Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Simply Amazing!!!

I am intrigued by illusionists and magicians. Brock Gill makes me stop and stare at some of the stuff he does. David Copperfield did some amazing stuff in his day. And David Blaine...well, two out of three isn't bad!!

I love to watch entertainers and see what they are going to do next. I marvel at their slight of hand. I am puzzled by their acts that seem to defy gravity, physics, and logic. I am amazed that elephants can seem to appear and disappear with incredible ease.

So I was very disillusioned a few years ago when the Masked Magician showed how all the tricks worked. You know they are mere tricks and illusions, but there is something fun about not knowing exactly how it works. So when the Masked Magician showed me how an elephant disappears on national TV, I was little bummed.

This morning I was reading in Zechariah 3. The prophet has a vision where he sees Joshua dressed in filthy rags. The rags are a symbol of the sin of the nation of Israel. It is a sign of how they have turned their back on God. Then, something amazing happens.

God says, "See I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you." (3:4) God takes away the sin of the nation and clothes them with rich and clean garments. No trick, no gimmick, no illusion. God simply changes the nation.

When I realize the God of the Universe has that kind of love for me I am amazed. I stand in awe of the fact that God would take all my filth and clothe me in his righteousness. It is not some illusion or magic. It is the infinite power of the loving God of creation.

Now that is amazing!!!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Run DMC Theology

This morning I was reading in Zechariah 2. God is telling the nation through Zechariah that he will be with them and they can trust in the presence of God in the midst of the nation. God is too big to be confined inside the walls of Jerusalem (or the boxes of our own theology) and his glory is the real glory of the people. At the end at the chapter is a small verse that really stuck out to me. "Be still before the Lord, all mankind, because he has roused himself from his dwelling."

My first thought was how I am not still before God very often. Even when i try to be quiet my brain is racing, my thoughts drift or I nod off. (Okay, that's a confession!) Just the idea of being still before God brought to my mind not stillness in my body, but stillness in my mind and heart. The constant racing thoughts and the constant commotion of life seems like I am always talking to God instead of listening.

For some reason my mind immediately went to the old Run DMC song "You Talk Too Much." Basically it was as if God were speaking to me through an old 80's rap song that I haven't heard in years. (I am not getting into the theology of rap!!!) The song simply says, "You talk too much/you never shut up/ I said you talk too much/Homeboy you never shut up." Seriously, my quiet times are getting weird.

I guess what God is trying to tell me is to quit talking all the time and listen. I need to listen to him for direction, guidance and focus. I need to listen to others for wisdom, discernment and fellowship. I need to listen to the culture so that I can effectively interpret the scripture into the language of today.

So, here's my challenge for the day: Shut up!!! I am going to try to be a minimalist in conversation today. Not that I am not going to talk, but I am going to be a listener as much as possible. Even though Run DMC stated the thought in my mind, it is a very biblical concept.

"Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry." James 1:19

Now I just need to figure out the theological implications of "My Adidas."

Monday, September 22, 2008

Lessons Hopefully Learned

I am a slow learner. it takes a while for me to catch some things and begin to put them into practice. God is constantly showing me things that cause me to step back and think, "Why haven't I done this before?" Here are three quick leadership lessons that God is teaching me right now.

1) Don't assume in leadership. Yesterday a situation came to my attention that caused me to feel sick to my stomach. I had made an assumption about someones desire for ministry without taking the time to really question and listen to their real heart. I assumed that because situations were one way at one time I didn't need to communicate anymore with that individual. assumptions in leadership can kill all momentum and strain relationships. We all know what happens when you ASSUME!!!

2) Don't always respond instantly. Instant responses kill me. I typically overreact, make statements I later regret, and have to clean up more mess than was caused initially. Time is a great teacher. Don't make decisions on the fly. I have a general rule: no decisions on Monday. I need to be fresh, alert and ready to make decisions. On Monday, I am none of those things. I let things lie until Tuesday and then move ahead whenever possible.

3) Don't be paralyzed by fear. I am afraid of many things as a leader. I am afraid of people being mad, of hurting the church, of missing the mark in my gifts. Fear leads us to fail if we allow it to control us. Sometimes there is healthy fear. Other times, fear is a roadblock to effectiveness.

God is slowly teaching me some things to make me a better leader. What is God showing you to make you a better leader in your particular area?

Thursday, September 18, 2008


I feel better this morning that I have in quite a while. I have not been sick, just a little discouraged, fatigued, and stressed. It is a little thing I like to call "life." For more information about life see my post from Monday. But today I woke up with a little bit of a bounce and a little excitement.

Last night we had a great time at LifeQuest. We did something we don't normally do but that may become a part of our routine a few times a year. We had a cookout at the church for anyone who wanted to come and then had a prayer and praise gathering for our adults and students. Our KidQuest ministry went on as usual and overall it was a good night for everyone.

This was not your usual prayer meeting. We took no prayer request. We didn't try to give answers to problems. We simply prayed. We broke into small groups of teenagers and adults (it was very cool to listen to young people pray) and I led us through three areas that God has been stirring in my heart.

We first prayed that ass individuals and as a church we would have a "Passion for God." I believe we need to breath in deep of the grace and mercy of God. I believe that as individuals and as a church we will not fully live until we fully seek the living God.

The second thing we prayed for was "Compassion for Others." These are hard times. Many people are struggling and hurting and in need of care. We prayed that God would place on our hearts not just a desire to see people fill the church, but a desire to see Him move in their lives through us.

The final aspect of the prayer time was to pray for "Connection in Ministry." We prayed that God would use us as individuals and as a body of believers to be intimately connected into his work. We prayed that God would move us into a place of influence int he relationships we have so that we can effectively minister to those around us.

Last night and this morning my mind has drifted to the prayers that were prayed in our groups last night. I had people tell me how much they enjoyed the time to focus on prayer and how much they enjoyed just praying together.

I don't know what the long term effect of these prayers will be. I can't see any "mystical" result from last night. I don't know that any mountains were moved. I simply know that a group of people spent time with the God of the Universe and this morning I am still enjoying the moment.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Life Happens!!!

Life happens!!! I know, obvious isn’t it? But as I have been praying and thinking this morning I am just at the point of thinking, “God, why does life always seem to happen to me?” Ever felt that way? I’m sure I am the only one.

I have been riding a lot of waves lately, and I have not been surfing. It just seems like life has been getting in the way of my plans, my dreams, my vision, and my desires. I just keep having this nagging thought that says, “God if you will just handle _______________ than everything will be great.” But life doesn’t always work that way.

This morning I was reading the book of Zephaniah. Yes, it is in the bible. Yes, it follows on the heels of my reading Amos and Obadiah. Yes, it is still relevant today. Throughout the book God is telling people that he is going to destroy them for disobedience, he is going to punish their wicked ways, and that there is no hope for those who have set up false gods and are worshipping the stars. (It is exactly the book you want to read if you are feeling a little over the top.)

But, at the end of the book God makes some awesome claims. He says that for those who seek him there will be deliverance. For those who have been faithful there will be celebration. He says, “The Lord is with you, he is mighty to save.”

I can’t always hang my hat on my feelings. I can’t always rely on my abilities or strengths. I can’t always trust my vision of life. But, I can be assured that God is with me. I have spoken with so many people these days who are hurting. Life is running them over. I described my feelings last night to some friends as “it’s a dog eat dog world and I am wearing Milk Bone underwear.” It’s not an original line, and not exactly theological, but it was as deep as I could go at the moment!!!

What I want to share with you today is that there is the certainty that God has not abandoned us. When all else seems lost, God is still God and he is still in control. If you are feeling a little crazy and that life is happening all over you, read Zephaniah. It will take about 15 minutes and then you will hit the core truth that sustains us all: God is still here taking great delight in us.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


I'm a sports radio junkie. I love listening to "Mike and Mike" or Scott Van Pelt on ESPN Radio.
One of the things that I love about those shows is they have incredible energy. While these guys are on the air, you never know what can happen. There is something exciting about it.

Last night I went into a Pastoral Team meeting not being in the best state of mind. There are some heavy issues facing the church and some big events on the horizon. I was not really sure how it was all going to go. When I left, I found myself amazed.

In the midst of struggle, adversity and challenges, I found myself energized by the conversation in the room. It was uplifting, encouraging and propelled me into a vision of what God could do in this place. At the end of the meeting, I felt like we were about to see a movement of God.

Will that happen? I have no idea. How does that happen? i have no idea. What can we do to make that happen? I have no idea. But the prospect of God moving at LifeQuest brings me energy.

I asked the team last night to pray for three things for our church: passion for God, compassion for others and connection to one another. I believe with all my heart that God honors that prayer. I can't wait to see what happens. I can't imagine how awesome it will be to see God move if the expectation of his moving is so exciting.

"God, gives us passion for you, compassion for those who are without you, and connection to propel one another on toward love and good deeds. Amen."

Monday, September 8, 2008


It's Monday again!! Not just because the calendar tells me it is, but because my heart and mind and emotions are suffering from "Monday Invasion." I simply have hit a wall this morning. I want to share three things that I am doing to overcome Monday. Maybe they will help you when you experience one.

1) I am praying. I have spent a lot of time this morning banging on my computer keyboard and pouring out my thoughts to God. I have been honest about everything that has come to my mind. It is not always easy to pray some of the real heart issues we feel. But God can handle it. he can help us to overcome the major issues of life.

2) I am reading. Not just any old book but scripture and books that lift my soul. Monday is usually a day spent in reflection and study for me. So today I am reflecting on God's Word and seeking peace in my heart.

3) I am being honest. May of you who read this will e-mail me with thoughts and encouragements. I am not looking for that, although I love to get your feedback. I am simply sharing my heart with you. One of the main reasons we go through life so "Mondayfied" is that we aren't honest with our hearts and with others.

Maybe today is a Monday for you in more that just the calendar sense. Maybe Thursday will be your Monday. I want to encourage you that prayer, scripture reading and honesty are the best cures for the Monday's of your life.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Clearing Out the Clutter

I spent some time today just cleaning up my office. I threw some stuff away, I moved some furniture around, and basically just tried to get it livable. The clutter was becoming overwhelming. Books were stacked on books, journals were all over the place and notes from messages delivered months ago were still in the metal tray on my desk. So, today stuff got cleaned out.

I hate doing this. I don't like deciding what I should keep and what needs to go. i don't like deciding if I am someday going to need that pamphlet from some ministry somewhere doing something. But sometimes we simply must clear out the clutter. So, some old mementos went i the trash and some furniture was rearranged and the books actually made it to the shelf.

My overall goal is to hopefully make my life a little more productive. I want to feel energized when I come into the office, not overwhelmed. I want a place where I can be creative, productive and organized. In order to move ahead, it is necessary to let go of the past.

I know life gets cluttered. From the junk we get int he mail, to kids school projects, to books we will get to "someday," life can be a pit of junk. But in order to really accomplish what God created us to do with our lives, we must make some space. We must create the opportunity for God to move and work within us.

I don't know how long the fresh look will last in the office. But I like the feel. I like that some steps were taken to move me forward in my work and ministry. Now, if I can just remember where I put everything I will be in good shape.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


One of the biggest joys in a parents life is when your child can feed himself in the morning. There is nothing better than when they can get cereal and feed themselves while you sleep in or simply enjoy your cup of coffee on a Saturday. Okay, so I'm a bad parent, but we all have our flaws.

In our spiritual life, self-feeding is so important. We can't depend on other people to constantly give us the word of God. We have to be able to study and apply it for ourselves. So, today I want to give you three things that can help you on this path.

1) Make Time. The only resource everyone in the world has an equal amount of is time. We all have 24 hours in a day. We all have seven days in a week. If you want to begin the process of self-feeding, set aside time to spend studying God's Word. Start small and build. If you carve out ten minutes a day to read scripture and reflect on what you read, you will find that your desire for more time with God will grow and you will dedicate more time.

2) Reflect. We live in a noisy society. There is always something grabbing our attention. My Blackberry has gone off twice since I have been writing. The urge is to always check it no matter what. Sometimes, we need to learn to live in the silence. But in order to really grasp the word of God in your heart, spend a moment and reflect on what you have read. Ask three questions: what does it say, what does it mean, how does it apply to me. When we reflect on God's Word it takes on a new level of insight.

3) Write. Take a moment and write down one or two key thoughts that will help you to understand scripture better. This way it is not just some old mystical words, but it is an active part of your spiritual development.

This week, make time to study God's Word, reflect on what it says to you, and write down what you are learning. These basic principles will help you to begin to feed yourself on the riches of scripture.