Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Spiritual Mentor

This past weekend I took some time away from Charter Oak Church to begin the process of developing relationships with eight college students that I will be mentoring this summer for Won by One to Jamaica. As many of you know I have a passion for the people of Jamaica. Any opportunity I get to serve in connection to Jamaica I will do it. Many of you also know of my connection to Won by One to Jamaica - the organization that leads the trips to Jamaica.

Here's the mission of Won by One to Jamaica:
"We see change in the lives of Jamaicans because God's grace and unconditional love is shared with them in a way that can be fully understood.

We see change in the lives of Americans who come to serve, because they are exposed to the harsh reality of a poverty culture and see in a meaningful way that the only chance of lasting hope can only be found in Christ."

This summer eight college students from around the country will spend ten weeks in Harmons, Jamaica living out this mission as leaders. My job is to mentor these young adults throughout the summer. Kelli and I even get to spend a week in the middle of the summer in Jamaica with them. Seth, McKenzie, Tayler, Klarissa, Tim, Nichole, Justin, and John will be pouring the best of who they are into Jamaicans and Americans all summer long. Please join with me in praying that this will be the best summer of their lives.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Book #11 - Three Simple Rules

Our bishop gave every pastor a book at Christmas last year - Three Simple Rules: A Wesleyan Way of Living by Bishop Rueben P. Job. I sat down and read it yesterday, it didn't take very long. The simple rules are...
  1. Do no harm.
  2. Do good.
  3. Stay in love with God

Simple, but not easy. A pretty good model for living.

Newest Nooma Video Available

I just found out that the newest Nooma video is now available to be watched on Facebook. Click here if you want to watch it. I don't know how long it will be available. But if you read this regularly, you know I am struggling with creating margin in my life. That is the essence of this video. Check it out.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Great Weekend

This past weekend was one of those weekends that reminds me of why I do what I do.
The weekend began with tons of people showing up on Saturday morning to put the servant's towel over their arm and live beyond themselves. There were so many projects that we cared for through the day. We now have over 125 people receiving food through the Food Bank. There is something special about watching disciples of Jesus get into the dirt and love doing it.
Then we worshipped God at all four of our worship services as we concluded our Unlocking the Future capital stewardship program. On Saturday night while we were inside worshipping, a team of people were setting up for a huge BBQ and movie night in a monster size tent. When the rain stopped and the sun came out one of our volunteers snapped this picture of a rainbow over Charter Oak Church at about the time people were coming forward to present God with their commitment cards. Incredible!
Throughout the weekend worship services I saw young and old and everyone in between come forward trusting God to move in their lives in dramatic ways. As I watched tears of joy streamed down my face as I saw the Body of Christ at her best. It hit me at the 11:00 worship service in a very profound way - this is a defining moment for us. I also thought of something else at that moment - we said at each of the worship services that if there were any first time guests that they should come back next week when we aren't going to be talking about money. I realized that what was happening in the life of our church didn't have anything to do with money at all. This weekend was all about faithful obedience to what God was doing in and through the people of God. When we live as disciples of Jesus, people who are first time guests and people who are not here yet will be drawn to God.
It was an incredible time of worship for us all. The applause of heaven was thunderous. Way to go Charter Oak Church. God received the glory, honor, and praise He deserves.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Margin Allows Vision and Creativity

When I am purposeful about creating margin in my life it allows me to get on track with God's vision and creativity. I am fortunate to be given two weeks of study leave a year by Charter Oak Church. I usually use one week for vision and one for creativity.

I want to make sure that I am right in the middle of God's will for my life so that I can be able to hear where I am to be leading the people of Charter Oak Church through God's vision for His church. When I am so busy and running on empty most of the time it is very difficult to hear from God. I love the Old Testament story that says that God was not in the earthquake, fire, or storm, but in the whisper. God is not going to shout over the noise of my life. I must be rigorous about the creation of margin to hear God's still and small voice leading me.

I also believe that the weekend worship service should be one of the most creative, engaging environments that people enter into each week. I am saddened by pastors and churches who are willing to "phone it in" every week with no preparation, no inspiration, and little to no creativity. Our God is Creator. His very name means creativity and we are made in His image. Jesus consistently used creative means to get people's attention in order to point people to a truth about God. As long as I am buried in the details and putting out fires I will never be as creative as I can be. I must set aside significant chunks of time to creativity. I want to say things in such a way that helps people to become more like Jesus. That's my responsibility. That only happens when I have margin in my life.

What happens when you create margin in your life?

Friday, May 16, 2008

It Takes Time to Create Margin

Yesterday I said I would blog about what was going on in my head about margin - if I could get some. That's probably the biggest learn about margin right now. It doesn't just happen and it takes time to create margin.

First, it doesn't just happen. We don't do Sabbath very well. We don't even really know what it means to take a day off. That's when we get caught up on cutting the grass, building a new deck on the back of the house, cleaning out the gutters, etc, etc, etc. I don't know about you, but my list of things to do is much longer than my dates available. We have to be brutal about our schedule. If we don't hold it sacred, then others will fill it up. We must schedule our Sabbath, my good friend Tom does that better than anyone I know. We must also schedule our days off to be days off. We need rest.

Second, it takes time to create margin. That means that if we have made decisions in the past to fill up our schedules it will take time to unclutter those schedules. I joked yesterday about blogging if I could create some margin, but the reality was I knew that it would have been extremely difficult for me to blog because I had scheduled meetings all day long. I can't just will it to happen. It takes time to make those blocks in your schedule that will allow you to have margin.

Next time I want to blog about what happens when you get margin in your life.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Over the last month I haven't been posting very much. For those of you who tell me you read my blog regularly, I am sorry for the inconsistency.

I have been taught that life is a marathon, but within it there are times when you sprint and times when you rest. I have been sprinting pretty hard the last month and half. It wasn't a surprise. I told my wife before it started that it was coming and would go until the end of April. Here it is the middle of May and I haven't slowed down. That's my choice.

I have a huge work ethic. I am more impressed by people who have a huge work ethic than I am about anything else. That's just who I am. I'm not going to apologize for it. The people who are my real friends love me for it and in spite of it. I also realize that the only commandment that we brag about breaking is the one on keeping the Sabbath.

We all need to keep the Sabbath, whatever that may mean for you or for me. One of the things I have really been thinking about lately is margin in my life. If I have some time today, I will try to blog about what's going on in my head about margin. That is if I can create some...:-)

Friday, May 2, 2008

Question #6 - Ministry

I am continuing to answer the questions that Craig Groeschel posed on 10 questions each leader should ask in several different areas of life. I am tackling the questions on ministry first.

Question #6 - Have I repented to my team at least once in the last year for a failure in leadership?

Did I mention that these questions are getting harder and harder? One of the things that I have been really working on lately is being pruned (John 15) by God of all the things, activities, and sins that God wants to remove from my life. Some people call this being broken. Whatever you want to call it, it is difficult and often very painful.

I think the power of this question is that it is done in community with the people you do life with as a leader. Yes, I can and do repent of my sins everyday. I walk in God's grace and forgiveness. Our faith is a personal faith, but it was never intended to be private. When I get vulnerable with my team I am opening myself up to being held accountable to the ways of Jesus. I will only be as strong as I am willing to be open and honest. This also includes having a very high level of trust within the team. If I repent of something, then I have made myself vulnerable to their thoughts and even their words to me or to others. But I also open myself up to their prayers, their encouragement, and their love. That's right where I want and need to be.

Please pray with me that as leaders we will build teams that has a foundation of trust, love, and accountability.


This weekend I am going to be talking about risk. I have been praying and thinking about this message for a few months now. The scripture passage that I will be using is 1 Samuel 14:1-23.

Every time I read through this passage I see something new and I realize what is really happening in this scene. If you have time before you arrive at Charter Oak Church this weekend, take a few minutes and read this passage. And if you have more time, read it a few times, there is a lot there.

See you in worship!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Question #5 - Ministry

I am continuing to answer the questions that Craig Groeschel posed on 10 questions each leader should ask in several different areas of life. I am tackling the questions on ministry first.

Question #5 - What faith risk is God calling me to take?

There isn't a more appropriate question for me and the people of Charter Oak Church right now. I am preaching on risk this weekend. We are in the middle of one of the most risk intense seasons in our church.

We are in the middle of the Unlocking the Future capital stewardship program. We are seeking to raise $3 million. We are in the middle of a pastoral transition. This has risk written all over it.

We are asking people to trust and obey God's leading in this stewardship program. When the leadership of a church begins to talk about money - it is risky because people hold so tightly to their money. Money is the god of this nation. When we ask people to give of it obediently, out of their relationship with Jesus, it kicks up some dissension. But what I have learned is that it isn't about me, but it is a spiritual wrestling that is occurring in people's hearts over who is God. This is a huge spiritual development process.

Please pray that people's hearts will be softened to Jesus. Please pray that the people of Charter Oak Church will choose to live into what God is inviting them to instead of kicking up dissension and dis-unity. Please pray that Satan will not gain a foothold during this risky season in the life of our church.