Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Exponential Reflections-Part 2

Continued thoughts from last week's conference in Orlando:

  • You cannot expect your people to be what you are not. -Matt Chandler
  • Be careful-since we deal with the divine it can become routine to us. -Matt Chandler
  • Your call is to Christ first and foremost-then to your mission. -Matt Chandler
  • Every church planter starts with a good vision-most of them don't resemble that a year later. -Shawn Lovejoy
  • The only way you can stay away from criticism is to do nothing significant with your life. -Bill Hybels
  • Whenever we answer God's call there will be much personal pain with it. -Shawn Lovejoy
  • Finishing the great work (of church planting) will take courageous conversations and courageous calls. -Shawn Lovejoy
  • The greater the work is, the greater the opposition will be. Opposition reaches a fever pitch right before God does something awesome. -Shawn Lovejoy
  • A pastor must have thick skin and a soft heart. -Darren Patrick
  • We complexificate things. -Reggie McNeal
  • The church is too much like a merry-go-round. It has lights and cool music, but it's only going around in circles. -Ed Stetzer
  • Two groups that pastors should spend more time with: leaders and sinners. -Alan Hirsch
  • God desires to advance His Kingdom through our transformed and transforming lives and churches. -Efrem Smith
  • We have separated evangelism from compassion, mercy & justice. -Efrem Smith
  • Whenever someone is lost and alone, God's reaction is to "go" and to "send."- Dave Ferguson
  • When we maximize the ministry outside of the church walls, we don't minimize the ministry inside of the church walls. -Dave Ferguson
  • How do we step out of our homogeneous, ethnocentric holes? -Brenda Salter McNeil
  • Leaders need to count the cost and be prepared to go the distance. -Brenda Salter McNeil
  • The process of engaging diversity will make you the church. -Brenda Salter McNeil
  • There are a lot of virtual/pseudo communities. -Shane Claiborne
  • Don't just tell people what not to do-give them replacements! -Shane Claiborne
  • True transformation starts in our mind. It is honed in great community. -Dave Gibbons
  • Why don't we stop focusing on the movement of masses and focus on the movement of the Holy Spirit? -Dave Gibbons

Monday, April 26, 2010

Exponential Reflections-Part 1

Mike & I were in Orlando last week for the Exponential Conference-essentially a church planting conference, but also a time to see what God is doing in churches both big & small as He calls His people to Him. I took copious notes (and also posted many quotes on Facebook &Twitter), but thought I would hit a few highlights here too-more thoughts will continue tomorrow:

  • Are you willing to trade your life for what you believe in?
  • It's never about where you are going, it's who you're becoming. -Mark Batterson
  • There are ways of doing church that no one has thought of yet. -Mark Batterson
  • Sometimes God gets in the way to show us the way. When we realize that our frustration evaporates. -Mark Batterson
  • How much do you need power and need life? Be in the Word(s). -Louie Giglio
  • The operational power of the Kingdom of God is the Holy Spirit! -Louie Giglio
  • Rejoice in the cross, but don't forget the power of the resurrection! -Louie Giglio
  • God's words have an assignment & they never fail their assignment. -Louie Giglio
  • The harvest is now! Let's not be a group of people who want to wait for the harvest! -Rick Bezet
  • If you just send your money to the mission field and not your people, there is proof that the next generation will do neither. -Rick Bezet
  • It's not the idea that gets rejoiced at-it's the fruit that gets celebrated. -Matt Chandler
  • You are never going to make the gospel so cool that everybody understands it-it will always be offensive to some. -Matt Chandler
  • When your desire to draw a crowd is greater than your doctrinal integrity, you're out of bounds. -Matt Chandler
  • You can't protect (your church) from suffering/persecution, but you can prepare them for it. -Matt Chandler
  • We have to live a simple life to model a simple life for our people. -Matt Chandler
  • Are we crying out for good soil & good seed? -Matt Chandler
  • It's not about a "system" for producing fruit-it's about following God and being faithful to where He has called you. -Matt Chandler
  • Has there ever been a greater need for servant leadership than now? -Ken Blanchard
  • You have to be a servant 1st and a leader 2nd. -Ken Blanchard
  • Any time you don't feel joy, peace & righteousness, you are detached from the vine. -Ken Blanchard
  • When you follow God you get three consultants in one-Father, Son & Holy Spirit. -Ken Blanchard

Friday, April 23, 2010


I am reading in Exodus as God lays out the instructions for building the tabernacle. They are very specific as God knows exactly what He is looking for from His people. It will be a thing of beauty and will be a reflection of their homage to Him each time they enter it.

It gives me pause to think-do we trust God with the specific details of our lives now? He obviously has a plan for them (only if you believe in Scripture of course), but we are the ones who so often will choose to do them differently. We then find ourselves wondering why things seem out of whack, and end up turning (hopefully) to God to beg for relief from our circumstances-even if they are circumstances of our own making.

Perhaps the true progression of faith is when we start to seek God's vision for the small things in our lives and not just ask Him to give us direction in the "big" moments.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


As I continue to read through Exodus, I see where the Israelites did not understand what God was coming to do for them by freeing them. They were convinced that where they were was the best place, and were unable to gain a glimpse of the better plan that God had for them.

Isn't the same true for us? It is easy to become wrapped up in our moment and the comfortable nature of what we know and become too timid to trust God and follow Him into the unknown. We think that there is no way that we could leave where we are now and might even be afraid of where this "new place" might be.

Thank God that His plan is always better and that what seems frightening can actually bring about a freedom that is greater than we imagined. When we choose to let Him bring us out of our own Egypt we can finally develop into the people that He has called us to be. Hopefully I won't be as whiny as the Israelites along the way.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

What Are You Doing?

I have had this quote from Dr. Wil Dungy (former Colts coach Tony Dungy's father) written down for over a year and half now. I look at it periodically and meditate on it and think about how it should push me. He asks the simple question, "What are you doing to make the situation better?"

Obviously you can apply this to a lot of areas, but it had a significant impact on me as I thought about the church. It is so easy to sit back and talk about what is wrong, to condemn people for their conduct and mistakes, to judge them for what they are/aren't doing, and to talk about how awful it is that there are people all around that need help and no one seems to be stepping up to help them.

As Paul said in his letters, I will consider myself the worst of sinners in this. Even as a pastor it is easy to simply spot & point out problems and areas of needed growth without being part of the solution. I desire to be part of a revival though. I want to be a leader who can follow God's plan and help to guide others towards intimate, authentic relationships with Christ that transform their lives on a day-to-day basis.

One of my "catchphrases" is that you are either part of the problem or part of the solution. The challenge for all believers is to ensure that each day, without hesitation or inconsistency, that we are the solution for those around us so that we can make situations better. This isn't for our sake, but so that God can continue His great work in and through us all.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Short Sighted

I decided to read through the Bible using a chronological Bible this past weekend (not reading the whole Bible in a weekend-I just decided to start then) and I am in Genesis 25 this morning. In it is a familiar story of Jacob & Esau-the brothers that never really got along with each other and were a precursor to two nations that are still at odds.

It is the passage where Esau comes in from hunting and Jacob has been cooking. Esau is famished and begs to have some of the food that is waiting and Jacob is willing, but only if Esau will renounce his birthright. He is asking Esau to give up something very important, but in the future, for a short-term, yet immediate benefit.

Isn't this what Christians do today? Don't we focus so much on the short-term benefit and the best decision for "right now" that we forget about God's promises down the line? We find ourselves staring at our feet instead of looking down the road and trusting & believing in what God says.

When we are short-sighted we:
  • spend our money on what makes us immediately happy regardless of the consequences
  • react emotionally to situations and lash out at others instead of considering their heart
  • neglect our children because we are tired instead of treasuring the time we have
  • put off getting serious about investing in our intimacy with God because tomorrow there will be more time
  • let other people go on mission trips
  • live as a part of a church for the social interaction instead of the discipleship factor
  • treat God as a "fix" for a immediate problems instead of letting Him be the God of our past, present & future
I don't want to be Esau. I don't want to be so short-sighted and fixated on the pleasure of the moment that I forego the long-term plans He has for me. I don't want that for my children or my wife.

God didn't want that for Esau either & He certainly doesn't want that for His church.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Hard Work

I believe in hard work and have a work ethic that has been refined over the years. I don't say this to boast, but to make the point that I am not afraid of rolling up my sleeves and getting after it.

The work that we do in Arizona on our mission trips is definitely intense and a little more physically demanding than what we are used to in a normal day. In Show Low we are also battling a three hour time difference as well as being 6300 feet above sea level. Needless to say, it takes a little more effort (which is not easy to come by) when you are laboring out there.

This past year one of the tasks that we were assigned was to dig two trenches to bury drainage pipe in near the chapel. If you have never done a little digging in Arizona, you are in for a special treat. It is a whole lot of pick-axe use and not as much shovel. It will take 3-4 times what you would expect here in Georgia to dig. We probably invested 30-40 man hours into the two trenches in two short days. Our muscles were sore and our lungs were tired, but there was a senses of satisfaction when we were done. We could look and see that we had made definite improvements and see the immediate results of our work.

That is one of the reasons that I enjoy working at AICM so much. We are able to tackle projects and see the results of our hard work within a few days. That is certainly not the case while working in ministry. Sometimes you will labor for years, praying and encouraging, pushing and pulling, crying and yelling, and hoping that somewhere down the line you will see godly growth in people. That somewhere in the process the revival that you know God wants to bring will take place and that you will see the results.

Unfortunately, the results are not always going to appear before us. Our job is to continue to do the hard work and be faithful to the God that has called us to do it. Much like Noah, Elijah, David, Abraham and others, we have to persevere and get after the task(s) in front of us. Our faith depends on trusting that God is leading us even when we can't see the immediate results.

"So let's not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don't give up, or quit."   Galatians 6:9 (MSG)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


There is no doubt that God is not done refining me (thanks for the affirmative "amens" coming from the gallery.)  This past year has shown me how much more work God has to do in me and how difficult this process will be. Part of the journey for me always includes the mission trip to AICM.

This year was very different from any other as I headed west with a brand new crew (with the exception of two veterans.) While AICM itself has become a 2nd home for me (or 3rd home now that Georgia is included), taking a brand new group of people who have never traveled anywhere with me before is certainly a new challenge. Starting the teaching process all over again with another group and laying out expectations and God-lessons along the way can be very strenuous and spiritually & mentally challenging.

As I continue to reflect and process the life-lessons from this trip I see how God was/is working to refine me through it all. I have gained an even greater appreciation for my friends at AICM and their willingness to dedicate their entire lives-not just a week-to serving in Show Low. I am grateful for the changes-both big & small-that God brought about in the lives our team last week. I am humbled by a God, mission, and church that still love and accept us through hurtful, painful times. I also see (as I do at the end of each trip) that God is trying to shape & chisel me into who He created me to be.

Refining isn't a passive process. God is active in it and when we are willing to step out and eagerly serve, we are allowing Him to work in us. I know that God's ultimate vision for my family's life is bigger than mine and that these changes need to take place for us to get there. I am grateful that He is willing to invest that time in me and that He uses a place that I love to make it happen.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Finding Purpose

Each year that I lead a team out to AICM, I experience different things. The children that we minister to will change, the vision is being refined, the staff roles there will shift, and the teams that travel to Arizona are never quite the same either.

There is one constant in each year however. I see a group of people who become concerned for the welfare of others and who find satisfaction in what we do while we are there. Part of this is a fundamental part of who we are-when we are part of something positive, we tend to feel positive.

I think the larger element is that we were created to serve. God did not intend for us to grab onto some truth of who He & His Son are and keep it to ourselves. Our purpose in this life becames wrapped up in His purpose-to see that other people get an opportunity to choose to follow God on their own. When we are actively involved in living that out we can live with a greater sense of satisfaction and fulfillment. We become "doers" of the Word and not merely "hearers." It is in finding this purpose that everything seems to click.

It should give us pause to consider why we won't relentlessly pursue that same purpose in our hometown, but wait for a special trip to find ourselves aligned with God's intent for our lives.

Monday, April 5, 2010

My Second Home

I have just returned from another trip to the American Indian Christian Mission in Show Low, Arizona. This time was entirely new as our team of 23 included 20 people who had never been there before and 20 of them who had never been on a mission trip before as well. It was a week of learning, coaching, hard physical labor and hopefully life change for all of us.

I am in love with this place and have been for a long time. Including summer trips and other ventures out there, this was my 12th trip to Show Low. I never get tired of it and the beauty of God's handiwork in the canyons and mountains is always fresh & new. We have made very dear friends with many of the staff & have watched several of the children grow up over the years as well. It is a place that captures & also breaks your heart and I already can't wait to go back.

My wife commented as we left this past week that it was more difficult to leave this time than in year's past. With all of the turmoil of the past year and leaving Florida, AICM and our family there certainly feels like a second home. I am thankful that God has provided a place for us to serve in the mission field and I am grateful for the friends that we have in Show Low that continue to work the front lines each day for the Native Americans. Even as I am glad to be back in Georgia and doing God's great work, I am counting the days until I can go back again.