Friday, July 24, 2009

book review

I actually finished this one last week and forgot to write about it.

Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome by Kent and Barbara Hughes was recommended to me by my good friend Tom Rees after my church planters assessment. Yeah, I'm a little hard on myself . . . (uneasy laughter follows).

Overall, it's a great book. It really helped me to get good perspective on the things that God would counts as "success". Things like holiness, prayer, loving people, etc. Nothing new or mind-blowing, but a great reminder of truths that are so implicit in following Christ that they are easy to not think of so often.

But, there's a problem here. While I relate to and benefit tremendously from reading Kent's reflection of his early years in ministry being tweaked out by his apparent lack of success - i.e. a small church, and while I really do get that we ought not gauge our success as a minister solely on the size of our church, I cannot get myself free from the fact that numbers are important. This felt like yet another person who has lead large growing organizations preaching about how that is unimportant.Would he feel the same way if his church was 25 people his whole life? Would anyone have published his book if that were the case?

Man, I'm 36 years old, have been in full-time ministry just over 10 years and have yet to be the senior leader of an organization. I am far from having this figured out. My questions are true questions. I am wrestling with this and, as is often the case, diving into the issue leaves me more confused then ever. That being said, there is still something deep down in me that says a church leader who leads only a few people is not all that successful of a church leader. Do numbers of people you lead define your success? Not your success as a follower of Christ, but they do speak to the amount of influence you are carrying as a leader. I have to believe that influence is tied to success when you entire goal is to influence people toward being disciples of Christ.

So, I guess this book did not exactly "liberate" me in one fell swoop. I'm in the process and I would welcome your comments on this one. If only the world were black and white . . .

By the way, I see that you can still get used copies on for a penny. I think that's what I paid for mine. It's worth a lot more than that! I'd highly recommend this book to anyone in church leadership.


Some reflections from my bible reading this morning . . .

Job 8:11-15
“Can papyrus reeds grow tall without a marsh?
Can marsh grass flourish without water?
12 While they are still flowering, not ready to be cut,
they begin to wither more quickly than grass.
13 The same happens to all who forget God.
The hopes of the godless evaporate.
14 Their confidence hangs by a thread.
They are leaning on a spider’s web.
15 They cling to their home for security, but it won’t last.
They try to hold it tight, but it will not endure.

I'm in such a time of uncertainty; limbo, if you will. This truth of relying on God 100% is all I can lean on now. It's the recurring theme I see in Scripture and the recurring word God speaks to me in my own heart and through other people who are close to me. God is teaching me a new level of trust in Him as I move away from all my comfortable settings.

Job 12:5
5 People who are at ease mock those in trouble.
They give a push to people who are stumbling.

It's so easy to become the "righteous judge" of those around us. Lord, help me to do this less. Please bless me with more compassion and grace.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

launch blog

For anyone who is interested in following the progress of our church plant in Tulsa, you can keep up with our countdown to launch blog. Hope you find it interesting.

can't focus

Preaching this weekend at our South Hanover Location. I'm really glad for the opportunity, but I cannot get my mind focused on this for even a minute. Please pray for me if you can. I desperately need some focus and I can't seem to muster it this week. I still feel pretty fried from last weekend. I'd appreciate the prayers so much. Thank you!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Where is the Kingdom of God?

Occasionally, I get the privilege of speaking to God's people in church. In fact, I am privileged both this weekend and next. This weekend I will be speaking at all 3 York Rd services and next week Sunday morning at FV South Hanover.

Luke 10:9 says "God's kingdom is right on your doorstep!'" (the message). That has some profound implications for those of us who profess to be disciples of Christ. I recall a month ago at our "Harvest Cry" event. I was pumped up to bring people to church and be the hand of Christ extended to everyone, everywhere I was. Should that be just one week out of the year?

I hope you can join me this weekend as we look at Luke 10 and the "plentiful harvest" that is "right on our doorstep".

why I love my mac

It's been almost two weeks that I've been using my macbook and I have to say that I'm pretty much in love. Over the last couple of years I've been considering a switch and in that time I always asked devoted mac users to tell me why they love their mac so much. They never really could tell me much. Most of their claims seems inflated and when it came down to it, they all just said, "it's so much better". I was always after the "why". So, I'm hoping to jot down a few observations from my short two-week experience with mac that will say why I seem to love it so much.

Some things I like better about mac (in no particular order):
  • expose' mode - if you don't know what that is, don't worry about it, but it's much nicer than many windows open at the bottom of the screen
  • the power cord is much smaller and easier to carry
  • great battery life - rated at 7 hours, but I get an actual 4.5 hours with wifi on and a lot of stuff running at once
  • the wifi app (airport) connects to wifi networks much faster and is much more solid than any pc I've had
  • the look of all the programs is cleaner and easier to read
  • fewer options - yes I said fewer. The system preferences in a PC are dizzying and I've always hated that. The preferences in a mac are fewer, but very adequate.
  • sleep mode - computer wakes up and is ready to go right away. yes windows vista has that too, but windows vista is deficient in about 100 other areas, so that doesn't count :)
  • The track pad shortcuts are nice, easy to get used to and save time
  • its quite a beautiful machine. I feel a little lustful when I look at it (Forgive me Father, for I have sinned)
Some mac lore I've found to be untrue:
  • they never freeze - not true. I've had two freezes that needed a force quit so far
  • every PC program has a mac counterpart - not true. There appears to be no equivalent to MS Publisher and PC study bible. I would like to have both of them
Closing Thoughts

Macs are not more expensive. If you buy a quality laptop computer (mac or pc), you're going to pay well over $1000. I'm talking about a machine that is made mostly of metal and that looks and feels solid. My macbook pro has a 2.26 ghz processor, 4 GB ram and 320GB hard-drive. I paid just over $1300. A Dell Latitude (which is comparable in quality) with the same specs and shorter battery life is $1500+.

Yes, macs look much cooler and I feel cooler using it. No apologies there. Just last week the fact that I was a mac user drew someone over to me and lead to a 20 minute conversation that was really beneficial to my function in ministry. I doubt that will happen much, but it's a good bet that nobody is going to come up to me out of the blue and say, "Glad to see you using a PC". I've switched and I doubt I'll go back.

Friday, July 10, 2009

what a night

It's late and I need to go to bed, but I'm moved deeply tonight by what God is doing. I spent the last three, almost four, hours with Shawna, Jake and Evan working on concepts and plans for the short film we want to make to tell the story of Freedom Valley Tulsa.

It's going to be so much work and cost us some serious money, but I think it's exactly what we need to adequately communicate what God has been doing, literally for years, to set things up for what He wants to do through us in Tulsa.

It's a pretty good bet that between some equipment we need and traveling to various places to shoot on location, we'll probably put $5,000 into this, so anyone who might want to help with the cost, let me know. I'd be oh so grateful. I would be equally as grateful for your prayers.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Some excerpts from a book I"m currently reading . . . "Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome" by Kent and Barbara Hughes.

"Think of it this way. Our lives are like photographic plates and prayer is like a time exposure to God. As we expose ourselves to God for a half-hour, an hour, perhaps two hours a day, His image is imprinted more and more upon us. More and more we absorb the image of His character, His love, His wisdom, His way of dealing with life and people. As servants of Christ, that is what we need and that is what we receive from Him." ~ Kent Hughes

"Prayer is surrender. Surrender to the will of God and cooperation with that will. If I throw out a boat hook from a boat and catch hold of the shore and pull, do I pull the shore to me or do I pull myself to the shore? Prayer is not pulling God to my will, but the aligning of my will to the will of God." ~ E Stanley Jones

Sunday, July 5, 2009

the greatest team ever

I just finished cleaning up the kitchen and I'm about to turn in. But I can't finish this day without praising God for the wonderful team that He's building to launch Freedom Valley Tulsa.

We had our third launch team meeting this evening, but it was the first one only open to people who are committed to making the move to Tulsa and seeing the church through to its launch date, at least. Wow, what a difference! We had 19 wonderful people tonight. We were missing two very key members of the team, but they had some family stuff they felt like they should be at and I'm glad they saw that as important enough to miss this meeting for.

I shared some info about certain milestones we're reaching and working on reaching in the process moving toward launch, did some teaching and recapped our experience at boot camp last month. But the highlight of the night was when we took time to share with each other what we are facing, what we are feeling and how we all see God moving us into bigger and better things in our lives. I was in awe of these great people putting their "normal" lives aside to follow God's call half-way across the country to plant a church! I was, and still am, in awe of God. He's putting together a team and a plan that I can only see the very front end of. I can't imagine how much He has in store.

Lord, thank you so much. I am so grateful to be part of your plan. A tiny part, but part nonetheless.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

do you worship idols?

2 Chron 28:22-23 - And when trouble came to King Ahaz, he became even more unfaithful to the LORD. 23 He offered sacrifices to the gods of Damascus who had defeated him, for he said, "These gods helped the kings of Aram, so they will help me, too, if I sacrifice to them."

I think this is the exact same thought process we go through when we think we can rip off a program from another church and make it work for us. It's a form of idolatry.

Let's rely on the Holy Spirit more than the guys down the street or across the country.