service for them, I promise you your negativity will disappear. You will be happier and so will everyone else around you!

(Stay tuned for more “Pandemic” posts this week)

 

 

What Will I Do Without Facebook?

I have decided to delete my Facebook account.  Why? Because it is a time vacuum!  I have friends that have Facebook and they check it once a week and that is it, if I was one of those people, that would be great.  Unfortunately I don’t seem to be one of those people, so I am more the kind that checks it once an hour. What brought me to this point.  I am preaching on prayer this Sabbath and I was thinking about the things that I do more than pray…I used to watch more TV than pray…I used to watch more movies than pray…I used to watch more sports than pray…I used to play more golf than pray…all those things have basically been eliminated in my life.  But as I was writing my sermon today…I realized that whenever I took a “mental break” or a “stretch break” I was simultaneously checking Facebook.  Checking Facebook has almost become a default function in my life.  I don’t want anything to be a default programmed function in my life other than Prayer, Studying the Bible, Loving my wife, loving my kids, and doing good to others.

So when I realized all this, the nagging sense that I should take a fast from Facebook kicked into high gear. Then sudden intense resistance!  I began to rationalize all the reasons I should stay on Facebook.  I began trying to convince myself that I could just check it once a day. I wondered, “What will I do without Facebook?” Forgetting I had lived about 30 years without Facebook. But as the resistance grew so too did the determination to leave Facebook behind. I’ve learned that if I am trying to cling to things that are not of the spiritual nature or rationalize existence of those things in my life, then that is a sure sign it is time to say goodbye. So I say goodbye to Facebook today…in just an hour or so to be exact. 

Why am I canceling it completely.  Because I know myself…Nuff said!  :) 

I may be back someday, of course I took a 40 day fast from MySpace about 4 years ago and never went back to that, so maybe this will be permanent.  Not all my time on Facebook has been a waste, but a lot of it has, so hopefully the time that was wasted will now be utilized for the Kingdom of God!

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My Saddleback Observations Part 6: What I Learned from What I Didn’t Like

While my overall experience at Saddleback was very positive and the Lord blessed my personal worship experience, there were three things I would change.  Two I feel are essential to worship and one is just a personal preference. 

Let us start with my personal preference just to get it out of the way:  The dress is so casual at Saddleback that if I wore a suit there I would definitely feel “out of place.”  Why would I change this?  Because I like to wear a suit!  Christina (my wife) on the other hand loved being able to dress down, and asked me if I knew how hard it was to try and corral kids in a dress?  Dresses aren’t my thing, so I had to admit I do not understand that challenge.

Okay now for the other two items.  There was only one prayer in the service.  It was Pastor Rick Warren’s closing prayer.  I didn’t like this, I believe if we say that prayer is important as believers and even Pastor Rick mentioned the power of prayer in order to change in his sermon, then we have to model it before our people and place great emphasis on it!  Maybe they do this at other times, but it is not evident in their worship service.  On a side note though, off of their patio (outdoor foyer) they do have a prayer garden and there are people that will pray with individuals and for individuals desiring prayer after the service.  I would still like to see a greater emphasis in the worship service.

The other item that I didn’t like is that giving was never even mentioned in the worship service and if I hadn’t seen the plate coming I would not have even known they were collecting offering.  Giving is an integral act of worship and again I believe this should be clearly affirmed in a worship service. 

Those are the negatives from our time at Saddleback all the rest was great!  Including a wonderful message on Biblical change from Romans 12:1-12.

I hope you have enjoyed the Saddleback Observations blogs.