Sunday, December 20, 2009

Here comes Christmas!!

Hey everyone! Just a reminder that Christmas is not about everything you have to get done in the next few days.

Take some time to worship at the manger of the little baby that would one day die for your sins.

Take time to be quiet and let Him speak to you.

Take time to sing a Christmas carol...REALLY sing it!!!

Take time to help someone out.

Take time to be with your family. And then...

...repeat, as often as you can. It'll help you stay focused on the important stuff.

Have a Merry Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

How to tick someone off... Luke 19:5-7

So I was reading the story of Zacchaeus today and the last portion of the story really struck a chord with me. Maybe it will with you, too...

Luke 19:5-7
5 When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.”

6 Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. 7 But the people were displeased. “He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,” they grumbled.

What stuck out to me is the fact that what caused Zacchaeus great joy caused a lot of other people to complain. The reason it grabs me is that I realized today that I have a hard time doing anything that could tick someone off because I don't want people to dislike me.

The second thing that stuck out to me goes a little deeper with that vein of thought. You see, it is important to realize that if you're gonna tick people off, you wanna make sure that you are messing with the right people. Jesus went out of His way to bring joy to people who were hurting, like Zacchaeus. He also didn't mince words with people that used religion to control others or gain clout.

God help me to be the kind of person who brings great joy to the Zacchaeus's of the world. Help me to not be afraid of the crowd of complainers that will never be happy anyway. You are my source and the reason I exist. I want to please You!


Sunday, November 29, 2009



So I was sick for the better part of this week. I am back on my feet after a toe-to-toe with some nasty flu bug and I am alive, and wiser for it.

Let me explain...

On last Friday (Nov. 20, while I was still healthy) Cori and I attended the ARC conference in DC and were blessed beyond words by the ministry of this church planting group, their heart for the everyday people and for the planters who will reach them. During one of the sessions on spiritual foundations, Billy Hornsby, the founder and energy behind ARC, stressed the importance of prayer in the life of a church planter for his own health, vision and strength to carry out this call. I nodded my head and even tweeted about how I was gonna make prayer a higher priority in my life. Here's what I learned:

A tweet does not make prayer a higher priority in my life..I do!! I feel as if this sickness was a direct result of my failure to make prayer a permanent priority in my new vision as a church planter. That's why I am renewing my commitment to pray over my family, my health and my vision so that I can stay active for God with more consistency and clarity in the coming months.

There's more though...I need you! God has also showed me the power of covering prayers from those who are walking with me through these experiences and I am asking God for several people to join in prayer over my family, integrity, health and ministry as I make this huge leap to bring more people into God's family. So, will you join me by simply checking this blog once a week? During that time, I ask you to pray for protection over my family and for whatever God is doing in me that week.

That's it!! Please comment back (or email me) if you plan to do this so that I know who I can lean on in times when I need the prayers of saints offered in my direction. Thanks for considering it!


Monday, November 2, 2009

Location, location, location...

Alright, I have had so many questions swirling around where the Intersection is going to be! Many have been asking me what community will be affected by this passionate group of crazy Freedom Valley people that want to start a new site. Therefore I have decided to post this blog to dispel any rumors or control any misinformation that may be circulating at this time.

Drum roll, please....

The Intersection is going to be...somewhere cool. That's all I can tell you for sure right now. I have looked at several locations in Adams County over the past 5 months and have created a short list of possible locations that I have included below.

Obviously, I did a poor job of dispelling any rumors. However, the real reason for this post is to ask you to pray with me. I know that we are called to Adams County, but the exact location (township, borough, etc.) is still unclear to me. I would love God to appear to me in the clouds and say to me with a deep, God-like voice "Go here...," but He hasn't yet. I need God's wisdom to decide from this short list.

37 N. 4th St. (Formerly the Elks, behind LaBella's)
The former boxing gym on Washington St. near the intersection with Middle St.
Gettysburg Recreation Park
Gettysburg College Student Union Building
The Outlets (at the intersection of Rt. 15 & 97)
New Oxford
"The Ox" (Near the Cross Keys McDonald's)

This is not a complete list of the properties I have researched, but these are the front-runners and the ones that capture my imagination the most. Please pray with me that God would reveal His heart enough for me to make a wise decision in this matter. Any feedback is appreciated...I would LOVE to hear your take on these properties or any others that would make a great church that I haven't thought of.


Monday, October 19, 2009

1st Letter of Clement-"Greater things have yet to come..."

I was reading the 1st letter of Clement today as a study of the 2nd generation of church fathers and it struck me how the present day church faces many of the same challenges that the church of Clement's time faced. By the time Clement entered the scene in the Third century, the church had already become embroiled in meaningless arguments and had largely fallen away from the spirit of Christ's teachings and works that characterized the church in the Book of Acts. They had become dogmatic, regimented and territorial. In fact, the Acts generation was dying off as Clement spoke up in these two epistles that bear his name.

Although they are not considered to be inspired, I was struck by a key phrase that stuck out to me as I read. Throughout the letter he describes "lowliness of mind" as a prerequisite to getting the church back on track. It seems to be a way of life that gives others the benefit of the doubt and refuses to draw unnecessary lines of distinction between people with different beliefs and manners, customs and traditions. It always assumes the best and never takes record of wrongs...sound familiar? 1 Corinthians 13..., anyone...?

I believe that "lowliness of mind" is a starting place for revolution in the church, and I have the goal in my sights. May God once again resurrect the Acts generation in our time and may Christ's love be the underpinnings for the greatest move of God the world has seen yet. (Ephesians 3:16-19)

"God, I am asking you to reveal what it means to be meek and lowly of mind in this generation and raise up everyday leaders who exhibit this characteristic as a general rule. You can start with me if You want to..."

Greater things have yet to come. Greater things are still to be done...


Friday, October 16, 2009

ACTS 10- God's Justice...

So, Cori and I were reading Acts 10 this morning and we have some things that stand out to us in regards to how the church should operate in the world today. With unemployment at an all-time high and people everywhere struggling to keep afloat in life, the church has an opportunity like no other to extend God's justice to those who hurt most. The bottom line is that we are living in the perfect age to begin a new kind of Christian crusade that will give rather than take, heal instead of destroy.

Looking at Cornelius in this story, we see:
  • He was already praying and taking care of those in need around him (God's justice)
  • These daily habits in his life attracted God's attention and favor
  • God knew that he would be obedient to the word God had for him
  • God used this man's obedience to open the door for the Gospel to come to a whole new group of people
What can we, as a church, learn from this passage? Cori and I believe that we need to restore the understanding of "works" in the church today. You see, in our urgency to be defined by grace, we have had a tendency to sweep works under the rug. When Jesus shares the story of the sheep and goats in Matthew 25, he makes it clear that the only thing that separates the two groups of people is what they did (and didn't) do.

Of course, I do not want to downplay the role of grace and salvation, but I think that we have lost touch with the theology of works in relation to grace. Let's become a church that is known for it's works of mercy, compassion and justice....a church that attracts God's attention, every day.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The craziest weekend...ever!!!

I am glad that I survived...the craziest weekend ever! Between surgery, family life, new responsibilities and careful coordination of several tasks and volunteers, I feel like I have been stretched to the ultimate limit...but I've been here before.

Cori's surgery was a success and I thank God for her. She is the most beautiful woman in the world and she has taken the firmest of steps to live in a healthy way. Much love, Cori!!!

I also thank God that He loves me enough to make me grow and challenge the status quo in my life. I may have nearly exhausted myself this weekend, but I must remember that my strength comes from the Lord and that He is pleased when I am not ok with staying the same. I look to this weekend I realize that if I am stretching my faith for great things, I must sacrifice myself greatly! Therefore, I can say truthfully that I hope this coming weekend will stretch me even more!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

I had to share this short read by Craig Groeschel...All credit for the material goes to him, just please read it!!!


Undivided: the Real You Must Be Whole
By Craig Groeschel

Undivided, By Craig Groeschel

We were young, we had babies crawling everywhere, and we were considering buying a state-of-the-art baby swing for our backyard swing set. Deterred by the exorbitatnt price for a glorified piece of plastic, we had put it on hold.

Then one day in a neighborhood garage sale, there it was! Between an Arthur Ashe wooden tennis racket and an eight-inch ceramic dolphin, we saw the very swing we’d been eyeing in the kids’ megastore catalog. God had provided – for just $30!

Although I would have gladly paid $50 for the slightly used answer to our prayers, my negotiation mode kicked in. I offered the owner $15, and it was on. Back and forth we went. Then I pulled my ace. I humbly explained that I was the pastor of a small church. “Could you find it in your heart to give me a break?” I asked politely. “I only have $20, and this swing would be perfect for my children.”

She softened and agreed. Feeling triumphant, I opened my wallet. The only bill I had was a hundred.


Why does integrity seem like such a complicated issue? Why do we even have to talk about it? It almost seems like it should go without saying: If you want to fully follow Christ, then integrity is not optional. It’s mandatory. (Even for – perhaps especially for – pastors negotiating for a plastic garage-sale swing.)

As ministers, we’re often vulnerable to integrity lapses during two times: in our greatest successes and in our greatest trials. When God is blessing your ministry, it’s tempting to think you’re above the rules. And when you’re struggling, it’s easy to rationalize sin. Although a minister may never verbally acknowledge or consciously admit to one of these temptations, they’re there:

They just don’t understand what I’m going through …
This is the only vice I have …
This helps me disconnect …
I can’t be perfect …
No one knows about this anyway …
God is still using me …

As with all sin, these thoughts are rooted in self-centeredness rather than in God-centeredness. It’s easy to justify ourselves: I’ve earned _____. The truth is, we’ve all sinned, so all we’ve “earned” are death, hell, and the grave.

What is integrity anyway, and why does it matter? By definition, integrity is a “firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values.” Easy enough. If we follow Christ, we can maintain integrity by living the standards in God’s Word. But stopping with the first definition sells integrity short. Further examination reveals this meaning: “the quality or state of being complete or undivided.”

It matters because if you lack integrity, not only are you impaired in doing ministry to your fullest potential, but you’re also not complete. Your ministry can’t fire on all cylinders. Your intimacy with God is lacking. You struggle to hear His voice. You’ve hindered His blessings. And you’re breaking His heart.

There’s no wiggle room here. Some ministers almost seem to think they can fake integrity: if no one knows about my sin, then it doesn’t count – does it? Consider several other words that don’t mean exactly the same thing, but are directly related to integrity: Authenticity. Opennes. Decency. Honor. Incorruptibility. Principle. Sincerity. Soundness. Virtue. Wholeness. Honesty.

Here’s a useful exercise to test whether you demonstrate a standard of integrity. Describe yourself aloud using the list of qualities above: “Craig has integrity. Craig is authentic. Craig exhibits openness …” (But use your own name. It’s just creepy when you say it with mine.) As you say these, are they true? If it feels like lying at any point, then you’ve got some things to address. Maybe you look wonderful to everyone around you. But are you really just a whitewashed tomb?

If integrity is so critical to fulfilling our role in spreading the gospel, then why is it occasionally lacking in ministry? First, it’s because we have an enemy – simple as that. “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8 NIV)

If someone’s just skating through life, “believing” in God, but not really actively participating “on the front lines,” they’re no threat to the enemy. However, when you engage, when you’re personally vested in advancing God’s kingdom, when you’re “all in,” guess what? There’s a big target on your back, with your head raised up above the crowd. Keep your guard up, or you’re never going to last.

Second, you can’t do it alone. Read that again: You can’t do it alone. Verse 9 clues us in: “Resist him, standing firm in the faith …” And why? “Because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings” (emphasis mine). We can’t find integrity without each other – so we can’t go it alone.

That’s why one of our enemy’s most effective weapons is divide and conquer. And we’re often vulnerable to this line of attack. Why? As ministers, we’ve often been let down or burned in relationships. Whether consciously or unconsciously, we often become more cautious, more distant, more isolated.

We should never keep a life in Christ to ourselves. We urge the people we lead to participate in community. We encourage them again and again to get into small groups with other Christ followers. We must practice what we preach. We must open our hearts and invite others in. If we don’t, we’ll always be vulnerable.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NIV)

These things are probably obvious. I get it, Craig. Integrity’s important. But how do you DO it? I’m glad you asked.

Accountability is crucial. A minister or spiritual leader without accountability is begging for spiritual attack, and always more vulnerable to integrity breaches.

If you’re going to be the real deal, then take bold action. You can’t eliminate temptation from your life. But you can make it harder for it to reach you. With strong accountability, you can make spiritual or moral failure much harder to find.

I try to place significant barriers between me and temptation. Build walls distancing you from sin – not from people. Nehemiah surrounded himself with warrior-masons and rebuilt the city walls, and they simultaneously watched each other’s backs.

Our leaders have agreed on a few practical policies that both protect me from temptation and set a good example for others:

  • I never travel out of town overnight alone.
  • I have zero access to the church’s finances.
  • I’m never alone with a woman besides my wife.
  • Two other people review all my Internet activity.
  • All outside ministry invitations are reviewed by others.
  • Leaders ensure I take enough time off to rest.

When I talk one-on-one to our staff members about integrity, I’ll say, “Tell me, out loud: what are the three most vulnerable areas in your life?” Sharing these aloud with a trusted advisor or counselor is a critical first step toward success. Willingness to expose your most vulnerable points brings you closer to defeating them.

Zig Ziglar says to share your “give-up” goals with everybody. Here are some examples: “I’m going to quit …

… criticizing other ministries.”
… watching inappropriate shows for a quick escape.”
… comparing our church to the one down the road.”
… letting my finances spin out of control.”
… relying on sleeping pills at night and coffee in the morning.”
… holding bitterness against those who let me down.”

Share every goal with your spouse. Review my earlier list of integrity-related qualities. You cannot live true integrity if you’re willing to keep secrets from your spouse.

Sharing (or confession) has two components: Confess to God, who faithfully forgives. Confess to each other to receive healing. Doing only half yields only half the results.

You may even make another step of confession. Invite a trusted Christian counselor into your journey. Several years ago, I swallowed my pride and invited a professional to help me overcome some nagging challenges. Do whatever it takes.

I’ll leave you with some deliberate questions for reflection that have helped me:

  • Am I more like Christ today than I was a year ago?
  • Am I wholly surrendered?
  • Am I carrying a sinful secret that needs to be confessed?
  • What am I afraid of someone finding out?
  • Does anyone know me? The real me?

Craig Groeschel is the founder and senior pastor of, an evangelical Christian multi-site church with multiple locations in Arizona, Oklahoma, and Texas that feature live satellite video services. Craig is married with six children and lives in Oklahoma.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Dependence on the Holy Spirit

My day today begins with a simple prayer to be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. I have to depend on His ability today, not mine. I am asking Jesus to fill me again with the power from Heaven that keeps my heart from following after sin. Instead, I choose to be led by the desire to do God's will in every situation He brings me to today.

He will improve my effectiveness as a father, minister and follower of Christ. It is His power, not mine. Come and fill me again Holy Spirit!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Handling stress

Jesus life and ministry was filled with moments of intense, stressful circumstances and adversity. However, He always managed to stay cooler than Obama at an NRA convention. I often wonder why I can't manuever through stress in the same manner. Jesus seems to breeze through crowds of angry opponents and death threats like a hot knife through butter. I think that Jesus' perspective on things made Him view life and it's circumstances with a confidence that comes from knowing their outcome has eternal ramifications. Plus, He is God...

I am not God...but I have the ability to ask Him for help when I face tough spots in my life. Since I agreed to do His will in starting a new church, I have been subjected to some severe stress like I have never experienced before, but I am finding that it is easier to be cool-headed and steady in the midst of these rough patches. I am more than a conqueror...and so are you! Don't lose your head over the stress of life. Stay close to the Father and let Him tell you what He thinks about the turbulence in your life. His perspective is perfect.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Making myself a priority...

I have been working through some of Nelson Searcy's material on creating a one year personal growth plan and I have felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit concerning my current modus operandi. I am generally (not always) a selfless person by nature, but there is a problem with that. I often place so much importance on taking care of others, that I forget to take care of myself.

In other words, I feel God speaking to me to get very intentional in challenging myself to greater goals of righteousness, personal accountability and ministry effectiveness every 365 days. Within that time, I will make rest, personal growth and leadership goals that will stretch me to be a radically more influential individual in the Kingdom.

I have already begun this process on a smaller scale with the 6x6 coaching and I can feel the joy of the Holy Spirit as I have asked Him for the grace to stretch those goals out over a greater period of time. During the space of time from Sept. 2009 to the end of Aug. 2010, I will set some very clear and measurable goals for my daily, weekly and monthly investment of time to get me where Jesus wants me. I realize that the investment of time is the most valuable investment I can make for my personal and spiritual growth.

It is my belief that a life is wasted minute by minute so I am resolved to trim the wasted time out of my week. I will also learn how to keep control of my calendar so that I am not tossed around by every need that pops up in the course of a day. Stay tuned, I'll keep everyone updated...

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Obvious Way

My brain is swirling with all the new things coming down the pike for me. The next few weeks have a flurried, hurried pace built into them that should make me edgy or concerned, but I am not. This isn't because I am ignorant to the demands on my time money and leadership, on the contrary I have found that I am able to manage more than I ever dreamed as I have adopted Jesus' take on the responsibilities of life.

Jesus was not moved by the intense pressures of his life, family ministry and career because He maintained a close relationship with His Father in heaven. the way to lead. I have begun a new chapter in my leadership of His church over the last 6 weeks. It seems to me that the obvious way to lead is to stay so close to the Father, that no one sees what I am doing for God. Instead I want to see what He is doing in the lives of the people I influence, love and care for. I am an observer of His grace everyday. What a great mission!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Not good enough.

Never felt more inadequate than I do tonight...

It could be because of all the transition in my life and it could be because I am too passionate about...well, everything. Most likely it's because I've gotten my eyes off of who God is making me. I look at the people God has placed around me and spend too much time wishing I could improve myself to be good at the things they are good at. This whole problem is exacerbated by the fact that I have lost a huge part of the identity that made me special in my own mind.

God, I am going to bed tonight, asking for your grace so I can see me like you want me to be.

The power in pain

Today I am singing in the funeral of a young man, killed in an accident in Gettysburg on Saturday afternoon. I cannot even begin to imagine the pain that the family is feeling, but I do wonder how I would handle that degree of grief in my life. This week I am teaching the concept of the threshing floor and how faith changes the way we react to everyday troubles and big pain. I believe that God is showing me through this circumstance that faith in Christ is the thing that turns pain into power for life.

Pain without faith kills, but pain + faith = power. I have decided ahead of time that I want to kill the "victim voice" in me so that when pain comes, large or small, I will be able to come through on the other end with more ability to rebound and overcome the big pains in my life. God forbid that I ever have to face pain of this magnitude, but if I do I am thankful that my faith in Christ will make me more than a conqueror.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The new rule...

Christians tend to approach social hot-topics like martyrs. We complain because so called "wicked" people are running things, and yet, we have the greatest tool to combat the tide of brokenness that has surrounded our culture...sharing our own experience of faith!

Therefore, I propose a new rule:

The rule: If you haven't shared your faith in the last 6 months you have no right to speak out against abortion or gay marriage.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Church Planting Bootcamp Pt. 1

Okay...It's Wednesday and my team and I have been going after what God wants to do through us in Gettysburg. He has been giving us more wisdom and direction moment by moment and I have to share some of it!

The Intersection will be a place where individuals can find renewed creativity, encouragement and acceptance in Christ, through expressed individuality. We will help people to discover, develop, demonstrate and deploy their natural talents in community with one another through training, commissioning and mentoring."

Put simply,

The Intersection is where faith and creativity meet!

You see, I believe everyone is an artist. If you are not it's probably because you stopped believing you are. This may be because of a careless word from a family member or a misguided attempt to develop talents or abilities that were never present to begin with.

Few people consider themselves to be artists, but everyone wants to be seen as creative. God put that Divine spark within each of us when He made us in His likeness, but many of us suffer from a "creativity blockage" that dooms us to a ho-hum existence with no place for Godly imagination and vision.

I am on a mission to restore Godly creativity
through the transforming grace of Christ at work in our our families and communities.

What would happen if...
  • We could imagine the solution to homelessness
  • We could dream up the answer to world hunger
  • We could think up the cure for cancer, aids and all the world's diseases
  • We could daydream an end to hate and murder, lying and brokeness
...of course, these things are foolish statements of impossibility, right?

I believe that these are the things God thinks about all day long. God forgive us for our small, self-serving plans and schemes. Instead, may we be filled with a sense of urgency, because as we seek the answer to His problem, He will take care of ours. (Matthew 6:33)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Beethoven's Late String Quartets

Beethoven was always an innovator. The music he penned (especially near the end of his life) pushed the instruments and players of his time to their limits and often earned him the criticism of his fellow composers and artists. Even a young Franz Schubert, who would eventually search the same musical paths as Beethoven, accused him of being too visceral and brusque, in the composition of the "late string quartets."

By the time these quartets were released to the public, it was fairly commonly rumored that Beethoven was hearing impaired and it became easy fodder for those who openly resisted Beethoven's progressive art. What is interesting to me is that innovators are often ridiculed, maligned or dismissed as they step out and bare their souls in their chosen medium, whether it be music, art or business. However, he refused to listen to those who didn't understand him because he believed that the music he wrote came straight from God and because of that, we are left with some of the most honest and powerful music ever composed.

You have a song in may be misunderstood by others or criticized by many, but what is important is whether you recognize that your song is given to you by God. Because when that is unquestioned, sharing your song becomes the most important thing in your world and no criticism can stop you from getting it out!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Intersection: "Where faith and creativity meet!"

Everybody wants to see themselves as creative. Not everyone considers themselves as such. What would happen if people began to see the God-given creativity that is deposited in each of us? That is where we are going. That is our journey at the Intersection...

I believe that God has spoken to me concerning the arts, creativity and God's purpose for it in this day and age. Through the voice of the Holy Spirit and many counselors I believe that I have gotten some real clarification on who "The Intersection" is called to reach.

Here's the deal, I believe that God has given me the ability to draw gifts out of people who don't always see those gifts in themselves. My heart is to see wounded artists healed to a place where they can once again pursue the passion of their hearts. I desire to see a wave of Godly creativity raised up in my generation that crashes like a tsunami of holiness upon the waste places of today's entertainment driven society.

"God, make me the standard-bearer for the next generation of Godly artists. Help me to stand up to the Goliath that screams at the people of God in our day and age! Help me bring down the giant, our broken culture of excess and MTV zombies! You are able to do this and I am asking you to use me!"

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Blockage

It has been a whole month since I posted anything. It is an unusual blockage and I am happy to announce that the blockage is remedied. It has been a rough month, but I have come through this battle wiser for the wear. I will be posting what God has been doing soon and cannot wait to share with you.

There has been a seismic shift in my thinking and I can't wait to see how God moves me in the next season of my life! Stay tuned...


Monday, February 9, 2009

The man with all the talents...

I was reading a story from Matthew 25 in my daily bible reading this morning. It is a story Jesus told, and I have heard from my youth, but I have to say that it has never challenged me as it did this morning. The story is about a wealthy ruler who hands the stewardship of his wealth over to three servants. To one servant he gave five talents, to another he gave two and to the third one he gave one. Time passed and when the wealthy ruler returned he called for the servants to present themselves (and his money).

The servant with five talents brought ten back because of his skill with money and hard work. The second servant brought four as a blessing to his master, but the third guy brought only the original talent that he was given because he was afraid to do anything with the money that was risky.

The master praised the first two and called them "good and faithful" but the third guy got the proverbial boom lowered on him. The master said "take the one talent from him and give it to the man with ten talents" and then the master ordered the lazy servant to be cast out forever.

Now, I have always considered "talents" to be a euphemism for abilities or finances that can be invested in Kingdom work to glorify God and this is not wrong, but there is another aspect to this story...

God has been calling me to a greater level of evangelism than I have ever known. The act of bringing people to a living relationship with Christ is something that the Holy Spirit wants all of us to work for. In Matthew 18:14, Jesus said it this way "It is not my Father's will that even one of these little ones should perish." (NIV)

For the first time, this morning, I began to see people as talents, entrusted to me by the Father above. Each individual is so valuable to my Father and my life is the single talent, given to me by the Father. It is up to me to share that talent, sometimes in risky ways, to see other talents, these "little ones," brought into the Father's loving care. I do not want to stand before God on the last day, only to present his original investment back to Him. I want to see that investment compound and flourish as I pour myself out to reach the ones God is still searching for...His "little ones".

Father, give us a burden for these little ones. Help me to make good decisions about how I spend my time and energy today so that more people will come into relationship with You. I pray this in Jesus name.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The kind of person Jesus is amazed by (Luke 7:1-10)

What kind of person would amaze Jesus? It is recorded in the Gospel of Luke chapter 7 as the story of a Roman officer's faith.

The short version is that there was a Roman officer who had a valued servant. This servant was very sick, near death even. When he heard about Jesus he sent for him and asked him to come and heal this sickly servant. The Jewish entourage sent by the Roman officer spoke very highly of him and begged Jesus to come to his aid.

Jesus began his journey to the house of this centurion, but he is stopped by another entourage from this Roman officer. The message they brought is powerful and full of faith. His message is, "Jesus, you don't even need to come to my house for my slave to be healed, say the word from wherever you are and he will be healed."

This is paraphrased, of course, but you get the idea. There are some things that stick out to me. First, here is a Roman officer who is well loved by his Jewish counterparts! This is unheard of because the Romans and the Jews were bitter enemies. This surely must have gotten Jesus attention because of his own unusual nature and compassionate tendencies. This officer was a kind and generous man with lots of friends who are happy to help him in his time of need.

Secondly, it is clear that this officer had faith in Jesus' authority. Although he had never met Jesus personally he makes astounding declarations about Jesus' power and authority over the servant's sickness. He even pushes the envelope on his own faith saying that Jesus did not even have to come to the house to bring healing to it. This "pagan" had the ability to ask for more than what was practical or reasonable among Jesus' own followers.

Finally, Jesus says that this man had more faith than anyone He had seen in Israel. This is astounding because one would think that this amazing individual would have been someone who bathed in anointing oil and could quote the fundamentals of orthodox faith. There is nothing wrong with being a good religious person, unless that religion lacks faith. Hebrews 11:6 says " is impossible to please God without faith." (NLT) Has your belief system squeezed out every drop of true faith and replaced it with mechanisms of piety that keep you (and God) appeased in your own mind but not in reality?

You see, it is often outsiders who are willing to push the boundaries of faith and religion because they are not encumbered with fear of getting it wrong, or making God angry. The ironic thing is that "faithless religion" is the thing that guarantees God being displeased with you. I want my understanding of religion to be alive and full of "God-pleasing" faith. That is why I am stretching myself to ask God for stuff that doesn't make sense. I want to have faith like this centurion from the outside. I've been on the inside for a long time. I was raised in the church, but I am determined not to let that disqualify me from seeing the impossible.

God, help me to have faith that amazes you!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Bring the booze...

Lifestyle evangelism is nothing new. In fact, it is a bit of a buzz word in a lot of Christian circles right now. Put succinctly, it is the ability to lead people to Jesus with every aspect of your life and not just your words. I thought I understood this concept, until today.

I was reading a story from the gospels about Jesus changing the water into wine at the wedding in Cana and reflecting on my own experiences as a pastor at weddings I have officiated. Here's the thing that struck me. Jesus brought the booze...

Don't get mad at me, that was meant to shock you. Did it work? Think about it. Jesus obviously was not promoting evil in any way, but He was not concerned about propriety or the appearance of evil, which is often a misused idea anyway. You see, the people at this wedding had been drinking for days by the time Jesus arrived. I think its safe to say that some of them were plastered. But Jesus embraced the humanity of those around Him so that He could get the chance to move in close and show them real love.

Many of our neighbors and friends are daily beaten by the failures in their own minds and what happens when they come in to church? They get a heaping helping of guilt and condemnation. Now, I am not saying that I condone ridiculous behavior and debauchery, but I am saying that we can't be afraid to embrace it openly in the people we minister to, day in and day out, in the hopes that they will see Someone in us that will change their lives for the good.

Here's the test. Do you run away from the chance to meet people that do not share your faith to begin with? Do you avoid people of different faiths than you? Does someone's sexual orientation or behavior make you think twice about getting to know them? Do you want people to meet God on your terms or are you willing to break a sabbath rule to reach out to someone who may never have the chance to see God in you again?

Monday, January 12, 2009

New vision and comfort...

...These things don't seem to fit together. They don't take long strolls on the beach sipping mimosas and talking about the good old days. They are not like peas and carrots. They would not find each other on eHarmony. They are not even in the same zip code. They are like Clark Kent and Superman, as soon as one appears you start asking where the other one went.

At this moment, I am wondering where the comfort went.

Doubt, fear and uncertainty are certainly a certainty when you take on new vision, for certain, but there is something I am discovering as I embrace the discomfort. When the pressure of achieving this new vision becomes overwhelming to the point that I am breathing through a brown paper bag to avoid hyperventilation, I remind myself that it is not my job to sustain this work. It was given by Him and therefore He will sustain it (and me) when it seems insurmountable. Suddenly, I experience comfort in the presence of this new vision. They are compatible, but only when Christ is in the center of the equation.

All of us on staff at Freedom Valley are stretching ourselves beyond what seems possible, Vision '09 is proof of that. However, we are asking for things that are beyond what seems possible. It's a lot like when my 4 year old son Samuel tries to help me with something I am working on. More often than not he ends up undoing what I have done as quick as I have done it. I feel a lot like Samuel right now.

God help us not to rip this thing out of your hands, but allow us to persevere in faith. If we wait on Him we might be involved in the next upper room experience to visit the earth. I choose to wait upon the Lord...but I am waiting with one hand on the plow and the other raised towards heaven.


Sunday, January 4, 2009

One foot in front of the other...How to start a site. I think.

Ok. I have surrendered my ambitions to Him and I have begun to experience the most enjoyable discomfort I have ever known. A friend of mine always used to say to me, "The moment you give your life to Christ is the last comfortable moment you will ever have!" He is right...

I have decided to plant a site/church. I have no idea how to do that. Still, I am going to press on, one foot in front of the other to try and pull some thoughts out of the soupy swamp that is my head so that I can see the next season of my life the way God sees it. This is my attempt at creating a 1 year time line for this church plant...(don't laugh, it's harder than you might think) So here goes...

Essentials: (forever and ever, amen)
  • Pray constantly
  • Fast weekly
  • Be led by the Holy Spirit
  • Push toward the outside (be evangelistic)
  • Stay close to Jesus

Long Term: (10-12 mos. from today)
  • Weekly services begin
  • Volunteer worship team (leaders) developed to launch
  • Volunteer kids' ministry team (leaders) developed to launch
  • Occupying site by lease (Outlet mall, shopping center, et al.)
  • Operating daily at new site with outreach programs and ministry activities
  • Fast one 24 hour period each month in addition to weekly fast
Short Term: (6-10 mos. from today)
  • Small group meeting in monthly preview services
  • Volunteer worship team (leaders) in place and in training
  • Volunteer kids' ministry team (leaders) in place and in training
  • site location secured and finalized
  • Leadership network organized to create ministry opportunities in new site
  • Fast one 24 hour period each month in addition to weekly fast
Shorter Term: (4-6 mos. from today)
  • Small group (launch team) meeting monthly with worship and bible study
  • Leadership training for ministry leaders in full swing with 5-10 people involved
  • Site name and focus will be determined
  • Develop leadership network and fill matrix with potential leaders
  • Finish credentialing process with AG
  • Complete church planting boot camp
  • Complete church planters evaluation process with Tom Reese
  • Fast one 24 hour period each month in addition to weekly fast
  • Pray with core leadership team weekly to develop vision further
Even Shorter Term (2-4 mos. from today)
  • Develop monthly small group meeting in home
  • Begin credentialing process with AG
  • Meet bi-monthly with church planting/sites team and coach
  • Fast one 24 hour period each month in addition to weekly fast
  • Pray for more vision and write it down (Habakkuk 2:2)
(This list is in no way complete, but it's a start)

Please pray with me that I can do this with faithfulness and complete dependence on God. Thanks people.