Author: SLPAGE

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.  Maybe that’s because it is a time of feasting and that I like to eat.  I love the delicious food that we serve up in abundance during this holiday; the turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce along with all the other dishes that go along with it.  I also like watching the football games and getting together with family and friends.  Thanksgiving is a time for counting our blessings and giving thanks to God for divine providence, and I am glad to tell you that I am thankful for this time I’m spending with you here at Lake Ozark. My hope and prayer for you this Thanksgiving is that you have a wonderful time of celebrating the joys of life.

Tibby and I will be spending the holiday at home in Maryland as we go back for a week to check up on our house, and our friends back there.  We will miss being with you, but we will be back in time to celebrate the beginning of the Advent season. Until then may you experience God’s richest blessings.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Pastor Paul

Let’s make unity our polar star.

The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-13 NRSV)

Barton Stone – one of the founders of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) – had a favorite slogan that guided the early days of our movement.  “Let unity be our polar star”, he was fond of saying, and I think it’s a saying we would do well to bring back into use.  A polar star guides sailors on the sea to their destination.  It’s not the destination, but rather, a guide to the destination.  This, too, is what the apostle Paul was saying in his letter to the Ephesians. The goal, he said, is to reach maturity and full stature of Christ. Now that might seem pretty straight forward to some, but we all know that we have fallen short of that goal, and I think I can say with some authority, that the reason we fall short is because we lose sight of our “polar star.”

It is the case that congregations in transition often struggle with communication and collaboration.  Perhaps that is due to the former pastor leaving which then creates a leadership void.  Who is supposed to do what? – is the most often asked question during these times.  Here is where an experienced interim minister becomes a “gift” to the church.  Just as Paul described in Ephesians, there are differing ministry gifts given to the church, yet all have the same ministry objective: to bring the body of Christ into the unity of the faith.  An interim minister helps congregations to deal with obstacles to the unity they seek but have not been able to achieve on their own.  If the process is allowed to work properly, the next minister the congregation calls will not have to deal with problems of the past; instead they will be able to focus the energies of the congregation on the future Christ has for them.

Here is where we can all participate in making this a reality.  Let’s make unity our polar star.  Let it be our guide in all that we do.  Now I know from experience that this isn’t easy.  During transition times anxiety can grow and frustrations can mount. There are going to be plenty of opportunities in the upcoming months for all of us to exercise patience and forbearance, but if we can keep unity as our polar star it will guide us to the maturity in Christ we all want to achieve.

Paul

What does an Interim Minister do?

A question I’m asked frequently is, “What does an Interim Minister do?”  Great question!  Sometimes I wonder about that, too.  This is my sixth intentional interim ministry and I am still trying to come up with a good answer.  The reason is that each congregation is unique and the need changes from church to church.  The best answer I can give to the question is that an Interim Minister is a “Temporary Shepherd.”  This is the image Roger Nicholson used in writing the foundational text on interim ministry, and it is a fitting description of the work we do.

The Interim Minister is temporary in that we go into a church with the agreement that we are only going to be there for a limited time.  During that time the Interim Minister “shepherds” the congregation through the emotional and spiritual process of preparing for the coming of a new pastor and the future God has for them.  This “interim” time, or “in-between” time is important in the life of the church.  It is a time to reflect on the past while looking forward to the future.  It is a time of waiting on God, and at the same time gearing up to receive new leadership.  It’s a time of great anticipation, but also a time of high anxiety.  And, as we all know it’s in these times that we need someone to help us who has some experience with these things.  That is what an interim minister does.

One of the advantages of having gone through this process numerous times is that it has given me the privilege of watching as God brings new vision understanding to congregations they need as they enter into a new future.  I know that God will do the same here at Lake Ozark Christian church and I look forward to making this journey with you.

My only caution here is to not rush through it, but instead, cherish this time as a gift from God.  Open your heart and let God do a new work in you and in the life of the church.  Let’s make this a time of spiritual renewal and a reawakening of our commitment to Christ and his church.

Pastor Paul

A Final Perspective

Saying “so long” is a part of these lives we live.  Each and every one of us has, at some point in our lives, experienced “so long” moments.

I have been fortunate to serve as pastor here at LOCC for almost 7 years.  During that time, we have worshiped, worked, laughed, cried, taught, learned and shared community together. We’ve also said “so long” to many in our church family.  We have celebrated their lives when their earthly journey was finished, and we have seen them move away to be closer to family and other types of care.

As the packing begins to move toward Midwest City, Oklahoma to serve with the good people of First Christian Church of Midwest City, I am thankful for the memories of this journey. Nancy will be leaving soon to teach at Mid-Del Schools, and I will follow at the end of August.

Thanks to all in this special place who have become our lake family.  As Nancy and I move on to new adventures, I give thanks for our time together and look forward to hearing the exciting ways LOCC will proclaim the Good of Jesus to the world in the future!

Peace!

Gary

Vacation Bible School

Our Vacation Bible School is complete for this summer, and we want to thank all who participated, both kids and leaders!  Each summer, we search for ways to share God’s love, and this was certainly a great experience.  We learned to ROAR!

Each day’s theme started with When Life….. and ended with “God is Good”

For example, the focus on “When Life is Unfair, God is Good!”…(day 1).  Day 2 had us understanding “When Life is Scary, God is Good!”  Other days were; “When Life Changes…God is Good”,  “When Life is Sad…God is Good”, and When Life is Good, God is Good!

Our teachers, volunteers, and kids did a great job with this VBS, and will present some of the scriptures, music, and fun in our 10:30 worship service this Sunday!  I hope you will join us as we share the message of our VBS at this week’s worship!  To see more of our fun, check out additional pictures on our Facebook page!  And don’t forget to ROAR!

Peace,

Gary

A Pastor’s Perspective

Last Friday, I went to help with the clean-up of Community Christian Church in Jefferson City. As you recall, the church was hit by a tornado last week. I was one of around 80 helpers who removed debris, cut down broken trees, picked up broken glass, and other things to assist this congregation in getting back on their feet.

After I arrived, a school bus containing 28 students and a couple of teachers showed up to help. These high school students had finished their last day of school on Thursday and were spending the next day in tornado relief. They worked hard and really had an impact on the church property. They were the hands and feet of Christ that day. I was glad to have been there with them!

Each of us is called to reach out our own lives and to connect to God’s world in mission. Each one of us has a part to play. We don’t have to do everything, but each of us can do something! I hope we will find your own “something” and become involved in something that helps others. We each are called to serve someone. No matter what our age.

One part of serving calls us to give some of our time. Those kids and coaches last week gave their time and energy. One way we can serve is by giving our time this Saturday and Sunday as participants in our Epiphany retreat. I hope you will join me there as we begin to seek God’s vision for the future of Lake Ozark Christian Church. I hope to see you at this important event!

Peace!

Gary

A Pastor’s Perspective

Last Wednesday we completed another school year with our Wednesday afternoon kids program! This year, the group sang songs, studied the Bible, had great snacks, and played lots of games, and performed Christmas and Easter plays. Our kids were fantastic!

This program would not happen without the adults who give of their time to make it happen. Lots of thanks to Patty Savage, Don Savage, Terri Van Clavern, Nancy Mitchell, Jennifer Rosa, Sandy Wilson, Kendra Weingart, Bette Taylor, Glenda Frazier, David Kirchner, Dianne Betz, Greg Weingart, Matt Hendon, Heather Hendon, Gracie Mitchell, and others who provided snacks and support. I apologize if I missed anyone! Thanks to all who have supported this opportunity for our children to learn more about their faith journey!

The recent storm damage and flooding around our area and throughout the nation have caused some to ask what the church can do to help. There are many charitable organizations that help, but the organization that is specifically Disciples of Christ focused is Week of Compassion. We take an offering each year for Week of Compassion. The funds are used to offer “solidarity grants” to Disciples churches and families connected to them when disasters occur. WOC has already connected with First Christian Church in Eldon and Community Christian in Jefferson City to assist both churches and those in their congregation who had damage. We will focus on their need this week. Your contributions to Week of Compassion are needed!

Have a safe Memorial Day weekend!

Gary

A Pastor’s Perspective

The Magic Dragon Car Show is in the books. This week it’s Mother’s Day. Graduations from our schools are happening, and we are just a few weeks away from summer here at the lake. There is something about this time of year for our church. Our church friends and families that have been away for the colder months are returning and re-connecting. It is great to get them back!

We started our 8:15 service last Sunday, and will soon begin to worship in our outdoor worship center as soon as the temperature warms up on Sunday mornings. It is a great time of year to be church together!

I invite you to find your spot at church this weekend, where we celebrate Mother’s Day together, and each and every Sunday after that! Your presence makes a difference here! Come join the fun and conversation at our new “Holy Ground Cafe”, where you will meet our new friends and renew old acquaintances!

I hope to see you this Sunday as we worship God together and celebrate the Good News!

Peace,

Gary

Unexpected developments

Sometimes, your day doesn’t go quite as you planned. On Monday, I texted Dianne that I wasn’t feeling well and wouldn’t be in to the office. Later that afternoon, I was at urgent care. The evening found me in the emergency room.

Tuesday afternoon found me in surgery to remove an appendix that was ready to leave my body. Totally unexpected. At no time would I have ever guessed my week would turn out this way. It’s Friday, and I am getting closer to fine.

Through all of this, I have been so thankful for the care and concern you have all shown. I am usually the one standing at the side of the bed asking how someone is. It’s a little bit odd being asked that from the other perspective.

That’s the way life is though, isn’t it? We face unexpected things and we move forward, giving thanks to the One who creates us, sustains us, and calls us to live life fully. The One who gives individuals gifts to help these “earthen vessels” we live in to be repaired and to heal.

In this Lenten season, we are supposed to take time to reflect and consider the paths we are on. Sometimes those paths are interrupted by unexpected things. As we continue toward Easter, we are invited to travel with Jesus and to discern where our own journeys are going. Are we focused enough on the things that really matter? Are we making time for our spiritual journeys in the midst of the rest of our busy lives?

I found out this week that it isn’t up to me all of the time. But what I do know that on this journey I am thankful for the people God puts on this planet that have the capacity to reflect God’s love back to me. Thank you all for being awesome reflectors!

See You Sunday!

Gary

Anticipation.

After a long winter, we are finally seeing signs that the cold is giving way, slowly, to warmer temperatures. I am preparing to store my heavy winter coat again, and prepare for what’ s next. Hopefully, I am preparing for our last cold snap of this half of the year.

Our Lenten season is about the same thing that has been happening around here with our weather. Anticipation. We are called to reflect and admit that we are people who are incomplete until we fully acknowledge the presence of God in our world and in our lives. As we journey to Jerusalem together, we anticipate the story, once again, of meeting Jesus along the way. In our travels, we anticipate the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and claim the hope that it gives us for our own lives.

Our communications group is working hard to spread the message that Lake Ozark Christian Church is a great place to experience God’s love and find community. Here in this space, we gather together to worship and then go forth into our world to proclaim the Gospel to the world.

You have already seen the work of our communications group in the videos you have seen in worship and on our Facebook and web pages. Soon, you will see a presence in your mailbox, and will he asked to share a special Easter advertisement card with your neighbors and friends. This card invites people to “Come Home for Easter”, and is an opportunity for each and every person here to invite people to celebrate Easter with us.

Our goal is to have at least 300 people here for our celebration on April 21. I hope you will tell others, and make plans for yourself to be present for the remainder of Lent, Easter, and each and every Sunday as we continue to explore God’s call for our church and our community!

Peace!

Gary

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