Saturday, May 31, 2008
Today must have been my day, because if seeing this beautiful 98 year old lady wasn't enough, I met and talked to another lady at the table next to us at lunch who was there celebrating her 95th birthday with her family! Amazing! Inspiring!
10 Life Lessons in 10 Years.....(I graduated from LCS 10 years ago today):
- The local church is the hope for our broken world. Find one get involved and help them make it happen. Over 40 commands in the Bible that are very difficult to fulfill if you are not a part of a Body. They need you and you need them!
- Show me your friends and I will show you your future. Who they are is who you will become. I know it is tempting to think of friendships as projects….the problem is…they will win—not you.
- Present yourself as you want to be treated. If you want to be treated like a woman, dress like one. If you want to be treated like a man, wear your hair and your pants like one! If you want to be treated like an intelligent adult, talk like one (speak English). If you want to be treated like a professional, behave like one.
- It is more important that you love who you marry than that you marry who you love! Oh, Pastor Noah…I disagree….how can we marry someone we don’t love…I am not saying don’t love who you marry…..I am saying that I am NOT SURE WE REALLY KNOW WHAT LOVE IS until we have loved the same person unconditionally for many years. That is why our divorce rate is what it is! Americans marry who they think they are in love with, but they are not in love, they are in heat. Then, they fail to love who they married. Remember this young people…..Love is not discovered on accident, but chosen on purpose. Love is defined best with the word—INTEGRITY! Not emotion, goose bumps, romance, passionate sex. AND YOU DO KNOW IT IS YOUR SOLE MATE IN 3 WEEKS or 3 MONTHS---Chemicals in your body are still lying to you that early in a relationship.
- Have kids that are a blessing not a burden….God values life too much for you to create one that is a burden. Outside of marriage or inside of marriage!
- Treat the Internet as a tool not a God. Ours is a fast paced, get it now culture. Slow down! Be cautious! Just because you can click on it does not mean you need it!! That applies to purchases, pornography, relationships, gaming, surfing, etc.
- It pays to Discover you cannot afford a relationship with VISA. Credit Card application are on there way! RIP THEM UP! Save what you DO HAVE, don’t spend what you don’t have! Don’t talk yourself into believing that you need or deserve something at the expense of your future.
- Frequently ask what Andy Stanley calls “the best question ever”!! That question what is "what is the wise thing to do"? In light of my past, in light of my current circumstance, in light of my future hopes and dreams, my finances, my family, my time ... what is the wise thing to do? I am convinced that we talk ourselves into believing in unwise decisions all the time! This might change is we start asking the best question ever! Do the RIGHT THING, not the EASY THING! The easy thing is for weak people! The right thing often takes a champion!
- God's purpose and dreams for your life are 13.2 billion light years away from yours! Isaiah 55:8-9 states: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. There are known “heavens” are 13.2 billion light years from the earth. Graduates, GOD HAS A WAY BIGGER DREAM AND PURPOSE FOR YOUR LIFE THAN YOU CAN IMAGINE!!! 13.2 billion light years bigger! (indebted to Mark Batterson on this one)
- The place that you let Jesus Christ take in your life will determine where your life takes you! Give him first place! Give him first dibs on your dreams, your talents, your time, your attention and your heart!
Friday, May 30, 2008
Something has been on my mind recently that I want to start processing. As we seek to walk in the plans that the Lord intends for us as a church we have to find a way to understand and balance our part with God's part!
Our part: Excellence! Skilled ministry. Irresistible and welcoming environments. Creativity and relevance that creates buzz and draws people. Great worship, compelling church services, programming, creating meaningful places for people to connect, ensuring spaces for people to be discipled! We have OUR PART that we must do. Clean the building, pay the bills, advertise, study, train, pray, plan, anticipate, practice, make it visual, make it sound right, make it appealing....shall I continue? We have our part to do! From defective Old Testament sacrifices to New Testament encouragements that whatsoever we do, do it excellently as unto the Lord...we our called to do our part and do it well! Luke 14:23 says that we ought to go out on the streets and roads and compel them to come in! In context, once they did this...Jesus taught in the most creative and memorable way anyone had ever seen. He knew that the greatest message deserved the great packaging. We cannot minimize our responsibility to bring excellence everywhere we can!
Now, here is the challenge. FINDING BALANCE! Balance between our part and God's part! In my opinion, one without the other will not be effective or sustainable.
God's part: The book of Acts and the start of the early church leaves me with a really clear conclusion. We will receive power to be witnesses and many will be added to our number when the holy spirit comes on us!!! So, the move, power and presence of the Holy Spirit is the answer to church growth. We need to be seeking the Lord in fervent prayer. We must seek the presence, power and gifts of the Holy Spirit of God! The greatest church services, small groups, messages and music in the world without the touch of Almighty God are just another business venture. Might make it a while, but will likely fail.
Now....dream a radical dream with me for just a moment. WHAT IF every church in the world decided that the balance of our part and God's part was important enough to take seriously. Imagine what would happen if churches and church leaders spent 50% of their time on their part and 50% of their time seeking the Lord as He does his part? What would happen if we actually got this right? If you think that churches are spending anywhere near 50% of their time and energy calling down the presence of God, seeking Him in prayer and listening to His voice, you are cordially invited to crawl out from the rock that you are under. We spend the huge majority of our time and energy operating in our own strength (and pleasing the reached). I wonder how many lost people would flood our doors if we made this one change with how we spend our time.
I welcome your thoughts on this one. I will likely write on this more one day. Maybe in a book.
Well, due to a recent gracious gift to make the van look better, we went ahead and fixed the peeling paint. I just picked it up from the body shop this afternoon.
It looks good now....good enough to put our name on the side! Yippee! I am sharing a picture.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Well, yesterday I attended Nicole Lindo's graduation ceremony (GO NICOLE!!) and I was inspired with even more ideas.
Today it all came together. It was 10 years ago Saturday that I graduated from Lanham Christian School. I am really excited about sharing 10 life lessons that I have learned in the last 10 years. I want to post them now, but I can't let all the cats out of the bag. Here is a preview...here are 3 of the 10 lessons that I will share.
- The local church is THE HOPE for our broken world! Find one, get involved and help them make it happen.
- It pays to discover that you CANNOT afford a relationship with Visa. Credit card applications are about to flood in! RIP THEM UP!!
- The place that you let Jesus Christ take in your life, will determine the place that your life takes you.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
If you really need me to post about the strengths of this great church, just let me know....but I trust that if you know me a sliver, you know how dearly I love this place and how honored I am to serve it!
Full of hope,
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Love you and appreciate the many friends that read in!
OK, so this is my blog and I am going to be real on it! That was the deal from the day I started this thing. Sometimes, I need to write out some frustration. Sunday was a tough day! Period. I got resistance and negativity and complaining thrown at me from several different directions before and between services. It was all that I could do to get up and preach...actually...it was God who did it. This is one of those times when I could truly say...BUT GOD! Without Him, I could not have done it!
Now, here is the cool part. God was so good that for every force of opposition that came on Sunday, there was one life change that happened (at least that I am aware of--I am sure there were more). I had 4 very difficult emotional exchanges on Sunday and then had the chance to pray with 4 people and see God doing something spectacular in them! I even got a letter from one lady whose life was uniquely touched.
So, here is my prayer: God, please help me to focus more of my energy on the 4 lives that were touched for you on Sunday, than the 4 people who are mad about changes in the church that they don't like. I know what the enemy wants. Help me to do what you want!
I have a responsibility to lead that is a heavy one. Certainly heavier than I know. I know that I know that I know that God has great and mighty things in store for HIS church at Capital Christian Fellowship. But, I am going to share something with you that is pretty transparent for a blog, but what do I have to lose with honesty? Sometimes I feel like I am at a loss as to how to handle and address negativity, complaining and gossip in the church. It is so pervasive. In so many churches. Oh, how I wish I could tell you that it was not present at CCF, but it is! If you are unaware of this as a problem at CCF, then GLORY TO GOD!! Keep pressing! If you are aware of this as an issue at CCF, hear this....I want so desperately for people in this community to learn to live Matthew 18 and for gossip to become unaccepted and out of place in this church!
Is there anything you can do to help? I am looking for people who are willing to change their own ways, confront others in love when they gossip or at minimum pray that God will root this sin out of His church! I think that too many Pastors are unwilling to admit problems and ask for help in solving them. I am asking you today! Can you help? I have been asking God and will keep asking HIM every day!
Thanks for letting me share. May God help us. His plans are for our good and He has made that so clear. May we not get in the way of it!
Monday, May 26, 2008
Oh, and there was another first yesterday as well...the first time that Tricia and I have ever gone to amusement park and not ridden a single adult ride. Man, we didn't even see one! Parenting changes everything! We got huge fun watching him have fun!
Friday, May 23, 2008
- What do God the Father, Jesus, the Apostle Paul, Mommy's and Daddy's all have in common? Lost children make their blood pump, hearts beat, and passion increase.
- We must do whatever it takes to seek and save the lost.
- Problem: many churches are not seeking and saving the lost, they are seeking and saving the saved.
- Jesus was called a friend of sinners. If we are not close to people that are far from God, then maybe we are not as close to God as we think we are!
- The favor of God is when God does something for us that we could never do for ourselves.
- The office is the place that I go now to get nothing done!
- Read Isaiah 55:8-9 and you will find out that our dreams and visions are 13.2 billion miles away from God's dreams and ideas. We need to start confessing the smallness of our dreams.
- If ever there was a dreamer, it was Jesus!! It was He who decided that he wanted to reach EVERYONE EVERYWHERE (Matt. 28:18-20)! That is a dream!!
- Excellent time at the Whiteboard Sessions yesterday. Will post about it real soon.
- Great time with my son today. I love Fridays with him!
- Did a wedding rehearsal tonight and marrying the couple tomorrow. I have know her for 10 years and he attended CCF for the last year until he moved to SC to be near her.
- Really tired.
- Hope Davis lets us sleep in tomorrow. 7:30 or 8:00 would be superb!! :-)
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Months ago, I got us tickets for a one day conference event called The Whiteboard Sessions. 1 day, 8 Speakers, 30 minutes each....bringing their best ministry and leadership stuff! This should be good. Thankful that Nelson, Mike, Lew and my friend and local Pastor Ben Rainey could come along today. See ya!
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
It moved me. I watched the man walk away, the cop stared at the man, looked moved and encouraged. Probably made his day. What if we all thanked public service people more often? Wish you could have been here to see this.
- I have not been satisfied that first service attendance has not grown in 2 years.
- 8:30am is really early!! For most people.
- 8:30am is practically impossible for families with kids. (that's enough rationale...but I will give more)
- 8:30am is really early for the Worship Team who arrives at least an hour early for sound check and warm up.
- 8:30 is really early for Ushers and Greeters and Kids workers.
- In a recent survey, more the 50% of the people polled thought that 9:30 would be better for them than 8:30.
- 9:30 allows us to launch a strong (equally excellent) kids ministry for first service (where it has only been second service)
- In that same survey, more than 75% of the people polled thought that the best way to grow first service was to offer kid's ministry.
- People who usually attend second service, may find that they would prefer to attend first service now that it is not as early...causing it to grow.
- We have not honestly had 2 identical services....first service is often not as __________ as second. (blank is intentional...not sure what to put in it....but we want them equal in quality and excellence.)
- We need to set both services up to grow at equal rates so that we can steward our parking and seating most efficiently.
- I recently read in a book that if we keep meeting in the same time, same room and same day...we might start expecting the same thing. Makes me think about churches....that have the identical service every week (with the exception of a different song title and message title). Maybe a new time will usher in new things! We'll see.
Well, I miss seeing Anna Mae around. I write about her today to remind you who know her to pray for her. She is serving in Guatemala.
I was also told that she is a regular blog reader... from all the way in Guatemala. So, Anna...if you are reading this...we love you!
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Monday, May 19, 2008
Several meaningful principles emerged from this text. In order for us to enter the land that God has destined for us as a church, we must:
- Get going! ...because every square inch matters. Let's not miss out on a sliver of what he has ordained for us. Every square inch matters....every life matters!
- Toughen up! God found it necessary to say "be strong and courageous" THREE TIMES in nine verses. Hint, hint. Possessing the land must not be easy work if God has to tell us 3 times to toughen up.
- Live Scripture! If we stay close to the word of God, the God of the word will stay close to us.
We must not wait (40 years) for a disobedient generation to die off for us to enter the land that God wants to give us! God's chosen people did!
Too many churches are either all old or all young. All black or all white. All traditional or all contemporary. I think that God has a unique call for us as a unique church to embrace our great elders and our great history and proceed into our great future as a church. And the mission is too important to delay 40 years over grumbling and complaining (like the Israelites did).
I think that this is a bold word for lots of churches...get along, get your focus off yourself and get going....there is land to possess...and the mission is too urgent to wait 40 years.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
- God strongly impressed on my heart what I was to preach on this morning. Joshua was the inspiration. Felt like CCF needed some more preparation for inheriting the land that God has promised us. Will share more in another post.
- Worship this morning was thick. God has some great things in store for us as we keep pressing in. It has been too long since I have been unable to stand. I had to hit the floor this morning and it was not optional. I want so badly to pray in the spirit and worship like this more often. Lord, teach me to...teach us to. This morning was special.
- Change is not easy. We know that. Been feeling the Lord challenging me to keep challenging us to move in our purpose with good attitudes regardless of change that may not suit us. I am seeing some struggles, but I am also seeing some victories. God is with us and will stay with us. We need to remain strong and courageous...as God instructed His people in Joshua.
- I have a definite sense that we are moving in GOD'S direction as a church. Man, does that feel like a good place to be. The road ahead will not be all easy....but after all, who promised it would be. Certainly not Jesus.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Friday, May 16, 2008
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Gasoline is 4 dollars a gallon. Are you kidding me?
Ben, when I was a kid I used to mow lawns. I could fill the gas can up for $2.50. Last night I filled my gas can up. $15.75. Are you kidding me?!?!?!?!
Well, today while calling our visitors, I met a man who absolutely loved CCF this past Sunday. He remarked that it was well worth his 2 hour walk home! After church, he had no ride and didn't know anyone, so he walked home to Riverdale. 2 hours! he said it was worth it and he will be back this week to do it again! Are you kidding?!?! Well, as you can imagine...he will not be walking anymore. We are linking him up with a ride.
Man, it makes you feel like God is up to something here when people will walk 2 hours to be a part of it! This really moved me and I wanted to share it with you. You just never know the stories unfolding around us.
Here is where we are going: CLICK HERE!
This is a great honor for several reasons. The students pick who they want to speak, so it feels great to know that the trips over there have made a difference. It is an honor to speak at the MY HIGH SCHOOL's graduation 10 years to the day after I graduated. How cool! Finally, the graduation is held at Trinity Assembly of God in Lanham. This is the church that I spent the first 15 years of my life at. It will be wild to speak from the pulpit I stared at as a kid.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
The writer of Deuteronomy realizes the importance of our impact on children….
Deut. 6:4-9: 4 “Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. 5 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. 6 And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. 7 Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. 8 Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders.
Two important things this text spoke to me about:
1. Most of what your child needs to know about Jesus is going to be "caught" not "taught".
I am afraid that too many parents leave biblical teaching up to the church assuming that commitment to Christ is only TAUGHT...while they forget that MUCH MORE IS CAUGHT….and the catching is going on at home with the people that mean that most to them. They are watching!
2. Spend time with your family, because QUANTITY= QUALITY!
You know you can bowl a 300 game every time if you really wanted to. Take the ball, walk down the lane and bowl from 15 ft. instead of 60 ft.! Error increases with distance. Important to be near our families often--so we can teach spiritual values. Remember, you can rarely predict a teachable moment.
--A little something for the Parents to think about today.
Anyway, I wanted to offer a quick tip about commenting. If you DO NOT have a google account AND you have wanted to comment, but do not feel like setting up an account...
Then, simply click to leave a comment, select "anonymous" and then write your comment and sign your name to it. That way, although it will say that the comment is from anonymous, we will still know who it is from.
That may help some of you. Peace. Gonna be working offsite today on my message for Sunday.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Just thought I would let my blog readers know....because I mentioned my sabbatical in my blog before and recently a few people have reminded me that I will be leaving on Sabbatical soon....and I will not be.
Love you all!
Monday, May 12, 2008
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Well, before this Mother's Day comes to a close, I wanted to give a BIG LOUD I LOVE YOU AND THANK YOU to my mom and my wife. They are my 2 biggest fans and much of the reason that I am where I am and who I am. Love you, Mom! Love you, Tricia!
Saturday, May 10, 2008
- First Impressions are lasting. The most likely entry point for people into your church for believers and the unchurched is through your Sunday morning Worship Services (Large Groups). So, create irresistible and excellent environments for adults and young people to experience Christ and be sure that the experience CLEARLY invites them to take their next step!
- Real life Change happens in circles not rows! People must be connected to a Small Group in order to be most connected to God and Others.
- Serve the Vision. Every person should want to serve in a place of ministry in the church....that promotes one of the 2 above (large group or small groups).
- Do less for more! Concentrating on doing a few strategic things with excellence will produce greater results than doing many good things well (or with mediocrity).
- To reach people no on else is reaching, we must do things that no one else is doing! Takeaway: Stop reaching the reached. Become preoccupied as a church with those you have not reached as opposed to those you are trying to keep.
- The next generation product (how to be effective in ministry) almost never comes from the previous generation. Each generation needs to take the previous ones seriously, because young people know what will work for them more than I do. Give them rope. They WILL definitely mess up, but it will be worth it. Takeaway: Be a student not a critic. Fund it, don't fight it!
- What do I believe is impossible to do in my field, but if it could be done, would fundamentally change my business? Takeaway: Pay attention to the people breaking the rules.
- When your memories exceed your dreams, the end is near. Takeaway: Don't let success or momentum overshadow vision. Keep vision out in front.
Friday, May 9, 2008
Choosing to Trust:
Often there are unexplainable gaps between what we expect people to do and what they actually do. When those gaps appear:
- We CHOOSE what to put in the gap.
- Our choices determine the INTEGRITY of the relationship.
- We can choose to fill the gap with trust or suspicion.
There are 3 commitments we need to make in choosing to trust:
- When there is a gap between what I expect and what I experience, I will fill it with TRUST.
- When I observe someone filling a gap with suspicion, I will come to your DEFENSE.
- If what I experience begins to erode my trust, I will come directly to YOU about it!
To be trustworthy does NOT mean that you are flawless. It simply means that you are worthy of trust. Trustworthy people address the gaps they create! There are 3 commitments we need to make in being trustworthy:
- I will do what I say....and when I don't, I will tell you!
- I commit not to over promise and under deliver. But, if it looks like that is where things are headed, I will tell you.
- If you confront me about the gaps that I have created, I will tell you the truth.
Every one of these weddings means many hours of work already done leading up to the big day with premarital counseling and such. A lot of work and time goes into marrying couples, but it is always really cool to share such special moments with them. Hey, just last night, we were at Small Group with 2 couples that I have married. They are some of our closest friends! How cool!
With being away 3 days and the playing sermon prep and catch-up and be-with-family, I have fallen behind on other things...like my house, blogging and exercising.
Gotta get back in my groove!
Thursday, May 8, 2008
If I make enough progress on my message, I hope to blog some of my key takeaways from "Drive". Talk to you later!
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Anyway...back to last night. We arrived at the Brown's Bridge Church and had a big barbecue and tours of the building and then loaded into their auditorium for a night of fun. After listening to a great bluegrass band, a smart car (tiny little vehicle) drove onto the stage and out stepped Jeff Foxworthy (comedian and host of popular show "Are You smarter than a 5th Grader?"). He did an hour long comedy show for a room full of Pastors and Church Leaders. It was incredible. He actually did an awesome job and even got serious and talked about his commitment to Christ. He attends North Point Community Church.
Heading into our final session today. Conference ends at 2:30. We fly home this evening. I look forward to sharing some of the highlights with you later.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Sunday, May 4, 2008
- Breaking normality with a few days away.
- Learning new things.
- Gaining new tools for ministry especially related to Small Groups.
- Hearing Andy Stanley speak (3x).
- Observing North Point in Action.
- Hanging out with Nelson and Mike.
I am totally blessed and inspired my my Mom and Dad. They are an example of God's design for marriage! Never perfect, but always faithful. Not always easy, but always hopeful. Not taking the glory for making it 40 years, but giving it to the Lord Jesus Christ! Mom and Dad cried from the moment they got in the door last night until the end. It was so moving and so meaningful. I do not take for granted the parents that God put over me.
My siblings are spectacular people as well. I love growing older and maturing with them. They are more than my siblings, they are my friends. I am thankful for them today, too!
We sent the parents off to Williamsburg, VA for 3 days. That's where they went on their Honeymoon 40 years ago.