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


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.