Monday, October 18, 2010

The Monday Funday: Bible edition

Every morning when I wake I have about 472 twitters from people I "follow" quoting a bible verse or two that they've read that morning and were kind enough to share with the rest of us.

I like this. In fact I often retweet an inspirational verse or two for my own followers to enjoy with their morning coffee.

But while the Bible is chalk full of awesome inspiration it also contains some other verses that are not so... shall we say "Max Lucado" friendly. For every 10 verses talking about the love of God, there's that one talking about how much the author REALLY enjoys the sight of his wife. The kind of thing that makes grow ups blush and jr highers giggle.

In fact the Bible has all kinds of crazy verses in it. And so today for our Monday Funday lets look at some of the more obscure and hilarious verses in the bible (and ponder maybe how each of these God-breathed nuggets are "useful for teaching and rebuking")

1. Genesis 25:30 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)"He said to Jacob, "Let me eat some of that red stuff, because I'm exhausted." "

Sounds more like a quote from the Simpsons than the Bible.Technically this verse labels Esau as the official first redneck (they called him Edom which meant "Red"!)... so I guess the quote makes sense after all....  

2. Proverbs 25:24 says that it is "better to live on the corner of a roof than to share a house with a nagging wife," 

I wonder if the "pain in the butt" connection is actually a coincidence? I'd like to think not.

3. And I'm thinking of using this next method for my kids when they whine...

Numbers 11:18- "And tell the people to purify themselves, for tomorrow they will have meat to eat. Tell them, 'The LORD has heard your whining and complaints: "If only we had meat to eat! Surely we were better off in Egypt!" Now the LORD will give you meat, and you will have to eat it. And it won't be for just a day or two, or for five or ten or even twenty. You will eat it for a whole month until you gag and are sick of it. For you have rejected the LORD, who is here among you, and you have complained to him, "Why did we ever leave Egypt?"

"Whats that Justus? You'd rather eat a Fruit Roll Up than your dinner? Fine have it your way... you'll eat Fruit Roll Ups every meal, every day for a month!" ... hmmm, on second thought I think he just won that battle.

4. 2 Kings 9:20 The lookout reported, "He has reached them, but he isn't coming back either. The driving is like that of Jehu son of Nimshi--he drives like a madman."

Next time you get cut off in traffic roll down your window and tell that jerk he drives like a "Jehu".  Not only will you feel better, but the bewildered look on their face will  make it a double win. (Disclaimer: I'm not responsible if they go all road rage on you and wrap your mini-van around a pole. Use this tip at your own risk.)

5. Here's the international junior high girl verse... Job 13:5 "If only you would be altogether silent! For you, that would be wisdom."

6. And lastly here's one I've actually used:

Proverbs 27:14 "If a man loudly blesses his neighbor early in the morning, it will be taken as a curse."

 In college we had a guy in our dorm hall named Johnny who we affectionately dubbed "Decibels" since he was indeed the loudest person on the face of the planet.  We posted this verse on his dorm room door. No, it didn't help at all. 

What other verses have you run across that make you smile, laugh or do a double take? Do share and lets all enjoy a little Funday in our Monday!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Monday Funday (Colombus Day edition): The Greatest Accidental Discoveries of All TIme!

In 1492 Columbus set sail to discover the riches is India. His navigational skill were about as good as mine and not surprisingly he got lost.  Unlike me, when he got lost he ended up discovering a new world (I usually only discover new ways to yell at my iPhone's horrible map app).

So In honor of the greatest accidental discovery of all time I decided to list a few other totally awesome accidental discoveries!  Enjoy the day off and have a little "Funday" with your "Monday"!

1. Chocolate Chip Cookies
According to Nestle, Mrs. Wakefield (owner of the Toll House Inn) was making chocolate cookies but ran out of regular baker’s chocolate, so she substituted it with broken pieces of semi-sweet chocolate, thinking that it would melt and mix into the batter. It clearly did not, and the chocolate chip cookie was born. Wakefield sold the recipe to Nestle in exchange for a lifetime supply of chocolate chips (instead of patenting it and making billions!) Every bag of Nestle chocolate chips in North America has a variation of her original recipe printed on the back (margarine is now included both as a variant on butter and for those people who want to pretend it is healthy).

2. Popsicles
The Popsicle was invented by an 11 year who kept it secret for 18 years. The inventor was Frank Epperson who, in 1905, left a mixture of powdered soda and water out on the porch, which contained a stir stick. That night, temperatures in San Francisco reached a record low. When he woke the next morning, he discovered that it had frozen to the stir stick, creating a fruit flavored ice treat that he humbly named the epsicle. 18 years later he patented it and called it the Popsicle.

3. Microwave
Percy LeBaron Spencer of the Raytheon Company was walking past a radar tube and he noticed that the chocolate bar in his pocket melted. Realizing that he might be on to a hot new product placed a small bowl of popcorn in front of the tube and it quickly popped all over the room. Tens of millions of lazy cooks now have him to thank for their dull food!

4. Potato Chips
The first potato chip was invented by George Crum (half American Indian half African American) at Moon’s Lake House near Saratoga Springs, New York, on August 24, 1853. He was fed up with the constant complaints of a customer who kept sending his potatoes back to the kitchen because they were too thick and soggy. Crum decided to slice the potatoes so thin that they couldn’t be eaten with a fork. Against Crum’s expectation, the customer was ecstatic about the new chips. They became a regular item on the lodge’s menu under the name “Saratoga Chips” and a large contributing factor of the Western world’s obesity problems.

The invention of the humble Post-It Note was an accidental collaboration between second-rate science and a frustrated church-goer. In 1970, Spencer Silver, a researcher for the large American corporation 3M, had been trying to formulate a strong adhesive, but ended up only managing to create a very weak glue that could be removed almost effortlessly. He promoted his invention within 3M, but nobody took any notice.
4 years later, Arthur Fry, a 3M colleague and member of his church choir, was irritated by the fact that the slips of paper he placed in his hymnal to mark the pages would usually fall out when the book was opened. One service, he recalled the work of Spencer Silver, leading to an epiphany – the church being a good a place as any to have one, I suppose – and later applied some of Silver’s weak yet non-damaging adhesive to his bookmarks. He found that the little sticky markers worked perfectly, and sold the idea to 3M. Trial marketing began in 1977, and today you’d find it hard to imagine life without them.

More sticky stuff, though this one was famous for its high adhesive value, unlike Silver’s Post-It Notes. Superglue came into being in 1942 when Dr Harry Coover was trying to isolate a clear plastic to make precision gun sights for handheld weaponry. For a while he was working with chemicals known as cyanoacrylates, which they soon realized polymerized on contact with moisture, causing all the test materials to bond together. It was obvious that these wouldn’t work, so research moved on.
6 years later, Coover was working in a Tennessee chemical plant and realized the potential of the substance when they were testing the heat resistance of cyanoacrylates, recognizing that the adhesives required neither heat nor pressure to form a strong bond. Thus, after a certain amount of commercial refinement, Superglue (or “Alcohol-Catalyzed Cyanoacrylate Adhesive Composition”, to give it its full name) was born.
It was later used for treating injured soldiers in Vietnam – the adhesive could be sprayed on open wounds, stemming bleeding and allowing easier transportation of soldiers; adding a delicious layer of irony to the story in that a discovery made during an effort to improve the killing potential of guns ended up saving countless lives.

7. Vulcanized Rubber
Charles Goodyear had been waiting years for a happy accident when it finally occurred.
Goodyear spent a decade finding ways to make rubber easier to work with while being resistant to heat and cold. Nothing was having the effect he wanted.
One day he spilled a mixture of rubber, sulfur and lead onto a hot stove. The heat charred the mixture, but didn't ruin it. When Goodyear picked up the accident, he noticed that the mixture had hardened but was still quite usable.
At last! The breakthrough he had been waiting for! His vulcanized rubber is used in everything from tires, to shoes, to hockey pucks.

8.  Pacemaker
This list wouldn't be complete without at least one absent-minded professor. But it's not flubber clocking in at No. 2, it's a life saving medical device. That pacemaker sewn into a loved one's chest actually came about because American engineer Wilson Greatbatch reached into a box and pulled out the wrong thing.
It's true. Greatbatch was working on making a circuit to help record fast heart sounds. He reached into a box for a resistor in order to finish the circuit and pulled out a 1-megaohm resistor instead of a 10,000-ohm one.
The circuit pulsed for 1.8 milliseconds and then stopped for one second. Then it repeated. The sound was as old as man: a perfect heartbeat

And there you have it, eight awesome discoveries that happened totally on accident!

The moral of this story? Keep your eyes open today, you never know when a "chance" encounter may lead to the discovery of a new idea, dream, relationship or opportunity.  God's ways are higher than ours and if we stay open to His lead we may find ourselves (not unlike Mr. Columbus) in an unexpected new world, full of possibility we never knew existed. 

God bless and enjoy your Monday! 

(Special thanks to, and for the ideas...)  

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Monday Funday: WTF church- Relevance gone awry?

Want to know if your culturally up to date with the next generation? Check out this picture...  what do you see?  A church using banners to advertise their core values? Or something much more provocative?

WTF church? I have to admit I laughed out loud when I first saw this.  How could a church be so out of touch to not notice this?  I shook my head and lamented how culturally naive some churches could be.

Turns out I was dead wrong.  This isn't a case of a culturally naive church, but rather just the opposite: a church intentionally using a controversial cultural abbreviation to create buzz for their core values and their church.

Read this blog from (a blog who is no stranger to a provocative marketing as you can see) and let me know what you think:  Has this church gone too far or are they reaching those who are far away? Are they cutting edge or cutting corners spiritually?  

How does a church balance the line of the necessity of relevance and set apartness of holiness?  Jesus hung out with sinners but walked sinless. He crossed the religious leaders "set apart" line many times and yet called us to be set apart.  Paul quoted heathen poets in his worship of the one true God and yet blasted traditional views on what is took to be "saved" (grace vs law). 

What do you think? How do we as the church walk that fine line of communicating the timeless, holy word of God in a ever changing, sin warped culture that doesn't speak the language of traditional church?

Where would you draw the line?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wednesday Update: Approved!

Happy Humpday!

Many of you are tracking along with us as we endeavour to plant this church in Brookside.  I've tried to keep up with many of you and let you know whats been happening, but things happen so fast that I can't seem keep everyone in the loop. Thus the birth of the Wednesday Update! (Or Humpday Update?)

Every Wednesday I'll post an update on where we are at in the church plant process and share some prayer requests and praise reports as well.   I hope you enjoy the read and have fun walking with us along the process!

Whats New!(Praise):
     -A Name: We finally settled on a name for our church. Rockhill Community Church.  Rockhill is a street that runs through Brookside and the name of an area here.  It also has a great connection to our purpose which is "Helping people find their way back to God." 
     In Matt 5:14 it says "You are the light of the world. A city on a HILL cannot be hidden."  We desire to be a light in this world, build on the solid foundation of Christ that helps people find their way back to God.  It's a great feeling to settle that and move forward.
     -We are approved!: Christina and I drove to Springfield yesterday and spent the day being tested and interviewed.  It was the final step in a  six month process to get approved to church plant in the Southern Missouri District. Things went very well and we got the official green light to move forward as church planters!  Thanks to all of you who were praying with us, God's good and we can't wait to see what He has in store!!

Whats Next! (Prayer):
     -Now the real work begins. We are currently looking at several different locations to start meeting as a small group in the Brookside area. We've looked at schools, coffee houses, churches, etc.  We have some very good leads, I just want to be careful choose the best local for the growth of this launch team.
     -Fundraising:  Whew. I'll be honest, this one is a challenge for me.  My goal is to raise enough funds to pay my salary for one year.  I hope to free our young church of the weight of that cost as we get started and  allow us to really hit the ground running and focus all our giving toward ministry.  If you're interested in helping with this please let me know! (And don't be surprised if I send you a letter asking for support. I don't want to be an annoyance, but I'm trusting God will call people to partner with us.)

     -Recruiting: I believe God has people who he's been calling to be a part of this church.  My prayer is that we would be able to connect with them and help them get involved.  We put together a list of all the areas of ministry we'd like to start with day one and then looked at how many people it would take to staff each of those ministries: The result? 74 people!!! oh Lord. ; )  The point being we have a ton of opportunity for people to serve God and partner with us to pioneer a new faith community.  Pray with us for the workers so we can reach a harvest of hurting and disconnected people with the love of Christ! 

Getting Personal:
     -Here's our new family picture! (Special thanks to Jeremy Ellsworth for being an awesome photographer)
As you can see we've got our hands full.  All the boys are doing great.  God has truely blessed us with amazing kids. Christina is a superhero to keep all us boys in line!

(Left to Right: Levi, Christina, Dante, Justus, Me, Judah)

Thanks for reading and thanks for caring! We've been blessed to be a part of such a great family of friends. We love each of you.  

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Monday Funday: Whats your "go to" move?

Ok so I'm going to try and organize this blog thing and mix it up a bit.  So far my blog has read like a Sunday School devotional and while there's nothing wrong with that, I need a little diversity in my life.

Mondays are officially renamed. Who needs another Monday? No one that's who. But who couldn't use an extra dose of Funday?! That's what I'm talking about!  (ok so that's about as cheesy as it gets. I know, but it's my blog so deal.)  

From now on every Monday will be Monday Funday.  I'll scoured the the interweb for things that tweak my fancy and make me lol or rotflol or lmbo. Then I'll post a link and you can all rotflol with me.  

I have to start with this link:

Stuff Christians Like has to be one of the funnest blogs in existence. Who else would be brave enough to take on hard hitting topics like "Getting abandoned by your worship leader" and "deep v-neck syndrome"?

Need a little "Funday" in your Monday?   SCL has you covered like a crew neck at the Catalyst Conference.

One question for you though: Whats your "go to" worship move? 

Me, I prefer the "Statue of Liberty"  Bow your head with an intense look on your face and raise a fist to the sky, then bob your head with the bass drum beat. Has a rock show feel with out being over the top. ; )  

Happy Funday!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A wordle of my devotions today...

I've been hanging out in Luke 4 for a few days now. And when Mark Batterson cued me in to I had to try it!

 Wordle takes any text you enter and makes a word cloud out of it.  They put words that are repeated in a larger font.  You can see the points of emphasis in such a unique way, and it looks very cool!  

Try your favorite chapter and if you can post it so we can see what it looks like!

So here is my wordle of Luke 4:

Wordle: Luke 4

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Ain't no vally low enough

Some short thoughts on Luke 4… Part 1.

I’m going to do something a bit different here. Instead of writing a few paragraphs about what I’m learning, I’m going to throw out some bullet points about thing that jumped out at me and let you come to some of your own conclusions. I’ll add more about the following verses to this as the days go by. Let me know how you see God applying this stuff in your life.

Luke 4: The Temptation of Jesus

1. Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert,

-The Spirit led Jesus into a desert. How often to we mistake our desert seasons for a work of the enemy and try to avoid them rather than asking God: “What are you trying to teach me during this time?”

-We learn more in struggle than in success. Learning to live Godly in the dry seasons teaches us that God is trust worthy; He will come through for you as you follow Him. You’ll never truly understand that God is enough until He really is all that you have.

-The desert seasons often follow great spiritual moments. Expect it. Prepare your heart for it.

-The desert seasons are not always punishments for wrong living. Often they are a testing and a completion of what God gave you in the spiritually intimate season you just walked out of. Trust in the night what you learned in the light.

-Often when God seems to pull back is when we tend to realize our need for Him and press in. Absence make the heart grow fonder, but only when we persue a commitment to love in the (seeming) absence of our loved one's presence.  Do we love Him enough to love Him faithfully even when we don't seem to "feel" His love?

My Thoughts:
It’s nice having a safety harness as you climb. But my guess is you’ll never truly climb with out fear until you’ve fallen and that safety harness catches you. You can know in your head all the details about the strength of that harness but you won’t full trust it until you’ve been caught a few times.

I think we are like that with Christ. Most Christians can talk about their faith in Christ. The question is what do we do when he say’s “Let go, trust me.” How do we react when He seems to pull the blessing back and we walk a season of living with seemingly nothing more than the memories of the things He did. No emotional reward to our worship. No physical reward to our sacrifice. No substance to feed our hunger.

Do we shrink back? Do we question His love? Do compromise our faithfulness in response to our questions about His?

Or do we trust. Do we endure. Do we seek Him all the more diligently. Reality is, he said he would never leave us or forsake us. He never said we wouldn’t feel forsaken, but feelings are a poor judge of spiritual realities. Our deserts aren’t always a lack of God in our life, but often our greatest opportunities to show our trust in Him.

Have you ever been through a desert season? What did you learn? What brought you through? What happened in you life as result?

Monday, August 23, 2010

You got a problem with that?

Last night was an interesting night. We had a Launch Team meeting and my goal was to lead our team through a discussion to discover a deeper understanding of the core values that are going to drive the formation of this new church. 

Sounds easy enough right? Right, except I did a lousy job of communicating precisely what I was looking for and as a result the night was full of uncertainly, tangents, questions and not nearly as much productivity as I was hoping for.  Now it would be easy to chalk that up as a lost night and get frustrated. But even as I lay in bed last night trying to rethink how I present this mission to our team I was encouraged. 

One of my values as a leader is a team that is willing to speak their heart and minds. Community is stronger when you can be unified even in the middle of disagreement.  If my team see's things different than me I want them to have the freedom to speak up. Unity does not equal conformity. In fact unity in the midst of diversity is a key to true loving community.

This seemed to be a theme in my life yesterday.

In the morning I visited Eagle Creek church in Lee's Summit (great church by the way.) And one of the key verses was Proverbs 27:6 "Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses" 

A bit later Rick Warren tweeted this thought: "An unhealthy climate on a church staff is likely caused by being afraid to say the last 10% of difficult truth to each other"  I think that's true for all of our relationships.

Do you value people who disagree with you?  So you search out friends who are willing to "wound" you when you need it? Are you willing to be a friend to says the last 10% in a loving way.  Or do you start a fight every time someone starts a discussion? Do you run every time someone disagrees?

When iron sharpens iron there are always sparks, get used to it. You should thank God for those who challenge your thoughts and opinions.

And if you have a problem with that... great!

Monday, August 9, 2010

A mystical, magical, spiritual, knee-buckling moment


What a week!  This is one of the most amazing seasons of our Christina and I's lives. (is "I's" a word? English majors help a brother out!)

Last Wednesday I pulled in to my usual spot at the Roasterie and quickly called Christina (who had at that point been in the hospital on bed rest for about a month and a half) just to touch base before I settled in for a productive day in my favorite Brookside coffee shop. 

After a quick "How's it going, I love you, see you later"  I hung up and took a minute in my car to pray for the coming day.  As I gathered my stuff, my phone rang and my life changed. "We're having babies in two hours." My brain went into Keanu Reeves mode and all I could think was "Whoa..."

Ok... and there goes my plans for the day. But wow, what a day it turned out to be!  I drove to the hospital and by 1:00 Levi and Judah had arrived.

Anyone who's had a kid knows the indescribable feeling of seeing a life brought into the world. Birth is a mystical, magical, spiritual, knee-buckling moment. Hearing a babies first cry, seeing them wide eyed and watching you just moments after entering the world is fantastic. Knowing that so much of their experience and success in this life falls on your shoulders is an heavy, beautiful burden to bear.

As a Christ follower I do my best to look at my world and my experiences through His eyes.  As I think about a new birth I think about how amazing it is that Christ choose that moment as an analogy for our spiritual encounter with Him.  In John 3 Jesus is talking to Nicodemus and tells him that in order to see, understand and be a part of God's kingdom one much be "born again". 

When we "get saved" or become "Christian" it's not simple a change of viewpoint, or a reconfiguration of our priorities. It's a birth. It's a "new creation" ( 2 Corinthians 5:17).  What was is no longer, and what will be is a road waiting to be discovered. Spiritual life has just begun. 

It's a mystical, magical, spiritual, knee-buckling moment when a person comes to faith in Christ. Are you ready for that moment? Are you ready to start over, this time with a Father who loves you more than you could ever know?  Maybe you know someone who needs a re-birth, a fresh start, a new life? Take a moment pray for them. God just might want to use you to bring His hope to them.  Be bold, the opportunity to share life you've discovered in Christ is worth the risk.

Lord help me see new birth in your kingdom. Bring people into my life that I can love in your name. Give me the boldness and opportunity to share your good news, because it is the power of God that saves (that brings new life to) your prodigal kids.

Monday, July 26, 2010

a two year olds tackles and the meaning of life.

It is so good to be home. After an amazing week in Orlando at the church planting bootcamp I was more than ready to come home again.

If you travel much you know the feeling. And maybe like me you've been a bit suprised by the little things that you miss when you're gone.

I have a theory that what we value is better revealed through what we miss than what we desire. Let me explain:

When I'm home going through my everyday life the things I often spend much of my energy on are not nessissiarly the things I miss most when I leave.

The things I miss most I think actually reveal what I most value. For the good or the bad.  I missed getting my head squished under a dog pile while hearing Dante yell "tackle!" in the manliest little 2 year old voice you ever heard.  I miss Justus half awake, crawling into my lap in the mornings and knowing that he feels like he's in the safest, most comfortable place in that world at that moment. I miss the random conversations Christina and I have as we lay in bed trying to fall asleep after whirlwind days. (And yes, I do absolutely freak out when my iphone doesn't have good enough signal to get online...)

What do you miss most when your gone? For me remembering what I miss most allows me to focus on what I value most when I have it.  I forget how mortal I am. I forget how fleeting the time I have is. I need reminders that refocus me on the things that deserve my focus.

What do you miss most when you leave home? Does what you value most get the best of you on a daily basis? Or do we spend so much energy maintaining the peripheral that the essentials get the leftovers?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

When Plans Change.

Plans don't alway go as planned.  Having no plan is a plan for going nowhere, but the best plans plan for the unplanned. Clear as mud? Good, welcome to my life!

I had a chance to go "home" to Michigan and speak at their Junior High camp last week. (It was amazing. but more on that later.) We'd been planning this trip for months and as I was opening the trunk of the van to load the packed bags my wife called and informed me that the Dr was putting her on bed rest effective immediately. Plans had changed.

Funny how life does that.

Proverbs 16:9 says it like this: In their hearts people plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.

Earlier in verse 3 it says that if we commit to the Lord whatever we do, that He will establish our plans.

I think it works a bit like this: "God I'm going to seek you as I make my plans, then I'm going to trust you when life doesn't go according to my plan."

We seek His wisdom on the front end and trust His provision on the back end.  I didn't plan on leaving my bed ridden wife and two year old son behind as my three year old and I drove 711 miles and 4 states away.  But we sought God, did our best to trust His provision and worked out tails off to tweak our plans and do what we felt He was calling us to do.

I have a feeling that's not the last time I'll have to do that.

And this time everything turned out just fine. Christina is still sitting in that hospital bed, a bit bored but otherwise doing well.  God moved in amazing ways at camp and I was able to be a part of some amazing moments with students from all over Michigan.

Now I'm sitting in a coffee shop making more plans. Plans for flying to FL for a church planting bootcamp, plans for taking care of my boys while their mom is on bedrest, plans for all the random details of this church plant and plans for several other things that are happening right now.

But this time I'm holding a bit more loosely to those plans. I'm keenly aware that at a moments notice every plan I've made could change. It's a bit unnerving and a bit freeing at the same time.  I'll commit these plans to God, but in the end "The Lord establishes my steps."   I may not understand everything, but I'll do my best with what I know, and trust Him with what I don't.

That's the plan anyway.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Getting Schooled

I tweeted not too long ago about how one of the byproducts of doing something you've never done is that you are consistantly learning something you've never known.  As I pursue this dream God's placed on my heart to plant a church I find myself in constant discovery mode. I'm reading books, blogs, tweets and newsletters from church planters. I'm drinking more than my share of coffee with guys who have done it and others who are in the process of planting now.  I'm picking the brain of everyone I know who has an ounce of experience in pastoring and church planting.  In short I'm getting schooled and I love it!

One of the most fun parts is that for every question I get answered I walk away with three more that I need to research. The opening lines of Proverbs call for discovery encouraging readers to attain wisdom, acquire discipline and offers to give prudence, knowledge and discretion. The writer suggests that the wise listen and add to their learning. 

So my question is what are you learning? Where are you being challanged? We were created to love God with our minds. To honor Him with our learning and discorvery and even with our questions. The more I learn how much I don't know the more I'm driven to my knees. There is a richness in understanding your desperation and dependance on God. The harder we lean on Him the more we understand and trust in His strength!

So go ahead learn something new today. Ask a tough question. Have coffee with someone who will streach your mind and your heart.  Honor your God with your mind!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Many Hands Make Light Work

As I've delved into the church planting world over these past few weeks I've had a chance to talk to several other pastors who have already planted churches.  Let me tell you if you want to strengthen your faith level and get excited about a God who moves in amazing ways, talk to a church planter!  Over and over again I've heard stories of Gods favor, faithfulness and His power to save. I hear about building bought for a song, people saved and changes, families restored, checks showing up in the nick of time, people healed, amazing favor with local authorties and so much more!

It gets me excited to see what "Goliath's"  are going to try and stand in our way, because every giant is an opportunity to see God move! 

One way that God often chooses to move is through His people. The bible is chalk full of stories of God mobilizing people to join forces to accomplish His works. One of the ways I know that God is in this is that we are already seeing Him inspiring people to partner with us in a variety of ways.   

In fact many more are asking "How can we help?" So many of you see the need for and the potential of a solid community church in the Plaza/Brookside area. It a challenge that is too big for any one of us, but one that with Gods' help, we can tackle together!  We were created for community and together we can reach what no one of us can reach alone.  

So How can you help? Right now there are four distinct ways people can join hands with us. I'll give a brief out line of each below and over the next week explain each on further detail.

1. PRAY!  Anything can happen when we pray, nothing can happen until we do.  We are looking for 200 people to join with us as prayer warriors. The ground we hope to take is full of the enemies lies, addictions and deceptions.  We need a team that will join with us. Our battle is not against flesh and blood, but the principalities of the evil one and the only way to win a spiritual battle is with spiritual weapons.  Please consider joining and supporting us in prayer! 

2. Special Forces: We're going to need some helping hands as we plan some big projects to help reach people for Christ.  Our Special Forces team would be an on call team that would come out on special occasions to help build stuff, contact people, set things up, support a ministry event, paint, make phone calls, ect...  

3. Financial Support:  This can be a tricky thing to ask for so I'll just be as honest and transparent as possible. My goal is to raise my salary through individuals and church supporting us as home missionaries.  I'm asking that those who join with us financially would make a simple two year commitment. My reason for this is simple: I want to take that financial burden off the church in these early years.  I'd much rather pour our full resources back into ministry and outreach and start from a strong financial position as a church.  Please pray for us as this is an immediate need and potential stress point.  We're trusting God that He will provide.

4. Be a church planter! So how cool would it be to establish a ministry that, should the Lord tarry, will be advancing Gods kingdom long after you and I both are dead and gone!  How amazing to work side by side with God and see people changed not just for just for "life" for for eternity!! To see entire families restored, to see addictions broken, to see the broken restored and so much more!  Join us! Step out of the safe boat into the stormy water and watch as God does miracle after miracle!  I could go on all day!  Pray about it, maybe God is calling YOU to be a church planter!!

whew! There's so much more to say but I'll save it for later.  Please pray. Pray for us, pray for the church, pray for the lost, pray for how God would be calling you to partner with us! Pray, pray, pray!  Thanks and God bless!!!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The church plant update

What a month it's been!  I've not blogged in quite sometime but it's not been for a lack of things to talk about. Over the next few days I'm going to post several shorter blogs that all feed together to form a greater message. And I'm going to break the communicators most basic rule right off the top here; I'm going to tell you how it all ends before I even begin.  

By the end of next week you're going to know exactly how you can be a part of this church plant project. Doesn't matter if you live 400 miles away or 4 miles, you can (and I hope that you will!) be a part of the birth of this new ministry.  God is moving and I'm so excited to see how he's going to use all of us to team together to reach His prodigal kids in the Plaza/Brookside area!  Please be in prayer with us this week.  It's an amazing and powerful thing to know God has a plan and humbling and exciting to know He lets us in on it!

till tomorrow...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Plaza Church

         Many of you have called and written asking about this new endeavor Christina and I are about to jump into and are wondering about where and why we are planning to plant a church. Below is a paper I'm writing for our district leaders as a part of my application process. It hopefully brings some clarity to the questions: where are we planting, why are we planting and what do we hope to accomplish.

          Like most of my blogs so far it's way too long, but the reason I'm posting it is to pull back the curtain a bit and let all my friends see my heart and the direction the God is leading me.  Let me know what you think. I'm learning and changing by the day as I assimilate more information and as I'm praying through the direction that God is leading us. 

The Plaza Church

         My heart for this church plant is simply this: to build a Christ-centered pentecostal community focused on serving, loving and discipling the people who live in and round the 64112 area code (Commonly known as “The Plaza”).  We typically leave the term “unreached people group” for overseas missions, but I believe that moniker applies to this locale and it’s residents.

          A quick search at reveals an interesting demographic.  The people in the zip code of the Plaza are for the most part college educated, single young adults who are employed and making a decent but not lavish wage (35-45k on average).  Like most of us at that stage in life many are just beginning to define who they are, and what course their lives are going to take.  They work hard at their jobs and love their social life.  But many are searching for a larger meaning.
Save as Draft

           They are a very socially conscience generation and the latest studies show that they are intrigued by, but not involved in, Christianity and Church.  A new study from Lifeway Research shows that 2 out of 3 individuals in this age group call themselves Christian and 70% say that the  Church is still relevant.  These are surprising, and encouraging numbers to be sure. However the sad stat is this one: Of those who identify with Christ: only 25% actually go to church.   

              My first reaction is “Why?” Having grown up in church and having spent the last 9 years of my life employed in ministry in the church, I know what a powerful place a community of believers can be.  I know the strength I’ve drawn, spiritually, emotionally, socially and mentally, through the ministries and relationships I’ve found in the church.  So why then are these believers (not to mention the vast numbers of unbelievers) avoiding the church? Why are they disconnecting from Christ and his family at an alarming rate? 

              The answer to this question is, I assume, as varied as the individuals we would ask to answer it.  Some are turned off by style, some by bad experiences, some by the desires and distractions of the world and some simply never felt connected and slowly drifted away.  I don’t know that there is any single solution to the many excuses for why people are not coming to church.  But I do know that a healthy, loving, Christ centered community is the hope of the world.  I do know that when done well, there is nothing on earth so powerful as the church.  Nothing is better at growing individuals into the fullness of Christ and empowering them to live their life to it’s fullest.  

                I think that’s why I want to plant a church.  I see a multitude of people searching for a cause  that is bigger than success and stuff.  A generation accosted by the corruption of their culture and in response something in them is crying out to rise above the fray and live a life worth dying for.    And than I see the cross.  The simple, beautiful cross and the Savor that laid down His life to give me a salvation I didn’t even know I needed.  The old saying goes “They won’t care what you know until they know that you care.”  And I believe that the truth in that saying applies in our day as much as ever.   God’s vehicle for the presentation of His love is the power of the cross, lifted up through the witness of the local church.   This area needs the light in the midst of the darkness.  

                      What will this church look like?  To be honest I don’t know.  Much of the style and look of the church will be formed in response to the insight we gain as we learn more about the culture and people that live there.  Ed Stetzer says in the book “Planting Missional Churches” that “The most biblical church is the one in which the cross is the only stumbling block for the unchurched.”  I like that.  The cross is a non-negotiable.  Discovering what connects people to the cross, and then executing that with a commitment to excellence will determine the style, or look, of the church. I have my ideas and plans for what I think that will look like, but I’m holding loosely to my plans until I better understand the local culture.   

                   I think that possibly the only absolute non-negotiable’s in the formation of a church are Theology and Community. 

                  I believe that if a church is solid in it’s commitment to a Biblical theology then it’s people will grow in their personal relationships with Christ and their lives will reflect that.  As important as it is to be culturally relevant, the medium only matters if the message is transformational and nothing is more transformational than Gods word.    It’s important that a church is not only committed to teaching Gods word, but teaching its people to love and engage in Gods word for themselves.  

                   Community is an old buzz word that I think has lost much of its impact as it’s become a bit over used.  Community does not simply describe a gathering of people.   Community implies a group of people with a common unity that draws them together for the betterment of the individual and the group as a whole.  In Gods family we are to be defined by our love for each other. The “It” factor that drives the vitality of a community is that they simply like being together. They enjoy the gathering and laughter is commonplace.   When one suffers they all suffer, when one mourns they all mourn, when one rejoices they all rejoice as though the joy is there own!  I would love to see people identify church as their favorite place to hang out. 

                   We cannot afford to fail at proclaiming God’s unchanging word in a relevant way or at creating an atmosphere of Christ centered community where we are best known by our love for each other and for our world.  If we have these elements we fulfill the great commandment to love God with all of our heart, mind and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. 

                 I’m learning so much right now about the process of building a church.  I’ve so many questions about legal issues, finances, payroll, incorporation, organization and leadership structures, developing a board, and so much more.   Growing up in church and in a pastor’s home I have a basic understanding of much of this, but I have so much more to learn.  
              Thanks you for allowing me to share my heart with you about this potential church plant.  In some ways I feel like a pregnant mother, this dream planted in my heart and I can’t wait to see what it will look like, feel like, sound like and how it will live.  I can’t wait to see who God brings alongside of my wife and I to work with us in this harvest. I can’t wait to find the Godly men and women God has already planted around the Plaza who are currently praying for God to bring a local church to their area.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A brave new world.

Dear friends,
As many of you may have heard by now Christina and I are entering into a exciting new adventure in our ministry lives.  I know there are a lot of questions about what these changes are and what they mean for the youth ministry here at Evangel.   I’d like to take a minute and share my heart for our new adventure and also for the future of the the youth group.

For some time now Christina and I have been feeling a sense of impending change in our lives.  We love youth ministry and we love the students here at Evangel but we began to feel like God was setting us up for a new direction. The problem was we really had no idea what that direction was.  There were many days I felt a bit like Abraham must have felt when he was hearing God say  "Leave... your people and... go to the land I will show you. “   I felt a sense of God calling me to step out, but not knowing what the next step was.  Pastor Jason and I talked regularly about these things and have been praying together about this transition for almost 7 months now.

When I was 12 years old I was at a youth camp in Grass Lake, Michigan when I began to feel like God wanted me to be a youth pastor.  From that moment on it was the only job I ever wanted. And other than a brief stint selling Polo shirts at Marshall Fields it’s the only full time job I’ve ever had.  You can imagine my surprise when 20 years later I found myself thinking God might have a new job description in store for me.  For the first time since 1988 I began to seriously consider a ministry other than to youth.  I began to think about planting a church.

And that simple thought has become a driving force in my heart.  I stay up at night thinking about it, I wake up early in the morning writing down ideas that formed in my heart through the night.  Like a woman who has just found out that she’s pregnant my minds wonders to random dates in the future and I wonder what this baby will look like, sound like and feel like.  I can’t wait to meet the people that Gods has been preparing for this ministry and to see the lives Gods will changes through it.  I’m going to be a church planter, and that’s something that only God could have birthed in my heart.

In all honesty I have to admit I have moments where some anxiety creeps in and the doubts start to swirl through my mind.  But in those moments God has repeatedly calmed my heart. He’s encouraged me through scriptures in my devotions, through encouraging words of friends and even through some surprising and timely wisdom from my three year old!

Just to be clear I want everyone to know this: I love Evangel.  I love the youth ministry here, I love the friends and people that we’ve meet here, I love the staff and board and I’ve loved working with and growing to become friends with Pastor Jason.  I have zero negative things to say about this amazing church and I consider it a honor and a blessing to have been able to serve and grow as a part of the staff here.  This is with out a doubt one of the greatest churches I’ve ever been to, much less had the privilege to work with.  I’ve already told Pastor Jason to get used to me asking questions because I want to learn from the guru himself as much as I can!  Pastor Jason and I are committed to make this transition happen in the most healthy and loving way possible.  God loves multiplication but hates division.  We are in this together as friends and family in Christ.

I know there will be some questions. If that’s the case please feel free to ask.  Christina and I would love to share our hearts with you and covet your prayers through this transition.

As for the youth ministry: No worries, it’s in good hands.  We have four former youth pastors currently on staff and several more in our audience.  Pastor Lisa is stepping up to make sure all the leadership needs are covered and that the ministry will not only be able to maintain, but I believe grow and thrive during this transition time.  Please be praying as Pastor Jason and the team start the search for the next youth pastor. I know that God has a great leader that he’s preparing for this position and for our students.  Pastor Kevin has been involved throughout this process and he and Krystal believe God has called them to stay in the Middle School position.  They are absolutely rocking it over there and this summer is going to be amazing as they receive an influx of new 6th and 7th graders.   Pray for them! I would love to see God bless the church with the finances to bring them on board full time.  Will you pray for that with me?

If there are any other questions of things that I can help clarify please let me know.  We love you all and want to thank you for the privilege we’ve had to serve your students these past four years.   

God bless.

Jason B

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The problem with pain.

A few months ago I posted a video on my Facebook showing some hard to watch scenes of Christian persecution overseas. It was painful and heartbreaking to watch my brothers in Christ beaten and abused because of their faith in Christ. It was a scene I don't think I'll even forget.

Yesterday I got an email from a dear friend about that video. Its images had a haunting effect on her and she struggled to put the images of such violence into context with her belief that God is a God of love.  She boldly wondered: "There is no God of Love if he will allow us to suffer so terribly. I would protect my children and NEVER let that happen"

Truth is I've heard that statement in various forms more times than I can remember. It's a powerful and difficult thing to try and reconcile the reality of true evil and the existence of an all powerful and all loving God.  Why would God allow evil, suffering, pain, heartbreak and the like if He has the power to stop it?

Below is my response to her and maybe to you too. Read it over and let me know what you think. How does it impact your view of evil and God? What questions does provoke? What comfort does it give? I'd love to hear your response!

"I'm so sorry that that video affected you that way. That of course wasn't the intention and I'm glad your heart pulling through.

One of the big questions I deal with (personally as well as from others) is exactly that: If God is so loving, why does he allow such pain and suffering in this world?

The best answer I found may surprise you. It comes back to His great love for us.  A bit surprising that His love for us would be the place to start to understand suffering but walk with me through the thought and let me know what you think...

Here's how the discussion goes...

1. God loves us.
2. God loves us so much that He (even though he doesn't "need" it) desperately want us to love him back.  Simply following him or obeying him isn't enough, he wants us heart, mind and soul.
3. That kind of close love relationship can only happen if we have the freedom to choose him.  If we were all pre-programmed to respond to God then we could never truly be in love with him. We'd be at best robots, at worst a form of unwilling slave.
4. So God made an unbelievable concession. He gave us "free-will" The ability for us to choose him, to love him (and really to understand his love for us) came at a incredible price.
5. That price was the reality that having the ability to choose him also meant we have the ability to NOT choose him. In fact we have the freedom to do whatever we want to do. good, bad or indifferent.
6. Evil comes of course as a direct result of people rejecting God and His love.

So what do I do with this? I look at a video like that and see evil. Pure angry mob evil. I think of Stephan, the first martyr, who died in a mob that I bet looked a lot like that.

But I also think of Saul. I think if we had the video of Stephan's stoning we'd be sick to our stomachs and most of out righteous anger would be directed at the arrogant jerk holding the coats so people could throw the rock harder.

But here’s where the "aha" moment came for me.  Why did God allow Stephan to be stoned?  He could have stopped it, intervened like he had for Daniel in the lions den or for the 3 in the fiery furnace.  Here’s what I think: God loves the "Sauls" just as much as he loves the "Stephens".  And because of that he endures the suffering of the Stephan’s for the chance to save the Saul’s.

This seemed harsh to me until I began to see it from an eternal perspective.  Really what’s 5 minutes of suffering compared to an eternity of paradise?  For the matter what's 50 years of suffering compared to 50 trillion years of paradise?

All that to say this: There is terrible evil in this world. But I believe that sometimes God will use the evil of the world to show us the lostness of our souls and to cause us to cry out to him. He's loves us so much (and so desperately wants us to love him) that He'll endure the suffering of the righteous for the salvation of the wicked, knowing that the righteous man reward won't be found on this side of heaven anyway.

Wow, that turned out a TON longer than I thought.  Sorry for rambling on but I really believe a understanding of this changed the way I see life and opportunity and pain and even my desire to live a comfortable life.  Hopefully something in all that help you too... "

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

10 Commandments of Communication (Conflict)

Most every good idea I've ever had I stole from someone smarter than myself.  This post is no different.  This is a lesson on communication that Jason St. John teaches, and he claims to have stole most of it out of a magazine but he has no idea which one.

The main points are all his, the sub points are my commentary.  I think most of can relate to most if not all of these.

10 Commandments of Communication (Conflict)

"You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say will be misquoted & used against you!"  

Can you relate to that kind of a relationship?

JFK's famous line "Ich bin ein Berliner" can mean both "I'm a Berlin-person," or "I'm a jelly donut,". And I guess depending on how you take it could radically change the way you remember that speech!

Proverbs 12:18  says "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing."

Simply put: the words we use matter.  In fact the bible has all kinds of advice and warnings about our tongue and the impact of our words.  God even goes as far as saying they hold the power of “life and death”.  Sounds to me every bit as powerful as sticks and stones.   
Question for you: do you measure your words?  How easily do you throw around words like love, hate, never, and always?
When you’re emotional (angery, hurt, happy)  do you pay special attention to what comes out of your month or to what you write?  Or do you simple open your mouth and give a verbal green light to anything your emotions want to throw out there?
There is a difference between being “real” and being undisciplined and immature. Just like there is a  difference between being fake and having self control.  Just because we think it doesn't mean we should say it and just because we feel it doesn't make it right.
I think much or our stress in life comes from stress in relationships.  And I believe most of our stress in relationships comes from our immaturity, selfishness and inability to control our tongues. 
 Lets look at what the bible says about conflict and the right way to handle it... 

10 Commandments of Communication (Conflict)

Matt 18:15 “if your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault just between the two of you. If he listens then you have won your brother over.   

1.   If you have a problem with me, or anyone else, please come to me or them (privately).
             -don’t hide gossip behind the disguise of “prayer request.”  If you haven’t tried to talk it out don’t get other people involved.

2.   If I have a problem with you, I will come to you (privately).
             -this can be hard, but doing the tough thing up front will save you the drama in the end.

3.   If someone has a problem with me and comes to you, send them to me.  I will do the same for you.

        -Matthew 18:16-17 But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

4.   If someone consistently will not come to me, say, “Let’s go to him/her together.  I am sure they will talk to us about this.”

             -Pick as neutral a party as you can find. Not your best friend. You need a firefighter not an arsonist.

-“Treat them as a pagan or a tax collector” This doesn’t mean treat them poorly. (In fact Matthew himself was a ex-tax collector.) It means treat them with love but with caution because they are not following Christ and so they may not treat you like a brother.

5.   If you say to me “People are talking”. I will ask “Who”?  I would ask you to do the same to others.

             -3 John 1:10 So if I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, gossiping maliciously about us.

-If you just say; “people, then everyone who is a “people” is a suspect. It blows things out of proportion and creates paranoia.  If they wont say who, then “who” doesn’t matter. And if "who" really has an issue then refer to rules 1-3.

6.   I will not read or be swayed by unsigned letters.  If you send a signed letter don’t be surprised if I ask you to come and talk about it. (See rule 1)

   -Same concept as rule #5. If someone doesn't have the guts to put their name on a letter it's probably because they don't want the accountability that comes with a complaint.  The difference between a complainer and a concerned friend is that a friend will work toward a solution.

7.    If it is confidential do not tell others.  I will not tell other people unless (a) the person is going to harm himself/herself (b) the person is going to physically harm someone else (c) a child has been physically or sexually abused. I expect the same from you.

-Proverbs 11:13 A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.

-This is actually not only sound biblical advice but it also happens to be Federal law. It's called being a "Mandatory Reporter".   If someone ever says to you "Promise you'll never tell!" then your default answer is "Nope. Sorry I can't make that promise and here's why..."  A true friend cares for you than for your friendship. As odd as that sounds.

8.   I will not manipulate people; I don’t want to be manipulated by others; don’t let others manipulate you.

             - Philippians 2:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.

           -Self-explanatory.  If someone tries to manipulate you then they don't care about you. They care about themselves and simply want to use you to further their selfish desires. That s not the kind of person I want to be "friends" with.  

9.    Always feel free to ask any question you may have.

             -Relationships thrive on open communication. It's an absolute must have for any relationship to grow. The flip side of this is trust. A healthy relationship can ask any question, but only a control freak actually does. There is a time for asking tough questions and that time should be embraced. But there's also a time to simply trust. Learn the balance, live happier.  

10. Be careful of misinterpretations.

            -The story has been told of a person who had purchased a small package of cookies at an airport before her flight. She sat down to wait for the time to board the plan and began to read a newspaper. Gradually, she became aware of a noise coming from the seat next to her. From behind her paper, she was stunned to see a man helping himself to her cookies. Not wanting to make a scene, but wanting the man to know she noticed him, she reached down and took a cookie for herself. A few moments went by, and she heard more rustling. She looked down to see the man taking another cookie. So, she reached down and took another cookie as well. Finally, she watched the man take the last cookie, break it in half and push the other half over to her. He ate the half-cookie, got up and left. The woman was furious! Later, on the plane, the woman opened her handbag and was both shocked and embarrassed to find her package of unopened cookies.
-If something seems out of character or out of nowhere, you probably don’t know the whole story or misunderstood the intentions. Take the time to clarify a persons intentions before you pass judgments. 

         -Look for ways to make peace, not pick fights.  If you are going to make assumptions, then make the assumption that they didn't mean to tick you off.  Or that they are just having a bad day.  Give people the extra grace you'd like them to extend to you. 

So what do you think? 

Anything you would change? 

Anything you would add?  

Any experiences that back up some of these communication commandments?

Monday, April 26, 2010

In the beginning

I once read a story about a young boy who was outside playing with a baseball and a bat.  The boy exclaimed "I'm the greatest hitter in the world!", then threw the ball into the air, swung with all his might and totally whiffed.  "Strike one." he muttered.

Undaunted he retrieved the ball, once again proclaimed "I'm the greatest hitter in all the world!", tossed the ball into the air and swung for the fences! And once again his bat found nothing but air.  "Strike two."

A bit frustrated, but persevering he grabbed the elusive baseball and steadied himself for a third try.  "I'm the greatest hitter in the world!" he said as he again tossed the ball into the air. For a third straight time his swing missed the ball completely. 

Standing there looking down at the untarnished baseball his frustrated little face suddenly turned to a smile...   He raised his hands to the sky and boldly proclaimed "I'm the greatest pitcher in the world!"

I love that story.  Something about me connects with the theme of undying optimism and the dare to dream big.

If you're anything like me you've found that life isn't all success, happiness, sunshine and lollipops.  In fact most of the sunshine I've found is the result of doing my best to ride out a storm or two.   Usually my hardest storms are self imposed as my own selfishness and lack of wisdom teach me the hard lessons my thick skull didn't want to learn the easy way.

And yet in spite of my painfully obvious limitations and thickheadedness God has found a way to encourage, challenge and call me to never settle for less than His best for my life.  He has blessed me with a precious family, a beautiful wife and soon to be four perfect little boys.   Far more than I deserve.

I think that's why I want to blog.  Because for me (and maybe for you) life isn't lived in the great moments of success or in the frustrating moments of failure, but rather in the journey and the lessons that are found in between.  Maybe life is less about what we accomplish and more about who we impact on the journey.  Maybe it's about the ability to dream big, whif big, learn and move on.  

So I guess more than just a source of wisdom or a tool to teach, I hope this is going to be a sort of streaming real time update of what I'm learning.  Hopefully you'll be able to pick up something along the way. 

God bless!