blogs by Mike

How Rested Are you

AE is a term that is used in Church circles when everyone tries to catch their breath.  AFTER EASTER.  There is such a build up to Easter Sunday and Christmas Eve for everyone involved in and around church.  All of the volunteers who open doors, greet, run lights, run sound, run the PowerPoint, clean the church, fold bulletins, prepare children’s programs, musicians and singers rehearsing prior to these dates.  As much as we prepare for these important dates it seems like all of the build up and “POOF”, they are gone and its on to the next big thing.  

The bottom line is that Easter Sunday and Christmas Eve are important services, but everything that was done for Easter and Christmas Eve is done every single week.  Each and every service is about every person walking into service and having a connection to the Lord.  Regardless of what kind of week we have had, God will meet you in your situation.  

I have a friend who is the worship pastor for a large church and during Holy week he rehearses with the band Tuesday night and Wednesday night for Easter.  Thursday afternoon rehearses for Thursday and Good Friday service. Then he leads a Communion service for Holy Thursday and then leads a completely different service for Good Friday.  Oh yea, he still does 2 Easter services on Saturday evening and 4 Easter services on Sunday.  Each and every service would not take place if volunteers did not make it happen.  They are just as exhausted as the Worship Leader.  So family time at Easter does involve a nap.

AFTER EASTER, or in the springtime, everyone starts talking about vacations.  Normally our mind is running a million miles an hour trying to do way too much on too little time. When we do make an effort to try to slow down or go on vacation the first thing we do is organize a schedule.  Now that’s relaxing!  I’m reminded of the movie “Vacation” when Chevy Chase travels all across the US to see the Grand Canyon. He and his wife look out of the vastness of the Grand canyon for 3 seconds he then nod’s his head a few times and says “lets go” cause they have to get to Wally World.  A band mate from Missouri once told me this about Floridians, “People are in such a hurry to get somewhere so they can relax”.

A few years ago my wife and I were one of 3 couples who traveled to Spain for 10 days.  We traveled in a van and had somewhat of an itinerary.  We were in Torremolinos and we were looking for a lunch spot around 2 pm.  It was siesta time and all, and I do mean all shops were closed for a nap.  I can just see the sign here in the states.  “Sorry we are closed for lunch and a nap and will return later this afternoon”.  Not going to happen.  There is such a different culture overseas where dinner might last 3-4 hours and the conversation and laughter could last deep into the night.  

What ever your form of rest or rejuvenation is, make it a point to put down what is stressing you out and find your quiet place and turn everything over to God. Let him work out all the details. Enjoy your family, friends or what ever your refuge is. Know that what we are doing today will be our past soon and it forms our character. Pull back the reigns and focus on what is important and keep that thought in the forefront of your mind to make this day count.

Matthew 11:28 New International Version (NIV)

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.


God Bless

Mike



How Is Your Week Going?

So how are you doing on your Lenten sacrifice?  What did you give up or what did you do to better yourself?  I made a commitment at the beginning of the year to make this a year of Thankfulness.  Each day I want to make sure I take the time to say thank you and to be more attentive to many little things, which happen each day that I could have over looked.   

1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

It’s just a small thing but I gave up all sodas.  I was drinking about 3 per day.  I have had one slip in the past six weeks where I had one soda at a meeting (for the caffeine) because I do not drink coffee.  Shocker, I know, there are actually people who do not drink coffee.  

As we enter Holy Week leading up to Easter I am trying to get a better understanding of the weight this week carries. Recently in Pastor Alan’s sermon, he mentioned the shortest passage in the bible John 11: 35  “Jesus wept.”  That verse has resonated with me all week.  Many times we hear of the stories of the Bible and Jesus is instructing the disciples or preaching to crowds.  We so often forget Jesus was a real human with real emotions, real feelings.  He lost a very dear friend in Lazarus and Jesus wept.  He was hurting and the pain was real.  I remember the first time I saw my Mom cry was when her mother passed away.  It was 11 o’clock at night and I saw my Mom face down on the table sobbing.  I hurt because my Mom was hurting.  The pain was real.   

I can only imagine what kind of anxiety Jesus must have felt as he came into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday knowing what would happen in the next week.   Now lets be honest here, If we are leaving on vacation, going to the doctor, dentist, first day at a new job, leaving your kids at school for the first time or missing a deadline there is sooooo much anxiety.  Jesus knowing He had to stand in front of a judge and be found guilty, as Pilot asked Jesus “Are you the king of Jews?”  And Jesus said, “ Yes, it is as you say.”  

With those words He was found guilty and tortured and put to death on a cross.

Let’s understand the horrible fashion He suffered.  He was whipped with a strap that had hooks in it to pull flesh from his body.  Then carry his own cross so he could be nailed to it.  And a crown of thorns forced on his head. Jesus felt pain.  And as he was on the cross He was human when He cried out “I thirst.”  

My heart grows heavy with the realization of the suffering He took for my sins and the sins of the world.  So when I think about me just giving up soda’s for six weeks it seem very petty on my part.  

Yes it is a celebration on Easter Sunday, because that day changed our destiny. HE IS ALIVE, HE IS NOT DEAD. Jesus was sent here to forgive our sins. May we never forget the weight of the sacrifice for the forgiveness and love He showed to us and to be thankful everyday just not on Easter.

1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.


Love One Another

Years ago, I remember all Americans were saying baseball was the American pastime. Now, the culture has changed especially here in the south where college football reigns. Many pastors in the south have all voiced to me their number one question when coming to a new congregation is what college football team do you root for?

Just from my perspective, NFL football has lost passion because of all of the controversy over the last couple years where football players put their beliefs and agendas above what they are paid to do. We all go to our jobs each day and try to make ends meet. The climate of the America I know does not feel sorry for the millionaires who play a kids game and get treated like rock stars who want to be heard for their beliefs. There are ways to use your notoriety to better this land we love and many athletes have done just that.

But, I think the national pastime now has became an argument about the current administration, politician, Democrat or Republican. The news will spend a gross amount of time bashing what ever the network and/or the reporter wants to get behind. Yes there are stories which need to be heard, but there are stories where the compassion of people caring for others should be told.

I used to love to end the day watching the monologue of the late night shows just to unwind and get a few laughs. I cannot stand any of the late night shows anymore for the bashing reasons. Yet they get paid millions by networks who have their agenda to fulfill.

God wants us all to love one another. His greatest commandment is to love one another. Maybe we should look ourselves in the mirror every morning and ask a few questions to ourselves.

#1 Am I lying to myself? Tell the truth to yourself.

#2 Let what I value be more important than what I’ve got to have.

#3 I will not lead myself by myself.

You are responsible for you. Get someone in your life that is bold enough to tell you the truth so you do not get full of yourself. Guess what, every bad decision you have made you have been right in the middle of. People depend on you. Your family, your job, your employees, your friends. Are you leading your self well? The point is you cannot lead well if you are not leading your self well.

When you get up in the morning start a routine where you ask yourselves questions. Lead your self well now and the bad decisions you have made in the past will be in the past and the choices we make now will lead us to being a better person with better character. Maybe the national pastime could be compassion for one another, oh yeah, and world peace.

The song “We all Bleed the same” pretty much sums it up.

We all bleed the same

We’re more beautiful when we come together

We all bleed the same So tell me why, tell me why

We’re divided Woke up today

Another headline Another innocent life is taken

In the name of hatred

So hard to take And if we think that it’s all good

Then we’re mistaken

Cause my heart is breaking

Are you left? Are you right?

Pointing fingers, taking sides

When are we gonna realize?

So Father God, I pray

That our families will come together right now

And seek Your face

You will forgive our sins

And You will heal our incredible land

In the name of the only Savior, Jesus Christ

Amen

Have a great week.

Mike Conrad

You're Giving Up What?

Ok, it is that time of year again when in the Christian community we will all get the question one time or another “What are you giving up for Lent?”  Some people are right in your face and want you to know what they are doing and how they will be doing it.  Others are more subdued in their offering for Lent.

The idea behind giving up something for Lent is based on Luke 9:23 “Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”  So, essentially it’s about self-denial, carrying our cross and following Jesus.  It is something that’s done in a prayerful way, so that we can wholly renew ourselves in Christ. That’s an important part of the process for you as an individual, but also as a family. If your family or your children choose to participate in a Lenten fast, make sure that praying together and reading the Bible is part of the experience.

I have had friends who did not give up anything for Lent, but instead did an “ADD TOO” each day.  You can be intentional to do something of meaning each day.  Buy some one lunch one day, take a lonely senior some candy, take an afternoon off and spend it with your kids.  BE INTENTIONAL.  Or another person created bags of food for the food bank, by picking up items each day and at the end of each week take the bag to the food pantry. Or read a story in the bible each day, just make you disciplined enough to do it everyday!

We have so much to be thankful for each day. I have shared I am making this year a year of thankfulness.  Through the tough year of loss last year, regardless of the circumstances I am thankful, and this year I am intentionally being thankful.  

My wife and I have a friend who has lost both of her parents and has had breast cancer in the past 5 years.  We have only seen her down a couple of times of the 15 years we have known her family. We all handle adversity differently and God gives the ability to handle everything in our own way. She has the intentionality everyday to make it a good day and be positive regardless of the circumstances.  We have always admired her attitude and her faith in all of the circumstances.

We have the choice everyday to make this the best day ever. Make a difference, in your life or someone else’s life during these 40 days of Lent.  Maybe just maybe that will be the catalyst to jump-start your new and improved self. 

May these 40 days be the best ever!

I Want It

I Want It or Do I Need It?

Just last week I walked into Wal-Mart and I saw a surround sound system for the TV, which was on mark down.  It was $200 a week ago and now it was on clearance for $150.00.  Ok, my mind was running.  I was thinking to myself “We really need a surround system” and this was a really good one for a decent price.  We could be watching Jurassic Park tonight and let the windows rattle.  It would not take up that much room.

Then I walked away to think about it and came back to look at the speakers again.  My goggles were off now and when I looked at the speakers, two of them stood 3 feet tall next to the TV, then there were 2 bookshelf speakers, 1 center speaker that was 16” long, and then the two rear speakers. So I would need to run the wires to the rear speakers, which meant getting in the attic and mounting the speakers on the rear wall.  At that moment, I was so glad I turned my back and thought about it before buying them.

Is this a Want or a Need?  Ok in my mind it was a Want.  Something I did not Need.  The sound has been working on the TV for quite some time and we will be just fine without it.   When I saw the sound system the second time the speakers looked massive and it would have been overwhelming in our TV room.  Again it was a want, not a Need.  Now honestly, years ago I would not have had this mindset. Thankfully, now I can step back and re-evaluate the situation.

One thing my wife and I are pretty good at is car shopping.  We have had cars break down and had to purchase a new car.  I cannot count how many times we have turned our back on the “TODAY ONLY DEAL” and walked out of the dealership.  Sometimes we do not even get out of the door before the manager comes to us and asks how can we do this deal today. Or we get home and the phone rings from the sales manager telling me they can NOW do the deal we asked for. When we look for a car it has not been a want, rather we need a car.  But in the process we do our homework to determine what is good and fair for us.  Not what is best for the dealership’s quota?

How many times have you said to yourself “I WANT THAT”, whatever “that” is?  Or even after you got the new car, TV, Phone, truck, boat  or relationship you find this is what you thought you wanted but it is not what you needed. It did not bring you the satisfaction, joy or peace you thought?

I was told years ago be careful about praying for patience because the minute you do, God will place some one in your life which really tests your patience.  This scripture rings true for all of us.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12

When I get I-want-it-itis, I try to take a deep breath, evaluate and ask for guidance.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
 I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
Psalm 32:8 

This scripture is just not for the WANTS we have, but in all situations step back and ask the Father for his guidance.  Over time you will find when you ask for God’s guidance and you align yourself with his will, you will find satisfaction, joy, and peace.