Monday Morning Rewind 6/10/2024

Good Monday morning MABC! 

First of all, thank you for allowing us time away with family.  It took me many years to realize that my first ministry should always be family and not the church and/or football.  I never did a funeral where the person we were remembering ever uttered the words “I wish I had worked more hours” or “I wish I had won more games.”  It is usually I wish I had spent more time with family.  Please remember, no matter how “jacked up” your family is, your family is your family.  And as we have gathered in one large house with about 18 people including siblings, in-laws, nieces and nephews and their significant others as well as my dad and his brother and wife, I am reminded of that every day!

 Yesterday’s worship service for us was a great reminder of how we deal with family and others, including our church family.  The pastor spoke on 1 Timothy 6 verses 1-5.  My main take away was this:

Don’t treat others based on who they are but based on who you are!

Paul is trying to tell Timothy that everything we do should be a reflection of who we are in Jesus Christ.  We are all sinners and God meets us in that sin but doesn’t want us to stay in our sin.  His goal for us is to reflect Jesus, become more Christ like so that others may come to know Jesus.  If I am to reflect Christ to them, I have to treat them based on how Jesus treated me over the years especially those years where football was my first priority.  Jesus still showered me with grace and mercy and forgave me 700 times 700 times!  That’s who He is and that’s how I am to be and act towards others. I don’t always agree with the way my siblings act and talk or even how their kids act.  But Jesus didn’t always like the way I acted and yet because of who He is I am where I am today.  I wish I could have heard that message in the car on the way up here so that I was prepared for my long weekend!  Don’t get me wrong, we have a lot of fun where we are together but sometimes…well, you all know how that goes in your own families.

 It is something we also have to remember with our church family.  That family is together – I hope – because we recognize that we are ALL sinners and need Jesus to help us become more like Him every day.  The problem Paul says in verse 3 is that some people don’t get this whole idea. That person he says likes to “quibble” and causes arguments ending in jealousy and division. Paul describes that person as arrogant and lacking understanding.  In this day and age, the church already faces enough division and rancor from the outside world, we don’t need it from within. Let’s treat each other the way He would treat us. Practice the spiritual disciplines being covered in the “Rooted” series so we can become a better reflection of Christ.  I hope that you remember who you are in Him and are being built up in Him every day so that you may treat others as He would treat others (Col. 2:6-7).  If you have put your trust for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life in Jesus, strive to live like Him every day in the hope that others will notice and want some of what you have!

Be back in the office Wednesday after lunch.  Looking forward to seeing your Father’s Day ties next Sunday men!

Pastor Rick

Monday Morning Rewind 6/3/2024

Good Monday morning MABC!

 This past Sunday we continued in our series “Rooted” by taking a look at the spiritual discipline of evangelism.  The key points for me were that we were expected to be witnesses and share the gospel and that it came down to whether we would be obedient or not.  We are good at finding “outs” to not evangelize like “not my job,” “I am ill-prepared’ or “it’s uncomfortable.”  However, if it was important to Jesus, it must become important to us.  Remember the app I showed you yesterday – Life On Mission? Go to your app store and search Life On Mission.  It will help you share your faith easily and you will no longer have to be unprepared or uncomfortable.  Be intentional because it is “everyone’s job” to share the gospel.

Famous last words give us great insight into what is important in someone’s life.  Actress Joan Crawford’s supposed last words were “Don’t you dare ask God to help me.” That should tell you something about the importance of faith in her life.  Coaching great Vince Lombardi turned to his wife and said, “Happy Anniversary.  I love you.”  Do you think she was important?  Jack Daniel, founder of Jack Daniel’s Whiskey, is said to have said, “One more drink, please.” That’s an easy one. Jesus last words before ascending into Heaven?  He said to his disciples “you WILL BE my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  The Bible then says he was taken up to Heaven before their very eyes.

 “You will be!”  It is expected of us just as we said prayer was expected of us. You will be my witnesses was to be a reminder of the commission he had given them in Matthew chapter 28 to “GO and make disciples.  It is not an optional activity for those who are of the Kingdom of God.  Jesus even spells out where our witnessing is to begin.  The Delano District is our Jerusalem.  We must be intentional about reaching those who are in closest proximity to the church.    This is one reason I have asked you to join me in reaching out to Lawrence Elementary School in this coming year because schools are often the hub of a community.  These LES families are the families in our “Jerusalem” who need support. These are the marriages we need to help strengthen. These are the children we want to join us in AWANA next fall. It is often said in ministry if we get marriages right, we get families right.  And if we get families right, churches grow and get stronger.  If that happens, communities grow and become better places to live.

 I know I sound like a broken record but it is important for us to remember that the lifeblood of the local church and the Church is evangelism.  Thom Rainer, former CEO of Lifeway Christian Resources and one of the most respected church researchers of our time, says that the reality of church decline is the collective result of individuals deciding not “to go.”  The result of that is the church becomes a religious country club instead of an obedient Great Commission congregation.    Let’s strive to be an irresistible church and continue on with our “marching orders” to reach those around us.

 Remember, I will be taking a week off.  Pastor Rick Woolard will be sharing with you all this coming Sunday.  I will be back in the office one week from Wednesday. Have a blessed week!

Pastor Rick

Monday Morning Rewind 5/27/2024

Good Morning MABC,

 Hope you all had a great long holiday weekend. On Memorial Day I often wonder about the men and women who served in our armed forces to preserve our country.  I wonder what they would think about our country today.  Is this the country they thought they were giving their lives for? Would they think their sacrifice was still worth it?  Was their service in vain?

Sherry was reading about Solomon in her devotions this morning and what a pitiful story.  Here is a man who had it all.  He was the head of the world’s most powerful country at that time. He was rich beyond measure. In Ecclesiastes chapter 2 in verses 1 through 10, he uses the word “I” ten times: I undertook, I built, I made, I made, I bought, I owned,  I amassed, I acquired, I denied myself nothing.   The most telling of all the “I” statements came in verse 9 – I became greater than anyone in Jerusalem before me.  Wow!  In our message on fellowship two Sundays ago I said that self-centeredness is a big problem in our culture today even for us as professing followers of Jesus. Most of us lived in the 70’s and 80’s as young adults or were adults raising children fighting against the “it’s all about me” or “what’s in it for me” culture.

This past Sunday we talked about a mindset that is counter cultural today.  That mindset was that of a servant.  The antidote to Solomon’s problems and that of culture today is service.  Service, we said, was focusing on someone other than self.  Patrick Morley, a leader in men’s ministry and writes this:

      From a practical standpoint, the self-focused lifestyle

      simply doesn’t work.  It won’t make you happy. In fact, it          will make you miserable.

If you have ever read Ecclesiastes you will find that Solomon discovered that very thing. After all of his “I” statements in chapter 2, he says this:

 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done, and               what I had toiled to achieve, everything was                             meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was                 gained under the sun.  Ecclesiastes 2:11 NIV

At the end of Ecclesiastes Solomon says this:

 Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the              matter: Fear God and keep his commandments for this          is the duty of mankind.  (12:13)

The greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with everything you are and love your neighbor as yourself.  As you contemplate loving the Lord and loving neighbor, remember that love is not just a feeling.  Love is an action.  Jesus says there is “no greater love than to lay down your life for your friends.” This isn’t just referring to physically dying for someone but also denying self to serve others.    

Who will you serve this week?

Pastor Rick

Monday Morning Rewind 5/19/2024

Good Monday morning MABC,

 Hope you all survived the Kansas weather last night!  In Augusta we lost power in our neighborhood for about an hour.  I actually enjoyed it as Sherry and I sat outside listening to the rain and enjoying the peace and stillness.  We have covered porches at our house!

Community, one of the definitions of koinonia, is important to the two of us.  Our small group dwindled on us last night as one family prepares for surgeries on Tuesday and Wednesday, one couple had an aunt celebrating a 92nd birthday and yet another had just returned from a hog show and said they were shot.  We quickly made some adjustments to our small group program for the evening.  At some point in our relationship you will hear me talk about “be flexible in the mission field.”  So, the remaining three couples decided to forgo a lesson and went out to eat together including one family’s “littles.” It would have been easy to say half the group was out and cancel but our people love community.  All night messages were flying between us checking on needs with the storm and preparation for medical procedures.

 It is my prayer that all of you have a smaller community than the greater church family to do life with.  And yes, even different than your biological family or family from a marriage.  Not everyone in my family is on the same page faith wise!  It may mean that you take the initiative to start a small group of your own.  Visit with a few people you know who seem to be solid in their faith and find a few people who need help on their spiritual journey. You don’t have to be a scholar, just willing. Small groups, if they are effective, are to disciple and multiply.  What if the small groups in the book of Acts had never multiplied? 

 In one church that Sherry and I felt called to help in a difficult time, a “small group” invited us out to supper.  We went to the restaurant and met up with three couples.  As we visited, I asked them who else was in their small group.  “No one,” was the answer.  I followed up with another question. How long have you all been a small group?  “Ten years” they told me.  Friends, that is a social group, not a small group.  The core of our current group has been together for about two years.  We lost a couple and recruited another twice in those two years.  In the near future, Sherry and I will help the group split. Then the new groups will go find two or three other couples to join them and have two groups for four to six couples.  It isn’t always easy to leave a group but we have work to do in the Kingdom.  Many people are living lives isolated and alone and need community.  Fellowship doesn’t happen by chance.

Beware of the danger of self-centeredness and isolation.  Be aware of the value of coming together in our churches and our homes. 

 I will not be in the office the rest of the week.  I have a few people I need to check on, some planning work with Lawrence Elementary as they wind up the year and another project that I am working on for Sunday as we move on to our next discipline – SERVICE.

 Have a blessed week.

Pastor Rick

Monday Morning Rewind 5/13/2024

Hey all, sorry for making the Monday Morning Rewind a Monday Afternoon Rewind. It’s been one of those mornings!

 Our “Rooted” series will continue this coming Sunday with the discipline of Fellowship.  The next couple of weeks after that will be Service and then Evangelism.  I hope you are finding these messages on “spiritual disciplines” useful.  I know that many of you are “seasoned Christians” but I hope that you find at least one or two helpful nuggets in each message.  As a coach, I used to take my staff to clinics to network and learn.  I told them that much of what they hear at their respective sessions might be repeat but if you can catch one thing, no matter how small it might be, that can help you become a better coach or person, it would be worth the time and effort.  Long ago, the apostle Paul recognized that we are all on a learning journey and that journey doesn’t end until the day we take our last breath and Jesus takes us home. He wrote in Philippians 3:12-15 that he hadn’t achieved perfection yet.  This is Paul, probably the greatest evangelist and maybe the most influential man in all the Kingdom of God in his day, saying this! Twice in the following verses he says “he presses on, looking forward.”  No matter how long you have been a follower of Christ, there is always much to learn.

 I will share one example of continual learning with you from my personal life. I was preaching one Sunday during the Easter season and a retired pastor who I respected mightily was in the congregation.  I was in Matthew 26 teaching on the Last Supper.  Jesus had told the disciples that one of them would betray Him.  One by one they ask “Is it I Lord?”  The Greek for Lord here is the word kyrios which means “the one to whom I belong.”  The last disciple to ask the question was Judas who asks “Is it I, Rabbi?”  Rabbi is translated as teacher.  Notice the difference?  It was something I had picked up early on but this seasoned pastor told me he had never caught that and thanked me for pointing that out.  It was a dual lesson for me.  The first lesson was that we are never too old or experienced not to pick up new information or teachings.  The second was that this highly respected pastor was humble enough to admit that he had more to learn.  I have taken those two lessons to heart.  I go to church leadership conferences and coaching clinics for the purpose of learning new things.  Wilfredo de Jesus, a national church leader, said that leaders never quit learning.  If you quit learning, you quit leading. 

All of you, regardless of your age or experience, are leading someone somewhere.  I pray that you develop the habit of lifelong learning to better equip you for the journey ahead and the work of the kingdom.  Afterall, my duty as your pastor is to “equip the saints for the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:11-13).  Sometimes in church just as in coaching a sport, you go back and review the fundamentals because it is easy with time to forget the foundational elements of any task.  Give me five more messages to get through the fundamentals and then we will journey with the apostles into the work of the early church and those foundational elements by beginning a study of the Book of Acts.  I can’t wait to see what happens when Jesus unleashes the disciples on the Kingdom!  All I know is that the work started with a handful and today millions and millions of people claim to follow Christ.  What a journey!

Pastor Rick