Monthly Archives: November 2007

Customer Service

I just had a great customer service experience and wanted to share it. I am on a short trip with some friends in Columbia South Carolina. We had great day of golf (My team won the 18 hole challenge) and ended the day at a Japanese Steak house. That was fun and the food was great, but the story is about our hotel. We are staying at the Hyatt Place. When we walked in there was a pleasant smell and everything looked clean and inviting. When we got back from our meal I sat down to have a Cafe Mocha and read my FAST Co. Magazine. Greg was very helpful and friendly. He remembered my name and made a great Cafe Mocha. We had a pleasant conversation and I met another very nice employee, Jen.

This was by far the best experience I have had at a hotel. Everything from the room to the coffee was first class and pleasant. I am even Blogging from their computer.

It reminds me that first impressions really do make a big difference. I am much more likely to pick a Hyatt Place Hotel in the future. We need to be aware of how people are viewing our business, or in my case church. Are we paying attention to the little things like smell and eye appeal. Are we making people feel welcomed and comfortable. Our win on Sunday morning at NewPointe Community Church is to get people to come back. We believe that if they come back they will be introduced to Jesus Christ and be changed forever.

First impressions really do matter. Every smile, friendly hand shake and helpful act of service contributes to making a great first impression. The same goes for the second, third and fourth impressions. All those little things contribute to the experience and make it memorable in a positive or negative way. Thanks Hyatt place!

Loving Well

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about about what it means to be healthy emotionally, spiritually and physically. We talk and hear a lot about getting healthy physically, but how healthy are we emotionally or spiritually? We diet, exercise and think about our health, but often do nothing to grow more healthy in our emotions or to grow in our spiritual journey. I think that a lot of our physical problems come from being unhealthy emotionally and spiritually.

As a follower of Christ I want to be healthy in all three areas.

Some people have not grown into adulthood in their emotions or their relationship with God. What does that mean? It means that they do not love very well. They haven’t been growing deeper and wider in their love for God and other people. They are stuck emotionally. Many times it is because they have been hurt and have not worked through that hurt. The deeper the hurt the deeper the emotional damage.

Many of us tend to focus on ourselves and our own needs and wants. As a result many of our relationships suffer and get damaged. We tend to not handle conflict very well and we often try to bury the hurts we have experienced only to find those hurts coming out in our relationships.

Here are some questions I have been asking myself, as I try to become more healthy emotionally and spiritually:

How can I be quick to hear and slow to speak?
How can I be angry and not sin?
How can I watch my heart above all else?
How can I speak the truth in love?
How can I be a true peacemaker?
How can I mourn?
How can I not bear false witness against my neighbor?
How can I get rid of all bitterness, rage, and envy?
How can I forgive?

Those questions reveal Biblical truths that should be evident in our lives. I happen to believe that God loves me unconditionally, and He wants me to love Him and other people like He loves me. If you want to review what love is, read 1Corinthians 13.

Loving well requires us to grow more intimate with God which leads to being able to love people better. God made us for relationships, both with Him and other people. We cannot live fulfilling lives in isolation. That means taking risks with God and people and allowing them into your heart.

If we do not love well, we cannot use our gifts and abilities to further God’s kingdom. All that we have to give is worthless unless we love well. Jesus said that everything goes back to loving God with all your heart, soul and mind and loving other people as much as yourself.

I think we all have some stuff to work on.

Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving is such a great time of year. It forces me to think about all that I am thankful for. I try very hard to do that throughout the year, but there is something about Thanksgiving that really brings it home for me. I believe that when we begin to give thanks our perspective and attitude change. A thankful and grateful attitude changes your outlook on life, marriage, relationships, work, money and possesions.

I am thankful for my wife Vikki and how important she has been in my life. We have been married for over 18 years and have been together for over 23 years.

I am also very thankful for both of our families. We have been blessed with great parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. We got to spend Thanksgiving day with Vikki’s side of the family.

A great big thank you to Paul & Lynne for hosting it over the past several years. The food is always fabulous and the fellowship fun. The day was filled with food, laughs, football, cards, crafting and some sleeping. Here are some pictures of the day.



There is so much more that I am thankful for, but most of all I am thankful for how much God loves me. I know I do not deserve His love, yet He loves me unconditionally. That still amazes me whenever I think about it. God knows everything about us, the good the bad and the ugly and yet He loves us and wants a personal relationship with each of us. WOW! that is something to be thankful for.

Church Growth

I’ve been having some interesting conversations about church growth with some other guys. We have been discussing the reasons that some churches grow and add new people and others stay the same or decline.

One of the guys asked if the church I attend wants to keep growing. I immediately said yes, because there are still unchurched and lost people in Holmes & Tuscarawas Counties.

One of the other guys said that growth is not an option for a church it is a command from Jesus. You see, the church is the plan for reaching the entire world for Jesus Christ. Therefore churches should try to spread the Good News to as many people as possible. It would be easy and safe to sit back and protect our own and feed ourselves and forget about the people that do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Some people decide against going to a growing large church because they think it will be impersonal and cold. They think they will be ignored. Maybe they think its just a cool place to be seen and a status thing. So without ever experiencing it they choose not to go.

The truth is that there is a reason a church is growing and attracting new people. I have heard many stories in my church and other Church’s that the experience has been amazing. I hear over and over again how welcome they felt. How warm and friendly everyone was and how the music and the message really spoke to them. I hear comments all the time about how they could understand what was being taught and how they felt the pastor was speaking directly to them.

If you have never gone to a growing church, I encourage you to try it. It is probably much different from the church you grew up in or have heard about. Church can be fun and exciting. God is not boring or uninteresting. It’s all about changed lives and growing churches have stories of changed lives.

Ever Monday morning at our staff meeting we share stories, and there is never a time we don’t have several stories of lives that have been impacted because of the church. That is why we do what we do!

Reunion

Last night my wife Vikki and I went to my 20 year High School class reunion. We had a good time catching up with the people that came. We laughed a lot and I got to hear some interesting stories from some of my classmates. I find it very interesting to see how people have changed over the years. It is also interesting to see how we have not changed in some ways. As I reflect on my High School years there are things I regret doing or saying or maybe things I should have done differently, but all that is part of my story and how God has used it to shape me into the person I am today.

There we 49 in my graduating class. There were 24 that came to the reunion. That is a very good turn out.

High School for me was a time of sports, fun, getting in trouble, and starting to become a leader. Oh, I also learned a lot thanks to good teachers like Jeff Pratt.

Here are some pictures:








Group Life

I am in a men’s group that meets every two weeks. Actually I am two men’s groups, one meets every over Tuesday for breakfast. I have been in that group for almost 8 years. My other men’s group meets every other Saturday morning.

My Saturday morning group has been together for about 7 months. We had breakfast this morning and just talked and laughed. I really enjoy meeting with these guys. We are getting to know each other and have been praying for each other. I have already seen a change in a few of the guys and have built meaningful relationships with these five other guys.

As I think about the groups that I am in, I am thankful that I know these guys. I know that if I need help or am going through a rough time that all of these guys would be there for me. I try to do the same for them. That is what group life is about. It is building lasting friendships, encouraging each other, caring for each other, serving each other, having fun together and being available to support each other when needed.

I really look forward to my Tuesday mornings and Saturday mornings because of these guys. If you are not in a group I really encourage you to get connected in a group and give it a chance. Take the time to build relationships, it is worth it.

Cookie

Yesterday we had Internet and cable hooked up at our house. The technician spent a few hours working on everything and did a great job. We now have high speed Internet and high definition cable TV.

While this guy was working my wife decided to bake her chocolate chip cookie pie and give him a piece. She offered a rather large piece to him just before he left. Vikki thought he may have been offended because he commented on how large the piece was. About ten minutes later the guy calls back and asks for Mrs. Stutzman. He asks her if she sells the cookie. He totally loved it and wanted to see if he could buy one from her. She offered to give him the rest of the one she made and he agreed. He is making a special trip to Berlin to pick it up at her work.

The killer cookie strikes again. I have constant pressure to bring it to my workplace as well. Back off Scott & Cindy. I will try to bring one in before we start our weigh ins next week.

Eat well!

The Excellent Way!

“And now I will show you the most excellent way.”

No, that is not a quote from Bill & Ted’s Most Excellent Adventure.

I read that this morning, it is a quote from Paul in the Bible. The context is Paul is writing to the church in Corinth, that has been struggling with disunity, pride and sin (Like many churches and Christians today).

He had been talking about the spiritual gifts that Christians have and the reason we have them, which is to build the church so that the church can be effective in reaching all people groups in the world. Spiritual gifts are given to each Christ follower by the Holy Spirit. They are special abilities that are to be used to minister to the needs of the body of believers. I will get into more on spiritual gifts in a later blog.

Immediately after talking about spiritual gifts Paul talks about the most excellent way. That got my attention because I want to do everything I can with excellence. The excellent way is to do everything with love. Love should be our motivation for everything we do, especially in the church. It does not matter how gifted you are as a speaker, teacher, singer, listener, server, cleaner, leader, organizer etc. if you don’t do it because you love and care about people.

The gifts and abilities that you have were given to you to build up, serve and strengthen fellow believers. That is why it is so critical that the local church shows love to each other. How can we reach a lost world if we do not show love and compassion for each other.

God made us for relationships, and we can only experience life fully when we move toward loving relationships with people. These relationships need to be healthy from an emotional, physical and spiritual stand point. Think about what your motive is to use your gifts. Is it to make yourself look good or spiritual to others. If so, Paul is saying it does no good. Our motive to serve, help and give should be because of love.

Love involves unselfish service to others; to show it gives evidence that you care.

Love is the greatest of all human qualities, and is the greatest attribute of God himself. To love others and not expect anything in return goes against our natural instincts to look out for ourselves. We can only love this way with Gods help. Without God we lose our source of love and cannot love others properly or in a healthy way.

The more we become like Christ, the more love we will show to others. That is the most excellent way.

Spiritual Growth

I had a conversation yesterday with someone about how spiritual growth happens. He asked me when I grew the most in my spiritual journey. It wasn’t going to church, it wasn’t during the Bible studies I’ve done, it wasn’t the classes I took or even taught. Those times were helpful in my journey, but the most significant growth times for me were the hard times. The times that I was hurting, confused and feeling in the dark.

Those experiences drew me closer to God. I prayed more, read more Scripture and practiced other disciplines like fasting, journaling, silence, solitude and memorizing Scripture. I questioned God and cried out to God. I searched my own heart and did not like what I saw. During those times I grew the most, because I knew I needed to change. I knew I needed to become more like Jesus and go deeper in my relationship with Him.

I have had other times in which I feel I changed and grew spiritually. Starting the Crown Financial ministry at my church, which was the first time I really studied God’s word and what He has to say about money and possessions. Reading through the entire Bible in one year. My first Willow Creek Leadership conference, where I surrendered my life to God and made a recommitment to Him. Going on a mission trip to Jordan & Egypt. Taking a team of 40 people to the gulf coast three months after Katrina hit. Making the transition from the business world into full time ministry.

Those were some significant times for me, but as I think about it my growth has been a combination of many things. Some very small and some that stand out in my mind. I think the bottom line is that you have to want to grow and change for life transformation to happen. Too often we choose to remain stuck, because we are very comfortable. God does not want us to remain the same. His desire for all of us is that we grow in our love for Him and other people. The question is this; Have you become more like Jesus over the past year or are you pretty much the same as you were last year?

Benefit for Vern

Vern Yoder has been a part of our church family for over 30 years. He has been on staff here in a variety of roles over the past 10 years. The amazing thing about Vern is he had a kidney transplant 30 years ago. Over the years he has touched the lives of thousands of kids and adults. His dedication to serving God and helping kids grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ has been inspiring.

Vern has had tremendous challenges in his life and has steadily faced them with God. I have been privileged to know and serve with Vern. He is always concerned more about other people than himself. His generosity is incredible. Vern & his wife Joy have a giving attitude that is hard to beat.

Vern has been on dialysis over the past 6 months or so because his kidney is shutting down. He is going to be getting his second kidney transplant this December. That is an answer to prayer.

This weekend we are doing a benefit dinner to raise money to cover the many medical expenses involved in his transplant and many other medical procedures. Vern has given so much, it is our turn to give back to Vern. The benefit runs from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Sunday November 11th. We will be serving a baked potato lunch and having a silent auction. Cost is $6.00 for adults and $3.00 for children 10 & under.

All this is happening at our old church site at 531 Dover Road in Sugarcreek, OH. I want to thank all the volunteers that have agreed to help and serve Vern & Joy in this way.

Love ya Vern!