Monday, June 30, 2008

Tipping Is Not A City In China

. . .yet tipping seems to be so foreign to us. I've waited tables before, so has my wife. Perhaps our viewpoint is a little different since we've waited before, but from my personal experience "Christians" (or I should say "church attenders") are the worst customers in a restaurant. And because I've waited tables at a few different places (all in North Carolina) I know many wait staff feel the same way.

I remember when my life became about following Christ I was waiting tables at a Perkins Restaurant while attending college. I really despised working Sunday afternoon shifts because of all those "Christians" that came to have lunch after church. I remember being a little confused about my identity in Christ, as a new believer, because of how these "Christians" treated me.

Every time Sarah and I go out to eat a tip is an important part, not some unwanted chore that end a meal on the town.

This past week one of my youth and I met for some one on one time to talk about his journey with Christ. We met at a local restaurant. As we were about to leave my youth asked me, "how much tip should I leave". I showed him how to calculate 20% and told him that was the kind of tip you give when a waitress (or waiter) takes care of you but nothing exceptional or special happened (indicating that you should be willing to give more). It was obvious that he never considered that. But the really cool part was when our waitress, who I then learned had been listening to our conversation, turned around and started giving thanks and praise to both of us. She didn't even know how much we were going to leave her yet, but she was touched, the smile on her face said it all. How much else was she listening to?

I'm not trying to hold my life or actions up as some sort of example, but I do know there are many things Christians have a really bad reputation for doing and tipping in one of those areas that needs some serious revision.

Inspired by my father-in-law's post.

Sarah is blogging???

Ok, so since Terry has changed the blog to be more about our lives and what we are up to here in sunny, hot, humid Florida, I have been given permission to add my own posts to it. This could be a scary thing, as I have never done this before.

This is just a recap of what I have been up to the past 6 months that we've been here.
  • Moved into, cleaned, and unpacked in two apartments in the same week
  • Got a job at Tropical Smoothie in January, applied at a ton of places with no response, and ended up at Staples
  • Got the cutest puppy in the whole wide world (and I mean that literally)
  • Been a lazy bum
  • Gone to Busch Gardens Tampa a few times
  • Work with the youth group twice a week
That is about it.

Vero is a pretty nice city; definitely more to do here than back home (except the beach is a whole 15 minutes away!). We are going home for a week in a few weeks, and I can't wait! Seeing as none of our family or friends have come to see us yet, we must go to them. And we miss them all so much! I guess I'll post more later when I have more time; busy week!

Sarah Elizabeth

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sunday Highlights

Today was a long day for both Sarah and I. She had to wake up at 5am in order to make a 6am meeting at Staples. Her getting up of course affected my sleep as well so it's been a little bit of a tiring day.

In Sunday school I talked with the youth about Matthew 5:27-48. We're going through the Sermon on the Mount and this morning was a review for what we've covered in the last half of chapter 5. The highlights we talked about were:
  1. How sin can take place before we commit the action.
  2. Plucking things and situations from our life that will cause us to sin.
  3. Being a person with integrity and a reputation of trustworthiness.
  4. Consider the impact of your actions by examining if someone was about to do to you what you're about to do to them.
  5. Don't repay evil with evil.
  6. Love your enemies and pray for them.
  7. What kind of reputation do you have among those you don't spend time with?
A little bit before the 11am worship gathering the World Changers group we're sponsoring arrived and I met them for the first time. It turned out to be locals. It's 9 youth and 2 adults who will be painting, doing repairs, and construction for this week. We provided lunch for them today, which turned into a church social (although it had to be brief because the team had a schedule to keep). As their sponsors, the church is providing lunch for them this week. I'm hoping those that are serving the lunches and the youth that come along will see what the other youth are doing and I'll here, "why aren't we doing this".

We have some great servants in our church. As I looked around today, in between running here and there, I saw many who were putting a lot of time and effort into making the lunch "just right" and it showed.

Today I led two songs during the worship gathering: Better is One Day and The Wonderful Cross. I really enjoy it. I saw a lot of people who were not singing on Better is One Day; I'm guessing it wasn't familiar to them. The same thing sort of happened during The Wonderful Cross. The verses, which are from The Wondrous Cross, they were with me, but I noticed a lot less people singing during the chorus. I've asked around and nearly everyone seems to really enjoy having newer music back in the church (which I've only been doing once every 2-3 weeks), but in all honesty most of the songs aren't really "new". They're about 10-20 years old.

I can't wait until we hire a full time worship leader. I want to be learning new songs and there to at least be more than one instrument playing at a time. Plus, I can carry a tune but I don't have a nice voice.

After the morning gathering and lunch, I led the World Changers team over to Fellsmere (about a 30 min. drive) to the site they will be working and introduced them to the lady they will be doing most of their work for. Sarah and I got home a little after 3pm.

Today has felt like a long day and a long week is ahead of us. Our first adult Bible study is starting this Thursday which we're really excited about. We're starting with the subject of evangelism and I'm going to do my best to make this a very outward thinking group. Sarah and I are both very excited!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Reconsidering Blogging

So it's been 3 weeks now and I haven't posted anything. In fact, I've been doing this a lot with the blog. I'm sure I've been lossing plenty of my readers because of my lack of blogging, the few that I have.

About 6 months ago I "re-invented" the blog to talk about leadership and ministry, but I found myself constantly writing something a lot like devotionals, and I'm learning that I really don't have tons of those in me. I mean, I'm typically writing anywhere from 8-12 devotional/sermons/sermon-ettes/lessons a month already.

I told my wife that I thought about stopping the blog and she asked why. I told her what I just told you and she said she thought I shouldn't stop blogging, but rather blog about something more interesting. She's hears me speak a lot (all of those 8-12 times a month) and so, while she reads my blog in her free time, it's never been my devotional-type posts that really grabbed her. So she suggested why not just post about life, the things we're doing. Make it mostly for our friends and family. And that's what I'm going to do.

With me soon leading an adult small group at our home, which only increases the amount of teaching I'm doing, it sounds like a great time to make that change.

So, I'll be renaming the blog soon (and a new look too). . .if you have any suggestions let me know. I really don't have any ideas yet.

(My wife is grinning right now as she knows I'm taking her advice.)

Thursday, June 5, 2008


Did you know that when decisions concerning setting slaves free in America were being made that many slaves didn't want their freedom? Did you know that during early women's suffrage (the right to vote) that many women were fighting against their freedom to vote? It's interesting the battles people fight, the sides people choose, and the way people choose to fight.

The greatest slavery this world has and will ever know is to the things that will destroy them.

"Don't you realize that whatever you choose to obey becomes your master? You can choose sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God and receive his approval. I speak this way, using the illustration of slaves and masters, because it is easy to understand. Before, you let yourselves be slaves of impurity and lawlessness. Now you must choose to be slaves of righteousness so that you will become holy." -Romans 6:16,19

The question is, how do we free them. The Word of God talks a lot about this freedom, a freedom that comes through Christ alone. But just like the slaves who fought against their freedom and the women who fought against their right to vote, there are people who can't see their need for freedom from impurity and lawlessness.

Some don't see it because:
  1. They don't think they are living impurely or in lawlessness.
  2. They've become comfortable with their worldly masters.
  3. They fear changing masters.
  4. They've seen how those with freedom, so-called-Christians, act and so the "freedom" has the appearance of a lie to them.
  5. They've been told an incomplete/inaccurate Gospel (which is actually no Gospel at all).
  6. They think they are already free.
  7. They can't see the necessity for their condition to change.
In the follow-up to this post I'm going to talk about evangelism, reaching people, setting the captives free, emancipation!

So how are you and your church reaching people and being a part of setting them free?