Monday, January 31, 2011


The word “platforming” (in leadership circles) means granting someone with authority and with the “symbols” of authority; such as positions or titles. It tells everyone that this person has significant influence in the organization.

I have written about this before
here. This is something we see clearly demonstrated in the Bible.

Here are some bullet points about platforming in the church. Keep in mind, the word "platform" in this context does not mean "stage." It means authority, postion, and the symbols of authority.
  • There are no shortcuts to having a platform. You have to earn it.

  • No one owes you a platform.

  • Sometimes someone who is trusted can help you get a platform, but you still have to deliver the goods to keep it.

  • The harder you try to have a platform, the harder it is to get it.

  • If you do what you’re gifted to do and you are faithful to stick with it over time, there’s a good chance you’ll have a platform.

  • Not all platforms are created equal, but all have the opportunity to positively impact the lives of others.

  • Relationships are the foundation of a platform. If you can’t build relationships, you can’t have a platform.

  • The person who yells the loudest doesn’t necessarily get the platform.

  • If you never stop and listen, you probably won’t get the platform either.

  • If it’s just about you, you don’t have a platform.

  • You’ll lose your platform if you don’t continue to use it for positive change. You have to move people to a better place.

  • You’re more likely to leverage your platform if you tell stories that engage both the head and the heart.

  • You’re more likely to keep your platform if you ask questions.

  • If people can’t have access to you and your daily life, your platform is probably shrinking whether you know it or not.

  • Platforms are established over time and lost in an instant.

  • Lots of people want a platform, but very few are gifted to have a platform and even fewer are humble enough to keep it.

Cleansing the Temple

When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. - John 2:13-15

We often visualize Jesus as being soft spoken with a gentle manner, and letting children sit on His knee. The problem with that image is that it is only half the picture. There is another side to Jesus we find in Scripture… the side that allowed Him to verbally lash out at the religious leaders of the day… that allowed him to take a whip and drive the money changers out of the temple and kick their tables over.

Jesus didn’t go around always trying to be Mr. Nice Guy. Sometimes things ticked Him off and He let it be known that He was ticked off. He called people vipers, two-fold children of hell, blind guides, fools, full of dead men’s bones, full of iniquity, and a bunch of serpents whose damnation slumbers not. He took a swing at injustice in His Father’s House and encouraged people to ignore their Jewish leaders.

Quite frankly, He clearly understood, taught, and demonstrated for us that there was a time for righteous indignation when it was not necessary to turn the other cheek.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sunday Mind Dump - Janurary 30, 2011

Attendance was 418.

The way we received the offering today worked pretty good. I think we are finally getting the hang of it. There are still a few transitional issues we need to work out, but all is good.

After four weeks of receiving good offerings, we were a little lower today. Probably due to it being a 5th Sunday in the month.

Next Sunday I will provide a financial update to the church.

I was in an Escambia County Courtroom Friday afternoon (along with a group of people from PCC) in support of someone we know. While there we witnessed a 46 year old man, an officer of the court, a probation officer, be sentenced to prison for breaking the law himself. This man had a stellar career, was educated, articulate, and an accomplished person. He lost everything. He cried and pleaded for mercy. I was stunned. He went to prison anyway.

For the better part of my life I have been visiting hospitals, intensive care units, funeral homes, jails, and courtrooms. I have received an education from these experiences that keeps me sober and fearful.

I never cease to be impressed with how quickly you can lose everything….

Here are a few Facebook comments about today at PCC…

Polly said, As the amazing group sang at pace community church today...ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE, it really is true, IF they are done through our GODS saving grace. Awesome service today!

Martha said, Great message and music at church today!

Cathy said, Great message this morning at PCC. Thanks Pastor Ron. Enjoyed the offering message, every word was true. God is Faithful !

Terri said, Amazing music. Amazing message. Wow! my church ROCKS!

I met several new people today. Always enjoy that.

Glad that God is sending people to PCC.

45 people have signed up for Seminar 101 in three weeks. Awesome!

The front row was shoulder-to-shoulder with teenagers in the first service. Love it.

The fact that PCC has so many teenagers who are on an authentic spiritual journey let’s me know that God has not given up on the human race. He is raising up the next generation right now, and we are witnesses to it.

Children are a glimpse into a future that we will not live to see. We better do our job right.

I’m going to look at a new boat tomorrow.

I agree, we should make ourselves the friends of sinners. But that doesn’t mean that we live compromised lifestyles with them.

The current series (What Jesus Said About Eternal Life & Salvation) has been very informative. But I must say it is leaving me wiped out each week.

We will continue this series for a few more weeks, then begin a new series based on the life of JOSEPH.

I enjoyed sharing part of my testimony this morning.

I’m glad Jesus is Lord of PCC.

Been listening to some Fleetwood Mac lately. Enjoying it.

I read a magazine article two days ago that said the beef at Taco Bell is only 88% beef. The additional ingredients are a bunch of chemicals I can’t even pronounce. That’s another good reason to eat fresh produce…. fresh mullet… and to eat at home.

It’s getting close to time to having another baptism service.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Insider Information & General Information

1. Do you remember the “Family Chat” I gave about five weeks ago? In this talk I shared with you (among other things) the financial state of our church and how the year ended in 2010. A few people have asked me things have been going since then, so I thought it might be a good idea to follow up that message with an update.

I will provide an update next Sunday (not this Sunday). It will be in the form of a bulletin insert in the Sunday bulletin.

2. This Sunday’s message is “Jesus Expects Repentance & Life Change” which is part 4 of the series “What Jesus Said about Eternal Life & Salvation.” This series has been amazing. We have been learning “what Jesus said”… which is often quite different than what we have been told. For some of us, our belief systems have been challenged. This message will be very encouraging, challenging, and uplifting. Most importantly, you and your guests will be learning the Bible.

3. We have a date established for Seminar 101. The date is Sunday, February 27th. In only two weeks 32 people signed up! This includes a number of teenagers. If this is any sign of things to come, 2011 is going to be an exceptional year for PCC.

4. Small Groups. Beginning next week, or perhaps the week after, I’m going to post a series of blogs about the future of small groups at PCC. I’ve been talking with a number of people in our church family about small groups and a new model for doing them is beginning to emerge. Nothing is finalized yet, but this much we do know: what we have done in the past has lost its effectiveness. So I will be writing about these things to simply “get my thoughts out there” and get clarification on a new direction or new paradigm to use.

For anyone and everyone who has an interest in small groups, you should log on and follow along.

Bearing Fruit & Being Effective in Ministry

Very truly I tell you, all who have faith in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father (John 14:12) ...........“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing (John 15:5)

Clearly, Jesus has planned for us to do great things and bear much fruit in our lives as well as our ministries. Fruitfulness is the bottom line. Either we are bearing fruit (showing results) or we are not. If we are not bearing fruit (or showing results) we need to ask ourselves why.

I think some people grow so fond of their systems or practices (i.e., the way we do things) that they begin to see mere activity as the measure of success, rather than the fruit that is being manifested.

Take evangelism & outreach for example. Last year someone left our church because he wanted to find another church that “did more outreach.” I said, “You’ve got to be kidding! We baptized more than forty five people last year, most of them new converts, and many of those same people are now on a spiritual growth track towards discipleship.” Isn’t that the fruit of outreach? Sure it is. Yet this person overlooked this fact and left anyway. I think he was more interested in the “practices” of outreach than the results. I’m certain he is very busy in a small church somewhere doing outreach, but I’m also certain he won’t see the kind of fruit that he was a part of at PCC. There is a difference between simply being busy and being fruitful.

Take small groups as another example. The goal of small groups is not just to have small groups. The goal is to make disciples, experience fellowship, and get connected to a community of faith. So we ask ourselves: “How is that best achieved? Can we bear the same fruit another way?” Has our previous system bore any long lasting fruit?” You get the idea. No matter how cute our mission statements are, no matter how clever our methodology is, and no matter how desperate we are to see our programs work, the goal is to bear fruit. Nothing should be considered a sacred cow if it stands in the way manifesting fruit. In truth, disciples can be made without small groups, fog machines, cool lights, worship bands, and a continental breakfast. All that is needed is a Bible and a godly mentor. On the other hand, if these tools serve has vehicles towards discipleship then they are a good thing.

Consider any other ministry in the church, or all other ministries for that matter. We get used to doing things a certain way and don’t want to change. Andy Stanley says, “We love our plans because we are the ones who implemented them, and we continue to protect them ever after they no longer work.” We have to be more flexible than that.

Companies go out of business all the time because they continue to embrace a failed business strategy, and churches plateau or decline for the same reason…. we love our methods or systems more than we love results.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Ten Things I Am Learning

1. When people say “preach it”, they don’t always mean it.

2. People who say they want me to “go deeper” don’t always mean it either.

3. I admire student and children's ministers - if you can communicate with kids you can communicate with anybody. It's a rare gift.

4. Those who spend more time on theological witch hunts than sharing the gospel, rarley win people to Christ.

5. When I truly “preach it” a lot of people who wanted me to “go deep” leave. They can’t stand the heat.

6. A lot of modern worship music is beginning to sound the same.

7. Sometimes you just have to beat your chest and say, “Because I said so, that’s why!”

8. It’s okay if someone gets a boxer bunch-up every now and then.

9. You don’t want “yes men” on the team…. but when every idea is met with a “no”, it’s time to let someone go.

10. We planted PCC at the right place at the right time.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


I recently came into possession of a book entitled Think Orange. It was written by Reggie Joiner, former youth pastor at Northpoint Community Church in Atlanta where Andy Stanley is senior pastor. Gene Tharp purchased a set of these books to use as a teaching tool for staff and key leaders at PCC. While reading this book I came across a section about family that really captured my attention. It was so good that I immediately started highlighting the paragraphs thinking I could pass it along.

Here is an excerpt. Read your way through it slowly. I’m certain that it will be a source of encouragement to you. It was for me.

There’s something that bothers me. A lot of Christian parenting books I have read start with the premise that there is an ideal mom or dad. These superparents conduct morning devotions, pray together every night, play contemporary Christian music, put framed verses on their walls, stay within their biblical roles as husband and wife, vote conservatively, and attend church every week where they give 10 percent of their income.

The problem is, I don’t find a lot of good parenting examples in the Bible. The Bible certainly lends advice about parenting, and there are a number of universal principles we should apply as parents, but you would have a hard time convincing me that David, Noah, or Eli was an exceptional parent.

Don’t even try to point to the Proverbs 31 woman. What was her name? Oh yeah, she didn’t have one. Adam and Eve might have been good examples had they not single-handedly caused the downfall of the human race and subsequently raised one son who killed the other.

My point is this: Parenting is hard. Families are messy. There are no clear biblical examples. Anyone who claims they have discovered the secret to effective parenting is probably covering up something, just had a baby, or recently graduated from Bible college with a degree in youth ministry.

There is a degree of dysfunction in every family. Mine was no exception. When my dad was fifteen, he ran away from home and joined the Air Force to get away from his manipulative step mom. My mother’s father and mother struggled with alcoholism and both committed suicide one year apart during her elementary years. Neither of my parents had the advantage of reading James Dobson or Gary Smalley books. They never attended a Family Life seminar. They simply got married (without any premarital counseling), had kids, and plowed their way through being a family. They only thing that kept them going was their faith in God and their love for my brother and me. As a result, their values of faith and family were effectively passed on to me.

Unfortunately, they passed along a few other things too. Traits like control issues, stubbornness, moodiness, insecurities, tendencies to manipulate, and a few others. Why? Because they were bad parents? No, because they are human parents. Human parents tend to have human issues. Human parents struggle with the humanness of their own human parents that were passed down to them.

It all started with the first mom and dad. Talk about a dysfunctional family. Adam was quick to blame Eve for causing him to fall into sin and Eve passed the buck directly to the serpent. Then one of their sons killed the other one, and it all went downhill from there.

Noah had a drinking problem.
Abraham offered his wife to another man.
Rebekah schemed with her son to deceive her husband, Isaac.
Jacob’s sons sold their brother into slavery.
David had an affair, and his son started a rebellion.
Eli lost total control of how his boys acted in church.

In comparison to the parents described in the Bible, mine were incredible. Has it ever occurred to you that maybe God filled the pages of Scripture with bad parenting examples to encourage us? When I read the variety of Christian books about parenting, they often make me feel overwhelmed and guilty. If I consider my own inherent faults and personality traits, I am not sure I have it in me to be an A-plus parent. When I read the Bible I am actually encouraged, and I am definitely aware that God has a way of doing something incredible in spite of my faults.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Way it is at PCC

1. As the senior pastor I am not everyone’s primary care giver, nor can I be. Most congregational care must be provided by the members in the body as they minister to each other. This is the mutual ministry of the body to itself. I will only respond to the most urgent situations.

2. We are destined to be a large church. People who attend PCC must accept this fact.

3. The tension between caring for Christians and reaching non-Christians will always be balanced. We will not neglect one for the other.

4. We accept the fact that our church is not for everyone, that some people will never feel connected to us or to me and will eventually leave.

5. We must be intentional about becoming a multi-celled church of ministry teams and friendship networks.

Clingy People

Helping people is a good thing. But some people are too clingy. They zap all my time. They complain about being neglected and not being adequately taken care of. No matter how much anyone does for them, it's never enough. Their expectations only continue to increase.

Sometimes people will show up to PCC expressing their need to “get close to the pastor.” I mean some people will do this on their very first visit. If there is one thing I have learned, it is this: this type of person has an agenda or an expectation of me that I will not be able to meet. It’s only a matter of time before they are disappointed in me or our church, and then leave.

Many people have expectations of me that are unrealistic. Some people expect the 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. Pastors are expected to wear too many hats too: 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 for children, be on call seven days a week, and work on holidays – Christmas Eve, Easter, and Thanksgiving. Pastors must have perfect marriages with exceptional kids. Finally, they must live in homes that are acceptable to public opinion and drive automobiles that are not too expensive.

For too long pastors have been manipulated into unrealistic roles by demanding personalities that are unhealthy and unbiblical.

Let me spell it out: There are people who expect me to be with them 24-7 for anything they desire; personal time, marriage counseling, and hang-nail hospital visits. But if my own marriage begins to fracture or I break down spiritually, rendering me unable to minstier to them (when I need ministering to myself), they will drop me like a hot potato.

Ask me how I know this.

It's a good thing I don't let such people get to me.

Eliminating the Noise of Social Media

Clearing noise from my life is a discipline of mine. I never exercise or run listening to music with ear phones. I prefer to use the time to clear my head. From time to time I will turn off the technology devices in my life - for a set period of time – so that I can manage my time better. I disconnect from gadgets and people so that I can connect with God. The amount of time I spend reading twitter updates is better used reading God’s Word. You get the idea.

I’ve written about this before here and here. (If you click these links, simply backspace to return here).

Here are some changes in my near future:

THIS BLOG – For those of you who follow my blog, I’m glad you find an occasional nugget of wisdom or insight from what you read here. I will maintain a moderate pace of writing and will be writing shorter posts too. Long drawn out blogs are dying. Church news, personal stuff, etc, will be the norm. There may be flurries of activity when something big happens or some drama unfolds. Otherwise, my bloggig will be at a measured pace.

FACEBOOK – Too many people are using Facebook to debate theology, politicize the gospel, take a stroll down memory lane, talk trash, gossip, or send me stuff that I am not interested in. I barely knew you back in elementary school, and I was predestined to not even care that you are a Calvinist. I don’t want to be a ninja, a pirate, or grow a farm. I don’t want people contacting me on Facebook like it’s some kind of dating service, and I’m not interested in getting together. I’ve got a life and Facebook is not it. I’m more interested in having friendships the old fashioned way, face-to-face.

Let’s face it. Facebook is fun, but it is also unhealthy. There are very few filters on Facebook, so it's easy for people say things online that they wouldn’t say in a normal conversation. They post pictures of themselves that are compromising. Not good. Then there are the middle-schoolish arguments. Plus, the constant inflow of messages from people (we sometimes barely know or don't even like) can consume a huge amount of time. It’s like a monkey on your back.

It is for these reasons I have decided to make some changes in how I approach social networking. I’m no longer going to use Facebook as an inbox. I already have an e-mail inbox on my computer and a paper inbox on my desk, and trying to keep up with comments and status updates on Facebook is too much. Additionally, I’m pulling back from Facebook for a while and will limit my activity there. I’m going to de-friend people I barely know too.

Time Wasters

Not prioritizing your tasks. Some things are more important that other things. For instance, finishing my message for Sunday is more important than the ninth or tenth thing on my list. It would be unwise for me to spend my whole week on less important tasks and then trying to throw together a sermon on Saturday night. No, that would be stupid.

Not giving yourself deadlines for projects. If you have a project or work assignment with no deadline, your project will stretch out too long. This is a waste of time, and valuable brainpower, not to mention your company's time and employer's money. Establish a deadline, get it done, and move on to the next project.

Too much technology. I’m sure you like Facbook, twitter, e-mail, blogging, cell phones, iPads, iPods, iTunes, texting, Craigslist, online banking, and instant messaging, just like I do. But too much technology doesn’t save time, it wastes time. For me, there has rarely been a status update, a tweet, a text, or a message to my cell phone that has been a game-changer for me. These things are fine tools, but they can quickly turn into time wasters. If you are checking Facebook 25 times a day or tuning into a twitter account to find out what your friends are having for lunch, that’s a waste of time.

Television. The wrong person is going to win American Idol or Dancing with the Stars whether you watch it or not. And Kate with Eight is going to end in a train wreck too, whether you watch it or not. You know it’s coming, so wean yourself.

Meetings that don’t have an agenda. I am actually an advocate of MORE meetings, but SHORTER meetings. Most subjects can be discussed in fifteen minutes or less if you have the right people in the room and they are on time, and prepared when the arrive.

When You Can’t See the Flock for the Sheep

One of the toughest jobs of senior leadership in a church is not getting too fixated on one sheep so that you compromise the flock. It’s always a challenge to not allow any individual to sway the team. You can never lose sight of the big picture.

Like most pastors, I know almost everyone in our church. It’s easy to let my love or fear of one person to affect decisions that must be made for the betterment of the whole. God has called me to lead a flock, not just one sheep. He has called me to shepherd everyone, not just you, and the entire flock is where my heart is.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Three Reasons Churches Fail or Flounder in Mediocrity

1. Launching too many ministries.
Most ministries begin with good intentions, trying to meet a legitimate need. Over time these ministries can become expensive, volunteer intensive, and a drain on limited resources. All the while, their effectiveness dwindles. When launching a ministry you must consider its sustainability. It may not cost much now, but what about later? Having too many ministries within a church spreads people and rescoures too thin. It's better to do a few things in a quality manner rather than a lot of things with poor quality.

2. Being sidetracked by difficult people. New churches attract some great people, but they are also a breeding ground for difficult people. Talking a good talk, these people often come in with baggage that sidetracks your church off its mission. Before long, you’re spending a great deal of time justifying what you do to people who are misaligned. Instead of reaching people, you’re coddling people. I’m talking about the volunteers who just can’t submit to leadership, the finance team member who always seems to have a problem with spending money on outreach, or the former board member who wants your church to be a little more like his last church. You just can’t work with these people. It’s better to marginalize them or just show them the door.

3. Spending too much time working “in” the church, and not “on” the church. In new churches especially, the work comes at a fast a furious pace. You had months to plan your first service, but only six days to plan the next. You’re starting things, launching initiatives, meeting with people, visiting hospitals, doing ministry and running operations on a seven day deadline every week. While some of this is necessary, if you never back up to evaluate and create healthy systems, then you’re going to stay stuck in the hamster wheel of activity. Church leaders must work on the organizational side of things, create processes, and develop healthy systems. You've got to stop reacting to this week’s problem and implement long-term strategies.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sunday Mind Dump - Janurary 23, 2011

  • God is doing some pretty neat things at PCC right now.

  • No marketing, no signage, no advertising – zero, zip, nadda – yet God brings new people to us each week.

  • Attendance today was 425. (305 in first service and 120 in second).

  • I make no bones about this: I care about the numbers, but I care about the “right” numbers. People who come to PCC from another church because they got mad over there doesn’t mean much to me. I care more about reducing the number of lost people in our community.

  • Giving was solid. We have seen a slight increase the last four weeks, but it’s still beneath the trend-line we need.

  • Offering time felt a lot better today by having music provided. I failed to call the ushers forward before praying… in both services! I was a little distracted and defaulted back to a familiar pattern. Sorry guys. It was my foul up.

  • We are in the process of restructuring our age-level ministries. Gene Tharp is now head overseer of that area, offering support, encouragement, and guidance. Among other things, the area is being renamed “Kids Zone” and each class is getting a new, unique name. Gene is also writing a Parents Handbook which will ensure policy consistency for the entire age-level ministries at PCC. In addition, the nursery is being expanded, a new toddlers class is being added, room reassignments might occur with pre-school and elementary ages, and high school teenagers will now attend the adult services on Sunday mornings.

  • Denise Yates (who leads our high school teen ministry) is forming a teen leadership team. These teenagers, having demonstrated the proper signs of spiritual growth and leadership potential, have been selected for leadership development and leadership responsibilities. All of this bodes very well for the future of PCC.

  • Another possible plan on the drawing board is to have a “teen Sunday” in which the teenagers will conduct the adult service; play in the band, lead worship, usher, greet at the doors, etc. They would be involved in virtually all aspects of the service except the preaching. Who knows, in time one of them might even preach for us!

  • I’m pretty excited about the possibilities that 2011 holds for PCC.

  • There are some very nice comments on Facebook about today’s church service.

  • I’m always a little concerned that I might be coming across too strong when I'm teaching. I never want to be mean and try very hard not to be. Yet, at the same time, I want to be as faithful to the scriptures as I can be. That’s why I teach them “as they are written.”

  • This much I know – it does no one any favors to skirt around the challenging portions of the scriptures. If it’s in the Bible, then it means God wants His people to hear it.

  • Jesus Demands True Worship

  • I really liked this story of Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well. He methodically confronted her on all the issues.

  • Before Jesus offered her eternal life, there was a moral investigation and a challenge to her about a lifestyle correction.

  • During the holidays a group of men got together one Saturday morning for a men’s breakfast. A few men, who didn’t know each other, got introduced for the first time that day. Since then, I’ve noticed that some of these very same men and now spending a lot of time talking to each other on Sunday mornings after service. A simple introduction (at a group gathering) has now formed into friendship. This is a good thing. Relationships are the glue that holds a church together.

  • My new puppy, Sadie, is now seven months old. Love that dog.

  • I love the diversity at PCC. We’ve got young couples, older couples, singles, addicts, life-time Christians, bikers, construction workers, a few lawyers, a doctor, a PhD, sinners, new Christians, established disciples, and any other thing you can think of. We are still predominantly white as a congregation, but more people of color are attending – something I like.

  • BTW, everyone in the Bible was people of color. Heaven will be full of people of color too. Get it?

  • This “people of color” thing is especially moving to me when I teach from passages like this mornings text – i.e., the Samaritan woman who was mixed race.

  • Jesus shatters racial barriers.

  • I wonder why there is no Chicago style pizza place in Pace. Would somebody please buy a franchise?

  • I’m posting only one comment from Facebook today…..

  • Carole B. says, “Great message today. I had the mental image of just me and God; that we will all (stand) before God to be judged - no matter who we are, gender, race, etc. Also had this discussion at the dinner table after lunch; we did not know that the Samaritans were half-Jewish…. They say you should read the fine print. Well, today I did. Also noticed that Jonathan wrote two of the songs we sang. Great job Jonathan. Today there were light bulbs going off in my head. My brain was really busy. I guess you can call that good preaching."

  • I love it when “light bulbs are going off.” It means these people are deep thinkers and the Holy Spirit is speaking to them. Very often, when I am preaching, I observe this happening throughout the congregation. It’s an amazing moment for me.

  • It’s God’s Word, the Holy Spirit is the active agent making it alive, and only He can make this miracle happen.

  • I’m thinking about buying a boat soon.

  • Got some stuff to say this week. Check back.

  • Peace. Out.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

If You Are in a Funk Right Now

Funk - dejected mood.

If you are in a funk right now, you might want to……
  • Pray out loud
  • Write your prayer on paper (or in a journal)
  • Read your Bible out loud
  • Apologize to someone
  • Talk to someone you trust
  • Rest
  • Exercise
  • Start eating better
  • Drive around listening to a sermon
  • Turn up some worship music really loud. Shut the door. Sing along
  • Go back and do the thing you know you were supposed to do
  • Get organized
  • Repent. Offer God some gut-wrenching repentance
  • Encourage somebody who would never expect it
  • Get back in church. Serve somewhere
  • Quit complaining
  • Go on a date with your wife
  • Tell somebody thank you
  • Give some money away
  • Leave a big tip
  • Call on the name of Jesus
  • Remember how far He’s brought you
  • Realize that He’ll never ever leave you.

Just a few ideas to get you started.

You can take it from here…

Sadie at 7 Months


Friday, January 21, 2011

This Sunday

Current Series at PCC: What Jesus Said About Eternal Life & Salvation

Part 1 – The Straight Narrow Way
Part 2 – Jesus Calls for a New Birth
Part 3 – Jesus Demands True Worship

This Sunday’s message is (part 3) “Jesus Demands True Worship.” We will be looking at His encounter with the woman at the well and His offer of eternal life to her. This woman had a very complicated life and represents a picture of parched humanity, something most of us can relate to. Yet, the details of her life were something that Jesus did not overlook and He challenged her on the issues.

This message will be very encouraging, especially for those who need “living water.” If you know anyone who is sick of their life and needs God’s help, PLEASE GET THEM TO CHURCH this Sunday. I promise you they will hear a message of hope that could be life changing for them.

So You Want to Plant a New Church?

I don’t think most church planters know what they are getting themselves into. Starting a new church is a lot of hard work. It’s not glamorous, no matter how many conferences you attend or how much you have dreamed about being the guy at the top. If you’ve ever fought your way through a tough time, a lengthy illness, personal failure, or gut-wrenching grief, you might have an idea of what’s coming.

You may know how to program lights and create a cool web site…. you may know how to preach a sermon and quote your favorite authors from the books you’ve read…. you might even know how to conduct liturgy….. and that will last you about three months. You are going to work in a field where there is an 80-85% failure rate. You have to be more substantial than that if you hope to survive.

You’re not setting up a lemonade stand, you know.

Here are some unique features about being a church planter:

(1) You cannot coast. Ever. Things won’t run themselves by themselves and there is no auto-pilot. You will have your nose to the grind all the time, pushing things through. If you fail to act, things will not get done. Indecisiveness will quickly result in things falling apart. There’s no one else to do it. It’s not like there’s a bunch of staff or other departments to make up the slack, so you’ll have to do it.

(2) More thought has to be put into developing systems. In an established church you can rely upon established systems, but in a church plant you have to develop the systems yourself and develop them as you go.

(3) You have to move fast. Deadlines come every week. You must adapt quickly.

(4) You’ll morph into the very kind of pastor you said you would never be. When you were on staff you hated some of the decisions that your senior pastor was making. You promised yourself, “If I ever become a senior pastor myself, I will never act like that or treat people that way.” Yet, as a church planter you will. You will have to talk about money. You will be concerned about church growth because without it you are doomed to failure. You will talk about mission statements and strategies. You will have to make tough decisions that affect people. Some of your sermons will be duds. You will hurt people’s feelings. You’ll have to run some aspects of the church like a business. Yea, you will become the guy you said you would never be like.

(5) There’s no safety net. You fail, you don’t eat.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Chamber of Horrors

Abortion doctor kills seven babies after being born alive by puncturing the back of the neck with a pair of siccors to sever the spinal cord. Some were eight month pregnancies. He is now carged with murder. This was a chamber of horrors. God hates hands that shed innocent blood (Proverbs 6:16-17).

Lack of Oversight Allowed Abortion Mill to Operate

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What Saving Faith Really Is

The gospel Jesus proclaimed was a call to discipleship, a call to follow Him in obedience, not just a plea to make a one-time decision or pray a prayer. To answer His invitation to salvation was to submit to His Lordship and divine authority to govern ones life.

Jesus’ words about eternal life were accompanied by warnings of those who might be tempted to take salvation lightly. He taught that the cost of following Him is high, the way is narrow and few find it. He said that many who call Him Lord will be forbidden from entering the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 7:13-23).

Present day Christianity, in large part, ignores such warnings. The prevailing view of what constitutes saving faith continues to grow broader and more shallow. A “profession of faith” is all that is necessary to be considered a Christian, whether or not the person’s life shows any evidence of commitment to Christ.

One segment of Christianity even teaches that conversion to Christ involves “no spiritual commitment whatsoever.” Those who hold this view teach that the Scriptures offer salvation to anyone who simply believes the facts about Christ. There is no need to turn from sin or no need to yield to Christ’s lordship. Those things, they say, amount to human works, which corrupt grace.

This is a wrong view of the doctrine of salvation. It is justification without sanctification. Many believe they are saved, but their lives are utterly barren of any verifying fruit.

Jesus gave this sobering warning, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven….. Many will say to me on that day, “Lord, Lord,’ did we not prophesy in Your name…. And I will declare unto them, “Depart from Me, you who work iniquity” (Matt. 7:21-22). According to Jesus Himself, workers of iniquity are not saved. Clearly, no past experience - praying a prayer, doing good works in Jesus' name, not even prophesying - can be viewed as evidence of salvaiton apart from a life of obedience.

Jesus was not speaking about an isolated group of fringe followers here. He said there will be “many” on that day who will stand before Him, stunned to learn they are not included in the kingdom.

We have been conditioned to believe that reciting a prayer, signing on the dotted line, or walking the isle, is all there is to it. Yet Jesus clearly teaches a fruitful life is the evidence of true conversion and saving faith (Matt. 7:17-20; Luke 6:44). The apostle John taught that the clear way to distinguish between the children of God and children of the devil is by ones behavior (I John 3:10). James said that any faith that does not result in righteous living is dead and cannot save (James 2:14-17). Finally, John taught that any professing Christian who lacks the fruit of righteousness in his or her life is a liar and has no assurance of salvation (I John 2:4).

Real salvation not only justifies the sinner; it also sanctifies the sinner. Genuine salvation is verified by seeing the Holy Spirit’s transforming work in one’s life, not from clinging to the memory of some past experience.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Church Trends with John Ortberg

I read a blog today written in part by John Ortberg. John has been a well respected writer and author through the years. He authored "If You Want to Walk on the Water You Have to Get Out of the Boat" and many others. He used to be on staff at Willow Creek Community Church, and now is senior pastor at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church. Here are few comments by John on spiritual formation and discipleship:

I think that there is a large groundswell of people who are seeking to be disciples – followers of Jesus – in a way that brings about authentic change at the level of character and habits.

I think for too long discipleship became a word that, in certain circles, conjured up early morning meetings at Denny’s and reading a book and filling in blanks and ‘accountability’ to make sure other people filled in their blanks. People are more aware that information alone does not produce transformation.

This is impacting churches because those traditional discipleship programs are increasingly ineffective. Churches are often not sure what to do next. Small groups continue to exist, but the dirty little secret in many churches is that quality control around small groups is notoriously difficult.

So churches are looking for ways to hand-craft disciples rather than mass-produce them. We are beginning once more to come to grips with the fact that people are made to grow in different ways. And churches are struggling to make ‘spiritual formation’ their entire agenda rather than one department.

Salvation, Eternal Life, & Obedience

Much of the gospel that is presented today is offering a false hope to sinners. It promises them they can have eternal life while continuing to live in rebellion against God. In fact, it encourages people to claim Jesus as Savior and treats obedience as optional. It promises salvation from hell, but not freedom from iniquity. It offers false security to people who continue in sins of the flesh and spurn the way of holiness. By separating faith from faithfulness, it teaches that mental agreement to the facts of the gospel is enough to be saved and eternally secure.

This is not the message that Jesus proclaimed.

It is common today to see professing Christians whose behavior is indistinguishable from the rebellion of the non-professing. The church’s witness to the world has been sacrificed on the altar of cheap grace. Shocking forms of idolatry and immorality have become commonplace among professing Christians. And why not? The promise of eternal life without surrender to divine authority feeds the unregenerate heart. Enthusiastic converts to this unbiblical gospel believe that their behavior has no relationship to their spiritual status or standing before God – even if they continue in sin!

We have been told that the only criterion for salvation is knowing and believing some basic facts about Christ. We hear from the beginning that obedience is optional. It follows logically, then, that someone’s one-time profession of faith is more valid than the evidence of that person’s ongoing lifestyle in determining whether to embrace him or her as a true believer.

As a pastor, I regularly re-baptize people who once “made a decision” or “profession of faith,” were baptized, yet experienced no change. They come later to a true conversion and seek baptism again in an expression of genuine salvation. We hear of such testimonies each year at PCC.

What is needed today is a complete reexamination of the gospel. We must go back to the gospel message proclaimed by Jesus Christ Himself! I think you will be surprised to find how radically different the message of Christ is from what you might have learned in the past.

Our goal is to teach you what Jesus said.

PS - I wrote a similar blog about this before: How Faith Killed Works

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sunday Mind Dump - Janurary 16, 2011

  • Solid day.

  • Attendance has been steadily climbing the last three weeks. Glad to see it. A lot of guests in both services.

  • Sixteen people signed up for Seminar 101 this morning. I’m hopeful that even more will sign up over the next couple of weeks. This is a connection point for newcomers to PCC. I’m been thinking about changing the name to “Newcomers Class.”

  • I played guitar today. Really enjoyed it. I will not be on the stage next Sunday.

  • The way we are receiving the offering still needs improvement. The placement is perfect; our execution is not. Last week’s execution was better than today. Go figure. We will stay with it until we get it right!

  • After church today Gene and I discovered that the water main (back flow preventer) by the highway is busted and pouring water. No telling how long this has been happening; probably since last week when the temperatures got down so low. I panicked when I saw the dial spinning like a top! We turned the water off and will contact the water company (or contractor) tomorrow. Not only will we have a higher water bill this month, but we’re also facing an expensive repair. Good grief.

  • I made another hospital visit after church today. Carolyn R. (who we visisted last Sunday) had a setback this week and was put in ICU. Thankfully, she is doing much better now.

  • Finally got home about 4:00 PM.

  • Renae is out of town overnight. She and two other ladies from PCC have gone to Tallahassee to visit a couple of ladies from our previous church (which is near Gainesville). They are all meeting at the halfway point.

  • Had a killer workout yesterday. Now is the time of year to be stepping it up; the weather is mild with low humidity which makes it much easier to have an intense workout routine. Besides, we have short winters around here and before long we won’t be wearing those big, frumpy winter clothes that cover up all those problem spots.

  • Facebook comments….

  • Sharon said, Church was great again today. I am so thankful our Pastor is not afraid to preach the Word of God, and it doesn't have to be sugar coated. Pastor Ron tells it like it is. Thank you Pastor Ron!!!

  • Mary said, Awesome service today. Great teaching on the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus. Religious legalism will not get you to heaven. The simplicity of salvation still confounds many. Quotes of the day: "You don't join the family of God, you are born into it." "It's an invisible internal work that only God can do." AMEN.

  • Bill said, If we would just religiously seek Him we certainly will find the spiritual thread that binds us to Him.

  • Sharon said, Another good quote for today was "Faith always comes before understanding."

  • Christa said, Church was GREAT today!!! The Worship blessed me and the teaching CHALLENGED me!!!! I love that I go to a Church were there is amazing talent and a Pastor that is funny and intelligent!!! The comment about the chicken just cracked me up today!!!

  • Rhonda said, Great message today....especially liked your quote "you do not join the family of takes a spiritual rebirth to do so."

  • Polly said, You know when everyone in the music group was bobbin their heads, even Pastor Ronnie, u know the Holy Spirit had arrived at Pace Community Church this morning!!!

  • Loraine said, Get your worship on, friends, we serve a mighty God! He is worthy!!

  • Beverly said, Notes from PCC: Salvation is an inward work in our heart. It's invisible. God transforming us from the inside out. We could never be good enough to earn it with our good works. It is a "GIFT" given freely by God. When your heart is ready and you receive God's "GIFT"...the work begins... "God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." John 3:17

  • Susan said, Amen! Today was a great sermon! It is the kind of word you never tire of hearing!

  • Ron B. said, Great sermon today in church. Pastor Ron sure did put a different perspective on John 3:16 "THAT WHOSOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM" - all those verses before3:16 sure makes you think about believing in Him.

  • Donnie Smith and John Wise and been repainting the walls inside the church building since before Thanksgiving. To date they have painted the teen room, kitchen, children’s hallway, children’s bathroom, and nursery. They are doing this in the evenings after work, and it has been a very big job. Donnie is a professional painter, so the quality of work is exceptional. Additionally, both he and John are doing this for free, which is an enormous help to our church. Thank you!

  • The fear of long words is called "hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia." No kidding!

  • The word “abbreviation” is too long for its meaning too.

  • I love PCC and the people in it.

  • There is nothing more fulfilling than seeing a dream become a reality. Twelve and a half years ago, I could have never imagined….

  • Instead of putting on a show each week, or pretending that we are overly pious, we just try to be real. We don’t take ourselves too seriously, but we do take God’s Word seriously.

  • If a ministry is God-anointed, it doesn't matter who criticizes it. If it's not anointed, it doesn't matter who praises it.

  • My new Jack Russell puppy is almost grown in size. She is a delight to have… and a very handsome dog. I’ll publish a picture of her this week.

  • I would like to pod cast the sermons online (from our website). Maybe we’ll make it happen this year.

  • In fact, it’s time for our church to have a new website. After so long, they lose their impact.

  • Does anyone know anything about Vimeo? It’s a HD video, much better than YouTube for posting church stuff.

  • Peace, out. Gotta go.

  • Since my wife is playing in Talla-Vegas-Hassee tonight, I've got to go make myself a peanut butter & jelly sandwhich. It's tough being a bachelor.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Reason Behind Our Church Name

There is a reason why we chose the name Pace Community Church:
  • It’s neutral. It does not contain any denominational identification

  • It’s simple to understand. We don’t have to explain a deep meaning behind the name

  • It’s descriptive. We are a church, and we are in Pace

  • It doesn’t sound weird

Traditional sounding names or denominational names are fine, but they carry a lot of misconceptions for unchurched people. Many unbelievers would never even consider visiting a denominational congregation. When we chose the neutral name of Pace Community Church for our church it was an evangelism strategy, not a theological compromise.

A church name is important. I probably wouldn’t attend a church named St. Joe’s Unitarian Univeralist Church for Vegetarians. Would you? That’s too weird. Nor would I visit a church that was named Christ Theological Holy Church for True Believers. It sounds too exclusive, like an insiders club. Then there are churches that use obscure words from the Bible in their church names that most people don’t even understand! Do you know what an Ebenezer is? See what I mean.

A Gallup pole revealed that almost half of Protestant Christians change denominational affiliation during their lifetime. So it’s obvious that today’s generation has very little “brand” loyalty when it comes to choosing a church. For most people, “value” is a greater draw. Few people choose a church on the basis of the denominational label. They choose a church that best ministers to their needs and is found to be faithful to Biblical values.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Infestation of Consumerism in the Church

Over the years I have seen more than my fair share of people who travel from church to church, stay a few months, and then move on when the find something they don’t like. They are constantly on the lookout for something better. They don’t commit – they just attend for a while – and then move on because “God leads” them somewhere else.

Even worse, some church hoppers don’t simply jump from church to church – they actually attend several at the same time. Maybe they like their small group at this church, the music at that church, or the youth group at that one. It’s like they are shopping for paper towels – they get whatever is on sale and discard them after being used. Even more troubling, they almost never contribute anything to these very churches they feed off of.

Church hoppers look for what a church can do for them instead of what they can do for the church. They are more interested in a church that makes them feel a certain way than they are in sacrificially serving. Because they aren’t committed to any church, they are sporadic and unreliable in all churches. They are easily offended and constantly comparison shop.

This is a disease that infects Christianity which results in unhealthy churches and narcissistic Christians. I'm sure it happens everywhere, but this is an epidemic here in the deep south - almost an accepted cultural practice and considered normal by so many. In fact, it is the spirit of the world; the spirit of anti Christ, because it hurts the cause of Christ.

While pastors and church leaders often complain about this trend, we do little to address the problem ourselves. In fact, many churches and church leaders play right into the system. We palaver over these people when they walk through our doors in the hope they will choose us over the other churches in town. This unhealthy practice causes us to compete with other churches, just like a business competes for customers. It’s sickening… if not sinful.

I refuse to do it, and I refuse to play that game.

Since simply pointing out problems rarely does any good, I have made it a deliberate purpose of my pastoral ministry to combat consumerism at PCC. I consider this responsibility to be as important as anything else I do as a shepherd. My goal is to have a healthy New Testament Church, governed by New Testament principles, that is full of fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.

Here’s what I do:
  • I regularly teach our congregation how unhealthy it is to be a church hopper and address the trend from the pulpit.

  • I confront the consumer mentality with individuals, in face to face conversations, reminding them that Christ has called us to sacrificially serve, not only to be served.

  • We teach the importance of making commitments in our Seminar System, emphasizing that we always become like the things we are most committed to.

  • When Christian people come to our church from another church as the result of unresolved conflict, I will often call their previous pastor to get the other side of the story, and then encourage these people to go back to the former church to work out their problems just like the Bible tells us to do.

  • I teach that every Christian should give and financially support the church they worship at or benefit from. Yes, "every" Christian should give.

  • I write about this subject on my blog to let people know what I think about it. (Just click “church hopper” on the sidebar index to read several entries).

  • I have written a lot of personal letters to people specifically pointing out their self-centered tendencies, informing them that they might be happier somewhere else. My position is this: if they don’t mind writing me a letter pointing out how our church has “failed to meet their need” then I don’t mind writing them back pointing out how they didn’t meet ‘our’ need.

  • I remind people that “the customer is NOT always right.” That is a philosophy of the world (i.e., the customer is always right) and has no place in the church. A couple of years ago a lady yelled, “Have you even bothered to poll the congregation to ask them what ‘they’ want?” In this painful incident she was demanding that we bend our church in a certain direction, (to meet her demands, yes demands), but we could not. God is not intimidated when people threaten to ‘take their business elsewhere’ - and neither were we. She left.

  • I do not steal sheep from other churches and will not build PCC by raiding the pews of my neighbor. This is an inexcusable practice by some pastors. It reinforces the consumer mentality when sheep are treated as a commodity to be catered to and lured away by enticements or brides. Quite frankly, it spoils some of them to the point they become thoroughly corrupted.

There you have it. That’s why I am disliked by a lot of folk - I don’t cater. But it also explains why PCC is healthy - the people who stay with us become sacrificially serving Christians.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Realignment at PCC....

The sole purpose of the organizational structure in a healthy church is to facilitate ministry. Yet, churches can stall or cease to become effective if the organizational structure is not regularly evaluated and adjusted. For instance, the organizational structure we implement today probably won’t work in a few years. Likewise, certain organizational structures we put in place a couple of years ago are not very effective right now. Why? The church is a living organism and is always changing and growing.

We have been evaluating the big picture at PCC for a few months now and have decided that we are due for some organizational realignment. Among other things, some of our ministry practices have become lethargic because of mission drift. Certain economic realities necessitate drastic cuts too. This realignment may result in a new flow chart, improved systems, reassignments of personnel, the elimination of certain positions, or the addition of new positions, just to name a few.

This much I am certain of: we cannot continue doing the same thing in 2011 that we did in 2010. It is time to make changes so we can see better results and keep PCC healthy. We need to work smarter, not harder, and we must become very creative so that we can accomplish more on less.

This is the challenge before us. I would like to see PCC reach its redemptive potential in 2011. To accomplish this, we have to forge solid teams who are working towards the same goal. These teams must be made up of people who are flexible enough to sacrifice themselves for the betterment of the whole. I know PCC has the right people for this next chapter in our journey.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sunday Mind Dump - Janurary 9, 2011

  • It’s 5 PM and I just got home. It’s been a whirlwind day.

  • After church today Renae, Gene, and I had lunch with the tech team (i.e, the sound and projection people) for some face time together. I really enjoyed the time we shared and a lot of the conversation revolved around how much each of us love our church and are glad to serve there.

  • After lunch Renae and I made two hospital visits; Sacred Heart & West FL. We bumped into Greg & Sidney G. at one hospital who were making the same rounds as we were. It was good to bump into them and especially made me feel good seeing how our church family (and members) respond to needs of others. Greg said it felt like “being in the ministry” visiting the hospitals like that.

  • During the first service today a lady suffered a stroke. It happened towards the end of the message. An ambulance was called. It created quite a stir because we were all very concerned for her. Her name is Carolyn (and she was one of the hospital calls we made today). She and her husband have been attending PCC since their earliest days of our church. She is doing better now, but still needs our prayers.

  • Today’s church services were good. Attendance was solid and giving was good. This is very encouraging. I am very hopeful about our future, and am confident that we will be back on trend-line very soon.

  • I started a new message series and the opening message (part 1) was a pretty strong word. Yes, it was a brief passage but it was loaded with all sorts of imagery that conveyed deep profound truths.

  • Jesus was such a master communicator.

  • The quote of the day for me was, “According to Jesus, for whatever reason, most people choose the wrong path in life and ultimately miss heaven.”

  • Oh God, don’t let that be me.

  • For the rest of the series, beginning next Sunday, we will be looking at Jesus’ encounter with certain individuals who came to Him asking for eternal life. We will discover that some received what they were searching for while others did not.

  • These messages will take on a “human” component as we look at real-life people making it very easy for us to relate.

  • I love teaching a narrative story line from the Bible. It’s easy to visualize ourselves as having the same experiences, or project ourselves into the story.

  • Maybe that’s why Jesus taught this way, instead of academically.

  • Facebook Comments…

  • Shelby P. said, Church was informative today. I got a lot of good mental images.

  • Shelby P. also said, I'm also enjoying my break from the Worship Team. I love it so much, but sometimes it's nice to sit back and watch other people enjoying serving!

  • Martha H. said, Fantastic singing (Singers hit it out of the ball park this morning) and excellent teaching from the book of Matthew. Thank you, Pastor Ron! PCC is the best, can I get an amen?

  • Christa C. said, Church = AWESOME!! The Worship was fantastic and Ron's message was challenging!!! Thanks PCC!!

  • Alyssa S. said, The path is straight and narrow but the rewards are so great! PCC was great today :) Wish you could have been there with me to hear the Word of God! I'll save you a seat next week!

  • Mike C. said, Church was really good today. I like when Ron teaches on the words of Jesus. All truth no fluff!

  • Jewel C. said, Awesome sermon this morning. Jesus didn't mince His words. He said there are 2 roads . One is the straight & narrow that leads to eternal life & the other is broad & wide & leads to destruction. He said only a few are on the narrow road but there are many on the wide road. The choice is ours.

  • Funny thing. More people made commitments to Christ LAST SUNDAY when I taught on our church's finances than they did today! Go figure.

  • The band nailed it today. Loved the new songs. Enjoyed the good singing too.

  • We received the offering at a different place today. It’s “placement” felt right for a lot of reasons. We got a lot of positive feedback too, affirming for us that this might be a good choice for now. It wasn’t perfect, but we’ll get better as we go. In time, we’ll gain our full stride.

  • We received only one negative comment about the offering. Hey, one out of 400 is not too bad. I can live with that.

  • Really enjoyed having the ushers come forward. It added a visual element that we have lacked in the past.

  • We’ll keep experimenting with creative elements for offering time. I would love to have a musical “offertory” or sing 1-2 stanzas from a hymn.

  • I love that we are a church that is brave enough to experiment. We only want to be more effective and God-honoring in all we do.

  • Since Christmas I have ramped up my workouts and exercise routines. I’m still in shape (after indulging during the holidays), but now I am striving to get smaller and more athletic.

  • I read a blog today by a medical doctor who attends the church of a pastor I know. He said that obesity and physical inactivity account for 30 percent of all major cancers.

  • Here is something else he said: The culprit is clear. Children increasingly consume large amounts of processed and refined food. In particular, nearly 1/3 of American children eat fast food daily (a fivefold consumption increase since 1980), potentially resulting in about six pounds of weight gain per year, per child. Activity levels have also dropped.

  • Okay. That’s got my attention.
  • I think we have reached a TIPPING POINT for PCC. Believe me, there is some stuff going on behind the scenes. Plus, we’ve got the “it” factor going on right now and we are close to hitting our stride.

  • I almost lost my voice in the first service today. My delivery in the second service was much better.

  • It’s beginning to snow outside. I’m liking it.

  • I’m going to get up early tomorrow morning and have killer workout.

  • Peace. Out.

Just got home... (5 PM)

Mind Dump in two hours.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Friday Five

1. This Sunday We Start a New Message Series: “What Jesus Said About Salvation & Eternal Life.” Many of us will be surprised to discover that we really DON”T KNOW what HE said. Rather, we only know what organized religion has taught us; some watered down mish mash of easy believism, or either a set of legalistic church rules. Yet, the simple clarity of Jesus’ words cuts through the fogbank and will leave you spellbound and deeply challenged. Your belief system might be shaken, but at the end of the day you will know what Jesus Himself had to say about it.

2. This Sunday’s Message – “The Straight & Narrow Way” (which is Part 1 of the new message series). According to Jesus most of humanity is on a journey that leads to destruction. Fewer people are on the road that leads to life, which is a strict and narrow way. Jesus demolishes the idea that there is more than one way to heaven and He offers no encouragment to those who believe there is. These words, found in Matthew 7:13-14, are some of the strongest Jesus ever spoke.

3. Offering Time. We are moving the offering time to the end of the song service, which is just before teaching time. We will worship in song and in the lifting of our hands. Then we will worship with our giving and the bringing of gifts.

4. Budget Reduction. We are cutting expenses and still have more to do. We will continue to do this until we get our tend-line back where it needs to be.

5. The New Normal. The new normal at PCC for 2011 is going to be a strong emphasis upon financial stewardship. Most churches do a very good job at this and we can do better.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Last Sunday's Message....

Financial shortfalls happen in churches for a lot of reasons. Sometimes it’s because someone fell asleep at the wheel. Sometimes it’s because of a lack of generosity. Sometimes it’s because of something we had no control over. Regardless of the reason, as always, the best policy it to stand up and tell the truth – quickly and clearly, in straightforward language that everyone will understand.

I’m reminded of a church that handled a financial shortfall all wrong and ended up in a death spiral as a result. The culprit was undisciplined spending that had been covered by ever-increasing numerical growth. Suddenly, the church wasn’t able to pay its bills.

While that was embarrassing, and their actions foolhardy, the pastor and church leaders could have saved the day and rallied the troops by putting an instant stop to expenditures and stepping forward to say, “We made a mistake. We presumed upon growth that didn’t happen. We are now seriously in debt. Here’s what we are going to do to fix it.”

Instead, they hid behind doublespeak, excuses, and God-talk. The congregational letters always began with gushing reports of all the great things God was doing in their midst (though everyone could see that things were slowing down, not ramping up). They made vague references to financial shortfalls without details or a game plan. And they spiritualized everything as an attack from the enemy.

The result was no one had a clue what was going on. They just knew something was wrong. Worse, each letter seemed to leak a little bit more of the bad news, giving the impression that the church leaders didn’t know what was going on or were holding back information as long as possible.

In a crisis, people want FACTS, not FLUFF. By dancing around the issue and failing to communicate clearly, the pastor further eroded his credibility with each communication. After an initial boost in giving, most people gave less rather than more.

Last Sunday I spoke in simple terms that everyone could understand. There was no delay. 2010 ended and the very next Sunday you were quickly given the facts. No happy talk. No fluff. No hyper-spiritualizing. Just plain English that that everyone could understand and respond to.

It appears that my willingness to quickly tell the truth, and straightforwardness in laying out a plan, is having a positive effect on a lot of people in our church family. The troops are beginning to rally. The support and encouragement is incredible.

Let me encourage you to become a faithful steward over all God has given you and get actively involved in the financial health of your church.

Always remember, the way we fund all our ministries and operational expenses at PCC, (that’s ministries, staff support, mortgage, utilities, etc) is through the collection of the weekly tithes & offerings. That is our only source of funding. So if you are generous and “consistent” in your giving, then we’ll be able to perform all the ministries that all of us love so much. On the other hand, if you are "inconsistent" or not generous in your giving, then we have to curtail ministries and cut back.

None of us wants to see that happen.

Let’s stand should to shoulder and see this through.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Self Discipline

And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible (I Corinthians 9:25 KJV)

What does self discipline look like? It means:
  • Controlling my appetite to avoid gluttony
  • Controlling drink to avoid drunkenness
  • Controlling my sex drive to avoid sin
  • Controlling my tongue and the words I speak
  • Bringing my body under subjection to Christ
  • Getting my thought life under control
  • Controlling my attitudes and actions
  • Keeping my emotions in check
  • Training my body
  • Wearing the yoke of Christ
  • Controlling where my eyes wander
  • Being punctual, on time
  • Living within my means, not spending more than I make
  • Studying
  • Exercising self-restrain in all things
  • Being honest, truthful, and honoring my word
  • Keeping my appointments and commitments
  • Avoiding rash or impulsive behavior
  • Praying

Self Discipline is a mark of maturity. Gaining mastery over ones appetites, emotions, moods, speech, and priorities are key areas. It’s the ability to regulate conduct by good principles and sound judgment rather than by impulse or desire.

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me (Philippians 4:13 KJV)

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year Resolutions for Me

Without trying to sound too spiritual, I don’t rely upon New Year resolutions very much. I don't even like to say I make new year resolutions, choosing rather to establish personal goals. Whatever you call it, I do try to make a fresh start at the beginning of each New Year, trusting God, because it’s a good time to refocus my priorities and direct my energies. Here’s my list:
  • Renew and reaffirm my commitment to Christ and surrendering to His Lordship.

  • Maintain the spiritual discipline of prayer journaling (my prayers, Biblical insights, spiritual impressions, etc).

  • Read through my Bible two times.

  • Stay Off Sugar. I broke my addiction/craving for sugar last year. That was the main thing – my cravings are gone and I can avoid sugar pretty easily. However, sugar still creeps its way into my eating when it’s hidden in other food products. I’m going to take it to the next level and be more conscious about hidden sugars.

  • Maintain an active lifestyle and become more athletic. I’m in pretty good shape for my age. I run 3-4 times a week, watch what I eat, and recently incorporated strength training back into my routine. This year I would like to get more athletic by broadening my activities to include things like more bike riding, canoeing, running through the trails in Backwater Forest, racket ball, and other sports activities. I’m not a gym guy and I certainly don’t want a “gym body.” I’m more interested in athletic agility and getting lean. I’m interested in having a healthy heart too.

  • Debt free living. Pretty close to being 100% debt free. Just a few more months.

  • Self discipline. Moderation in all things.

  • Gut reduction.

  • Just enjoy life more. Take more time for fun, rest, and play. Maybe pick up a new hobby, attend a theater performance, go fishing, have lots of fish fry’s, and have more people over to our house.

  • Attend the Celtic Woman Performance at the Pensacola Civic Center in February. (Hey, it was Renae’s idea).

  • Take a vacation again this year. Renae and I went on a vacation last year and actually missed a Sunday service – the first and only time we’ve even did that since being at PCC. Can you say, long overdue? It was good for us, and it was good for our church. We’ll do it again. There are enough good competent people to run things in our absence, which is a very good thing.

  • Be more generous.