Tuesday, August 7, 2012

7 Stupid Things You Can Do To Sabotage Your Life


I've been thinking about writing a lot more about Proverbs. It's a great book, and has been very helpful for me over the past couple years. I may title some of these posts Don't Be Stupid.



I'm going to start with a list (because I love lists).

7 stupid things you can do to sabotage your life.

  1. Follow the convenient road instead of the path of wisdom.
  2. Satisfy your cravings instead of your needs.
  3. Hold yourself to a lower standard than that to which you hold others.
  4. Believe the first thing you hear.
  5. Lie.
  6. Pursue popularity.
  7. Expect to always receive exactly what you've earned.
There are lots of other stupid things you an do as well. But these ones seem to be pretty common… At least they are for me. I would recommend you seek to avoid them.


Sent from my iPad

Tuesday, July 31, 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)

Monday, July 30, 2012

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 can't wake up 30 minutes early?

2. Write and Review The Goals Which Define Your Success

How will you know when you are having success? Decide how much you want to read every day or every week or every month. WRITE IT DOWN. Then review it every day. Make a note if you are ahead or behind schedule, and take the time to catch up.

3. Plan Your Morning Reading in Advance

What if the last thing you did every night was to write a note to yourself, planning out your reading time for the next day. Not only would you wake up to a reminder of what you are reading, you would go to bed with God's Word on your mind. It's a Win-Win!

4. Concentrate

When you sit down to read, sit down with nothing other than your Bible (and a notebook if you need that). While it is fun and convenient to read from a phone or ipad, be careful that you've turned off your notifications so you don't get beeped or buzzed while you are reading. Don't answer the phone or texts and turn off the TV and radio. Eliminate as many distractions as possible so you can simply concentrate on the important task at hand.

5. Listen to Audio Recordings of the Bible

Some people don't enjoy reading, or struggle to focus while reading. The Bible has been recorded in many different languages, and you can listen to many versions for free. If you are an auditory learner, why not listen to the Bible every morning? Check out esv.org, youversion.com, or biblegateway.com for options.

6. Ask Yourself Questions Every Time You Read (or listen)

Asking and answering questions is one of the best ways to ensure you have internalized the information you've read or heard. After you spend time in God's Word, take a few moments to ask yourself some or all of the following questions:
  • What did I learn about God?
  • What do I now understand about Jesus?
  • How was my conscience disturbed?
  • What part of my life needs to change?
  • For what am I grateful?

7. Take it With You

Don't be like the man in James 1 who looks in a mirror then walks away, forgetting what he has seen. Once you have seen God's revelation, take it with you the rest of the day. Maybe you need to remember one verse you read, or one truth you discovered. Maybe you need to follow up on a relationship or a conversation. Maybe you need to write down a promise on a card to carry with you. Whatever you need to do, don't leave God's Word lying on a table in your house; take it with you for the rest of the day!

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)

Friday, July 27, 2012

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 neighborhood?

What if that CIC included a building which housed a gathering space which could comfortably seat 150-200 for an EPIC worship gathering?

What if once the CIC regularly had 150 people attending worship gatherings, it launched a new gathering. (and of course at 300 launched a third gathering but began planning for a new launch to which it would commit 50-75 people)?

What if every time a CIC multiplied, Calvary underwrote 50% of the cost (25% for third generation; 15% for fourth)?

What if every CIC was staffed by no less than 2 full-time ministers who were supported by the initial partners and the initial $500,000 investment?

What if these two full-time ministers were released to do nothing but invest in the lives of the people in the neighborhood and prepare one weekly worship gathering?

What if everything else that needed to be done was done by volunteers?

What if we could buy property and build a two-story building that would do all this for $200,000? and use the other $300,000 to furnish necessary equipment and invest in ministry staff salaries?

What if the initial 75 partners represented 25 families that averaged $40,000 incomes?

What if they all tithed?

What if the annual operating budget of the CIC, from the get-go was no less than $100,000 annually (plus the initial investment)?

What if this financial situation was sufficient to bring all the above ideas to fruition?

What if the initial partners did more than just tithed?

What if one of these CICs was launched every year?

What if every new CIC resulted in 10 new disciples ever year?

What if every CIC launched a new CIC every five years?

What if every CIC touched the lives of 500 people in a neighborhood?

What if after five years, there were six new CICs in West Michigan resulting in 240 new disciples and over 3,000 touched lives?

What if after fifteen years, there were 42 new CICs resulting in over 2,000 new disciples and over 20,000 lives touched?

probably couldn't happen.

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. But if dinner is bacon and tater tots, the dog better hide because the anger is coming. Liam loves bacon and he loves tater tots.

This can be a warning to us. Sometimes our anger reveals that we love the wrong things!

God's anger is directly tied to his love for us. Sin has nasty effects. Our sin and the sin of others ruins creation (notice that we are surrounded by disease, famine, natural disasters, death, etc.). More significantly, our sin separates us from God. Therefore God is angry about our sin, because He loves his creation (us) and He desires to be reconciled to us... That's why he sent Jesus!

And Jesus' anger in the temple (in John 2) was a demonstration of God's love for us. Jesus was not angry about the selling of animals for temple worship. This practice was necessary for travelers and the poor to be able to appropriately worship in the temple.

However, Jesus WAS angry about how and where the selling was happening. Instead of providing a service for worshipers, they were getting rich by exploiting the poor. Instead of enabling worship, they were creating a distraction for the Gentiles who hoped to worship in the outer courts.

Jesus was angry, because the Jews were abusing the Marginalized. (marginalized people are those who live in the "margins", separated in some way from the majority or the norm) It is often easy to take advantage of marginalized people because they are not protected.

Yet, Jesus cares about the marginalized. His anger in the temple was a demonstration of His love.

This raises two simple questions for you to consider today:
1. Do you love the marginalized? 
2. Do you realize that Jesus loves you?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

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 IMPOSSIBLE to embrace the NEW LIFE Jesus offers if we are still holding on to the things we think we can offer ourselves (why would you cling to the cleaning water if you can have the best wine?). If you want to know which old things you are still clinging to, finish this statement:

"I need ... "

If you finished with anything other than Jesus... you need something new.