Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I am sorry ahead of time

Liz and I decided that if I am ever really sick then I am going to be a terrible patient. I should write the doctors and nurses a letter of apology beforehand.

I had to get my shots for Haiti today. They hurt like crazy. I felt like I might need three nurses to hold me down. I know why my kids screamed their heads off.

And I don't know if anybody else had this reaction, but they knocked me out. I have felt like I'm walking through syrup this evening.

Good news is that I get to go back in four weeks for another and then in six months to finish off the set. I can't wait.

So funny... :)

Monday, January 30, 2012

Groupies

I have a confession to make. I used to be a groupie. No, I didn't follow Phil Collins or the Gratetful Dead. I was worse. I followed preachers.

I followed famous pastors who are great communicators. I even idolized a few. I would listen to all of their messages and worship their cool church and try to be like them. I would even compare my situation, my church and my speaking with theirs. I was a groupie.

I've noticed that I'm not the only one who does this. I see it all the time. I bet some of you are preacher groupies. Their name just popped into your head. You worship the cool dude on the big stage at the "happenin'" church.

And you compare your experience and your church and your pastor to them. And it's not that you're trying to intentionally think that the grass is greener on the other side. It's just that you're a groupie.

You need to do what I did.

You need to repent.

If we're going to be groupies then we need to be groupies of Jesus. Putting anyone else in the place of Jesus is called idolatry.

Jesus is the one who makes all the difference. Jesus is the one who redeems, restores and rescues. Jesus is the one we are to worship and follow.

There are some great communicators out there who are leading some great churches. Learn form them. I do.

Just stop worshipping them. They don't need groupies.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Seven day reading plan on the kingdom

Day 1: Matthew 13

Day 2: The kingdom turns the world’s values upside down. Matthew 18:3-9.

Day 3: The kingdom demands forgiveness. Matthew 18:23-35

Day 4: The kingdom isn’t fair. Matthew 20:1-16. It’s about grace.

day 5: The kingdom is open to everyone. Matthew 22:2-14.

Day 6: The kingdom is unexpected. Matthew 25:1-13

day 7: The kingdom requires work. Matthew 25:14-30

Friday, January 27, 2012

168 - 4 = 164 + transformation

Don't you love my math equation?

I was thinking today about time. Each of us has 168 hours in a week. Our life is shaped by how we spend those 168 hours.

What if we could multiply the impact and change the trajectory of our life by taking 4 out of those 168 hours and investing them in something that will have cumulative, positive effect on our lives? If you could, would you?

Here's what I'm talking about:
  • Take 1 hour a week to worship with a local church community.
  • Take 1 hour and 15 minutes a week to do life together in a small group.
  • Take 15 minutes a day to read the Bible and pray.
That adds up to 4 hours. But those 4 hours will transform your life. Those 4 hours are more important than the other 164 hours. Those 4 hours will transform your life and possibly transform your world.

So, how about taking 4 of your 168 hours per week and investing them is something that will transform your life?

I call it the priority of time. The rest of your time and your life will be different because you put priority on those 4 hours.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Download now

I'm digging the new and final David Crowder Band album. They saved the best for last. Songs are raw and real. You should download it.

Now to get the Hub City band to learn some of these...

Monday, January 23, 2012

Now online via video

Thanks to the incredible talents of the amazing Brett Wingard Hub City's sermons are now online via video.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

My "Occupy" article in today's paper

You can read it here.

Occupy something that matters.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Option 2

There's been a lot on my mind and heart lately. I am burdened by the burdens that I know so many of my friends are carrying. I am overwhelmed by opportunities and possibilities that are way bigger than me or anything I've ever been a part of before. I am broken hearted over friends who are struggling and suffering. I feel a heaviness.

Maybe you feel it too.

We can go one of two ways when we feel like I feel. I can give up. I can quit caring. I can stop trying. I can go backwards to how things were.

Or I can do what Paul admonishes us to do over and over again. I can press on. I can seek God in ways that I've never had to seek him before. I can trust God like he tells me to trust him. I can persevere.

I choose option 2. Even when I can't see the outcome. Even when it's harder than it has ever been. Even when there's so much uncertainty.

I pray you choose option 2 as well.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

People matter

I love this article. There's one line that emphasizes relationship and people over profit. It's fantastic. See if you can find it.

What I Learned Building the Apple Store - Ron Johnson - Harvard Business Review

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Some encouragement from a friend

The following was posted by my friend, Shaun Lovejoy. It encouraged me and I wanted to share it. It's good stuff.

Twelve years ago this week, we launched weekly worship services at Mountain Lake Church. Wow. What a ride! God has used me despite my stupidity; and I have learned so much along the way. Here’s the first part of my top twelve lessons I’ve learned in the last twelve years.

1. Having a vision is easy. Sticking to the vision takes extraordinary discipline and effort.

Every pastor and church has a vision. Every one of them I’v ever seen is Biblical. However, even most church planters get sidetracked form their visions within the first few years. We have stuck to our guns. We’ve been “mean about the vision.” It’s made all of the difference!

2. Conviction and Courage is more important than strategy.

My passion and sense of conviction, along with the courage to stay the course is more important than any brilliant strategy I could come up with that no one has ever done before.

3. No plan’s perfect; so work your Plan!

Our ministry plan is not perfect. However, we’ve worked the plan every year the last twelve years and every year we’ve gotten better at what God has called us to do. We don’t have “vision flavor of the month” or “small group method of the year.” We’ve worked our plan. We’ve been consistent in our ministry approach. It’s made all the difference.

4. People come. People Go. Go with the Go-ers.

Don’t focus who’s leaving; focus on who stays. The ones that stay will see the mission through and experience the fruit of mission accomplished! When one leaves; God will bring five to replace them…if we stay focused!

5. God does things the way He wants.

It has almost NEVER happened exactly the way we drew it up. However, that’s the precise thing that has kept us dependent on Him! Proverbs 16:9 (NIV) says: “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” Prophetic verse in my life these last twelve years! So many times, what I deemed as a failure was God’s sharpening and sovereignty at work in my life and church!

6. In God’s Story, ordinary matters.

God loves to use ordinary people. I am one. The very reasons or excuses I might use to disqualify myself from being used greatly by Him make me the perfect candidate for extraordinary ministry! What are your excuses as to ehy God can’t use you? Those are the very reasons God wants to use you; because you’ll know it’s not about you!

7. Change the way people think about church

In the first year of our church, we made a decision: In everything we do, we’re going to seek to change the way people think about church. This is so much bigger than the type of music we do, or our dress, even though they are parts of the equation! It affects everything we do. Examples? Folks don’t have to be “Christians” to go on a mission trip. They might become one by going! They don’t have to be a “Christian” to volunteer at our church, much less, be a member! Our small groups are always not only open to new people, but are going after people who don’t go to church and inviting them to be a part of their group! Every group is responsible to “get off the couch” and serve and care missionally for people groups in our community. Just small simple example of how we’re changing the way people think about church both inside and outside our church in our community.

8. Go after unchurched people

We’re not worried about swapping sheep or reaching professional Christians. If they want to join our mission to reach the lost, great. If not, great. We are here to help as many people as possible find a relationship with God through Jesus. That’s our laser beam focus. Take us or leave us! We’re here to reach people who don’t like Jesus or Christians.

9. Be careful what you ask for

Did you know unchurched people don’t walk in and start tithing? And it probably won’t be a three-month process, either; probably more like three years! Unchurched people smoke and curse in the parking lot, and maybe even in the sound booth! All of these things really happen in our church. Being a hospital for sinners is messy!

10. The right team in the right seats makes all the difference

We’ve always had a great Ministry Team at our church. I am thankful for every one of them, however, the right team members with the right gifts and skills, in the right seats, in the right seasons of the church, allows a church to continue to breath and grow and reach people for Jesus Christ. The wrong team members on the wrong seats for too long will put a lid on the church’s effectiveness.

11. I must measure success God’s Way

Success is being who God called me to be and being obedient to what God has called me to do. I am so tempted to measure success by this week’s attendance. However, I’m never as good as people think I am when we’re exploding numerically; and I’m not as bad as I think I am when we’re not. My role is to be obedient to the call and stay sane, centered, and happily married in the process. That is success!

12. God is faithful.

God never gives up: on me; or on my ministry! He hasn’t given up on you, either! Don’t give up on yourself. We only fail when we give up. God never gives up. He is faithful!

Good reminder from Rick Warren

Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. Matthew 7:24 (NIV)

Receiving, reading, researching, remembering, and reflecting on the Word of God are all useless if we fail to put them into practice. We must become doers of the word (James 1:22 KJV).

I understand this is a hard step, because Satan fights it so intensely. He doesn’t mind you going to Bible studies as long as you don’t do anything with what you learn.
We fool ourselves when we assume that just because we have heard or read or studied a truth, we have internalized it.

Actually, you can be so busy going to the next class or seminar or Bible conference that you have no time to implement what you’ve learned. You forget it on the way to your next study. Without implementation, all our Bible studies are worthless. Jesus said, “Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (Matthew 7:24 NIV)

Jesus also pointed out that God’s blessing comes from obeying the truth, not just knowing it. He said, “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” (John 13:17 (NIV)

I cannot overstate the value of being a part of a small Bible study discussion group. We always learn from others truths we would never learn on our own. Other people will help you see insights you would miss and help you apply God’s truth in a practical way.

The best way to become a doer of the Word is to always write out an action step as a result of your reading or studying or reflecting on God’s Word. Develop the habit of writing down exactly what you intend to do.

This action step should be personal (involving you), practical (something you can do), and provable (with a deadline to do it). Every application will involve either your relationship to God, your relationship to others, or your personal character.

Talk about it –

  • What has God already told you to do in his Word that you haven’t started doing yet?

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

The Book That Made Your World - a review

If you know me then you know that one thing I say all the time is that the best habit you could ever develop is the habit of reading the Bible on a daily basis.

There are so many reason why you should develop this habit, but if you're on the fence then you should read The Book That Made Your World. I guarantee it will win you over. It will show you the importance of the Bible even if you don't believe it's true.

This was one of the most fascinating books that I have ever read. It's also one of the longest books I've ever read. :)

In one sentence, this book shows how western civilization, the culture that we live in, has been shaped by the Bible. We would not have the freedoms, rights and prosperity that we have if it weren't for the truths that are in the Bible.

You should read this book because you will learn something. I know I learned a lot. Some of it I need to reread. You should also read it as a warning. It's almost prophetic in showing how things will be if we continue to devalue the Bible in our culture and our lives.

I believe that God's Word is the ultimate authority for life. If you want to see how it's power has shaped and formed our society and world for good then take the time to read this book.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Starting off right

Happy new year! Welcome to 2012.

The new year began with my whole family staying up to watch the ball drop. It's the first time in years that I've stayed up till midnight, but I couldn't be outdone by my kids. On the upside, they slept till almost 10 this morning. That has never happened before.

When I got up at 9 this morning I woke up with a desire to do something new in 2012. My incredible sister-in-law gave me an iPad for Christmas. I've decided to make the most of it by using one of youversion's Bible reading plans. I may have bitten off more than I can chew because I chose the "read through the Bible in 90 days" plan. Not sure if I can do it, but I'm going to try. I made it through day one. Only 89 days left. (Stop reading now. Search "youversion" in the app store. Install it and use it. I highly recommend it.)

I'm trying this because I know that my life is the sum of my habits. And the best habit that we could ever develop is that of reading the Bible on a regular basis.

One thing that jumped out to me from today's reading was the messiness of the Bible. I mean, why in the world would God include stories about a brother killing his brother, or a husband claiming that his wife is his sister to keep himself safe. If I were God, and I were putting together the Bible, those are stories that I would have left out.

But God includes the messiness. He works through the messiness. He accomplishes his purposes in spite of the messiness. That is an encouragement to me at the beginning of 2012. May it encourage you also.