Monday, April 28, 2008

Why Do Churches Split?

At the recent Spiritual Training Seminar, hosted by the Cordova congregation, I was blessed to hear two presentations given by Tim Pownall, assistant director of the Strauss Institute for Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine University’s School of Law. Brother Pownall’s lessons were designed to help church leaders successfully navigate the difficult waters of congregational conflict. He did a great job in both sessions.

He made a statement during one presentation that I wanted to share with you. He said: “No church was ever split over who was going to serve whom.” The more I thought about it, the more I was impressed with just how true it was. Sadly, churches have been split over a myriad of various issues over the years. Oddly enough, though, I can’t seem to ever remember a time when a heated discussion erupted in a church business meeting over who was going to clean the toilets. I’ve never heard of brothers or sisters angrily raising their voices with each another over who gets to be in charge of picking up the trash on the premises. I can’t seem to ever recall a time when someone left the fellowship because so-and-so is always getting to help the widows and orphans.

For some odd reason, we don’t fuss, feud, and fight over these kinds of things, do we? Why is that, I wonder? Probably for the same reason that a room full of disciples, who were fond of discussing among themselves who was the greatest (Mark 9:34; Matthew 20:20-24), would suddenly fall silent as Jesus wrapped Himself with a towel, poured water in a basin, and began to wash and dry their dirty feet (John 13:1-5).

Problems always arise when we seek to be served instead of seeking to serve. The key to unity is to imitate the attitude and example of our Savior, Jesus Christ, who “…did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). As I recall, no one argued over who got to go to the cross.

God loves you!


A World-Record Marriage

“The year was 1925. Calvin Coolidge was president, Adolph Hitler released the first part of his book, “Mein Kampf,” Charlie Chaplin’s big movie was “The Gold Rush,” flappers were singing and dancing to “Sweet Georgia Brown” and “I’m Sitting On Top Of The World,” the Scopes Trial played out in Tennessee, the first television images were broadcast, Al Capone ruled the streets of Chicago, flagpole sitters were all the rage, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington were the newest recording artists, the price of a first-class stamp hit 2 cents. And in Hugo, Minnesota, an 18-year-old man named Clarence Vail married his 16-year-old sweetheart, Mayme. They had met in the eighth grade, and marriages at such young ages were more the norm than the exception back then. Unremarkable at the time, that union, now 83 years old and still as strong as ever, has finally claimed a place among the historic events of the year. NBC’s Kevin Tibbles reported for TODAY on Monday that Clarence and Mayme Vail are going into “Guinness World Records” for being married longer than any other living couple on earth. They don’t have a magic formula to explain the success of their marriage. They just took seriously what they said to each other when they stood at the altar. “You take your vows, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer,” Mayme said. “I guess you just stick to it, come what may” (Mike Celizic,, March 17, 2008).

There really is no magic involved in having a lasting marriage. It happens when a man and a woman keep the vows they make to each other, regardless of the struggles that they face. Sadly, though, we live in a world where vows are easily broken and marriages are destroyed. We need to be sensitive to that reality. But we also must never fall for the idea that the only marriages that endure are the lucky ones. Lasting marriages are not a hit-or-miss affair. They are built, year by year, as we keep our promises to our mates.

God loves you!


Monday, April 21, 2008

5 Generations

This past weekend, Derek, Connor and I flew to Denver for family pictures. My Grandfather turned 92 in January and his health is beginning to fail. How many families have the privilege to witness 5 generations alive at the same time? We had a great time, even though it was a fast trip. Today we received word that my Grandpa may be in heart failure. I'm so thankful we went!

Monday, April 14, 2008

How Valuable Am I?

Associated Press baseball writer Ronald Blum began an article recently with a stunning statistic. Surprisingly, it had nothing to do with batting averages, RBI’s, or fielding percentages. This particular statistic involved salaries. Notice, if you will, the opening words of Mr. Blum’s article: “Alex Rodriguez makes more this year than his hometown Florida Marlins. Boosted by his new deal with the New York Yankees, A-Rod tops the major league baseball salary list at $28 million, according to a study of contract terms by The Associated Press. The 33 players on the Marlins’ opening-day roster and disabled list total $21.8 million” ( How incredible is that? One man making more in salary than an entire team. I suppose one could argue that Mr. Rodriguez is grossly overpaid for his baseball abilities. Granted, he is a very talented player, but should he be paid more for his services than an entire team of players? On the other hand, one could argue that Florida Marlins are grossly underpaying their players. Wouldn’t it be a bit demoralizing to realize that one single player on an opposing team is being paid more than your entire team combined?

Christians in Corinth argued among themselves about who was more valuable to the cause of Christ. These cliquish brethren were proud of their ties to prominent brethren, their knowledge and their giftedness. Sadly, these attitudes caused terrible division in their congregation. According to the apostle Paul, the solution to their problem would only come when they readjusted their attitudes and actions. In chapter 12, he reminds them that their true value is to be found, not in their human associations, abilities or accomplishments, but in their spiritual relationship to God and to one another. True spiritual value is found not found in exalting ourselves over another, but in working together for our common good.

How thankful I am to be part of a team where my value is not measured by human standards. May God help me to be valuable in His eyes!

God loves you!


God Could Never Use Me

“There was a little old lady who was very spiritual and would step out on her porch every day, raise her arms to the sky and yell, "Praise the Lord." One day, an atheist bought the house next door to her, and he became very irritated with the spiritual lady. So after a month or so of her yelling, "Praise the Lord" from her porch, he went outside on his porch and yelled back, "There is no Lord." Yet, the little old lady continued. One cold, wintry day, when the little old lady couldn't get to the store, she went out on her porch, raised her hands up to the sky and said, "Help me Lord, I have no more money, it's cold, and I have no more food." The next morning, she went outside, and there were three bags of food on the porch, enough to last her a week." Praise the Lord," she yelled. The Atheist stepped out from the bushes and said, "There is no Lord – I bought those groceries!" The little old lady raised her arms to the sky and said, "Praise the Lord, you sent me groceries and you made the Devil pay for them!" ( 1300067/).

God certainly can, and often does, work in mysterious ways. When you consider it, the list is really quite impressive. A wandering herdsman with a barren wife would become the father of many nations. A disillusioned fugitive would become God’s emissary to Pharoah, demanding the release of God’s people. A donkey would rebuke a prophet. A shepherd boy would become a giant killer as well as a mighty king. A poor, unwed young Jewish girl would become pregnant and give birth to the Son of God. A rough-hewn fisherman would become a fearless preacher. One of the greatest persecutors the church had ever known would become its most effective missionary.

In view of God’s past record, are you still willing to say that He could never use you to accomplish His purposes?

God loves you!