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February 2007

Posts from January 2007

"Don't Make A Mountain Out Of A Mole Hill"

Caddyshack It's crazy sometimes, the things that people stress over, get mad about, and allow to mess up their world. Tempers flare, things get heated, people begin flaming each other, and we forget how stupid, petty, and small the spark that ignited the fire was. Have you ever made a mountain out of a mole hill?

Many problems that pastors deal with could probably be avoided if we could all learn to apply this little piece of advice, "Don't make a mountain out of a mole hill".

Church members should be careful not to make mountains out of mole hills.  Maybe I can just accept that my name was spelled wrong in the bulletin this week (mole hill), that I didn't get invited to lunch (mole hill), or that I didn't get a pat on the back (mole hill). Get some perspective! There are some really serious issues that our brothers and sisters are dealing with; sickness, death, divorce, etc. Instead of wasting so much time on our mole hills maybe we should be praying for and helping our loved ones deal with their mountains.

Pastors should also be careful not to make mountains out of mole hills. Take a deep breath before we go all "Bill Murray" on the situation. Do we really need to deal with this mole hill? Is it really that serious? Are there more important things we should be dealing with at the moment? Having grown up in church, I have watched some pretty stupid (mole hill) issues turn into huge (mountain) issues! Don't make mountains out of mole hills!

What is a mole hill anyway? What's a mole? I am offering up my diligent Google research for the good of those I care about...

Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Moles

I was thinking about how to avoid the mole hills. I'm not sure I could work this into a Sunday message or not but i really liked the advice given about the Prevention and Control of Moles...What do you think? Any life application here?

  • Trapping - Trap them and send them away, but then another mole will just move into the original mole's hole. There will probably always be mole hills to deal with.
  • Get A Weasel - I'm not sure if I would really want to replace the moles in my life with weasels.
  • Flooding - (This is kind of sad) Attack their homes and kill their children? Mom and Dad Mole escape and come back angry.
  • Barriers - Maybe...I don't know. Seems like I would be spending so much time and energy digging that I would not have time for anything else.
  • Noise - Let's all get air horns and let the moles have it. Anytime someone puts a mole hill in your path scream at them, blow the air horn. That might work.
  • Bad Smells / Urine - This might be my favorite. I'll leave it at that.
  • Digging - Yeah! Dig 'em out Hit 'em in the snout!

I think I'll need to spend a little more time developing this message. Any suggestions would be appreciated.


Lessons

Apple

Hey! I got to ride my bike last night! Yeah! It was so nice out, so I decided to make some pedal-powered visits. Fresh air, exercise, and talking to people about the Lord are great for relieving stress, relaxing the body, and clearing the mind. I went home afterward and spent some time reading and praying.

There are some very important things that God is trying to teach me these days. These are things that I have known but have not fully applied. This month we have been singing the song 'I Can See Clearly Now' and that's how I feel about some of these things. I thought I would share a few lessons God is trying to teach me.

I am learning...

  • To allow others to help me pursue my vision (and beginning to see that they want to)
  • It's alright and necessary to take time out to refuel (spiritually, emotionally, and physically)
  • There is a correlation between giving and working or working and giving (our best workers are also our most faithful givers)
  • My vision must be balanced (Church, City, Family...Neh. 2:8)

I know that some of the lessons I'm learning are elementary but I can be a very slow learner at times. I'm so glad God is patient! I find that when I take time to think about what I'm doing and then write down my thoughts it's easier to understand. What is God trying to teach you? 


"Having Gifts...let us use them"

Cb_vivelesreeses Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. (Romans 12:6-8)

I was thinking today (I know, that can be very dangerous) about what makes me happy. That's a pretty important thing to know. If I find myself stressed out or suffering with a case of the 'Blahs' I usually evaluate what I am doing at the time. I am happiest when I am doing what God has gifted me to do.  I am probably least happy and most stressed when I am working outside of my area of gifting.

I love to teach and exhort! I love to spend time with people. I get jazzed about sharing the Word with people. I love to preach and teach. On the other hand, I get exhausted dealing with administrative activities. It's not my gift but I have been working a lot lately in the area of administration and it's been kickin' my rear! I understand though, that in order for me to be more effective in the areas I thoroughly enjoy working, I must take care of these administrative hurdles.

What makes you happy? I'm pretty sure we will never really be happy unless we are doing what we were designed by the Creator to do. Are you involved and working in the area you have been gifted? What gets you jazzed when you are serving the Lord? Are you using your gifts and talents for the Lord? If you are not doing what God has gifted you to do, I can assure you that you will not be happy! Get Busy...Get Happy!

I like what the scripture above says, "Having gifts...let us use them"


Gifted Sounds Interesting

Gifted_homegroup Do you follow American Idol? I ran across an upcoming show that I thought looked interesting, Gifted premiers January 26th on TBN . The show sounds a lot like American Idol except it focuses on Christians trying to break into the music industry.

I've never watched anything on TBN and I'm not sure if I even get the channel but I'm going to check. Sounds like a fun show.


Time Well Spent

930c_hourglass150px_2 Time is a precious commodity! We are only given 24 hours a day so it's important that we invest these hours wisely. On Tuesday nights I have chosen to invest an hour (my 21st hour of the day) with a small group of men. There were 9 guys last night, all between the ages of 18 and 26. Young guys with a desire to know God and understand His will for their lives. I believe this is a good investment of my time.

It was very enjoyable to listen to these guys interact with one another. There was camaraderie. They laughed at each other, with each other, and encouraged each other to remain faithful. They were all close enough in age to fully understand the struggles each faced. There was no judgment in that group but rather an understanding that they were all brothers.

I had several thoughts cross my mind as we spent the hour together.

  • Youth! These guys are young. I feel young at 40 but I had 14 years on the oldest of them. It's exciting to watch them grow and know from past experience what joys they will experience in life. Life is so enjoyable but I'm afraid that when we're young we don't fully appreciate that! It's weird how we look back at the Good ol' Day's.
  • Potential! I was so encouraged by the potential in that room. Each of these guys is incredibly gifted in one way or another. I am so blessed as a pastor to have young men like this in our church. Most of these guys have not found their place at Harvest but when they do...LOOK OUT!
  • These guys are soldiers! Warriors. They already have wounds and scars from life's battlefield. These guys are tough though and I know that they will win many battles and lead their families and church for years to come. I felt honored to be sitting with these men.

I'm looking forward to meeting weekly with these young warriors. We are reading through Stu Webber's book Tender Warrior. I'm excited about this investment of my time. Where are you investing your time? What kind of returns do you expect on your investment? Something to think about!


Some Good Advice

I ran across an article on pastoring and dealing with difficult people and really liked this bit of advice from a seasoned pastor.

About 85% of the people who attend our church would identify 3-5 basic reasons they attend.  These are our strengths and we build upon them.  On each side we have people who attend in the margins.  What I mean is this.  About 5% of people who attend our church are happy with whatever we do.  Short of having a shirts and skins Sunday these people attend everything and love it.  On the other side is a group of about 10% that don’t like anything we do.  We could have 1000 people come to know Jesus on a Sunday and they are going to complain.  Volume, appearance, lighting, temperature, length of sermon, parking, you name it.  If you pastor or have pastored a church, right now you can see the faces of these people in the margins. 

I simply do not believe the good press or the bad press from the margins.  I know I am not as good as the people who praise me say I am and I am not as bad as the people who criticize me say I am. To pastor in the margins is to build your church focusing on your weaknesses and in doing so lessen your strengths, or even worse to believe the good press and build a church on an ego. I focus about 85% on the middle 85%. I am not saying marginalize people or treat people poorly who do not “go along to get along.” I am simply saying there comes a time when I must focus on what I am supposed to do.

I would recommend that anybody involved in ministry seriously consider this bit of advice. It is impossible to please everyone. In fact, it might very well be that there are people who actually don't want you to please them. The most important thing we can do is please God!


Trading Blows!

Passioncrossesatcalvary_1 I will put enmity between you and the woman,and between your offspring and her offspring;he shall bruise your head,and you shall bruise his heel. (Genesis 3:15)

Amazing! God knew, before the world was ever created, that He would give His only Son to save us from our sins. He was quick to announce His plan to defeat Satan. Immediately after the fall of man God promised the Messiah! God told Satan that he would bruise Christ's heel, but that Christ would bruise his head! The two would exchange blows but Christ would be victorious.

I imagine that when Jesus died on the cross Satan thought he had won the struggle. He had tried to stop God's plan for redeeming man from the very beginning and then at Calvary it seemed that he had finally crushed the hopes of mankind. But then three days later, Christ rose from the dead and essentially beat Satan over the head with the cross. The cross that Satan thought had given him the victory, became the tool God used to defeat Satan. God's plan for saving mankind was completed! Victory!

Satan has now launched an all out attack on young people! He's throwing everything he can at them. My heart breaks when I think of the things some of our young people experience.  He is using bad marriages, drugs, alcohol, promiscuity, and sexual predators in an attempt to destroy young people today. Christ told us, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy." John 10:10 and Satan has been busy living up to this description ever since.

Victory is available through Christ! "For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith." (1 John 5:4). Faith in Christ allows us to be made alive again, to be new creatures. Just like Christ defeated Satan with the cross, we can use the very things Satan has thrown our way to turn around and defeat him. We can rise above these things and then use our knowledge and experiences to then reach out to others and either spare them from the same heartaches or to help lead them to victory in Jesus.

My prayer for today? Let's rise up and beat the devil over the head with the things he's used to keep us down...


Thriving

Thriving Today, while visiting one of our men at Kaiser Hospital, I noticed the word 'Thrive' was everywhere I looked. It was on brochures in the elevator, on bulletin boards in the hallways, embroidered on polo shirts and smocks, it was everywhere. It's amazing how God speaks to us! I believe He opened my eyes and drove home the idea of 'Thriving' rather than 'Surviving'.

I had just prayed for some of our Harvest members this morning in my quiet time. Members who many, including themselves, would consider survivors. I thanked God for delivering them from some pretty terrible circumstances. I thanked God for allowing me to be a very small part of finding these people and helping bring them to Christ. I prayed that God would continue working in their lives and not allow them to be content with surviving but rather that they would thrive in Christ.

Consider the definitions for 'Survive' and 'Thrive' from the American Heritage Dictionary...

Survive = 1.) To remain alive or in existence 2.) To carry on despite hardships or trauma; persevere 3.) To remain functional or usable 4.) To live longer than; outlive 5.) To live, persist, or remain usable through 6.) To cope with (a trauma or setback); persevere after

Thrive = 1.) To make steady progress; prosper 2.) To grow vigorously; flourish

It seems to me that stopping at 'Survive' is a mistake. Why not go to the next level and move to 'Thrive'? Don't be content to just outlive, outlast, and remain usable. Push forward and progress, prosper, grow, and flourish!

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35-39)

Where are you on your journey? Have you survived? Are you Thriving?


I'm So Hungry I Could Eat A...

I'm done studying for the day. I forgot to eat lunch and now this verse is really starting to tempt me.

And he said to me, Son of man, eat whatever you find here. Eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel. So I opened my mouth, and he gave me this scroll to eat. And he said to me, Son of man, feed your belly with this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it.Then I ate it, and it was in my mouth as sweet as honey. (Ezekiel 3:1-3)

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SOLD OUT!

MoneyI want to make something clear...I'm already sold! I've been bought by God! I belong to Him! My time is His! My talents are His! My everything belongs to him! My life is not even mine to sell anymore. It belongs to God. He purchased me with the blood of His Only Son Jesus. I CAN"T BE BOUGHT!

That doesn't stop the devil from making offers...he does, all the time. That doesn't keep me from being tempted. It's tempting at times. As a church planter, I have been a tent maker (Acts 18:1-3) because I have a family to support while I serve the Lord. Honestly, I could make a lot more money, work a lot less hours, and have a lot less stress in the secular world. But if I sold out now, I'd be a fool and a thief. My life is not mine to sell.

I am amazed at how many people do sell off portions of their lives. Materialism and covetousness are usually at the heart of this. When we want something bad enough we look for a way to get it for ourselves, rather than trust God to give us our daily bread. When all else fails we head for Satan's pawn shop and sell off parts of our life. We sell something that doesn't belong to us. We sell our time. Time that God wants us to spend with our mates. Time that God would have have us invest in our children. Time that God wants poured into the ministry. We sell portions of our life for a price far below its true value.

What is the value of our life? It's far greater than most people realize! We don't appreciate the value of our lives because we paid nothing for them. Our lives were given to us by God! Then when we found ourselves lost, he gave them back to us. What did God pay for our lives? He created us knowing that He would pay the ultimate price to redeem us from sin. When the time came, God sent his only son, Jesus, into this world to redeem us from sin.

"All of you, slave and free both, were once held hostage in a sinful society. Then a huge sum was paid out for your ransom. So please don't, out of old habit, slip back into being or doing what everyone else tells you." - 1 Corinthians 7:23 The Message

There are lots of wonderful things in this life that I would like. Satan knows how to tempt us. Genesis to Revelation, his offerings are always the same.  (1 John 2:15-17) The desire to have, the desire to do, and the desire to be. Once He has found our weak spot, has made his sales pitch, and convinced us that we deserve these things, he then makes his offer. How much will it cost? The answer for the believer is always..."too much". Why? Because we have nothing! Remember, we gave our lives to Christ.

Does this mean I can never have anything? Not at all, but it might mean I wont have everything. God is pretty good at giving gifts to His children! He has blessed us far more than we have given him credit for. Look around you and realize that "every good gift is from above". Thank God for all that He has blessed you with and tell the devil, "NO!". We're SOLD OUT! He'll have to shop somewhere else!

I love you guys! Don't pawn off parts of your life. If you need something...ask DAD!