My new blog

March 13, 2008

Inspired by a true story

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The Big Annoucement

March 10, 2008

Not sure whether this is a big announcement or not, but I’m putting it out there after quite a bit of thought and preparation so here it is.

I’m changing my blog site to my new self-hosted site called martyholman.com.
I’ve been working on it for the last two weeks and think it’s ready to be viewed by you and used by me.  It should be easier to find my blog since a handful of people a day find my blog by searching for marty holman or pastormarty anyways.  So as of today, I will no longer be posting on wordpress.com, although I’m using wordpress software for the hosting.  I’d love to hear your comments on what you think about the site, and you can subscribe to the site just like you might have here.

Anyways, enough of the shameless plugs.  See you there!

Until next time…

Giftology: A sermon

December 16, 2007

Our services were cancelled this Sunday due to inclement weather.  Because of this, I have placed my sermon transcript on my blog this morning.  Later, I will place a recording of the text online as well.  Have a great Sunday morning!

Matthew 2:9 – 11 – “After this interview the wise men went their way.  And the star they had seen in the East guided them to Bethlehem.  It went ahead of them and stopped over the place the child was.  When they saw the star, they were filled with joy!  They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him.  Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” 

What we have been looking at over the past several weeks is how to celebrate Christmas, and not just celebrate a holiday.  Because if we want to celebrate a holiday, we could celebrate a holiday however we want, but it we want to celebrate Christmas, we need to celebrate the way Christ intended us to celebrate Him, especially if we’re going to make a big deal about the title of the holiday. 

Like most conversations about the Christmas season, we’ve talked in this series so far about making Christ the “Reason for the Season” and making Him the focal point of how we’re celebrating, but where this series differs is in applying truths that hold not just to this month, but to the rest of the year.  In a sense we’re not celebrating Christmas, but we’re celebrating Christyear! 

My question for us today is this:  What is the appropriate way for me to give gifts and how does the idea of giving gifts fit into God’s plan for how I should be living the rest of the year?  Because giving gifts isn’t evil, and in fact, the reason we give gifts to others is rooted in God giving us a relational gift: His Son, Jesus Christ.  So how do we give gifts to others in a godly way, and how do we apply that – not just for a day, a month, or a particular season – but as a new perspective on living? 

Now as I’ve talked about the last several weeks, I absolutely love Christmas!  And I say the same thing today about gifts.  I really love gifts!  I love giving them.   I love getting them.  In fact, I’d like to share with you my top 5 Best Christmas gifts ever: 

5.       Gift:  Waterbed (wavy, not one of them stiff ones)  Year:  1988         
         
Giver:  My parents, Marty & Susan Holman

4.       Gift:  Ten speed bike         
         
Year:  1987         
         
Giver:  My Parents, again 

3.       Gift:  Ben Roethlesburger Jersey         
         
Year:  2005 (Super bowl year, by the way – coincidence, yeah right)         
         
Giver:  My wife, Carie. 

2.       Gift:  Civilization 4, the video game         
        
Year:  2005 (This was a every good Christmas)
             
         
Giver:  Carie’s mom, Angela 

1.       Gift:  Guitar Hero games and controllers                  
         
Year:  2006         
         
Givers:  Carie, Angela, and Mike Burns 

So before we really get into today’s sermon, I want you to know that I get gifts too, and I accept them, and I love them.  But this brings me to a question: Doesn’t it seem like sometimes at the end of gift giving or gift getting you feel empty inside?  Doesn’t seem, and maybe not as a kid, because you just received a whole lot of things, but as you got older, even if you get a guitar hero, or even if you just watched your kids get all the stuff they want, that there is something missing?  Whether it’s a guitar hero or a nice pair of socks, something seems amiss about a time and a place where I can come and give gifts to those who don’t need gifts, and then I hope for the best possible gift I can get as an adult.  

Oh come on, don’t act so self-righteous, you all know you’ve struggled to get the best gift at a yankee swap, to the point of dissing someone else’s chance of getting something good. And it’s not only that, but something feels empty about setting aside a time and a place when we are supposed to be extra nice to people.  Uncle Jack and Cousin Matt hate each other, but they need to “put on their best smiles and be nice” because it’s Christmas! 

I know, I know, you’ll hate me for this.  But the truth is, it really is a modern way of thinking.  That I need to set aside time, about a month out of the year, to be really nice to people.  To give gifts to people who I wouldn’t normally give gifts to. 

Maybe right now you’re thinking about the Bible, and how Scripture promotes holidays and special celebrations where the Jews were to celebrate special things.  But the truth is that each time Scripture talks about a special day, either in the OT or the NT, it always puts the focus of that celebration on God, and the implication being that each time we celebrate something, that the focus of that celebration be put back on Him.  

(Isaiah 1:13 – “Stop bringing me your meaningless gifts; the incense of your offering disgusts me!  As for your celebrations of the new moon and the Sabbath and your special days of fasting- they are sinful and false.  I want no more of your pious meetings.”) 

So where does that put us?  What do we do?  Of course, our purpose here at Fellowship Church is to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.  An important piece of that purpose that we often miss is “to lead.”  So many times we follow.  We follow culture like a puppy dog follows his “best friend” or like a junior high boy follows young girl  he likes.  We follow whatever the trend says.  But our desire here at Fellowship is to be leaders. And so we want to use culture to our advantage, not to be led by the culture in which we live. 

And there are times when Culture and our beliefs disconnect, and when that happens we need to begin speaking up, not just with our mouths but with our actions.  Remember, this series is more about rethinking our way of life than it is about rethinking Christmas. 

So what does God have to say about gifts?  And about Gift giving?  Mucho Grande. I searched all through Scripture, and it certainly isn’t a narrow search. Spread out throughout all of Scripture, the word Gift is used 154 times, and the word Giving is used 219 times in various ways, but for the most part, the two types of gifts the Bible mentions is the type of gifts that you and I give and receive and spiritual gifts that Paul often refers to.  Our focus will be on the former. 

But today I want to look at a passage in Proverbs a book of wisdom in the OT, that talks about gifts.  Now it does not talk about Christmas, as the passage that was read earlier discusses, but it does focus on gifts, and the types of gifts that are not good.   

This book (of Proverbs) was written by one of the richest, most powerful men in all the world at the time of its writing.  He was a king.  People were always giving him gifts.  And this is what he writes.  We’re going to look at 2 verses today in Proverbs 22. 

Proverbs 22:15 – “A youngster’s heart is full of foolishness, but physical discipline will drive it far away”  

That is, a child (or anyone who gets whatever they want) will be spoiled and will ultimately act however they want to act.  I mean, you don’t need a Bible verse for this, do you?  You’ve seen that kid in the mall, even this Christmas season, acting out because they are not getting what they want when they want it.  You’ve seen the temper tantrums of the spoiled. Maybe it’s someone in your children’s school?  Maybe it’s someone at church?  Maybe it’s at the store over the hoidays?  Wherever it was, you know that this proverb is true.  That the child, left to his or her own devices, will ultimately act however they want to.     

“But physical discipline will drive foolishness far away.” 

This is not just for young people, but the author is assuming that older people have figured this out.    In other words, discipline in your life and in my life – The discipline to say no.  The discipline to not buy that.  The discipline to not act on that impulse.  The discipline to say no to that night, that weekend, that proposition, will in a sense, drive foolishness far away. 

This is true of many areas of our life.  This is true of hygiene. This is true of homework.  This is true of marriage and relationships.  And this is true of buying gifts at Christmas.  

So is the next verse… Proverbs 22:16 – “A person who gets ahead by oppressing the poor or by showering gifts on the rich will end in poverty.” 

That there is something, there is a connection between your money, and how you use your money in your relationship with others that is directly connected to how successful you will end up being in the long run. That is, It may seem like a good idea at the time to be able to buy a gift inexpensively at the sake of the child who made the item you’re buying, and to not have to think about that process, but in the end, it will turn out badly for you. 

Or, It may seem like a great idea to shower your kids with the maximum amount of gifts possible in order to make them happy and unwanting, or to shower your boss with the gift that’s gonna make him see you in some sort of a good light, or give gifts to people who might have more money than others and ignore people with whom you don’t care how they see you, but in the end, it will not turn out good for you, but it will turn out bad and, and you will not get more but you will have less, and you may even end up in poverty. 

You see, when you spend unwisely, it does not help you, it hurts you.  And the stats when it comes to Christmas spending are not pretty in America.  455 Billion dollars on gifts.  And to make matters worse, Consumer credit debt right now is 2.4 Trillion.  And when people spend unwisely, foolishly if you will, or without the discipline of saying, “I will not spend more than I can afford”, than the end is poverty.  

It only makes sense. And the writer of this proverb, who’d been there and back again, who was one of the richest men in the world at the time, and who was spoiled as a child and spoiled his own kids, in the end said, listen, God has set up the world in such a way that he will get the glory, not you, so you better treat people a certain way in all aspects of life, including your stuff and including the gifts you give.  

So What can I do and what can you do? The answer is to give Relationally, because God gave relationally. In other words, Because God gave us His Son, Jesus Christ as a relational gift, we can then rise above the trap of materialism and overconsumption and give relationally to our family and friends, without “making the rich, richer and the poor, poorer.”  Here’s how we can do that: 

1. We can give gifts to meet needs.

That’s what love is all about, right?  love is meeting needs.  So we ask the question, What does this person need?  If I care enough to give this person a gift, I should know what this person needs.  I could ask.  Here’s an interesting concept, if you ask someone what they need for Christmas, and they answer, “I don’t need anything”, take them up on that, and tell them you’ll give a gift (in their name) to someone who does need a gift, and do that.I can hear the complaints now – “But that’s not the Spirit of Christmas if I don’t get my friends gifts” No, that’s not the spirit of 21st century, modernistic, commercialistic, make us all rich and fat Christmas.  But it is the spirit of my Jesus who loved me enough he knew what I needed – a Savior. 

2. We can give gifts to express my love for those I love 

(We don’t have to express our love by spending more) If you think you have to spend more to love more, than you have it all wrong.  Some of my favorite gifts from my wife (with the exception of the Steelers Jersey, which is more about the emotional attachment than the gift) have been cards, notes, text messages, and little things she does for me throughout the year, including Christmas. Could it be that there is more to be said about the effort of giving a particular gift than the purchase of buying an expensive gift? 

3. We can give gifts to express my love for God  

So we can ask, What is the gift that I can give this person that can show how much I love God?   Now listen, it doesn’t have to be from a Christian bookstore, though it can be.  I’m not even saying it has to be a Christian gift, trust me on this one.  I’m simply saying that if you give a gift, does it come out of an expression of your love for what God has given to you? For as we’ve seen in the last several weeks, the gift that God gave us was so special and so relational that it had an amazing impact on the entire world.   

And as leaders, and as culture creators and culture cultivators, I want to have an amazing impact through my gift giving on my entire world.  My family, and my friends, and my coworkers and my children and anyone I would give a gift to. 

I want to give relationally, because God gave relationally  Because He sent His Son down to this earth to give of Himself, and become our Savior, saving us from a separation from God that was too deep for us to cross, but not too deep for Him.  

So this Christmas, before you go out and get gifts for everyone, think about this:  What is the gift that will link this person (the person to whom I’m  giving the gift) to my heart?

Blogalicious (2 of 2)

December 7, 2007

Today marks the 2nd of my 2 blogs on other blogs that I read on a regular basis.  For a commentary on which blogs I read from people I know, click here.  Today I’ll talk about blogs I read from people I don’t know, but who influence me big time in my professional life.  But before I do that, please allow me to say that Sunday’s service at Fellowship Church is going to be amazing.  I’m so pumped that I’m a part of a church that desires to be challenged,and not a part of one that simply wants to come and sit on a weekly basis and who can’t “feel the chains on their souls.”

Ths week we continue our Advent Conspiracy series, and the topic will be “The Dirty Truth.”  Josh Grohman will be leading worship, and I always love when he leads a band.  The music is so good.  So that’s this Sunday morning at 9:30 am and 11:00am.  Now onto our show…

Like yesterday, I have some honorable mentions.  Here they are:

Behind the leaf – This is a blog kept by the staff of Oak Leaf Church in Cartersville, GA. They are always informative, and have given me some crazy good ideas.

Pomomusings – Evidently Adam, the keeper of this blog is a senior seminary student from Princeton, who is a part of the emerging Presbyterian movement.  I know, that sounds like a headbanging baptist, but he’s very interesting to read, and it’s kind of exciting to see what he’ll be doing next year.

And now for my top 5!

5.  Elevation Church – This is a church in Charlotte NC that has gone from 7 families to 3,000 in attendance in just over two years.   They are doing some amazing things, and frequently share their ideas with us in this blog at www.accesselevation.com.

4.  Buddy Cremeans  – Buddy pastors a church in upstate NY (soon to be all over NY) and is doing an amazing job with this church he started about 6 years ago.  His stories are great, and I look forward to seeing whats happening at their church every week.

3.  Perry Noble – Pastor of a church (I have no clue where), but he’s always blogging and writing his thoughts, and more times than not, they are good.  Frequently he’ll walk through his bible studies and blog them or just record his favorite church signs.

2.  Mark Cuban – The owner of the Dallas mavericks is the guy who taught me all about RSS feeds.  How?  you might ask.  Because I read his blog and he’s always hsaring his thoughts on the future.  You could learn so much from this guy, it’s crazy.

1.  Michael Lukaszewski – I know why this guy didnt use his name as the web address.  And it’s pretty wild why he would be number one on the list ahead of Mark Cuban, but here’s why:  Everytime I read what this guy has to say, I am hooked. He’s always saying something that strikes me as what I need to hear, and so before I read any other blog during my blog reading time, he’s first.  I hope you enjoy his stuff as much as I do.

Thats it for another edition of my blog.  Have a great weekend, and I look forward to seeing many of you at Fellowship Church in Holden on Sunday morning!

Until next time…

Blogalicious

December 6, 2007

The last 3 days have been really hard posts on this blog,and I think it’s time for something a bit lighter, don’t you?  I really enjoyed blogging the book review, and will probably do more as time goes on.  Thanks to all of you who shared your comments back to me regarding the last several posts, including the mystery person who calls themselves, “Former Church Member.”  I love mystery.

Over the next two days I’m going to share some of my favorite blogs out I read.  Today I’ll share some blogs of personal friends who I like to read about their life and try to stay in touch with what’s happening and there always very interesting, and tomorrow I’ll share some work-related blogs that might be a help to you if you find yourself wanting more in the area of your professional life.

Keep in mind, I’m still relatively new at this, so I know that I have a lot more to go as far as blogs are concerned, and there are so many people out there with so many great commentaries on life, that I’m sure I will have missed some good ones, but if you don’t see somebody that you think I would be interested in reading on a daily basis, please let me know about him or her through a comment.  Thanks.

And now, my top 5 favorite personal blogs (from people I know):
p.s.  These people are all very good at blogging on a regular basis.

 Honorable mentions first
*Kev n Jen’s journal  – For some great artwork and pictures (including one of me last week), this is a great one.

*Duke Groupies Xanga – Dave always has something interesting to say, and it usually is offensive.  I love it!

5.  Jennw2ns’s journal – Jenn should be a writer.  Actually, I think she is, this is what she tells me anyway.

4.  Rainy Day Communications – After riding your bike miles and miles at a time, you’d think one would be too tired to blog, but apparently this is not the case (except for the last several days, Katie).  Last month, Katie posted a novel she wrote on her blog for National Novel writing month or whatever it is.  I’m in the novel.  Under the assumed name of Hary Potter.  (Just kidding)

3.  Brian Howe – when it comes to blogs, all the cool people go wordpress, and this includes Brian, who I did a little hanging out with in our younger years, and who now is a pastor in NY.  If you’re in the North Albany area, check out his church at northwaychurch.tv.  Besides this, his life is interesting to read about.

2.  Jeff’s deep thoughts – notice the wordpress thing again.  Jeff includes poems, really good poems, and really deep thoughts in his blog, and when he asks a question, you can bet you’re going to have to think about the question for a significant period of time.  If the answer was easy, he’d of answered it by now.  He’s also our small group director at Fellowship Church.

1.  Winn Collier – He blogs once a week, but when he does, it’s always pretty amazing.  He was a childhood friend, and now he pastors a church, writes books, including his newest tasty little treat, entitled,”Let God: The Transforming Wisdom of Francois Fenelonand he writes for magazines like Relevant, Campus Life, and Leadership Journal.

Check out these blogs.  They’ll all be worth your time, and they’re all really good people.

Until next time…

The following is a parable I wrote a short while ago that I hope you’ll enjoy.  Currently we’re going through a series at Fellowship Church (fellowshipholden.com) on this topic.  And as I type the story into my blog, I’m watching the snow gently fall onto the landscape outside of my office.  Uugh.

A short time ago I was walking down the street in Downtown Holden.  The sun was shining over the town, and I was pleased to be able to enjoy the day.

Then something very odd happened, when I spotted a man and a woman, both dressed in sharp business clothes, jumping up and down in a dumpster outside of Friendly’s.  Obviously this caused me to laugh some because these two people were dressed so nice, their clothes were even neatly pressed, and their hair was perfect.  Overtaken with a bout of curiousity, I approached them and, without sarcasm or humor (this was not easy) I inquired, “Excuse me, but do you mind me asking what you two are doing?”

“We are rich…Yes!…We are sooo rich!  Just look at what we found in this dumpster!” They exclaimed.

Cautiously I stepped towards the dumpster, not fully trusting the situation, and peered into the large odorous container.

“Can you believe it?” The man asked excitedly.

“Believe what?” I replied, all the more curious as to what they were thinking.

“Well you looked, didn’t you?  Come on, didn’t you see all the trash that was in the dumpster?  We are so lucky!  A trash dumpster that’s full of trash,and we found it.  I gotta go call mom.”  He said as the man leaped out of the container.

“And I’ll stay here and guard our treasure,” The woman said.

Before he left, the man looked at me, put his hand on my shoulder, and motioned to his left hand.  “Sir, I want you to have this, I don’t need it anymore.”

My mouth dropped as he placed his black leather wallet into my open hand.  I glanced inside and saw at least 10 $100 bills, plus credit cards.

I walked away that day thinking how crazy the entire situation was, and asking myself how these two people could walk away from their money for trash.

Then I thought of how I do the same thing in my life.  Christ has promised me great treasures in the future – “True riches” he says.  He’s promised a whole new world for us (not to steal from Alladin), where we will fall at His feet to worship Him. Where we will have no tears, or sorrows, or pain.  But most importantly where we will live under the headship and perfection of Christ Himself.

But I lose sight of these things because of the things here that blind me to God.  These “things of this world” will soon pass away and be worthless, yet I continuously seek them out and place my trust in them, ultimately giving my heart to my treasure.

Scripture promises “true riches” that are beyond compare.  Would we really rather jump in a dumpster?

Until next time…

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I don’t have a lot of time today.  So this will probably be short, but I thought I need to say it anyway.  It is on my mind.  Before I do say what I am going to say however, I want to congratulate my Boston Celtics, for going 3-0 this year so far.  They absolutely crushed the Nuggets last night, and it looks like they are going to be the team to beat.  The Celtics are the only team in New England of which I am a fan, and they have been so bad the last few years that I’ve almost given up, but this year, it appears Danny Ainge did the job!  Also the title of this blog is a lure to read it.  It’s not really about him being a sweet old man.

Now back to the quick subject at hand.  This is for my church,Fellowship Church, which I believe is the greatest church of all time. This of course is my perception, and can certainly be debated, and if you are not a part of FC, please enjoy it anyway.  This is not an FC blog, this is a Marty blog.

Last Sunday was an amazing Sunday, and it appeared that the whole thing went so smooth, it was almost wierd. But there was an interesting dynamic that took place.  You see, there appeared to be a great atmosphere for the most part, but there were some that were almost expecting disaster.  I heard things like, “I think we can pull out of this rut we’re in,” and “Wow, (so and so’s) not here, I wonder if they’re mad.”  It was almost a sub attitude that went on, by some who are an important part of our church.

So I wanted to exhort each person in our church who reads this:  OUR CHURCH IS NOT FALLING APART!  The opposite is actually true, things are doing quite well.  I know we miss our old pastor, as do I, but we do him an injustice by acting like at any moment the world’s going to collapse.  Please trust me when I say that Lonnie knew what he was doing when he made this decision.  So if you liked him so much, then trust him and the end of that reasoning is trust me.

I know change is not easy at times, but I see good things happening to Fellowship in the future, if we don’t sabatoge that change with a desire for “what life used to be like.”  Our team is pumped about the future, and our desire is that you would get on board and really help us in leading people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.

I’m in!  Who’s with me?

Until next time…