Crack (and bad theology) Kills
This week I am talking about the Milestones in my life. I want to talk about the difference between acknowledging movements of God in our lives and living trying to repeat them. So many people live their Christian lives trying to duplicate something that happened before. They had a great emotional experience and they want to 'recapture the glory'. It's as if we can put God and his Spirit in a bottle and pull it out whenever we want.
I have a few phrases for this line of thought. The one that hits home with me is "Spiritual Drug Addicts"
People get a spiritual high and they always say God is moving when they get that butterfly feeling in their bellies. Growing up in Baltimore and having some experience with drugs I should inform you that the reason a person gets hooked on a drug is that their body never gives them the same spiritual high. This is why people O.D. They pump more and more of the drug into their system hoping it will recreate that first high. Drug dealers know this... this is why most drug dealers will give people a 'free hit'. They want to wet your appetite enough to get you hooked. It's a great rush... but the rush wears off.
Well, in our Christian lives if we are not careful we can get the same way. People meet Christ and they say WOW! They TRULY have an amazing encounter with the Living God... The EMOTION is amazing. The moment of understanding how depraved we are and at the same time understanding that GOD MADE A WAY THROUGH JESUS.... is an overwhelming feeling.
The head-knowledge translated into emotion.
That's awesome! The down side however is when we attach the emotion with the experience and head-knowledge. Hence the phrase "Spiritual High".
As a Youth Pastor I HATED Spiritual Highs. A kid goes to camp (spiritual high). Take the kids to a Tomlin or Crowder concert (Spiritual High). Winter retreat, bonfire moments, ladies cry and pow-wow... (Spiritual High, Spiritual High, Spiritual High). This stuff is great but as I told Calvin today... You can't re-create that spiritual high while sitting at your desk at work at 4:59 p.m. knowing that you can't go home yet b/c your project isn't finished and your wife is calling saying that the kids just broke something and they are driving her nuts. Now, granted... you COULD go into a self-induced trance enough to recreate camp or a teen sleepover... but I doubt you'd have your job very long.
No... I believe in a God of the mundane. I believe God wants to invade our everyday lives and show us how amazing a life lived in and through Him can be during the moments of ... now. The moments when nothing else is going on and it's just us.... living. Jesus died to sanctify my times of now. He didn't die only for the times of Spiritual High. Every breath of my life should be a Spiritual High. Does this mean that on the outside I'll look like a bad episode of Pee-Wees playhouse? No. I won't always have a silly grin... I won't always smile and say that life is great. Sometimes in fact I'll cry. Sometimes I'll call a friend and say "Life sucks right now." Sometimes I'll doubt my ability. Sometimes I'll stress under the burden of caring for my wife and child. Sometimes I'll wonder why my church isn't growing faster... But you know what? I won't panic and run for Spiritual Highs.
I'll crawl up into the lap of my heavenly father and spend time with Abba. I'll spend time with daddy during my mundane days. I won't run to a new place and say "God is moving me." just because I want people to think I have life all figured out. I won't run to the next church or record all of Joel Osteen's messages to get my Spiritual high... I'll pause where I am and think back to that milestone of salvation and say "Thank You Lord... If it were not for your atonement for my sin... this life would be worthless... but it's because of your sacrifice that everything not contributing to my downfall can be done with thanksgiving to give you glory! So God... in this moment at my (desk, computer, car, etc.) I praise you for all you are. I love you Abba father!
This weekend is one of prep as I prepare to hit two conferences in a little over a week.
Sunday after church Kristy, Caleb and I are flying down to Orlando to take in the National New Church Conference. The speaker line-up is amazing. I'm looking forward to hearing about all that God is doing with church planting around the country. I'm certain to meet some new friends and learn some great lessons. In addition to the conference, Kristy and Caleb will join me on this trip. We've not had a 'vacation' since starting the church. By having them join me, we hope to mix a little vacation with the conference thing and try to freshen up for the upcoming year of ministry. The world famous Ben Arment will be also bringing his family so the ladies will kick-it by the pool while Ben and I learn everything we're doing wrong. I love being around church planters.
After we get back from Orlando, I'll try to get some work done before heading off to the BUZZ conference in D.C. I'm very much looking forward to this conference. For me this will be like a Bloglines convention. Many of my favorite bloggers will attend and I'm looking forward to meeting these amazing people. I've corrisponded with most of them over the last year or so... finally getting to meet them in person is sure to be fun. I'm flying solo for that one and Ben has graciously offered me his floor to catch some shut-eye.
Between these two trips I hope to get pretty charged up for the summer and fall seasons as well as be better focused to lead our people as we reach this community for Christ.
I love Wednesday Mornings
This morning I hit the alarm clock at 5 a.m. and rolled out of bed. Took a shower and got dressed for our bible study and prayer at Starbucks. I LOVE our time together.
I love our time together early on Wednesdays for a few reasons.
1. It gets my day started sooner. Most days I don't get moving until 8am. I'm up a little after 7 but honestly I drag a little in the mornings. I check email and do some planning for my day. I do my bible study for the day, etc. But honestly it's a much slower start. Getting up at 5am to meet at 6am gives me a kick that lasts all day. It's the difference between throwing a rock and using a slingshot for a rock. Wednesdays are slingshot days!
2. It gets me thinking more about the word all day. When I'm up with these guys and we're reading and talking about the word, it forces me to think sooner in the day. So many times I usually coast until 10 or so and my most productive times are from about 1-3pm. Wednesdays are different, I'm most productive all morning. I like being productive earlier. I hope to use these Wednesdays as pillars to build an entire week of productive mornings.
3. It provides genuine fellowship. Working from a home office can get you isolated. Sure I have email, phone, IM and monthly meetings but there is a uniqueness to reaching out and touching someone to pray for them early in the day. There is a uniqueness to having someone pray for me that early. It sets me up for success! Makes me feel like a champ ready to enter the ring. I can't be defeated when I know that God's people had my back that morning.
4. It gets my brain rolling. By getting up so early, I'm able to have a fully-functioning brain by 8am. It ties in a little with my day getting started sooner but my brain is SO MUCH more alert after a Grande White Chocolate Mocha at 5:45 a.m.! Whooowwowowaa
Okay... anyway... I just said all of that to say this. I enjoy our Wednesday bunch and I enjoy the fact that this church has people who are willing to go out of their way to study God's word and pray for one another. I love the fact that they don't have to be guilted or reminded... they have made it a part of their week and they honor that time. I love it. We're building a foundation here. These are the present and future leaders of this church and I love being around them.
We've got to pray..(pray)...
A little M.C. Hammer for ya this morning!
Let me introduce you to a new site that you may find helpful for your personal prayer life and/or ministry prayer team/life.
People2Pray.com is a user-friendly site that allows for you to have a pretty dynamic free-flow of prayer requests. It seems to use a similar back-end as the product "Backpack".
I've signed up and started adding my requests and daily prayers.
Here are some of the features I'm enjoying so far:
- Tags: I can tag my request for future reference or else for the general public to pray for me. So if someone searches "church plants", they will find all prayers related to 'church plants'... etc.
- Communities: I just sent out a mass email to about 20 people in our church for a beta test of the community prayer feature. Everyone can make their own request and then simply specify it for the particular community (in our case it's Focal Point Church). As others add their requests.. it creates a virtual prayer room where anyone can drop in and pray for the requests listed. By the way, you can set up your own community to have it's own password. That way only people with that password can get in. Your junk isn't out there for the world to create a gossip column.
- Privacy settings: My requests can be as public (anyone can see it) to as private (only I can see it) as I wish. I have some requests that I only let 1 other person see and I have some (leadership requests) where only our leadership team will be able to see. Because of the flexibility, I can control all of the prayer requests on one screen. I don't have to go to 3 different areas to monitor different levels of content.
- Categories: Within each user's splash screen there is a category option. I can label each request. Then at the top of my screen I have a list of my categories. So let's say I want to take time to pray for just my "church" requests. I simply click "church" and the only requests left on the screen are the ones with that label.
So... There you have it. I encourage you to check it out. If you're like me, you'll be glad to give something a shot that may improve how you handle the inflow of requests. Having a 1-stop shop that is on the computer is HUGE for me. I'm terrible with pen and paper. I'm usually online most of the day so I'm hoping that this version will be a much smoother system for me.
By the way, if you do sign up, I'd love to have you as a contact... we can pray for one another from time to time. My friend username on there is: tallyw
Have a great Tuesday!
Happy Easter to ya
Today was a good day in the life of Focal Point Church.
We had a solid Easter Sunday. Not as many guests as I thought would be here. One funny thing about us has been that several of our families travel during Easter and some (because of the military crowd) don't get the day off. We had a few military families out and some guests in so it was a little up but not as much as we suspected it'd be. All in all it was a good morning.
One great thing about the Easter Egg Hunt was the 100 or so new contacts we have from the event. A vast majority of the contacts said that they attend church "rarely" or "never". Only a handful said "regularly" and even among that group we had two families write on the side "We're new to the area." We'll begin follow up and let these folks feel appreciated and loved.
Today's message was original. It was about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I'm certain none of you did anything like it. I'm certain no one referenced Matthew 27 like we did and I feel extremely confident that no one mentioned the tie-in with Psalm 22. (sarcasm) I purchased a video from Worship House Media for this week and ran it as a part of the intro for the message. It was a cool setup. I hadn't used them before but it went over very well.
As I said, we had a good day. We had a crew from my Alma Matre Liberty University on hand filming our service and doing some interviews for a DVD they are putting together for us. Apparently they worked out a deal with the state convention and we were invited to participate. For next to nothing we're getting a master copy of a DVD that we'll be able to give out as a part of our outreach. In addition, we'll add the videos online for guests to get the feel of who we are before they check us out in person.
I wrote three messages this week (can I hear a 'stupid' from the crowd?). I tell ya... it was tougher than I thought it would be. They all centered around the cross but they came from different angles. The audience got to pick to hear the resurrection from the view of 'people', 'Jesus', or 'Our Father in Heaven'. They chose the aspect of 'Our Father in Heaven'. That message was all about the sin nature and the concept of atonement. It was actually probably the heaviest of the three. The other two focused more on the love aspect. Obviously the atonement is about love but a good 1/3 had to be about God's relationship to sin and what it meant in Isaiah 53... so anyway... it was heavy at the beginning but the word was taught today. "Preach it, Preacha!"
After church Kristy and I went out with three other young couples and grabbed lunch together. Lots of laughs and good grub. A portion of the conversation drifted south and I just smiled inside because I Pastor a church where people don't try to figure out how to parlay everyone at the table. We have some people who are as real as they can be. I joked about how I'm just glad they feel comfortable enough to talk in front of me instead of act all holy and then jump in the car and talk about me. Pastoring a young church isn't done with your nose in the air... that's for sure.
This afternoon we cleaned up a little and we're spending some time with one another. Speaking of family time... my son Caleb just woke up... I'm out for now... later...
So two mormons come to the door...
This isn't a joke. I just had a conversation with the boys in white shirts.
(not my mormons)
I refuse to call them 'Elder'. That seems kinda rediculous.
Anyway... Just thought I'd share some highlights:
- They believe in a multiple-god setup... they don't believe the trinity so I had some fun talking about that.
- Don't let them get on the book of Mormon. If you're going to talk with them... stick to the bible. The huge difference is that they claim that the bible is true. We don't claim the B.O.M to be true... so make them keep the conversation in scripture.
- The gap between the two was less than 6 months on the field. Usually it's closer to a year.
- I enjoy talking to them about Civil Rights. The church of LDS didn't change their stand on African Americans until 1978. Knowing this... I ask if it's odd that they were 13 years or so behind the American civil rights movement. They claim to have a modern prophet... I've always thought it funny that he didn't see that coming. They believe that Black skin is Cain's punishment for killing Able so therefore Africans could not be Preists in the church. They changed it in 1978... I guess it wasn't going well for recruiting.
- I'm glad that I know what they believe. Knowing their belief system allows me to bring up conversations they usually aren't ready to have.
- The temple is the big deal. They asked me: "Where is the temple that Jesus talked about?" I said, right here. As a follower of Jesus Christ I am the temple of God. In addition... the temple was used for EVANGELISTIC purposes in the NT. The 'church' met in homes. One of the ideals behind the B.O.M. is that they are restoring the Temple that Jesus talked about.
- Mono-theism. One-God. They have a strange interpretation of what those two words mean. They believe that one god for this universe and another god for another universe... they claim mono-theism but it's really a deceptive version of pluralism. It's a mess if you try to get them to sort it out. Funny actually.
- The book of mormon has nearly 650 changes since it's creation just under 200 years ago (around 1820). Talk about problems. You see, they get away with these revisions because each 'prophet' has the ability to change what was said before. This is new revelation. Their comment is "So God is limited on giving us new revelation?" I said "Not limited... but let's be honest... you don't even have an understanding of his scripture... what makes you think that you can be sure of what you believe now?"
- Test the Spirits. He kept asking me to read the book of mormon and pray to see if it's true. I said "Why don't you pray and see if the bible is true after you read it?" He had previously told me that he left the mormon church in his early teen years in a period of 'rebellion'. I asked what he did spiritually... he said he went to a BAPTIST church.... Go figure! :)
I came across this story today about knife-weilding attacks on Christians in Egypt. It's just another reminder that we have it so good here. While we concern ourselves with marketing and postmodernism our brothers and sisters around the world lose their lives over the name of Christ.
Knife-Wielding Attackers Kill 1 Worshipper, Dozens Wounded in Egypt
CAIRO, Egypt — Worshippers at three Christian churches came under attack from knife-wielding assailants during Mass on Good Friday, police said.
Police said one worshipper was killed and more than a dozen wounded in the simultaneous attacks in the northern city of Alexandria.
Police were searching for three men, one in each attack.
Hundreds of Christians gathered outside the Coptic Christian churches to protest the attacks, and witnesses said clashes erupted between Christians and Muslims.
Initial police reports said a total of 17 people were injured: 10 at the Saints Church in downtown Alexandria and three at the nearbyMar Girgis Church. A third attacker wounded four worshippers at a church in Abu Qir, a few miles to the east.
Suffering for Jesus
Where we live is nice... we're about 15 minutes from the ocean and we get to experience all four seasons of the year but some days you just have to envy guys like Ben.
Ben posted today about his time off with the fam. You see... Ben lives outside of our Nation's Capital. When Ben has a day off he goes to the National Mall and can check out the Smithsonian Institutes' National Museums for FREE or take in a trip to the National Zoo... but the poor guy only got to go to the Tidal Basin today:)
To give you a comparison, today I took some time away and I ended up at a Do-It-Yourself hardware store :)
Poor Ben, suffering for Jesus...
So this weeks Egg Hunt became an opportunity for many on our team to shine. What made everything work so smoothly was our team.
I had one lady come up to me and say "I just want to thank you for hosting such an awesome event... my children are having a great time and to think that you put this on for free is just awesome. I thanked another one of your staff and they said that you were the Pastor. All of this coming from a young man... I'm very impressed. Thank You."
I said "Maam, I appreciate it but if you look around, we have a great group of people."
She then asked about our church and agreed that she'd be coming this next weekend.
After she left I realized how proud I was of our church. EVERYONE from our church who was present was working. For our church, this event was a milepost. This group had gone through a lot together over the last 6 months. To see how smoothly they made this Easter Egg Hunt just made me so proud of them.
Some things I observed that may help you:
1. People in their 'natural' position: It's taken a little while but yesterday showed that our leadership team knows our people well enough to only assign them tasks that will make people look like champs! Everyone is good at something or some type of thing. We now know our unique giftedness enough to identify needs and match them with great people who are able to do a great job with those positions. Our 'behind the scenes' people did an amazing job, our military guys flexed their muscle, our warm and detailed people handled registration, etc. A guy who works on the naval base managing a resturant handled our food, our resident artist handled crafts, etc. People were in their natural positions and it showed. If you want to involve your people in an activity... place them where they natrually fit... they will do it better than you and will have greater ideas on how to improve than 20 of your meetings.
2. Clear communication: One of the successes of our event was that there was a very clear line of communication. Calvin worked with our other leadership team to ensure that each area had someone as a 'point person' to make decisions. If that point person couldn't make a confident call, they could contact Calvin. If Calvin was unsure, THEN he would contact myself. With this system, each area was covered and I was able to spot-check each area as well as encourgae and love on our people. I found myself at every area yesterday encouraging and joking with our team. I was without many of the headaches that leaders sometimes create for themselves.
3. Successful Planning (and re-planning): Our leadership team began planning this event 3-4 months ago. All along the way we kept track of our execution, budget, contacts, etc. This event went off well because it was planned well. We all knew what to do and where to be. Our planning paid off with a successful and well organized event.
4. A great team morale: We bought some nice polo shirts for this event for all of our team so they could be identified. Even our teens received t-shirts with our logo... we became a unit. In addition we met at 12:15 p.m. (45 mins prior) for a breifing, prayer and encouragement. All of these things added up to a very positive and optimistic crew. I truly enjoy our people!
5. Pre-registration online: Some of our guests took advantage of our website and pre-registration. By offering this avenue... it not only sped up registration for those who attended but it also made a great impression on our guests who did not pre-register. As new people joined the line at the registration table, we asked "Did anyone here register online?" It takes up the professionalism when a church is able to provide that service for parents. I guarentee you that next year our online registration will yeild a TON of responses. Although registration was simple in person... it was super-speedy for those who did the online deal. We had their kid's nametags and egg-hunt section already assigned. The parents could walk right up, grab their nametags and free gifts and move on with the fun. It was an express lane for the computer savy!
6. Free Stuff: We gave out everything yesterday! We gave hundreds of promotional products (all with our logo and web address on them) to anyone who wanted them. For many it was a huge surpise that a church who was putting on this event for FREE would give away more stuff on top of this! I LOVED the faces of people when (at registration) we gave their kids stickers, magnets, frisbees, etc. But it was even more fun when we turned to the parent and said "For you mom, feel free to take one of these seat cushons, t-shirts, mugs, etc. The parents were pumped. Not only did we leave a great impression on the several hundred people who came out Saturday, but now we have hundreds of billboards. I observed adults and kids with our free t-shirts walking around. I got Napolien Dynomite inside and thought "Heck, yes!"
7. We involved the police department, fire fighters and ambulance services. A strategic decision for you is to invite some of your cities public services to your event. They LOVE doing it and it's FREE! Not only that, but it gives your church a feeling of friendship with the city. Another awesome thing is that it's FREE SECURITY! Yesterday we had the K-9 unit doing demonstrations and we had the kids safety division doing the "Identi-kid program". Almost every police department has these two groups and they will love to come out FOR FREE and meet the community. It's great PR for them and it can only help you! Our firetrucks were busy with a big-time fire that's been raging for days about 10 miles south of here... but they would have been here as well. Get them involved.
Okay... that's it for now... I have other thoughts but I'll share them later... for now I have to get back to work! Have a great Monday everyone!
(some of the families watching the K-9 attack dogs from the local Police Department)
First off... Thanks to those of you who prayed for me/us last week. God completly came through this weekend in a big way.
I have to admit... last week the stress of this weekend's activities was getting to me. The weather report all week was HORRIBLE for our event. God really taught me some more lessons through it all. It was one of those times where you sit back as everything is going on and say "wow"....
As I said the weather reports were terrible for this Saturday. We had invested a nice chunk of change on the advertising and organization of this event. This was one of the highlights in our spring push. Well, on Saturday morning from 6 a.m. on I checked the weather from my laptop on weather.com. All morning the local and national forecasters were calling for THUNDERSTORMS during the 2 hours our event was to take place. It was supposed to rain from 10 a.m. thru the rest of the day.
I have to tell ya... I started to write off the day. I thought to myself "No one will bring a kid out for an Easter Egg Hunt when there is a drizzle, let alone a thunderstorm. I began calling my lay-leadership. TO A PERSON they all said "No, Tally... let's move on with it... even if we have to pick it all back up.. ohh well."
I was worried that I would push our people too hard about this event and cause some to think I was stubborn about doing it in face of a thunderstorm. I couldn't have been more wrong. Our people had worked hard and planned for a few months... they weren't going to be held off by a little rain.
Well... we get out to the field and begin setup. Aside from some gusts of wind... setup was done in great weather conditions. As things began to take shape and everything was coming together, we could see that God was up to something.
By 12:45 p.m. the weather was calm and the lines for registration began to form. From 1-3pm we had a fantastic activity. I'll post some thoughts on the event itself in another post.
Here was the cool part. We closed everything down at 3pm and were mostly packed up by 3:15pm. I promise you... the clouds gave up the rain at 3:17 p.m. We just looked at each other in amazement. Now, we live in the shadows of Pat Robertson (a few miles away) and I have laughed at him praying away hurricanes... but honestly we'd have to be spiritual idiots to not thank God for his provision for our event.
God came through in a big way and we saw over 100 kids registered and nearly 300-350 total in attendance (moms, dads, grandmoms and teenagers). This was on a cloudy day with the weathermen threatening impending death if you go outside. I can't imagine how many people we would have had if it was a sunny day in the mid 70's to low 80's.
We had a terrific time and our people did an amazing job! Sunday we had (my count) 21 guests. I'd imagine we'll see an even greater amount next Sunday. Praise God for all he's done and all he'll continue to do in the life of this church plant.
I needed that
Have you ever got in a groove while writing a message and when you looked up you wondered where the time went? Have you ever then gone back and re-read what you just wrote and realized that the message was exactly what YOU needed to hear at that time?
Today was one of those days for me. As I wrapped up this message and re-read it, I felt fuzzy inside... I felt ministered to. By the words that the Holy Spirit put in my heart only moments earlier while reading a simple piece of text.
The 1 minute version (not by points) of the message this Sunday is:
God changes things.
Jesus rode to town on a Donkey.
The people weren't expecting that.
The people cheered anyway.
God saved people.
Even his disciples didn't get it.
The sign 'King of the Jews' was above his head.
Little did they know that sign would prove to be prophetic.
Little did the Romans know that 388yrs later, Christianity would become the official religion of rome.
The events of Jesus' life literally changed the world.
Did I mention he rode into town on a Donkey.
So if Jesus changed the world and he rode a Donkey.... you can attempt to change the world and ride less getting there. Many of us think we have to pull up in a proche... Jesus may have us riding donkeys tomorrow instead.
God can and will use us to make an impact on this planet for him. He's the God of change. He makes all things new. He restores dead bones... God is the God who 'Overhauls'. Take your life, place it in his hand and sit back and see what the Lord will do.
Scripture for this week:
- Luke 19:28-40 (main text, the rest will be breifly referenced)
- Romans 1:20
- Luke 24: 17-24
- Philippians 2:5-11
- Romans 8:28
Bible Study and Prayer
Last week I had a great time with Durant at one of his churches' bible study and prayer times. They meet three times a week with different people at each location. It inspired me to lead our church to do something similar.
Last Tuesday I started recruiting and by Saturday morning we had 5 of us around some tables at a local Starbucks. We opened the bible and then prayed for each other. Very simple, very pure, very good.
Today was our second meeting and with the exception of one guy who is sick right now, we were all back and joined by another woman from the church. Today we talked about Mark 11 and Luke 19 where Jesus entered the city.
Some of the thoughts brought up:
- Many people sacrificed to celebrate the entry of Jesus.
- All of creation exists to worship God. If we don't praise, the rocks will do it.
- Jesus had a range of emotion in just a matter of a day. He went from getting praised to getting angry to getting tearful. He was in touch with his HE-motions.
- His beef with the sales was more of anger toward their dishonest gain. He sees the heart.
What I love about doing this type of meeting:
To the point: We get right at it. Everyone is sacrificing an hour BEFORE work so we're all very focused on making sure we meet God. We love each other but we can socialize many other times and places. We want to meet God and truly lift each other up. Most every other small group I've been a part of has to have a lot of "fellowship" (talking and goofing off). This one is purely reading God's word and prayer.
Hearing others talk about the Word: Because of the format, it's unscripted. We simply read and I offer questions as we read. I don't have a bunch of notes, I'm not hardly teaching ... the insight from the group is fantastic. As they read and share, they remind me of how un-complicated the gospel really is.
Transparency: Through our talk about the Word and prayer we are able to be transparent with each other. Again, with no distraction and a commitment to see Christ we are all real with each other. As a side note that is also something I love about our church. We are all different in so many ways but there isn't a feeling that we have to be anything. We are extremely accepting of various backgrounds and only want to encourage each other to follow Jesus.
Prayer: The prayer is real and dedicated. Because of the way we do it, everyone gets prayed for by name and specifically. Many other groups I've been a part of take requests and then toss one big prayer up. That's cool for some situations but there is nothing like having 4-5 people agree in prayer about YOUR situation. We take a request and then someone volunteers to pray for it on the spot. There is NO DOUBT that you were lifted up. For some of us it may be the only time this week that we know we'll be prayed for by name.
I can already see how this will change our church. I'm not one to run and try to duplicate someone else but this is one thing I would recommend to you if you don't have in your ministry or personal life today. Do what I did... go find another church that does this if you have to or else gather a few people from your church and just start a small bible study and prayer group. As long as you make it raw and to the point I think you'll see great results as well. One thing I've always hated about "Mens prayer breakfast" has always been that there is a bunch about breakfast and little about prayer. This way we're doing it is exactly the opposite. At 6am we just open and start. As people arrive we just tell them where we are and keep going... the coffee is secondary.
So there you have it... a few thoughts about our ongoing bible study and prayer. Keep us lifted up that we would all be faithful and that our time together would never get obligatory. As long as the Holy Spirit is evident I believe we'll always want to be there.
Thoughts: Shirts and Growth
We got our new First Impressions shirts in today. First Impressions is one of our problem areas right now. I firmly believe in the people we have here and I'm hoping to walk next to them as they continue to grow into new positions and areas of service within our church.
There are essentially two ways to grow a church.
The 1st (and most deseriable) is to open with a bang and never look back. Gather a large crowd at opening and keep using that momentum to hire staff, get equipment, good marketing and exiting services.
The 2nd is what we're having to do. Decide to stay put and walk along side people, equipping them in the faith and helping them to find their place within the ministry. It takes much longer and at times makes a person question a lot. Ultimately though I believe that if we continue to grow ourselves and transfer that growth to those around us we will see the "Tipping Point" that Gladwell talks about.
I've been offered a few opportunities to go elsewhere since starting Focal Point. I won't entertain them. Flattering yes, but ultimately I want to see what the next few years have in store. I'd love to be able to tell the story of perserverance and eventual Tipping Point. Should be fun!
Someone asked me a few months ago what having a son has done to me. I said "I don't know." For me, emotion doesn't come as quickly as it does for others. I'm relatively balanced. I don't get carried away to either extreme. But I tell ya, this kid just knocks down those lines. This morning when I was feeding him a bottle he pushed the bottle from his mouth and leaned toward me with his mouth open. That's how he gives "kisses".
It was his little way of saying "I love you daddy". And I love him too!
Look at the Sky
So tonight I was running on a treadmill at the Y...
I got to thinking about all sorts of things... politics, law, people, faith, exercise, etc. I'd consider myself a thoughtful person. I think one of my strengths in communicating is that I take complex truths and make them simple. I love having people walk out each Sunday with the feeling that they are smart and that faith is a pretty simple deal.
This strength (like any strength) can be a weakness. Sometimes in life I can think so much about a topic that it loses its mysterious qualities. The God parts. In life we often do things that cause us to miss the 'God parts'. Whether you push through things like a freight train or you talk your way out of it like an auctioneer or you think through it like me... we can all lose sight of God.
I don't know about you but for me the way I get back to my senses after getting lost in thought or work or stress or whatever is to look to the sky. Tonight after working out I walked out and looked up at the sky. I saw the thunderstorms coming our way that are supposed to hit in about a half hour. I saw the moon tucked away behind some fuzzy clouds. I saw a sky that was in a beautiful shade of blue with some orange mixed in from that approaching storm.
What do I need to see? Where do I need to be to reconnect? I need to be in awe. When was the last time you were in awe? In awe of God's power, his creativity, his supremecy...
If you find yourself muddled in the mess... look at the sky. Be in awe.
Open Source Series
Following in the footsteps of LifeChurch.tv, we're going Open Source. The "end-user" will play a vital role in the way we present our messages these next few weeks.
We're going to allow much more interaction with the message series than we've ever done before.
This week I've been sending out my message notes and thoughts to our people in advance of the message. I'm basically giving away the message before people get there. I've also created an open source attitude among our leadership whom I shared parts of the message as well as our prayer and bible study group as we met this morning at 7 a.m. (it was great by the way).
For this week and next we're going "open source" in the presentation. Beginning on EASTER we're going to open source the entire service. I'm going to take my message and prepare it from three different angles. For instance. On Easter I'll do a message about the need for Jesus' death and resurrection. But what we're going to do is approach it in three different points of view: God the Father's, Jesus', Ours. Then at the beginning of service we're going to give everyone an opportunity to turn in their vote (color coded cards). We'll collect the cards during the first song and then I'll be told which P.O.V. the audience most want's to hear from.
Taking that info, I'll approach the message from the P.O.V. of the audience. In general I'll land the airplane in the same airport but the audience will tell me which runway.
I know it will take a little longer to plan out but I expect that it will be an exciting series as I won't even know which message I'll give until the morning of the service. Fun Fun!
I feel like I'm losing good friends.
In a matter of weeks I'll be losing my long-time favorite TV show, "The West Wing".
Today I open bloglines to read about Ben's Toenails and then I come across the loss of another distant friend Scott Hodge. Now Scott and I have never met and we've only exchanged a few thoughts via email and phone but he's one of the guys I enjoy reading each day.
I wish it were not so. We'll miss you Scott. I'll pour out a Cafe' Mocha for ya!