Thursday, December 23, 2010

Taking Time to Ponder

But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2:19

Chances are you are if you are like me you are trying to get all the last minute things done before you can relax and “enjoy” Christmas. There are presents to wrapped, groceries and last minute gifts to be bought and for me there is a Christmas Eve message to finish along with the power point. There is hardly time to “ponder” all these things. Yet that’s what scripture says Mary did, Luke 2:19.

The word strangely enough means “to bring or throw together.” It’ sort of like what someone would do with the pieces of jig-saw puzzle. They would look at them over and over, trying to figure them out and fit them together. Mary was taking all the pieces of the puzzle and tying to fit them together, the angel’s announcement to her that she would have a baby and that he would be born of a virgin, the timing of the birth so that he would be born in Bethlehem, the fact that there was no room for them in the inn and that he would have to be born in a stable, wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger.

She also pondered the fact that the very first visitors to see her newborn son were not his grandparents or even friends but strangers, strangers in the form of smelly, unclean shepherds whose job it was to watch the Temple sheep. What did that mean? Was it a sign? A sign that her son was the Lamb of God who would one day be offered up for the sins of the world? Perhaps, but it didn’t make sense yet and so at least for now she took the time to ponder all these things in her heart.

I am convinced that Satan’s strategy is to keep us so busy that we don’t have time to ponder these things even at Christmas. Let me suggest then before Christmas is over that we learn from Mary the importance of taking time to ponder all these things in our heart, maybe by attending a Christmas eve service, or rereading the Christmas story as a family or just setting alone in the light of the Christmas tree and remember the real reason for the season is Jesus.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Manger by the Numbers

402. . 2089. . . 6267! Those are the numbers of families and individuals served and the number of presents distributed last week at the Manger. The Manger is a ministry Journey Church has partnered with for three years now. It is a Christmas gift store for needy families in Northwest Columbus. It's purpose is to help ease the burden of gift giving by allowing parents to shop for their families but at greatly reduced prices.

This years numbers were almost double last years numbers, perhaps because of the exciting article printed in the Columbus Dispatch on Wednesday, December 8. The most telling comment in the article was a one made by a shopper. She observed that "these gifts have eased my burden, and I feel like a kid in a candy store, but it's the hugs and the prayers here that really matter." How thankful I am then for another number. That's the number of volunteers who gave hugs and ushered up prayers as well as donated and distributed Christmas gifts for the shoppers. This year there were more than 250 volunteers. That broke down to more than 63 per night.

The Manger is over for this year. We are not giving out any more presents but I have a feeling it's impact is far from over. Not only on the shoppers but on each of the volunteers. None of us will be the same and none of us are supposed to be.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

No one, anywhere, under any circumstances, is beyond the reach of the Gospel.

If the conversion of Saul teaches us anything, it is that “no one, anywhere, under any circumstances, is beyond the reach of the Gospel.” That’s what we learned last Sunday as we looked at the unlikely conversion of Saul, and it’s what I had to remember today when I went to get my hair cut. Truth is, I think the haircut is a bit expensive, but it’s a small price to pay for the privilege to share Christ.

Every time I go to the barber, we have a great conversation. He tells me what’s going on in his life and I tell him what’s going on in mine. Much of the stuff going on in his life is not easy. Some of it is his fault and some of it isn’t, but in the end I think it’s God trying to get his attention. Just like Saul, God is breaking into his life subtly and suddenly prodding him to believe and receive Christ as his Savior.

In reality, Saul was anything but deserving of being saved. After all, he was almost solely responsible for the persecution of the early church, yet, God loved him so much that He showed up suddenly in his life, blinding him with a bright light, vv. 3-4.

3As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"

That is often the way it works. Suddenly and without warning, God steps onto the scene and gets our attention. Maybe it's the sobering words of a doctor who says, “your biopsy isn’t good.” Or the unexpected news that one of your children has been in an accident. Amazingly, the jolt awakens our senses, and we suddenly remember that we are not in control, . . . no matter how wealthy, how educated or how accomplished we are.

For more than three decades Saul controlled his own life. He did everything he wanted to do; went everywhere he wanted to go; told people everything he wanted to tell them; and, probably, even bought everything he wanted to buy. But, SUDDENLY one day, EVERYTHING changed. No longer was he in control. Before he was standing and now he is kneeling. Before he was seeing and now he is blind. Before he was telling others what to do, and now he is being told what to do. And, before he is leading and now he is being led.

The most fascinating thing in this story is what God does next. Rather than “kick him while he is down,” God reaches out in grace towards Saul and offers him both forgiveness and a future, vv. 5-6.

5"Who are you, Lord?" Saul asked.  "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting," he replied. 6"Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do."

Saul never got over the grace of God that took hold of him on that fateful trip to Damascus, Philippians 3:12.

12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

Literally in the Greek it says Christ Jesus arrested me. How ironic! PAUL WAS ON HIS WAY TO ARREST CHRISTIANS AND ALONG THE WAY, CHRIST ARRESTED HIM. I am praying now that God would use the circumstances in my barber’s life to “arrest” him, believing that “no one, anywhere, under any circumstances, is beyond the reach of the Gospel”

I wonder who you have in your life that you want to see saved. Maybe it’s your barber. Maybe it's a family member, a boss or an employee. Maybe it’s a mate or one of your children. Well, don’t give up. Remember that if the conversion of Saul teaches us anything, it is the fact that “no one, anywhere, is beyond the reach of the Gospel.”

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Making Disciples

I grew up in a church where we went to Sunday School, Church, Sunday night service and prayer meeting. We even had “youth group” before the Sunday evening service. Typically then I went to church at least 5 different times a week. There aren’t many churches like that anymore for which I am sort of glad.

Yet, I will say one thing about the “good old days”, it was a lot easier to “measure” someone’s spirituality then than it is now. All you had to do then was look around and see who was coming to church. The more services you attended the more spiritual you were. Right? Well, not necessarily. Jesus in his last words to his followers said “to make disciples.” (Matthew 28:20) In those days it was assumed that the more services you went to the better disciple you were. That may have been true, but it wasn’t guaranteed. I tend to agree with the old adage that “Going to church doesn’t make you a disciple any more than going to a garage makes you a car.” That was true then and it is certainly true now. So if going to church doesn’t make you a disciple what does? And how do we measure spiritual maturity?

For one I think it takes more than going to church. Going to church can be a tool for making disciples. Jesus often preached to large crowds, but the most compelling conversations he had were with individuals, conversations that were informal and seemingly unplanned. Jesus challenged people like the rich young ruler to go and sell all that he had. He invited the tax collector to come down from the tree for he was going to his house. He spoke to the woman at the well when no one else would give her the time of day. He also spoke to the woman caught in adultery after everyone else had left and He comforted people like Mary and Martha over the loss of their brother and His friend. He restored Peter with the calling to “feed His sheep.” And the list goes on and on.

Truth is the “old” approach to discipleship though it was simple to implement and measure did not always make disciples. For instance I went to a church where there were at least 300 on Sunday morning but only 30 or 40 on Wednesday night. So if we were depending on the pastors message on Wednesday night to make disciples we were only making disciples of barely a 10th of the congregation. The old approach then of “one size fits all” didn’t work then and it doesn’t work now. Jesus’ commands were not for the pastor or even a few talented teachers to make disciples but for ALL of us to make disciples. So here is my question, “How are you doing at making disciples?” “Who are YOU meeting with both in small groups and individually?” Whose life are you building into and who is building into your life? If we insist on discipleship being in large groups only, then we are going to miss the majority of our audience, but more importantly we are going to miss obeying Christ’s command and after all isn’t that what it is really all about.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Dance Like No One is Watching

Now that I am a grandparent, I have a lot more patience. Maybe it's because I can send them home! But one thing I wish I would have done when my kids were younger is relax more and "enjoy the journey." Unfortunately I can't go back and do it all over again but I can try to relax and enjoy the journey where I am. Maybe that's why this story and the accompanying verse mean so much to me today. I'm not sure of the original source but my brother in law sent it to me today, so I though I would just share it with you. It was forwarded to him in a MVNU Education Department Newsletter.

We convince ourselves that life will be better after we get married, have a baby, then another. Then we are frustrated that the kids aren’t old enough and we’ll be more content when they are. After that we’re frustrated that we have teenagers to deal with, we will certainly be happy when they are out of that stage.

We tell ourselves that our life will be complete when our spouse gets his or her act together, when we get a nicer car, are able to go on a nice vacation, when we retire. The truth is there’s no better time to be happy than right now. If not now, when?

Your life will always be filled with challenges. It’s best to admit this to yourself and decide to be happy anyway. One of my favorite quotes comes from Alfred D Souza. He said, “For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin -real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.” This perspective has helped me to see that there is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way, so, treasure every moment that you have. And treasure it more because you shared it with someone special, special enough to spend your time…and remember that time waits for no one. So stop waiting
until you finish school,
until you go back to school,
until you lose ten pounds,
until you gain ten pounds,
until you have kids,
until your kids leave the house,
until you start work,
until you retire,
until you get married,
until you get divorced,
until Friday night,
until Sunday morning,
until you get a new car or home,
until your car or home is paid off,
until spring, until summer,
until fall, until winter,
until you are off welfare,
until the first or fifteenth,
until your song comes on,
until you’ve had a drink,
until you’ve sobered up,
until you die, until you are born again
to decide that there is no better time
than right now to be happy…

HAPPINESS IS A JOURNEY, NOT A DESTINATION. So, Work like you don’t need money. Love like you’ve never been hurt and Dance Like no one’s watching.

"for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11-13.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Hope for the Journey

People today are increasingly hopeless. Hopelessness is nothing new however. Jesus’ disciples found themselves in a situation where they felt hopeless. In this mornings message at Journey Church, Dr. Bill Brown of Cedarville University shared from John 14:1-6, a message Hope for the Journey. Below are a couple of questions you and your “House Church” or spiritual friends can use them to discuss this weeks message. You can also hear the message again on the Journey Church “new” website.

1. What is one of your favorite apocalyptic movies?

2. What things “trouble” you when you think about the future?

3. Read John 11:32-35; 12:27-28; 13:21. What things “troubled” Jesus?

4. Read John 14:1-6. What things “troubled” the disciples? What hope did Jesus give His disciples?

5. What did Jesus say to His disciples that encourages you to face tomorrow?

Monday, September 13, 2010

An Open Letter to Journey

Dear Journey Church Family,

I don’t think I’ve ever done this before but I wonder if you will give me permission to speak freely? Not about my dog, which I apologize for doing Sunday but about the deeper things of my heart. Maybe it’s because it’s Monday or maybe it’s because I’m not feeing very well but to be honest I’m a little discouraged. It’s not anything you did, you are amazing. I love you very much and am so grateful for each and everyone of you and for your love of God and each other. I’m just a little discouraged because there is so much I can’t control. I can’t control who comes to journey and who doesn’t. I can’t control whether they “like us” or whether they don’t. I can’t control whether people understand what we are doing or whether they resent us for doing it. But most soberingly I can’t control whether people will respond to the word of God or reject it. Maybe that’s why I found the following pastor’s blog so encouraging. It’s something someone sent me, someone who lives 2000 miles from Columbus but someone who God laid it on their heart to send to me. God then laid it my heart to send it to you and I hope it will encourage you as much as it encouraged me.

Dear Pastor/Church Leader,

you need to understand a few things about your church service yesterday…
What happened in your church services yesterday was AWESOME.
Yes, “that” service…where all of “that” stuff happened.
The one that MAYBE made you want to quit the ministry.
You’ve been doubting yourself, wondering why you do what you do…praying that people might actually come back next week and beating yourself up over things you should have said…or things you did say that you should not have said.
You are discouraged because you go online and look at other churches and see where hundreds of people are giving their lives to Christ…and you are BEGGING God for that, but you are just not seeing it yet…and are beginning to wonder if God has forgotten you.
BUT…just remember that God has you in a humble place so that He can prosper you (see Job 8:7)…and He has you hidden for the purpose of developing you into someone great (Isaiah 49:2).
He has NOT given up on you…He knows exactly where you are and has called you there “for such a time as this!”
Hold your head up and keep your eyes on Him…He who called you IS faithful.
Sometimes He allows us to see what happens…but most of the time the work He is doing is in their hearts…and that takes time for us to see.
There will be “seasons of fruit” and “seasons of root”…and when you’re not seeing the fruit then its a time for us to focus on the ROOT!
Keep preaching God’s Word and HE WILL honor it (Isaiah 55:8-13), no weapon formed against you will prosper (Isaiah 54:17) and He has GREATER plans for you than you could EVER imagine (Isaiah 49:6!)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Death of the Five Year Plan

If you are a planner you won't like this post, or maybe you will. In fact you may love it. I know had I started Journey five, ten or fifteen years ago I would have felt the need to develop "a plan." Now however because I am at the stage of life I am I resonate quite a bit with the following post that a friend sent me. It's a post from Craig Groeschel of LifeChurch.TV. Listen to what he says then let me know what you think.

The Death of the Five-Year Plan
When I started in ministry two decades ago, everyone I knew made five-year plans. While planning is wise and biblical, I’m changing how I plan. Instead of planning for specific buildings, campuses, staff roles, and outreach, I’m planning to be prepared for opportunities that I can’t name today. We are creating margin and planning to respond quickly to ideas that we don’t yet have.
Speed, agility, flexibility, and financial margin are far better than a detailed road map. We are in the ready position. Instead of asking God to bless our carefully crafted plans, we’re trying to be prepared to move when He speaks and guides. When people ask me what we’ll be doing in five years, I laugh. I have no idea. But I’m certain it will be more fun and more impactful than anything I could plan today.

Monday, August 9, 2010

I Choose to Trust

Often I find myself in situations where I am torn between trusting God or trying to "fix it" myself." I hate to admit it but usually I fall on the side of trying to fix it. The problem with that is that rarely can I "fix it." Consequently I find myself "stuck" and unable to move forward. Well today I am choosing to trust. I know that battle is not over, but today I rolled the people and the situations that I can't fix over to God. I know I will have to do it again and again, but for now it feels good to trust and to know that He cares about the people and the situations that I care about even more than what I care about them.

5 "Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: 6 He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Psalm 37:5,6

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Getting "right" with God

I’m studying today for the first message of our Jonah series at Journey. We are going to be in chapter 1 but today God spoke to me from Jonah 2:2.

In my distress I called to the Lord, and He answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry. Jonah 2:2

Jonah had reached a point just like the prodigal son that he just wanted to be “right” with God. He had spent three days in the belly of a “big fish” and he didn’t know if he was going to live or die but that didn’t matter. What mattered is that he was right with God, and so “. . .from the depths of the grave he called for help.”

Now notice God’s response. God heard him, v. 2. “you listened to my cry.” God will always hear us when we come to him in humility, but the problem is we often come to him on our terms, expecting him to get us “out” of our situations. Jonah on the other hand simply came to God without any expectations, without any pre-conditions and God heard him.

Do you feel like God is far from you? Like maybe He isn’t listening to your prayers? Maybe the reason God doesn’t “hear” our prayers is that we have not reached the bottom yet. Unlike Jonah and unlike the prodigal son, we are too proud. Being “right” with God isn’t the most important thing. We want God for what He can do for us and not for who He is and for what we can do for Him.

If today you feel “swallowed” up by a “whale” of problems, try what Jonah did. Cry out to God in humility and know that he will hear you. He may even spit you out of your “big fish” and give you a “second” chance.

P.S. Join us this Sunday for our study of Jonah chapter 1. Note we are meeting in August at the Clubhouse at Heritage Golf Club located at 3525 Heritage Club Drive, Hilliard, Ohio (off of Rome Hilliard Rd., just South of Cemetery Rd.) Come an join us because life is a journey and no one should have to go it alone.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Who’s Coming to Your Church?

Tim Keller in his book The Prodigal God says that about a year into planting Redeemer Church in New York City someone asked him who was coming to his church? He said, it was about one third non-believers, one third believers and one third “recovering believers.” (Prodigal God, p. 68)

As I reflected on that I realized that God is bringing many of the same kinds of people to Journey. People who are believers, non-believers and what Tim Keller calls “recovering believers.” Using the story of the prodigal son he describes “recovering believers” as the “younger brothers” who had been hurt and offended by the self-righteous “older brothers.”

Amazingly the “older brothers in this story are a picture of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law that were in the audience on the day that Jesus taught this parable, Luke 15:1. They were as lost as the tax collectors and sinners who were depicted by the “younger brother.” Sadly they were even more lost, because they were blinded or deceived and thus unable to see their true condition.

Tim Keller goes on to say, “elder brothers divide the world in two “The good people, like us are in and the bad people who are the real problem with the world are out. But Jesus says: “The humble are in and the proud are out. Luke 18:14. The people who confess they aren’t particularly good or open-minded are moving toward God, because the prerequisite for receiving the grace of God is to know you need it. The people who think they are just fine, thank you, are moving away from God.”

In the end the question is which brother are you? Both of them were lost and both of them needed Jesus. And both were invited by the Father to fellowship with him but sadly only the “younger brother” the one who realized his lostness accepted the Father’s invitation. The older brother, though invited by the Father, “became angry and refused to go in.” Don’t let your pride keep you from coming to Jesus.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

37 Things I Love About My Wife

This week Carol and I are on vacation. For one thing we are celebrating our anniversary. We have been married for 37 years so I thought I would share 37 things I love about her. There are certainly more but it’s a start. Just wait till we’ve been married for 50! 

1. The fact that even though she’s a morning person and I’m a night person she still goes out for coffee with me at night and stays up late to watch TV even if she does fall asleep.
2. The fact that she doesn’t have a competitive bone in her body. (she has 202 competitive bones in her body).
3. The fact that she gave me four healthy, energetic, enthusiastic, athletic boys
4. The way she encouraged them when they were growing up, helping with their homework, rebounding basketballs, attending soccer games, working so they could go to college and soooo much more!
5. The way she has supported me in following God even when it meant moving away from home, back home, away from home and back home again
6. The way she sees our ministry as a calling and a partnership and doesn’t complain when I have one more call to make, one more visit to make, one more card to write or one more change on the power point!
7. The way she helps me build boundaries so I take time for her and for the family.
8. The fact that we can enjoy doing anything together as long as we’re together!
9. The way she takes care of her self and looks in her new black and white dress.
10. The way she prays for me and for our Journey Church family.
11. The way she has adapted to my family and enjoys going out to eat, long meals at the table and hugging everyone when they come in and hugging them again when they leave.
12. The way she tries to “do it all” being a mom, grandma, pastor’s wife, work outside the home, take care of her mom, love her husband!
13. How she meets my needs even at times when she is not in the mood.
14. How she used to let me “rile up” the kids when I came home even though they were supposed to be settling down.
15. How she roots with me for the Buckeyes
16. How good she looks in red. (did I say something like that already?)
17. How she works to make my life “special”.
18. How she still wants to spend time with me even after “all these years.”
19. How she gives 100% to the kids and our grand daughter.
20. She let’s me choose which restaurant to go to for breakfast. (lunch or dinner)
21. How she is always there to build me up and believe in me.
22. How she helps me understand and be understanding of people.
23. How she gets me chicken noodle soup, pears and seven-up when I am sick and then leaves me alone.
24. How she lets me drive when we go somewhere together.
25. How good she plays the piano.
26. How she supported me in front of the kids when they were growing up.
27. How she trusts me and how I can trust her completely, entirely, wholly, and 100%.
28. How she makes me laugh and still laughs at my jokes.
29. How good she smells.
30. How she lets me share with her something I just learned in my reading
31. How she let's me use her as a sermon illustration even if I do have to give her a dollar.
32. How she keeps learning and trying new things.
33. How I can tell her anything and she doesn't judge me but understands and loves me
34. The fact that she is my very best friend.
35. How we still get to cuddle in bed at night.
36. The fact that she married me.
37. The fact that she stays married to me and loves it.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010


As a pastor I am expected to be a leader. The problem with leadership is that it can either be good or bad. an article in Leadership magazine indicated that pastors are often bad leaders, especially when it comes to modeling humility.

The Barna Group research probed what we pastors do in response to our frustrations and disappointments. They asked “Think back to the last time you felt disappointed or frustrated with people in your congregation. What did you do-if anything-to address the challenges you faced?’ The pastors could mention anything that came to mind. Here are the top ten responses:

Prayed about the issue (37%)
Confronted the issue immediately (34%)
Had someone on ministry team/board/staff deal with the issue (15%)
Looked for Scripture to address, solve the problem (14%)
Sound counsel from someone I trusted (10%)
Talked with the person (9%)
Confronted the issue eventually (9%)
Addressed it from the pulpit/in a sermon (4%)
Had a council/board meeting (2%)
Self-examination (2%) Leadership, Spring 2010, p.72

Sadly the survey found that only 2% took the time to examine themselves. I’m not sure what to say or to do about that. Paul told the Corinthians that the very first thing they should do is examine themselves, 1 Corinthians 11:28. As painful as it may be let me suggest something. The next time you are frustrated or face disappointment with people ask yourself what could you have done different, said different, or even felt different that might have helped in the situation.

Jim Collins, suggests that superb leaders don’t look out the widow to blame others. They look in a mirror to take ownership when things don’t go well. They look out a window to praise others when things do go well. Whether you are a pastor, a parent, or whatever, the challenge is to examine ourselves, to look in the mirror and when we see something we don’t like examine ourselves first, before we judge others. Jesus said, to “first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.” Matthew 7:5. That’s love!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

"I was hungry and you gave me no food. . ."

Recently I was challenged by the another quote from Frances Chans' book, Crazy Love. He asked the question, "How would my life change if I actually thought of each person I came into contact with as "Christ." ie the person driving painfully slow person in front of me, the checker at the grocery store who seems more interested in chatting than ringing up my groceries, the member of own family with whom I can’t seem to have a conversation and not get annoyed?" That in essence is the way Jesus wants us to see people, Matthew 25:37-40.

I was actually tested with that this week when I went to see a man in prison. I was waiting in the foyer to see him when they released a man who had been in overnight. They escorted him through the foyer and out the door. Then almost immediately after he left they building, a lady came out with a spray bottle trying to deodorizer every where he had been. He did smell but more than that, he was extremely unkept, unshaven, a bit crippled and elderly. Much to their dismay and a bit to mine he came back in the building and sat down across from me. To be honest I didn't want to talk to him, cause I didn't know what to say. I almost said something about his shoes. They were bright orange slip-on tennis shoes. They reminded me of the soccer shoes some of the World Cup players are wearing so I thought they were sort of cool. I'm glad I didn't say anything though because in the course of the conversation he told me that that they were prison shoes. They had given them to him because he didn't have any of his own. As it turned out he was not only shoeless but homeless too.

I didn't do anything for him, except talk to him. In the end I was convicted as to how I see people who "hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison" Do I see them as a nuisance or as if they were Jesus? Jesus would want me to see them as if they were Him and give them food because they are hungry, water because they are thirsty and something to wear (even if it was orange shoes) because they are naked.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Think You are Getting Old?

Think you are getting old? Well chances are you it’s true. And if you weren’t sure of it here is a list of things that each high school senior have never known or never been without.

1. They have always had Cartoon Network to watch 24 hours a day
2. They have always been able to read books on an electronic screen.
3. There have always been flat screen televisions.
4. Phil Jackson has always been coaching championship basketball.
5. Britney Spears has always been heard on classic rock stations
6. They have never been Saved by the Bell
7. Most communities have always had a mega-church.
8. Nobody has ever responded to “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.”
9. They have never used a card catalog to find a book
10. The Green Giant has always been Shrek, not the big guy picking vegetables. Beloit College Mindset List
Now if you didn’t feel old I bet you do know. Compare that with the top ten things you and I never knew. We never knew. . .

1. a choice in tennis shoes
2. self-serve gas stations
3. seat belts
4. cell phones
5. bike helmets
6. personal computers
7. cell phones
8. ipods
9. DVD’s, DVR’s, ATM’s and BFF
10. and blogs!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Have You Ever Had to Repent?

Have you ever had to repent? I did recently when I came across another quote in Frances Chan's book Crazy Love. In wrestling with how to define success he said, "God's definition of success is pretty straightforward. He measures our life by how we love." (Frances Chan, Crazy Love, p. 93)

How do you love? And more importantly who do you love? Do you love only those who will love you in return or do you love your enemies. Jesus said, "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. (Matt. 5:43-45, ESV)

In our culture, even if a pastor doesn't actually love people, he can still be considered successful as long as he is a gifted speaker, makes his congregation laugh, or prays for "all those poor, suffering people in the world" every Sunday. But Paul writes that even if "I have all faith so, as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing? (1 Cor. 13:2-3 ESV)."

How do you define success? It seems that nothing we do in this life will ever matter, unless it is about loving God and loving he people he has made.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Laugh Out Loud

If you want to know what people are really like, find out what makes them angry, what makes them weep, and what makes them laugh. The test isn’t infallible, but you’d be surprised how much it reveals. Warren Wiersbe, On Being a Servant of God, p.55.

Lately I’ve been in a battle. A battle not just for the heart but for my sense of humor. If you know me, you know that’s a big deal. I love to laugh but lately it’s been hard to find anything to laugh at. I’ve come to take myself and the things around me too serious. Not that things aren’t serious, they are, but here is the truth. God has not lost control. As a friend reminded me this week, the reality is…
• Jesus loves people way more than we do!
• He who began a good work in us will carry it on to completion! (Philippians 1:6)
• He has SO MUCH MORE in store for us than we can imgine! (Ephesians 3:20)
• He will reveal WHAT we need to know…WHEN we need to know it!
• He has a plan for our lives…and He is at work fulfilling it (Ephesians 2:10)
• If it is HIS WILL then it is HIS BILL…what the KING wants the KING pays for!!!
So laugh out loud because a merry heart is still the best medicine, Proverbs 17:22

Monday, April 5, 2010

I Never Imagined. . .

20Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, Ephesians 3:20

I don’t know if I lack vision or if God just wants to surprise me, but most of what happens to me is more than I could even ask or imagine. Truth is I like it that way. I would hate for God to do only what I could ask for or imagine. So yesterday He “surprised” me again. He surprised me by doing a number of things that I couldn’t ask for or even imagine.

I never imagined. . .

• That people would find us on Easter, even though we were meeting at a different location.
• That we could consume 12 gallons of Starbucks coffee and 10 dozen Krispy Kreme in less than 15 minutes
• That volunteers would happily “move” the whole church from one location to another just for one service.
• That people would invite their family and friends to a church that didn’t have a building. . .and they would come!
• That my granddaughter (and her mom and dad) would visit on Easter so I could “show her off” to the church.
• That my wife would love God, me, and the ministry enough to stay up way past midnight to finish my PowerPoint.

But as good as that is I never imagined . . .

• That God would love me so much to send His son Jesus to became “what we are, so that He could make us what He is,” Isaiah 53:5
• And that I could have the opportunity each week to encourage others with the same encouragement that God encourages me with, 2 Corinthians 1:4

And most importantly I never imagined that

• the tomb is empty and HE IS ALIVE!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Leadership Lessons from Brett Favre

I am always reading other people’s blogs and their insights. Recently I was reading Mark Batterson’s blog and he had written down these leadership lessons learned from Brett Favre. And since it's Super Bowl week I thought I would "pass" them on to you. Get it "pass" them on to you? He's a quarterback! Oh well, here they are.

1) Slap your teammates on the butt.
No one does it better than Favre. Great leaders are great encouragers! They go around slapping people on the butt, figuratively speaking of course! Love the way he head butts his lineman too. Again, I would practice this one figuratively!

2) Call an audible.
On this one I'd say that the only quarterback who is better at it than Favre is Peyton Manning. Great leaders recognize when there are eight men in the box and they need to audible to a quick slant or screen pass. Leadership is not static. It takes all factors into consideration. It is the ability to process a ton of information in a short amount of time and make a good quick decision!

3) Throw a block downfield
One of the things I love about Favre is that he's not afraid to throw a block for his teammates. Quarterbacks don't do that. Favre does. Great leaders are great servants. They set the example they want others to follow.

4) Laugh in the locker room.
No one has more fun than Favre. Plays the game like a kid. Anybody see his rendition of Pants on the Ground after the game? Gotta love it. I think laughter is so critical to leadership longevity, especially in ministry! There's lots of crying so you need to counterbalance it with lots of laughing!

5) Huddle Up
Favre exudes confidence when he's in the game. You're never out of it with the old gunslinger in your huddle. I think great leaders build the confidence of those around them. Love the way Drew Brees does this in New Orleans too! Amazing pre-game chants!

6) Keep Watching Game Film
Favre has played the game for eighteen seasons, but he puts in the time watching game films. After every series you can see him coaching his young receivers and looking at pictures from the coaches booth. Leaders keep learning and keep teaching!

7) Don't be afraid of throwing interceptions.
Favre had his career-best when it came to interceptions this season, but he holds the all-time interception record. Lesson? If you want to hold the record for most touchdown passes you're probably going to throw some interceptions along the way! Great leaders aren't afraid of making mistakes. They're afraid of missing opportunities! Win or lose, they leave it all on the field.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Are You a Risk Taker?

If had a choice which of the following activities would you do?

Read a good book by the fire or. . .go snow skiing?
Take a walk or. . .ride a motorcycle?
See and action adventure movie or. . .watch a romantic comedy
Take a cooking class or . . .or take a hang gliding lesson

I don’t know whether Jesus would take a cooking class or go hang gliding but one thing for sure, Jesus never “played it safe.” How do I know that? Well for one thing, when presented with a choice of healing a leper, he chose not only to heal him but to touch him in the process, Matthew 8:1-3.

1When he came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. 2A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean." 3Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!" Immediately he was cured of his leprosy.

Lepers were the ancient world’s “untouchables.” Lepers were required by law to remove themselves from society, to live in colonies and to cry out or ring bells in warning when approached. Even today, in some parts of the world, lepers are still considered untouchable and as such, they live in permanent quarantine.

Jesus didn’t have to touch him to heal him. He had healed people before, often with just a word. But the leper needed more. He needed to know that there was someone who cared, not only for his physical healing but his emotional healing as well. Who do you know that needs touching? Will you risk touching them today? Your touch could bring the hope and healing they need.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Wow, Can He Say That?

I don't know if you saw it or not, but listen to what Brit Hume said yesterday. I think he hit the nail on the head. Maybe it's because he cares more about Tiger, the person than Tiger, the golfer.