Monday, February 28, 2011

No Visitation Teams

In PCC's thirteen years we’ve never had an organized visitation program. We have never sent out a visitation team to do door-to-door visitation or street evangelism. Know why? We simply do not need to. Our members do such a good of inviting and bringing their unchurched friends to church with them that we have never needed to make it a program of the church. It happens organically.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunday Mind Dump - Feburary 27, 2011

Attendance was 461 today.

The band nailed it.

The dance team was exceptional.

Giving was up.

A lot of visitors.

Great group of people tonight in Seminar 101. God is sending some remarkable people to this church. The picture is of tonights class.

Really liked the song used for the offertory.

Can’t wait for the new series that begins next week called “Overcoming Hardships Through Faithfulness” based upon the life of Joseph.

I love that God is building PCC and I love the people He is building it with.

I really want to turn up the “excellence” value at PCC, and it is very frustrating to me at times.

One of our core values states: We believe a standard of excellence in all we do honors God and inspires people. Think about that and let it sink in.

I think a dirty building is dishonoring to God and is a big turn-off to people.

I’ve been around churches for a long time and the difference between a growing church and a non-growing church many times is found in the small things and the attention to details.

I have been as sick as a dog this week. I don’t know how I taught the seminar tonight.

The 101 Hospitality Team outdid themselves tonight. They absolutely knocked it out of the park! These people exemplify a standard of excellence.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Anatomy of a Church Raid

If someone wants to start a new work, I’m all for it. Starting new churches is a great way to expand God’s kingdom. After all, that’s what I did. I pulled together a core team of seven people and together we launched, specifically targeting unchurched people. After thirteen years we can confidently say that God has blessed this ministry with much fruitfulness. Without His favor and the help of loyal people, whose heart beats faster at the mention of the Great Commission, none of this would have been possible.

But the underhanded way to start a new work is by raiding the pews of another church.

It is only after a church-raider succeeds in convincing others to follow him that he can pull out of an existing church to form a new work. To accomplish this he must drive a wedge between Christians by getting them to polarize and take sides over issues he creates. He does this by attacking another’s teaching, leadership style, or character, to bring about the ending of friendships between believers. He must do this loud enough and long enough in an atmosphere of criticism, rumor, and charges, and behind the scenes, until people believe him and are willing to follow. Only then can he show his hand and make his move. If he reveals his hand too soon, he fails to gather support.

Typical features of a church raid:

1. The one who is leading the raid will declare that he is innocent and has been falsely accused.

2. Just about everyone will believe him; even some of those who do not follow. He is seen as the innocent party who is being mistreated, while the pastor happens to be the real villain.

3. The leader of the raid will portray himself as simply too meek and too spiritual to criticize.

4. His followers will vow that they are in no way being influenced by him.

5. The leader of the raid will declare that God told him that, “we are right and they are wrong”, and that the church they left had some real problems such as leadership issues or shallow teaching. (After all, with God on your side, anything is ethical, is it not?)

6. People who follow a church-raider believe they are leaving problems behind. They are not. Eventually, every congregation has conflict and when it happens in the new work, they won’t be able to blame their previous church, only their new leader.

Let’s just be honest here. When someone leads a raid, it is almost always connected to leadership issues, relationship tension, vision, the direction of the church, or somebody just got tired of playing second fiddle. Just normal workplace baloney. This is where the real trouble begins, along with all the backroom conversations. The involved people will then spiritualize the issue and quote scripture in an effort to justify their actions and the damage they left behind.

Any group that starts a new work under these circumstances has already sown the seeds for its own ruin.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

PCC News

REVELATION SONG - This Sunday - a special treat in the Sunday morning service ... the PCC SIGNing TEAM will sign this song during the Worship Service. These girls are very dedicated and offer their talents and gifts to the body of Christ through this special presentation. You don't want to miss it.

Sunday Night, 4-8 p.m. - SEMINAR 101 - Discovering the PCC Family. Childcare is provided, and a complimentary, delicious meal will be served at about the halfway point in the Seminar. There are currently 65 PEOPLE signed up for this class ... we are VERY excited about so many new friends exploring membership at PCC.

PCC COLLEGE CAFE will suspend its meeting this Sunday night so that the college students can also attend the Membership class.

Sunday Night 7:30 - WORSHIP TEAM MEETING - in the YOUTH ROOM. ALL vocalists and musicians are required to attend, and all tech people are invited as well.

Wednesday Night 6:00-8:30 - YOUTH NIGHT for all Middle- and High-School Students

Beginning NEXT SUNDAY, March 6th (not this Sunday, but NEXT) - All children's classes move down the Children's Hallway into larger spaces. Babies will remain in the nursery, but Toddlers & up will be moving to new classrooms. Please speak with your teachers this Sunday morning to find out which classroom your child will be in next week. Middle-School and High-School students will then remain in the Auditorium with their family and friends in order to make room for the expanding children's classes on Sunday mornings. WEDNESDAY NIGHTS is the special emphasize for the Middle- and High-School Students, with a first-class program designed especially for them.

ROAD TRIP FOR YOUTH GROUP - There are still some spots available for this summer's Youth Camp. The dates are August 1 - 5 at Camp Baldwin. The cost is $185 per student. If you are a middle-school or high-school student and want to go to camp, please contact Mrs. Denise Yates at the church office (994-4310). A $50 deposit is due upon registration ... again, see Mrs. Denise Yates. Also, if you would like to sponsor a student in any amount, please see Mrs. Denise and she'll let you know how you can do that.

BTW, I plan to make it there a couple of days or evenings myself and look forward to spending time w/the teens.

No Two Relationships With God are Ever the Same

We must recognize that no two relationships with God are ever the same; and it’s quite alright with God. In fact, He has designed it that way. To illustrate the point, consider how much of a contrast Jesus and John the Baptist were from one another.

John lived in the wilderness, wore itchy camel’s hair, ate a strange diet of locusts, and greeted large crowds who flocked to hear him with a harsh message of repentance. When the theologians came to check him out, he ticked them off by calling them names and insisting that they, too, needed to get right with God or face judgment.

Jesus was much different. He had a reputation for hanging out with sinners, letting women of questionable reputation touch Him in public and generally living much different than what would be expected of a prophet or holy man.

Frankly, it’s hard to imagine any two people or ministries more polar opposites than Jesus and John. One lived in isolation waiting for people to come to him; the other traveled from town to town seeking out sinners. One followed a strict religious diet and fulfilled the rigors of a Nazarite vow; the other attended parties, lots of parties, and was known for turning water into wine.

Their differences were so great that even their followers were confused.

Yet, Jesus made it clear that the Father was greatly please with them both.

This should forever put to bed our attempts to create a one-size-fits-all spirituality.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Leaders Make Decisions

There is one tell-tell sign, a dead giveaway, that exposes a weak leader – he or she can’t make decisions. Nothing signals leadership trouble more than a leader who can’t pull the trigger and decide. If you can’t make decisions, you can’t get things done. If you suffer from analysis paralysis, procrastination, timidity, or being indecisive, there is trouble looming.

Making decisions is not part of the job; it is the job.

If you are too busy to get things done, you have a big problem. There will always be constant demands on your time, a full calendar, and a hectic schedule. These things are never going to change – they are not going to somehow get better next week, next month, or next year. Procrastinating doesn’t make things better, it makes things worse. So quit stalling and start making decisions. The only thing that gives you more control over your time is to make good decisions and to teach the people you lead to do the same.

Good leaders have a bias toward action. If you can’t take action, make tough decisions, and motivate others, then you don’t belong in a leadership position.

Strength in Leadership

True leadership, yes Biblical leadership, is tested and proved in crises and displays itself in strength.

The real leader is the one who can handle stress, solve problems, bear burdens, find solutions, and win victories when everyone else is confounded. Spiritual leadership in the church also means “fighting the beasts of Ephesus” (I Cor. 15:32), resisting heretics, exposing wolves, rebuking swine, and administering church discipline. Even Jesus displayed this kind of confrontation strength when He cleansed the temple by overturning tables and driving certain people out with a whip (John 2:13-15).

What about humility? Yes, humility has a place in spiritual leadership too. However, humility does not mean passivity or being a pacifist. Biblical humility means surrender to God, not to carnal people or troublemakers in the church.

Somewhere along the way, people have gotten the notion that spiritual leadership and/or pastoring means being some kind of “Mr. Rogers” type of character who is good at holding babies, is elegant and genteel, wears cardigan sweaters, is passive, and avoids conflict at all costs.

But was Jesus like that? Were the apostles? No. They were humble when the situation called for it, and they took the bull by the horns and slapped him across the face when the situation called for it.

Spiritual leadership is not about one over the other. It’s about ALL the attributes contained in Jesus Christ - such as trust, courage, taking charge, having influence, possessing strength, humility, sacrifice, selflessness, loyalty, decisiveness, courage, discipline, meekness, and a willingness to be misunderstood by the people for the sake of God’s kingdom.

Spiritual leaders are not one dimensional.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


There will always be people in your life that will never be happy for your success. They will not rejoice with you when you are productive and prosperous. As you journey upwards they will find you offensive. They are offended at what God has done for you. They are jealous of your success. They envy the fruitfulness of your life. They are “Cain’s children.”

Even though Cain had the same opportunity has his brother Able, he became jealous of God’s favor on Able – as if it was Abel’s fault instead of his own! Abel made appropriate sacrifices and was accepted by God, while Cain through self-effort thought he should ascend to the top. His offering was rejected.

Such people will not be glad for you because they feel like your success came their expense. Like Cain, they foolishly believe you have their blessing. No diplomacy will calm their jealous heart.

They want what you’ve got, but do not want to pay what you’ve paid!

Sometimes relationships will be lost as you travel upward. As long as you are in the day of small beginnings, you are accepted. As you accelerate into new dimensions, cynicism eats away at their heart and it finds its way into their conversations.

Some people will never be happy for your success. Be blessed anyway. Promotion comes from the Lord (Psalms 75:6-7 KJV).

When Pride Masquerades as Humility

There is a form of pride that presents itself as humility. It is a false humility and is often the product of self-righteousness.

Pride is a weapon that Satan uses to ensnare those who know the Bible. He gets us to think about how special we are, and how smart we are, and how humble we are, and slowly steers us away from God to serving ourselves for our own self-righteousness. He gets us focused on pumping ourselves up by talking about how low we are.

When someone boasts about how meek they are, they are not meek. They are full of themselves. Pride and self-deprecation have the same thing in common: self-centeredness.

It’s very easy to be proud of your humility.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sunday Mind Dump - Feb 20, 2011

Solid day at PCC. The worship was good, I enjoyed playing bass guitar, the singers were on-pitch, and the song selection very good.

We sang Amazing Grace on during offering time. It created a memorable and meaningful moment.

Attendance was up! Go figure. About twenty of our regulars were out and we have a slew of visitors.

Giving has been solid and consistent for January and February. I’m really encouraged about this.

Next Sunday we are singing Revelation Song and a group of young ladies will be on stage as a “sign team.” I’m sure it will be very beautiful.

After church today Renae and I spent the afternoon on the river. It was very nice.

Next Sunday is Seminar 101 and we have about 65 people signed up! A lot of volunteers will be there also to help make this a big success. I am always impressed at the way so many people step up to see our vision work.

Some good things are happening at PCC right now.

I’m really looking forward to the Joseph series that will begin in two weeks. PLEASE invite your friends to be there each week. It’s going to be very encouraging and helpful for a lot of people.

Boy, a lot of people told me today how much they really enjoyed today’s message. It was very encouraging to me.

We’re shuffling some things around and inviting people to join our ministry teams based on their passions, skill, and gifting that is going to make a huge impact at PCC.

It’s only February and it feels like springtime. Gotta love their weather in NW Florida.

I’m still exercising and watching what I eat.

Did you see all the teenagers on the front row in the first service today? All I can say is AWESOME!

I have been feeling pretty stressed lately. But I have been feeling might blessed too.

Thank you Curt S. for the 10 or 15 cases of bottled water you gave PCC today.

The sound guys have got it going on right now.

Anyone with a pulse can fall in love, it takes a plan to stay in love.

That’s it. My mind has been dumped. But then again, there wasn’t much there to begin with.

Friday, February 18, 2011

I Would Hate to be Bitter

To be bitter is to carry emotional baggage around that weights you down. Maybe there is some pain or hurt from the past that dominates your thinking. It’s like a monkey on your back that you can’t shake off.

Bitter people filter all their emotions through their bitterness and it just oozes out of them. Bitter people are often jealous of others and resent their success. They adopt a victim mentality. Bitter people often lack self esteem and focus their resentment on anyone they perceive to be stronger than they are. Bitter people carry grudges for a long time.

Bitterness will keep you awake at night thinking about the person you resent, while he is getting a good night of sleep and waking refreshed in the morning. Bitterness is being resentful of your own circumstances and always looking for a scapegoat to blame. Bitter people are negative and complain. Bitterness will give you ulcers and high blood pressure. A bitter person wears a mask of self-righteousness while attempting to shift the blame away from himself. They dream about getting even, and sometimes even try.

Bitter people don't know when to let go. They keep hugging the pain even after enough time has elapsed that they should have already moved on. Bitter people are bitter becasue they are bitter.

Bitterness is like acid, it eats away at the vessel that contains it.

Bitterness starts as a root and ultimately defiles (Hebrews 12:15)

Yea, I’d hate to be like that.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Church Discipline

On occasion, a Christian will wander away from the straight and narrow way and find himself ensnared by sin through ignorance or willful disobedience. It then becomes necessary for the church, particularly its leaders, to actively seek repentance and restoration of that Christian.

One means by which the church seeks to lovingly restore wandering believers is the process of church discipline. When a sinning believer is rebuked and he turns from his sin and is forgiven, he is won back to the fellowship with the body and with Jesus Christ. The goal of church discipline, then, is not to throw people out of the church or to feed the self-righteous pride of those who administer the discipline. It is not to embarrass people or to exercise authority and power in some unbiblical manner. The purpose is to restore the sinning believer to holiness and bring him/her back into a pure relationship within the assembly.

The Scriptures are loaded with instructions for carrying out discipline and correction in the church towards offending believers. But most pastors and church leaders find confrontation so undesirable to be involved in, that they usually put it off until it is too late, or it is never employed at all.

While trying to discover how to motivate people to be holy, I have learned that you can’t just preach holiness and then be indifferent to how the people respond. The Bible makes it abundantly clear that the church must enforce a biblical standard of holiness (see Matthew 18; Acts 5; I Corinthians 5; and 2 Thessalonians 3). We have to have to deal with sin. It’s not enough to make announcements or post rules of behavior.

Here is how church discipline is to be administered:

Step One: Tell the person His or Her Sin Alone. (Matthew 18:15)
Step Two: Take Some Witnesses. (Matthew 18:16).
Step Three: Tell the Church (Matthew 18:17a)
Step Four: Treat Him or Her as an Outsider (Matthew 18:17b; I Cor.5:2, 4-5, 9-11).

It’s comforting to know that heaven supports us in the process of discipline, because Christians often naively think that confronting sin is being unloving or unkind. But what we’re really doing when we administer church discipline is doing God’s work of fighting sin in the church and lining up with heaven.

In closing, we must remember that they goal of church discipline is to restore the sinning brother or sister. Church discipline is also the key to the purity of the church, and a pure church is a healthy church that can have an impact upon the world.

Reaching People for Christ

For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city (Acts 18:10)

I believe that Pace Community Church is being prepared to reach more people for Christ than we have imagined. God is active in our community preparing the hearts of people to be spiritually receptive.

If you think I am interested in seeing "much people" come to Christ, then you would be RIGHT! I am absolutely dedicated to seeing large numbers of people cross the line of faith and commit to Jesus Christ. I am interested in seeing large numbers of people growing in spiritual maturity. I am dedicated to seeing large numbers of weak marriages being put back together in the power of God. I want to see large numbers of people being baptized into the body of Christ. I have an unmovable, unshakable conviction about this.

I’m asking you to join me. I'm not asking you to get on a plane and take a mission trip halfway around the world so you can mix cement and stack concrete block on foreign soil. That’s too distant, too far away. I’m challenging you to walk across the street….. walk across the room…. pick up the phone…. and share your faith! Yes, we are called to make a global impact – but it NEEDS TO START with those who are CLOSEST TO US already – our family, friends, and those in OUR COMMUNITY. God loves the lost people of Santa Rosa County just as much as He loves the lost people of Tanzania or Kyrgyzstan!

God has "much people in this area" (Acts 18:1) who will convert if we will only take to the good news to them. Thousands of people are ready for salvation right here in our own community and many of them are going to become a part of the PCC family.

The harvest fields are ripe unto harvest, but the laborers are few (John 4:35; Luke 10:2).
We must go out into the highways and hedges and compel people to come that God's house might be full (Luke 14:23).

PCC, we are not called to be like other churches!

It Takes Unselfish People to Reach Lost People

The most overlooked principle for church growth is to simply love people the way Jesus did. That’s it! The reason Jesus attracted such large crowds is because He loved people.

The motive behind everything we do is that we love and care about lost people. This is how the Father is glorified; by bearing much fruit which proves we are His disciples (John 15:8).

On the other hand, I’ve heard churches justify their lack of growth (reaching lost people, baptizing new believers, and making disciples) by saying, “We’re small because we haven’t watered down the gospel like big churches have.” But maybe the real reason they don’t have a larger crowd is because they don’t want a crowd! They love their own comfort more than they love lost people.

It takes unselfish people to grow a church. Lost people have problems and their lives are messy. It’s no accident that Jesus compared evangelism to fishing. Fishing is often messy and smelly. So many churches want the fish they catch to be pre-scaled, gutted, cleaned and cooked. That’s why they never reach anyone.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Always Have a Strong Point of View

Trying to appeal to everyone by playing from the mushy middle will make you less appealing in the long run because being a bore is less attractive. Leaders who try to lead from the mushy middle are never known for what they actually stand for, or against, and this generates contempt. It also makes your task more difficult because you spread yourself too thin by attempting to appeal to too many people. It’s a daunting task, not to mention impossible.

If you do not have a strong point of view, (such as a clear mission, vision, agenda, team direction, or strategy), folks will begin trying to pull your towards their passions or agenda. People will polarize around their preferences, and the more preferences there are on the table the more polarizations there will be that occur. That is a death knell for a church.

While it seems counter intuitive, a strong point of view actually develops unity. Sure, a specific mission makes plenty of people unhappy (and they will often leave because of it) but it also unifies those who remain because they are the ones who buy in. The right people will always rally around the right cause.

We think we can bring people together by trying to make everyone happy, but that tactic eventually leads to division.

The obvious example of taking a stand is Jesus who “set His face like a flint” (Luke 9:51) towards Jerusalem and the completion of His ministry. He was resolute and unflinching with purpose. Even His closest leaders had to be realigned to His strong point of view. The results of that determination are still shaping the world today.

Some 411 About Me

1. I cannot be like your last pastor
. Please don’t expect me to be somebody I am not, you’ll only be disappointed. The personality traits you admire in another pastor may, or may not, be present in me. I’m wired a certain way, and that’s who I am. This much I can guarantee - I own more pair of Levi’s jeans than your former pastor does.

2. Pace Community Church is not your last church. Please don’t attempt to reinvent us into your idea of the perfect church. While we learn from a lot from other churches and often pick up ideas from them, God has not called PCC to be a cookie-cutter version of another church or your last church. We have our own way of doing things.

3. I have my own personality. I am naturally friendly, good humored, and like to be around people most of the time – but not all the time. Sometimes I feel like an extrovert, other times I feel introverted. I like quiet times. Sometimes I don’t even have myself figured out. When I want to be alone, it’s not so much that I’m trying to get away from people; I’m simply trying to get in touch with myself again.

4. I may not be the person you need to talk to about a church-related issue. Most of the questions that come into PCC can be answered by someone other than me. In fact, you’ll probably get better and more accurate information from other staff or ministry leaders. This may come as surprise to you, but I don’t know everything that is going on at PCC. There are other people who know more about what’s going on in certain areas than I do. This is called delegation and trusting others to lead.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Idols of the Heart

Little children, keep yourself from idols (I John 5:21)

Idolatry goes much deeper than those things that primitive people make with their hands; it also pertains to those things erected in the heart (see Ezekiel 14:3-4). When a Christian commits habitual sin or embraces sinful practices, they are giving their worship or allegiance to idols of the heart. In effect, their worship is transferred from the Creator and given to created things.

Because we worship our way into sin, ultimately we need to worship our way out. Repentance is the act of turning from idols and returning to God by trusting in Jesus Christ. This fact helps idolaters become transformed into worshipers. John had just this in mind when he summarized his entire epistle with the closing line, “keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21).

Know Your Idol

Several years ago following a sermon in which I talked about adultery, a man in our church who gave all appearances of being a Christian who was sleeping with and living with a woman out of wedlock, came to me for prayer and counseling. He told me about his situation and asked me what he should do. I quoted to him Romans 12:1 which states: I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” I explained to him that his bed had become like a pagan altar, because when he laid down upon it with this woman he was presenting his body as a living sacrifice to her instead of God, and that his fornication was like an act of idolatrous worship because he was choosing her over Jesus as the most important person in his life. Very soon thereafter, he and she both corrected the situation.

Idols come in many forms: materialism, greed, self-centeredness, pornography, drugs, drunkenness, pride, self-beauty, astrology, love of money, covetousness, sex, gluttony, self indulgence, hobbies, habits, lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, careers, self-righteousness, or anything else that we give our affections to in place of God. We have a tendency to see these things, not as idols that we worship, but rather as normal human behavior. Yet, in God’s eyes, that’s exactly what they are.

You Must Smash Your Idols, Not Simply Modify Your Behavior

It’s not enough that you summon up willpower, resolve to do better, and modify your behavior by going to new places, disconnecting from the internet, and start hanging out with new friends. To be sure, distancing yourself from the people, places, or things that entice you to sin is a good way to avoid some temptations. But it’s not enough. The idols in your heart must be destroyed. If you don’t smash them, your heart will always lust after these things like long lost lovers. Eventually you will return to them.

If you simply treat the symptoms of your behavior without addressing your heart as the source of those problems, you’ll never see sin mortified in your life. If you want to get well, recover, overcome sin, and live a victorious life, start by looking deep within yourself. That’s where the problem is. That’s where your idols are located. Dethrone them. Smash them to pieces. Crucify the flesh and nail it to the cross.

The Human Heart is an Idol Factory

Every one of us is skilled at inventing and setting up idols in the heart. The examples are endless. None of us are immune. To be cured, we must be re-awakened to the fact that we are made for God. The restlessness in your heart can only find rest in God. Your idols leave you empty. God does not. Your idols suck the life out of you. God pours life into you.

Thankfully, as we identify and smash our idols by the grace of God, our lives are transformed into acts of worship for God’s glory, our joy, and for the good of others as we properly manage created things while truly worshipping the Creator.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sunday Mind Dump - Feb 13, 2011

  • Great day. Church was good. Singing was good. Giving was good. Worship was God-honoring.

  • The music today got me in the zone to preach the gospel.

  • I never cease to be amazed that we serve a God who forgives.

  • Every Sunday people are trusting God for answered prayers and trusting Christ for eternal life. This never gets old!

  • I am pumped about PCC!

  • Attendance was slightly down by 25-30 people or so. At least half of those were related to family sickness, flu, etc. That stuff is still going around. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

  • If you are sick, feverish, or contagious, please stay home. We’re okay with that.

  • Really excited to see the new people God is sending to PCC.

  • I was very glad to see a new guitarist on stage today filling the acoustic position. His name is Gary M. He is a Lt. Colonel in the Coast Guard and is an instructor at Whiting Field. He did a good job for us, and it was an enormous help to me personally.

  • The weather was fabulous today. It was picture perfect during church and was even nicer this afternoon. The days are getting longer and it almost felt like springtime.

  • A group of teens went to a concert in Mobile this evening, Winter Jam, (see the picture above). It was quite a large group. I really appreciate the adult leadership and chaperons in the middle school and high school groups right now. These people are taking it to a whole…nutha…level.

  • I am really, really, really looking forward to the next message series. It’s based upon the life of Joseph. I’m entitling it, “Overcoming Hardships through Faithfulness.” This series is going to deal with some real-life, gut-wrenching issues that everybody can identify with.

  • The current series has been a big hit with too. It’s been hard-hitting, edifying, and eye-opening. A lot of people have been telling me each week how much the message (or series) has meant to them.

  • The sermon today was a little longer than usual, only because we looked at an entire chapter for the text. It would have probably been better to have prepared two message from this chapter, but it seemed to work anyway.

  • I really like going verse-by-verse through a text like that. It’s my favorite way of teaching God’s Word. I will be using this method in the Joseph series.

  • Some exceptional things are happening at PCC right now. It’s going to be a very good year for us.

  • I got stranded on the river today. A phone call to Robert H. saved the day for me. Thank God for cell phones, and thank God for friends who know what is going on when I don’t. One phone call to the right person got me out of a serious jam that enabled me to still look like the “big man on campus” in front of my wife and son.

  • We are deliberately and intentionally working our way through some in-house matters that need fixing and improvement. Next on the list, after the age-level ministries, is our small group ministry. We are going to undergo a complete paradigm shift in this area. It will not be the same as it was in the past. The emphasis is going to be upon “connection” by offering multiple options instead of putting all our eggs in one basket. I’ll be writing about this soon, extensively, so if you are interested in this area of our church be sure to stay tuned in to my blog.

  • I am really, really impressed with the leaders in our church. I am also very impressed with some of our newest and emerging leaders. Right now our church is in the best place it has ever been (in regards to leaders) in our thirteen year history. These people have full buy-in to our vision and mission, are supportive, loyal, and posses the necessary skills. Because of the exceptional people God has sent to us, we are now positioned to go to a WHOLE… NUTHA… LEVEL!

  • Sometimes I’m standing off to the side watching these people lead and all I can think is, “Thank God, here is somebody who ‘gets it’ and knows who to deliver.”

  • We are planning to CHANGE our SERVICE TIMES. The change will occur after daylight savings times, but before Easter. Both services will be moved up 30 minutes earlier. We have our reasons for this and I hope you trust our judgment, even if you don’t understand why. FYI, we would not even consider doing this if it were not for significant reasons. I will write about this soon to offer you a little insight.

  • I’m still sticking to disciplined eating habits and intense exercise.

  • I heard on the news this morning that there is some kind of contagious disease infecting scores of people at Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Mansion. Surprise! After all the activity that has taken place over the years at that party location you could probably contract an infectious, incurable, disease by simply inhaling the air.

  • It means something to belong to the family of God and to be covered by the blood; the death angel “passes over” you.

  • My mind has now been dumped, so I’m calling it a night.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Friday Volunteers

Thank you Friday volunteers for cleaning the building in preparation for Sunday. We had a good time at breakfast too.

Friday Five (okay Eight)

This Sunday: The message will be very encouraging – “Jesus Opens Blind Eyes.” It’s about spiritual enlightenment, seeing what others don’t see, and the pathway Christ takes us through to get there. I can’t wait. You’ll want to hear this one for sure.

Last Sunday: Three people walked out when I was only five minutes into the sermon. There were two in the first service and one in the second service. It could have been a coincidence and nothing more. But when I see someone pick up their belongings and abruptly walk out, I have to wonder. Perhaps they didn’t like the point that God seeks us before we seek Him. Yet the Bible still says “We love Him because He first loved us” (I John 4:19).

Exercise: I have finally broken through a sticking point in reducing my waistline. Better eating habits and mixing up my exercise routine is finally producing results. Now to keep the momentum going.

Some Information I have Learned About Nutrition & Fitness. Reading what the experts have to say has been an eye-opener for me:

• 80% of your body’s shape comes from what you eat (not from exercise).
• If you want to re-shape your body, proper eating and nutrition trumps exercise every time.
• Proper eating combined with exercise is the most effective way to re-shape your body. The results are very rapid.
• If you exercise without changing your eating habits, you’ll develop strong muscles but they will be hidden underneath layers of fat, and your body shape will remain the same.

PCC Newz. A lot of good things are happening at PCC right now. See last Friday’s blog here if you would like a reminder.

Bass Pro Shop. After work yesterday Renae and I went to the Bass Pro Shop near Mobile. Did a lot of damage to my checkbook. Buyers’ remorse? Not a chance. Can’t wait for warmer weather.

Looking for a Job. My youngest son, Nathan, is looking for job. He’s 23, a college student, about to graduate from UWF, and is a very hard worker. He wants to get out of the restaurant industry; which is where he has been working in for the last four years. If you are aware of any opportunities, we’d appreciate the lead.

New Casual Friday Dress Code. Yay. I get to wear jeans to work today.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

An Innovative Church Growth Strategy

At PCC we spend a lot of time and effort attempting to fulfill the Great Commission, which is to reach those far from God and to make disciples. That will never change. It’s our mission and our very reason for existence. We make no apology for church growth.

• But our primary target audience is... Jesus
• We worship the Father in Spirit and in truth, for He seeks such – that is, true worshippers
• Our worship service, ultimately, is directed towards Him…. an audience of One
• For His pleaseure, for His glory, for His honor, and for His praise.

Furthermore, since no man comes to Jesus unless the Father draws Him (John 6:44 & 65), maybe the theological essence of our church growth strategy to reach irreligious people could be restated to read like this:

Create the kind of church and worship service that God wants to come to and He will bring people with Him.”

How’s that for innovative?


I will exalt you, lord, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me (Psalms 30:1)

God's Grace Targets the Heart

PCC sometimes looks like a hospital or a trauma center. We have asked God to send us broken, hurting people to proclaim the gospel to, and He has. It’s messy work and at times very exhausting. But watching God work in the severely wounded is a beautiful thing.

A key ingredient to anyone recovering from the effects of sin is an understanding of what the problem really is. Everyone knows there is something wrong in the world, but unfortunately usually misdiagnose their own problem.

There is a reason why you lack patience. There is a reason you are always tearing down other women and why you feel the need to point out their flaws. There is a reason why you have explosive anger and a hair trigger. There is a reason why you have a substance abuse problem. There is a reason why your life is what it is.

The reason? You have a wicked, idolatrous heart. "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9).

If you simply try to treat the symptoms of your behavior without addressing your heart as the source of those problems, you’ll never see sin mortified in your life. If you want to get well, recover, overcome sin, and live a victorious life, start by looking deep within yourself. That’s where the problem is. You need heart surgery, not oinment applied to the surface.

God’s grace targets the heart to demolish idols and mortify sin.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

What We Beleive About Age-Level Ministires

#1. It matters to us who is on our team.

We are looking for people who love to laugh, who have energy, who have a story of how Jesus changed their life and have a passion to tell that story to kids. We are looking for people who can teach a lesson to kids without boring them to death. We are not simply looking for warm bodies to plug in – we are looking for people who love children. We will not beg you to volunteer, nor will we attempt to coerce you to volunteer. Coerced volunteers do not genuinely care about kids and don’t last. We want people who care.

#2. It matters to us that we strive for quality.

Great looking spaces are important to have. We strive to create an "environment” that is just for kids. We decorate the rooms with bright colors and Biblical themes, and put images on the wall at (their) eye level. More importantly, we strive to have a quality life-changing program for kids. It’s great to look good, but when it comes to children, God EXPECTS us to BE good. Children matter to God, and therefore they matter to us. Our children are too important for workers to show up UNPREPARED and just “winging it.” That is inexcusable. We get an hour on Sunday, (one hour a week, that’s all), to present the gospel to children, and that hour deserves our best. Quality matters.

#3. It matters what parents think.

The first question that parents usually ask their children at dismissal time is, “Did you have fun today?” The second question is, “What did you learn today?” The answer to these questions carries more weight with parents than many church leaders and workers realize. For the record, we realize this weight.

We need parents on our side. They are the number one spiritual influencers in their children’s lives. It is our job to partner with them, gain their confidence, and arm them with the tools to lead their children into a lasting relationship with Christ. Furthermore, by gaining the confidence of parents, we have a potential pool of future workers.

Let’s get started.

Working with children is not punishment. It is fun, strategic, important, and fulfilling. In fact, it is essential. Our current team of staff and workers finds fulfillment and joy from serving in this vital ministry. This ministry team represents some of the finest servants we have in our church. They realize they are changing lives for eternity.

If you are interested in being part of high quality ministry team that is involved in vital work, just contact Gene Tharp at

Monday, February 7, 2011

Thoughts on our Membership Class

Three or four times a year we offer our membership seminar – “Discovering the PCC Family.” I love this class. It has always been very effective for us. Plus, I really enjoy meeting and talking with all the newcomers. Although the class is about 3 ½ hours long, it doesn’t seem that long. It’s a lot of fun and very informative. Over the years, most people who have taken the class have joined PCC.

Here are a few reasons we offer this seminar:

1. Confusion over what the gospel is. A lot of people today simply do not know what the gospel is or cannot articulate it. The gospel is not that you don’t do drugs anymore, go to church every Sunday, or are a good person who grew up in church. If we don’t get the gospel right, then everything else is tainted and twisted. Session one in the class is a brief teaching on salvation and what it means to be a Christian.

2. PCC’s Distinctive. We have a vision, a purpose statement, and a strategy for carrying out the Great Commission. We have a doctrinal statement, and three rules that govern what we believe. Regarding the role of women in the church, we tend to lean towards a blended view of the Complementarian and Egalitarian positions. Our church is an elder led church (not the Presbyterian model), but more of a staff led model. And when we talk about membership at PCC, the emphasis is upon being a member of our family, which is relational in nature, not a member in a legislative body.

There is no way I can cover all this material on Sunday mornings, so we use our membership class to do it. We teach these distinctive features about PCC so that people who join our church don’t teach contrary to our position or find out what we believe a year later and blow up. If people are not agreement with our distinctive positions, I would rather they leave our church early than leave angry years later.

3. PCC is a Growing Church. We are not a very large church, but we are not a small church either. Even at our current size (in the 400s) you will never know everybody, and we are planning to grow even more. The membership class teaches you how to become part of the family, how to form friendships, experience fellowship, and how to belong.

4. We Protect and Shepherd this Flock. Church leaders are commanded in the Bible to keep a watchful eye over the flock of God. As such we are charged with protecting, feeding, nurturing, and shepherding. I try to be honest about this as often as I can. We are not as interested in building a big church as we are a deep church. There’s nothing wrong with big unless its bigness is attributed to the shallow nature of the teaching and its worship. Depth over width is better. We guard against doctrinal error, and will run to conflict (not away from it). Since sowing discord among the brethren is something God hates, we are watchful for those who might like to cause division. We regard harmony and unity as a high value at PCC.

I feel like once you know all these things about us, you will have a good picture of who we are and what we are called to do. This protects the flock. We take seriously God’s call on our leadership to shepherd and steward the men, women, and resources at PCC.

PCC’s next membership class is Sunday, February 27 at 4:00 PM.

I’d love to have you join us.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sunday Mind Dump - Feb 6, 2011

  • Real good day.

  • Attendance was 427 – not too bad. 303 in the first service, 124 in the second.

  • The amount received in the offering was good too – the second highest this year, with Jan 2nd being the highest. Today was the first Sunday of February and I’m sure that was a factor.

  • I’m also encouraged because new people have started giving consistently… and others have started tithing consistently.

  • This is enormous, and it makes a big difference for your church. It makes a big difference for me too; it lifts a lot of pressure off me.

  • Thank you to everyone who is making this happen!

  • I think a lot of people appreciated the Family Chat Update.

  • The song service was very good too. A new worship team was on stage and they did an excellent job.

  • The theme of the songs flowed nicely and fit with the message.

  • The offering song was perfect!

  • We are beginning to get our stride. A lot of adjustments have been made and we’ve experimented with a lot of changes, but we are finally firing on all eight cylinders.

  • Over 50 people have signed up for Seminar 101. Wow!

  • I’d like to have as many regular attenders of PCC as possible at this event too – especially age level ministry leaders, staff, team leaders, and servants of PCC. It will give all these newcomers an opportunity to meet the key people of our church, helping them to connect. Besides, this informal event is a great way for everyone to meet new people and make new friends. My hope is that new friendship networks are formed.

  • I just sat down after standing in the kitchen all afternoon (it’s now 4:30 PM). I’ve been making a large bowl of pico de gallo, a large bowl of guacamole, and three dozen buffalo wings. It took 2 ½ hours to prep, now the hot wings are in the oven.

  • Going to a Super Bowl party tonight.

  • Oh yea, baby.

  • Football season feels like it is over, but I’m really looking forward to the hang time with some great people from PCC.

  • My son brought his new boat to church today. He said he couldn’t back it in his back yard because a TV dish is in the way, (it will be moved on Wednesday), and he didn’t want to disconnect it and leave it in his driveway. Good story. But me thinks he just wanted to show it to his friends.

  • The current message series (What Jesus Taught About Eternal Life & Salvation) has been going real good. The content is intense. The content is necessary. If it’s in the Bible, it’s something God wants His people to hear. In fact, He wants all people to hear it if it's in His Word. Our church family has benefited from this.

  • There are only two more weeks for the current series. We will be looking at the man born blind and the Rich Young Ruler in the final two messages.

  • There will be a one-week break with a stand alone message. Then a new message series begins the first week of March.

  • I’m really looking forward to the Joseph series that begins in March. Really, really, looking forward to it.

  • Renae and I have experienced some good stuff this week.

  • God is doing some stuff at PCC. Every week there are new people at our church, people are committing their lives to Christ (at least six today), answered prayers are occurring, family miracles are taking place, unity is at an all time high, our ministry effectiveness is on the rise.

  • I’m also enjoying the new freedom people are experiencing in worship.

  • I’m very proud of PCC and the people in it. We have some of the best disciples I’ve ever seen.

  • Most of the people in Pace do NOT attend church. We should do something about that.

  • The sad thing is that most churches are not doing enough to reach them – PCC included.

  • As I read the Bible, I see more and more how God used raw, unrefined people (that wouldn’t be allowed in most churches today) to reach the lost and advance His kingdom.

  • Dear Jesus, let it be so at Pace Community Church.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Jonathan & Jamie's New Boat

Click the pictures for an enlarged view.

Friday, February 4, 2011

I Am His

Ultimately, the only thing that really matters is that I am His. If you ask me to describe myself I will tell you I am a husband, father, preacher, pastor, leader, son, brother, guitar player, and other things like that. But what if all those things were taken away from me? Or what if I was on my deathbed right now facing eternity? This is the sobering reality of life. One day I am not going to be a preacher or a pastor, or any of those other things. All the things that define me now will be gone, and I will simply be His.

For the moment, He gives me air to breathe, health to live, sermons to preach, people to shepherd, children to be a father to, and a wife to love. For these things I am thankful.

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21)

Getting More Volunteers

Finding more volunteers isn’t just a church growth strategy, it’s part of the discipleship process. Disciples are people who serve – that’s what servants do. As a church, we must help people to understand their gifting and teach them to use those gifts and passions to advance the gospel. But this doesn’t just happen by itself. It requires intentionality. At PCC we realize that we must do three things:

(1) We must learn to identify and invite people to join the mission. This takes more than one sermon a year on volunteering.

(2) We must train and develop people, not just use them to get stuff done. This requires coaching, not just delegating.

(3) We must encourage and pastor people. This means we have to appreciate people, encourage people, and recognize people for a job well done.

PCC Newz

Family Chat Update. Do you remember the family chat from five weeks ago? It was January 2, Vision Sunday. In that Sunday morning message I shared with you information about the financial state of our church. Enough time has elapsed that I would now like to give you an update. That information will be shared this Sunday. It will be a written update inserted in the bulletin.

Current Series (“What Jesus Said About Eternal Life & Salvation”) Continues for February. This Sunday will be part 5 – “Jesus Seeks & Saves the Lost” – and is based upon the life of Zacchaeus the tax collector. So far we have looked at these topics:

• The Straight & Narrow Way (Part 1)
• Jesus Calls for a New Birth – Nicodemus (Part 2)
• Jesus Demands True Worship – Woman at Well (Part 3)
• Jesus Expects Repentance & Life Change – Mathew (Part 4)

New Series Begins March 6th - This series is entitled “Overcoming Hardships through Faithfulness” and is based upon the life of Joseph in the book of Genesis. It will be a verse-by-verse exposition of one of the greatest stories in the entire Bible. We’ll talk about dysfunctional families, generational curses, sexual tension in the workplace, suffering for doing good, lessons from the school of hard knocks, on-the-job integrity, reaping & sowing, forgiveness among family members, and much, much more. Some of the working titles are:

• Surviving an Imperfect Family
• Persecuted When Innocent
• Overcoming Sexual Temptation
• What to do When You’ve Been Treated Unjustly
• Where Character is Forged
• Promotion Comes from the Lord
• Healing for Emotional Wounds & Deep Hurts
• Learning to Forgive – the Ultimate Test
• Big Boys Do Cry! – Learning to Let it Out
• Seeing Purpose in Suffering

The Age-Level Ministries of PCC are being Restructured. This is the next step of a master plan we have been working on for months. Our church has been through a lot of changes in the last eight or nine months in an effort to improve ministry effectiveness as we continue growing. We have established a campus-wide security team, improved the check-in and security procedures in the children’s hallway, and implemented a background check for those working with minors. We have added new people to key positions throughout the church, and reassigned others. There has been a leadership transition in the teen ministry. Most of these changes have been behind the scenes.

The most visible have been those in the adult service. We have experimented with the offering, and made changes in the way we conclude service. The worship band now has 2-3 worship teams, with new musicians and singers added to the mix. All the positions on stage have been cross-trained with others so that an alternate is always available. Adjustments have also been made in the sound booth. After much trial and error we are finally getting into a rhythm and finding our stride.

Now we are now turning our attention to the age-level ministries of PCC. We are absolutely confident that the end product is going to be first-class. There is a great team of people in place who are highly motivated, flexible, and anxious to do great things. Some of the things we are working on are: expanding the nursery, developing a new toddler’s class, room reassignments, developing additional team members, and implementing a new curriculum.

The new curriculum is unique in that it deliberately targets the parents to be involved in the spiritual formation of their own children. We believe the home enviroment is the greatest influence in the life of a child or student. We also believe that PCC has a key role in partnering with parents to deliberately engage them in making their home a place of spiritual instruction. The reason for this is obvious: Over the course one year, a child or teen will be in a student ministry about 40-50 hours, while the parents will have the opportunity to spend up to 3,000 hours with their children. It just makes good sense to train the parents as much as we are teaching the kids, so that most of the spiritual formation will take place in the home.

This represents a paradigm shift in the way we will do ministry to children. Gene Tharp has been assigned as the head overseer of the age-level ministries. This is big.

Our Church is Going to Get a New Web Site! It’s time for a makeover for our church’s website. The new web site will offer easier navigation, a sleeker look, offers features for uploading audio sermons online, sermon notes online, a monthly calendar, and a whole bunch of other neat things. I’m certain it will be very beneficial to our church family as well as present a better appearance to the public. I’m pretty excited about this. It will take a few weeks to get this job completed.

New Times for Sunday Services. Okay. We’ve been talking about this for a while. It’s almost time to pull the trigger and just make it happen. Over the course of the last year we’ve talked about changing the service times, going back to one service, or just leaving things alone. We’ve gone back and forth on this matter time and time again. After giving it plenty time to percolate, we have decided that we are fully committed to two services. We also believe that changing our service times will help us in a lot of ways. Our decision is to move both services UP by 30 minutes EARLIER. The new service times would be 9:00 AM & 10:30 AM. Believe me, there are lot of reasons for this and I simply don’t have the time or space to explain them all.

We will make this change at the end of March, which is AFTER daylight savings time begins and the days are longer.

We’ve Implemented a New Friday Casual Dress Code for the Offices. At PCC our dress code is business casual. We think this is a good standard to maintain. When everyone is dressed sharp, in a business manner, it tends raise morale among everyone. We look like a team of experts, not a group of slobs, and performance goes up. It also helps in the way that others perceive us. Rather than looking down on us as entry-level amateurs; we are looked to for guidance, thus improving our leadership effectiveness.

Having said that, we are now changing the dress code a little, allowing for jeans on Friday. Here’s how the casual Friday & jeans dress code reads:

Jeans should be clean and pressed. While they don’t have to be new, they should not look old, baggy, or ill fitting. Do not wear ripped, torn, frayed, or tattered jeans. Go for a “put together” look. You can wear jeans and still have an appearance that looks sharp and put together.

Wearing jeans doesn’t mean looking frumpy or disheveled. Remember, you are coming to work in an office environment; not to do yard work. Men should always wear shirts with collars. No T-shirts. Always wear regular shoes with jeans; the type you normally wear with business casual outfits. Never wear sneakers or flip flops.

Unacceptable: Cutoffs, Athletic wear, gym clothes, Spandex, biker shorts, Sneakers, T-shirts, Underwear as outer wear, Beach wear, Midriff length tops, Provocative attire, Spaghetti strap tops, Shirts that expose the stomach, Exposed bra straps

Always use common sense.

Painting. The painting project in the children’s hallway and class rooms is almost complete. Nice color schemes have been selected, which is creating a better ministry “environment” for kids. Donnie Smith and John Wise have been painting here since Thanksgiving and are doing an exceptional job!

Friday Volunteers. The building is full of people right now. We just finished having breakfast togther: gravy, biscuts, omlets, grits, apple dumplings, fruit cups drizzled with honey, and hash brown potatoes. Now everyone is going back to work cleaning the building and getting ready for Sunday services. This is a great group of people and I enjoy sharing time with them. If you'd like to join us any Friday, feel free to do so. Just show up about 8:30 AM. Best breakfast in town.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

93 Packs of Sugar a Day

I stopped drinking sweetened beverages a few years ago and 15 pounds fell off me without any other effort. No dieting, no exercise, no starving - just no sweet drinks. Aside from the weight gain that sugar causes, the volume of sugar in the American diet will make you sick with a variety of diseases.

Click this link if you are ready to face the truth about the negative effects of sugar. In the very least, watch this video.

Ambition - Fire in the Belly

Ambition, that old-fashioned fire in the belly, is what employers are looking for… and it’s what churches look for too. Employers realize ambitious people are the ones who cause their organizations to grow or even save it during downtimes. Ambitious people see beyond their job description and do whatever needs to be done at the time. They stay with a project, no matter how bad things seem. That’s usually because they have confidence to believe in themselves. The less ambitious become discouraged early on.

Yet, not all the ambitious do well professionally or vocationally. Some even get turned down for jobs and promotions, over and over again. So what goes so wrong? The missing ingredient is a lack of Emotional Intelligence. This is the ability to focus outside of yourself, to be self-aware of how you are perceived by others, and to understand what others need and want. This means having the ability to pursue goals effectively, without alienating the majority of your co-workers or team mates. Basic social skills like speed reading people, listening, negotiating, acknowledging input from others, and recognizing your own mistakes is a sure sign of Emotional Intelligence.

Is it a Sin for a Christian to be Ambitious?

Think about it long enough and you will conclude that Jesus Christ, the apostle Paul, and many other champions in the Bible had plenty of fire in their belly. They were passionate to see godly purposes fulfilled. Sure, there is a self-serving kind of ambition that we understand to be carnal, earthly, and devilish, because it creates rivalry, jealously, and other manifestations of the flesh. On the other hand, channeling passion and ambition towards God’s work and other worthwhile pursuits is a good thing. Simply keep your ambition in moderation and perspective, and you’ll accomplish much for God’s kingdom.

God is looking for such people and will use them.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Dog Fight

Two of my Jack Russell’s got in a fight this evening. One lost an eye. I lost $450.00

Random Thoughts & Personal Matters...

  • Yesterday was a good day; both personally & vocationally.

  • Personally: (1) Renae and I received some exceptional news. (2) We received some more good news. (3) We are ecstatic about #1, and as hopeful about #2 as we have ever been.

  • We are counting our blessings.

  • I’m going to write in my prayer journal tonight.

  • Vocationally: A lot was accomplished in the offices yesterday. We are planning, strategizing, working on systems, and preparing for the future. In fact, we have been very productive the last few months.

  • Some good things are about to happen at PCC.

  • Did you read my blog yesterday (A Leader is Sure of His or Her Calling)? It was the truth if I have ever told it. Not everyone will get it, but some of you will. It takes resolve to hang in there – especially if you are in the ministry – because there is so much always working against you. There have been times when the only thing that has kept me going was the assurance of my calling. Read between the lines and insert your own experiences.

  • I heard on the news last night that an 18 year old girl was involved in an automobile accident that occurred while she was texting while driving. She is in serious condition at Sacred Heart Hospital. That is why you should never text while driving.

  • It’s also the reason I never jog along the edge of the highway or a busy road. I always use side roads for my running route.

  • Not everyone who calls himself a pastor…. is.

  • The office environment at PCC is a lot of fun. About half the week it is very quiet while everyone is hunkered down in their office. The other half of the week it is loud and boisterous. Sometimes it feels like a professional environment, and other times it feels like a frat house – yea, a fraternity. I am usually the instigator of trouble or distractions. When I finish with my office work, I will stroll through the hallway and enter everyone else’s office asking them “what are you working on?” - And they better not say “Solitaire” or “Facebook.”

  • Sometimes in staff meetings we argue. Tensions get high. But at the end of the day everyone still loves (and likes) each other, which is a stronger bond than the “business” we are discussing. This is why we get along so well and is also why we can get stuff done.

  • It means something to belong to a team that has camaraderie. We laugh together and work together. But what is most meaningful is this - we share one another’s burdens. Working so close to each other means that it is very difficult for us to keep secrets or hide things. For instance, when something is going on in our lives (personal hardships, family matters, etc), we can’t hide it and often share the experience together. You can only do this with people you absolutely trust.

  • On so many levels, that’s what it means to belong to the family of God.

  • I enjoy long drives through Blackwater State Forest. It is a simple pleasure and it’s one of the things I enjoy doing the most. There are hundreds of miles I can drive through the pines without seeing a man-made structure or building. Its effect upon me is the same I experience when I go to the mountains; it’s very relaxing & helps me de-stress. Yet, this local jewel is right here in SR County and I don’t have to drive thirteen hours to get there!

  • I am still exercising and watching what I eat. At the beginning of January I ramped up my exercise routine by adding weight training and bike riding to my habit of running, as well as increasing the intensity of each workout. Plus, I have cut back on calories and started eating super foods.

  • I’m still not eating sugar. Although some sugar still sneaks its way into my diet by hidden sources, I do not eat cookies, cake, candy bars, ice-cream, etc. I’m also avoiding white flour products. I eat brown bread.

  • I love to cook. I love my kitchen knives too; they are professional quality and make a big difference. I cut up a lot of fresh produce each week, which makes up about 70% of my diet.

  • I am sick of Wal Mart. It’s too crowded and looks dirty all the time. I stopped shopping there a few months ago, and now do most of my grocery shopping at Publix. It’s a little more expensive, but worth it to me. The fresh produce is always better. Plus, I can find unique food items like Pesto, Tapenade, and five-grain Italian wheat bread, among other things.

  • I clean my truck every couple of weeks and usually give it a deep cleaning. For me it feels better to be driving around in clean vehicle.

  • I love getting up before daylight each day and smelling coffee as it brews. I am definitely a morning person.

  • You’ll go farther in life if you trust people rather than distrusting them. It's worth the occasional hurt.

  • Money is the root of…. why people appear on reality TV and make fools of themselves.

  • Life has been hard for me and Renae. But life has also been very good to us. The rewards outweigh the hardships. Our lives are full.

  • Some very good things are about to come our way.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Leader is Sure of His or Her Calling

Those who are unsure of their vocation cannot possibly be effective leaders. Nothing is more debilitating to leadership than self-doubt. People who have uncertainties about their giftedness never make good leaders, because at the most basic level they are uncertain about whether what they are doing is right. They will naturally be hindered by indecision, be hesitant, timid, and fainthearted in every choice they must make.

Paul never wavered in his confidence that he was called by God to be an apostle. Others questioned him all the time. After all, he was not one of the Twelve. He was a relative latecomer to the faith in Christ. He had, in fact, been a notorious persecutor of the church (Acts 9:13). Paul himself confessed that if his past life were the only consideration, he was “not worthy to be called an apostle” (I Cor. 15:9).

But the call of God on his life, in spite of his past, was clear (Acts 9:15; 13:2). The other apostles affirmed him without reservation (Galatians 2:7-9). Therefore, he considered himself “less than the least of all saints” (Eph. 3:8). Yet he also knew that he was “not inferior to the most eminent apostles” (2 Cor. 11:5; 12:11).

This was not arrogance on his part; God had called him to such an office and Paul was confident of that calling.

Such confidence is a necessary strength in leadership – to be so secure in your giftedness, so emphatic about your calling that no trial, however severe, could ever make you question your life’s work. Effective leadership depends on that kind of resoluteness, courage, boldness, and determination.

People in leadership who indulge in self-doubt will always struggle because every time things get difficult, they question the validity of what they do. Should I be here? Should I go elsewhere? Should I get out completely? Unless you have absolute confidence that you’re called and gifted for what you are doing, every trial and every hardship will threaten to deter you from your work.

I’ve never met an effective leader who wasn’t competitive. Real leaders want to win. Or, rather they expect to win – to achieve an objective. That passion to attain the prize is what Paul himself described in Philippians 3:14, (and notice that it stemmed from his calling): “I press toward the goal for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” He believed in the gifts God had given him. He trusted the power of God in his life. He knew that God had set him apart for leadership. So he could set his eyes firmly on the prize.

Who is fit for leadership? Is it the person whose only credentials are written on a piece of paper? Or is it the one who has a reputation for integrity, whose credentials are the lives of people who he or she has influenced, and the one who has so much bold confidence in their own calling that he doesn’t waiver, no matter how severe the opposition?

To ask the question is to answer it.