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
I am an unabashed fan of the NFL. Since the day that the Mayflower trucks rolled out of the ingrate city of Baltimore (yeah, I said it!) to the current day I have been a Colts fan. When we lived outside of the state of Indiana and the Colts weren’t particularly good I would often frequent sports bars so I could catch the game. Then in year 5 of my absence from the greatest state in the world, came this new fangled thing called NFL Sunday Ticket (insert hallelujah chorus)! I was now able to watch my team play each and every week, albeit with terrible announcers because quite frankly the Colts were fairly terrible.
So, when the NFL season is over, like all rabid fans, I begin to wonder what my beloved Colts will do during the off-season. Today, March 10th, is the official beginning of what is called Free Agency, I’ll explain that knowing that some people reading this post have no idea to which I am referring to. Free Agency is when veteran players contracts with their current team are up, they become a ‘free agent’, in essence they are now free to sign with whatever team will pay them the money they want. Some teams (I’m looking at you Oakland) are typically overspending on players that are flashy and fancy, and they never quite work out. Each and every year teams are lauded for making the ‘bold move’, for signing the ‘difference maker’, for catching the one person who could make them Super Bowl contenders. The problem is, it RARELY works out that way. Michael Schottey of Bleacher Report wrote a fantastic article yesterday that chronicled the teams that ‘won’ free agency the last several years and balanced that against their resulting record. Suffice to say, it isn’t pretty (Winning Free Agency Hardly Equates To Winning Games).
Now, you might be wondering, “What in the world does this have to do with the church?”…well I’m so glad you asked! For years and years the American church has been participating in it’s own brand of free agency. One church signs another churches ‘star’ player and plugs them into their programs expecting blazing results and championship caliber play. What happens more often than not is terrible friction, mediocre results, and an overall discomfort for the whole team. If the senior leader is worth his salt then he can usually rectify the situation but it takes precious time and valuable energy to do so and it ends up being the church and the other staff who pays the price. I’m not saying that it is never worth it to bring someone in from the outside, but you had better make sure it’s the right person you’re bringing in. Otherwise, you will at best move sideways for a while and at worst your ministry may regress.
Many years ago I heard Rick Warren, pastor/founder of Saddleback Valley Community Church, say something like this, “Building your staff from within is always preferred when possible.” That statement has resonated with me over the years and as I have thought about it more and more, it just makes sense! The people in your church are already passionate about what you are doing. They get your vision, they hear you talk each and every week, they are already known commodities. You may be thinking about the ‘professional training’ that outside ‘free agents’ may have, and there is some truth to that. But if I’ve learned anything about hiring staff over the last 20 years it’s this, you can teach people the ins and outs of ministry, but you can’t teach passion, you can’t force them to get the vision, and you can’t know someone you’ve never worked alongside of.
Of the 5 additional full/part time staff we have at Friendship all but one of them are homegrown. This doesn’t mean that we will never hire from outside, in fact at some points you’ll need to, but I will say that when you hire from the inside the learning curve is much less steep and the failure rate is infinitesimal in comparison.
I thank God almost daily for the staff he has allowed us to assemble at Friendship. They make what I do easier and a whole lot more fun. Pastors, your staff can either make you or break you, make sure you choose wisely!
I’d love to hear back from you on this, even if you are not hiring in the ‘church’ world. What has been your experience with this?
This coming Sunday, March 8th, 2015, I’ll begin teaching a series that has been 20+ years in the making. I have had the privilege of being a pastor for just over 20 years and during that time I’ve counseled hundreds, if not thousands of people. If there is one common thread among them all, it’s that they all, in fact, we all are looking for satisfaction, fulfillment, and peace in this life. For most of humanity this search seems endless, we look for it in every person we meet, in every job we take, in every day that we live, and the majority of us walk away, unfulfilled.
It wasn’t always this way; in the beginning things were perfect, and then sin came in and destroyed it all. But, what if there was a way to experience that fullness, that peace, that joy once again? What if, say our Creator, actually had a plan in place to connect us to those things that would fill our hearts with peace, our lives with meaning, and our relationships with joy? Jesus, in fact, promises as much when he says in John 10:10:
The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
The process isn’t some 10 step program, or a list of rules or regulations. No, it’s something far more profound, you see our souls are out of alignment with the purposes and plan of God for our life. And, because of this, just like when a car is out of alignment, there is all sorts of vibration, chaos, and unsettledness in our soul. It doesn’t matter how much we have, how many relationships we engage in, or how much accomplishment we can find, there will always be something that’s “off” and we feel it. But, when our souls become aligned with Him, the world around us can be spinning out of control and we will be in absolute peace.
If you want to discover how you can get your soul back in line with God’s, I’d like to invite you to come to Friendship Church this weekend, or listen online at experiencefriendship.com.
I’ll see you then!
we had to cancel on Sunday because of weather, but we wanted to finish our series, so here Ya go! Grab your spouse, fiancé, or significant other and watch it together!
Well, if you’ve been to church at all over the last month you know that all sorts of things are happening. Our construction crew has finished the demolition portion of our redesign and repair of our exterior, and are in the beginning phases of the reconstruction.
As I’m sure you have seen by now, not only are we getting a new drive through for the kids and teens area, but we also have new windows (that don’t leak or allow ants to bore through) that allow a tremendous more amount of light in and really open up the front of the building. They say that windows and doors are the eyes of a building, so I guess our building is getting an eye transplant…sounded better in my head!
Our construction crew also has the entire North side of the building resided, is beginning on the backside, and have started laying the brick on the front. Once the brick is completed then they’ll be able to finish of the front exterior and the drive through, and our facelift of what is becoming our teen and kid’s center, will be complete.
This week the crews have marked out the areas that will be excavated and the big beefy machines should be on site later this week as well. Our hope is that when you arrive on Sunday you’ll see piles of dirt all over the place and the beginnings of Lake Friendship…seriously, it’s gonna be like an acre and a half!
Our goal for the MOMENTUM giving is to be at 50% by December 31st, right now we are siting at 47%. I know that some of you have been giving consistently over the last year and I want to thank you and congratulate you for helping us get this far! I also know that some of you have only given a small percentage of your commitment, and I’d like to challenge you to get caught up in the month of December. Help us celebrate reaching 50%, push us over that mark so that we can start the new year right on track! The exciting thing is, you don’t even have to wait till Sunday to do it, you can jump online right here: Online Giving, and get things rolling.
See ya Sunday!
We finally have some movement beginning to take place (and the people rejoiced)! I’m sure most of you noticed that the pavement on Emerson was about 90% done on Sunday, and as of today (Tuesday, Sep 9) it is completely done and ready for marking.
What you may not realize is that under that road we have laid our new sanitary line hookup and our new storm water line hookup. These two accomplishments will allow us to begin moving forward on the creation of our new retention pond. If you are not familiar with where the pond will sit on the property, take a detour over to our plans on the wall next to the Nursery to get familiar with where you will begin to see a huge hole in the ground in the next month or so. I know that the retention pond isn’t something that most people get super excited about, but it will allow us to detain all of the rain water run-off of all our new hard surface areas, and should prevent any type of flooding. Again, not exciting, but essential for us to keep moving forward.
We’ve also been able to work out an agreement with the City that will allow us to do work on our current building exterior and some interior, while we are waiting on the final approval for our full project financing by using the monies already given to the MOMENTUM Project by people like you who have so graciously and generously sacrificed! This will allow us to build our new drive through and resurface the exterior to match the new building, replace our leaking wood framed windows, and expand our infant nursery (and all the infant nursery volunteer rejoiced)! These things will have a direct impact on how we do ministry and the way our building is seen by the community.
So, to wrap this all up in a profound, intellectually stimulating way…“Stuff is happening people!”
I shared with you the first Positive Habit with this post: Part 1. Today, I’d like to share with you the second Positive Habit, the habit of Prayer.
Prayer is often seen as a mysterious, even mystical thing that somehow must be mastered over a lifetime of practice. The other night I was bored and the movie Gravity was on…did I mention that I was bored? During one scene Sandra Bullock’s character makes this interesting statement, “Would you pray for me…no one ever taught me how to pray.” I find that very interesting, and telling of our culture. We have this ingrained belief that prayer and praying is difficult, tricky, and that there is some special protocol that must be followed, or else!
Whenever I teach about prayer, I usually go back to what I like to call the discovery of prayer. It’s found in the book of Genesis, chapter 4, verse 26:
Seth also had a son, and he named him Enosh. At that time people began to call upon the name of the LORD.
You see when God created the world prayer was non-essential, because God and man communicated face to face. The Bible says that Adam and Eve walked with God together in the Garden of Eden. But, when man sinned that intimate connection was broken, or it would probably be better to say, it was significantly altered. Because of the sinfulness in man, God had to remove his ‘physical’ presence from man or else his holiness would have destroyed them, even if He is/was/always will be ever present. From that point on, however, God’s presence was not as obvious, and men’s relationship with God took a radical turn for the worse. The first man born, Cain, actually killed the second man born Abel, in a fit of rage and jealousy! Wow, it didn’t take long for that to go bad! However, when the next son was born, Seth, his attitude in regards to God was completely different. For some unknown reason, maybe a child was sick or the crops failed, Seth called out to God…and God answered him, and thus began what we now call prayer.
From that seminal moment forward men have realize that whenever they call out to God that He will answer them. Prayer, in it’s most basic and fundamental form, is simply calling out to God, nothing more and nothing less. You can call on God to praise His name, to thank Him for something He’s done, pleading for Him to intervene, to give direction, really whatever you need to say or ask of God, prayer is our mode of communication.
Okay, so let’s get into the specifics:
- Is there a particular place to pray from? Nope! Moses prayed on a Mountainside, David prayed in battle, Daniel prayed from inside the lion’s pit, Enoch prayed in the forest, Joseph prayed in prison, Abraham prayed in the desert…well I think you get the point. Your location isn’t relevant to the delivery success of your prayer.
- Is there a particular verbiage to prayer? Nope! Recorded prayers in the Bible are as short as a couple of words all the way up to an entire chapter in the Bible. It doesn’t have to have thee’s and thou’s, and probably shouldn’t since it’s the 21st century, and there isn’t a particular format. The words you use in prayer are as specific to you as the words you use in regular conversation with others. Trust me, God’s not judging you on your grammar or your use of language. You’ll never here him correct your usage of ‘their’ ‘there’ or ‘they’re’!
- Is there a limit to what I can pray for? Well, lets see: Elijah prayed that it wouldn’t rain, and then later that it would. Isaac prayed for a wife. Joshua prayed for mercy. Solomon prayed for wisdom. Elisha prayed for a boy to come back to life. Jacob prayed that his brother wouldn’t kill him, and then wrestled…literally…with God. The point is, as long as you are praying from your heart, about what’s going on in your life, then there really isn’t a limit, other than of course things that are sinful…yeah, don’t pray for those!
- Is there a prescribed format for prayer? That is a great question, and many people will point you to Jesus model prayer that he gave to the Disciples in Matthew 6:9-13 but even that wasn’t intended to be the ‘be all, end all’ of prayers. But, there are certainly elements that Jesus points are are good and valuable for us to pray to God about.
Jesus says that as we pray we should be reminded of how awesome God is (name be kept holy); we should pray to know, understand, and see His will become reality in our life (your kingdom come, your will be done); we should pray for any needs we might have (our daily bread); to give us wisdom for making decisions (lead us not into temptation); for safety (deliver us from evil); and for forgiveness of our sins (forgive us our sins). Basically, what Jesus is doing here is giving us a list of all of the things that we can come to God for, take a look at that list again in a little more simplified format:
- Who God is
- Know God more
- Know God’s will
- God would provide our needs
- God would give us direction
- God would protect us
- God would forgive us
You see, once you get past all of the years of thee’s and thou’s, God just wants you to talk with Him. He is your Father and He wants you to let Him know what you want, what you need; He wants you to ask questions, to seek direction. Prayer is simply your sharing your heart with God! Don’t make it complicated, don’t make it too formal, and don’t avoid it like it’s difficult.
Whatever you are doing, just stop for a minute. Pause and say hello to God, He’s there, I promise you. Tell Him about your day, your fears, your hopes, your dreams, just talk…and then listen. It is often after we have poured our heart out to God that He pours Himself into us. God’s most direct form of communication is through His Word, the Bible (I talked about this is Pt 1) but He loves to talk to us when we are still, silent, and listening. It is often in those moments I can almost ‘feel’ God right there. I’m no ‘spooky Christian’, but I do believe what the Bible teaches, so I’ll leave you with this.
Be still and know that I am God! – Psalm 46:10
Until next time!
How do you grow spiritually? Depending upon your background you may answer that questions using different words than what I’m about to. But, the basics of growing spiritually haven’t changed since the beginning of time, when a relationship with God was the most important thing (see Adam and Eve in the Garden with God). Yet ever since that fateful day when our grandparents rejected God we’ve been trying to create some type of system to get us back closer to Him, and often it’s on our terms. We create religious systems that are, at best, flawed/cheap imitations of what God has truly intended.
Instead of trying to get you to do a particular thing(s) that fit a particular religious system, let’s just go back to what God has highlighted in His word as important stuff for us. God doesn’t tend to waste his breath or talk just to hear Himself, so when God speaks our ears should perk up and take note. My hope is that you can begin to build these habits into your life and move towards spiritual health, because that which is healthy…grows!
This particular habit is probably the least utilized, even though it may be the most important since it flows into our understanding of all the others. Now, I’m not going to tell you that you need to get up at the ‘butt-crack of dawn’ and scour the Scriptures for the theological equivalent of a needle in a haystack! But, it is absolutely essential to your spiritual health that you are listening to God. The Bible refers to itself as the “Word of God”, let’s put that in a way we can grasp, “God’s words recorded for us, to give us direction, hope, and comfort for our everyday life”. Often, Bible reading/study can feel like homework, but what it should be and should be viewed as is simply an opportunity for us to hear from and receive wisdom from the greatest source in all of the universe.
When I was a younger pastor, I often thought how helpful and informative it would be to be able to spend an hour with some of the great pastors of the previous generation and gain wisdom from them. I even went so far as to try to get some time with some very well known men at my own expense. Unfortunately, rarely did it pan out, and when it did I was often disappointed. Yet, the greatest source of leadership teaching, wisdom, and coaching sat just inches from my hand on my desk. It wasn’t that I didn’t read or study my Bible, but I saw it as one dimensional, spiritual, nothing more, nothing less. But then I re-read a passage of Scripture that I’d read a hundred times before:
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. – 2 Timothy 3:16-17 NLT
Do you see it, “…every good work…”. The Bible isn’t just a ‘spiritual manual’ it’s a Life Manual. When you read it God is filling you with wisdom for living life. The God who created and sustains all life is literally giving you the secrets to living a life of significance! And, unlike all of those self-appointed gurus it’s not ‘3 easy payments of $19.99’ it’s free, readily accessible, and without any type of limitations.
So, how about you and I today spend a little time listening to God? Grab your Bible, open it up, and just read, you never know what you might be inspired, challenged, equipped, taught, lead, encouraged to do until you start to listen to the ONE whose hand is guiding it all!
Next post: Prayer
Well the old expression goes, “Slow and steady wins the race.” Have I ever mentioned that I have a rather driven personality? I don’t know about you all but I don’t think I can wait an awful lot longer before I start having to gnaw on something (or someone) to relieve the tension!
Thankfully, things are moving, but as with everything that has anything to do with governmental red tape, it moves way slower than what we’d like. On the very positive side all of our information for financing is in the lenders hands and we have multiple banks who are now ‘competing’ for our business, this usually means good rates, which means a savings in the long run…even better!
On the exciting side…if our bond issue is resolved and our meeting goes well with the City, then nothing further stands in the way of us breaking ground! We don’t have a date yet since it’s still dependent upon those last two hurdles being jumped, but all signs point to go as of right now.
You will notice that some of the property next to Emerson road is already getting dug up. This is a part of the improvements that are being done to the road and are a part of our new acceleration and deceleration lanes that will make coming and going much easier on Sundays and for our Childcare parents when all is said and done.
Finally, as I shared with you recently, we just reached 40% of our $627,000 committed to the MOMENTUM project, way to go Friendship! If you made a commitment and haven’t yet started giving or your a little behind, I’m going to challenge you to start or get back in rhythm to help us reach 50% even faster. Let’s keep moving forward to make an impact that’ll last a generation!
Well, this is what we are currently seeing all around our building right now! I’m thinking that I might pick one of these bad boys up so that I can fit in with all of the cool kids. I wonder what type of gas mileage they get?
We’ve had some pretty cool things take place over the last month. Now, we’ve still got a long way to go, but pretty much all of our meetings have gone fantastic. We even had a huge answer to prayer in our excess dirt removal and actually have a couple of different people willing to take it off of our hands with no cost to us.
Here are the big items on our plate right now, and almost all of it is in the financial areas. Our finance team is working over time to get all of this information together and correct so as to not hold up the project, but here is what you can be praying for:
- The City is requiring us to get a Bond for all of our site-work. Bonds are really not a big deal, unless of course you’re a church! Then it can become a real process. Be praying that we can get this completed and ready to present to the City by the Board of Public Works meeting on June 14th!
- Our final architectural plans are almost ready to be submitted to the State. This is the last major pre-construction hurdle. Pray that the State approves and that the City signs off.
- Compilation of the last several years of financial records. Think of it as doing your taxes…blindfolded! Yeah, that’s kind of what this is like.
The 3 people who are carrying the load are Don Stewart, Jessica Seelye, and Nita Conaway. Please be in constant prayer for them as I’m certain the numbers can get overwhelming at times.
Here’s the really exciting news: If all goes well with getting our financing in line, and there are no unforseen hiccups at the June 14th BPW meeting, we can apply for our LAP (Land Alteration Permit) and we can begin moving dirt. So, let’s all pray that the big boy dozer’s aren’t just at our neighbor’s next month, but are roaming around our land too!
That’s all for now!
The snail pace of the pre-construction process continues. We gave our site design (parking, sewer, storm water, ect…) to the City and they came back with some alterations, and we have re-submitted it with the areas they asked us to address. So, the next phase is submitting the actual building/construction designs for approval.
I can’t tell you how anxious I am to begin seeing ground moving on our land. All of the dirt mounds piling up on Worthsville Rd are just adding to my anticipation! If you are as excited about us moving dirt as I am there are 4 things I’m asking you to do:
- Pray! Our biggest asset as we work through the submission, permit, and bonding process with the City are your prayers. We believe that prayer changes things! So, pray that our builder move quickly, that the City responds quickly and reasonably, and that everything would take place on God’s perfect timing.
- Talk! Share your excitement for the building with everyone you know. Talk to them about what will be happening there, talk about how it will allow our Childcare, which by the way is awesome, to grow and impact more families. Talk about the coffee shop whose proceeds will be used to help people who are hurting, lost, and lonely. Talk about how our teen ministry will finally be able to have a space of their own. In short, talk about it, build the excitement!
- Commit! Last year we presented the MOMENTUM project and many of you committed financially to give over and above your regular offering to make the project a reality. If you were not a part of Friendship then and you’d like to know more about it and potentially become a part of MOMENTUM yourself then go to our dedicated website, read the information, watch the amazing stories, and commit to being a part of the MOMENTUM at Friendship Church! If you’ve already committed, then let me say “Thank You!” and keep up the giving!
- Invite! Once our building is complete we will have seating for 600 in the auditorium and our kids space will double. As we build over the next year our vision of glorifying God as an effective and influential church isn’t being put on hold! Some may say, “Where will we put more people right now?”. That’s a great question, I really don’t know…but we’ll find room. Lack of space will never be an excuse for us to stop doing what God has called us to do, and when the time is right God will let us know what the next step is. Kind of exciting, isn’t it!
Just remember, when God’s people, pursue God’s vision, in God’s timing, we can expect God-sized results!
Some great news everyone! I recently had a meeting with the City of Greenwood and the subdivision planner to the West of us. As we all sat around the table attempting to resolve the domino effect that we were experiencing the subdivision planner came up with a fantastic idea that allowed not only us to move forward but also the subdivision! That means that both of our projects can continue to progress, and hopefully without much further delay.
At this point we have to get back with our engineers to change some of our drainage and road issues and hopefully be able to work with the subdivision in creating a great timing solution that works for both of us. So, as of right now, our engineering firm is beginning to work on the layout. Once that is done we will present that to the City and get an initial approval to apply for a land alteration permit (basically allows us to start moving dirt).
The unfortunate part of all of this is that this process has caused us to be about 4-6 months behind our initial desire of breaking ground in December. The positive part is that this is allowing us to get to know more of the people involved in the project and be able to build positive relationships with them. In fact, I’d like to give you a few names of people who will be influential in the ongoing progress of our project and ask you to be specifically praying for them.
- Paul Claire (Subdivision Planner)
- Mark Richards (City Engineer)
- Paul Peoni (Assistant Engineer)
- Bill Peeples (City Planner)
All of these men I’ve been able to get to know throughout this process, and I can tell you that I am personally praying for them, and I’d like you to join me.
Well, that’s all for now, keep praying hard and I’ll keep you up to date as things progress!
Wow, I’m simply amazed at how our MOMENTUM series went, and I’m in awe of how excited and supportive everyone is of the project. For those of you who don’t yet know, we did reach our goal of $600,000 committed to the project over the next two years, and on our Big Give Sunday 25% of that amount came in, that’s just astounding by any measure!
Our hope was to break ground still in 2013, unfortunately do to some circumstances beyond our control that have recently taken place we will need to delay the groundbreaking a little bit. We are still hoping to be able to get started early in 2014 if we can make some pieces move the way we want. Here’s the skinny on what has happened and how it affects us:
- First thing that happened was that a Greenwood resident, East of us on Worthsville Rd, is fighting the Eminent Domain ruling. This has put a six month delay on the construction of Worthsville Rd. This does not affect us…directly, but as you’ll see below it has a pretty substantial domino effect.
- Because the City of Greenwood has had to delay the project for six months, they’ve chosen to start on the West end of the project across 31. Again, this has no direct impact on us…but wait!
- The subdivision directly to the West of us across Emerson Ave needs to tie into the new storm water system that the City is building into Worthsville Rd, BUT that is also being delayed, so the subdivision has also decided to delay starting. Now, this has a direct impact on us because our current drainage goes onto the property they are building on so they were going to have to take our drainage and connect it to the new City storm water system. They also were going to bring Emerson up to a County Road designation (thicker pavement and a little wider lanes).
So, because all of this is delayed, that places all of the improvements (road, drainage, moving of utilities, etc…) squarely on our shoulders, which if it stands will mean a potential increase of $250,000…yes, that’s six figures!
We are in the process of working with our construction team to determine exactly what it might cost us, and if there is some way around, or some way to work with either the City or the subdivision to find a positive solution. So, be praying very, very hard that God gives us a clear path and gives us precise directions!
WARNING, SPIRITUAL APPLICATION COMING!!!
As I think about this process I can’t help but think about the verse I began Sunday’s message with:
A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man. – Proverbs 24:24 NIV
Rarely can we trace a path of ruined life back to one ‘huge, monstrous bad decision’. Granted, there are some of those, but more often then not it’s a small decision, that leads to another, and another, and another. Then one day you find yourself in a place you never wanted or intended to be, and it often impacts other people.
This gentleman who is fighting the City is not going to win. If it were for a strip mall or another parking lot, yes he would have a small shot, but no one has ever won an Eminent Domain case when it involved a road. So, not only will he lose his case, but he’ll also lose his money for the lawyer, which means the money that he would have gotten for his property will be significantly diminished or he could lose it all together. His decision also affects all of the people who would benefit from the new road, the people who would be purchasing the new homes, the guys who would be employed to build those homes…well you get the picture.
Moral of the story folks, every decision and every choice matters which is why Paul says in 1 Timothy 4:16;
“Watch your life and doctrine closely!”
Keep praying for God’s best team, because it’s on it’s way!!!
I’m so excited to announce to you that Sarah Pead will be joining the Friendship Church staff beginning Monday, September 9th. Sarah will become our Arts & Communications Director. Sarah has been working for the last 5 years as a Graphic Design and Marketing Consultant for Willow Marketing on the Northside of Indianapolis. Willow is one of the top design firms that works with non-profit agencies in the entire Midwest. Her invaluable experience in the design field, marketing, advertising, social media, and print media will become an unbelievable asset to us as we continue to grow as a church.
Sarah has actually been serving in a volunteer role at Friendship for 6 years as our Lead Graphic Designer. In that role she has created all of our graphics for every series that we have done at Friendship, created our church logo, the Friendship Kids logo and branding, Fusion, Man Stuff, Shape, and well, just about every other logo we’ve got out there. Sarah’s guiding hand has allowed us to do things that churches three times our size cannot even do.
What Sarah Will Be Doing:
As our new Arts & Communications Director, Sarah will now be overseeing the following areas:
- All physical print pieces including the Worship Guide, posters, handouts, etc
- Continue to act as our Lead Graphic Designer
- Wed Design & Social Media Team
- Photography & Video Team
- All digital media pieces including e-mail communications, registration forms, event forms, video pieces, etc
- All areas of communications whether print, digital, or video
Why Is This The Right Time For Sarah To Come On?
Man, I am so glad you asked that question! As our church has grown Traci, Dustin, and I have had to increase our areas of responsibility, sometimes even beyond our particular area of expertise. All of the areas listed above are items that one of us is currently doing to varying degrees of success. With Sarah coming on staff it relieves significant pressure from each of us and allows us to focus better on our ‘sweet spots’ in ministry. Below is a snippet of what I shared with the Elders when we first talked about this several months ago:
- With the continued growth of the Shape Women’s Ministry (145 ladies at Rejuvenate…that’s just crazy) and requests for her to counsel ladies; with the continued growth of the church and the increasing time it takes to manage my schedule, requests for meetings, and communications on my behalf, Traci is not able to spend the time needed to continue to grow Women’s Ministry. By removing her media and communication responsibilities it allows her to redeem and re-purpose that time for greater effectiveness and growth for Friendship.
- With our continued growth as a church, our print, digital, photographic, and web media needs continue to grow. This growth is becoming increasingly difficult for Dustin to manage effectively and is beginning to demand more time than can adequately be given without negatively affecting his main responsibilities. Bringing in Sarah will free him up to spend more time and energy in developing the creative arts ministry while at the same time allowing the communications/media areas to continue to grow.
I can’t hardly believe that we were able to get someone of this caliber with this much experience. This will allow us to continue to grow as we grow as a church and relieve a significant bottleneck of time, resources, energy, talents, and people. I’m really looking forward to the many things that God is going to allow us to do through Sarah’s expertise and incredible work ethic!
Send your congratulations and prayers to her new e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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!
Well, it’s been a busy couple of months around Friendship Church! For the most part that explains why I took a two month absence from posting another blog post. Besides all of the normal stuff that happens I’ve been doing a lot of preparation work for our future building project.
To give you a little background on how we got here; two years ago we were looking at our growth and realized that very soon we’d be out of space in our building. We talked extensively at that time and actually met with a small group of men, all of whom are elders today at Friendship, and prayed through, talked through, and did research on whether or not we should consider building. At that time we decided that it would be a better use of our resources to begin doing two services, even though all of the “experts” told us we wouldn’t be successful. We believed that was what God was calling us to do. It was a HUGE step of faith, and I’ll be very transparent and say, I was nervous! We launched our two services for the first time in March of last year, a little over a year ago. Since then we’ve grown by 35% or almost 100 people, we’ve seen over 50 people come to know Christ, disciple over 120 through our Workshops! Suffice it to say, it was obviously the right decision and God has blessed us beyond measure.
So far this year we are running just shy of 300 people each weekend, and our kid’s ministry is packed to the gills! If we continue growing anywhere near our current pace, we will outgrow our facilities in a year or less. We’ve spent the last several months, praying, talking, and researching all of our options and we are confident that this time we need to build. Right now we are in the slow, not very exciting, phase of the process. We’ve been talking with financial people and getting ourselves in the best position possible; we’ve had quite a bit of site engineering done, to make sure we know all the potential “surprises” that may come up; and we’ve met with the City of Greenwood to find out there…um…demands ( I jest of course, they’ve actually been very helpful). All in all the process is going along very smoothly and we are excited for this next phase to begin!
Here’s how you can be praying:
- Wisdom: we are going to be making a lot of decisions as we continue to move forward, and we’ve got a tremendous group of elders. However, you can never, ever pray or have enough wisdom when making decisions that will have such a significant impact as this potentially could.
- Vision: one of the reasons that I believe God has blessed Friendship is because we are constantly moving forward towards our vision of “Glorifying God as an Effective and Influential Church”. We don’t want to become so bog down in decisions and details that we stop pursuing the vision.
- Faith: God is doing some pretty amazing things, and I’ve been around long enough to know that when God is moving He’s going to ask us to take some pretty big steps, which means we’ve got to have some pretty deep faith.
- Focus: All of us elders have full-time jobs where we have responsibilities, and on top of that our families. Times like this demand a lot of meetings, and extra hours of reading and research. It can become overwhelming, and cause us to lose focus or get frustrated. I don’t know about you, but no decisions I’ve ever made when frustrated worked out well!
Thanks for praying for us and for the future of Friendship Church! That’s all for now, but keep an eye open for the next update…
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!
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!
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.
Tony Morgan is one of my all-time favorite church leadership/health/growth gurus! He’s definitely solidified that standing with his latest book Taking the Lid off of Your Church, available on Kindle for a paltry $2.99. Ever since I read the great little e-book The Leisure Suit Trap, which by the way is still available with several other books for free download on Tony’s site, I’ve been a fan and here’s why:
- I can read all of his books in about an hour…that’s a pretty big one for me!
- He has a great sense of humor, Leisure Suit and Cockroaches, need I say more?
- He has actually been a pastor and lead churches through growth and structural change with success
- Half of his books are free…another big selling point
- His stuff actually works…yeah, that’s the big one!!!
In Taking the Lid Off, Tony’s approach doesn’t consist of cute rhymes or meter, but rather meaty questions that cause you to stop and really think through the issue at hand. Tony isn’t trying to sell a ‘one size fits all’ leadership program, instead he forces you to look at yourself and those you’ve surrounded yourself with and ask, “What needs to change for me and my team to be successful?”
Although this book is aimed primarily at church leaders, I believe that it would be a great book for anyone who is serious about becoming a better leader to take an afternoon and read through. I promise you’ll be challenged to think beyond your current situation and you may even find the solution that has been alluding you and end up finding yourself, your team, and your organization or church unstuck.
For more of Tony’s books check out his website: Tony Morgan Live
You can also follow him on Twitter, and it’s well worth the follow: @tonymorganlive
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!!!