Wednesday, December 31, 2008

December Wordle


http://www.wordle.net/

Monday, December 29, 2008

This Weekend


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Nativity


As the sheepherders were invited to be involved in the unfolding story of God in this world, I invite you, your friends, your neighbors, your co-workers, your family members to join us tomorrow at 5:00, 7:00, 9:00, or 11:00 to celebrate the unfolding story of God in our lives on Christmas Eve.
Arrive early, you don't want to miss anything.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Eve


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Hope

During Advent I read and hear a great deal about hope. What does that really mean?

I looked it up. The dictionary says,
"to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence.

to believe, desire, or trust."


For some people, this year will be their first Christmas without a close friend or loved one. Over the past year they have experienced the death of their spouse or child. They have experienced separation or divorce. It is all too easy for us to throw around the word hope and use it flippantly in their presence.

I believe we must take particular care to truly offer hope during this season. Jesus does bring hope. Jesus does fulfill all of his promises. In the birth of a baby boy, we see the fulfillment of the hope of the world.

I know there are people in your circle of influence who seem to have lost all hope or have stopped looking for hope. They have experienced loss this year. You are in their life for a reason. You are there to remind them that there is still hope. It is not based on our circumstances but on our relationship with God through Jesus. Take particular care over the next few days to invest in someone who thinks they have lost hope and remind them of where their hope really is based.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Let Your Light Shine

The light that shines the brightest is the one that is surrounded by darkness.

You have read here and you have heard from the main stage at Charter Oak Church to invest and invite people in your circle of influence to join you for worship here on Christmas Eve. Maybe you have thought to yourself that there is nothing spiritual going on at work or in your home or in your school. People around you aren't talking about God, but are more likely to be using God's name in vain. What do you do in those kinds of situations?

I truly believe that even in the most dark of environments, the light of Jesus shines the brightest. You can't hide light in the dark, it stands out obviously. When you are in situations that it appears that there is nothing spiritual going on, it might be that you can't see it because it is coming from you. You are the light. You are the one that God is shining through. So I want to encourage you to continue to shine brightly. Be the one in your work place, home, or school that shines for Jesus.

People are drawn to the light. When given the opportunity, go ahead invest and invite. What would happen if one more person at work, home, or school started to shine like you?

Monday, December 15, 2008

We Are Ready

We are ready for Christmas at Charter Oak Church. If we weren't before this weekend, we definitely are now. The 2008 Christmas Cantata was spectacular!

I was ushered into the Advent season with joy and celebration through the singing of the adult and children's choir. I was reminded once again of the promise of the coming Messiah by the drama team. What a weekend!

Are you ready? Are you investing in other people's lives? Are you praying for people in your circle of influence? Are you ready to see what God is going to do in their lives? You don't want to miss Christmas Eve at Charter Oak Church this year. You don't want to miss out on the opportunity to bring someone with you. I am pumped up by what I know God is going to do!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Luke 18:13

But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, "God, have mercy on me, a sinner."

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Luke 17:3-4

If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, "I repent," forgive him.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Luke 16:10

Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Random Readings



Thursday night represents the end of the week for me. Friday is my day off. I try to make sure I am home on Thursday nights. Tonight Kelli is out at a party for her lady friends. Caleb is watching the Pens kill the Islanders. It's 8-1 in the second period. Abby is in bed.

So I started reading randomly through some of the blogs of the students in our ministry. Wow! I was never this deep. I was a jock - when is the next game? was the deepest I went at that age. These students are incredible.

Amber, the Deuce, Ande - college students

Sammi, Katie, Kayla - high school students

They all run deep. They all love Jesus. They all will change the world in some way because the love of Jesus within them in undeniable.

Spectacular Gift


Those of you who know me well, know that when it comes to shopping, I can't stand it. I don't go to the mall. I don't like the traffic. And I certainly don't like waiting in lines.
And yet, at Christmas I want the Wow! factor in the gifts that I purchase. I am blessed with a wonderful wife who truly loves to do the shopping and the wrapping. Not me. So when I actually invest the time and energy in doing it, I want it to be spectacular.
Let me tell you, we have a spectacular gift for you this weekend at Charter Oak Church. The Christmas Cantata will be presented Saturday at 6pm and Sunday at 9:30am. You do not want to miss this production. You do not want to miss out on the opportunity to invest and invite someone to come with you that doesn't have a church home.
Do everything you can to make sure you are here.

Luke 15:10

In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Luke 14:23

"Then the master told his servant, 'Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full.'"

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

2 Peter 3:9

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Book #25 - Tribes


On Friday I picked up Seth Godin's new book - Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us. On Saturday I read it. I couldn't stop reading. There are no chapters, just 147 pages of incredible, thought provoking, out on the edge writing. I resonated with so much of it.

I read Seth's blog everyday. This was just like he took a month's worth of posts and put them together to tell the story of the desperate need for leaders.

The book was written for the business world, at least that is the section that it was sold in at Barnes & Noble. However, there are many, many illustrations from the church world throughout the book. This isn't about business, it is about leadership. We need great leaders to step up in the church. If you are a leader, you need to read this book.

The Hidden Gift


What is it about this season leading up to Christmas that is magical? I actually started my shopping this past weekend! Perhaps the earliest I have ever shopped in my life.
Of all of the ways that God could have made himself known to the world, he chose to come as a baby in an unknown town to an unknown woman. A quiet, humble beginning for the Savior of the world.
This is the most spiritually charged time of the year. There is no denying what season this is. And yet, we have a very difficult time talking about our relationship with Jesus with others. More people are willing to say yes to attending church on Christmas Eve than any other time of the year, yet we cower at the thought of making the big ask. They want to say yes, we are afraid of hearing no. It just doesn't connect for me.
I feel like we have this incredible gift and we are hiding it behind our backs, unsure if we should give it or not.
I'll let you in on a little secret, the gift has already been given. The point of our being is to share it openly and freely. This isn't an option. This is a priority.
I don't know how many conversations you will have with people this week and over the next two weeks, but I do know that they will be with people who do not have plans for Christmas Eve that include worship. You can help change that person's Christmas and life for eternity by simply taking the gift that is behind your back and sharing it. Our Christmas Eve worship services are at 5:00, 7:00, 9:00, and 11:00.

2 Peter 2:2-3

Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

2 Peter 1:5-7

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.

1 Peter 5:6-7

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Friday, December 5, 2008

1 Peter 4:10-11

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

I Am Second

If you have some time today, get some coffee, and go to this site.

1 Peter 3:15-16

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed for their slander.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Advent Reading from Duke

Yesterday I received a small Advent devotional from Duke. One of the guys I went to school with wrote one of the devotionals. It is based on Mark 1:1-8. Here's what he wrote...

Perhaps nothing distinguishes the church's observance of Advent from the world's celebration of the holidays more than the person of John the Baptist. An exchange of season's greeting cards bearing the figure of Saint John dressed in camel skin with a mouthful of honey-dripped wild locusts would bring a chill to any office party. Even so, the church spends half of the Sundays of Advent considering this man and his message of repentance and self denial. John the Baptist is the one who is NOT. He is NOT the prophet. He is NOT Elijah, Not the light. He is NOT the Messiah whose sandals he is not worthy to untie. John the Baptist represents the spirit of Advent; he prepares the way of the Lord by way of self-negation.

In some Christian traditions, Advent and Lent share the same liturgical colors. The reason for this is that Advent used to be a season of fasting and penitence, a little Lent. Both Advent and Lent share the same logic: "I must decrease that he might increase." Only by joining with John the Baptist in his "I am NOT" do we make way for the coming of the great "I AM." By emptying ourselves, we make room for the supreme gift that is Jesus Christ.
- Edgardo Colon-Emeric

1 Peter 2:4-5

As you come to him, the living Stone - rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him - you also, like living stones, are being built up into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

1 Peter 1:7-9

These have come so that your faith - of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire - may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressive and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Monday, December 1, 2008

In the News


A group from Charter Oak Church made the news. Chris, who I wrote about last week, is written up in the local paper and the three leaders plus another one of our students from our congregation are mentioned in the article. If you want to read it, click here.

Isaiah 55:12

You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Book #24 - Simple Church


While I was away for the Thanksgiving holiday, I read Tom Rainer and Eric Geiger's book Simple Church: Returning to God's Process for Making Disciples.
I think the thing that struck me the most about this book is that it was as if the authors were looking into our Senior Management Team meetings for the last three months. This book has been on my reading list for a while now, but I just ordered it.
God's timing is perfect.
The title of the book definitely describes the book as well as what the authors believe is the best model for leading a congregation to become more like Jesus. It is definitely a good book for people who are pastors and/or staff to read and begin to ask some very difficult questions about what you believe about how the church should be structured to bring transformation in people's lives.

Isaiah 54:10

Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed," says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Isaiah 52:7

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!"

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Isaiah 51:5

My righteousness draws near speedily, my salvation is on the way, and my arm will bring justice to the nations. The islands will look to me and wait in hope for my arm.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Christmas Past


Pastor Dave begins the Advent season this weekend with a new series - Christmas Past. We will also be kicking off this season with Communion at all four worship services.
There is no better time to invite your friends, relatives, co-workers, and neighbors to worship with you at Charter Oak Church.

Isaiah 50:9

It is the Sovereign Lord who helps me. Who is he that will condemn me? They will wear out like a garment; the moths will eat them up.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Isaiah 49:6

He says:

"It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the end of the earth."

Monday, November 24, 2008

2 Corinthians 7:11

See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

He Gets It



This is Chris. He gets it. He gets what it means to have a heart for Jesus. He carried the bulk of the lines in the youth musical. He didn't need to really memorize anything. He already knows it, he lives it. His role in the musical was to share his faith with two students who don't get it. I was blown away by this guy.

Joyce and Jeff have served God well in the way they have raised their three boys. Chris hit it out of the park this weekend!

More Pics from the Youth Musical











Youth Musical - Incredible!



















Thursday, November 20, 2008

2 Corinthians 3:2-3

You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

On Mission for God - Part 1

The mission of Charter Oak Church is to reach out to those who are searching, and to equip believers to be fully-devoted followers of Jesus.

What does it really mean to reach out to those who are searching? What does it mean to be searching? How does the every day, ordinary follower of Jesus actually do this?

I believe in building relationships with people. I am a people person. I enjoy being around people, as a matter of fact I get my energy from being around people, not from being alone. That makes me an extrovert. That's how God wired me up.

I don't think that handing out tracks or standing on a street corner yelling at people to "turn or burn" shows much fruit. But it is my experience that when people invest themselves in others through building a relationship with them, then God gives opportunities for spiritual conversations. It may happen quickly or it may take years. That's why it is about the relationship and not "getting them saved." God has His responsibility in this process and we have our responsibility. When we try to do God's job, we will fail. We must be obedient to fulfilling our call as followers of Jesus to love others.

I believe people who are searching are those who for whatever reason have stepped away from a relationship with God. God has created in every person a desire to be in relationship with Him. Those who aren't are searching. They may not know what it is or who it is they are searching for, but none the less, they are searching. It is for these people that we have been placed in this location.

That is the first part of being on Mission for God at Charter Oak Church.

Nehemiah 7:2

I put in charge of Jerusalem my brother Hanani, along with Hananuah the commander of the citadel, because he was a man of integrity and feared God more than most men do.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Youth Musical This Weekend



Saturday @ 6:00pm

Sunday @ 9:30am

Our Mission

The mission of Charter Oak Church is to reach out to those searching and equip believers to be fully devoted followers of Jesus.

Are you on mission?

The rest of this week, I want to break down what this mission statement means.

As I study Nehemiah this week, there was a group of people that continually tried to get him off of the mission that God placed on his heart by distracting him. Last weekend we talked about how Satan tried to get Jesus off of mission through temptation. There are so many distractions to the mission. There is so much busyness. There are so many good things we can do and be about. The agenda of God is my primary responsibility.

Great Quote

"If the enemy can't stop you, he will just try to get you off mission."
- Mark Beeson

Nehemiah 6:8-9

I sent him this reply, "Nothing like what you are saying is happening; you are just making it up out of your head."

They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, "Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed."

But I prayed, "Now strengthen my hands."

Monday, November 17, 2008

Nehemiah 5:19

Remember me with favor, O my God, for all I have done for these people.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Nehemiah 4:13-14

Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows. After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, "Don't be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes."

Be a Finisher

I just read a great blog post at this site, check it out...

5K races don't mean much if you only run 3 miles. A 14 foot free throw doesn't score any points. In the work place, those who can be finishers stand out from the crowd and people take notice. The halls and cubicles where you work are full of people that get projects and tasks 80-90% complete. You want to stand out and be a performer? Finish.
3 Ways to be a Finisher:

  1. Look for an opportunity to take an initiative that has been stalling out or hanging incomplete at work. Take it, and in your mind make yourself 100% responsible. Do what it takes to get it done and done well. Want to be normal? Be cynical and roll your eyes at how the project is just another company objective that will never get done...
  2. In meetings and conversations, be the best note taker- pay attention and get the details of what needs to be done whether it's your responsibility or not. Help remind people of the tasks to do, priorities at hand, and assist people by reminding then what needs to get done. Normal is people on your team missing details leaving projects incomplete, clients unhappy, and money uncollected. Fill in the cracks for your team so your team finishes strong.
  3. Be willing to make a decision. Everyday there are scores of emails and conversations filled with questions, hurdles, and excuses. Bring clarity and be solution oriented... take those things that are spinning and bring them to a finish line. What's normal? Add to the confusion, be vague, ask questions that seem really smart but just keep things undone, offer more reasons why something can't be done and how you don't have enough information. Hide in the multitudes of 80%.

There are incomplete puzzles all around your work, embedded in your emails, and with your clients. What will you do?

Being a finisher comes with a price. You're going against the grain and at times it exposes "the normal" in others. People on your team will get defensive and will even go behind your back. Stay the course. Just keep doing.

At the end of the day, if you're truly "for" your team and focused on the mountain your team is trying to climb- you'll find purpose and growth in your work and in your life.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Nehemiah 3:13

The Valley Gate was repaired by Hanun and the residents of Zanoah. The rebuilt it and put its doors and bolts and bars in place. They also repaired five hundred yards of the wall as far as the Dung Gate.

The Dung gate was repaired by Malkijah son of Recab, ruler of the district of Beth Hakkerem. He rebuilt it and put its doors and bolts and bars in place.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Nehemiah 2:17-18

Then I said to them, "You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace."

I also told them about the gracious hand of my God upon me and what the king had said to me.

They replied, "Let us start rebuilding." So they began this good work.

2 Ways to Reach People

I'm reading the Fall edition of Leadership magazine. There is an interview in it with Neil Cole and Ed Young, Jr. Two very different pastors with two very different styles of leadership and two very different ways of introducing people to Jesus. Ed is the pastor of one of the top five largest churches in the country. Neil has helped launch hundreds of churches in homes and coffee houses.

The question was asked, if they were to do something new in Chicago, what would it look like. Ed responded with sending a campus pastor, buying a building, doing major outreach, then start a worship service. Neil responded that he would send two people to start walking the streets praying for God to show them a person of peace to begin developing a relationship with that person.

Two very different models. Both work. They both represent the leadership of the person. One isn't right and the other wrong, they are both working very well to reach people for Jesus. That's the point. We are on the same team.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Nehemiah 1:11

"O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What's Your Plan?

I've been thinking and praying a lot about 2009. What will happen next year? How will the economy affect what we do at Charter Oak Church? Will more people be drawn to Jesus because they are searching for answers to questions that they will realize that money and stuff can't fulfill? The landscape of our nation is changing.

What will be our plan to continue to remain right in the middle of God's will next year and in the years to come? It has become abundantly obvious to me that without a plan, we will naturally gravitate towards the things that are easy and comfortable. We will do the things that please us instead of first asking what pleases God.

God had a plan from the very beginning. God is in the redemption business. God's plan was to send his Son, Jesus to bring redemption into a broken and lost world. That plan took thousands of years to fulfill. There is a scarlet cord that is woven into the pages of the Old Testament that bleeds blood red all over the story of the people of God leading to the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. It is the unfolding story of God's plan.

What's your plan for becoming a fully devoted follower of Jesus? Do you have one? Spiritual development doesn't just happen. Where do you sense God is leading you? Who do you think is responsible for making sure you get there? The answer is you. God invited the Israelites to go into the Promise Land. That was the plan He was leading them into. It was their responsibility to go.

I know God has a plan for your life. You have a purpose here on this earth. If you didn't you would already be in heaven.

John 17:20-21

"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me."

John 16:23-24

"In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete." (NIV)

"This is what I want you to do: Ask the Father for whatever is in keeping with the things I've revealed to you. Ask in my name, according to my will, and he'll most certainly give it to you. Your joy will be a river overflowing its banks!" (MSG)

Monday, November 10, 2008

John 15:7-8

"If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples."

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Jamaica Team Homeward Bound

The Jamaican team is on their way home. They left about an hour ago from Montego Bay. They will have a lay over in Charlotte and then be home around 11:30 tonight. Keep praying for them. It's been an exciting trip. It has been a challenging trip, more about that later. I am sure that when all is said and done, the team is going to look back on this trip as a defining moment in their lives.

John 14:12-13

"I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father."

Saturday, November 8, 2008

40 Today

I'm 40 today, but I am preaching this weekend about a man who was found righteous not after 40 years or 80 years or 150 years, but after 600 years. That's being in it for the long haul. I want to be a man of integrity for the duration of my life. I want to walk humbly with my God. I want to think on the things that are pure, lovely, and noble. I want to be blameless. I want to be a fully devoted follower of Jesus. 100% faithful, thanks Horton.

Many thanks for all the text messages, emails, and cards. I'm definitely feeling the love! Time to go worship God!

Philippians 4:8-9

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you."

Friday, November 7, 2008

Phippians 3:7-8

"But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ."

Thursday, November 6, 2008

New Pictures of Jamaica Team


There are new pictures of the Jamaica team on the Won by One to Jamaica site. Click here to view them.

Phippians 2:12-13

"Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose."

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Great Quote

"Most people have the will to win, few have the will to prepare to win." - Bobby Knight

Philippians 1:9-11

"And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God."

Monday, November 3, 2008

Vote



I don't talk politics with anyone except my wife. I don't tell people who to vote for. It's just not my public thing to do.

But with all the injustice that has happened around the world when it comes to to a lack of fair elections and violence, voting has become a justice issue for me.

I am voting more this year because there are so many who can't vote in such a way that their vote counts.

I'm not telling you who I'm voting for, but our entire staff gets a free pass to make sure they are able to act out their freedom and vote.

I hope you will do the same thing!

Book #23 - Follow Me


I was finally able to read the next installment in the Reveal study series of books: Follow Me: What's Next for You? by Greg Hawkins and Cally Parkinson. This is the latest findings from the second Reveal church survey. This is a much wider sampling of churches from across the country.
I thought this book was much better than the first one. It gave good concrete information. There was definitely breakthrough discoveries about what catalyzes spiritual growth. It really drills down into the category that they call "Christ-Centered" as the place that if the leadership of the church will bring great clarity and emphasis will see the greatest Kingdom movement.
A very good friend of mine was a part of this second section of churches. He was asked to be one of the 15 speakers at the Reveal Conference last month as one of the top 5% in spiritual maturity in the nation. What is shared in this book is definitely in line with what his church is doing to equip people to become fully devoted followers of Jesus.

Investing in the Future, Now


Last night 15 couples began a new journey - a journey toward financial freedom. We are offering two classes of Financial Peace University, one on Sunday nights, the other on Thursday nights.
These people are investing in their future. They are investing now so that when God prompts them to join Him where He is at work they can, even if that means writing a check.
For people who are in a financial crisis or in debt pretty far, they often miss out on the great opportunities that come to add value into people's lives financially. I am so proud of the men and women who stepped forward with their faith in a very tangible way. Lives are going to be changed for eternity because of these classes.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Jamaica Team in Country

At 3:30am 23 people departed the parking lot of Charter Oak Church for our second mission trip to Jamaica. If you are interested in following what is going on during the trip there are supposed to be periodic updates on the Won by One to Jamaica website. Click here to check it out.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Book #22 - Axiom



Ever since I attended the Leadership Summit this summer I have been reading Bill Hybels' book, Axiom: Powerful Leadership Proverbs. This book is 76 chapters of incredible leadership lessons that Bill Hybels has learned over his many years of leading Willow Creek Community Church.

I could have very easily read this book in one sitting, but I knew that there was way too much information to just go through it quickly. Just as when I read John Maxwell's book Leadership Gold, I know that I will leave this book on my desk to refer to time and time again.

Redeeming Pain

In the last couple of weeks I have had two conversations with people from Charter Oak Church who have approached me about walking along side of people going through pain. The first was a man who had a heart attack a few years ago. He is now fully recovered and he wants to make himself available to walk beside any man who has a heart attack. He said that it would have been so beneficial to him to have someone who had been through a heart attack to walk beside him through everything. I was blown away. He is a guy who is brand new to our church and yet, he already gets it. He has a serving heart that wants to redeem the pain that he suffered by walking with someone who is in the midst of that pain now. Only God!

My second conversation was with a woman who was also offering to walk along side of someone, this time with another woman who is going through a separation from her husband. Many years ago, she and her husband were separated, but now, by the grace of God, they are happily married. She wants to redeem the pain she walked through by walking along side of someone going through the same thing. That's so awesome. Only God!

I truly believe the Bride of Christ is at her best when people like these two step forward and offer to use the pain they have lived through to bring glory to God and love to someone else. Only God can work in some one's heart like that. I am closer to Jesus because of these two people. I believe others will be closer to God because of their willingness to walk with people in pain.

If one of these two situations describe you and you would like to have someone walk beside you through this, send me an email.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Book #21 - Hidden in Plain Sight



Last week I read Mark Buchanan's latest book, Hidden in Plain Sight: The Secret of More. The entire book is based on a year long study that Mark did on Peter. He really drills down on 2 Peter 1:1-9:

"Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours:

Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins."

I don't know anyone who has spent a year with Peter. But if you read this book you will quickly learn why that is a really good idea.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Weekend Worship

This past weekend's worship blew me away. Pastor Dave completed his series, Dollars & $ense, by challenging our congregation to dedicate their hearts and lives to what God is going to do in and through the people of Charter Oak Church in the coming year as we obediently tithe. I will never get used to seeing people come forward and place their pledge to faithfully follow Jesus in the coming year with their finances. At every service I had tears in my eyes as I watched people commit themselves to the work of God.

I think it was even more meaningful now as people don't know what is going to be happening in the future, not that we knew before, but there is definitely a greater sense of uncertainty now. This is all about faith in our heavenly Father. He will provide all that we need. He will be faithful to us. He will carry the day no matter what the state of the economy is, no matter who is the president, no matter what. Our God reigns!

I thank God that I was able to bear witness to the movement of people's faith as they came forward and declared that God is in charge.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Study Leave

I am on study leave this week. I doubt there will be a place in the woods where I can get an Internet connection, which is probably good. Please pray for me. This is one of the most important weeks of the year for me when it comes to my leadership. I am looking forward to what God is going to do in me and through me this week. I love this time of year, being in the woods, the leaves changing, the touch of God on my heart. Good stuff. I miss my family, but I think that makes me even more in tune with the love of my heavenly Father.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Meeting a New Need


The Latrobe School District announced that there would be periodic early release days this school year. It just happens that the day they choose is also the day we have an after school program for elementary age kids.
We quickly realized that there was a new need in our community - quality care for elementary age kids who's parents work. What would Charter Oak Church do with this new opportunity?
Yesterday was our first opportunity to meet a new need in our region. We worked with the three principals of the local elementary schools. We let every family know of our ability to meet their family's need throughout this school year.
We had 84 kids show up! Did they have fun? Were they well served? As kids were being picked up some were crying because they didn't want to leave. Others kids were begging their parents to bring them back the next time. I think Maxine Wilson and her team did an incredible job!
It is amazing when we open our eyes to the opportunities that God presents and then we bring passionate, called, and gifted people together to serve in places where God is obviously at work. We couldn't have created the kind of excitement that we saw - both in parents and in the kids. The parents, who had a major problem on their hands, now know that they can trust us with the care of their children. The children, who had never been here before, now know that this is an awesome place.
All of this happened because we were open to the possibility of God using the people of Charter Oak Church to meet a new need in our region. It was also possible because we have built relationships with the local schools and have their trust to recommend us to every parent in the district. It has happened because we haven't asked what can you do for us, instead, we have asked how can we serve you?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Concert Last Night


Last night I had the awesome privilege to sit next to most awesome woman in the world, my wife Kelli, at the Stephen Curtis Chapman and Michael W. Smith concert at the South Hills Bible Chapel. Great location - very intimate. The worship center sits about 1,400 people, I think. There isn't a bad seat in the house. The furthest seat away from the stage isn't much further than the distance from our stage to the back of the room.
Kelli and I were invited by some great friends to experience a night out that was fabulous. We went out to dinner, we talked, we laughed, we told hilarious stories about each other.
Then we heard some of the tragic story of Stephen Curtis Chapman's family. He sang songs we have heard before, but with a new heart and a new passion. I can't even imagine what it would be like to go through what they have. Stephen is a story teller, between songs and in the songs - he tells the story of God's great love. It was really good stuff, with really good people to be with last night.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Questions


On Sunday afternoon, I facilitated my first "Pastor's Lunch" with 13 people who are new to Charter Oak Church. I decided to start this first step opportunity because I want to make it easier for people who are trying to discern if Charter Oak Church is the family they want to become a part of as they grow to become more like Jesus. As we ate lunch I shared some of the church's history and my faith background. After they finished eating I gave them the opportunity to ask me anything they wanted about the church - our mission, our ministries, our staff, whatever they might need to know to understand us - where we have been, where we are currently, and where we are headed.
It was a great time together. I loved hearing the stories of lives that have been touched in a significant way in the short time they have been attending Charter Oak Church. I thank God that He has brought these people here. I thank God for what has been done in them and will be done through them in the future.
If the people present for the Pastor's Lunch are an indication of the lives that are being transformed by the love and grace of God, then I can't wait to see what's next as God moves in powerful ways.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Guitar Shopping


I took my family shopping at the Guitar Center this past weekend. My son is in the market for a new electric guitar. This was my first experience at a major, national guitar store chain. I was blown away. There had to be a thousand guitars there. The prices varied from $10,000+ to $199.
As my son tried different guitars, I quickly realized that quality is everything, but quality costs big bucks.
That makes me think about how we do things around Charter Oak Church. I believe when we are serving God and making His name known in this region we should do it at the highest level of quality that we can. Sometimes that means that we invest some serious dollars into purchasing something that will help make that happen. Other times it means that we invest our time and energy to bring the most innovative and creative process to the table. It may not cost money in terms of buying something, but it definitely is an investment.
Every week people enter our doors for the first time. They quickly realize that we a different than the typical church. I know this because people tell me. These people are looking for an environment where they can experience the love and grace of God. We can either do that with little creativity and little investment or we can bring our very best to the table week after week. You would think this is a no brainer, but it isn't. We are different as a church because we work hard to bring quality to everything we do so that we can honor God.
It is easy to forget in the day to day activity of the church that high quality honors God; we just get so busy. But just as you can hear the difference in sound between a cheap guitar and a quality one, there is a difference in the church when we bring our very best versus just showing up. God always deserves our best!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

What Does 40 Look Like?

I need some help. I am turning 40 years old in November and I will be preaching on my birthday. So I thought I would do a series on the number 40. I have the series all planned out, but I don't have a logo or an image for it yet. I'm not sure what 40 looks like. How do I create an image that captures that number? Now if you are thinking about sending an email to me with ideas that include an old, fat guy with no hair, you can stop now. I'm trying to think of something creative. If you have an idea, I would love to hear about it. Nothing is out of bounds, except of course the old fat guy idea. So here's your chance to influence the series image.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Downloads

I just checked the stats on the number of downloads of our sermon podcasts. It has only been up about 2 weeks and we already have 75 downloads. I can't believe my mom has listened that often! If you want to listen, then you can click here.

I think we are going to put up Pastor Mark's last series and the series that we did on Titus this summer after that. So keep checking in for new podcast posts.

What They REALLY Mean...

I just read this post from Perry Noble and I had to share it. I can't tell you how many times this has happened to me and I knew what the underlying meaning was behind what someone was saying. What is written is tough to read for some people.

What They REALLY Mean…
One of the lessons I’ve learned while being in the ministry for the past 17 years is sometimes what people say isn’t exactly true…things such as…

(WARNING…you will probably only like this post if you are a pastor or a staff member of a church!)



What They Say: “I’m looking for a church that preaches the Word!”
What They Mean: “I’m looking for a church that preaches MY view of the Word. I think the BLANK translation should be used…I think BLANK should be talked about a lot while BLANK should be ignored. And if you ever stop preaching my view of the Word I will leave and tell others that you don’t preach the Word!”



What They Say: “Lot’s of people have been coming to me and saying they don’t like is…”
What They Mean: “I basically only have three friends…and all of them think exactly like me. The other night we were enjoying a time of self righteousness because, after all, we are right about everything…and we're also slandering you (in the form of prayer requests) and thought it would be wise to approach you with our pet peeve. We’ve actually talked to no one else about this but said “lots” because we wanted to validate our dysfunction.”



What They Say: “I’m leaving the church.”
What They Mean: “Beg me to stay. If you will just ask me I will share with you several ways you can compromise God’s vision that He’s given you, thus becoming nothing more than a people pleasing pastor who is more interested in popularity than obedience. If you don’t bow to my demands I will remind you that I tithe and that the church needs my money, reducing you to a mere preaching whore…one who is paid for a service for the pleasure of another person.”



What They Say: “I want a church that is more focused on discipleship.”
What They Mean: “I want a church where everyone knows me and how important I am! I don’t want to reach people who are different from me, be it economic class or race or even musical preference. I already know WAY more than I do…but I somehow equate spirituality with knowledge rather than application and I rather enjoy feeling intellectually superior to those who don’t know as much as me.”



What They Say: “Don’t take this personally…but…”
What They Mean: “I am about to lower the BOOM on you…but you can’t get angry because I told you not to take it personally. Even though you have dedicated your life to this and pretty much invest every ounce of energy you have to this cause…and I think about it once or twice a week…you need to receive my attacks, even when they are personal…and you cannot retaliate because, remember, it’s not personal.”

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Book #20 - The 3 Big Questions for a Frantic Family



On the flight home from Kansas City I read Patrick Lencioni's new book, The 3 Big Questions for a Frantic Family: A leadership fable about restoring sanity to the most important organization in your life.

This book was written for me. I love my wife and kids, man do I ever. But I just have never resonated with the family self-help books that are out there. I don't know why, but I just don't think they were speaking my language. Pat's book is speaking my language.

This book is real. It is applicable. I didn't feel beat up or guilty after reading it. I didn't think it was pie in the sky stuff. As I was reading I could easily ask myself the 3 big questions. It doesn't matter who you are or what situation you are in, this book is relevant.

Here are the questions:

  1. What is our top priority right now?
  2. What makes us unique?
  3. How will we talk about and use the answers to this information?

If you are business minded guy who is tired of all the other family help books out there, then get this one. I'm sure it resonates with women as well, but my wife hasn't read it yet to let me know. This book will be an ongoing conversation for our family for a very long time.

Book #19 - Jesus Wants to Save Christians



Last week as I flew to Kansas City I read Rob Bell's new book (thanks Tom) Jesus Wants to Save Christians. I think this is my favorite Rob Bell book. It is just such a timely read with everything going on right now in the country and just stuff that I am dealing with as the lead pastor of Charter Oak Church.

I really love the connection that is made between the superpowers of Jesus' day and the superpower of the US today. "Jesus was a Middle Eastern man who lived in an occupied country and was killed by the superpower of his day." Rob paints the picture of the multi-generational plan of God and how God is revealed in each generation. The question becomes, how is God being revealed in our generation?

This is a really good read and I would highly recommend it.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Four Friends

Mark 2:1-5 is the account of four friends who want to bring their crippled friend to Jesus for healing. As these five men approached the house where Jesus was preaching the word, they quickly realized that the house was full, all of the space around the house was taken, and there was no way they were going to get their friend to Jesus. Or was there?

The friends went up on the roof with their friend in tow. They tore open the roof and lowered their friend right in front of Jesus. One of the most amazing things about this story is that when Jesus saw the faith of the four friends he healed the crippled man.

One of the most important things we do at Charter Oak Church is equip believers to become fully devoted followers of Jesus so that you can reach people who do not have a relationship with Jesus.

Mark 2:1-5 is a great example of this. They have every reason in the world to turn back and go home without their friend entering into a relationship with Jesus. But they get creative and they will not be deterred. Their friend is obviously too important. They risk it all so that they can get him to Jesus. He enters into a relationship with Jesus and then he is healed.

I know there are people in your circle of influence that are hungry for a relationship with Jesus and they have things going on in their lives that need to be healed. You may be the very one that God will use to introduce that person to Jesus. It won't be easy to get the courage up to invite them to Charter Oak Church with you, but the very person we are talking about in your circle of influence has immeasurable value to your heavenly Father.

Take the risk - invest and invite.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Ministry Fair


This past weekend we celebrated ministry opportunities at Charter Oak Church. We had over 20 booths of ministry areas that people had the opportunity to check out and listen for the prompting of the Holy Spirit to their call to take up the servant's towel in a particular area.

If you were one of those people who felt the tug of God upon your heart for ministry, I hope you will not let the week end without touching base with the leader of that ministry. I hope that you will ask God for the courage to get out of your comfort zone and be a part of what God is doing here and in our region.

You have been given a great opportunity to take your next step in your faith development. Go ahead - take it, I'm rooting for you! God has equipped you. Go for it!

Where's the Church? - Where Am I?

I recently was told by my wife that Bono, of U2, met with some of the richest people in the world to talk about poverty and the economy of the United States. Here's a comment I found from that meeting...

"It is extraordinary to me that you can find $700 billion to save Wall Street and the entire G8 can't find $25 billion to save 25,000 children who die every day of preventable treatable disease and hunger," the U2 lead singer told Clinton's fourth annual philanthropic summit in New York. "That's mad, that is mad."

The Group of Eight wealthy nations vowed in 2005 to raise annual aid levels $50 billion by 2010, $25 billion of which was to go to Africa. But under current spending plans, the G8 will fall $40 billion short, according to a June report by the Africa Progress Panel set up to monitor implementation.

As I read this I was thinking to myself, what a shame that our country is the one that is doing the least amount in this justice issue. Of the eight, we are dead last on the list of fulfilling our part. Then I realized, is this our country's responsibility or is it the Church's? As long as we can point at something so much bigger than ourselves, like the country, then we don't feel the responsibility. We can blame others. Even when we make it so broad as to say it is the Church's responsibility, I think that is too big as well.

The question we should be asking ourselves is, what is my responsibility? I fully realize that this is an even harder question to ask in such uncertain economic times, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't be asking the question. We also can't stop at the question, we need to find answers. We need to move from being a part of the problem to a part of the solution.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Dollars and $ense


This weekend Pastor Dave launches a new series called Dollars and $ense. With the state of the economy, this series couldn't come at a better time. The incredible thing is, Pastor Dave and I planned this message series LAST August! That's right, in August of 2007 we felt directed by God to place this series at this time. God is obviously up to something in the world and He uses people like us to make it happen. How awesome to be a part of his multi-generational plan.
I know you have people in your circle of influence who have questions about the economy and what God says about our finances. This is a great opportunity for your to invite those who are asking so many of these relevant questions. I can't wait to see how God uses this series to move people closer to Him and equip them to become fully devoted followers of Jesus.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Podcast

Thanks to Eric Thompson we now are podcasting all of our sermons at Charter Oak Church. You can click here or on the link on the right. Way to go Eric!

Confrontation

Just read this post by Shane Duffy on confrontation in leadership - good stuff.

Pressing Too Hard

I went to my son's soccer game yesterday. Man, it is very difficult to move from the sidelines as a coach to the bleachers as a dad. They were playing a team that at the end of the game should result in another "W" for them. Late in the game they were down a goal. As I watched in agony I learned some leadership lessons that if I was on the sidelines I doubt I would have seen.

First, in the last 15 minutes of the game, some of the best players were exhausted - they had nothing left and were still on the field, not making the contribution they could have made if they were rested for the last push in the game. How often do we as leaders not take time to rest and get refreshed for the next push of God in our lives? God gave us a gift in the Sabbath because He knows that we need it. We can't lead when we are exhausted.

Second, the players who are really skilled tried to win the game themselves by keeping the ball, but since it is a team sport, they lost control of the ball and missed opportunities to score. The church is very good at raising up "lone-ranger" leaders who are asked to carry the brunt of the work because they have good skills. The reality is, the church is a body and we need all the parts working together. God did not gift us with leadership to go it alone, but to partner with others to join God in the work that He is doing in and through us.

Third, there were many opportunities for players to score, but they never took the shot. This was some of the most frustrating parts of the game for me because I am wired to win so I know that you can't win if you don't score and you can't score if you don't shoot. Many times leaders are given the opportunity to make a difference in someone's life and because of fear or because of busyness or a whole host of reasons never makes the investment. We miss out because we are looking for the perfect set up or because we are afraid we will miss. Our responsibility as leaders is to be obedient to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Let God take care of the rest.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Innovate Conference



We're heading for the Innovate Conference today. Granger Community Church puts together one of the best conferences for church leaders that I have ever attended. Charter Oak Church has been learning from GCC for many years now. They have opened themselves up to us along the way and have given us an unbelievable amount of time and resources to move us in the right direction. I can't wait to see what they have in store for us this year.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

New Book Release



I just received an email from Patrick Lencioni annoucing the release of his new book - The 3 Big Questions for a Frantic Family. Pat is one of my favorite authors. He usually writes in the business sector, but with a definite influence through his faith in Jesus. Now he is venturing into a family development book. I am planning on going to Barnes and Noble today to purchase his new book. I hope they have it.

Making a Decision NOT to Complain



On Saturday I attended a meeting to hear about the new structure of our annual conference of the United Methodist Church. I was there because I was asked to be on one of the newly formed teams. We have a very complex structure in order to serve a very large geographical area with people who have a wide range of ideas of what our annual conference should be doing.

I have to make a decision about continuing to be on that team. I have a decision to make, but before I can make that decision I have to ask myself, what I ultimately believe about my role on the annual conference level and what I believe my contribution should be at that level. Do I believe that since I am the lead pastor of one of the largest churches in our annual conference that I have a responsibility to be on the team? Do I believe that since my number one spiritual gift is leadership that I should be on the team? Do I believe that at this time the things that are going on at Charter Oak Church are too time consuming for me to join the team?

These are some of the questions I am wrestling with as I listen to God's prompting about my role on the conference level. To be honest, I think that in this "flux" time, my natural tendency is to complain about the situation instead of rigorously working through what I believe about this arena of my life before making a decision. I recently read a blog post by Ben Arment about complaining. Here are the points he makes...

The opposite of complaining is leading...

  • If you don't like a decision your boss makes, lead up.
  • If you don't like your office culture, lead around you.
  • If you don't like your circumstances, lead through it.
  • If you don't like your church's short-comings, lead out.

I know that I am to be leading. I don't want to be a part of the problem, I want to be a part of the solution. Complaining never gets to the solution, it just dwells on the problem.

I still don't know what I am going to do about being on the conference team, but I do know that I am making a decision not to complain, because ultimately I believe that complaining in not leading and I am called by God to lead to the zenith of my potential and so are you.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Going Off-site Today

Our Senior Management Team is leaving in a few minutes to go off-site today. We are going to calendar 2009 and pray, process, and dream about what God has in store for Charter Oak Church in the coming years. We could really use your prayers. This is such an exciting time in the life of our church - lives are being changed, people are sharing their stories of what God has taken them from and who they have become in Jesus. Incredible stuff - only God stuff.

We are going over to New Stanton UMC where my good friend Steve Bane is the pastor. God is doing some really great things there too. I used to think that when I led an off-site that we had to pay to rent a room at hotel or at a conference center or something like that. Then I began to think of all of the churches that are around that probably have a room or two that are available and the pastor wouldn't charge us for it. So we get the off-site with all of the advantages of getting away, even if it is only across town and it doesn't cost us anything.

What would happen if we as the Church started sharing resources for the building up of the Kingdom? What would happen if we started to think about each other (churches) as being on the same team, trying to move the same ball down the field together. I thank God for Steve Bane and his Kingdom mindset, he truly is a servant of Jesus.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Week 1 Handout

At the end of the worship service this past weekend I gave each person the opportunity to pick up a handout to continue the conversation at home that was begun in the sermon. If you didn't get a copy or you weren't here, you can click here to get a copy.

I hope it will spark some good conversations in your family, in your small group, and in your prayer time.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Investing


I just sent out 10 invitations to seventh grade boys for a new small group that I am starting in a week. What am I thinking? Am I crazy? Those are two questions I had to wrestle with before I agreed to say yes to this new leadership call.
The answer became very clear to me as I heard God whispering in my ear about investing in the next generation. These ten boys have immense value to God. They have kingdom potential within them for today and for the future. I don't know what the future holds for them, but I know the One who holds their future and I believe God is giving me an opportunity to invest in some budding teenagers for the next season of their life.
What about you, who are you investing in?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Small Groups


The small group I am a part of at Charter Oak Church started up again. We affectionately call ourselves "Dads in the Middle." Most of our wives are in a small group called "Moms in the Middle" so we are just playing off on that title. Both our wives and we are standing in the middle between God and our children. We are seeking to do life together as dads so that we can develop as followers of Jesus. We want our relationship with our kids to come out of our relationship with our Savior.
As I look at the church calendar I am blown away by how many small group opportunities there are this fall. I hope that you will carve out the time in your busy life to be actively involved in a small group. I truly believe the best place for spiritual development to occur is in the context of a small group. If you want help getting connected, give me a call.

Book #18 - It


Last week I read one of the best books on church and leadership development that I have ever read. Craig Groeschel's new book It: How Churches and Leaders Can Get IT and Keep IT. One of the reasons I love Craig's writing is because he is so transparent and so grounded in his relationship with Jesus. This book was a very real look at his life as a leader in a local church and what it takes to stay in tune with God.
I originally purchased this book after the Leadership Summit. I ran to the book store at the end of his talk. I think the book sold out very quickly.
If you are a church leader or a leader in the church, then I would highly recommend you get this book. It will be on my desk for a very long time as I read and re-read it. There are just certain books that you know will continue to speak into your life for a long time. I think this is one of those books.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Increased Pulse

I was reading Mark Beeson's blog the other day and he gave some surprising figures about United Methodist Churches. There are only 13 that average over 3,000 in worship. There are only 33 averaging over 2,000 in worship. There are 100 that average over 1,000 in worship. And finally, there are only 1,000 that have over 500 in worship. You can read the whole article here.
As many of you know who read my blog, my vision is to see people in this region who don't have a relationship with Jesus or who have, for whatever reason, stepped away from that relationship to fall in love with our Savior and place Him at the center of their lives.
When I read stats like those given by Mark Beeson, it increases my pulse, not because of numbers, but because there are UM Churches all over the country. We have within us the great potential of sharing life with people who are walking in death. I don't care about our rank with all of the other churches around us. We won't be held accountable for how we compare. We will however be held accountable for being faithful and obedient to the vision God has given the people of Charter Oak Church. We have been strategically placed in this incredible location with very high visibility. God desperately wants to use us to reach this region with the love of Jesus.
If you are from Charter Oak Church I want you to know that we still have empty chairs available on weekends for your friends, neighbors, co-workers, and family members. There is ALWAYS room at the cross. Do everything you can to invest in people in your circle of friends and invite them to worship with you. Remember, these people matter to God.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Breakaway

We are putting the finishing touches on the start of our next sermon series - Breakaway.

I don't know any one who sets out to be like everybody else, but it happens. We all start swimming in the same direction in a little fish bowl called life. Then one day we wake up feeling trapped. Unfortunately many people think the answer is to run away, but they end up making the same bad decisions over and over again. How do you break the cycle and jump out of that fish bowl of life? The point of this next series is to renovate your thinking by exposing you to core beliefs that have the power to change the trajectory of your life.

If you have a friend, a neighbor, a co-worker, or a family member who has been making a series of bad decisions, who is breaking hearts, who is leaving a path of destruction behind them, then invite them to come to Charter Oak Church with you during the month of September.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Legacy

With the unexpected death of Don Lash, I am reminded once again of how fragile life really is. Earlier this year I asked the people of Charter Oak Church how they would live if they knew they had 30 days to live. In moments like we are going through now, I realize that most of the time we won't know that we have 30 days to live. Therefore we must choose today to live completely and totally for the glory of God.

When I approach life with this mindset then the things I think are so important fade into the background. Instead, my heart beats faster for my family. My pulse quickens for the 33,000 people within a 5 mile radius of Charter Oak Church who do not have a church home. My drive is stronger to equip people to become fully devoted followers of Jesus. I want to go after life and after all that God has created me to be and to do. If my attitude is one of expecting to live a very long life, my tendency is to take people for granted and to be slow to engage people outside of our church. You and I must live today to the fullest.

We are all going to die, but it is in the way that we live that matters.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Passing of a Pastoral Giant

The Reverend Don Lash died on Saturday evening. Don's wife, Betty plays the organ for our traditional worship services. The following is his obituary...

The Rev. H. Donald Lash, 79, of Greensburg, passed away Saturday, Aug. 23, 2008, in UPMC Presbyterian, Oakland. He was born March 29, 1929, in Madison. A gifted preacher, he served seven churches for the United Methodist Church in Western Pennsylvania, from 1957 until his retirement in 1994. He also served as the district superintendent of the Kane District from 1989 to 1994, and sat on dozens of boards for the conference and district offices. Surviving are his wife, Betty M. Lash; his sons, Chris Lash and wife, Karen, of Palm Coast, Fla., and Dan Lash and wife, Jennifer, of Pittsburgh; his only grandson, Corey Lash, of Punxsutawney; and two brothers, Lowell Lash and wife, Sally, of West Newton, and Nelson Lash and wife, Mary Anne, of Arona. He was preceded in death by his parents, Clarence and Edith Lash; and his daughter, Karen Coleman. He was a graduate of Clarion University and Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. He most recently served as the Minister of Visitation for the First Presbyterian Church of Greensburg from 1998 until the time of his death. Family and friends will be received from 1 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at the KEPPLE-GRAFT FUNERAL HOME INC., 524 N. Main St., Greensburg. Additional visitation will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday, with services following at 11 a.m., in Charter Oak United Methodist Church, 449 Frye Farm Road, Greensburg, with the Revs. David Eversdyke, Martin Ankrum and Chris Whitehead co-officiating. (Everyone please go directly to the church on Wednesday.) In lieu of flowers, the family wishes memorial donations to the building fund at Charter Oak United Methodist Church. Terence L. Graft, funeral director, entrusted with the arrangements. For online condolences and information, go to www.kepple-graft.com.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Book #17 - The Next Level



One of our staff members gave me a book earlier this week and said that I should read it and it would only take about an hour to read. It was David Gregory's new book The Next Level: A Parable of Finding Your Place in Life.

There seems to be a new movement among authors to write about business principles within a parable. Most write the parable and then explain the principles and how to put them into action. This book didn't do that. It is just the parable and the expectation is that you can decipher the principles and how to apply them.

In this case, I got the principles, in spite of the parable. I'm sure it's just me, because I have read some good reviews of this book, but I thought the parable was forced and sometimes became more about the story instead of the principles. The book is fine, but just not at the level of a Patrick Lencioni parable telling book.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Worshipper

I just read the following post from one of the worship leaders at North Point Community Church. Click here to read the whole post, but if you want to read what grabbed my attention read on...

And let me be clear - participation, at least as I define it, is not necessarily “hands up, eyes closed”, but rather someone’s own, unique way of connecting with their Heavenly Father. That can mean a ton of things, because it really is different for everyone. Your level of spiritual maturity and growth is not based on how loud you sing or how high you can raise your hands. But for many, many people, there comes a point in corporate or private worship when you choose to focus on God, and subsequently your soul connects with the Holy Spirit, and it moves you to an outward display of submission and adoration for your Savior. But all the while, the real connection takes place on the inside of you - in your spirit as you submit your will to God.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Book #16 - Wide Awake


The other book I read on vacation was Erwin McManus' Wide Awake: The Future Is Waiting within You. There were parts of this book that I really enjoyed and was challenged by, but there were other parts that just seemed like he was re-hashing things he has written before. If you haven't ready anything by McManus, then I would highly recommend this book to you. But if you have read most of his other books, this is a take it or leave it book for me.
I love his challenge to be creative and to make the leap to go big with God. Here's a great line for me..."We become dogmatic as a result of fear, not faith. Faith keeps you flexible and postured for change. Faith ignites courage, not conformity. Fear seeks to control; faith seeks to create. This doesn't mean you don't have convictions but that you understand what your nonnegotiables are. Some things are your core; everything else can change."
I know he is writing about our relationship with God, but I have found that the same is true with people. When I have faith in someone then I am not dogmatic, I don't seek to control. Integrity is huge for me, when I lose trust in someone because they have choosen a set of actions or words, it's not good for my relationship with them, they lose my faith.