Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Here's one of the quotes that is posted on my desk that I read almost on a daily basis...

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

My mission is to love people to Jesus and equip them to become more like Jesus. I'm asking you to do everything you can to bring someone with you to Charter Oak Church on Easter weekend. You won't be disappointed.

Matthew 6

Verse 33, "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."

This is one of my favorite verses that I know I need to consistently repeat to myself. Seek the will of God first!! Not as a after thought, not second, not where it is convenient, not where it is only easy, but seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. So simple, yet not easy.

It is easy to focus on the worry. It is easy to focus on "looking good" in everyone else's eyes. It's easy to get focused on all the wrong things. But it is when I go after God first that every thing else is taken care of. It may not be the way I thought it should be done, but I'm not God and I don't know all of the eternal implications of what is happening in me and around me.

With all of the uncertainty in today society and economy we should be making bumper stickers out of this verse. :-)

Monday, March 30, 2009


As I was reading my morning blogs I came across this post by Seth Godin called Ignore Your Critics. This morning I received a few very supportive text messages from friends and a great email from one of my prayer partners. But in the midst of that I also received an anonymous note from someone being critical. What has captured my attention - all of the good and supportive notes or the critical one? You know - it's the critical one that isn't signed.

Why is it that we get caught up in the criticism and torn down by it and not get lifted up and supported by the positive? I don't know. I think I am more of a "the glass is half full person" than "half empty". Well truth be told, I am a "what can we do to get that glass filled back up" person but that's not one of the options. Oh well.

In our 40 day reading challenge we have been reading about the relationship between David and Jonathan. Jonathan was the lifter of David's spirits as Saul was the weight on his back. Ultimately, it was Jonathan who was able to have the greater influence on David. He listened to the positive and minimized the negative.

Pray for me that I may listen to the positive and not be torn down by the critics.

Matthew 5

Verses 14-16, "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."

Our daily reading now turns to the Sermon on the Mount. Great words of wisdom from Jesus that are often misunderstood and probably watered down to an easier reading.

We have a responsibility as followers of Jesus to live such lives that points the way back to God. People are watching us one way or another. They will either be attracted to God because of our lifestyle or pushed away from God by it.

I believe that Charter Oak Church is positioned on this hill for a reason - that people who don't walk in the way of Jesus would be drawn to God. Our building gives us a platform to be the disciples that Jesus calls us to be. Our building isn't the church, our people are the church.

I must let my light shine brightly for God's glory. I cannot be influenced by others to cover that light up. As John Wesley once said I want to catch fire for God so others will come watch me burn.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

1 Samuel 20

verse 42, "Jonathan said to David, 'Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the Lord,..."

Close friends - the best of friends - a sworn friendship. David and Jonathan were very close friends. They knew that they could count on each other. Both were willing to sacrifice for the other.

We all need this kind of friendship. We need to know that there is always going to be someone that has our back. For me, there is not much worse than someone who calls themselves my friend and then talks behind my back. That would never happen between Jonathan and David. I think they would give up their lives before they ever allowed anything negative to hurt the other one.

I must be absolutely certain that I am standing up for my friends. I must encourage and defend. I must be willing to sacrifice on their behalf. I love my friends and I must display that love with my actions and my words even when they aren't around.

1 Samuel 19

Verses 4-5, "Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father and said to him, 'Let not the king do wrong to his servant David; he has not wronged you, and what he has done has benefited you greatly. He took his life in his hands when he saw the Philistine. The Lord won a great victory for all Israel, and you saw it and were glad. Why then would you do wrong to an innocent man like David by killing him for no reason?'"

Jonathan was the ultimate advocate for David. Because Jonathan went and spoke the truth to Saul, David was safe and was even restored back to Saul. We all need people like Jonathan in our lives. But we can't just be looking for a Jonathan, we must be a Jonathan. I need to consistently look for opportunities to be an advocate for people. I want to speak highly of and encourage others. I want to be able to prevent harm from happening to the people around me.

I know I need a Jonathan, but I also must be certain that I have the heart of Jonathan for others.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Easter Desktop Graphic

This is the graphic I use for my desktop. If you want to also use it at work as a way to start a conversation that may lead to inviting people on Easter, right click and set it as your desktop background.

1 Samuel 18

Verse 14, "In everything he did he had great success, because the Lord was with him."

Our success is not our own. David was able to do what he did BECAUSE God was with him. There is no mention that David did something and then God blessed him. Every action and every step that David took was directed by God. He defeated the armies because of God. He was not pinned to the wall by Saul's spear because God was with with.

I don't ever want to be seen as successful because of my doing. I don't ever want to take credit for the work of God. Charter Oak Church is the Bride of Christ. It is God who brings the growth. It is God who draws people here. It is God who transforms lives for eternity. I want success in the eyes of God and for God to get all the praise and glory for what is happening in my life.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Quote on Character

"Character is the inner form that makes anyone or anything what it is - whether a person, a wine, or a historical period. Thus character is clearly distinct from such concepts as personality, image, reputation, or celebrity. Character is the essential 'stuff' a person is made of." - Os Guinness

Interesting Quote

I just found this quote from Penn of Penn and Teller, very interesting...

"I don't respect people who don't proselytize. If you believe that there's a heaven and hell, and people could be going to hell, and you think, 'Well, it's not really worth telling them this because it would be socially awkward'...How much do you have to hate somebody not to proselytize?"

Wow! Now that puts things into perspective.

Jesus Kicked Satan's Butt on Easter

Jesus kicked Satan's butt on Easter! I just had to get that out there because what is going to be happening on Easter weekend (April 11/12) at Charter Oak Church isn't going to be a run of the mill church service. If we can't get out on the edge to proclaim the truth about Jesus on Easter then what's the point? There are 33,000 people within a five mile radius of Charter Oak Church that do not have a church home. Is that acceptable? I don't think so. There are 222,000 people in Westmoreland County that don't have a church home. Is it ok that a vast majority of those people will be spending eternity apart from God? No way!

Two thousand years ago when Mary got to the tomb it was empty! Come on, if that doesn't set your hair on fire then I don't know what will. Sin was kicked to the curb. Satan was sent home defeated. God wins! Jesus is the Man!

Over the next couple of weeks I hope and pray that you will do everything you can to invest and invite someone in your circle of influence to worship with us at Charter Oak Church. The people of this region need to hear about God's great love for them. This is critical.

Let me make this crystal clear, no matter what CNN says, it's not about the economy. It's about Jesus.

1 Samuel 17

Verses 51-52, "David ran and stood over him, he took hold of the Philistine's sword and drew it from the scabbard. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword. When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran. Then the men of Israel and Judah surged forward with a shout and pursued the Philistines to the entrance of Gath and to the gathes of Ekron. Their dead were strewn along the Shaaraim road to Gath and Ekron."

What is fascinating about this story for me is what one man who is obedient to God can do to encourage an army to act. Thousands of men are lined up for battle, but it is one man on the other side who is bringing down curses and threats that paralyze all those men. Saul, their leader is hiding in the back. Because they don't have a leader who will be courageous and trust God to do what only God can do, the army doesn't move.

It is only when David comes to the front lines and believes that it is God that brings the victory, not the army, that the battle begins.

When a man after God's own heart believes that it is God that is in charge then the people of God that he is leading will be able to do everything that God wants them to do. If I will fear God and not man, if I will believe that the victory is in God's hands and not mine, if I will put my confidence in him and be courageous, then everything we are to accomplish at Charter Oak Church will be done.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Easter Series

1 Samuel 16

Verse 21, "David came to Saul and entered his service. Saul liked him very much, and David become one of his armor-bearers."

How quickly life can change. In one moment Samuel is mourning the demise of Saul. In the next moment he is being moved into the role of anointing the next leader of Israel. David is standing in the meadow watching over his father's sheep and then he is ushered into the presence of God's prophet and has oil poured over his head and his anointed the new king. Then he turns around and is invited to be a servant to Saul in order to ease his pain. You can't make this stuff up!

What allows all of this to happen is character. Poor character on Saul's part and godly character on David's. God tells Samuel it is the heart that matters not the looks. David is immediately put to the test with this invitation to be in the service of Saul. David knows what has happened to him and he knows it is from God. Yet, David goes to Saul and serves him well. How many of us today would be willing to do that?

I must remember that no matter what the assignment from God I must do it with the greatest amount of integrity as possible. There is nothing I should be doing poorly. I certainly shouldn't be doing everything, but what I do I must do with excellence. Saul was pleased with David. People aren't pleased with lazy, sloppy, late work. When I serve, I not only am serving the person before me, I am serving God.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

1 Samuel 15

Verse 26, "But Samuel said to him, 'I will not go back with you. You have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you as king over Israel!"

God wants total obedience. There is no such things as partial obedience. You can't be kind of pregnant and you can't be kind of obedient. Saul got into his mind what he thought God wanted. He didn't follow through as God commanded him. Saul was more influenced by what others would think than what God would think. And it cost him everything.

I'm sure there are people who read this and ask if it isn't a bit extreme. In asking that question they miss the whole point that this is all about God and our obedience to Him. The scale of the command has nothing to do with the level of obedience - you either follow God or not. This account just makes it crystal clear what God demands of us - total obedience.

Reading this today reminds me to be absolutely certain that what I am doing and where I am leading is in total alignment with where God is commanding. I don't want to be influenced by man, only by God. I want to be obedient. I don't want to lose God's favor. I don't want God to reject me. I want to please God. I want to honor God. I want to love God with all of my heart, all of my mind, all of my soul, and all of my strength.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Sweet 16

March Madness is upon us, well, it's upon me. I love this time of the year. I don't know if it is because I went to an ACC school, I mean THE ACC school - Duke, but there is definitely something about this part of the sports season that I love. This past weekend the Sweet 16 was set. One of the things that is so compelling about the tournament is the ability of major underdog teams to defeat powerhouse schools. That didn't really happen this year on the men's side. For the first time ever, the top three seeds in all four sections made it to the Sweet 16. No real major upsets. There have been plenty of end of the game heroics for the higher seeded team to win, but in the end they did win.

All this means I have done pretty well in my brackets, I have 13 of the 16 teams. I had Clemson, Wake Forrest, and Kansas winning, but they didn't. After watching as many games as I could, I am still pleased with the rest of my picks.

This morning when I woke up to Sports Center, I was gifted with what has been missing from the men's side to some degree. The lady Vols lost in the first round over the weekend. Now they were seeded fourth, but if there is a powerhouse in women's basketball it is Tennessee. Their coach has more wins than any other coach, men or women. They have been great for a long time. They lost to a team they would have in any other year beat by 40 points.

I'm not sure why this pleased me today other than to keep the hope alive that the underdog still has a chance. I still believe that the NCAA tournament is the best way to determine the national championship and no matter what record you had coming into the tournament, everyone starts out 0-0 and the last team standing is the best.

1 Samuel 12

Verse 22-25, "For the sake of his great name the Lord will not reject his people, because the Lord was please to make you his own. As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you. And I'll teach you the way that is good and right. But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you. Yet if you persist in doing evil, both you and your king will be swept away."

The Israelites just found out how big of a mistake they made in asking for a king. There are always repercussions to our decisions. Here's what most people forget, why it is that decisions like these break God's heart: our decisions are made on what we believe. Therefore the decision that the Israelites made about asking for a king revealed that they believed that God Almighty wasn't good enough to meet their military needs. Ouch!

Every decision I make is based on what I believe. I may say I believe differently but who makes decisions based on the opposite of what they truly believe? If I am too busy to pray or read my Bible that means I believe my work is more important than God. No one would really admit to that would they? I could come up with tons of decisions that I make that really reveal my heart and my relationship with my God that I don't want to look at too deeply, but I need to.

Here's the thing I love about this passage, Samuel says there is still hope. Even though they rejected God, God has not rejected them. They need to fear God and serve Him faithfully with all their heart. God's grace was evident. He can't turn off His love for us. I am so thankful.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

1 Samuel 11

Verse 13, "But Saul said, 'No one shall be put to death today, for this day the Lord has rescued Israel.'"

Saul had his chance to get rid of those who were against him. He could have removed them completely and shown everyone else that came against him what the result would be. Instead, Saul was compassionate. He kept his focus on God. It was God's day, not Saul's day. He wanted to celebrate what God had done on the battle field in rescuing his people.

I must remember that today is the day that the Lord has made and rejoice in it. God is my rescue and my shield. God is my Savior. God loves me and wants the best for me. When people speak against me they speak against Him. I put my trust in Him. This is His day.

1 Samuel 10

Verses 26-27, "Saul also went to his home in Gibeah, accompanied by valiant men whose hearts God had touched. But some troublemakers said, 'How can this fellow save us?' They despised him and brought him no gifts. But Saul kept silent."

These two verses are a reminder to me that there are always going to be people for me and against me, no matter what. I love the description of valiant men whose hearts God had touched. I need more and more of these kinds of people around me. I want people that God has touched in a unique way. The use of the word valiant also tells me that this is not easy work being the spiritual leader. There will be difficult times. But I am not called to walk alone, God has provided valiant people around me who will be there for me even in the difficult times. I thank God for people like that. (You know who you are, thank you.)

There will also be that other element of people who want to cause me trouble. But I truly believe in Ephesians 6 that these people are not my enemy and I do not struggle against them. It is satan who is against the work of Jesus in me. I will do my best to love those people, I'm sure I fail often, but I do want to love them no matter how they treat me.

Finally, Saul kept silent. I need to listen more and speak less, especially when I am being attacked. God is fighting for me.

Friday, March 20, 2009

1 Samuel 9

Verse 27, "As they were going down to the edge of town, Samuel said to Saul, 'Tell the servant to go on ahead of us' - and the servant did so - 'but you stay here awhile, so that I may give you a message from God.'"

I wonder how many times I am in such a hurry that I miss out on a message from God? Saul and his servant were in search of his father's donkeys and were gone a long time. They were about his father's business and needed to get home. Yet here is Samuel throwing Saul a dinner party, giving him the very best, and telling him that the donkeys have been found. Saul has no clue what is really going on and what is about to happen.

I think we all walk in that arena most of the time. We don't really know what is happening on the spiritual side of things. We can't see how God is behind the scenes preparing and working.

In a few moments Saul is going to have his entire world changed and he doesn't even know it. I wonder what would have happened if Saul didn't stay with Samuel? I wonder how many times I should have stayed awhile, but didn't, and missed joining God in His work?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

1 Samuel 8

Verses 19-20, "But the people refused to listen to Samuel. 'No!' they said. 'We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.'"

We want someone else to fight our battles. We want someone else to go out and take the heat for the mistakes and the decisions that we have made. Why? I don't know, but I know I do this too. It just seems so much easier to have this kind of attitude over faith and obedience to God. The truth is, God wants to fight our battles. God wants to protect us. God wants to display the fullness of His love and mercy into our lives. We choose to send someone else who can't do any of that. We get out of it exactly what we put into it.

This breaks God's heart. Forgive me, Father.

Acts 12

Verse 5, "So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him."

Verse 24, "But the word of God continued to increase and spread."

Persecution was often used to stop a movement. Throughout Acts we see that the persecution of the church, whether it was of her leader (Peter) or others, didn't work. In fact, the church grew and more and more people became followers of Jesus.

I love that the entire church prayed earnestly for Peter. How powerful of an image that is for me as the pastor of Charter Oak Church. The result of that prayer is nothing short of extraordinary! Many probably want to discount this story, but I believe it demonstrates what can happen when the people of God join their hearts and voices together in unity through prayer.

When this happens, God moves. And when God moves the number of people who become believers and followers of Jesus increases.

Acts 11

Verses 19-21, "Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only to Jews. Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the Good News about the Lord Jesus. The Lord's hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord."

In the last chapter, Peter went to a group of people he was not historically allowed to speak with or even enter their home. However, Peter was faithful to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and shared the story of Jesus with Cornelius and many others in his home. This set off a domino affect that spreads throughout the entire region. Followers of Jesus now have the confidence of spreading their faith in Jesus to others who do not know Him. Lives are being changed. It began with one man saying yes to God.

I wonder what would happen if every time the Holy Spirit prompted me to act or to speak I was obedient. And I wonder what would happen if the Holy Spirit was silent that I was silent and still. What a difference that would be in my life. And if Acts 11 is any indicator, my obedience would have broader implications. Now that's something to think about.

Acts 10

Verse 33, "Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us."

This verse is part of many verses in this chapter that shows how Cornelius filled his home with his friends, neighbors, co-workers, and family members so they could hear Peter share the story of Jesus. He knew Peter was coming and that God was going to do something so he made sure that as many people as he could get into his home would be there. When Peter showed up and started sharing the truth about Jesus, the Holy Spirit also showed up - big time in the hearts and lives of those present. They became believers and followers of Jesus.

All of this happened because one man - Cornelius took a risk and invested and invited people in his circle of influence to hear God's message. That's how lives are changed for eternity!

We all need to have the heart and courage of Cornelius.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Book I Just Finished: What Got You Here Won't Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful by Marshall Goldsmith

Book I just picked up: Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Book I I wish I had: Monkey and the Fish: Liquid Leadership for a Third-Culture Church by Dave Gibbons

Book # 5 - What Got You Here Won't Get You There

As Charter Oak Church continues to grow in maturity, attendance, staff, volunteers, square footage, etc. I realize that the way that we have always done things won't support us to do the things that God wants us to do in the future. Marshall Goldsmith's book, What Got You Here Won't Get You There, seemed to jump off the shelf at Barnes n Noble.
Goldsmith lists 20 workplace habits (really 21) that need to change if the organization is going to move forward in growth. These changes begin in the leader of the organization. That would be me, here at Charter Oak Church.
Let me tell you, this was not an easy process for me. I worked through this book very hard. I didn't take the easy way out. I got on my knees before God and asked Him to reveal some behaviors that needed to be changed in me. That kind of pruning is not easy, but is necessary to go to the next level. If you are a leader who wants to take a critical look at where you are so you can be prepared to go where God wants you, I highly recommend this book. This is not a spiritually centered book, it is a business, leadership book. But it didn't matter to me.

Book #4 - Lasting Impressions

Every once in a while I am surprised by a random act of kindness. Sometimes I am blown away. In January Mark Waltz sent me two free copies of his newest book - Lasting Impressions: From Visiting to Belonging, along with a great personal note of encouragement.

The reason I was blown away was that Mark was encouraging me at a time when his church, Granger Community Church, was getting ready to announce the layoff of a handful of employees and the reduction of hours for many more. He was blessing me in a time of difficulty in his life and ministry. That is an incredible display of Godly character and integrity.

Lasting Impressions really resonated with me because Mark touches on many aspects that we are talking about at Charter Oak Church. The part that I think I loved the most is the transition that needs to happen in churches from being responsible "to" people rather than responsible "for" their spiritual development. Part of our mission at Charter Oak Church is to "equip people to become fully devoted followers of Jesus." We are not responsible for people's walk with God - they are. We are here to equip and to love and to walk along side of, but not responsible for their growth and/or obedience.

I have already handed off both copies of my book and may be purchasing more for our First Impressions team.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Book #3 - The Reason YOUR CHURCH Must Twitter

Okay, I know I haven't posted the books I have been reading lately. I admit I am reading less this year so far. But I will try to catch up on what I have been reading.

I have been reading so much about how leaders are using a relatively new technology called Twitter. There are many people who I want to learn as much as possible from. So given the opportunity to catch a glimpse into their world I was open to trying it out.

Someone recommended reading Anthony Coppedge's book The Reason YOUR CHURCH Must Twitter. For $5 it is a good overview and how to book on Twitter.

I signed up for an account and decided to start following a handful of leaders. I don't need any more distractions in my life, but at the same time it is good to see what others are doing. I admit I don't tweet as much as those I follow, but I am working on it.

I also have not fully put to use the suggestions of the book, namely that Twitter can and should be used as a great tool for the local church. As I am continuing to figure out ways to communicate well and what that means for Charter Oak Church with all the growth that we have seen, I am trying to figure out if Twitter can be helpful to us. I want technology to serve us instead of me serving the technology.

Back from Study leave

Last week a family from our congregation graciously gave me the keys to their four bedroom home in a local ski resort so I could get away for one-on-one time with God. Since there is not any real snow left on the mountain, the whole resort was very quiet. Just what I needed, no distractions, nothing to capture my attention except God.

The one time I saw someone was the time I didn't want anyone to be able to see me. I had David Crowder cranked up and I was singing and dancing all over the house. But the house has very big windows that allows anyone who is driving by to see what is going on. Well, the only time I saw security was in that moment. They drove by very slowly - I'm sure wondering what in the world I was doing and if I was physically ok. Those of you who have seen me dance have a very clear picture of what I am talking about!

Anyway, I was able to gain some very good clarity for myself. As I am catching up this week, I want to share some things here that I was able to hear from God. It was a very good week for me. Just what I needed at just the right time.

I want to thank so many of you for praying for me while I was gone. Many of you have expressed that you were praying for me. I know God answered your prayers. Thank you.

Acts 9

Verse 15-17, “But the Lord said to Ananias, ‘Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.’ The Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord – Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here – has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’”

We all play a role in the plan of God. Ananias could not have imagined that he was going to be asked to pray over the very man who came to persecute him and turn all of his friends over to imprisonment or death. Here’s the thing – he was obedient to the will of God. He said yes when God said go. That’s powerful stuff. He could have come up with every excuse not to go, but he did.

I want to have that kind of obedience in my life. When I can make every excuse in the world not to follow the leading of God, I want to set it aside and say yes. Who knows what my obedience will lead to? Only God knows. Who knew that God was going to use Saul the way that God did? Ananias certainly didn’t know the full extent. What would have happened to the whole plan of God is Ananias would have said no?

I don’t even want to think about how many times I have been given the opportunity to join God where he was at work but because of busyness or because of a lack of faith I said no. I can’t even imagine the work of God that was limited or didn’t happen in the time or way that God desired because of my lack of obedience. Father, forgive me

Ruth 4

Verse 5, “Then Boaz said, ‘On the day you buy the land from Naomi and from Ruth the Moabitess, you acquire the dead man’s widow, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property.’”

I love this comment from Boaz. He knows what he wants – to marry Ruth. He knows that he needs to get the person who has right of first refusal (if you will) to sign off on it. He also knows that he needs the elders of the town to be on board with all of this. Boaz obviously does his homework and he knows the law. He does everything right. He sets himself up for success. He doesn’t take the easy way out and say that if it is God’s will then it will happen. He puts himself into a situation that he knows that will work.

What a great learning for all of us. How often do I want something to happen and even know that it is God’s will but I am unwilling to do the hard work to make it a reality? Boaz was a man of noble character who wanted to marry a woman of noble character. He did what was right and legal, but he had to do the hard work to bring it to reality. I must be willing to do the same as I discern from God what the next right thing for me to do is.

Ruth 3

Verse 11, “And now, may daughter, don’t be afraid, I will do for you all you ask. All my fellow townsmen know that you are a woman of noble character.”

Character is always important. It doesn’t matter who you are or what your station in life is – your character matters. Ruth is known as a woman of noble character. Everyone knows it. It shines bright.

I want to be known as a man after God’s own heart, a man of noble character. That means that the things I do and the things I say are always on display before people and God. If I want to make a difference in the Kingdom of God then it begins with me – my day-to-day activities, the small things that are a part of my life that must demonstrate where my heart is. Anyone can do it for a day or two; I want to do it for a lifetime.

Ruth 2

Verse 13, “‘May I continue to find favor in your eyes, my lord,’ she said. ‘You have given me comfort and have spoken kindly to your servant – though I do not have the standing of one of your servant girls.’”

What an incredibly humble heart and attitude Ruth has. She and Naomi are unable to care for themselves except on the goodness and mercy of others who will allow them to eat the leftovers of their fields. Ruth finds someone (I think this is one of those God moments in the Bible that people don’t see in the midst of the moment) who is willing to allow her to glean and protect her. She finds Boaz, a man of Godly character.

There is a re-occurring word in the chapter – “favor” that really intrigues me. Ruth is looking for people for whom she can find favor. I take it as being a heart or an attitude that is open to the prompting of God that will go above and beyond what is expected.

I have found myself in the last month praying for favor as well. I really resonate with Ruth’s prayer here. I am praying that God would great me favor in this church, in this region, and wherever He may send me. I am praying the prayer of Ruth, a person lower than a servant, asking God to do immeasurable more than I could ask or imagine.

Ruth 1

Verses 16-17, “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.”

What an incredible statement of devotion. A connection deeper than what most people experience in their life has occurred between Naomi and Ruth. It doesn’t say why or how this has happened, only this quote from Ruth proves it.

I wonder if this is about the character of Naomi or Ruth or maybe both. Whoever it is, this statement is powerful. Most marriages don’t have this deep spiritual connection, let alone friendships. It makes me think about my relationships and how I add value into other people’s lives. I’m not looking for people to say this about me as an endeavor of life. I doubt that Naomi did either. It happened out of a natural living out of her character. Ruth was drawn to her and was willing to do whatever it took to stay at her side and remain in her circle of influence. Do I have the character that draws people in like that?

Titus 3

Verses 4-7, “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.”

I love those first two words “but when…” there was a time that I lived apart from God and there are still times I choose to live according to my will instead of God’s will. But when God comes on the scene everything changes. I mean EVERYTHING. Here’s the kicker – it’s has nothing to do with anything I did, it’s all on God. He initiated. He did it. He completed it.

Then get this, he didn’t just give me a little bit of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out on me generously!! God doesn’t go half way. He doesn’t leave us wanting more, he goes beyond satisfaction. He is generous with his love and his mercy and his power.

I have no idea why I would even want to live apart from this. I can’t believe that I choose to do things my way instead of God’s way. I read these words from Paul and realize that I have been offered so much more than what I have accepted. I am an heir of God. I want to live into the fullness of my inheritance

Titus 2

Verses 7-8, “In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.”

These leadership words from Paul to Titus still ring true today. I am to set an example. I have read that so goes the pastor, so goes the church. People in and outside the church are watching what I do and what I don’t do. I know I fail. I know people want to find anything negative about me. Paul doesn’t say that there may be people who oppose me, he states it as a fact. As long as I am a follower of Jesus who is living and teaching what is in accord with sound doctrine (verse 1), there will be people who oppose me – inside and outside the church.

I am to live with such integrity that I cannot be condemned. That’s huge because I do fail. I do have character flaws. I do say things and do things that I regret. I must be very intentional about how I live – what I say and what I do. Eternity hangs in the balance. I want to point people to Jesus. And it all begins with my integrity and my character. That’s true for every follower of Jesus.

Titus 1

Verses 8-9, “Rather he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.”

Character is everything. The foundation of a leader is in who he is, when people are watching and when no one is. A leader can have all the talent in the world but if he doesn’t display the kind of character that Paul describes here, he is not a leader after God’s own heart.

Out of this very short list I think that the two that strike me the most are “holy and disciplined.” I realize we are to be holy and to strive after the life of Jesus, but to be honest that is a monumental task that if I seek to accomplish alone I will fail. However, I do believe it is connected to “disciplined” for a reason. That is my part. I am to take care of today, not worrying about tomorrow. My responsibility is to take care of my relationship with God right now. That means I follow the Rule of Life. That means I take care of my life – spiritually, physically, emotionally. This one is on me. I am responsible for my discipline. As I am disciplined in my walk with God, then God will take care of His part – the growth, and that will lead to being holy.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Genesis 9

verse 5b, "And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man."

I don't know how many times I have read this chapter, but missed this verse. I am struck by how direct this statement is from God in regards of our connection to one another. This brings "love each other" into a more powerful light.

I am responsible if I want to be or not for the people around me in some way. I believe that responsibility is to care for the poor, serve, and spread the love of Jesus. I believe I will be judged on whether or not I lived like this. Therefore I am responsible in some sense to those around me, not for their actions but for truly loving them.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Spring Forward

Don’t forget to wind your clock forward an hour this Saturday night. That’s right!!! It’s “daylight savings time!” The weekend we all lose an hour of sleep!

Genesis 8

verse 18, "So Noah came out, together with his sons and his wife and his sons' wives."

As I read that sentence I realize how powerful God's protective hand is. The entire world, everything living in it, was destroyed by a flood. And yet, this simple, righteous man and his family was saved in this boat.

I have lived through a hurricane and have seen the damage where we lived in-land. I cannot imagine what it would be like on the ocean. I picture this 40-day storm much worse than any hurricane anyone has experienced. But Noah was safe and he was saved through the water.

We aren't saved by the water of baptism, but it is a symbolic act of what God is doing within us to draw us to Him. In a sense I believe that the flood was a symbolic act of baptism to draw all of humanity out of the depths of sin and into the protective arms of God.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Great Quote

Dallas Willard said: "The greatest enemy of intimacy with God is service for God."

Genesis 7

verse 22, "Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died."

This is a painful verse. I believe God's nature is love. I know He sent His Son to die for me because of my sin. I know God's love is perfect because of that one act, let alone all of the other acts of love He has displayed throughout time.

This is a tough verse, but it reminds me that love is not always easy. Doing the next right thing isn't always popular and most of the time it will be criticized. God is not interested in making people happy. He is interested in making people holy.

There was one man and one family that was found to be righteous in God's eyes. They lived - the rest died. I want to be holy. I want to be about the business of my Heavenly Father.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


The more I think about places in scripture where there is a break thru, whether it is spiritual or numerical, there is always fallout. People didn't like it when Jesus made a call to discipleship and people didn't like it when Peter preached in Acts and thousands gave their lives to Jesus.

Why should I be surprised when we are obedient to God that it isn't popular?

Reading Together

Starting this morning the staff of Charter Oak Church will be reading Refuel: An Uncomplicated Guide to Connecting with God by Doug Fields.

Doug is the senior youth pastor at Saddleback Community Church. This is his first attempt at writing a non-youth oriented book. I have heard many good things about this book.

We have these six weeks of time leading up to Easter to prepare ourselves for the death and resurrection of Jesus. This is also an extremely busy season for us, more than anything we need to stay connected to God. As a staff, we have been reading the same Bible chapters for over 80 days now. I believe this is the next right thing for us to do to be equipped to become more like Jesus.

I hope and pray you are finding ways to connect with God too.

Genesis 6

verse 22, "Noah did everything just as God commanded him."

The most unbelievable proclamation up to that point in history - God is going to destroy all things living. Not just a little bit or in a little area, but all the earth.

So God has this little conversation with Noah and he is told to build a boat (what's a boat?) because it's going to rain (what's rain?). Noah's reaction is priceless - whatever, whatever God wants he will do just as he is commanded.

That's what I want for my life. I want to do whatever God commands of me. I don't want to question or doubt, I want to be obedient.

Earlier in the chapter it says that Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. I want to find favor in God's eyes. I know that comes from years and years of walking with God - moment by moment listening to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and saying yes. That's how I want to live everyday.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Genesis 3

verses 12-13, "The man said, 'The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.'

Then the LORD God said to the woman, 'What is this you have done?'

The woman said, 'The serpent deceived me, and I ate.'"

This is all about sin and taking responsibility for our actions. I wonder how many times I have deflected my decisions on to the influence of someone else? I'm not perfect and I don't know what I would have done in the garden scene. I may have been just like Adam or Eve. I don't know what I would have done with the temptation.

I want to stand up for what God desires for my life. I want to do the next right thing. There are so many things pulling my attention, my time, my energy. I have to stay focused on those things that God wants me to do. That's not always popular, but my life is not a popularity contest, it is an act of obedience to God.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Genesis 2

verse 2-3, "By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done."

Creativity and rest. Two activities that are woven together here by God. What does that mean? Could it possibly mean that when we are rested and have taken time to re-connect with God by practicing the Sabbath that we are re-charged and more creative?

I know when I am sprinting my ability to think creatively is diminished. When I take time away, when I carve out a day or a weekend or when I go on study leave, I return with a great awareness of who God is and who I am in God. I believe my creativity flows out of that relationship.

If creativity began with God and is one of His characteristics, then I want it to be one of mine. If God designed the Sabbath and commanded (not requested) we all practice the Sabbath weekly then I want to be obedient.