Tuesday, December 21, 2010

What are you doing Christmas Eve?

Well, I wish our church was putting on a huge production for thousands of people . . . but since we're not. Here's the next best thing!

Our family is going to the 5pm on Dec 24. Meet us there at 4:30 if you want to sit together. Hope some of you Freedom Valley - ers can join us!

Monday, December 20, 2010

The most fun yet!

I've been the lead pastor of a church for three whole months now and today was, by far, the most fun I've had yet. Let me go back to yesterday.

We received our year-end offering at church yesterday and it was a significant amount of money. Let me go back two weeks.

We were in full swing building up toward our year-end offering when God spoke to me and said that whatever comes in for the year-end, we ought to give it all away.

Back to today. It's 10:03pm and I just got home from the apartment of a couple I just met today. Because of the generosity and sacrifice of the people at Freedom Valley Church, this couple is able to pay their electric bill, car insurance, rent and give their kids the nicest Christmas they've ever had.

As I hugged this dude in the parking lot of Wal-Mart tonight, he said "I've never met anyone quite like you." I said back, "I think this is just something cool God did."

Truth is, God does cool stuff like this all the time. I'm floating tonight because He let me be part of it this time.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

is harmony the goal?

It seems to be a widely held belief that disagreements are a bad thing. Well, I disagree. Especially true in the case of us who are serving the Lord and working to build His Kingdom here on earth, the goal is not constant harmony. The goal ought to be effectiveness.

Look at Paul and Barnabas. The had a sharp disagreement. It was so sharp that they parted ways and scrapped their plans to go back and visit the churches they had started on a previous journey. What a shame . . . or is it?

If you read Acts 15:36-41(see below), you see that their split did not nullify God's work, but actually doubled it! Big win for the Kingdom of God and all the people who were set free by the work of those two teams who eventually went out their separate ways.

I'm not saying you ought to be an argumentative jerk. Take it from a recovering argumentative jerk, that is no place you want to live. But, if your goal is to live in harmony with everyone (like the Bible teaches us in Psalm 133) and you think that means just passively sitting around agreeing with one another, you're missing the point.

God has created you to get out there and make a difference. You're not going to agree with everyone all the time. And sometimes the greatest harmony is achieved when we part ways with one person and align with another.

Of course, you might disagree with me :)

Acts 15:36 - 41- After some time Paul said to Barnabas, “Let’s go back and visit each city where we previously preached the word of the Lord, to see how the new believers are doing.” Barnabas agreed and wanted to take along John Mark. But Paul disagreed strongly, since John Mark had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in their work. Their disagreement was so sharp that they separated. Barnabas took John Mark with him and sailed for Cyprus. Paul chose Silas, and as he left, the believers entrusted him to the Lord’s gracious care. Then he traveled throughout Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches there.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Church planters. You want this!

Grounding. I've been in the world of church planting pretty heavily now for about 3 years. One as a coach and two as the guy planting the church. I've learn a ton of stuff and I hope to write more about it in the future, but one principle just hit me hard this morning. I didn't do any official research on this, but it seems to be pretty universal.

Church planters who are grounded at a solid church with a solid leader seem to be in better shape - especially in the early days of their church.

Alright, if you're launching your church in like a month, I know this doesn't help, but if you have some time before you launch and you feel like God can let you be flexible on that time frame, start praying and looking for a church and a leader you can solidly align your heart with. And serve them loyally.

This is not about them funding you, necessarily. It's just an intangible spiritual and emotional support that you will need as you get into your church-planting journey.

Remember, I'm only writing from my own limited experience, but the guys I meet who have been at a few churches in the last few years and have not solidly aligned themselves with a church, leaders or mentors struggle. And guys who have loyally served for years with the same church and same leaders seem more focused and better supported along the way.

I want to give a huge thanks to Gerry Stoltzfoos and Freedom Valley Worship Center for being that solid support to me! I love you guys.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Why does God do what He does?

I was reading in Acts 7 this morning and it just makes me wonder why God does what He does. Stephen is this powerful, godly guy and he's standing up preaching to this crowd. Well, when he gets to the end of it, he accuses all the Jewish people he's talking to of being hard-headed and hard-hearted and they get angry, drag him out of town and stone him.

This is the part where it would seem that God should do some kind of miracle to make His own name even greater. But He doesn't. Here's what happens . . . Acts 7:59 "As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 He fell to his knees, shouting, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!” And with that, he died."

Just goes to show you . . . we can't predict what God will or will not do and we can't even figure out why He does what He does. We can only trust Him and live a life filled with faith.