Pages Menu
TwitterRssFacebook
Categories Menu

Posted on Oct 18, 2016 in Blog, Church, Culture, Lost Virtues

When Is It Okay To Leave A Church?

When Is It Okay To Leave A Church?

“This church just isn’t meeting my needs.”

I can’t read your mind. No pastor can. (Though some think we have that super power. If I could choose a super power, I don’t think that would be it, haven’t you ever watched Bruce Almighty?)

But, if I could read your mind, I’d be willing to guess you’ve had that thought about your church. “I think it’s time to start doing a little church shopping because I’m just not getting what I need here.” “If they would do this program like this other church, I might stay, but…” “If the pastor was funny like the other guy…” “If the pastor would just feed me instead of making me laugh…” And the list goes on. And the list goes on. (Insert Sandi Patty music here.)

So, we go shopping trying to find a church that is going to meet our needs. And everything changes.

We go from being a part of a loving community to being a consumer of a good or service. We stop thinking about the good of the whole and start thinking about our own good. Without a thought of how our actions are affecting others, we just change everything.

Churches aren’t commodities. Churches aren’t storefronts or business. Churches don’t exist to please its constituents.

I’ve had several conversations with people who have left our church over the past few years that I’ve been here. If someone leaves, I try to talk to them and find out why (if I don’t already know). Not once, has the issue been something relevant. “We are leaving because you’re teaching heresy.” It’s always been something preferential. We need this or that. We want this program. We want our kids to have this thing. When I ask the question, “Have you considered how you leaving will affect the rest of our community?” people don’t really have an answer. Some have thought about it, but their own personal desires trump the good of the whole.

(By the way, I’m not writing this post in response to someone leaving our church. In fact, we’ve had some new families join us and stay. So, that’s why I’m writing it now. It’s a good time to write about when you’re not having the problem)

Maybe you’re thinking about looking for another church. Let me as you a question: who is church for? If you’re answer is you, then you should probably do your church a favor and leave. “Harsh words man, lighten up a little bit.” Sorry, but that might be what you need to hear.

Churches exist for worshipping God, for the good of the local body of Christ and for shining the light of God’s love into the darkness.

“My personal pleasure” is not a role that churches are supposed to play. To reduce your church to pleasure puts it in the category of a social club, and we have not interest in being that for you.

You’re not getting anything out of church? Maybe that’s not the point. What have you given to your church lately? What have you contributed? Have you loved your brothers and sisters in Christ in a way that serves them? Or are you just looking for people to meet your needs and serve you?

These are the problems we face in the church today.

Reasons people leave church:

  1. My needs aren’t being met.
  2. I don’t like being under authority.
  3. I have a disagreement/conflict with someone in the church and it’s easier to leave than work it out.
  4. I don’t like the style of music.
  5. I don’t like the teaching.
  6. My kids’ needs aren’t being met.

There are others. Honestly, too many to list here. What makes these wrong?

Your needs will be met if your in true biblical community. True biblical community starts with me sacrificing myself. If you have a problem with authority, you will have a problem with every church, because your problem is not with the church but with God. If you can’t solve conflict, you just shouldn’t be around any human, stay at home and watch a TV preacher. There must be someone who likes the style of music your church uses, think about what’s best for that group of people and not what you want most. Is the teaching heretical? If not, there is something you can learn. If your kids’ needs aren’t being met, maybe that’s why you’re there.

“Okay, what’s the point of this article preacher man?”

You are where you are for a reason. What can you do to be a part of the solution? Maybe God wants you to help your church serve one another better, but He needs you to get over yourself first. I don’t know. What I do know is that God wants you to be committed. And until you make a commitment, you will be constantly disappointed because church isn’t about you and that’s what you’re trying to make it about.

Commit to worshipping God. Commit to the body. Commit to shining the light. Put your name on a pew. Be so committed that people know where you sit and notice when you’re missing. Meet the needs of other people in your church. Meet the needs of people in your community. Love God above everything and love your neighbor as yourself. Get those two things right and not matter what church you are in, you will be blessed.

When is it okay? Well, if the pastor is teaching heresy, that would be one. If something immoral is happening and not being addressed, then maybe. But only after following what the Bible says to do about confrontation, etc. Aside from those two things, there’s not much.

What are your thoughts? When is it okay to leave a church? Mad at me? Let me hear it!

Read More

Posted on Aug 22, 2016 in Blog, Church, Deliberate Living, Featured

Make Every Effort

Make Every Effort

I’ve discovered something about myself. This may come as a revelation to you too. That is this: things that require more effort are harder for me to do. 

I know, that’s a revelatory statement. You’re probably thinking, “I clicked on this link to read that. What a waste of my time.” Well, before you click away, give me a second.

At SixEight Church we’re in a series going through these verses of 2 Peter:

2 Peter 1:3-7

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.

Granted.

That’s a pretty powerful statement. God’s power has granted to us, given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness. Those things we need for life and godliness have been granted to us.

How have they been granted to us? Through the knowledge of the one who called us to his own glory and excellence. The calling placed on our lives is not one of mediocrity and averages. We are called to the same glory and excellence of the one who called us.

By this knowledge of holy one who has called us we have been granted/gifted with his precious and great promises. The knowledge we have of the holy God who called us is where we find the promises He has made to us.

And it is through these promises that we become partakers of the divine nature. It is through these promises and divine power that we escape the corruption that is in the world through sin.

But at this point, Peter creates a contrast. To now Peter has been talking about what has been granted/gifted/bestowed to us. And it’s all great stuff. But, he’s going to change course.

Make Every Effort. 

Spoude. Pronounced spoo-day’. It means diligence. Earnestness in accomplishing, promoting or striving after anything.

You see, there’s the work that’s been granted and gifted to us. There’s the aspect of our faith that we have received freely. It’s awesome and amazing. But, the problem is, we stop there. We stop with the easy part. We’ve been given this great gift, but we don’t do our part.

What’s worse, is we often feel entitled to the outcome with out doing our spoude. We want God to just give us the fruit without making any effort to produce the fruit. And we get mad when God doesn’t make us the kind of people we think He should be making us into.

Even though we haven’t done anything to change.

Yes, there is the granted and given aspect of our faith. But, Yes, there is also the working, spoude, diligent, striving aspect of our faith. We have to “press on/strain toward the goal.”(Phil. 3) We have to “Do our best to present ourselves to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” (2 Tim. 2)

We don’t become “spiritual giants” by waiting for someone else to make us one. We don’t become more like Christ by waiting for God to do all the work for us. Will God do the work in us? Absolutely. It can only be done through Him. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have any responsibility to work at becoming like Christ.

The problem is, I’m lazy. I don’t like doing things that require effort on my part. Can’t I just pay someone to do that for me? Isn’t there an easier way.

Samuel Johnson said: “What we hope ever to do with ease, we must learn first to do with diligence.” Faith may not come naturally to you at first, but if you make every effort you can in it, it will come more naturally to you. Virtue/Moral excellence may not come naturally. But if you work at it, strain and strive after it, it will come more naturally to you. Knowledge will not just magically appear in your mind. You have to work to attain it.

The Question:

Instead of blaming God for not granting us our prayers for Him to do something in us that we’re not willing to do in ourselves, we should ask: “Am I making every effort?” Maybe we’re not there yet. “Am I making any effort at all?”

You and I will never grow in our faith, in our relationship, in our walk with God if we don’t make an effort.

How can we make an effort? Spend time reading his word. Read 2 Peter. Read it slowly. Read it once a day. It’s not long. If that’s too much, just read these 5 verses once a day. Think about it. Let it sink in.

Spend time praying to God. Just communicate with God, have an honest conversation with Him about your struggles. Ask Him to help you conquer this or that.

Worship Him. Humble yourself and exalt Christ. Humble yourself and lift Him up. Make sure you are not elevating yourself above God. Don’t make God a fairy or a jeannie in a bottle who exists to grant your wishes. Make much of him and less of yourself.

The Point: 

Our frustrations with our faith are nearly always because we’re not making an effort. What would change if you started making an effort today?

Probably a lot.

It’s time for some Spoude.

Read More

Posted on Mar 28, 2016 in Blog, Church, Featured

Easter Isn’t Over, Neither Are You!

Easter Isn’t Over, Neither Are You!

Easter has just begun. We celebrated the beginning of Easter yesterday. But Easter is a long season. Seriously. According to the Church Calendar, Easter lasts until the season of Pentecost, which is approximately 50 days after Easter. So, from now through May 15, we are in the season of Easter.

So, don’t you go thinking that resurrection thing was just a one day deal. That’s not true. The resurrection changed everything. Yes, the fact that Jesus died on the cross was important, but if Jesus did not conquer the grave, we are crazy to spend our lives following him. In fact, our entire faith is futile. Without the resurrection, we don’t even have victory over our sins.

14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either.17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. ( 1 Cor. 15:14-19)

The resurrection changed everything. Easter is not just a day, it’s a season. Resurrection is not just a day, it’s whole new way of thinking. You are no longer dead in your sins, you are alive in Christ. Your savior is not rotting in a borrowed grave, He is alive. He appeared to hundreds of witnesses to prove the fact that he was alive again. And hundreds of witnesses saw him ascend into heaven. And Stephen saw the heavens open to see Jesus sitting at the right hand of the Father. Jesus is alive.

Resurrection Sunday is the day we celebrate the event, but resurrected living is an entirely different thing. Once we have put our faith in and belief on Jesus, we are no longer dead, but alive again. We were the walking dead, but Jesus cured us from out death. So now, you are alive. Alive like you’ve never been before. Your life is being transformed. Your mind is being renewed. You are no longer operating under the old system, but are being redeemed and restored into a new world.

Because of the resurrection, you now have victory over sin, victory over death and confidence to approach the throne. The curtain was torn, and you can enter into the holiest place. Actually, you now become the holiest place because God resides in you. You are the dwelling place for the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God dwells in you.

All this is because of the resurrection. You have new life because of Jesus’ new life.

But, just as Easter isn’t over, neither is your responsibility as a follower of Jesus Christ.

Remember, Jesus appeared to hundreds of witnesses after he came back to life. And there were hundreds of witnesses who saw him ascend into heaven. Just before he ascended, he told his followers something:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

Jesus’ followers had witnessed Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection and ascension. And he told them, you will now be my witnesses – telling people the story of what they had seen – to Jerusalem (where they were), Judea (the bigger region), Samaria (to the people in surrounding areas, some who had previously been outcasts) and the ends of the earth (everywhere else.)

We are witnesses too. We may not have seen Jesus with our own eyes, (even though we have plenty of evidence for the story of Jesus) but we have witnessed other things. We have witnessed the resurrection power of Jesus in our own lives. We have witnessed the new life we have received because of Jesus. we have witnesses the resurrection power of Jesus in the transformed lives around us. We are witnesses who have a story to tell.

Just like Easter isn’t over, we aren’t done yet either. You might be thinking to yourself:

“I invested time and resources to invite someone to Easter, and they came. So, I did my job, I’m done now. Right?” 

WRONG! You have only just begun. “But isn’t it the “church’s” job to make them disciples?” Yes, it is. But, who is the church? The church is not the pastor. The church is not organization. The church, actually ecclesia is the right word (ecclesia means: called out ones)…the church/ecclesia is the community of believers. You and I together are the church. We are the church. We are the body of Christ. Together we make up the body. We cannot be individually the body of Christ, we must be in community.

That means, that you have a role to play in making disciples. Yes, you did a fantastic job investing in someone and inviting them to church. And I applaud you for that. Seriously!! Great job! Bravo! But, don’t let up now.

Don’t miss the opportunity to solidify the commitment of the person you invested in. Don’t miss the opportunity to follow up and give your invitee the opportunity to ask questions. Don’t worry about having all the right answers. If you don’t know, just tell them you don’t know, but you’ll figure it out.

Right now, while they are interested and hopefully excited about Jesus is the best time to solidify them in that commitment. Don’t let that seed go to waste. Don’t let the worries of the world spring up around that seed of the gospel that was planted and choke it out. They need you around them, helping the seed to grow. They need the health of other believers and Christian community to encourage them in this new walk.

Don’t miss the chance that you invested so much time and energy in. They’re worth it. And Christ in them is worth it. Do whatever it takes! Keep going. Keep investing. Keep pursuing them. Keep inviting them to church. Keep up the good work.

You’ve only just begun.

You invested time and resources to invite someone to Easter, and they didn’t come. That’s all I can do right? 

WRONG! You’ve only just begun.

“I spent time with them. I tried to meet their needs. I did what I could to invest in them. And I invited them to Easter, but they didn’t come. What else can I do?”

For some, it can take a long time of investing and investing and inviting and investing and investing and inviting before they’ll ever agree to come. And potentially even longer before they are willing to consider Christ. I believe this process of investing is going to be taking longer and longer the more our culture becomes hostile toward Christianity. It’s not like it used to be.

Don’t lose what you’ve invested to this point by avoiding this person or avoiding the issue. They didn’t come to Easter, that doesn’t mean we stop caring about them. It means we keep caring. Perhaps caring more than we did before. Maybe we need to try different things. I don’t know what to tell you because it’s different for every person we’re trying to reach just like it’s different for each of us doing the investing. All I know is that we must continue on.

You’ve only just begun. Don’t stop now. Don’t hesitate to invite again. Don’t lose what you’ve invested.

Jesus is still risen. The resurrection is still the most significant event of all time. God is still drawing people to himself. The gospel is still good news and the Spirit is still active.

Easter isn’t over. Neither are you.

Read More

Posted on Mar 4, 2016 in Blog, Church, Dear Leader, Featured, Humility, Leadership, Unity

An Open Letter to Andy Stanley From the Pastor of a Small Church

An Open Letter to Andy Stanley From the Pastor of a Small Church

Dear Andy,

First off, I love you. Seriously. I’ve spent a lot of time studying your way of doing things. I’ve been an Andy Stanley champion for a decade. I’ve bought your books and ready them. Some of them more than once. There is great insight in them for up and coming pastors like myself. I’ve used your podcasts, I’ve bought books you’ve recommended on your leadership podcast. I’ve loved having you as a source of wisdom and input into my ministry since I discovered you in 2005. So, I feel like I’ve known you for over a decade.

Second, I don’t normally write these kinds of posts. I generally try to write posts that will help the people I know and lead be better disciples. Most of them don’t know about Andy’s remarks, and probably never would. But, in this instance I feel compelled to respond. And, I feel like I may have something to offer you for a change. And, I’m hoping you’ll hear me. Chances aren’t great you’ll ever read this letter, but it’s worth a shot. I’m not anti-mega church like so many. We can disagree without hating each other, right? More on that later.

Third, my intent in writing this letter is to share with other pastors of small churches some of the things I’ve learned – which is being pointed out by the response to your comments. I was offended, though I’m trying not to be.

Recently, you preached a sermon at your church, where you spoke ill of small churches. And from the outcry I’ve seen on Facebook and Twitter, you’ve had your hands full dealing with the backlash as a result. (The video is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZhhpiU4d0A). I’m sure that’s not been fun. But, I’m also sure you’re learning a lot from it. At least, I hope you are.

Since you were pretty direct and blunt in your remarks, I’ll just go ahead and be blunt and direct in my response as well. You said some pretty stupid things in that sermon. I get where you were coming from, but I think you probably could have been a little more careful. I’ll be honest. I didn’t go watch the whole sermon. I didn’t care to after what I saw and heard. I’ve listened to a lot of your sermons over the years. I’ve shared them with my friends, family and church.

Along with being the pastor of a small church, I’ve worked in several mid-sized to large churches as well. So, in part, I understand both worlds. Not to the level you do, but I get more than many. That said, I’m not one of those “mega churches are evil” people. I see you reach a lot of people for the kingdom. And I thank God for what you and so many other mega churches are able to do.

But there were some words that are going to be hard to get over. And as a result, will change the amount of influence I’ll allow you to have in my life and ministry in the future. I refuse to write you off, but my pursuit of your teaching will be a little more tempered.

These are a few of the quotes from the snipet I saw.

“If you don’t go to a church large enough where you can have enough middle schoolers and high schoolers to separate them so they can have small groups and grow up the local church, you are a selfish adult, get over it. Find yourself a big ‘ol church where your kids can connect with a bunch of people and grow up and love the local church.”

“You drag your kids to a church they hate, and then they grow up and hate the local church.”

“Don’t attend a church that teaches your children to hate church.”

As is so often said nowadays, it’s not just what you said, it’s also how you said it. It wasn’t just a comment that was made in passing. It was a remark that you spent time preparing. I decipher this based on the point you wrote out on your screen. “Don’t attend a church that teaches your children to hate church.” I know you work on your sermons well in advance, you’ve said you work on three sermons at a time at one of your earlier drive conferences. So, You probably worked on this sermon for a few weeks. So, it’s hard for me to imagine this was off the cuff and not well thought out. Because that’s not you. And, the manner with which you made these remarks show that you are very passionate about what you said. And, I guess if that’s your strategy, you should be passionate. But, what if you’re wrong? In fact, you’ve said “Your beliefs shape your attitudes.” Perhaps this is why you spoke with such passion.

Does your, phrase that pays principle apply to your church? If your church is teaching children to hate church, should people choose a different church? Isn’t it also selfish for parents to drag their kids to your church if they hate your church?

You’ve also said, “It is when our hearts are stirred that we become most aware of what they contain.” (Source: It came from within! The The Shocking Truth of What lurks in the Heart). Is that what your heart contains, complete disdain for all us small churches out in the world struggling and wishing we had the resources you have at your disposal?

I don’t pretend to know the pressure and scrutiny you are under as a mega leader in the American Christian church. I can’t imagine having so many people scrutinize my sermons and listen for things that can be taken personally. I’m sure I’ve said similarly offensive things, it’s just that there aren’t tens of thousands of church leaders and Christians listening to me.

As you have said: “We don’t drift in good directions. We discipline and prioritize ourselves there.” (Source: The principle of the path) Somewhere along the way, your priorities seem to have gotten a little out of whack. That is, assuming you believe what you said. And that’s why I’m writing this really long letter. Because, maybe it will serve as a catalyst to help you create some disciplines that correct your path for the future. I know that sounds arrogant, but you’ve also said we’re supposed to learn from everyone. That we should be asking good questions.

From reading your books, I don’t think you’ve had a ton of experience leading a small church. North Point was a plant/split from your dad’s church that started with 1,000 people. You may not understand the challenges we small church pastors face. We work on strategy and systems in the same way you do, but we don’t have a pool of thousands of people to draw from the implement the strategy. Often times, if we think something is extremely important and needs to be done, we are the ones who have to get it done.

You may not understand what it’s like to have a megachurch down the street from you, and have people leave your church to go there. You may not understand what it’s like to have friends leave your church because the mega church offers more than your church can imagine. There may be a lot of things you just don’t understand because you’ve never had to lead a small church. And to be honest, I refuse to judge you or condemn you for your lack of knowledge. Instead, I’m hoping you’ll learn from us small church pastors. Because while you have things to teach us, believe it or not, there may be a thing or two you can learn from us. And, to be honest, if you’re not willing to learn from me/us, it’s foolish for me/us to continue to learn from you.

As far as I’m concerned, you’re forgiven. I probably put too much stock in your words anyway. So, it’s also on me that I put myself in a position to be offended by your words. At the same time, it does me not good to carry a grudge against you or any pastor. We have more to learn from one another. And if we can all walk a little more humbly, the Kingdom of God will advance in a much more biblical and unified fashion than we have seen in the past.

To my fellow small church pastors who may be reading this letter, learn from me. Several years ago I realized I was allowing pastors such as Andy Stanley and Matt Chandler among others to have too much influence in my ministry. Learn what you can from them, but be more concerned about what God wants to do through you in the church he has you in. He put YOU there for a reason. If God wanted Andy or Matt to be pastoring your church, God would move them there. Can we learn from them? Absolutely. In fact, to this day, If Andy or Matt were to offer to mentor me as a young pastor, I would still take them up on their offer. I don’t expect that to happen. (How awesome would it be if each Mega church pastor took some young, small church pastors under their wing for a year or two or three – at no cost! After all, do for one what you wish you could do for all – right Andy?) But, let’s stop elevating one another as idols in ministry and be more focused on being and doing who and what God wants for us. And don’t use this as a tool to talk down about other churches. We all know, if they were to scrutinize us in the same fashion, they’d find something to make us look bad too.

Anyway, Andy. Thanks for your apology. It is accepted. (Of course, I know about your apology because I follow you on Twitter, maybe I’ll get lucky enough for you to follow me back someday.) And my hope and prayer is that God will use this in your life to further the mission of the Kingdom of God in our modern day and age, and that this may become a tool that actually unites us and sharpens our attack.

You’re an awesome guy who just happened to offend thousands of other awesome men and women who used to look up to you. It just shows us you’re as human and flawed as we are. Who knows, maybe that’s why you said what you said. But, you may want to think a little more carefully the next time before you say something to drive off all the leaders you’ve been trying to lead for the last 10-12 years.

Thanks for listening,

David

 

Read More

Posted on Feb 2, 2016 in Blog, Church, Featured, Truth

Definition: Abide

Definition: Abide

Waiting can be hard. I don’t know if you’ve had to wait for something, but I have. It can be challenging, stressful, annoying. The waiting is often the worst part. We get impatient. We want things now. We can’t wait for our birthday. We can’t wait for Christmas. We can’t wait for summer. We can’t wait for our wedding. We just have a hard time waiting.

Today I would like to look at another word: abide.

What is the meaning of this word that Jesus used in a very important teaching? If you want to know the context of this word, go read John 15.

What is the literal definition?

In the english dictionary the word is defined as:

verb (used without object), abode or abided, abiding.
1. to remain; continue; stay: Abide with me.
2. to have one’s abode; dwell; reside: to abide in a small Scottish village.
3. to continue in a particular condition, attitude, relationship, etc.; last.
In the greek dictionary, the definition is similar:
  1. to remain, abide
    1. in reference to place
      1. to sojourn, tarry
      2. not to depart 1a
    2. to continue to be present 1a
    3. to be held, kept, continually
    4. in reference to time
      1. to continue to be, not to perish, to last, endure 1b
    5. of persons, to survive, live
    6. in reference to state or condition
      1. to remain as one, not to become another or different
  2. to wait for, await one

There is a key verse outside of John 15 that I want to draw your attention to: 1 John 2:28

“And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.”

Let’s Define it:

Abide means to remain, to continue in, to be present in continually. What is the big deal with “abiding in Christ?”

That’s the key question we need to answer. Why do we need to abide? There are a few reasons:

To avoid drifting

The key temptation we face in waiting for someone is that our focus can drift off to something else. It’s like having kids. You may have noticed it can be a challenge sometimes to keep your kids attention for long periods of time. You may be talking to them, but a bird flies by the window and they’re distracted. Maybe the TV is on in the background while you’re talking and a funny commercial comes on and they get distracted. Or one of the siblings comes into the room and they get distracted. Before long, you realize it’s taken you 15 minutes to say something that should have only taken about 15 seconds.

The same is true for us. We need to abide in Christ, remain in him and be present in our relationship with him so that we don’t find ourselves drifting off course when life comes along to distract us. And it always will. There will always be a distraction. There will always be an opportunity to drift. We must abide.

To produce fruit

From the very beginning of the bible to the very end, God has been in the business of gardening to produce fruit. In this key passage in John 15 we discover the key to producing the fruit of the kingdom. Can you guess what it is? The key to producing fruit is remaining in, being present – abiding in Christ. The fruit of the kingdom is contrary to the fruit of the world. (Yes the world produces fruit – and it’s desirable too, just ask Eve.) If we want to produce the fruit of the kingdom of God which is making disciples, spreading the gospel and seeing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in our own lives, we can only do so by remaining in Christ.

To be ready for His return

In  this verse in 1 John 2, we also see that abiding in Christ is what makes us ready for His return.

They key to not making mom and dad mad when they get home from a date is to make sure the house is ready for their return before they get home. And I’m not talking about rushing to clean the house in the last few minutes before they arrive. It’s easier to be ready for their return if we have kept the house clean all along. Other wise, we may find ourselves trying to clean up when they get home a few minutes early.

If we want to be ready for Christ’s return, we must abide in him continually. We must be present with him continually. We must remain in him. This means we are actively working on our relationship with him. This means we are presently pursuing him. This means we don’t wait for Sunday to come to hear from his word, but that we are in his word daily. We are devoted to this relationship and we are going to choose to make our relationship with him a priority. We’re not going to make a mess of our lives all week long and then hope it can be fixed up and cleaned up on Sunday. We’re going to continually reorder our lives around the call of the Kingdom. We will use Sundays as earmarks to make sure we are in a state of constant pursuit.

That’s why abiding is such a big deal. We must abide.

Will you abide in Christ today?

Read More

Posted on Aug 11, 2015 in Blog, Church, Culture, Deliberate Living, Family, Featured, Intentional Living, repost

3 Simple Steps for Getting Back Into The Swing (of things)

3 Simple Steps for Getting Back Into The Swing (of things)

Summer is a crazy time. It’s fun. We spend a lot of time together as a family. We do things we don’t do the rest of the year. And it’s good. It’s good to spend time together as a family and make memories that will last a lifetime. But, as we start to run out of steam on cramming all the summery goodness into our summer, we run the risk of making a different kind of memory. They last a lifetime too, but we wish they wouldn’t.

So, I wanted to give you 3 simple tips for getting back into the swing of things.

1.) Find a simple, but productive, daily discipline to begin. 

As we go through the summer months, it’s easy to let discipline slide. We’re living in the moment, winging it. And while there is a time and place for that, in fact it’s good to do that, we also need to have discipline in our lives as well.

If you’ve gone a long time without discipline, it can be hard to find the on ramp again. But, what I’ve found is that discipline always facilitates more discipline. I call it the begetting principle. That’s a post that’ll come later.

If you want to live a more disciplined life, find one small area you can succeed in with being disciplined on a daily basis. It doesn’t have to be big. It shouldn’t be. You just need to be able to sustain it. It can be as simple as setting the alarm for a specific time, and refusing to hit the snooze. That may prove more challenging. You may want to get a simple devotional and read it first thing in the morning.

Whatever it is, do it every day and first thing in the morning. This will turn on the discipline switch in your mind, and you’ll start building up the getting things done muscles of your psyche.

2.) Make a list each day of what needs to be done. 

There are days when I feel productive, but then when I look back on what I accomplished that day, I realize I didn’t get nearly as much done as I thought I did. When you don’t give yourself specific things to do, it’s easy to feel like you’re doing a lot when you’re not really doing much at all.

So, another simple way to get back into the swing of things is to start making a list. Don’t get carried away. Just add 5-6 specific things to that list that need to get done today. If you do these things today, you will have succeeded. If you don’t do these things today, you know you need to work harder tomorrow.

When we get out of routine, we can easily do one thing in a days time and feel like we’ve exhausted our entire stockpile of energy for the day. But, let’s be honest, we all know we’re capable of doing more than one thing a day.

Some of the things on your list may be bigger and take longer. If it’s a bigger project, try to break it up into manageable steps that you can check off. Maybe you won’t finish the whole thing today, but I bet you can finish several steps.

And put a one or two simple and quick to accomplish tasks on your list too. That will make you feel like you’re making progress and get you moving toward getting the other things done.

3.) Plan & Build your fall routine. 

Life has a natural repetitive nature to it. Every week, we start a new week. (That was a really profound statement.) I think of the week as starting on Sunday. So, every Sunday I begin a new week. Every Sunday, my family begins a new week. The old week is done, a new week has come. Because of this natural cycle, it’s good to use the week as your framework to build your routine.

My number one suggestion for planning and executing on a successful routine is to go to church on Sunday morning. (DON’T STOP READING YET!!!) Yes, I’m biased because I’m a pastor. But I have a good reason.

Starting your week with going to church starts your week off with discipline. It’s easy to go to church. I know the excuses, I’ve heard them all. (I actually wrote some articles about it on our church blog: http://68church.com/12-excuses-for-not-going-to-church-and-why-you-shouldnt-use-them-part-1/) But, let’s be honest: It’s not that hard to go to church. Especially a church like ours, where you can come just like you are. You don’t have to look fancy and wear your “Sunday best.” Just come. Just be here.

Why does it help to start your week this way? There are a few reasons. It gives you structure. And when you’re trying to build structure, you need to start with structure.

Another reason is, if you can overcome the temptation and excuses to skip church on Sunday, you will help yourself overcome the excuses for other things throughout the week. So much of what we don’t do is because we’ve excused ourself and all we need to do is step up and be responsible.

Another reason? It’s a very healthy beginning. You have the servant aspect of church. Starting off your week serving others is a great set up. There’s the community aspect. Starting your week with a community of like-minded believers sets you up for walking through life in the same way. Tithing/Giving/Generosity is another great aspect. Prioritizing God in our finances also helps us to make other priorities in our spending.

Worshipping God is a great way to keep yourself in check. Exalting God makes it harder to exalt ourselves as the most important thing in our lives. When we are starting our week by humbling ourselves and submitting to the creator of the universe, that’s like saying, you designed this whole thing in the first place and I’m going to let you take the lead.

19 By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations,
    by understanding he set the heavens in place;
20 by his knowledge the watery depths were divided,
    and the clouds let drop the dew.        {Proverbs 3:19-20}

Try these three simple steps and just see if you don’t have a better week! 1. Daily Discipline. 2. Make a List. 3. Plan your Weekly Routine. Try it.

I dare you!

Read More
Page 2 of 3123