Monday, July 28, 2014

Problems Abound but God Surrounds

Life is full of problems: health, job, marriage, children, church, family, neighbors, house, etc.,  etc., etc. 

Some problems are minor while others are major life changing issues.  

How we react to each problem paints a picture of my trust in God to my family.  

David’s Example

Psalm 3, penned by David as his son, Absalom, was trying to kill him, is a great reminder on how to deal with life’s problems. 

David starts with the woes of his life, “Many are rising against me; many are saying of my soul, there is no salvation for him in God.”   He quickly turns to acknowledging God as a shield that surrounds him.  Then God lifts his head from dejected despair, to a place where he is able to lie down and sleep, waking sustained by God. 

Next Steps

Read Psalm 3 and tell me what actions step(s) David gives?

From my perspective, I do not believe David gives us a list of action steps.  “5 Steps to ……,” is not found.  What is found is David simply trusting God for the future. 

How I react to problems affect those around me.  I model for my wife, my kids, my grandkids, my neighbors how I trust or believe in God.  David’s action step is for us to trust God and let Him deal with the issue.   That doesn’t give us permission to not listen and respond to what God might ask us to do, but it does put the burden for the solution on God. 

What picture am I painting of God to my spouse and children? 

Monday, July 7, 2014

One thing for lasting joy in your marriage?

If you do this one thing your marriage will last with pure joy.

The internet is full of ideas on how to have a happy marriage.  You can find 7 easy steps to a blissful marriage, 5 steps to happiness, 37 ways to keep joy in your marriage and the list goes on and on.  Google says there are at least 31 million opinions for keeping joy in your marriage. 

This one thing I speak of is not easy.  In fact it could be very costly.

Ephesians 5 ends with "let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband."  While critical to do, that is not the one thing.  But, if you do the one thing love and respect will happen.

Look at how Paul starts the chapter, in verse 1 he says, "Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children."  Prior to Paul telling husbands to love their wives and wives to respect their husbands, he tells both of them do what I do, act like I act, love like I love, forgive like I forgive, pursue like I pursue, be like me.  Being an imitator of God is the one thing to do for a lasting marriage filled with joy.

Friday, July 4, 2014

John Piper was asked "What cautions do you have for the new reformed movement?"  Here is the 5 minute video giving great insight into potential problems with the new reformed movement.  There are MANY great things as a result of the new reformed movement, but the caution is needed.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Story Telling

Caesar Kallnowski provides some helpful insight into story telling.  Watch all the video before you make a judgement of what he is saying about how you preach.

Story Training Part 1 from Caesar Kalinowski on Vimeo.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Church in 2055

Today’s US leadership is the harvest of the investment made in young lives 50 years ago by those 70 plus now.

Today’s average pastor is 51 years old, which means people who are now older than 70 invested in
them 40 years ago.   Today the church is harvesting seeds planted, nurtured, pruned and transplanted many years ago.

Do you want to see what the church you attend, the denomination or tribe you belong to, will look like in 2055?   Look at how you are training and investing in the children and youth in your church.  This will give you a good clue on what is coming.  

5 Steps to Invest and Multiply Leaders for Tomorrow

Spot – In the early years invest in the kids in your church as if all of them will be the future leaders.  Spot those kids who have influence over the other kids and direct their influence to godly ways.   Pray, pray and pray some more.

Plant – Make sure you are planting the gospel in those who have influence over others.  Samuel was a young boy when he entered training.  David was young when he made a difference against Goliath.

Nurture – Walk with them through life always allowing them to see every part of life from God’s vantage point.

Prune –The gospel scalpel needs to cut open any infection allowing sin to be removed by the cross of Calvary.

Transplant – Send leaders out where God is calling them so the whole world hears the gospel.

Monday, June 16, 2014

3 Actions to Success: Sounds Simple, but Difficult to Accomplish

I have been reading a lot of great blogs lately, giving me numerous ideas on how to grow a church.  Or, if I follow these steps I will be more productive.    The headlines are endless with catch phrases, but few give the foundational steps.  Sometimes I feel I am too smart, I already know that and stop reading, waiting for the next idea that I like.  Most of the ideas are not bad, but I wonder if we have created a system that fails to meet what God expects from each of us?

I know this seems so basic that you may skip reading them.  These steps are extremely critical yet can be so difficult that most people have a hard time doing all three.

1.  Time in the Bible
The Bible is the paintbrush God uses to paint a picture of himself so that we can know Him which will direct our steps to be like Him.  It is not another book to read, it is God’s life manual for us.

2. Time in Prayer
Prayer is talking with God and, maybe even more important, listening to God talk with us.   God uses a two major means of talking with us, through the Holy Spirit and through His word, the Bible.

3. Obeying
All to often we know what we should do, but fail to do it.    We all have the latest and greatest books, we attend all the hip seminaries, we can quote the plan, but are we practicing what we know.  We know that to lose weight calorie intake must go down and calorie burn must go up.   Sounds simple, but how many of us struggle to apply it to our daily life?

Block time off to view the picture of God, the Bible.  Dedicate time to pray, listening and talking with God.  Now go do what He told you.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

3 Elements Every Church Needs to be Healthy

Come – Grow – Go

Come - Go - Grow

How many times have I heard the question, “What does our church need to do to grow?”  How many times have I read or heard a person say, “Take these steps and your church will be healthy?”  Often it is implied that you can take these simple steps and you are all God wants you to be.  Or take these steps and people will be rushing the door of your church.

Developing a healthy church is not a few simple easy steps.  A healthy church isn’t solely based on people coming to be a part of the church.  A healthy church does mean you are doing and being what God wants you to be:  new people reached, people growing in their faith and sending people out to invite people to come to Jesus and grow in Him.

You can break down what God has called us to do into three major areas.  

    Come – Being Attractional

    “Come” is not producing the greatest show so a person can come and watch a spectacular performance.  It is asking the question, “Why don’t people come to our church?” Or rather “what would cause people to come to our church so they will hear the gospel?”   What did they experience from the time they drove into the parking lot to the time they drove away.  This includes preaching, music, fellowship, friendliness, etc.

    Grow – Being Developmental

    Being developmental is helping people understand the gospel and grow in their knowledge of Christ.   How is each person, from the youngest to the oldest, growing in his or her awareness of God.  It is helping people to be like my 91 year old mother-in-law who read and studied her Bible up to the week of her death.   Growing in our faith is not just head knowledge, but practical life application of what we know.  As a church, how are we developing people?  Do you know how to measure spiritual growth so you know growth is happening?

    Go – Being Missional

    As a church draws people they must plan for and develop those people to go where God has called them:  Going to their neighbor, to another community or another country to impact lives with the gospel.  Who is in your “farm system” to be sent?  This doesn’t mean they must be church leader, it means they are people that have a passion to serve the Lord in the way he has gifted them.    Who have you sent out from your church to reach the world for Christ?

    Friday, May 30, 2014

    Every church should be attractional.

     Every church should be attractional.

    Ha! Some of you just labeled me a heretic for that statement, didn’t you? Please read on then tell me why I am a heretic when you’re finished.

    Some of you just said, ‘yea, that’s right’.

    Some of you just said, tell me more.

    Good, here is more.  Why did people come to Jesus?

    We do know Jesus spoke as one with authority.  Was it because of his great speaking ability that people came?  Maybe, but there is nothing in the gospel that would support such a view.

    We do know people came because of what Jesus was doing for the sick.  Is that not attractional?  They came because they wanted to be healed.  Understand that they heard the gospel, but Matthew says that physical needs drew people to him.   Matthew 4:23-25   “so his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick and those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, epileptics and paralytics and he healed them.”  Matthew 8:16 “That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons…”

    One can’t diminish the power of God to draw people to himself.   Did Jesus need to perform healings for people to come to hear him preach?  No, but as you look through the gospels, numerous times healings were associated with the large crowds that came to Jesus.

    To reach our community with the gospel every church needs a mixture of 3 things to be healthy:

    Being Attractional – Come

    • What about our gathering will cause a person to listen to the Gospel?
    • What about our gathering makes it “attractional” for someone to come for the first time and hear the gospel?
    • What about our gathering allows people know we care they came?

    Being Developmental – Grow

    • How are we discipling people?
    • Do we have a general plan for discipling leaders that can be explained?
    • Are we raising up leaders in our gathering?

    Being Missional – Go

    • How are we going to our neighborhood with the gospel?
    • How are we taking the gospel to our community?
    • Who are we sending from our gathering to reach others with the gospel?

    If you don’t like the term(s) I used that is okay.  If you are not reaching your community with the gospel, if you are not training people in the gospel and if you are not sending people to proclaim the gospel that is not okay.  You would be hard pressed to say you are a healthy church.

    Let me know what you think?

    Tuesday, May 27, 2014

    What is at the wheel that turns the rudder of your church?

    The quick answer is Christ.  True, Christ should be at the wheel, but understand that our “values” determine whether Christ is the supreme captain of the ship.

    Everyone has values.  Some are aware of their values, allowing them to direct their steps.  Others are unaware and go through life like a ship without anyone at the wheel to direct the rudder.

    Our daily actions are set by our values.  What I value I do.  Your values drive your priorities.  Leaders must be passionately driven by their values, or disaster will strike.

    My wife flew in Friday evening after being gone all week on very stressful trip.  I received a request to be at a meeting Saturday morning, but refused, because I value my marriage.   My values were reflected in my schedule.  I value my marriage so my answer was a quick no.

    Your values (should) dictate your decision-making.  
    • Do we start an after school program at our church?
    • Do we stop Wednesday night children’s activities?
    • What is the next neighborhood we target with the gospel?

    Walk through these 5 steps to determine your values:
        1.  What inspires you?
        2.  What traits do you admire in other people?
        3.  What personal boundaries are non negotiable?
        4.  What personal boundaries are negotiable?
        5.  How do you find the most satisfaction?

    Pray and ponder through these questions to determine your top 5 values.  If you need ideas to spark some thoughts look at this list.

    Post your values in front of you at your workplace.  Each time a decision needs to be made glance over your values.  Use your values in determining your decisions.   By having your values determine your actions you are not letting other people’s agenda drive your God given mission.

    Thursday, May 22, 2014

    Do we give people what they want or what they need?

    Do we give people what they want?

    “Are you working to help your clients, patrons, customers and colleagues find what they already know they want?  Or are you teaching them and encouraging them to find something they didn't know they needed?”  I recently read this and consider it a great question.  In the church, are we giving people what they want or what they need?  Meeting people's desires makes friends, giving people what they need can cause enemies.

    Did Jesus offer people what they wanted or what they needed?  He did meet some wants, healing for example, but was that his major focus?

    What do people need, truly need, not just desire?  They need:

    -  The Gospel
    o  Acknowledgement that all have sinned.  God is just and has said that sin removes us from a relationship with Him.  Jesus came, lived a sinless life, died on the cross, paying God’s demand for sin, was buried and rose the third day being victorious over sin.  Acknowledging Jesus as Lord, the only means for salvation, accepting this gift from God.

    -  Discipleship
    o Learning what God has to say through the Bible then applying it to our life causing us to share it with others helping them know Christ.

    Tuesday, May 20, 2014

    What I learned at Subway

    First impressions?

    AS I ate lunch at a Subway, I watched a man wearing a Subway nametag inspecting the restaurant.  He first took a picture of the storefront from the parking lot.  He then slowly walked inside, looking at everything.   Once inside he stopped, surveying the room from ceiling to floor.    The trashcan by the front door had pamphlets on it that he examined, several of which he threw away.  He walked over to the refrigerator that contained bottled drinks.  After staring at the display for a short time he took a picture of it.  Next he went up to the front counter and, with detective eyes, searched every aspect of the food display.   

    When I was ready to leave I introduced myself to him asking what he was doing.  He told me a few things that I didn’t expect.  He said every Subway store gets a visit once a month to review its customer appeal.   Each visit averages three hours.  In the US there are 30,000 Subway’s.    Over a million man hours are spent in an effort to keep customer presentation high in their chain of restaurants.

    When was the last time you had someone from the outside walk into your church building to “inspect” it from the eyes a “customer”? 

    Here are a few items to look at often:
    p Lightening
    p Cleanliness
    p Current information
       p Signage