Sunday, October 31, 2010

Renae's Blog About Transferring Leadership in the Teen Department

This is Renae's blog post about transfer of leadership in the teen department. You can read it

Sunday Mind Dump - October 31

Solid day.

Attendance was good - a little more than 400.

About seven families (who are members) were away on travel – that represents about twenty-five people. They’ll be back next weekend and should bump things back up.

I think we have recently lost a few other people. Mostly casual attenders – the kind that come for a while and then move on. You know type.

I’ve got a feeling that the sermon series through Nehemiah may have given some people the nudge to move on.

That’s okay. A clear vision and strong teaching will actually repel some people while attracting others. Think of successful business or ministries – Apple, Starbucks, Billy Graham, Saddleback Church, etc. Each of these organizations has experienced huge success. But if you were to Google the names of each and add the word, “hate”, you would also find that there are plenty of people who consider these organizations evil. Clarifying our vision helps some people determine that they don’t want to be a part of our cause – which is good thing. Too much deadwood is a hindrance.

The last thing PCC needs is people who don’t like us or the direction we are headed.

Strong word today. Talked about sanctification. We were ready for it.

As pastors & teachers of God’s Word, our job is not to simply get people ‘pray a prayer’ and then leave the rest to them. Our job is to make disciples – not just converts. Without evangelism there would be nobody to disciple – so evangelism is very important. My heart beats for the lost. But in order to make disciples, we have to do more than teach people how to BECOME Christian’s. We must teach people how to BE Christians. To that end we must study, learn from the Old Testament, wrestle through hard theological topics, and answering the tough questions people have. The Bible addresses some weighty topics that cannot be brushed aside.

Today is Halloween. We are open for business at my house from dark until the kids quit coming. If you get out, come by and give me a visit.

CHANGES are still occurring at PCC. The most visible changes have been on the platform. While they appear to be small, they are in fact very significant. Other changes are taking place in the teen department right now and we will be taking a look at all of our age-level ministries very soon. A few people are also being reassigned to areas where they can better excel.

Change is a part of life. Babies change as they grow. Teenagers change as they enter adulthood. Families change over the decades. Nothing is static. Change happens whether we embrace it or resist it. And churches change. If they don’t, it means they’re on their deathbed. Otherwise, you may as well call in Hospice.

We are ministers of the gospel! How does anyone NOT do that work with passion?


We are open for business at my house today from dark until the kids quit coming. If you get out, come by my house.

Friday, October 29, 2010

This Sunday

Hey PCCers, I’ve worked really hard on this Sunday’s message. I want to serve you well with God’s Word, so let's fill the house! The services are going to be great. There will be good music, good coffee, and some yahoo named Ronnie is the speaker.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Potential Leaders Who Pull Back

For me it is a great personal disappointment when we are able to identify people who have amazing potential but they simply will not commit to leadership in the work of the church. I get it, not everyone feels led to step up. People have lives to live and other duties to perform, so the work of the church is relegated towards the middle of the list of things they have to do. But still, it’s a disappointment.

The conversations are always the same; “Joe is the perfect person for this ministry, but he’s so committed to lifting weights that he doesn’t have the time”, or, “Sue has the perfect set of skills for this ministry, but she plays Bunco on Tuesday nights.”

Please understand, I am not minimizing people’s vocations or hobbies, but I do think the cause of Christ is important enough to be at the top of our priority list. Church attendance is not something that we “fit in” to our busy schedule; it should be put into our schedule first. And the work of the church (advancing God’s kingdom) should be more important than our hobbies. What we do for the kingdom of God is eternal, nothing else is.

Fifty years from now it is not going to matter what kind of motorcycle you had, whether your child made the All Star team, if your lawn was perfectly manicured, or how much you could bench press. It’s not going to matter if you played Free Bird on your guitar, or how cool your new shoes are. None of this will matter when you are in eternity – and for most of us that’s going to be in fifty years or less. Think about it.

The Pipes in the Wall

Every building has pipes in the wall. They are necessary. They don’t need to be seen, but they do need to be there and they need to function properly. They are hidden and out of the way, yet serve a vital purpose.

When it comes to church government, church structure, organizational flow charts, and other internals systems, the same is true. They need to be there but shouldn’t be overly visible to the average person in the church. They need to be like pipes in the wall – they work behind the scenes.

Instead, the mission, vision, and ministries of the church should be the most visible driving force in the church. Not its policies, procedures, rules, or regulations. Structure should be simple. It’s not necessary to create a lengthy document to cover every conceivable circumstance that might arise in our church. Think of it this way: We have bylaws, internal procedures, and chains of command that keep things running orderly, but we are free to do more if necessary – and we don’t need a Thomas Jefferson to write us an amendment to the bylaws get things done.

Structures should serve the church (like pipes in the wall do) rather than the other way around. I once knew a church that had over fifteen committees running things. When the pastor wanted to hire a youth pastor, the personnel committee asked him to collect resumes. Then the finance committee got involved. By the time the other committees got involved in the process, four months had gone by. Everybody who had submitted a résumé was no longer available. That’s a broken system and this church was handicapped by its own structure.

You can read more about our systems here.

Chimneys Picnic Area in the Smokies

These pictures are great to look at in full size. Click the picture if you would like to see an enlarged view

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Travel Light

Buy one-third as much stuff, but three times as good.

Pay for quality and buy less. Buy and wear only good clothes. You'll look better, feel better, and have an easier time picking out what to wear in the morning. This doesn't just apply to clothes, but to everything in your life.

And when in doubt, throw it away. Get rid of junk. Cut your closet, your office files, and your personal baggage by two-thirds. Travel lightly through life, not burdened like a turtle.

How to Excell On the Job

Someone told me once that when first starting a job, get the lay of the land before trying to become a superstar. This has good application for church leadership too.

The best approach is to begin by doing a lot of observing; be as helpful as you can without be obnoxious, overly ambitious, or assertive. Try to become a team player as soon as possible. People will recognize your strengths without your having to broadcast them all over the organization. If you have strong self-esteem, people will find out that without your telling them.

After you have been accepted in the organization, go for it. And, by the way, the best way to receive a lot of recognition and credit is to give away as much as you can.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Money and Your Spiritual Growth

In the book, Plain Talk about Churches and Money, Loren Mead talks about a “conspiracy of silence” in regards to money. This “conspiracy of silence” is the belief that everyone will be more comfortable in church if money isn’t talked about, especially by the pastor. As long as the silence holds, everyone can continue to imagine that the financial and spiritual health of the church remains strong, and not have to experience any personal discomfort.

Every Christian should understand this vital truth: When the financial part of our lives is SHIELDED from our relationship with Jesus, then our finances will always be a problem in our relationship with God. Read that last sentence again; it’s that important. As long as we imagine that finances and faith don’t mix, then some of God’s people will wrongly believe that their money has nothing to do with their relationship with God. Nothing could be further from the truth. Your relationship with money has a direct bearing on your relationship with God.

Some want the “conspiracy of silence” to continue and therefore will get angry if the pastor talks about money. On the contrary, it is FOR THIS VERY REASON that the pastor MUST talk about money and be involved in the stewardship development of Christians within his flock. The pastor needs to shatter the “conspiracy of silence” by talking about money, Biblical stewardship, and generosity. As long as the pastor remains silent about money the conspiracy continues.

How should the pastor talk about money?

1. The pastor should preach on stewardship issues when the Biblical text deals with these issues. Since the Bible and the gospels talk so much about money and possessions, it is inevitable that the text for the Sunday sermon will contain these passages. When this happens, the pastor should preach it and teach it will as much enthusiasm as any other topic.

2. The pastor must be involved as part of the stewardship team. Stewardship ministry is too important to the spiritual lives of members in the congregation for the pastor to not be involved. Because of his Biblical & theological training, as well as his ministry work experience at leading a church, the pastor is in a unique position to keep the stewardship emphasis on tract, understanding that stewardship is mostly about developing generosity within members (rather than being about crunching the numbers to "pay the bills").

3. The pastor should model stewardship and generosity himself. Despite all the taboos, the pastor needs to talk about money, and talk about his own personal financial stewardship. If the pastor tithes, or goes beyond that level, the congregation should know about it.

4. The pastor should know what each person gives. Yes, that’s right. I am aware that this creates a little indigestion for some people. The common complaint is, “If the pastor knows how much people give, then it will influence his ministry to people. He will cater to the big donors and neglect others.” My standard response to that criticism is this: “If you believe your pastor is so easily corrupted that he would cater his pastoral care around the giving levels of people in his congregation, then you have much bigger problem with your pastor than whether or not the he knows this information.”

I wrote on this very topic once. You can read it here.

Because wealth and possessions is such a huge issue in our relationship with Jesus, the pastor has to know what people give. Quite frankly, it is a reflection of their discipleship. How can a pastor develop his flock towards discipleship if he is kept in the dark about how much people give? That’s like a choir director not knowing who can or cannot sing! The pastor needs to have this information just as he has access to other sensitive matters in people lives, and needs to handle it the very same way – confidentially and pastorally.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Biltmore Estate, Ashville NC

This is the Biltmore Estate (that we toured), the Carriage House Restaraunt (where we had lunch), and the Biltmore Inn (where Reane and I stayed one night).

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday Mind Dump - Oct 22

About Me…

After being off work for two weeks I came to realize how much non-stop pressure I live with. I couldn’t see this before. Funny thing, when you are in the pressure cooker all the time you simply muscle up and deal with it. And if you stay there long enough it begins to feel normal. IT’S NOT NORMAL TO LIVE THAT WAY. It was only by getting away that I gained a new perspective. Now that I see clearly, I will not return to my previous patterns.

To battle burnout I’m going to slow down and simplify my hectic life. I’m going to unplug a lot more. Less noise, less coffee, fewer phone calls, shorter to-do lists, and getting involved in more things I enjoy doing that are not ministry related. I think I will buy a small boat and go fishing.

Pastors are expected to do too much. What’s worse, some pastors think it’s normal to keep doing more and more. Consider: some people expect their pastor to pick up their children from school, talk to them when they can't sleep at night, mow their lawn, and fix their car. Some congregations expect pastors to wear too many hats: he must be a therapist, marriage counselor, spiritual advisor, scholar, teacher, healer, administrator, accountant, fund-raiser, friend of children, preacher, church leader, community activist, hospital Chaplin, wedding planner, funeral director, baby dedicator, and house-blesser. But it doesn’t end there; he should also conduct religious services, plan and lead special services, make house calls, show up at recitals, be on call seven days a week, and work on holidays – Christmas Eve, Easter, and Thanksgiving. Pastors must have perfect marriages and produce exceptional kids. Finally, they must live in homes that are acceptable to public opinion and drive automobiles that are not too expensive.

It’s very easy to get caught up in a squirrel cage of activity, spinning too many plates on the end of a stick. All of this leads to a diminishing shelf life for pastors. They just burn out and quit.

The pace at which I have been working has been destroying the work of God IN me. I’m not going to be a causality of the ministry. The fog has lifted and I see more clearly now.

About the State of our Church….

I read about 15 blogs each day, mostly by other pastors. I appreciate the transparency of some because they talk about the challenges they are facing and the things that are not working well in their churches. Other pastors just brag about how awesome everything is all the time, only sharing the good news or either hyping the not-so-good news.

I don’t want to be one of those guys who blogs a bunch of baloney. The truth is, leading a church is hard. Ministry is messy and things often don’t always go according to plan. In fact, at any given time about 30% of what we are doing at PCC needs to be fixed. Systems become overtaxed, programs lose their effectiveness, people don’t show up, a ministry leader needs to be disciplined, etc. Just as soon as we fix one area another area needs attention. It’s an ongoing challenge and our work is never done.

Here are two things that we’re not very good at right now:

Giving. About 80% of our giving (income) comes from 30% of our attendance. Of course, this speaks well regarding the 30 percent who give regurlary – these people are demonstrating a deep level of commitment to Jesus Christ and to their church family (not to mention growing in discipleship). On the other hand, it is also a sign that a lot of people have been attending PCC for a long time who still haven’t excelled in the grace of giving. While this is typical in most churches, I don’t like it. We can do better. In fact, we "must" do better because the demands on the ministry exceed our ability.

Staffing. Our church is understaffed. Period. A church of 450 people (plus their extended family members who consider our church as their spiritual point-of-contact in time of crisis - which equals about 1400 people) cannot be adequately taken care of by three full-time staff members. Could your company of 450+ people be managed by three full-time employees? The fact is, there is too much is going on for us to respond to or manage appropriately. There are sicknesses, deaths, marriages to perform, ministries to supervise, Sunday services to prepare for, maintenance issues on the building, administrative matters, add infitim, that make it impossible for us to stay on top of. Our only options are:

• Add more full-time staff
• Or decrease the size of our congregation (right size it) to a level that three full-time staff members can take care of.

I have a plan for both options – both of which will be uncomfortable.

My favorite size church is about 300 people. At that size I know almost everyone on a first name basis, and their kids by name. Heck, I even know the name of their pets! I have time to go into people's homes, and have company over to my house. My ego does not need a church larger that that. But if it's God's will for us to be larger than we are right now, then so be it. I'll go where He leads. God will provide... and He will provide through YOU, His people. If it is not God's will to be larger than we are right now, I am prepared for a downsizing.

All churches go through different seasons in their life cycle. Even healthy churches experience life cycles of growth, pruning, decline, and blessing. A healthy church does grow, but also receives pruning from God’s hand. Size is not in our hands. Size is in the hands of the Sovereign One.

Who knows why a church suddenly “starts growing” or suddenly “stops growing.” Sure, sometimes it’s not difficult to figure out. But others times it is baffling. Trying to figure out what “season” we are in is vital. Myself, I think we are on the verge of a pruning. God often prunes the branches so that they might bear more fruit. I think our church has a lot of dead wood that might need to be removed.

I have braced myself for anything God wants to do at PCC. One thing is for certain, I’m stepping out of the way.

No matter what season we are in, some things CAN BE DONE in “any” season. We must always be about Kingdom work. We are to be preaching and teaching sound doctrine, fulfilling the Great Commission, baptizing, and making disciples regardless of what season we are in. We are to be training young leaders, and administer the sacraments no matter the season.

This is what the Bible means when it says to “be instant in season and out of season” (2 Timothy 4:2).

About Today’s Service…

Today’s church service was very good. The band did an exceptional job just as they did last week. And Gene hit another home run with the sermon. You were there and seen it for yourself, so there’s not much I can add to it.

I attended the second service and took notes during the sermon. I was blessed.

We’ve made some significant strides at PCC over the last few months – specifically in the area of role changes and improvements in the Sunday morning service. Our work is still not done, there is more to do.

I will say, however, that one of my goals is to build a teaching team of two or three teachers – giving away about 30% of the preaching over the course of the year. It will be a win for everyone: Our congregation will benefit by hearing the teaching of others (i.e., my perspective on the Christian life is not the only valid one); PCC will be protected in the event I was unable to preach (i.e., sickness or death); the teachers will benefit by having an opportunity to develop their God-given teaching gifts; and I will benefit by getting a regular break.

Check back daily. It should be a full week of blogging.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Every Team Needs a Leader in Authority

Every team needs a leader. Even a team of leaders needs a leader. Consider the twelve apostles. They’re a team. Their leader is Jesus. Ultimately, He’s the leader of every team and every church, but the human leader among them is Peter. How do we know? Every time the apostles are listed in the book of Acts and the Gospels, Peter is listed first. You know why? He’s the leader.

Leaders are essential. Yet this is a sick world that hates leadership. Everybody thinks they should be in charge, put it to a vote, or be able to send the President a text message and boss him around. It’s a weird world we live in, from social networking to twittering to consumerism. People don’t want to follow a leader – all they want to do is criticize a leader. They don’t even recognize leadership. Some Christians will even say, “I don’t believe in leadership.” Oh really? Do you believe in God? He’s in charge. Do you believe His Word? Then read it again because it is full of teaching on the subjects of leadership and submission to delegated authorities.

Peter is always listed first because he’s the leader. When the day of Pentecost comes, Peter is the one who steps forward to preach. Do you know why? Because he’s the leader.

We don’t make leaders, but we do recognize those whom the Holy Spirit has chosen for leadership. For instance, when you are following someone, and you are listening to them and you are learning from them – they are the leader. This is easy to recognize.

In this day when strong leadership is despised (often called dictatorship by people who believe they are smarter than they really are) leadership is still needed. Without it anarchy results. If everyone does what is right in their own eyes, it will be just like it was in the days of the Judges in Israel. No church can survive that kind of chaos.

At PCC every team has a leader. Even teams of leaders have a leader. Our senior leadership team (SLT) has a leader. From our small groups, age-level ministries, student ministry, or any other team, there is a leader who is empowered to make the final call. This way we never end up in gridlock. For safety and balance of power, no one person leads all the teams, only their team. Myself, I serve on a variety of teams. On some teams I am down the chain of command and not the senior leader. On other teams, I am the senior leader. We are set up and structured in such a way that everyone who is in authority is ALSO under authority, without exception, including me.

Every team needs a leader, and nobody is above the law and gets to do whatever they want. That’s the way Jesus has set up government in His Church.

Under Authority & Having Authority

In Luke 6:12-16 two words are used to describe followers of Christ. It says, “He took those who were disciples, and He commissioned them as apostles.” A disciple is a dedicated follower and servant. i.e., Jesus is teaching, they are listening. Jesus is commanding, they are obeying. Jesus is leading, they are following. Here we see they are UNDER authority. Jesus had a lot of disciples and followers, thousands in fact, yet Jesus selects only a handful of these followers and appoints them INTO authority.

Here’s the lesson: You must be UNDER authority before you can be IN authority. A lot of people don’t get this fundamental lesson about God’s kingdom and church government. They want to boss other people around, but they don’t take orders well. They want the limelight, but don’t want to share it with others. God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble, so humble yourself.

Some people bounce from church to church or from ministry to ministry because they don’t want to be under anyone's authority. They don't want to be accountable. They don't want anybody to know what they're doing, preferring to hide in the crowd. They won’t commit to the church or to discipleship. That’s immaturity. They are part of the come-and-see crowd. You should settle down somewhere, come under authority, grow spiritually, be trained in godliness by church leaders, and maybe one day God will promote you.

Then there are people who bounce from church to church because they want to be in authority, but they’re not qualified. They don’t want to prove themselves under godly leaders, so will often leave a church in unresolved conflict. They will then look for a small church that is struggling and offer to help. This way they can just step into a position of authority and visibility without having to prove themselves first. It would be better for you to quit striving for a promotion and let God promote you instead. Proverbs 18:16 says that “a mans gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men.” If you have put yourself in your current position under those circumstances, God is not within a million miles of it.

A lot of new churches get started this way too. A group of disgruntled people sometimes claim that God has called them to plant a new church, when in fact He (probably) has not. If the truth be known, some people start new churches because deep down they have a problem with authority and don’t want a boss. They want to boss others. They didn’t get their way in all of their previous churches so they started their own, and naively believe that they'll always get your way there. Nobody ever gets their way all the time, even if you’re the founder. It is doubtful that God's blessings will be upon such an endeavor.

God’s kingdom and church government is different than in the world. You must be under authority and must prove yourself first before you can be given authority. Godly leadership is only for those who are qualified. If you demonstrate faithfulness and strength of character, someday you might be in authority. Maybe not. God is the One who decides. If God does decide to promote you, then you can make some of the changes that you would like to see.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Chimney Rock, NC

This location is where the cliff scene was filmed in the moive, "The Last of the Mohicans."

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sunday Mind Dump - Monday Edition, Oct 18

It’s Monday and Renae and I have been on vacation for eight days. This trip is our first extended vacation in thirteen years, and only the second time we’ve missed a Sunday service at PCC.

With a few exceptions, we’ve gone ‘dark’ on the internet for the last week in an effort to cut the cord, so to speak, from technology and attachment to work.

Another reason for going dark was to do everything possible to strengthen the Sunday services in our absence. While a lot of key people knew we would be gone, not everyone did, and we just wanted everything to appear normal leading up to the weekend.

I have heard from several people that services at PCC yesterday were very good. This was a giant leap forward for
us personally, as well as for Pace Community Church. Our church is strong with many competent and capable people filling vital roles.

We were glad to hear that the music was good and that the teaching was good too.

Renae and I attended services ourselves in a Baptist church in Townsend TN. There were about 70 people in attendance with the kids, young adults, and seniors all in the sanctuary together. The whole experience was very different that what we are accustomed to, but we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves – the fellowship, the newness, getting to sit together in service, the sermon, even the hymns!

I felt my eyes sting with tears a couple of times during church service. I was having a God-moment.

It was also good to not be the pastor that day – just a believer.

We felt like we did a good thing by taking time out from our vacation and travel plans to make time to be in God’s House on Sunday. Sure, there were a hundred reasons why we didn’t have to be in church while traveling, but we made the effort and it felt right. Besides, we worshiped God and enjoyed ourselves while doing it.

While on this trip we have stayed at Gatlinburg TN, Ashville NC, Townsend TN, and Pigeon Forge TN. We have spent a great time of time in the mountains hiking, driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway, and in Cades Cove. We also visited Chimney Rock and the Biltmore Estate.

For most of our trip we have not been able to get a phone signal because of being in such remote areas.

The falls colors are in full display in the Smoky Mountains at the higher elevations, especially along the Blue Ridge Parkway. This is our first trip to the mountains in the fall, and it has been fabulous. I’ve never seen anything like it.

The first day I drove through the mountains I wasn’t paying attention to my driving as much as I was to the leaves, and didn’t realize that I was riding with my foot on the brake pedal. Renae said, “I smell something burning.” I said, “Probably some fool in front of us who is overheating his brakes.” Then I realized that fool was me! My brakes overheated, got soft, and almost failed. I was able to get my truck to the side of the road and stop. Blue acrid smoke was boiling out of the front end. I looked like a stupid tourist.

My mother raised me to be smarter than that.

Renae and I have had several picnics together, which have been really fun. We picnicked roadside on the Blue Ridge Parkway, on a blanket in Cades Cove, at Abram Falls (after a long mountain hike), and along the Foothills Parkway. Most of our picnics have been near mountain streams.

I have eaten a few sweets while on this trip. I just ate around the calories.

I’ve been getting plenty of exercise too; still taking my morning runs.

The weather has been perfect – 70s in the day time, upper 30s or low 40s at night.

We hiked to a place called Abram Falls. It’s a 2.5 mile trail over very steep grades, making it a 5 mile round trip. OBSERVATION: Skinny people had no problem. Not-so-skinny people suffered pretty bad.

Most comical of all was to see the women who were wearing nice clothes, jewelry, and dress shoes. They looked like they were going to the Mall or something. Most didn’t make it. Ha!

A lot of people sitting down along the side the trail, giving up.

We have taken a ton of pictures. Can't wait to share them. (Click the pictures above if you would like an enlarged view).

Got to check out of the hotel soon. Going dark again.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Safe to Do These Things?

Read this passage carefully…

8 But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless. 9 " 'Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, 10 and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, "We are safe"- safe to do all these detestable things? (Jeremiah 7:8-10 NIV)

To update these words, it would sound like this:

“Get smart! Your leaders are handing you a pack of lies and you’re swallowing them! Use your heads! Do you think you can rob, murder, have sex with all the neighborhood wives, tell lies nonstop, worship the local gods, and buy every novel religious commodity on the market–and then march into this Temple, set apart for my worship, and say, ‘We’re safe!’ –thinking that the place itself gives you a license to go on with all this outrageous sacrilege?” (The Message translation).

Jeremiah is ranting about hypocrisy. His condemnation is for people who live in sinful activity all week long, and then go to church on Sunday morning and believe they are safe just because they attend church.

Imagine going to the doctor because you’ve had an outbreak of red sores on your skin. After a quick examination the doctor says, “You’ve got chickenpox. I’ll prescribe a pill that will kill the infection inside you, and over time the red sores will disappear.” But you reply, “No, I don’t want the pill. I just want something that will take care of the red sores right now. I would prefer some calamine lotion or maybe a jumbo pack of Band-Aids.”

WE WANT GOD TO HEAL US ON THE SURFACE, the place where everyone can see, BUT WE DON’T LET HIM INTO THE PLACE WHERE THE REAL INFECTION IS. God is not interested in us simply coming to church. He is not going to Band-Aid my sin either. He wants to get to the root of the matter – the thoughts and beliefs that make us rebel and live in willful sin.

No. We will never be perfect this side of heaven. But we experience true freedom when we let God transform us from the inside out.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Planted in God's House - Psalm 92

12 The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree:
he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.

13 Those that be planted in the house of the LORD
shall flourish in the courts of our God.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sunday Mind Dump - Oct 10, 2010

Today was solid. It was a good day. Things are really looking up and getting better at PCC in a lot of ways.

Tom P. says that “PCC is ablaze.”

It’s very exciting to see the new worship teams leading. They are doing an excellent job (trust me, it’s not easy) and I’m certain it is going to get better and better. Before long, everyone will be firing on all eight cylinders and hitting their full stride.

Letting go and releasing others is very exciting.

Christa C. says on Facebook, “Have I told anyone lately that I LOVE MY CHURCH. I learn something every Sunday without fail.”

I played guitar today – the first time in four weeks. I enjoyed it. On the other hand, I have also enjoyed being off the stage while Mike has taken my place. Again, letting go and releasing others is very exciting.

To be clear, I’m not interested in working myself out of a job. But I am interested in strengthening PCC in every way possible, and that includes letting go and releasing others.

I’m going to be letting go of some other things too. More about that in the future.

We’ve got to change.

Jodi B. is doing an excellent job. So is Chris P. So are all the singers.

Today there was a generous outpouring of appreciation expressed toward me and Reane. It caught us off guard. Thank you to everyone who made it happen. After listening to what you had to say, I was reminded of the steady kingdom impact that PCC has had on people’s lives over the years.

The new stage design was real nice. Gene T. designed it and put it up this week. We’ll change the colors during the holidays.

Let me give a SHOUT OUT to the volunteers of PCC. It takes all kinds of people with all kinds of gifts and talents to make our church a operate. We have a lot of people who volunteer/serve in teaching, age-level ministries, and the Sunday services. Yet, we also have a lot of people who serve in other ways – like building maintenance and related matters. A lot of men and women use their vocational experience as a ministry to PCC – electrical, painting, landscaping, cleaning the building, handy man, technical, etc, etc. In fact, in the last 4-5 weeks there has been a flurry of activity in all these areas. That’s why everything is usually in good working order at PCC. It’s easy to drive onto the PCC campus on Sunday morning and “assume” that everything will always be clean and/or in good working order because nothing ever breaks down, or because we have so much money we can just take care of it. That is absolutely not accurate. Stuff breaks down all the time, the building and campus need constant attention, and 98% of this work is carried out by volunteers from within our church family. They do this unseen work because they are dedicated and because they are invested in the success of their church. This speaks volumes to me…. and it does not go unnoticed.

We have had a number of deaths from within our church family in the last few months. It’s been overwhelming to me. But I must say that the BENEVOLENCE TEAM of PCC has REALLY STEPPED IT UP in a major way. Their ministry provides an invaluable service to me and PCC, not to mention the grieving.

To me, the most meaningful thing I said in the message today was that part about PCC becoming an ANCHOR in so many people’s lives. It is the central feature around which all your other activities revolve. You look forward to Sundays. It’s the high point of your week. And for many of you, you enjoy your place of volunteerism or service MORE than you do your vocational work!

That’s a good thing. It means you are ANSWERING GOD’S CALL to LIVE IN COMMUNITY WITH ONE ANOTHER. We are doing life together.

We have fewer small groups this semester than we have had in the past, but some of the things that are happening in these current groups are amazing. The best part of all? They are organic. What I mean is, they are relationally based, relationally initiated, and relationally maintained.

We concluded the Nehemiah series today. It was one of the more challenging series I have done in a while; much like the Malachi series early this year. It covered a lot of good material. It was blunt, hard-hitting and straight to the point. Most challenging of all – it intruded into our home life and our finances. Yes, that’s what God’s Word does sometimes.

Some people think that Jesus’ only purpose is to comfort them as they live their self-willed lives. Yet, Jesus calls us to sacrifice, self-denial, and forsaking all to follow Him. To that end, we will be challenged by His Word.

If you attend Pace Community Church, you WILL LEARN what the BIBLE has TO SAY.

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.

Funny thing. ATTENDANCE has been OFF about 50 people the last two weeks. I don’t know if it is due to the cool fall weather (camping, traveling, etc), or the hard-hitting content from Nehemiah. All I do know is there is a coincidence in the timing.

Had my mother over for lunch today after church. Very nice.

Later this evening we had a couple of friends over for dinner – hot wings, made by yours truly.

Life is good. Church, family, and friends. Doesn’t get any better than that.

A lot of things are on the drawing board right now at PCC: leadership structure, Seminars, small groups, staffing, etc. We are going to be knocking them out one at a time until we are finished.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Self-Discipline is a Mark of Maturity

The term discipline means different things to different people. To a child it means being made to do something he doesn’t want to do. To the soldier it means conformity to regulations and following orders. To a Christian, discipline means discipleship – following Jesus through self-denial and carrying your cross.

All of these meanings are true, but there is something more. The aim of self-discipline is disciplined character which goes beyond the minimum demands and permeates your whole life. Imposed discipline must lead to self-discipline:

In our appetites
In our emotions
In our moods
In our speech
In our priorities
In our adjustment to authority

The American way of life accents relaxation and recreation without restraints. It seems like we are striving, not for self-improvement, but for a good time. We love to play. Up to a point, play is good. But when play becomes the main focus – consuming the largest part of our time, money, conversation, and pursuits – it becomes decadent. An undisciplined life combined with the carnal nature seeks only pleasure and there is no bottom to which it will sink in this pursuit. For instance: God gave man sex for procreation and pleasure, but we turn it into immorality; God gave man the fruit of the vine (wine) to give us a merry heart, but we turn it into drunkenness and vulgarity; God gave man food for nutrition and enjoyment, but we turn it into gluttony; and God gave man rest, but we turn it into laziness.

Disciplined character belongs to the person who achieves balance by bringing all his faculties and cravings under control and exercises moderation in all things. His or her life has order, consistency, and purpose. He is not swept away by crosscurrents. He rises to meet life and conquers it. He resists temptation and overcomes. He is governed by a sense of responsibility. He has an inward strength that is the wonder of weaker souls. He brings adversity under his dominion and compels it to serve him. When adversity is so great that he cannot fight it off, he bows under the weight but is not broken by it.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Self-Discipline is What We Need the Most

Self-discipline is what Christian’s need the most and want the least.

Too often young people who leave home, students who quit school, spouses who walk out of their marriages, believers who change churches often, and church members who neglect attendance at worship services are simply trying to escape discipline. The true motive is often camouflaged by dozens of excuses, but behind the flimsy front is the hard core aversion to self restraint and self control.

A great deal of our instability and dysfunctional living can be traced back to this basic flaw in character. Overflowing asylums, substance abuse centers, and jails are symptoms (and proof) of an undisciplined life. There may be secondary causes and there may be secondary cures, but somewhere behind them all is the need for discipline, self-discipline. The kind of self-discipline that is needed goes much deeper than getting up when your alarm clock goes off or showing up to work on time; it embraces self-restraint, courage, perseverance, strength of backbone, and mettle in the soul.

Many addictions and nervous emotional disorders are simply the accumulated result of years of self-indulgent living. A lifelong pattern of running away from difficulties, avoiding responsibilities, failing to exercise good judgment, carnal indulgences, and always seeking the easy way out finally shows up in neurotic behaviors, various addictions, semi-invalidism, and dysfunction.

It’s not a disease. It’s the result of undisciplined living.

You can read books, consult doctors, counsel with preachers, offer innumerable prayers, make religious commitments, become inundated with prescription drugs, pay for expensive treatment, and endure spiritual scourgings, yet none of these treatments reveal the true cause of irrational behavior – LACK OF DISCIPLINE. And the only cure is to become a disciplined person.

The Bible says “If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small” (Proverbs 24:10). Days of adversity are sure to come. Weak people will faint by self-induced illnesses, by blaming others, by quitting, by displaying “nerves” – almost any method that offers the possibility of escape. Only by consistent disciplined living can the strength of character be developed which is needed to face adversities without fainting.

The flood of moral looseness that is so rampant today, and has had such a harmful effect upon our youth and undermined our homes is directly related to self-indulgent living. The Church has not escaped either. Easy-believism and a lack of sanctification have resulted in flabby saints, defeated Christians, and playboy preachers. We have given lip service to the Lord but in practice have bowed at the altar of carnal living. We are captivated by materialism while protesting it in others. We are prone towards explosive emotional outbursts while condemning the same behavior in others. We have been thrown off balance by a worldly value system rather that a Biblical one.

The remedy is discipline and rugged self-denial.

Self Discipline - Train Yourself to be Godly

What will it take in the Christian’s life to overcome broken resolutions, failed commitments, bad behavior, and substance abuse?

To begin with there is no such thing as instant godliness. There are no “one minute a day” practices, no “thirty days to a new you”, and no “three easy steps” to a life of freedom. That is not the way that God has planned for our sanctification.

We are forgiven (justified) and given eternal life (redeemed) instantly by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. But changing our behavior (sanctification) takes time. Please understand, justification and sanctification are completely different.

We have spent a lifetime developing patterns of sinful attitudes, thinking, and behaviors. These habits will not be broken and replaced with good and godly behavior without firm commitment to exercising self-discipline.

The apostle Paul uses the image of an athlete in training to tell us that we must discipline ourselves to live godly – “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness” (I Timothy 4:7). Godliness is not automatic. Good behavior is not automatic either. We must work towards it with due diligence. Why is this so important? The next verse tells us that doing so “holds the promise for the present life and also for the one to come.” Self discipline has benefits in this life, and eternal rewards too.

Good character and behavior do not come all at once. There is no silver bullet, no panacea, and no magic pill; just old fashioned hard work and bringing yourself under control.

Discipline is not punishment – it is training. An athlete spends countless hours on the training field. He practices a strict training regime, diet, and sleep schedule, all in an effort to bring his body under subjection so that he might run the race well.

Just as physical exercise is good for the body, the apostle Paul tells us our mind, emotions, will and spiritual life needs vigorous exercise as well. Just as the Greek athlete would discipline himself with vigorous exercise in order to win the athletic games, we are exhorted to exercise in such as way as to excel in godliness.

If you want victory, begin practicing discipline over yourself. Make yourself obey.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Oil Press

The night before Jesus was crucified He was in the Garden of Gethsemane. While there He was in great sorrow – (His own words were “exceedingly sorrowful unto death”). He was being crushed by the weight of what faced Him tomorrow. He was under such stress that as He prayed the capillaries in His forehead ruptured and blood came out His sweat glands and fell to the ground.

The word “Gethsemane” means oil press. It was a place where olives were crushed until the oil was pressed out. It was also the place where God’s Son was crushed.

Have you ever felt like that?

Jesus endured the cross for the joy that was to come afterwards (Hebrews 12:2). There was nothing pleasant or happy about going to the cross and experiencing the suffering He endured. But He did it because He knew that joy would be extracted from His suffering. God “pressed” it out of Him. It was “crushed” out of Him. After He rose from the grave Jesus said:

-Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world
-Be of good cheer, I was dead but now I live for evermore
-Be of good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee
-Be of good cheer, I have the keys to death, hell, and the grave!

And that’s something to be joyful about.

God will also take you to your own personal Gethsemane - the place of crushing until the oil is pressed out. “We have this treasure in earthen vessels” (2 Corinthians 4:7) and God will break the outer vessel so the oil of gladness from within can be released. No matter how bitter your circumstances, God can extract the oil of joy from the gall of bitterness.

”Behold, we count them happy which endure” (James 5:11)

Let Squeaky Wheels Squeak

When it comes to leadership, some of the axioms of conventional wisdom are pure baloney. Take, for instance, the old saying “the squeaky wheel gets the oil.” This idea is faulty to the core from a leadership perspective – especially in churches - and often results in poor decisions.

Spiritual leaders are called to care for the flock, but there is one group of people in churches who are best treated with disregard – the “squeaky wheels.” You find them in every church, sometimes on the fringe, other times sneaking into staff and leadership roles. But unlike other people with occasional legitimate complaints, squeaky wheels are never happy, and they make sure everybody knows it!

The natural response of most leaders and leadership teams is to oil the squeaky wheels. We alter our plans and give these folks extra attention in the hope of silencing their criticism. Unfortunately, it seldom works. Most squeaky wheels keep on squeaking for one simple reason: they don’t squeak for a lack of oil; they squeak because it’s their NATURE to squeak.

Most church leaders are slow to grasp this lesson. In their zeal to maintain peace & unity and holding on to everyone who comes through the front door, they allow a tiny group of chronic complainers to have an inordinate impact on their decisions and ministry.

One man, whom I’ll call Billy, held a pivotal up-front role in the early days of our ministry. He was good at what he did. It was hard to imagine our church functioning without him. But I also couldn’t imagine why he always had so much angst and negativity. Whether it was our song selection, a program change, my preaching content, or our budget, Billy was always uptight about something. Every time I talked to him I came away emotionally exhausted. Even when he didn’t have an issue to complain about, he always knew someone else who did.

Listening to him you would have thought our church was on the verge of disaster, with large segments of people ready to leave. For more than three years I put up with this man and his “the sky is falling” fears. Even though Billy’s negativity was legend in our church, a lot of people genuinely liked him. I did too, when he wasn’t driving me nuts. He had a lot of credibility chips stored up, or so I thought. I wondered how people would react if he ever got too upset about something or if, heaven forbid, he left the church. I wondered if they’d all leave too.

I came to the conclusion that Billy was a squeaky wheel and he would always be unhappy no matter what. So I quit listening to his complaints and distanced myself from him. He threatened to leave. I took him up on his threat.

Sure enough, Billy and his wife soon left the church. But the crisis I dreaded never materialized. We found somebody of equal talent to take his place almost immediately. As for Billy’s influence, it was overblown. His departure barely created a ripple.

The fact is, squeaky wheels can be hazardous to a church’s health. Leaders who place too much emphasis on keeping squeaky wheels happy risk abdicating their leadership. Instead of asking, “What does God want this church to do?” they ask, “How will so-and-so react to this?”

It also sends an unspoken message to the rest of the congregation. It tells everyone that the best way to have influence around here is to complain, and the louder are more often you complain, the more power you’ll have.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


A sermon quickly reveals if a pastor is in touch with his people or has just filled his head with commentaries.

Why It's Working

I've been thinking about some of the reasons why this venture called Pace Community Church is working. Of course, it is a God thing and Jesus is actively building His Church. You can’t really explain that aspect; it's supernatural. But on a purely human level, here’s three reasons why I believe PCC is working:

1. We like WHAT we do. Everybody on our staff (paid or volunteer) is called to this work and feels a sense of divine appointment. But we also enjoy the work. We actually like what we do, our job assignments, and the mission we have.

2. We like WHO we work with. Teamwork is one of our core values, and we’re always pushing each other further along. We look for ways we can improve and we make each other better. We evaluate honestly, because we all like each other and don’t get easily offended. Not only do I like our paid staff, I like our ministry leaders and volunteers. Ministry is better when you like the people you work with.

3. We see RESULTS. Who wants to run laps each Sunday with no visible progress? Who wants to attend endless church services, endless classes, endless staff meetings, and endless committee meetings? It turns into one big blurr, and is very draining. It’s so easy to get into a squirrel-cage type of activity where you are running all the time but not getting anywhere or seeing any results. On the other hand, it’s easy to stay motivated when we receive the e-mails of testimony, see life change up close and personal, witness dozens of people being baptized, and watch believers mature. I know there are people that toil away in churches and never see fruit, but I’m thankful we see fruit every week. When things are working and lives are being changed, that’s motivating.

Without a Strategy You Will Flounder

If you are a church leader, not only must you have a clear purpose, you must have a clear process. I’ve met a ton of pastors and church planters who have a great vision, but no idea on how to accomplish it. It’s not enough to say our vision is to “Bring Glory to God” or to “Preach the Gospel” or to “Reach People Far From God.” You need to have a plan. How many great ideas (and new church plants) flounder in mediocrity simply because the leader could not come up with a viable strategy or raise the necessary money?

I had a guy tell me one time that making plans and formulating strategies in church work was “plastic and prepackaged” and should not be done. It was one of the dumbest things I have ever heard in my life. Perhaps this explains why he does not lead a growing church, but rather a declining one. His theories are giving him exactly what they are designed to give – not much.

It takes more than dedication to grow and lead 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.

Without proper planning 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. The modus operandi for servants at PCC is to “plan your work, and then work your plan.”

My motto: Prior Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance.

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.

Planned Parenthood Director Resigns

Abby Johnson,Texas Planned Parenthood Director resigned over the weekend after seeing an ultrasound video of an abortion. You can read it... Here

Monday, October 4, 2010

Funeral Today

Today I officiated at the funeral for Captain Randy Brown, Escambia County Sherrif's Department. Man, I have never seen so many cops in uniform in one place in all my life. This was a big deal. The funreal procession must have been two miles long... and I'm not exaggerating.

I was glad to see Wayne & Beth Orr, Butch Houser, and my wife Renae in attendance. Their presence gave me confidence. It was a good day. Again, I have never seen so many cops in all my life.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sunday Mind Dump - October 3, 2010

  • Just got home from the funeral visitation. It’s been a long day, but here goes.

  • Today was a HUGE day for Pace Community Church. It was a big deal because the entire worship team (musicians, singers, and worship leading) was all done without Renae or me on the platform.

  • Here’s why it was such a big deal: What we do musically at PCC and the level at which we do it, is not an easy thing. It requires a high degree of skill and experience to play music like we do, to coordinate with others, and to lead worship and conduct worship services the way we do. This is no small feat. Yet today, it was all done by OTHERS; people who have a high degree of expertise, talent, and dedication. It was done by people who are humble servants who are willing to serve in any capacity for the betterment of the whole. This is a win-win for everyone; me and Renae, the PCC congregation, as well as the other team members who we able to spread their wings and use their gifts.

  • Yes, we are proceeding with the development of three worship teams, with each team serving on schedule of one month each. The team that was on today will lead services for the month of October. In November a third team will lead.

  • As an added bonus, we now have two, maybe three, brand new singers who are going to be added to the mix. New faces, new voices, and new talent.

  • Funny how change is a good thing. Funny how change makes room for others. It broadens and deepens our ministry.

  • It’s also funny how some people see change as a threat. Yet most of our people have recognized the development of three teams and the addition of new singers as an OPPORTUNITY for the more seasoned team members to develop as WORSHIP LEADERS themselves. Just saying.

  • We cannot remain the same. Know why? Because the ministry is not static. The church is not static. The ministry is fluid. The church is a living breathing organism; it’s people are the very Body of Christ. As such, they must be nurtured and developed in order to grow up healthy. And the day church leaders put the brakes on the church’s ministry (because they don’t like change, or because squeaky wheels squeak), is the day we have deliberately stunted the church.

  • Attendance was off by 65 people today, but the giving was higher that last week. Go figure. Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason to those patterns.

  • Maybe a bunch of people took me at my word last week when I said: “If Pace Community Church DOESN’T minister to you and your family, and if you don’t have confidence in its leaders, then find yourself a church whose leaders you can trust, and then do the same thing there that God expects you to do anywhere you attend – get in, get behind the leaders, and support it with your contributions!”

  • If that’s what happened, that’s okay. It’s better to have loyal, growing disciples who love their church and trust its leadership than it is to have a congregation full of people who don’t trust their leaders and eat for free each week. I don't mind saying that I am weary of freeloaders. They demand everything and offer nothing... and they know better.

  • I think some people got mad at me about the humor I used last week too - you know, the part about the dead churches. Sheesh. Some people just walk around with a chip on their shoulder looking for something to get offended at. Funny how people always find what they're looking for.

  • I enjoyed the message today as much as I have any in a long time. It was direct and straight to the point. I also enjoyed the pure practicality of its application.

  • Nehemiah KICKED Tobiah OUT of the temple! Then he threw his stuff out! It’s easy to assume that all the saints in the Bible walked around with a halo hovering overhead and wore polished sandals and untarnished garments. But to Nehemiah, having Tobiah living in the prophets chamber was like having a fox in the chicken coop!

  • Why was Nehemiah so ruthless? Because the he refused to live with wrong in a place that stood for right.

  • BTW, our Lord Jesus Christ did the same thing when He cleansed the temple. He picked up a whip, kicked over the tables of money changers, and ran those thieves out of the house! So much for being “Mr. Nice Guy” all the time.

  • Another powerful passage was v.10-14 which told us the people backslid on their commitment of financial support to the temple ministry. As a result many of the priests had to leave the ministry and return to their farms just to survive and the House of God fell into neglect.

  • It’s the same today as it always has been: The ministry is sustained by the voluntary generous support of God’s people. That is God’s economic plan. We are not in the retail business. We don’t sell widgets, gadgets, or soap. We don’t sell chicken dinners, have cake walks, or garage sales. We don’t play bingo games to raise money.

  • Neither are churches sustained by tax revenues like other professions (such as the military, school board employees, police, county employees, firemen, ambulance services, government employees, etc). These professions provide "services" to the community and need a financial base - it comes from tax revenue. Churches provide "services" to the community and their congregations as well. As such they are completely dependent up the voluntary generosity of God’s people… and I will teach God’s Word that way. I'll leave the ministry before I ever allow PCC to be turned into a Bingo Hall or flea market on my watch. If God's people are not willing to support it, then my time is up.

  • Without your giving there would be no Sunday services… we would have a dilapidated building…. Inferior quality in our programming… no communion services… no baptism services… no children’s ministry… no teen ministry… no preaching, teaching, music, or worship.

  • There would be no one to do your funerals… be with you at the hospital… perform weddings… or dedicate babies.

  • There would be no temple priests… no staff… no full time pastors… no daytime operations… no curriculum… and would couldn’t pay our power bill.

  • The pastor would have to go get a job on the side just to survive (like the priests who had to return to their farm fields), and when you needed him he wouldn’t be available because he couldn’t get off work at McDonalds because his supervisor was making him work a double!

  • Yes, this Nehemiah series has been to the point. Next Sunday is going to be even more so.

  • The worship team was excellent today. The sound system and microphones were perfect. Things are looking up at PCC for the better!

  • Transition is never easy and it’s been a little bumpy recently. But today I think we started hitting our stride.

  • Thank God, if feels good giving the ministry away. All I have to do now is be a protector of our vision.

  • Here are a few comments from Facebook about today’s service:

  • Melinda G. said, “Birds of a feather flock together… popped in my head when i was walking this AM....kinda cool considering what Rons message was at church today!”

  • Christa C. said, “PCC is amazing!!! Ron's message today was made for what my family has been through over the last couple of weeks!!! If I didn't know better, I would think he has "fly on the wall" capabilities!!!!”

  • Renae C. said, “The Worship Team & Band did a WONDERFUL job leading worship today ... and I SO VERY MUCH ENJOYED just sitting out in the congregation. The worship was deeply moving, very meaningful, and filled my cup to overflowing today! "

  • Beverly P. said, “"Stir up a hunger in my heart, where nothing else will satisfy me, where nothing else will do, stir up a hunger in my heart for m\ore of you" -radio...Cannot wait for church this morning!! PACE COMMUNITY CHURCH 9:30 and 11.”

  • Denise Y. said, “Really wish we were getting ready to go to church. Praying for the sign language team, worship team and Pastor Ron. I miss my PCC family. I love ya'll!”

  • Renae C. also said, “I look forward to more Sundays of letting others lead while I just enjoy the fruits of faithful service. After 13 years of leading, it's REALLY NICE (not to mention "high time") to enjoy the fruit of all those years of leading & training others to lead.”

  • One final comment from Renae, "Remember me, oh my God, concerning this, and wipe not out what I have so faithfully done for the house of my God and its services" ... This scripture especially blessed me this morning, (Nehemiah 13:14).”

  • Cathy D. said, “It was awesome.”

  • Mike C. said, “Church was great today. It is good to learn some relevant life lessons straight from the Word. And being a part of the worship team is just a big bonus!!!!”

  • Jodi Burgess did an excellent job on keyboard today. She plays very good. She also did a good job of leading, as well as following Chris’ lead. That is a big deal – developing team chemistry and reading the signals.

  • The sermon series on Nehemiah ends next Sunday. It’s going to go out with a bang. There will a strong family emphasis.

  • Before we launch into a new series we will take a 3-4 week break to teach a few stand-alone messages on different topics and also have a communion service.

  • I’m looking forward to the holidays. Holiday parties, things like that.

  • Went to a fish fry last night. Good people. Really enjoyed myself.

  • After the funeral visitation this evening, Renae and I had dinner w/a couple from our church. Good people. Really enjoyed myself.

  • I’m conducting a funeral tomorrow for Officer Randy Brown who passed away on Thursday. It is going to be a big deal. A lot of people from the law enforcement community in Escambia County will be there, including the former sheriff (Ron McNesby) and the current sheriff, David Morgan. In fact, Sheriff Morgan is going to be making a presentation of a medal of valor to Randy’s widow, Dawn. Pray for me that I do a good job for the family, represent PCC well in front of the community, and most importantly that I speak words of eternal impact to all those who will be present.

  • Good things are happening at PCC.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Teaching Our Children Self-Discipline From an Early Age

One of the main duties of parents is to teach their children mastery over self, or self-control. Not only is this a main duty, it is actually one of the best things parents can do for their children.

The nature of a child is not neural; they are born with a bias. Due to inbred sin there is already a twist towards self-centeredness and lawlessness which will not correct itself under the gentle rays of a Christian environment. Instead, this sinful nature in children will feed itself on your kindness, turn liberty into license, and grow alarmingly more so over the years, if not rigorously curbed by a very firm rule from the parents.

Teaching our children self-control (beginning at the earliest years) will not do away with their sinful nature, but it will at least bring it to light for the child to see; and it also makes the adjustment to the restraints of adult society much easier, to say nothing of the greater ease in submitting to the rule of God. Admittedly, practicing self-control falls short of holiness, but it is better than nothing. The more self-control a child possesses (control of sex, of anger, of impulses, of speech), the greater safety and happiness the child will have.

If self-control is not taught by the parents in the earliest possible years, it will have to be taught by others later on. And if the school, or the police, or the military have to teach it, the process will be much more painful and the success less likely.

This is a matter that should be taken very seriously by Christian parents. The challenge of parenthood is overwhelming at times, and to raise self-disciplined children requires unwavering consistency on our part. Do not cave in to infantile or juvinile demands from the child; impose parental rule in your home. It’s much easier to avoid a fight than it is to take little Johnny or Mary firmly by the hand and correct them. To leave a child to their own devices is a crime against society and against God, not to mention the child. Parental weakness or inconsistency has severe consequences. May every one of us turn to our parental responsibility with firm resolution.

The task of teaching children self-control is much easier if begun in the first four-five years of a child’s life. The habits of obedience need to be formed early on, so that little Johnny is not governed by his own infantile judgment in later years. Boundaries must be enforced. Good behavior expected. He must learn that "No" means "No." At least the child will learn what is expected, and that painful consequences follow wrongdoing; and there is no more basic lesson than this... for both this life and eternity.