Month: September 2012

Testimony Thursday

A few years back I found myself working more than spending time with my family.  It’s not that I didn’t love them or didn’t care,  because I did.  I was just working in an environment where I was never really sure where I fitted in and an environment where there was a lot to do.

Wanting disparately for my life to matter, and to see the fruit of God working through me. I threw myself in to my job giving no less than 222% of my effort to the organization…

and maybe even more.

It was a situation where the organization wasn’t healthy and I felt some how if God used me to save it, it would in turn save me in the end.

I would finally feel like I was useful to others and to God, that some how my life mattered.

After 3 years of working more than I should have, I went on vacation with my family and came to the realization I didn’t know them anymore.  My children had grown and changed and  I could no longer tell you want really mattered to my wife.  So, after a week of getting reacquainted with my family, I went back to work with a new view on life…

I wasn’t going to work as much as I had been working and I was going to make sure I was spending time with my family.

And I did it…

I told my boss and made the changes that were needed…

and I have never looked back.

Today, I know my family very well, I know what they are doing and what their interest are.  I work at a different place now, (Farmington Baptist Church).  I do go the extra mile in this job but it is never at the expense of my family.  And with God’s help I hope to keep that focus and maintain the balance between family and church ministry.

Today as I hugged my daughter before she left with my wife for school and as I stopped to watch my son walk into his school (and the thumbs up he gave me during this process) it again showed me I made the right choice.

I doubt that anyone really  remembers all that I took on at my other job, and that doesn’t matter to me as much as it once did.  What matters to me now is my family knows I’m there for them and will always be there when they need me…

because I love them more than anything in this world…

and that’s “priceless”.

5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Read the Bible

There are some people in the world that read the Bible more than I do and it amazes me.  Not because of the “more” as if my reading is a lot but because I can’t believe they would “waist their time” doing it.

So here are 5 reason why some people should never read the Bible…

1. If you’re an Atheist, you really shouldn’t read the Bible.  Why? Well, If you do not believe that there is a God and you think  men wrote it (i.e. they were not under the direction of God to do it) I do not see why you would even pick it up.

It’s just not logical to me.

I know one reason Atheist often pick it up…

it’s to prove that there is no God.  But if you believe that there is no God it really doesn’t matter if other people believe in one, right?

So why go to the trouble to prove your point?

Unless you are trying to save them from….

what?

Not sure what you are saving them from because the what of your “matter”  is  imaginary.

2. If your only reason is to prove it wrong.  This goes for religious and anti-religious people.

But you may say, “I just want to be open minded.”

Warning – if you really approach the Bible “open minded” to ascertain the truth of the matter you will wind up accepting Jesus as your Savior and this will change your whole belief system and the way you live. You may even lose some of the friends you have… but will gain the “crazy ones” you think are crazy because of their belief in Jesus.

Open minded doesn’t equal – finding ways to disagree with something,  the ability to bring up issues or to latch on to things that you already believed before.  That is the definition to close-mindedness.

Most people when they say they are open minded really aren’t.  Most of the time when someone says they are open minded they are usually just trying to gather data to use against the subject instead of using it to determine it’s correctness.

Enough said on that one.

3. If you are not going to live what it says.

What a waist of time, to read something only to disagree with it by the way you live.   Some only read the scriptures to find ways to make it say what they want it to say.  Any time we either reject what it says or make it say something it doesn’t is a moment we really should have just left it on the shelf.

4. If you often make statements about what it says but you have never really read those statements nor could you find them in scripture if pushed to do so.

Why?

Because you are more than likely to find out what you are saying is not really in the Bible or you may find out you are using that “phrase” the wrong way and would have to change and that would be painful for you.

In this same category are those who think they know all there is to know about the Bible… why mess that up? Just don’t read it and you will be “fine” and happy.

5.Hummm….  sorry, ran out of reasons.

Why did I run out of reasons?

Because I really think you should read it, and allow the God who gave it to us to speak to you through it and allow Him to change you into who He created you to be…

but that’s up to you…

Take the Hit

As a leader sometimes you have to “take the hit” for the well being of the group you are leading.

There is a tension in leadership between being liked and making hard choices that have the potential of upsetting people.  Choices of…

1. Direction – even though you talk and talk there are some who will never understand the direction you want the organization to go in.  There are several reasons for this. The top two reasons are…

a. People are creatures of habit and they unintentionally will go back to the way they have always done something. This is a natural thing to do.

b. People do not listen.  They may hear what you are saying but if it doesn’t match what they want to do they discard what you have said no matter how compelling you have made it.

2.  Organization – when habits begin to form that will hurt the stability of an environment (or go against the plan that was put into place) and you have to approach those issues, it can be a very difficult thing to do.  No matter how nice you try to put things it seems there is always “that” person that thinks you were talking directly to them.

3. To apply the breaks – When you have to put the breaks on something that doesn’t fit with the direction your organization is going.  It is hard to tell someone no, especially if you love and care for them.  But sometimes you just have to say, I know you feel the Lord is leading you that way but He has not shown me that is something our organization should do.

These choices are hard to make because you know you will have to take some hits for making them.  But if you are praying and following God to the best of your ability, He will give you the strength you need to endure the hits that happen to you publicly, privately, and behind your back.

Remember, it may seem easier to play it safe… but if you play it safe your organization will suffer and will never be all it can be.

So, man up, make the choices you need to make for the betterment of the organization God has put you in charge of.  After all He is stronger than any hit that could come your way…

no matter how painful it may be.

The Biggest Threat to Church Ministry

The biggest threat to church ministry is not…

the government

liberals

other cults and religions

or atheist.

The biggest threat to Church ministry is…

us…

The Church Members.

Quarrels, fights,  and relationship tensions, are the main things that prevent a church from achieving the plan God has for it.  Satan loves it when God’s people disagree and they fight each other. In fact he loves to empower any movement that will cause damage to a church body.

This is one of the reasons we are commanded to love each other.  Because love prevents the implosion of the church.  Love stops Satan at the door and says – You can’t work here we have chosen to love each other therefore we abide in God and God has no part with you. 1 John 3:23-24

So stay on guard church!  Lets keep Love on our hearts and let it season the way we treat each other so we can keep the biggest threat at a threat level of…

“no threat at all”

Reach Out?

The question for the church is…

Can we reach out?

or maybe the question is…

Are we reaching out?

Or maybe the question is…

Do we think we are reaching out but we are really only reaching in… to ourselves?

Is it bad to reach in and minister to each other in the church?

No, we are commanded to do that.

Do we sometimes confuse reaching out the lost with events and ministries that are only reaching in?

Yes…

If we are reaching out maybe we should ask…

Who outside of the church do we want to touch? Do we want to minister to?

Are we really going to our community to show them we care?  Do they know it?

I think sometimes we just do things that are safe and easy for us.  The real hard work of connecting to the community we would rather not do. It would mean going and doing things that might not be convenient for us.  It would take an extra effort on our part to reach out…

reaching out is hard.

Its easier to just reach in.

WWJD?

He would reach out…

WWJW?

He Wants us to reach out.

Are we?

or are we just…

reaching in?

What We Can Learn from the X-Factor

I do not know how you feel about the X-Factor, I know for us there are “questionable moments” during the show where we turn to another channel until the “questionable moment”  is over.  But other than that… the show is fun and entertaining.

It is also something we can learn from…

especially the church.

Here are a few things we, the church, can learn from the X-Factor.

1. Not all of us are created with the same gifts.  Some of us think we have a gift that we really don’t have. Why?  Because the Christians around us have never said, “hey man you’re not good at that, would you like to try another ministry”.  Why do Christians not say these things?  Because we want to be nice and not hurt anyone’s feelings.

We should serve the Lord in our area of giftedness.  He has created us to be a part of serving in the local church and each of us has a place He created us to use our gifts in. Our Christian life is more fulfilling when we find a place to minister in the church that fits the gifts God has given us.

One of the judges said in an interview… “I’m honest with these people,because I do not want them to waist 7 or more years of their life only to find out then, they were not cut out for the job.”

More years than that are often waisted in church ministries because we did not help guide people to places they could serve based on their giftedness. A mistake that has eternal consequences…

Here are a few more mistakes we make in this area..

a. Church’s that try to have a standard for service often make that standard too high for good people who love the Lord to reach.  Just because someone doesn’t sing like “Sandy Patty” or Chris Tomlin doesn’t mean they can’t be on your worship team. Nor does it mean that God hasn’t given them a gift to sing. (Just ask the people who can’t sing at all, the people that wish they could but know they don’t have the gift)  There are way to many average singers that are not used in churches because they have been rejected for no other reason other they didn’t meet some musical mark that was set too high by the leadership in the first place.  Remember, we are a church that worships  God with our voices, we aren’t looking for the next $5 million dollar recording artist.

b. People wear their feelings on their sleeve, so they get up set if there is even just one helpful word of criticism spoken. As a result we are scared to tell people what they really need to hear. After all the last thing the church needs is another conflict.

The fact of the matter is, when people wear their feelings on their selves, and fuss because of something like this it reveals their focus… and that focus is not on God and worshiping Him.   This happens not only with musicians but other people in other ministry positions as well.  Some people are just not willing to be corrected or instructed on how to do something.  If this is you it is time to get over yourself and get into God.

If you are the leader and have to approach someone like this, do it with wisdom but by all means do it and let the chips fall where they fall.  It is better to worship God in spirit and in truth than to worship God with a spirit of fear and pride.

2. Always look for the X-Factor. Language, styles of music and the way we communicate changes often in our culture.  We must always make sure our message is presented in a way that connects with the people we are delivering it too.  The message we have to pass on is too important not to make this a priority.

Just last night I taught a lesson on the Existence of God to our youth at Farmington Baptist Church, after the lesson was over I knew I had not connected very well with the students.  I did not teach the lesson in a “X-Factor” sort of way.

So, at this point I have a few choices…

a. I could ignore the fact the lesson did not connect as well as it should and keep teaching like “I always have”

b. I could blame the youth for not being involved and engaged. (BTW – this is a cop out excuse for people not listening to you as the speaker… it is the speakers job to keep the attention of  his audience… even messages in the OT that people did not agree with kept the audiences attention)

c. I could ask myself “why didn’t that work?”  Then determine in my prayers and in my mind to find where the” X-Factor” is for the next message I bring to them.

3. You have to look past the way someone presents themselves to really see what God is doing in their life.  The best parts of the X-Factor is when someone comes out that looks homely (like they have no talent at all) and winds up having an unbelievable voice.

The church needs to always keep in mind that God is constantly transforming people from the inside out.  This means that often what He has done inside of a person is far greater than their “homely” look outside.

Remember…

They might not look like it but they might closer to God than you are.

Looks are relative anyway… right?

So there you go… a few things we can learn from the X-Factor…

what have you learned?