Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Visiting Different Churches

This is a true story!
This post is about what I have come to call my "drop-in" visits to churches. It will include some churches in my own denomination and some in other denominations. There will be some humor, some analysis, and perhaps what could be called criticism. However, I want it to be clear from the start that I have utmost respect and high regard for the people who carry on the teaching and preaching in these churches and especially do I respect the pastors in these churches.

I'm not really sure - I may have blogged about this previously. I'll check before completing this project. I read today (January 13, 2009) from someone else the following:

"Would I be intrigued enough to return to the Sunday meeting? Would I feel welcomed and a sense of identification with the community vibe? Would I be interested in learning more about the Jesus the teacher was speaking about? Would I feel like people cared if I was there and helped me know what to do being a first time guest? Would I know where to go and what to do next to find out more information about the church? Would I desire to get connected in a smaller group of people in the church as the bigger meeting isn't the place for true community to happen? Would I want to get to know the people there more?"
Actually the motivation I had for "drop-in" visits was not the same as the above but it did tell me lots about why some of our churches growth or lack thereof. My schedule in those days was not always full because I was serving as Field Director for our Church of God in Africa. I needed some days without specific committments so I could rest up after (or before making) one of my long gruelling trips to minister for two to seven weeks at a time on the dark continent. Monday through Friday I was in my office at General Headquarters and many week-ends were scheduled for fund-raising in local churches in several states.
One of the most memorable of those visits was my visit to a small church near our headquarters city. I went in about 10 to 15 minutes late (deliberately) to let the people have enough time to do whatever it was they were going to do under "normal" circumstances. On this particular day, the Sunday School lesson was about the passage of Scripture in John 4 where it is said of Jesus, "And he must needs go through Samaria." and the disciples could not understand why he wanted to go through that region since it was dominated by Samaritans. The male Sunday School teacher explained it this way -- "You see? It's just like today...you take these people over here at General Headquarters, they would never come by our little church. They think they are too good or too important or too busy to stop by a church like ours. But - if JESUS was here, he would come by and visit with us!" On and on he went for what I know was at least a full five minutes (seemed like half an hour) criticizing the people at General Headquarters.

When Sunday School was over and the teacher had been seated, the Pastor came to the pulpit and shortly noted that "I see (looking straight back at me) we have a visitor today. Brother we'd like to hear you testify today if you're saved."

I got up and said, "Yes, Brother, I'm saved, sanctified, filled with the Holy Ghost, a member of the great Church of God, married to one wife and pay my tithes regularly! O, and by the way, I am from over at General Headquarters but I just felt compelled to come by and visit you today!"

Friday, January 2, 2009

Christmas At The Cabin

Some of the children enjoying the sunshine and the swing the day after Christmas.

We had a wonderful deer roast cooked in a dutch oven over the camp fire by our champion deer hunter, son-in-law Rick Durham.

Jason is grilling! We all loved the results.

Inside the cabin we had a meal with the Rob Davis family from Colorado. These are friends we met the first week after we moved to Nairobi, Kenya in July of 1989.

As you can see, we were not counting calories.

Mama Frankie was the taste tester!

In this photo, Renee, a great grand-daughter is seen crossing the creek which flows past the front porch of the cabin via foot-log.

Two big red ribbons were the only Christmas decorations. Thank God for all the great weather we had (into the low 60s with plenty of sunshine.)

Kimberly, Renee, Riley, Pappy (Rick) and Hailey seem to enjoy skipping rocks on top of the water.