Sunday, March 29, 2009
I recently read about a lady who was distracted with the wrong message! It was a wrong E-mail message. The message was so disturbing that it caused her to faint. Let me read you the story: “…A couple from Minneapolis decided to go to Florida to ‘thaw out’ during one particularly icy winter. They planned to stay at the very hotel where they spent their honeymoon twenty years earlier.
“Because of hectic schedules, it was difficult to coordinate their travel schedules. So, the husband left Minnesota and flew to Florida on Thursday, with his wife flying down the following day. The husband checked into the hotel. There was a computer in his room, so he decided to send an e-mail to his wife. However, he accidentally left out one letter in her e-mail address, and without realizing his error, he sent the e-mail.
“Meanwhile…somewhere in Houston, a widow had just returned home from her husband’s funeral. He was a minister of many years who was called home to glory following a sudden heart attack. The widow decided to check her e-mail, expecting messages from relatives and friends. After reading the message, she fainted.
“The widow’s son rushed into the room, found his mother on the floor, and saw the computer screen which read:
To: My Loving Wife
Subject: I’ve Arrived
Date: January 8
Message: I know you’re surprised to hear from me. They have computer here now and you are allowed to send e-mails to your loved ones. I’ve just arrived and have been checked in. I see that everything has been prepared for your arrival tomorrow! Looking forward to seeing you then! Hope your journey is as uneventful as mine was… P.S. Sure is hot down here!”
This lady got the wrong message. The wrong message will distract you every time. And remember: A distraction always sends the wrong message! What are the things that distract us? How can we avoid distractions? Any thoughts?
Thursday, March 26, 2009
The Psalmist said in Psalm 139:3-5, “…You chart the path ahead of me and tell me where to stop and rest. Every moment you know where I am. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, LORD. You both precede and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head…” I'm thankful that God’s hand of blessing is on us.
Jeremiah's assignment was clear: “…The word of the LORD came to me, saying, 5 ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations…” (Jeremiah 1:4-5). I have discovered that when it comes to ministry, it takes many years before you discover the purpose for which you were created. Then, all of a sudden, something shifts. You say, "This is why I was created!"
What clues may suggest that we've had a defining moment? First, something you love may be a clue to something God has assigned you to fix. I used to hear people say, "If you don't want to go to Africa, don't say it! God will call you to go there!" I used to believe that. I don't anymore. I believe that God delights in giving us the desires of our hearts. He's not mean. He won't punish us by sending us to a place we despise. He'll put a desire in our hearts to fix a problem, call us to that place, and anoint us to fix a problem we were created to fix.
Secondly, something you hate may be a clue to something God has assigned you to correct. For many years in the south, African Americans were forced by law to sit in the back of the bus. But one courageous woman hated that injustice enough to do something about it! After a hard days work in Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks sat down on a crowded bus. When the bus filled, she refused to give her seat to a white man! Her stand that day led to much needed, dramatic changes in our country! You will not change a situation until it becomes intolerable. Whatever you tolerate, you will not change; but when something becomes intolerable, God can use you to bring change!
Finally, something you grieve over most may be a clue to something God has assigned you to heal. There is a lady in our church who was told a year ago that her husband had cancer. They gave him six months to live. Forty one days later, he was gone. They had three children in their twenties. This family was not prepared for it. He was in his fifties. Five weeks after his funeral, this grieving wife got a phone call that her youngest daughter (twenty-one) was killed in a car accident. After several months of pain and learning to deal with grief, this mom and wife started a "Grief Share" ministry; and today she has two support groups; and is starting a third. She is discovering that she was created by God to comfort grieving moms and wives.
Like Jeremiah, my prayer for you today is that you can say, "Lord, you've placed your hand of blessing on my head!"
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
At lunch that day, he said, "Pastor Jeff, I've been attending your church for more than six months now. One day, I'd really like to join your ministry team and staff." My first thought was "Wow! This guy is amazing! Let's talk salary and do this thing." But the Holy Spirit convicted my heart. He said, "Jeff, he's doing too much!" So, I started to ask more questions. Finally, I said to this man, "I'm sorry. I couldn't have you on my staff. You do too much. You're only home one night each week. I require that my staff is home no less than three nights each week, having quality family time. The only way I could ever hire you is if you preach and teach less." He was shocked by my words. But he took my advice, quickly consolidated some of the teaching nights to one night. Instead of going to the programs, he got permission to bring them to the church for our recovery night (Tuesdays). About one year later, he joined my staff. Today, after five years, he has an awesome recovery ministry; and our church has grown ever since.
What about your leaders? Who's home tonight? What are your requirements for staff? Do you require your music pastor, for example, to be in the office at 9 a.m. (when they may have had rehearsals until midnight the night before)? Is your youth pastor expected to work 70 hours a week (that wouldn't be in writing - but do they feel pressure from you to perform)? Do they know that you expect them to take days off, vacation time, study time, prayer time, and family time? I have a confession to make. I won't be home tonight. I wasn't home last night. And, I won't be home tomorrow night. This week is an exception. Sorry if this surprises you or sounds a bit hypocritical. I promise that I'll be home more next week. My family is enjoying Heavenly Ski Resort in Lake Tahoe with my brother and his family at their Time Share.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Well, now that I've gotten that off my chest - I feel better. :-)
The truth is, I did sign up for this:
- The good, the bad.
- The ups, the downs.
- The ins, the outs.
- The fun, the boring.
- The busy, the slow.
1 Timothy 1:12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;
Someone sent me a link on youtube yesterday that was encouraging to me. It was Howard Goodman (The Happy Goodmans) singing his signature song, "I Don't Regret a Mile." I haven't heard that song in years and yet it came at just the right time.
Sometimes you just have to remind yourself of Who called you! I'm thankful for the call and thankful for the opportunity to serve in the Kingdom.
Faithful & Fruitful,
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Paul was thrilled to claim Timothy as his son in the faith. I can imagine that Timothy was just as thrilled to have Paul as a spiritual father.
Both had a perspective of their relationship:
- Timothy was young and could be relied on.
- Timothy could check on the churches while Paul was under arrest.
- Paul could trust Timothy.
- Paul knew Timothy would handle problems/situations just like him.
- Timothy had proven his character.
- Timothy would take care of the churches just like Paul would.
- He had witnessed the highs and lows of ministry.
- He witnessed the miracles in Paul's ministry.
- He felt the love of his spiritual father.
Paul & Timothy serve to me as a model of "ministry mentorship" through their relationship. I guess that's why to this day we consider young men & women as "young Timothy's."
Relationships in ministry are vital! I realize that not everyone will be your "best friend" - however, we must place value on all the relationships God affords us.
I have practiced this model for many years now:
- Paul you're following
- Barnabas you're walking beside
- Timothy you're leading
Identifying my relationships in these three categories has brought clarity to each relationship.
I am also learning to adopt the following Five Levels of Relationship in my life, based on the relationships of Jesus & Moses:
- One - John the beloved
- Three - Peter, James & John
- Twelve - Disciples
- Seventy - Sent two by two
- Multitude - Showed up everywhere He went
- One - Joshua
- Three - Joshua, Aaron, Hur
- Twelve - 12 Tribes
- Seventy - Elders
- Multitude - a multitude came out of Egypt
My thoughts on this wonderful Wednesday....
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
This morning I slept in! It felt so good! I started watching some Christian programs and came across a well known preacher who had a public failure in his life many years ago. As I watched, I was thrilled to hear the message he was sharing. But, just like a human, I had this thought in the back of my mind... "ummm...wonder if he's walking in victory today?"
I guess the reason I thought that is because he didn't submit to a restoration process through those he claimed to be "hooked up" with. Although his calling and gifting's are evident and cannot be repented of, it just seems to me that if he had allowed the process by which he said he was submitted to - to WORK, then more than likely his audience would have a greater degree of trust in him today.
It's great that he's preaching...but who's listening? I don't want to ever be in that situation. Guys, we must stay "hooked up" with the man of God in our life.
Saul met Samuel in the city while en route to find his father's donkeys. Samuel had him spend the night with him before he left his side. On his way out of the city, Samuel told Saul "stand still awhile, while I show you the word of God." Literally, Samuel had made provisions for this future king - even when Saul knew nothing of his coming promotion. As long as Saul stay connected through obedience - he kept his covering.
However, he lost his covering when he walked in disobedience.
Who are you hooked up with?
Who's your daddy?
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Monday, March 9, 2009
The church which has grown from 32 to over 1200 under his leadership today is mourning their loss. Pastor Winters leaves behind his wife and 2 daughters and many friends who have obviously been shocked by the tragic event. Today many questions are unanswered and a family and church is left wondering why?
Today, I want to take a moment to honor a brother who has fallen in the line of duty. A man who gave his life doing what we do everyday, preaching the gospel and loving God's people. I did not know this man nor do I compare myself to him but today I honor him for his life and ministry to the people of Marysville and beyond. It will never be measured the countless lives his life has and will effect in the years to come. Even today many pastors like me are forced to re-examine our committment to the cause of Christ and willingness to lay down our lives for what we believe in. It is not easy I can tell you. I am a pastor, married with 2 girls just like him. I can only pray that I live each day making each moment count for none of us have been given the promise of tomorrow but only that God is the one holding it.
Today I pray for First Baptist Church in Marysville, his wife Cindy and his 2 girls. May the work he began continue and grow through this tragedy as God takes what the enemy intended for evil and turns it around for His Glory!
God Bless You Pastor Winters, my brother in Christ. Today we bless you and honor you for the life you lived for Christ!
Sunday, March 8, 2009
By now you have heard about the shooting that took place just outside of St. Louis in Maryville, IL at First Baptist Church. This really hits home with it being only a little over 100 miles from where I pastor. I ask that this week we keep this church and Pastor Winters' family in our prayers.
Pastor Winters was gunned down while in the pulpit this morning just after 8am in front of his 8am service congregation. He has Pastored this church for more than 22 years bringing it from 32 people to over 1200 in attendance. As i sent out the blog this morning to you concerning my overwhelming urge to pray for you, I did not know the magnitude of the need for that prayer. We never know why God speaks certain things to us and to what degree that the prayer could be needed.
I ask you to set aside some special time this week to pray for this church and Pastor's family. A man that is now enjoying his eternal home in heaven but leaving behind questions of why and a family to suffer the blow of the cost of ministry. A church to ask themselves how could this happen here. We lift them up in our prayers.
It is Sunday morning @ 11:05 am. I am getting ready to step onto the stage at clc to bring the message for God's people. As I was praying a few moments ago, i was overwhelmed by prayer for each of you. Even though you will not read this blog until your message is finished as you deliver it today, know that I prayed for the anointing of the Holy Spirit to speak through you.
Dear God I ask that you will speak through every man of God that is a part of this blog. As they speak the truth of God's word from the stage of their churches today, I ask that a fresh anointing will flow through them. I ask that you will break the yoke that sometimes straps us from reaching the full potential of delivering the message you have birthed inside our spirit. I ask that you will flow through each of them this day.
I speak this in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
I love you my brothers.
Saturday, March 7, 2009
Ecclesiastes 2: 1-11
We can learn from Solomon’s costly mistakes. The King of Israel desperately pursued several unrelated goals in a vain attempt to satisfy himself.
Ecclesiastes 2: 1-11 provides a good example of a leader who didn’t know how to get what he wanted.
By the time Solomon wrote these words, he had reached a high level of success – but still felt empty. He couldn’t put his finger on why fulfillment continued to escape him. Because he lacked focus, he searched high and low, experimenting with all kinds of goals, yet never achieved satisfaction. Sadly, he attempted to solve an inward problem with an outward solution.
The old axiom remains true: If you chase two rabbits, both will escape. This was certainly true of Solomon’s futile attempts to reach his varied goals. (He pursued 8 goals in Ecclesiastes 2 alone!). So what can we learn from this leader about focus??
He pursued too many things in too short a time.
He pursued the wrong goals to reach his desired outcome.
His self serving goals were all wrong.
He despaired because he never identified what he really wanted.
Solomon eventually did narrow his focus, but it took him a lifetime and an entire book to do so. He finally determined what really mattered and what he really wanted.
How about you as a Pastor/Leader?? Have you figured out your focus yet?? How do you make major decisions about your ministry?? Have you established a way to determine your focus based on what really matters or what really counts?? The checklist below might help us all to see where we need to invest our time and energy so ask yourself these questions when making decisions about things you are doing:
Is this consistent with my priorities?
Is this within an area of my competence?
Can someone else do it 80% as good as I can?? If so let them!!
Do I have the time??
When you say “yes” to an opportunity, get ready to focus. Make to-d0 lists. Set priorities. Avoid Clutter. Pursue excellence, but avoid perfectionism. Question everything. Do not Procrastinate. Control interruptions and distractions. Use the Calendar. And gracefully say NO to some good things so you can FOCUS on your priorities.
We must come to a place to learn that it is ok to say "NO" to some things people in our churches ask us to do. It is ok to say "NO" to certain programs that "CHURCH" people want to do. Really take a look at your church/ministry. Do the things in my day/week or do the things we do every week in our church reflect the Vision that God has given to us?? If not, it is time to FOCUS and do not fall prey to too many pursuits.
Friday, March 6, 2009
Which one are you?? Ha
Many people discover their dreams in a flash only after working in an area for years. Some receive it in a time of prayer while others are motivated by an event of their past. As we seek out our dreams in ministry and list our priorities at clc, follow these simple steps to move us forward to our dreams.
· Believe in your ability to succeed. You must believe that you can succeed if you are going to succeed.
· Get rid of the pride. People full of themselves usually don’t have much room left for life-changing dreams.
· Cultivate constructive discontent. Discontent is the driving force that makes people search for their dreams. Complacency never brings success.
· Escape from habit. Don’t accept what is, without considering, what could be.
· Balance creativity with Character. When it comes to dreams, truly successful people have enough creativity to think it out and enough character to try it out.
If we are going to accomplish much for the Kingdom of God it has to move beyond intention and become ACTION. Do you have an action plan?? Have you intended on doing something for a long time?? Maybe it is time you get up off your can and do it. If not then it will never get done!!
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Do what you do with Passion.
· Passion is the first step to achievement – Your desire determines your destiny. The stronger your fire, the greater the desire and the greater the potential.
· Passion increases your will power – there is no substitute for Passion. It is fuel for the will. If you want it badly enough, you can find the willpower to achieve it.
· Passion changes you – If you follow your passions – instead of others perceptions – you can’t help but become a more dedicated, productive person. In the end your Passion will have more influence than your personality.
· Passion make the impossible possible – Human beings are made so that whenever anything fires their soul, impossibilities vanish. A fire in your heart lifts everything in your life. A leader with great Passion and few skills always out performs a leader with great skills and no Passion.
Passion without a doubt must be the driving force of our ministries. If we are to make more than a small ripple in the ocean, we must have Passion. I believe for the impossible. It took Passion for Peter to get out of the boat when the others were scared. It took Passion for the woman with blood disorder to push her way through a crowd of thousands. It took Passion for the Samaritan to stop on the road when the religious walked by on their way to do God's work.
It is time for us to get up and get Passionate about people far from God. There is nothing that excites me more and gets more of my time, energy, effort and Passion than seeing someone accept Christ.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Today I thought I would list some conference resources that has been a great benefit to me. I usually try to attend 2-3 conferences each year outside of my district activity for spiritual renewal and growth. Hopefully some of these will be a benefit to you.
Creative Church Conference; aka C3; www.creativechurchconference.com
I just attended this conference 2 weeks back. This is the 5th year I have attended and taken some of my team with me. It is hosted by Ed Young Jr. at Fellowship Church in Dallas. It is the most inspirational conference I have ever attended. Even though it is a mega church of 20,000 people, Ed Young began with less than 100 people 20 years ago. I love it. It is a must. Check it out and you can even order the dvd set from the conference.
Exponential Conference: www.exponentialconference.org
This is a great conference for church planting and those desiring to expand their ministry through video venues or serving as a mothering church. It has 75 speakers with tons of breakout sessions. I attended this last year. Very powerful. Full of strategy and structural planning. It is hosted in Orlanda, FL. by New Thing Network.
The Sticks: www.thesticks.tv
I am getting ready to attend this conference desgined to bring large growth to small rural areas. This is a regional conference and one is coming up in Northern Arkansas. It is being hosted by a church located in a town of 400 people and 10 miles to the closest McDonalds. Brand New Church has grown from 50 people to almost 2000 with 3 video venues in 5 years in rural Arkansas. Not attended yet but can't wait to ck it out. I will definately give you an update.
This is a conference geared to the Next Generation. We have attended it for 3 years taking some of our team to it as well. It is very motivational with a stadium feel of usually 12,000-15,000 young leaders. It is hosted by Injoy, John Maxwell and has been located in Atlanta for several years. This year they have branched out to the West Coast with that Catalyst West Coast happening in just a few weeks. Great movtivational speakers from speakers such as Craig Groeshel, Andy Stanley, Rick Warren, Mark Sanborn, Seth Godin, Francis Chan, Erwin McManus, Rob Bell & Matt Chandler. Rocking Music with very creative and modern approach.
If there is some conference resource you would like to share, be sure to post it on the comments page. I always love hearing about things that are out there for a resource to grow our churches. Can't wait to hear from you guys.