Friday, July 31, 2009

A Dallas Shout Out

My friend Tim had one simple request of me as I made my trip to Dallas. He simply asked if I could get a picture of the new Dallas Cowboy stadium for him. So here are a few shots from the top of a tower my daughter and I went up at Six Flags over Dallas.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Need to Create & Provide a Positive Church "Experience"

The other day I commented on how amazed I was at the "experience" the American Girl store has created which in turn has given them great success. The goods they provide are decent in quality, but they don't reflect a quality that in my opinion justifies the price. So why are they so popular... I believe it's the experience you get from the moment you pull up to the store.

With this in mind, I couldn't help asking myself what does this mean for the local church? Now I've been around the block enough to know that the word "experience" can cause some to shudder when attached to the local church as we are firmly rooted in the truth of God's Word, but why don't we take more seriously our need to provide people with a "positive experience" when engaging with the Body of Christ. If we truly believe that we hold the most important message in this world, why not do our very best to create an environment whereby we can speak this truth into as many lives as possible?

Is it possible to create an environment and experience that moves people to want to hear/see/experience more even though some of the truth is hard to hear? I as a dad was willing to hear/see/experience an expensive (painful event) in order to live the American Girl experience with my daughter. I wonder if people would be more willing to sit/listen/dialogue about the reality of their sin and hopelessness with those who belong to Christ if we provided an environment/experience that invited them to do so even if it gets uncomfortable for them?

I recognize a post like this can ruffle many feathers and it is something I'm still wrestling with, but I am growing more convinced then ever that the church must continual evaluate its methodology of "doing" church. We must provide those searching for more an opportunity to experience the joy and hope that comes when one has trusted Christ as their Savior. If all the church ever presents to a lost and dying world is a miserable, poor experience then we will leave many looking to the American Girl experiences of life to provide temporary hope and joy which unfortunately only masks the painful realities of sin.

I'm just beginning to read a book entitled "Word of Mouth Marketing" and I'm guessing that those within the church would be happy to tell others about Jesus (word of mouth marketing) if their experience with a church engages them on a level that moves them to want more. The good news is that when people want more we have the Word of God that feeds and satisfies the innermost part of a human being on the most deepest and intimate of levels. This is why I believe we need to create and provide people with positive church experiences.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Special Post: You know you are a Megachurch When...

In the next day or so I want to continue my thoughts started in my previous post on my American Girl "experience" but I could not pass up the opportunity to make a brief comment on my family fun night sponsored by Prestonwood Baptist Church.

I know that churches are defined as a megachurch once you pass the 2000 mark, but I think I came up with a new way of truly defining a megachurch.

You know you are a "MEGA"Church when you rent out a large local water park for your church family every Wednesday night throughout the summer months. That's right... my family and I enjoyed a great evening at a full blown water park called Hawaiian Falls that was rented out by Prestonwood. This is a park that is set aside one night a week for the church. They had people from the church greeting, overseeing different give aways of Christian material and they gave every parent a devotional they could do with their children. I was also told that Prestonwood attendees are encouraged to bring along unchurched kids/families for the purpose of exposing them to the church family.

There is nothing about tonight's blog post that is meant to stir deep dialogue on the right or wrong of this church sponsored activity... BUT I'm pretty sure that I'm comfy with calling a church "mega" when they can rent out a water park and fill it weekly with 800-1000+ people.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

My American Girl EXPERIENCE

My family and I are currently in Dallas visiting family. This is my third time to the Dallas area and I always enjoy visiting the city. But this trip was going to be special because my daughter and I were about to "experience" something very special together. We were determined to make a visit to the American Girl store and live the experience.

As I walked around the store with my daughter, I became fascinated with what it was I was observing. All over the store were daughters carrying their American Girl dolls with huge smiles as they not only shopped but lived an American Girl experience. It became very apparent that parents were willing to pay big bucks (myself included) for their daughters to not just purchase some items made in China, but enjoy to its fullest what it was this brand had to offer. There were boutiques for the girls (I mean dolls) to get their hair done. There was a bistro where you could have lunch with your girl (I mean doll) sitting in a booster seat eating with you. There were multiple sections that dealt with every area of life that a little girl may want to live and their doll could live it too. In fact, my daughter got an American Girl t-shirt with Dallas on it and we had to get a matching one for her friend (I mean doll) Elisabeth.

This was more than the Auld family visiting a store... It was a brand that offered young ladies an experience and parents were willing to travel many miles and spend multiple dollars to give it to their children.

In my next post, I will talk about how I related my American Girl experience to the church...

Vacation Recap # 4 - Rest

Celebrated Dad’s Birthday
Since leaving for university, I’ve never lived real close to my family. Every once in a while the entire family is together for a birthday and this year was one of those years. It was really cool to see my mother all choked up with joy at her family being together for my dad’s birthday. God took this time to remind me how blessed I am to have the family heritage I have and to make sure I take seriously my responsibility to keep this blessed family heritage alive and well. If my kids can grow up to love Jesus, marry a spouse who loves Jesus and raise kids that love Jesus then I’ll be happy!

Spent a Sunday at the MET
My family and I enjoyed a Sunday at the MET (Metropolitan Bible Church) in Ottawa and were refreshed greatly. It is always nice to get away and see how God is at work in other ministries. This was also a fun visit in that they just moved into their new building 11 months ago and have already outgrown their new facility on many fronts. It is wonderful to see God drawing so many unto Himself using methods that are quite different than Grace.

Read/Thought about “Killing Cockroaches”
Great book with 100’s of leadership snippets that encourage the leader to keep focused on the main things without chasing cockroaches all day long. The book is worth the read!

REST – All in all it was a good time of rest and recalibration as God met me right where I was at through quiet times with Him, good reading, other ministries and His creation. It’s good to leave the desk and office and get out there to meet with Him in new and fresh environments.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Vacation Recap # 3 - REST

REST: Here are a few of the main attractions from vacation that helped me recalibrate my heart as I continue along as a Christ follower...

Breakfast with Bill
I had the privilege of spending the morning with the president of the Associated Gospel Churches of Canada while on vacation and enjoyed a wonderful morning talking about the work of God in Canada. It was a good reminder that our great big God is at work in more than just Lititz, Lancaster County, PA and even the United States. Our God is the God of all countries and at work in each and every one. It’s good to recalibrate and broaden my horizons on the global work of God.

Watched the Sun Set Over Lake Huron
I find nothing quite as tranquil and powerful as watching the sun set over Lake Huron. I never tired of heading down to the lake and watching the sun set. I guess it was always a reminder that our grand Creator causes the sun to rise and set daily which reminds me of just how small I am and how much I must depend daily on Him. The sun setting at the Lake has a way of humbling me while at the same time filling me with gratitude for an all powerful God who chooses to love me and sustain me and this world daily. I lose sight of that some days in ministry!

Spent a Sunday with the Lighthouse Baptist Church Family
My family and I had the privilege of spending a day with our old church family. This group of Christ followers let me as a young pastor cut his teeth on them. We had a great time reminiscing about doing life together as we celebrated and mourned the real life events this church body had faced over the past five years. God used this time to deepen my passion for the local church as there is nothing quite as special then the eternal bond we share together in Christ.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Vacation Recap # 2 - Recreation

Played Beaverbrook Golf Course
The Auld boys enjoyed 9 holes of golf at this little course in Minden ON. It’s not often that my dad, brother, Josh (my son) and I get out golfing together. We had a lot of fun looking for our balls (I have a terrible slice) and enjoying a great afternoon together.

Ate Kawartha Ice Cream
There is a local creamery up in Minden ON that the kids ate at last summer and it was imperative that we returned. I ate up some good heavenly hash ice cream just before heading over to Tim Horton’s for a coffee and donut. Nothing like vacation!!!

Rode Go-Karts with the Kids
While visiting with friends in Ottawa, we spent an afternoon go-karting and mini golfing. I must confess that I was a little bit nervous about my nine year old daughter driving her own, but she did great and I loved speeding around the track with the family.

Toured Parliament Hill
The family had a wonderful time walking through the Canadian Parliament buildings. My children are dual citizens and I want them to appreciate and be knowledgeable on the governments of both countries. The trip up the Peace Tower was interesting as Susan is terrified of heights... but she was a trooper and made the trip up with the whole gang!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Vacation Recap # 1 - Recreation

As I noted in my blog post just before vacation, I have a firm belief that there is a tremendous difference between recreation and biblical rest. I’m not opposed to either one and believe with the right balance a great vacation can be had. Over the next few posts, I’m looking to recap some of the recreation and rest I enjoyed!


Played Thundering Waters Golf Course
I enjoyed playing this John Daly course with my brother, a good friend and a new friend. It beat me up good!

Participated in a Pipe Band Parade
I must confess that I love to listen to the bagpipes. I have a Scottish heritage and I love the powerful sound a large group of them give off. Every Saturday night in Kincardine ON, they shut down the main street and the crowd follows a large pipe band up and down the street with the band finishing the night off with a number of songs in the local park as the sun sets over the lake. I loved it!!!

Paddle Boat
I spent some time paddle boating one morning around Beech Lake with Susan and Emma. It was a perfectly calm morning out on the lake and we had a wonderful time together.

More to come in my next blog...

Sunday, July 5, 2009

50 Weeks and Some "Biblical" Rest

Today my family and I head off for 12 days of vacation in Canada. As we packed and got ready to go, I acknowledge that I'm ready to go. It has been a great, but busy year of ministry and after 50 Sunday's straight, Susan and I are ready for some rest.

One of my concerns over the years revolves around a quote made by Gordon MacDonald where he states "What is strange about our general fatigue as a people is the fact that we are also such a leisure oriented society." This is definitely worth thinking about. We spend billions as a society pursuing recreation/leisure with a passion. In fact, we often wear ourselves out in pursuit of it. So here is what I'm determined to do over the next 12 days.

First, I'm going to pursue some recreation with the right perspective. Over the next 12 days I'm hoping to play some golf with friends, ride the Maid of the Mist with my kids, visit Fort George (a fort from the War of 1812), take in a Scottish Pipe Band Parade in Kincardine, canoe on Beech Lake and visit the Parliament buildings and war museum in Ottawa. As you can see, I'm not opposed to recreation, but it must be done with the right perspective.

Secondly, I'm going to pursue some "Biblical Rest". Here is how I've come to define Biblical rest (also taken from Gordon MacDonald's book entitled "Ordering Your Private World"

I'm going to close the loop! As God rested on the seventh day of creation, he took time to reflect upon what He had just done. I need to take time to reflect upon where I've been the past year. I need to evaluate what went well and what didn't go so well in my journey with and for God.

I'm going to recalibrate my heart! Just as a car needs a tune up after some diagnostic tests, so to does my heart. I need to get into the Bible and allow God to speak clearly to me through His Word and recalibrate that which needs tuned up after a busy year. To ignore the warning lights of a car can be disastrous and so too can failure to recalibrate/tune up the heart. But this requires intentional times of solitude/quiet and time apart from the daily activities of life.

I'm going to define my mission! Times of rest only last for so long and before I know it I'll be back at here within the Grace ministry. In order for me to effectively be all that God would have me be, I need to be clear yet again what it is He is calling me to. It's amazing how blurry our mission for God can get in the busy routines of life. I find myself sometimes forgetting it's all about Him and His kingdom. Biblical rest allows me the time to have God define for me yet again His mission/purpose for my life.

I'm looking forward to some great times of recreation and rest over the next 12 days and look forward to sharing some of the highlights as we go!

Temporary Empty Nest Lessons # 3

Moment # 3: Saying Good-Bye to My Son

This past week, Susan and I also said good-bye to our son who was heading off to North Carolina for a few days of vacation with a friend and his family. To be honest with you, I don't struggle saying good-bye to my son like I do with my daughter. It sounds sexist, but I think it's because he is a boy and he is almost 13. But it was the fact that he is almost 13 that caught me off guard a bit.

The final lesson God taught me this week is that I need to make the most of every moment I have with my kids for God because my time with them is short. God has entrusted my kids to me for a lifetime, but their real formative years are moving along very quickly and it won't be long before the natural desire of my kids will be to leave the nest and cleave to whomever their spouse will be down the road. So here's what I'm committed to continue doing;
  • I'm going to pray that God keeps them close to Him and that their hearts stay sensitive to God's leading in their lives.
  • I'm going to pray that God make clear how it is He wants to use them for His kingdom purposes.
  • I'm going to pray that God brings them together with the spouse of His choosing and that their spouses are godly.
  • I'm going to ask God to help me be the best spiritual example to them that I can be in Christ.
  • I'm going to try and take advantage of times together with them even if I'm tired.
  • I'm going watch for and seek to create opportunities to enjoy laughter and joy with them.
  • I'm going to be aware of the life lessons they need to learn to make it in this world and seek to teach and equip them to handle each of them in obedience and faithfulness to God.
  • I'm going to love their mother with all my heart so they know what a healthy marriage/home looks like.
This list is anything but exhaustive, but I'm committed to trusting God day in and day out to be a good father (steward of the children entrusted to me) for the time God has given me with them!

Susan and I enjoyed our empty nest and I'm grateful for some of the reminders/lessons learned throughout the week, but I'm glads we will all be home together again this evening!!!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Temporary Empty Nest Lessons #2

Moment # 2: GSM Ireland Team Send Off

Tuesday morning proved to be a wonderful time of prayer together as about 70 people gathered to see our Grace Student Ministry Lead Team head off to Ireland to work alongside a missionary couple our church partners with. It was very cool to watch these teens prepare for this experience as they were very open and sensitive to the leading of God's Spirit. It was also very interesting for me to watch the many parents who for the very first time were releasing their children into this overseas opportunity.

As I watched the parents say their good-byes with tears flowing, I could not help but think about how I would be feeling if it were my son/daughter heading off on this adventure for God. Here are a few of the thoughts that went through my head for better or worse...

I was really impressed with the spiritual maturity of these teens. Doug (Director of Student Ministries at Grace) asked them what it was they wanted the group gathered to pray for. Their answers showed a level of spiritual maturity that I don't always see in adults and it was wonderful to see how God was growing them and would grow them through this trip.

As I listened to their answers, I could not help but think about the stewardship issue involved in all of this. Those teens heading off on their own were definitely connected to an earthly family, but in reality they are God's gift to those parents. All children are a gift to parents that is to be handled with great care because of how precious it is. There is nothing quite as powerful as looking at your child and recognizing the responsibility you have to love and train them in the ways of God. As I looked around the room at those parents I thought "Well done good and faithful stewards... I commend you for releasing your child (this gift of God) into the world to do the work of Jesus."

Shortly after the good-byes were done, I headed back to my office where I began to contemplate the day when I would release my kids (Lord willing) into an adventure for God to accomplish His good purposes for them in this world. My willingness to do something like that is a stewardship issue and even though it breaks my heart to think about the day my kids won't be running around the house daily, I get excited to think about how God will one day use them for His glory. To release the gift of our children back into the world to accomplish God's mission is worth an empty nest and I believe a stewardship issue.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Temporary Empty Nest Lessons

This past week has been an interesting week for me. Through a series of events, Susan and I have found ourselves without any kids around the house for a few days and I'm not sure I like it! Don't get me wrong... Susan and I love hanging out together and not fighting the kids for the remote is wonderful, but I've had a few moments this week where God has been speaking into my life through this experience... I'm looking to capture those moments in a few blog posts over the next few days.

Moment # 1: Camp Conquest and Emma

This past Sunday it was time to drop my little princess (my daughter Emma) off at Camp Conquest for her first ever full week of camp. She loves it at camp and that helps me deal with it because I never grew up going to camp nor do I really have a desire for it. It's not bad... it's just not my cup of tea. I had been preparing myself for this week by working through all the details in my head that I felt would make it bearable for her. She would have a week hanging out and sharing a cabin with a good friend. She would have a nice bunk in a nice lodge with indoor plumbing. She would be smiling and laughing the minute we pulled onto the camp property and the list went on.

To be honest with you, I was horrified as we went through the camp registration process. It had nothing to do with Camp Conquest, but rather some of my preconceived ideas about what was going to make camp bearable for my daughter came crashing down in rapid succession as circumstances beyond our control took over. Her week was going to look nothing like I had envisioned it. I was devastated and went into the protective dad mode with every intention of putting her back into the car and taking her home so we could hit Disney or something. SIDE NOTE: I thank the Lord for a wise wife who helped me give pause before I did something stupid!

After getting Emma settled in, I still wasn't very comfortable leaving her there, but I did. As Susan and I rode home here is the lesson God spoke to us (actually spoke to my wife who then shared it with me... I was still in take her home mode).

LESSON # 1: All the plans I have for my children may not be God's plans and I need to be OK with that! (Isaiah 55:8) As I drove home, I had to acknowledge that what I was hoping my daughter would get out of this week at camp was most likely not going to happen. Because of a whole set circumstances out of my control, God was going to work in her life as He so desired. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't worried about her, but I am excited to get her home Friday night and hear all about how God worked in her life through a series of circumstances that were well out of my control and I'm learning to be good with that because I know our Father in heaven loves that little girl with a love that will forever be deeper than the love I will ever have while walking this earth. I guess God's still growing me up as well!