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Archive for May, 2013

Notes from the Journey with the Disciples – 47

47. Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here (John 4:15).

Like the woman, we try to translate spiritual matters into physical benefit. Clearly Jesus isn’t speaking of water that makes trips to the well unnecessary, but he speaks of life-changing water that can satisfy deepest longings. Still, like Nicodemus trying to grasp being born again, the woman defaults to her own wishful thinking and her thinking falls far short of the true gift being offered. Jesus offers water that can wash away the loneliness, the rejection, the hopelessness of her life. It’s a water that can nourish the very depths of her soul and bring her a life she had yet to even imagine. So much better than having access to water without the well. May we learn to treasure the real meanings of what Jesus offers to each of us.

 

Categories: Leadership Journeys

The Brotherhood – Part 96

The Brotherhood of the Second Cross was established on Father’s Day 2005 where 160 men stood before their wives and children to pledge themselves to purity, self-sacrifice, loyalty, and excellence. Today, hundreds more have joined the commitment.

Life goes by quickly…

I guess its watching the speed that my granddaughter is growing up that has me thinking about such things. It seems that one day you’re holding her tiny frame, smiling and celebrating her birth, and the next day she’s cooking for you in her toy oven. What’s next? College?

Okay, maybe that’ll be more than a few days away, but I’m increasingly aware that we can get so busy with the life we have that we can forget to live the life we want. Moments become days become years and ultimately become a lifetime, so have you started living the life you want yet?

Men of God undertake great challenges for God. They use their lives for maximum expression of their passion to make a difference and they die reaching for even higher dreams. Isn’t that who you want to be?

So what does the dream look like? What is the passion that beats somewhere beneath your shirt pocket? Maybe it’s time to quit saying “someday” and roll up your sleeves.

My favorite Bible verse is Jeremiah 12:5. Since I’m sitting in an airport and my Bible’s in my luggage, here’s the best I can do at quoting God’s words to the ancient prophet:

“If you have raced with men on foot and they have wearied you, how wil you run with horses? And if you stumble in the safe country, how will you fare in the thickets by the Jordan?” 

I think God was asking Jeremiah to step up. I mean, if the life he was living was sapping all his strength, how would he live the life God had for him? Not sure how Jeremiah reacted to that, but I want to find a few horses and see if they’ll run a few sprints with me.

I’ve often said that “a man’s capacity will always shrink to the size of his task.” That means what you can do will ultimately shrivel to what you have to do, unless you choose to reach higher.

That’s today’s message–start reaching for your dreams. Life’s not going to move any slower so if you’re going to live your dreams–wake up and get started!

Notes from the Journey with the Disciples – 46

46. But whoever drinks the water I will give him will never thirst (John 4:13).

The intriguing turn of the conversation confronts us with a question, “Why are we thirsting?” If we have laid hold of the eternal life Jesus has provided, why do we chase after other satisfactions? Living water comes with an extraordinary promise of complete satisfaction and yet we allow ourselves to be driven by other lusts. We want attention, wealth, and authority and we live largely unsatisfied lives even when we lay hold of such things. Living water can only satisfy if we allow it to flow through every part of our lives. If we continue to focus on what we don’t have, we will never be content with or even grateful for what we do have.

 

Categories: Leadership Journeys

Rules of Thumb – Part 1

What is a “rule of thumb?” There’s some debate as to the original idea of the phrase, but most attribute the origin to the use of the tip of one’s thumb as measuring one-inch. Of course, each of us have different–sized thumbs, so the idea is that a “rule of thumb” is a generally accurate measure, but not absolute or completely precise?

Okay, what does that have to do with church health? Well, there are some “rules of thumb” in the church world, and before we look at them, we need to understand their nature. They are generally accepted as true, but not absolute, and there’s probably room for your thumb to be a little bigger…you get the idea.

For the next few weeks, we’ll identify some of the most common or most needed rules of thumb for pastors and church leaders. They are the things you need to know! Here’s a few to get us started:

  1. An auditorium is full when the capacity reaches 80% or higher. Yes, there are still seats available, but people will feel crowded or may decide that they won’t be missed if the room is this full. When a congregation consistently hits this mark in its auditorium, it’s time to consider options like additional services or new facilities.
  2. You need one parking space for every two people attending your largest gathering. Many churches can’t grow and their parking is the culprit—a reality they likely haven’t discovered. If your parking lot is nearly full, can you get your regular members to park their cars in less visible or prominent places? Leaving as many of the most visible spots available says there is “room for you” to nearby drivers.
  3. Does the church own at least one acre of land for every 100 members? Yes, there are many different land and building strategies among modern churches, but the space you have and the room you have to grow sends a message to your members and community. If its too crowded, people will often find other places to be.
  4. Do new members received annually through profession of faith and baptism exceed the number lost due to death by a 2:1 margin? For this one, only count the people your church is reaching with the Gospel. A healthy church needs to be reaching people at this rate to continue to move forward.

That’s just a few “rules of thumb” for this week. More next week…

Notes from the Journey with the Disciples – 45

45. Sir, you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep (John 4:11).

How like us to expect that God is limited to the same resources that we can see. But Jesus has no need for her bucket or even the well that her daily life depends on. And when He sets out to change her life, He has no need of such natural implements either. We easily forget that we serve the God who created the Universe out of nothing. In our circumstances, we look around for the tools we need, the staff, the weapons, etc. But God is greater than we know and He has no need of starter material. What He does look for is our faith that He can and will be sufficient for our need.

 

Categories: Leadership Journeys

The Brotherhood – Part 95

May 22, 2013 1 comment

The Brotherhood of the Second Cross was established on Father’s Day 2005 where 160 men stood before their wives and children to pledge themselves to purity, self-sacrifice, loyalty, and excellence. Today, hundreds more have joined the commitment.

Can’t really get through this week without talking about the tragedies brought by storms in Oklahoma and elsewhere. As Joplin, Missouri marks the two-year anniversary of their disaster just down the road, all of us are trying to stomach the horrific imagery of this week’s similar events.

While I gladly join my voice in applause for the heroes who have emerged from the rubble–teachers, neighbors, rescue workers, and many others–I think there’s something we should consider that doesn’t seem to be filling the airwaves. Storms like these surely offer sufficient proof that we’re not big enough to live here on our own.

You see, the self-reliant tendencies of our culture allow us to puff up our thoughts until we decide that our place at the top of the food chain means we’re the biggest kid on this celestial block. We control so many things with the push of a button that we easily forget about the bigger things that have no button.

While there are many valuable lessons to be learned in such tragic times, surely one of the most important is that we’re not as big as we think. Two hundred mile an hour winds twist our greatest constructions like hair ribbons. Sometimes in life there’s no place or time to hide from the threat of much larger oppositions. We may control some things, but we’re not in control at all.

We need more than us.

We need the hope and future that can only be found in God.

As a pastor, I helped bury some really strong men because cancer or some heart malfunction proved bigger. I’ve stood along with others who thought the day we were living would never come ’cause we seemed so strong. Yeah, I’m a threat to the insects that might pass me on the sidewalk, but there are moments when I’m the insect at risk.

So, we need God–no matter who we are.

Never forget that…

Notes from the Journey with the Disciples – 44

44. If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink (John 4:10).

The woman is stunned that a Jewish man would ask her for a drink. She perceives the sociological gap between them and can’t imagine why he would span it. But Jesus’ words show that she doesn’t understand the even wider gap between them. For He is God and He has water that will change her life forever. If she had any idea of that gap, she would pleadingly offer her cup to be filled. This is the true gap between us and the God we serve. When we forget that gap, we fail to ask for what He truly has available to us and we are less than we could be.

 

Categories: Leadership Journeys