Tag Archives: messy office

744 Greeting Cards, Large Camp Sign, Cat Picture – The Monday (or Tuesday) Messy Office Report – August 11, 2014

12 Aug

My Friday tidy office is mysteriously messy on Monday.  Here’s what I found:

cards1. 744 Greeting cards: To be fair, these have been here at the church just over a week, but I didn’t bring them to my office until recently.  Yup, 744 greeting cards. Brand new, with envelopes, and even organized according to occasion!  At an average of $2.99 each, this is quite a stash.  In fact, one of our Lancaster County family-owned supermarket chains, Stauffers of Kissel Hill, donated them.  My long-time friend, Josh’s wife, Missy, works there and was able to get them as a donation.  Now I’ll be contacting local community organizations to see who these cards can bless!  If you’re a card-giver, you know how meaningful this gift is!  Thank you Josh and Missy!!!

2. Camp Sign: A rather big camp sign, to boot.  Last week our church was the location for a CEF Day Camp, and they left their main lobby sign here.  But since it was the last week, they didn’t need it anymore.  While I will be discarding the sign, I will keep a hold onto the good memories of the camp, as the staff and kids were incredible.  Because they participated in our summer lunch program three days, I got to spend a bit of time with them throughout the week.  I even convinced a couple of the kids to try tapioca, and when the got the courage to sample it, they found the liked it!  I’m thankful to Chris, Lisa, Adrienne and the other CEF staff who ran the camp, and I’m thankful that Faith Church is so gracious with the use of our building!

3. Cat Picture: Apparently a neighbor is missing his cat!  He stopped by on Sunday with color printouts of the cat and his contact info.  I hope you find your cat!

Now it’s time to clean up this mess!

Garlic, $10 bill, Baha’i info – The Monday Messy Office Report – July 28, 2014

28 Jul

My Friday tidy office is mysterious messy on Monday.  Here’s what I found today:

1. Garlic – I found a plastic grocery store bag with a garlic in my office.  My wife mentioned that this was from friends at church.  They had a garden and were sharing!  Pretty awesome.  This time of year a lot of that goes on in the church.  Our family garden is about ready to yield an abundance of tomatoes, and many of them will be making their way to the Share Table at our ministerium summer lunch program, one location of which is Faith Church.  The sharing combined with the emotional peace of working and tending our garden has become very meaningful to me.  Maybe you know the feeling.  I strongly encourage people to grow their own food as much as possible.  Doing so brings amazing benefits on many levels.

ten_dollar_bill2. $10 bill – An anonymous donor left this in my office with a note saying that it should be used to help our Faith Church campers going to Twin Pines this summer.  Each year Faith Church budgets funds to help send campers from our church to our denomination’s summer camp, Twin Pines.  This year we had more campers go to Twin Pines that what we planned on!  That is a great problem to have.  So we’ve been asking our congregation to give a bit extra to help those campers.  It is wonderful when people respond.  For many, it is a request they love giving to, because Twin Pines has a special place in their hearts.  For 50 years Twin Pines has faithfully served the Lord as place where kids head to the Pocono mountains, have a blast, and learn about faith in Jesus.  My kids LOVE Twin Pines.  The staff does an amazing job caring for and reaching out to the kids.  My oldest son has spent the last two summers serving on that staff, he loves it so much.  And my wife and I are deeply grateful for how the full-time staff invests in the lives of the summer staff.  Since coming to Faith Church in October 2012, I don’t know how many times I’ve been to Twin Pines, mostly for retreats.  I love it there too.  And I pray that God continues to bless Twin Pines, to use it, and to send a lot more $10 bills it’s way so that Twin Pines can continue to make a great impact of many people.

3. Baha’i brochure – A friend from church attended a local Baha’i gathering in recent weeks, and he brought back information.  I am very thankful that he did so, because he knew I would be interested in learning more.  I very briefly studied Baha’i doctrine and practice in a college class 20 years ago, and I had forgotten much.  I was glad to hear that my friend was warmly welcomed at the Baha’i gathering.  Interestingly I came across an article in the last month or so that also mentioned Baha’i.  You can read it here.  Believe it or not, Baha’i is the second-most numerous faith in South Carolina!  While Christianity is the #1 faith in all 50 States, have you ever thought about what faith is number 2?  In every State the #2 faith is a tiny percentage compared to Christianity, and as the article mentions, it doesn’t take much to be the #2 faith in South Carolina, which is massively Christian.  But it is compelling nonetheless to think that Baha’i is second.  The essence of Baha’i teaching is that all faiths lead to the same destination, and thus we should love all people.  I respectfully disagree with the first part of that sentence, and I wholeheartedly agree with the second part.  In the pamphlet they say that, of the great religions, none of the Divine Teachers claim to be first or last, as evidence that all faiths lead to the same place.  Then they quote Jesus saying “if you had believed in Moses, you would have believed in me, for he wrote of me.”  I take issue with this because Jesus’ intent was not to place himself equally in a line-up of famous teachers, and thus that all faiths are equal.  In this quote he is actually doing the opposite, saying that Moses was pointing to someone greater.  Moses was writing about the Messiah, the Savior, of whom no one is comparable.  The Jews to whom Jesus was speaking knew what Moses meant, they knew what Jesus was insinuating, and they didn’t like it.  What I am referring to is the exclusivity of Jesus Christ, that he was the promised Messiah. He said without hesitation that he and God the Father are one.  Again the people in the crowd that day knew what he was saying because they picked up stones to kill him, as stoning wsa the punishment for equating yourself with God.  He lived to teach another day, but not for long.  Just hours before his crucifixion, he would tell his disciples “I am the way, the truth and the life…no one comes to the Father except through me.”  That kind of exclusivity is hard for some to swallow.  I admit that it can come across as harsh or unrealistic, but Jesus was trying to be hopeful and helpful.  When you take into account that the very next day he gave his life for us because he loves us, his sacrifice puts the statement into a different color.  And then when you think about his resurrection, his victory over sin, death and the Devil…and how he wants to see his new life work its healing in all of our lives…Wow.  What is available in Christ is amazing.  I am not here to knock on Baha’i.  I’m here to say that new life in Jesus is the only faith that truly makes sense to me.

Well…now it’s time to clean up this mess!

The Monday Clean Office Report – July 21, 2014

21 Jul

My Friday tidy office has been miraculously clean on Monday!  For two weeks in a row.  While I enjoy writing these posts as I enjoy being surprised with what I’ll find in here on Monday mornings, the last two Mondays have been slim pickings.  Nothing to write about.  So there you have it.  Just thought I’d let you know in case you were wondering!

Books & Performance Reviews – The Monday Messy Office Report – July 7, 2014

8 Jul

My Friday tidy office is mysteriously messy on Monday!  Here’s what I found this week:

1. Two books: No names in the books, no note with them explaining why they are in my office.  One copy of Loren Cunningham’s Daring to Live on the Edge: The Adventure of Faith and Finances.  And one copy of The Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible: New American Standard Version.  I have a feeling the Bible is for the missionary project I mentioned last week, but if so, I’m wondering if the Hebrew-Greek Study Bible could be an intimidating choice for a person receiving a Bible for the first time. You ought to see this thing.  There are numbers next to three or four words in every single verse. In the back those numbers correspond to Hebrew and Greek words, with the idea that a person could dig a bit deeper to learn how about the decisions the translation team made.  Personally, I have been very intrigued and blessed by studying the original languages of the Bible.  I sometimes joke that my job is largely working with dead languages.  In the last ten years or so I have relied heavily on Logos Bible Software, and I recommend it highly.  But I don’t think it would be wise to give original language materials to someone desiring to the read the Bible for the first time!  Either way, it was a very nice gesture, and it will be perfect for our missionary to give to someone he knows who would be ready for that deeper kind of study.  The Cunningham book looks interesting.  Cunningham founded Youth With A Mission years ago and is a respected voice.  Since a couple of Ladies are about to revitalize (think resurrection) our church library, perhaps this could be a title for that collection.  I’m super excited about their ideas for the new library!

2. Staff evaluations: There were some envelopes with staff evaluations in my office. I get evaluated every year by our Pastoral Relations Committee, and I help evaluate the staff every year. Do you get evaluated?  It is not fun.  It is also not fun being the reviewer.  The-Performance-Review


Even when the evaluation is overwhelmingly good, the reviewers feel they have to include some kind of critique.  And usually the positive parts get talked about for 10% of the meeting, though the positive parts are 90% of the evaluation!  So as we begin having annual evaluations, I hope they are honest, helpful, and redemptive!  Correcting what needs to be corrected.  Affirming what needs to be affirmed.  Providing hope and encouragement for the next year.  So if you are getting evaluated in your job, here’s a little clip to get you psyched up for it:

Now it’s time to clean up!


Gift Card, Bibles, Proposals, Letter from Lawyer – Monday Messy Office Report – June 30, 2014

30 Jun

My Friday tidy office is mysteriously messy on Monday. Here’s what I found today:

1. Note about lunch…because of a gift card!: The note was from my wife, Michelle, saying that she had taken the kids to lunch, and I could meet them there.  I attended a special meeting of one of our ministry committees after Sunday School, and I would meet them at the restaurant late.  For us going out to eat was a treat.  First, yesterday was our anniversary.  But Michelle and I had gone out for an anniversary dinner the evening before.  We went out again because, second, we got a gift card.  It came in the mail last week anonymously, along with a super nice anniversary card.  If you sent the card, and you’re reading this, we are so grateful!

2. Stack of Bibles: Our church has a decades-long relationship with a missionary based in the Philly.  We have regularly spent time with him doing outreaches of all shapes and sizes.  From sidewalk Sunday Schools in some of the toughest neighborhoods of the city to Christmas stocking giveaways at Philly schools. We’ve joined him for casual conversations with students on Philly’s college campuses as well as cleaning at a Philly homeless shelter.  Later this summer we’ll join him for a new outreach, working with homeless people in neighboring Camden, NJ.  Part of the process is that we’re collecting extra Bibles.  I already have a stack on my shelf.  But this new stack has been donated in the last week or so.  Have an extra Bible that you would be willing to donate?

3. Pile of proposals: In 2009 Faith Church started a strategic planning process, and yesterday we held a special congregational meeting to vote on one element of that planning process.  Leading up to that meeting we made proposal packets so people in our congregation could know what we were voting about.  Basically we are changing the way we select leaders.  My wife and I receive The Week magazine, a generous gift from a relative.  One regular column in The Week is “Boring, But Important” and it is usually something that happened in Congress or the Supreme Court.  At our congregational meeting we were voting to make rather sweeping changes to our church by-laws.  Very boring. Not nearly as flashy as changing something about worship.  Our church by-laws and governance stays pretty much behind the scenes, whereas worship is front and center every week.  And yet our by-laws, our governance is inestimably important.  I told our congregation after the meeting that if I had a do-over six years ago when I became senior pastor, this is the first thing I would encourage.

will4. Letter from a Lawyer: After nearly two years, we finally received this letter!  It could turn out to be minimal, who knows.  One of our long-time members passed away in September 2012, and afterward her lawyer notified us that our church was named as a 10% beneficiary in her will.  At the time, I had been at the church ten years and had not encountered that before.  The executor of her estate would have to make sure all bills are paid, and then the money would be disbursed.  Two years later!  Who knew it would take that long???  Late last week we finally got the letter from the lawyer we were waiting for, the form we sign and have notarized saying basically that we agree with everything.  Once all the beneficiaries return their signed forms, the executor will make payments.  Two years ago when I first received the letter informing us the church was named as a beneficiary, and now as we anticipate payment, I’m reminder of what a wonderful idea this is.  That even in her death, this lady wanted to bless the church.  I’ve heard stories recently about people like Sting, Simon Cowell and Bill & Melinda Gates who have purposefully written their wills so their kids don’t have trust funds.  So these people are using their wealth to make a difference in the world. And they want their kids to learn the value of hard work. Perhaps we should all think about that in regards to our own wills, giving a portion of our estates away to God’s Kingdom.

Now it’s time to clean up!

Poop Cards, Gift Bag, Projector Box, Christian Junk Mail – Monday Messy Office Report – Vacation edition – June 24, 2014

24 Jun

After 3200 miles, we arrived home last Friday evening from a wonderful vacation in Round Rock, Texas with my wife, Michelle’s, cousin’s family.  It was great to get away, see new sights, spend time with family who have become very important to us, and make a road trip memory we’ll never forget.  But as with any vacation, you probably know the feeling, I have returned to a very messy office.  The weekend and Monday morning were full with family and church events, so I am just now working on clean-up.  My email inbox was insane, and that was after filtering out a lot of junk during vacation…

Here’s what I found in my office:

1. Projector boxes: Our sanctuary projector is fixed!  Later this week, I’ll set it back up.  Think about something with me, though.  The bill for the repair was $1929.57.  To be honest, that number makes me a bit sick in the stomach.  …Uh excuse me a second…knock at the door…  Ok, I’m back and this is wild, not making this up. A representative from the Ethiopian Orthodox Church that rents our church on Saturday mornings just stopped in to drop off their regularly monthly rent check, and they included a check to pay some of the projector repair!

2. Father’s Day gift bag: We weren’t here at Faith Church on Father’s day, so I think this is a bit of what I missed.  Our Children’s Ministry had a special Muffins with Moms fellowship time on Mother’s Day, then on Father’s Day they had Donuts with Dad.  And I missed it!  So thanks to whomever still gave me the gift bag!

elephant poo cards3. Card made from Poop:  I have no idea why this is on my desk.  My wife had picked up some of these in Cambodia on one of her travels there with Imagine Goods, but that was years ago and I thought I had used up my supply.  Yes, that is a picture of an elephant doing poo.  And yes, they literally take elephant poo and recycled paper and turn them into handmade cards.  A label on the back of the card says “the production of the paper and cards provides employment for rural Cambodians and all income produced supports the five elephants of Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center – Lucky, Chhouk, Po, Naram & Jamran as they were kind enough to digest and produce our raw materials.”  There are few things I can think of that are more awesome than that.  Except maybe my all-time favorite joke, courtesy of Monty Python: What is brown and sounds like a bell?  Duuuuuuuuung!

4. Christian Junk Mail:  When I’m in the office, receiving the mail daily, I guess I’ve gotten used to it, a piece of junk mail here and there.  But over the course of 10 days away, it became a formidable pile.  Here’s a sampling of the highlights.

  • Company sending samples of their Gospel tracts
  • World social agency letter…and a duplicate copy of the mailing from the same world social agency
  • Church t-shirt company brochure
  • A Christmas 2014 music catalogue
  • another ugh…a duplicate of the t-shirt company brochure

Guess how much of this kind of mail we actually open? We get bombarded with it. I have a hard time believing that companies actually benefit from these mass mailings, yet they must.  Why else would they keep paying to send them?  As I think about it, this junk reminds me of the Evangelical machine, and I wonder how far off track we are.  Don’t get me wrong.  The world social agency that sent two of the exact same letters to our church is doing some amazing things in the name of Jesus’ heart for justice.  Our church has partnered with that agency in the past and may do so again in the future.  But when I saw that stack of mail I got a nauseating feeling about it all.  I don’t believe I know how to respond, and quite frankly part of my knee-jerk reaction is to avoid dealing with it by throwing all the mail away.  With that in mind…

Now its time to clean up this mess!

Chalices, Clipboards, Graduation Books – The Monday Messy Office Report – June 9, 2014

9 Jun


Every week my tidy Friday office is mysteriously messy on Monday.  Here’s what I found today:

1. Communion Chalices – Yesterday was Worship in the Park, and it was a beautiful day!  I can’t tell you how many people come up to me asking if we could please have worship in the park more often.  Every week, if possible.  One of the elements of worship yesterday was communion, and at Faith Church, once per quarter, we have communion by intinction.  That is people come forward, break off a piece of the bread, dip it in the cup and partake.  We bought chalices from Ten Thousand Villages a couple years ago, made of simple colored glass, and I brought them back to my office after worship yesterday.  The leftover bread, I’ll admit, made it to our house, and not much past lunch at that…  Over the years I have become more interested in communion.  When I was a boy, the church I grew up in had communion once/month, and I remember we would sing a song after communion as the ushers collected an offering for the needy.  It always seemed that song was more rousing and heartfelt than the others we would sing, as if the images and truths communion symbolizes would fill hearts with joy. As it should!  One word many traditions use to describe communion is Eucharist, Greek for “Thanksgiving.”  Giving thanks is a part of the communion story because we read that Jesus took the bread, gave thanks, and broke it.  And so, too, we though somber in our remembrance of his broken body and shed blood, burst forth with thankful joy at his victorious resurrection from the dead.

2. Clipboards – I found a few empty clipboards on my counter.  I’m pretty sure they are the clipboards we used to hold sign-up sheets for the Summer Lunch Program.  I’m really excited that Faith Church is once again participating in our ministerium’s Summer Lunch Program.  Starting next week, for ten weeks of summer vacation, we’ll host people from the community for a free meal.  The food is donated and prepared by our local food bank, Conestoga Valley Christian Community Services.  Not only Faith Church people are signed up to help, but also a number of other churches in our area.  It is going to be excellent!

3. Box of stuff from Worship in the Park – It takes a team of people working together to pull off Worship in the Park, and I am grateful for every one of them.  Thanks to Becka and the praise team for transporting instruments.  Thanks to Elijah for the use and set-up of his sound system.  Thanks to Marcus & Melessa for setting up all the drinks and snacks.  Thanks to Kevin and Ken for handling offering and communion elements.  Thanks to Jim for printing song sheets.  Without all of you, Worship in the Park wouldn’t be possible!  I had a box of a few odds and ends like leftover bulletins and reports we distributed, as we have a special congregational meeting coming up.

4. Books for Graduates – I also had books that we are giving as gifts to our graduates.  We got them books by authors like Brennan Manning and Henri Nouwen, our prayer being that as they move on to their next stage in life they would give attention to their soul.  It is so easy to get caught up in the nuts and bolts of what has to happen next, whether that is starting college (admissions, dorms, loans, classes, roommates, etc) or starting a career (interviews, health insurance, co-workers, meetings, etc).  In the busyness, we can lose focus on what it means that we are disciples of Jesus.  We hope our graduates take a few moments to read those books.  Maybe you have lost focus on what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.  If so, I’d be glad to talk with you further if you’re interested.

Now it’s time for me to clean up this mess!