Giving Thanks to Him
1 Chronicles 16:8
Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.
Today is a day when our faith has an opportunity to shine. Lets use the time to point our thanks to its rightful place. We all have so much to be thankful for and it's to the God of Heaven to whom that thanks is due.
Have a blessed Thanksgiving.
A need seen is an assignment given
When I was in college I learned the expression "A need seen is an assignment given."
Read that again: "A need seen is an assignment given."
I really believe that God opens up our spiritual eyes to specific needs at specific times. While we live in a world of need not every single cause is our cause.
Not everyone we CAN help is the one we MUST help. If that were the case we would all end up in major need. There is a selectivity that must take place. This principle applies to those whom YOU feel compelled (called even) to help.
All of us are called be a PART OF SOMETHING and to help SOMEONE.
Typically there are two ways people offer their partnership.
1. Passive Partnership- "If we can help let us know."
2. Aggressive Partnership- "We can help and here's what we're doing up front... what else can we do?"
One of these groups feels that for whatever reason they believe in us and they went to God (who knows their resources and abilities). God confirmed a particular means and measure by which to bless our efforts: finances, relational, groups, all-of-the-above, etc. Several people called WITH THE END IN MIND! I remain humbled by these men of God.
That's the Aggressive Partner. They view their role as "A need seen is an assignment given." God revealed to them how THEY can help and THEY initiate the action and support. Solid leaders don't have to wait for a proposal.
Even great leaders who genuinely do not know how to help, phrase their offer of assistance in a different way. I had one lady in Georgia say "Hey, I'm a judge. I am President of the Board of Directors for XYZ and I have experience in XYZ and ABC. I have a passion for XYZ. Do you see a specific way that you can utilize everything I have at my disposal?"
That is a high capacity leader. She knows what she can do and she lays it out like a buffet. For whatever reason after talking to me and hearing her Pastor speak well of me and after praying to God she said: "I'm going to pour out blessing on that ministry and give them access to me. I don't know what they can use but I'm going to reveal what's at my disposal and see what God does."
In that case I was able to talk to her about coming to Baltimore and helping me speak with a crowd of people who may have never sat to listen to me. Now however, if I announce I have a judge and President of XYZ... I'm certain to have some interest from some young attorneys in the area.
We're going to work to get that set up in the next few months. Now imagine if she came up to me and said "Hey, if you need my help, let me know." I would not have been in a position to give her an opportunity that completely lines up with her passion and drive.
Church Planter: Let me speak into your life. I pray with all that is in me that your vision is big enough and clearly defined enough that you'd know what to do if a judge offered her assistance. I also pray that your vision is big enough and clear enough that you'd be comfortable talking to a man with a million dollar check in his hand. That is your job.
Okay... back to the point...
These days when a potential partner asks me to "Get back to me if we can help" I say "I would love for you to ask God what He wants you to do and I'll be thankful for your obedience in whatever He tells you. He owns it all and He knows you better than I do."
I want to encourage you today. If you're blessed... be a blessing. God doesn't point you to every project or person. But when you do see a need through your spiritual eyes, you should accept that as an assignment given. When we accept our ability to help as an assignment for God we follow through and are assertive to see that our help is provided in the method and measure our God reveals.
A need seen is an assignment given.
If we all did this, I believe we'd bless others in a greater capacity than we've ever done before and I believe those whom God calls us to bless would be in a greater position to bless others.
Pack It Like You Stole It!!!!
A few friends are over helping us load our truck. You get to meet a few of them. The stories they share are indicative of their ability to understand people far from God. We all were :)
I love my friends.
Tadd Grandstaff and Pine Ridge Church
Here are a few more videos from the day at Pine Ridge Church. The first three will give you a feel for the day and then the last one is an interview with the man behind the mission... Pastor Tadd Grandstaff.
Secret to Success at Pine Ridge from CaptivateChurch on Vimeo.
Pine Ridge from CaptivateChurch on Vimeo.
Pine Ridge Blend
Pine Ridge Church Tour from CaptivateChurch on Vimeo.
Tadd Grandstaff- Pastor, Pine Ridge Church from CaptivateChurch on Vimeo.
I had the great honor of hanging out with Tadd Grandstaff today. He and Pine Ridge Church hosted a gathering of church planters from around North Carolina. My schedule worked to be able to join this group. I've never been to Pine Ridge before so check out this video of my first look at Pine Ridge. Also you'll meet a few of the planters who were in the lobby early.
Tadd and his team did it right! I really enjoyed how they ran the planters meeting. As you registered you were able to write a question. Tadd's team simply took the questions and listed them out according to relevance to this group of planters. If that wasn't enough at the end Tadd opened it up to pressing questions. Then he asked "What is your biggest struggle or frustration you're working through right now?" The spirit in the room was of humility and growth. No show boats here.
Also, Tadd did a great job of hosting without coming across as the only wisdom in the room. He said "This is more for us to help each other and ultimately plant churches together." That's the kind of attitude we need to have among networks.
I've seen far too many church planter meetings where someone behind the desk plans out 4 hours of a planters day to tell him what he needs to know. Not everyone is on the same level or stage of growth. That format makes some people feel stupid and others feel arrogant. This format allowed more flexibility than what most organizations do. Well done Tadd.
The other day as I spoke at Compass Pointe Church , one comment I made in the midst of a lesson on Luke 5 was that I really believe we have to learn to embrace our insecurities. It wasn't until Peter did this in Luke 5 did he realize just how much he needed Jesus and ultimately dropped his life to follow Him.
The reality is that I know people in all walks of life at all salary levels and all ages. All of the great ones have some insecurities. In my eyes it is a sign of strength when a person is able to speak about their insecurities. Not that we put on a video for the world to see but that we're aware and our closest friends are also aware.
I was reading this morning in Luke 7:
40Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to tell you."
"Tell me, teacher," he said.
41"Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?"
43Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled."
"You have judged correctly," Jesus said.
As we read this passage a few things stick out to me. While Jesus used money as the example of debt, money itself is simply an object that man places value upon. Our paper money is worthless in and of itself apart from the value applied when someone else looks at it.
The person who owed 500 and the person who owed 50 were actually in the same exact boat. Neither could pay it back. When you're broke it doesn't matter how large the debt is. You're broke. From a measurement perspective however we as people like to measure our broke-ness.
The reality of life is that we're all severely in need of grace and mercy. Not one of us no matter how "pure" we claim to be are holy. Every single one of us are spiritually bankrupt. Sure, if you apply human value to it the person who came from a life of drugs may appreciate salvation more than the person who grew up in a Christian home.
Here's the key however... The issue isn't your circumstance. It's how you view your circumstance.
For me, if the measure of my love is in proportion to realizing just how broke I am as a person... I want to EMBRACE INSECURITY!
Security is comfort, rest, peace. If I have those things ON MY OWN... I'm in big trouble. I'm an ignorant person if that's the case.
Its in recognizing my insecurity (read: inadequacy, failed state, struggles) that I see my need for Jesus all the more increasing. I want to love Jesus more today. More than yesterday. So I'm going to embrace my insecurity, my weakness and my failures. Not to champion them... but to recognize just how much I need Jesus Christ as my Savior.
If you're reading this right now and you have some insecurities but do not have Jesus Christ... please seek Him out. (You can email me and I'll talk with you.) He provides the answer to your insecurity question. Also, as you do... trust me, we're all broken. We've all fallen short and we're all equal in failure before God. That's the joy of this whole thing is that it's He who does the saving.
If He can embrace your insecurities and accept you, You should give it a try and begin to accept yourself. The goal for life is not to rid myself of insecurities... it's to find the one who can make me secure. Once you know who you are in Christ your insecurities fade behind the power of the One who made and sustains you.
So it's Monday evening and I'm exhausted but I want to give you a few updates. At the end of this I'm going to go back and pull together some common themes but I can already see a few key truths coming through. Some confirmation, some brand new for me.
Today I spent time with Russ Bennett from Anderson University. Russ is bringing a team of about 30 students up to Baltimore in the spring. Russ has a great heart for missions work and he's got some experience in inner city environments so I'm looking forward to working with him for about a week in March. Russ was around when New Spring was just getting going so he was able to share some of his perspective of the beginnings. He obviously loves his church and respects its leaders.
After spending time with Russ I went and visited New Spring. Their campus is a construction site on the back side as they prepare for brand new kids and teen facilities. Perry's heart is all about reaching people and he's passionate about giving the best to children. It's obvious with the types of facilities they are putting together for their kids.
At around noon I met up with Tony Morgan. Tony and I had met a few times before but hadn't really talked at length. I really enjoyed our time together. Tony is a sharp guy who loves God-sized vision and wants to use his talents for the Kingdom. We talked a ton about life and some about ministry stuff. Tony and I got to talking to our waitress and it was cool to see Tony go out of his way to see to it that she was able to get a ride to church. I've been around plenty of "church leaders" who treat the general public like garbage. I always lose respect for them. Tony however tuned in to this young woman as she shared that she had visited New Spring before but lost her ride and now felt like she was 'missing something'. Tony got some info from her and promised to work on setting her up with someone in the church to get her a ride regularly.
Melissa is over at TheBaltimoreProject.com. If you go to UNLEASH in March I want to encourage you to consider making a trip into 'town' to see Melissa at Matty's Downtown. They had great food and Melissa was wonderful. In March go eat there and give her a huge tip.
When we got back to the church building I asked Tony if he would be willing to do a quick shout out on TheBaltimoreProject.com. He graciously agreed but didn't want to pimp his upcoming book or the conference or blog or whatever... So I brought up a touchy topic we spoke about at lunch. Gary Lamb's town of Canton.
Here's the truth. Canton IS a small town. But Canton has the feel of a "big town coming soon". You can tell it's a town in transition. Apparently Tony had enough of Gary playing the John Cougar Melencamp theme music and decided to call out Gary for his small town with a big-town feel :)
If you go to summize.com and search @GaryLamb or @TonyMorganLive you will see their exchange from Monday night. Both of these guys are great men of God and I'm glad to have been able to visit with them this week.
The Baltimore Project Tour- Tony Morgan
During my time with Tony Morgan I found wisdom in several areas but one of the areas that stuck out to me was that great leaders know when to say "I don't know."
Personally I have met a lot of dumb people in life who will talk as if they know everything about everything. On a few topics of discussion regarding start-up's Tony said "I don't know but maybe ______ would be better to answer that one..."
It takes a solid leader to be comfortable enough in what he/she knows and what he/she does not. I appreciated that about Tony.
Another thing that I took from my conversation with Tony was something that may help some of you church planters out there. On our way back to the cars I asked him "Tony, what's the dumbest question you have had a church planter ask you?" He said "Tally, they don't ask questions. They want to tell you everything about themselves and the big plans they have but they don't ask questions."
Hearing this response from Tony led me to write this open letter to church planters:
Dear Church Planter,
If you use the bulk of your time interacting with great leaders to talk about yourself, you are an idiot.
Most of the leaders I've been with have taken a few minutes to share something with you. I'm concerned Tony's video may start a fight but here goes:
** UPDATE ** I pulled some stats and click here for a quick comparison.
All I can say is WOW.
Thursday was my first day on the road and it was a long one. I had a flight to Atlanta but I had no idea that one-way rental prices from GA to VA would be so out of control. I saved approximately $800 by driving the 9 hour drive. The switch to driving had some great hidden rewards. I was able to listen to several great speakers on CD from Catalyst and add a visit with Jay Hardwick to the tour.
During the drive I also received an email from a Pastor asking if we could talk. I replied back and within minutes he called. Basically his first few words were "Tally, our church is going to help you financially. Do you have time to iron out the details in a week or so?" Wow. What do you say to that? Obviously I agreed to talk with him when we return but beyond that it is so encouraging to have God's people take a Kingdom-minded approach with finances. He is an amazing guy and his church is a great church. I'm looking forward to that partnership developing further.
I got other contacts throughout the trip and with every one it's been like God putting wind in my sails. We're a long way away from meeting our fund raising goals but I'm very excited at all that has happened in these first few days.
Another amazing thing happened to me just about two miles from my hotel. It was about 9:45 p.m. and I had left home about 12 hours before. I was tired. I knew I was getting close to my last turn so I was paying attention to street signs pretty heavy when I looked up and noticed a car on the right shoulder. Initially I thought "Maybe they're fine and I can go to sleep." But my second thought was to make a U-turn and go back to "at least check on this person."
Long story short I spent over an hour at the scene. The driver was having a difficult time in that moment thinking through all she had to do. She didn't know what to do. I helped her get the car off of the road, call her insurance company, talk to the police and deal with the tow truck driver. At the end of all of this she asked me what I did for a living (my rental car has Virginia plates).
I shared with her and her friend that I am a Pastor and in town to visit other Pastors. Both of these women lit up. They kept talking about how they were from a nearby Chinese Church and they were returning home from sharing the gospel with someone. They were on visitation. One of the women even has a husband in a 'closed' country right now. She just moved here from another country where she had served over a dozen years as a missionary. I shared a part of her story and her video in a previous post.
I couldn't help but to think that God was teaching me big things on Thursday. As a church planter I'm focused on what we're going to need to do this right. As a Pastor I think I'm doing some good by helping someone in need and BOOM.... God steps into my world and smacks me upside the head. He reminded me that I'm not in a country where what I do can get me deported or tortured. He reminded me that He's doing His work through people who look nothing like me, talk nothing like me and act nothing like me. He's a huge God doing huge things around the world through people like this woman and her family.
This woman doesn't have a blog. She and her husband won't get to tell everyone of their mission as freely and openly as I get to do. It's highly unlikely that the people I think are amazing in ministry will ever even know their names (nor will they know the people I respect).
God has a way of doing that you know... He has a way of teaching us through seemingly random circumstances if we're willing to make the U-turn and obey his still voice.
Obedience is awesome stuff. Obedience always leads to something amazing whether we see it at the time or not.
Today on TheBaltimoreProject.com Tour I was able to visit a few places.
At 6am I visited Cross Pointe Church in Duluth, GA to speak to about 100 men from their church. They guys in the room were very attentive and asked some great questions. I got the sense that this was a group of men who really wanted to do something and not just talk about it. It was encouraging to see.
After I left Duluth I headed over to Alpharetta and spent some time at NAMB headquarters. I had the opportunity to sit down with Thomas Hammond who is a personal evangelism guru (that's the title I gave him). My time with Thomas was very encouraging and productive. He shared that he sees a ton of promise in TheBaltimoreProject and is going to get some contacts to me of some other people doing a solid job inside of major cities.
For lunch I headed over to the offices of Catalyst to meet up with Ben Arment. Ben has been a friend for years. He and I share some personality traits but express them differently so it's always fun to hang out. Ben was kind enough to add his face and voice to TheBaltimoreProject.com Tour... check it out below.
An Encounter with a Missionary
In Duluth as I was headed to my hotel after a 10 hour trip I came upon an accident where a lady had hit a deer (or the deer hit her actually). I drove about a quarter mile and thought "I'd want someone to check on me or my family." So I drove back and helped these two ladies get their car off of the road, deal with insurance, police and tow truck driver...
They thanked me repeatedly and finally asked what I did. I told them I was a Pastor and their faces lit up. They were going home from visiting someone and sharing the gospel with their friend. They are missionaries.
They asked for a ride up the road to a store out of the cold to wait on one of their sons. They insisted that they feed me for my trouble. While I nibbled at the food I asked if she'd share her story with you. She agreed. This is her story.
Announcing TheBaltimoreProject.com South East Fall Tour!
Starting tomorrow I will embark on a 'tour' of sorts.
I've contacted some amazing people and asked if I could spend an hour or so with each one.
Over the next week you will get to join me for the ride! I'm hoping the week will give me plenty of time with God to clarify some things, study scripture alone and sit at the feet of some amazing leaders. I'm not going into these discussions with any 'silver bullet question'. I'm simply going to allow these men of God to speak into my life and the ministry. I covet your prayers as I travel.
How you can follow and participate:
On Friday evening we will unveil a new site at "TheBaltimoreProject.com" which will document my travels. The site will feature a Twitter Feed, Videos, Pictures and links to our church Facebook page among other things. I'll use my Twitter to update you during my drive and at rest stops I'll update you via video.
Here's how YOU can participate:
1. Email Me: You can email thoughts, questions, observations... whatever.
2. Talk via Twitter
3. BECOME PART OF THE SHOW. If you're near any of my destinations I may be able to meet up with a few of you along the way. It becomes very lucrative if you buy me a meal or are a blogger who will agree to blog about my journey.
Here is my itinerary.
I'm not naming everyone on the trip but I'll give you the cities for now and you can follow along to see who we meet along the way. I can assure you that you will know just about everyone on the tour and those you do not know will be people who are well worth your time.
Here are the dates and cities I'm visiting. If you're in the neighborhood, holla.
9 Hour Drive to Atlanta.
I gave up my seat on a plane but it's about $750 cheaper to return the car to the same location you pick it up! So I have nothing on the agenda but to listen to talks from the Catalyst Experience Kit and get to the ATL in a hurry!
Speaking to the Youth Service at Cross Pointe Church in Duluth.
Virginia Beach, VA
Pack up our Moving Truck!
Drive to Baltimore listening to Bon Jovi' and Sugarland's version of "Who says you can't go home" on loop.
Speaking at the Sunday services of Reston Community Church. Bring a busload of friends.
Again, if you're near these cities and I haven't contacted you, feel free to drop me a line and I may be able to give you a cameo on the tour!
What are the goals of the tour?
1. To raise awareness of TheBaltimoreProject.com
As the lead planter going back to my hometown I know that I'm the main fund raiser and vision caster for this church plant. It's going to be vital that we raise enough support: Financially, Mission Teams and Prayer Teams. During this trip you will have opportunity to partner with us on our site. For Baltimore to be truly transformed we will need support networks from all around this country. The "bench" of Christians isn't very deep in the North East. There aren't an excess of healthy churches in that region just looking to support mission work. I believe some of our best supporters will come from you connecting us to people in positions to make a difference. Each partner will be duly recognized on our site and we will be certain to thank you publicly for your contribution to our efforts.
2. To learn from some of the sharpest minds in ministry today.
One of my key desires from this week long trip is to hear the heartbeat of God through these men and women I will meet along the way. God is moving in their midst and I want to in some small way see it up close and hear what God is saying to them. Some may have advice, others may just share their stories and still others may speak directly into particular aspects of our work. I'm wide open.
3. To share this experience with others.
I know that most church planters would die to be able to meet with most of these leaders. Where I am able I would like to pass along some information to current and potential church planters, mission agencies and everyday Christians. Some of what I will share will simply be my journey over the next week while other stuff may be more practical in nature. One of the things I hope to ask each leaders is to take a minute or less and provide a tidbit for you, the observer.
4. To spend time with God.
I'm doing this trip intentionally alone and not because I do not have friends. (SMILE).
I'm spending a week away on the road because I am begging God for the maturity, wisdom and insight that only He can provide. I will be speaking to some of God's most equipped people but most importantly I will be spending plenty of time with God alone. With the radio off and patches of road with just His handiwork I look forward to time with Him as we enter this most challenging season.
How you can pray.
1. Pray for my family- My wife and son are sacrificing a lot for me to be away for a week.
2. Pray for spiritual growth- I'm asking God to teach me.
3. Pray for partners- We want to be a very healthy plant but we need financial help and manpower.
4. Pray for participants- One way this will be a success for us is to begin lining up people who will bring their churches to Baltimore for mission projects.
5. Pray this is a blessing for others- I'm dead serious about allowing the benefits of this tour to fall on others beyond myself. As I share what God is speaking to me and as these leaders share with us, I pray that church planters ready to quit will be encouraged, potential church planters will be emboldened, established Pastors will be enthused and Mission Pastors will see God at work around the country in church planting.
6. Pray for whatever you think should have been in my top five but is not :)
Once our site launches I will update you with ways to publicize. For right now you can help by passing along this link. If you are a blogger and blog about this tour, send me a link and I'll make sure you get recognized for your kindness.
I've been Captivated
Everyone has a story about how God has been working to captivate their heart. This is my story.
Born to a 17 year old unwed mother, my life began like most of my peers in Baltimore City. Many of my formative years were spent in the O’Donnell Heights Housing Projects which are now being demolished by the City due to the infestation of drugs and violence. I remember as a child looking around and noticing brokenness everywhere. I was captivated by the power that darkness has over people.
At around 10 years old I recall having a conversation with God. It was relatively calm and I was walking down the alley bouncing a gray rubber ball. I remember looking up at the sky asking God “Is this all I can expect out of life? Is there more to look forward to?” I didn’t get a verbal answer but I believe I received something better; an assurance. I felt in that moment that this was not all I had to look forward to. Since that time I recall having a calm confidence that I would not fall victim to the streets but rather my life would be used in a great way by God. I was captivated by the voice of the Holy Spirit.
As a child I tucked this assurance away in my heart and it became the foundation for my lifelong sense of confidence and determination. I would go on to receive Christ as my Savior when I was 13 years old at 2nd & 4th Baptist Church in Baltimore. The church had an annex row home across the street. In the basement of that row home is where I was taught the scriptures faithfully for nearly 5 years. My mentor studied God's word with abandon. He'd come in with a dozen pages of handwritten or typed out notes complete with cross references every week. Although he was teaching a group of rough inner city kids he came prepared to teach at Harvard. Faithfully this man opened the bible every week without fail and taught us God’s word. We were challenged to study the text and come prepared for discussion. We were free to disagree or even argue so long as we could back it up. These were the moments that most grounded me in my faith in Christ. I was captivated by the Word.
I remained faithful to 2nd & 4th until I graduated High School and moved away from Baltimore City at 18 years old to attend college.
For the last 12 years I have lived a life that looks very different from the childhood images of the city etched into my memory. While I've remained connected to the city because of my family, I myself have changed. I'm no longer solely the product of the streets. I'm now a product of a second world. I have earned an undergraduate Pre-Law degree and attended Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. Over the last dozen years my peer group has been mostly suburban, Caucasian and educated. In a sense my life has been comprised of two distinct pieces. For years I have prayed for wisdom concerning this diverse set of life experiences, education and relationships. During this last year I am absolutely certain that I have my answer. I am captivated by his plan.
God is moving in my life in a way like I have never known. As pieces of this eternal puzzle have been moved into place I can now see what he is creating. God is in the process of redeeming the city of Baltimore and He has invited me to join Him in this work. He is taking these seemingly two completely different aspects of my life and merging them to bring redemption to the City of Baltimore. He has invited me into His work of redemption in Baltimore and now it is my honor to invite you to join us. We have been blessed to have a positive response in this the first 8 weeks after our announcement. I am captivated by God's people.
So this is some of my story. Over the next weeks and months I'll share more with you about how I see my unique life experience, education and passions lining up completely to bring me back to Baltimore. Over the weeks to come I hope to share with you the story of my old church home. I'll cast vision for those of you who may consider moving to a major city to see God move in a major way. I'm excited to share this experience with you. This is why today I want to invite you to connect with us in the following ways.
1. Sign up for our prayer requests and updates:
The Votes are In
...And this is by far my favorite political advertisement of the season that is now in the books: