Archive for November, 2009

Wave Break

It feels good to be back in my blogging rhythm.  However, I’ll be taking a break from blogging for a few days.  I’ll be enjoying some much needed rest near the ocean.

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God Is With Us

Throughout the Old Testament, God always reminded the Israelites of His presence.  In Joshua 1, God reminded Joshua that He was with him wherever he went.  In Isaiah, God again said, “Do not fear, for I am with you.”  What is one thing you would change about your life if you realized God is always with you?  What risk would you take if you truly realized His presence was with you?  What sin would you refrain from if you truly realized that God was always with you?  Here’s the great thing.  He is.  We not only serve a God who loves us, but who is always with us.

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My wife and I had of our most fun and memorable dates last night. Believe it or not, all we did was go out to eat…kinda. Last night was the first week of our Great Date Experiment. It’s based on a resource I ran across on North Point Community Church’s website. If you’re married, you may want to take a look at it. It’s a great tool if you’re looking to inject a little more “umph” in your date nights with your spouse.

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I’m a bargain shopper.  When making a purchase, I like to look around to make sure I’m getting the best deal.  I’m the type of guy that walks in the store and head straight for the clearance rack.  Before I order something on line, I do a Google search to see if there’s any coupons floating around in cyberspace.  Every so often, I run across some amazing deals.  At other times, it’s difficult to get the deal I want.  As much as I shop around, every once in awhile I have to bite the bullet and realize that this product or service is going to cost me full price.

In leadership, we sometimes get things at a bargain: low cost, high return. A fifteen minute conversation proves to be life changing.  You pray for a person for one minute and God answers it in a big way.  You preach one of your old sermons and it impacts the life of your church.  You thought it would cost you time and energy and God sends you a 80% off coupon.  You rejoice because you didn’t have to pay a high price!  There are some things, however, that only come at a premium price. No matter how much you shop around, it doesn’t come cheap.  No coupon.  No mark down. No clearance.  No deal.  You can choose to embrace the cost and go to the next level, or be fruggal and stay where you are.  There are equipment, events, and life lessons that are high cost, high return.  They often require a level of risk.  You may have to preach a sermon on a topic that you are extremely uncomfortable addressing.  You may have to drive hours to have a thirty minute meeting with someone influential.  You may have to carry the emotional weight of a vision until it comes to past.  In 2 Samuel 24:24, David said to Araunah, “No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price, for I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God which cost me nothing.”  David realize that every thing that pertains to God doesn’t come cheap or easy.  Things of high value sometimes comes at a high cost.

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Change Requires Change

Change requires change. Change is one of the few things that begins with itself.  If we want to experience change we must be willing to change or at least begin changing things around us.  Every Israelite king that wanted to see their nation transformed understood this reality.  If the nation was to return to God, there had to be changes; immediate changes.  High places had to be removed.  Idols had to be thrown in the trash.  False prophecy had to be chased out from the land.  The people had to repent, which required not only a change of mind and heart, but a change in action.

Could it be that the change that we desire to see in our ministries hinges on the changes that we are afraid to make?  We desire to see God move in our communities and cities in the way that He’s moving in others.  We want to see that same kind of “fire from heaven” type revival where unbelievers are coming to Christ, backsliders are returning, families are being restored, unmotivated people are becoming excited about the kingdom, and church is being influential.  Yet, when we are exposed to changes that are necessary to accomplish those things, there’s serious pushback.  Many a times, the push back comes from our own hearts.  Our unwillingness to change leads to us becoming an antagonist against the very change that we want to see!  We become critical and skeptical, instead of open and revolutionary.  Now all of a sudden the church that begins to experience the change we want to see is a fadish, shallow cult experiencing false conversions.  The leader that had the guts to make the hard decisions that we refuse to make is an arrogant, false prophet that needs to repent for leading hundreds and thousands of young people down the paths of destruction.  We allow our hearts to become callous against the move of God and we become Pharisaic.  The best favor we can do for ourselves is to simply change.

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Tonight, I get the opportunity to speak to the students at Campus Crusade for Christ at University of Maryland College Park. I really enjoy speaking to students. I’m still amazed at how God continues to open doors for me to go back to my alma matter to make a difference. I’ve been back to College Park to speak at various campus groups over the years. Who would have thought while roaming the grounds of campus that God would have me to return to pour into future students? Some alumni have the opportunity to give back millions of dollars to build new buildings. I get the opportunity to give back God’s Word to build lives.

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For some reason, I’m stuck in this whole quitting the ministry for the ministry mode. Maybe because it’s where I am, but that’s what blogging is for, right? One of the ways to get stuck in the “doing THEIR ministry” mode is by getting in the routine of picking up dropped balls. In ministry, balls will drop. Their are so many to juggle. One can drop at any moment. This is especially true if your dealing with volunteers who already have limited time and additional responsibilities. Because of the sense of ownership you have towards the vision, your natural instinct will be to pick up the dropped ball. The more dropped balls you pick up, the less dropped balls you have. For instance, someone forgets to get the drinks. You say, “You know what? I’ll get the drinks.” Someone else didn’t get a chance to do the bulletins. You say, “Forget it. I’ll do the bulletins. I already envision what I want them to look like anyway. Besides, if you want a job done correctly, you might as well do it yourself.” We end up frustrated, pulling all nighters, and forsaking time with the family. But guess what? Everybody will have drinks and bulletins…at your expense!

What we fail to realize is that we are subconsiously creating a system that looks like this: The volunteers/employees do what they can and whenever a ball is dropped, Super Leader will come to the rescue!” Guess what happens if you ever decide to let a ball drop? They look at you as if you’re the bad guy! The only person to blame is us.  We are the ones that create that expection. “I thought you would end up getting the drinks! I assumed you would do the bulletins!” Then comes the all time line, “That’s what you always do!”

As a pastor, I’m learning to let balls drop. The people that are given the responsibility needs to feel the weight of a dropped ball. They need to feel the Holy Spirit conviction and learn from the mistake themselves. I’m learning that God doesn’t call me to pick up the ball, but to be a loving support for when they pick the ball back up.

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