I am well aware of this being a hot potato, but the truth of the Word of God should be able to bear some significant light, and hopefully change into the hearts of those who are willing to listen.
What is ‘Racism’?
Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed directed against someone of a different race* based upon the belief that ones own race is superior.
The belief that all members of each race* possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race* or races*. (*emphasis added) Oxford Dictionary
I think it’s important to note that you don’t have to be a bigot to be a racist. For example if you have ever said to yourself or to others, ‘all asians are good at math’, ‘all hispanics are hard workers’, ‘all african-americans are good athletes’, ‘all caucasians live in the suburbs’; you are, by definition, being racist. Essentially, if you group people based upon their ethnic background, cultural context, or color of their skin, instead of their individual talents, abilities, gifts, and personality you are thereby ‘being racist’ because you are categorizing by race.
So, let’s first challenge this idea that their are such things as ‘Races’. According to the dictionary Race is; a group of persons related by common descent or heredity. Hmmmmm, now that IS interesting isn’t it? If you have read your Bible, and you believe what it teaches then we are all descended from not only one, but two common ancestors. According to Genesis 1-3, God created a male and a female, Adam and Eve, and all mankind originated in the two of them. As the centuries waned on man abandoned God and his laws, so God sent a prophet/preacher in the man Noah to warn them of a global flood which would wipe out all of those who did not turn back to God. Unfortunately, no one but Noah and his family believed God’s message and God did in fact wipe out all of creation and start over with Noah and his family. So, all of humanity is related to Adam and Eve through Noah and his wife. Therefore, there is only one race, the Human Race.
The entire idea of designation of races actually comes from a well known scientist named…Charles Darwin. Yes, that is correct the author of Origin of Species was the individual that popularized and propagated the idea of one race being inferior or superior to another. In fact, Darwin himself taught that the Australian Aborigine was actually THE missing link to apes. That the Africans or negroids were less evolved than Asians or mongoloids, and that Europeans or caucasoids were at the top of the evolutionary scale. The secondary title of his book is actually incredibly telling, ‘The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle of Life’. Betcha didn’t learn that one in science class did ya!
When we read our Bible correctly we see that God created humanity in His own image! It doesn’t matter what your skin color is, what your ethnic background, or which continent your ancestors originally hailed from, YOU, as with all humanity, are made in the image of God! There is only one race, the human race. Your background neither makes you superior or inferior to another, God made you special, created you for purpose, and if you believe in Jesus Christ has destined you to reign with him in all eternity!
I think that it is high time that those who claim to know the Bible and love Jesus Christ take this bull by the horns and show the world how God intended it to be!
For further reading and scientific background check out this incredibly insightful article: Where Did The Races Come From?
I’ll leave you with the words of Jesus Christ as encouragement:
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. – John 13:34-35 NIV
I am an unabashed fan of the NFL. Since the day that the Mayflower trucks rolled out of the ingrate city of Baltimore (yeah, I said it!) to the current day I have been a Colts fan. When we lived outside of the state of Indiana and the Colts weren’t particularly good I would often frequent sports bars so I could catch the game. Then in year 5 of my absence from the greatest state in the world, came this new fangled thing called NFL Sunday Ticket (insert hallelujah chorus)! I was now able to watch my team play each and every week, albeit with terrible announcers because quite frankly the Colts were fairly terrible.
So, when the NFL season is over, like all rabid fans, I begin to wonder what my beloved Colts will do during the off-season. Today, March 10th, is the official beginning of what is called Free Agency, I’ll explain that knowing that some people reading this post have no idea to which I am referring to. Free Agency is when veteran players contracts with their current team are up, they become a ‘free agent’, in essence they are now free to sign with whatever team will pay them the money they want. Some teams (I’m looking at you Oakland) are typically overspending on players that are flashy and fancy, and they never quite work out. Each and every year teams are lauded for making the ‘bold move’, for signing the ‘difference maker’, for catching the one person who could make them Super Bowl contenders. The problem is, it RARELY works out that way. Michael Schottey of Bleacher Report wrote a fantastic article yesterday that chronicled the teams that ‘won’ free agency the last several years and balanced that against their resulting record. Suffice to say, it isn’t pretty (Winning Free Agency Hardly Equates To Winning Games).
Now, you might be wondering, “What in the world does this have to do with the church?”…well I’m so glad you asked! For years and years the American church has been participating in it’s own brand of free agency. One church signs another churches ‘star’ player and plugs them into their programs expecting blazing results and championship caliber play. What happens more often than not is terrible friction, mediocre results, and an overall discomfort for the whole team. If the senior leader is worth his salt then he can usually rectify the situation but it takes precious time and valuable energy to do so and it ends up being the church and the other staff who pays the price. I’m not saying that it is never worth it to bring someone in from the outside, but you had better make sure it’s the right person you’re bringing in. Otherwise, you will at best move sideways for a while and at worst your ministry may regress.
Many years ago I heard Rick Warren, pastor/founder of Saddleback Valley Community Church, say something like this, “Building your staff from within is always preferred when possible.” That statement has resonated with me over the years and as I have thought about it more and more, it just makes sense! The people in your church are already passionate about what you are doing. They get your vision, they hear you talk each and every week, they are already known commodities. You may be thinking about the ‘professional training’ that outside ‘free agents’ may have, and there is some truth to that. But if I’ve learned anything about hiring staff over the last 20 years it’s this, you can teach people the ins and outs of ministry, but you can’t teach passion, you can’t force them to get the vision, and you can’t know someone you’ve never worked alongside of.
Of the 5 additional full/part time staff we have at Friendship all but one of them are homegrown. This doesn’t mean that we will never hire from outside, in fact at some points you’ll need to, but I will say that when you hire from the inside the learning curve is much less steep and the failure rate is infinitesimal in comparison.
I thank God almost daily for the staff he has allowed us to assemble at Friendship. They make what I do easier and a whole lot more fun. Pastors, your staff can either make you or break you, make sure you choose wisely!
I’d love to hear back from you on this, even if you are not hiring in the ‘church’ world. What has been your experience with this?
This coming Sunday, March 8th, 2015, I’ll begin teaching a series that has been 20+ years in the making. I have had the privilege of being a pastor for just over 20 years and during that time I’ve counseled hundreds, if not thousands of people. If there is one common thread among them all, it’s that they all, in fact, we all are looking for satisfaction, fulfillment, and peace in this life. For most of humanity this search seems endless, we look for it in every person we meet, in every job we take, in every day that we live, and the majority of us walk away, unfulfilled.
It wasn’t always this way; in the beginning things were perfect, and then sin came in and destroyed it all. But, what if there was a way to experience that fullness, that peace, that joy once again? What if, say our Creator, actually had a plan in place to connect us to those things that would fill our hearts with peace, our lives with meaning, and our relationships with joy? Jesus, in fact, promises as much when he says in John 10:10:
The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
The process isn’t some 10 step program, or a list of rules or regulations. No, it’s something far more profound, you see our souls are out of alignment with the purposes and plan of God for our life. And, because of this, just like when a car is out of alignment, there is all sorts of vibration, chaos, and unsettledness in our soul. It doesn’t matter how much we have, how many relationships we engage in, or how much accomplishment we can find, there will always be something that’s “off” and we feel it. But, when our souls become aligned with Him, the world around us can be spinning out of control and we will be in absolute peace.
If you want to discover how you can get your soul back in line with God’s, I’d like to invite you to come to Friendship Church this weekend, or listen online at experiencefriendship.com.
I’ll see you then!
we had to cancel on Sunday because of weather, but we wanted to finish our series, so here Ya go! Grab your spouse, fiancé, or significant other and watch it together!
Having been a ‘victim’ of exaggeration and outright lies about things I’ve said, preached, or written I always try to err on the side of grace, and when I feel it’s necessary to speak to a subject, make sure I’ve done my research.
Several years ago Rob Bell wrote a book entitled Love Wins, a book which ended up costing him his pastorate. It felt like every evangelical/orthodox pastor with a social media account was bashing him even before the book had been released! Knowing the world we live in and Satan’s great desire to divide those of us who claim the name of Christ I actually went out and read the book, go figure! The book wasn’t as evil as everyone said, but Mr. Bell’s conclusions were simply made because of his emotions about the subject rather than his research of the truth on the subject from Scripture. The biggest problem that developed from his book was not the discussion on Heaven and Hell, that was good, instead it was the increasingly embraced idea that maybe, just maybe, placing your faith in Jesus Christ in this life isn’t the only way for salvation. Now, for fairness sake, Mr. Bell doesn’t come right out and say this verbatim, but he leads you right to the doorstep, knocks on the door, looks at you with a smile and says, ‘So, whatcha think?’.
Again, Mr. Bell and now along with his wife, have come out with a new book on marriage called The Zimzum of Love. Now, I will readily confess that I have not read the book, nor do I plan to, but Mr. Bell and his wife gave an interview with Oprah, which I watched in it’s entirety. It is this interview and the words that he and his wife chose that I now have to address. I could address the fact that they include homosexuality as a viable option for humanity, but I’ve done that before. Suffice to say that I believe like all sins, homosexuality is a cheap imitation of God’s relational design, that will leave all those who participate in it more broken, more wounded, and less fulfilled. Satan is the ultimate deceiver and he’s garnering more and more of professed believers into accepting the lie that God is keeping something from you, when in reality it’s that God is wanting to protect you, because He’s got something better for you!
Here are my previous posts on the subject:
- Extreme “Christian” Views on Homosexuality
- A Biblical Response to Homosexuality
- What about Gay Marriage?
However, that is not why I write this post. I write this because of a statement that Mr. Bell makes while trying to defend his position on homosexuality. Here is the quote verbatim:
“I think culture is already there and the church will continue to be even more irrelevant when it quotes letters from 2,000 years ago as their best defense, when you have in front of you flesh-and-blood people who are your brothers and sisters, and aunts and uncles, and co-workers and neighbors, and they love each other and just want to go through life.”
And here is the salient clip, just in case you think I might be taking it out of context:
For clarity sake, what Mr. Bell has just said is that the church will continue to be even more irrelevant when it makes it’s best defense the Bible. Allow that to sink in for a moment… He has just said that ‘flesh-and-blood people’ not a holy, sovereign God should determine what is right for them. He has just implicated that the Bible is in fact, irrelevant in our world today, it cannot be relied upon, it cannot be trusted as truth. He has finally hypothesized that if the church keeps as it’s focus the truth found in the Word of God, they will cease to be an influence on the world around them.
I am most certain that Mr. Bell will not read my small, inconsequential blog, but hopefully people who listen to him will. Hopefully, my friends who have read some of his previous writings, which for the most part were solid, will veer away from this new iteration of his faith. My friends, I beg of you to consider the implications if indeed the Bible is irrelevant:
- The mission of the church is founded in those 2,000 year old letters. I have often stated that I believe that the local church, as the messenger of Jesus Christ, is the hope of the world. If the Bible is irrelevant, our world is without hope.
- The message of the gospel is found in those 2,000 year old letters. Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man can come to the Father except through me.” If this truth cannot change culture, than culture cannot be changed!
- The key to genuine fulfillment is found in those 2,000 year old letters. Jesus says that He came to give us life in all of it’s fullness! If His words are irrelevant than we as a human race are living empty lives, void of fulfillment, and without the possibility of real enjoyment.
My friends, those 2,000 year old letters are precious to me, not because I am some stuck in the mud, fundamental, traditionalist who still believes that a fat adulterous King was the only one who could authenticate Scripture (King James if you’re wondering), but because I have tried them, tested them, and applied them to my life year after year, and they have proven faithful! Those 2,000 year old letters change lives, saves marriages, and alters eternal destinies, they are far from irrelevant, they are essential!
Think about it,
How long, you simpletons, will you insist on being simpleminded? How long will you mockers relish your mocking? How long will you fools hate knowledge? – Proverbs 1:22
Our small group (shout out to all my groupies!) is currently doing an ancient study (circa 2001) of Andy Stanley’s called The Best Question Ever. The study is mainly about how to make wise decisions; not good or bad, but wise. Wise decisions are basically defined in this way, applying all the truth and information that you have at hand, while also bringing into bear your past experiences, your present circumstances, and your future hopes and dreams. Once you have all of that you can then make a ‘wise decision’. It’s a great study and if you haven’t done it you may want to share this post with your small group leader and encourage him/her to do the study in the near future…hint, hint, hint!
But, I want to focus on one particular lesson in which Andy talks about the three categories of people within the book of Proverbs, the naive, the fool, and the mocker. Andy takes great care in defining each and then gives some poignant illustrations as to how they would respond. Here is a snippet of those definitions:
- Naive: also called simple or simpleton, is someone who simply doesn’t know what they don’t know. They just don’t have enough experience to be able to clearly discern. The danger here is that this person will often wrongly believe that they do know, or they know enough. This trap can be overcome by #1 gaining experience and #2 listening to older/wiser counsel. (Proverbs 14:5)
- Fool: also called foolish, is someone who knows, but doesn’t care. They know that if they stick their tongue in the light socket that it will shock them, but they want to do it anyways, it was fun the first time, so let’s do that again. A fool wrongly believes that just because it happened last time, it doesn’t mean that it’ll happen this time too, and/or they believe that unlike everyone else, they’ll get away with it. The fool can only stop being a fool by accepting the truth and changing his ways. Unfortunately for the fool this only happens after multiple times of things blowing up in his face and having to bear the consequences. (Proverbs 10:23)
- Mocker: also called the scoffer, is someone who knows, doesn’t care, and will ridicule you for caring or trying to correct him. They will continue down the same path, making the same mistakes, knowing that destruction is coming all the while humming their happy little tune. They will make fun of you, slander you, attack you as often as they can, and there is absolutely nothing that you can do to help them. In fact, the only solution is to cast them out of your circle of friends and hope that God grabs a hold of their heart. (Proverbs 9:7-8)
I’m sure as you read through the definitions you probably had pictures of multiple people flash through your mind for each of them. It may have even inspired a verbal reaction of “that’s right!”…but pause in your indignation for just a moment, how often have you been naive, played to fool, or scoffed at others counsel? Self evaluation is never easy and often painful, but always necessary if we are going to consistently make wise decisions instead of naive, foolish, or mocking ones!
Here’s to being wise my friends,
At Friendship we strongly encourage all of our Ministry Partners to go through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University as we believe it is one of the best tools out there to help you understand what God wants from you for your finances. If you have not gone through FPU I would highly, strongly urge you to do so. Dave is not just the next financial flash in the pan, he’s been helping people for more than 30 years to handle their finances in a way that both honors God and frees them. I know that this is doing FPU a terrible injustice, but let me see if I can give bullet point highlights to what you’ll learn:
- If you don’t tell your money where to go, you’ll never know where your money goes!
- If you are willing to live like no one else now, you’ll be able to live like no one else later!
- If you don’t get out of debt, as fast as you can, you are greatly decreasing your ability to enjoy financial peace!
- God is the originator of all wealth, and he expects you to honor him!
Now, let me answer a two questions about giving:
It’s mine, why should I give at all? The Bible says that we are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26). And, that God is in his very nature a ‘giver’. First, he gave us life, then he gave us the world and everything in it, and after we rejected him, God gave us his Son, Jesus Christ. Giving is in our nature, and when we follow after our Creator he stokes within us the desire to be more and more like him. When we are generous with what God has given to us we literally become more and more like God. And, if you need more inspiration, Jesus says that when we imitate him in his nature of being a giver, he will in turn give us more so that we can continue being generous with others (Luke 6:38).
There are so many good charities, non-profits, mission organizations, community groups; why should it go to the church? The Bible says that the mission of the church is to reach the world for Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18-20). Other organizations can do a lot of good, and this is not a slam on them, but there is no other organization, business, entity, or enterprise that will change people’s eternal destiny! The church is the hope of the world, and when the church is working right, there is absolutely nothing like it! Why wouldn’t you want to invest in the greatest endeavor the world has ever or will ever experience? When you obey God’s command by regularly and faithfully investing in the vision of your local church you are fueling the mission of God to become reality!
I could invest multiple posts on this subject because God is so passionate about it, however, my hope is to whet your whistle for more, to encourage you to engage in the ministry of giving, and allow the Spirit of God to move you forward!
God bless my friends,
Well, if you’ve been to church at all over the last month you know that all sorts of things are happening. Our construction crew has finished the demolition portion of our redesign and repair of our exterior, and are in the beginning phases of the reconstruction.
As I’m sure you have seen by now, not only are we getting a new drive through for the kids and teens area, but we also have new windows (that don’t leak or allow ants to bore through) that allow a tremendous more amount of light in and really open up the front of the building. They say that windows and doors are the eyes of a building, so I guess our building is getting an eye transplant…sounded better in my head!
Our construction crew also has the entire North side of the building resided, is beginning on the backside, and have started laying the brick on the front. Once the brick is completed then they’ll be able to finish of the front exterior and the drive through, and our facelift of what is becoming our teen and kid’s center, will be complete.
This week the crews have marked out the areas that will be excavated and the big beefy machines should be on site later this week as well. Our hope is that when you arrive on Sunday you’ll see piles of dirt all over the place and the beginnings of Lake Friendship…seriously, it’s gonna be like an acre and a half!
Our goal for the MOMENTUM giving is to be at 50% by December 31st, right now we are siting at 47%. I know that some of you have been giving consistently over the last year and I want to thank you and congratulate you for helping us get this far! I also know that some of you have only given a small percentage of your commitment, and I’d like to challenge you to get caught up in the month of December. Help us celebrate reaching 50%, push us over that mark so that we can start the new year right on track! The exciting thing is, you don’t even have to wait till Sunday to do it, you can jump online right here: Online Giving, and get things rolling.
See ya Sunday!
We finally have some movement beginning to take place (and the people rejoiced)! I’m sure most of you noticed that the pavement on Emerson was about 90% done on Sunday, and as of today (Tuesday, Sep 9) it is completely done and ready for marking.
What you may not realize is that under that road we have laid our new sanitary line hookup and our new storm water line hookup. These two accomplishments will allow us to begin moving forward on the creation of our new retention pond. If you are not familiar with where the pond will sit on the property, take a detour over to our plans on the wall next to the Nursery to get familiar with where you will begin to see a huge hole in the ground in the next month or so. I know that the retention pond isn’t something that most people get super excited about, but it will allow us to detain all of the rain water run-off of all our new hard surface areas, and should prevent any type of flooding. Again, not exciting, but essential for us to keep moving forward.
We’ve also been able to work out an agreement with the City that will allow us to do work on our current building exterior and some interior, while we are waiting on the final approval for our full project financing by using the monies already given to the MOMENTUM Project by people like you who have so graciously and generously sacrificed! This will allow us to build our new drive through and resurface the exterior to match the new building, replace our leaking wood framed windows, and expand our infant nursery (and all the infant nursery volunteer rejoiced)! These things will have a direct impact on how we do ministry and the way our building is seen by the community.
So, to wrap this all up in a profound, intellectually stimulating way…“Stuff is happening people!”
I shared with you the first Positive Habit with this post: Part 1. Today, I’d like to share with you the second Positive Habit, the habit of Prayer.
Prayer is often seen as a mysterious, even mystical thing that somehow must be mastered over a lifetime of practice. The other night I was bored and the movie Gravity was on…did I mention that I was bored? During one scene Sandra Bullock’s character makes this interesting statement, “Would you pray for me…no one ever taught me how to pray.” I find that very interesting, and telling of our culture. We have this ingrained belief that prayer and praying is difficult, tricky, and that there is some special protocol that must be followed, or else!
Whenever I teach about prayer, I usually go back to what I like to call the discovery of prayer. It’s found in the book of Genesis, chapter 4, verse 26:
Seth also had a son, and he named him Enosh. At that time people began to call upon the name of the LORD.
You see when God created the world prayer was non-essential, because God and man communicated face to face. The Bible says that Adam and Eve walked with God together in the Garden of Eden. But, when man sinned that intimate connection was broken, or it would probably be better to say, it was significantly altered. Because of the sinfulness in man, God had to remove his ‘physical’ presence from man or else his holiness would have destroyed them, even if He is/was/always will be ever present. From that point on, however, God’s presence was not as obvious, and men’s relationship with God took a radical turn for the worse. The first man born, Cain, actually killed the second man born Abel, in a fit of rage and jealousy! Wow, it didn’t take long for that to go bad! However, when the next son was born, Seth, his attitude in regards to God was completely different. For some unknown reason, maybe a child was sick or the crops failed, Seth called out to God…and God answered him, and thus began what we now call prayer.
From that seminal moment forward men have realize that whenever they call out to God that He will answer them. Prayer, in it’s most basic and fundamental form, is simply calling out to God, nothing more and nothing less. You can call on God to praise His name, to thank Him for something He’s done, pleading for Him to intervene, to give direction, really whatever you need to say or ask of God, prayer is our mode of communication.
Okay, so let’s get into the specifics:
- Is there a particular place to pray from? Nope! Moses prayed on a Mountainside, David prayed in battle, Daniel prayed from inside the lion’s pit, Enoch prayed in the forest, Joseph prayed in prison, Abraham prayed in the desert…well I think you get the point. Your location isn’t relevant to the delivery success of your prayer.
- Is there a particular verbiage to prayer? Nope! Recorded prayers in the Bible are as short as a couple of words all the way up to an entire chapter in the Bible. It doesn’t have to have thee’s and thou’s, and probably shouldn’t since it’s the 21st century, and there isn’t a particular format. The words you use in prayer are as specific to you as the words you use in regular conversation with others. Trust me, God’s not judging you on your grammar or your use of language. You’ll never here him correct your usage of ‘their’ ‘there’ or ‘they’re’!
- Is there a limit to what I can pray for? Well, lets see: Elijah prayed that it wouldn’t rain, and then later that it would. Isaac prayed for a wife. Joshua prayed for mercy. Solomon prayed for wisdom. Elisha prayed for a boy to come back to life. Jacob prayed that his brother wouldn’t kill him, and then wrestled…literally…with God. The point is, as long as you are praying from your heart, about what’s going on in your life, then there really isn’t a limit, other than of course things that are sinful…yeah, don’t pray for those!
- Is there a prescribed format for prayer? That is a great question, and many people will point you to Jesus model prayer that he gave to the Disciples in Matthew 6:9-13 but even that wasn’t intended to be the ‘be all, end all’ of prayers. But, there are certainly elements that Jesus points are are good and valuable for us to pray to God about.
Jesus says that as we pray we should be reminded of how awesome God is (name be kept holy); we should pray to know, understand, and see His will become reality in our life (your kingdom come, your will be done); we should pray for any needs we might have (our daily bread); to give us wisdom for making decisions (lead us not into temptation); for safety (deliver us from evil); and for forgiveness of our sins (forgive us our sins). Basically, what Jesus is doing here is giving us a list of all of the things that we can come to God for, take a look at that list again in a little more simplified format:
- Who God is
- Know God more
- Know God’s will
- God would provide our needs
- God would give us direction
- God would protect us
- God would forgive us
You see, once you get past all of the years of thee’s and thou’s, God just wants you to talk with Him. He is your Father and He wants you to let Him know what you want, what you need; He wants you to ask questions, to seek direction. Prayer is simply your sharing your heart with God! Don’t make it complicated, don’t make it too formal, and don’t avoid it like it’s difficult.
Whatever you are doing, just stop for a minute. Pause and say hello to God, He’s there, I promise you. Tell Him about your day, your fears, your hopes, your dreams, just talk…and then listen. It is often after we have poured our heart out to God that He pours Himself into us. God’s most direct form of communication is through His Word, the Bible (I talked about this is Pt 1) but He loves to talk to us when we are still, silent, and listening. It is often in those moments I can almost ‘feel’ God right there. I’m no ‘spooky Christian’, but I do believe what the Bible teaches, so I’ll leave you with this.
Be still and know that I am God! – Psalm 46:10
Until next time!
How do you grow spiritually? Depending upon your background you may answer that questions using different words than what I’m about to. But, the basics of growing spiritually haven’t changed since the beginning of time, when a relationship with God was the most important thing (see Adam and Eve in the Garden with God). Yet ever since that fateful day when our grandparents rejected God we’ve been trying to create some type of system to get us back closer to Him, and often it’s on our terms. We create religious systems that are, at best, flawed/cheap imitations of what God has truly intended.
Instead of trying to get you to do a particular thing(s) that fit a particular religious system, let’s just go back to what God has highlighted in His word as important stuff for us. God doesn’t tend to waste his breath or talk just to hear Himself, so when God speaks our ears should perk up and take note. My hope is that you can begin to build these habits into your life and move towards spiritual health, because that which is healthy…grows!
This particular habit is probably the least utilized, even though it may be the most important since it flows into our understanding of all the others. Now, I’m not going to tell you that you need to get up at the ‘butt-crack of dawn’ and scour the Scriptures for the theological equivalent of a needle in a haystack! But, it is absolutely essential to your spiritual health that you are listening to God. The Bible refers to itself as the “Word of God”, let’s put that in a way we can grasp, “God’s words recorded for us, to give us direction, hope, and comfort for our everyday life”. Often, Bible reading/study can feel like homework, but what it should be and should be viewed as is simply an opportunity for us to hear from and receive wisdom from the greatest source in all of the universe.
When I was a younger pastor, I often thought how helpful and informative it would be to be able to spend an hour with some of the great pastors of the previous generation and gain wisdom from them. I even went so far as to try to get some time with some very well known men at my own expense. Unfortunately, rarely did it pan out, and when it did I was often disappointed. Yet, the greatest source of leadership teaching, wisdom, and coaching sat just inches from my hand on my desk. It wasn’t that I didn’t read or study my Bible, but I saw it as one dimensional, spiritual, nothing more, nothing less. But then I re-read a passage of Scripture that I’d read a hundred times before:
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. – 2 Timothy 3:16-17 NLT
Do you see it, “…every good work…”. The Bible isn’t just a ‘spiritual manual’ it’s a Life Manual. When you read it God is filling you with wisdom for living life. The God who created and sustains all life is literally giving you the secrets to living a life of significance! And, unlike all of those self-appointed gurus it’s not ‘3 easy payments of $19.99’ it’s free, readily accessible, and without any type of limitations.
So, how about you and I today spend a little time listening to God? Grab your Bible, open it up, and just read, you never know what you might be inspired, challenged, equipped, taught, lead, encouraged to do until you start to listen to the ONE whose hand is guiding it all!
Next post: Prayer
Well the old expression goes, “Slow and steady wins the race.” Have I ever mentioned that I have a rather driven personality? I don’t know about you all but I don’t think I can wait an awful lot longer before I start having to gnaw on something (or someone) to relieve the tension!
Thankfully, things are moving, but as with everything that has anything to do with governmental red tape, it moves way slower than what we’d like. On the very positive side all of our information for financing is in the lenders hands and we have multiple banks who are now ‘competing’ for our business, this usually means good rates, which means a savings in the long run…even better!
On the exciting side…if our bond issue is resolved and our meeting goes well with the City, then nothing further stands in the way of us breaking ground! We don’t have a date yet since it’s still dependent upon those last two hurdles being jumped, but all signs point to go as of right now.
You will notice that some of the property next to Emerson road is already getting dug up. This is a part of the improvements that are being done to the road and are a part of our new acceleration and deceleration lanes that will make coming and going much easier on Sundays and for our Childcare parents when all is said and done.
Finally, as I shared with you recently, we just reached 40% of our $627,000 committed to the MOMENTUM project, way to go Friendship! If you made a commitment and haven’t yet started giving or your a little behind, I’m going to challenge you to start or get back in rhythm to help us reach 50% even faster. Let’s keep moving forward to make an impact that’ll last a generation!
I was really rather amazed this year by the San Antonio Spurs. In spite of having the best record in the NBA they were rarely mention by sportscaster and prognosticators alike. They were the forgotten powerhouse. To most, they were to old, to boring, and to…well not the HEAT to win. Now, as much as I would love to make this a blog, blasting the HEAT and Lebron James, I just can’t. In spite of my disdain for them, did I mention I’m a lifelong Pacers fan, you can’t ignore that they’ve made it to four consecutive NBA Finals, and won two of them. That’s impressive, plain and simple. But, compare it to the Spurs, who since 1999 have won five titles, that’s a 33% title winning percentage over a 15 year period…Now that is amazing!
So, what can we learn from this ‘blue-collar’ team, that have been in the playoffs 24 of the last 25 years, captured 20 division titles, won 50+ games for 16 seasons straight, and had the same head coach for nearly 20 years? Well, here are five things:
- ‘Superstars’ can’t do it alone: Often we fall prey to the idea that if we just get this amazing guy on our leadership team, or on staff, or as a volunteer, that will make all the difference. And, for sure there is almost always an immediate impact. But, if you’re looking for sustained, long-term impact, it can’t be about just one guy. In 1997 the Spurs looked completely lost. Even though they had one of the best big men of all time in David ‘The Admiral’ Robinson, a perennial MVP candidate, they were consistently getting bumped out of the playoffs in the first or second round. It wasn’t until they drafted a young guy named Tim Duncan, that the Spurs began to take shape. David Robinson now had a teammate who could shoulder the burden alongside of him. In fact, Robinson made it his mission to mentor this young guy and help him become a top tier player in the league. Robinson even lessened his role intentionally so that Duncan could begin to flourish. Just two short years later, 1999, they were the NBA Champions for the first time.
- Old doesn’t mean finished: I honestly wish I had a dollar for every time that I heard the Spurs were ‘too old’ this year! The three main guys on the Spurs, Duncan, Parker, Ginobili, are past ‘their prime’. But, just like David Robinson before them, these guys had been mentoring the younger, fresher legs on the team. Taking a few less shots, allowing them to experience what it was like to carry more of the load. Just because you may be past your prime, doesn’t mean your ineffective. Might your role be changing, would you be more effective as a mentor than a major player, maybe. The bottom line is stop thinking you’re too old to be useful on a team.
- Teamwork beats star power every time: It was said that the Spurs offense was old, outdated, and boring. Their main offensive philosophy; pass the ball to the open man, in spite of who it is. Their belief was that the open man has a better chance at making a shot or a play than one of their big three in a double team. So, on any given possession you would witness 3,4, sometimes even 5 passes before a shot was taken. It was a completely unselfish ideal that every guy on the team had to embrace for it to be effective. In a league where isolation and one-on-one play is the course of the day, this type of offense seemed almost foreign. But to me, it was beautiful! You see when you play as a team, it’s not about your individual stat line as much as it is how the team did. Sure Lebron averaged a bazillion points and rebounds in the series, but the Spurs hoisted the trophy!
- Longterm success demands stable, consistent leadership: Greg Popovich may be the most boring interview in the history of sports! But, what makes him boring to a reporter makes him invaluable as a coach. He knows exactly what he wants to do, teaches it ad nauseum to his players, and demands that they run it with ruthless efficiency on the court. His players buy in to it because he’s proven it works. Sure, he makes tweaks here and there, takes input from his players, and makes in game corrections. But, his players know and trust him because he’s always headed in the same direction. As a leader sometimes you feel like you need to be perfect, but what is actually more important, is for you to be consistent. If as a leader of a team you are all over the place emotionally, or with ‘new ideas’ or vision every couple of weeks, you will quickly fatigue your team and they will quit trying, not because they don’t care, because they just don’t know where your going!
- Talk less, do more: There’s an old expression that goes something like this, “Those that talk about it rarely do it; those that do it rarely talk about it.” Basically, all of the hype, the fashion, the bling was all one-sided during the NBA Finals this year. The HEAT were the talk of the town, ‘Can they three-peat’, ‘Did you see what Lebron/D-Wade was wearing’, ‘Just how many tattoos does Chris Anderson have’. While people actually poked fun at the Spurs for their lack of fashion sense. The Spurs simply went about their business, no one talked about winning their fifth championship, or that if they won again that Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili would have won four championships together. They simply played their boring brand of basketball and won.
So, congratulations to the San Antonio Spurs, and thanks for the lessons in teamwork!
Whenever anything like this happens people always ask questions like this. The assumption is that this happened because of God or at the very least, because God didn’t stop it. Below is a re-post of my response to the Sandy Hook shooting, hopefully it will help you or help you in conversation with others:
“Dear Lord, I pray for those who have been devastated by the actions of this man. I pray for parents today who will not be able to pray with their child or tuck them into bed. I ask that you wrap your arms around them and send them your children who will display your true love. I also ask God that you would silence the mouths of foolish men and women who are using this tragedy as an opportunity to continue to spew their hateful words or agendas. I ask God that you would stir your church to action as we pray for and engage other in conversations and that these words I’m about to share will bring your truth into the conversation and encourage other believers to share this truth. In Jesus name, Amen.”
On more than one occasion I’ve been asked this question, or something similar, when a tragedy such as this strikes, “Is God unable, unconcerned, or unwilling to intervene when things like this happen?” I’d like to take each of the presented possibilities first, and then give you what I believe the Biblical answer to tragedy is.
Unable: Is God incapable or not powerful enough to have stopped this? Well the Bible is very clear on this subject: “For nothing is impossible with God.” Luke 1:37
Unconcerned: Doesn’t God care? Is he just so far removed from us that this type of thing doesn’t even bother him? I believe that the Bible is incredibly clear on this as well, John 3:16 says the God cares so much that he sent his Son Jesus Christ to die in our place. That Jesus loved us so much that he willingly gave up his life for us, no one took it from him (John 10:18). So, maybe he’s just not involved…actually the Bible teaches that Jesus Christ is not just aware, but actively interceding, or working on our behalf, at all times (Romans 8:34)
Unwilling: Okay, so God does care, is powerful enough to do it, but he just chose not to for some reason…really loving God, right?! Well, here’s the problem with that thinking, we assume that everything that happens in this world is “God-approved”, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. At the dawn of our world God created Adam and Eve and gave them an incredible gift, the gift of being able to choose, theologians call it “free will”. God gave every human being the ‘right’ to choose whether or not they would serve God or reject God. God refuses to force himself on anyone, because a forced love is not love at all. But, if all men have free will, even those who do evil, than evil will always be present…even horrendous evil, and if men reject God then their minds will continue to be corrupted by sin…
Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too. – Romans 1:28-32
So, why didn’t God try to stop this young man from murdering so many people? How do you know that he didn’t? God may very well have been putting person after person into his life attempting to get him to steer away from his life of destruction and corruption, but he simply rejected them. Maybe there were people in his life, who simply refused to do what was necessary to get him help, or discipline him the way he needed, or love him the way he needed. This is not just about one man and God, this is about hundreds if not millions of people interconnected along the chain of his life, any number of whom could have been the key to keeping this tragedy from happening.
BUT, here’s what I do know; No one of us is grieving more right now than God! The heart of God is broken over the sin and the sinfulness that led to this tragedy. Listen to how the Bible conveys the grief and the love that God shows those who are hurting and broken:
The LORD is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. – Psalm 34:18
Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. – Psalm 23:4
This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. – Psalm 91:2-6
You may push back, “But I don’t feel God right now! How does God give me comfort if he’s just a spirit?” That is one of the purposes of the church. We as Christians are to be his hands, his feet, we are commanded to “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:15.
Now, what I’m about to say may offend some of you, but maybe it is necessary. What happened today was an awful tragedy. It was a despicable act by a man who had allowed sin to be in full control and as he spiraled into the depths of his depravity he took the lives of others. We mourn today over those who are lost, we weep today with parents who lost children, children who lost siblings, and friends who lost friends. But, this happens every day in our world. In Somalia this Summer over 29,000 children died in a 90 day span because they did not have enough to eat or clean water to drink. That’s over 320 children per day! In Sudan, some 400,000 to 500,000 children have been murdered or made to engage in warfare where they were killed over the last 10 years. That means that every day in the Sudan 100 – 120 children are killed with guns. These are just two small examples, there are countless others.
Friends the evil in our world is far more expansive and profound than anyone of us could possibly imagine! That fact that things like this don’t happen in every community on a regular basis is proof that God is holding back the tidal wave of sin. Do not let this tragedy derail you from your faith, let it drive you deeper in discovering your faith. Pray for these families, but then pray for your world. Who in your life needs to hear about Jesus? But, don’t stay on your knees, get up and begin to do what you can to change your world with the truth of Jesus Christ.
Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. – James 1:27
Well, this is what we are currently seeing all around our building right now! I’m thinking that I might pick one of these bad boys up so that I can fit in with all of the cool kids. I wonder what type of gas mileage they get?
We’ve had some pretty cool things take place over the last month. Now, we’ve still got a long way to go, but pretty much all of our meetings have gone fantastic. We even had a huge answer to prayer in our excess dirt removal and actually have a couple of different people willing to take it off of our hands with no cost to us.
Here are the big items on our plate right now, and almost all of it is in the financial areas. Our finance team is working over time to get all of this information together and correct so as to not hold up the project, but here is what you can be praying for:
- The City is requiring us to get a Bond for all of our site-work. Bonds are really not a big deal, unless of course you’re a church! Then it can become a real process. Be praying that we can get this completed and ready to present to the City by the Board of Public Works meeting on June 14th!
- Our final architectural plans are almost ready to be submitted to the State. This is the last major pre-construction hurdle. Pray that the State approves and that the City signs off.
- Compilation of the last several years of financial records. Think of it as doing your taxes…blindfolded! Yeah, that’s kind of what this is like.
The 3 people who are carrying the load are Don Stewart, Jessica Seelye, and Nita Conaway. Please be in constant prayer for them as I’m certain the numbers can get overwhelming at times.
Here’s the really exciting news: If all goes well with getting our financing in line, and there are no unforseen hiccups at the June 14th BPW meeting, we can apply for our LAP (Land Alteration Permit) and we can begin moving dirt. So, let’s all pray that the big boy dozer’s aren’t just at our neighbor’s next month, but are roaming around our land too!
That’s all for now!
All sorts of things are happening right now as we continue to move towards breaking ground on the MOMENTUM Project! If you don’t know about the project, just click the rendering to the right and it will take you to our dedicated web page that will give you all sorts of information.
Just over the last week I’ve had three different meetings, and all of them went well:
Meeting #1: The TAC (I have no idea what that means) Meeting with the City of Greenwood to go over all of our dirt work, storm water, sewer, utilities, parking, landscaping, etc… The meeting went off without a hitch and the next step in the process is to present our plan to the Planning Commission for approval of our LAP (this one I know, Land Alteration Permit), which means that once we get this you’ll start seeing dirt moving all over the place!
Meeting #2: The final Architectural meeting with our architect so that he can put the final touches on our building plans to present to the City. Once these plans are approved we can apply, simultaneously for our city and state building permits.
Meeting #3: The financial meeting with Jon Huskins who is working on our behalf in talking to several banks about financing our project. There are a few more hoops to jump through here, but because of your faithful giving to the project and to regular ministry everything is pointing in the right direction, at this point.
So, here are three ways you can be praying based off of these meetings:
#1 – Pray that the City not only grants our LAP but does so with great speed so we can break ground.
#2 – Pray that the hoops we have to go through for the building permit, and the changes that are requested will be minimal.
#3 – Pray that we have competing offers from banks and that the rates will be incredibly low for us.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I’ve ever been this pumped about seeing dozers, backhoes, and dump trucks!
PS: If anyone knows of someone who is in need of around 8,000 sq yards of dirt, about 30% of which is topsoil, please let us know. They have to be willing to haul it themselves but our contractor will be more than willing to load up their trucks for them. If we can’t find someone to take the dirt it could cost us in excess of $50,000 to haul it and dump it! This would be a great savings for us, so keep your ears open!
I have been blessed with having a wealth of people in my life who are and embrace creativity. I personally love creativity, and love to watch people flourish and expand in creative environments. But being a creative or an artist can often be scary and intimidating. Even if you’re successful, the pressure then mounts for ‘What’s next’ and living up to your own success.
So, for all my creative, artistic, skinny jean, scarf wearing buddies out there, here are 4 things that if you constantly remember and pursue will keep those creative juices flowing:
- Believe God made you extraordinary, never stop discovering how!
- You are created in the image of THE CREATOR, He created everything from nothing, what can you create with all of your something?
- Fear of failure is the death of artistry! Embrace failure as a step closer to your greatest artistic achievement.
- Staying ‘in your box’ makes you square…I’ve never met a square creative!
The snail pace of the pre-construction process continues. We gave our site design (parking, sewer, storm water, ect…) to the City and they came back with some alterations, and we have re-submitted it with the areas they asked us to address. So, the next phase is submitting the actual building/construction designs for approval.
I can’t tell you how anxious I am to begin seeing ground moving on our land. All of the dirt mounds piling up on Worthsville Rd are just adding to my anticipation! If you are as excited about us moving dirt as I am there are 4 things I’m asking you to do:
- Pray! Our biggest asset as we work through the submission, permit, and bonding process with the City are your prayers. We believe that prayer changes things! So, pray that our builder move quickly, that the City responds quickly and reasonably, and that everything would take place on God’s perfect timing.
- Talk! Share your excitement for the building with everyone you know. Talk to them about what will be happening there, talk about how it will allow our Childcare, which by the way is awesome, to grow and impact more families. Talk about the coffee shop whose proceeds will be used to help people who are hurting, lost, and lonely. Talk about how our teen ministry will finally be able to have a space of their own. In short, talk about it, build the excitement!
- Commit! Last year we presented the MOMENTUM project and many of you committed financially to give over and above your regular offering to make the project a reality. If you were not a part of Friendship then and you’d like to know more about it and potentially become a part of MOMENTUM yourself then go to our dedicated website, read the information, watch the amazing stories, and commit to being a part of the MOMENTUM at Friendship Church! If you’ve already committed, then let me say “Thank You!” and keep up the giving!
- Invite! Once our building is complete we will have seating for 600 in the auditorium and our kids space will double. As we build over the next year our vision of glorifying God as an effective and influential church isn’t being put on hold! Some may say, “Where will we put more people right now?”. That’s a great question, I really don’t know…but we’ll find room. Lack of space will never be an excuse for us to stop doing what God has called us to do, and when the time is right God will let us know what the next step is. Kind of exciting, isn’t it!
Just remember, when God’s people, pursue God’s vision, in God’s timing, we can expect God-sized results!
Some great news everyone! I recently had a meeting with the City of Greenwood and the subdivision planner to the West of us. As we all sat around the table attempting to resolve the domino effect that we were experiencing the subdivision planner came up with a fantastic idea that allowed not only us to move forward but also the subdivision! That means that both of our projects can continue to progress, and hopefully without much further delay.
At this point we have to get back with our engineers to change some of our drainage and road issues and hopefully be able to work with the subdivision in creating a great timing solution that works for both of us. So, as of right now, our engineering firm is beginning to work on the layout. Once that is done we will present that to the City and get an initial approval to apply for a land alteration permit (basically allows us to start moving dirt).
The unfortunate part of all of this is that this process has caused us to be about 4-6 months behind our initial desire of breaking ground in December. The positive part is that this is allowing us to get to know more of the people involved in the project and be able to build positive relationships with them. In fact, I’d like to give you a few names of people who will be influential in the ongoing progress of our project and ask you to be specifically praying for them.
- Paul Claire (Subdivision Planner)
- Mark Richards (City Engineer)
- Paul Peoni (Assistant Engineer)
- Bill Peeples (City Planner)
All of these men I’ve been able to get to know throughout this process, and I can tell you that I am personally praying for them, and I’d like you to join me.
Well, that’s all for now, keep praying hard and I’ll keep you up to date as things progress!
Wow, I’m simply amazed at how our MOMENTUM series went, and I’m in awe of how excited and supportive everyone is of the project. For those of you who don’t yet know, we did reach our goal of $600,000 committed to the project over the next two years, and on our Big Give Sunday 25% of that amount came in, that’s just astounding by any measure!
Our hope was to break ground still in 2013, unfortunately do to some circumstances beyond our control that have recently taken place we will need to delay the groundbreaking a little bit. We are still hoping to be able to get started early in 2014 if we can make some pieces move the way we want. Here’s the skinny on what has happened and how it affects us:
- First thing that happened was that a Greenwood resident, East of us on Worthsville Rd, is fighting the Eminent Domain ruling. This has put a six month delay on the construction of Worthsville Rd. This does not affect us…directly, but as you’ll see below it has a pretty substantial domino effect.
- Because the City of Greenwood has had to delay the project for six months, they’ve chosen to start on the West end of the project across 31. Again, this has no direct impact on us…but wait!
- The subdivision directly to the West of us across Emerson Ave needs to tie into the new storm water system that the City is building into Worthsville Rd, BUT that is also being delayed, so the subdivision has also decided to delay starting. Now, this has a direct impact on us because our current drainage goes onto the property they are building on so they were going to have to take our drainage and connect it to the new City storm water system. They also were going to bring Emerson up to a County Road designation (thicker pavement and a little wider lanes).
So, because all of this is delayed, that places all of the improvements (road, drainage, moving of utilities, etc…) squarely on our shoulders, which if it stands will mean a potential increase of $250,000…yes, that’s six figures!
We are in the process of working with our construction team to determine exactly what it might cost us, and if there is some way around, or some way to work with either the City or the subdivision to find a positive solution. So, be praying very, very hard that God gives us a clear path and gives us precise directions!
WARNING, SPIRITUAL APPLICATION COMING!!!
As I think about this process I can’t help but think about the verse I began Sunday’s message with:
A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man. – Proverbs 24:24 NIV
Rarely can we trace a path of ruined life back to one ‘huge, monstrous bad decision’. Granted, there are some of those, but more often then not it’s a small decision, that leads to another, and another, and another. Then one day you find yourself in a place you never wanted or intended to be, and it often impacts other people.
This gentleman who is fighting the City is not going to win. If it were for a strip mall or another parking lot, yes he would have a small shot, but no one has ever won an Eminent Domain case when it involved a road. So, not only will he lose his case, but he’ll also lose his money for the lawyer, which means the money that he would have gotten for his property will be significantly diminished or he could lose it all together. His decision also affects all of the people who would benefit from the new road, the people who would be purchasing the new homes, the guys who would be employed to build those homes…well you get the picture.
Moral of the story folks, every decision and every choice matters which is why Paul says in 1 Timothy 4:16;
“Watch your life and doctrine closely!”
Keep praying for God’s best team, because it’s on it’s way!!!
I’m so excited to announce to you that Sarah Pead will be joining the Friendship Church staff beginning Monday, September 9th. Sarah will become our Arts & Communications Director. Sarah has been working for the last 5 years as a Graphic Design and Marketing Consultant for Willow Marketing on the Northside of Indianapolis. Willow is one of the top design firms that works with non-profit agencies in the entire Midwest. Her invaluable experience in the design field, marketing, advertising, social media, and print media will become an unbelievable asset to us as we continue to grow as a church.
Sarah has actually been serving in a volunteer role at Friendship for 6 years as our Lead Graphic Designer. In that role she has created all of our graphics for every series that we have done at Friendship, created our church logo, the Friendship Kids logo and branding, Fusion, Man Stuff, Shape, and well, just about every other logo we’ve got out there. Sarah’s guiding hand has allowed us to do things that churches three times our size cannot even do.
What Sarah Will Be Doing:
As our new Arts & Communications Director, Sarah will now be overseeing the following areas:
- All physical print pieces including the Worship Guide, posters, handouts, etc
- Continue to act as our Lead Graphic Designer
- Wed Design & Social Media Team
- Photography & Video Team
- All digital media pieces including e-mail communications, registration forms, event forms, video pieces, etc
- All areas of communications whether print, digital, or video
Why Is This The Right Time For Sarah To Come On?
Man, I am so glad you asked that question! As our church has grown Traci, Dustin, and I have had to increase our areas of responsibility, sometimes even beyond our particular area of expertise. All of the areas listed above are items that one of us is currently doing to varying degrees of success. With Sarah coming on staff it relieves significant pressure from each of us and allows us to focus better on our ‘sweet spots’ in ministry. Below is a snippet of what I shared with the Elders when we first talked about this several months ago:
- With the continued growth of the Shape Women’s Ministry (145 ladies at Rejuvenate…that’s just crazy) and requests for her to counsel ladies; with the continued growth of the church and the increasing time it takes to manage my schedule, requests for meetings, and communications on my behalf, Traci is not able to spend the time needed to continue to grow Women’s Ministry. By removing her media and communication responsibilities it allows her to redeem and re-purpose that time for greater effectiveness and growth for Friendship.
- With our continued growth as a church, our print, digital, photographic, and web media needs continue to grow. This growth is becoming increasingly difficult for Dustin to manage effectively and is beginning to demand more time than can adequately be given without negatively affecting his main responsibilities. Bringing in Sarah will free him up to spend more time and energy in developing the creative arts ministry while at the same time allowing the communications/media areas to continue to grow.
I can’t hardly believe that we were able to get someone of this caliber with this much experience. This will allow us to continue to grow as we grow as a church and relieve a significant bottleneck of time, resources, energy, talents, and people. I’m really looking forward to the many things that God is going to allow us to do through Sarah’s expertise and incredible work ethic!
Send your congratulations and prayers to her new e-mail: email@example.com
For some the decision was abominable.
For others it was justice.
Some believe that the whole event was simply and completely about race.
Others see it as a bad circumstance gone awful.
Here are the indisputable facts as we stand here today. A young man is now in eternity. Another man’s life is altered forever. A set of parents will never see their boy again. Justified or unjustified, Zimmerman will forever live with the weight of having taken another man’s life. People on both sides of the issue, who do not have all the information (no one does, we weren’t there) are throwing out accusations at those who are on the opposite side of the issue. The media, as always, are doing their best to profit from the lives that have been lost and altered. And, criminals (yes they are criminals) are attacking innocent people in the name of someone they never met or knew.
Regardless of what you think about the event, the trial, and the verdict, I’d like to share a few things with you that, if you truly believe the Bible, we should all agree on.
Racism is a sin. Did you know that the term ‘races’ is a modern word, and in the original language it isn’t even used in the Bible? Now, our modern Bibles have indeed used the word ‘race’ because it is commonly used today, but the best, most accurate translation would simply be ‘peoples’. The Bible teaches very clearly that God created one man and on woman(Gen 2:20-25), and that from their seed every human being on the planet has their existence, and their sinful nature (Romans 5:12-13). One of the largest reason I verbally, strongly, and vehemently resist evolution, is that at its core is racism. Evolution teaches that the different ‘races’ are at different levels of the evolutionary development (Great article laying this out: http://www.icr.org/article/55/). To discriminate against anyone because of the color of their skin is not only stupid, but it is outright sin. The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world (Rom 5:8ff), that all mankind is loved by God (John 3:16), and that we are to treat everyone that we meet as ‘better than ourselves’ (Phil 2:3). And I want to be VERY clear here, I have seen massive racism since this verdict was announced, and it wasn’t just from ‘white’ people. Yes, racism is a two way street that is walked by all shades of skin pigmentation!
Politics, government, rallies, and benefit concerts will never end racism. If racism is a sin you cannot legislate it away. You cannot elect a politician who gives great and rousing speeches who will convince people to stop being racist. I don’t care if you have a million people at a rally shouting “Racism is evil!”, you’ll have 10 million thinking racist thoughts as they watch them do it on the tv. And, personally, if one more self-appointed, self-important, alcoholic, drug induced, narcistic, actress/actor/singer/songwriter/musician/entertainer gives their ignorant opinion on this I just might barf…was that too much?
The hope and freedom that Jesus offers is the only hope and true freedom! You want to stop racism, to end violence, to shut the human trafficking and sex slave industries down, to end abortions, and every other hot button issue you can think of? Then my friend, you need to start living like and start sharing Jesus Christ. Jesus can take the grand marshal/pubah, whatever, of the KKK and turn him into an inter-city missionary married to a girl from South-Central Philly! Jesus can transform a Black Panther into a suburban pastor married to a girl from Minnesota! You don’t believe me, look at the Apostle Paul. He had more hate in his heart for Christian and Gentiles than Farrakhan has for ‘white people’. In Paul’s own words he called himself the ‘worst of sinners’ yet Jesus not only saved him, but made him THE missionary/apostle to the Gentile world.
My friends, our world will never change because sin reigns here. Until the day that Jesus returns and restores, this world will continue to careen towards the abyss. But that doesn’t mean we cannot be an influence for change in the lives around us. Look at the people around you, who needs Jesus? What role does Christ want you to play in their lives? Your story is powerful, tell it! Your life speaks of Jesus, let Him be heard! You want to change the world? Well, you can’t……But Jesus can!
Several weeks ago I shared with you that we were in the process of working through the initial phases of the building process. We have been diligently working with our site engineer to determine exactly what kind of space we have to work with, and the exact amount of square footage we can actually build within the limits that we have. It’s been a very exciting but taxing process and I deeply appreciate your prayers as we continue to look at design concepts and begin getting an idea of how much it will cost us to take the next step in fulfilling the vision that God has given us to “Glorify God as an effective and influential church!”
I am so excited about this process and I am amazed at the incredibly smart and helpful outside people that God has surrounded us with to guide us on this momentous journey of faith! We’ve got some awesome things planned for this Fall as we begin to unveil what God is calling us to do. I’ve already seen God work in some amazing ways and move some mountains that we weren’t sure how to overcome. Each of these ‘obstacles’ have been moments that have tested our resolve, our faith, and to be quite honest…our patience!
Although most of these stories will have to wait until the Fall I’d like to share one exciting obstacle that we’ve already found our way around. As we delved deeper and deeper into this process we realized that it was going to take us much longer than we anticipated to complete all the pre-construction and the construction phase. This in itself was a little discouraging, because we are so excited about this next phase, but it was also causing us to have a little concern because we are continuing to grow at such a rapid rate that we very well might outgrow our building before our new building was finished. Our biggest concern was our children’s ministry which is already operating at about 90% capacity. Considering that we’ve been consistently growing by about 25-30% over the last two years, the likelihood that we would more than max out our available space was very real. Especially in our back room where we are averaging over 30 kids in the 10:30 service…process that for a moment: 30 K – 5th graders in the same room for an hour!
So, late last week we made a pretty significant decision that will allow us to continue grow. We will be converting the current office space on the right side of the foyer back into kid’s space for Sunday morning ministry and for our preschool and childcare. This move allows us to split the back room into older and younger kids and allow us to do ministry to them more effectively since it will be a smaller age bracket. It also gives Friendship Kids Childcare additional space to grow by another 20 or so kids. By the way, they are already at capacity this Summer and at about 90% for the Fall, how cool is that!
The biggest change will be with us as a staff. Since our office space will be gone, Dustin, Traci, and myself will be going mobile. Essentially, we will be working either in our home offices or at various locations when we meet with people. This will not be an easy transition, but we believe that if we do it right it will be a smooth one, and give us the necessary room to continue to reach people for Jesus Christ; which is what it’s all about!
Over the next couple of weeks as you stop by the church building you’ll notice that we are cleaning out our offices and beginning to move furniture into storage. As a part of that move Dustin and I have been going through our libraries and setting aside books that we have read or we now have in digital format and set them out on a table in the back of the auditorium. As you can see we have well over 100 copies of books and we are giving them away to you our church. If you see a book you would like to read, take it! We want you to use them as a tool to help you grow spiritually mature as a follower of Jesus Christ.
Well, I think that’s all for this installment! Keep praying, keep believing, and keep living like Christ!