Friday, October 31, 2008

Q & A with the Preacher



1. Why don’t you open your blog for comments so people can respond to the things you say? I’m not an idiot, that’s why. In spite of my appearance, I’m smarter than I look.


2. What is your biggest pet-peeve in church work? Committee meetings. That’s why we have none.


3. What aspect of your job do you like the most? Preaching & teaching. Leadership. The opportunity to grow. Seeing lives transformed by the power of Christ. Seeing results/fruit from creative ideas that have been implemented. I love seeing people, who have not darkened the doorway of a church for the last twenty years, walk into our services and ultimately commit to Christ. I love talking to people in the atrium between services. I like seeing a team develop, interact with each other, and then accomplish a task. I love seeing the light come on inside of people.


4. What part of the ministry do you DISLIKE the most?

  • Having to engage in high-maintenance people – troublemakers, liars, complainers, and naysayers
  • The loneliness of leadership
  • The work never seems to be done

5. What do you need the most, personally?

  • Safe people. Safe relationships.
  • Extended time off
  • A sabbatical – for rest, recuperation, and study

6. What are your greatest weakness?

  • Without exception, number 1 is working too much and not taking time off
  • Running on empty
  • Leadership skills I still have yet to develop

7. Who are you accountable to?

  • God. He sees everything – a fact I can never escape.
  • My wife. We are very open with each other about what we are doing, and the weaknesses of the flesh. We acknowledge that fact between us. We’re not na├»ve, and we don’t pretend that temptation does not exist. Personally, I have set up some boundaries that I live within - I haven’t been alone with another woman (for more than five minutes at a time) in more than twenty years. I never close or lock a door when another woman comes into my office. Things like that. You can call me paranoid, or you can call me faithful. I call it being smart.
  • Our church staff and management team – I am accountable to them too. Actually, we are mutually accountable to each other.
  • PCC's board of directors. PCC has a corporate board of directors. This board of directors has been in existence since day-one. In spite of who has come and gone, and what whiners have said, this board has always existed. This board is our corporate officers; which make us legal in the state of Florida.
  • My presbyters – This is an outside group of pastors that I meet with on a regular basis for the purpose of accountability and encouragement. I have been doing this since PCC began. Sheep don’t discipline shepherds. Shepherds discipline other shepherds.
  • Finally, the congregation of PCC. If trust is lost there, then it’s over.

All of this amounts to an intricate system of checks-and-balances so that it would be very hard for me to fail. Not because I am so spiritual, but rather because I have made plans to make it difficult for me to fail. I am always being watched. I’m never alone with other women. I have no direct access to PCC’s finances by myself. All church salaries (including mine) are established by the board of directors (using standard pay-scale tables published by the National Church Business Administration (NCBA) for the southeast region of the United States, (which BTW, we have used since year one), and these pay-scales are impartial and unbiased. Finally, most of the decisions made at PCC are arrived at on a collaborative (group) basis.

So, the next time you think you have a complaint about me, ask yourself, “Could I live under this kind of scrutiny?” Not many people can. But I can. And that’s why I can stand up to critics – I have been examined and have nothing to hide.

Finally, and for the record, I don’t apologize for having pastoral authority. I am empowered to lead our church and do so decisively. The checks & balances that are in place are designed to keep me accountable, but not intended to render me powerless, and unable to lead. When someone complains about me not having accountability, it usually means a decision was made in which THEY didn’t get their way. What babies! I never allow myself to become accountable to these kind of mental-midgets.

8. What do you think would happen to PCC if you were to suddenly step down, have a moral failure, or die?

Honestly, I don’t know. But this much I do know, God is in charge and it’s His church. God would not have given us this ministry and our beautiful campus just to see it go down. I have to believe (should Jesus tarry His second coming) that God’s plan is that people will be reached by the gospel for years to come in my absence through the ministry of PCC. If nothing else, and if necessary, He will raise up someone else to lead our church.

In a very practical sense, we have enough leaders currently in place that our church WILL continue without me. These are God-called ministers and lay people who love God with all their heart. They love their church, and the ministry. They will NOT watch their church go under because of one man. Period.

Furthermore, we have a mechanism (process) in place (as per our bylaws) to secure and install a new senior pastor. This matter would be handled by our board of directors and church management team, and be brought before the church for ratification and approval.

Additionally, in the event of my untimely death I am insured by a one million dollar life insurance policy (on myself) in which Pace Community Church, Inc. is the beneficiary. This would pay off any (current) debts we have, leaving the church financially solvent. Should there be no debt at the time of my death, this one million dollars would simply go to the coffer, enabling our church to weather any transition.

I hope you are getting the picture here. Pace Community Church is here to stay because we have our Ps & Qs in order.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pressure to Conform to the Legal Lords


Depending on which “tribe” you belong to in Christianity, there are certain rules (written and unwritten) that you are expected to conform to. In extreme cases it will involve the way you dress, personal convictions to hold to, what you do for entertainment, and the traditions you are made to observe.

Myself, I got saved in a church that was very strict. It was KJV only, women could not wear pants, very little makeup, movie theaters were forbidden, Friday night High School football was frowned upon, and the music was about 50 years behind the times. They were great people, loved God, served Him with all their heart. But they were also very legalistic. They were so set in their ways that they had a difficult time believing that anyone else was a true Christian. As long as you did church their way, you were okay.

After five years I eventually left this church to enter the ministry and ended up staying in this system for a total of eighteen years, pastoring two churches and serving as an associate pastor at one. But somewhere along the way God opened my eyes to a few things; (1) I was not living in the liberty of Christ because of the emphasis upon legalism, and (2) I finally realized how ineffective this system was in reaching lost people. This kept me awake at night.

Finally Renae and I made one of the most difficult decisions of our lives – to leave the only “tribe” we had ever known, and forsake everything we had worked for over eighteen years to start a brand new church. That church became Pace Community Church.

This came at a huge cost to us. Overnight we became preaching fodder for those who disagreed with our decision to leave. I lost an entire network of pastors. One hundred percent (100%) of our income was lost instantly. Suddenly we were the new target for every critic in town.

Was this a tough decision for us? Not really. I’ve got alligator hide. Besides, our desire to shake off that bondage was greater than maintaining my network of pastors. Our burden to reach lost people and see Christianity truly work (as it is intended) outweighed whether or not I stayed on the “fast track” to climbing our denominational ladder.

Change is hard. Making bold moves is not easy. It will cause you to lose friends and become public enemy number 1. But in contrast, the blessings of God are always far greater. This is not just theory to me, I have lived it. Every time I get an e-mail, or a letter, or hear another story of someone whose life has been radically transformed, I am reminded of how great this work is. When I show up at a church event and see hundreds and hundreds of people, who formerly were not in church but now are, the Holy Spirit confirms to me that Renae and I made the right decision. And when I consider all the new friends, allies, and supporters I have, I realize my life could not be fuller, richer, or deeper.

God didn’t call me into the ministry to keep the legal lords of Christianity happy. He called me so I could put a dent in hell.

When I get to heaven, I hope I have a mansion next door to some of those people, so I can remind them every day that I made it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

It Takes Skill to Grow a Healthy Church



Allow Me to Vent Please…

I can’t afford therapy, so let me vent a little bit today. This blog is my therapy. So, here goes:

"Hi, My name is Ronnie… and I’m a pastor. I am hopelessly addicted to the Great Commission...."

I was talking to a guy once. He told me our church should not plan initiatives to reach the lost, set goals, develop strategies, or devise methods to carry out those initiatives. It was plastic and pre-packaged to do so, he said. Rather, we should do nothing, pray, and leave the results to God. This was one of the most asinine comments I have ever heard in my life! And this was coming from someone who called himself a pastor. Perhaps this explains why he does not pastor a growing church, but rather a declining Sunday school class. His theories are giving him exactly what they are designed to give – not much.

Let me state it for the record - it takes more than dedication to grow a healthy church - it takes skill. The reason the apostle Paul was so effective in planting and building churches was because he was skilled at it. He admits this in I Corinthians 3:10, "By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an EXPERT BUILDER" (KJV says “wise master builder”). Not only was he dedicated, spiritual, and a praying man, he was SKILLED at using the right tools and doing the right things. The man knew how to plan and do work.

People sometimes offer simplistic solutions for reaching the lost and those solutions are couched in pious terms that make it difficult for anyone to challenge them without seeming unspiritual. But somebody needs to state the obvious: prayer & dedication ALONE will NOT grow a healthy church.
  • Some of the greatest prayer warriors I know are members in dying churches
  • Some of the most dedicated people I know attend churches that are struggling to stay alive

  • Some of the greatest pastors I know are leading churches that are plateaued or declining

  • Some of the greatest sermons you can hear are being preached in churches of less than 45 people

To have a growing healthy church not only requires prayer and dedication, it also requires a Biblical structure. It takes a Biblical mission and a devised plan to carry out that mission. Strategies need to be formed, and then implemented. Staff members and church leaders must establish goals, plan initiatives, and develop methods of ministry. This is called skilled leadership. If for nothing else, it is the framework upon which us mere mortals work and are able to measure our progress.

Of course, prayer is essential. Everything should be bathed in prayer. A prayer-less ministry is a powerless ministry. Of course it takes the power of the Holy Spirit to produce true spiritual fruit. After all, it is the ministry of the Holy Spirit to draw people to Christ. The supernatural aspect belongs to God.

But it still takes SKILL on the part of church leaders to get the work done effectively. Too illustrate: One time God told Joshua to STOP PRAYING about his failure and GET UP and CORRECT THE CAUSE of it instead! (Joshua 7). There is a time to pray, and there is a time to act responsibly.

This is exactly what Paul meant when he referred to himself as a wise master builder….He not only prayed, but he had a plan, a strategy, and certain skills he relied upon to carry out the work.

Planning has gotten a bad rap. Without it we continue to re-invent the wheel week-after-week, month-after-month, and year-after-year. Or we just run laps every Sunday without ever making any real progress. But a well thought out plan will help us become more faithful and fruitful in every area of ministry.

We have a praying church, praying people, and a staff that prays. Prayer keeps our hearts softened, expresses our dependence on God, and puts us in the right frame of mind to be effective servants for God. But I’m also very thankful that our people understand the concept of work, and working skillfully. The modus operandi for servants at PCC is to “plan your work, and then work your plan.”

Of course, I tried to explain all of this to the guy I was talking with. But he was unable to grasp the concept - it was above his pay grade.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Music - Traditional or Contemporary?


Churches (and church people) need to admit that no particular style of "music" is truly “sacred.” What makes a song sacred is the lyrics or its message.

Music is nothing more than an arrangement of notes, or chords, and rhythms. If I were to strike a "G" chord on the guitar, without any words, you wouldn’t be able to tell if it was a "spiritual" G chord or a "worldly" G chord. Why? Because there is no such thing as Christian “music” per se – musical notes are neutral - it is the words that make the song spiritual.

The sacred message of a song may be communicated in a wide variety of musical styles. For the last 2000 years, the Holy Spirit has used all different kinds of music to bring glory to God. It takes all kinds of music styles to reach different kinds of people. To insist that one particular style of music is sacred above all others is idolatry.

I’m turned off by the arrogance of some Christians who resist modern music and say, “We need to get back to our musical roots.” Well, how far back do they really want to go? Back to the Gregorian chant? Back to Jewish melodies of the Jerusalem church? They usually mean they want to go back to the music of their childhood, to what momma taught them, or to the hymns written hundreds of years ago. To insist that all “good” music was written in Europe two hundred years ago is cultural elitism. There simply isn’t any biblical basis for that view.

In the book of Psalms you can read that a variety of musical instruments were used in Biblical worship; such as drums, clashing cymbals, loud trumpets, tambourines, and stringed instruments, (see Psalms 149 & 150 for an example). For sake of argument, this sounds like a contemporary band to me!

Sing a NEW Song

At least nine times in scripture we are told to sing a “new” song. What does new mean? It’s the opposite of old! New songs say, “God is doing something… and He is doing it now, not yesterday!

Throughout history, theologians have put God’s truth to the musical style of their day. For instance, Martin Luther wrote a hymn entitled, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” But what most people don’t know is that he borrowed the tune from a popular song of his day, (today, Luther would probably be borrowing tunes from the local karaoke bar). Charles Wesley used several popular tunes from taverns and opera houses in England to write hymns. John Calvin hired two secular songwriters of his day to put "his" theology to music.

What’s the point? Songs that we now consider sacred classics were once criticized just like today’s contemporary music.

When Silent Night was first published, George Weber, music director of the Mainz Cathedral, called it, “vulgar mischief and void of all religious and Christian feelings.”

One of the weaknesses of those who criticize contemporary music is they don’t know church history (as much as they think they do), and neither do they know Biblical Theology on the matter of music. Because of this, they confuse current traditions with orthodoxy. Many of the methods and tools we use in churches today, (such as singing, pianos, pipe organs, altar calls, and Sunday School), were once considered worldly and even heretical. But today, now that these tools are widely accepted, we have a NEW BLACKLIST, such as drums, synthesizers, guitars, video, and contemporary music.

So wake up and smell the coffee. We live in the 21st century, not the 1950s.

Hymns or contemporary. Both are good. But at the end of the day, it boils down to preference. That's all.

From Last Sunday's Sermon


Many people have the idea they will live continuously in that enraptured state they experience right after conversion. Far from it!

Jesus did not say, “He who rides the gravy train” to the end shall be saved. But he who “endures” to the end.

The reality of the Christian life is this: “'Power from on high' often leaves those of us who have tasted it, still feeling very frail at times.”

You have to find your holy level for daily living.

Brace yourself for the call of the road.

Good sermons cannot sustain you for the long haul. Neither can exciting church services, and great music. People who live off these things don’t make it. Live off God instead.

God is calling you to a holy fellowship with Himself.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Charitable Giving of Presidential Candidates

Adapted from Tim Stevens

Warning! Truthful facts ahead.

Last year,
JOE BIDEN made $320,000 in (adjusted) income. And yet, how much did he give to charity? He gave a whopping $995...about 1/4 of 1%.

Maybe he had a bad year? Nope, it turns out that last year he gave more to charity than any of the past ten years. Joe Biden's total giving to charity over the past ten years adds up to $3,690. That is how much a tithing family making 1/3 his salary gives every four months!!!

Why does this matter? Can't you run the country without giving to charity? Maybe, but for me, this is huge. Charitable giving speaks to your belief in people. It reflects your heart and whether you truly want to help people who are less fortunate. Lack of giving reveals a selfishness and self-sufficiency. As a politician, it speaks loudly that your confidence is in big government and not in the American people. And, for someone running for political office who knows his tax returns will be made public, it shows a lack of political astuteness to not think this will make a difference.

I'm not saying Biden needs to be a Christian and give money to a Christian church to be vice president. But couldn't he find any cause to believe in? Perhaps finding a cure for cancer, helping people with the AIDS epidemic or giving money to help unwed mothers. Surely there is some cause in the world worthy of his support? Apparently no.

Biden's spokesman, David Wade, says
that he simply "doesn't have piles of money to give." Yeah, I feel bad for him. Only $320,000 last year. Imagine if that was the attitude of every American family. Hospitals would close. Churches would cease to exist. The Red Cross wouldn't be around to help during the next disaster.

How are the other candidates doing? BARACK OBAMA wasn't doing much better until 2005 when he began running for president. Prior to that time,
his charitable giving averaged 0.9%. Since he's been running for president, it increased to 4.7% in 2005 and 6.1% in 2006. Whatever his motive, I'm glad to see it increasing.

Governor SARAH PALIN has given about 2.4% of her income to charity.

Of the four, JOHN McCAIN has donated the most,
giving more than 25% of his income in 2007 to charity. He didn't just start doing this recently. He has given ALL of his book royalties to charity since the first book deal in 1998 (more than $1.8 million given to charity in ten years). In 1991 (yes, 17 years ago), he opposed a pay raise that the Senate voted for themselves, so he gave that pay raise to charity that year, and every year since, adding up to more than $450,000.

This is not a political endorsment or support for anyone. But here's my point: Before any of these politicians raise my taxes, I wish they would do a better job of setting the example by GIVING some of THEIR OWN MONEY away first.


Sunday, October 26, 2008

We Were Made for This


Regardless of the ups & downs, challenges, and trying seasons, serving at PCC has been (and still is) one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. Week after week, month after month, and (now) year after year, I get to witness people begin their spiritual journey here, grow in their walk, and eventually mature to become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. Do you know how incredible that is? I was made for this. You were too.

I would love for you to join me and be a part of this great commission.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Ten Year Hiccup - Part 2


Part one of the Ten Year Hiccup was posted August 26, 2009. You may read it
HERE

In the spring of 1998 we officially launched PCC. Our congregation was small, resources were limited, and our budget was meager. But our statements, strategy, and leadership structure was solid and Biblically based.

Along the way, and over the years, we encountered a few problem people who challenged our mission, but that’s a normal part of church life. Besides, our philosophy of ministry was firmly established and this provided us with stability during those times. But at year number nine, as we began experiencing more growth and moved into our new building, it didn’t take long for the most vocal to start asserting themselves as leaders of our church resulting in a great amount of unrest. Their varying demands and voluminous complaints quickly threatened to sidetrack our church. The internal tension quickly overshadowed our mission.

What happened was a very small group of people expected to be placed in certain leadership positions they were not Biblically qualified to fill, or either did not have the time to devote to. T
he new and increasing demands of our church was now requiring the highest levels of integrity and more full-time attention than what these people were able to make themselves available for. Yet, they were insistent that our forward progress be held (back) to the level of their availability, or eligibility. This was the real source of tension. It was a power play on their part. They viewed our church as a “share holders” club and felt entitled to certain considerations. When they didn't get their way, their resulting behavior only confirmed their ineligibility.

Let me pause here to say – when a church has Biblically unqualified people sitting in seats of authority, anarchy and dissent will threaten everything. This is why the Bible places very high standards upon those who serve in churches at the highest levels of leadership. These standards are non-negotiable. Biblically un-qualified leaders will cause a great deal of harm to a church. In contrast, men & women who are Biblically qualified will bring safety and health to the body of Christ. This is the standard we have always held to for those who serve as elders, overseers, staff members, or on our corporate board.

Sensing they would not be able to take over, certain individuals began vicious campaigns of discord and dissent. This in turn resulted in other people becoming beguiled and misled. These instigators had to be removed, and were. Still others needed discipline. Others quietly stepped down. Some went out loudly. This was a tough time for us. But we met the challenge and decisive action was taken without backing down. Without it, our church was on the verge of being taken over by people who would have ruined it.

For the record, the people who serve at the highest levels of leadership at PCC, and those who serve on our corporate board, are people who are Biblically qualified to do so. Additionally, they are able to devote the amount of time required. For them, this is not a hobby. Neither is it a spare-time (or part-time) endeavor. It is a first priority for them. It’s always been this way at PCC. These individuals are called of God, and have the proper disposition to be where they are. They have the right kind of family skills (honed in the context of their own families) that they use for managing God’s family. They possess the necessary gifts to lead our church in a God-honoring, Christ-exalting manner. They understand the ministry, and have only the best interests of PCC at heart. They have the authority to provide leadership and administrate the church. They are empowered to exercise church discipline when necessary. They show troublemakers the door, teach the teachable, and encourage the broken. They train others for future leadership, reach the lost, and expose heretics who creep in unawares so that our church won't turn into an asylum of false-gospel crackpots or a haven for beguiling lunatics.

PCC has always had, currently has, and in the future will have more of, such leaders. In 2009, our ministry leadership team will be expanded. This is something I am very excited about.

The need for Biblically-based, formal, and qualified leadership has always prompted me to keep the ministry leadership pure at our church. This is why our church has grown, both in spiritual health and size.

And this is why 2009 will be even better.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Exciting Things Ahead


Okay, I am super-charged right now. There are some big-time plans on the drawing board and I am stoked. Here’s a peek:

This Sunday’s sermon is entitled “How to Last in the Christian Life.” You will NOT want to miss this. It will be informative, hard-hitting, inspirational, and most of all – God honoring and helpful to you.

Gene Tharp will be preaching for me in November – one or two Sundays.

Blogging next week - I have pre-written a few posts for my blog to get ahead of the curve. Next week you will want to log-on for sure. I have one or two where I’m going to just speak my mind and tell it like it is - no sugar-coating. A couple of more will be devotional in nature. Still a couple more will be about politics and the presidential race. For the record, I’m going to ramp up the edge to my postings. I think I have gotten too wimpy lately. That’s not me. I am not Joel Osteen.
If you can’t hack it, don’t log on.

We are planning a holiday initiative called “Signs of Life” which will likely begin about the week of Thanksgiving and go up to Christmas. In this series we will be showcasing our ministries and the results they have produced – changed lives. Jesus said, “I have come that you might have life, and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). The “signs” of that life are “changed lives.” We want to show you those people. There are so many stories in our church family of God’s redeeming power that will knock your socks off. We will be having testimonies, video clips of our baptismal services, and more video clips of life-change. YOU WILL NOT WANT TO MISS A SINGLE SUNDAY! This will be one of the most moving, heart-felt, efforts we have ever attempted.

Exciting Sundays are ahead… during the holidays.

Pace Community Church is such an awesome church. I would attend this church even if I were not on staff.

I would like to have a MENS BREAKFAST one Saturday morning soon, during November. Are you interested? Let me know.

Last Wednesday night we had a record-breaking attendance in youth group. BTW, the boy-to-girl ratio is two-to-one (more boys than girls). I think this is a direct result of the father & male participation we have. It’s never been better.

Next Wednesday - Bonfire and hay ride for kids and youth.

PCC is needing a pastor/overseer of discipleship & spiritual maturity. This person would be an overseer of our Small Groups, Foundation Classes, Seminar 201, etc., and would be empowered to develop, organize, and implement discipleship initiatives for PCC. This will happen in 2009.

There are some people in our church family right now who are SUFFERING in a MAJOR WAY. It is heartbreaking to me. The enormity of pain and volume of people is overwhelming. We have people with dying children, others with life-threatening diseases, still others with children who announced they are gay, those in trouble with the law, dying parents, loved ones in Iraq, troubled teenagers, add infitim. It is overwhelming. Your church family needs your help.

Our ministry leadership team will be expanded in 2009 – something I am very excited about.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Presidential Politics


When providing coverage on both sides of the Presidential race, it seem like the media is focusing more on petty issues, drawing our attention away from the real issues.

Here’s what I’m interested in:

Foreign Policy - We really do live in a global village today. In other words, what happens on the other side of the world affects us here. Then there is world-hostility against America. What is foreign policy going to look like over the next four years? Will it have muscle, or will it be passive?

The Economy - Who is going to turn this around? Where are the jobs going to come from? How?

Mortgage Crisis - Ten million homes sit on the brink of foreclosure because banks lowered the lending standards – providing mortgages to people who could not afford to repay. All of this under the supervision of Fanny Mae & Freddie Mac.

Spreading the Wealth Around – Does that mean that the goverment is going to take more from me and give it to others? Does it mean that successful people will be penalized for their success by having their "wealth" taken from them and then "spread around?"
I don't want the government establishing a "ceiling" for me, defining how high I am allowed to prosper upwardly before they swoop in and take it from me and give it to somone else. That kills incentive and free enterprise. It kills the entrepreneurial spirit of people who are self-motivated.

Raising Taxes – I’m glad to pay my share, and feel like I already pay enough. But I don’t want to pay more when so many others are exempt. Instead of spreading the wealth around, I think they should “spread the tax burden around” – from top to bottom. The middle class is already being crushed under the weight of taxation. Enough is enough. How about a flat tax for everyone – the poor, middle class, rich, and businesses. Equal sacrifice for everyone - say 10% - would be a good plan.

Inventory Taxes - I used to own a small business. I did well. The incentive was there - the more I worked the more money I made. It kept me highly motivated. I could wake up on a Monday and say, "I would like to earn an extra one-thousand dollars this week" and could do it! Nothing was holding be back except myself. I was earning my way, enjoyed the work, and enjoyed the fruit of my labor. But then I got introduced to something called "inventory taxes." Not only did I have to pay taxes on the business income and my personal income taxes, but the government also taxed every piece of equipment I used in the business. Everything from computers, to office equipment, office space, my car, to whatever. Anything that was in the "inventory" of equipment, I had to pay taxes on it. It was TRIPLE taxation for me. It was a killer. I'd like to see that go away.

Supreme Court Bench – Several of the Justices are in their 70’s & 80s and are likely to retire during the next four years, meaning the next President will make the appointments. What will such a Bench look like? Liberal or conservative? Will they view the Constitution as a “mandate” issued by our forefathers to be preserved and enforced, or will they see it as a “living document” to be changed as we go along. "Special Interest" groups and activist judges could change the legal and moral landscape for decades to come.

Abortion. No one is really talking about this. It’s still a big issue to me. More importantly, it’s a big issue to God. He still hates hands that shed innocent blood (Proverbs 6:16-17).

Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people. Proverbs 14:34 (KJV)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Our Teen Ministry - Update


Right now we have the best leadership team (for our teen ministry) that we have ever had - they are taking it to a whole nutha level. This team, made up of the highest caliber people we can possibly find, is knocking it out of the ball park. They are passionate about youth and have the ability to connect with youth. For these people, it’s not a “stepping stone” to something else – they have found their niche.

This team consists of twelve people – eight teachers & four support - who are high capacity individuals who approach ministry with the highest level of sincerity and professionalism. They identify with our mission, are loyal and supportive. Each person is willing to take on a variety of roles, thereby adding dimension to the team. Every individual has proven their loyalty, demonstrates the right personality, shows natural leadership, possesses organizational ability, has the right gifting, and shows evidence of a genuine desire to serve God in this capacity.

I’ve got to give a shout-out to Renae Christian for putting together this amazing team. Real leadership is not about doing it all yourself, but “gathering” a team of loyal, dedicated “ministers” who carry out the work.

BTW, youth lock-in (last Sunday night) had 42 teenagers.

What I Have Learned About Hiring Staff



1. Never hire someone to a "position."
When looking for ministry staff and team players, don’t hire a Youth Pastor, an Administration Pastor, Worship Pastor, Children’s Pastor, Executive Pastor or any other “position” for that matter. Instead, hire a "PERSON" - a person who loves your church, identifies with your mission, fits on your team and can TAKE ON a VARIETY OF ROLES.

For example, PCC doesn’t need a youth pastor, per se. But what it does need is a "person" who is "passionate" about youth, who can connect with youth, and has the ability to gather and lead other leaders who have a passion for youth. We have such a person. The title and position are secondary to passion and performance. And if that person can do that task, plus wear three other hats, then that is a healthy staff member for any church to have.

PCC doesn’t need an administrative pastor. It needs someone who can read my mind, pick up on unspoken signals, and organize scattered thoughts into an organized plan. It needs someone who will die for the database. It needs someone who can see where we are headed, and allocate resources to get us there quickly and safe. We have such a person - he not only does administration, but "all other assigned tasks" as well.

I could continue with all the other positions in our church, including my role as the senior pastor, but you get the idea. It’s about the PERSON and WHAT he/she BRINGS TO THE TABLE that matters most – not the position you’re tying to fill in the organizational flow-chart.

Titles, positions, and job descriptions are overrated. It is best to forget about them and think instead about aptitude, proven loyalty, personality, charisma, natural leadership, organizational ability, gifting, and a genuine call of God. All staff should wear more than one hat.


2. Choose people who will stay with you for the long haul.

Does that need any elaboration?


3. Never hire staff who are “projects.”
Projects are people who have problems you think you can solve. Hiring people like these is “thinking with your heart instead of your brain” - and is doomed to failure. Sometimes churches will hire someone as an act of kindness while ignoring the demands of ministry that will be placed on that person. Such a person will fail costing you big bucks.


4. If hiring from outside the church, never hire someone who has not served in at least two or three previous churches successfully... and ensure that their departure from their last church was ethical.
Why? Because no one is ever satisfied with their first or second job. Yes, there are few exceptions – but the rare exceptions only prove my point. The vast majority of people find something wrong with their first or second job, no matter how good it is. It is human nature to not appreciate what you have when you have nothing to compare it with. People naturally look for greener pastures and will eventually move on – sometimes causing trouble on their way out.


5. Never hire a hot-shot.
Hot-shots and superstars appear on the surface to get the work done. However, they are difficult to train and typically do not work well with a team. Hotshots build for the short term rather than the long term. They flame-out pretty quickly too.


6. Never hire the least expensive person because you feel you cannot afford better talent.
If you hire a “bargain” you actually hire a liability. They will cost you thousands of dollars in mistakes and/or the loss of people.


7. Whenever possible, hire from within.
I’ve already written about this, May 26, 2008. You may read it in full here:






Monday, October 20, 2008

Covenants & Raising the Level of Commitment


Over the years we have continually raised the standard of commitment for almost all we do; especially for leadership. The standards keep getting higher as time passes, and this in turn has produced a higher level of spiritual growth in our church family.

For example, when PCC first began we had only five or six mature believers. Yet we also had a congregation full of casual attenders, not-yet believers, and brand-new believers. So the only requirement for serving (almost anywhere) was to simply show up - we plugged warm bodies in where they were needed.

But over the years, have raised the standard and tightened the requirements for those who serve in the ministries and leadership of the PCC family.

In fact, we have COVENANTS for commitment (that we expect people to sign and agree to) in almost every thing we do: we have them for membership (101) maturity (201), all our all our volunteer teams, children’s ministry, ushers, worship band, even in our small groups – for the PURPOSE of INCREASING COMMITMENT. We ask everyone to sign a covenant if they want to be included. Why? It produces growth – we always become like the things we are most committed to.

Every time we raise the standards for leadership, we bring everyone else in the church along. As Winston Churchill said, “A rising tide raises all the boats in the harbor.”

We especially raise the standards for all church leaders. Why? Because when the standard of commitment is raised for leaders, it raises the expectations among everyone else.

Additionally, it produces a healthier church.

You want to be involved? Step up and commit.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Is that 25,000 hits?


That's twenty-five thousand people who have lost 5 minutes of their lives forever.

Sunday Debrief


Good day today. Packed house in first service, and solid attendance in second.

I enjoyed today’s message. We talked about the necessity of growing up, and how God often uses dry spells, and desert places, to transition us to deeper faith.

I think we hit a nerve today.

Teaching the stand-alone messages for the past 3-4 weeks has been a blast. I almost always teach in series because it’s more beneficial for everyone. But the stand-alone messages give me an opportunity to fill in the gaps on other important subjects that I have missed through the year.

A lot of people showed up yesterday for the work-day. Our campus looks great! Thank you to everyone who helped. It means a lot.

I have to say – morale and volunteerism is at an all-time high at PCC. The climate could not be better! We have weathered some serious storms over the years. But now the dust has settled we are the better for it. The people at PCC right now are the people who WANT to be there and who feel CALLED to be there. Life is good!

Our church is so…. not about…. what has happened, but rather what IS happening right now.

Forward momentum is strong. In fact, it has never waned.

We are on the threshold of some changes and a big spiritual breakthrough. The changes are something we are working on, and the spiritual breakthrough is something I can sense in my spirit.

The teen ministry is off-the-chart right now. Wednesday night has TRIPLED. Sunday mornings now offer some 5 or 6 CLASSES between the two services. We have some first-class teachers who are thrilled to be included.

Did you know that churches grow as much by subtraction as much as they do by addition? Sure do. Let that sink in for a while. You’ll get it.

I met a man in service today who is from China. He is a professor at UWF, speaks broken English, and still uses his Chinese name. It was his first visit and he assured me he would be back. I think it is neat that God sends such a diversity of people into our congregation. ONLY GOD KNOWS the things He has prepared for us.

The teens are having an all-night lock-in this evening. Bonfire and the works.

The new stages lights are great.

Have you noticed the seasonal fall displays on our campus? Great job!

How about the slide presentation of pictures in the song servcie today. Pretty cool, I thought. Those are the faces of PCC.... lives that have been changed.... members of our spiritual family..... and satisfied.

"He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.... He restoreth my soul."

I’m always reminded of how many hurting people we have at PCC. That is one of the reasons we started this work….. and God has blessed us for it.

October is pastor appreciation month. Somebody brought me a gift Friday. Neat!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Sunday


Sunday's Sermon:

"Dry Places & the Walk of Faith"

Ever been in a desert and the well has run dry? See how God uses these places to develop and deepen our faith.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Work-Day Tomorrow


Tomorrow (Saturday) is our fall work-day. 9:00 AM

Bring hedge trimmers, weed-eaters, and gloves.

1. We need to trim all the hedges. Afterwards, we'll spread pinestraw in all the flower beds.
2. Mowing, and edging, etc.
3. Fall display at front door
4. Clean up around dumpster
5. Throw away unused supplies, etc.
6. Vacuum entire building
7. Clean sancturary chairs
8. Paint touch-up on walls


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Boring Preachers


Have you ever heard one of those “Ain’t it awful” preachers?
You know, they just complain about our society and make judgments about people in general. Their preaching is long on diagnosis and short on remedy. This kind of preaching makes Christians feel superior to “those out there,” but rarely changes anything. Instead of lighting a candle, it just curses the darkness.

Have you ever heard a boring preacher? They like to show off their knowledge by using Greek words and academic terms in their preaching. They speak in an “unknown tongue” each week and people leave the services having learned nothing. Dry as chips.

When Jesus taught He spoke in terms that normal people could understand. He didn’t use technical or theological jargon. He taught profound truths in simple ways. Yet, many pastors do the exact opposite; they teach simple truths in ways hard to understand. They take straightforward texts and make them complicated. They think they are being “deep” when actually they are turning the water muddy. It is more important to be clear than clever when teaching God's Word. It’s more important to influence people than it is to impress them.

Dull, boring preaching is inexcusable. Truth poorly delivered is ignored. It is astonishing to me that some Bible teachers can take the most exciting, relevant book in human history and bore people to tears with it. When God’s Word is taught in boring ways that regular people can’t understand, they don’t just think the pastor is boring, they believe God is boring.

It’s easy to complicate the gospel, and of course, Satan would love for us to do just that. The apostle Paul himself was concerned that people would be led astray from the simplicity of Christ to another gospel and another Jesus (2 Corinthians 11:3-4). Perhaps some preachers should shelve their out-dated commentaries and quit offering their congregations “book reports.” It’s not deep. It’s error.

Some pastors and Bible teachers actually believe they have failed if people enjoy the message. I’ve heard preachers proudly say, “I’m not here to entertain,” and “church is not supposed to be fun.” Obviously, they are succeeding.

In contrast, crowds loved to listen to Jesus teach. Mark 12:37 says, “the common people heard Him gladly” (or with enjoyment). Jesus was the greatest communicator who ever lived and the Bible plainly tells us that people were SPELLBOUND by His teachings. Perhaps these preachers might get the point.

Insecure preachers will accuse others of diluting the message, or watering-down the gospel if such a preacher has a larger congregation. What buffoonery. That’s like saying Jesus was shallow because more people listened to Him than to the Pharisees.

It is a myth that larger crowds are attracted by a compromised message. In truth, larger crowds are attracted to places where the message can be understood and its relevance is applied. Sermons that teach people how to live and how to be doers of the Word will never lack an audience.

PS – Nothing is deeper than a changed life.

More Useless Facts About Me

  1. I still have all my teeth.

  2. I don’t’ drink sweetened beverages – none. I drink water, unsweetened tea, or black coffee. This saves me about 1500 calories a day.

  3. I am a relational person, but at the same time kind of introverted.

  4. My father’s side of the family came from the country of Austria. It was my great grandfather who immigrated to the USA, making me fourth-generation.

  5. I like change... most of the time.

  6. I am not a picky eater. I just don’t eat animal organs. I don't eat oysters either - espeically raw - they look too much like a loogie.

  7. I like college football much better than professional football.

  8. I hate committee meetings – that’s why we don’t have any. I love staff meetings or leadership meetings - especially when we are planning a new initative.

  9. I laugh at funny programs on television…. even when I’m in the room by myself.

  10. The first time Renae and I kissed was in church, sitting on a piano bench. It was like stealing candy from a baby. No, I didn’t get struck dead by a lightning bolt – but I felt one.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Conquer & Dominate


This is a very long post.... but worth the read.


Conquer & dominate. These are words you typically don’t hear associated with Christianity, church life, or church people. Instead you usually hear words like comfort, nurture, share, embrace, sensitivity, study, and "my feelings." Manly men gag on that kind of religion. It’s like angel food cake – soft, spongy, and unsatisfying.

Even though (the above) are Biblical terms, the list is incomplete. Missing are words like, risk, challenge, sacrifice, count the cost, conflict, lay down your life, change, dangerous, reward, battle, subdue, conquer, dominate, sword, shield, fight the good fight, contend for the faith, and be a good soldier. These too are Biblical words – and it’s the language of men!

Church is too nice. Too soft. Too sissy. It has become “Victorian.” Christians are supposed to be nice, touchy-feely, and gushing. Passive. Not active. Submissive. Asleep. Idle. Inert.

But read the Bible and you often find a militant, combative aspect associated with the Christian life. You see believers battling persecutors of the church, the powers of darkness, messengers of Satan, engaging in spiritual warfare, wrestling with their own the carnal nature, and targeting the religious establishment for exposure. They pulled no punches, gave no quarters, neither did they ask for any. They were not interested in peaceful co-existence with the devil. They came to route the devil from his territory and take over for God!

What did the church in the Bible do? Lay down and take it like a whipped dog? Not on your life. They “filled Jerusalem with their doctrine” and didn’t care what anyone had to say about it. The Romans tried to stop them, and what happened to Rome? Not “all roads lead to Rome” anymore – do they? The early church dominated their city, culture, and all the known world.

Today, certain super-spiritual types say that churches should not be so aggressive in spreading the gospel, and doing outreach into the community. But I think it has become an excuse to be lazy. Instead, it’s much easier to huddle behind the bolted doors of the church and talk about nurturing, sharing, and "my feelings". Oh yea, don’t forget the guitar so we can all hold hands around the camp fire and sing “Kum By Ya.”

We understand the concept of domination when it comes to sports. We want our football team to kick the pants off the other team. We admire Tiger Woods for dominating golf. Yet, church-people have a mindset against this, both in life and in church-mission. Why? Because they are lazy sissies, that’s why.

When I say the church should dominate, I not only mean all churches, or the universal Church – I mean OUR church. God has not placed PCC here for such a time as this to simply play patty-cake religion and do laps each Sunday. He has placed us here to have an impact on this community unlike anyone has ever seen!

The Bible never teaches Christians not to be ambitious. It’s selfish ambition that we are to avoid. That’s the desire to get ahead so we can draw attention to ourselves. We’re not out to make a name for ourselves in this church thing…we’re out to make His Name famous. We don’t want to dominate for our sake, we want to dominate for the sake of the mission.


AVERAGE CHURCHES

I’ve said many times that PCC is not here to take people away from other churches. Our mission is not to grow by transfer-growth (er, I mean sheep stealing). We want to find people who are far from God, lead them to Christ, and then provide them with the tools that lead to spiritual maturity. That’s been our mission from day-one.

But can I be honest about something? Let’s look at the other side of the coin. What is the point of a genuine believer wasting away in some lame church that is doing nothing? A church that never challenges him/her? A church that never reaches people? A church that simply exists so people can show up each Sunday and hear another sermon, or attend (yet) another Bible class? Where is all of that leading to?

You wouldn’t leave your kids in a lame school with a lame teacher – would you? So why would you go to a lame church? Why would you be content with something that doesn’t make you a better Christian? Why would you continue attending a place that doesn’t challenge you and press you into service? Why would you stick it out or suck it up, month after month and year after year, only to have your faith whither away?

If your church stinks, you should find a better one.

If your house was on fire, burning to the ground, would you wait for the fireman to show up and command you to leave before you escaped? What are you waiting for? If your church stinks, find a better one.

What are we striving for at PCC?
  • I want PCC to be the best we can possibly be
  • I want our children’s ministry to be one of the best in the area
  • I want our teen ministry to be one of the best in the area
  • I want out small groups to be better than some dried up Sunday School class
  • I want our music to be heart-stirring, soul-moving, and of good quality
  • I want our campus grounds to look like they have been taken care of
  • I want our church to make a positive first impression on our guests every single week

I don’t want PCC to be average. Average is half-way to the bottom. Average means you are in the lower 50 percentile.

Do you want average kids, making average grades, who grow up to marry an average guy/girl? Of course not. You want them to excel. Do you want an average job, making average wages? You get the idea.

So why go to an average church? Why go to a lame-duck church? You are just swimming in circles, going nowhere (like a lame duck does).


DOMINATING CULTURE

Like the early Christians we read about in the book of Acts, we need to do whatever it takes to reach people, disciple people, lead people to Jesus and help people be better Christians.

Have you ever watched Michael Jordan take over a basketball game? Sure, there was a team and a coach and a General Manager, whose "feelings" needed to be considered... up to a point. But in the 4th quarter with the game on the line, Jordan takes over and feelings don't matter! Maybe his teammates got mad, but then again, they probably liked winning all those championships too. It’s the 4th quarter in Santa Rosa & Escambia County, and PCC needs to take over. If other churches are not going to go after people, then we are. If other churches are not going to serve this community, than we will.

I have this conviction: It’s should be impossible for people to ignore us. People should have to run and hide in order to escape our reach.

We should be everywhere. Every week, or every day, people should be bumping into PCC’ers wearing t-shirts. Every week, they should have someone hand them an invite card. Every week, they should overhear someone at the grocery store talking about something that’s happening at PCC. We should be at every community festival, barbeque, block party and school board meeting. If the school board wants to roll over and give up the ghost in the face of the ACLU, then PEOPLE from PACE COMMUNITY CHURCH should RUN for SCHOOL BOARD and unseat the incumbents.

Dominate!

We will get out there and meet needs, and focus our attention on dominating some community problems. There shouldn’t be a person in Pace Florida who hasn’t heard of us. Like an explorer claiming land for the mother country, I’m claiming this community. We’re taking over this town.

  • We will be visiting nursing homes, laying hands on the sick, and delivering gift baskets to the poor.
  • We will serve single mothers
  • We will direct mail into 20,000 homes
  • We will attract singles
  • We will reach the divorced and formerly married
  • We will minister to couples who are having major marriage problems
  • We will hold the hand of those terminally ill
  • We will make room for the handicapped
  • We will welcome minorities
  • Run for the school board, county commission, and any other political office that needs righteousness
  • We will “go out and compel” them to come in so that God’s house “may be full”

God said in the book of Acts: “Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace…. For I have much people in this city” (Acts 18:9-10).

We’re going to dominate by making our church environments the best they can be. Excellence is not just a cute core value that we hang on the wall. Our music, our signs, our handouts, our messages… everything will be excellent. People that come to PCC are going to walk out thinking, “I didn’t know church could be that…good.”

We’re going to dominate by serving. It’s not about “serve us” – it’s about “service.”

Christianity is not a hobby; it’s a lifestyle. Leading a church is not a job; it’s a calling.

Church, prepare yourself to dominate.

Signs of an Inward Focused Church



  • First of all, it will be unhealthy

  • Number two, it’s membership will not realize they are unhealthy

  • The emphasis is upon “serve us” instead of “service”

  • Tight knit groups that outsiders cannot penetrate

  • A “siege mentality” or “hold the fort” way of thinking (see picture)

  • Board stiff

  • Most energy is devoted to managing the systems or preserving the way things are

  • Unwilling to risk new ideas or initiatives

  • Unwilling to embrace change


  • Stained-glass barriers

  • Tradition becomes more important than mission

  • Continually re-teaching the already-fed

  • Over-fed but under-activated church members

  • An introverted insiders-language with its own set of terms and code words

  • The preaching/teaching doesn’t make any sense; having a special meaning only for insiders

  • The church is lukewarm


  • It’s not growing

What's Up at PCC

  • Small Groups are rocking!

  • Church work-day this Saturday – 9:00 AM

  • Teen Lock-in this Sunday at PCC (all night) – begins at 8:00 PM

  • Marriage Encounter this Sunday – 6:00 PM

  • Children’s October Fest – Wednesday, October 29, 6:00 PM

  • Seminar 201 – November 16th, 4:00 PM

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Children of the Devil


What you are about to read is absolutely true. I say this because it almost too astonishing to believe:
  • I know a pastor, who leads a church not three miles from our own, who has been receiving death threats! And from whom? Angry church people, that’s who.

  • I know another pastor, who leads a church about five miles from PCC, who has been viciously attacked, maligned, falsely accused, physically threatened, and even had slanderous letters circulated about him. And by whom? Angry church people, that's who.

  • I know still another pastor, who leads a church in the south end of the county, who has received threats of bodily harm and has even been pursued by a stalker! And by whom? Angry church people, that's who. (PS – He had to get the police involved to get the stalker to stop).

  • I know a pastor in north Georgia, who has been stalked and had dozens of blogs sites set up against him. He is doing such a great work for God - more than 1000 people attend his church, and they still meet in a movie theater. Yet some people are so angry with him that they ruthlessly attack him on a daily basis. A lesser man would have thrown in the towel long ago. And who is doing this? Angry church people from other churches, that's who.

I find it absolutely mind boggling that people, who call themselves followers of Christ, can behave in such a way. This is not just misbehavior. It is pure devil, and they cannot possibly be true believers.

Jesus said on one occasion, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you WILL do” (John 8:44). In other words, it is impossible for people to act contrary to what they really are. “A tree is known by its fruit.” Here Jesus says that children of the devil ACT LIKE the devil because that’s what they are. There is no beating around the bush on this. Jesus said it, and that settles the matter. Oh, people may pretend they are followers of Christ, but really are children of the devil - and their actions prove it. They may join churches and learn to speak church-talk – but they are tares growing among the wheat.

Christians are not supposed to live like unsaved people. If they do, it’s a good sign they are not really followers of Christ. Sins that were unheard of in the church only a generation ago are now common place. Please understand, Christian people can and often do behave in carnal, sinful ways at times. We all do. But nothing in Scriptures suggests that a true believer might pursue a lifestyle of unbroken sin and antagonism; especially against other believers.

Children of God do not masquerade as children of the devil. The reverse is true; Satan pretends to be an angel of light, and his children pretend to be righteous (2 Corinthians 11:14-15).

When the scriptures mention the difficulty of telling the sheep from the goats, the point is not that Christians seem sinful; rather the ungodly appear to be righteous. That is the line of demarcation.

False disciples are in it only for what they can receive. They are satisfied with a salved conscience, peace of mind, a good reputation, or spiritual satisfaction. But like Judas, their half-hearted faith eventually reveals itself.

“….and the lusts of your father you WILL do.”


HOW TO TELL THE DIFFERENCE...

In contrast, Jesus also said, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give them eternal life..." (John 10:27-28). Who are His true sheep? The ones who follow Him.

Faith obeys. Unbelief rebels.

I John 3:14-15 (KJV) "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abides in death. Whosoever hates his brother is a murderer, and ye know that no murder has eternal life abiding in him."

I John 3:10 (NIV) "This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother."

I John 4:20 (NIV) "If anyone says, 'I love God,' yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen."

Persecutors of the brethren are, in fact, children of the world.


WHAT SHOULD WE DO?

If you are being persecuted for righteousness sake, take heart, you stand in good company. You stand in league with Jesus, the apostles, and countless other saints who have endured to the end. You are in the company of the redeemed from all ages.

Jesus said, "If the world hates you, know that it hated Me before it hated you... You are not of the world, therefore the world hates you. If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you" (John 15:18-20).



Monday, October 13, 2008

No One is Seeking a Safe Leader


Please stand for something.

Show some passion, some anger, a little edge.

The Bible says the common people followed Jesus and heard Him gladly, because He spoke -not like the Pharisees - but as one who had authority.

I wish our two presidential candidates had fire in their eyes. Instead, they are polished and sound too much like politicians. Their statements and speeches are too guarded. Who wants to follow that? Both are afraid of going out on a limb and doing something or saying something outside of the box. Just once I would like to hear a presidential candidate tell somebody off and speak his mind!

This explains why some church leaders will never do exploits. They are consummate politicians… playing it safe… afraid of going out on a limb… of doing anything outside the box… afraid to show some passion, speak with an edge, and tell it like it is. They play both ends from the middle. Who wants to rally behind a person like that? Do you want to follow a leader who is weak and unaccomplished? Not me.

Life it too short to follow someone to a place called nowhere.

Easily Offended? Then Don't Read This


“And these are they…. who have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward….. they are offended” (Mark 4:16-17 abbreviated).

If the devil ever finds out you are easily offended, you will get high blood pressure and spend the rest of your life upset. You’ll be upset in church, at home, on the job, and in all your relationships. You’ll be upset for the rest of your life.

Regarding church, you won’t survive it. In fact, according to Jesus, you won’t even last in the Christian life. Why? Not because somebody did you wrong. That’s a given. It happens to us all. But rather because you are shallow… have no root or depth within yourself…. are easily offended, and therefore endure only a short time.

Here we see that God places the onus entirely upon us – not others. It’s not about what people have done TO you that matters. It’s how you REACT to what has been done to you that matters. It is your responsibility to grow up, act like an adult, quit whining, develop depth of character, and endure the offense.

So you didn’t get your way? So what? Who does?

Still nursing some old wounds? Get over it.

Can’t get over something that happened? Move on.

If you are easily upset, you are a prisoner to your own emotions, the devil, and circumstances. Do you really want to live that way?

It’s not uncommon that people will actually stop serving the Lord over petty offenses. Not earth-shattering events… but petty issues. In the quarter-century that I have been living for God and serving in churches, most offenses I have witnessed in other people were over a bunch of nothing. Yet, it was enough to knock them out of the race. It’s not really about the offense… it’s about how shallow and temperamental the person is. Jesus Himself said so.

A closing word to the mature…

“Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them” (Psalm 119:165 KJV).

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sunday Recap


10:30 PM..... Had a long day today.


Renae and I had dinner with the Lewis’ & Gill’s. Very relaxing. It was good therapy for me.

I have been having a bout of “prophets’ remorse” this afternoon. You know, feeling a bit down for delivering such a strong word this morning. Perhaps I should read the book of Lamentations.

Today’s sermon must have hit a nerve in a positive way. We sold out in five minutes – in both services. Also have standing orders to fill for those who didn’t get a copy. A lot of tan cards were turned in today expressing appreciation for the message.

One person especially liked my closing about cleansing verses guidance. i.e., If you are needing God to provide you with direction/guidance, you must first be willing to let Him speak cleansing into your life. That part spoke to me as well – deep down.

It was good to have Greg Baker back on drums today. He and his family were visiting from Camp Lejeune NC for the weekend.

We have a very diverse congregation, made up of people from all walks of life and professions. I am very, very pleased about this.

Did you know that there are certain people who do “drive bys” on Sunday morning checking us out? Man, give me a break.

When you attend Pace Community Church, you are sitting in the middle of a New Testament miracle.

God is stretching me in a lot of ways, and I’m going through a period of personal growth right now. There’s some junk God is having me deal with, plus I’m experiencing a deeper hunger for spiritual matters.

I’m looking forward to Seminar 201 coming up in November.

Looks like my counter will hit 25,000 soon.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Are We On the Eve of Judgment?


This Sunday….


America is adrift without an anchor. We all know that. But the real question is…. are we standing on the eve of divine judgment?

The Bible is clear that there is a final day of reckoning, in which all the nations of the earth will be judged. There are certain signs leading up to that day; many of which we can see now.

This Sunday we will explore this question as we look at current events and the role they have in end-time events.

Topics covered will be:

  • Our failing economy and how it fits in with God’s prophetical plan
  • Our deteriorating cities
  • Incurable plagues
  • The slipping morals of American society
  • And fragmenting families - are they a sign?

The end of the world is eventually going to come and there’s not a thing anyone can do to prevent it. The only thing we can do is get ready and stay ready.

Jesus said........ “Pray that ye be counted worthy to escape these things that shall come to pass, and be able to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Assumptions About Pastors


Current assumptions about pastors, their job descriptions, and the ministry in general, are more influenced by western culture rather than Biblical paradigms. For example, Richard Baxter’s book The Reformed Pastor, first published in 1656, has probably shaped Protestant assumptions on the job description of a pastor more than any other ten books combined. Baxter, a Puritan pastor in an English town of 800 homes, “served as every person’s evangelist, catechist, teacher, and preacher; he took upon himself to minister to all sick people and to visit from house to house.”
While sounding good, it's not Biblical. Plus, it leads to burnout.

Today’s pastor understands that as numbers increase in a growing church, such a job description is not only impossible but actually flawed in its basic premise. It professionalizes the ministry, which in reality belongs to all believers. The Christian leader’s responsibility is not to do all the ministry himself, but to train believers to carry out the ministry.

Ephesians 4:11-12 states that God gave pastors, teachers, etc, to the church for the perfecting of the saints........ for the work of the ministry. The goal is not a one-main ministry show, but assured care through the mutual ministry of the body to itself.

Now that's Biblical.