Monday, December 22, 2008

Advent in Another Light



Photos like this one I found on digg.com helps me see beyond my finite imagination into what the Day of Lord may look like.

Revelation 19:11-16
The Message

Then I saw Heaven open wide—and oh! a white horse and its Rider. The Rider, named Faithful and True, judges and makes war in pure righteousness. His eyes are a blaze of fire, on his head many crowns. He has a Name inscribed that's known only to himself. He is dressed in a robe soaked with blood, and he is addressed as "Word of God." The armies of Heaven, mounted on white horses and dressed in dazzling white linen, follow him. A sharp sword comes out of his mouth so he can subdue the nations, then rule them with a rod of iron. He treads the winepress of the raging wrath of God, the Sovereign-Strong. On his robe and thigh is written, King of kings, Lord of lords.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Book Review: Welcome to College by Jonathon Morrow

Fresh out of High School and that last summer break, you pack up your child and send them out into the world. You have had 18 years to prepare them for the world, and now you send them out into it. Your biggest concern is for their safety and that maybe they will call home now and again. But what about their faith? Have you, your church, and their youth group been enough? Are they strong enough? Do they know where to find the answers? Do you?

Morrow provides a handy and engaging resource for just this dilemma. The book is as wise as it is current. Designed not just for full reading but also a flash-point resource, the book is packed with Godly wisdom, practical advice and “been there, done that” experiences. A synopsis of each chapter provides a quick review. Written for the college student or a mentor, this book has value for anyone who has ever been perplexed about the complex issues surrounding college. It is a relevant work in helping you to think Christianly, live Godly, build your faith, and defend God and his word. All this is in easily digestible bits for the student on the run.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Efficiency and Effectiveness: Making the Most of the Day

Lately, I have been leaving the normal work day feeling under accomplished and scattered. It feels like a miracle if I can dedicate more than 15 minutes to a single task without being interrupted. Your personality strengths can cast shadows of weakness. Like the shadow cast from an object by the sun, efficiency is a strength and an enemy. Efficiency is not effectiveness. Producing something fast does not mean it is effective. In addition, I thought being efficient would free up more time. Funny thing how the work is never finished. This realization began several months ago and a few thoughts have generated since.

First, effectiveness is when enough of the right things are done right. Are you doing something you could easily delegate to someone else—to someone who is more skilled, better suited, or is spiritually gifted for that particular task? Spend most of your time using your natural talents. I am most effective for the organization when I am doing the tasks that I do best well.

Secondly, learn to say no. Too many people are measuring how effective or important they are by how many tasks they can keep in the air at a given moment. Divorce yourself of the idea that long hours and accomplishment are connected. We all know a computer runs at its slowest when it has too many operations open at once. The same applies to our lives.

Thirdly, there is a clear relationship between how fast you acquire news and how much it costs to discover that news. For example, you can check your email twice a day pretty easily. Once every fifteen minutes has a disruption cost. Ringing your phone every sixty seconds is an extremely expensive efficiency choice. What was initially meant to make me more efficient has produced the inability to focus for more than 15 minutes on a single task. Turn it off.

Finally, if you spend your meeting checking your text messages, sending email, and surfing the internet, then no, you are not productive. However, if you know how and when to use these tools properly, then technology can definitely increase your efficiency.

Anyone who feels frustration and distraction during the work day...I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Dangerous Act of Worship by Mark Labberton

In Mark Labberton's recent book The Dangerous Act of Worship, worship is defined as the dangerous act of waking up to God and God's purposes in the world. When we gather corporately, we often close our eyes to those around us, focusing on God but ignoring our neighbor. Mark rightly says, true biblical worship does not merely point us upward it should turn us outward as well.

He warns against several dangers in our corporate worship experience. First, we must be aware of worship that lies to God. According the Bible, of the many qualities that matter to God, none is more important that truth (John 4:23, 18:37). Secondly, we must be aware of worship that lies about God. Mark points out how easily it is to relegate our worship to corporate singing and forget that our life should worship God. Our failure to demonstrate God's purposes with our lives lies about God. Thirdly, worship that does not change us is not worship at all. If we truly meet God, we will never be the same. Finally, worship that doesn't change the world is not worship. Our worship should make a difference in the world and not just feed our selfishness.

I agree with author James Miller, "I wouldn't have been offended if Labberton had wanted to yell at me about his content in order to do what he says in chapter one must be done: to wake up the church. Of course to expect yelling from a Presbyterian might be asking much."

A Leadership Source pt. 2

Part one of the Leadership Source is about character modeling. Part two contains the checkpoints of practical ministry. Each task is described by two accompanying actions.

1. Model Servanthood (Observing and Listening)
2. Set Attitude (Hoping and Honoring)
3. Cast Vision (Communicating and Communicating)
4. Develop People (Equipping and Encouraging)
5. Share Authority (Enlisting and Empowering)
6. Require Excellence (Inspecting and Improving)
7. Show Appreciation (Validating and Valuing)

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Leadership Source

Jim Bradford, senior pastor of Central Assembly, is an extraordinary communicator and gifted leader. Many have asked what I have learned from him while working in the trenches of ministry. The following is what I consider to be his "leadership source" from which all life and ministry flow:

1. Know God - "If the preaching ministry was taken from me, would I still have a personal, growing relationship with Jesus."

2. Pursue Integrity - "Are there areas of ongoing secrecy in my life that I am trying to intentionally hide from those closest to me?"

3. Be Yourself - "How often do I hear people say, 'Pastor, thank you for your authenticity.'"

4. Own Responsibility - "Do I acknowledge my mistakes or do I project blame and use the pulpit to vent unresolved anger?"

5. Embrace Change - "Is my attitude faith-filled and future-focused or am I overly nostalgic of the past and fearful of taking risks in the present?"

6. Love Learning - "Am I coasting intellectually or am I applying myself to the disciplines of personal study and reflection?"

7. Live Joyfully - "Am I living under the self-imposed pressure of always having to prove something to somebody?"

Too much time!

I have heard before that having too much free time is not good. If people didn't have excess time then when would people have great video tributes to classic movies like the following:

Monday, November 3, 2008

First Saturdays at Hemingways

I like this. Guys in groups talking about faith. Talking about their lives. Talking about their hopes, struggles, and dreams.

It's good.

There are lots of good guys in this group. There are some in ministry fields, marketing fields, medical fields, etc. This doesn't matter when we come together at Hemingways.
These are real men sharpening each other...to live great lives.

Jon Woodward leads the question and answers. He is awesome. Leo also started us a facebook group.

These guys are making progress....together.

Proverbs 27:17 - As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

We finished Bass Pro Marathon!

We finished!

Daisy and I completed our first endurance challenge together on Sunday November 2. We received the medal the moment we crossed the finished line but the real reward was realizing all of the training paid off.

I completed the half-marathon and Daisy completed the full marathon. I am so proud of her. I wanted to do this with her as an act of my commitment to her. While many run for all sorts of incredible organizations, I felt to run for our relationship. Relationships require work, sacrifice, and endurance much like our race. I love her.

I'm doing life with a great woman! She's my best friend.

I'm not worthy, but I'm very grateful!

2 Tim 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Techno Twins

I can't help but let the imagination fly with video ideas for church commercials.

video

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Great Decisions that I Would NOT Advise

1. I've made a few deals with God in my life (again I do not suggest these). I asked God if I love Him with everything, would He take care of all of my leadership shortcomings. I need God to fill in the gaps in the church because I do not have everything that everyone needs.

2. Only do what only you can do. You will be more valuable if you do the things you are really good at irrespective of your portfolio.

3. The mission of the Church is bigger and more important that my personal success.

4. Practice saying “no” to opportunities. You need margin in your life in order to have focus.

5. A sustainable pace is one of the most important steps leading teams.

6. Never violate the principles of God in order to gain or maintain the blessings of God.

7. Jesus has promised to build the church, and so why do we try so hard to do His job.

8. Generalists and specialists do NOT see eye to eye. Generalists have the broadest knowledge and have the most contact with the congregation. Specialists are highly trained to be experts in a particular area. Their perspectives and opinions will be focused on their respective area. Don’t try to make them alike, just try to bridge the gap. Learn each others language.

9. Conflict does not build character; conflict reveals it. If someone can produce and receive conflict, keep them forever.

10. My twenties were about passion and "stupid stories" but my thirties are about figuring out the plan. People can only handle so much “heart” and “passion” before they want to know a plan. There is nothing more contagious than knowledge on fire (thanks AGTS).

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

5 Functions of Healthy Ministries

Nancy Ortberg (wife of John Ortberg) recently wrote an article for Christianity Today's Leadership Journal titled "Ministry Team Diagnostics." It is a great interpratation of Patrick Lencioni's hallmark book 5 Dysfunctions of a Team. You can review the team dysfunctions here. Nancy applied her insights from Patrick's book to ministry teams.

Overview:
"Team" is just business language for "community" - the intersection of task and people. Every community has people working and contributing and since it is made of poeple, you can be sure that every community is susecptible to dysfunction.

1. Absence of Trust
Vulnerability-based trust makes a team great; without it, people position themselves to politic in church. (Church Politics?:-) Admit your weakness as a leader and model vulnerability.

2. Fear of Conflict
Unaired conflict goes into the parking lot or behind closed doors. Conflict isn't pleasant, but it's your necessary friend. Do not avoid it; insist on it.

3. Inability to make a Commitment
Some decisions are sabotaged by negelct and lack of attention. Leadership is, at its heart, about the promises we make and keep.

4. Avoidance of Accountability
Great leaders perform autopsies on poor results. What could we have done differently? What did we learn from this, for future desicions.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Going Dark Green!


I recently read the article for the new "Green Bible." You can catch up on the overview here.

If you take the "going green" initiative too far you probably start coming up with things like "The Green Bible."

I believe in creation care and conserving all we can. My natural gas and electric bill this month was $77 thanks to my energy star appliances. However, somehow using the "going green" thing to market a new Bible seems a little dark. I call this "going dark green." I am getting burned out on all the different systems telling me that I need something else to complete my life. I recently joined the Junky Car Club and celebrated my 10 year old car while politely rebelling against consumerism.

I am positive that I have piggy backed on top of some secular phrase for marketing purposes but I think I will try a more subtle approach in the future.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Practices of Effective Ministry by Andy Stanley


Sometimes I hear feedback. I've said many times that feedback is the most necessary and over-rated leadership practice. I know that feedback is necessary but it is painful. Setting aside pride is not easy for anyone. Andy Stanley's book Practices of Effective Ministry is a great guide to evaluation ministry effectiveness. Below are the 7 practices he describes in his book:

Steps to Achieve Effectiveness (Practices of Effective Ministry – Andy Stanley)

1. Clarify the Win
Define what is important at every level of the organization

2. Think Steps, Not Programs
Before you start anything, make sure it takes you where you need to go. Begin with the end in mind.

3. Narrow the Focus
Do fewer things in order to make a greater impact

4. Teach less for More
Say only what you need to say to the people who need to hear it

5. Listen to Outsiders
Focus on who you’re trying to reach, not who you’re trying to keep

6. Replace Yourself
Learn to hand off what you do

7. Work on it
Take time to evaluate you work and to celebrate your wins

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Oasis Leadership Retreat


Spent the weekend with the Fusion Student Ministry leaders at Oasis 08. Great bunch of leaders who are hungry for God and hungry for life change to happen in the ministry.

I talked on Keeping Integrity Under Pressure. It was an hour long 12 point message driving home the point of watching our internal gauges (spiritual, emotional, physical, social, intellectual) and personal growth.

The Church and Force Fields

Mark Beeson, pastor at Granger, makes a great illustration about the Church in this video. I love the descriptions and the arrows of the Church as a force.

video

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Habits of Rookie Communication Teams

I would not know if the following habits are for successful or rookie communication teams. Nevertheless, these are some of the habits that I see marking our new communications team:

Habit #1: Communication. Everyone needs to be on the same page and thus the ongoing need for leadership not only creativity.

Habit #2: Preparation. Create a "preflight checklist" for each job that should be performed.

Habit #3: Concentration. Distraction is the mother of all time killers.

Habit #4: Synchronization. Teamwork in this case means that each job has different people accomplishing different tasks. For our team, we have a copy writer, graphic designer, and a group of proof readers. BTW, these are extra jobs people have added to their portfolios.

Habit #5: Anticipation. Stay a step ahead. I try to anticipate peoples objections, problems, and exceptions.

Habit #6: Evaluation. It is important for the team members to "huddle" often. I like right after something is completed because it is fresh.

Monday, September 22, 2008

5 Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

I have been reviewing my leadership file and wanted to add this reminder to the conversation of team development. it has been a while since I reviewed this timeless work by Patrick Lencioni.

Core Thought:
Teams that lack trust are incapable of engaging in unfiltered and
passionate debate of ideas. Instead resorting to veiled discussion and
guarded comments.

5 Functions of a Successful Team

1. They trust one another
2. They engage in unfiltered conflict around ideas.*
3. They commit to discussions and plans of action.
4. They hold one another accountable for delivering against those plans.
5. They focus on the achievement of collecting results.

(* Acknowledge/understand conflict is NOT bad)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Sy Rogers Conference


I am grateful for a church community like Central being willing host the Sy Rogers conference this weekend. When we started Saturday, there were about 20 pro-gay protesters in front of Central. Both Jim and Sy talked with them to express that they were not our enemies. The protesters were just kindly wanting to express their pro-gay stances during our conference although it was not technically a "protest."

Here are some take aways from the Saturday seminar:
* Change (transformation) is the inevitable byproduct of growth. If you need to change then you need to grow.
* The biggest obstacle to redeeming the sexual generation is not protesters it is the pulpit.
* We have been more interested in winning an argument than winning our neighbor.
* Turn your pain into productivity
* People will make time for what feeds them. The greatest need for our culture is not information or knowledge or another sermon per se. The Bible is freely accessible today. The great need for our culture is relational.

Multi-Generational Church Revitalization

Todd Hudnall, senior pastor at Radiant Church, is doing doctoral research on revitalized multi-generational churches. Through an exchange of emails, here are some of the points I spoke with Todd about that are important to Central.

1. Mission - Mission brings the generations together and keeps the focus on the goal. We keep the vision for mission at the center of everything initiative we have done including building, staff changes, service expansions, repainting the foyer, etc.

2. The Bus - It is always central for us to get the right people doing the right things (ala Jim Collins). The right people in the right places doing the right things take care of 90% of problems.

3. Options - Giving our people options helps cover the wide range of needs in our congregation. We just launched 70+ smallgroups/ministry teams in our last Celebration Sunday, where we present new group startups.

4. Serve - Serving speaks everyones language. Music has changed over the past 50 years but the way you love your neighbor is basically the same. We are constantly pushing things from the platform that encourage serving opportunities.

5. Spiritual Leadership - Jim Bradford is a brilliant man but intellect is not what keeps us on track. The greatest leadership Jim gives is challenging us to love, pray, and selflessly serve God's people.

6. Blended Worship - When it comes to music, this seems to be an area that divides more than it unites. Tom Matrone emphasizes the right elements of music. He emphasizes content over style while allowing the style to create affinity with different segments of the congregation.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Anchor Points for Success in Ministry

I hesitate presuming to know anything about success in ministry. Success seems to change for me the more experience I have in ministry. Because we often confuse success with the recognition of success, there needs to be some anchor points for us as we navigate through life.

1. Know your Purpose
As Mark Batterson says, "Play offense with your life." Write down goals in detail. Short term and long terms goals need to be explored in our hearts and minds.

2. Growing to your Maximum Potential
Are you applying yourself or just coasting intellectually, spiritually, relationally, etc?

3. Using influence to benefit others
Ouch! I am working on this one. I wholeheartedly believe a selfless servant-leader is the instrument in God's kingdom.

2 Thessalonians 3:9 MSG
And it wasn't because we didn't have a right to your support; we did. We simply wanted to provide an example of diligence, hoping it would prove contagious.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Interview with Paul Young


Yesterday, I had the privilege of sitting in on a personal interview with Paul Young (aka William P. Young), the author of the best selling story called The Shack. The Shack has sold 3.8 million copies. Aside from a great interview from an incredibly humble person, I got to hold his cell phone.

Although there have been some theological controversy surrounding the book, I believe Paul has written a great book which has generated substantial conversations among Christians and non-Christians.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Renewed Mind is the Key to Christ in Me!

I need a renewed mind after watching this video. I really try hard to have an open mind about different ways to communicate the truth of God. This video challenges my box and paradigm for ministry.


video

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Planetshakers Apology from Mike "Healer"


Holy Cow posted a very good blog that helped me out after the moral failure from Michael Guglielmucci from Planetshakers . My wife and I absolutely loved the song "Healer" and felt violated when we heard the news of the lie he produced. I refused to listen to the song for several weeks and then relaized that God uses broken people all the time (for sure me). The truth and faith of the song is in Christ not in Michael Guglielmucci.

Check out the video apology and article here.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Creating a Church Website Resource List


When summer began, Chase Replogle, a talented senior at CBC, and I began working on Central's new website. A part of the entire process also involved developing an official style manual and maintenance team for general communications at Central Assembly. It was a massive undertaking to be sure. Emerged from the fire of web research, endless meetings, and over 6 working proofs in 3 months, we have finally finished (for now). I'm sure the refinement process will never end as can be expected but the tool we have now surpasses anything we have ever utilized. Take a few minutes to check it out. Thank you to all you helped in the process: Jesus, Carmen, Jill, Chase, David, Kyle, Steph, Cheri, Sharon, Church Marketing Sucks, Jane, Daisy, the Gadds, Ashley, Carter, Dylan, Carrie, Joel C.

Below is a list of web resources we used to create Central's website. Although we are not experts, we were able to accomplish the entire site in house, saved $$$$ on design cost, reduced fixed monthly expenses by half, and are extremely happy with the final representation. The list counts down in order to highlight our most valuable resources least to greatest.

12. Colourlovers - Colourlovers is great to help the process of selecting a color palette.

11. KeepVid - Although we did not use this software on the final site, it helps you to download any video online to a quicktime file straight to your desktop.

10. Blue Host Web Hosting - Easy choice here. Simple, stable, and cheap.

9. iShowYou - Mac software which allows you to record tutorials of your screen activity. We used it to record the video tutorial for online giving.

8. WordPress - WordPress is the platform we decided to use for Pastor Jim Bradford's blog. We tried Google's blogger but the name was already taken and Wordpress's features seemed better for our needs.

7. PayPal - The PayPal business plan met all of our needs for online giving especially since we do not currently need full merchant account services.

6. Constant Contact - When considering our e-newsletter solution, this industry standard was the winner. There are other less expensive options but only by a small margin. The benefits far out weigh the slight extra cost.

5. Podbean - Podbean is a great solution for hosting weekly messages (aka podcasts). They give plenty of storage for our 4 weekly podcasts.

4. CushyCMS - We debated over whether a content management system was the best platform for us. The clear decision came down to realizing that 80% of our new site would be static or rarely need changing. CushyCMS was an easy and free way to incorporate a CMS platform in the areas we needed dynamic text capabilities. Our news page under "I'm a Regular" is one of our CushyCMS pages.

3. Wufoo - WOW!!! Wufoo literally saved us hours of programming. Because of its form generating software at a reasonable price, we are able to easily build and/or modify forms for any site we design fast (e.g. online giving, micro sites, etc.).

2. MediaLab's SITEGRINDER - IRREPLACEABLE!!! What more can I say? Without Sitegrinder, there is no way we could produce a single page on our own. Sitegrinder gives you the ability as a designer to produce HTML/CSS code by labeling the Photoshop layers. The look of the whole site was designed with it.

1. Adobe Photoshop - The main reason why Photoshop is number one is because we needed it to design the website and then grind it out using Sitegrinder.

Add your comments if you know of anything that is better in its field. Also, if you need more information on any of the products listed let me know.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What do you want to GROW up to be?


In our current series at Central, we ask the question "What should we look like when we GROW in Christ?" A disciple should reflect the GROW values which we study once every year.

G.R.O.W
G - Generous Hearted
R - Relationally Connected
O - Outwardly Focused
W - Worship Centered

You can check out the message here.

Heb. 1:3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Backpack Truth


This past weekend in El Paso I met a great hip hop artist/apologist named Vocab Malone (real name John-Mark). Who would have ever thought the hip hop and apologetics would be found in one's gift set? Not only is he a legit hip hop artist with my favorite song "Happy Hardcore," he has some good material to help people address some common hurdles in understanding faith in Christ. Check out his blog for some resources and personal helps in apologetics. His blog is Backpack Truth.

Looking forward to heading home tomorrow to Springfield and seeing the family.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

DESIRE 08


We had a fantastic night kicking off DESIRE 08. I met several new wonderful bi-lingual friends. I gave a shout out to all the bi-lingual students and there was a thunderous eruption of applause. Although the picture is grainy from my cell phone, my new skater friends are really like having a prep-neck for their speaker!

Friday, August 22, 2008

DESIRE 2008 in El Paso

Long after bedtime, I was sitting in my hotel room putting the finishing touches on my messages for DESIRE 08. I have already invested hours in prayer and preparation. My assignment is to inspire a DESIRE for God in students returning to school beginning Monday here in Texas.

I heard Mark Beeson say once "I live in the tension between God's call and my weakness." It seems no matter how much preparation goes into any talk, they aren't finished until the final prayer of the night. I wish I could finish and go to bed. I can't do it. Maybe if I was smarter, more creative, or more articulate, it would be easier. Maybe not?

I will talk on Fighting the Good Fight (1 Tim), Not looking Back (Phil. 3), and the Substance of Life (John 15).

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Starbucks, AT&T, and Talking


Sitting at Starbucks again with my AT&T wireless service, Pike Place coffee, and creating (with God's help) several talks for the next several weeks. In New Community service tonight we are wrapping up our True Religion series on 1 Timothy, also finishing the camp messages for El Paso (so fun!!), and starting the preparation for a CBC class on 1 &2 Thessalonians. Having a serious filing system and electronic storage of my files has never been more helpful.

One thought I came across this week worth sharing is related to troubled marriages. When we encounter traumatic times in our marriages, we shouldn't focus of restoring what was there previously but rather rebuilding completely new and healthy. Great concept - - restore vs. rebuild.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Awww! Andy's Frozen Custard


One of the joys of living in Springfield, MO is Andy's Frozen Custard. The company specializes in frozen custard-based desserts. Andy's is well-known for their pie concretes, where slices of pie are blended into the frozen custard. Chloe and I enjoyed the Key Lime Pie concrete Saturday night. If you could not tell, we are happy.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Starbucks and AT&T


Last week I made the switch to DSL internet service from having cable internet. I was kind of skeptical at first but the deal AT&T offered was DSL for $20 cheaper, free internet service in Starbucks, and some airport terminals. Although I dont travel a lot, the Starbucks option was appealing. Today is my first day using the internet at Starbucks and it is great. Because the internet at our Fusion offices moves at the speed of a glacier, it feel blazing fast.

Starbucks and AT&T are my friends today.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Sleepless Nights

Some nights I struggle to fall asleep so I thought I'd type out a few thoughts. Does anyone know why the brain does not shut down sometimes? Stress? Too much on the mind? Not enough exercise? Of course, it could be the lack of running which helps me unwind.

Spoke in big church tonight on the topic of priorities. Transformation, love, calling, and joy were our points of thought for tonight. I am consumed with the concept of transformation because it is so often neglected in our spiritual pursuit after God. To become like Christ though, we are going to have to morph.

I am looking forward to a great week and cannot wait to catch some more of Phelps swimming. He is a history maker (literally).

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Conference Withdrawls

I am going crazy from not going to a conference this year. It is my own fault because I am saving to go to Israel at the end of the year. I have been reading some great posts on Willow's Summit this year. One quote "If you want your leadership to matter, lead in the things that matter to God."

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Beautiful Connections


I was looking at one of my Toledo friends, Noel with Remembering the Day Photography, blog and it inspired me to post a picture that reminds me of the beautiful commitment and connection between Daisy and me. Babe, I love, appreciate, and respect you. My God give us His riches ( cause I do not have any) and our desires.

Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ's love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They're really doing themselves a favor—since they're already "one" in marriage.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Book Review: Wild Goose Chase


Wild Goose Chase

Mark Batterson (Multnomah Books, 174 pp.)

Mark Batterson stays true to his passion: to give the reader a whole new perspective on forging a relationship with God. In Wild Goose Chase, Batterson challenges believers to get away from the things that hold them back and to pursue the Holy Spirit in the chase of a lifetime. He paints a picture of a holy adventure that is so much more than what Christians sometimes settle for in terms of walking in the Spirit. In the very first chapter, he points out that the title of the book in which the Holy Spirit enters the scene, Acts, is a verb, not a noun. Christianity is a way of life, not just a box to be checked off on forms.

One of the maxims in Wild Goose Chase is “live like today is the first day and last day of your life”. It coincides with the hang-on-here-we-go approach to faith in and relationship with a living and holy God that Batterson presents. Without offering a roster of excuses, Batterson explores the limits of our humanity in stark juxtaposition with the total limitlessness of what God can do in and through a willing servant. He highlights six “cages”, or reasons why believers tend to hold back, like guilt, failure, and fear. Yet as he uses the concept of cages to emphasize the things that hold believers back, he is unceasing in his encouragement to go for it, to enjoy the journey, and to not be afraid to engage at a no-regrets level with the Creator of the universe.

Here is a link to www.chasethegoose.com. Mark has 10 Steps to Setting Life Goals – be sure to check it out yourself! It’s great material for personal OR group study. Here is a link to purchase the book.

-Reviewed by Mike McCrary, Young Life and Family Ministries pastor, Central Assembly of God, Springfield, Missouri.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

My internal radiator is broken!

I like (not love) to run. I do it for the physical and emotional benefits. I love to get outside and clear the mind. I run until I get physically exhausted and then push through for one mile. However, today the heat was scorching. It was 90-95 degrees the entire run. It felt like my internal radiator was broke down. I used half my water bottle to soak my melting face. It was HOT, in all the wrong ways.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Speaking of Fire

I am reminded today of the goodness of God. His discipline is good. Trials of many kinds are good. His grace is good. He is good. I don't want to miss the goodness of God in and through my life because of my inability to recognize it.

Hebrews 12:28-29 (The Message)

28-29Do you see what we've got? An unshakable kingdom! And do you see how thankful we must be? Not only thankful, but brimming with worship, deeply reverent before God. For God is not an indifferent bystander. He's actively cleaning house, torching all that needs to burn, and he won't quit until it's all cleansed. God himself is Fire!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Weekend Review

This past weekend I had the privilege of speaking in "big church." I brought a talk called "Family Matters," which was on the importance of the family of God. We explored the significant beginnings of the family. I believe the Family of God is the hope of the world and when it's on task can be the fountain head for love and compassion in the world. If you missed the weekend you can grab the podcast.

I am continuing to make progress with the website, style guide, and communications team at Central Assembly of God. Chase Replogle and Jill McDaniel blow me away with their seeming "jedi-like intuition" for telling the brand story of Central Assembly for writing and graphics. I'd like to prop up SethGodin and ChurchMarketingSucks for all their thoughts in this development.

Lost the Fire?

I confess. I have a ton of hobbies. Hobbies keep me on the edge and I am obsessive, at least for a while, about any that I experience. I research products, techniques, reviews, and professionals who are great at what they do. Through the years, I have tried tennis, basketball, football, math club, table tennis, pool, paintball, golf, guitar, hiking, biking, backpacking, running, and fashion to name a few. The problem of motivation becomes the "it" factor when progress from a beginner to expert.

A few leaders in Success Magazine were recently asked the following question:

Q: I get so excited about my goals and then I lose motivation. How can I keep myself constantly motivated and on track?

A: "The starting point of all achievement is desire. Keep this constantly in mind. Weak desires bring weak results, just as a small amount of fire brings a small amount of heat. If you find yourself lacking in persistence, the weakness may be remedied by building a stronger fire under your desire.”

To build a stronger fire you have to surround yourself with the dream so you are constantly reminded of it. Have a goal for a custom home? Start clipping pictures and plans of custom homes that appeal to you. Be a regular visitor to open houses featuring custom homes. Hire an architect to design the custom home you envision (that act of faith alone will probably bring you closer to your goal than most anything you can do). Taking any type of action toward your goal will stoke your desire.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Practice what I Write

I have heard people say that you should "practice what you preach" or even "preach what you practice." The concept of my previous post is something that I need to practice this week. While keeping a blazing pace at work is alright for a season, it gets difficult to sustain. I am looking forward to a weekend of intense play.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Work Hard and Play Hard

Due to recent expressions of my calling to Central Assembly, I have willingly accepted more responsibility. I have always enjoyed marketing/communications but this is the largest organization which I have ever attempted to renovate.

It has been a time consuming challenge. Currently, we are neck deep in laying the foundation of a sufficient communication system for Central. We are concentrated on developing style guide including an updated logo, a communication team, and launching a new website. We are desiring the website to be our new brand rationale piece which lays before the people the philosophy of communications for Central.

This new "passion" for communications is fighting for the margins of time left in my daily, weekly, and monthly routine (and winning at times). Nevertheless, I have found one thing that has kept me alive and feeling vibrant--action.

Every man has a cave (OR NEEDS A CAVE) in which they retreat to find rest and relaxation. Lately, mine has been the half mile track outside my house and the local golf course. When work loads increase so must the play/cave time. Challenging myself physically helps keep me sharp when I arrive at the office for eight hour days with back to back meetings. It also helps me keep things in perspective. For example, I have a tendency to see things through my perceptions and tastes while most of the people we interact with have different lifestyles than me.

If you work hard--play hard.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Retrospective Tension and My Destiny

There have been many talks given on the subject of "If I had it all to do over again, I would..." Most of the talks I have heard encompass the regrets, noteworthy successes, or future endeavors of the person delivering the message. Let me state that I have enjoyed all of my personal mentor's messages on the subject. However, my tension exists because I deeply desire not to live with regrets and to live to the fullest with the grace God gives.

A few observations about these talks:
1. It seems you need to be "mature" in your field to give these kinds of talks.
2. The points feel like wishes everyone should realize to make life easier.
3. I can rarely remember any one specific point unless it affected the person in a profound way.

Here are my retrospective tensions:
1. Don't write a list at the end (excuse the loftiness). Make it now.
2. Fail Forward - - Always
3. Pray for Wisdom

Weekend Highlights

After a great weekend, I like to reflect on what we experienced at Central Assembly. Earl and Janet Creps were our guest speakers. He was brilliant in his talk "missionary identity." Earl made observations from Paul's missionary journey to Marshill in Acts 17. One of the points he made so eloquently is that we need a future to help us make sense of our past. The random sequences of our past may not make sense until we see where God is directing our future. You can hear the message here.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Lost in Translation

So many times messages we are trying to communicate are lost in translation. This video will help you understand.

The notes below were from a recent conference on church marketing and branding. You can check out the rest on the Holy Cow blog.

Three words that will disarm and begin to adjust the tone and atmosphere of any meeting...

WHAT IF WE
* Most meetings start with ‘we must’ ‘what we have to do is’…
* Sets up a me vs. you atmosphere
* This starts with question
* Ends with we

IDEA
* Remember everything in place started as a great idea
* Hymnals > Screen
* Something > Hymnals

CAUTION

As much as three words can bridge the gap so can your approach

1. When your gift causes a relational rift = it’s not the gift but the gifted
2. Loyalty publicly = Leverage Privately
3. Your job is to support organization and leadership
4. Don’t confuse your insight with moral imperative
5. Don’t avoid feedback if you ever want to be truly great

These things all shift things from Me vs. You to Us with a vision.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Moms versus Dads

Do you find that there is more emphasis placed on the importance of Mother's Day than Father's Day? Why is it that we tend to love and praise mothers on Mother's Day, but on Father's Day we beat dads up for not being better dads? Fathers invariably get the short end of the stick in terms of these two days of parental recognition. There are lots of good dads out there. We just tend to focus on the bad ones.

These dads might not be perfect dads, but I give them an "A" for effort.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Rants of a Spirit-Infused Pastor

When it comes to being Spirit-filled, people are divided on what "it" means. Here are a couple of observations that I believe are unhealthy: 1) Some people think no one is Pentecostal enough. 2) Some believe in the experience but reject the manifestations mainly because of emotionalism which leads to Spirit-phenomenon worship.

I believe to be a true Spirit-led Church we must embrace an ancient 2000 year old tradition. The way of the first apostles should be our model. Here are a few highlights:

1. More is good.
My most recent prayer is for God to increase my capacity to understanding and know Him through the power of the Spirit. Romans 15:13 encourages an "overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." At the end of the day (and the beginning), we need more dependence of God and less on ourselves.

2. Spirit baptism is a potential not a warranty.
Sometimes I hear the question, "Since we have the gift of the Holy Spirit then why do we have moral failures, dying churches, and dead lives?" Spirit baptism is only one part of a much larger mix. It is not meant to be a substitute for character, holiness, planning, common sense, and obedience. It affords us the potential for great ministry but not a warranty against sin. Spirit baptism is the tide that rises all the boats but the other boats must be in the water.

3. Pentecostal ministry needs to be more about mission than about maintenance.
If your heart is to reach people it will put you on your face. Some ministries are too safe for the Spirit’s necessary empowerment. Why are some evangelical churches that claim not to be Pentecostal winning more people to Christ that Pentecostal churches? I do not know all the answers to these questions but I do know that the Spirit attends mission and not denomination.

Let us strive to keep Jesus at the center of our hearts and message. We should also pray that the Spirit help us grow in Christ and to lead us those who need to know His love.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Weekend Highlights

This past weekend at Central was challenging (in a positive way). We started a two week series on stewardship where we focused on two main prescriptions Jesus gives concerning finances:
1. Stay Grateful

2. Stay Generous

We stay grateful because it dissolves the worry in our lives by refocusing on the generosity of God. Stay generous. We say, "The more I have the more I'll give." God says, "The more you give the more you'll have."

Personal Coaching Is A Must

Daisy and I arrived home on Friday from a refreshing visit in Alabama. Vacation is awesome!

Saturday morning at 8:30 I enrolled at golf school. Aside from being miserable because my game is pathetic, I was profoundly affected by my "personal coach" watching every twist, turn, and swing. He seemed to have a drill for every bad habit I had developed trying to be successful on my own. Practicing those drills retrained my body and help me achieve the little successes I needed to continue enjoying the "journey of golf." (Thats what he called it. I use other words to describe the game :-))

I try not to use my blog as only a place just to translate life experiences into mediocre spiritual applications but this one is a worthy.

I believe we need more personal coaches in our Christian walk. What if we were secure enough to open our lives up (the good, bad, and ugly) to someone who could help us achieve the success we desired in our spiritual lives?

Perhaps our Christian walk has become so subjective that we are all "successful" based on the wrong standards (thats not a popular word). Some have lost the desire to be successful because of repeated failures. The Bible is our standard to analyze the success of our spiritual lives (2 Tim. 3:16). However, we ALL need a coach to help us get to the next level in our spiritual walk. Jesus promised a FULL life.

Timothy had a Paul. Joshua had a Moses. The disciples had Jesus. We all need a coach. The greatest coach we have available to us is the Holy Spirit. If we listen carefully, He will guide us along our journey. It is His job to guide and ours to obey.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Vacation

My family and I are on vacation for a few days in beautiful Alabama. What makes a true vacation? Is it the people, time, or activities?

I have found it is a disconnect from the norm. If I somehow disconnect for several consecutive days and catch up on reading, relaxing, and resting, then all is well.

Selah

Friday, May 16, 2008

American Idol Final Prediction

I feel I am listening from a different planet than most people following American Idol.

David Cook has always been a stronger performer than Archuleta. Archuleta is one dimensional, forgets lyrics, shows nerves, and is shy and unable to converse with interviewers. He has a nice voice. David Cook is a musician, and a vocalist, and also has stage performance abilities that young David lacks. He also has the maturity to handle that lofty honor of American Idol. I have not understood all season long why the judges have failed to critique Archuleta with the same critical ear of the other contestants.

Watching more seasoned talents like Michael Johns, and Carly leave has been discouraging. Yes, it matters to the public that David's father is an over-the-top stage parent with all the negatives it involves. Most people do not want to be part of causing the McCauley Caulken melt down that happens when parents push and try to live through the talents of their children while the children miss their childhoods. Let us remember Michael Jackson, and others.

David Cook is the best of the two and deserves the title of American Idol 2008.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Emerging Culture Ministry pt.2

Here is the second installment on emerging culture ministry values.

4. Personal Adaptation:
Seeing personal and corporate ministry as an evolving, holistic
calling rather than a set of static roles and functions.

5. Community Formation:
Relating to other believers in a community that simulates the
challenge of integrating identity, mission, and context in field ministry.

6. Ministry Enhancement:
Discerning opportunities to cooperate with the Spirit in the
fulfillment of Christ’s mission through our own calling.

Emerging Culture Ministry pt.1

In the next several posts I will be distilling some core values of ministry in today's culture. These values, like all core values, are not exhaustive nor all encompassing. Learning to interpret culture as opportunity for cooperating with the mission of Jesus, and for discerning ministry as opportunity for Spirit-empowered expressions of that mission, is the focus for these values. I would like to thank my friend, Earl Creps, for the inspiration of this blog series.

1. Character Development:
We must be dependent on the Spirit to help us have ego-free leadership, integrity of decisions, and authentic spirituality.

2. Cultural Exegesis:
We must interpret the major forms of cultural influences that are creating the context in which the Christian gospel must be communicated.

3. Theological Reflection:
We must listen and respond to people posing critical theological questions that call for reflective skills that are true both to Scripture and context.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Authentic Guitar Hero

In my quest to raise the proverbial bar with my hobbies, I find things worthy of showing the few who my be interested in the sickest demonstration of two real guitar heroes: Andy Mckee and Don Ross.

The Cadre called Legeacy


Here is a picture of the group of people I have spent the last 3 years with being coached by Jeanne Mayo. We are standing in front of the chapel on the University of Georgia's campus. There are times in life where we all need to know we are in a cadre with other people fighting in similar trenches. These people are heroes in youth ministry.

Eph. 4:2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Pouring in Courage

2Tim. 4:2 Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage — with great patience and careful instruction.

The word encourage or encouragement is used around 100 times in the NT. In this particular verse, the verb used is parakaleo. It is a combination of the two Greek words para and kaleo. Para means "to the side of" and kaleo means "to call, aid, or help." In our English language, the word is a combination of en + courage. You are walking along on a path and beginning to tire. Wondering if you can make it to your goal, someone comes along side and begins to say, "you can make it, you are strong enough, do not quit, I am right here for you." Encouraging is pouring in courage to another person to make the mark.

In any accountable relationship, both the positive and the negative must be included. However, it must be done with great patience and carefulness. May we fill people with courage and strength of purpose.

Monday, May 5, 2008

John Wesley is my Accountability Partner

For a while, I have been contemplating the differences between accountability, rebuking, and encouraging. I am still researching but this is what has emerged interesting.

The Greek verb for "rebuke" appears in 2 Tim. 4:2, where rebuking is a function of the authoritative Christian teacher alongside preaching, convincing and encouraging in “the teaching." Accountability, however, is not a job assigned to Christian leaders. We will be expected to give an account to God for everything we have done (Heb. 4:13). The two words are the not the same in meaning or in function. It would probably more precise to say that people need "rebuking" partners instead of "accountability" partners. Ouch!

Accountability is a personal decision to submit and confess your sins to a trusted friend. Rebuking is giving a trusted friend the ability to "call you" on areas in which God would not be pleased. No one can hold you accountable because that is your responsibility. We make the internal choice to be accountable to others.

The Greek word for encouragement deserves a separate blog and a unique word study. Suffice to say, encouraging is one of the most God honoring exercises in which one can engage.

The following list of questions is from Cultivating a Life for God (Church Smart Resources 1999 p.125-131). Typically, these questions are asked in groups of 2-3, are specific to men or women, meets regularly, and hold each other accountable. Simply asking these questions encourages accountability with others:

1. Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better than I am?

2. Am I honest in all my acts and words, or do I exaggerate?

3. Do I confidentially pass onto another what was told me in confidence?

4. Am I a slave to dress, friends, work , or habits?

5. Am I self-conscious, self-pitying, or self-justifying?

6. Did the Bible live in me today?

7. Do I give it time to speak to me everyday?

8. Am I enjoying prayer?

9. When did I last speak to someone about my faith?

10. Do I pray about the money I spend?

11. Do I get to bed on time and get up on time?

12. Do I disobey God in anything?

13. Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is uneasy?

14. Am I defeated in any part of my life?

15. Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy or distrustful?

16. How do I spend my spare time?

17. Am I proud?

18. Do I thank God that I am not as other people, especially as the Pharisee who despised the publican?

19. Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold resentment toward or disregard? If so, what am I going to do about it?

20. Do I grumble and complain constantly?

21. Is Christ real to me?

Great Weekend Reflections

I thoroughly enjoyed this past weekend. Saturday was the graduation ceremony for AGTS. I have to admit, I am not the best at receiving anything. Parties, appreciations, academic degrees, or anything else, feels awkward. Nevertheless, I complied in order to receive the paper. What if we encouraged students, pastors, and loved ones during the journey as much as we do at the end of the journey?

The highlight was the message given by Dan Betzer, Pastor of First Assembly in Fort Meyers, FL. Here are some highlights from the message he titled "What I wish someone told me."

1. The ministry can kill you.
2. Assemblies of God people can be the meanest people on earth.
3. We should listen more to Him with "nail scared hands" than anybody else.
4. Love who you serve and what you do.

I thought it was brave to speak this message at a graduate level ceremony when it is most tempting to deliver a "dream for the future" message. His short message connected at a real level.

It is also worth mentioning that General Superintendent, George O. Wood, casted a "what if" vision to the entire audience in his opening remarks. After commending the graduates for their hard work and financial sacrifice, he issued this "what if" question: "What if one day a graduate degree could be pursued by any eligible A/G candidate for a nominal cost or no cost at all." I am glad we serve with a "what if" leader.

Friday, May 2, 2008

A Famous Instrument


I purchased my Taylor 310-CE in 1998 from a music store in Fairhope, AL. Since acquiring, it has crossed the globe a couple of times and felt many hands on the silky fretboard. I have always treated it as a gift from God. Thus, if someone needs it they can use it. Ironically, the worse dents and dings have come from me playing it around the house. However, there was the one time when a set of keys was hurled from the church balcony to the bottom floor stage SMACKING it on the solid wood top. Ouch!

Lincoln Brewster, seen playing it here, used to play for Journey and now is an amazing worship leader. Did I mention he can melt your face off with sweet guitar licks straight from Yeshua's thrown.

An instrument is made famous by the person who plays it not by it's materials.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Golf is dumb!

Golf is dumb. I stink at it. After hitting a bucket of balls at Rivercut's driving range, I realized that golf is NOT fun when you cannot play at a mediocre level. Plus, if you do not know the common rules which every golfer abides by, you become an annoyance on the range. For example, you should not yell at people during their back swing unless you need a daily dose of attention. If you hit a ball which has the potential of striking an innocent pedestrian, a verbal warning is needed to give the victim the ability to watch the ball smack them in the face.

It is always good to live in the roll of a "newcomer." The anxiousness, nervousness, and uncertainty is only manageable by the potential pay off from "practicing." This perspective helps me understand why some are disoriented when they attend my "course" at church.

From the parking lot to the pew, may we always take care of our "newcomers."

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Final Class

I finished my first class today at Central Bible College. I gave the final exam to about 20 students in the Sociology of American Youth class. This entire semester I have felt the responsibility of training the next generation of youth pastors. To sum up my feelings let me just say that "I have seen the future...and it looks hopeful."

Stick it to man!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Pixar Love

At Pixar, the secret to success, the CEO says, to six back to back 3-D animation movie hits was that every person on the Pixar team loves great films. They wanted to make films that they themselves would want to see over and over.

I wonder if we should ask staff if they love the Church as the first criteria for hiring? A good litmus test for our level of ownership is to ask ourselves, "if I did not get a paycheck from my church, would I choose to attend it."

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The "We" Factor

Daisy and I went to Starbucks tonight for a quick date. After I ordered a cup of Pike's coffee, I asked about the new brown borderline topless logo. The barista quickly explained, "we are getting back to our roots."

"Interesting," I replied. "Why are they doing it?," I asked.

The barista confidently told me, "At Starbucks, we are about coffee and that is what we are getting back to."

The lesson is simple. The barista's use of "we" communicated his ownership, partnership, and cooperation with the renewed vision of Starbucks. It felt to me as if the CEO of Starbucks was explaining his renewed vision to a skeptical customer. I loved it.

I want the "we" factor.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Spiritual Intelligence

Sunday evening we hosted the all church leaders meeting for Central Assembly. Jim Bradford is one of the greatest spiritual leaders in ministry. He is passionate about spiritually leading leaders. These are the observations I made:

1. SQ - There is IQ (intelligence quotient), EQ (emotional quotient), and certainly SQ (spiritual quotient), defined by the total integration of one's body, soul, and spirit resulting in the ability to discern and thereby lead people into transformation. Leading people spiritually is the highest calling for those in ministry.

2. Feedback - Receiving feedback is the most overrated leadership exercise...but do it. Surround yourself with people you trust and ask for genuine feedback.

3. Laugh - Don't take yourself to serious.

4. Dream - Leaders need a dream. I find that statements that begin with "what if," especially when given by trusted leaders, are fuel for an organizations future.

5. Loving the poor and underprivileged among our church keeps consumer spirituality at bay. I believe when we look for opportunities in the people and communities that surround us, God changes things for the better. He’s good like that.

“God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.” (MSG) Eph 3:20-21

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The big 30!

Today is my 30th birthday. Everyone asks me do I feel 30. How is 30 suppose to feel? I feel great...the best in a long time.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Jeanne Mayo Unplugged

Last night at New Community, I had the incredible opportunity of interviewing my spiritual mom Jeanne Mayo. I have heard Jeanne speak countless times but last night was special b. You can get the podcast teaching here (http://centralassembly.podbean.com/)

Without any notes, Jeanne held the crowd for nearly 40 minutes. She talked family priorities, past successes, failures, and the most important message for the emerging church.

Jeanne...we love you!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Good to Great Friendships

I had lunch today with a great friend. We had a refreshing conversation about some classic Good to Great principles (e.g. hedgehog principle, flexing the "no" muscle, etc.).

During the course of the meal, I could feel my protective personality guard dissolve as we talked and laughed (can you recognize your guard?). It occurred to me as we were laughing that this not only a good friendship but also a great friendship. Here are some good to great friendship factors my friend possess:

1. More Plow Horse, than Show Horse
2. Believes more in the "why" than the "how"
3. Confronts facts without loosing faith in the potential for greatness
4. Never violates personal trust
5. Spontaneously calls for last minute unplanned lunches

Friendships are easily excused because of busy schedules. It's the stuff I excuse in myself that can derail my life. I tend towards too much work and too little rest. Great friends help me with that stuff.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Rolling Your Cross


On the way home, I encountered something of unique value for my spiritual life (excuse the not so good quality cell phone picture). The picture is a gentleman, probably well meaning, rolling a cross down a major intersection in Springfield. My thoughts immediately went to John 19:17 where the Bible says, "Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha)." At first glance, I thought what a wimp! "Jesus did not roll his cross, he carried it," I arrogantly said to my wife.

In a moment of divine revelation, the Spirit showed me that I'm stupid (this happens to me a lot). Luke 14:27 says, "anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple."

We are charged to carry our cross, a symbolic representation of sacrifice and redemption. What cross are you carrying... or rolling? I respect this man for rolling his cross. Maybe this was the only cross he could bear. It is so easy to criticize another's cross. It is equally hard to be vulnerable about our crosses. Our cross feels personal. It is hard to be the real you when you feel like people may crucify you to the cross that you are carrying...or rolling.

Whether you are carrying or rolling your cross, continue on! May we live only for His approval while we carry or roll our cross.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

I Heart MOPS



Today I attended, by special invitation, the MOPS International Leadership Summit. I was very impressed by Elisa Morgan and her organized staff. Of course what else could one expect from an international ministry run completely by ladies for ladies. I must admit I felt like a fish out of water because I was the only guy attending the conference.

Two things stood out:

1. The first thing articulated was the MOPS mission, slogan, and experience. I like this because clarifying missional direction creates the framework and expectation of any organization. It is obvious these ladies know their brand.

2. At the end, Elisa challenged everyone to take control of their time by resigning from Chronos, the imposter boss, and resume control to Chiros, the eternal boss.

MOPS is cool!
(I am not just saying it because my wife loves it...well maybe a little)

Friday, April 11, 2008

American Idol Shouts to the Lord

A few days ago, American Idol closed out their charity night with one of the most popular worship songs of all time.


I want to give Idol props for concluding the evening with Shout to the Lord. I never tend to over analyze the use of Christian songs used for mainstream influence (e.g. Amazing Grace, Joy to the World, etc.) but a few things stood out about this song on American Idol.

Here are some of the comments posted on youtube about the song on Idol.

"God always blesses us!! Hah! Bulls***! I wonder if you would be in the same state of mind if you were one of those poor kids the Idols were visiting with."

"Yeah, that's it...praise Jesus and the fabulous job he is doing. Try putting your faith in something real, like your family and friends."

Question: Why is the name of Jesus, who is known as the epitome of love, edited from the first presentation and more interestingly added in during the second? Why are people offended by the name of Jesus in the song and not the name of Shepherd?

Ear Tubes

I took my youngest daughter to get ear tubes this morning. Chipper as ever, she rolled out of bed with me at 6:00am. We arrived at the outpatient surgery center and was soon shown to our room. The one thing I noticed is how every nurse and doctor who came in kept asking if we had any questions. First of all, we should all ask people new to our world this helpful question. Secondly, I realized that I trusted these people with my most cherished loved one without feeling the need to ask questions. I did not know what questions to ask or what the surgery entailed. Perhaps a pathway of experience should be outlined for people who are new to our worlds.

The bottom line is my daughter will be healthier because of the procedure. She is home watching Hairspray. Life is awesome! In the end, I care more about the bottom line than knowing the pathway of experience.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Dip by Seth Godin

Book Review: The Dip by Seth Godin

Seth Godin (Baker Books, 80 pp., hardback)

Quitters are not losers. Although most people know this, there is a cultural stigma with quitting. We have all heard this sentiment echoed repeatedly in grade-school, sports and corporate slogans. When someone usually quits, the reason and purpose is unclear.

In The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (And When to Stick), Godin says winners quit all the time, and he enthusiastically encourages the practice. He is not some senile schoolteacher but the author of eight other worldwide bestsellers including Purple Cow. He is also the founder of Squidoo.com (a platform of user-generated pages) and a popular blogger.

Godin explains how people win biggest by getting through the dip, "the long, difficult stretch between starting something and mastering it," according to Godin. While we may cringe in anguish at the thought of that long slog, Godin says that the dip is actually the quickest way to get you where you want.

Only stick with the dips that are likely to work out; otherwise, strategically quit when your situation looks like a cul-de-sac, a situation where you work and things stay the same, or a cliff, a situation where you cannot quit until you fall off.

The whole point of quitting is to put all of your effort into something suited for you. "If your competition is working hard to be well-rounded and balanced but you're obsessed with being the best in the world at just one thing, who's going to win?" If you try to master multiple things, all of them will either fail or become lukewarm successes. "On the other hand, once you learn how to master something, you get good at mastery, and that skill will help you master the next one."

Coach Jeanne!

My leader coach did a session this past week on personal growth. First of all, Jeanne Mayo is the best personal development coach available for youth leaders. She gave us around eight points for personal growth but somehow I ended up with twelve. Personal growth junkies will love this list:

1.Buy a digital voice recorder. This is so you can make voice notes on all of the podcasts.
2. Schedule time to think in a consistent location.
3. Quit distractions
4. Transform your daily work culture into a growth culture
5. Form a mastermind group who help you think thought complex strategies
6. Fail at something
7. Learn the lessons and forget the details of hurtful situations
8. Talk less and say more
9. Never let yesterday consume your today
10. Write your hurt in the sand and your blessings in stone
11. Make your questions bigger than your answers
12. Make your purpose bigger than your money

Thanks Coach Jeanne!

Quitting With Integrity

I just wrapped up a refreshing two day retreat experience called The Cadre.

It's the understatement of the year to merely describe this group of people as friends. They are truly family. The unique take away from this weekend is this concept of "quitting with grace." A famous football coach once said, "Quitters never win and winners never quit." Although true on some levels, i saw many champions this week who quit. Here are a few observations:

1. Quitting always presents new opportunities.
2. Quitting is not the same as failing.
3. If we've been conditioned to never quit, pride can hold a person paralyzed.

Quit...Quit the wrong things to make opportunity for the right things.

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Cadre Reunion

I will spend the next few days at Jeanne Mayo's Cadre. I am so excited about catching up with friends and hearing from the best ministry coach in the world. You can check out Jeanne at www.youthleaderscoach.com/home.asp

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Friday, April 4, 2008

iGoogle and iChurch

One of the tensions in church leadership today is the battle raging with adapting to culture. If done with balance there can be many benefits with which attendees can relate (e.g. media, web, etc.). However, taken to the extreme, catering to peoples needs can become a seductive and destructive behavior for church leadership. Churches cannot become consumer driven catering to every need of an individual.

I was going through my blog roll today and followed a link to subscribe to an rss feed. Long story short I created an iGoogle page and and a Google reader where I can read each of my blogs in one single simple location. Simply awesome!

I was challenged today by how simple Google made the process. What if we, as leaders, started with simple as the first priority for everything. Here are the things I have noticed about simplicity:
1. It is hard to communicate simply ( I typed that five times).
2. Simple things get big ROI (return on investment).
3. Simple programs are popular.
4. Simple is sexy - Nik White
5. Simple stands out.


Saturday, March 29, 2008

UnBalanced

Last night we had a meeting of our whole pastoral team and our conversation focused on being faithful in managing our schedules so that they reflect God's priorities. As we talked and got the input of our dear wives about times that we "bring work home" or how our work habits affect our families, the suggestion of a “balanced life” was given.

Why does balance always seem to be the goal of every conflict? “Balance” is an idea that conjures up the word “precarious.” Balance gives the illusion of control. The comfort of order.

The draw of balance may be that it promises to relieve the stress of our world, with its competing priorities, clapping to get our attention.

Balance may be a myth. Children that wake up crying in the middle of the night with a 103 degree fever and a strangling cough, aren’t looking for a balanced mom. Work and leadership require many times of full involvement, marching past meeting end times, or requiring additional input that smudges the lines in our circles. Jobs that we are passionate about will require passion from us that is not neatly contained in any circle.

I think what God wants for us, to grow in us over time, is a well-ordered heart. Not a circle with lines, but a heart that is full of his love, spilling over into the lives of others.