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


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.