Digesting a Rock

Life includes a lot of painful stuff. I used to knee-jerk react to it. Then I’d end up some combination of angry, anxious, afraid, depressed or bitter. But lately, I’ve been thinking of those situations as being like digesting a rock.

When the incident happens, it’s like I’ve swallowed a rock. Once you’ve swallowed a rock, certain things are just going to happen. It’s not what I was designed to eat, but it’s happened.

I can expect several different kinds of pain along the way, varying in intensity. Once I swallow the rock, I know that this will come. I can make peace with it. It’s OK to feel bad right now. After all, I just swallowed a rock!

The best part of the image is that even though I can count on the pain, emotions, exhaustion, etc., I also know that it will run its course. I won’t always feel this way. Different sizes of rocks take different amounts of time to work through the system, but eventually, I’ll feel OK again.

This same kind of confidence in the midst of pain is what I see in Psalm 42 – “My tears have been my food day and night” (verse 3) moves to “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (verses 5 & 11).

Try to be at peace during your rock digestion process. It’s normal for you to feel some pretty serious discomfort. You may not be able to do everything you could do before swallowing the rock. But (at the risk of ruining a nice blog post with a horrible pun), “This too shall pass.”

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Prisoners Set Free!

From Charles Spurgeon’s “Faith’s Checkbook”
From Fetters Free
March 7
The Lord looseth the prisoner. (Psalm 146:7)

He has done it. Remember Joseph, Israel in Egypt, Manasseh, Jeremiah, Peter, and many others. He can do it still. He breaks the bars of brass with a word and snaps the fetters of iron with a look. He is doing it. In a thousand places troubled ones are coming forth to light and enlargement. Jesus still proclaims the opening of the prison to them that are bound. At this moment doors are flying back and fetters are dropping to the ground.  He will delight to set you free, dear friend, if at this time you are mourning because of sorrow, doubt, and fear. It will be joy to Jesus to give you liberty. It will give Him as great a pleasure to loose you as it will be a pleasure to you to be loosed. No, you have not to snap the iron hand: the Lord Himself will do it. Only trust Him, and He will be your Emancipator. Believe in Him in spite of the stone walls or the manacles of iron. Satan cannot hold you, sin cannot enchain you, even despair cannot bind you if you will now believe in the Lord Jesus, in the freeness of His grace, and the fullness of His power to save.  Defy the enemy, and let the word now before you be your song of deliverance; “Jehovah looseth the prisoners.”

From Faith’s Checkbook Mobile Devotion Android app – www.WhitneyApps.com

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God is STILL faithful and strong

This word from Charles Spurgeon is quite timely for those of us facing challenges right now.  Try not to be bothered by the King James English.  The message is still fresh – God has delivered us in the past and will deliver us from today’s fresh threat.

From Charles Spurgeon’s “Faith’s Checkbook”
Past Deliverance Begets Faith
February 22

David said moreover, The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. (1 Samuel 17:37)   This is not a promise if we consider only the words, but it is truly so as to its sense; for David spoke a word which the Lord endorsed by making it true. He argued from past deliverances that he should receive help in a new danger. In Jesus all the promises are “Yea” and “Amen” to the glory of God by us, and so the Lord’s former dealings with His believing people will be repeated.  Come, then, let us recall the Lord’s former lovingkindness. We could not have hoped to be delivered aforetime by our own strength; yet the Lord delivered us. Will He not again save us? We are sure He will. As David ran to meet his foe, so will we. The Lord has been with us, He is with us, and He has said, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee,” Why do we tremble? Was the past a dream? Think of the dead bear and lion. Who is this Philistine? True, he is not quite the same, and is neither bear nor lion; but then God is the same, and His honor is as much concerned in the one case as in the other. He did not save us from the beasts of the forest to let a giant kill us. Let us be of good courage.

From Faith’s Checkbook Mobile Devotion Android app – www.WhitneyApps.com

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The devil waits for an “opportune time,” but God’s people act in God’s time

The devil and those working against God wait for an “opportune time”: 

“When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left [Jesus] until an opportune time.” (Luke 4:13 NIV)  

“From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand [Jesus] over.” 

(Also see Mark 6:21, Romans 7:8,11, Mark 14:11/Luke 22:6, Jeremiah 46:17 and many others.)

But God’s people don’t wait for an opportune time.  We don’t need an opportune time.  When God decides it’s time, it will be possible to act, whether or not it initially appears so.  We act in God’s time. 

7 And the LORD said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses.  8 Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: ‘When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river.’ ” … 15 Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, 16the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (the Salt Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. 17 The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.  (Joshua 3:7-8,15-17 NIV)

God told Joshua that it was time to act.  It was time to enter the Promised Land.  And God asked Joshua and the priests to carry the ark of the Covenant – the symbol of God’s presence – out into the river, even though the flood waters were raging.This was surely the least opportune time possible for crossing the Jordan.  But it was God’s time.  If God is for us, who can be against us?

31 What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:31-32 NIV)

What might it be God’s time for right now?  How might God be calling us to step into the rushing river waters today?  Can we count on God to part the waters and bring us saqfely through?  What would it be like if we decided to stop waiting for an opportune time and decided to rely on God’s timing exclusively?  Can you feel God’s leading right now?

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Christmas Consumerism Overload

We try hard not to give our kids a lot of stuff at Christmastime.  We let them get stuff they need like shoes, backpacks, and jackets.  They also get a few fun things.  It’s not extravagent, but somehow there’s always enough to blow the kids’ circuit breakers.  And I guess my circuit breaker blew this year too.

I was just at Target picking up 7-Up and saltines for a sick kid, and I saw the $5 DVD displays.  In the past, I’ve looked them over to see if there’s anytrhing good there, but tonight it made me sick to my stomach.  If there had been a good movie there, I think I would have paid the same amount to rent it and avoid having it stay in my home.

I simply love what we do in the church at Christmas.  We remember Jesus’ birth and welcome him into our lives again.  Children and adults alike share their gifts.  People who are very different serve side by side to make sure that thigns go smootghly and everyone receives a warm welcome.  And my family had a great Christmas breakfast together and a wonderful dinner with my parents and my sister’s family.  I even received some stuff I can really use!  But the gift exchange felt out of place to me.  And I’d be happy not to buy anything for a long time.

I am thankful for my family and my life.  I’m grateful that God loves me enough to come into the world for me!  I need to pay the bills, and make sure my kids have what they really need, but it’s a lot less than I sometimes believe.  I’m going to pray to hang onto this perspective.

What has your experience of Christmas been like?  Do you feel the overload?  Or are you looking at it from a completely different perspective?

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A beautiful Spurgeon devotion about God’s amazing love.

From Charles Spurgeon’s “Faith’s Checkbook”
The Reason for Singing
September 19

The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his he, he will joy over thee with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)

What a word is this! Jehovah God in the center of His people in all the majesty of His power! This presence alone suffices to inspire us with peace and hope. Treasures of boundless might are stored in our Jehovah, and He dwells in His church; therefore may His people shout for joy.

We not only have His presence, but He is engaged upon His choice work of salvation. “He will save.” He is always saving: He takes His name of Jesus from it. Let us not fear any danger, for He is mighty to save. 

Nor is this all. He abides evermore the same, He saves, He finds rest in loving, He will not cease to love. His love gives Him joy. He even finds a theme for song in His beloved. This is exceedingly wonderful. When God wrought creation He did not sing but simply said, “It is very good”; but when He came to redemption, then the sacred Trinity felt a joy to be expressed in song, Think of it, and be astonished! Jehovah Jesus sings a marriage song over His chosen bride. She is to Him His love, His joy, His rest, His song. O Lord Jesus, by Thine immeasurable love to us teach us to love Thee, to rejoice in Thee, and to sing unto Thee our life-psalm.

Sent from Faith’s Checkbook Mobile Devotion Android app – www.WhitneyApps.com

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Charles Spurgeon on Waiting for God.

From Charles Spurgeon’s “Faith’s Checkbook”
A Strong Heart
September 6
“Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord. (Psalm 27:14)”

Wait! Wait! Let your waiting be on the Lord! He is worth waiting for. He never disappoints the waiting soul.  While waiting keep up your spirits, Expect a great deliverance, and be ready to praise God for it. 
The promise which should cheer you is in the middle of the verse — “He shall strengthen thine heart.” This goes at once to the place where you need help. If the heart be sound, all the rest of the system will work well. The heart wants calming and cheering, and both of these will come if it be strengthened. A forceful heart rests and rejoices and throbs force into the whole man.

No one else can get at that secret urn of life, the heart, so as to pour strength into it. He alone who made it can make it strong. God is full of strength, and, therefore, He can impart it to those who need it. Oh, be brave; for the Lord will impart His strength to you, and you shall be calm in tempest and glad in sorrow.

He who penned these lines can write as David did — “Wait, I say, on the Lord.” I do, indeed, say it. I know by long and deep experience that it is good for me to wait upon the Lord.

Sent from Faith’s Checkbook Mobile Devotion Android app – www.WhitneyApps.com/fcb

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Bible Detox for Preachers

One of my sabbatical goals was to read through the New Testament this summer – the church leadership called it “scriptural immersion.”  I was surprised by my resistance to doing it.  My significant burnout was one factor, but that wasn’t the whole story.

When I started seminary, I read an article that talked about the danger of making Bible-reading and prayer into part of my professional job description rather than a spiritual discipline, but I didn’t expect it to happen to me.

It makes sense.  I used to do computer programming as a hobby – until I started doing that for a living.  Who wants to go home and do more work?  I didn’t.  It was no longer a fun thing I did for myself.

Reading the Bible and even setting aside specific times for prayer were painted with the same brush as church administration, expense reports, newsletter articles, and even preaching.  Stuff I have to do.  As I became more and more burned out, more things moved from the “Things I’m Passionate About” list to the “Things I Have to Do for My Job” list.  At some point, without my realizing it, reading the Bible became something to do because I needed to teach a Bible study or preach.  Not a good place to be if you consider that we don’t live by bread alone but by the Word of God.

God was gracious and gentle with me during that time, but I always had a sense that it wasn’t supposed to be this hard.  Part of the difficulty came from turning the things God intends as a blessing to all Christians into an obligation for a job.

So I didn’t finish reading the New Testament – that felt like an obligation.  But I did get to re-experience the joy of reading the Bible.  I can read any part that strikes my fancy that day.  I can research a topic I’m interested in.  Or I can just experience the comfort of one of my favorite Psalms.

I’m not quite out of detox yet, and it will be a challenge as I re-enter my pastoral role to make sure I don’t slide back into seeing it as an obligation/job requirement.

Anyone have ideas?  Let me know!

Categories: Bible, Church Leaders, Listening to God, Pastor to pastor, Prayer, sabbatical, Undercover Pastor | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spurgeon on the challenges of ministry

This devotion was particularly timely as I contemplate the road out of burnout:

From Charles Spurgeon’s “Faith’s Checkbook”
Choice Men (women too, -ed.)
August 27
I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction. (Isaiah 48:10)
This has long been the motto fixed before our eye upon the wall of our bedroom, and in many ways it has also been written on our heart. It is no mean thing to be chosen of God. God’s choice makes chosen men choice men. Better to be the elect of God than the elect of a whole nation. So eminent is this privilege, that whatever drawback may be joined to it we very joyfully accept it, even as the Jew ate the bitter herbs for the sake of the Paschal Lamb. We choose the furnace, since God chooses us in it.  We are chosen as an afflicted people and not as a prosperous people, chosen not in the palace but in the furnace. In the furnace beauty is marred, fashion is destroyed, strength is melted, glory is consumed, and yet here eternal love reveals its secrets and declares its choice. So has it been in our case. In times of severest trial God has made to us our calling and election plain, and we have made it sure: then have we chosen the Lord to be our God, and He has shown that we are assuredly His chosen. Therefore, if today the furnace be heated seven times hotter, we will not dread it, for the glorious Son of God will walk with us amid the glowing coals.

Sent from Faith’s Checkbook Mobile Devotion Android app – www.WhitneyApps.com

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What does a 20-year-old Twinkie look like?

We put a Hostess Twinkie in my middle school time capsule.  Many of us expected the Twinkie to survive with few ill effects.  Apparently there are natural ingredients in a Twinkie because this is what we found when the time capsule came out of the ground:

Fresh Twinkie vs. 20-year-old Twinkie

Fresh Twinkie (left) vs. 20-year-old Twinkie (right)

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The Church’s Mission from Romans 10

Romans 10:8-15

“The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

Good mission statement?  There are lots of ways to preach and send.  Literally preaching is surely important.  So is showing love in other ways.  It’s hard to contemplate the Good News when your family’s hungry.

You can’t send without showing confidence in people’s gifts.  And of course, no one can be sent unless they’re willing to reorder their life enough to make the time/energy.

Categories: Bible, Church, Church and the World, Church Leaders, Reaching Out, Undercover Pastor | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Love the Church (from Charles Spurgeon)

My friend Eric gave me a copy of C. H. Spurgeon’s Faith’s Checkbook, and I’ve been using it as a daily devotion lately.  Today I happened to peek ahead at the July 10th entry and thought this was worth sharing.  (It’s in the public domain so copy away!) You can find more at www.eternallifeministries.org/fcb_toc.htm In the meantime, meditate on this:

Love the Church

Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favor her, yea, the set time, is come. For thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favor the dust thereof. (Psalm 102:13-14)

Yes, our prayers for the church will be heard. The set time is come. We love the prayer meetings, and the Sunday school, and all the services of the Lord’s house. We are bound in heart to all the people of God and can truly say,

There’s not a lamb in all thy flock
I would disdain to feed
There’s not a foe before whose face
I’d fear thy cause to plead.

If this is the general feeling, we shall soon enjoy times of refreshing horn the presence of the Lord. Our assemblies will be filled, saints will be revived, and sinners will be converted. This can only come of the Lord’s mercy; but it will come, and we are called upon to expect it. The time, the set time, is come. Let us bestir ourselves. Let us love every stone of our Zion, even though it may be fallen down. Let us treasure up the least truth, the least ordinance, the least believer, even though some may despise them as only so much dust. When we favor Zion, God is about to favor her. When we take pleasure in the Lord’s work, the Lord Himself will take pleasure in it.

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Bacon Salt


Sorry vegetarians, I have to agree with J&D’s – “Everything should taste like bacon.”

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Extravagant Love for Crazy Kids

My kids are crazy.  Really, they are.  Apparently, they’ve been domesticated to the point that they no longer have any kind of survival instincts.

We had the opportunity to spend a couple of days in Santa Cruz with Eleanor’s family, and someone in the group wanted to check out the Santa Cruz Boardwalk.  After getting everyone settled and feeding them, we made the short (by adult standards) walk to the beach.  By now it was evening, and the Boardwalk was really crowded, so we decided to walk along the shore.  The kids kicked off their shoes and walked through the water as it washed up on the beach.  Everyone was having a good time.  But the kids started getting more and more energized.  They dared to run farther out.  They cared less and less about getting wet.  Eventually, they tore off their shirts and started wading in the cold water as it was getting dark.   We expected them to come to their senses at any moment.  We thought they’d notice how cold they were and come back out seeking warmth.  But it didn’t happen because, as I mentioned earlier, my children have no common sense.

As parents, we tried to stop them.  We knew that they didn’t have spare clothes.  We knew that we had to walk a mile to get back to the house.  We knew that what the kids found so fun right now  was going to make them miserable very soon!  But now it was done.  The die was cast.

We (the parents) started talking about how to help our children.  Eventually, we decided that I would run back to the house, grab the minivan, drive back to the beach, and pick up the wet kids so they didn’t have to make the walk back in cold wet clothes.  You see, we love our senseless children and are willing to do completely unreasonable things to ensure their well-being – even when the problem is one of their own creation.

As I was huffing and puffing on the run back up the hill, I thought about my own life and my relationship with God, which is a lot like my relationship with my children.  God loves me extravagantly and – even though I frequently seem to have no common sense – continues to go to unreasonable lengths to ensure my well-being.

In fact, as I was trekking up that hill, I realized that I didn’t know the house number of the place I was trying to find.  I knew what street it was one, and I would know it from sight, but it wasaloooong street, and the kids were waiting for me.  I heard, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own insight.  In all your ways, acknowledge him, and he will make your path straight.”  (Proverbs 3:5)  I turned left and found the house with the minivan waiting right out front.  Even as I as working to care for my children, there was another pair of arms underneath, holding both them and me.

Categories: Daddy log - parenting, God as Father, God's love, sabbatical, Undercover Pastor | Leave a comment

Reindeer Roadkill

Saw this on a walk yesterday.  Poor Rudolph!

Reindeer Roadkill

Reindeer Roadkill

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Roadside Memorials – Filling in for the Church?

I don’t know if this is happening everywhere in the United States, but here in California, I’ve seen a huge increase of collaborative roadside memorials in the past few years.  Do you know the phenomenon I’m describing?  People go to the place where someone has lost their life – usually in a car accident – and arrange balloons, pictures, candles, flowers, personal items, teddy bears, etc. Here’s a picture of one in West Sacramento, CA:

A Memorial in West Sacramento, CA

People make these as a way to express their grief and feel like they’re doing something about their loss. The church used to provide a place for that.  We used to be the place where people gathered to express their loss and comfort each other.   A memorial service followed by a reception used to be the place where people would find meaning and hope in a senseless loss – where people could share their pain, share their stories,comfort one another, and offer support.  If we wanted a lasting memorial to a person, we would donate to the church’s memorial fund and our loved one’s name would be recorded where future generations could read it.

But where do you go if you don’t have a community like that?  How do you find hope if you don’t have the hope of the gospel? Where do you go to share stories?

I think that these roadside memorials are a sign of spiritual hunger – of people’s search for meaning and longing for more in life.  We’re desperately trying to create it for ourselves.

I wonder how the church might respond.  I wonder if there’s a way for us to meet that need again the way we once did.  I wonder if we could make ourselves available for memorial services or even places to memorialize someone in a more permanent way.  How could we let people know that we’re there for them in their time of crisis?

What are your ideas?

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Morning Prayer for Night People

I have to admit it.  For years, people have talked to me about the importance of morning prayer, of starting out each day by dedicating it – and myself – to God.  I have tried a bunch of times to do it too.  But I find it hard.

Here’s the deal.  I’m not a morning person at all.  I don’t like getting up any earlier than I have to.  I don’t think very clearly in the morning either.  I’ve tried prayer journals and devotional books.  They’re OK, but I still need a lot of discipline and a measure of focus.  I’ve tried the “read the Bible in 365 days” plan too.  It’s great, but my brain doesn’t want to digest that much so early in the morning.

I’ve used devotional books too, including My Utmost for His Highest (Oswald Chambers), Morning and Evening (Charles Spurgeon) and These Days (various authors).  They’re inspirational, but there’s not a lot of Bible or prayer in there – mostly reflection.

What I really need is a prayer leader – my own private prayer service each morning.  So here’s what I’m doing.  Each morning, I’m praying along with a “morning prayer” podcast.  It’s based on the Episcopal Church’s daily office book so it had a Psalm and two Bible readings along with a prayer of confession, a creed, a chance to pray for others, the Lord’s Prayer and a blessing.  It’s also set to music – just the thing for me.  As a good Presbyterian, I pause during the prayer of confession to get a little extra confessing time.  I usually pause during the intercession time too.

It takes me 15-20 minutes for that.  On the good days I can pray and read more as I feel led.  On the bad days, at least I’ve started with prayer!

There are several audio resources available for prayer time with a computer or MP3 player.  Try them and see what works best for you:

Listen or subscribe to the Morning Prayer podcast from the Episcopal Church in Garrett County: www.episcopalchurchingarrettcounty.org/churchonthewebpage.htm

For a reading and reflection Monday through Friday, check out www.pray-as-you-go.org

For a weekly dose of scripture, prayer, music and contemplation, try the Taizé podcast www.taize.fr/podcast

There’s also an audiobook version of Eugene Peterson’s The Message that divides the Bible up into daily doses (with a day off for reflection and catch-up each week): www.amazon.com/Daily-Message-Complete-Bible/dp/1598594575

I hope one of these will help my fellow morning-prayer-challenged night people out there as much as this has helped me.  May God bless you on your journey!

Categories: Discipleship - learning from Jesus, Prayer, Undercover Pastor | 2 Comments

Public Restrooms and the Church

Sign that reads "No Public Restroom (Customers Only)"

On a recent coffee run I saw a sign at a local restaurant located near a major freeway.   “No Public Restroom (Customers Only),” it read.

The sign was posted on the front door where everyone would see it – in fact, that and the hours were the only things posted there.  It reminded me of a church I interviewed with years ago.  The church was having trouble reaching out to younger people, but when teens started hanging around outside the church so they had posted “no skateboarding” signs all over.  “They chip the steps,” I was told.  “Couldn’t you put a concrete repair line item in the budget and welcome them in?”  I asked.  Needless to say, I was not invited to pastor that church.

Isn’t there a way that the restaurant with the “no public restroom” sign could use the traffic to their advantage?

I’ve written previously about some issues we face again and again in the church I pastor.  One of them is a concern about the cost of food and drinks after worship.  “Can’t they eat at home?” some ask.  “What’s wrong with asking for a small donation for food – for those who really want to eat?”

We’ve found that when we don’t charge for things like coffee, snacks, paperback Bibles, devotional books and  sermon CDs, people feel welcomed and loved.  And they come back!  Our family grows and our financial needs are met.

Some time ago, I visited another restaurant – a Round Table Pizza – when I was on the freeway with a child whose bladder was about to explode.  They had a sign that said, “Our restrooms are for everyone.  If you’re not a customer on this visit, we hope that one day you will be.”

  • Which sign had more impact?  (Note that I remember that Round Table Pizza restaurant and its sign years later.)
  • Who made better use of their chance to interact with the public?
  • What model is a better one for Christ’s church to emulate?
  • What opportunities might we be missing right now???
Categories: Church Transformation, Hospitality, Marketing, Reaching Out | 2 Comments

Denny’s Big Breakfast Gamble and the Church

I saw the Super Bowl ad for a free grand slam breakfast at Denny’s on February 3rd.  And I was planning to take the family.  Only each Denny’s we visited had a line around the block.  Apparently, Denny’s served 2 million breakfasts that morning.  They estimate that they got $50 million worth of free (positive) publicity for an event that cost them $5 million.  (See the USA Today article on the event.)

When we’re planning an event at the church, someone will almost always say, “What if we advertise it and 5000 people come?  We won’t be able to handle it!”  My usual response is that “It hasn’t happened yet, even when we want to invite the whole community.”

Denny’s took a risk.  A big, expensive risk.  Would anyone come?  Would any of them come back?  What if too many people came and left mad?  What if they got bad press?

The way I see it, they couldn’t lose.  Either a) People would come and enjoy a good breakfast, learning where Denny’s was and what it offered or b) too many would show up making it a big media event – showing priceless images of people lining up around the block to eat at Denny’s.  Either way you win, right?  It was a gutsy move, and they hit a grand slam.  (Sorry, I couldn’t help it.)  I didn’t get a breakfast, but I wasn’t angry – it wasn’t Denny’s fault!

Usually in the church, we play it safe.  That means when we accomplish out goals, not much happens.  What if we tried to be like Denny’s?  After all, our “CEO” rewards those who step out in faith!

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I’m about halfway through a three-week vacation from my position as pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church.  After 5-1/2 years as pastor with no more than two weeks off at any one time (except to have kids!), I started to feel tired, and it was taking more and more to recover.  I later learned that psychologists have a name for that concept: “resiliency.”

It’s kind of like some rechargeable batteries – they become less and less able to hold a charge over time.  More charging and less powering.  I was like that – less able to deal with adversity, less able to recharge, less able to think creatively.  I think the real answer will be a sabbatical in 2010, but for now, I’m taking a break, looking at new habits that will help me to be healthy and effective.

I don’t want to be like a worn out laptop battery, and I’m not planning on allowing myself to get so worn down that I can’t do my job.

If you’ve lost your resiliency – especially if you’re a pastor – it’s worth the effort to recover that ability.  For me this vacation is different than any other I’ve had.  My focus this time isn’t on escaping from my work but on allowing God to renew me, restore me, and transform me.

Jesus says, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”  (Matthew 11:29)  Jesus clearly states that one can wear his yoke andfind rest for one’s soul.  That’s all I’m looking for.  🙂

I’ll let you know how it goes!

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