Wednesday, August 31, 2011

SPEAK

M. Lucado was recently interviewed in Leadership Journal and he said some things about ministry that I have tried to put into practice as well as some things I need to get a whole lot better at ...

-- When a person comes into your office asking a question, often their first question isn't really the question. That first one is kind of like tossing the tennis ball into the air. It's a practice swing. They're just testing to see if you're listening to them or not ... if you answer to quickly, your odds of providing a good answer diminish. Sometimes people don't really want an answer; they just want to be heard. They just need to get something off their chests.

-- Often, people ask you questions because they believe God has told you something. And of course we know that isn't always the case. But they're asking because they believe you will bring a frame of reference to the conversation that is Biblically-based and God-centered.

-- Sometimes when a person asks you a question - or wants you to pray for them - the best course of action is to give them a verse that applies to their situation and then, just pray.

-- We no longer live in a day in which the pastor is given authority just by virtue of the title. That change is probably good for us. Now we must earn the authority to speak into someone's life.

-- By nature, I'm a pretty gentle person. (My own 'stoic' exterior shouldn't be misread there.) But when I have seen our church members head down routes of divorce, or into careers that will take all their time from their families, I feel within me a passion rising, and I'll warn them directly. They may not always agree with me, but I think they respect it.

We are called to speak into people's lives. The Holy Spirit is leaning into us, counting on us to speak truth to people with wisdom and in love.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

MAXIMIZED

Our first Champions group of the new season was last night at my house. I love this new group of guys who will be meeting once a month and downloading a different book we've read together each month. September's book was 'Maximized Manhood' by Edwin Louis Cole.

There was this immediate connection and instant passion from the men gathered. Sometimes (this is the fourth set of Champions groups I've done now), you have to prime the pump a couple of months to help everybody feel comfortable. Not with this group. They were ready to go and wanted to be challenged and held accountable - and did a little challenging of their own.

If this is any indicator of the next 11 months, we're in for an amazing ride together.

And be blessed.

Monday, August 29, 2011

FANTASY FOOTBALL

Our pastoral team selected our Fantasy Football Teams today. There are 12 people in our league this year so the picks came further and fewer in between, making it tough to get yourself a really good team, but ... as is my policy ... I'm sharing my 2011-12 team with you for your review. I did the best I could with it.

QB - Tony Romo
WR - Vincent Jackson
WR - Jeremy Maclin
RB - Arian Foster
RB - Felix Jones
RB - Michael Bush
TE - Dustin Keller
K - Stephen Gostkowski
DEF - Detroit Lions

The Bench:
QB - Joe Flacco
QB - Kevin Kolb
RB - Rashad Jennings
RB - Ronnie Brown
WR - Mike Thomas
WR - Steve Smith
TE - Chris Cooley

How'd I do? What are my chances? Your feedback is appreciated.

And be blessed.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

KERBY

It was happening all day today at KFA ... Guest Carl Kerby, formerly of Answers In Genesis (www.answersingenesis.org), and now of Reasons For Hope (www.rforh.com) speaking.

This morning he poured it on with an energetic conversation about the importance of trusting what the Bible says, not just what we want it to say -- challenging us in particular with believing the first few chapters of Genesis - and the responsibilities fathers and mothers have of teaching Truth to their children.

In the p.m., it was an awesome Round Two ... how 21st century media is inundating and training our youngest generation away from the Gospel and the power of Hollywood on today's culture.

Great day in the house today.

And be blessed.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

BREAKFAST

Breakfast by Reuben F was biscuits and gravy, potato casserole, breakfast burritos with chorizo, ham or sausage, cinnamon rolls --- and 75+ men. Great way to start a Saturday.

That's what happened this morning when guys gathered at KFA (www.kenoshafirst.com) for a breakfast with Rob Adams from Elmbrook Church.

Using his own testimony, Rob spoke about being a disciple and the call of God on the life of every man to be like Christ - to use his gifts for the Kingdom - to get in a small group - to be accountable to somebody (see yesterdays' blog).

Then we rolled out the discipleship opportunities available this fall and winter at KFA. If you're a man and you call KFA home, here's what we have for you coming up:

NO REGRETS Study #1 - 'What does it Mean to Become a Fully Devoted Follower of Jesus?' - Sundays beginning Sept. 11 at 9 a.m. - 8 weeks
NO REGRETS Study #2 - 'Building your Spiritual Muscle thru the Spiritual Disciplines' - Sundays beginning Sept. 11 at 9 a.m. - 8 weeks
NO REGRETS Study #3 - 'Becoming the Man God Created you to Be' - Wednesdays beginning Sept. 14 at 6:30 p.m. - 8 weeks

CHAMPIONS groups -- 12 men gathering once a month - reading one book a month - then coming together to discuss what they learned -- growing -- praying together -- building relationships (dates vary, depending on the group).

IRONMEN GIVING BACK -- If you are handy and like to help people, KFA has begun this ministry to fulfill the Scriptural mandate to assist widows who need help fixing things, doing yard work, maintaining their home or car, you name it. You tell us what you can do and we'll put you to work one Saturday morning a month just being the hands and feet of Jesus to someone who needs it. Contact us.

Coming in January -- Men's Fraternity #3 -- 20 weeks of men walking thru 'The Great Adventure' together.

Coming Saturday, February 4th -- NO REGRETS Conference - KFA is happy to announce it is a multi-site host of the conference, featuring speaker Tony Evans and breakouts with 12 area pastors.

Great stuff.

Pick one - or more.

And be blessed.

Friday, August 26, 2011

EDITABILITY

I had a conversation with someone yesterday and it centered on the topic of accountability. Men's groups are famous for wanting this element, and it isn't a bad element at all - it is preferred and desired, in fact. But here's the thing ... it doesn't usually happen.

'Everyone needs someone who can ... edit the tar out of them.'

Oh sure, you can sit around a living room with the Ten Big Accountability Questions of the Week:
'Have you spent time with God this week?'
'Has your thought life been pure?'
'Have you compromised your integrity in any way?'
'How much time did you spend in prayer?'
'Did you place yourself in an awkward situation with a woman?'
'Are you on track with God, financially speaking?'
'Did you control your tongue?'
'How were you tempted this week and how did you respond?'
'Have you been engaged in pornographic material?'
'Did you share your faith with someone?'
etc etc etc..

Great questions all. The only problem is ... you can LIE. You can decide to not be accountable and act as if you are. You can keep 'double books' - a set for your team - and a set for yourself.

I've had people volunteer to be my accountability partner. Frankly, when someone comes right up to me and VOLUNTEERS for that, I want to run from that person as fast as I can. Something about that scenario doesn't sit well.

L. Sweet calls it 'editability.' It's not an actual word that I know of, but I still like it a whole lot better.

Everyone needs someone who can walk right up to them and flat-out edit the tar out of them ... someone who can ask questions ... someone who can get under their skin ... someone who can tell the truth the way it needs to be told - straight and with a heavy dose of love.

We're always looking for someone we can edit, but far more than that, we need someone to edit us.

And be blessed.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

ETERNITY


God wants to spend eternity with you and me. There aren't 'Seven Principles' or 'Five Laws' that get you there. You need Jesus and the dynamic power released thru Godly relationships.

Last night we hosted our second GroupConnect at KFA (www.kenoshafirst.com). It was people meeting people in order to do life together. Utterly wonderful.

'Without the involvement of others in your life, you have no future.'

In each of our lives there are landmark moments - moments on which our entire personal histories hinge - turning us either 'this' way or 'that' way. At the heart of these landmark moments are, nearly always, people.

You need to abandon all thoughts of self-sufficiency. Without the involvement of others in your future, you have no future.

You know who you are. I'm talking to you.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

JOURNEYS


Journeys. We're all on one - or several.

'It's not about the destination; it's about the journey.' (UltraMarathon Cycling Association)

'Life is a journey. Enjoy the ride.' (Nissan)

'It's good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters in the end.' (U.K. LeGuin)

'To journey without being changed is to be a nomad. To change without journeying is to be a chameleon. To journey and be transformed by the journey is to be a pilgrim.' (M. Nepo)

'The church is a community of people on a journey to God.' (L. Crabb)

Disciples of Jesus are journey completers - people who press toward the mark on their journey walk - people who end up at the place God has summoned them.

You might even call the Gospel itself a theology of journey. If you don't meet God along the way, you'll never meet God at the destination.

Journey on.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

INNER

I know in my years as a younger pastor, I was full of energy and passion and go-get-em. I'm not less full of those things now, I've just re-arranged some of it. I used to believe those former things were more important and useful than setting aside time for the quiet inner conversations I needed to have with God.

Daily breakfast and lunch appointments, meetings, ministries -- all seemed more important. It was only as the irrefutable evidence began to mount ---- frustration, weariness, bad decisions, etc. ---- that I began to realize what I lacked most was the quiet God-conversations.

"The battle is won in the secret places of the will before God."

(It was here that I got busy and stopped writing this blog with the intent to finish it later in the day. In between this first and second half I had someone come into my office who just wanted to pray for me. That person prayed this very prayer above . . . )

There seem to be recurrent themes among church leaders today -- 'I've run out of ideas ... I don't know how much longer I can keep doing this ... It seems everyone has a piece of me but I don't have any pieces left over for myself ... I find myself running from people ... I'm disappointed in me ... God seems a million miles away ... It's not fun any more.'

Is it supposed to be that way? I don't think it has to be, but a lot of us fall into that trap when we fail to take into account the indispensable need for including the quiet dimension in the calendar.

O. Chambers wrote: 'The battle is won in the secret places of the will before God. Never first in the external world ... nothing has power over the (person) who has fought out the battle before God and won there.'

When we ask one another in ministry: 'What does an ideal week look like for you ... what are the things you will give priority to?,' very often the answers include staff meetings, sermon study time, budget conversations, counseling appointments, vision casting and planning functions, etc. Sometimes there is a comment about physical exercise or quality family time but what is all too often missing is any allusion to a personal Sabbath - time for activities that cleanse and build the soul - moments of inner conversation with God.

That's what we need more of.

And be blessed.

Monday, August 22, 2011

PAR

Mark Twain said:

'Golf is a good walk spoiled.'

It's really quite simple: Hit the small white ball into the little hole. But it can be a frustrating game. I really know a lot about this so you should listen to me right now.

It's a competitive game, to be sure - but you're not really competing against the other people in your foursome so much as you're competing against the course and against yourself. It's competitive even if you're playing alone.

Experts say you should be able to complete a course in about 72 strokes, give or take. Par. Every golfer competes against par, competes against how he did last time, competes against how he wants to do this time - against how he wants to do next time.

Striving for perfection -- practicing his swing in his office when nobody's looking. Ultimately he breaks 100, but he is already breaking 90 in his head. When he breaks 90, he's already consumed by breaking 80. It doesn't end. Par - or better.

The perfect game.

That's life.

Every day ... a round of golf. Trying to make par ... or better. One golden day out of a hundred is an eagle day. Many days are bogey days ... some double-bogey days. Few even make it to par. We get in our cars and head home at the end of the day and say, 'What's the use? If I can't get a perfect day in, why even try?'

Because while perfection may be the goal, it is never the journey. To live only for the far-out goal is to live a life destined for frustration.

God's Champions understand that they may live the better part of a century and never quite reach their ultimate goal and yet live lives of boundless joy, success and fulfillment. The joy is in the journey. It is IN the journey.

That guy behind you? He's relentlessly pursuing par -- concentrating on his swing -- adjusting his stance -- keeping his eye on the ball -- practicing the putt. But you? You're watching the skies -- enjoying the walk for the sake of the walk -- taking it all in. It's the journey.

You're way better than just worrying about making par.

And be blessed.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

FAIL

Maybe it’s just me, but I find it extremely difficult to develop deep friendships with people who have never failed, or won’t admit that they have at some point in their lives.


'The truth is, everyone has failed in some big or small way.'


When people come across as being someone who has ‘never failed,’ it strains the relationship automatically. It starts to feel like a game of one-upmanship instead of a real friendship. It seems as if the ‘never-faileds’ are trying to be superior, or at least trying to make others feel slightly inferior. In that climate, genuine relationships seldom flourish.

The truth is, everyone has failed in some big or small way - usually the former. People who own their failures are infinitely more genuine, and that authenticity in a relationship is incredibly magnetic. People desperately want to be around other people who are real. They want to build relationships with people who admit they have failed and will allow others to do the same.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

DOWNHILL

It ain't even close to being over.

I just did a funeral today for a woman who lived to be 103. My own grandmother passed away a couple of years ago at age 96. Her mother, my great-grandmother, lived to be just two months shy of 110. (That means I'm never gonna die.)

But one of the most pervasive and cynical lies of our time is that all the good stuff comes in the first half of life - that after you reach a certain age it's all downhill.

I reject that.

A life of safety? That's no life, no matter what you do for a living, even though we are pre-programmed to 'save up for retirement' and 'remove all the risk.' In societies where people more routinely live to 100 and above - some of the Asian countries - there is no special treatment. They continue working, tending fields and keeping shop right up until the day they die at 100-plus. I am convinced that God didn't invent old age.

B. Larson said: "Death is a gift, but old age is man's invention."

Methuselah - 969? (Genesis 5:27)
Jared - 962? (Genesis 5:20)
Noah - 950? (Genesis 9:29)
Good ol' Adam? - 930 (Genesis 5:5)
Seth - 912? (Genesis 5:8)

Tell me you're old now.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

SOAK


It was awesome to lead the chapel for our JMC - Journey Ministry College (www.journeycollege.com) students today. I loved the passion and heart that each of them spoke with - and as a guy who is probably older than most of their own dads, I felt tremendously re-energized when we were done.

I shared my life verse with them and encouraged them to get one before the year was thru. Mine is Acts 13:36 - "When David had served God's purposes in his own generation, he fell asleep" (insert your own name in place of 'David.')

Soak that in for a minute. You aren’t here just to get through life. You’re not even here to succeed with your own life plans. You’re here to fulfill what God has intended for you.

That changes things, doesn’t it?

When you get that, you start looking at every moment and opportunity differently. Life isn’t about 'what I am in the mood for' or 'what I can fit into my day.' Life is about being open to hearing God and what He may want and need from you and what He has intended for you to notice. I’m here to keep my eyes and heart open enough to be aware of the moments in which He intends me to act.

That’s why part of what we’ll do this year in our JMC chapels is just learn to hear from God together.

It’s one of the greatest skills you’ll ever need in the ministry - or anywhere.


And be blessed.

Monday, August 15, 2011

ELBOW


Sometimes I think people believe church work - pastoring - is easy.

Every now and then I get a sharp elbow in my ribs by someone who suggests:

‘You guys have it so easy. You only really work one day a week (Sunday).’

‘What do you do all day long?’

‘Do you just pray and read the Bible all day until your phone rings?’

Stuff like that.

I admit those kinds of comments make me want to hurt somebody bad. Just kidding - kind of - not really.

Truth is, church work can be as grueling as any job anywhere. But I wouldn’t be doing it if that’s all it was. It’s also fun and rewarding.

But just for the record, here is a partial list of the not-so-fun-stuff:

#1 – Teaching a message on tithing with a bunch of first-time guests in the house - like this past Sunday.
#2 – Counseling a couple when one of them doesn’t want to be there.
#3 – Dealing with church people who don’t get it or refuse to get it.
#4 – Having to say ‘no.’
#5 – Feeling forced to say ‘yes.‘
#6 – Feeling you have to be ‘on’ all the time - at a party, at the grocery store, at the gym ...
#7 – Staff conflict.
#8 – Feeling like you have to top last weekend’s message the following weekend.
#9 – Stress on the entire family.
#10 – People’s expectations.

That said - it’s the best job in the world.

And be blessed.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

JMC


It was with great excitement that we presented this morning at
KFA (www.kenoshafirst.com) fourteen students who will begin their studies tomorrow morning as part of the first class of Journey Ministry College (www.journeycollege.com) - a cohort of the School of Urban Missions (www.sum.edu).

The accredited degree being offered on our campus is a Bachelor of Science in Biblical Studies - to be completed in three years. All of the students have been called by God into full-time ministry in way or another. During this time they will be heavily involved in our church ministries and be trained in eight hours of ministry practicum each week of their studies.

These fourteen students promise to bring fresh, bold and new life to what we already offer at KFA. I can't wait to see how God will use these amazing students to impact our city and the Kingdom.

And be blessed.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

THINKING

Here's what I'm thinking about at the moment:

1. Should I drive to the mall right now and buy a new shirt for tomorrow?

2. My grandson, because today is his second birthday.

3. I need to call my mom.

4. I wish I would not have eaten that 12th cookie today -- and maybe I should offset it by making myself a fruit smoothie tonight.

5. Tomorrow's weekend message that I'm delivering.

6. I wish there was something good on TV that wasn't over 40 years old and in black and white.

7. The family I called today to talk about the Wednesday funeral of their 103-year old mother/grandmother.

8. How much work I have to do this coming week.

9. The new students arriving this weekend to begin the first day of school at our new Journey Ministry College (www.journeycollege.com)

10. We have no chocolate ice cream or Cheetos in this house (yes, to be eaten together).

11. Our trips to Israel and Thailand in a few months.

12. I have a pimple on the back of my neck that will not go away.

13. The fact that I think I'm suffering from Blogger's Block and wonder when that's going to end.

And be blessed.

Friday, August 12, 2011

PURPOSE


At left is a picture of a flower garden in my yard. I took the picture this morning. (You can click on it to see it better.) I love seeing this patch of color when I come in and out of my driveway. Something about it makes me smile.

Here's the thing. It's not there by accident. The placement is on purpose. The textures and colors of the plants are on purpose. The heights? On purpose. It's planned.

And it didn't grow without care or without scattering plenty of seed.

Sow a small amount of seed on purpose - get a few flowers on purpose. Sow generous handfuls of seed on purpose, voila!

Sow a small amount of seed in the Kingdom of God on purpose, get some trickle-back blessings. Sow generous handfuls of Kingdom seed on purpose, get blown away.

Which sounds better to you?

And be blessed.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

CAFE

I love my job and the calling God has placed on my life and the setting He has put me in, but I spent some time with my computer at a local cafe today. I wasn't drinking coffee -- oh, I had a smoothie-type thing -- I didn't take up space at one of their cafe tables and mooch the seat without buying anything --- but I wasn't at the office for a couple of hours today.

Sometimes I need to get out of there. Just get away without getting way away.

I’m always amazed whenever I see someone from church at the mall or at a restaurant or like I did today at the cafe and the first question they ask me is, “What are you doing here?”

I know it’s because they don’t expect to see me there, but yes, I eat and buy clothes and drink smoothies, too.

Jesus was the kind of person that no one was ever surprised when He showed up somewhere. I sometimes wonder if we have gotten so lost in the church world that we’ve lost touch with reality.

I sometimes go to one of the cafes way downtown and sit and work for awhile. (If you see me there, please say "HI.") I like sitting there and eavesdropping on 'normal conversation.' It's very enlightening - and the experience rejuvenates me.

It just makes sense. Why not go where people are if you are going to talk to people? If you only surround yourself with books, you start sounding like a book.

But anyway, I need to end this or I’m going to be late getting to the office …

And be blessed.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

CALEB

I'm excited about the future. A lot has happened behind me, but I believe there's just as much out in front of me yet.

I'd like to be a Caleb. Everybody talks about the Biblical Caleb like he was the 'young guy,' and maybe he was compared to Joshua, but 40 years earlier he had done reconnaissance work in hostile territory, so he wasn't all that young. Not much younger than me.

If only the people had listened to him and his voice of faith instead of their own voice of fear. Through the time of punishment that wasn't even his own fault, he waited. He kept his heart young thru it all - he kept his faith active - and at 85 years old, God told him what He wanted.

What would most of us have asked for at age 85? A nice mountain cabin? Safety? A new set of teeth? Rest for our tired bones? I don't even know if we would have thought to criticize Caleb for wanting such things by that age.

B. O'Brien says: 'People enter business as bright, well-educated, high energy people, full of desire to make a difference. By the time they're 30, a few are on the fast track and the rest put in their time and do what really matters to them on the weekend. They lose the commitment, the sense of mission, and the excitement with which they started their careers. We get little of their energy and almost none of their spirit.'

Say it isn't so.

Most adults have little sense of real vision. We have goals and objectives, but these are not vision. When asked what they want, many adults will say what they want to get rid of. They'd like a better job - that is, they'd like to get rid of the boring job they have. They'd like to live in a better neighborhood or not have to worry about crime or about putting their kids thru college. They'd like it if their mother-in-law returned to her own house or if their back stopped hurting. Litanies of 'negative vision.'

As a teenager once said: 'We shouldn't call them grown-ups, we should call them 'given-ups.'

As soon as we stop living, we start dying.

Live.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

DEEDS


Good news and good deeds can't and shouldn't be separated. The good news explains the 'why' of the good deeds.

Both are the summation of Jesus' ministry. When He sent His big 12 out, He sent them to preach the Kingdom (good news) and heal the sick (good deeds).

That is not a tactic or a strategy. It is at the core of who we are -- good news givers and good deed doers. We have concluded that it isn't really 'church' if it isn't engaged in the life of the community thru service. Service isn't reserved for a few extraordinarily dedicated individuals; it is woven into the fabric of church and Christian life.

Join us.

And be blessed.

Monday, August 8, 2011

HARDEST

I wonder what the hardest part of your job is. For pastors, there would be several answers to that question.

Some pastors would say selecting staff is the hardest part of their job.

Others would say it’s the fishbowl they live in - where everything you say is evaluated and everything you do is judged.

Still others would say it’s the preparation needed to teach every weekend.

For me, the hardest part might be saying ‘NO.’

Contrary to what some believe, I don’t enjoy saying “NO.” Not at all. For instance, when someone wants to start a new ministry, as good as it is, sometimes it isn’t within the vision and focus of what God has called us to do in our city - even though it’s an amazing ministry. Or, sometimes a person wants to meet with me for counseling and I end up referring him or her to someone else - a staff person or a professional counselor. Saying “NO” to that kind of thing is one of the things that kills me because I don’t want them to feel unloved or not cared for.

But I know God has brought some amazing people into relationship with us and into our own organization who have far more wisdom than I. Saying “NO” in some of those situations also frees me to do what God has called me to at KFA. That way we can both use our gifts to the fullest.

That said, it’s still difficult - especially when someone says, “I feel like I relate to you best, PK.” But I think that might be because they listen to me talk for 40 minutes (OK, sometimes longer) on weekends. So when I say ‘This person can help you better,’ there’s part of me that feels I’ve let them down. I know that isn’t really the case because the person I’ve referred them to is way better at meeting the need than I am. That’s why God placed them in the body of Christ to begin with. Only a selfish pastor hogs all the ministry opportunities for Himself. Only a pastor with a serious ego issue believes only he can meet the needs of the congregation.

I know God has called Kevin Taylor to do two things at KFA: lead and feed. I’m called to lead the church where God is calling us and to feed the people His Word. If I deter from that focus, it’s over for me.

So now I’m saying “NO” a little more. And the result is that more people are receiving ministry ... the church is moving forward where God wants us to go ... I’m more prepared to share the Word ... we’re reaching more people than ever ... and our staff is experiencing the joy of being an instrument in God’s hand.

What’s the hardest part of your job?

And be blessed.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

POINTS

Joelene and I were privileged to hear Rick Warren in person this week at the Church Multiplication lunch where he was speaking in Phoenix --- and just so true to the guy's nature, he gave us all this awesome information and inspiration and challenge -- and all of it was done in alliteration.

The guy is just a master at creating memorable acronyms. I have been to his church, Saddleback, in Lake Forest, California and I've read some of his stuff -- and doggone it, the guy is constantly and forever communicating in 'all S's' or 'all D's' or spelling out some word with the first letter of each point. Just doggone it.

That style comes into conflict with another of my favorite speakers, authors and pastors - Andy Stanley. I'm a huge fan of them both. But Stanley has made famous in the world of communication the concept of the one-point message. No alliterations ... no acronyms ... no cute 'A-B-C's' of anything.

I'm a product of the traditional homiletical style taught when I was in Bible College and that was: 'Come prepared with your best formal Roman numeral style outline and alliterate your points and sub-points.' Boom. Done.

But these days I'm trying more and more to communicate in one-thought format, but I admit it's tough some weeks. My mind just flips to 'points' and they kind of come out of me without much effort.

The proponents of the one-thought approach cite the following plusses:

I. Nobody talks in alliteration.
When was the last time you recounted a trip you made with: "We went to the Park, the Pool, the Pizza Place and the Petting Zoo?" Besides, most of the time I have to mess with one of the letters just to make it fit -- i.e. Reading, Writing and 'Rithmetic (?)

II. Nobody remembers that much of what you said.
It's Saturday night and for the life of me, even I can't remember what I spoke about last Sunday. It is supposed people will remember one point explained thoroughly more than three points explained briefly.

III. Everybody gets the bottom line.
People won't remember the whole message, but they'll remember the story about your pet canary and the one line you kept repeating over and over and over and over and over and over again. Remember the 'I have a dream' speech?

That said, I'm ready to go for tomorrow - in 5 points. And I'll just be myself.

And be blessed.

Friday, August 5, 2011

COUNCIL - 3

The last 24 hours was a mixed bag for me at the gathering of the General Council of the Assemblies of God in Phoenix.

First - a great reunion of seeing friends who pastor in places like Atlanta -- Springfield, Missouri -- Philadelphia -- Detroit -- Bakersfield, California -- and lots of other places. Great to have friends all over the country.

Then, so wonderful to be at a lunch sponsored by the Church Multiplication Network to hear speaker Rick Warren and rub shoulders with scores of people who are planting churches across America. It re-inspires and re-convicts my heart that God is calling KFA to do just that in our own future vision. Then, we were privileged to be at a dinner given by Project Rescue, which reaches out to human trafficking victims in India. Leader of Project Rescue, David Grant, will be with us in Kenosha in late October this year.

Finally, it was with some admitted sadness that I took part in a vote on the floor of Council that ended up consolidating my alma mater, Central Bible College in Springfield, Missouri, into a union with Evangel University and the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary. What has been three distinct organizations will be merged into one. I had some mixed feelings/emotions about it.

However ... now that we are on the other side of the official vote, it is my job to trust our leadership and the direction our body believes God is moving us. One of the learning points for me is that these are the very same things I expect and ask of my own congregation at KFA, so I will do for our fellowship what I ask our members to do for us as leaders at KFA and trust that God will bless both.

All in all, a tremendous 'day in the life.'

And be blessed.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

COUNCIL - 2

Yesterday and today's speakers at the 54th General Council of the Assemblies of God in Phoenix included such amazing people as:

Tommy & Matthew Barnett (pastor of Phoenix First Assembly, the U.S. largest A/G church ... and pastor of Angelus Temple & the Dream Center in Los Angeles, respectively) ...

Rod Loy (pastor of First Assembly in North Little Rock, Arkansas) ...

Lisa Bevere (author and wife of evangelist John Bevere) ...

and Dino Rizzo (pastor of Healing Place in Baton Rouge, Louisiana - and author of the book, 'Servolution,' which we will be asking everybody at KFA to read in the month of September in conjuction with our four week series called "Servolution!")

So great to see what amazing things God is doing all over America.

Please be encouraged to take the poll at right, under our pic - based on last Friday's blog post.

And be blessed.

Monday, August 1, 2011

COUNCIL - 1

For the rest of the week, this blog will focus on the happenings at our biennial General Council of the Assemblies of God in Phoenix, Arizona. Our church, KFA (www.kenoshafirst.com) is part of the Assemblies of God denomination (I say that proudly, but without sinning). We gather with over 20,000 pastors this week to do the business of our growing National fellowship.

I look forward to this time every two years - not only to see old friends and to vote on important topics that affect us as a denomination, but also to see and hear what God is doing around our country in churches everywhere.

One thing is sure -- we need our younger ministers grabbing hold of the vision and running with it. When I stride down the hallways of Council, I see them everywhere -- 20- and 30-something pastors in their shorts and long sideburns and scruff and tattoos -- and it gives me hope.

This is a generation hungry for something more than the Top 15 Leadership Principles to Make you a Better Pastor -- they want something other than the 21 Reasons you should do ... Anything.

They want more. I know this in particular because I work with 7 other pastors in that generation every week of my life who tell me this. They want more.

They want a voice. They want influence. They don't just want to hear about the vision, they want to help create it. T. Friedman calls it 'open source' influence. He explains that past generations went to the Encyclopedia Brittanica for information and answers or to a trusted friend. The present generation logs onto Wikipedia, an open source directory for information that doesn't just provide answers, but lets users contribute their knowledge as well.

This is new thinking for my generation and it translates like so: Do I create just enough space for people to feel part of the team, or do I actually give real authority to shape the direction and look and future of ministry? That's the difference between leading via task force and leading via open source.

I'm leaning strongly toward the latter these days.

P.S. It's supposed to hit 105 degrees every day this week here.

And be blessed?

Be encouraged to take the poll at right - based on last Friday's blog posting.