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January 28, 2013

The world in our hallway

That Just Happened

Pastor Brown wrapped up the 2013 State of the Church Meeting by rattling off 40 (or so) major projects and events that took place at Lighthouse Baptist Church in 2012.

With the learning and teaching, the serving and giving, and the supporting and grieving and enjoying (both within and outside of our church, locally and across six continents), the magnificent and exhausting amount of activity blew my mind. Well, if you knew our church...You kind of had to be there.

And that list didn't even include the less tangible but arguably more important activities like spiritual growth, vision clarified, purpose found, forgiveness granted, and hearty laughs over salad and pizza.
LBC has some kind of way about doing church.

If an outsider who's in-the-know about church type stuff looked at our modest congregation and humble building, they may possibly say that it is a dying breed. If that same person took a closer look at the leadership and the accounting and level of active service among the members, they would probably call it a healthy church. If they took a peek around the nursery, a disheveled countenance would cross their face. They would throw down their church data sheet and cry out the label:


When pastor finally finished his list I thought to myself, with a mental fist pump, "That just happened!"

But How did that happen? 

[Yes we are well aware of how the nursery gets filled ; ) ]

It happened by having humble, God honoring leaders. It happened by having just a handful of imperfect and even broken people who are in it to serve instead of being served, in it for depth more than breadth.

I want to be careful to go easy on Big Church. Big Church has plenty of legitimate strengths and LBC its weaknesses.

Here you will not go slipping in and out without a friend noticing. You will not find a hundred thousand dollar budget for the parking lot or sound system. If the music is a little too loud or not loud enough for you, you may mention it directly to the person in charge, but in the name of the Lord you will migrate to a part of the sanctuary that is louder or softer to your liking.

And that all seems very Christ like to me.

Take up this vacuum and follow me.

It happened because the paid staff is literally two (2)! That means there's no cost for all the cleaning and tending of our building and massive amount. Most of our maintenance is done in-house. Which is why we have the means to support 25 missionaries and give locally in various forms and buy a plot of land and build an entire church in Sierra Lionne.

Don't get me wrong. Just like every other church, we call it this- or that "ministry." But at LBC everyone readily admits that ministry is a church word for pure work.

I wonder if Judy running the vacuum or Ryan installing a new heat pump or Angie disinfecting the nursery or Rae doing her techie stuff truly see their acts holistically. I never did until now. I never realized that by signing my name to the service/needs sheet in the hallway of LBC, I'm literally serving, reaching, and sharing Gods love with the entire world.

January 11, 2013

Seagulled Part 1: The Crime

Our work should increase goodness, beauty, and justice.
I've spent quite a bit of vacation time over the last few years watching how seagulls operate. They are quite perceptive and communicate well. They always prey on toddlers first, tiny humans who can hardly walk much less defend themselves. They stumble about with upper extremities in high guard, offering up their pretzels or peanut butter and jelly sandwich as a pleasing sacrifice to the gulls.

Next they seek out children oblivious to their surroundings, the ones hopelessly lost in their own world of castles and sandcrab motes and monster truck jumps off boogie board ramps. Finally, they boldly approach full blown adults, often out of their visual range, when they're in relaxation mode, enjoying a snack while watching over their flocks or enjoying a leisurely book or conversation.

They hover and dive and cackle. They pester and fidget and swap an entire bag of Doritos right out of your daughters hands. They shit on your shoulder on the beach that the state of New Jersey charges $8 per person to access.

That's where some friends and extended family were in the late summer of 2010, thirteen children and 8 adults doing the typical beach hanging out and frolicking. Someone bought boardwalk popcorn. Somebody else opened a bag of chips. Seagulls flocked to the scene in seconds, no less than a hundred of them.

Parents and older children shoe'd them away, which was completely ineffective. They threw and kicked sand at them. The seagulls laughed. A bit later a few of the adults started throwing sandals and a bottle of water at the seagulls. It was absolutely self defense and sure, it was a little innocent (?) fun.

But as they say, "It's all fun and games until someone kills a seagull."

I set my sights on a gaggle of gulls approximately 30 feet to the far side of our group, zeroed in, and slung a water bottle. An explosion of feathers and gulls taking flight settled to reveal one squawking wildly with it's head down plowing circles in the sand. The older children ran to the bird. The adults stared at each other and almost in unison lip synced "Awww [bleep]."

The thing was making a HUGE scene in broad day light. The squawking-head plow undulation went on for seconds that seemed like hours.

My friend Ryan, a Perry county (country) boy, grabbed a spade shovel (we used as a sand shovel), paced over, and firmly said "Stand back kids." He hit the gull in the head, oh, probably two or four times. A small gathering of September beach goers had assembled by then. A few of the kids were crying. My oldest boy was begging me to nurse it to health and "have him as a pet."

But alas, the bird lie limp in the sand, put it out of its misery, as they say. It didn't seem right to just let it lay there in the circle of kids and people. I gently lifted the fallen creature by one leg, slunk over to a sand dune, carrying it low beside my thigh as a partial shield, and tossed the carcass far into the tall grass.

Less than a minute later the first police officer arrived on the scene.

[Part 2 of 2 coming next week.]