Saturday, October 31, 2009

Why I LIKE Halloween!

I know that many Christians take a stand against Halloween. Today, I want to tell you why this Pastor LIKES Halloween. (Note: I am OK with you disagreeing with me on this. Really.)

There are plenty of things that I do NOT like about Halloween, especially as a Christ Follower. At our home, we don't celebrate Halloween. We celebrate "Costume and Candy Day"! No ghosts, demons, devils or evil costumes. Davis is going to be a cowboy. When I was a kid, I was Moses one year and Noah another. Original, huh?

Well, let me tell you what I do like about Halloween:
  1. It is fun to play dress up if you are a kid. Stretches the imagination and builds excitement. Why not?
  2. I like that generosity is expressed by so many on this day. Free candy! Win!
  3. What other time in the year do you get to walk up to 50+ of your neighbors doors, find them home, they open their door to you, and you get to make a connection in the name of kids? Powerful opportunity! This year, I plan to get some names, write them down in my iPhone as I walk away and call them by name next year.
  4. What other night of the year will 50+ kids come knocking on your door? We plan to make some connections and get to know our neighbors better tonight! Amazing opportunity! We are going to be giving every kid 2 nice pieces of candy taped to an invitation to CCF (our church)!!
Bottom line for me: To skip Halloween in the name of being a Christian is to skip one of the greatest opportunities to begin making a difference in your neighborhood for Christ! I'm not spiritual enough yet to miss that opportunity.

Friday, October 30, 2009

50+=Massive Potential

Let me make this really plain. Recently, God has been strongly showing me the value of those in their later years! Our youth obsessed culture has impacted church culture. The truth is that we need all ages, all people, all perspectives to bring beauty and balance to the good work that the Holy Spirit wants to do among us. CCF is a church that celebrates our diversity. Our generational diversity is an added invaluable bonus to the DNA of this great church!

I mentioned this (rather boldly) in a recent message, but I LONG to see the elders and folks in their later years rise up, see their value, and be utilized for massive kingdom impact! Too many churches are one skin color and too many churches are one age group. Not CCF! We need to think this through and figure out to capitalize on the gifts that the Lord has given us.

Leviticus 19:32 says "Rise in the presence of the aged; show respect for the elderly and revere your God!"
  • Loads of wisdom.
  • Wealth of experience.
  • Discretionary time.
  • Depth of faith.
  • Discretionary resources.
  • Hunger for value.
  • Desire to feel needed.
  • Balance to youth.
  • Mentoring possibilities out the ears!
These are just some of the many reasons that we need to pay more attention to this ever important population of the body of Christ and see them fully engaged in mission.

Watch this! It is 9 minutes and worth it.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Think in YEARS!

I have no problem admitting that I have had a lot of growing up to do over the past years. Still got some ways to go. But, the older I get, the easier it becomes to recognize maturity for what it is. I think that it is healthy to recognize when you're growing up and then thank God for the wisdom he gives. Well, God has been slowly building this into me...

Living with long term perspective drastically impacts short term results and changes how you lead/live.

For too long, I thought in terms of days, weeks or months. Maybe it's something I want to work on at home. Or a new ministry I want to launch at the church. Or a goal I wish to attain. There are few things in life of any real value that are attained in days, weeks or even months.

I think that we need to train ourselves to begin thinking in years more often:
  • 1 Year
  • 3Years
  • 5 Years
  • 10 Years
Chill out and give yourself the permission to think in years! It is powerful. It allows you to lead and live more incrementally, strategically and patiently.

Possible hypothetical examples:
  • We plan to launch a Men's ministry within the next several years.
  • We hope to get out of debt within 2 years.
  • I want to lose 2 pounds a month for the next 3 years.
  • I hope to gain more trust and relational equity at the church over the next 3-4 years.
  • I long to disciple him/her over the next several years.
I really believe that it builds maturity and character when we learn that REAL GOOD STUFF does not happen fast.

So, the word for today is to chill out and think in years!

(Note to self: Come back and read this the next time I am stressing and rushing.)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Making up for lost time

Do you ever wonder why you go through so much junk? Last week a friend of mine posted their Facebook status update like this: "...Is wondering how to define enough?"

You know, God is full of grace; grace that we won't ever fully understand. This morning, as I was reading some Psalms, one particular verse jumped off the page for me. I felt like I needed to share it with you. It is for someone today:

Psalm 90:15- "Give us gladness in proportion to our former misery! Replace the evil years with good."
  • You ever feel like you have had enough? God can and will replace your former misery with gladness. Wait on him. It's coming.
  • And check this out: my favorite three words of this verse are, " proportion to..."!! Have you had lots of misery? God wants to give you lots of gladness. Hang in there. Maybe the rule is: the more your misery now, the more your gladness later.
  • You ever feel like you wasted years on "evil"? Are you still living with any past regret? This verse is an encouragement that God has the power over your past. He can REPLACE the evil years with good ones. Trust him for that today.
No one knows how to make up for lost time like God does!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Move Ahead (Repost)

At the beginning of this year, the Lord gave this word to us through our Bishop, Glenn. The Lord reminded me to reflect on it again today. I am seeing it come to fruition more and more. I know more of the truth of this word TODAY than I did in January. Here it

At the end of the service [January] this past Sunday, our Bishop Glenn approached Pastor Nelson and I and shared what he believed to be a prophetic word for us. It was powerful and I have been thinking and praying into it all week.

Here is the thumbnail sketch:
  • God is bringing an increased anointing onto us.
  • God is developing increased character in us.
  • The things that we see happening at CCF are merely a fractional sign of what is coming.
  • We need to actively rest in what God is about to do. (Not passively rest.)

Then, here is the part that has been shaping me most:

In this season of economic and societal "pulling back", there will be abundant fruitfulness for those whomove forward into God's purposes! We should not faithlessly hoard and retreat, but rather faithfully move ahead into the future that God has for us. The economy of God is not the economy of the world! Move forward, don't pull back. But, move forward in a confident humility and a resting in the fact that God may want to be revealing himself most in a time where people can depend on stuff the least!

Did you know that the Australian seal has an Emu and a Kangaroo in it? Neither of these animals can move backwards. It speaks to their desire as a land to be always moving ahead...

Keep working in us Lord!

Monday, October 26, 2009

A BIG day!

We've been waiting for this day for 7 years! 7 years ago today, our dear friend Rich was incarcerated for poor choices that cost him 7 years of his life and a lot of pain. There was a day that I wondered if he would ever breathe the same air as us. After a transformational forgiveness journey, our relationship is renewed and strong!

This morning at 8:00am, he will be released from Jail! At his request, and our joy, Tricia and I will be there with his Mom and Stepdad in about an hour.

There are loads of lessons that Rich has learned and he wants other people to learn from his own experiences as well. As time goes by, he hopes to use his story to make a difference in other lives.

We are rejoicing this morning, with a tinge of nervousness. We have seen amazing growth in him over the years! We believe that God is full of grace and redemption and he loves restoring people. It's one of his favorite things to do! And Tricia and I are honored to play a part in it.

Today will be exciting. Lots of firsts for Rich that I cannot wait to experience with him:
  • First time in a restaurant in 7 years!
  • First time to ever touch an iPod!
  • First time to see the neighborhood and area that he has lived in for 7 years!
  • First road trip in 7 years.
  • First time that he will have walked the streets with full honesty and disclosure of who he is and what he has experienced. Something freeing about that.
He already told us that the first step is McDonald's....of all places. ;-)

Pray with us for this day and Rich's journey ahead. Prayer works!!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

"The Church of Facebook"

Last Monday, I saw that this book was just published; "The Church of Facebook" by Jesse Rice. I asked Tricia to order it for me (ordering things online is one of my least favorite things to do). It arrived Thursday. I finished it this morning.

Overall opinion of the book: Not my favorite. It was a pretty big let down. If you are a Facebook hater, then you would love it. But, if you, like me, see Facebook's redemptive and endless possibilities for impact, you won't love this book.
  • Rice spends the lion share of the book talking about the negative impact of Facebook on humanity, and vice versa.
  • Contrary to the misleading title, he never discusses anything regarding how Facebook and the church can work together.
  • The majority of the book is really about how Facebook makes the individual relationally inapt.

I am NOT saying that some of his points did not have value. They did. I learned stuff, for sure. And was even convicted a few times. I AM saying that I did not think that he brought a balanced perspective. He basically believes that:
  • Facebook is where people create false pictures of who they are, essentially deceiving others.
  • We are hyper-connected making relationships very weak and meaningless.
  • The rapid fire Facebook updates are negatively forming our communication approach.
  • Friendship=private sharing and growth. Public friendship is an oxymoron.
  • Facebook addiction is leading to CPA (continuous partial attention). This is different from multi-tasking. When we multi-task, we are motivated by a desire to be more efficient and productive. In the case of CPA, we are motivated by a desire not to miss anything.
  • The mix of public and private stuff that is found on Facebook makes things blurry for people more often than they realize.
  • Rice addressed how FB negatively impacts our privacy, authority, romances, jobs, peers, time management, personal identity, and future.
  • The "tethered self" refers to people that are addicted to mobile technology and are "always on." (like me, if I am not careful)
  • The "always on" tendencies prevent us from being fully present in the moment. We can ignore the here and now for the people "out there." Do not ignore "what's new" for "what's now"!

He did have some profound insights as well:

  • The vision of Facebook: to turn Facebook into the planet's standardized communication (and marketing) one worldwide platform where you can just type in anyone's name, find the person you are looking for and communicate with them.
  • In the first quarter of 2009, 5 million people joined Facebook ever week.
  • Facebook's membership doubled in the last year, from 100 million to 200 million.
  • Facebook's founder, Mark Zuckerberg has a vision and not even $15 Billion dollars would deter him.
  • The author makes a compelling case that we are made for connection! But, there is a difference between community and connection. We can find connection on Facebook. Community requires a whole lot of other dynamics that we cannot get on a computer screen.
  • Older population is joining Facebook at massive rates.
  • Beware to never live in response to a thousand imagined voices instead of your own heart.

In a very short period of time (5 years), a very large population (several hundred million and counting) has been synchronized (pulled into the orbit of a single web platform called Facebook). And what kind of gravity is capable of accomplishing such a feat? The human need for home!

Facebook offers a sense of "Home" for many:
  1. Home is where we keep all the stuff that matters most to us. (pictures, videos, beliefs, memories, friends, family, opinions, likes, dislikes...we can decorate our wall however we want)
  2. Home is wherever we find family. (instantly and globally get the family all on one page!)
  3. Home is where we feel safe because we can control the environment. (we can confirm and ignore our way to comfort)
  4. Home is where we can "just be ourselves."

My wife told me to write another book with a similar title to explore the positives of Facebook, to bring balance to this one. I'm tempted.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Resting in PA

I've been back in the saddle at the church for a little over 2 months now, after 75 days away. Confession: I am pretty tired already. I do not think that's a sign of my lack of stamina, but more a sign of the intensity of ministry over the last few months. A lot weighing on me recently both seen and unseen. Good stuff though, and God has been super faithful!

So...I am actually really, really excited to spend the weekend at a campground up here in Lancaster County, PA. You can read more about why we are here by reading my earlier blog post, HERE!

Plan to REST, enjoy my babies, play games, sip coffee, and grow closer to the 15 people that are here with us. It is rainy, but the leaves are prettier up here then down in MD.

My hope is that....the sun will come out, tomorrow, bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow, there'll be sun...

When is the last time that you took 2-3 days of rest? When is the next time that you will? It is important. Plan it!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Jesus Messiah, Dave's Highway

This is amazing! Tricia posted this on her blog and I wanted to repost it! Wow!

Who stole my fruit?

Mark 4: 1-20 contains a parable of a seed sower. Seed is thrown out by the farmer and it falls on 4 different types of soil:
  1. The sidewalk
  2. Rocky ground with little soil
  3. Good soil (about to become bad because of thorns)
  4. Fertile soil
Let me zero in on something fascinating me right now. Pastor TC and I discussed this at length yesterday in our one on one meeting. The seed that ended up GROWING and then being choked out, fell on GOOD SOIL. It took root and started growing, but THORNS choked it out and ruined it.

To the crowd, Jesus simply said:

Mark 4:7- "Other seed fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants so they produced no grain."

When he got the disciples alone, Jesus expounded on what he meant and said:

Mark 4:18-19- The seed that fell among the thorns represents others who hear and accept the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things, so no fruit is produced.

Interesting that Jesus did not reveal the totality of what he meant to the "whole church", but rather a trusted few.

Let me get to my main point...

First of all, let me say that I have a bias. I believe that most Christians are unfortunately the 3rd soil type! They hear the message....and it gets choked out.

What stopped fruit from being produced in the 3rd type of soil (and essentially believers now)?
  1. Worries of this life
  2. Lure of wealth
  3. Desire for other things
This is a PROFOUND list! Take a moment. Think about each of these fruit robbers? Usually we want to know who stole something from us. In this case, it's what stole something from us? Worry? Wealth? Desire for more?

Does one of these apply to you? Or 2? Or 3?

Is it possible that if we were delivered from these 3 thorns that we begin reaping a "...huge harvest, thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times what had been planted?" Mark 4:20

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Read 2 chapters and call me in the morning...

When you are physically ill, you go to the Doctor. He looks at you, listens to you, asks questions, does some exploratory work, and then he tells you what is wrong and how to make it right. You have xyz sickness...take abc medicine for x amount of time, and then let's see how you're feeling.

Well, Jesus is often referred to as the Great Physician and in Isaiah we see that "by his stripes we are healed." It was evident in his earthly ministry, that Jesus was intensely focused on healing. That is a whole nutha' issue that has been bothering me. Why isn't physical healing more a part of our ministry today if it was such a huge component of Jesus's? Anyway...more on that later...

As a Pastor, I meet with a lot of people that need significant emotional and spiritual healing. And more and more, I see my role quiet similar to that of a Doctor. I listen, ask questions, examine symptoms, and then prescribe some things. Perhaps something like this:
  1. Take time twice a day to pray and cast all your cares upon God in prayer.
  2. Read the Bible for 30 minutes each day.
  3. Connect to a Small Group.
Once you have done those things for 4 weeks, let's meet again and see how you're doing! (sorry no spiritual quick fixes)

Here's what I am finding: if the doctor prescribes you medicine, you immediately get it filled and start taking it. If a Pastor prescribes you medicine, we are not as inclined to act as fast.

Look, I believe that some folks just need a prescription for a few steps that jump start their spiritual battery. I'm fully convinced that many people just do not know where to start. That's why we are here. If you know someone that needs this type of help, why don't you reach out and make some suggestions into their healing....which comes from the Lord!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Pray With Your Eyes Open

Over the last year I have noticed that I pray with my eyes open more often. Honestly, I am not really sure where he whole "bow your head and close your eyes" thingy came from, but I am approaching things differently these days.

I know that closing our eyes can block out distraction and show reverence (somehow). I get that (I think).

In China and many other places around the world, one's safety can be in jeopardy if they are "caught" praying. So they naturally pray with their eyes open.

But, the Bible says "Watch and Pray..." (Matthew 26:41)

Last night at Small Group, we were reading this: "Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers..." (Eph. 6:18)

Here's my point: Lately, I have been appreciating praying observantly! I want to see what God is doing. I want to watch him move.

We don't shut our eyes when we talk to anyone else. Can you imagine if we did?!?! Why do we do it to God?? How rude. ;-)

PS- Isn't the praying baby cute?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Breakout Churches

Last week, I read the book "Breakout Churches" by Thom Rainier. Loved it! A friend of mine recommended it and it could not have been more on time. This book is basically a carbon copy of Jim Collin's "Good to Great", but for churches.

Key takeaways for me:
  • Vision is found when 3 things intersect: The passions of the leaders, the gifts and passion of the congregation and the needs of the community.
  • I feel that God is saying that we are in a preparation time. It is a parallel journey for CCF and it’s people. I am seeing it all over the place. A time of intense spiritual growth, calling and preparation for the powerful future he intends. This hard work will take discipleship and TIME!
  • God is wanting to give me personal long term perspective that will allow me to lead incrementally and patiently.
  • When dealing with difficult decisions, remember: closure, compassion and communication. Beat the lies of the rumor mill with the publicity of the truth.
  • It is a lie to believe that we can just put some catchy slogan on the wall and people will follow it.
  • I think that we should feel and know vision long before we write it. It is birthed out of the good work of the Holy Spirit in this community of faith!
  • We need to create a culture of permission and a climate of openness.
  • We are not reaching our potential. There is so much more.
  • Do we discover vision? Or does vision discover us?
  • Everything takes time! The kind of transition and call to anointed ministry that I am sensing the Lord has for CCF will not be grown into in a short time. It will take years!
  • Everything we do needs to be for the church of JESUS and IT’S future. Considering the church and the community we are in, it needs to outlive us...what we plant may be reaped by the next generation.
  • No more rushing!!! Beware of dates and deadlines right now. But seek passionately, and reject any scent of complacency.
  • CCF: What do we do? Why do we do it? How do we do it?
  • No church can ever carry out ALL the passions of its leaders.
  • Vision is dynamic.
  • It is better for a vision to be lived out and not written, then written and not lived out.
There was so much more...lemme stop.

Where should I start reading the Bible?

It is amazing how many people have been asking me this recently. Where do I begin reading the Bible? What books should I begin with? Heck, 15 minutes ago, I had this exact conversation with 2 of the ladies that clean our facility. This question shows me that there is progress being made. YES!!!!

Here is my advice for what it's worth. If you are NOT currently reading the Bible on a regular basis (I define that by 5 or more days a week), then I would do this:
  1. Get up 3o minutes earlier than you normally do and go to a quiet comfortable chair in your house.
  2. Open up a version of the Bible that you can understand. (The Message or the New Living Translation are my favorite.)
  3. Read Psalms. Helps you deal with and relate to LIFE and GOD!
  4. Read Proverbs. Helps you relate to LIFE and PEOPLE!
  5. Read Mark. Helps you see what Jesus was up to and committed to in his time on earth!
  6. Underline things that speak to you and write questions in the margins or a journal.
  7. Repeat.
  8. Repeat again.
  9. Repeat again.
Come back and ask me for a next step in a year or two! Seriously. The journey of discipleship and learning scripture cannot be measured in months. It takes years. There are no shortcuts to growing in your faith! Welcome aboard.

From Pastor Noah, A sinner in need of a savior and a man who is a mess without the alignment of the Word every day!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

God of This City!

LOVE this song! I claim this for our City in Jesus name!

Friday, October 16, 2009

It Is Time!

It is time for you to stop living your life to make everyone accept you.

It is time for you to stop trying to appease everyone’s feelings.

It is time for you to stop hiding behind the mask.

It is time for you to stop acting like you are happy when you know you need prayer.

It is time for you to stop playing games with the Lord and really approach His throne in sincerity.

It is time for you to be who God formed, created and called you to be.

It is time for you to walk in the promises of God.

It is time for you to stop allowing people to walk over you.

It is time for you to stand up and be responsible.

It is time for you to stop agonizing over things you cannot control or change.

It is time for you to stop crying over people you cannot change.

It is time for you to declare and decree your blessings.

It is time for you to go forth and stop waiting on people who do not want to go with you.

It is time for you to be who God wants you to be and not what everyone else desires to make you.

(I got this in an email this week and I thought it was pretty inspiring.)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Finger of God

Why are you worried? There is power in the very FINGER OF GOD!!

The Bible blows me away with some of the things that it shows us about God. Here is one of those cool things that I have recently appreciated as I read it in scripture. Then, our Worship Leader (My Brother, Caleb) read a passage Sunday during worship that reminded me of it!

God is so powerful, that even his finger has more ability than we could conjure up in our whole body! Check this out:

Exodus 8:19 says: "The magicians said to Pharaoh, "This is the finger of God."

Exodus 31:18 says: "When the LORD finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the Testimony, the tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God."

Deuteronomy 9:10 says: "The LORD gave me two stone tablets inscribed by the finger of God..."

Isaiah 40:12 says: "Who else has held the oceans in his hand? Who has measured off the heavens with his fingers?"

Psalm 8:3 says: "When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—the moon and the stars you set in place..."

Luke 11:20 says: "But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you."

I believe that there is healing and hope in even the finger of God!

Intimacy with Jesus = Everything

Every day, I am more convinced that increased intimacy with Jesus = everything!

I believe that:
  • The closer you get to God, the more joy you have.
  • The closer you get to God, the more clarity you have.
  • The closer you get to God, the more confidence you have.
  • The closer you get to God, the more humility you have.
  • The closer you get to God, the stronger you become.
  • The closer you get to God, the more anointing you have.
  • The closer you get to God, the more honest you become.
  • The closer you get to God, the better parent you become.
  • The closer you get to God, the better spouse you become.
  • The closer you get to God, the better friend you become.
  • The closer you get to God, the more peace you attain.
  • The closer you get to God, the more he expects of you.
  • The closer you get to God, the more you realize how messed you are.
  • The closer you get to God, the more you realize how far you still have to go.
  • The closer you get to God, the easier it is to handle attacks.
  • The closer you get to God, the more clear your future becomes.
  • The closer you get to God, the more you obey him.
  • The closer you get to God, the more you hear him.
  • The closer you get to God, the more you love him.
  • The closer you get to God, the more you realize how much more HE LOVES YOU than you ever knew before!
Some of you are really, really far from God right now and need to just be honest and admit it. Trust me, you are not in the minority!

So, how do I get closer to God?
  1. Read the Bible every day!! Start with a version you like and a book that makes sense! I recommend the New Living or the Message. And Genesis, Psalms, Proverbs, Mark, and John! Hang out there for a year or something.
  2. Pray. Talk to God. Tell Him what you think, feel wonder, and worry about. And tell him what you appreciate and love about him!
Do those 2 things everyday for 6 months, and I bet you the house I am typing from that you will be a different person.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


We all need it. We all want it. Some of us need it more than others. Others of us look for it in incessantly in other people. It’s called validation.

I had the opportunity to speak at my father’s church in Georgia on Mother’s Day (Dusty Takle, not me). After I finished, I found myself needing to hear that I did a good job. I asked my Dad, “Did you get any feedback? Any response?”

What was I looking for? Validation.

We all love the attaboys and our egos being a little inflated…..for the Kingdom, of course. Ahem. But, at what point in our ministry do we minister to people for the sake of the Kingdom alone? And, at what point do we realize that the only person who can truly validate us is Jesus Christ?

If we are serving in ministry or otherwise, Jesus Christ has already validated us. If we never hear another “Amazing message!” or “Great job!” again, can we accept God’s validation and stop searching for man’s? When do we say it’s not about me? Not even the tiniest part is about me. It’s about the Kingdom. I must decrease. He must increase. We don’t need any one else to tell us who we are. Pastor Craig has said often, “You are not who people say you are. You are who God says you are.”

We are His children called according to His purpose.

I think that’s validation enough.

Do you struggle with needing validation from others?

-Dusty Takle

(Recently read this on the LifeChurch Swerve Blog. I thought that it was well done and wanted to share it. I think that encouragement is very important, but we mix "encouragement" up with "validation" and "pride" too often. Jesus, give us the humility and the confidence you had!)

Three Things Giving Should Be...

At CCF we believe biblical giving is systematic, proportional and significant. We talk about money at CCF because stewardship is part of discipleship. And our mission involves making disciples.

It's systematic in that we want our people to decide how often they're going to give and then to give, without the church always having to plead for it. In the same way that they pay their mortgage, rent and car loan on a regular basis, they should give faithfully and regularly to the church. In other words, biblical giving is consistent giving. If people are paid once a month, we suggest that they give once a month; if they are paid weekly, they could give weekly, as the Lord blesses them. The important point isn't so much when to give but that giving should be a regular habit. That way, we don't have to waste precious time in a worship service pleading for funds that our people should be giving on a regular basis without being asked.

Proportional giving teaches that if God has blessed you with much financially, then you should give much financially. If he's just blessed you a little financially, then you should just give a little. And if God has not blessed you financially at all, then you should give out of other gifts that he has blessed you with! Generosity is still a defining part of who we are called to be, regardless of income.

Significant and Meaningful
Biblical giving is sacrificial. It should change your lifestyle. If we give a convenient gift that can be given without much thought - without any prayer - if we can reach into our wallet or purse or write a check and it doesn't really change anything in terms of our values or our lifestyle, then it doesn't meet the criteria of being meaningful or significant.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Our Church Financial Situation

Capital Christian Fellowship is in a difficult place, financially right now. Giving is not equivalent to budget. We do not bring in on Sunday mornings (partners and attendees are our income) what we need to operate the church. That was not a serious problem when there was money in the bank to supplement the shortage. It is a problem when there isn't. That is where we will be very soon.

I wouldn't normally use my blog for this type of thing, but I believe that this is a time to do so. I want to publicly share where we are (which we have done at Church) and ask you to consider helping in some small way. Everything helps!
  1. Would you be willing to pray for CCF and for it's partners and attendees to see the biblical importance of giving? There are many people in our church who give nominally or not at all. If that changed, we would likely never be in this place again.
  2. Would you be willing to pray for financial blessing and outpouring for this ministry?
  3. Would you be willing to pray for me, the Staff and the Board of CCF to lead with God's wisdom, grace and confidence in the days ahead? This is a discipleship issue. And in many cases, people do not give because we do not disciple! We just assume stuff. As a young Pastor, I need to hear from God on how to disciple people best in Biblical giving...regardless of this economy. If anything, this is the time TO do it. Not, the time to avoid it.
  4. Might you pray for our Executive Board that meets all day long this Saturday to tackle these issues and likely make some tough decisions? We need the Lord!
  5. If you consider CCF your church, we hope that you will ask the Lord whether you are doing what HE is calling you to do as it relates to your financial commitment to your church. And then act.
  6. If you are doing your part, would you be willing to encourage and disciple at least one other person toward doing theirs? If half the givers, reached one giver, things would drastically change.
  7. If you wish to give NOW, you can hop on the homepage of our website, click the blue E-giving link and make a donation or set up recurring donations. JUST CLICK HERE!
Thanks for anything and everything that you may do to enhance this ministry! This church IS making a difference!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Courageous Discerners

Some people have the gift of discernment. Or at the very least, they are incredibly intuitive. They are a gift to the church. But, this is no easy gift to steward.

Some people are really courageous and willing to say hard things and do tough things. We need them too…especially in leadership in the church! Willingness to do and say what is right is not easy, especially when you look up and realize how alone you are afterwards.

But, here is a rare but powerful combination:

Courageous Discerners!

....People who hear from God and see intuitively and spiritually into people and situations.

....And THEN, have the courage to share what they are hearing.

THAT, my friends is a powerful combination. We need people like this in the church.

Are you seeing yourself here anywhere?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Pure Wisdom!

Sunday afternoon, Noah gets alone time for football and personal time while my babies sleep. Reading some blogs today, I saw this on Mark Batterson's Blog and wanted to share it. Mark wrote:

I absolutely loved Chuck Swindoll. Pure wisdom! He shared ten life and leadership lessons.

1. It's lonely to lead
2. It's dangerous to succeed
3. It's hardest at home
4. It's essential to be real
5. It's painful to obey
6. Brokenness and failure are necessary
7. My attitude is more important than my actions
8. Integrity eclipse image
9. God's way is always better than my way
10. Christlikeness begins and ends with humility

God is...

God is eternal. He antedates time and is wholly independent of it. Time began in Him and will end in Him. To it He pays no tribute and from it He suffers no change.

God is immutable. He has never changed and can never change in any smallest measure. To change, He would need to go from better to worse or from worse to better. He cannot do either, for being perfect He cannot become more perfect, and if He were to become less perfect, He would be less than God.

God is omniscient; He knows in one free and effortless act all matter, all spirit, all relationships, all events. He has no past and He has no future. He is….and none of the limiting and qualifying terms used of creatures can apply to Him.

Love and mercy and righteousness are His, and holiness so ineffable that no comparisons or figures will avail to express it.

-A.W. Tozer, Pursuit of God

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Parental Favoritism

At this point, I am still a Father of one. So, let me hurry up and write this blog post. (No, we are not....but pray that we will... in God's timing.)

I always learn a tremendous amount from the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis. There are many lessons that he can teach us. Here is one that I wanted to share. It comes from Genesis 37.

"Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons because he was the child of his old age. And he made him an elaborately embroidered coat. When his brothers realized that their father loved him more than them, they grew to hate him—they wouldn't even speak to him." -Gen. 37:3-4

Are you a parent? Are you an honest parent? Then honestly examine whether you have a "favorite". Because, your true inner feelings are telegraphed and evident...your kids will know!

Here's the most important reality as I see it:

Parental Favoritism hurts the "the favorite", the ones who aren't, and even the parents in the long run. Everyone loses.

If this applies to you or anyone you know...then, think about it and pray about it.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Size does not Legitimize

If Big = Legitimate, Jesus was a failure in his earthly ministry. More people left him than followed him and at the end of his ministry, he had practically no one! Size lies have hurt many churches and many Pastors. This guy nails this in this short video!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Philosophy of Digital Discipleship, Post 4

Social networking cannot replace face to face relationships, but it certainly should enhance them! That, in a sentence is my take on how relationships and social networking should intersect.

That said, let me bullet a few random (current) thoughts on community, connection and the online social scene. In no particular order...
  1. I CANNOT believe how Facebook has enhanced the relationships in our church (among those on it). There is so much less catch-up to play on Sunday. We know about the exam, the doctor's appointment and the sick kid, and we can check in and pick up from there. I would love to know how many times the words "hey, I saw that on facebook this week" are stated around here on a Sunday morning. (Approx. 1/3 of our Sunday attendance is on Facebook.)
  2. Relationally speaking ... I think that social networking networks need to always be seen as "in addition to" not "instead of". God intends that people engage their senses in relationship. Need some touch! In addition, if body language is such a huge part of communication, we are missing loads of the message online.
  3. Also, no one can be "friends" (in life) with everyone, but you sure can be "friends" (online) with a lot of people. There just are not enough hours in the day. In those cases, it is either be FB friends, or have no connection at all. I choose the former most of the time. You never know what the Lord may be preparing.
I think that the challenge to all of us that hang out online is to find creative and healthy ways for this medium to enhance relationships, produce healthy and life giving connections that honor Jesus. As with anything in life, we need to protect against misuse and find balance.

Next (and finally), I plan to write about excessive use, addiction, and learning some tricks that I have found help one spend less time, for more results.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Fall Weekend in Lancaster County

Church retreats have been something that CCF has done and valued through the years. Anticipating that we would have one this year, we reserved our place at Black Rock Retreat for this October 23-25. However, it has become increasingly apparent that many cannot afford it. As a result, we decided to make it an unofficial getaway weekend as opposed to an official retreat.

The weekend is available to any persons, couples or families that wish to go and have the time and resources available to go. There ARE rooms available and Lancaster County is a beautiful place to spend a fall weekend.

The dates are Friday, October 23rd-Sunday, October 25th.

If you and your family wish to go spend that weekend at the retreat center in Quarryville, PA and the surrounding area, please submit your full payment (which reserves your room) to CCF by Sunday, October 18th. You may place it in the offering or offering box in the lobby. Please attach a note with the names and ages of those you are paying for.

The cost is: $150 per adults (13-up), $75 for children 5-12, and $0 for ages 0-4 (which includes 2 nights, 5 meals and the use of the entire facility). Make the check payable to Capital Christian Fellowship.

Tricia, Davis and I and several other families still plan to go and I think that we will all really enjoy the relationship building that will happen.

Wanna Join Us?

(You can find out more about Black Rock Retreat Center at )

Philosophy of Digital Discipleship, Post 3

I just went potty. Who cares? How much personal stuff should people (maybe even specifically leaders) throw out into cyberspace? How do you balance personal and public? Figuring this out is a lifelong journey for most leaders (at the pulpit and the computer). Some err on the side of being very private (not me). Others share too much (could be me). But, I think that there can and should be a healthy balance (where I try and want to be).

Rick Warren and John Piper ascribe to this philosophy. There are 2 main responses to all this...

One says: These media tend to shorten attention spans, weaken discursive reasoning, lure people away from Scripture and prayer, disembody relationships, feed the fires of narcissism, cater to the craving for attention, fill the world with drivel, shrink the soul’s capacity for greatness, and make us second-handers who comment on life when we ought to be living it. So boycott them and write books (not blogs) about the problem.

The other response says: Yes, there is truth in all of that, but instead of boycotting, try to fill these media with as much provocative, reasonable, Bible-saturated, prayerful, relational, Christ-exalting, truth-driven, serious, creative pointers to true greatness as you can.

Read more by CLICKING HERE!

I mostly agree with this. But, I think that sharing nothing personal strongly limits the chance that I will listen to what you have to say spiritually. In short, here's my very intentional philosophy:

  • Share something personal.
  • Share several things that are spiritual.
  • Share something funny.
  • Share several things that are inspiring.
  • Be real and human.
  • Be deep and provoking.
  • Open a window into your humanity.
  • Then, point them to your savior!

I have sufficient evidence that people listen when they think they can relate. If they see you as real, they may really listen to and respond to your spiritual direction and encouragement.

I am not sure what people are hiding. We are all human. We all like a good joke. We all crave General Tso Chicken from time to time. If we are going to do life together online, then let's!

The question, then, is....where and how do we cross the line. What and where is "the line"? Thoughts? Do share.