Friday, February 29, 2008

Weekend Appetizers

Looking forward to a great weekend at CCF! Thought I would share a few appetizers.

Saturday Morning at 9:30 we will gather around tables in the Upper Room for a 2nd Purpose Gathering to talk about our future as a church.
  • The topic will be Small Groups
  • We will answer questions like:
    • Why don't people attend?
    • How can we advertise, decorate with visuals and point everything we do to small groups?
    • How do we transition current stuff we do into small groups?
    • And More...
Sunday Morning we have worship at 8:30am and 10:30am. Pastor Nelson and I will team teach again this weekend and continue in John 6. Here is a preview of a few of the principles we will share:
  1. Don't be in it for what's in it for you!
  2. Don't miss a miracle for a piece of bread!
  3. Jesus is offensive!
  4. You eat, you live! You don't, you die?
See you Sunday as we find out just what Jesus really meant when he told us to "eat His flesh and drink His blood!" How is that for an appetizer?

--Noah

Thursday, February 28, 2008

We need to laugh at ourselves!

Received this from a CCF member today. I loved it! If you are a connected part of the CCF Community, you know how true it is! Good to lighten up and laugh at ourselves.

How many CCF members does it take to screw in a light bulb?

One. However, it takes one Director of Operations to research the types of light bulbs, three Pastors to review the research, one Pastor to hype up the congregation on the importance of the new light bulb, one half of the members to disapprove of a new light bulb, the other half of the congregation to rave about the new the light bulb, and an Executive committee to decide how much to allocate for the light bulb. And one big GOD to love us all anyway.

March Capital...Coming Sunday

I am really stoked about this month's Capital that's coming out this Sunday. It will contain cool stuff about:
  • Our new Youth Pastor
  • Our new Pulpit!
  • Welcome Center Location
  • International Sunday
  • Easter Services!
  • Church Retreat
  • New Staff Office Locations!
  • Upper Room Completion
  • And more...
You will not want to miss grabbing and reading it this Sunday! See you at church!

Anyone selling a car?

I am aware of a Pastor/friend in need of an automobile as fast as possible (and I want to help him). He is in search of a good running vehicle for $4,500 or less. He could buy it in the next few days.

Anybody have any ideas? It would be greatly appreciated. Comment, email or call me.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Money, Fame and Rick Warren

I couldn't believe my ears early this month when Rick Warren insisted on having his picture taken with every Pastor at the meeting at NCC. He did! We lined up and did just as he asked. They promised they would email us all. They did. Here I am with Rick Warren at a meeting on February 4th. They just sent it to me.

Get this: Rick Warren is stupid rich! The amount of money that he makes off of Purpose Driven Life is in sane. So, you know what he and his wife Kay do? They reverse tithe. They live off of 10% and give God 90%. He drives an old pick up and they have lived in the same modest house for the last 14 years. He shares that there are two big temptations for him (or anyone in his situation)...the money and the fame.

He deals with the money by giving most of it away and living modestly off the rest.

He deals with the fame like Solomon did in the Psalms...he wants to use it to speak for the broken and oppressed who have no voice and to advocate for the justice of those with no strength.

Neat, huh? I really respect this guy!

Did you read the Bible yet today?

Been wanting to find some time to write some lingering thoughts about John 6. We preached from John 6:22-69 on Sunday. We are going to continue in John 6 this Sunday as well. Man, this passage is loaded with messages for the church. If you get a chance, I encourage you to read it. I will be posting more about it soon.

Click here to read John 6!

Biblical Criticism

Blogging connects you to a very open network of readers and learners. It is always cool to receive responses from my readers that add to and improve what I have already written. A friend of mine is on staff at Christian Life Assemble in Camp Hill, PA. Recently the Pastor of this large church shared the following with their congregation. If follows up on a post of mine from last week. I thought I would share it with you. Good stuff. Don't think I am hounding on this, I just want to share good stuff when I get. Be sharpened!


“Biblical Guidelines for Giving Constructive Criticism”


1. It needs to be con-structive NOT de-structive. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but only what is helpful for building up others according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” – Ephesians 4:29. As members of the same family, we should expect the best and give one another the benefit of the doubt. This is the spirit of the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”


2. It needs to be based on Scripture, NOT personal preference. Personal preferences are just that. Some like their steak well done, some medium well, some well and some like it rare. Which steak is best? It depends on who you ask! We must be careful about demanding that everyone like steak the way we like it! If a change/decision is not in clear violation of Biblical doctrine, then we need to keep an open mind.


3. Tell it to Jesus first, then to leadership second. We ask that you take 5 days to pray about it before you call, e-mail or talk to the appropriate leader about it. (See Philippians 4:6-7)


4. Don’t talk to anyone else about it! Protect the unity of your church. This is in our Membership Covenant and is a Biblical expectation for all believers. (See Ephesians 4:2-3)


5. Help keep your spiritual leaders healthy, for your benefit and ours! Remember that your pastors and ministry staff are flesh and blood. You cut us, we bleed. If you want us to be able to provide effective ministry to you and your family/friends, help us stay emotionally and spiritually healthy. We have to pick ourselves back up after criticism and lead with God’s help. (See Hebrews 13:17-18)


This is not an effort to stop truly constructive criticism! We’d much rather hear concerns straight from you than have them go underground or circulating through a “grapevine.” These guidelines are to help us keep a healthy church that lives by the Book! We want to honor the Lord and let every decision we make stem from our priority to “Love God (more than anything), Love People, and Change the World.”

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Adrenaline

I am running so fast and doing so much to try to catch up and run in pace today, that I literally feel my adrenaline rushing! I guess I need something that creates adrenaline since I darn sure am not playing any sports. Shame on me. So much cool stuff is happening around here and it's fun!! I love my job! When you hear me vent, remember that the Joy of what I do FAR outweighs the pain!

On a treadmill today...Jaye says that I am on one every day! But, she is not right very often. Sike!

Monday, February 25, 2008

A great sight!

I was not able to post a picture on the road, but I wanted to share the sight that Tricia and I got to see last evening as Mike and Kelly and many others stood on the stage praying (and crying) as the church released and commissioned them for ministry at CCF. It was a cool experience. It is hard to explain the feeling we felt as we walked through this church and person after person approached us to tell us how blessed we are to be getting Mike and Kelly. Some people were mad at us and only spoke out of politeness :-). We were the people stealing their Pastor. That's real!

Ties Right In

What I read on Mark Batterson's blog tonight ties right in with some of what I shared last week about receiving criticism. It was right on time. Oh, how we need it to grow, but oh, how it needs to be done biblically to be effective. This is what Mark wrote today:

As a leader, there are times that you need to deflect criticism. I quote something I heard Erwin McManus say all the time: If an arrow of criticism doesn't pass through the filter of Scripture, don't let it pierce your heart. Listen, if it doesn't pass through the filter then you need to ignore it. But if it does, you need to let it pierce your heart.

Every once in a while I'll get a critical email or critical comment. And I don't like being rebuked anymore than the next guy. But I've come to appreciate it because it forces me to look in the mirror. And it's the only way I'm going to grow.

One of the tricks of leadership is having thick skin and a soft heart. But if I'm going to error on either side, I pray that God would give me a soft heart. I need voices that speak into my life. The second a leader thinks they are beyond rebuke it's the beginning of the end.

--Amen! And well said!

Weekend Highlights

A few random weekend highlights....and a great one it was!
  • We announced on Sunday morning that we found our new Youth Pastor!  Mike Rosado will begin employment at CCF on Monday, March 2nd.  So much to share about Mike.  Passionate, gifted and called!  He will be the cover article of our March Capital that comes out this Sunday.  This feels like a "God Fit". Wait and see.
  • I am writing right now from an office at the River of Life Church in Cherry Hill, NJ.  We traveled up here last night to attend a service of release for Pastor Mike.  It was cool...a torch passing of sorts.
  • Weekend of ministry at the church was great.  Keenagers Bowling on Friday, Services on Sunday were special and I hear that the prayer last night was rich!  I am so glad this prayer event is happening.
  • A word of rejoicing about yesterday...the response of people after the services indicated that they were engaged and impacted.  It seems as though we are succeeding at our goal of becoming more transparent in communication.  Remember, good communication leads to strong community!!! 
  • I am very excited today about the good things that God is going to do at CCF!  Something is in the air.
In closing...I HATE DRIVING IN NEW JERSEY!!!!  You cannot make a left anywhere...and if I get confused by one more roundabout I am going to.......

--Noah

Friday, February 22, 2008

Wacky Weather Gives Way to Family Day

Nothing like DC weather. Monday it's 73 degrees. Wednesday it's snowing. Friday it's icing. I'll take it because we get a family day. My mother in law is in town with us too. To Davis, she is Abuela (Grandmother in Spanish). Good times.

The story behind the picture: Tricia calls me Monday (mind you it is 73 degrees) and asks if I mind if she buzzes Davis's hair. Our plan was to do it this summer, but curiosity got her. I hesitantly agreed, but reminded her that it was 73 degrees, but the end of the week it could be snowing (I made that comment having not seen the weather forecast). Lo and behold...

Here is Davis with a buzz.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Are you giving anything up for Lent?

I just read about a Pastor giving up yelling for Lent...and another one giving up control for Lent. Adds a whole new meaning to fasting and sacrifice, huh? There is actually great value in sacrificing something during this season. It has a way of preparing your heart for the coming and power of Easter.

Choosing What to Hear, Part II

Just had an additional thought(s)...
  • Some people choose to listen to Jazz music. Some people choose not to.
  • Some people choose to listen to Country music. Some people choose not to.
  • Some people choose to listen to Christian music. Some people choose not to.
  • Some people choose to listen to negative opinions. Some people choose not to.
  • Some people choose to listen to gossip. Some people choose not to.

Choosing What to Hear

OK, this post is me being transparent. Perhaps more transparent than some of you think I should be. I look at it this way. This is my blog! This is my place and avenue to share my heart. The good, the great, the vision, the memories, but even the bad, the frustrating and the personal. I am sometimes cautious as I work to find the blogging balance, but today I am needing to bear heart...

Leadership is not easy. You are constantly in the spotlight. People are regularly formulating opinions about the ways in which you have violated their perception of who you should be. They also need someone to blame when there church looks and feels differently than they want it to. I am the perfect target for some. It must be my fault. I am the Lead Pastor. Hence, people have negative stuff to say. All that is normal. I know that. I need to just accept it and get used to it. Here is the problem. You would be shocked at how little of this negative I get the privilege to hear (and I do mean privilege because it almost always proves mutually enriching when people biblically confront). It is shared with plenty of people...except me! I have been adjusting to this reality for almost years now and it doesn't seem to be getting much easier. This is an area of my leadership that needs work. I am always looking to hear the next criticism. It is not healthy and I will not be able to function long term that way.

Well, I think that I turned over a new leaf today (with the help of a dear friend). I decided to make a new commitment that I think will pay big dividends over the long haul...and is quite biblical. Here it is:

I know longer am willing to hear or entertain any negative opinions about me unless they are coming directly from the person concerned. This would include:
  • He told me that...
  • She told me that....
  • I heard that so and so feels...
  • 3 people told me...
  • Older people feel....
  • Young people feel....
  • I hear people saying that...
I can't hear this stuff and function in a healthy way. I am human and it hurts. It leaves me unsure of what to do, what to believe, who to confront, whether to confront or how to change. Hence, my new philosophy. The only things that are important enough to hear and respond to are the things that people are willing to talk to me about directly according to Matthew 18.

So, I ask you a favor. If you ever hear anything negative about me...
  1. Don't tell me! I choose not to hear their concerns through you.
  2. And send that person to me! I would cherish the opportunity to hear from them and they will reep reward for biblical obedience! And by the way, they will have great influence on me and I will listen and take it very seriously out of respect for their courage and the quality of their character!!
Maybe you are reading this and you have something you want to share. I welcome hearing from you directly. You may have read this and thought...wow! Pretty direct today, Noah! My question to you is...where is the value in inauthenticity?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Tough Call

"Halftime" and AWANA is canceled for tonight due to weather. Our policy is that if PG County cancels evening activities, so do we! So, we had to cancel for tonight.

It feels silly to cancel with practically no snow on the roads. Oh well, that is what we get for having a policy. We have to follow it...I guess.

A Powerful Passage Read by a Great Friend!

Can I brag on my team for a minute? We have a great staff at CCF that bring special things to the table. I could brag on any of them, but let me pick on one today. Pastor Nelson blesses me on the regular! Earlier this week, in our one on one weekly meeting (where I am supposed to be supporting him), he blessed me and ministered to me in a big way. Then, today we worked together on our message for Sunday Morning. We are going to team teach this weekend. While we were in the throws of planning today, he jumps up and shares this passage of scripture. John 6: 22-71. As he read it to me with all the passion in the world, the story came alive. He felt it, so I felt it! I have read it countless times, but in hearing it today, it was as if I had never heard it! What a passage! I wanted to run the aisles of the Worship Center.

We will be using this passage this Sunday and quite possibly next week as well. In this passage, you will find several powerful messages for the church. And certainly for our church...one that has experienced lots of change over the last 3 years...and one that is clarifying and determining its purpose right now.

How badly I want to share the pearls that the Holy Spirit began revealing to Nelson and I today out of this passage....but I can't let the cat out of the bag. Gotta save something for Sunday. I will stop and flip to a Word Document....becoming a regular practice.

--Noah

Precisiely why we stay flexible...

I have said over and over again on Sunday mornings this year, that we must remain open, flexible and reliant on the Holy Spirit regarding our Sunday Messages. As we process through our purpose as a church, we need to allow the Holy Spirit to shape us and our direction.

I say that to say this: something cool happened at Staff Meeting yesterday. While we were sharing and processing together about the pulse of our community here at CCF, we felt the Holy Spirit lead us to a strong realization. This church is made up of a pretty sizable group of joiners and a pretty sizable group of belongers!

Who are joiners? Who are belongers? Why is it important to know? And what does it mean for us?

Pastor Nelson and I decided that we needed to team teach on this on Sunday! We know God is in it. We will be pulling up the couches and doing some community talk. We are about to spend the day preparing! Pray for us.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Prayer...continued

After I went to bed last night, I thought of how thankful I am for the "Adventures in Prayer" that is being held this Sunday Night at 6:00pm in the new Upper Room.

Adventures in Prayer:

Last Sunday of every month (starting this Sunday)

at 6:00pm

In the Upper Room

There will be prayer for:
  • Family
  • Finances
  • Body
  • Spirit
  • The mission and people and ministries of CCF
  • Our Pastors
  • Missionaries
  • And More...
Many Thanks to Brother Lew and Pam Kaye for their leadership with this prayer initiative. It is one example of what I was sharing about in my post last night.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Prayer...thoughts, questions, dreams...

Some questions and thoughts are heavy on my heart tonight about prayer.

5 different people have come to me in the last 3 months to share their burden for more prayer at CCF. I agree, I agree, I agree and I share the same burden. I believe that prayer opens the windows of heaven, keeps us connected to God and God connected to us as His church! I want to see so much more prayer at CCF...a deeper hunger for it, more people doing it and it becoming a more intricate part of who we are.

Tough questions on my heart (this is me being real here):
  1. Why have so few people attended every prayer initiatives that we have offered in the past? We have tried Sundays, Saturdays and Weekday Mornings (over the last 3 years).
  2. Why did we average 12 people at prayer for all of 2007? I know that I am throwing my vest open in asking these questions, but I need answers. The only way you get answers is by asking questions.
  3. Is prayer lived out in the church only as a calendar event (I sure hope not because people have voted with their feet and they don't seem to be giving up another night for the church)? Or are there other ways to build prayer deeply into the life of the church? If so, what are they?
  4. How can members/lay people become involved in leading different prayer initiatives? I cherish the day when people lead out and live out their ideas and passions for prayer. In being very honest, I feel that oftentimes people share their ideas and passions and then sit and wait on me or the Pastoral Team to carry them out. I am not sure that is how it should work. I want people to feel released to move with and LEAD what they feel passionate about regarding prayer. It should not require pastoral presence or leadership to validate it. How do we get there? How do I (we) encourage this as leaders? How are standing in the way?
Bottom Line is this...we need to pray more! Without ceasing! How do we do it? I have never pastored a church before CCF. I feel that this is one of my blind spots and I am not afraid to say it. However, I am afraid to ignore it. What do we do? I believe that if we put our heads and hearts together, we will see something happen! Something more!

Wild Mild

When I walked outside this morning it felt down right weird! It was wild mild for February! What a crazy winter we are having here in DC. Marie at Starbucks said it best this morning...."it feels like the end-of-the-world type of weather."

Where's the snow? I want to go do donuts in a parking lot! Did I just say that?

Saturday, February 16, 2008

A Running Tradition....

Our college days will always hold a special place in our hearts. The relationships we made are at the top of the list! Among those relationships that we formed in college are David and Heather Cosme. Tricia and I always spend the Valentines Day weekend with Dave and Heather. It's a running tradition. Tricia and Dave both have great memories as they sat here and recounted the last 6 Valentines Day weekends that we have spent together (including what we ate and where we ate it). This is year #7 in a row with the Cosme's! They are here for the weekend and we are glad to have them. Good times!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Most Fridays...Making Memories

Some Fridays I am "off work", but most Fridays I am with Davis while Mommy is at work. I have been spending the day with Davis today. He is really becoming loads of fun! The kid is out-of-control-cute. We sat in Starbucks each in our own comfy chair this morning while we shared breakfast together. He has learned the word "Hi" in the last week or so. Hence, everyone that walked in the front door received a loud "Hi" from young Davis. After that, we went and got his blood taken. That was a blast too! He pulled through like an ox, though. Now he is napping and Daddy is wrapping up his message for Sunday and blogging!

So, there's a little update for today.

FYI-- I write these types of posts mainly to capture memories with my son! One day I will be able to share this with him. That'll be cool. Every couple months I print my blog and throw it in our fireproof safe...that way if the internet ever vanishes, I've got these memories captured. If I was not blogging, I would only ever remember a fraction of these experiences with him.

--Noah

Sunday's Message

I am excited about Sunday's Message. I really enjoyed interacting with John 13:34-35 yesterday as I prepared for this weekend.

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

Sunday I will be sharing out of this passage. I will discuss:
  1. The Command
  2. The Qualification
  3. The Result
Wanna guess each? Go right ahead.

Trivia Question: How many times do the words "Love one Another" appear in the Bible before John 13:34? Hint: look at the second word of the passage!

God's Word always amazes me.

--Noah

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Cool Chapter Titles

What makes you want to read a book? For me....sometimes it's the title. Other times it's the author. However, sometimes, it's cool chapter titles. Last week, one of our youth pastor candidates was holding a book that he was reading called "Confessions of a Reformission Rev." by Mark Driscoll. When I asked what he was reading, he opened it up and shared the chapter titles with me. They grabbed me! I decided that moment that I want to read this book! I will put it on the runway. For now, here are the chapter titles:
  1. Jesus, Our Offering Was $137 and I Want to Use it to Buy Bullets - 0-45 People
  2. Jesus, If Anyone Else Calls My House, I May Be Seeing You Real Soon - 45-75 People
  3. Jesus, Satan Showed Up and I Can't Find My Cup - 75-150 People
  4. Jesus, Could You Please Rapture the Charismaniac Lady Who Brings Her Tambourine to Church? - 150-350 People
  5. Jesus, Why Am I Getting Fatter and Meaner? - 350-1,000 People
  6. Jesus, Today We Voted to Take a Jackhammer to Your Big Church - 1,000-4,000 People
  7. Jesus, We’re Loading Our Squirt Guns to Charge Hell Again - 4,000-10,000 People
Interesting, huh?

Internet Explorer Stinks

Not that I am a computer expert by any stretch of the imagination....but I think that Internet Explorer stinks and the Mozilla Firefox rocks! The reason I am posting this is...

Some people have complained that sometimes when I post it will look jumbled up. You know why? Internet Explorer! That's why. Open up my blog in Firefox and you will not have that problem.

To download Firefox, click here! It's free (and better)!

A Valentine's Day Laugh

After the sweet things that I wrote about Tricia yesterday, it will be obvious that the jokes below are not about my wife...they must be about yours.

Warning: if you are easily offended and sensitive, don't read this. If you do read it, you do so at your own risk.

10 Reasons to love your wife today:
  1. Two times a week we go to a nice restaurant, have a little beverage, good food and companionship. She goes on Tuesdays; I go on Fridays.
  2. We also sleep in separate beds. Hers is in California, and mine is in Texas.
  3. I take my wife everywhere....but she keeps finding her way back.
  4. I asked my wife where she wanted to go for our anniversary. "Somewhere I haven't been in a long time!" she said. So I suggested the kitchen.
  5. We always hold hands. If I let go, she shops.
  6. She has an electric blender, electric toaster and electric bread maker. She said "There are too many gadgets, and no place to sit down!" So I bought her an electric chair.
  7. Remember: Marriage is the number one cause of divorce.
  8. I married Miss Right. I just didn't know her first name was Always.
  9. I haven't spoken to my wife in 18 months. I don't like to interrupt her.
  10. The last fight was my fault though. My wife asked, "What's on the TV?"I said, "Dust!"

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Black History Month

I love this quote I ran into this evening...so appropriate for Black History Month:

Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Runaway Train

Monday I was sick. Yesterday I attended a funeral that spoke for the majority of my day. Today I am guest speaking at a local school. Tomorrow is my sermon day and I will be off-site. This week feels like a runaway train. Can someone please slow it down? There are things that I need to get done!

-Smile

Fogo de Chao

Last night Tricia and I celebrated Valentines Day (2 days early). First of all, we don't like the long waits at restaurants on the actual day and second, we have Small Group tomorrow night.

Anyway, after several strong recommendations from trusted food critics, we made the (icy) trek into DC last night and had dinner at Fogo de Chao. It is worth checking out their website. It is a Brazilian all-you-can-eat-meat restaurant. It was totally cool! The food was outstanding and so was the experience. It was amazing. You have this little round card on your table (one side green and one side red). If you want more meat and sides, you have the card showing the green side. If you want them to stop coming to you, you face the red side up. If green is showing, they will greet you with lamb chops, fillet mignon, ribs, chicken, steak, pork, etc.

As cool as the restaurant was, Tricia was the highlight of my night! It is impossible to verbalize the feeling I had when I looked up at my wife after reading these words in the card she gave me..."I am honored to be spending my 10th Valentine's Day with you!" I had no idea this was our 10th Valentine's day together. Nothing feels better than looking into the eyes of a person that you have shared the last 10 years loving...a person who knows you better than you know yourself. I guess the only feeling better will be 20 years, 30 years, 40 years, or 50 years.

--Noah

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

If Davis Can Vote...

So can you! I took Davis with me to vote bright and early this morning. He helped me cast my vote! Hey, if you are reading this in MD, VA or DC....GO VOTE! It matters!

Voting is a free way to buy yourself an opinion for the next 4 years. No voting...no talking smack later.

--Noah

Monday, February 11, 2008

Sick Boys

Home sick today. Been fighting something off for over a week now. Tricia decided that I would be staying home today. You know how that goes. We pushed hard all week and them all weekend hosting our guest speakers. It was worth it! Great weekend! But, need to take a chill day if I have any hope of getting well. Our little Davis is sick too, so we are taking him to the doctor today. Pray for healing for our house. So glad that mommy is home to take care of her 2 boys.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Pics from the day!

Ron Hall preaching our morning message in service today! Fresh message on authentic Christian friendships out of Phil. 2.

Trevor Hall playing a mean guitar in our service this morning! We had a Beatles song in church today!! I should just go ahead and mail back my credentials. Smile.

A great day of ministry....followed by a 3 hour search team meeting with more interviews. Am exhausted now! Nite!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

To God be the Glory!

Today was a dream come true in many ways. It was really a magnificent way to use our new "Upper Room"...for the first time.
  • The teachings on relationships this morning and this afternoon with Ron Hall were rich and transformational!
  • The music this evening was ridiculous...people would pay big bucks to hear Trevor Hall play...and they should! He is worth it.
  • The fellowship was great.
  • The new space served our day perfectly. I only hope we served God as well as he served us today!
To God be the glory, great things he has done!

Tomorrow's services will be remembered. I have a lot of peace in my spirit tonight that we are in for some great ministry in the morning!

--Nite

Friday, February 8, 2008

Sound & Media Booth Done!














I hope to post more pics soon, but the Youth/Senior center is basically done! Today, Tricia, Davis and I swang in and witnessed Terry putting the last bit of paint on the trim around the sound booth. Just in time for our first event in the "Upper Room" tomorrow!! Great Space! God's faithfulness is so amazing. What a gift he has given us to use for ministry.

--Noah

BTW..."Official" Grand Opening will take place after or new Youth Pastor comes on board. We want him or her to be a part of that Genesis moment.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Your Help Please

Anybody know of a good Office furniture company? I am looking for well made (not staples and office depot) office furniture. I prefer a local company that will come out and diagram an office and tell me what they have (in the modern genre). Leave a comment if you know a place!

--Thanks!

Deep Thoughts from a CCF Member!

Below, you will find the majority of an email that I received from a CCF member yesterday. It is really good stuff. The info below is from Kevin Stewart. He and his wife, Katie and their kids have been at CCF for over a year. What you will read below is one example of people really engaging with the process that we are in as a church to live to our full purpose.


Church growth is something that I have read and thought a lot about. And I’ve noted that (healthy) church growth and saving souls have at least one key thing in common – ultimately only God can do it.

Prior to Saddleback church there were whole libraries of books that had the “secret” to church growth. When Rick Warren started Saddleback he’d read most all of those books but didn’t feel bound by any of them. By the end he’d broken almost every “rule” of church growth ever written yet they still grew; healthy growth and incredibly fast. Understanding the seasons of growth probably was vital to that. But I think something else was even more so, something that I haven’t heard him say but that he just does and it works.

As I said, church growth really is God’s to do. We can do things to hinder or help God in His work, but that’s about it. The KEY passage in the Bible about church growth – foundational to all other growth “rules” – is found in Paul’s writings.

“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building.” (1 Cor 3:6-9 NIV)

Paul states clearly that God is the one that grows His church. Paul and Apollos were the gardeners doing everything to create an environment in which growth could happen when the time came. Or, in other words, they devoted themselves to church health. They tended the church to keep it healthy and then when the seasons of growth came, in God’s good time, healthy growth would happen.

Warren’s book “The Purpose Driven Church” is full of his efforts to make sure his church was as healthy as it could be. He never actually says that, but his constant efforts to realign the functions of the church with their “purpose” have the same net effect. He and his leadership devote themselves 24/7/365 to this and results happen.

Church growth does happen in seasons - seasons of growth in numbers, seasons of growth in depth, seasons of apparent dormancy storing up spiritual energy only to burst forth into brilliant Spring. But throughout, if the leadership of any church will devote themselves wholly to church health, then when the seasons come in God’s good timing, nothing on earth will be able to stop the growth of God’s church – not even the mistakes we make along the way.

Personally, I find all this very freeing. I mean, if the church could grow by my power then I would bear the responsibility. That’s a weight that I KNOW I couldn’t bear. But God’s shoulders are more than strong enough to bear it. All I have to do is help tend my little part of the garden as God has called me to do – freedom at last to do the work I was made for.


Wow, Kevin! Wow! Great stuff. More than enough for me today! Thanks for engaging and blessing me and others with your good thoughts! I hear this in what you are saying...focus on BUILDING PEOPLE (discipleship) and let God focus on BUILDING HIS CHURCH. (Matt. 16:18)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Wanna Meet at IHOP?

I am not exaggerating when I say this...there are probably only 2 nights out of 365 that I cannot sleep. This is one. I usually love to sleep and fall asleep within 3-5 minutes of laying down. But I laid in bed tonight and tossed and turn, got up and read alot, emailed, blogged and am still wide awake! Crazy feeling for me. At least Tricia seems to be sleeping deep enough for both of us! What to do? Anybody awake? Wanna meet at IHOP? Smile.

--Nite!

Courageous Leadership by Bill Hybels

I wish I could read for pleasure more often. My grad work keeps me reading for requirement so much! Since I just finished a class and decided not to take one this spring, I have a stack of books I plan to move through. Been reading "Courageous Leadership" by Bill Hybels. (Bill Hybels is the Pastor of Willow Creek Community Church.) Got drawn in tonight and read 90 more pages. Great book so far. Hybels wanted to write a book on leadership for a long time, but waited 30 years to do it. As you can imagine, this thing is rich! Here are a few highlights so far:
  • What is the key to the vitality of thriving churches? In Hybels' endeavor to answer this question, he explains that he has been around the entire world over the last 30 years observing more churches than you could ever imagine. He concluded that:
    • It is not location. "Affluent or ghetto, serene or war-torn, tropical or alpine, congested urban or sleepy rural, American or otherwise, location impacts the vitality of the church far less than any of us think."
    • It is not denomination. "Baptist, Methodist, Evangelical Free, Quaker, Non-Denoms, Inter-Denoms-- It doesn't matter."
    • It is not facility. "In barns and theaters, hotels and double wide trailers---in every imaginable kind of facility I have discovered thriving churches."
    • It is not teaching. "Although many preaching centered churches attract large crowds, there impact on the community is often negligible."
    • He concluded..."What flourishing churches have in common is that they are led by people who possess and deploy the spiritual gift of leadership."
  • "Vision is the most potent weapon in a leader's arsenal."
  • There are many definitions of vision. Hybels defines vision as "a picture of the future that produces passion."
  • He has found after many years of hiring and firing at Willow that you should always hire for:
    • Character
    • Competency
    • Chemistry
    • (in this order intentionally)
There was more stuff I liked, But I will type it somewhere else...you are sick of reading, right?

--Noah

Let's Make a Deal

Here is the deal I want you (yes, you....not the other people who are reading this, but YOU) to make with me.

I want to challenge you to attend the Relationship Events on Saturday. The chances are that you have at least a portion of your day available. There are 3 events on Saturday that you could choose to attend:
  1. 9:30am- Marriage Seminar
  2. 1:00pm- Communication Seminar (for everyone)
  3. 7:30pm- Acoustical Guitar Concert (I am willing to guess that this will be one of the best guitarists that you have ever heard in concert.)
  4. And then of course, church on Sunday morning, but you will already be there!
So, please come. In addition, please invite at least 1 other person as well.

What's in it for you? You will gain fresh insight to improving the important relationships in your life! Who among us does not need that? I challenge you to make the time for this event!

Tricia and I are looking forward to it. We know we need it!

--See you there!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Jerk!

Another thing that Rick warren said yesterday (and I began to do some scriptural digging on this morning and developing it for myself) was about how predictable the devil is. The jerk (my own word-- you like it?) wears out the same 3 tactics every time he snags one of us! He is predictable! (You will find that in I John 2:16.) He will trap you every time with:
  1. Lust of the Flesh
  2. Lust of the Eyes
  3. Pride of Life
Maybe you understand it better this way:
  1. Sex
  2. Salary
  3. Status
Or this way:
  1. Passion
  2. Possession
  3. Position
These 3 are:
  1. The temptation to feel (flesh)
  2. The temptation to have (eyes)
  3. The temptation to be (pride)
However you get it, JUST GET IT!! The devil used these tactics on:
  • Adam and Eve
  • Moses
  • Joseph
  • David
  • Paul
  • Jesus
  • And he uses the same old dirty tools on you!
Want to hear another crazy one? Every commercial and ad you see appeals to one of these 3!

Finally, be leery of shortcuts, they are often the gate to temptation. If Jesus would have been into shortcuts he would have turned the stone into bread. Instead of doing the super, the spectacular or the snappy, he chose the suffering and the sacrifice.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Goodnight

Well, I logged about 2 hours of thinking and typing now and it was worth every minute of it (and only posted a small portion of what I learned and heard). Off to bed.

One last thing. God did several very personal and transformational things inside of me today! Not because of Rick Warren, but because of the work of the Holy Spirit through him.

--Love!

"I know no lost"

This really struck me:

Jesus did not say "I have come that you might have meetings". No, He said "I have come that you might have life". Life is not lived out in meetings at the church, it is lived out at home and at work and at school! Rick said the people do not bring their lost friends to church because they don't have any...because they are in meetings at the church too much.

A Pastor's Worst Quote

95% of every sermon is forgotten by Wednesday! How's that for depressing?

People only TRULY GET IT when they:
  1. Hear it
  2. Read it
  3. Write it
  4. Talk it
  5. Do it

Random Quotes and Wisdom

Throughout the talk today, Rick Warren would throw out statements that I knew I needed to remember. Ones like:
  • 150,000,000 attend church on Sunday in America. That is more people that attend church in ONE weekend than attend Pro sporting events across America for a YEAR! Can you imagine what would happen if the church actually started discipling people?
  • Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is moving ahead in spite of your fear.
  • Church is about the people, not the steeple.
  • Use other people's ideas to build the Kingdom of God. There is nothing new under the sun. The person who wants to be original or nothing is both! Rick does not copyright his info. He WANTS people to use it for the glory of God. He said today "if my bullet fits your gun, shoot it."
  • You don't grow people to commitment, you grow people through commitment.
  • Spiritual growth is intentional...not accidental or automatic.
  • There is a big difference between growing old and growing up.
  • You are as close to God as you want to be. And if you don't feel close to God, guess who moved?
  • God does not bless programs, he blesses people.
  • Take Notes!!! The shortest pencil is longer than the longest memory.
  • It's not all about the weekend services. The weekend is just the funnel.
This wisdom just flowed!

Small Groups

Today, Rick Warren shared several things about small groups. A few thoughts stuck with me.

First, he stated that he believes that people join small groups for content and stay in them for relationship!

He said that true discipleship happens through a believers commitment to both large group gatherings and small groups.

The last thing that really hit me was a story that he told about the week that they added 3,200 new small groups to the 800 that they had already. Here is the readers digest version of the story:

The staff was planning a big campaign push to start 300 new small groups. Before they did, the Holy Spirit spoke to Warren and told him that he needed to add a zero to that goal and expect for 3,000 new groups. He new that his staff would think he had lost his mind. Then, the Lord told him that he would do it by asking for people to serve as hosts. He was convinced that not many people could be lay pastors, shepherds, leaders, or teachers, (all names that they had previously used for the small group leaders) but that many people could do hospitality and be hosts. So, he asked the church if 3,000 would raise their hand to be a host. He further defined that all you had to be able to do to serve as a Host at Saddleback was:

H- Have a heart for people
O- Open up your home (or condo, apartment, Starbucks or park bench)
S- Serve coffee or a drink
T- Turn on a DVD player (they do church-wide DVD series)

3,200 people became hosts that week. 17 had to get saved first and 400 had to be baptized. Is that crazy or what!?!?!?!?

In case you wondered...Saddleback Church has 30,000 people attending small groups. That is more people than attend the church!!

Writers Flow, Part 2

Took another hour of quality time with the Mrs. With her blessing (which is the only way to do it), I am back at it. I told you I would be writing lots tonight! If I let this wait til tomorrow, I will not do it. You gotta capture it while it's fresh.

Integrity: What's your definition?

Here is Rick Warren's:
  • I am what I am.
  • I am what you see.
  • What you see is what you get.
  • It is NOT perfection or perfect honesty.
  • Base word is integer. Integer means "a complete entity or a whole number". Integrity is the whole picture of who you are. Togetherness of person.
  • As a result, Warren suggests that if you have integrity, your life cannot be compartmentalized. You cannot live in integrity and have your:
    • Personal compartment
    • Public compartment
    • Wife compartment
    • Anger compartment
    • Friend compartment
    • Pornographic compartment
    • Educational compartment
    • Spiritual compartment
    • Greedy compartment
  • Instead, your life is together as the WHOLE of who you are!
  • Finally, it is REALLY being who you REALLY are!
Wow!! That is a powerful way of thinking of integrity.

A Mushroom or an Oak Tree

Not only do churches grow in seasons, but it takes time! Rick said today that "when churches increase too fast, that it's not growth, it's cancer."

If God wants to grow a mushroom, He can do it in 6 hours. When he wants to grow an oak tree, it takes 60 years. Do you want our church to be a mushroom or an oak tree? Wow! What an analogy!

Church Growth Happens in Seasons

As long as there is a heaven and an earth, there shall be springtime and harvest. Church growth happens in seasons. There will be seasons of growth in number and other seasons of growth in depth. Sometimes "winter" can seem long and discouraging, but remember that the roots grow in the winter. Without strong roots, you have no depth and will not sustain height. This really got me thinking about us at CCF! We have been in a season of growth in number (height) for about 3 years. I wonder if God is not calling us to a season of growth in depth now. I think He is. And I think we should take it seriously!

The way that Saddleback Church has done that is by way of ebb and flow. They do one "campaign" a year. Understanding that growth happens in seasons, they work to have a huge campaign that fuels their season of growth. They push hard, expect a lot and lead people into new levels of commitment. Then, they back off.

Examples of campaigns they have done:
  • 40 days of purpose
  • 30 Days of change
  • Love
  • Faith
  • Small Group Campaign (Started 3,000 new Small Groups in 1 week during this "campaign"!!!! Yes, you read that right. May share more about it later.)
They have used this strategy for 25 years! I think it has worked. 25,000 people. What do you think?

A Life-Giving and Life-Changing Day!

Without exaggeration, today was a life-giving experiences! Wow! It was an unspeakable privilege to spend 2+ hours 10 feet from Rick Warren at a Pastors Event Forum in DC (in the basement of a coffeehouse). The guy is loaded with depth! He cranked out wisdom way faster than I could write. Let me give you an idea here. I brought 5 pieces of paper in case I wanted to take notes. I filled all 5 and the back of each. 10 pages of notes and then began writing up the sides.

So, needless to say...I need to process this stuff while it is fresh. Learning requires something beyond just hearing. I need to write some of this out a lot more than you want to read it (I think)! I am going to do it a little different. I am going to do several mini-posts instead of 1 long post. Read the ones you wish. The separate entries will help me organize my thinking. Obviously, I learned more than I can ever compile here.

(I took this blurry picture today. I also had my picture taken with him...at his request. His staff will be emailing it to me. Cool, huh?)

Drive By Update

Yesterday was a packed day with church, company and watching the Patriots go 18-1. Wow! Great Super Bowl last night. Best one in years in my opinion.

In just a few minutes I am headed in to DC with some other Pastors for some time with Rick Warren. I mentioned it in an earlier post. Well, it is today. I look forward to sharing some stuff with you when I return.

--Noah

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Chuck-E-Cheese, Take 2

When Davis was about 7 or 8 months we took him to Chuck-E-Cheese for the first time. It was rather anti-climactic. We were well intentioned first time parents, but he was too young to get it. We left in 15 minutes with most of our tokens. Last night we tried again. 13 months old...take 2. It was a LOT BETTER! He was climbing and sliding and driving the little car. Good Times. Here is a short video clip from our excursion that I took with my Treo (it's not too clear, but you will see that he loves to drive like his Daddy). By the way, we've still got tokens left. I am telling you, this is the farthest I have ever seen $10 stretch. Looking forward to a 3rd visit sometime.

--Noah
video

Friday, February 1, 2008

How to Manage your Money

Last night Tricia took my Mom to Toby's Dinner Theater and I stayed home with my main man. After I put him to bed, I was able to dedicate a few hours to something I have been wanting to do for a long time...check out online webcasts and podcasts. It is too easy for Pastor's to regularly give out but rarely take in. I struggle with finding that balance. Every Sunday I have to be "on" and TV preachers sometimes leave a bit to be desired. Hence, I need to find creative ways to hear sermons and glean fresh biblical insight.

Anyway, I enjoy listening to some messages that not only encourage my growth, but display new and creative ways to communicate! Let me show you an example of what I mean. I know I mention Mark Batterson, Lead Pastor of National Community Church quite often, but I make no apology. Not only do I know him personally, but he is doing some incredible stuff (yes, with the help of lots of resources and great staff)!

Last night, I watched his sermon from January 2oth. He is doing a series called "HOW". This message was about "How to Manage Money". I want to share it with you for 4 reasons:
  1. It is video form. Meaning that the church (all 4 movie theater locations) watched this sermon on the screen, not in person. Mark was out of town, so they prepared his video message before he left and they watched it in DC while he was in Utah snowboarding with his son.
  2. It's incredibly practical and relevant. That becomes very obvious when you find that one of the points in his message in "Open up a Roth IRA". So cool. Yes, you CAN do this in church.
  3. It's strongly Biblical.
  4. Finally, I dream of when I can do this one day! I would LOVE to be able to do this type of stuff. For example, it would be neat to tape a message or 2 like this before I leave for my Sabbatical this summer and show them while we are away. I look forward to continuing to grow as a church so that we can have the resources (money) to make this type of creativity a part of the CCF experience! (If you know something I don't...let me know and we will start filming this week!)
I know that most of you will feel that you do not have the time to watch this, but if you do or when you do...you will not regret it.

Click Here to watch the message!!