Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Today it is right to the questions.

If you only had one month to live, who would you spend it with.

For me there is zero hesitation here. I would spend as much time with my wife and kids as possible. There are a few others who I would want around, yet the bulk of my time would be with them. My mother, brother, and my covenant group round out the list. Those are the people who matter most to me.

Who has disappointed you most in life?

I would have to say that it was my dad. My dad was a pastor and while counseling with a women had an extramarital affair. My parents never got back together because that is what my dad chose. This happened when I was graduating from college and just starting life. This was also the event that delayed the pursuit of my calling to ministry. After a few years and many difficult conversations I settle the issue with my dad, and months later he died.

It seems as those whom we want to spend our time with most carry the highest ability to hurt and disappoint us. I think about this with my family. Not that I am looking for them to hurt or disappoint me. Totally on the other side. They have shared with me how much the long to spend time with me, I just hope I can minimize the hurt and disappointment.

The only way I know how to do this is to remain connected with God (John 15), and to live pure. That is to make the most of every moment I get with them.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Failure Is Never Fatal

There are many things that hold me back from pursuing all that God has for me, and none of them originate from outside of myself. All of these obstacles can be reduced to one thing and one thing alone, I am afraid that I will fail. I am not sure how this fear got put into my system of thought, but it is there in great measure. It would be easy to blame it on someone or something else, however, that would not be fair or appropriate. When it comes down to it, it is my heightened fear, and decreased level of faith.

What happens when we fail?
My first thought to the question is, all is lost. I tend to be an all or nothing type of person. When I fail, and I have ample opportunity for research data, I begin to think I have single-handedly sidetracked the work of God in the world. Talk about pride. I become convinced there is not redemption available due to my failure. The reality these are my thoughts not God's. I cannot rule out the role of the Enemy in amplifying those thoughts. What I do know is that it is not God who is accusing me, or condemning me. I am not sure how exactly God reacts to our failure, but I have to think it is a lot like Jesus responded to Peter... grace and love.

I am convinced that failure is part of life. If we never experience failure, I think we are missing out on the fullness of life. Many great lessons are learned through failure if we allow them to teach us. Failure is not the end of life, unless we accept failure as the final outcome.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Dream Away

Dreams are funny things. When we dream we do not always remember what the dreams were about. it has been suggested by those smarter than I in the would of psychology that we all dream every time we reach a deep sleep. the difference is whether we remember the dreams. The dreams we have for our life can function the same way. I think we all have hopes and dreams for our lives. Over time people push aways those dreams, even to the point where they cannot even remember what it means to have a dream.

There are times when the situations and circumstances of our lives impact our dreams greatly. Perhaps we feel like we are close to realizing our dream and then it seems God throws in a curve ball. At that moment we are faces with the further delay of our dreams. Another possible delay is when we need training, discipleship and experience to accomplish our dreams. The challenges we face today are the developmental phases of the dream God has placed in our hearts.

What dreams has God given me?
There are many, the include my roles as husband and father. I will, however, list two major dreams that I feel like God is preparing me daily for. First, as mentioned in other entries, I have a God dreams of planting a new church. Everyday God is teaching me about ministry and His Kingdom. Preparing me for the day when the door will fling wide open for the dream to be realized. The second God dream is to be a full-time teacher of pastors. I am not sure if this is in a seminary role, a consulting role, or what role it is. I do know that I love to teach, and there is an energy and passion I feel when I am teaching. Several times God has encouraged me through other people in this dream as well.

All of us who have dreams we still hold on to have to protect those dreams with all our might. Satan will work to steal or freeze the dreams, but we must remain connected with the dream-giver. Other people can unknowingly steal away out dreams, we must guard them.

For those who do not feel the have a dream, seek God, fore there is a dream for you.

For all of us, test our dreams to make sure they are God's dreams placed in you, not your dreams.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Fear and Security

I find that the desire to have security and the feeling of fear often are found together. In fact I guess I would say all fear is rooted in our lossing security. When something, someone, or a circumstance threatens our secuity, or or life on our terms, fear enters the picture. This fear and security realationship has a great potential to hold us back from the greatness God has laid out for us. Now I want to be clear about this greatness business. It is not a greatness so that our name would be made great, or that everyone would look at the individual. Not at all, it is so that all might see the greatness of God, by what has been done with a fallen broken human being.

What area(s) of life are you holding tightly to security?
For me I would have to say that it is musically. I have little to no cofidence in my musical abilities, yet God seems to keep putting me in places to use them. The hardest part is I do not feel like I have that much ability. I don't even know where any of the ability comes from. I guess that is not true, God gives me any musical abilities I have. Yet I am so reluctant to share them with other people. I only do it in ways that are safe and controlled. I am holding so tight to this, I am not even sure what it would look like to let go at this point.

There is the old cliche to let go and let God. In some ways this drives me nuts, in other ways I think it is very informative. The part that drives me nuts is that it hints that once we let go we have no responsibility in the matter. We might not have control but we have responsibility. We still have to follow God, and be obedient to the leading of God. The informative part is that we are not in control. We care called to allow God to direct our steps, not ask God to bless the steps we are taking. That is to say we are to be following God not getting God to decide to partner with what we are doing.

For me most of my life decisions come down to the question of fear and security. Which really means it is a matter of trust. Do I trust God to catch me?... Do You?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

When I Feel Like It

Today I am not necessarily working directly from one of the questions presented in the book One Month To Live instead I am working from some thoughts there. To do this I am going to ask a question.

Do I function on a want to basis?
Meaning do I only do things when I want to do them, or when I feel like it? All of us need to visit the confessional on this one I think. There are times when when we wait until we want to or feel like doing something. This is not only with things we don't like to do. We read our scriptures when we feel like it, we serve God when we feel like it, or we go to church when we feel like it.

Coupled with feeling like it is convenience. The things that we do when we feel like it often happens when it is convenient for our lives. I have found when I am not living intentionally my whole life becomes about my personal convenience. I feel like doing many things based on whether it fits into my schedule, or I am willing to put my time there. What would my day look like if I remains so connected to God that all I wanted to do is what God put in my path, convenient or not?

In a me saturated world it is easy to lose sight of the fact that our lives are no our own. Our lives are a concert of activities, emotions and relationships, but God os the master composer and conductor

Friday, April 25, 2008

Whose Power

Today the author's of One Month To Live went from teaching to really messing with me. So far the answers to the questions have come easily and with a relatively low level of pain. today that changed.

What area in your life are you struggling most to change?
While I am always struggling to walk close with God, I would have to answer this question by identifying weight loss and getting physically fit. It seems that I have a pretty drastic problem, I like the taste of food more and I seem to have an ability to eat a lot of it before I feel full. Over the years I have tried many things, diets, programs, dysfunctional exercise programs, you name it. Still I struggle.

The authors challenge and say the problem is not directly my diet, but my connection with God. Now those are fighting words. I work hard at staying connected with God. I read my Scriptures, I pray, I do acts of service, and I read other books that push me. The question is, do I seek to draw near to God in all areas of my life? I have tried in my own ability to accomplish my physical goals, but have I really turned to God and asked for ultimate power? My will power produces short term results which are often lost, the power God offers begins to transform my life. that power produces a lasting difference, not only in my diet and exercise, but in my total relationship with God.

I wonder where else in my life I am holding back from God's power?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

What Are We Doing?

Well day three and the hard questions just keep on coming. To remind you I am reading through the book, One Month To Live by Kerry and Chris Shook, and it is guiding me through a 30 day exercise is asking some important, hard questions. Today's first question,

What consumes most of your time each day?
For many the answer will be work in some form of another. Let's go deeper and ask a follow up question. Are we doing what we feel like we have been designed and created to do? If not, why not? The work I do as a pastor is not really a job but a vocation, the work God has placed for me to do. Often the work I do as a pastor includes the things that I believe I have been uniquely designed and created by God to do. Other time I have to do things which are simply part of the job. What is it that I feel God placed me on earth at this time for? Teaching others about the Kingdom of God, and ways of living the Kingdom in this mystery called the church. I feel called to a lifetime of teaching others about leading the church, and helping churches become the transformational communities they are called to be. There are times when I get to do that in the course of a day, and there are times when I don't get to do that for weeks on end.

What activities in your life would you consider a waste of time?
Admittedly this one could get me in trouble depending upon who is reading the blog. As a pastor there are many understandings of what my time should be used for. There are only a few times when I am asked for input into this. However, here goes. Lately one of the biggest wastes of my time has been Conference meetings. Most conference meetings involve hours of travel, and hours sitting around a table, and noting accomplished in the end. There are no decisions made, we don't even build relationships. My second waster of time is trying to figure out how to keep people happy even when they really have no interest in being transforming for the sake of Christ. It is worthwhile to invite people to transformation. but it is not worthwhile to pander to those who just want their religion and church to look the way they want it. I guess in light of the answer to the first question, any time I am not teaching I am not using my time to the fullest potential.

Wrapping up the thoughts of my meandering mind, I guess I like many have much work to be done. I like many am holding back and living in someday land. I must fight to make someday, today, and do what God has uniquely designed and created me to do.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


I find if i am not careful I begin to live in someday land. You know the place, you might live there too. It is a land filled with dreams and hopes, a land filled with I'm gonnas and when things are more together. You know, someday meaning not today. The single biggest difference between someday and today is a nasty four letter word beginning with 'F'... fear. I don't like to talk about fear, I don't even like to admit there are things that I am afraid of, but the truth is unavoidable.

What fears are stopping me from making someday, today?
My biggest fear is not being able to provide for my family. The most common thought which follows someday in my vocabulary is this, someday I will be used by God to be a new church planter. When asked why I don't just go out and do this I have come up with all kinds of noble answers like, well it would not be responsible to the church I am at, or I am not sure if my annual conference or denomination is ready for a new church plant. While one or both of these answers are true, they are really smokescreens for my fear. What is holding me back is not a sense of responsibility, or a sense of needing permission from an earthly organization, it is fear of being able to make it. Making it includes providing for my family, and making it means being able to be successful in beginning a new church. There I said it, now I have to deal with it.

What is the opposite of fear?
The term used by Kerry and Chris Shook is ridiculous faith. This is the faith David had facing Goliath. This is the faith the apostles had as they began the church. This is the faith many who are now mt cloud of witnesses have displayed. It is not a play-it-safe kind of faith. It is the kind of faith that might get you into some sticky situations, but it is exactly the faith we are all called to have.

So what is a person to do? Step one, pray, step two take action. Step three, refer to step one. I am going to do whatever it takes to make someday today. So that when God opens the doors, or brings the nest turn in my journey i will be ready. Not necessarily ready for what lies ahead, ready to walk with ridiculous faith.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

One Month To Live

I probably spend too much time reading as it is, but I just started another book that was recommended by a dear friend, thanks Alan. The book is titled One Month to Live and it is written by Kerry and Chris Shook. I am sure that most of you have already heard of and possibly read the book already, hey I am slow. Anyway, my plan for the next thirty days is to read through this book and journal the questions and thoughts I have as I do it. So here goes.

Day 1:
What five things would I change in my life if I knew I only had one month to live?
This is an easy and not so easy question all at the same time. First I would live my life at a more sustainable pace. Number two, I would take more time away from the office or work. Number three invest more into my family. Number four play more golf. Number five plant a church.

How would I like my life to be different after reading the book?
I guess I would like to have greater clarity of my passions, and the willingness to live them out in greater ways. I don't want to be tied to the status quo anymore than I have to. I want to living my life on God's terms not on everyone else's.

And we are off. I invite you to comment, encourage and challenge me as I go through this journey.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Nothing is Impossible

Most people in the church world are familiar with the the verse that reminds us that we can do all things through Christ. An most are familiar with the promise that with God all things are possible. In many ways these have become trite statements of the spiritually shallow. Before you stop reading, let me unpack my thoughts some. These two promises are completely true and trustworthy. I gain strength from both of them. Yet all too often these two phrases are used to justify us not doing our part in the work is calling us to. Mary, was not sure how it would work that she a virgin would have a child, much less the Messiah. Her recognition of God's ability to make it happen didn't mean the rest was easy. When Paul had penned the words I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength, there is an assumption, that he was doing very difficult things, things that could not be done in human strength alone.

In both of these phrases I also hear an expectation. Mary and Paul expected God to move and act in their lives and world. There was not simply a trust God to provide and I sit back. It was I expect God to act as I am obedient to the call on my life. There is a key that we must be doing what God has called us to do. It is not a matter of God blessing and working with what we are doing, it is a matter of doing what God is blessing.

Take for a moment Saul in the old testament. He was Israel's first king. When he started he did what God called him to do, and God worked on his behalf and blessed Saul. When Saul was repeatedly disobedient, the Lord stopped blessing and working. In fact the Lord worked to replace Saul with David. In 1 Samuel 18, it is written that David was able to do whatever his task was, because the Lord was with him. Sounds kind of familiar. We know that there are times later in life when David is not able to be successful in everything, because he is not obedient to God.

It is true that anything is possible with God, and that through Christ we receive strength beyond our own ability. This is not a mere product of God being pleased at what we do. Rather it is because we are obedient and faithful to the call of our life. God will not simply bless what we are doing if we ask. We must seek after that which God is blessing, then we will do anything God calls us to do, fore nothing is impossible with God.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Whos Agenda

Many things seem to cause my journey with God to slow down. There is all the 'work' of the church, which can grind. There is all the involvement in the Annual Conference, which can suck the life out of a person if not careful. There are the things like TV, and food. When all is said at done however, the most significant hindrance to a deeper walk with God is me. Not all these other things, simply me.

The mixed bag of selfish ambition, pride and fear can overwhelm a person. Most of all the desire to see things done my way can cause significant disconnect from God and people. The people of Israel cried out for a king in the 1 Samuel. No longer did they want God to rule their lives they wanted a human king like all the nations around them. In this longing for a king they had lost sight of the fact that they are not suppose to be like the nations around them. The nation of Israel was to be marked by a people who had God as their leader.

In the end what we really learn about the Israelites is that they didn't really want an earthly king either, what they really wanted was to rule themselves. To return to the days of judges when Israel had no king and everyone did what they wanted. To add to this there was a desire to do whatever they wanted, without consequence.

I guess I have not come very far from the Israelites. Come to think of it I think we are all very similar to the Israelites. We want to do whatever we want to, and not face the consequences. If we are not careful, every activity we engage in becomes an attempt to have our agenda furthered, which might not be the one God has in mind. The struggle is that now one really knows the mind of God. So what are we to do. Mark 8 would remind us to deny ourselves, and follow Christ. Seems like good advice, no not advice, a good calling to holy living.

Whos agenda are you pushing?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Cost Benefit

I want to start with the disclaimers to get them out of the way. I know that Jesus, and many others in scripture, teach us to be wise. I know that we are to be good stewards. I get that we should not be haphazard with what the lord gives us.

Having said that, I have become quite disturbed with myself lately when it comes to taking risks. I am comfortable with risk as much as the next person, but lately I have been stuck in the world of what if. For some stupid reason I break into a cost/benefit analysis as soon as an opportunity comes up. to be honest with you it makes me sick to be in that mode. It is not how it should be.

What it really comes down to is, do I trust God or not? If the opportunity before me is from God, do I trust God to provide for the needs? I have come to believe the single greatest thing holding people and churches hostage is the inability to trust God to be God.

My closing thought is a quote from the book Entrepreneurial Faith by Kirbyjon Caldwell and Walt Kallestad, "If you can't jump brave, jump scared."

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

"Now in those days messages from the Lord were very rare, and visions were quite uncommon." 1 Samuel 3:1 (NLT)

In a day and age when many people, myself included, like to talk about what God is doing, leading and speaking, is it really God? I wonder if our day is not all that different than the days of Samuel's youth. When the Lord God speaks directly to Samuel he, Sam, does not understand it to be God. Samuel is convinced that it is Eli, the priest and father figure to Samuel. It is not until Eli realizes what is happening, that he instructs Samuel. Eli recognizes that it is God once again speaking. There was a time when God regularly spoke to Eli, but that had been a while.

Samuel has a deep conversation with God.
Sam: Here I am Lord
The Lord: I am going to destroy your mentor and his sons for their sins

How does Sam respond, he stays in bed as long as he can. And when Eli asks what the Lord said to him, Sam has the task of telling his father, mentor and leader that the Lord is going to take his life. This stirring encounter between Sam and God ought have us all just hoping and begging God to have us be a prophet of God. Let's see God was not recognized for some time, then when God speaks the message is that those closest to you are going to die.

However, in a day and age when God is often not recognized when speaking, and visions are treated as fantasy, it might just be you and I that God is calling to in the night. I am going to resist the temptation to break into the gaudy hymn, Here I Am Lord. Instead I am going to challenge us not to sing a song, but to be the voice that proclaims the message of God. I am going to challenge this generation to be the generation that seeks after God. i am going to challenge all of us to make this a time when God's voice and visions are know often.

Maybe your are the next Samuel.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Preferred Role

As I continue my trek through Judges I keep coming across the phrase, "Israel had no king in those days, and everyone did what they thought was right in their own eyes." I have a few thoughts right off the bat, first why not get a king? Then I remember that God is suppose to be their king, not a earthly king. My next thought is why don't the people ever learn. Then I think, why don't I ever learn. The following thought is, I would do things differently if I were there. I think we can all see the problem with that line of thought.

Upon further reflection, I find it comes down to an understanding of roles. What is the preferred role we like to have God play in our lives. More specifically, what role do we prefer Jesus to play. Jesus fulfilled many roles and actions, they are all boiled down to Savior and Lord, or if you like, Forgiver and Leader. The Savior role is the one that most of us identify with very readily. In this role Jesus takes our sins and pays our debt on the cross. The role of forgiver is my favorite understanding of Jesus.

Then there is the other key role, Lord or Leader. This role is more problematic because it means that I am not in charge. It means that I cannot do what ever I see fit in my own eyes. It means that even though I do not have an earthly king, I do have someone who is ruler over my life. Even typing those words is difficult because I do not want to have anyone ruling over me. I have had a long standing, and genetically reinforced issue with authority. Actually, it is not an issue with authority, I just want to rebel against it. Still there is Jesus wanting to not only be my Savior, but longing to be my Lord and Leader.

In reality, even when i don't think I have a king, I have a King. And when I think I can do whatever I see fit in my own eyes, I have to answer to my King. The amazing thing about my King is that I can go my own way, and He will let me, but I will have to answer for my choices.