Okay, so here’s the deal, ya’ll need to stop! Seriously, stop posting, especially when you post in ignorance (def: lack of knowledge or information). Everyone has an opinion, and everyone is most certainly entitled to their opinion, but on some things its actually better to leave your opinion in your head:
Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent. – Pro 17:28
The mouths of fools are their ruin; they trap themselves with their lips. – Pro 18:7
So many of you love Jesus and want to be used by him, but your public rantings are literally alienating you from people that Jesus may want you to be helping. But, because you couldn’t resist posting something you will now not have that chance…is that really worth it? Do you think when you stand before God that he will ask you if you supported the impeachment of the 45th President of the United States? My money is on no!
As Christians we should be amazing citizens of whatever country we are born or chose to live in, of that there is no doubt. According to our Constitution, one of the most amazing human documents to ever be penned, your power rests in your vote, not on how many likes your Facebook post gets. You might think, “Oh I’m informing people”…no your not, you’re irritating people or getting people who think like you more wound up, how exactly does that advance the cause of Christ…just stop.
The people on the right scream, “The House proceedings were an absolute scam! They didn’t even let the Republicans call any witnesses!” The people on the left vent, “The Senate proceedings are an absolute scam! They didn’t call any witnesses!” Maybe your both right, maybe your both wrong, maybe you need to actually stop listening to what the other social media ranters are saying and brush up on the Constitution.
Here’s what I do know, you are called to act like Christ, so maybe you need to just stop!
PS – Here’s a couple other posts you can read if you are interested that might help:
I was never really a fan of Kobe Bryant, it was nothing personal, he just played for another team that wasn’t my team…the Pacers, and he along with Shaq squashed my Pacers in the 2000 NBA Finals, so no I wasn’t a fan of him as a basketball player.
Now, as a leader, a legend, and his work after basketball, I was a huge fan! You don’t have as many titles as he accumulated, as many people who followed as he had, and as much of a difference in a community/nation as he did if you’re not what we would call a ‘good dude’!
I am a father of two incredible women, so I know a little bit about the relationship of father and daughter, and by all accounts his daughter Gigi (Gianna) was following in her father’s footsteps as a ball player and a leader. And this picture encapsulates the joy the two of them shared for the game they both fell in love with.
Kobe was 41 years old and his daughter was 13, they both are now in eternity. This picture was take just over a month ago, and now they are gone. It makes you stop and think doesn’t it?
He was just beginning his life without basketball and she was just beginning her life. I cannot even begin to imagine the feeling he had when he realized what was happening as his daughter sat next to him on that helicopter. I cannot fathom what his wife and three surviving children are going through today, but it makes you stop and think, doesn’t it?
None of us are promised tomorrow, only the moment we live in right now. How will you spend the moments you are blessed with today? Will you squander them scrolling through the internet, squabbling with your spouse, or sifting through hours of unwatched ‘streamable’ episodes of the latest binge-worthy show. It makes you stop and think…doesn’t it?
You…yes…you, were created by God to make a difference, an impact, a change on this world. You were designed to leave a legacy of substance to those who know and love you. So, today, and from this day forward will you continue to live as if “I’ve got 30 or 40 more years” or will you seize all of the divine moments given to you and become all that God created you to be…it makes you stop and think. Doesn’t it?
By now I’m sure that you’ve heard about the incredibly tragic events that took place in Las Vegas. Not only is this deeply disturbing to us as a nation, it should be even more so to us as Christians. Many people, including the shooter, entered into eternity. The Bible tells us:
And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment – Hebrews 9:27 NLT
Events like this shatter our personal feelings of immortality and safety. We tend to walk around in a cocoon of embraced ignorance believing that every day will end the same way it always has, and that each morning we will wake up to go through our daily routines. But, that is simply a facade, the reality is that it takes very little for these fragile bodies of our to cease functioning properly, or functioning at all.
Reports on the scene of the massacre say that a woman was walking around in the crowd just prior to the shooting telling anyone who would listen, ‘You’re going to die to today, you’re all going to die.’ I don’t know about you but that is just plain sick…but that could be true for anyone of us today as well. Today could very well be our last day on this earth, will you live it well? It could also be the last day for someone you love, do they know you love them? More importantly do they know that God loves them and wants to have a relationship with them?
I am in no way trying to be morbid or emotionalize something horrific, instead I’m hoping to stir your mind to action. If we can each begin to remove the blindfolds from our eyes and if we each begin to realize that our time on this planet is short and start making the most of every day then this tragedy doesn’t go without a positive outcome. We, by how we allow this to change our actions, can give some sense of meaning to an otherwise meaningless and evil event. Evil in our world isn’t new, and it isn’t going to end until Christ’s return. But, if we can take the Apostle Paul’s words to heart we can make a difference in the world around us:
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. – Ephesians 5:15-16 NIV
This Sunday we will be launching a new series simply entitled parents. During this 4-week series we will be giving practical and biblical helps to enable you to not only feel more confident and capable as a parent, but also more successful! Far too often, because we feel like failures or we feel overwhelmed we give in, we ‘go along to get along’ as it were, and that only leads to greater feelings of failure and defeat.
Here are the 4 parts of this series:
- It’s Never Too Late, 6/28: Every parent at one time or another has felt like they’ve completely failed as a parent and their best opportunities to help their child, even as an adult, has passed them by. Well it doesn’t matter if your child is 6, 16, or 60 it’s never too late, and as long as you don’t quit there’s always hope!
- The 1 Thing, 7/5: If I told you that there was 1 thing that if your child learned it would guarantee he would have an easier more successful life, would you want to know what that 1 thing is? Yeah, I thought so! Every parent wants what’s best for their children, wants them to live a long life, and wants them to be successful, if you’ll do this 1 thing you’ll be setting them up for long-term success!
- Start At The End, 7/12: What kind of Man/Woman do you want your child to become? Have you ever stopped and thought that through or are you just parenting for the moment? Until we take a long look at where and who we want them to be we won’t really know what to do as a parent to help them to get there.
- Doing It Solo or Blended, 7/19: It’s an unfortunate reality today that many people are trying to do parenting under even more than normal, difficult conditions. How do you parent well when there is supposed to be two of you, but you are on your own? How do you work together with your child’s other parent when they don’t even live in the same house anymore? When we realize that we are not alone and God loves our kids even more than we do, it’ll give us a whole different perspective!
I really hope that you’ll join us for all four weeks of this series, even if your not a parent yet or your kids have kids of their own, this will be a great learning and encouraging time for all of us!
See you Sunday,
We all remember what we wanted to be when we were growing up, a doctor, lawyer, veterinarian, fireman, etc… We all remember because it was really our first big dream. For some of us we wanted to be that because our mom or dad was one, or someone we idolized was. Others wanted to be that because we looked up to them, felt like they were people who made a difference, who made an impact in others lives.
I remember several years ago (1999) Monster.com came out with a tremendous ad campaign with children sharing ‘their dreams’.
At that point in time I was just 5 years removed from college and although I thought the commercial was funny, the power of the commercial was somewhat lost on me. Now, fifteen plus years later, and hundreds of conversations with people just like you I realize that this commercial isn’t so much funny as it is sad. To think about all of the people in our world whose dreams have become nothing more than a cherished memory of childhood, and thought of as a naive childhood fantasy. How incredibly sad!
The Bible, however, teaches that childhood dreams are not something to simply be dismissed, but to be celebrated! A child isn’t tainted with the disease of what we call reality and therefore can see things with a clarity that escapes most adults. By the time we are ‘grown up’ we know better, we are seasoned, we are more mature…we are cynical, jaded, and realists! Our innocence and trust has eroded away as the years slipped by, leaving us with the inability to believe in anything that we cannot taste, touch, feel, or see and our imagination, dreams, and faith dissipate into the vast nothingness of adulthood.
I think it’s time for us to rekindle our dreams and passions to pursue all that God has for us. Jesus said;
I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it. – Luke18:17 NLT
The Bible tells us that God has incredible plans for your life (Jer 29:11; 1 Cor 2:9) but those plans, although promised to you, will never become reality until you are willing to reach out, take them, and pursue them. Much like needing to have the faith of a child is necessary for salvation, believing that our Heavenly Father wants good and not evil for us takes a child like trust of our divine parent. Yes, it’s scary. Yes, the world will tell you that it’s unrealistic. Yes, it may take longer than you planned. BUT, Yes, God can be trusted!
So, what did you want to be when you grew up…it’s not too late!
I am old enough to remember the anti-drug and alcohol campaign that touted and launched this iconic saying. Even as I watched these commercials as a preteen and teen I realized that even though the commercials themselves were more than ‘lame’ (80’s throwback reference) the power of the statement really did make an impact. I mean I started saying no to my teachers, my coaches, my parents…I may have taken that out of context, and it most definitely got me in trouble!
As I’ve grown older, gained more experience, and grown a touch more mature, I’ve realized there is incredible power in that little two-letter word. I’ve also learned that if I’m going to be able to say ‘yes’ to the things in my life that are really important, I’m going to need to learn how to say ‘no’ to the things that are less important. Now, this isn’t to say that things others are asking me to do are bad, in fact, many if not all of them are very good, but it’s not what is best for me.
Over the years I’ve gleaned from some masters in the art of saying no, and I’ve taken some of the best ‘no’s’ I’ve received over the years and incorporated them into my own personal repertoire, but for the sake of time and space I’ve boiled down some of the best, so without further ado:
Dave’s Top Five Ways To Say No With A Smile!
- I would love to, however, my schedule simply doesn’t allow me the time to do that.
- Thanks so much for thinking of me, as awesome as it may be, I cannot do that.
- I am so sorry, but that is just not something that I can do at this point.
- Unfortunately, do to my other commitments, I must decline. However, (so-and-so) might be a perfect fit.
- Thank you so much for the offer, but in an effort to honor my time with my family, I cannot take you up on it.
I’d love to hear some of your great ‘no’s’ in the comments, just maybe I’ll steal one for my own personal collection!
And hey, don’t feel bad about saying ‘no’, they won’t have to give an account for how you used the time God gave you…but you will!
Do you ever feel as if your life is about as predictable as a bad ‘B’ movie? You know the type of movies I’m talking about right? You know who the villain is in the first 5 minutes, or you know that ‘so-so’ is going to end up with ‘so-so’, or the fact that the guy who says ‘let’s split up and search for them’ is the first one to bite the bullet!
What’s amazing is that is the exact opposite of how God wants and intends for you to live your life. Jesus said that his desire was to give you a “…rich and satisfying life” (Jn 10:10) yet so many of us have settle for safe and predictable. I think that it’s time for all of us who claim to know Christ and want to live like Christ to flip the script and start living the way God intended.
Our reason’s for not letting loose tends to revolve around things like what others will think of us, how will it all turn out, what if I fall flat on my face? Well, think about this, Jesus was never in a hurry, rarely did what was expected, and often didn’t do what people wanted, yet he is the most influential person in human history! If you want to live a life of impact, a life that makes a difference you cannot just go with the flow and be like everyone else. You’ve got to be willing to ‘go off script’ and break away from the safe and predictable.
I’d like to personally invite you to be my guest this Sunday as we launch this brand new series simply called “Unscripted”, and if you do come, make sure to say “Hi”!
PS: Here’s a trailer video our amazing Creative Team put together for the series:
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!
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
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!
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!
Hey Friendship People,
Many of you will be receiving this letter from me, via snail mail, in the next day or two with your year end giving statement for your taxes. However, I wanted to share it with everyone that calls Friendship home. I believe God has great things in store for 2013 and I’m looking forward to what God wants to do with you and through you. Here’s to the year of MORE!
I believe that the hope that comes from knowing Jesus Christ is the seed, the beginning of every good thing in our lives. This hope gives birth to a new way of living. It always believes for the best, even in the face of the worst circumstances. As we look at our nation, our government, and our economy there are a not a lot of things that we can take hope in, but you can have hope today, no matter what surrounds you, because you serve a mighty God who cares, who knows you by name (Isaiah 45:3), who understands the desires of your heart (1 Chronicles 28:9), who knew you even before you were formed in your mother’s womb (Jeremiah 1:5)!
Let me encourage you to look up and keep hope alive in your life for 2013! If you are facing setbacks that seem overwhelming, you can have hope! God is for you, not against you. His resources are endless, His love knows no bounds, and no matter what is happening in your life, there is nothing that can ever separate you from Christ (Romans 8:35-39)!
This hope we have cannot be bought or sold, it can only be given away, and each and every weekend that is exactly what we do. We “give away” the message of hope in Christ to those who need it the most, free of charge! Your partnership with Friendship through volunteering, participation, prayer, bringing your friends, and financial giving has built a tremendous foundation from which we proclaim the life-giving message of Jesus Christ! Because of you, and other like you, 2012 was the best year in the life of Friendship Church…THANK YOU, I’m so glad you’re here!
I believe that 2013 will be the year of “More” for Friendship!
I believe God will give us more salvations, more people to minister to, more volunteers, more space, more baptisms, more resources, and more of His overall blessing! I also believe that God wants to do “More” in your life too, so I’ve enclosed an index card for you (you can pick one up at Traci’s counter). Please share with me a situation in your life that seems hopeless, where you want “More” of God’s intervention in your life. You see, I believe that through prayer, God can take any circumstance and transform it for His glory, and I’d like to pray specifically for that to take place in your life in 2013. So, first thing every Monday in 2013, I’m going to take every card that I’ve received and pray through each one of them individually and specifically. As God moves I’d love to hear from you through e-mail, a note, a card, you can even Facebook message me if you like! You can turn in these cards in one of three ways: give it directly to me, drop it in the box marked “prayer cards” on Traci’s counter, or you can simply place it in the offering plate. Please make sure to write clearly and to put your name on the bottom so I know who I’m praying for.
As I close, I’d like to ask you to do something this year as well. Every Monday I send out the Monday Morning Quarterback, when you see it sitting in your inbox would you pause for just a moment and pray for Friendship? It can be something as simple as, “Lord, please bless Friendship Church!”, or you could pray specifically about the message series or some event coming up. I believe in the power of prayer, and if all of us are praying for Friendship each and every week, I have no doubt that 2013 will be the year of “More”!
A very proud senior pastor!
One of Friendship Church’s elders has just started a blog…or at least I just found it, one or the other! In any sense this is a great post and you should read it! Laziness.
I am, the same as you, disappointed at how this election turned out on a national level. I understand your frustration, and I understand your concerns. But, those concerns are only temporary. The Apostle Peter was beaten, imprisoned, tortured, and eventually crucified, yet when he thought about all those things in comparison to all that he had gained in Christ he called them “…light and momentary troubles.”
If tomorrow morning we wake up and a dictator has taken absolute control of America, would God still be God? Is somehow God’s power less effective today because of the result on Tuesday? Of course, his sovereignty and divinity are not decided by minuscule elections of mankind. And, I don’t mean to shock you here, but America isn’t promised anything in Scripture, don’t put your hopes in the USA, put them in Christ!
Finally, I want to challenge you on some things I’ve seen or heard. Where in Scripture does it say that a person’s political affiliation will determine their eternal destiny? Who gave you the authority to question a fellow believers love for Christ based upon who they voted for? Question them as to why, sure! Walk them through why you voted how you did, absolutely! But, to take it to such lengths as I’ve heard and seen on Facebook is shameful. You should look up those fellow Christians you attacked in such a manner and ask for their forgiveness, then you should go to God and ask him to forgive you for attacking one of his children. We are told by Paul to not look out only for our interests but also the interests of others and to consider others as better than ourselves. I fear that many on the right may have violated that very important principle from God.
NOW, let’s work towards seeing more people enter into the Kingdom…Shall We?!
I am thankful first of all that this election is over, and I hope that the man that you believe in will do all that you had hoped he would do. I do not mean this sarcastically in any way, shape or form, for I know YOUR heart. I know that you truly do want what is best for this country, you believe that your candidate will make things better for the people who call this great nation home, or you would have never voted for him. Even though our votes were not cast for the same candidate, our desire to see our country prosper is identical.
I want to express my deep love for you as a brother and/or sister in Christ. Our differences in this political realm are absolutely minimal in comparison to what we share in Christ. I also ask for you to notice that I have at no time from the pulpit or via social media or un-social media for that matter bashed your candidate. Certainly I disagree with him on a great number of issues that I feel are deeply rooted in Scriptural truth and principle, but he is not your candidate anymore, he is OUR President. I commit myself for praying for him and his family’s well-being, for God’s wisdom to rest upon his shoulders, and for God to correct him whenever he may stray from the path of God’s choosing for him.
Finally, my friends, I ask you to consider this as we move forward. I have heard several of you cast aside the question of abortion as if it wasn’t a significant issue. Even some of you have said that it will never change, so why make it an issue? Did you know that the same thing was said regarding slavery, women’s rights to vote, race equality, and many other issues? Did you also know that it was the church that caused all of these issues to become a reality? Don’t be so quick to abandon such a clear mandate from Scripture simply because to our feeble and finite human eye it looks to be impossible. I believe that Jesus Christ said it most clearly when he said, “With man it is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” If you believe in the economic, foreign, and immigration policy of our President, that is most certainly your right. However, if you are a child of God, where God has clearly spoken, you no longer have ‘rights’. Our sovereign King has declared murder and the abuse of the innocent as evil in his sight, and we as citizens of his kingdom must fight against it with all of our might, whether we see it as a winning battle or not!
Stay tuned for: An Open Letter To My Right-Leaning Friends!
Ha, fooled ya! I really hope that after reading my blog, listening to my messages, and talking with me that you know by now I’m not going to tell you who you should vote for. I will however give you a Biblical filter through which you can look at the candidates, decipher which one most closely resembles it, spend time praying and listening, go cast your vote, then thank God that you live in a country where your vote still matters!
Some of these I’ve not touched on previously so I will spend more time and flesh them out, others those I’ve given significant time to or even several blog posts to and I’ll just state them outright and allow you to go back and look at what I’ve previously written.
You should vote for whichever candidate..
- Holds most closely to (publicly and privately) the morality taught in Scripture.
- Gives our nation the best chance to be prosperous. I know that this may sound non-spiritual but listen to this: “Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” ~ Jeremiah 29:7
- Teaches and exemplifies personal responsibility and accountability. No one else will have to give an account of your life, but you!
- Has a biblical view of government. This was to be a blog post all by itself, but I just ran out of time. Essentially, here is what the Bible says governments role is:
To protect it’s citizens and wage war if necessary Romans 13:1-7; Proverbs 21:15
To establish just and fair laws Proverbs 8:15-16
To punish the guilty Romans 13:4
To reward the righteous 1 Peter 2:14
To allow us to live peaceable and quiet lives 2 Timothy 2:2
To administer unbiased justice Jeremiah 12:12; Leviticus 19:15
To uphold God-given rights of all mankind Genesis 1:26
- Has by their actions, not just words, given of themselves and spoken for those who cannot speak for themselves. (Unborn, poverty stricken, destitute). “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” ~ Proverbs 31:8-9
Folks, your vote matters. Don’t waste it by voting for someone who does not line up with what the Bible teaches, don’t waste it by voting uninformed, and don’t waste it by not voting at all.
To get the ball rolling I’m not going to talk about whether or not Gay Marriage should be legal, illegal, banned, or supported. This series of posts is written from a Biblical not political standpoint. The one and only thing I’ll say in that regard is this; you cannot legislate morality, at the same time you should not legalize immorality…I’m sure that everyone will read into that whatever they like!
So, biblically is Gay Marriage something that a Christian can support? Since homosexuality is clearly laid out as a sin (see last post) then a homosexual union of any kind is not something that a Christian can support and still be biblically authentic. Now, before you print this off and start taking victory laps around your living room, consider this. Sex and sexual promiscuity before marriage is also a sin and something that a biblically authentic/consistent Christian cannot support; as is an affair, as is pornagraphy (yes, “Magic Mike” and “Fifty Shades” would fit here), as is a marriage where the husband doesn’t love his wife and the wife doesn’t respect her husband. God’s plan for marriage (as laid out in Creation through Adam and Eve) is one man, one woman, for life in a meaningful, fulfilled relationship. God’s plan for sex, and when it is best and most thoroughly enjoyed is within the context of marriage where the husband and wife are completely vulnerable and open to one another and are more interested in fulfilling each other’s needs than their own.
How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye. – Matthew 7:4-5 NLT
Jesus makes an unbelievably powerful statement here! He is saying, if you look at other people with judgment you will always see their problems and end up ignoring your own, this is to your and their detriment. Instead, look at yourself first, make sure that you are on the right track, and then come along side those who are hurting or blinded and assist them in seeing. For far too long Christians have been focusing on the sins of the world around them and not focusing on their own sins. Do you want to change the world, change our political landscape, change the cultural decay, increase the spiritual temperature, free people from bondage? Then the church needs to do 2 things.
- Be consistent in our application of Biblical truth. The world around us sees our inconsistencies, you see they have a hard time believing in biblical marriage when even in the church it doesn’t “seem to be working”!
- Be Christ-like in your relationships. Do you remember what Jesus did with the woman who was caught in adultery (John 8:1-11)? Did Jesus, who by the way was perfect, condemn and attack her? Did he vilify her and belittle her? Did he scream in her face and tell her she was going to Hell? No, in fact, he defended her from those who would do that. Then he gently instructed, after she accepted him, to go and sin no more.
Listen friends, Jesus says that he is the “Light of the world” and that when he is lifted up he will “draw all men to himself”. Instead of proclaiming your political agenda, proclaim Christ. Politics cannot and will not fix the cultural decay that we see in America, but Christ can. No, CNN, MSNBC, and Fox news probably won’t cover it, but he is imminently more powerful and influential than any political party, piece of legislation, or candidate.
Okay, I’m certain I’ll get a little hate mail on this one, but at least read through the whole thing before you jump to a conclusion one way or the other.
This is a topic that is highly volatile and charged with emotion. There are some “Christians” (I put it in quotes because that is what they term themselves, but their actions reveal otherwise) who picket the funerals of openly homosexual men/women with signs such as “Burn In Hell Homo”…yeah I’m pretty sure that is not Christlike in any way shape or form, enough said!
On the other end there are some “Christians” (in quotes because they refuse to accept the Bible as authoritative) who make their decisions based upon emotions and what feels right or easy. They don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings and in doing so reject God’s Word. This group is a little trickier. Often, their arguments sound compelling, are dripping with good intentions, and often relate to a person very close to them who struggles with homosexuality. The most recent example is that of Brian McLaren. At one time McLaren was a solid, evangelical pastor who believed in and preached the truth and reliability of the Bible. Today, Mr. McLaren questions the veracity of almost all evangelical doctrine and theology (Heaven, Hell, Salvation, Christ alone for salvation, etc…). He recently performed his son’s gay marriage and in the article (McLaren and same-sex marriage) regarding the event he made this very telling statement:
“I was a good kid, I believed what I’d been told. And as a pastor, I started having gay people come out to me and what became clearer and clearer to me is that their experience was not explained by the theology I inherited. And that it would be unjust to continue to uphold what I’d been taught. Maybe I could say it like this: My call to love God and love my neighbor was in conflict with what I’d been taught the Bible required me to say and do.” – Brian McLaren
McLaren says that when his or others experience or feelings didn’t line up with Scripture then it must be Scripture that changes, or at least the application of Scripture. When in truth the point of Scripture is to show US where WE are wrong and guide us in the right path:
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
I’m going to wrap Part 1 up this way, If you begin to select the sins you see as “damndable” you will never select any sins that you struggle with, only those you see in others. This violates the the very underpinnings of how Christ commands we are to deal with sin, “…first take the beam out of your own eye…”, “…let he who is without sin cast the first stone…”. If, in constrast, you begin to select the sins you see as “acceptable” where and when do you draw the line? You begin to develop theology and practice based upon what is palatable and easy instead of what is true. This violates Jesus clear teaching on following him, “…take up your cross and follow me…”, “…deny yourself and follow me…”. Jesus Christ has neither called us to be judgmental nor comfortable.
No, I’m not talking about Mitt Romney and Barack Obama! I’m talking about all those people on Facebook and Twitter who think it is there personal calling in life to force everyone to see things their way, and if they cannot accomplish this, then they attack, belittle, defame, and yes, even question their faith.
As I’ve said before, I know some very godly Republicans and Democrats, in fact, my grandfather is a life-long Democrat. However, here is what I’ve seen that just breaks my heart. If you’re a white Christian Democrat or an African-American Republican your sanity, salvation, or sometimes both are questioned. Well I have a question, “Since when did your political alignment have ANYTHING to do with your salvation?” Would someone please show me the chapter and verse that says, “…and Jesus endorsed only candidates from the _______ party, and all those that pull the _______ lever in November shall go to Hell.”
Listen, if you’re a genuine follower of Jesus Christ, the Bible gives clear instruction as to how you’re supposed to handle yourself in the arena of politics…don’t believe me, take a look:
Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.” ~ Titus 3:1-2
So, the next time you enter into a political conversation remember what the Bible says:
- Don’t slander – no name calling or defamatory statement (ie…you jerk, idiot, you’re such a fool, etc…)
- Be peaceable – don’t seek out arguments with people over political things, if you can’t have a civil conversation, don’t converse!
- Be considerate – try to understand where they are coming from, ask why they believe the way they do, sometimes understanding them goes a long way!
- Demonstrate humility – don’t for a second think you have all the right answers…NEWS FLASH…you don’t!
Allow me to first say, I am not going to tag God with any man-made labels. God supersedes them in every fashion of the word and is not limited by our limitations or understanding. So to attempt to label God in this way is like trying to describe an elephant using only cat-like adjectives…anybody want a frisky elephant?
First let’s look at legitimate, non-biased definitions of each of these labels:
Capitalism: a social system based on the principle of individual rights. In such a system, individuals and firms have the right to own and use wealth to earn income and to sell and purchase labor for wages with little or no government control. The function of regulating the economy is then achieved mainly through the operation of market forces where prices and profit dictate where and how resources are used and allocated.
Socialism: a theory or system of social organization that advocates the diminishment of individual rights, for the rights of the whole or community, and vests the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of business, enterprise, land, etc., to the community, primarily through governmental agencies.
As you can see the primary difference between these two socio-economic systems is how they view the individual. If you believe that an individual has the right to do, believe, and live as they want with little or no government involvement then you lean towards Capitalism. If you believe the rights of an individual should be secondary to the good of the community, then you lean towards Socialism. In Capitalism, if you make poor choices you suffer the consequences, and in reverse, if you make good choices you reap the rewards. In Socialism, if you make poor choices the consequences are spread throughout the community, and in reverse, if you make good choices those rewards are spread throughout the community.
So then, the question we must ask is, “Does God’s Word teach individual accountability, both positive and negative, for your actions, or does God’s Word teach shared or community accountability?” Let’s dive in and find out…
“I the Lord search the heartand examine the mind,to reward each person according to their conduct,according to what their deeds deserve.” (Jeremiah 17:10 NIV)
Great are your purposes and mighty are your deeds. Your eyes are open to the ways of all mankind; you reward each person according to their conduct and as their deeds deserve. (Jeremiah 32:19 NIV)
And today, though I am the anointed king, I am weak, and these sons of Zeruiah are too strong for me. May the Lord repay the evildoer according to his evil deeds!” (2 Samuel 3:39 NIV)
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (2 Corinthians 5:10 NIV)
It’s fairly obvious through just the small snippet of verses I’ve shared, that God is a pretty big proponent of individual accountability, whether it be reward or punishment. Especially within the last verse it is obvious to see that God himself will be the ultimate judge, and we will be judged solely based upon our individual works or deeds, not upon the works or deeds of the community as a whole. To do so would be unjust.
However, there is one HUGE exception to this in God’s plan. According to God, in his eyes, all of our good deeds, excellent effort, and achievement are worthless when compared to the mountain of sin within us…
All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. (Isaiah 64:6 NIV)
As individuals, we are incapable of balancing the scales of God’s justice. So, God instituted a plan in which all of our sin, both individually and corporately as a human race, would be placed upon one man, and he would bear the brunt of our suffering, he would accept our pain, and he would pay our judgment. Jesus Christ took our place, through his death our guilt has been expunged, and through his resurrection our new life is made possible!
However, this “free gift” has a requirement, you must believe and humble yourself before God. You cannot receive this gift and then continue to live as if you are living only for you. Your life is no longer your own, you now live for Christ.
There are two things I believe we can take away from this:
First, individual accountability, both good and bad, is absolutely Godly and a worthy model to follow within our families, our communities, our nation, and our world. When it is removed our society begins it’s downward spiral into the deepest recesses of our sinfulness. When both reward and punishment are no longer realities, then there is no incentive to do good and no deterrent to avoid evil.
Second, in some cases when an individual has gotten himself to a point where there is no hope of recovery it may be necessary for others to step in and provide assistance. But, as with God, this assistance cannot be without requirement, and must always be followed with a change in life that will lead that person away from the destructive pattern of their past.
I hope that this has helped you think through things as the election of our officials draws near. As you listen to our two candidates, instead of just hearing the “buzz-words” listen to what they are saying. Do they believe in individual accountability? Do they believe a persons choices should have consequence, whether good or bad? Do they believe that the community is responsible or the individual?
Have a great one everybody!
I put the word never in quotes because I believe God changes minds and hearts, but at this stage in my life and ministry, I don’t see me ever using the pulpit of good news to push the politics of the populace (man that was good, someone should tweet that!). Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashing men like Jerry Falwell and other like him who felt called to be politically active and vocal, but I don’t feel similarly called. Here’s why:
- Politics, by their very nature, are incredibly divisive, and when people talk politics it often leads to arguments and hurt feelings. Accepting the message of Jesus Christ is hard enough, why put another potential obstacle in someone’s way?
- Rarely do politicians and politics veer into that which is Biblical and holy, therefore, rarely do I comment. However, when it/they do, it is my duty to comment and bring Scripture to bear.
- I never want to abuse my position as a pastor to manipulate or attempt to convince someone to vote “my way”.
- I have known many wonderful Christians who are Democrats, Republicans, Conservatives, and yes, even some Liberals. Bottom line, your party affiliation and governmental beliefs won’t get you in or keep you out of heaven.
- No politician, political party, or political agenda will ever change someones eternal destiny. Why would I waste the 40 minutes I have each week to communicate the life changing message of Jesus Christ talking about something that will not matter in eternity?
I’ve given 5 reasons why I’ll ‘never’ talk politics from the pulpit and actually rarely talk politics in public. However, notice reason number 2. Over the last two weeks the two prevailing parties have put forth their “platform” or “agenda” if they get elected, many of the issues raised go beyond the political arena and address values, morals, or culture. These things are expressly and precisely talked about in the Bible. God’s position on these issues are clearly laid out in his Word, and it is my duty as your pastor to share those with you, and your duty as followers of Christ to bend your will to His.
- My challenge: Read each of the posts carefully, then study the Scriptures on your own. Then, use your vote to support the candidate that most closely resembles your values and you believe will do the best job for your country.
- My promise Everything I write will come from a foundation of Scripture and not my own personal political beliefs, who knows, I might change my own mind! I will not go on any hearsay or rumor, but only talk about what has been expressly written down in each party’s platform
- My hope: That this will give you God’s view of things and remove much of the emotional arguments for or against.
Have a great one folks and here are the topics/values I’ll be covering, if you’ve got another one you think fits, shoot me an e-mail and I’ll take a look at it!
What’s Governments Role According To God?
Does it Matter What We Do In the Middle East?
What About Welfare?
‘Christian’ or ‘Mormon’, does it matter?
Is There Such A Thing As ‘Gay Marriage’?
Is God a ‘Capitalist’, ‘Socialist’, or something else?