Tuesday, September 22, 2009

You Never Let Go

When clouds veil sun
And disaster comes
Oh, my soul
Oh, my soul
When waters rise
And hope takes flight
Oh, my soul
Oh, my soul
Oh, my soul

Ever faithful
Ever true
You I know
You never let go
You never let go
You never let go
You never let go

When clouds brought rain
And disaster came
Oh, my soul
Oh, my soul
When waters rose
And hope had flown
Oh, my soul
Oh, my soul
Oh, my soul
Oh, my soul

Overflows
Oh, what love, oh, what love
Oh, my soul
Fills hope
Perfect love that never lets go
Oh, what love, oh what love
Oh, what love, oh what love

In joy and pain
In sun and rain
You’re the same
Oh, You never let go

God's Word

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
Psalm 27:1

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.
John 14:27

The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to the faithful.
For the Lord knows our frame, and remembers that we are dust.
The steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon the faithful,
and the righteousness of the Lord to children's children.
Psalms 103:8, 13-14, 17

Jesus, You wept at the grave of Your friend Lazarus, You know all our sorrows. Behold our tears, and bind up the wounds of our hearts. Through the mystery of pain, bring us into closer communion with You and with one another. Raise us from death to life. And grant, in Your mercy, that with Joe, who has passed within the veil, we may come to live, with You and with all whom we love, in our heavenly Father's home. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Book #18 - Crazy Love


After seeing Francis Chan live this past spring, I knew I wanted to read Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God. Then when someone gave me a copy of his book that was just released I knew I had to make it a priority to read it. This past weekend I did.
This book is not for someone who is satisfied with where they are in the faith journey. This book will stretch you, challenge you, and make you wrestle with what you really believe about God. I was talking to a student about this book last week. She said she had to stop reading it half way through because there was just too much she needed to work on before she went on to the next chapter. That's the potential this book has for the reader. I highly recommend this book for all students and adults.
After I finish this post I am going to subscribe to Francis Chan's podcast on iTunes.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Sacrament of Living

"Lord, I would trust Thee completely; I would be altogether Thine; I would exalt Thee above all. I desire that I may feel no sense of possessing anything outside of Thee. I want constantly to be aware of Thy overshadowing presence and to hear Thy speaking voice. I long to live in the restful sincerity of heart. I want to live so fully in the Spirit that all my thoughts may be as sweet incense ascending to Thee and every act of my life may be an act of worship. Therefore I pray in the words of The great servant of old, 'I beseech Thee so for to cleanse the intent of mine heart with the unspeakable gift of Thy grace, that I may perfectly love Thee and worthily praise Thee.' And all this I confidently believe Thou wilt grant me through the merits of Jesus Christ Thy Son. Amen."

A. W. Tozer
The Pursuit of God

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Meekness and Rest

"Lord, make me childlike. Deliver me from the urge to compete with another for place or prestige or position. I would be simple and artless as a little child. Deliver me from pose and pretense. Forgive me for thinking of myself. Help me to forget myself and find my true peace in beholding Thee. That Thou may answer this prayer I humble myself before Thee. Lay upon me Thy easy yoke of self-forgetfulness that through it I may find rest. Amen."

A. W. Tozer
The Pursuit of God

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Restoring the Creator-Creature Relation

"O God, be Thou exalted over my possessions. Nothing of earth's treasures shall seem dear unto me if only Thou art glorified in my life. Be Thou exalted over my friendships. I am determined that Thou shalt be above all, though I must stand deserted and alone in the midst of the earth. Be Thou exalted above my comforts. Though it means the loss of bodily comforts and the carrying of heavy crosses, I shall keep my vow made this day before Thee. Be Thou exalted over my reputation. Make me ambitious to please Thee even if as a result I must sink into obscurity and my name be forgotten as a dream. Rise, O Lord, into Thy proper place of honor, above my ambitions, above my likes and dislikes, above my family, my health and even my life itself. Let me sink that Thou mayest rise above. Ride forth upon me as Thou didst ride into Jerusalem mounted upon the humble little beast, a colt, the foal of an ass, and let me hear the children cry to Thee, "Hosanna in the highest.' Amen."

A. W. Tozer
The Pursuit of God

Monday, September 14, 2009

Book #17 - The Offsite


This past weekend I read Robert H. Thompson's book The Offsite: A Leadership Challenge Fable. I initially picked the book up for two reason. First, because we do a handful of offsite meetings as a Senior Management Team - sometimes one day and at least once a year, multiple days. I am always looking to learn. The second reason is because there is a relatively new movement within the business world to write leadership fables. I really love Patrick Lencioni's version of this style of writing. It's usually a good story that builds around a leadership or business principle. Then at the end the principle is drilled down into clear and precise language.
The Offsite had the good story built around a business and leadership principle, unfortunately because it is a spin off of a bigger leadership principle - the Leadership Challenge, there wasn't a breakdown at the end of the book.
If you get this book, then I would also recommend getting The Leadership Challenge.

The Gaze of the Soul

"O Lord, I have heard a good word inviting me to look away to Thee and be satisfied. My heart longs to respond, but sin has clouded my vision till I see Thee but dimly. Be pleased to cleanse me in Thine own precious blood, and make me inwardly pure, so that I may with unveiled eyes gaze upon Thee all the days of my earthly pilgrimage. Then shall I be prepared to behold Thee in full splendor in the day when Thou shalt appear to be glorified in Thy saints and admired in all them that believe. Amen"

A.W. Tozer
The Pursuit of God

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Speaking Voice

"Lord, teach me to listen. The times are noisy and my ears are weary with the thousand raucous sounds which continuously assault them. Give me the spirit of the boy Samuel when he said to Thee, 'Speak, for Thy servant heareth.' Let me hear Thee speaking in my heart. Let me get used to the sound of Thy voice, that its tones may be familiar when the sounds of earth die away and the only sound will be the music of Thy speaking voice. Amen."

A.W. Tozer
The Pursuit of God

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Universal Presence

"O God and Father, I repent of my sinful preoccupation with visible things. The world has been too much with me. Thou hast been here and I knew it not. I have been blind to Thy presence. Open my eyes that I may behold Thee in and around me. For Christ's sake. Amen."

A.W. Tozer
The Pursuit of God

Friday, September 11, 2009

Apprehending God

"O God, quicken to life every power within me, that I may lay hold on eternal things. Open my eyes that I may see; give me acute spiritual perception; enable me to taste Thee and know that Thou art good. Make heaven more real to me than earthly thing has ever been. Amen."

A.W. Tozer
The Pursuit of God

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Removing the Veil

"Lord, how excellent are Thy ways, and how devious and dark are the ways of man. Show us how to die, that we may rise again to newness of life. Rend the veil of our self-life from the top down as Thou didst rend the veil of the Temple. We would draw near in full assurance of faith. We would dwell with Thee in daily experience here on this earth so that we may be accustomed to the glory when we enter Thy heaven to dwell with Thee there. In Jesus' name. Amen.

A.W. Tozer
The Pursuit of God

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Blessedness of Possessing Nothing

"Father, I want to know Thee, but my cowardly heart fears to give up its toys. I cannot part with them without inward bleeding, and I do not try to hide from Thee the terror of the parting. I come trembling, but I do come. Please root from my heart all those things which I have cherished so long and which have become a very part of my living self, so that Thou mayest enter and dwell there without a rival. Then shalt Thou make the place of Thy feet glorious. Then shall my heart have no need of the sun to shine in it, for Thyself wilt be the light of it, and there shall be no night there. In Jesus' name. Amen."

A.W. Tozer
The Pursuit of God

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Following Hard after God

"O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need of further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, that so I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, 'Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.' Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long. In Jesus' name. Amen.

A.W. Tozer
The Pursuit of God

Monday, September 7, 2009

Book #16 - The Pursuit of God


This weekend I read a book my friend Jeff gave me at the beginning of the summer. It's written by one of those 20th century theologians that I had to read in seminary, but don't rush to get at the bookstore any more. I'm glad Jeff gave me this book.
The Pursuit of God: The Human Thirst for the Divine by A.W. Tozer reminded me of some things that I haven't wrestled with in a few years. It also spoke life into me. I get so tired of the cotton candy pop theology that floats around today that it actually causes me to read less theologically based books. Tozer in essence wrote - this is who God is and this is who we become when we go after God with everything we are and everything we have. Good stuff.
At the end of each chapter Tozer closed with a prayer. I am going to post one prayer each day for the next 10 days. I hope each one speaks to you as they did to me.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

New Series Starting This Weekend


Think about the last time you were traveling and got lost. You had your destination in mind. You had every intention of getting there. But you took the wrong path, and you didn't end up where you wanted to be. A disconnect often occurs between the path you choose and where you want to end up. This is the principle of the path and we'll discover how it impacts every area of your life.
Take the time to invite someone to worship with you this weekend at Charter Oak Church.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

15 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me

I loved Perry's post:

15 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me
#1 – Everyone Will Not Understand You…SO Stop Trying To Explain Yourself. Cast Vision…And MOVE Forward!

#2 – Everyone Will Not Like You…So STOP Trying To Be Popular.

#3 – You Don’t Have To Be The Person Who Actually Solves Every Problem….Admit You Are Not The Smartest Person and Let Your Experts Be Your Experts.

#4 – Spend WAY More Time Talking About Who You Are Rather Than Who You Are Not.

#5 – A Leader Is Always An East Target Because They Are…A Leader. So, Get Over Yourself And Get On With What God Called You To Do!

#6 – When The Holy Spirit Presses Something Into Your Heart…Don’t Ignore Him.

#7 – Do NOT Expect God’s Next Step To Make Sense.

#8 – You Can’t Plan A Move Of God…But You Must Be Prepared For One!

#9 – Do Not Resist Something Just Because You Do Not Understand It!

#10 – People Who Claim You “Are Not Deep Enough” Are Obsessed With Information But Have No Desire To Live Out Transformation.

#11 – You Don’t Need To Listen To Everybody…But You Had Better Be Listening To Somebody Because God Didn’t Ask You To Take This Journey Alone.

#12 – Never Apologize For Asking People To Commit To Something…Jesus Didn’t!

#13 – The Church Has Been Underachieving For Way Too Long…So Dream BIG And Don’t Apologize For It.

#14 – There Will Be Days When You Want To Quit…Don’t…Jesus Didn’t! (Remember…DON’T GIVE UP…if you are discouraged, take a second and read this!)

#15 – The Gospel Changes Lives…PREACH Every Sermon Like It’s Your Last!!!

Monday, August 31, 2009

New Hires

Charter Oak Church welcomes our new Pastor to Senior High School Students – Dave Hendrickson. Dave has served as a missionary in Russia, a youth pastor for three years in England, and on staff at a mega church in Arizona. Dave and his wife, Janelle, will have been married for 10 years in October. They have two sons, Ben– 3 years old, and Liam – 2 years old. Dave graduated from Geneva College and has his Masters of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical School of Ministry. Please welcome the Hendrickson Family to Charter Oak Church. Dave can be reached at ext. 265 or by email at dhendrickson@charteroakumc.org.

Charter Oak Church welcomes an old face into a new position. Josh Ricketts is our new Pastor to Junior High Students. Josh has been a volunteer and/or a paid staff member for the last seven years. Josh and his wife, Karen, have been married for 5 years. They have a daughter Aryn who is two years old. Josh graduated from Grove City College and has a Masters Degree from Reformed Theological Seminary. Josh can be reached at ext. 266 or by email at jricketts@charteroakumc.org.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Great Quote

“You can tell the quality of a person by how they treat the people they don’t need.”- Malcolm Gladwell

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Dancing: Getting into Position

This weekend we begin a new series at Charter Oak Church called - So You Think You Can Dance? The first part of the series is called "Getting into Position."

To get started you can read Nehemiah 1 and Acts 2.

As the song begins to play those who step on to the dance floor must get into the right position before they can begin the dance. Nehemiah was a prisoner of war serving the king, but God had a vision for His people that began with Nehemiah getting into the right position for God to work in him and through him. As followers of Jesus we need to make sure that we are in the right position to follow God’s lead.

New Series Starting This Weekend


Sunday, August 9, 2009

Book #15 - The Back of the Napkin


Dan Roam's book, The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures, is one of the coolest books I have read in terms of taking my ability to communicate in a new and fresh way to a whole different level. I wish I could take a semester class with Dan to really get all of this incredible information downloaded into my brain in such a way that it would become second nature. Last week I tried to put it into practice as often as I could.
If you are a leader and you want to communicate your ideas in any setting, then you should pick up this book. It isn't one you just sit down and read in an hour or two, you could, but you would miss so much application. This will be on my desk for a long time as I apply what I have read and learned.

Book #14 - Ten Stupid Things that Keep Churches from Growing


Sometimes I just like to walk through Barnes & Noble looking for books that jump out at me. That's how I came to pick up Geoff Surratt's new book, Ten Stupid Things that Keep Churches from Growing: How Leaders Can Overcome Costly Mistakes.
I thought that I would love to read a book about how I often times do ministry and what I can learn from all of those mistakes that I have made over the years. Geoff didn't write from research from other pastors. He wrote out of his own decisions and his own learning. Then he asked another pastor to do the same. This is a powerful book written for pastors and leaders in the church.
Here are the 10 things, see if you are like me in doing them:
1. Trying to do it all.
2. Establishing the wrong role for the pastor's family.
3. Providing second-rate worship experiences.
4. Settling for low quality in children's ministry.
5. Promoting talent over integrity.
6. Clinging to a bad location.
7. Copy another successful church.
8. Favoring discipline over reconciliation.
9. Mixing ministry and business.
10. Letting committees steer the ship.
Some of these are probably not what you think from the title. If you are a pastor or a church leader - get this book.

Book #13 - The Imperfect Board Member


About two years ago I read The Imperfect Board Member: Discovering the Seven Disciplines of Governance Excellence by Jim Brown. I blogged my thought and Jim even called me to talk about what I thought. At that time I wasn't the lead pastor of Charter Oak Church yet. I worked with our board, but I wasn't accountable to the board at that time. Now I am. I thought it was a good time to re-read this book. I'm glad I did. It is one thing to learn about something when you are involved but it is something completely different when you are committed. It's the difference in breakfast - the chicken is involved with the eggs, the pig is committed in the bacon.
I'm committed to bringing out the very best in our board at Charter Oak Church. They are a group of people who are the most spiritually mature and discerning that I have ever had the privilege to serve.
I know that I will be studying this book intently over the next few months and I will be giving a copy to each board member.
To peak your interest, here are the seven disciplines
1. Direct...Organizational Performance
2. Protect...Organizational Performance
3. Respect...Owner Expectations
4. Reflect...on Organizational Results
5. Select...your Prominent leadership
6. Expect...great Board-Management Interaction
7. Connect...for healthy Board Relations

Book #12 - Not Just a One Night Stand


Donna Gabler who is Charter Oak Church's Pastor of Congregational Care and Missions handed me a book a few weeks ago and asked me to read it. Let me just say as a side note, when my staff give me a book and asks me to read it, they are speaking my love language. The book she gave me is Not Just a One Night Stand: Ministry with the Homeless by John Flowers and Karen Vannoy.

It is short, simple book about how two pastors practically made the decision at their church to minister to homeless people. It is the story of their journey from not having a clue really to the harsh reality of ministering to a people group that are often forgotten or at best pushed around with very little respect from the church or society. This is a challenging book on what I really believe, what the church really believes about the least, the last, and the lost.

Encouragement

Just read this great blog from Elevation Church E-Kidz Director, Brandon Hibbard. I needed to be reminded of these words on encouragement.

It’s been an honor for me to have the opportunity to serve Pastor Furtick over the past couple years, and I’m grateful that I’ve been able to be a voice of encouragement in his life. I heard Pastor Furtick explain one time that the word “encourage” literally means “to give courage,” and that totally transformed my concept of encouragement. Hopefully the thoughts below will help you maximize the impact of your encouragement.

Effective encouragement is specific. That means you have to pay attention to the people around you. Exist with an inclination for encouragement, always looking for the positive in people. Specificity in encouragement communicates value.

Effective encouragement speaks to things that are meaningful to the recipient. Know what they put time and energy into and acknowledge the difference it makes.

Effective encouragement is timely. It should be regular and consistent, but you must also learn specific times or seasons when someone will need extra encouragement.

Effective encouragement is unprompted. If someone has to ask you for encouragement, it kinda defeats the purpose. I’ve heard that if you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. The same applies for encouragement. Don’t let your spouse, kids, pastor, or coworkers get dehydrated.

Effective encouragement is communicated through the right means. If face-to-face is available, it’s the most effective. But heed Proverbs 27:14 and use some common sense.

Effective encouragement does not just come from people with the gift of encouraging, it’s commanded of everyone. It can also be learned, if you put in the practice.
I think the most important element to effective encouragement is the “Holy Spirit Factor.” Listen to the prompts in your spirit. God is all-knowing and will ultimately orchestrate timely encouragement for His people. He wants to use you – don’t miss the opportunity!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Proverbs 23

I was reading my daily Proverb this morning - Proverbs 23, and this is the note on the side of the page:

Leaders understand the importance of their minds to the future of their organizations. Consider some of the timeless principles offered in Proverbs 23 about our minds and a godly vision for tomorrow:
1. Your thoughts determine your character (verse 7).
2. Be careful of your thoughts they may break into your words at any time (verse 7).
3. Don't waste your thoughts on those who do not hunger for them (verse 9).
4. The first person you lead is you, and the first organ you master is your mind (verse 12).
5. Don't let your mind drift away from God's truth and into vain envy (verse 17).
6. Stay confident that your vision will come to pass (verse 18).
7. Discipline your thoughts to remain steadfast in what you know is right (verse 19).

Monday, July 20, 2009

Book #11 - Chasing Francis


A couple of weeks ago I had lunch with a member of Charter Oak Church. He gave me a book I had not heard of before, but his small group had recently used to facilitate their discussion each week. That book was Chasing Francis by Ian Cron. I don't read fiction very often, but when Kelli and I went away for a few days to Lake Erie I thought it would be a good book to take along. I am thankful that Doug put the book in my hands and that I read it.
The book is the story of a pastor who is on a spiritual journey and his life is intersected by the life of St. Francis of Assisi. He comes to a crisis of faith and it is in learning the way of Jesus through the life of Francis that his life is given direction and hope.
I learned a great deal from this some what historical fiction book. I am guessing that the things that were about St. Francis were historically true even though the story itself was fictional. This is a good book for those (perhaps pastors) who need to have their lives rooted in the history of the church instead of influenced by the fades of today.

NT Wright Article

The Americans know this will end in schism.
Support by US Episcopalians for homosexual clergy is contrary to Anglican faith and tradition. They are leaving the family.
Tom Wright

In the slow-moving train crash of international Anglicanism, a decision taken in California has finally brought a large coach off the rails altogether. The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church (TEC) in the United States has voted decisively to allow in principle the appointment, to all orders of ministry, of persons in active same-sex relationships. This marks a clear break with the rest of the Anglican Communion.
Both the bishops and deputies (lay and clergy) of TEC knew exactly what they were doing. They were telling the Archbishop of Canterbury and the other “instruments of communion” that they were ignoring their plea for a moratorium on consecrating practising homosexuals as bishops. They were rejecting the two things the Archbishop of Canterbury has named as the pathway to the future — the Windsor Report (2004) and the proposed Covenant (whose aim is to provide a modus operandi for the Anglican Communion). They were formalising the schism they initiated six years ago when they consecrated as bishop a divorced man in an active same-sex relationship, against the Primates’ unanimous statement that this would “tear the fabric of the Communion at its deepest level”. In Windsor’s language, they have chosen to “walk apart”.
Granted, the TEC resolution indicates a strong willingness to remain within the Anglican Communion. But saying “we want to stay in, but we insist on rewriting the rules” is cynical double-think. We should not be fooled.
Of course, matters didn’t begin with the consecration of Gene Robinson. The floodgates opened several years before, particularly in 1996 when a church court acquitted a bishop who had ordained active homosexuals. Many in TEC have long embraced a theology in which chastity, as universally understood by the wider Christian tradition, has been optional.
That wider tradition always was counter-cultural as well as counter-intuitive. Our supposedly selfish genes crave a variety of sexual possibilities. But Jewish, Christian and Muslim teachers have always insisted that lifelong man-plus-woman marriage is the proper context for sexual intercourse. This is not (as is frequently suggested) an arbitrary rule, dualistic in overtone and killjoy in intention. It is a deep structural reflection of the belief in a creator God who has entered into covenant both with his creation and with his people (who carry forward his purposes for that creation).
Paganism ancient and modern has always found this ethic, and this belief, ridiculous and incredible. But the biblical witness is scarcely confined, as the shrill leader in yesterday’s Timessuggests, to a few verses in St Paul. Jesus’s own stern denunciation of sexual immorality would certainly have carried, to his hearers, a clear implied rejection of all sexual behaviour outside heterosexual monogamy. This isn’t a matter of “private response to Scripture” but of the uniform teaching of the whole Bible, of Jesus himself, and of the entire Christian tradition.
The appeal to justice as a way of cutting the ethical knot in favour of including active homosexuals in Christian ministry simply begs the question. Nobody has a right to be ordained: it is always a gift of sheer and unmerited grace. The appeal also seriously misrepresents the notion of justice itself, not just in the Christian tradition of Augustine, Aquinas and others, but in the wider philosophical discussion from Aristotle to John Rawls. Justice never means “treating everybody the same way”, but “treating people appropriately”, which involves making distinctions between different people and situations. Justice has never meant “the right to give active expression to any and every sexual desire”.
Such a novel usage would also raise the further question of identity. It is a very recent innovation to consider sexual preferences as a marker of “identity” parallel to, say, being male or female, English or African, rich or poor. Within the “gay community” much postmodern reflection has turned away from “identity” as a modernist fiction. We simply “construct” ourselves from day to day.
We must insist, too, on the distinction between inclination and desire on the one hand and activity on the other — a distinction regularly obscured by references to “homosexual clergy” and so on. We all have all kinds of deep-rooted inclinations and desires. The question is, what shall we do with them? One of the great Prayer Book collects asks God that we may “love the thing which thou commandest, and desire that which thou dost promise”. That is always tough, for all of us. Much easier to ask God to command what we already love, and promise what we already desire. But much less like the challenge of the Gospel.
The question then presses: who, in the US, is now in communion with the great majority of the Anglican world? It would be too hasty to answer, the newly formed “province” of the “Anglican Church in North America”. One can sympathise with some of the motivations of these breakaway Episcopalians. But we should not forget the Episcopalian bishops, who, doggedly loyal to their own Church, and to the expressed mind of the wider Communion, voted against the current resolution. Nor should we forget the many parishes and worshippers who take the same stance. There are many American Episcopalians, inside and outside the present TEC, who are eager to sign the proposed Covenant. That aspiration must be honoured.
Contrary to some who have recently adopted the phrase, there is already a “fellowship of confessing Anglicans”. It is called the Anglican Communion. The Episcopal Church is now distancing itself from that fellowship. Ways must be found for all in America who want to be loyal to it, and to scripture, tradition and Jesus, to have that loyalty recognised and affirmed at the highest level.
Tom Wright is Bishop of Durham

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Critics

Check out what Pastor Perry has to say about critics...I love it.

Four Ways To Deal With A Critic July 15, 2009
Before I share the four ways let me be VERY clear on who a critic is…

  • A critic is NOT someone who approaches you and has a sincere love for you and a genuine concern for the ministry. These people should always be listened to and appreciated.
  • A critic is NOT someone who has a question about something and is merely seeking information and/or clarification for the purpose of fully understanding and embracing the vision of the ministry.
  • A critic is NOT someone who comes to you one on one with a spirit of humility and grace.

A critic is…

  • Someone who does not know you but feels the need to judge everything you say and do…they will criticize where you eat, the clothes you wear, the number of times you fart and anything else they can think of.
  • Someone who asks questions…but doesn’t actually want to know the answer…but rather are merely seeking information for the purpose of division.
  • Someone who is always pointing out what others are doing wrong…but never acknowledges their own shortcomings. (Jesus said it will not go well for these people…Matthew 7:1-2)

Remember…insanity is actually thinking you can explain yourself to those who don’t know you and don’t like you! So…saying that, here are four ways you can deal with a critic…
#1 - Ignore Them
#2 - Ignore Them
#3 - Ignore Them
#4 - Ignore Them

I once heard a pastor say, “We spend way too much time wrestling with church people and not with God!” DANG!

There are some battles that you are NEVER going to win…and to fight with a person who wants to do nothing but accuse you is fruitless! (Just a thought here - the name “satan” means accuser. Now…if someone is obsessed with the “wrongs” that you are doing and always feel the need to throw those wrongs in your face…would that make them more like Jesus or more like satan? Hmmmm)

I learned this lesson a long time ago…I don’t visit their websites (very few people actually do), I don’t respond to them on twitter and I don’t read their anonymous letters…Craig Groeschel once said that the quickest way to forget what God thinks about me is to obsess with what others think about me.

NOW…there are instances where Jesus dealt with these people…but it was never an explanation but rather a barrage of questions and/or a VERY sharp rebuke (Matthew 23) This type of response should always be prayed through and thought out! There will be times that these steps need to be considered, discussed and acted upon…

BUT…99% of the time…just repeat steps 1-4! :-)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Book #10 - How the Mighty Fall


When I heard Jim Collins had a newly released book, I went to Barnes and Noble as soon as I could to get it. How the Mighty Fall and Why Some Companies Never Give In was the right book at the right time for me.
There are five stages of decline that can be avoided, detected, and reversed if a company, church, or denomination is willing to have eyes that see and ears that hear.
Stage 1: Hubris Born of Success
Stage 2: Undisciplined Pursuit of More
Stage 3: Denial of Risk and Peril
Stage 4: Grasping for Salvation
Stage 5: Capitulation to Irrelevance or Death
This may be a book that is found in the business section, but it should be required reading for every UMC pastor and denominational leader. As I read I kept saying Wow and shaking my head. I am amazed at the clarity that Jim Collins brings to the subjects that he writes about. If you haven't read Good to Great, Good to Great for the Social Sector, or Built to Last, you should put them on the top of your summer reading list.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Down Time to Ramp Up

It has been a long time since I posted something original to this blog. I have been hitting most of my updates through Twitter. It's quicker and easier - I usually do it through my phone, occasionally through TweetDeck.

The last month I have seen the very best of the church. I have had people come around me and support me with love that I never expected. I preached a sermon series with the deepest and broadest amount of reliance on God in my ministry. The series ended today with Communion. I love it when God's people repent together, receive forgiveness, and celebrate new life found in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

In the last month I have also experienced some of the most hurtful and painful encounters with people I consider my brothers and sisters in Christ. Words cannot even begin to describe what has been thrown at me. Obedience to God is not easy. The enemy's attacks have been sure and certain. Ephesians 6 has been an important chapter for me.

My wife Kelli has been my constant support and encouragement - I love you. The Senior Management Team and staff have been incredible. A group of men have come forward to pray with me and sit with me during each worship service - wow! Powerful stuff, sitting with godly men like that. And there have also been Twitters from Perry Noble and Steven Furtick that came at just the right time. Thank you. Thank you all.

I now have six weeks off from preaching and the rigor of that preparation. I am going to be using that time for getting away with Kelli this week to Lake Erie for a couple of days. Then later in the month we are doing a family gathering at Deep Creek, MD. During that time I am going to be looking back over this last month to see what I can learn and looking forward to what God wants to say through me next.

I am excited about the new hires we are going to be doing. We will be bringing in two student ministry pastors and an office administrator. I am pumped about what God is going to do next.

This past week we made the decision to pray for every person and family connected to Charter Oak Church over the next six weeks. I will let you in on a little secret since you read all the way to the end of this very long post - something is on the horizon when it comes to prayer at Charter Oak Church. Those who were in worship caught a little glimpse of it this weekend. God is up to something and I want to be a part of it. I will come to a crisis of belief, but I know what I believe about my heavenly Father.

Thanks D.C. for the Quote

“Spectacular achievements are always preceded by unspectacular preparation.”
~ Roger Staubach

Pastor Steven - Faith/Hope

I love this blog post from Pastor Steven. It goes right along with this weekend's message.


Faith is substance
I like the old King James translation of Hebrews 11:1:Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Faith is not an abstract theoretical proposition. It’s not wishful thinking. It’s substance. It’s action.

Most of my life I imagined faith as some kind of force field. And the way we talk about faith dematerializes it. By most definitions, faith is synonymous with hope.

The more I study Scripture, the more I detect a sharp distinction between hope and faith. Hope is a desire. Faith is a demonstration. Hope wants it to happen. Faith causes it to happen and acts as if it’s already done.

Faith is not content to want it really, really bad. Faith consults the drawings and gets busy building. Hope is the blueprint. Faith is the contractor.

Some of the things we’re believing God for will never happen in our lives because we stand in hope instead of walking in faith.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Interesting Quote

From the blog of Jim Johnson: "We believe that in the expressions of our culture—music, film, books, TV—we can hear the heart cry of people asking the deep questions of life. When we acknowledge these sentiments and let them be heard in our weekend services, we create connection points with seekers that enable us then to speak God’s words of truth into their lives."

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Incredible Blog Post about Decisions

I just read this and I had to share it...


EVERYONE'S FAVORITE VIRTUE...
Posted by Isaac Hunter
Most people don’t make bad decisions because they are intellectually deficient; they make bad decisions because they are impatient; they are impatient because they are afraid. They’re afraid God won’t really come through, either because He can’t or doesn’t care to… neither of which are true. Patience is a virtue rarely killed by vice—it is eroded by fear.Don’t settle. Have faith in the One who loves you more than you can possibly imagine.

Psa. 37:4 Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.

Click here for the link.

Finishing Well

This past weekend Pastor Dave finished his Lifetime series and his active ministry from the main stage at Charter Oak Church. I say once a preacher, always a preacher. It won't be the last time we see PD on the main stage.

This weekend we will be celebrating the 40 years of faithful ministry of Pastor Dave. We will only have three worship services this weekend. Saturday night at 6:00pm and Sunday at 9:00am and 11:00am. I hope that you will do everything you can to be here. It is going to be a fun weekend.

Today the staff is taking Pastor Dave out to lunch. The wonderful servants of this staff want to come around "poppa bear" and love on him today. Almost all of us are here because of Pastor Dave. We all have our favorite stories that I am sure will get shared.

I hope you will continue to be in prayer for Pastor Dave and Judy during this transition period. They will be on vacation for most of the month of June, but will be back in the area in July. If you have missed the opportunity to say good bye or take Pastor Dave out to lunch or play golf with him, he is not leaving the area. He will still be around. I, for one, am thankful that he will be. His friendship is precious to me.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Book #9 - 360 Degree Leader



While I was on vacation I also read John Maxwell's book - 360 Degree Leader: Developing Your Influence from Anywhere in the Organization. This is an older book, I think it was published in 2006, but I found it in a store for $4. I couldn't pass it up!

As with all of Maxwell's books there is so much information in every chapter.

He teaches on how to lead from the middle - to have influence with those the person leads, those who are on the same level, and those to whom the person directly reports. It was very helpful to see the different perspectives and how to be influential for each group.

I learned a great deal for myself, but also about those who report to me on our leadership team. It gave me a fresh perspective and challenged me in the way I lead and serve our staff.

I would definitely recommend reading this book. If you live in this area, go to Ollie's. They have for $4. You can't beat getting a $26 book at that price.

Book #8 - I'll Make You an Offer You Can't Refuse



While on vacation last week I read Michael Franzese's business book - I'll Make You an Offer You Can't Refuse. The book was sent to me free by either Willow Creek Association or Outreach. I really appreciate that they sent me the book, I love to get free books. Franzese is hitting the mega church and conference circuit.

The book is essentially the story of Franzese leaving the mob and going legit. Then he takes the principles of the mob and sprinkles in some wisdom from Solomon and produces a new frame work built on the old frame work of the mob for business.

It was a quick and easy read. I'm not sure that I would necessarily recommend it. I learned some things about the mob I didn't know which was kind of fun. I am glad that Franzese is legit now and working for God. But I can't say - go out and buy this book, but if someone sends it to you for free like they did for me, then read it.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Final Thoughts on Innovate Church Conference

Here is the link to watch all of the sessions from the Innovate Church Conference. I posted all of my notes (finally!!), but I don't think they really capture what was happening and being said. I would highly recommend that you watch the sessions for yourself.

Jonathan Fallwell was by far the speaker who I resonated with the most. He talked a bit about the transition following his dad's death and what it meant for him to become the lead pastor of his church.

Ed Stetzer and Francis Chan were great on Day one. Chris Hodges and Billy Hornsby were incredible on Day two.

I think Thomas Road Church did a great job hosting the event and I believe we received more in resources given to us than what we paid in registration fees. I don't know anyone who is doing that!

This conference wasn't about information as much as it was about inspiration and revelation. Our entire senior management team agrees that this was a very different conference but one in which we needed at this time in the life of our team.

Chris Witt - Innovate Day 2

Chris Witt
What does it look like to lead from a healthy place?
What does spiritual leadership look like?

Your greatest leadership challenge – Ambition
James 3:16
Love ministry more than Jesus
Proverbs 27:21

3 side affects
1. Acceleration
What drives me to be so busy?
Speed and intimacy don’t go together

2. Validation
Image management

3. De-personalization
View people for what they can do

When shepherd isn’t healthy, the sheep aren’t far behind

Do the people who know you the best, respect you the most?

Chris Hidges - Innovate Day 2

Chris Hodges
Roundtable discussions – “up close”

What’s going on in the inside is more important than what’s going on on the outside
This is the gospel
We must ask for a transformation to occur in our preaching

Don’t teach people to be faithful but preach the way to become faithful

Not just what they did but what they were becoming through church planting

We would rather deal with religion than the transformation of the inner-man
Hebrews 8
Matthew 23:27

I must maintain a healthy inside
3 things to focus on for inside (3 internal motivations)
1. Loving life
Today – live it, love it (2 Corinthians 6:10)
Do I love life today?

2. Loving people
We need to get it back – you can’t fake it
1 Thessalonians 2
Do you love people?

3. Loving God
Are you in love with God (passion)
Fiddler on the Roof (Do you love me?)
Do you love God?

Billy Hornsby - Innovate Day 2

Billy Hornsby
Mark 1 – Fishers of men
2 Samuel 22

Causes of loss of zeal
1. Ineffectiveness in fulfilling your mission
Loss of interest in what you are doing – flow of ideas stop
Distracted by trivia

2. Rejection by society
You may love your city, but your city doesn’t love you

3. Insignificance
Mark 4:35-37

No matter what, we are called to be fishers of men – go back to your original call

2 ways to fish for men
1. Revitalize your church
Ask God to do it
Rediscover your community
Reach out daily
Decide to do it – decisions create your future

2. Plant churches
John 21:4-6

Gregg Surratt - Innovate Day 2

Gregg Surratt
Seacoast went through a Gideon revival when it first started from 340 down to 150

It’s ok to sit on pity potty as long as you don’t stay there long enough to get ring around the hinny!!

Innovation is the product of desperation

1 Corinthians 15:58
1. Base your preaching on the simplicity of the gospel of Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:1)
2. Base your confidence on the fact that God has chosen you (Acts 17:26-27)3. Base your hope on the fact that you’re part of the winning team (1 Corinthians 15:24-25 & 57)

Perry Noble - Innovate Day 1

Perry Noble
God is sounding the alarm to the church – Acts 2 is the starting place

3 Questions
1. What is it that God wants to do with my church?
Older brother sitting in the seat of leadership
Time – Brother working for the father in field – no time for communion with the father
You have to spend time with the father to know the heart of the father
Effort – party (not a funeral)
Put effort into reaching the world
Pray and work
God’s will = God’s bill

2. What are barriers that stand in our way?
You know you have a vision from God because you will tick people off
Refusal to change
Jealousy
Lack of understanding

3. What do we want to celebrate?
Not condemn
Just want to see people meet Jesus

Mark DeYmaz - Innovate Day 1

Mark DeYmaz
Healthy multi-ethic church

The church should inform the culture not the other way around

Jesus prays 3 times that we would be made one in John 17 so that…
World would know that you sent me
World would know that you love them

God has to persecute the church to get her to obey

7 Core Commitments
1. Embrace dependence
2. Take intentional steps
3. Empower diverse leadership
4. Develop cross-cultural relationships
5. Pursue cross-cultural competence
6. Promote a spirit of inclusion
7. Mobilize for impact

Missions isn’t a program, it is who we are

Ed Stetzer - Innovate Day 1

Ed Stetzer

Sin in your church impacts the gospel.

Galatians 5:19-21 vs. 5:22-23
List of sins – sin is sin before God
Sin kills the spiritual power of me and the church

Compromise is Satan’s desire

If Satan cannot compromise your beliefs he’s happy to settle with compromising your character.

Gospel centered and repentance filled lives (key point of talk)

4 Principles
1. Secret sins are only that way for a short time
Your sin will catch up with you if you don’t repent
If you wont come to repentance God will bring you to repentance
I have become too comfortable with my sin

2. Private sin can deliver the community into defeat
My sin saps my church’s spiritual power
Get broken or God will break you

3. The church’s sin distracts your from the mission
Corinthians were proud of their tolerance
Not knowing what is going on in people’s lives in naive not loving
1 Corinthians 5:9

4. Return to God’s mission begins with a repentance to God’s standard
1 Corinthians 10:1ff
Everyday die to self and live for Christ
Sin is crouching at the door
James 1:15 (sin grows)
Sin is not a pet but a beast that needs to be slain!!

A repentant people is the most powerful force on earth for God

Francis Chan - Innovate Day 1

Francis Chan
2 Timothy 4

We need to run toward word of God

Book of Acts – oh no, oh no!
Why can’t we see the move of God like that now?
Acts 4:13

People are scared today – educated people
Looking for others to do it
Courage of Joshua and Caleb

God needs us to be courageous
More we know the less boldness we have
Insecurities kick in

Peter and John were common men who just went after it

Start with Word of God and surrender to it
Come back to the obvious truth

Church
What are the things that are commanded?
Love seen so clearly so others can see love of Jesus

Holy Spirit
I need the Holy Spirit – this is all that matters
An unstoppable force
Churches today are a stoppable force

Are we after the supernatural as a church?

Pray for boldness
Have others pray for my boldness

Jonathan Fallwell - Innovate Day 1

Jonathan Falwell

Make sure the vision doesn’t become a victim

“To the ends of the earth” isn’t in our churches

No vision – the church will die
Discouragement
Punch clock, check to do list off

Saturation evangelism
“Lord, I can’t do it, but you can, do it now.”
Be pregnant with new churches

Daniel 10

God gives the vision to one person
Vision can become victim of pride
Drive to be considered a success = pride
Leads to failure
Vision is given to lift up God, not me

Vision can become a victim of jealousy
People leave
We compare to other churches
God called us to build the church not build a mega church
We are in it to win people to Jesus!!

Vision can become a victim of being stagnant
We have to grow if we expect our people to grow
Get fed – study the word - bear much fruit
My #1 priority is my relationship with Jesus

Vision can become a victim of worrying about what people think
When you discover your purpose you will discover you have enemies
Audience of One takes the pressure off

Vision can become a victim of being insecure
Have to have total dependence on God
God will give you all you need

Believe God can do the impossible in you

Kerry Shook - Innovate Day 1

Here are my notes from Kerry Shook

2 Questions
1. What would you do if you knew you had one month to live?
Brings clarity, peace, intentionality

2. What would you do if you knew your church had one month to live?

Psalm 90:12

Someday syndrome
Someday when…then…

4 Principles
1. Live passionately
Believers and churches coming alive
Not made to be safe or comfortable

2. Love completely
It all comes down to relationships
Say it now
Share it now
Show it now

3. Learn humbly

4. Lead boldly

No sandcastles - Do something that will last

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Eric Geiger - Innovate Day 1

Here are my notes from Eric Geiger

Starbucks shut down for a day to get back to their "core"
- Retrain how to make coffee
- Realized they had drifted

The Church has drifted from the Gospel
- Adding a bunch of stuff drowns out our "core" - Jesus

Drift never self-corrects

2 Common Drifts
1. Drift toward complexity
- Joshua Bell (violin player in Washington DC)
- We are rushing past the formation of the Kingdom of God
- Pharisees got caught up in complexity
- They tried to pull Jesus into their complexity

Coping with complexity
- multi tasking (counter effectiveness)
smoking pot lowers your IQ less than multi-tasking
- out source
Some things are too important to give away from the church
We (church) are out-sourcing the mission of God

2. Drift off mission
Matthew 13:31-32 - so that those outside the church will benefit
We are a church for those far from God


Addressing the Drift
1. Clarify the discipleship process
Blueprint vs. brochure
- View discipleship as the whole process
- Be careful not to over program early in the discipleship process
- Ensure mission is deeply embedded in your discipleship process

2. Live your process
Is the staff doing the process?
Does the staff know their neighbors?

3. Align people/departments around the same process

4. Remove the clutter
5 Guys Burgers and Fries
Tool for worship became object of worship

We will never offer the best if we are multi-tasking

Read the Peanut Manifesto

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Book #7 - The Principle of the Path



I am on a very slow reading kick for some reason this year. This is only the seventh book I have posted about reading. I think that I had finished seven books in February last year. Maybe it's my new position and learning to live into it that has slowed me down.

Anyway, I just finished reading Andy Stanley's new book The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be. I love all of Andy's books. They are so straight forward, biblical, and life applicable. This book is for everyone. It's an easy read, but I would highly, highly recommend reading it slowly and carefully because there is so much good stuff in it.

2 Chronicles 16

Verse 9, "For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him."

God is searching. God is looking for people who are completely sold out to Him.

King Asa relied more on earthly influence than on the power of God. When things weren't going well for him, he turned away from God and paid off another king to come to his rescue. The thing is, Asa had already been rescued in the past by God. He had already seen the power of almighty God. Yet, here he is turning away from God and toward a "lesser god."

I wonder how many times I do this. I have seen the hand of God at work in and around me. I know that God is able to do immeasurably more than I could ever ask or imagine. Yet, I am sure that I rely on myself and my own wisdom in situations that I should be turning over to God. I don't know why I do it, but I am sure I do. I don't want to condemn Asa because I think I walk in his shoes sometimes. I do, however, want to learn from him.

As the eyes of God range throughout the earth I want them to fall upon me and strengthen me because my heart is fully committed to Him.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Acts 9

Verse 2-3, "So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, 'It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them.'"

A moment of truth...will the disciples stay true to their calling from God or will they follow the wishes of men with an urgent need? They are completely sold out to their calling; they refuse to give into this other area that will prevent them from doing what God wants. They are very smart in that they don't ignore the need, they empower others to meet that need. The people they choose are "known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom." In other words they are spiritually mature. There's a discernment process and they choose people who understand what it is that God is seeking to do in the early church. They pray over them and set them free to serve in incredible ways.

This situation arises on a regular basis for me. People will ask me to start a new ministry or to focus on an urgent need that they see in our church or in our community. This is a great model for leading and staying focused on what God wants me to stay focused on in my calling, but still responding to a need. When a need is presented the answer doesn't have to be no, it can be - find seven people who are known to be full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom. That's a pretty good starting point.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Matthew 9

Verse 24, "But they laughed at him."

People laughed at Jesus. They thought a little girl was dead, he knew differently. This chapter is full of the unexpected becoming a regular part of the life of Jesus. Healing a paralyzed man, but in the context of forgiveness of sin. Eating at Matthew's house, but with tax collectors and sinners. Old and new wineskins. Healing a woman and some blind men by their faith. Finally, Jesus looks upon the people and his heart breaks. There are so many who don't know Him and His grace. He asks the disciples to beg God for more workers to bring people to Jesus.

It is so easy to get caught up in the routine of life and in the busyness of life to miss opportunities that Jesus engaged in everyday to touch people with the love of God. There are nearly 65% of the people in this region who don't believe they have any good reason to worship in any church any weekend of the year. They don't see a difference between what is happening in the lives of Christians and the world. They aren't compelled to be here. What has happened?

I think we have lost the intentionality of engaging in people's lives right where they are, loving them, and challenging them to enter into a growing relationship with Jesus. That needs to change.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Philippians 1

Verses 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."

This is my prayer today.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Our Next Hires


We announced two openings at Charter Oak Church this past weekend. We are searching for two people who have the same DNA that God has infused into our staff and congregation. Not everyone has that DNA, not everyone will be the right fit. It's not personal.
I believe God already knows who the two of you are that will be coming on to our staff. I am praying for you. At this point in time you may not even know that God is preparing you to join our team at Charter Oak Church. That's what I am asking of God - prepare these two people for what God wants to do in them and through them.
I don't know who you are yet, but I trust my heavenly Father. I am praying for you.

2 Corinthians 6

Verses 4-10, "Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in their right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything."

The truth of what it means to be a follower of Jesus is that there is a duality of where we live, not how we live, but where. There are going to be great days of rejoicing and celebrating, but there will also be days that are filled with tears. Both sides of the emotional spectrum will be encountered. The one that gets to me the most is "having nothing, and yet possessing everything." That's how I came to know Jesus - as I saw that lived in a Jamaican in 1989. I can read all of these words from Paul and I can even experience them in some small way, but I think I get the last one the most. It changed the trajectory of my life forever.

I love being a follower of Jesus. Sometimes it is the most difficult thing to be and I hurt so much, but it is so worth it. God's promise is "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people." That is what I want to be the descriptor of my life - I am one of God's people; He walks with me and I walk with Him.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

New Job Opening

We have a new job opening for a pastor of student ministries. Click here for more information.

Friday, May 1, 2009

New Video from Sermon

Treadmill Busyness from Chris Whitehead on Vimeo.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Romans 15

Verses 5-6, "May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Paul prays for unity among the followers of Jesus. He would not pray for this if it wasn't needed. If everything was going perfect and there were no dissenters and there was no conflict, then Paul would not have even brought this up. The reality is the same for today. People may expect and hope that everyone in the church will be perfect and there won't be any conflict, but there is. No one is perfect except Jesus. There is conflict because we are broken sinners in need of redemption.

Paul reminds us that it is God who gives endurance and encouragement. It is God who gives us a spirit of unity. So God equips us to be in unity, but it is still our choice. God gives us endurance through those times when there is conflict. God encourages us with His love and grace every step of our lives.

Here's where all of this leads...God wants unity for us as His children so that with one heart and mouth we may glorify Him. Unity leads to worship. The great commandment begins with love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul, and with all your strength. That's worship. The most important thing we can do is worship our heavenly Father. And He wants us to do it together.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Romans 6

Verse 18, "You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness."

Wow! I love that verse. I love the imagery that it inspires in me. I have been set free from sin. There was once a bondage that was in place in my life and in my heart to sin. I was a slave to doing things counter to the will of God. According to Paul I was "in slavery to impurity and ever-increasing wickedness." That was before I turned my life over to Jesus.

Now I have become a slave to righteousness. I am free from my old life. That is good news. The choice is now mine as to how I live. Will I live as a slave to my sin or will I live as a slave to righteousness? What do I really believe about my heavenly Father? I believe His love for me is perfect. I believe He wants me to live into the fullness of all that He has to offer. This seems so simple, it is, but it isn't easy. My natural tendency is toward sin. My heart wants God and more of Him. Unfortunately I don't always make the choices that honor God.

When I am tempted, temptation always comes before the sin, I must remember that sin is not my master because I am not under the law but under grace. I must live as a redeemed child of God. I have an incredible gift of salvation through Jesus. I must fully receive and embrace this precious gift.

Friday, April 24, 2009

John Maxwell's New Book

The Right and Wrong Picture of a Dream

I’ve studied successful people for almost forty years. I’ve known hundreds of high-profile people who achieved big dreams. And I’ve achieved a few dreams of my own. What I’ve discovered is that a lot of people have misconceptions about dreams. Take a look at many of the things that people pursue and call dreams in their lives:

  • Day Dreams - Distractions from Current Work
  • Pie-in-the-Sky Dreams - Wild Ideas with No Strategy or Basis in Reality
  • Bad Dreams - Worries that Breed Fear and Paralysis
  • Idealistic Dreams - The Way the World Would Be If You Were in Charge
  • Vicarious Dreams - Dreams Lived Through Others
  • Romantic Dreams - Belief that Some Person Will Make You Happy
  • Career Dreams - Belief that Career Success Will Make You Happy
  • Destination Dreams - Belief that a Position, Title, or Award Will Make You Happy
  • Material Dreams - Belief that Wealth or Possessions Will Make You Happy
  • Seasonal Dreams - A Short Term Target You Try to Reach

If these aren’t good dreams-valid ones worthy of a person’s life-then what are? Here is my definition of a dream that can be put to the test and pass: a dream is an inspiring picture of the future that energizes your mind, will, and emotions, empowering you to do everything you can to achieve it.

A genuine dream is a picture and blueprint of a person’s purpose and potential. Or as my friend Sharon Hull says, “A dream is the seed of possibility planted in the soul of a human being, which calls him to pursue a unique path to the realization of his purpose.”

Love this Blog Post From Seth

Seth Godin is right on the money...

We no longer care what you say.

We care a great deal about what you do.

If you charge for hand raking but use a leaf blower when the client isn't home
If you sneak into an exercise class because you were on the wait list and it isn't fair cause you never get a bike
If you snicker behind the boss's back
If you don't pay attention in meetings
If you argue with a customer instead of delighting them
If you copy work and pass it off as your own
If you shade the truth a little
If you lobby to preserve the unsustainable status quo
If you network to get, not to give
If you do as little as you can get away with

...then we already know who you are.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Romans 12

Verses 1-3, "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will."

I think this is one of the most practical sections of scripture for me. First, I am to live out my salvation. As a matter of fact, that living out of my everyday ordinary life is an act of worship. I usually don't think of it that way, but it's true. Second, in the living out my salvation, I shouldn't look or sound like the rest of the world. It's my nature to do that so I need to have my mind brought into alignment with God's will. The reality is, my living out my salvation begins with what I believe. Do I believe God is sovereign? Do I fear God more than man? Simple, yet huge questions that will have an impact on what I believe and thereby what I do as I live out my salvation.

I want my life to have a greater influence on society than society has on me. I want the same to be said about Charter Oak Church and all churches. It begins with what I believe about God and then it becomes a lifestyle that permeates every aspect of who I am. I want to live for God's glory that He will be renown in this region and beyond.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Romans 8

Verses 38-39, "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

It is good to read these words on a regular basis. It is good to know that I am loved by God and to be reminded of it. If I were writing this I think I would add something like, "no running nor busyness can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Even in all my stress and anxiety, he loves me.

I am loved, you are loved by our heavenly Father. We are of immeasurable value to Him. Thank you God.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

1 Peter 3:15

"But in your heart set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give you the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect."

Are you ready for hard questions about your faith in Jesus? Or is it just easier to get angry and walk away? You and I have hope, that hope is Jesus. The way of Jesus isn't easy and it isn't convenient. People along the way are going to ask why you and I believe what we believe. Do you know why? Can you answer that question authentically? Is it a part of who you are or do you just parrot some words back that aren't really yours?

As we share our faith and live our faith we will have the opportunity to engage with people who are not followers of Jesus. Your actions are much louder than your words. But when asked you better be prepared to give answer.

For some reason lately I have a greater conviction of what I believe and why I believe it. I am excited about what I see on the horizon. Greater things are yet to come!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Free


Thursday, April 9, 2009

We're Ready



This morning I prayed for you.

The chairs are set up for this weekend. I spent sometime praying over those chairs this morning. I prayed for the place that God has prepared for you to hear what He wants to say to you. I prayed that your ears and your heart would be open.

I prayed for the person you are inviting to join you. I prayed for your courage to make that invitation. I prayed that person would say "yes."

We're ready for this weekend. Are you?

Learnings from Being Back on the Field - Part 4

This week I have been posting some things I learned when I played soccer this past weekend. You can scroll down to read the first three parts if you haven't read them. Today I want to look at part 4...

4. The team needs encouraged throughout the game.

No one wants to be criticized in the middle of the game. Everyone makes a bad pass, misses a shot way over the cross bar, or makes a bad defensive play. When someone does that, they know it. They feel bad about it. The last thing they want is for someone to point it out to them.
I think that as the game progresses and the players get more and more tired it becomes easier and easier to criticize instead of encouraging. It is so much better to hear positive affirmation throughout the game.

As I was playing the game I tried to find those times when I could encourage our team. If it was a good pass or shot or defensive stand I would call it out. If our goal keeper made a save we all cheered. In that moment, the whole team is happy!

Because we are all over 40 we play the game in quarters instead of halves. It gives us extra time to take a break. It is also a great time to encourage. We can talk about the good things that happened and seek to build upon them. Coming off the sideline should be the time every player is most juiced up -they have rested and they have been encouraged.

I know I need to do a much better job of encouraging in my day to day life. It is so easy to get caught up in all of the doing that I miss out on the opportunities to say "Good job!" It's not about just recognizing scoring the goal that wins the game. It's also about the passes and the defense that put the team in the position to score. The same goes for our lives. It's not just about those big moments, it's about all of those smaller choices along the way that led to the big moment. There will be many, many more smaller, integrity and character development moments in our lives than big moments. We need to find more ways to celebrate those and encourage into those moments everyday.

Luke 22:1-30

Verse 19, "And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me."

Verse 20, "In the same way, after supper he took the cup saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you."

The Last Supper - the bread, the wine - the body, the blood - broken, poured out

All of these images to describe a spiritual reality that is a holy mystery. I can only imagine what the disciples would think. Tuesday night we learned about the Passover and the meal that accompanies it. I would guess that is what the disciples believed they were going to the Upper Room to share - the traditional Passover. Little did they realize it was the night that none of them would ever forget.

Tonight we will gather around the table in groups of 12 to celebrate the Last Supper. We will break the bread and drink from the cup. We will remember. We will confess our sins. We will be forgiven. We will give thanks. We will prepare for Good Friday and look with expectation to Easter. I hope you will join us at 7:30pm.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Learnings from Being Back on the Field - Part 3

This week I have been posting some things I learned when I played soccer this past weekend. As a leader I always want to be learning. I want to have eyes that see and ears that hear what God is putting in front of me. I think I learned a lot from that soccer game. Today I want to look at part 3...

3. I want to score!
Everyone I know who watches sports wants to see their team score. When the Penguins are playing my son goes crazy when they score. When I watch the Premier Soccer league games on TV the fans go wild when there is a goal.

I have been a very competitive guy for most of my life. Over the years I have been told that I am even a bit over the top. It doesn't matter if I am playing or watching, I want my team or the team I am following to win. But because of being ultra-competitive over the years, I have tried to dial it back a bit recently. As soon as I stepped on to the soccer field on Saturday, that all changed back - I wanted to score. I played hard. I ran harder than I have in a very, very long time. The pay off was two goals and an assist. It was great and I want more. I can't wait to play in the next game.

This weekend is Easter. It's bigger than the World Cup or the Super Bowl or the World Series or all of them combined. This is a big deal for us. I am praying that people will give their lives to Jesus this weekend. I am praying that lives will be changed for eternity. I'm not just praying this for Charter Oak Church. I am praying this for every church. I am praying that God will grant us His favor, that the Holy Spirit will be poured out in such profound ways that people will be convicted of their sin, they will recognize the spiritual hunger they have in their soul, and that they will turn it all over to Jesus.

Every time there was an out pouring of the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts, they counted how many people became followers of Jesus. We will be expecting the outpouring of the Holy Spirit this weekend and we will be counting and celebrating those whose lives have been changed through a relationship with Jesus. I can't get enough of this! I am pumped up to see what God does this Easter.

Colossians 4

Verses 2-6, "Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone."

These closing remarks from Paul could be words that I could write to the people of Charter Oak Church today. We get a glimpse into Paul's heart and what is important to him. He wants the opportunity to share Jesus with others. He wants to do it well and in a way that makes sense to those who are listening. He wants to be influential in his circle of influence outside the church. He wants his words to build people up and encourage them.

As this Easter weekend quickly approaches I find myself praying very similar words. I want to proclaim the Good News of the resurrection of Jesus in a crystal clear manner. I want our doors to be open to anyone and everyone who who is searching, seeking, hungry, thirsty for more to their life than what they have been experiencing.

So I am asking anyone who may read this to pray for me, especially for this weekend. Thank you.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Book #6 - Refuel



Our staff is finishing our reading and discussion of Doug Field's book Refuel: An Uncomplicated Guide to Connecting with God. We have used it as our study guide through Lent.

Refuel isn't a deep book and if you were going to read it from cover to cover (I wouldn't recommend it) you could probably read it in less than an hour. What it does do is remind the reader of some core elements of what it means to do life as a follower of Jesus. The essence of the book is to equip people to stay constantly connected to God.

This is a good little book to read with a small group. It asks good questions, if you will really wrestle with them. There is even a website dedicated to this book. Check it out by clicking here.

36 Tips from Dr. Z

Every Tuesday I get Dr. Z's tips for life, here's this week's...


"TIPS FOR AN EXCEPTIONAL LIFE ... no matter what is happening in the world"

**Up Your Attitude
1. Remember ... no one is in charge of your happiness except you.
2. Remind yourself that even though life isn't fair ... it's still good.
3. When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself, "Today I am thankful for ________________ ."
4. Don't take your feelings too seriously. Act as if you're enthusiastic and you will be enthusiastic.
5. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up ... with a smile.
5. Don't waste your precious energy on gossip, issues of the past, or troubling things you cannot control.
6. Focus on all the good around you ... at this very moment.
7. Each night, as you go to bed, tell yourself, "Today I accomplished _______________ ."

**Live Your Life On Purpose
8. When you wake up in the morning, complete the following statement, 'My purpose for this day is _______________ ."
9. Dream more while you are awake.
10. Write down your goals. You'll always accomplish more.

**Keep Things In Perspective
11. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
12. Before you panic with every problem that comes your way, ask yourself, "In five years, will this matter?
13. Make peace with your past so it won't spoil the present or mess up your future.
14. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
15. When you are feeling down, start counting your blessings. You'll be smiling before you know it.
16. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class ...but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
17. Time heals almost everything. So give TIME some time.
18. If you want to feel rich, just count all the things you have that money can't buy.

**Build Your Relationships
19. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch with them.
20. Call your family often.
21. Agree to disagree once in a while. You don't have to win every argument.
22. Make at least three people smile every day.
23. Forgive often. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
24. Spend more time with people over the age of 70 and under the age of 6.
25. Refrain from judgment. You have no idea what is going on in somebody else's life.

**Have More Fun
26. Watch more movies, play more games, and read more books than you did last year.
27. Clear the clutter. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
28. Smile more and laugh more. It puts energy back in your batteries.
29. Don't take yourself too seriously. No one else does.
30. Stop waiting for a special occasion. Burn those candles, use the fancy china, and wear your nicest things. Every day is special.

**Take Care Of Yourself
31. Take a walk every day. And while you walk, smile. It is the ultimate anti-depressant.
32. Always make time for exercise.
33. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper.
34. Buy a Tivo (DVR), tape your late night shows, and get more sleep.
35. Eat more foods that grow on plants and eat less foods that are manufactured in plants.
36. Drink green tea and plenty of water. Eat blueberries, wild Alaskan salmon, broccoli, almonds, and walnuts.