I was never really a fan of Kobe Bryant, it was nothing personal, he just played for another team that wasn’t my team…the Pacers, and he along with Shaq squashed my Pacers in the 2000 NBA Finals, so no I wasn’t a fan of him as a basketball player.
Now, as a leader, a legend, and his work after basketball, I was a huge fan! You don’t have as many titles as he accumulated, as many people who followed as he had, and as much of a difference in a community/nation as he did if you’re not what we would call a ‘good dude’!
I am a father of two incredible women, so I know a little bit about the relationship of father and daughter, and by all accounts his daughter Gigi (Gianna) was following in her father’s footsteps as a ball player and a leader. And this picture encapsulates the joy the two of them shared for the game they both fell in love with.
Kobe was 41 years old and his daughter was 13, they both are now in eternity. This picture was take just over a month ago, and now they are gone. It makes you stop and think doesn’t it?
He was just beginning his life without basketball and she was just beginning her life. I cannot even begin to imagine the feeling he had when he realized what was happening as his daughter sat next to him on that helicopter. I cannot fathom what his wife and three surviving children are going through today, but it makes you stop and think, doesn’t it?
None of us are promised tomorrow, only the moment we live in right now. How will you spend the moments you are blessed with today? Will you squander them scrolling through the internet, squabbling with your spouse, or sifting through hours of unwatched ‘streamable’ episodes of the latest binge-worthy show. It makes you stop and think…doesn’t it?
You…yes…you, were created by God to make a difference, an impact, a change on this world. You were designed to leave a legacy of substance to those who know and love you. So, today, and from this day forward will you continue to live as if “I’ve got 30 or 40 more years” or will you seize all of the divine moments given to you and become all that God created you to be…it makes you stop and think. Doesn’t it?
Over the last several weeks I’ve had several people ask me about our property and how things are coming along. If you remember I shared with you all our dream of opening up a retreat center for Pastors, Missionaries, Military and Law Enforcement Chaplains, and other leaders in our post when we were selling our home. Since moving in on December 23rd…yes you read that correctly two days before Christmas, (oh and we had family staying with us, we just like to do things difficult) we have made a ton of progress!
The most exciting and recent development is that we are now an officially recognized non-profit business in the state of Indiana. I went through the process of writing our Articles of Incorporation (yeah that was fun), jumping through the appropriate hoops, and cutting the necessary red tape, and we received our notification on Monday. So, we now are officially Acorn Ridge Retreats Inc. Now, I get to go through the exciting and exuberayting process of applying for 501 c3 status with the Federal government…anyone want to help with that?
Here are some of the physical things we’ve been up to:
- There are two houses on the property, one is the main log cabin, and the other is a 2
bedroom stick-built home that was pretty much trashed. I pretty much gutted the house, and I am still in process of putting it all back together again. Our oldest daughter Kaitlyn, is currently living in the house, but once she moves on from us…a little tear just fell…we will open up that house to our guests.
- There is a small, 400 sq ft, cabin that the previous owners used as a practice run for the main cabin. It is just an empty shell, but our plan for that is to turn it into a ‘tiny home’ for our guests as well. Unlike the stick built home, I haven’t had a chance to do anything with this yet. But, I’m hoping as I wrap up some of the other projects currently going on around the property I’ll be able to start getting this piece ready for guests as well.
- Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been working on a piece of the property that I hadn’t even thought of before, but after a conversation with a friend, I realized what a cool tool it could be. I took an overgrown, but fairly level piece of the land and tore it all up, I removed trees, shrubs, a few woodland creatures…don’t worry there’s lots of land for them to move to…and created a nice ‘camping’ area where those who travel around the country in RV’s could come and park and enjoy the retreat area as well. Yesterday afternoon I had 12 cubic yards of stone delivered and I began the process of graveling so that they could easily level their traveling homes and enjoy an extended stay. The only thing left to do is to run a 50Amp line for them to plug in and water. Hey, anyone have a trencher or Ditch-Witch just laying around???
- There is an extensive flower bed and stone bed system on the property. However, all of the beds were badly overgrown. We’ve killed, uprooted, and hacked out about 80% of the vegetation and now are preparing to lay a ton…literally…a ton of mulch.
You may read all of this and be asking yourself, ‘why in the world would they do this, are they just that bored?’ No, I promise you, with everything going on at Friendship and all of the growth, construction, and everything that comes with it, we are FAR from bored. But, several years ago we were blessed beyond belief with our sabbatical, and from that point on we’ve been asking God to allow us to be a blessing like that in the lives of other pastors and leaders who bear such a heavy burden on a regular basis, and who rarely if ever have the luxury of just being a human being. This is not just a dream for us, but a labor of love. Our hope is that through this extension of Friendship Church we will either directly or indirectly save some leaders from burnout, some marriages from failing, and some churches from deep hurt. The verse we’ve chosen as our theme is Hebrews 6:10 NLT, here’s what it says:
For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do.
Believe it or not, our first guest will be coming the weekend of June 17th, which is about 2 years before we planned on it, but hey, God always has better, bigger, and more beautiful plans than we do!
This is Traci and my dream, but it’s an extension of Friendship, and every ministry family served will be served by you! Thank you for your faithfulness, for your love of our family and all of our leadership families, and thank you for allowing me to be your pastor! You guys are awesome!!!
I am old enough to remember the anti-drug and alcohol campaign that touted and launched this iconic saying. Even as I watched these commercials as a preteen and teen I realized that even though the commercials themselves were more than ‘lame’ (80’s throwback reference) the power of the statement really did make an impact. I mean I started saying no to my teachers, my coaches, my parents…I may have taken that out of context, and it most definitely got me in trouble!
As I’ve grown older, gained more experience, and grown a touch more mature, I’ve realized there is incredible power in that little two-letter word. I’ve also learned that if I’m going to be able to say ‘yes’ to the things in my life that are really important, I’m going to need to learn how to say ‘no’ to the things that are less important. Now, this isn’t to say that things others are asking me to do are bad, in fact, many if not all of them are very good, but it’s not what is best for me.
Over the years I’ve gleaned from some masters in the art of saying no, and I’ve taken some of the best ‘no’s’ I’ve received over the years and incorporated them into my own personal repertoire, but for the sake of time and space I’ve boiled down some of the best, so without further ado:
Dave’s Top Five Ways To Say No With A Smile!
- I would love to, however, my schedule simply doesn’t allow me the time to do that.
- Thanks so much for thinking of me, as awesome as it may be, I cannot do that.
- I am so sorry, but that is just not something that I can do at this point.
- Unfortunately, do to my other commitments, I must decline. However, (so-and-so) might be a perfect fit.
- Thank you so much for the offer, but in an effort to honor my time with my family, I cannot take you up on it.
I’d love to hear some of your great ‘no’s’ in the comments, just maybe I’ll steal one for my own personal collection!
And hey, don’t feel bad about saying ‘no’, they won’t have to give an account for how you used the time God gave you…but you will!
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?
I was really rather amazed this year by the San Antonio Spurs. In spite of having the best record in the NBA they were rarely mention by sportscaster and prognosticators alike. They were the forgotten powerhouse. To most, they were to old, to boring, and to…well not the HEAT to win. Now, as much as I would love to make this a blog, blasting the HEAT and Lebron James, I just can’t. In spite of my disdain for them, did I mention I’m a lifelong Pacers fan, you can’t ignore that they’ve made it to four consecutive NBA Finals, and won two of them. That’s impressive, plain and simple. But, compare it to the Spurs, who since 1999 have won five titles, that’s a 33% title winning percentage over a 15 year period…Now that is amazing!
So, what can we learn from this ‘blue-collar’ team, that have been in the playoffs 24 of the last 25 years, captured 20 division titles, won 50+ games for 16 seasons straight, and had the same head coach for nearly 20 years? Well, here are five things:
- ‘Superstars’ can’t do it alone: Often we fall prey to the idea that if we just get this amazing guy on our leadership team, or on staff, or as a volunteer, that will make all the difference. And, for sure there is almost always an immediate impact. But, if you’re looking for sustained, long-term impact, it can’t be about just one guy. In 1997 the Spurs looked completely lost. Even though they had one of the best big men of all time in David ‘The Admiral’ Robinson, a perennial MVP candidate, they were consistently getting bumped out of the playoffs in the first or second round. It wasn’t until they drafted a young guy named Tim Duncan, that the Spurs began to take shape. David Robinson now had a teammate who could shoulder the burden alongside of him. In fact, Robinson made it his mission to mentor this young guy and help him become a top tier player in the league. Robinson even lessened his role intentionally so that Duncan could begin to flourish. Just two short years later, 1999, they were the NBA Champions for the first time.
- Old doesn’t mean finished: I honestly wish I had a dollar for every time that I heard the Spurs were ‘too old’ this year! The three main guys on the Spurs, Duncan, Parker, Ginobili, are past ‘their prime’. But, just like David Robinson before them, these guys had been mentoring the younger, fresher legs on the team. Taking a few less shots, allowing them to experience what it was like to carry more of the load. Just because you may be past your prime, doesn’t mean your ineffective. Might your role be changing, would you be more effective as a mentor than a major player, maybe. The bottom line is stop thinking you’re too old to be useful on a team.
- Teamwork beats star power every time: It was said that the Spurs offense was old, outdated, and boring. Their main offensive philosophy; pass the ball to the open man, in spite of who it is. Their belief was that the open man has a better chance at making a shot or a play than one of their big three in a double team. So, on any given possession you would witness 3,4, sometimes even 5 passes before a shot was taken. It was a completely unselfish ideal that every guy on the team had to embrace for it to be effective. In a league where isolation and one-on-one play is the course of the day, this type of offense seemed almost foreign. But to me, it was beautiful! You see when you play as a team, it’s not about your individual stat line as much as it is how the team did. Sure Lebron averaged a bazillion points and rebounds in the series, but the Spurs hoisted the trophy!
- Longterm success demands stable, consistent leadership: Greg Popovich may be the most boring interview in the history of sports! But, what makes him boring to a reporter makes him invaluable as a coach. He knows exactly what he wants to do, teaches it ad nauseum to his players, and demands that they run it with ruthless efficiency on the court. His players buy in to it because he’s proven it works. Sure, he makes tweaks here and there, takes input from his players, and makes in game corrections. But, his players know and trust him because he’s always headed in the same direction. As a leader sometimes you feel like you need to be perfect, but what is actually more important, is for you to be consistent. If as a leader of a team you are all over the place emotionally, or with ‘new ideas’ or vision every couple of weeks, you will quickly fatigue your team and they will quit trying, not because they don’t care, because they just don’t know where your going!
- Talk less, do more: There’s an old expression that goes something like this, “Those that talk about it rarely do it; those that do it rarely talk about it.” Basically, all of the hype, the fashion, the bling was all one-sided during the NBA Finals this year. The HEAT were the talk of the town, ‘Can they three-peat’, ‘Did you see what Lebron/D-Wade was wearing’, ‘Just how many tattoos does Chris Anderson have’. While people actually poked fun at the Spurs for their lack of fashion sense. The Spurs simply went about their business, no one talked about winning their fifth championship, or that if they won again that Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili would have won four championships together. They simply played their boring brand of basketball and won.
So, congratulations to the San Antonio Spurs, and thanks for the lessons in teamwork!
I have been blessed with having a wealth of people in my life who are and embrace creativity. I personally love creativity, and love to watch people flourish and expand in creative environments. But being a creative or an artist can often be scary and intimidating. Even if you’re successful, the pressure then mounts for ‘What’s next’ and living up to your own success.
So, for all my creative, artistic, skinny jean, scarf wearing buddies out there, here are 4 things that if you constantly remember and pursue will keep those creative juices flowing:
- Believe God made you extraordinary, never stop discovering how!
- You are created in the image of THE CREATOR, He created everything from nothing, what can you create with all of your something?
- Fear of failure is the death of artistry! Embrace failure as a step closer to your greatest artistic achievement.
- Staying ‘in your box’ makes you square…I’ve never met a square creative!
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
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!
One of Friendship Church’s elders has just started a blog…or at least I just found it, one or the other! In any sense this is a great post and you should read it! Laziness.
Ha, fooled ya! I really hope that after reading my blog, listening to my messages, and talking with me that you know by now I’m not going to tell you who you should vote for. I will however give you a Biblical filter through which you can look at the candidates, decipher which one most closely resembles it, spend time praying and listening, go cast your vote, then thank God that you live in a country where your vote still matters!
Some of these I’ve not touched on previously so I will spend more time and flesh them out, others those I’ve given significant time to or even several blog posts to and I’ll just state them outright and allow you to go back and look at what I’ve previously written.
You should vote for whichever candidate..
- Holds most closely to (publicly and privately) the morality taught in Scripture.
- Gives our nation the best chance to be prosperous. I know that this may sound non-spiritual but listen to this: “Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” ~ Jeremiah 29:7
- Teaches and exemplifies personal responsibility and accountability. No one else will have to give an account of your life, but you!
- Has a biblical view of government. This was to be a blog post all by itself, but I just ran out of time. Essentially, here is what the Bible says governments role is:
To protect it’s citizens and wage war if necessary Romans 13:1-7; Proverbs 21:15
To establish just and fair laws Proverbs 8:15-16
To punish the guilty Romans 13:4
To reward the righteous 1 Peter 2:14
To allow us to live peaceable and quiet lives 2 Timothy 2:2
To administer unbiased justice Jeremiah 12:12; Leviticus 19:15
To uphold God-given rights of all mankind Genesis 1:26
- Has by their actions, not just words, given of themselves and spoken for those who cannot speak for themselves. (Unborn, poverty stricken, destitute). “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” ~ Proverbs 31:8-9
Folks, your vote matters. Don’t waste it by voting for someone who does not line up with what the Bible teaches, don’t waste it by voting uninformed, and don’t waste it by not voting at all.
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
Allow me to first say, I am not going to tag God with any man-made labels. God supersedes them in every fashion of the word and is not limited by our limitations or understanding. So to attempt to label God in this way is like trying to describe an elephant using only cat-like adjectives…anybody want a frisky elephant?
First let’s look at legitimate, non-biased definitions of each of these labels:
Capitalism: a social system based on the principle of individual rights. In such a system, individuals and firms have the right to own and use wealth to earn income and to sell and purchase labor for wages with little or no government control. The function of regulating the economy is then achieved mainly through the operation of market forces where prices and profit dictate where and how resources are used and allocated.
Socialism: a theory or system of social organization that advocates the diminishment of individual rights, for the rights of the whole or community, and vests the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of business, enterprise, land, etc., to the community, primarily through governmental agencies.
As you can see the primary difference between these two socio-economic systems is how they view the individual. If you believe that an individual has the right to do, believe, and live as they want with little or no government involvement then you lean towards Capitalism. If you believe the rights of an individual should be secondary to the good of the community, then you lean towards Socialism. In Capitalism, if you make poor choices you suffer the consequences, and in reverse, if you make good choices you reap the rewards. In Socialism, if you make poor choices the consequences are spread throughout the community, and in reverse, if you make good choices those rewards are spread throughout the community.
So then, the question we must ask is, “Does God’s Word teach individual accountability, both positive and negative, for your actions, or does God’s Word teach shared or community accountability?” Let’s dive in and find out…
“I the Lord search the heartand examine the mind,to reward each person according to their conduct,according to what their deeds deserve.” (Jeremiah 17:10 NIV)
Great are your purposes and mighty are your deeds. Your eyes are open to the ways of all mankind; you reward each person according to their conduct and as their deeds deserve. (Jeremiah 32:19 NIV)
And today, though I am the anointed king, I am weak, and these sons of Zeruiah are too strong for me. May the Lord repay the evildoer according to his evil deeds!” (2 Samuel 3:39 NIV)
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (2 Corinthians 5:10 NIV)
It’s fairly obvious through just the small snippet of verses I’ve shared, that God is a pretty big proponent of individual accountability, whether it be reward or punishment. Especially within the last verse it is obvious to see that God himself will be the ultimate judge, and we will be judged solely based upon our individual works or deeds, not upon the works or deeds of the community as a whole. To do so would be unjust.
However, there is one HUGE exception to this in God’s plan. According to God, in his eyes, all of our good deeds, excellent effort, and achievement are worthless when compared to the mountain of sin within us…
All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. (Isaiah 64:6 NIV)
As individuals, we are incapable of balancing the scales of God’s justice. So, God instituted a plan in which all of our sin, both individually and corporately as a human race, would be placed upon one man, and he would bear the brunt of our suffering, he would accept our pain, and he would pay our judgment. Jesus Christ took our place, through his death our guilt has been expunged, and through his resurrection our new life is made possible!
However, this “free gift” has a requirement, you must believe and humble yourself before God. You cannot receive this gift and then continue to live as if you are living only for you. Your life is no longer your own, you now live for Christ.
There are two things I believe we can take away from this:
First, individual accountability, both good and bad, is absolutely Godly and a worthy model to follow within our families, our communities, our nation, and our world. When it is removed our society begins it’s downward spiral into the deepest recesses of our sinfulness. When both reward and punishment are no longer realities, then there is no incentive to do good and no deterrent to avoid evil.
Second, in some cases when an individual has gotten himself to a point where there is no hope of recovery it may be necessary for others to step in and provide assistance. But, as with God, this assistance cannot be without requirement, and must always be followed with a change in life that will lead that person away from the destructive pattern of their past.
I hope that this has helped you think through things as the election of our officials draws near. As you listen to our two candidates, instead of just hearing the “buzz-words” listen to what they are saying. Do they believe in individual accountability? Do they believe a persons choices should have consequence, whether good or bad? Do they believe that the community is responsible or the individual?
Have a great one everybody!
I put the word never in quotes because I believe God changes minds and hearts, but at this stage in my life and ministry, I don’t see me ever using the pulpit of good news to push the politics of the populace (man that was good, someone should tweet that!). Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashing men like Jerry Falwell and other like him who felt called to be politically active and vocal, but I don’t feel similarly called. Here’s why:
- Politics, by their very nature, are incredibly divisive, and when people talk politics it often leads to arguments and hurt feelings. Accepting the message of Jesus Christ is hard enough, why put another potential obstacle in someone’s way?
- Rarely do politicians and politics veer into that which is Biblical and holy, therefore, rarely do I comment. However, when it/they do, it is my duty to comment and bring Scripture to bear.
- I never want to abuse my position as a pastor to manipulate or attempt to convince someone to vote “my way”.
- I have known many wonderful Christians who are Democrats, Republicans, Conservatives, and yes, even some Liberals. Bottom line, your party affiliation and governmental beliefs won’t get you in or keep you out of heaven.
- No politician, political party, or political agenda will ever change someones eternal destiny. Why would I waste the 40 minutes I have each week to communicate the life changing message of Jesus Christ talking about something that will not matter in eternity?
I’ve given 5 reasons why I’ll ‘never’ talk politics from the pulpit and actually rarely talk politics in public. However, notice reason number 2. Over the last two weeks the two prevailing parties have put forth their “platform” or “agenda” if they get elected, many of the issues raised go beyond the political arena and address values, morals, or culture. These things are expressly and precisely talked about in the Bible. God’s position on these issues are clearly laid out in his Word, and it is my duty as your pastor to share those with you, and your duty as followers of Christ to bend your will to His.
- My challenge: Read each of the posts carefully, then study the Scriptures on your own. Then, use your vote to support the candidate that most closely resembles your values and you believe will do the best job for your country.
- My promise Everything I write will come from a foundation of Scripture and not my own personal political beliefs, who knows, I might change my own mind! I will not go on any hearsay or rumor, but only talk about what has been expressly written down in each party’s platform
- My hope: That this will give you God’s view of things and remove much of the emotional arguments for or against.
Have a great one folks and here are the topics/values I’ll be covering, if you’ve got another one you think fits, shoot me an e-mail and I’ll take a look at it!
What’s Governments Role According To God?
Does it Matter What We Do In the Middle East?
What About Welfare?
‘Christian’ or ‘Mormon’, does it matter?
Is There Such A Thing As ‘Gay Marriage’?
Is God a ‘Capitalist’, ‘Socialist’, or something else?
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!!!
Hey all you Friendship People! I thought I’d take a few minutes and talk with you guys directly. Here are 7 things I want you all to know…
- Man, do I miss you guys! It’s half way through our time apart and its killing me. I must confess I secretly get on Facebook just to see pictures of what you’re all up to. I’m so looking forward to seeing you all on August 19th!
- We are having a fantastic time! Our time in the Mediterranean and in Europe was absolutely awesome! I’ve posted a few pictures below that I thought you might all enjoy. I think we can all literally feel the stress falling off. Plus, notice the really good-looking company I keep!
- I’ve been reading through the New Testament, and my passion and love for the church of Jesus Christ is stronger than it has ever been! I know that some of you were a little worried that being gone this long would dim my passion…NOT A CHANCE, it’s burning white-hot!
- Don’t miss REST. The series starting this week with our buddies from City Community is going to be phenomenal. You will not want to miss even one week. And, yes, I know some of you have been “Playing Hooky”, you better be there this week…I know who you are 🙂
- You all knocked it out of the park with Summer Break! I am so amazed with the number of children who came, but even more thankful with the 20+ children who gave their lives to Christ. We told the leaders of Next Level Church, the place we are going to down here, about it and they were just as excited as I was. You guys are amazing!!!
- Don’t miss the Meredith Andrews Concert. Meredith is a great Christian songwriter and singer. We are absolutely blessed that she is going to be there, as she usually plays to crowds of 1,500+ at her concerts. Plus she is a personal friend of Dustin and Sarah, so pack Friendship out for me, standing room only!
- I’ve got the preface and the first chapter of my book written. If enough of you are interested I’ll post the preface on the blog in the next few weeks. I’d love to get your feedback on it.
Okay, 1 freebie…I’m dying to see what the Colts are going to do this year! Anyone else?
Love your guys,
Your Absentee QB, Dave
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!
I think one of the coolest things about Friendship Church is that we are constantly trying to take the long-term view of things. Always asking the question, “How will this affect us 5, 10, 15 years from now?” This approach has saved us from making a lot of short-sited decisions that could have had significant, long-term repercussions. It has also enabled us to make hard decisions with short-term pain for long-term health.
This is exactly what we did when evaluating if it was a good thing and good time for my family and I to take a sabbatical. We are certainly not “burned out”, frustrated, or tired of leading Friendship. In fact, this is the most fun I’ve had in a long time. It’s an absolute joy to be able to watch decisions we made 3-5 years ago become reality and see all these people come to know Christ and so many of you take huge steps in your spiritual growth. In all transparency, this is the last time I would choose to go on sabbatical. I love leading the charge, being the visionary, teaching the Word, and watching lives change…but that is the short-term view of things.
The long-term view says, bigger things are yet to come, greater growth is just around the corner, and what we are experiencing now is just a sliver of the blessing God has for us. If I continue to lead the charge through this time, my batteries may not have enough left to lead an even bigger charge later, and that’s not acceptable. If our vision as a church is to “glorify God as an effective and influential church” then it’s leaders must make sure that they are doing the same with their lives. If staying and enjoying this Summer with my amazing church means that I won’t be as effective as possible when I’m needed most, then I’m being selfish.
I heard John Maxwell once give an incredible illustration, it went something like this. Nature gives us one of the best examples of shared leadership and the importance of down-time. When geese fly across country going South or back North they fly in a “V” formation, as I’m sure you’ve seen. This formation gives the flock incredible aerodynamics and allows them as a group to fly infinitely farther than they could individually. The formation allows for each goose to receive a certain amount of lift from the flapping of the wings of the goose directly in front of them. The lead goose takes the brunt of the wind for the group and his wings provide lift for the entire group, while the rest of the geese “honk” their encouragement to him to keep up the pace. When the goose in the lead becomes tired, another leader rotates to the front. This enables the entire group to continue moving forward while at the same time allowing the lead goose gets the much needed rest for the next length of the journey.
That is why my family and I are going on sabbatical. I want to be ready for the next phase of the journey of Friendship Church. I believe with all my heart that greater things are on their way, that God has more in store for us than any of us can even begin to think or imagine, and I want to be ready! In the short-term it will be painful to be away from you this Summer, but the long-term rewards will far outweigh short-term pain.
“No discipline (training) seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of peace and righteousness for those who are trained by it.” Heb 12:11
Starting on Sunday, May 20th I will have the incredible opportunity to take a sabbatical. My sabbatical will go throughout the Summer of 2012 with a highlight of being able to walk the streets that the Apostle Paul walked, taught, lived, and died. So, what is the point of a sabbatical?
Rest: A major part of our sabbatical is for rest. The ability to not have to preach every single week, be ready to counsel at a moments notice, or be actively engaged in decision making. If you run an engine at maximum rpm (rotations per minute) for too long you can burn up the engine. The same is true for human beings, especially those who carry the burden of leadership. If you truly love the people you lead you carry their burdens with you, and after a certain period of time if you don’t take an extended time of rest, it begins to take a toll on your continued abitlity to lead effectively. I love Friendship Church way to much to get to the point where my leadership becomes less or even completely ineffective. I have no desire to “burn out”, I want my fire to continue to burn bright over my entire life!
Renew: The second component of our sabbatical is renewal. All throughout our sabbatical I will be reading, writing, and studying. I want my passion for Christ, my joy for ministry, and my love for Friendship to be renewed and stoked to it’s full potential! Although I won’t be physically with you I will be daily praying and asking for God’s incredible blessings to continue to flow, and when I return, with completely full tanks, we’ll be ready to take the future that God has for us!
Reconnect: The final piece of our sabbatical is to reconnect with each other. Just like any family as we grow up we tend to move towards our own loves and joys, which can sometimes cause us to not spend as much time together. Unlike other families the pressure of ministry exaggerates those tensions and makes it more difficult to reconnect. So, we decided that it was essential that none of this sabbatical was done alone, we will do it as a family. Our girls are entering transitional times in their lives and this Summer is perfect timing for us to strengthen our bond and our relationships.
I am so thankful to Friendship Church for allowing me and my family to enjoy such an incredible blessing. This is a gift that I wish everyone could enjoy at some point in their lives, and I am so blessed to be able to experience it!
Religious freedom is never taken away in large fail swoops, it’s taken away crumb by crumb until all you have left are, well, crumbs. When Hitler began his attack on freedoms at the beginning of his totaletarian dictatorship he did not give a grandiose speech telling everyone in Germany that he was taking away their freedoms, no one would have voted for him. Instead, he slowly made a group of people that were already looked upon with suspicion into enemies of the state, the Socialists. Once he had them out of the way, he went to the next group, and the next, and the next, and so on, until he had no opposition left; several million Jews had been slaughtered, along with countless Christians, not to mention the millions of young men who lost their lives because of WWII.
I believe that German pastor Martin Niemoeller, describes the danger best in his reflections during this time:
First they came for the Socialists, and I
did not speak out —
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists,
and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did
not speak out — Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me — and there was
no one left to speak for me.
I’m not a Catholic, nor do I believe as Catholics do that contraception is wrong, however, I see a very dangerous and destructive pattern beginning to emerge. If you listen carefully you will hear certain groups of people within the US being marginalize, criticized, and even demonized because of their beliefs, whether they are orthodox or not. Now, we see our own government telling us what we can or cannot believe and therefore behave like, that is not okay, that is flat out wrong!
I’m not a Catholic, but I will stand up for their right to not be forced to fund that which is against their beliefs. Primarily because one day it may be us Evangelical Christians who are being told that we must now fund “X” which violates our core beliefs or face fines/imprisonment, and I for one would like others to be there standing with us!
Yes, I know that more than just my people at Friendship Church follow my blog, and this article will be great for you as well. But, it is essential that everyone from Friendship read this article. It is probably one of the best, if not the best written and most practical article on the subject of our guests that I have ever read.
Geoff Surrat planted Seacoast Church and lead it as it grew to one of the most influential and effective churches in the United States. He recently retired and has been visiting several churches anonymously, and has shared some of his insights in this article, along with some solutions.
Take 10 minutes and read through this great article and ask where you can improve!
One of my new favorite guys, both as a speaker, pastor, and blogger, is Perry Noble. A while ago Perry posted 10 Questions that churches tend to answer even though no one is asking. Perry doesn’t suggest that these aren’t important questions, just that no unsaved, lost person is asking them.
A lost person cares about 1 thing and 1 thing only, is what you are offering going to be of value to me. Now, before you get all uppity, stop and think for a second. The term the Bible uses for people who don’t know Christ is, “LOST”. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been lost on more than one occasion in my life, one time in the woods (I’ll tell you that story later), and do you know the only question I was asking? “How do I get out of here?!” I want to be the type of church that points lost people in the only direction that will actually help them get, Un-Lost!
Check out his post here: 10 Questions Unchurched People Aren’t Asking
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
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!