Thursday, September 27, 2007

annual consultation

Today I had my first annual consultation with my new District Superintendent. I've been experiencing quite a bit of anxiety of late, due to the fact of a baby on the way (and now here!), a new job, a new town, many new challenges, etc. I didn't know what to expect in my consultation, but I was so blessed I cried (just for a moment) as I drove away. She began by praying in the Spirit (not in tongues) for me, my ministry, and my family. Then she discussed in depth the church I'm serving, the opportunities and challenges. She threw good ideas and resources at me. Most of all, she kept pointing me back to seeking God's will and to Jesus Christ over and over. Before I closed our meeting in prayer, she asked how she could pray for me over the next 6 months. I just wanted to brag on her for a minute and say how blessed I was by our meeting today.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

mclaren may be missing something

Here's a strong critique of Brian McLaren's new book. I have a love/hate relationship with McLaren. His stuff feels refreshing when I'm reading it, but afterward my faith has been filled with dangerous doubt. I have a hard time recommending him.

new birth

Last Sunday, I became a father for the third time! Its a girl. Born September 23, 2007, 8:39pm, 7lbs 8oz. I'm happy, tired, proud, grateful, sleep-deprive, and blown away by God's grace.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

one crazy guy

Here's a great article about contoversial pastor Mark Driscoll.

Friday, September 21, 2007

what's so amazing about grace?

I just picked up Philip Yancey's book What's So Amazing About Grace. The first chapter was so good I thought I'd share a few snippets:

"As I look back on my own pilgrimage, marked by wanderings, detours, and dead ends, I see now that what pulled me along was my search for grace. I rejected the church for a time because I found so little grace there. I returned because I found grace nowhere else."
- Philip Yancey

"The world can do almost anything as well as or better than the church. You need not be a Christian to build houses, feed the hungry, or heal the sick. There is only one thing the world cannot do. It cannot offer grace."
- Gordon MacDonald

"Many years ago I was driven to the conclusion that the two major causes of most emotional problems among evangelical Christians are there: the failure to understand, receive, and live out God's unconditional grace and forgiveness; and the failure to give out that unconditional love, forgiveness, and grace to other people.... We read, we hear, we believe a good theology of grace. But that's not thw way we live. The good news of the Gospel of grace has not penetrated the level of our emotions."
- David Seamands, counselor

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

problems are purifiers

One of the new roles I'm experiencing as a solo pastor is that all the sudden I am finding that I'm the CPS, that is, Chief Problem Solver. Whereas in the past, as an Associate, I could just take all the problems in and dump them on my buddy and former Senior Pastor, Phil, I have now inherited the job in my new setting.

For example, two weeks after I arrived here, my worship accompaniest took a job somewhere else that could give her more hours. It seemed like God's leading in her life. Good for her. For a month and a half we didn't have a regular accompaniest. We had to find someone to do it every week! I even did it with my guitar one week. A couple of weeks ago, the world's greatest worship accompaniest showed up in our office to talk to me about taking the job. I was blown away. He starts in October! I can't wait. God is good. However, yesterday I found out that our nursery attendant, who has been giving up being in worship for four years, is ready for a change. She misses being in worship! I can understand that. It sounds like God's leading in her life. So the cycle continues...

This is my new life, I guess! Solo pastor and Chief Problem Solver. This morning I was praying and asking God about how to put to death the anxiety and stress that goes with my new role as CPS. Then the thought came to my mind that the problems are the purifiers. The new barrage of problems will force me to take God's promises more seriously and to take my prayer life more seriously. This is actually not a challenge to my Christian peace, but the very training course that will perfect it.

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work, so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." - James 1:2-4

Monday, September 17, 2007

inspiring a shared vision

I just listened to an Andy Stanley talk about "Inspiring a Shared Vision" here. A very helpful message.

In the talk he basically offers three steps for communicating vision that people can get behind. His steps are taken from Nehimiah 2:17-18, which reads:
17 Then I said to them, "You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace." 18 I also told them about the gracious hand of my God upon me and what the king had said to me. They replied, "Let us start rebuilding." So they began this good work.

The steps are:
1) Define the problem, which engages the mind.

("You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire.")

2) Offer your solution, which engages the imagination.

("Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem.")

3) Present the reasons why it is urgent, which engages the heart.

("and we will no longer be in disgrace." I also told them about the gracious hand of my God upon me and what the king had said to me.)
Then you get buy in.
(They replied, "Let us start rebuilding." So they began this good work.)

generating generosity

“Giving frees us from the familiar territory of our own needs by opening our mind to the unexplained worlds occupied by the needs of others.”
~ Barbara Bush

“You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.”
~ Winston Churchill

“What I gave I have, what I spent I had; and what I left I lost.”
~ Robert of Doncaste

Thursday, September 13, 2007

word watching

Brian Bill posted a very good article that he wrote a few years ago called Watching Our Words. Check it out. Very helpful.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

"Attitudes are more important than facts."
- Karl Menninger

the impulse to pray

I came across this quote by Martyn Lloyd-Jones, which describes something I have often experienced:
"Always respond to every impulse to pray. The impulse to pray may come when you are reading or when you are battling with a text. I would make an absolute law of this – always obey such an impulse."

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

broken window theory

Here's an interesting post by my friend Joe McDonald, describing what is known as the Broken Window Theory. Its a fascinating concept. Joe's really been doing a terrific job of blogging out good stuff.

godly friends

So now I've been a solo pastor for almost two full months. A couple of days ago I ran into a pastoral challenge where I had absolutely no idea what to do. Then God's Spirit reminded me of one of the last things my friend Brian Bill, pastor of Pontiac Bible Church, said to me before I left Pontiac in July, when he came to my farewell reception. What were those words? They were: "You've got my number, right?"

When I emailed Brian with my pastoral challenge, he called my cell phone, helped me process the situation, and pointed me to some Scriptural guidance. God, speaking through Brian, led to a Kingdom building resolution to the issue.

One of God's greatest gifts to us as Christians is friends who say, "You've got my number, right?" who are a little further ahead of us in their journey with the Lord, who will help point us to Scriptural guidance and then pray us through. I've been blessed to have a few friends in my life that can do that for me, who have walked and do walk with me through all life's stuff. I'm very grateful for them.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

“If you think that the gathering of biblical facts and standing up with a Bible in our hand will automatically equip you to communicate well, you are deeply mistaken. You must work at being interesting. Boredom is a gross violation. Being dull is a grave offense. Irrelevance is a disgrace to the Gospel. Too often these three crimes go unpunished and we preachers are the criminals.”
- Chuck Swindoll

HT: Rick Warren's Ministry Toolbox

Friday, September 07, 2007

God, leadership, and mood

Yesterday I received an article about leadership and renewal in The Pastor's Coach. This line stood out:

"Daniel Goleman, principal author of Primal Leadership, draws upon new research and extensive field studies to conclude that the primary driver of outstanding organizational performance is the leader's mood."

Then this morning during my devotional time, I turned to a random page in My Utmost for His Highest, which happened to be May 20, and the reading was based on Luke 21:19. Here's the excerpt that stood out to me:

"There are certain things we must not pray about - moods, for instance. Moods never go by praying, moods go by kicking. A mood nearly always has its seat in the physical condition, not in the moral. It is a continual effort not to listen to the moods which arise from a physical condition, never submit to them for a second. We have to take ourselves by the scruff of the neck and shake ourselves, and we will find that we can do what we said we could not. The curse with most of us is that we won't. The Christian life is one of incarnate spiritual pluck."