I’m Back…with my overwhelmed, excited, anticipating, travel weary, football ready, totally blessed, no excuses self!
Overwhelmed: I will never be able to fully and completely express how thankful I am to you for this time. It has drawn us closer together as a family and recharged our batteries for ministry, thank you!
Excited: I can’t wait for Sunday, I’m so chomping at the bit to be back, 3 months is WAAAY too long!
Anticipating: I’m so thankful to hear that everything went so well this Summer and I’m looking forward to hearing all the great stories on Sunday night.
Travel Weary: If I don’t see a plane again for 6 months that will be just fine with me.
Football Ready: The Tailgate Party on September 9th is going to be phenomenal! It’ll be the perfect opportunity for you to invite your unsaved, unchurched, or de-churched friends to experience the life changing reality of Jesus Christ…and have a really great time. You’ll need to bring your lawn chairs and your favorite tailgating items. The atmosphere will be part tailgate, part open-air-concert, part service, and all AWESOME!
Totally Blessed: Last Sunday Dustin presented a tremendous message about Elijah and how to come off of the mountain. I really hope that you took the truth he presented to heart, I’ll be adding to it this weekend. I’ll be talking about how we can gain a better perspective on our life and increase our potential for blessing.
No Excuses: I know a lot of us traveled this Summer and missed being a regular part of church. This Sunday is your chance to get back in the rhythm. School has started, it’s actually rained a few time, pre-season football is in full swing, so you know Fall is just around the corner. Let’s pack out Friendship this Sunday and kick it off right!
I do believe without a doubt that the next 6 months will yield some of the most exciting moments of our lives and in the life of the Friendship, don’t miss it!
God Is Up To Something BIG!!!
Since the first time I heard Perry Noble speak, I was a fan. Not like he was my hero or anything, but I just have completely appreciated his perspective on the church. He’s refreshing and challenging in the same breath, and he often says things I was thinking…but with much more flare!
Perry wrote a great article today on a very present issue and he presents a very balanced and Biblical view that I think all Christians should take a listen to. So, take five minutes to allow yourself to be challenged with some truth.
During our Sabbatical we walked through the ancient ruins of the City of Ephesus. Ephesus is in modern day Turkey and is one of the most extensive archeological sites in the entire world. You might be familiar with Ephesus from the books of Acts and the book that bears the name of the city’s residents, Ephesians. (When I have better bandwidth I’ll post some pictures and some videos of this amazing place.)
As we walked along we were all amazed at the sheer massiveness that once held some 300,000 people. We began our tour at the peak of the mountain/hill on which the city sits. We could look out into the valley and see for hundreds of acres the amazing sights and the many discoveries of a city that was founded almost 2,000 years before the birth of Christ.
Ephesus was one of the most influential cities in the ancient world for two reasons. #1 it housed one of the largest and most extensive libraries second only to the famed library at Alexandria. #2 it was the epicenter and the birth place of the worship of the Goddess Diana or Artemis. Ephesus was, for all intents and purposes, the center of spirituality and knowledge for all of Asia.
The Apostle Paul came to Ephesus somewhat by “accident”, at least by man’s perception. Acts 19 records that he had been teaching many of the coastal cities, and he decided to trek inland. He came to Ephesus and discovered that there were a handful, 12 men, of disciples there. So, he decided to teach them and those who would listen in the local synagogue. But after a few months the leaders of the synagogue became increasingly jealous of Paul, so he left and went to a local, secular philosophy hall (Acts 19:9) where he taught for 2 years. The crowd continued to grow and many, many people came to Christ and a large church began to grow at Ephesus. They in turn invited their friends to come and listen, who invited their friends, and so on. It became such a “phenomenon” that people from all around Asia came to listen. It was so pervasive and influential that both those who were supporters of and the enemies of Christianity and Paul admitted it’s unbelievable influence in the region…
This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks. (Acts 19:10 ESV)
And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods. (Acts 19:26 ESV)
The second statement was from a man named Demitrius, I’ll talk about him during another post.
As we were in the midst of our tour our guide stopped and pointed out several etchings of crosses and made this incredible statement, “Ephesus was once THE center of worship of the Goddess Artemis, yet within just a short time after the Apostle Paul came almost the entire city became Christians. The church at Ephesus became one of the largest and most influential churches during the first three centuries.”
Can you imagine that? A city entirely dedicated to the worship of a false god was completely turned upside down for Christ. It influenced all of Asia and the world for Christ!
Isn’t the transforming and penetrating power/love of Christ amazing?! Who else but Christ could take a former persecutor and murderer of the church (Paul) and “accidentally” send him to a city under the dark captivity of idol worship and turn it into the launching pad of Christianity for all of Asia?!
My friend, I don’t care what garbage is holding you bondage, I don’t care what lie you’ve been telling yourself about how you “can’t overcome this”, I don’t care where you’ve come from, or what you’ve done. If the transforming power and love of Christ can do this, he can change you into a person of influence for His name too!
When I was 17 I was a victim of one of the most classic sales tricks the world has ever seen! I wanted a Sony Walkman like nobodies business (if you just asked yourself, “What is a ‘walkman’?” then you are too young to be reading this post). So, I saw an ad from a local retailer that proclaimed they had just received a shipment of brand new Walkmans and they were on sale for $39, I was stoked!
I showed up to the store with my money in hand and asked for the super-cool Walkman. The massively smiling salesmen didn’t even flinch, he simply said, “Oh, that model is already sold out. But, we do have the next model up for only $30 more.” I was a victim of the bait-n-switch!
On our Sabbatical we spent a day in Rome. Our daughters desperately wanted to see the Sistine Chapel that Michelangelo adorned with gilded images of Biblical history several centuries ago. So, we asked the guide at the Vatican about how long it would take for us to see it. She guaranteed us that it would only take 90 minutes and that it was something we didn’t want to miss.
We bought our tickets and began the “short-tour” of the Vatican Museum that culminated with the chapel. At each intersection we were guided by signs that would tell us what was next followed by “…and Sistine Chapel”. At the end of each area we saw the same sign, almost as if it were taunting us, teasing us that just maybe around the next corner the Sistine Chapel would appear, yet it was always just another section with more artifacts and sculptures. Now, don’t get me wrong, we enjoyed many of them, but after we saw 90 minutes come and go, with no Sistine Chapel in sight we began to get a little annoyed.
Finally, after walking for almost 3 hours, through thousands of people, and dozens of exhibits we saw a sign that simply read “Sistine Chapel”. We walked down several flights of stairs and entered into an overfilled room of eerie silence. It was dark, smelled funny, and the caretakers kept saying in a thick Italian accent, “No talking, no pictures, no video…keep moving!” (fyi, I took video…I’ll post it in a few days so you can see too!)
The artwork by the master was magnificent! However, it was overshadowed by the length of time it took to get there, the incredibly strange ambience, and the rather rude people that were watching us assuming that any moment we might snap a forbidden photo (I of course wouldn’t do that, I was taking the video, Traci took the pictures). We couldn’t really savor the moment, we couldn’t relish in the presence of a master artist’s masterpiece. We were hushed, rushed, and crushed together like sardines.
So, we foolishly thought, now we can get on with our day and see some of the other cool parts of Rome. We made a beeline for the bathrooms and then began to follow the signs marked “Uscita” or exit. But, we didn’t leave the building, it funneled us into a massive gift shop, followed by an exhibition for the Popes, another gift shop, an exhibit for Pope John Paul, who apparently is now a saint, and on, and on. 45 minutes after following our first sign for “Uscita” we finally made it outside! At this point our entire morning had been eaten up, and lost because we had fallen victims to the bait-n-switch church.
Friends, we serve an artist who doesn’t work in oil paint or marble. He shapes eternity, humanity, and all matter to His will and for His glory. Each Sunday as we gather we celebrate His magnificence, we display the artwork of our lives, and we surrender to his continual molding. Our friends, neighbors, and loved-ones show up with a desire to get a glimpse of something wonderful, miraculous, life-changing…they want to see the Master Artist and the truth that only He offers.
If, instead, all they experience is our rules, our traditions, our timetable, and our agendas we have played the most cruel bait-n-switch of all time! We must be ruthless in keeping Christ, His glory, and His truth the central focus in all we do. When we do this, His Word promises that He will do the rest…
“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”
(John 12:32 ESV)
There’s a common misconception among Christians that the only thing God cares about when it comes to money is whether or not you tithe. If you don’t know what a tithe is, it is giving back to God through your local place of worship, 10% of your income. Now, I’m not going to spend the next several paragraphs arguing for or against tithing, let’s just set that one aside for another post. So, back to my original thought, does God only care about the first 10% and say, “whatever you want!” for the other 90%?
I can honestly say that for many years I found myself sitting within this camp. In fact, I even believed that if people tithed that no matter what they did with the other 90% God would bless it. However, after many years of growth, learning from others, and personal study I’ve radically changed my position!
The primary passage that altered everything was Romans 6:20-23
For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:20-23 ESV)
Notice it says that we are slaves to Christ. Slaves not only are owned by someone else but they themselves cannot own anything apart from their masters. It is only by their masters good pleasure that they can have any personal possessions whatsoever. All that a slave has is the masters possession and the slave is given the privilege of using it, and must give an account as to how it is used.
Now, before you get all caught up in the slave imagery and connect it to that which took place in the US, there is no comparison to what is being referred to in this passage. In ancient Rome slaves were protected by the law, they could not be abused, and they could only be punished for disobedience if the governing authorities allowed it. Slaves were often incredibly educated, accountants, doctors, lawyers, professors, poets, historians, etc… In fact, a great majority of slaves would choose to remain slaves even after having been released by their masters because they loved the family so much, they became “Bond Servants”. If you ever see that term in Scripture that is what it’s referring to.
So, to put this all into context for us…
When we choose to follow Christ and commit our lives to him we become his bond servant, all that we are, all that we will be, and all that we have we turn over to him. We do this because we love him, we want to spend our lives with him, we trust him and believe that he can do infinitely more with what we have and are than we can on our own. We tithe as a reminder that it’s all his, it’s an act of worship and humility, reminding ourselves of the commitment we have made.
Today we walked through the Sagrada Familia Temple. It is the largest Basilica or Cathedral in Spain. On the outside it is an impressive sight. It looms stories up into the air and when you ascend into one of the towers you can see all of Barcelona.
The designer, Gaudi, was a devout Catholic and designed the cathedral in intricate detail. Every stone, every piece of plaster, every carving was planned out almost 150 years ago and the building continues today.
As we toured this magnificent facility we saw 4 windows that had what appeared to be two-way glass looking down into a basement area. We asked one of the many guides what this room was, we were told it was the crypt of Gaudi, the designer. As we moved to the other windows we saw benches, pews, candles, and even an ornate pulpit. For us this was very confusing. We thought out loud, “Why would anyone want to have a service in a tomb, when you have this unbelievable cathedral just above.”
Later in the day we traveled down to the crypt, and to our surprise, they had just started mass. It was Sunday afternoon, and there were about 50 people in attendance. The Bishop dutifully performed the traditional ceremony, the people stood, recited, and mumbled through a song and it was over.
I was overwhelmed with emptiness! The people and the service were as dead as the guy laying over in the crypt just 40 feet from the pulpit, and then it hit me. This “church” was really no church at all. It was a museum of a dead man, that occasionally had religious services, and charged its guests entrance. Somewhere along the line the magnitude of the building became the mission of the church.
My prayer is that Friendship Church never misplaces its mission or its vision. It is our vision that drives absolutely everything we do as we strive to “Glorify God as an effective and influential church!” For all I care, we could meet in a tent, as long as we are reaching people for Christ! Buildings and beautiful facades have never led anyone to Christ…but they sure are pretty.
“Charm is deceptive…but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” – Prov 31:30
I want to start by saying I am no male chauvinist! I have three sisters, two beautiful daughters, and an amazing wife. I believe that women are incredible and except for the role of Senior Pastor within a local church can be used by God any way He sees fit.
However, I have noticed in almost 20 years of ministry and an equal amount of time growing up in a pastor’s home, that there is a type of woman who is incredibly destructive, the charming/deceptive Woman.
Now, she doesn’t wear a t-shirt saying she’s dangerous, but she should. In fact, most people don’t even see her as dangerous, they see her as sweet, kind, and considerate; but nothing could be further from the truth. This type of woman uses her charm to gain access to information and to gain favor so that she can later leverage them for information or for her benefit.
Allow me to help you uncover this dangerous woman:
- She comes off as very sweet, charming, and innocent.
- She’s NEVER offended by anything, but she ALWAYS seems to know the people who are.
- She seems to know everything that’s going on in everyone’s lives.
- She is constantly having lunches, coffee, and meetings with other ladies.
- She rarely says anything blatantly wrong, but she often makes snide comments and derogatory statements.
- She doesn’t like anyone giving her rules or guidelines (now she doesn’t buck them directly, she just complains to all of her friends about how stupid or silly they are).
- She sees herself as a “mediator”, simply another way of gaining more information.
- She sees a legitimate need, tells no-one about it, answers the need herself, then complains about how no one (except herself of course) is doing anything about it.
- She is often seen after services or during functions off to the side having a “conversation” with one or two other ladies.
I’m sure we could add more to this list but this should give you some good warning signs if you have someone like this in your life. If you do, you must immediately cut yourself off! Here’s why,
- A woman who will tell you about others and their problems will tell others about you and your problems.
- A woman who can’t follow leadership is only in it for herself, you’ll become collateral damage.
- A woman who puts down or is negative about the authority over her, will tear you apart if you ever try to confront her with any kind of wrong she’s doing.
Now, contrast that with the woman who “Fears” the Lord. First, the word fear, as it is used here, means to have incredible respect, honor, and a healthy understanding of what God is capable of. In other words, this is a lady that puts God, his agenda, and knowledge of what he can do ahead of her own desires.
- She doesn’t attempt to manipulate a situation to her advantage, she knows that God is her advantage.
- She doesn’t try to get the juicy details, she trusts that God will take care of what she doesn’t know.
- She willingly and joyfully submits to her authorities because she knows that they are there to protect her, and when she bucks them she is bucking God.
- She knows the destructive nature of the tongue and the anger that God has for those that cause division, and puts massive guardrails around her life to keep her from straying down that path.
This woman God praises, lifts up, exalts, and gives greater honor.
If I were a woman I know who I would hang around!
I woke up this morning to high winds, rain, and thunder…in the middle of January in Indiana! Now that is unexpected.
I have a friend who up until just recently was the main trainer for an entire State Police force, who visited us just recently. We had a couple of different long conversations and one such conversations veered into being prepared for things you can’t prepare for. We talked at length about things that had come into our lives that were unexpected and completely unplanned for, and how we handled them.
Near the end of our conversation he said, “What I teach State Troopers each week is eerily similar to what we’ve been talking about.” He went on to explain the levels of preparedness he teaches all his recruits, I’m using my own terms but it’s the same idea:
Oblivious: you go through life with absolutely no clue that something might not go as planned. So, when something hits you, you freak out, you have no plan, you have no backup, you are, well to put it bluntly, screwed!
Aware: you are walking through life with a plan, but you don’t expect anything to happen. You have an idea of what you would do if something does happen, but you haven’t fully thought it out. So, when something hits you, you don’t totally loose your cool but it takes you a while to recover.
Alert: you are walking through life with a plan, and a back-up plan, and you know how you’ll react if something does happen. So, when it does you’re not shocked, you can quickly correct course, and continue to move forward.
Alarmed: you walk through life with a plan believing that the very next step you take will bring about the destruction of everything around you, you have 7 different plans of reaction. So, when it does happen, you have the potential of over-reacting and making a bigger deal out of it then necessary, and thereby cause bigger problems.
As I listened to my friend talk, I realized how often I had talked with people who were living in oblivious-ville. They were stunned and their lives were almost destroyed, simply because they were walking through life without any expectation of the unexpected. I also thought about the amount of times, especially early in ministry, that I assumed I was walking on alert status, when I was only really aware, and how long it took me to make the necessary corrections because I hadn’t clearly thought through my backup plan.
I have made it my goal to walk through life living comfortably on Alert status, not red alert borderline paranoia, just alert. I want to be ready when that thing comes around the corner in my life, I’m determined to expect the unexpected.
Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. – 1 Peter 5:8
Recently a “spoken word poet” Jefferson Bethke posted a compelling, and very well produced video talking about religion and Jesus. Here is his introduction to the video and the video itself. Below I share a few thoughts:
A poem I wrote to highlight the difference between Jesus and false religion. In the scriptures Jesus received the most opposition from the most religious people of his day. At its core Jesus’ gospel and the good news of the Cross is in pure opposition to self-righteousness/self-justification. Religion is man centered, Jesus is God-centered. This poem highlights my journey to discover this truth. Religion either ends in pride or despair. Pride because you make a list and can do it and act better than everyone, or despair because you can’t do your own list of rules and feel “not good enough” for God. With Jesus though you have humble confident joy because He represents you, you don’t represent yourself and His sacrifice is perfect putting us in perfect standing with God!
I agree and applaud 90% of what Jefferson says. I appreciate his efforts to communicating the truth of Christ in a compelling and excellent fashion that has reached over 12 million people, that is amazing! He clearly reveals the true method of salvation through Christ alone by grace. And I believe if someone looking for answers watched this video they would be able to respond to Jesus Christ call on their life.
I love the fact that in the middle he clarifies that he doesn’t equate religion with the true church of Christ. This is such a common error or misconception that people have or make. The truth is that Jesus established his church not on us (human based religiosity) but on himself and his truth, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God…and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” – Matthew 16:16-18
I disagree with a few things, far less than what I agree with:
- Christ didn’t come to abolish religion, period. I am not a “religious” person, and I am not defending religion. But to state that is the purpose of Christ’s coming undermines his true reason. Jesus said, I have “…come to seek and to save that which was lost” – Luke 19:10. He came to pay for our sins, to die in our place, to become cursed so we could be blessed.
- No, voting Republican doesn’t make you a Christian, just like voting Independent doesn’t make you an atheist and voting Democrat doesn’t make you catholic (these are called stereotypes). This I simply don’t understand why it was included in his statement. It smacks of opinion in something that should be absent of opinion and should be based upon facts found in the Bible. When it comes to politics Christians shouldn’t be concerned about “party” as much as they do values that line up with Biblical principles.
All in all, I give it a thumbs up and I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments.
Wow, when I saw this title I almost lost my cookies! Then I read it more carefully and realized what the author was saying. Way too often the Bible is mistaught, specifically in this area of submission. Specifically, it’s taught that women are to be in submission to men as a whole.
This is not Biblically accurate or Scripturally sound, children are to submit to their Fathers (ie daughters to dad in this case) and wives are to be submissive to their husbands, but nowhere does the Bible teach general overarching submission of women to men. My wife is not to be submissive to ANY other man but me, and her submission should be reciprocated by me with love, honor, respect, consideration, and I should cherish her as I would a Ming Vase! My girls are not to allow ANY man but me to hold authority over them until the day I walk them down the aisle and “give them” to their husbands, and at that point my authority transfers to him.
Dr. Moore takes great care in both explaining the problem, then goes into great detail as to the disastrous results of this teaching. To all my Sisters in the faith, please read this article carefully, and be empowered to become the women God has called you to be!
As I was driving the other day in the car I heard a familiar refrain from my teenage years come across the airwaves. No, it wasn’t Bon Jovi or Huey Lewis crooning out some rock ballad, it was one of my favorite sports announcers poorly singing, “Turn out the lights the party’s over!”
Now, he was singing it as a close to a game that the home team had solidified with a winning basket, but my mind immediately connected a whole bunch of thoughts (minds tend to do that) and began to think about when I checked out of this life and entered into eternity. Not in a morbid, brooding, foreboding way, but more of a I wonder what that will be like? My mind then shifted to those I would leave behind, and I began to wonder what they might say or think about me. Will they miss me? Will they say I was a good man, a great man…just a man? Then I realized that at that point not only would it not matter to me what they thought, but even if it did there wasn’t anything I could do to change it. This next thought is what really made my mind come alive,
“What if I lived my life in reverse? Start with what I want people to think about me, remember me for, and miss me for; and then live in such a way to achieve that end result!”
In other words, if you want people to remember you as a great husband/wife, start doing things that will make you a great husband/wife. If you want to be idolized as the dad of all dads or mom of all moms, you better start spending a whole lot more time with your kids. If you want to be remembered as a great spiritual mentor, you better start mentoring people…I think you get the picture.
The bottom line: Once the lights are out, the party is truly over. And whatever people think about you won’t change, but as long as the lights are on there’s still time!
I just read an incredible post this morning from a guy who has influenced me quite significantly in the area of leadership, Michael Hyatt. Michael was the CEO of Nelson Publishing and took it from a lethargic company to one of the biggest and best. His passion now is to come alongside leaders and help them become better.
Take a few moments and read this great post, and start slaying some dragons!
Several weeks ago I parked my car for a few days over the weekend. When I went to start it, it sputtered and died. I tried several times to no avail. My father I law, who is a shade tree mechanic, listened to it and came to a similar conclusion I had made, I had water in the gas tank.
I immediately went to my favorite auto parts store (they smile when they see me coming) and purchased two bottles of dry gas. I put them in my engine confidently believing that I had conquered my problem. I had not.
So, I asked my buddy John, he’s an engineer for Cummins, we both looked at the car and listened. We plugged in a cool little computer that is supposed to tell you what’s wrong. It said I should replace my engine coolant sensor. So, for a second time I confidently strode to my seat anticipating my work would pay off…nope!
Now, I went to the Internet and searched my tail off. This lead me to replacing the fuel filter, no change. Then the air flow sensor, bupkiss!
I say all this to encourage you (I’m getting there be patient) just because your first few attempts at fixing a problem are fruitless don’t stop trying. A measure of a great person is not what it takes to knock them down but what it takes to keep them down. Maybe you’ve given up on trying, try again. What’s the worst that could happen? You could eliminate another thing that won’t fix the problem which means your closer to finding the solution.
Oh by the way, I’m pulling my catalytic converter tonight..fingers crossed!