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Showing posts from July, 2012

The Essence of True Leadership

LEADERSHIP: More than just Influence Leadership is not just "influence." It is not just recruiting, training, and unleashing other leaders. It is more than just multiplying oneself. The essence of true leadership is summarized brilliantly in Proverbs 31. This is a series of proverbs which were designed to equip King Lemuel to be a wise and godly leader. He was taught: Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves;   Ensure justice for those being crushed.   Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless and see that they get justice .   If you can't do this... Don't lead. (quotation from Proverbs 31:8-9 NLT)

7 Helpful Hints For Developing Your Personal Bible Study Time

Most Christians believe they should read God's Word. Most Christians believe they would benefit from spending time every day in God's Word. Few Christians spend much if any time reading the Bible on a daily basis. Here are seven steps you can take to help you develop your own time of reading, studying, and living out God's Word. 1. Lengthen Your Day If you don't have time to read your Bible, make more time.  Set your alarm clock to wake you 30 minutes earlier than normal. You can still shower and make your coffee first (that way you'll be awake when you sit down to read), but you now have 30 minutes you didn't previously have. This is a minor change that allows you to not give up anything, but still start something new. Before you complain that 30 minutes early is really inconvenient, think for a minute about what you're trying to do. You're trying to find time to read the most important words ever written in the history of mankind... You ca

2 Must Have Experiences for a Successful Life

O God, I beg two favors from you; Let me have them before I die. First, help me never to tell a lie. Second, give me neither poverty nor riches! Give me just enough to satisfy my needs. For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, "Where is the LORD?" And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God's holy name. (Proverbs 30:7-9 NLT )

What If...? (six years later)

----- I first wrote this on June 15, 2006. ----- What if it was a goal of our church to launch one new "community impact center" every year? What if "community impact center" (hereafter CIC) was just a fancy name for a new way of thinking about church? What if these CICs were launched in areas that most needed to experience the new life brought by Jesus (read: impoverished areas; high crime areas; etc.)? What if a major part of the DNA of every CIC was that it would launch a new CIC somewhere else within its first three years? What if that was possible because we unleashed 75-100 people to launch a CIC, and they committed to begin the process of launching a new one as soon as they had 300 regular participants? What if we could launch an autonomous CIC in Muskegon for less than $500,000? What if that CIC included a building which housed a community activity center that was open ever day and could serve as a third place for the surrounding neighborh

Your Anger is a Demonstration of What You Love

Have you ever been so mad that you... ? People do funny things when they are angry. They throw things and hit things and say things they will inevitably regret a short time later. I've known several "manly" men who have broken their hands, fingers and wrists because they punched a wall in anger. Jesus once made a whip and attacked a group of store owners. Does that mean it's okay to get angry? In Ephesians, Paul wrote that we should be careful that in our anger we do not sin. We must never let our anger control us. Anger can be a very destructive force, and usually in the hands of humans it is a negative thing; yet Jesus' anger can actually tell us something about God's love. Anger is often tied directly to love . If our dog Emily eats Liam's dinner while he's not watching he may or may not get angry. If dinner was my world famous spinach, hummus, and okra casserole; Liam will not get angry with the dog. He doesn't love that dish. Bu

American Pickers, Hoarders, and Water to Wine

Jesus makes all things new. His VERY FIRST miracle (recorded in John 2) was turning the water to wine. This wasn't just any old water. It was the water used for ceremonial cleansing prior to celebrations and meals. So think about this: The water used to clean our exterior was changed into WINE, which when internalized brings joy! Jesus was making things new. No longer did people need to strive to make themselves externally clean. That wasn't working anyway! Now, Jesus was going to miraculously change us from the inside out. Just as He miraculously changed the very nature of water, He also changes our nature. It's tempting to hold on to the old. We are, by nature, people who relish the past. American Pickers, Hoarders, Storage Wars, and Auction Kings are just a few of the recent television shows which reflect this tendency of humans to place a high value on the old way. We all have "old" things in our life which we like to hang on to. But it's IM

Avoid the Path That Leads to Death!

Thursday night at Camp Barakel, I talked with just the senior high guys. We discussed the direction of their lives by using a metaphor common to camp, the path. Here are the key ideas: 1. The paths you choose in life will determine your destination Every decision you make is a choice to follow a path that is leading you somewhere. Your life's destination will be the culmination of all those decisions. 2. Every path leads to a destination Some may think they can just "enjoy life" for a season and their decisions won't have consequences until they are "grown up". Wrong... If you choose the path of hard work and discipline your destination will be significantly different than he who chooses the path of parties and night life. 3. You may not see the destination, but you can see the path You must be careful about the path you walk as it may lead you somewhere different than you think. We used the youth from Proverbs 7 as an example. The path he chose L

You Can't Have Faith Without Obedience

A few years ago, I walked out the front door of my parent's house to go get ice-cream with my siblings and their families. As I walked toward my car, the garage door began going up, allowing the rest of my family to exit to their cars. I glanced over to see my son and my nephew hanging from the rising door, eyes wide with the excitement of their new game. LIAM! NO! GET DOWN! It probably wasn't the time for me to reason with him, or request obedience. He was in immediate danger, and had no idea. I'm glad to report that sensing the urgency in my voice, he let go and ran to my side. I explained that he could have really hurt himself, and that kids get hurt in garage door accidents all the time. Then I thanked him for obeying so quickly even though he didn't know why. As parents, we often know what is better for our children than they do. I'll never understand the parents who don't discipline or say "no" to their children for some of the following

The Solution for All Relational Dysfunction

Jesus. That was easy, right. Seriously, Jesus is the answer, or better yet, Jesus' attitude is the answer. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Just list-thinking out loud here; but, recognizing that we all take different lengths of time to assume the attitude of Christ,maybe the path to relational healing looks something like this: Betrayal. Most relational dysfunction begins when one party feels betrayed by another. Whether it is a "behind the back"

13 12 Sermon Series I'd Like to Preach Someday

I created this list several years ago. It still applies. Someday I'll do these! Genesis 1-11. The Starting Point. The Prologue : Genesis 1-11. If you don't understand these chapters, you'll struggle to get the rest. We Are People of the Book . God is the author, Men were the conduit, Jesus is the protagonist, Reconciliation is the purpose, the Holy Spirit is the interpreter. Psalm 68 . Ten great sermons about God. God, Sin, and Evil . Even though I've changed my thoughts about the value of certain types of apologetics, I still am who I am; and that means I love to help people understand some of the more difficult things God has revealed to us about himself... 1 Peter . Duh. Ten Topics the Bible Says a Lot About . Grace, Humanity, Evil, Love, Relationships, Redemption, Choices, Marriage, Leadership, Hope. Pierced, Tatooed, and God's Little Black Book . A three-part evangelistic series. John: Conversations with God . Yeah, this title is ripped from that

Forget Your Past, You Don't Get a Mulligan.

Steven Covey suggests four quadrants in which we typically work. Important and urgent Important but not urgent Not Important but urgent Not Important and not urgent He suggests you first accomplish all tasks in the first quadrant (Important and due soon). Once you've finished everything there, you should move into the second quadrant so that you can accomplish important things before they become urgent. Using this process, you might not accomplish the "not important" things... which is okay since they're not important. It wouldn't be a bad idea to consider these quadrants not just in relation to a to-do list, but also as a way to categorize our brain time (the stuff we think about). Here's what I mean: thinking about life stuff that is important and urgent = pressure thinking about life stuff that is important and not urgent = dreaming thinking about life stuff that is not important but urgent = stress thinking about life stuff that is no

How Should We Measure Success in the Church?

Most people measure successful churches by numbers in attendance, balanced budget, size of staff, or impressiveness of facilities. What if we measured success by: The number of cigarette butts in the church parking lot. The number of pictures on the church wall of unwed mothers holding their newborn babies in their arms for the first time. The number of former convicted felons serving in the church The number of phone calls from community leaders asking the church’s advice The number of meetings that take place somewhere besides the church building The number of organizations using the church building The number of days the pastor doesn’t spend time in the church office but in the community The number of emergency finance meetings that take place to reroute money to community ministry

Metaphors for the Church

Metaphor: Church as Corporation. There are two types of people, employees and consumers. There are two types of people, Christ-followers and not Christ-followers. Which are the employees and which are the consumers? Metaphor: Church as Sport. There are two types of people, the team (coaches/athletes/etc.) and the spectators. There are two types of people, regenerate and unregenerate. Which are the team and which are the spectators? Metaphor: Church as Cruise Ship. There are two types of people, cruise staff and cruisers. There are two types of people, those who have the Spirit and those who don't. Which are the cruise staff and which are the cruisers? Metaphor: Church as household. There are two types of people, family and guests of family. There are two types of people, children of God and children of the world. Which are the family and which are the guests? Metaphor: Church as body-builder. There are two types of body-builders, those who work out to

Storage Wars and Contentment

One of the problems with living in an older house is that the closets aren't very big. I don't know why not. It's almost as if people didn't have as much stuff sixty years ago as we do now. When we first moved into our current house, we discovered very quickly that we wouldn't both be able to put our stuff into the closet in our bedroom. In fact, I'm pretty sure my wife didn't even put all her stuff into the closet. Fortunately, we had two closets upstairs so I got one and she got one. These days, we have some weird complicated system in which we both have several closets and keep different stuff in dressers, and have boxes in storage, and even have a pile or two. It would be a lot easier if we just had a big closet. The same problem rears its ugly head when we try to find places to store all our stuff. We have a room in the basement that serves pretty much as a junk room. I'm pretty sure I don't have a clue of what half the things in t

2 Severe Misconceptions About Church

Thinking Biblically About the Church Two severe misconceptions which should be corrected:  A) Pastors do the work of the church.  B) The work of the church happens on Sunday. Biblically, the reality should be:   A) Pastors equip the church to engage Christ's mission  B) The work of the church happens in the world.