- What an awesome day!
- Had another profession of faith and then afterward we had 13 baptisms!
- The challenge as a portable church is how to do things like communion and baptism in an environment that’s not really conducive for things like that.
- For baptism it meant setting up a swimming pool out back.
- Chad, his boys and Andre set it up last night at 10:30pm and began the long process of filling it up.
- The fire department was supposed to do it but they stopped after someone complained their water made them sick. 🙂
- We were concerned whether the pool was going to collapse but it held up fine.
- As for the day itself set-up went well, nothing out of the ordinary.
- During run-through time I gave everyone instructions on how , who and when we’d start tearing down so we could get out to the baptism and have the theater ready for movies to begin.
- Glad we did that because when it came time later in the morning, everything ran like clockwork.
- For some reason energy was down today in the Experience but the band as usual did a great job leading.
- Today was the last in the Jonah series…you can listen to what I consider the shocking conclusion here.
- Amazing how we so often want forgiveness for ourselves but judgment for others.
- The plan was for the band to come forward during the prayer time and get ready to start tearing down once I started doing announcements.
- Instead they started during the prayer itself…
- Wow was that hard…
- I’m trying to lead a very Holy moment and dodging people left and right who are literally taking the floor out right from under me.
- Still God is amazing and despite everything, we still had a young lady come into a relationship with Jesus!
- By the time I was done with announcements, the only thing left to tear down was sound and projection…amazing how quickly they did everything.
- I dismissed everyone to exit out the back door and I ran off to get changed and put the closing touches on things I needed to do before exiting the theater.
- Here’s a link to photos from the baptism.
- Huge thanks to my brother-in-law Brian for traveling in from out of town to take these…also to my nephew Jordan for shooting some video…can’t wait to see what he puts together.
- Check other people’s walls on Facebook for more photos…I’ve seen them starting to be posted.
- Got to admit I got choked up a number of times during the baptisms…one of my favorite things to do in ministry.
- What an honor to be a part of such a special moment in each of these people’s lives.
- Special mention for Dylan Krull…I remember him being born and dedicated and so many other milestones in his young life…now to get to baptize him is so awesome.
- Big thanks to Bill & Meghan Butler for building changing rooms in the trailer so people didn’t have to go home wet.
- Although I was amazed how warm the water was so I didn’t mind staying wet.
- As the guys started collapsing the pool they let too much go at first and it ran down the sidewalk and right into another theater!!!
- Luckily nothing was going on in that one yet and we were able to go in and clean it up…oops.
- Other than that it was a tremendously successful day.
- Best part was I ended up leaving the theater basically at the same time I normally do!
- Next week we begin the “God at the Box Office” series by looking at the spiritual lessons from the newest Transformers movie.
- Please share our commercial for the series with as many people as possible and keep handing out the tickets.
- The commercial can be found here on YouTube or here on Facebook.
- Can’t wait…I love doing series like these!
Archives for July 2011
- What a great day!
- Set-up this morning was one of the easier we’ve had even though we really couldn’t feel the effects of the AC until after set-up was done.
- Great to have Mike Lockard fill in on bass today…only problem was he threw his back out yesterday and the doctor has him on some strong meds.
- Of course today of all days included some pretty cool bass solos…I was afraid the meds were going to kick-in and slow him way down.
- But thankfully God helped him get through and he did a great job…thanks Mike!
- I think Bill our worship pastor may be the most fit person in America!
- His energy is tremendous during every song and by the time he switched to keys for the last song, he had quite the glisten going.
- It was funny to watch him keep switching hands on the keyboard to wipe the sweat away.
- Again awesome to see his passion for Jesus and his passion to enthusiastically lead people in worship.
- Of course the highlight of the day for me was having my wife Lisa preach for the first time in her life.
- It’s been a fun last few weeks helping her in whatever way she asked so that today could happen.
- I think were both ready though to go back to normal.
- In any case, other than some to be expected nerves, she did a great job.
- Of course one of the bad things she learned from me is perfectionism. So this afternoon she’s been beating herself up for various things that she wished she did differently.
- As I’ve learned and in turn shared with her…God doesn’t expect us to be perfect but to do the best we can with what we’ve got and let the results up to Him.
- Multiple people shared how God spoke to them through her message so she did her part, hopefully they’ll now not just be hearers of the Word but doers as well.
- Her message continued our Jonah series and covered chapter 3 when Jonah obeys.
- Listen to it here to hear about the process from disobedience to obedience that we go through.
- It was great seeing all the people who came out to support Lisa today…thanks…she appreciated you being there.
- Afterward I went out to eat with friends while Lisa decided to come home and sleep…she warned me she may sleep until Tuesday. 🙂
- Can’t wait for next week…we’ll wrap-up the Jonah series and then do baptisms right outside the theater…going to be exciting!
Just the title alone sounds like an oxymoron doesn’t it? As I mentioned in Sunday’s post, someone asked me if it was OK for me as a pastor to be playing poker as she had seen on one of my Facebook status up-dates. I shared briefly with her a couple of things and thought…”That would make a good blog post”. So three things I want to cover here. First, I want to share my story as it relates to gambling. Second, I want to touch on the subject of gambling from a biblical standpoint and then finally I want to talk about the motivation behind why I’ve been playing at local restaurants on a weekly basis for the last month or so (Note: these games are all free to enter).
Alright, so what does the Bible have to say about playing cards in general and gambling specifically. First, a little back-story. My family all loves to play cards so I grew up with a pack in my hand…from Go Fish to Crazy 8’s as a kid to Euchre and Hearts in my teens, I loved it! Perhaps this had something to do with my hobby of magic as a kid which lead into becoming a career from ages 16-27. It was during these early years of doing magic professionally that I discovered the game of poker…which in turn was my first real exposure to gambling.
Performing magic pays really well so while my friends were making minimum wage at McDonald’s, I was as a teenager sometimes making up to a $1000 per weekend. Still living at home this meant I had a lot of disposable income. So gambling became a part of my life winning and losing hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars per night. This continued until just after July 27, 1993. That was the day I became a follower of Jesus and it was shortly thereafter that the Holy Spirit convicted me about gambling. Also, I was getting older (now a whopping 20 years of age) and had more responsibilities. So from 1993 until 2 years ago, I never gambled any amount of money on any type of lottery, raffle, drawing or game.
So I went from pretty hard-core gambling to nothing at all for many years. So what changed? Well I was pretty adamant with people that sitting down with their friends and playing cards for $5 or $10 was wrong and sinful (FYI…it can be but I’ll touch on that later). It hit me though one day while sitting in a movie theater watching a movie with Lisa that perhaps I was being a bit too legalistic. Between 2 tickets, a tub of popcorn and a couple of drinks, we had spent close to $30 and called it entertainment. However if someone wanted to spend $10 on a poker game with his buddies I called it sin. If someone had the disposable income to spend $100 or $1000 on their hobby or for a couple rounds of golf or to buy new rims for their car I didn’t think twice about it but if they spent $50 in a casino, the lake of fire awaited their gambling souls. So my stance in the past 5 or so years has changed although I myself still very rarely do it.
OK so what does the Bible have to say about gambling? Surprisingly not a lot. There are numerous times where decisions were made by casting lots (think rolling a die) including using it to discern God’s will but it’s never said to be right or wrong. However that doesn’t mean we can’t find Biblical principles to guide us by when it comes to the topic of gambling.
First in my mind is the issue of good stewardship of God’s resources. God is the owner of every possession and dollar we make and He wants us to be wise in the way we handle HIS money (For more on this subject listen to my 4 part series called “Mind Your Own Business“). This was always a big reason why I said that gambling was wrong…why risk God’s money when you could be investing it in the Kingdom. However as I noted earlier this same thing could be said for why are you going to the movies, spending money on hobbies, etc. So that argument alone doesn’t cut it however…God does give us some clear guidelines that we must be following long before we ever think about gambling or spending money on other stuff.
The foremost of these is tithing (giving back to God 10% of the income He’s entrusted you with). No bill or expense or dollar wagered should ever come before giving back to God what He requires. This also applies to never wagering money that you can’t afford to lose. In other words, if you’re tithing to God and on a budget, paying all your bills on time each month, not going into debt and you have some entertainment dollars left over…great spend them for entertainment purposes. However, it’s wrong to gamble your grocery money or as a way to “fix” your financial woes, even if it is just a couple of dollars.
Another principle is that we should not become mastered by anything. Here is where the real danger of gambling (and many things for that matter) lie. It can be addicting…anything we put before Jesus, His Word, our family, our responsibilities, etc., is said to have enslaved us. Thus it’s an idol…thus we are by default idol worshipers and of course that is a sin. So to me a big part of whether gambling is sinful for you or not has to do with your motivation for doing it. If it’s a recreational thing then fine, but if it gets to the point where the primary motivation is money then watch out. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is there your heart will be also”. He wants to be first in your life, not money. The apostle Paul said, “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction”. This is one reason I never play the lottery…the only motivation there is to win big money in the easiest way possible. Not only that but the odds are incredibly stacked against you…and it’s only a game of chance.
So one reason I like poker is that it combines a bit of luck with a whole lot of skill. Someone once said that hand to hand and night to night poker is a game of luck but over time it’s a game of skill. I couldn’t agree more…if you’re good at quickly in your head doing statistical probabilities, are familiar with M theory and can also quickly calculate +EV (which is actually is a business principle) then you’ll do better than the average person. Ummm yep that’s me…which partly explains why in the past month playing in tournaments of 50+ people per night I’ve cashed now 7 times. What’s cool is the restaurants I play at do not charge an entry fee because they assume you’ll eat or drink while you’re there. Sometimes I do sometimes I don’t but let’s just say I’m way ahead right now.
However this gets back to motivation. While it’s been cool winning some money, my real reason for playing is the people. One thing all church planters are told to do is make sure you join a group in your community that will allow you to get to know people. Last year when we moved here to Harrisburg I saw they had these Texas Hold’em nights and thought…wow I could meet people and have fun doing it all at the same time (for some reason joining the Chamber of Commerce didn’t sound all that attractive or fun). Unfortunately the first night I went over last summer they were on one of their rare nights off so I just assumed they didn’t do it any more. So imagine my surprise when last month I discovered that they do still have it here and that it’s on multiple nights and locations.
One problem that pastors often encounter is being so busy with church work that we no longer have any friends that are not followers of Jesus. Now I don’t want to stereotype poker players or even the ones I’m playing with, but let me say I’ve already encountered quite a few people who need the love and forgiveness that Jesus offers. So far I’ve kept a pretty low profile as to who I am…I want people to get to know me as a person first and see Jesus living in me before they find out that I’m a pastor and start making assumptions. Ultimately I want to help each person in whatever way I can take a next step towards Christ…for some that may be acknowledging that maybe there is a God…for others it may be counseling them through a situation showing them principles from God’s Word…for others it might mean inviting them to check us out at ExponentialChurch.tv…and yet for others it may mean helping them cross the line of faith into a relationship with Jesus.
Whatever it is, I know that I’m having fun, meeting people, making a few bucks and hopefully being the salt and light that Jesus has called me to be. So again the question is…”Is it OK for pastors/Christians to gamble”? I’d say yes but with some careful guidelines looking at your motivation, making sure it’s only a few entertainment dollars and stopping if it starts to become addictive. There’s so much more I could have said here of both pros and cons (and even some things I probably meant to say but forgot) but this post is already wayyyyy longgggg. Shoot me an email if you have any further questions. I also know this is a hot button issue for some of you so please be respectful of others who may comment here or on Facebook with a differing opinion than yours or mine.
- Had a pretty decent day today.
- Nothing to out of the ordinary with set-up which was a plus after all the hassles last week.
- The only thing that went wrong was a battery needed to be replaced in on the bass guitar components…not exactly sure what it was.
- I only mention that because the picture that is with this post now answers the question of how many people it takes to change a battery.
- Look close…not sure why almost the entire band was needed to do this but they all huddled around.
- We were up in the tech booth laughing because it from a distance looked like some sort of surgery was taking place.
- The other out of the ordinary thing that happened today was the theater opened at 8:30am today because of Harry Potter.
- I actually don’t mind having others in the building because inevitably someone sees something out of the ordinary (us)…inquires about what’s going on and then decides to attend.
- Don’t know for sure but I’m guessing we had 4-6 people like that today.
- Also cool was the distances we had people in town for…I thought for sure Seattle was going to be the furthest but it turned out to be a couple and their daughter from Germany. Cool!
- Does that mean we’re an international church now? 🙂
- Great also to have the Pastor Bryan Lingle and family with us from East Shore Baptist.
- Great family and great church!
- I was reminded today why I’ve often kept myself holed up on Sunday’s before speaking…the last thing you want is any drama or controversy and unfortunately something like that happened just minutes before the Experience started.
- This of course meant that now my mind was focused on that instead of my message.
- I’m sure it will get resolved but it almost makes me want to go back to the old days when I’d basically hide except for a few trusted people who knew to wait until after Sunday was over to bring up bigger issues.
- In any case, I’ll continue with my current routine unless these types of things pop-up more and more frequently.
- I’m always amazed how many people show up either right on time or slightly late.
- When the Experience started I thought we were in store for summer crowd type of numbers.
- By 5 minutes after I could tell we were actually going to have one of our highest attended days ever…which we did!
- Great energy today from the band and the crowd…the “worship” time was awesome.
- I was able to pull myself together enough to preach on Jonah chapter 2.
- It’s often called the “Prayer of Jonah”. You can listen to it here as I talked about the power of prayer in our lives.
- Next week we have a special surprise for Jonah 3…make sure you’re there!
- Afterward I got to meet a ton of new people which is always exciting.
- From there I left for Lancaster to participate in a Texas Hold’em Tournament that I qualified for.
- I took 11th place which now qualifies me for the yearly tournament…I was pretty happy with that.
- Someone asked me today because they saw it on Facebook if it was alright for me to “be gambling” like that.
- I think I’ll answer in full this week what I’m doing but for now let me say the tournaments I’ve entered have all been free as was the one today.
- Again though it’s a great question about games, gambling, etc, which deserves a more in-depth discussion…so watch out for that later this week.
- We’ll call today “Night and Day”.
- Set-up could not have been worse…ok it probably could but I don’t want to experience it.
- Any day we start a new series is a bit tougher because of assembling a new stage set.
- Add on top of that we were adding some new people in today which meant some new equipment to make compatible plus teaching them how to use in-ear monitoring.
- So of course today had to be the day that things didn’t want to fire up just right.
- Then to make matters worse, Chelsea is on vacation and took her laptop with her which is usually used for Children’s Ministry.
- She had all the stuff loaded on another Mac but it turns out it needed a different kind of adapter.
- After much deliberation and some pretty drastic options that were considered…well honestly I’m not sure what Andy came up with.
- That’s the joy of having my best friend be a complete geek…whatever he did, the children ended up having their stuff and we ended up not having to sacrifice any of our equipment.
- In any case, once everything settled down, we had a tremendous experience.
- Great job by Bill creating the new set…which took advantage of extreme amounts of bubble wrap to create some cool lighting effects.
- The Experience kicked-off with Diane Hetes singing “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele.
- I love that song and Diane gave it a cool Gospel kind of feel. She did a great job.
- Even though we had a smaller crowd today, the energy was pretty good and the band did an awesome job of leading.
- Loved hearing the crowd singing loud during Manifesto.
- I was of course back for the first time preaching in a month.
- Big thanks to Chad for doing the Thrive series and allowing me some time off to get rested.
- Gotta get my preaching voice back though…amazing how sore my throat was after today’s message.
- We kicked-off the Jonah series and just as I thought before-hand…this could be a phenomenally life-changing series for a lot of people.
- I’d strongly encourage you to listen to the message…it could be a life-changer for you.
- I know it was an eternal life-changer for 2 ladies…each prayed today to ask for Jesus forgiveness and leadership in their lives.
- Got to have some great conversations after the Experience.
- so excited to be back and see what God has in store for us this summer.
- Don’t forget our 1st baptism service will be July 31st. If you haven’t yet been baptized for would just like more info, please email me and let me know.
- Busy week ahead…can’t wait to hang with a bunch of you this Friday at the Senator’s game…should be fun!