Monday, August 31, 2009

Standing in the GAP

I arrived at North Topsail Beach last evening. As I prepared to settle for the evening I took time to reflect on the last few weeks with points of stress and difficult decisions. Recently I heard a podcast describe the ups and downs of serving in pastoral ministry. I discovered a new strategy of "Getting on the Balcony". It means to simply to rise about the fray of task and responsibilities to gain perspective. A simple law to stand in the G.A.P (Gain Another Perspective).
As I prayed I felt the pressures and stress of ministry melt away. I asked God to help me awake this morning with another perspective about some issues I am facing.

Early in the morning I heard the voice of my grand daughter Alyse as she called Grammy - Papa! I reached down and picked up her small frame and she laid quietly and fell back to sleep between Sharron and I. When I began my day I felt refreshed.

We enjoyed a short family outing today and Stephanie took a picture of me standing in the store.

Just one day of vacation can help you

gain another perspective.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Vacation - Here I come...

Today was Youth Sunday at NRN! WOW - the student praise team was awesome! Tonight we share a farewell for Pastor Brittany and her family.

Later this evening I look forward to our annual Family Vacation to North Topsail Beach.

My family is already there enjoying the relaxing time. I look forward to arriving at Dolphin View to join them. We are so thankful for the beach house we rent each year since relocating back to North Carolina.

Every year we have stood on the upper deck and viewed dolphin playing in the Atlantic Ocean. It is such a short walk to beach. A perfect place to relax and reflect. Tonight I plan to hear the sounds of the ocean and know that God is in control. I plan to enjoy a wonderful time with my family this week.


Friday, August 28, 2009

Have you wondered where I have been?

Have you wondered where I have been? Since the resignation of Pastor Brittany Cottle as our Family Pastor at NRN followed by the pastoral review and ministry evaluation with the North Carolina District Superintendent - Dr. Mark Barnes - my life has been quite hectic and full.

Here are some of my thoughts from my last post:

1. We love and appreciate Pastor Brittany Cottle. Her gentle spirit and servant heart will be missed at NRN. I count it a privilege to have served with Pastor Brittany. She has grown and developed as a great pastor. Her ability to build a team of volunteers and provide leadership has been outstanding. Her creative ideas and passion for the Lord has always shown through in her ministry. She will continue in her position until September 13 and then begin a new ministry in Little Rock, Arkansas. We will miss her. She has been a valuable staff member and team player. I wish her the very best in the days ahead as she moves to a great church and near family. A farewell for Pastor Brittany, Brian and Ash will take place this coming Sunday - August 30th at 6:00pm. Wear your flip flops and bring an expression of appreciation!

2. The recent pastoral review and ministry evaluation went very well. When Brad Pope read the letter regarding the decision of the board and stated that the church board by unanimous agreement extended my call for an additional four years - and that I have accepted this call - the congregation honored Sharron and I with a standing ovation of support. The time of review can be a very stressful time in the life of a pastor and his family. I am so glad this is now behind us and we can focus on the future and the plans God has for us as a church! If you would like to hear the announcement and the message that followed simply click HERE

3. I had a unique opportunity to attend an all day meeting recently to hear Dr. John Maxwell. It was great to visit with my friend. When a person on John's staff took the picture I was honored when he said - Rick and I go way back! John is a friend and a mentor!

Then - after following him through several closed doors and surrounded by his "posse" I was able to connect with Pastor Steven Furtick - Founder and Pastor of Elevation Church in Charlotte NC. He pastors the second fastest growing church in America today!

I had to apologize to my daughter Stephanie who was afraid I had "stalked" her pastor - but discovered later that I was "a nice man".

FINALLY: Last weekend I had the privilege to conduct the wedding for Mike and Tosha Henk on North Topsail Island, NC. It was a great day with beautiful weather despite the fact that Hurricane Bill was off the NC coast. God moved in a miraculous way throughout the day. Here are some pictures of that special day:

There is much to be thankful for.

God is at work!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

100 Points

Last Sunday I answered a question about heaven. The question was:

When am I good enough to go to Heaven?

I then shared these verses from the Bible:

He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." Galatians 3:13

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

Then I showed this clip:

It reminded me of this story:

A man dies and goes to heaven. Of course, St. Peter meets him at the pearly gates. St. Peter says, "Here's how it works. You need 100 points to make it into heaven.You tell me all the good things you've done, and I give you a certain number of points for each item, depending on how good it was. When you reach 100 points, you get in."

"Okay," the man says, "I was married to the same woman for 50 years and never cheated on her, even in my heart."

"That's wonderful," says St. Peter, "that's worth three points!"
"Three points?" he says. "Well, I attended church all my life and supported its ministry with my tithe and service."

"Terrific!" says St. Peter, "that's certainly worth a point." "One point? Golly. How about this: I started a soup kitchen in my city and worked in a shelter for homeless veterans."

"Fantastic, that's good for two more points," he says. "TWO POINTS!!" the man cries, "At this rate the only way I get into heaven is by the grace of God!"

"That's right!, Now you have got it!" said St. Peter.

Here are the other trustworthy sayings I shared after the clip last Sunday:

We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.” Acts 15:11

We are alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions it is by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:5

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8

Want to hear more? CLICK HERE

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Picture of the Church of the Nazarene

Someone submitted a question during my recent sermon series titled

They asked: What is the Church of the Nazarene? Here is a glimpse of who were are taken for the recent General Assembly in Orlando Florida.

Monday, August 10, 2009

What happens when you die?

This past Sunday I continued in my series of messages titled:

I presented a message about the destiny each person will face at the end of their life as described in the Bible. A person following the service asked a follow up question. They asked: What happens when you die?

Good question: consider this:

If you are looking for a more definitive answer - simply listen to message for last Sunday. Just CLICK HERE

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Heaven's Song

As I prepare today for the worship experience at NRN tomorrow morning my heart is overflowing with excitement I give the last attention to my message preparation. The sermon outlines are in the worship folders, the PowerPoint presentation is completed, the manuscript is placed in my Bible and now I still my heart to be a vessel of God and stand tomorrow morning to present His Word. It is a awesome responsibility and privilege.

Here are some of the songs we will sing together in worship as we praise our GREAT God:

We presented a new song is worship last week and will bring it back this week:

I am continuing in the series of messages

On Sunday we answer a three - part question: Is Heaven a real place? - Will I be married in Heaven? and When am I good enough to go to heaven?

As I prepare to go to sleep this evening - this clip will be one of the last things I do before my head hits the pillow. I want Heaven's Song (by Gateway music) to fill my heart and mind overnight.

Ever wonder how we will spend our time in Heaven? What will we do ?
Here's a glimpse of what I think Heaven will be like:

Day and night they never stop saying: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come." Rev. 4:8b

I believe these are trustworthy sayings ....

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Into a broken world

I closed my message last Sunday with a simple thought. Several people have emailed me this week asking for the quote. Here it is:



When we seek out that which is lost, we are loving our neighbor as we love ourselves and valuing people as God values them. If we as the Church keep this as our core focus and mission, we will never become an empty building or mere tourist attraction. We will be so occupied and fulfilled with doing what the Church was placed on this earth to do – taking what is inside the Church out into a broken world – that our doors will never close. The lost will be drawn to us because of our open arms and our loving, safe environment.

- Christina Caine, Stop Acting Like a Christian, Just Be One (Regal, 2007)

Have you thought about how we could take what is inside

the church out into a broken world?

Monday, August 3, 2009

He loves me - He loves me not....

"Simply gazing at a daisy reveals the mind of God."

-- James Bryan Smith
(I read this recently on a posting of a friend - Mark Wilson)
What do you think?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

We are blessed

Today was a GREAT day at NRN! "On this Sunday as I celebrate my 2nd anniversary as Lead Pastor ..." I was so encouraged by the applause as I spoke those words. Then I repeated the first message I preached at NRN titled "How Much You Matter to God" I received many encouraging comments following the service! I found out this evening that a new friend - RunnerBev posted about my message on her blog. Check it out!

Here is a different view of the song that is connected with my sermon:

Congratulations to my daughter Stephanie and Josh
as they celebrate their 6th wedding anniversary.

It seems like just yesterday they were married on the campus of Indiana Wesleyan University.

As they have "escaped" to have some time together - guess who is at our house?

Alyse snoozed very well in her new car seat on the trip from Charlotte to Raleigh on Saturday.

And then enjoyed a full day on Sunday. She seemed very attentive as Mr. Phil spoke to her today. She was waiting as patiently as a 2 1/2 year old child could to hear our name called at Cracker Barrel. Yes - she ate her vegetables....

As we traveled in our car home from the restaurant Sharron turned to me and said " Rick, I love this time of our life." We are blessed to be near family in NC; to be close to such dear friends; and to serve the Lord in pastoral ministry at a great church - NRN!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Bond of Friendship

Today has been a GREAT day as we began today with Stephanie, Josh and Alyse. We enjoyed a meal at Five Guys and then Sharron, Alyse and I departed home for Raleigh.

We made our way to the Bethel Wesleyan Church in Kannapolis NC to join friends in a surprise party to celebrate the 40th wedding anniversary of Rev. Steve and Beth Dagenhart. My minds flooded with memories from many years ago as I viewed the scrapbooks with the Polaroid pictures of Sharron and I before our daughters were born. As I said goodbye to Steve, he paused and shared with me a golden nugget: "A true test of friendship is when people have been separated by many years, but get together and after only 15 minutes it seems no time has passed. The bond of friendship is still there." WOW - a powerful thought! It was great to visit with Joyce Ford and sit down to a conversation with Rev. Forbis and Raynita Kivett.

We travel toward Raleigh and contacted our friends Phil and Joanie Richards. It was awesome to stop at their home for a great southern meal and visit with several friends there. Our travels of being with family in Canada - rushing back to Charlotte to be with Stephanie - visiting old and more recent friends on the way home - brought a sense of awe to Sharron and I as we reflected upon the goodness of God in our lives.

Tomorrow I mark two years as serving as Lead Pastor of North Raleigh Church of the Nazarene in Raleigh, N.C. To celebrate this occasion I am doing something I rarely do. I am preaching once again the first sermon I preached at NRN. The sermon is titled "How Much You Mean To God." and Sharron has encouraged me to share this for all the people who are new to the church and have not heard this message. The sermon is ready - now I am preparing myself to be a vessel of God tomorrow.

Here is what I am singing in my worship preparation. May it bless you.

I can hardly wait to be at church tomorrow! I look forward to a day of celebration and pray for life transformation to take place!