Friday, January 30, 2009

single in ministry?

I know that some of my friends who read this are in ministry as single men and women. Here are some great thoughts about that gift of singleness. It's Brad Leach writing on Nick Poole's blog. Read it, digest it and pass it on. I'd also encourage you to subscribe to both of these guys' blogs. You'll learn a lot. I know I do.

Is your team dysfunctional?

I just finished another book by Pat Lencionni. I really like this guy's style and content. The latest and greatest is "5 Dysfunctions of a Team". Sara read it first and recommended it to me, now let me recommend it to you. Maybe it is just connecting with me because I'm wired this way. Maybe it is because I know that our church and the individual teams I lead and serve on need to get hold of these principles so badly. I've finished reading this one, but I don't feel finished with these principles by a long shot.

In case you're curious, the 5 dysfunctions are:

1. absence of trust
2. fear of conflict
3. lack of commitment
4. avoidance of accountability
5. inattention to results

The thing that's so intriguing and so important is that having 4 out of 5 in place on your team is not ok. It's not 80% health as the numbers would indicate. It's disastrous. Why? Simply because each dysfunction is connected to the next and the one before it. It's an all or nothing kind of thing. As Andy Stanley says so skillfully in "7 practices of effective ministry", you have to work on it, not just in it. This applies to church, business, family and wherever else teams of people interact together for a common goal or the common good.

I'm feeling more and more sure that my desire to work on team dynamics and systems that will promote organizational health in the long run are right on track. A mentor of mine, Dr. Don Myer, always says, "time sharpening one's tools is never time wasted." He's so right.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

gotta get away

Have you ever had God nag you? God is nagging me right now. He has been for a couple weeks now. It's all about me spending some solitary time alone with Him. I can't help but think that my draw to this has been brought on by my reading of "The Shack" (see an earlier blog post). But it's not just that I want this time, like I said, God is nagging me for this. I can only imagine what He wants to do in me. I feel a little nervous about it, to be honest.

So, I think that I'm looking for about a day and a half where I'm completely removed from all the normal stuff and can just focus on God and myself and see what happens. It feels important to me that I choose the right place for it. I'm thinking that I'll leave early on a Thursday morning, stay overnight Thursday and return early Friday afternoon. I wouldn't mind if I had to drive a couple hours each way either. If you know of a place that may suit what I'm looking for without me having to spend a ton of money, leave a comment or let me know somehow. Beyond that, I'd ask you to pray with me. I think God has something important in mind, but I just don't know what.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

joy flows

I was just finishing up my personal journal entry this morning and I wrote this quite without thought. It was very much off the subject. May it bring joy to you today:

"I just want to say that I love being alive and I love almost every aspect of my life. Lord, please forgive me for the complaining I do. I'm full of thankful joy this morning and I recognize this as a true gift from You, Lord."

What's holding you back?

Matt 18:15-18 - "If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the fault. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. 16 But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses. 17 If that person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. If the church decides you are right, but the other person won't accept it, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector.

This is the procedure for confronting someone who has sinned against us. In my experience with this concept, two things amaze me: (1) how well it works (2) how few followers of Christ actually practice it. What is it in us that just wants to gossip and go to other people to take care of the things that are our responsibilities? When I am tempted to go down that road (the low road, for sure), I am operating in fear and selfishness. What causes you to ignore this biblical command that helps so much in personal relationships? I'd love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment.

Friday, January 23, 2009

generosity yields happiness

This seems about right . . .

book review

Just finished "Axiom" by Bill Hybels. This is one of the best all-around leadership books I've come across yet. It's 75 very short chapters; each one a leadership "proverb" that this extraordinary leader has learned in his 30+ years of experience. I'd highly recommend this one. Check it out.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

watch how you represent your church

Thanks for turning me on to this one Jeremiah. So funny!

what life are you waiting for?

As God graciously promotes me in ministry (which means He gives me more work to do), I am regularly warned by well-intentioned people to "be careful how much you take on". That is really good advice and I've given it to many a young leader myself. Yes, I do feel like I have a bunch of irons in the fire, so to speak. Too many, though? Probably not. I think I'm just a little over capacity, which I'm believing will stretch me to a higher capacity for the future. Right now I'm on the leading edge of Harvest Cry 09, church planting with multiple planters, financial peace university, Maximum Impact Simulcast and all the normal student ministry stuff that goes on. Well, when I put it that way, maybe I am feeling a little overwhelmed. But, as Bill Hybels puts it, "What life are you waiting for?" This is the only time we get to work for God's cause. Let's get going.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

the rubber meets the road

I met with a good friend of mine yesterday to talk through his vision of planting a church next year. Of course, it really does not make much sense. He's got a good job with steady pay and all that, but he and his wife just might be willing to give that up to pursue a vision they believe God has placed in their hearts. As we talked about that, I could see the weight of it all descend on him. The fun dream became a reality. Real vision has to equate to real faith and real sacrifice. The rubber meets the road, as they say. I applaud a leader who will look at big vision with a sober reverence and still face it head on. I also want to be that leader.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Shack

Just finished my first book of '09 and it was a good one. "The Shack" by William P. Young is a fictional story that gives some wonderful perspective on who God is and how He operates or how He may operate during times of intense personal trial in our lives. I found myself with a new softness and "fondness" (you'll get it if you read it) in my heart toward God. I also feel like God has blessed me with an enlarged understanding of stewardship - especially when it comes to the relationships He has blessed me with. I'd really recommend you checking this book out. One word of caution. There are extended periods of dialogue between God and humans and I had to continually remind myself that the words "God" was speaking were from a fictional book, not from scripture. As you heart gets sucked into this, recall that as accurately as it may reflect the heart of God, it is fiction. Enjoy.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

journal entry

This is just a copy and paste from my journal entry today. Please join me in praying for Gavin and his family and friends . . .

January 13, 2009 – I just finished my bible reading for the morning. It was in Psalms. I was thinking how much more I would probably be focused on God if I didn't have TV or INTERNET and all that stuff. David wrote about his reflections on the majesty of the stars that God had put in place with His own hand. I rarely think those kinds of thoughts, but I want to and ask, Lord, that I would be gently reminded of your majesty more and more through my days on earth. I just got a text that Gavin died when they brought him out of the coma. I feel sick about it. The spirit of suicide is among the most despicable I know. I have my ordination interview today and I'm feeling pretty good about it. This week feels too full already and Sara is going out of town Friday-Sunday. Lord, please calm my soul today. Well, off to the gym to meet Justin and Frank . . . maybe.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

circa 1990 wrestling photo

Can you pick me out? Thanks to Mitch Williams for bringing back some memories.


Today is a day of meetings. I'll be working out with the MC guys, then a meeting with Daniel on leadership, then youth staff to talk about where they are tracking in 09, next on to a meeting with some area pastors to talk cluster planting and finally, the Harvest Cry team will be meeting. Every time I hear young leaders talk (quite naively, I think) about what a waste of time meetings are, I wince because the poor guys just don't get it. Of course some are a waste of time, but at some point you become the person running the meetings and then it's your responsibility to make sure they are worth everyone's time and that they are productive. If you would have told me five years ago that my meeting schedule would even closely resemble this, I would have laughed. But, I'd have it no other way. Today will be a highly productive day because I'm meeting with the right people about the right things. I'm happy to embrace the role God has given me at this time and place and that role just happens to filled with meetings.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Vision Day 09

We did our church vision day yesterday and I think it was one of the best ones yet. The focus and synergy that I felt in the room was really great. I suppose that I may have thought it was great because I was on the team that worked up the points of vision that were our primary focus, but I think I'm gauging the room correctly when I say that there were forty leaders in one accord yesterday embarking on a vision that is much larger than any of us individually or even collectively. I believe we are onto a vision that is so large and “out there” that only God can make it happen. Of course we can get in the way and keep it from happening pretty easily. I'm trying hard to examine myself this morning. What areas of my life are sloppy and open to giving a foothold to evil? And what am I going to do about that? These are my questions today. Our Freedom Valley vision for 09 is below:

  1. kick off "cluster planting" idea

  2. hope initiative

  3. develop ministry school

  4. new staff opportunities

Saturday, January 3, 2009

wise reflections

I've really come to savor the words of men and women who are older and wiser than I. Bob Roberts Jr. is one of those men God has placed as an influencer in my life lately. His recent blog post chronicling his reflections on his journaling over the years is full of wisdom and insight. I'd encourage you to check it out and think about what you read throughout your day. You can read his blog here.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Personal Vision

These are my goals for the year. The headings I used are just for my personal classification. I know that some of the stuff blurs into a couple areas. I'm posting these to ask you to pray with me and hold me accountable if you so choose. I hope and pray that God is building vision in each of you as this year begins.

Spiritual Health

Read the entire bible
Read 12 books that contribute to my personal growth
Read 4 books that are pure entertainment
Go on 2 personal prayer retreats (at least 6 hours in length, each)

Personal Health

Complete 500 miles on the treadmill, outdoors or on the elliptical trainer
Bench press 300 lbs.
Squat 350 lbs
15% body fat
Complete a 24-hour juice fast on the first of each month
Complete one 48-hour juice fast during the year
Complete one 40-day fast during the year


A date per month with Sara
A date per month with the boys
Fully funded emergency fund ($7500)
Complete will by the end of January
Be moved into our new home by the end of the year (pure faith, no plan)


Enroll in MA program in some type of leadership
Develop a leader who directly oversees each facet of student ministry
Have 5 church planters who I am actively coaching

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year

Not much to report. It's a quiet morning and I'm loving that. The big boys are at my mom and dad's and Jude is sleeping quietly. Sara is making banana bread talking on the phone. I'm about to put some mileage on the treadmill and watch the Jimmy Carter documentary. I'm feeling very optimistic about this year. I just finished my first day of bible reading, so I'm up to date on my one year bible. I'm working on my goals for 2009 tomorrow morning. It's very likely that one of those goals will be to blog more regularly.