Friday, April 30, 2010
Thursday, April 29, 2010
You may read parts 1-4 by clicking on the “Call of God” option in the left column under Index of Categories. If you feel like you have a call of God on your life, I would suggest you read them so as to better understand what part 5 is all about.
Often people feel a call of God on their life to be involved in full-time vocational ministry, but are not certain of what. In our limited view – and quite frankly, the limited opportunities found in most churches – we think it only means being a preacher, a youth pastor, a missionary, or one of those guys who waves his arms in front of a choir. Those options don’t excite everyone. So the question is, are there other options?
Yes there are.
Many churches have multiple opportunities for those who feel called into full time vocational ministry. Those opportunities often include Executive Pastor, Discipleship Pastor, Pastor of Evangelism, Pastor of Assimilation/Connections, Director of Small Groups, Family Ministries, Student Ministries (already mentioned above), Children’s Ministries, Age-level Ministries, Technical Directors, Christian Education, Director of Volunteers, Administration, and a variety of other opportunities ,etc. On and on it goes.
At PCC we have a pressing need for the kinds of people who can fill many of these positions. In fact, it is critical for us right now. Without the contribution of such God-called people this church will not be able to reach its redemptive potential; without their gifts this body is incomplete. To that end we are always looking for those people who emerge with a verifiable call of God upon their life. To be perfectly clear, we are never looking to simply “fill a position” but rather are looking for the people who demonstrate a calling and the temperament to be ABLE to fill those positions. Big difference between the two.
Using your God-given leadership gifts to help run a church and impact lives for eternity is a good work and is worth dedicating your life to. Maybe you have a dream, feel a call from God, but don’t know what to do. Stay faithful to do what God has called you to do, and in His timing He just might give you the desires of your heart. If you are called of God, your gifts will get you there.
In the meantime, we are always looking too.
A man’s gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men (Proverbs 18:16 NKJV)
Here's a link:
Here is a collection of quotes that I have posted on Facebook in the last month. I thought all of them together might make a good idea for a blog entry. So here they are. They are in no paticular order. Some are pretty insightful. I don't claim credit for all of them. Feel free to use them youself. Read and enjoy.
- Making 50 friends in one year is not a miracle. Having one good friend for 50 years is.
- If you don’t get closure from your past, you could end up pointing your anger at someone new.
- Before you tune someone out based on their social status, remember Jesus was a homeless construction worker.
- There's always time for love; you just have to move a few things around.
- You don’t have to answer every e-mail, text, or phone call. Why would you want to?
- People disagree with me saying that you can live a worry-free life. Hmmm. I’m not going to worry about it. Max Lucado
- When working with people always remember that everyone is afraid of something, loves something, wants something & has lost something.
- If you don’t pick a direction soon, life will hand you one.
- Today is the tomorrow that you worried about yesterday. You're still here aren't you?
- The most terrible poverty is loneliness and the feeling of being unloved - Mother Teresa
- Having someone to wonder where you are when you don’t come home at night is a human need… and it means you are loved.
- If you draw closer to God, He promises to draw closer to you - (James 4:8).
- Until you learn to appreciate the little things God has given you, He has the big things on hold.
- Get more familiar with the scriptures. God has made some promises you have overlooked.
- Never look too thirsty. Maintain quiet confidence.
- People who want approval the most usually get the least; and people who need approval the least usually get the most.
- If you hold a grudge, the grudge is holding you.
- Be smart today. Beat the joy busters who derail happiness.
- If there was no God there would be no atheists.
- You don’t necessarily have to cheat to ruin your relationship. Just stop paying attention and over-schedule your life.
- It's not that I don't like you. I'm just not dealing with your drama anymore.
- Immature love wants a good time. Mature love wants a lifetime.
- Seeing the same people in the same nightclubs every week means you are stuck in a rut.
- I don’t need to have a certain number of friends. But I do need friends that I can be certain of. Big difference.
- A woman's heart should be so close to God that if a man wants her, he would have to seek God first.
- If you always keep wishing for more, you will always feel poor.
- Humility. It doesn't mean that you should think less of yourself. It means you think of yourself less often.
- If they are talking to you about other people behind their back, guess who they are talking about when you’re not around?
- There's something about ungratefulness and complaining that pushes great circumstances away.
- Never allow your self-worth or self-esteem to be decided by the opinions of others. Someone asked Billy Graham once, "How do you handle criticism?" He replied, "The same way I handle praise from men; I don't give either one any undue regard."
- Don't grieve too long when you lose something. Everything you lose comes back to you in a different form. Eve lost Able, but she had another son whose name was Seth - which means "substitute" or "appointed one" (Gen. 4:25).
- People who keep waiting for the perfect moment to begin, get beat by those who have already begun. Get moving and do something.
- Being sad and crying does not change your situation. Getting angry and doing something about it DOES.
- Many people check the scale weekly hoping for weight loss, but do very little to change their diet. Many people go to church each week hoping God will help them, but never follow the instructions from the sermon or God's Word. You've got to do something.
- Don't run from your problems. You cannot heal what you do not confront.
- The Lord has a great plan for your life to prosper you and not harm you - Jeremiah 29:11
- Being positive all the time will not solve everything, but it will tick off enough people to be worth the effort.
- Never be too needy. It attracts bad relationships, bad deals, swindlers and con men.
- While you are sitting around doing nothing, someone, somewhere is practicing and preparing, and when they meet up with you, they will win.
- There’s someone in the hospital begging to have the chance you have right now. Don’t miss your moment or waste your life.
- To stay happy, flee from angry people. Anger is one letter short of danger.
- Play fair. If you jerk people around because you have the upper hand, God will jerk you around because HE has the upper hand.
- A man who has no honor can never see that attribute in others.
- Have NO friends who deny you the right to grow.
- Perfectionism is self abuse to the highest degree. If everything has to be right…. something isn’t.
- Either be motivated or be miserable. CHOOSE.
- God, thank You for walking with me throughout my day and for staying awake when I sleep. You never slumber or sleep (Psalms 121:3-4)
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Okay. I admit it. I’ve been on a two-day hiatus from blogging. I have been overwhelmed in busyness and simply have not had the time. Plus I have been very tired. I try to post something every single day, and have been doing so since 2008, but sometimes other matters need my attention. Writers block is not a problem for me; it’s getting to the computer that prevents me from posting.
Let’s begin with last Sunday’s Services… Sunday Mind Dump – April 25, 2010
- It was a laid back kind of day. The mood felt relaxed. Really enjoyed the vibe.
- Three of the four songs we sang today were written by band members (Jonathan & Renae).
- Less pressure and anxiety on the stage with the smaller band. Much easier to coordinate with other musicians when there are fewer of us. A sixteen-member band is big, and can be wobbly at times; sometimes it even turns into a runaway train and gets too loud.
- Gene T. made some readjustments on the soundboard Saturday night and it really made a difference.
- Attendance was 462 – not too bad.
- Looking at the communication cards after church, it appears three people made a commitment to God.
- Sunday’s message - The Certain Doom of False Teachers – came from 2 Peter chapter 2. This chapter is considered one of the most terrible in the Bible because of the doom and destruction it pronounces upon people who misrepresent God.
- One man came up to me after service and said (twice) “I am very glad to call you my pastor.” I’m not sure why he said that or where that came from – either the message or something I’ve done recently – but was glad to hear it and it greatly encouraged me (especially after such a difficult text).
- There were also some very nice comments on Facebook about me and the Sunday services at PCC; which were encouraging too.
- Ran 4 miles yesterday morning just after daylight. The weather was fabulous with the cold front that has moved in – in the low 50s – which made the run very enjoyable.
- I have to run slower than my natural pace-step because of joint pain, etc. By running slow I am able to make the distance without suffering too much pain or a lengthy recovery afterwards. I usually pick up the pace to a sprint at the last half mile for a good calorie burn.
- Ran 2 this morning.
- Took Monday off. Spent the day mowing a piece of property that Renae and I own. Then went by my mother’s house for a visit. Did a lot of work in the garden at home too.
- We have some pretty exciting plans ahead for the remainder of this year at PCC.
- I am very hopeful about the potential of our children’s ministry, teen ministry, Sunday services, and discipleship development.
- I am proud of our church (in a good way). Love our people and their dedication.
- I have some leadership concerns about PCC too. Will be writing about it soon.
I love this piece of property; it's secluded; it's away from the helicoptors around Spencer Field; and it's beautiful. I cleared it myself and planted the grass.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Some lessons about talent vs. Integrity:
1. Talent is much quicker and easier to DEPLOY than a person who possesses integrity; and USUALLY it is a MISTAKE. It can take years to develop a worship leader, a worship team, a youth pastor, a children’s pastor, small group leaders, a small group’s director, or Biblical elders. But if you can grab one ready-made right off the rack you save yourself a lot of work. Why not speed up the process? It takes less time and you can get on with the business of kingdom advancement. And don’t forget the wow factor of instant talent either – you get instant bang as soon as these people are added to the team. The downside to this quick-and-easy deployment of talent is that 9 times out of 10 these people will GIVE YOU PROBLEMS! You don’t know who they really are… plus they often believe their talent gives them a free pass on behavior issues.
2. Detecting integrity and character means LOOKING BENEATH the TALENT level. You’ve heard the old adage - if it seems too good to be true, it probably is – and nowhere is this more apparent than in church work. Every talented person who walks through our doors off the street and volunteers for ministry CAME FROM SOMEWHERE ELSE. As a shepherd I am responsible for developing and deploying talent, yes, but I am also responsible for detecting CHARACTER DEFECTS and INTEGRITY FLAWS. It is my job to find out where they came from, why they left, and why they are here. A call to the former pastor is not out of the question. Where have they served in the past? Why did they leave? Did they leave on good terms? Is there unresolved conflict between you and someone else in your last church?
3. When assessing integrity, HARD QUESTIONS need to be ASKED. When considering placing anyone in any type of serving capacity, certain questions must be asked. Do they tell tales that don’t seem to add up? Are their finances out of control? Do they seem a little too friendly with the opposite sex? Are they fully committed to the vision of our church? Do they they manage their home well? What is their relationship track record? While it’s never good to go on a witch hunt, we should also listen to our instincts and the instincts of the other leaders around us. If there are persistent, nagging questions about an individual, it might be better to pass on this person.
4. Enforce a time out. The first step in dealing with leaders/workers/volunteers who have had a lapse in integrity is to have them take time out. This is not punishment, but rather a process for healing and restoration. It is a time in which they can grow in their personal walk with Christ without the pressure of ministry responsibilities. It’s also a time for them to reflect on what led to the lapse in integrity and build safeguards against a repeat in the future.
5. Sometimes you just have to say, "No, you are disqualified or ineligible." Let me state the blunt truth here: some people have remarkable talent, but have rendered themselves disqualifed from the ministry because of unrepentant sin or repeated lapses in judgment that cannot be overlooked any longer.
I am concerned about the types of people who flit from church to church offering their talent to desperate congregations, who possess a Prima donna complex, but are spiritually sick. Church-land is FULL of these kinds of people. Most of them will never get healed or ever be truly qualified for ministry. Why? They always have the easy option pulling out and going to another church when confronted about their behavior. BECAUSE OF THEIR TALENT, OTHER CHURCHES QUICKLY OPEN UP MINISTRY OPPORTUNITIES FOR THEM, and THE CYCLE CONTINUES.
No matter how talented a person is, they are subject to the same Biblical standards as everyone else. Exceptional talent does not get you a free ride or a free pass at PCC. If you have attended our church for any length of time and possess an observant eye, you have noticed the many changes in personnel we have made over the years and in recent months – and some of them very visible. We have people step down, take time off, so they may recover. The goal for the ministry is to maintain integrity, and the ultimate goal for the individual is restoration. No one is exempt from this standard – not me, any of my family members, my friends, you, or even your family members.
Integrity is more important than talent… every time.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
I have been in vocational ministry for 27 years. I am certainly not proud of everything I have done in my leadership. I’ve made mistakes and have regrets for things I have left undone, or that I tired to do but should not have even attempted. Just old fashioned mistakes; the kind of things that go with any vocation. But I have lasted. I haven’t quit or fallen by the wayside. I haven’t burned out or flamed out. I have never had to be removed from the ministry because a leadership failure or a moral failure. That’s probably my biggest accomplishment of all – simply lasting.
This is a feat within itself when you consider the following statistics: 1500 pastors leave the ministry each month. Of those who remain, 50% are so discouraged that if they could afford to, would leave the ministry now. Depression plagues 70% of pastors, and half of their marriages end in divorce.
A big part of staying in the race and being able to finish well is learning to take care of yourself. You have to understand how you are wired and give attention to nurturing and replenishing yourself. There are periods of facing temptations; dealing with accumulated hits and disappointments; and the various seasons your family goes through. It’s a very complicated thing to do a long, steady pull for God; not just year-after-year, but for decades. The only way to increase your chances of success is to take responsibility for taking care of yourself. It’s your job. No one else can do this for you. No one else can replenish you.
Spiritual growth......That’s your job.
Getting rest.............That’s your job.
Staying healthy...... That’s your job.
Practicing spiritual disciplines.... That’s your job.
Living your life well....................... That’s your job.
Growing as a leader.................... That’s your job.
Telling people no........ That’s your job.
Protecting yourself...... That’s your job.
I think the desire of every pastor and Christian leader is to finish well. We want to have a fuller heart at the end of this race than what it was at the beginning. We want more of the fruit of the Spirit in our life at the end than at the beginning. We want to love God and love people more than we did at the beginning. And we want to be able to look in the rear view mirror and say that we have been faithful for the whole run.
If that’s what you want, then there are choices you have to make between here and there. We have to take care of ourselves; learn to tell people no; and replenish our depleted spirits. Are you willing to disappoint enough people to fight for yourself and take care of yourself? Will you fight for your family and for your own spiritual health?
Do it, and you will finish well.
Crime Prevention Conference - Fourteen men from PCC (from within the ushers department) have gone to a church conference/seminar today in Pensacola.; in fact, they are attending right now. This seminar is on crime prevention, security, and emergency response plans for churches in the event of an armed intruder, etc. Though our church has paid for the event, many of these men have taken time off from their jobs to attend this training event together. I am proud of them for doing so, and it speaks volumes to me about how seriously they take their role at PCC and how much they love their church. I really hope they enjoy their time together.
Last Night Teen Meeting – There were over 100 at last nights teen meeting; 86 youth and the balance in adult leaders. Amazing. All the components fit together to make this happen; primarily a team of outstanding adult leaders who excel in this kind of role. It simply could not happen without them and their dedication.
Lawn Mower Delivered – Our new ExMark lawn mower was delivered to PCC last night about 6:30 PM. It is one nice piece of machinery. Fire truck red. It shines like a new car. It screams testosterone. About 13 guys gathered around to take a look at her. We are very happy that we have been able to make this investment.
This Sunday’s Message – Looking forward to preaching the truths from 2 Peter chapter 2 this weekend. It’s about false spiritual leaders. I’ve been wrestling with the text, and thought I had it in a sleeper hold, but God is winning. I will be limping this Sunday.
Just Wondering – We have an overheard projector stashed away in one of our closets at PCC. It’s a leftover from the days at Freedom Hall at Pace High School. Here’s my question – Do they even make overheard projectors anymore?
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Besides the weight gain, this amount of sugar is poisonious to your body.
Mother/daughter - An existing church or church planting organization (mother) provides the initial leadership and resources (money and/or people) to get a new church (daughter) started. This includes the selection of the church planter. Often the church planter is selected from within the organization and already agrees with the vision, values and beliefs of the sponsoring organization, or has been employed with a view to planting. The existing relationship allows for a close working relationship between the “mother” and “daughter” churches. Although the new church is autonomous, the sponsoring organization often has significant influence in the new church (including decision making during the pre-launch phase). Advantages often include increased financial resources and the ability to draw core team / launch team members from the sponsoring organization.
House churches - Small groups form and multiply via a network of people meeting in homes. In some cases, the individual cells are connected in a larger network that meets together periodically in a large group setting. This relational model focuses on personal growth, care and teaching through one-on-one and small group discipleship. Groups are birthed through multiplication, and, often die, only to resurface months or even years later. This model requires very little funding.
Restart - An existing struggling church decides to bury the old and plant a fresh new church. The restart may or may not be at a new location and may or may not be with the same leadership. The resources of many older stagnant churches are a good way to bring new life to the community being served.
Split - This is not really a church planting method, but nonetheless is the agency through which many new churches occur. A split typically occurs when competing groups conclude there is less energy required to “split” or “divorce” than to resolve differences and reconcile. The underlying factors causing the split often develop over years. In many cases, the dysfunctional character traits of the old church carry forward to the new churches.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another (John 13:35)
The proof that we are disciples of Jesus Christ is whether or not we have love for one another. Jesus Himself said so. We do not prove ourselves to be Christians:
- By forwarding silly e-mails in to everyone in our contact list and include a little note at the end saying “if you really love Jesus keep it going or somebody might die”
- By the bumper sticker on your car
- By the music you listen to
- By the political party you support
- By the products or companies you boycott
- By the version or brand of Christianity you embrace
Nope. None of these things prove you are a Christian. Our Christianity is proven, tested, and authenticated in the context of relationships. It's not only what you believe that counts. It’s how you behave that matters.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
- I really like how people hang around after service is over. At some churches people can’t wait to get out the door to go do something else. Not so at PCC. We actually have to blink the lights off and on to shoo people out of the building.
- I can’t fully explain the vibe we have in our meetings, but it feels good.
- Another thing that amazes me is how we keep growing. We are not advertising, marketing, or doing any mail outs, yet people just keep coming and coming.
- I can’t wait to see what PCC is going to look like in the future.
- Could the weather be any nicer than it is today? Well, maybe a little rain to keep the dust and pollen down.
- Something I am coming to realize more and more as each year passes is the importance of friends and lasting friendships; the kind that last a lifetime.
- The message today was on 2 Peter 1:12-21 with the main theme being the need to be reminded over-and-over again of the main truths of God’s Word – even if we have heard them before and know them.
- 3 Quotes of the day: “I used to think (in error) that some portions of the Bible were shallow and other portions were deep; that certain scriptures were milk and others were meat. This is a classis mistake that many Christians make. The truth is, all the Bible is milk and all the Bible is solid food depending on how deeply one studies it. For instance, John 3:16 is milk for the new believer, but for a mature believer who has a better understanding of the love of God, John 3:16 is solid food.”
- #2: “If you don’t like being reminded of God’s Word, there is something wrong with your spiritual appetite – not the message.”
- #1: “Some people develop itching ears or a caviar appetite when it comes to the preaching & teaching of God’s Word. It’s got to be flavored just a certain way or they’ll push back the plate. But if you had been a member of the Apostle Peter’s congregation, he would not have told you any fancy new truths for your itching ears, he would have told you the same things over and over again until you got planted in God.”
- We didn’t sell many CDs of the message today. Guess people didn’t want to be reminded of their need to be reminded. Go figure.
- A group of men from the ushers department will be attending a seminar this week on Crime Prevention and Security for churches. This is a topic that the men have addressed and have planned for so that they will know how to respond in the event of an emergency. This half-day workshop should be very helpful for them. We are being proactive in ensuring that PCC is always as safe as it can possibly be.
- Nursery workers picnic & fellowship this Saturday.
- Ladies Night Out in a couple of weeks. I forgot the date.
- Seminar 101 in two-three weeks.
- This is the last season of 24. I’m not very happy about that. All I can say is Jack Bauer better go out with a bang. I hope he is not killed off in the series because I’d like to see some follow-up movies.
- Went fishing yesterday on Blackwater River w/Donnie Smith.
- This is a picture of a log jam that we came upon. It’s one of the biggest I’ve ever seen. We couldn’t get through and had to turn around. Click the picture for an enlarged view to get a full appreciation of how big it was.
- Go to my Facebook here to see all the photos.
Friday, April 16, 2010
It was a beehive of activity at the church again today. People were all over the place working, volunteering, serving, and practicing – all in preparation for Sunday. The new shed got painted, final cleaning in the building is completed, bulletins are ready to go, music is selected and the chord charts prepared, power point for sermon is finished, the carpet got cleaned, and sanctuary chairs got put back into place. We all shared breakfast together this morning just before everyone got started.
I left the office about 2:00 PM to make a hospital visit. After that I went to Seville Power Equipment to make the purchase for the new mower. This thing is a beast It's just like the one in the picture - except with a wider deck (72"). It will be delivered to PCC next Wednesday. Can’t wait. It’s really going to make a difference for the volunteers who serve in this area.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
By 1911 the church had grown to almost 150 members, a considerably large church at that time. But a dispute had arisen within the congregation over whether or not the offering should be taken before or after the sermon. Thus the first split took place, with the dissenting congregation forming "Centerville Reformed Presbyterian Church."
In 1915 a dispute arose amongst the members of Centerville Reformed Presbyterian Church over the issue of the regulative principle of worship. It seems that some members of CRPC liked the idea of having flowers in the sanctuary, while others objected. As a result CRPC split and Trinity Reformed Presbyterian Church of Centerville was organized with 25 members.
Several more splits took place over various issues between the years 1915 and 1929. It was in 1931 that another dispute arose amongst the members of Seventh Presbyterian Reformed Covenantal Church of Centerville over an issue that no one can seem to remember, nor do any records indicate. Suffice it to say, that approximately half the congregation split away, and 9 people formed Third Westminster Trinity Covenant Presbyterian Reformed Church of Centerville.
Again, more splits took place between 1931 and 1975 when a major split took place within the PCUS denomination over the issue of merging with the more liberal PCUSA. At that time Eleventh Westminster Covenant Presbyterian Church of Centerville voted to remain in the PCUS with the merger. Fifteen members broke off and formed St. John's Presbyterian Church. One week later, St. John's Presbyterian Church split over the choice of name for the church as several members objected to using the word "Saint" in the name of a Reformed Church.
Since 1975 several more splits have happened with the most recent occurring this past weekend, when a dispute arose amongst the members of Second Street First Ninth Westminster Covenant Reformed Presbyterian Church over the issue of the observance of the Lord's Day. The issue in question was whether or not it was acceptable for someone to check their email on the Sabbath. Those who objected have now split off and have formed "The Presbyterian Totally Reformed Covenantal Westminsterian Sabbatarian Regulative Credo-Communionist A Millennial Presuppositional Church of Centerville.
"I think we've finally got it right now" said Paul Davis, teaching Elder at PTRCWSRCCAPCC. "We now have a church with 100% doctrinal purity." PTRCWSRCCAPCC is hoping to grow and help reach out to the community. "We're up to 6 people on Sundays now" said Davis. "I know that numbers are not important, but we're hoping to grow a little more."
It’s been a busy day here at PCC. In addition to our office staff and volunteers a large number of other volunteers have been here mowing the grass and landscaping the campus grounds; painting the new shed out back; and changing eighteen blown light bulbs in the sanctuary.
Tomorrow will be no different. We will have volunteers cleaning the building, atrium, front windows, bathrooms, chairs, and carpet. Other volunteers will finish folding and stuffing the weekend bulletins, putting out cards & pens in the sanctuary chairs for our guests to register with, and ensuring the sanctuary is in pristine condition for Sunday.
This Sunday will be more of the same. Dozens of volunteers will be at their place of service filling dozens of positions necessary to pull off a weekend service. A sampling of those positions are hospitality, greeters, ushers, parking attendants, teachers for all age-level ministries, nursery workers, singers & musicians, welcome center and guest services, and security.
Last Sunday night I taught Seminar 201 and yet it would not have been possible if not for the volunteers who provided so much support. About twelve people serve on this team and they make all the difference in the world to the success of this ministry.
It takes an incredible amount of work at PCC each week just to keep the doors open and our ministries operational. If not for the 100-125 volunteers who serve so sacrificially, our church would only be a hollow shell of what we are now.
We’ve come a long way.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
2. People who put nothing in the offering because they buy lotto tickets instead, but have the nerve to ask the church to pay their utility bills.
3. Parents who put their children on restriction from church or the youth group; the very thing that could help them with their behavior and future – not to mention their afterlife.
4. Those who expect the pastor to tolerate their political views, but leave the church because of his.
5. The “occasional” volunteer who expects the church to throw a parade in his/her honor when they finally get around to doing what the Bible commands.
6. People who enjoy the grace of God, but do not extend that very same grace to anyone else.
7. Pastors who leave one church for another church for better pay or to move up the ladder.
8. Those who teach man-made systems of theology rather than the BIBLE itself.
9. Pastors who look like political pundits instead of ministers of the gospel.
10. Fence straddlers.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Monday Was a Day Off – Renae and I had a day off yesterday. Finally. It’s been three weeks with no break. Yesterday was great. No phone calls. No crises to respond to. No office work. Bliss.
Spent the day working in my yard; mowing the grass, tending to the flower beds, taking care of the vegetable garden, repairing a broken pipe on my sprinkler system, etc. My back is sunburned. I also grilled a rack of ribs, chicken, sausage, pineapple, and potatoes. Very nice day.
Sugar - Still not eating sugar. Since it has been a full three months, I wouldn’t call it a fast any longer. It seems normal now; more like a lifestyle change. First of all I would say that my sugar intake is about 85-90% less than before. I avoid all the obvious sources of sugar (cookies, candy, cake, sweetened drinks, ketchup, white bread, honey butter, etc) but a little bit of sugar still finds it’s way in my meals through less obvious sources; baked beans, bar-b-q sauce, canned vegetables, etc. Since I have become so mindful sugar intake I have come to realize that sugar is in everything. The only foods without sugar come from the fresh produce department.
I am noticing changes in my body as a result . First of all I have lost 13 lbs. More importantly, I’ve lost inches around my waist, which means my body is changing shape. I’ve gone down to a smaller pant size (in Levi’s), and my kaki pants are about to fall off. Soon I will have to replace them. Something I did not anticipate is the change in my food cravings. By not eating so much sugar, my blood-sugar levels are in balance which means I am not craving food all the time. This is BIG. Not only have I eliminated empty calories from my daily intake, but my appetite is under control.
Exercise - My exercise routine continues strongly. I started jogging/running back in October – making a change from bike riding as the weather got cooler. I started out by run-walking and gradually increased to running 1 mile. Soon thereafter I increased to two miles. Now my normal running distance is 3-to-3.5 miles. I run five days a week; every day except Wednesday and Sunday. My exercise routine also includes strength training with weights - usually light weights - about two times per week.
Preaching & Teaching - I must tell you that I absolutely love teaching God’s Word to the PCC family. I've been preaching about 26 years and I still enjoy it. It never ceases to be a joy for me. I especially like teaching my way through a book of the Bible or other large portions of scripture. This style of preaching benefits our congregation in ways that I cannot fully describe; mainly it results in a healthy congregation. The most noticeable benefit is that our church family is learning the Bible – not some man-made system of theology – but the Bible itself. Plus, I also experience spiritual growth myself as I study and prepare. There are some weeks that I absolutely can’t wait for Sunday to arrive so I can communicate what I have learned.
Biblical teaching that actually “expounds the scriptures” imposes the authority of God upon His people and EXPOSES US TO THE CONTENT THAT GOD INTENDS FOR US TO HEAR AND KNOW. It goes deeper than simple topics like successful living and how to get ahead in life that we are so often exposed to today. It presumes that God intends the church to learn from both Testaments, as well as all other categories of Scripture – law, history, wisdom, prophecy, gospels, and the epistles.
The number one feedback I have received from people at PCC over the last twelve years is how they enjoy “learning the Bible.” From our earliest days up until now, it’s still the same – they are glad to be “learning the Bible.” I am glad that God has used PCC in this manner. I’m convinced it is one of the reasons that has contributed to our church’s health. When God’s people are exposed to a steady diet of milk and strong meat from God’s Word, they grow. As a result, the church will grow too.
Monday, April 12, 2010
- The last three weeks have been some of the most challenging that Renae and I have faced in a long time while being in the ministry. I mentioned last Thursday on this blog that we have been SLAMMED with work due to continuous emergencies and crisis’s in our church family that have required our attention. We have barely been home. Hopefully we will see some letup this week.
- As a pastor I have to always brace for the Sunday after Easter. Easter is usually the highest attended day of the year and the next weekend is always challenging.
- Today was probably our best weekend following Easter ever.
- Church was good today. Attendance was strong and I got a lot of positive feedback from the morning message.
- We began a new series – a verse-by-verse journey through the book of 2 Peter – that I have entitled Transformed by Truth. It’s going to be very helpful to Christian people and beneficial to our church congregation. The main theme is about knowing Jesus and knowing truth so that you won’t be led astray by false teachers. Peter has some shocking things to say about false spiritual leaders.
- I had a little difficulty preaching in the first service. I think the sermon was better in the second service. Sometimes it just works out that way.
- The most profound part (to me) of today’s text was v.10 where Peter said, “be diligent to make your calling and election sure.” I really liked expounding on that thought and mulling over what it means.
- God doesn’t want us doubting our salvation. He wants us to have assurance.
- Assurance of salvation does NOT come from believing that we belong to the right group, trusting in a system of theology, or even trusting in the fact that we mumbled a prayer one day in our past. Real assurance comes when we see visible, evident fruit of the Spirit being manifested in our lives. When we see that occurring, then we know that God is in us.
- Transformed by truth. Transformed by the Holy Spirit.
- Best quote of the day: It’s not just our profession of faith that gives us assurance, it’s progression in the faith that gives us assurance.
- Conducted Seminar 201 today. About 26-30 people took the class. I always enjoy these teaching environments. It gives me an opportunity spend more time with people (than I am able to do on Sunday morning) and get to know them better.
- 201 graduates are eligible to become small group leaders, lay pastors, ministry directors, etc. and represent some of the core ministers of our church family.
- The campus grounds look great. Really appreciate the people to do this job.
- We will be purchasing a mower in the next week or so and will have to wait for it to be delivered. The cost is $8,500. I think about ½ that amount came in from the special offering we received. We’ll kick in the rest from our general fund to make up the difference. This piece of equipment is going to have a huge impact on our ability to maintain the campus grounds.
- Thanks to everyone who gave.
- The storage shed is finished. We need to have it painted now. Any volunteers? We’ll provide the paint, brushes, etc.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Friday, April 9, 2010
Easter has come and gone. It’s now behind us. But the rest of the year is still before us. That’s why this Sunday will be just as great at PCC as last Sunday. We will be offering what we always offer – excellence in worship, service to one another in brotherly kindness, and ministry of the Word.
We begin a new message series this weekend from the book of 2 Peter entitled “Transformed by Truth.” We will travel verse-by-verse through this powerful book and its truths can transform your life.
Together we will learn that God’s has already given full provision to the believer making our salvation complete. Christians cannot claim that their sins and failures are the result of God’s limited provision; they are the result of not walking in the truth.
We will also learn about counterfeit teachings, three sins of false spiritual leaders, the necessity of growing in the Word of God, last days scoffers, several Old Testament stories, the certainty of Christ’s Second Coming, and the certain doom of false teachers.
This is going to be awesome!
Thursday, April 8, 2010
In the New Testament Jesus describes them as “false Christ’s” and “false prophets” who will attempt to show signs and wonders (Matthew 24:24).
Paul says they preach another gospel, and doctrines of demons (Gal. 1:8-9; I Tim. 4:1). Peter said they bring in damnable heresies (2 Peter 2:1). John said many anti Christ’s were already at work (I John 2:18, 22). Jude call them dreamers who defile the flesh (Jude v.8). Paul summed it up well when he said they are wolves who will enter in and will not spare the flock (Acts 20:29).
Christians who ignore the danger of false spiritual teachers do so at their own peril. False teachers are masters of deception; they peddle their doctrines of demons to unsuspecting souls marketing eternal damnation to them as if it were eternal life.
To make matters worse, many people in churches today are motivated by a cowardly fear of being rejected, of hurting someone’s feelings, or misguided notions of love, and are reluctant to expose today’s deceivers. Instead of confronting error, Christians simply embrace it or ignore it in the name of tolerance.
The apostle Peter He had no such qualms about denouncing the deceivers who threatened his beloved flock. He makes his opinion of these false leaders unmistakably clear. He said they were "as useless as dried up wells of water" (2 Peter 2:17). Peter understood that false teachers are emissaries of hell and pawns of Satan who are motivated by the love of money, power, prestige, and prominence. His exact words are:
“there shall be false teachers among you who will bring in damnable heresies” (2:1). That means false doctrines that lead people to hell when they think they are going to heaven. Then Peter said of these false teachers, “…. their damnation slumbers not” (2:3b).
Ironically, the most dangerous threats to the church do not come from those people who openly reject the gospel, but rather from those people who profess to know it and believe it, but lie instead. Satan’s most effective agents are those people who secretly infiltrate a church and pass themselves as genuine shepherds, leaders, and truthful teachers of God’s Word.
In reality, however, they are deceivers because they have been deceived themselves. They verbally affirm their knowledge of God’s Word and claim to speak for God, but their actions indicate they are actually enemies of the Cross.
The most subtle danger is that such false teachers are often people we know and trust, who might be our friends or even related to. It’s much easier to be on guard against the “boogie man” out there somewhere. But when a false teacher has a nice face and a real name, is someone you know and like, then it is very, very difficult to take a stand.
That is exactly where you must take a stand; and it doesn’t matter who they are.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Have you ever sat in a church service listening to a preacher and not understood a thing he said? The sermon is too academic and overly intellectual with a lot of big words most people don’t understand. These guys speak in a “unknown tongue” each week and people leave not understanding a thing.
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 PLAIN TRUTHS in WAYS HARD TO UNDERSTAND. They take straightforward texts and make them complicated by using big words that are rarely used in normal conversation. Sometimes they will even speak Latin or conduct extensive Greek root-word studies which tend to confuse or bore most people. 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.
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.
Some pastors today crticize any method of preaching or teaching that is not didactic. Their attitude implies that Paul was more profound than Jesus; that Romans is "deeper" than the Sermon on the Mount; that the espstiles are more important than the Parables. I call that foolishness, and it's close to heresy.
The next time you encounter one of these overly intellectual types who is muddying the water, just remember this - there's nothing wrong with you, there's something wrong with the communicator. He doesn’t really talk that way all the time…. he only pretends he does when he’s preaching.
Monday, April 5, 2010
1. What version of the Bible do you use?
2. Do you believe in Worm Theology?
3. What do you do for discipleship? (This question is most often asked by people who could give a flip about evangelism and lost people).
4. Are you “into the gifts?”
5. Are you reformed? (They don’t even know what that means!)
6. Are you a topical or expository preacher?
7. Are you guys pre-trib, mid-trib, post-trib, or non-dispensational?
8. Is your church Continuationist or Cessationist?
9. Are you missional or attractional?
10. What is your view on Soteriology and do you speak the Five Solas?
This is exactly why I love targeting unchurched (or de-churched) people for evangelism and discipleship; they don’t carry this kind of baggage. Rather, they are more receptive to the BIBLE itself; they just want to learn the Bible and more about God.
I know what all of these questions mean. But I will not spend my time trying to teach new converts what they mean. I mean, why bother? Doing so does not make them a better Christian or disciple of Christ; it just makes them better trained in certain man-made systems.
The words contained in those kinds of questions are not part of common language, and are not Biblical language either. In fact, most of them are not even in the Bible! They are simply code words - used as an insiders language - that lets others know you are in their paticular camp.
At PCC we teach the BIBLE because that's the only camp we want to be in. In our discipleship classes we teach our people to memorize scripture – not Latin. The only code words we use are Bible words.
We don’t use big words either. We let the Bible speak for itself. That’s what makes good disciples. After all, does a soccer mom really need to know what Anthropopathism is so she can be a better worshipper? Does she need to memorize the Five Solas to be a better Christian? See what I mean.
When someone calls us on the phone, or comes to PCC, and begins by asking me those kinds of questions, I know that our church is not going to be a good fit for them.
Sunday, April 4, 2010
I'd like to say thank you to everyone who made today possible. If not for the incredible volunteers and staff of PCC, today could not have happened. There is simply too much to to each week and without your help it would go undone; and today was even more needful than ever of depending on you.
I will not attempt to mention everyone - there are too many - but trust me when I say, "your contribution and labor of love does not go unnoticed." I am very mindful of what you do, I notice everyone, and appreciate it very much.
- I know when I have been to church, and today I was AT church!
- Had a good day. Music was good. Attendance was high. Preached a message on the resurrection (what else?) and how important it is to believe in the “risen” Christ.
- Quote of the day: You are not an atheist. You are simply a person who God has not revealed Himself to yet.
- Another quote: Open your mind to the possibility of God.
- I gave a three-part invitation today (1) for the believer (2) for the agnostic (3) and for those ready to receive Christ, using Romans 10:9-10.
- Several people committed to Christ today. Amazing.
- Evangelism is not an option. It is a command.
- Attendance was 737 – (459 in the first service & 278 in the second service) we were packed.
- The ushers had to bring out extra chairs two separate times.
- This was one of the most relaxed Easter Sunday’s that I’ve experienced in many years, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
- In the past we would have a three-day event; Good Friday service, Saturday Easter Egg Hunt, and a variety of special programming on Sunday morning. Plus, we usually conduct a large mail-out to the community the week before. This year we didn’t do any of that and just let church happen… and still we had a packed house.
- I think it’s important that church be fun and have the right atmosphere. You can kill a good Bible-believing church with the wrong atmosphere.
- Renae and I took a bike ride earlier this week. It was good to get out of the office with some daylight left.
- Christ was exalted and God was honored at PCC today. His Word was proclaimed.
Friday, April 2, 2010
I am very grateful. Today was a good day. Yes, it was Good Friday and it was also a good Friday. Volunteers have been working feverishly all week long beautifying the grounds in preparation for Easter Sunday. Today, Friday, was no different. The building was full of people making final preparations. I could not be prouder of a group of people than I am of our church volunteers who come up each week, during the week, to serve so faithfully during business hours. This Sunday will be no different; those who are assigned duties for the weekend worship services will be at their place of service, as they always are.
About 11:00 AM this morning all of our senior staff, as well as several other concerned church members, attended a funeral service for Mike Burgess’ mother, Theresa. It was a beautiful service; deeply moving and meaningful. I had a small part in the service, the closing prayer, and was honored to do so. While we were gone we left the church offices in the hands of key volunteers and they handled it well in our absence.
Late this evening, just before dark, Renae and I had to swing by the church to pick up something from her office. As we drove onto our campus we see one of our musicians there, who was practicing in preparation for Sunday. Also there was another man who was mowing, edging the pavement and blowing the parking lot clean. Neither of these men was asked to do this; they were just there doing it on their own because they love their church and because they love God.
I feel good about PCC.
It was a good Friday.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
In contrast, I thought of PCC. Our church has a wide representation of all age groups; nursery, pre-school, elementary, middle school, teens, college age, newly married 20-something year olds, thirties , forties, fifties, sixties, seventies, and even people in their eighties! After twelve years I’m still amazed that senior adults attend our church with our musical style and loud volume. Just goes to show that they are “young at heart.”
I am also very thankful that we have so many children and teenagers. This is because we place a high value on them and do whatever it takes to reach them with the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are not trying to be a “cool church” but we are serious about children and teenagers and it reflects in our numbers, demographics, and dedication of our ministry workers.
For instance. Just two days ago, two volunteer workers from our nursery department came to the church to prepare the nursery for Easter Sunday. These two ladies, who serve as our nursery directors, were busy cleaning the room, changing sheets, vacuuming the carpet, sanitizing all the toys, and ensuring that plenty of supplies were on hand in anticipation of large crowds this weekend. They did all this after working their regular day job. Thanks ladies for a job well done!
In addition, our pre-school director is graciously relocating her class to another location so that the nursery can expand to her room. Thanks for your flexibility! Our elementary aged ministry director is also making preparation for a great day. In addition to having a first-class presentation this Sunday, some of the kids will be singing in the adult services. Then there are the teenagers of middle school and high school; Wednesday nights speaks for itself.
All of this testifies to one indisputable fact: We love children at PCC and view them as a harvest field as important as any other. Children need God as much as any adult. I am thrilled with the emphasis our church family and ministry workers has placed upon children.
At PCC, children are as much a part of our DNA as anything else we do. One of the things I want our church to always do is to make our children’s environments a learning center about Jesus and fun at the same time. We want to teach children that God loves them and has a plan for their lives. This can only be accomplished by placing a high value on them. PCC has always existed for the purpose of reaching those who are far from God… and this includes children and teenagers.
Let me close by making special mention of our age-level ministry directors:
• Dottie Wheelus & Barbara Slate, Nursery Directors
• Richelle White, Pre-school Director
• Christy Klien, Elementary age Director
• Brian & Denise Yates – Middle School Leaders
• Renae Christian – High School Director
Each of these persons leads a team of highly competent and well-trained staff of volunteer workers. For this I am very thankful.
Allow the little children to come to Me, for of such is the kingdom of God (Mark 10:14)