Monday, December 12, 2011

A Piece of the Puzzle

The Puzzle

It was a cold winters day, as the snow and wind blew violently against the window pain. The man went to his shelf to find something to pass the time away. He found the box, and opened it up pouring the pieces out across the table. He looked across the pieces on the table all scatter in disarray. There were shapes of all sorts and sizes. Some were more rounded, and others were more square. Some had holes, and others protruding nodules for placing inside. Carefully he turned the pieces over examining the picture on each and every shape. Soon they were all facing up, and he slowly and methodically began to put piece after piece together.

Starting with pieces with straight edges he soon was able to see a frame for the picture that would be formed inside. Carefully as the days of winter went on the he was able to see the beauty of the picture come into being, as each piece found its place within the whole. It was time consuming, but fun as well to see the form it made. Soon there were less pieces and less holes to fill in the picture before him. Then the pieces ran out, and still a hole remained.

The man could be seen with flashlight in hand, searching under the table and along the wall. He searched the closet, the corners, and all through out the house. One piece was missing, what could he do?

God is piecing together a great tapestry of a puzzle in the church. Every person is a part of this great picture He is trying to make. Every part is important to the whole of who we can be in His hands. Some of us are pieces that help to make the frame for others to build upon, and others are at the center drawing the eye to the beauty of the whole. Our part is not determined by us, but by God Himself.

Yet as He brings us all together to complete the greater purpose of His picture, sometimes a piece or two is missing. Sometimes He is searching for the life that has found itself caught in the darkness of busyness, or fallen off the table of peace into the turmoil around. God may be searching for you to help complete his puzzle in this church. We hope that you will know that you are an important part of what God wants to do. Every part is important. We can not finish the picture with pieces missing, so come and join us in growing in Him.

- Daniel Shipton 12/10/11

Monday, October 10, 2011

Learn to Play with Others

Remember when we were kids, and we would go to a friends house or school to play. If they had a toy we wanted we would get very upset if they wouldn't share. If you don't remember, then perhaps its time to spend some time in the church nursery, and observe the behavior of children.

The real problem is that we do not outgrow such behavior very well. Many adults are still trying to learn to "play well together". I was reminded of this recently in looking at the account of the disciples arguing over who would be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. Isn't that just like us, to argue over who gets the best, the most, or our way. Maybe we never learned to play with others in the fun things of life, so it hurts us in working with others in the hard things.

One nice things about children, is that they often forget in a short while why they were angry with another child. A new toy or new interest comes and they are off with life. The problem with adults is that we are locked on the problem, and life can't move on for us. We become consumed with the situation, instead of loving the people God has blessed us with in our lives.

May you put aside your differences in life. May you play and have fun with the people you are a part of. May those blessings encourage love, as God intends it with in His family.

Keep on your Journey with Jesus today.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Technology Is The Pastor's Friend

I know that there are differing views of technology. Many Christians fight change in how we do thing. The fear of the unknown keeps us from trying a new recipe or trying new technology in a church. We as ministers can sometimes be too far one way or the other on the issues of technology in the places we are called to minister.

I do not consider myself a trend setter by any means, but I do try to keep up where I see benefits to those I am shepherding. This week I have been attending a class on ministry using the Web, and I am challenged in my own ideas of how to use technology in a real way to touch lives and help others on their own spiritual journey. In recent months I have improved our church website, by adding online links to daily devotionals, which some in our church already enjoy. I have also recently started a devotion Pod cast to offer encouragement to people through out the week. The devotions are based around whatever the Lord is leading me to preach on the prior week. It is my hope that this additional contact will be picked up by some in my congregation who could use some extra encouragement in their own spiritual walk.

Last night after uploading my message from Sunday onto my free account, I checked my status. I was not worried about the number, only to know if anyone is still accessing the weekly messages. Three people are regularly listening to the message. I was thrilled to know that there are others outside the pews, or maybe those listening again to what was being said. I will likely never have the draw of Billy Graham or Andy Stanley, but I can use this web-technology to give extra encouragement to those I minister to in my own small community of the world.

I utilize email for regular contacts, and reminders. I Face Book to keep in touch with many of the younger crowd, who no longer email. I use the church web page to promote and show our church, and now to offer additional spiritual growth to those I am called to shepherd. John Wesley used a horse to get into the world with the message of God. How much more should we not use the vehicle of the internet to carry the message of Christ today.

God bless your journey with Him today.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Billiards and Church Fellowship

I have been thinking a lot about fellowship with in churches this past few weeks. Today a thought came to my mind. In a way this thought is a lot like billiards or the game of pool. A church may be made up of several individuals, and a few groups of people (at least in a small town church like my own). Imagine those groups and individuals represented by several scattered balls, and a few setting side by side. They may go along for several years in their little cliches or groups, and the individuals remain solitary.

The first change I thought of was of a new pastor or leader coming into the church. Being an outsider in most cases these new leaders are accepted, at least at some level by everyone. By virtue of their influence they may make connections with groups and individuals. Unfortunately many times this is really like the pastor being the cue ball on the billiard table. The pastor interacts, attracting some, setting others off, and building new groups or clusters. In the end this may actually cause scattering in view of the table, and new groups form into new clusters over time.

This may happen again, with the change of pastoral leadership in a church.

The second thought is similar, but in regard to visitors to our church. Instead of bouncing balls around the table, these new families and faces do not have the influence or acceptance. All too often they come into a church, and instead of causing separation of groups or clusters in the church they are the ones bounced around. Groups, clusters, and individuals in the church have a mysterious force field or glue holding them together. Since the new person or family can not get into a group they either must become individuals or all too often they drift away from the church to another in search of a place of acceptance.

I pray that our churches are not made up of cliches, but of Christians who are filled with Christ and the Fellowship principle of the Bible. Opening their hearts and lives to one another, and any person who comes into the fold. May we always be open, loving, and accepting in our churches.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Team Needs You

There was a young man who wanted walked by the basketball court in his small town. He watched, as other children played the game. He recognized some of his friends from the neighborhood, and so he watched for a while. It was surprising to him how many people he knew at the game, and how many people were playing together and having fun. Even more important was the surprise at how everyone cheered one another no matter how well they played. The boy wanted to be a part of the game, and so he walked toward the court and asked the coach if he could play.

“Of course you can play, we are always open to new players. Our team never closes it’s roster, and we don’t even care if you’ve never held a ball before in your life. We do expect a few things though,” The coach said gladly.

“Sure,” the boy said with a smile. “What kind of things do you expect?”

“Well when you are part of a team that means you are accountable to one another. You are responsible to practice to the best of your ability, and you must be at every game. You see every person on our team plays, and every person has a part. We not only carry the ball, but we cheer one another on in our practice and our play. We need one another, and that is what makes us a team.”

“Every game?” The boy asked, “But when do you play?”

“We meet the first of every week to play. We offer a variety of times to practice through out the week, and we sure would benefit from having you join us.”

“Okay. I want to be a part of the team.”

What do you think would happen to a boy who joined a team, and then didn’t show up for the game? Some of us have been a part of a ball team, a theater group, or other team. We understand the importance of being there when the game is played. We understand the importance of cheering one another on, or helping one another learn.

Do we have the same thought about our Church team? In Christ we are a Body, and we are a team. Do we make it a priority to be a part of the team? Do we make sure we are there when the team is meeting? No team is perfect, and no church is either. However, we come together to encourage one another, to challenge one another, and to cheer one another in serving our Savior and King.

When we are missing from the team our lives seem less joyful. When we are missing our team feels the loss. Ask God to help you in your walk with Him. Ask Christ to help make you a stronger part of His team.

May God bless you on your Journey With Jesus,

Daniel Shipton.