Monday, December 29, 2008

A Time For Reflection

I love this time of year because it is a time for reflection and reinvigoration. Reflecting on the past year and becoming reinvigorated for the new year! Usually, I just try to slow down and listen. What is God speaking to me about me? What is God speaking to me about my family? What is God speaking about ministry and serving? What is God speaking about the mission of the Church? I would be interested to know how some of you utilize and maximize this time of year. Perhaps, it might help me in preparation for 2009.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Defining Spirit Empowered Living


I have taken a strong position that we (PCG) must be a Pentecostal church. By this I simply mean that we are a Holy Spirit empowered, a Holy Spirit led, a Holy Spirit filled organization. We exercise the gifts of the Spirit (we are not a cessation church.) We manifest the fruit of the Spirit (we live in righteousness). We allow for true Divine manifestations of the Holy Spirit. We see holistic Spiritual living – We see Holy Spirit empowered leaders – we see Holy Spirit miracles. We believe the evidence of the Baptism is speaking in tongues as the Spirit gives the utterance (KJV I know).

My concerns begin with how do we define “Holy Spirit/Ghost empowered living?” And, “How deeply if any, we divided over spiritual issues?” Are we (PCG) seeing the next generation experiencing true fullness of the Holy Spirit? I am deeply troubled over our youth having a real deep encounter with the Holy Spirit.

Some of my questions are:
1. What is producing fruit and what is not producing fruit?
2. What trends/fads are affecting the next generation as they relate to the Holy Spirit?
3. How do we (NPN especially) engage in the process for the next generation to experience the Holy Spirit? (I agree Jesus first I know, salvation is the main thing but on this topic.)
4. If we were at our best what would we be doing now?
5. How do we lead the next generation to embrace Holy Spirit empowered living for maximum evangelistic harvest?

Thanks for responding. I look forward to hearing from each of you.

C Scott

Anyone using a screenflex system?

We are considering these sytems to add more class room space. Anyone using this currently? They can be salty in price, but it appears they store well and are customized for height and length. Appreciate your input. :-)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The way Fred sees it

I recently asked one of my leaders to describe to me his viewpoint on leadership. Here's what he said.
  1. I would think that leadership comes from God and God only. Unless God gives that to you, you have no influence.
  2. A leader’s uniform is never the same as those that he serves with. He must wear the uniform of a leader
  3. A leader must go the extra mile. To carry the ministry wherever necessary.
  4. The leader must carry the vision less they all fall in the ditch.
  5. In all the leader is the hardest working member of the team.
  6. If the ministry succeeds or fails it is a direct result of the leader.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Are you a First Fruits Pastor?

We all know what "First Fruits" mean. (God gets the first portion - 10%) Of course, all of us are true tithers. After all, we're participants of the navigational pastors network. :-)

Can you imagine a minister in our fellowship who preaches & teaches to others from the Word of God that doesn't tithe? I know that it's not any of us...but you know...just imagine that for a moment.

Individually - First Fruits is what we do. In other words, it's First Fruits Living (FFL) NOT left over giving (LOG).

Corporately - First Fruits is more than just a replacement of an old 5% program with a maxium giving of $600 a year.

First Fruits is Biblical.

First Fruits to me is God getting the FIRSTLING of ANYTHING. (i.e., time, talent, treasure, days, hours, minutes, etc)

Right now, we are in the middle of major renovation in our church. It seems all I'm doing is thinking about budgets, electrical, drywall, sound, lighting, you name it. All of this is pressing on the mind. However, even though we are keeping a watchful eye on our budget, even though the economy's soft, even though gas prices are up & down, even though....we are committed to still being a First Fruits church.

Being and remaining a First Fruits church is important to me. As a local congregation particpates in this Biblical pattern - we bring a covering to the chalice of our interests.

On January 1st our church will enter into the 21 day fast. Again, a First Fruit. Entering into a corporate fast in the first month of the year - will sanctify the remaining months as well as produce the Fruit of the Spirit in our lives individually. I was thrilled when Bishop Scott began promoting this. We've routinely done this locally, but as a corporate fellowship - I can only imagine the results that will follow.

I want to be a First Fruits Pastor
I want to pastor a First Fruits Church
I want to lead the people I'm responsible for into God's prosperity plan

I don't play the lottery... :-)

Russell Hylton

Friday, December 12, 2008

Personal Inventory....MY WORDS

So often we are challenged by people whose words become a divisive and destructive force against the very thing we have worked so hard to give birth to. However, how often do we take inventory of OUR words, you know The things we say and sometimes talk about in the name of ministry..wink, wink. Just a few thoughts about our words...

1. Your words are directional

James 3:3,4
We can make a large horse turn around and go wherever we want by means of a small bit in his mouth. 4 And a tiny rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot wants it to go, even though the winds are strong.

2. Your words are destructive
James 3:5-6 (The Living Bible)
So also the tongue is a small thing, but what enormous damage it can do. A great forest can be set on fire by one tiny spark. And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is full of wickedness, and poisons every part of the body. And the tongue is set on fire by hell itself and can turn our whole lives into a blazing flame of destruction and disaster.
Proverbs 21:23(NLT) If you keep your mouth shut, you will
stay out of trouble.

3. Your words reveal your character
James 3:10 Out of the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.
Matthew 12:34
You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For a man's heart determines his speech

How to Leverage Your Words (Webster *Leverage = POWER, EFFECTIVENESS)

1. Guard your thoughts
Mark 7:15 (TLB)
Your souls aren’t harmed by what you eat, but by what you think and say.

Psalm 19:14
May my spoken words and unspoken thoughts be pleasing even to you, O Lord my Rock and my Redeemer.

2. Get A Fresh Start
Ezekiel 18:31(NIV) Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit.
Psalm 51:10 (TLB) Create in me a new, clean heart, O God, filled with clean thoughts and right desires.

3. Think before you speak
James 1:19 (TLB)
Dear brothers, don't ever forget that it is best to listen much, speak little, and not become angry;

4. Listen more than you talk
Proverbs 18:13(Message)
Answering before listening is both stupid and rude.

5. Ask God for help daily
Psalm 141:3
Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips.

Just doing some personally inventory and thought I would share.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Gut Check Time!

Every once in awhile we all need a good old fashion "GUT CHECK". gut check as defined by Webster is a test or assesment of courage, character or determination! Some time ago I came accross the following gut check test. Every so often I give myself the test and at times must admit fail in one of more of these areas from time to time, Thus the reason for the GUT CHECK! It is simply to put our focus back on the right things. Are you ready.....
1) AM I LISTENING TO THE VOICE OF GOD? In a day when books, conferences, blogs etc are so readily available to provide ideas and resources n such, are we forgetting that God knows what we have need of. Years ago Roberts Liardon said "don't take your plans to God and ask Him to bless them, go to God for the plans He has already blessed!" Sometimes I just need to get away, get quiet and say "God, what do you think?"
2) AM I TAKING RISKS? I was reading in Phillipians 2:30 where Paul speaks of Epaphroditus & he says "because of the work of CHRIST he came close to death, not regarding his life (risking), to supply what was lacking in your service to me". Wow! I often feel like sometimes I play it safe ya know. I love my wife and 2 little girls so much and find myself wondering if I play things too safe. I understand exercising wisdom n such but am I selling God short by playing it safe. Goes with the prayer of Sir Frances Drake that Eddie quoted in a previous blog "Disturb us Oh Lord". I have that prayer on my desk! I need to get it in my heart!!!

3) DO I FULLY UNDERSTAND HOW BIG MY GOD IS? The answer is simple...YES & NO! I know He is big but my actions and vocabulary sometimes contradict what I claim to know. I know some of you "Men of faith & power" never experience that but I have. I know God is capable of doing anything but is not always able because of me. I am reminded of the words of Matthew 13:58 "Now He could not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief". I would hate to think that many in my city would miss out on the miracles of God because of my lack of understanding of how BIG God really is! "Lord I believe, help my unbelief".

4) AM I SURROUNDING MYELF WITH THE RIGHT PEOPLE? It is amazing what a little time spent with the right people can do for your life. In Acts 4:13 "they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus". Unschooled or the King James calls them ignorant which is Greek (ID-EE-O-TACE) where we get the word IDIOT. Amazing how a little time with the right people can take you from being an idiot to a world changer. (special thanks to Pastor Naten, Pastor "papa T" Marden, Pastor Chuck & Dan Kruse, Pastor Skiles, Bishop Lake, Bishop Ming & every other man who took a moment to speak into my life!)

5) AM I GIVING IT MY BEST? Eccl 9:10 says "whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might". There are so many areas to hit here concerning our church, our personal time, our studies, our effort etc so let me just say this. I cannot be perfect in ANY area but I can give my best in EVERY area. I cannot stand "CHEESY" ministry when we are capable of so much more. I despise myself for lackluster effort in certain areas of my life regardless of what area it is. We may not have lot's of time, money, resources as others may have but it is no excuse not to give our best effort and work at getting better. This also carries over to our peronal life. Sometimes we give so much attention to ministry that we neglect personal things like home, family etc., and when our peronal life/health is a mess people tend not to pay attention to the other.

What are your thoughts? I appreciate the feedback!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Overcoming The spirit of competition!

4 years ago a new church started in our comunity. The pastor was from a mega-church located just 25 minutes up the freeway. When I first heard about the church I figured it was another campus or a plant from that church. Then one day right around the corner from me at the local 7th day church as I was driving by I saw a sign there saying "Crossroad Christian Center Meeting Here". Immediatley I felt something inside that I had never felt as a pastor before but it did not take me long to discern it, it was the spirit of competition! In my head were thoughts like "he started with 154 people & I had 4" & "He's got lot's of money and I have none" & "He has the backing of a mega-church and I have the backing of a broke district that says "were praying for you" etc (by the way, I mean no dis-respect. I love my district). I must tell you I did not like what I felt and immediatley began to pray for that pastor and his church. In fact, it became a habit for me to pray for the churches and pastors in my area. It was through praying for them and of course understanding they are fighting the same fight serving the same God that I was able to quickly overcome that spirit. I must admit every once in awhile that I feel that spirit try to come on me again with some church or pastor but when it does I immediatley go to prayer for that church/pastor. That pastor I mentioned, we have become friends and meet for coffee or talk regularly. We are not close buddies but have a mutual respect one for another. He now pastors about 600+ while I pastor 200+. One day while we were talking he told me "Todd, I respect you and what you are doing. Most would have left like so many before you but you have stayed, pressed on and believed in what God called you to do. Many have not had the training I have had" (Marines, Rhema and the mega church) and use it as an excuse. That day we saw eachother for who we were. We were both pastors and both successful, not becaue of the size of our church but because were doing what God called us to do and HE was building HIS CHURCH. I have found it difficult at times not to get ahead of God. I see what He is doing in so many other churches and combined with the dream He has placed within me it causes me at times to think my church should be so much more than it is. Recently I realized that my gifts and talents and desire will not speed up the timing of God. I must not make excuses for mediocrity and cannot become complacent. However, I cannot allow myself to compare my church or my ministry to anyone elses or measure myself by their "success". I am learning to rejoice for the "KINGDOM SUCCESS" of my brothers and sisters and pray for each one, especially those located close to me. We preach unity and love for the brethern but if we are honest we only live that ourselves as long as our ministry is growing as we would like. Today I give respect to each of you and the job you are doing for the kingdom and the success you have found in your city. Today I pray for you, for our fellowship but especially for my brothers fighting the good fight in the community I am in. I do not love or think more of my oldest daughter Kayla because she had more success in some areas than my youngest Hailey. I love them each with all of my heart for who they are and what they have been able to accomplish with what they have been given. Only if we can see that our Father God loves us this way but with so much more than we will ever know. Let's keep the dream alive that God has given and strive to truly please & honor Him and the call He has given us. When that happens success is sure to follow!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

I Just want to be Fed!!

"I’ve heard it…you have too…'Christians' saying, 'I just want to be fed!' It blows my mind! This would be equal to you and I going to an all you can eat buffet and crying because no one would bring us any food. Food is all around in this environment…but if the person is lazy and self centered, wanting to be waited on hand and foot, then they could possibly starve to death when food is merely a few feet away.

"Today as Christians we have WAY more information than we could ever apply. However, I think many people use 'going deep' as an excuse as to not actually apply any of the knowledge they claim to be soaking up. I believe it breaks the heart of God when arrogant people claim intellectual superiority out of pride and stupidity rather than just seeking Jesus and trying to honor Him on a daily basis."In reading through the Scriptures I have found that Jesus’ strongest words of rebuke were for the 'deep,' the professional religious people of the day. If 'deep' is being a part of the group that knows tons about the Bible but missed Jesus–then I don’t want to be affiliated with them. Give me Jesus Christ, crucified, risen and who will one day return…not another Bible study on the weight of the Ark of the Covenant."

If people are not even doing what they know then why do people complain about not being fed or going deeper. Let's get the Fruit of the Spirit right first before we seek the manifestation of the Spirit. There is no greater depth than personally leading someone to Christ. You want to be fed then serve others. There is no greater nourishment. Ephesians 6 says... not with eyeservice as menpleasers but as the servants of Christ doing the will of God from the heart.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Disturb us Lord

When we weigh all challenges that are laid before us by our God, when we review our efforts and see that they have not been enough, when we realize we have really become self centered, theological debaters that want to impress the suits, when we understand that we are purposed for one thing, to bring people to Christ, then my prayer becomes like this prayer prayed in 1544.

Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves,When our dreams have come true Because we have dreamed too little,When we arrived safely Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when With the abundance of things we possessWe have lost our thirst For the waters of life;Having fallen in love with life, We have ceased to dream of eternityAnd in our efforts to build a new earth, We have allowed our vision Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly, To venture on wider seasWhere storms will show your mastery;Where losing sight of land, We shall find the stars.We ask You to push back The horizons of our hopes;And to push into the future In strength, courage, hope, and love.

Sir Francis Drake
Dear God, i ask you to rock our world and rattle the cage of ME and my PASTOR FRIENDS that we will be disturbed to the point that we cannot sleep, that we cannot stand in our pulpits without weeping, that we will be broken as your heart is broken for the lives of those in our communities without a Savior.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Come On, really, Let's think about IT

Hopefully you survived the blog from last night and are able to begin to digest what I am trying to say. Guys, ask yourself the tough questions. Really, what are we doing to invade the kingdom of darkness with the lifechanging message of Hope. I have been in PCG my entire life and it seems to me that we are more concerned about what other Denominations or Christians think about us than Loving the UnLovable. COME ON, Really, Let's think about IT. If we are not getting messy ourselves then how can we Lead, Ask, Require, Mandate or even PREACH to others that this is what us a Christ Followers are called to do. Be Honest, Be Bold, Take off the Mask, Quit talking in our PREACHER VOICE and be REAL & RELEVANT to today's UnChristian people that are dying without a Savior and ask yourself:
  • When was the last time you sat down in a place that was NOT a "Christian" safe environment and shared yourself with someone far from Christ, and did not PREACH to them??
  • When was the last time you woke up in the morning with your heart broken for people in your community that are beaten down, dysfunctional, bible illiterate, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God?? If you are not broken for them then how can you reach them?
  • When was the last time you had someone at your church that you personally invited and shared Christ with??
  • How much time do you spend in a week in your community becoming familiar with where these people hang and how to touch them where they are??
  • Do you spend more time in "Deep" theological discussion with your staff than you do living the example of Passion to reach the "Messy" people in your city??

I believe it is time for us to Really, Think about IT. I get so tired of hearing theological debates and who is right and who is wrong. Come on, Get a LIFE!! I have almost come to the point that I dispise the word "Deep" because it seems that we cannot even get the simplicity of the Gospel right first. It is called the Great Commission. My prayer is that God will allow my spirit to be cut deeply when I am lazy, disinterested or even become to religious, to hear HIM speak to me. I ask the Holy Spirit to break us for the things that breaks His heart. So one last question for you and I hope it is in your face, rattles your cage, slaps you us beside your head.

  • How Many People have accepted Christ this year through your Ministry???

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Reaching UnChurched People is Messy!!!

I seriously don’t understand “leaders” that plant churches that appeal to themselves. I don’t understand “leaders” that plant churches to reach other church people. I really don’t understand “leaders” that plant churches with no real heart to reach people far from God.
Don’t get me wrong…reaching people far from God is messy. They cuss…they have serious issues…they smell…they drink…they live lifestyles that are at times really repulsive. Reaching people far God also means going to places that church folks have been taught not to go. People FAR from God do not hang out in Starbucks or Junior League meetings…they hang out in bars, porn shops, downtown streets, bowling allies, courtrooms, emergency rooms and R-rated movies. It’s not easy…it’s not pleasant…it’s not always rewarding. However, reaching people far from God with the Gospel of Jesus Christ is what the Father called us to do.

If you don’t want to do ministry that is messy…don’t plant a church. If you just want to “feed the saints”…don’t plant a church. If you just want to stop having to take orders from your current pastor…don’t plant a church. If you just got fired, let go or laid off from a ministry position…don’t plant a church. If you are still trying to impress Bible College professors with your preaching skills…don’t plant a church. In fact, if you think planting a church is cool…don’t plant a church. If you think those things, It’s probably going to be best for you to get a job in a safe Christian environment…where it’s safe, there’s a steady paycheck and you only have to interact with other Christians and forget the Great Commission.

On the other hand if you love the smell of vomit and beer….if you love to hear about people’s addictions…if you love hearing the f-bomb dropped by every member of a family (including kids)…if you love people wearing halter tops and Budweiser t-shirts in the Sunday service…if you love people putting three dollars cash in the offering plate and crossing their arms during worship…if you love getting 3 a.m. marriage counseling calls…then by all means…plant a church. I’m not talking about you liking that stuff…I’m talking about…you love the challenge of getting messy. Church planting done right is messy…and attracts messy people. If you don’t have a passion for the mess…if you don’t hear someone cussing and think, “That person is a potential guest for my church”…if you don’t wake up every day with an unquenchable thirst to see people far from God come to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior…church planting is going to be a miserable experience for you!!!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

How to know you are a Leader

Every leader faces tough times - and that’s when leaders distinguish themselves and show who they really are. Leading others can be very difficult and can take great courage. Of course, it’s not that way all of the time. About 95 % of the decisions a CEO makes could be made by a reasonably intelligent high school graduate. What is often required is common sense. But CEO’s don’t get paid for those decisions; they get paid for the other 5 %! Those are the tough calls. Every change, every challenge, and every crisis requires a tough call, and the way those are handled is what separates good leaders from the rest.
How do you know when you’re facing a tough call and need to be at your best as a leader? You’ll know when the decision is marked by these three things:

1. The Tough Call Demands Risk

2. A Tough Call Brings with It an Inward Battle
3. A Tough Call will Distinguish You as a Leader

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Chase the Lion

Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. Set God-sized goals. Pursue God-ordained passions. Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention. Keep asking questions. Keep making mistakes. Keep seeking God. Stop pointing out problems and become part of the solution. Stop repeating the past and start creating the future. Stop playing it safe and start taking risks. Expand your horizons. Accumulate experiences. Enjoy the journey. Find every excuse you can to celebrate everything you can. Live like today is the first day and last day of your life. Don't let what's wrong with you keep you from worshiping what's right with God. Burn sinful bridges. Blaze a new trail. Criticize by creating. Worry less about what people think and more about what God thinks. Don't try to be who you're not.

Be yourself.
Laugh at yourself.
Quit holding out.
Quit holding back.
Quit running away.
Chase the lion.