Monday, July 21, 2014

A Conversation on Leadership

Psalm 109:2, Proverbs 11:9, Psalm 119;51, 52, Matthew 5:10 Psalm 5:8, Psalm 23:1-2.
"Nuff" said!

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

The Church "Pew"

Something smells and it's not pretty. It smells like gossip. Someone pass the air freshener.

In our family it's called drama and we don't tolerate it. Suzanne especially has a nose for the fresh sent when the rumor mill begins churning and she will put the brakes on it fast. One of the best lessons I learned from my military service was "rumors kill". One commander in particular would stop them right away by bringing the rumor spreader and the rumor'er to get to the truth.

If you have been in church leadership you know the cold hard facts about it and you have the scars to prove it. The smart ones know how to deal with rumors and gossip. Others will let it continue until someone gets hurt or the church as a whole suffers and begins to scatter. The latter is where I see many traditional churches at today.

As I was looking for some devotional material I came across a site hosted by Jim Davenport. What I read was exactly what I needed to see. So I contaced Jim and asked him if I could share this with my readers. Please enjoy Jims thoughts on the subject and please feel free to contact me and share your thoughts. You feedback is always welcome.

The following post is used by permission from Jim Davenport. Thank you Jim.

On Christians Spreading Rumors and Gossip in the Church

So why write on this subject? … BECAUSE … nothing hurts a church more than the spreading of false rumors and gossip. Being honest with ourselves, all Christians must admit that at one time or another we have spread rumors. It might be something that is done quietly without serious intent, among just a few “close” friends. What may start off as a somewhat innocent statement can fast become something else as folks down the line add a little spin and/or twist when passing it on the next person. Sometimes the spin and/or twist is intentional … meant to drive home a point, tear down a reputation, or simply put someone’s integrity into question. Let me be quite frank, spreading gossip and rumors are a major tool of the devil.
Long-time Christians have probably heard countless sermons over their lifetime on the dangers of spreading rumors and gossip. Have you become calloused and immune to the topic? Are you too smug to admit that you might be contributing to the problem by either passing along the rumor/gossip or not stopping it in its tracks. Or, are you just pious enough to believe that only others are guilty of this sin?
I’m not a preacher or church staff person. I’m simply a Christian business man, a regular member of my church with a lot of chronological years to my credit. So my thoughts about spreading rumors and gossip don’t come from an exhaustive Biblical study done in a seminary. However, the Bible is absolutely clear on the subject. God thought enough about the topic to include it as the Ninth Commandment. There is absolutely NO room for misinterpretation. Rumors and gossip are sinful and do tremendous damage to the ministry and work of the church.
Scriptures (all NIV unless otherwise noted):
Read these scriptures for yourself and then you decide if you are presently guilty of this sin and in need of repentance.
  • Exodus 20:16 – “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” (KJV)
  • Leviticus 19:16 – “Do not go about spreading slander among your people. Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life. I am the Lord.”
  • Proverbs 11:13 – “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.”
  • Romans 1:29 – “They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips.”
  • 1 Timothy 5:13 – “Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to.”
  • Matthew 7:1 – “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”
  • Proverbs 18:8 – “The words of gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts.”
The following scriptures provide sound advice on how to personally avoid being involved in passing along rumors and gossip and how to stop it in its tracks. The list is in no way exhaustive … just representative.
  • Proverbs 26:20 – “Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down.”
  • Deuteronomy 13:14 – “Then you must inquire, probe and investigate it thoroughly.”
  • Matthew 7:12 – “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”
  • Ephesians 4:29 – “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
  • Proverbs 6:16-19 – “These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.” (KJV)
  • I Thessalonians 5:21 – “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” (KJV)
Even the life of Jesus was subject to hurtful rumor and gossip. Matthew records the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:18-19 (KJV) as He recounts the nasty and sinful statements made about John the Baptist and the Lord Himself: “For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners …”
Each of us needs to look deep into our lives and hearts. We need to ask, “Is it I, Lord?” “Am I a gossip? Am I spreading rumors and gossip because of jealousy, vengeance, vanity or self-justification. Am I quietly involved in this “secret” sin? Is my family, my friends, or my church suffering because I am passing along half-truths, rumors and gossip?
The Bible teaches us that spreading rumors and gossip is sinful. It is particularly harmful to the church. It is an unhealthy activity that can unnecessarily bring about unjustified harm to church leadership and the Lord’s mission for the church.
You can take immediate action to halt the “rumor mill” in your church by stopping the spread of gossip in its tracks. If you make this a standard practice in your everyday behavior, others will follow your leadership. Kindly tell those spreading rumors that nothing good can result from such and that you don’t make a practice of participating in the rumor mill. Insinuations, gossip and half-truths when repeated often enough somehow become believable … even to the person responsible for initiating the information.
As I close this article, I am reminded of Psalm 51:10 – “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” This verse convicts me. I am committed to doing what is right in the sight of God. Does it convict you?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Forward HU! well, when ever you're ready...ok?

In many instances of our ministry life my wife, children and I have to take many roles in order to see the task completed. Sometimes we were the crew, lifting and loading equipment for a concert, other times were ministers in a crowded room and other times we just did what ever was asked of us in order to get the job done. We have always been a kind of boots on the ground, hands on kind of family. Much of that comes from seeing a void and just stepping in where we were needed other times it was just because it had to get done.

One thing I have learned over 15 years in ministry work, people will find a way to complain about what you are doing. It's not the people you are serving but rather the people that aren't involved but want to be doing what you are doing. Now don't get me wrong we have served along side great people who are much better equipped for ministry than I am capable of. We've seen people come out of the wood-work to serve in the name of Christ not with skill or expertise but simply a desire to serve God merely by lending their presence and hands to His work.

Over the years I have heard and used the term "Leadership" as a way to define our style of getting the job done. When a truck has to be unloaded and equipment setup that takes someone who can give direction as to how it all goes together. My wife Suzanne. during a wedding rehearsal dinner, saw the bride-to-be was trying to prepare the meal and get the table ready for her guests and was overwhelmed with the task. So she asked if the bride if she could help and next thing you know Suzanne was finishing the meals, setting the table, pouring drinks and putting food on the plates. At the same time she enlisted others to help get things going, including putting me to work. The bride ended up asking her to be her wedding coordinator for her entire event. Now Suzanne didn't go there with the intention of getting involved but when asked she simply did what she knew how to do; Serve others. Suzanne is a very organized person and capable of taking chaos and turning into a thing of beauty. It's a talent and she sees it as her ministry, quietly working, enlisting help of people around her without fanfare or drama (she is the most drama free person I know) and next thing you know the job is done.

Me on the other hand I see a job in front of me and I will try to get it done as quickly as possible and if no one wants to help I will tackle it and complete it. It's not always pretty but it gets done. That's not always the way ministry works. And sometimes my mistaken leadership for servant hood. Direction has to come from someone. Our direction for ministry or even a position in a church has come from prayer. Despite my shortcomings, the list is extensive, whatever we have put our hands too, we have spent time in prayer in all our endeavors, seeking Gods direction.

Leadership in the New Testament is given by example not by giving orders. Jesus gave us an example and He lead us all the way to the Cross. Leadership in our churches can be a ticklish position. Churches are froth with complicated structures of authority and leadership, much of this the reason why our churches struggle today because of no clear defined path or mission. Instead inside the walls of the church are filled with turmoil and discord of failed programs and agendas. All revolving around a similar theme, "what's in it for me?"

What it comes down to is a Biblical model of leadership. We get that from Christ, not an MBA degree or the latest book on business models. Psalms 31:3 says, For you are my rock and my fortress;
and for your name's sake you lead me and guide me;
In John 27 verse 17 Jesus say to Simon Peter;
He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep."
Peter was the "Rock" on which the New testament church was to built on. Peter did what Jesus told him to do. He didn't get it right every time but he went forward as Jesus called him to go. He didn't have the playbook as we have today, instead Peter had a personal encounter with Christ and he went out with a simple directive from his friend Jesus, If you love me then feed my sheep.
Leadership is going forward, leading the way making adjustments along the path, stopping to water, feed and allow the herd to graze and rest. Then do it all over again. If one of the herd wanders away the shepherd leaves the rest to search for the one who has strayed away, then he brings the wanderer home to the pastures of the herd.  The leader knows the big picture. And the only way to know where to lead is to have an experienced Shepherd teach you. Our model for leadership rests in the simplicity of the life of Christ.
Lead on!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Land of the Missing

Recently it was brought to my attention that the reason people are not attending church is because they are not interested in being entertained during a worship service. I've visited many churches in our ministry travels and could not think of any churches my family and I have visited that resembled "entertainment" worship. The majority of churches are Christ focused and ministry driven.

On the other hand many times the people that are making these statements are older church members over 65 who have watched as there church service attendance has declined to a point of desperation just to keep the lights on.

As much as churches want to change and keep up with the times the management of the church is outdated for the culture around them. The deacons and committees that run the church are not willing to release control to the staff or even an elder board. Management of the church is as critical to it's success as is the content of the messages that are taught throughout the ministries of the church.

Many times the attitude that gets a church stuck in the past is one of "God will work out the details". A children's ministry with no official training program for its volunteers, greeters with no direction, sub par sound, video and media presentations on a Sunday morning. An attitude of mediocrity and with out direction or leadership will result in sloppy results. And the price is paid with small attendance. The families in our communities are aware of this attitude and can see it before the church has an chance to respond to it.

I've sat in meetings where audio and video equipment upgrades and service formats are being discussed and recommendations are being made but the professional is being shut down because an older leader doesn't think upgrades are necessary and that cheap equipment is just as good as professional equipment. It's a "we've always done it this way and it has always worked in the past" kind of attitude. Even if the cost of the equipment isn't the issue. It's a tough situation to be in.

The same is true when changes are being discussed for the good of the church. Many older, long term members lack a vision to understand the changing nature of the community around them. Even with leaders that know how to help a church meet the needs of the community the stubbornness of traditional members can cease any chance of growth.

If established churches want to grow they will need to relinquish control and let a new generation of leaders take the helm. The new leaders are young Godly, Christ follower's with a focus on the community beyond the walls of the church building. These buildings are wonderful examples of the faith in our neighborhoods yet the generations that build these building seem to lack the foresight to pass them on to the next generation.

Church may never be the same as far as where we worship is concerned. The message of Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior doesn't change and must be brought to our communities with out compromise but if the leaders in our traditional brick and mortar church buildings don't change they will be sold off to the highest bidder.

What's missing? The families in our communities, growth in the church culture, a vision for the generations to come and a plan to share Jesus Christ into the lives of the people in our neighborhoods. It's time we pass the torch.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Not in the Brochure Part II

Caesars Head Bench Mark

Get Away

My original plan for us was to go to certain locations and allow God to speak to us through the words in Psalm 61. We were going to settle this account with God, TODAY. Suzanne was tired of ministry. She had said told me a few times in the past months that she was “done” with ministry. In my mind I was so frustrated with the attempts to develop relationships with churches and people to get involved with as well as operate our ministry that I didn’t want anything to do with people from church any more. We were running on empty.
As we sit down to breakfast I give Suzanne a hint into my plans for the day. For me and her to get  alone with God. After breakfast we drive toward Greenville, South Carolina, remember I was formulating a new plan. We drive a familiar road toward Travelers Rest, South Carolina. Then it came to me. I turned toward a location called “The Pretty Place” located in the foothills of South Carolina and the base of the Western Mountains of North Carolina, a wilderness area of South Carolina with spectacular views and a quiet place for Suzanne and me to get alone with God.
As we drive up the steep, windy road toward my destination I am excited to reveal my plan to my bride and partner in ministry. As we get to the summit we come to the Caesars Head State Park, a 3,200 foot overlook that stands north of Greenville, South Carolina with views as far as the eye can see. We park the car and walk out to the ledge of Caesars’ Head, no one else is there, its 8:30 in the morning. The mist glides over the valley below us and the sky is filled with wisps of clouds.
The first thing Suzanne notices is the wind blowing through the trees in the valley to our right. Across the valley is Table Rock, a sheer cliff face monument 6 miles across the Mountain Bridge Wilderness . It’s an amazing view. This is exactly how I want to start our journey as we repent and listen to Gods voice.
 As we are standing on the massive rock formation I take Suzanne’s hand and begin to explain my purpose for this trip. “We have come along way together” I tell her, tears fill my eyes and hers. “Since we’ve come to Asheville it’s as if we have a target on us and many people who we thought were our friends, including Christians, has taken aim as if we are somehow the enemy.” I explain to her my plan for our day together. “This is a line in the sand for you and me. Today we are going to give everything we are and everything we do to God, in service for Christ, right here and now or we need to quit our ministry and just find a church, settle in and quietly attend each week.”
This is not an ultimatum to God, rather a time of rededication and renewal of our minds and attitudes toward the God we serve and the path Christ has called us to. I read the Outline of my notes from Psalms 61 to her. It is difficult for me to get the words out without my emotions welling up but I read her the words I wrote, “Hear me God, listen to me!”

The Rock is my strength

As we stood on the geological Bench Mark at Creasers Head I read to her my version of Psalms 61. The rock we stood on overlooking that valley, 3,200 feet in the air, I explained that Christ is our rock and foundation, immovable and uncompromising in His love for us. We need to recommit our lives right here, right now in serving our Lord Jesus Christ. Lay out all of our hurts, frustrations, bad feelings, anger and our disobedience on this place. Just as the wind blows in the valley below us, it comes from the East and blows through the trees towards the West and it’s gone. So are our cares if we will let them go and place them in at the foot of the cross and give them to Christ. Now!
From this lonely place, I call to you God, I’m tired of trying to do it my way. Suzanne and I agreed that it was time to stop striving and time to let God take control and lead us forward.
Psalms 46:2-3 says; “Therefore we will fear not, though the earth do change. Verse 3 goes on to say, … Though the mountains tremble with the swelling thereof.”
I translate that to say, God is faithful in a crumbling world. Suzanne and I have seen our world crumble. Our finances and even our many of our relationships have crumbled all while doing Gods will here in Western North Carolina.
As we continue our conversation we walk through a narrow crevice that leads to a trail. The stone rises above us on both sides and is only wide enough for us to pass through sideways. Again, I take the opportunity to share this example of being hemmed in by stone walls on both sides as an example of how we try to do ministry under our own power. It’s a narrow path and limited to our understanding, however, when we release our plans and let Christ have control the plan is now in His hands and we just need to make ourselves available to be used for His purpose.

Sit in Gods space

What is so unique about this time on Caesars head is that we are completely alone. A family comes by with their children for just a few minutes but they continue on the trail. There are no distractions, for the next thirty minutes we are alone at the summit. We stand there and pray, recommitting our lives to Christ.
*Just so you know- The parking lot is about 100 feet away and it is full of people getting ready for hikes and visiting the State Park. However, we are alone; no one comes to the Lookout where we are.
Again I reveal to Suzanne my plan for the day is to get alone with God, as we go about this journey.

We head down to the gift shop and talk to the Ranger for a few minutes and then we depart for our next destination. As we drive towards Greenville Suzanne sees a sign for “Boiled Peanuts”. She doesn’t have many vices but boiled peanuts are one. We stop at a road side store circa, 1975 to find out if this is what she is looking for. The owner gets Suzanne a sample of his recipe and she is in heaven. We continue down the road and she eats boiled peanuts for the next 15 minutes as we travel through Travelers rest, SC.

Lunch is next on the agenda. Find something we haven’t done in a while. I get lost in Greenville for a few minutes but we are back on the road and at our next destination in short order. We end up at Red Robin.

Make Me a Leader By Example

I open my outline again and we begin to talk about our family. Because of the situations we have been in, our ministry is in full view of our children; they have always gone with us. Rodeos, horse shows, concerts and even our church plants, our two children, Devin and Clay, have seen us at work in this ministry. They have also seen how people treat us, the good and the bad. Welcome and betrayed. As Suzanne and I sit there in this noisy burger joint we talk about our attitudes around our children. Many times my anger has got the best of me when friends have let me down or my plans didn’t turnout the way I wanted. Even Suzanne admitted that she is ready to stop any kind of ministry service and just take care of our family.

This is the most troubling of all the topics I had planned for today; being a leader for my family, by my example. Too many times my temper has not been the example of a good and patient Father or a Christ filled man in service for God.

We make a decision to allow Christ to lead us, not to push our way through His will, which is easy to do when you are as tenacious and driven as we are. One thing I’ve learned is planning is good, counting the cost is wise but you can’t out work God. You can keep on going like the Energizer Bunny; God will just stop and wait for you to trip over yourself as you spin out of control. Then you get the message and you gather yourself up and get back to the plan, His plan, not mine.

Remember the conference with Jonathan Falwell? On the last day he discussed a few points about how “Victory” is accomplished in our lives as we go about living out Gods will. They are taken from the example of Ephesians 6:13

·         We Stand on Truth (lots of lies around us)

·         Embrace Righteousness (Protection)

·         Embrace the Gospel of Peace (Christ living in us)

·         The Shield of Faith (deflect doubt)

·         Helmet of Salvation (protect My mind)

·         Word of God (our Playbook)

Live It

Got the picture? This isn’t just another speaker at a conference. I don’t want to take notes; I don’t have to take notes. I don’t need the Outline! The guy next to me is typing emails to his wife and he isn’t listening to the message, why should I? My job is to come in make the sound, video and lighting work; give the guest at the Cove a top shelf experience for their personal spiritual lives, not mine. This is not my life, I’m ok. I don’t have a dog in this hunt.  WRONG.

My pen is moving and putting words on the outline pages. Gods in my head, he’s in my heart, that’s why he’s in my head.

So, how do we accomplish this victory from a battle of posturing in the church, or friendships gone wrong, or failure in ministry? Realize it’s not mine to control. The plan is clear.

1.       Confession – a powerful tool. Keep short accounts with God.

2.       Submission – I choose to submit to Gods plan for my life. Submitting to Gods way for me.

3.       Action – Never fear what Satan can do to me when I am in the will of God. I have to do it, Gods will for my life is my plan.

4.       Live It!

Stop Trying To Control

This is the plan I shared with Suzanne as we sat and ate our burgers. After we ate we visited some shops and continued to talk about how we move forward. We prayed at the table, amid all the noise of a busy restaurant, yet the time with God was without distraction including a renewed purpose and spirit in the two of us.

We finished our day with walking and talking through some of our favorite shops, Costco and Publix. And with that we turned and headed for home. One last stop to make.

As we drove back up the mountain, toward home, in front of us was the North Carolina State Line sign, I pulled off to the side of the road and stopped in front of the sign.

“This is our line in the sand”, I said to Suzanne. “Here is where we leave the past, all the hurts and regrets. We leave it at the foot of the Cross and start all over. This time with God in full control.”

My paradigm here at the NC State Line was a corny illustration but appropriate. We got out of the car took our picture at the state line like two tourist seeing the mountains for the first time. It wasn’t the first time rather a restart of what Christ has been preparing us for since we started in 1999. A whirlwind of ministry in all those years. Now we stand before God broken, used up but not finished. We are both fighters. Here is where we commit to serving God under His will and control. Just like our day started with one set of objectives and ended up totally the opposite of what I had planned. A great example of Gods will and our ability to let Him guide me to where He wants me to be. At the NC State Line.

Now it’s a line in the sand, a fresh start. God makes all things new through Christ.

It’s your turn. Are you tired of seeing things fall apart when your best efforts a met with trouble and defeat. It’s time to allow Christ to take control for your life and give everything you do to the plans He has made for you. They are plans to prosper you and to make you into the kind of person Jesus wants you to be. That’s how we were made. Right now ask God for forgiveness, let him know you are a sinner. Believe that Jesus Christ died for your sins. Let Jesus know that you want Him to take control of your life right now, today. Now let your life be an example of Christ in your relationships with your family and you friends. It’s not complicated.

Pray every day; talk to God as if you are talking to a friend. Read the Bible, it Gods word to you and it’s a powerful message in a world that is always changing, yet Gods word doesn’t change, build a foundation on His plan. Get involved with other Christians that can build you up and help you grow in your faith.

I hope you enjoyed our journey. It was a day that changed our lives and our perspective about how we view our relationship with God. We had let it get out of hand. If you would like to talk about how Christ can make a difference in your life send us a note or email me and we would be happy to share what we can on your journey with Christ.

Not In The Brochure Part I

View from Caesars Head

This journey all started at The Cove at the Billy Graham Training Center during a conference I was working with guest speaker Jonathan Falwell, pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia.

As an audio and video engineer at the Cove I am responsible for various elements of the program for the duration of the event. For this particular conference I was the graphics technician for a three day seminar. After you’ve done these for as long as I have you learn to disconnect yourself from certain aspects of the conference. During the praise and worship, which is amazing at The Cove, it’s important to be on your game and focus on every word because I am responsible for putting the words on the video screen as everyone sings during the praise and worship portion as well as all the visual aspects during the event. It takes focus and concentration because there are a lot of distractions. On the other hand when the speaker is up and begins his presentation I can usually sit back and listen to the message or not. It’s a big difference between hearing a speaker go through his program or actually listening and engaging in the topic.

As with many events at the Cove, I had done a couple of events with Jonathan and enjoyed his messages but the last time he was here I was not listening even though I heard every word he said. It’s my job to hear him.

On Tuesday, February 24, I sat down at my desk, programmed all the graphics, announcements and songs and I was ready for a three day conference. As Jonathan began speaking my mind engaged the words he was saying right away. Usually I have to make an intentional effort to focus and concentrate on any speaker but as he spoke those words my mind was already actively listening. I had his outline in front of me so I began to take notes and follow his lesson. His topic for this conference; Pursuing Holiness.

The first topic on the outline; What Does God Want From Me? Immediately Jonathans word hit me right between the eyes and the listening mechanism in my brain was in RECORD mode. I don’t usually take notes while working an event.  I may listen or follow the speakers outline if he is using a Power Point and grab a few nuggets for my Christian life but it’s kind of like walking around Costco and getting food samples while you shop, you have a list of things to buy and the samples are little bonuses as you shop.

One thing in particular got my attention. It was in Session Two, Wednesday morning’s topic. It begins with “The Battle”. As a Christian I have seen the battle and have some scars to prove it. The key verse in this outline was from Micah 6:8 – He has shown you, O man, what is good …To love mercy and walk humbly with your God.

What does a battle have to do with humility? A battle is usually an aggressive or defensive strategy. You’re either winning or your defending you position, either way it’s not a time to show weakness.

Next Jonathan does something very interesting he takes a little detour from the battle plan and has what resembles a safety meeting for the troops. Picture this, you are handed your equipment for battle then the next thing you do is, go out and start fighting? No. You have to learn your equipment and how to use it. That makes sense. We can read the Bible, go to church and even participate in a ministry or two just by attending church but if we don’t understand what Gods plan is for our lives then we are simply going through the motions.

He goes to Psalms 61 but first he reads Psalm 46. Verse 10 says; Be still, and know I am God... Now that’s more like it, there’s Gods power. Now we move over to Psalms 61, not very battle like. It’s more of a safety plan than a battle plan. In my notes I write, “Security In God”.  I open the Blue Letter Bible on my computer and begin to read along.

The Psalmist begins by saying, “Hear my prayer, O God! Pay attention to me!” Yep, that’s exactly how I feel right now. God will you pay attention to me?

My soul is weary from trying to do your work Lord, I thought to myself.  For the next few minutes I listened to Jonathan speak the words from Psalms 61 but then I disconnected from Jonathans talk and heard God talking to me from those words in the Bible on the computer screen in front of me. It was those words that seemed to just lay there like a blanket in a grassy field on a spring day. Ok, that’s a bit dramatic but that’s exactly how those words from Psalms 61 were revealed to me. Here’s what my outline looked like as we read through Psalms 61.

v  Hear me God, listen to me! I call to you from this lonely place.

v  Lead me to a foundation that is beyond my strength. I’ve come to you many times, yet people still attack me.

v  I want to come over to your house and stay. Living under your protection.

v  God, I’ve committed to serving you. I have a family and a history of character because we fear you.

v  Give this leader a long life and influence the generations of my family.

v  We should sit in your presence as a good friend.

v  Put love as a faithful companion, let truth guard me.

v  I sing all the days of my life your spirit dwelling in me.

v  I will be sold out for you each day.

v  Nothing will stop me.


Then on the left margin of my outline I wrote an action plan for each one.

ü  Get away

ü  The Rock, Christ, is my strength

ü  Sit in Gods space

ü  Make me a leader by example

ü  Speak to God

ü  Live it

ü  Stop trying to control (Gods will for my life)

The next two days were the most revealing I had experienced in a long time. It was God speaking to me in a way that made sense in our ministry. I knew what I had to do. Suzanne and I had been becoming more and more jaded in our faith and ministry life. We were as useful in our ministry as a rotten bale of hay we throw in the fire because they are falling apart and full of black mold, not fit for anything. That was how I felt. Yet I kept trying to go forward in our ministry. It was like we were parked on the side of the road with no place to go.

A plan began to formulate in my mind. Suzanne and I need to get away. The conference ended Thursday and then I had some work at the local High School on Friday. I thought, Suzanne and me should go away for the weekend. Then on Friday the school called and said they needed a bus driver to take a group of students to Furman University on Saturday, it would be all day, leave around 5:00 AM and back home at 4:00 PM that afternoon. I called Suzanne and asked her if she would go with me, she could ride the bus with me then we could hang out at the college, pick the students up and be home that afternoon. We could have some time together.  She said yes. Ok, plans made.

I began to formulate a conversation for the two of us, about our ministry and Gods plan for our lives using my notes from Jonathan’s conference. We were going to get back on track with God and stop this bad attitude that had begun to take over our lives and ministry, right now!

 In my own life I was so disgusted with some of the people I had come in contact with during our ministry and cowboy church planting as well as our ministry efforts, I was beat down and out. It was time for a change and it needed to start with me.

We would have to leave the house by 4:15 AM to get to the High School and get the bus ready. Suzanne was up by 3:00 AM Saturday morning. I was excited about our adventure together. We would have time to ourselves once we dropped the students off.

I get to the school and go to get the keys from the drivers room but my code doesn’t work on the door, I try it again and still it doesn’t work. It’s 4:30 in the morning and I am going to have to wake someone up to help me get in the school and get the bus keys, yikes! A few text with one of the vice principals later still no keys and the school is locked up. One of the adults with the group I’m supposed to drive shows up and he doesn’t have the bus keys and can’t get access into the school to get them… we are stuck. The group makes the decision to take their own cars to Furman. Now Suzanne and I have the entire day to ourselves. This was not part of my plan. We decide to go get breakfast and make a day of it.

It’s 5:30 AM and we are on the road. In my head I reformulate my plan for a day of renewal for us and our relationship with God. We hit the road.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Conditional Conditions

It with confidence that I make this statement. Many churches here in WNC and in America are not the Church Christ intended them to be. The politics and posturing of a church administration is sending it straight to hell along with others that are caught up in the fray. Yet, they are so wrapped up in their administration they wouldn't take instruction from the Master Himself if He stood up in their midst on a Sunday morning.

I am grieved at what I see. It bothers me that I see it and understand it's consequences. Just not sure what to do with the information yet.

The church struggles for identity by using the same old tactics that have failed and caused the organization of the church to dwindle to the point of the brick, steepled buildings we once filled now barley used except for a few events that only the oldest members attend. The rest of us pass them by wondering what happened. No more does a phrase like "you should be in church" hold any weight or authority in our conciseness.

A great revival must take place and it won't happen in the small red brick churches that dot the back roads and street corners. It won't happen in our living rooms in front of our 70" flat screen big budget televangelist production.

We are going to be required to read the Book, fall from our personal agendas, give up our control over a committee and turn from our own desires and ask God in the name of His son Jesus Christ, to forgive us of our greed and moral decay, Christian that means you. Pastors, music ministers, youth directors, church staff, leaders and congregation will need to fall on our faces before God and ask Him to forgive us. Revival will not come without it. The church will not grow without it. Revival won't come through the pastor with the parachute clause in his contract. It has to come when we put the corporate industry out of our churches and focus on the All Mighty power of God who created Heaven and Earth and you and me in His image.

Face it, we've tried to make a business plan out of the church. Christ intend the church to grow in the knowledge and love of God. Christ will return for His church. How will He find us? He'll find us in a committee meeting arguing over the color of the soundmans seat cushions or whether we sing Amazing Grace adagio or allegro.

So that's the state of it right now, we're all played out. Will this make a difference? Probably not because the 6 people that will read this already know the condition of their church because it's the same condition of their heart; it's full of want. A want to be filled and see the power of God.

This isn't a seminary level entry but it is the condition of our church and if we have a desire to serve God the Father of Jesus Christ our savior, then we need to begin with the one thing we have the authority to change the condition of...our heart.

Friday, February 07, 2014

What I've learned about God while living life

I’ve learned that I am made in His image - Genesis 1:27a So God created man in His own image

I’ve learned there is only one God - 1 Corinthians 8:6 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

I’ve learned people will let you down Matthew 24:10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.

I’ve learned I am Gods best work - Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

I’ve learned I won’t be free of problems – Philippians 4:11-14 11 I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. 13 I am able to do all things through Christ who strengthens me. HCSB

I’ve learned I don’t need to be popular - Ephesians 4:14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.

I’ve learned Gods plan is best for my life - Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

I’ve learned Gods version of prosperity isn’t money - Mark 10:23 And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!"
24 And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, "Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God!
25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God."

I’ve learned I don’t have all the answers - Matthew 6:25 Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

I’ve learned how to put others before me - Matthew 6:3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that you’re giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

I’ve learned it’s not about me2 Timothy 4:5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

I’ve learned it’s about a Cross - Colossians 2:14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.
Biblical References taken from the ESV unless otherwise noted