Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Friday, December 17, 2010
Sometimes we all get frustrated with God's timing and yet the incarnation reminds us that God responds at just the right time in human history for the purpose of accomplishing what He needs to accomplish within our lives and to bring Himself glory. In this instance God's perfect timing lead us to the truth that "GOD IS WITH US"!
Thursday, December 9, 2010
In order to bolster my confidence (a.k.a. b/c of a lack of faith) I have been revisiting the stories of old in God's word whereby men and women of God venture out in complete obedience to God even when all the ducks aren't neatly ordered.
The one I have landed on today is Noah and the Ark and it has spoken quite powerfully to me. Forgive me, but I am about to read into the story a bit as I am picturing it right now...
God said to Noah... make yourself an ark. (Genesis 6:13-14) As these words were uttered by God to Noah, I wonder what was going on around Noah. I am guessing the sun was probably shining, the population was carrying on with their normal day to day responsibilities and Noah was wondering if he should take this leap of faith. Noah had been around for a few hundred years by this point and most likely had his own routine, business ventures and life to live. Should he stop it all and obey God? What would the neighbors think? Where would the wood come from? Who would help build it? Where would the animals all come from? Would his wife tolerate such behavior? How would it impact his kids and family reputation etc...
These are the real questions of life we all face and thoughts we all process when we sense God is calling us to walk through some very uncertain times by faith. He tends to give us the answers one day at a time and asks us to be OK with that. My prayer is that I will respond just like Noah did.
Here is the punch line that caused my heart to rejoice today and gave me the confidence to keep at it for the Lord... "Noah did everything just as God commanded him." (Genesis 6:22) One day at a time. One act of obedience at a time. One step of faith at a time. This is what pleases the heart of God and takes the pressure off of me being my own god and having all my ducks in a row.
By the way... I would have had all of the ducks ordered neatly and alphabetically on the ark.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Thursday, November 18, 2010
I've landed in Matthew because I am trying to better understand the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) in light of the larger context of Matthew's writing. In doing so, I believe I am beginning to formalize in greater depth my understanding of Christ's commission to His disciples in light of the King/Kingdom context of Matthew.
So here is my summary as of Thursday afternoon for my message on Sunday as it relates to the church being on mission...
"The Kingdom of Heaven/God is here with one King and His name is Jesus. The King has called and sacrificially provided a way for people to enter His kingdom. Together, these people have the responsibility to be growing in Kingdom character and conduct so as to fulfill the mission of establishing outposts of the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth until the King comes again."
I am thinking a great study for any church would be to take some time in the Gospel of Matthew to really flesh this out in order to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to follow and live for the King and His Kingdom in our current cultural context.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
The first is related to the persecuted church. To be honest, I am not fond of thinking too much about this topic as it breaks my heart, makes me feel guilty and I feel powerless to do anything about it. Horrible excuse as a Christ follower, but just being honest. I just finished speaking with Eric who is the Spiritual Life Director at Lititz Christian and my conversation has forced me once again to bring this subject to the forefront of my mind. He has been taking time with his students to pray for and grow in their awareness of the multitudes of Christ followers being persecuted around the world for their faith in Christ. We are spoiled rotten here in America. We got it so good that we lose focus as to what is really important in God's kingdom.
Secondly, there is a Francis Chan quote that is messing me up. He simply states "Our concern (as Christ followers) is more about going to heaven than loving the King."
Thursday, November 4, 2010
The first speaker challenged my thinking deeply and confirmed a number of things I've been feeling in my heart for many years now. His name is Alan Hirsch and he spoke on "Living in the Land of AND." There is much to be said about his talk, but here are three concepts that caught my attention and are rattling around in my head right now.
The first concpet that got me thinking challenged me to think about how the attractional model of church reaches people for Christ but pulls them from their circles/cultures and places them into the new circle/culture of the attractional church. Thus, to pull people from their sphere's of influence and plant them within the new context of the church where they can come and enjoy a show and other people just like them, they have now been extracted from the very place where God wants them on mission to be the salt and light. I acknowledge this is a very sweeping statement that is worth much more dialogue, but statistics show that most people stop reaching people for Christ after being saved (in the church) for 2+ years.
Another point made was that people will possess a somewhat positive view of some form of God, Jesus and spirituality but reject the church outright. The church must take this reality seriously and work together to think about how to reverse this trend of the outright rejection of the institutionalized church.
One final question that really has me troubled... "Is a church a church if the church isn't doing what the church is supposed to do?" Hmmmm... Let that one keep you up a night for a while!
Monday, November 1, 2010
He simply writes within the context of remaining under our trials the following statement;
Friday, October 29, 2010
The first one dealt with "surrender" being the key to servant leadership. At first I kind of brushed this comment off as "ya... no brainer". But, as he began to unpack this concept he started talking about how worry and stress can at times consume us as leaders which is an example of our own arrogance because we reach these levels of worry and stress when we leave God out of it all. This is anything but a surrendered life. The need to literally surrender every area of my life on a constant basis will lead to true Christ like servant leadership. I imagine I will spend a lifetime of growing in these lessons.
The second concept dealt with us only being able to "give leadership as we allow God to lead us." Again, my initial reaction was "ya... no brainer" and yet the above example proves how prone I (and all of us as humans) am to give God portions of our life to reign and lead while clinging on to others. For example, is God really leading my life as a whole if I am clinging on to pockets of worry and stress? The resounding answer is of course NO because of a lack of surrender.
At the end of the day, I will only be able to lead people for Christ and in Christ if I am willing as a leader to moment by moment surrender all that I am at the feet of Jesus and allow Him to lead me. This is also why accountability in the life of a leader is important. Nothing in our flesh wants to surrender to the One who willingly surrendered His life on our behalf. Words like surrender and servant aren't used often with the word leadership in our culture and yet that is the life we are called to live as Christ followers who give leadership in the church, our homes, our marriages etc...
I guess becoming a surrendered servant first may just be the quality someone aspiring for leadership in God's kingdom should possess. Other leadership skills can be taught, but this issue of the heart must first be caught.
Friday, October 22, 2010
First, I found a great CD I hadn't listened to for quite some time. It's Robin Mark's "Revival in Belfast" CD and it's now in my itunes library. Here is a song I've listened to over and over all week long:
How great are You Lord
How great is Your mercy
How great are the things
That You have done for me
How great are You Lord
Your loving kindness
Is filling my heart as I sing
How great are You Lord
How great is Your love
It reaches to the heavens
How great is the heart
That sought and rescued me
Secondly, enjoyed a great Team Huddle on Monday as we talked about and shared on the concept of "remaining under" our trials.
Thirdly, been a good week of multiple meetings with the elders and others to keep discussing the future of Grace Church. It is Christ's church, so I believe with all my heart that the future cannot help but be bright.
Fourth, excited to be doing a wedding this weekend. Always a fun time to connect with a bride, groom and families on one of the most exciting days of their lives.
Fifth, I enjoyed meeting for the first time, Christian and Bonnie Beuggert. Their family partners with Grace Church to take the good news of Jesus to Bangkok, Thailand. Looking forward to hearing a bit from them on Sunday morning.
Finally, glad to know Christ as my Savior and all the blessings that come from being found in HIM. Have enjoyed some good times of discussion in the pastoral letters with my fellow pastors as we grow in our Lord together through times of accountability and prayer.
Friday, October 15, 2010
In that particular passage, there is a great word that is used two times. It is the Greek word "hupomeno" which literally means "to remain under".
There is little doubt that each of us will face difficulties in life which tests our faith. Our human tendency is to look for coping mechanisms when faced with trials for the weightiness and burden that comes with them can sometimes be overwhelming. The author did a survey of some people in their church and they found that there were four primary human responses to trials. They were; I want to complain! I want to lash out! I want to bail! I want to fold under the pressure!
As I reflected upon these four statements, I realize that I have responded to trials throughout my life with each of those at different times. In fact, there is one that jumps off the page as my natural reaction to trials which is "I want to bail".
While we can all sympathize with one another and our natural human responses, God's desire for us is to "hupomeno" (remain under) the trial so as to grow in our staying power which in turn all us the time needed to grow in real Christ like transformation.
So... whatever your current trial, let me encourage you from God's Word to "remain under" your trial for this testing of your faith we bring about godly transformation if you and I will let it!
Friday, October 1, 2010
I give thanks again today for the truth that Christ Jesus is my...
GOOD SHEPHERD (John 10:1-18)
GREAT SHEPHERD (Hebrews 13:20-21)
CHIEF SHEPHERD (1 Peter 5:1-4)
I do not need to walk around in the "wilderness of want" because of who I am in Christ Jesus and this is true for His church as well.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
BUT... I think it may be good for me. It is good for me because it is an incredible reminder that I am a frail human being who desperately needs a vibrant relationship with the living God. Far too often I seek to accomplish far too much in my own strength and wisdom. As a somewhat young man (not quite 40 yet) and fairly healthy, I still feel somewhat independent of God at times. And then... I get sick and am reminded how much I need to take care of myself and find the rest needed both physically and spiritually.
I write of my being sick because far too often I believe I along with all who are carrying the weighty entrustment of the glorious gospel must learn to stop trying to carry it on their own. We are frail and will grow weary and will never be able to cross the finish line well for Christ if we try to do it in our own strength for our strength will fail. Our need to utterly depend daily on the power of the Holy Spirit who indwells us is essential. Even though I am in Christ, I still battle the flesh (sin) and it desperately wants to try and carry the weighty entrustment for the purpose of destroying the very testimony of Christ in and through me. Thus my need to continue submitting my life and being filled with His Spirit moment by moment becomes an essential part of sucessfully carrying this weighty entrustment.
I don't like being sick, but it does slow me down enough to remind me of my absolute need to walk in the Spirit in order to bear forth the fruit that is produced in a life submitted fully to the person and work of Christ.
Friday, September 3, 2010
Not long ago, I had the opportunity to speak with a pastor who has been engaged in pastoral ministry for some time. He has and continues to see the good, bad and ugly of it all as the reality of serving our Lord in a fallen world is real. We talked for a bit about how one survives a lifetime of pastoral ministry (carrying this weighty entrustment) in a broken world that will creep into the church.
The concept of remaining "faithful" came up over and over again. Far too often we have preconceived ideas on what carrying the weighty entrustment for God will look like. I know I've been there. Yet, God may be calling each of us to carry it into places and circumstances we thought we would never experience and He is asking; "Will you remain faithful with it?"
As I pondered it all, it seems like an impossible task until I realize afresh and anew that the reason we can remain faithful is because our Glorious God is first and foremost faithful to us.
Yes the weighty entrustment is indeed weighty at times and the carrying of it will test our resolve and faithfulness, but praise be to God whose faithfulness towards us is a promised constant we can live securely in. Will you rest (will I) rest securely in a faithful God day by day?
Friday, August 27, 2010
One of the reasons this is such a weighty entrustment is due to the fact that there is coming a day when each of us will need to give account before our righteous Judge how we did here on earth for Him. It was a reminder that being faithful with the glorious gospel is more than just telling people about Jesus once in a while (evangelism). As one who has been transformed by the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ and had His righteousness imputed to me, my life (all areas) should reflect back to this world the person and work of my glorious Savior. Anything less is a cheap counterfeit that disgraces and devalues my incredible Savior.
There is not a one of us who perfectly follows Jesus, but may our lives reflect Him back into this darkened world more and more. We must always remember there is coming a day when we will need to give account for what we did with the glorious gospel that has been entrusted to us.
"For we must all appear before the judgement seat (bema seat) of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad." (2 Corinthians 5:10)
"And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory" (1 Peter 5:4 spoken to elders who faithfully reflect Jesus back to their flocks)
More thoughts next week...
Friday, August 20, 2010
So many people strive towards having greater responsibility often out of selfish motives. There is this false assumption that an increase in responsibility brings greater power, prestige and even people who are willing to follow. Unfortunately, many fail to see that the responsibility of being entrusted with something will bring a certain weightiness (which isn't bad) as one comes to a full understanding of the consequences of failing to faithfully carry and fulfill the entrustment.
This past week I was with a group of pastor's that began to discuss a point found often within the pastoral letters of Scripture. We were reminded yet again that God has entrusted us as shepherds and Christ followers with the glorious gospel that is found solely in the person and work of Christ Jesus.
"... the glorious gospel of the blessed God which He entrusted to me." (1 Timothy 1:11)
"Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care." (1 Timothy 6:20)
"Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you, guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us." (2 Timothy 1:14)
This is a weighty (defined as "of much importance and/or consequence") concept and I will look to share more of my thoughts on it in my next few blog posts.
Friday, August 6, 2010
I really enjoyed hanging out with the Children and Student Ministry department team on Wednesday night at our home as we welcomed Heidi to the team. They keep me young!
I enjoyed working with our Financial Oversight Team this week as we manage the financially tight times within the ministry. We continue to strike a good balance between fiscal responsibility and a sustained passion for our ministry.
Found a new coffee flavor I love. Carmel Toffee Coffee at the LCBC cafe.
Enjoyed Jim Collins talk on how to recognize an organization in decline and principles to bring it back. One of the comments he made related to a concept that calls leaders to live with both faith and a real awareness of the facts. One without the other can be damaging to an organization.
Also enjoyed a good talk on what motivates people. It wasn't a spiritual talk, but gave some good principles on how human beings are intrinsically motivated to achieve.
Appreciated the encouragement of fellow Christ followers at various times throughout this week. Couldn't dream of doing life in isolation. Thankful for the Body of Christ.
I was fascinated with the GORE story and how their company functions with a lattice style of leadership.
Heard one of the interviewed leaders swear multiple times. That was a first at a leadership summit.
My final thought... was challenged immensely by the pastor from Ada Bible Church on the Land in Between from Numbers 11 that we are all called to walk in. It's not a bad thing!!!
Friday, July 30, 2010
As I started reading 1 Timothy 1:1, I couldn't get past the following phrase "and of Christ Jesus our hope..." This little phrase really struck a chord as a number of months ago I came to the real conclusion that I had hit a point in my life where many pastor's end up whereby I was beginning to place my hope in religious productivity (what I was doing for Jesus) rather than in a growing love relationship with Jesus.
It never ceases to amaze me how quickly we (Christ followers and the church) begin to place our "hope" in good persons, activities, policies and even accomplishments rather than in Jesus alone. For some reason, we find it easier to mark spirituality by what we do (I believe the Pharisees were guilty of this) rather than by who we are in Christ which will then produce a spiritual outflow of godly fruit.
"But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that having been justified by grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life." Titus 3:4-8
Thursday, July 22, 2010
But God wasn't done rocking my world with this news. Shortly after news of his death, I received an email asking if Grace Church would be willing to cover the funeral costs for this very poor family. Without hesitation it was a resounding yes and then it hit me... The cost for this man's funeral was a mere $40. That's all it would take for this North American church with an almost $5 million budget to bless a family and a church half way around the world.
Now I am not suggesting we all take a vow of poverty and try to live on the streets for $40 but I will suggest that it is time once again for each of us here in North America to contemplate how God can use each of us to be a blessing towards someone else. It is the least we can do in God's kingdom for King Jesus and in the name of King Jesus.
One of the practical ways I am determined to keep this in the forefront of my mind (because I lose sight of this stuff) is to give pause on a monthly basis as I write the support check for our sponsored child. Far too often I just simply write the check and feel good about helping a needy child out. But I am ready to at least monthly ask God to reveal to me (and my family) what it is He is calling us to do in order to be a blessing to someone else. It may not be $40 but rather 40 minutes of my time. Whatever it is, may God help each of us to regularly put aside our selfish desires, live on mission for Him by practically fulfilling His call to Love Him and others.
If every Christ follower would commit to something as simple as $40 per month to bless someone in need, imagine the impact we could have for Christ. It was a good $40 lesson...
Friday, July 16, 2010
He is jealous for me, Loves like a hurricane, I am the tree bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy. When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory, and I realize just how beautiful You are and how great Your affections are for me. And oh, how He loves us oh, Oh how He loves us, How He loves us all."
So often, the word jealous carries a negative connotation, but how wonderful to know that the Sovereign God of the universe is intimately jealous for me. His love runs so deep that He is willing to do anything to be in relationship with me. In my humanness, I cannot even begin to wrap my head around the depth of His love towards me.
As I was reading Scripture related to this, I came across Hosea 11:8a where I read "How can I give you up Ephraim? How can I hand you over Israel?" Within the context of this passage, God is dealing with the rebellious nation that so deserves to be cut loose. Yet He is jealous for the nation of Israel and wants them to walk into and remain in a loving relationship with Him.
I then proceeded to do a little exercise. I replaced the word "Ephraim" with "Tim" so it just simply read "How can I give you up Tim?" That little exercise moved me greatly and helped me understand a little bit more this week that there is a jealous God pursuing me and He refuses to give up doing so.
The next time you begin to wonder whether or not the God of the universe even wants to be in relationship with you, just simply remind yourself that God is jealous for you and repeat the words of Hosea 11:8a and add your name to it.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
In this most recent issue, they took time to speak into how they have sought to build authentic community life amongst all the participants of the institution (students and staff alike). Although it is an institution of higher learning, the need for authentic Biblical community was also important especially as their on campus students grew. With that context set, here are just a few of the items I've been thinking about as it relates to church ministry...
How can we continue to develop and implement something along the lines of a Community Life Covenant? There is little doubt that the Bible states very clearly that we as Christ followers have certain Biblical obligations towards one another. So how do we make sure we have a discipleship process that moves people towards the commitments the Bible asks for? Membership must be more than just people receiving benefits. It must include people fulfilling Biblical obligations to one another and the Lord not out of compulsion but out of a genuine desire to fulfill God's call within His word to practice/live out the one another's of Scripture.
At PBU when they were putting together their calendar of events, they challenged the students to "BE A PART OF IT." I like that! Like it or not, those who are genuine followers of Christ belong to the Body of Christ. We are a part of it whether we like it or not, so we should be committed to doing our part as a part of the larger whole.
Here was a great quote that I think translates into the church. "Design community life that takes what is being taught and provide opportunities to live it out." It's one of the things I love about our Pastor of Connections here at Grace. He takes that call seriously and is seeking to equip small groups to live it out in genuine Biblical community. But it also speaks again to a leaderships need to equip/disciple Christ followers towards this ultimate goal which means great intentionality must be given to what is being taught.
That's what I've been thinking about...
Friday, July 2, 2010
In my opinion, the Bible speaks clearly to the type of "image" we should portray. What the world really needs to see in us is Jesus which will only come if we are serious about walking in integrity and growing in our Christ like character. I believe this is very counter cultural and is a challenge to Christ followers, but we must strive towards such a goal.
I believe the need to strive towards this goal is firmly rooted in the truth that "image" is only skin deep with no deeply planted roots solidly grounded in the person and work of Jesus. Image is like a balloon. We can fill it for a while and it looks good when puffed up, but at some point it pops and there is nothing left.
I am convinced that Christ followers must return to being a people who walk in Biblical integrity for this is what will bring about true significance in life... a significance that is firmly rooted in Jesus bringing Him the glory.
To hit home this point, I was with a group of guys this week and the following verses were shared from Psalm 78:70-72; "He chose David his servant and took him from the sheep pens; from tending the sheep he brought him to be the shepherd of his people Jacob, of Israel his inheritance. And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them."
Friday, June 11, 2010
200th Blog Post... Can't say I've been counting, but noticed today that this is number 200. It has been a good exercise for me to write out my thoughts and trust they have encouraged in the faith any who have come across my musings.
Groaning... Had one of those weeks that I didn't see coming. Held on tight to the words of the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 where he states "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." Praise God that I am still in process and that many of the temporal challenges we all face as humans on this earth are working towards a greater purpose in our lives as we live and rest in a Sovereign God.
Vacation... Looking forward to two weeks away with my family. I am committed to intentionally pouring into my family on this trip as they represent a portion of my life that God has called me as a husband and father to faithfully love and lead. The pursuit of true Biblical rest is necessary and will be sought over the next few weeks. I've also been starting to do some reading on how we as Christ followers tend to neglect the concept of the "sabbath" which can lead to incredible shortcomings. Look forward to gaining more insight on this.
World Cup... Can't wait to watch some games with the kids while sipping Tim Hortons Coffee.
Team... I serve with a great group of people who strive to encourage, challenge and pray for one another. Thanks to those who have poured into my life lately. It is appreciated!!!
Friday, June 4, 2010
"You have forsaken your first love (Jesus). This is a tolerated drift from the heart of Christ and from a disposition and behavior of love... for one another and the spiritually lost. They are pumping out religious product with a waning affection, love and loyalty for Jesus and a compassionate love for people.
"Remember how it was... before your heart started to harden and shrivel, before your work for Jesus eclipsed your relationship with Him and others. Take the warning seriously... [if not] there will be a loss of spiritual vitality and power from your midst. A sense of God's activity and grace will evaporate."
This was the warning/exhortation to the church of Ephesus and to all of us who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ in 2010. It is so easy to justify your life in respects to your "doing" for Christ rather than your "being" in Christ.
Friday, May 28, 2010
I've wrapped up my slow and intentional read of "Leading on Empty" and have been struck with my need to continue developing a very intentional life rather than reactionary. Part of seeking to lead an intentional life means one must be willing to consistently monitor and assess which requires margin. The need for this is clearly stated in the book where the author writes "Entropy, or the gradual decline back into a mediocre lifestyle defined by habit and reaction, is natural."
Even though I have been following Christ for 30+ years now, there is little doubt that I am still needing to grow. A reactionary life (defined in my last blog post) leads one to the pathway of mediocrity at rates that sometimes leave me feeling overwhelmed. How true the words from Hebrews that remind us of our need to give time and attention to an intentional life so as to avoid the spiritual drift into mediocrity that we are all susceptible to.
At the young/middle age of 38, I am beginning to realize that all the energy and good intentions I had for Christ in my 20's doesn't come as easy anymore. There is so much vying for my attention in life that I have a tendency to drift into a state of spiritual entropy whereby I am putting out mediocre "religious product" (heard a sermon last Sunday on this) at best. In fact, I would wager a guess that many other pastors/ministry teams/churches/boards struggle with this as well.
Spiritual entropy describes the North American church and reminds me of many of the warnings given to the 7 churches in Revelation. If we are to ever overcome this in our churches, then I need to make sure I am doing my part to live an intentional life so as to make a difference to the glory and honor of Jesus in whatever part of His vineyard He chooses to use me throughout the rest of my days here on earth!
Thursday, May 20, 2010
One of the courses depicted was "A Life of Reaction". Here is how this life course is described; "With this paradigm - a life of reaction - we plod forward until something forces us to change direction... A life of reaction is a life lived in the twilight realms between conservatism and activism, hope and dejection, passive indifference and compulsive hyperactivity. It is a disorienting, sometimes dangerous way to live, but the majority of people have chosen this lifestyle, most of them by default."
Needless to say, this statement got me thinking hard. The ultimate challenge of the books is for us as Christ followers to pursue a life of intentionality firmly rooted and grounded in Christ, His Word and His priorities for our lives. It's worth chewing on and I will be doing it for a while as I want to do all I can do to finish well the course of life God has set me on.
Friday, May 14, 2010
As I thought about these two letters from the Bible, I could not help but ask myself what my parting words would be if I had a chance to write them out shortly before my death. To be honest, I am not sure I have a solid answer yet, so I am going to keep wrestling with it. But it does cause one to pause and ask yet again what type of legacy am I leaving with my family, my co-workers, my church family. Very sobering thoughts to say the least.
I also got thinking about the fact that not everyone gets the opportunity to take the time to reflect upon what parting words they would leave in writing for others. With that in mind, here are a few other thoughts that have challenged my heart this past week...
First, does my life regularly reflect an intimate knowledge of Jesus as seen in my day to day words and deeds? If so, I can confidently go at any point and know that my daily life represented a legacy that consistently pointed people towards my Savior.
Secondly, I can't let any amount of time go by with hurtful words/actions hanging over any relationship. How sad to think that my parting words/actions to someone else I love would be anything but God honoring.
There are a whole lot of other thoughts floating around in my head right now, but the parting words of the apostle Peter sure got me thinking quite a bit this week.
Sunday, May 9, 2010
First, I can be a lot like my dog with God. Even though I know He is to be master and Lord of my life, I often find myself through my words and deeds trying to climb the hill of independence and be the boss of my life. When I take these steps, I am in essence telling God that He can take the back seat as I set up self as the primary ruler of my heart.
Secondly, disobedience leaves me feeling unsettled. My dog is at his craziest when he is trying to rule the roost. It leaves him feeling unsettled, nervous and more out of control than when he is submitting to his master. This is true for me as well. Even though trying to be the boss of my own life sounds like a great idea with incredible freedom, life gets most out of control when I forget who the master of my heart really is.
Finally, I am most at peace and content when walking in obedience to my God. Our dog is a joy to be around when we have the pecking order right and he is living in obedience to his master. This is true in the Christ followers life as well. Even though we live in a culture that states personal independence trumps all authority in our lives, the greatest peace, contentment and joy comes when we live in submission and obedience to God and His Word.
I guess both my dog and I need to prepare ourselves for a lifetime of obedience training. It just goes better for all involved when we both obey our different masters.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Friday, April 23, 2010
Sunday, April 18, 2010
About half the books I possess have been passed on to me from my grandfather who was a pastor/evangelist. The two most cherished items I have in my collection are two Bibles that belonged to him.
The one is my grandfather's Bible that he used to preach from and thus has many of his handwritten notes in it. That alone is very special. After his death, my grandmother passed it on to me and wrote this in the front;
"Presented to Tim, my dearly loved grandson. Grandpa's greatest delight would be to know that you are reading and studying the Book. Just as Elijah pass on his mantle to Elisha, I know grandpa would pass the mantle on to you Tim and want you to carry on where he left off. In Grandpa's first Bible he wrote these words: This Book will keep you from sin or sin will keep you from this Book." - Love Grandma (Christmas 1989)
The other one is a Bible he used at various points, but grandma had written down the notes from my induction service into my first Senior pastoral ministry. How cool to have the Bible that grandma had on that very proud day for her. In the very front it reads the following three points from my induction service;
Induction Service - Tim - August 16, 1998
1. Guard the Gospel
2. Transfer the Truth
3. Preach the Word
2 Timothy - Dr. Launstein (the gentleman who preached the service)
I share all this as my heart was overflowing with gratitude this past week for the legacy of faith that has been passed down to me. Lord help me pass it on to the next generation!
Friday, April 9, 2010
Organizational Team Stages:
The Forming Stage: This is the stage where the team starts to be pulled together.
The Informing Stage: This is the stage where goals, vision and purpose are shared.
The Storming Stage: This is the stage where systems compete, opinions are expressed and clear communication and clarification must take place. It is the place where objective input must be expressed and where everyone has the opportunity to express themselves in a safe environment.
The Norming Stage: This is the stage where a sense of normalcy is achieved for a season and the goals and vision are accomplished within a system that is viewed as the "norm".
Managing Subordinates: (I'm still chewing on parts of this one...)
One will successfully manage subordinates when time is given to the following (as noted in a book by Dee Hock entitled "One From Many" which deals with the topic of chaordic organizations.
50% of our time must be given to managing self!
25% of our time must be given to managing those who have authority over us.
25% of our time must be given to managing our peers.
Little or no time actual given to the hands on management of our subordinates.
New Staff Positions to Emerge this Decade in Larger Churches
- The Network Administrator
- The Multicultural Children's Director
- The Chief of Staff
- The Operations Pastor
- The Creative Arts Director
- The Boomer Director (aka - Sr.'s Pastor... but don't dare call a boomer a Senior!)
- The Spiritual Growth Pastor
All in all... a lot of different thoughts processing through my head right now as I seek to keep growing in my leadership role and abilities.
Friday, April 2, 2010
As I thought about that, I could not help but reflect upon how many Christ followers share that they in essence have come to the same conclusion. We are willing to try and live our lives in a Christ like manner. We may even be courageous enough to put a yard sign in our front yards inviting people to church. But how many of us have reduced inviting people to receive Christ to the realm of "that's the preacher's job".
This weekend, we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Sin has been conquered and death has been defeated. Christ is the resurrection and the life! Let us all be willing to go, tell others about Jesus but let us not stop there. Let us boldly extend the invitation to receive Him by faith as Savior of their lives.
Let's stop farming out any part of evangelism. Let us go, tell and invite others to receive Jesus and let us do so without fear or shame. Eternal destinies are at stake!
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Love One Another (Jn 13:34; Rom 13:8; 1 Th 3:12; 1 Pet 4:8; 1 Jn 4:11)
Accept one another. (Rom 15:7)
Admonish one another. (Rom 15:14; Col 3:16)
Pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. (Rom 14:19)
Carry each other's burdens. (Gal 6:2)
Have equal concern for each other. (1 Cor 12:25)
Confess your sins to each other. (Jas 5:16)
Be devoted to one another. (Rom 12:10)
Encourage each other. (1 Th 4:18; Heb 3:13; 10:25)
Forgive one another. (Eph 4:32; Col 3:13)
Greet one another. (Rom 16:16; 2 Cor 13:12)
Don't grumble against each other. (Jas 5:9)
Live in harmony with one another. (Rom 12:16)
Honor one another. (Rom 12:10)
Offer hospitality to one another. (1 Pet 4:9)
Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another. (1 Pet 5:5)
Be kind and compassionate to one another. (Eph 4:32; 1 Th 5:15)
Do not lie to each other. (Col 3:9)
Stop passing judgment on one another. (Rom 14:13)
Be patient, bearing with one another. (Eph 4:2; Col 3:12-13)
Live in peace with each other. (1 Th 5:13)
Pray for each other. (Jas 5:16)
Regard one another as more important than yourselves. (Phil 2:3)
Serve one another in love. (Gal 5:13)
Do not slander one another. (Jas 4:11)
Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. (Eph 5:19; Col 3:17)
Spur one another on toward love and good deeds. (Heb 10:24)
Submit to one another. (Eph 5:21)
Teach...one another. (Col 3:16)
Friday, March 19, 2010
In Philippians 2:5-7 we are told the Jesus took on the form of a bondservant. The Greek word (doulos) carries the following ideas for us as we too our bondservants of Christ;
First, it speaks of one who is in a permanent relationship of servitude to another. When I trusted Jesus Christ to rescue me from my sins, I entered into a permanent relationship with Him as His servant (literally slave).
Secondly, it speaks of being fully consumed with accomplishing the will of a master. As one who has been rescued from sin by Christ, I have willingly surrendered my life and my will to Him. This means I am here on this earth to accomplish His good purposes in and through me.
Thirdly, it is also a word that was used to describe the "under-rower" on a slave ship. This isn't necessarily a glamorous picture or one that many churches use to recruit volunteers, but, it is how the Christ follower is described within God's word. It's not that God is some tyrannical master beating us into service, but it does picture how we as Christ followers must give ourselves to the hard work of the Gospel in order to see it advance throughout the world as we willingly submit our lives to a gracious and merciful master.
Finally, it is important to note that this is not something new for the church. The early followers of Christ also saw themselves as "bondservants" to their Savior and lived their lives accordingly. (See Romans 1:1, Philippians 1:1, James 1:1, 2 Peter1:1)
We have not been called to serve just so we can feel good about ourselves even though helping others brings tremendous blessing. We have been called to serve first and foremost because we have been called to follow the example of Christ and His Word. When we do, HE can accomplish HIS will and purpose in our lives as we acknowledge our identity as HIS bondservants. As a follower of Christ, serving is not an option, it's my position and calling.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Friday, March 5, 2010
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Friday, February 19, 2010
Here is what it simply read; "Auld Family, I greet you in the name of Jesus Christ. I wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy new year. Thank you so much for the Christmas gift which you sent me. I received 21650 shillings and used it to buy a shirt, a pair of shorts and shoes. May God bless you."
Since reading that letter, I can't shake the following verse from my head "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked." (Luke 12:48b)
I am currently processing what it means to be generous. I feel like we do OK and are living in obedience to what God requires per His Word, but it may be time to step out in faith a bit more. As one who lives in North America with a roof over my head, food on my table, clothes on my back and the list goes on... what does God require of me. What does God require of you? What does God require of His church?
One day I'll have to stand before God and give account for how I lived my life including how I managed what He has entrusted to me financially. I sure don't want to stand before Him and have Him ask why I felt I had to have or even deserved that nice car or extra square footage in my home while children died of hunger without a stitch of clothing on their back. So I'm thankful our little guy was able to get a new shirt, shorts and shoes but I'm thinking the gift of his letter back to us was worth just as much if not more if it stirs me to become more generous towards the things that touch the very heart of God!
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
First, I got thinking about Matthew 5:45 that states "He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." Now I recognize that it doesn't say snow but I am sure the sentiment is the same as we are talking about another form of water. Isn't it interesting that the pleasure the sun brings and the pain the snow brings (from shoveling) isn't a respecter of persons. It is something that a Sovereign God bestows upon all of his creation whether we claim to be a follower of His or even acknowledge His existence.
Secondly, one's response to all of this snow (or weather in general) will speak volumes on someones thoughts towards God.
For those who deny the existence of a greater power, the snow is just bad luck somehow related to some geological phenomenon.
For those who believe in some higher power, they may see all the snow as some form of punishment or just plain old bad luck.
But for me... I came to a fresh realization of just how dependent I am upon a Sovereign and Awesome God. My God is SO big that He can make it snow when He wants, on who He wants and with as much as He wants. From living through a snow storm to living through daily life, I must continue to bring myself back to the place of absolute trust and dependency upon God. There are so many things outside of my control (weather included) and until I come to that place of absolute trust in Him, life will be faced with fear and worry.
So today... I sit back and give thanks for the gift of my family (yes even the dog) stuck together in our house playing the Wii. I sit and give thanks for a God who has given me a warm house while the snow blows. I give thanks to a God who has given me the physical strength and health to move inch after inch and foot after foot of snow from my driveway. I give thanks to my God who has provided me with plenty of food to sustain the family.
Just one complaint though... It has nothing to do with God but rather poor planning on my part. I am having to survive this snow storm without my Tim Horton's coffee. But still I will trustin Him... what about you???
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
First, I must be asking myself "Am I Leading or Managing?" It is noted that one of the ways in which one can answer this question is by reflecting on your weekly schedule. If I am handling issues that are months or even years out I am leading. If I spend the majority of my day handling immediate problems or issues, I am most likely managing. My immediate reaction to this is threefold. First, I have come to learn that there are seasons of ministry that require much more hands on managing until the season runs its course. Secondly, I need to evaluate what I've been called to as defined by my role in any given organizational setting. Am I called to manage or lead. Thirdly, based upon my answer to this question, I need to evaluate my daily schedule and "to do" lists to make sure I have found the balance and focus needed to successfully accomplish what God has called me to within any given organizational structure.
The second quote that caught my eye was "The person best equipped to solve a problem is the one who lives with it every day." This in part ties into the previous point. Leaders will let managers/co-workers solve the day to day problems and make decisions. If I am called to lead, I will help develop a culture that empowers those who manage and are engaged in the day to day stuff to make their own decisions with confidence as they are truly the ones who are best equipped to be the problem solvers in their areas of expertise.
I recognize that the church is not just an organization to be lead and managed. We are the living Body of Christ, but these principles are well worth pondering.
Saturday, January 30, 2010
So here are a few of the random memory lane thoughts that went through my mind...
We laughed about the "fresh, warm" pretzels sold on the street corners of the city and the news story back in the early 90's that made me swear to never eat a soft pretzel again.
We celebrated what a powerful impact our days at PBU had upon our lives which has shaped the very couple we are today for the Lord.
We gave thanks for parents & grandparents who faithfully sacrificed incredible amounts of resources to see us successfully graduate with degrees in Bible so as to serve the Lord well.
We thought all about our fun dates to the city that saw us taking in ball games, the aquarium in NJ, dinner cruises, ice skating and standing on the steps of the old spectrum at 1:00 AM. (That's a whole other story...)
We laughed hard about the guys at US 1 Pizza that made the best pizza after they had enjoyed a few beers. It's true... the more beers these guys drank, the better the pizza.
All in all it was a fantastic day of looking back and celebrating God's goodness in our lives. We may not have the fanciest cars, biggest home or much money in the bank. BUT... how blessed to be serving Him together as a couple. How blessed to have been raised in families that have sought to pass on the legacy of faith. How blessed to be in a wonderful marriage. How blessed to have our health and two wonderful children. How blessed to be children of the living God. I pray my kids will one day be able to sit and reflect upon their lives with laughter, joy and a sense of God's incredible work in their lives.