Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Blessing of Legacy...

Last weekend I had the great privilege of performing another wedding for one of my Forerunner youth kids now-all-grown-up. Besides making me feel old(!!!), it was an awesome thing to be remembered with such affection that they asked me to be a part of their most special day.

I also had the opportunity to speak on Sunday morning at the church I used to be a youth pastor at. I founded the youth ministry there and I am sooo thrilled that not only is it still going, but from all reports it is going stronger than ever! It is not a self-centered pride that aggrandizes ones' self to say these things; for the very reason that it is still flourishing is because it was founded upon the Rock, Jesus Christ. Upon the Lord leading my family and I out of there, I was so grateful that the Senior Pastor turned the ministry over to one of my adult leaders on my team. I know it was a difficult thing for him to step into a position of heading a ministry founded and grown up by someone else, but he did so admirably and has put his own stamp of God-given uniqueness upon it all. I am sure if I attended a youth service it would be very different now than when I was there...and it should be! As long as it continues to be built upon the Rock, Forerunner will keep going strong in all of its various forms to come.

It makes me grateful for those who have come before me at West Shore Church. Though the church is very different now than it was in the past, I know that those faithful people laid a foundation that is sure and true. We are now building upon that Rock again. We are not only honoring the legacy of those that came before, but we are creating a new chapter of legacy all our own. We were put on this earth, in this place for such a time as this...and we too will be found faithful!

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Mark Batterson, lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington D.C., put this up on his blog (evotional.com) and it was too good for me not copy and share. As I face some uncertainties and growing responsibilities, this was a breath of fresh air:

Andy Stanley shared some priceless thoughts on certainty in his session at Catalyst West. He said, "The more leadership you assume the less certainty and more complexity you'll experience." Andy just says it like it is: "I will always be uncertain. I am certain of it."

Let me share one principle I shared in my lab yesterday. It was a defining moment. We were preparing to launch our second location and I was filled with uncertainly. I was reading a book titled The Next Generation Leader by Andy Stanley. One sentence changed my approach to leadership. It set me free.

"You'll never be more than 80% certain."

He has torn us to pieces...

I am tired. I feel like I have been shredded. It's too much sometimes. Ever feel like that? The weight and worry of everything is too much to carry. I believe that our nation that I love is under judgment. The experts are at a loss to explain the rapid evaporation of wealth and have no clue what to do. Everyone is watching for signs of life. In our beloved country, a recent court ruling has stated plainly what has been mostly unsaid. A judge ruled that the over-the-counter abortion pill (or morning after pill) cannot be restricted to 18+ women only. In part of the judges ruling he essentially says that science is our foundation in this country. When the Bible is removed as a foundation for a country or a person, all sense of right is suddenly relative. This of course has been going on for decades now..but we are seeing the fruit of being our own gods.

Can I tell you that I believe that our churches are being judged as well? When church becomes about something other than Jesus it ceases to be His Body. He will reclaim us. "For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household..." 1 Peter 4:17 (TNIV) People are turning away from God, hearts are growing cold, churches are shrinking as people are tired of lifeless liturgy and lukewarm faith.

And yet there is cause for great hope! God is not done yet! Not only is the empowered church of Jesus exploding in the global South and East, but God is not done with our country...not yet! If the remnant will rise up; if the people of God will repent and truly pray, then God will hear and will forgive and heal our land. (2 Chron 7.14) He will come. He will come like the Mighty Warrior. He will come and heal and restore. The people of God will once again be the light that they are called to be. For what is God's purpose in judgement, if not to restore? If not to turn us from our own self-destruction?

Hosea 6:1-3 (TNIV) “Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence. Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.”

Friday, April 17, 2009

Guidance for my misguided ways

Well, I was totally eavesdropping on the patio at Panera yesterday (cuz that's how I roll), and listened to this one lady talking. She was conveying various aspects of her life, most of which were totally jacked, and then she says "well, I'm just praying for guidance."

I found myself wondering, "How often do we ask for guidance in our misguided ways?" In other words, after we craft our own way and make a mess of things, how often do we ask God to work things out for us in our messes? Often the request is for God to make our messes a little more manageable rather than asking for forgiveness and adopting God's ways instead of our ways. We love being our own god even though we totally screw things up.

"God, I'd really like it if you would rearrange my mess pile a little, but don't get rid of it...I've grown attached to the stench of garbage"

Just give it up. Trust me, I'm a great mess maker. But I learned (and am learning) to follow God's ways in my "new life." The air is great out here!

(Thank God for His grace, but stop clinging to your garbage!)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

How much trust?

This morning I twittered a question: "How dependent on the Holy Spirit are we willing to live?" This question keeps rolling around in my own noggin. In the last several years God has certainly accelerated the necessity to answer this question in my life. Several years ago we stepped out in faith from a secure position believing that God was leading us elsewhere. We found wilderness and a situation of almost being forced to trust God beyond our ability to handle. Now we are taking an all or nothing leap of faith as a church into a new building in order to grow and impact the West Shore region. Let me be real for a sec, if this leap of faith doesn't work out, I lose my "job," my income, and won't be able to afford the house we live in. My family and I will be a statistic. So why risk it? One reason only. I feel the Lord's direction in this. By His grace, I feel continued confirmations all along the way.

I have the distinct feeling of what David must have felt looking at Goliath. I, like you, have two sides to me. On the one hand I am looking at the enormity of the risk of the situation in front of me. I see that we will need to grow substantially in a short amount of time. I see the hardship of turning around a church and recruiting others to help in this adventure. On the other hand, I feel a great offense in my spirit that anything would dare to stand in the way of God's Kingdom. To see what is happening in our country as Christians shrink back in fear and intimidation of the giant of cultural pressures, makes me want to lead the charge and kill that thing! God is not dead! He is still looking for champions who will answer the call. What made David a champion that day? Though he had been through some battles before (lion, bear), ultimately it was his trust in the Lord. He put himself at risk with no guarantees or assurances except his faith because He trusted that God would be with Him and cause him to succeed. His risk, his action, God's provision, God's power.

So...how dependent on the Holy Spirit are you willing to live? Would you risk your career to serve God on the mission field? Would you risk providing for your family to follow God's direction? Would you risk being labeled "fool" or "fanatic" to follow the voice of Jesus in a different direction? (I mean really has your way worked out better?) Would you be willing to put your stuff on the line and be part of God's answer to this generation? I say YES! Let's do this!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Method to My Madness!!

Yes there is a method to my madness, if anyone is wondering. I often cause a little bit of confusion in some people because some of the things I do are unexpected. One example is, I recently started doing a "Your Mom" slam of the day on twitter that also gets posted on my facebook. What in the world could I be thinking??? I'm a pastor after all! :) (the idea by the way came from ABC News anchor Dan Harris in some conversations we had...blame him!)

Well here's what I am thinking. Recently I became aware of yet another person who had been used by the Lord with great impact in reaching those not yet in relationship with the Lord, who has now become so (some word I need to think of) that they are living critical judgmental lives. Their effectiveness? Gone. They have no impact on the lost whatsoever...except for the delusional "good example" that they are living in front of the world.

I am fighting in my life to not only grow closer to the Lord, but also to never lose the ability to connect with the unchurched. Think about this! In the name of "sanctification" (a word the unchurched get a funky look on their face when hearing it), we cut off all contact, learn a new language and become altogether "respectable." Don't get me wrong here. There is much that must change as we become more like Jesus. There is growing in holiness and wisdom as we draw close to the Lord. But think about Jesus, our standard for what holiness means in this world. Where did He spend his time in ministry? Who did He hang out with? What type of language did He use? (I'm not suggesting by the way that Jesus went around ripping on people's moms!)

What is with the disconnect though in the life of the Christian? Does growing in holiness mean growing ineffective in evangelism? If we were to look at the life of the average seasoned Christian, then the answer in a lot of cases would be "yes." It doesn't have to be that way. I can think of several seasoned Christians that are witnessing their little tails off for the Lord and I love it! Listen! We can do everything better in Heaven except reach the lost. We will worship better, pray better, BE better. But what we cannot do is reach people for Jesus...that must happen NOW.

Resist the pressure to be "bland" for Jesus. I live my ministry life by mission. I live to glorify Jesus, equip others to: minister, grow, and "do the work of an evangelist" and live healthy Christ-centered lives; and try my best to be a connection point for people with God. Sometimes these priorities clash with others expectations of what I should or should not do. I'm not saying I don't make mistakes or sometimes take it to far sometimes, but it flows from a desire to always be able to connect on a real level with someone utterly unreligious...just like Jesus did.

So...what are you doing? Have you allowed people, circumstances, a misguided sense of holiness to shave off all the unique things that God has put in you so that you are just some amorphous blob of blandness? Start a revolution! Welcome the Kingdom of God into your life in a radical new way! Challenge the world's expectaions! Do something!