Monday, January 30, 2012
Everyone in the north Metro is encouraged to attend a parenting forum tomorrow night, Tuesday, January 31 at Lino Lakes Elementary STEM School. Vicki Bohling-Philippi will give a talk called “Positive Parenting & Discipline.” The event will begin with a meal at 6:00 p.m. followed by the presentation. Child care is available. The meal, the presentation and the child care are FREE. The school is located at 725 Main Street in Lino Lakes.
Chain of Lakes Church is helping to sponsor the presentation.
This is quite an opportunity for all of us to grow in our parenting skills. I know that I will be taking notes and looking to learn how I can be a better parent. Everyone is welcome to attend. If you have elementary kids, but don’t attend Lino Lakes Elementary STEM—please do come. If you don’t have kids at home, but are interested in kids and how to seen them raised in a positive way—please do come.
As you say prayers tonight, please pray for a successful event tomorrow night. I am very hopeful about this new partnership between Chain of Lakes and Lino Lakes Elementary STEM School. Tomorrow night’s event is the one of many opportunities our new congregation has to bless the families who attends the school.
Thursday, January 26, 2012
This Sunday the youth and children at Chain of Lakes will be “Surfing for God.” During Sunday School everything will be taught on computers. We’ll have a large number of computers set up for the youth and children to use. It makes sense to use computers at church—we use them in our work and our home. Our youth and children certainly use them at school. Everyone child and youth who come will have a wonderful time.
I want to invite the community to participate on Sunday. If you have a youth or child that normally doesn’t come to a church, bring them on Sunday. We will welcome them with open arms. While they are with us we will use the most relevant methods of teaching. They will be “Surfing for God!.”
Surfing for God begins at 10:30 a.m. with worship. We worship at the Lino Lakes Senior Center—1189 Main in Lino Lakes, located a half mile east of Miller’s on Main.
Saturday, January 21, 2012
I'm flooded with memories today as today is the third anniversary of the passing of Jeff Gravon, one of my best childhood friends. The picture above is the plaque that I developed for him and stands today at the Worthington YMCA.
You were the best, Jeff!! Saying prayers for his four great kids!
Thursday, January 19, 2012
One of the privileges of being a pastor is welcoming new babies into the world. When new babies are born to people in our congregation, I do my best to make a visit to the hospital. Last night I had the privilege of visiting Wyatt Thomas Irlbeck who was born early yesterday morning. What a gift!
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
The Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area had its regular January meeting this past Saturday at Arlington Hills Presbyterian Church. I was privileged to have Mary Ann Archer from Chain of Lakes Church attend the meeting with me. Mary Ann has expressed an interest in attending the Presbytery meetings. She is a retired lawyer who most recently headed the staff at the library of William Mitchell Law School. Mary Ann is one of the seven families who originally were part of Chain of Lakes.
The two of us set up a table and passed out the most recent newsletter for Chain of Lakes. I always enjoy this time of talking to people about the mission and ministry of our new church and responding to questions.
I came into the meeting when Chaz Ruark was talking about the Fellowship Meeting which will take place this month in Orlando. Many of the first speakers talked a lot about their growing concern about a split within the PC(USA). I’m sure the concern is real, but I have to admit this wasn’t an energetic way to start a Saturday morning meeting in January. I sat in the back row of the sanctuary and witnessed a large number of people using Facebook on their phones or I-Pads. There wasn’t much interest in the back rows about what was being shared with us.
We made it through the morning agenda at a very fast pace. We elected commissioners to General Assembly via voice vote—quite a contrast to the brawl that took place two years ago when we elected commissioners. Barbara Van Loenen shared a moving presentation about being vulnerable.
During the Board of Trustees report Rocky Rockenstein shared a report on the most recent developments regarding the Chain of Lakes proposed property. At the Blaine City Council meeting this past Thursday—January 12—the Council seemed receptive to the proposal for access to our new property and to moving the berm. They rightly expect our new congregation to talk to the neighborhood about these ideas.
We were so far ahead of schedule that we broke for lunch at 11:15. We had a lengthy amount of time to talk to people and eat lunch.
Immediately after lunch, we enjoyed a stirring sermon by Dr. Margaret Aymer, Associate Professor of New Testament, at Interdenominational Center in Atlanta. The text of the sermon can be found here: http://mayog.posterous.com/do-something
The most interesting part of the meeting was the report on a possible “Gracious Separation” policy that was shared with the Presbytery. A group has been working for while to develop a policy and procedure for churches that want to leave the PC(USA). The draft of the policy that was shared with the Presbytery can be found here: http://www.presbyterytwincities.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/1-14-12-PTCA-gracious-separation-policy-draft-01-09-12.pdf
The group who developed the policy come from different theological viewpoints. It sounds like they worked together very prayerfully, thoughtfully, and deliberately. The Presbytery Council also shared their input. From what I heard the Council spent over four hours at one meeting going through the policy.
The next steps are two forums that will take place where people can share their viewpoints about the policy and then the Presbytery will vote in March.
I have great respect for the people who served on the team who put together the policy, the staff, and the members of the Presbytery Council.
However I have serious reservations about this policy.
First, I have questions about the process. It seems very rushed to me—someone who is an outsider to the process and only learned the specifics of the policy for the first time this past Saturday. The schedule is to vote on this policy at the March Presbytery meeting. That is a fast timetable for a significant decision.
Furthermore the Presbytery was not allowed to ask questions about the policy at the meeting this past Saturday—which really makes no sense to me. We were permitted to ask questions about the process, but not about the content of the policy. For a Presbytery who is trying to model authenticity I think this decision was wrong. I really don’t understand the rationale for it.
Granted two informational sessions are being held over the next two months about the policy—one in the Cities and one outside the Cities. But why not get all the questions out there in advance? Why not have at least two Pre-Presbytery meetings about the policy? Why not give the Presbytery a lot of time to discuss this significant issue?
This process seems very rushed to me. This policy deserves thoughtful and thorough contemplation. Voting on March seems very fast to me. I hope a new timetable will be set forward.
It seems to me that the Presbytery is being set up for a contentious meeting in March.
Second, I have serious reservations about only asking a church to pay five years of per capita as an exit fee. I won’t share all my reasons for this in this already long blog. I will say that I think this amount is too low.
By passing this policy the Presbytery is encouraging churches who want to leave the denomination to withhold per capita. This policy sets up the possibility that a congregation could leave the denomination by paying their withheld per capita. That doesn’t seem right to me.
Any sort of sort of exit fee should be based on some percentage of the value of the property and buildings of the church.
Chain of Lakes Church is being given a piece of property that will be worth over a half a million dollars. That money was given by the Presbytery to our new church. After we charter we could then leave the denomination and only pay five years of per capita? We wouldn’t be expected to pay back to the Presbytery this gift of property that was given to us? That money was given by Presbyterians in expectation that it would be used to further the ministry of Presbyterian churches.
I will listen closely to the people advocating this policy and encourage comments on this blog. However as of today I would vote “no.”
Thursday, January 12, 2012
This Sunday, January 15th I am starting a sermon series called, “Questions Thinking People Ask About the Bible.” For the past month I’ve asked people at Chain of Lakes Church to ask the questions they’ve always had about the Bible, but never had answered. I received a large number of questions—including questions from some children at Chain of Lakes.
I particularly enjoyed the questions the children asked. They asked them in a response to a Facebook query I made. Their questions were:
• How many times does the word "water" appear in the bible?
• Will the Bible have a number 2, like Toy Story or Cars!!!" Basically, will there be a sequel?
• Why is God the only one who is a hero in the Bible?"
I’ll be responding to their questions during the Time for Children on Sunday.
This Sunday I’ll be addressing the questions, “Why should I pay attention to the Bible? What gives the Bible its power?
I asked people on my Facebook page their thoughts about these two questions and have received a lively response. Check it out at:
I can’t wait to preach on these questions this Sunday. We will be worshipping in a reflective style on Sunday based on a Taize service. Worship begins at 10:30 a.m. at the Lino Lakes Senior Center, 1189 Main. I believe that everyone who comes will experience the presence of God and learn something new about the Scriptures.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
This past Sunday representatives from Teen Challenge came to Chain of Lakes to share their message of rehabilitation with our congregation. This was the second time that folks from Teen Challenge have been with us in worship. This past Sunday we were blessed to have 30 guys from Teen Challenge be present in worship with us.
According to their web site at mntc.org the purpose of Teen Challenge is to assist teens and adults in gaining freedom from chemical addictions and other life-controlling problems by addressing their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.
One person with whom I talked shared that came to the program because he had six DWI’s. I would have never guessed that.
Another person shared with me that meth/amphetamines destroyed his life.
One person who I talked with after worship shared how he had destroyed his family through his own use of drugs.
As I listened to the stories this past Sunday I thought how every problem is at its core spiritual. The men from Teen Challenge were able to identify their ongoing problems as spiritual problems. The faith (along with a very disciplined program of rehabilitation) that was being developed at Teen Challenge was helping them on the road to recovery.
Their presentation also illustrates the importance of telling stories in worship. The stories we heard in worship were not that different from the ones we could read in the Scriptures. They are stories of people who have experienced terrible problems—and through their faith have and through other resources have become and are becoming the people God desires for them to be.
I highly recommend Teen Challenge to churches interested in having them in worship.
Friday, January 6, 2012
I want to invite the community of Blaine, Lino Lakes, Centerville, Lexington & Circle Pines to a marvelous worship service that Chain of Lakes is sharing this Sunday. We have a marvelous worship service planned. We have the privilege of hosting “Teen Challenge.” Teen Challenge is helps teens and adults gain freedom from chemical addictions and other life-controlling problems by addressing their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. On Sunday the people from Teen Challenge will sing for us and share their stories of being restored to God through this program. Their stories are quite amazing and remarkable. If you have a friend who has struggled with some type of addiction, I encourage you to invite that person to worship this Sunday.
This is the second time that Teen Challenge has been in worship at Chain of Lakes Church. The last time I was touched by the honesty and authenticity of the sharing about addictions. We have people at Chain of Lakes who are authentically recovering from addictions. The stories of people at Teen Challenge happen everywhere.
After worship we will enjoy a meal. This will be a chance to continue the conversation with the people in Teen Challenge. On Sunday we will encourage people to give financially to the ministry of Teen Challenge. Just write a check to Chain of Lakes and mark on the check that the donation is for Teen Challenge.
Worship will begin at 10:30 a.m. The address of our worship site is 1189 Main Street in Lino Lakes. A map can be found at the Chain of Lakes web site at www.colpres.org.
More about Teen Challenge can be found at www.mntc.org.