Rain

I absolutely love it when it rains. I’m sitting here with Snow Patrol coming out of the iTunes and my office door open to hear the heavy rain and thunder.

I like writing on days like this.

Tired

Please pray that I get some sleep sometime this year. It would be nice. For some reason I’m not sleeping well and then have a lot of trouble waking up in the mornings. I even went to bed last night at 10 (that’s early for me). I just tossed and turned until about 11:30. It’s like I can’t sleep until I’m just dead tired and then the sleep isn’t very restful.

My stress level is high right now, so I’m not sure if that has anything to do with it or not. However, in my tossing and turning I did a ton of praying for our youth service that kicks off April 10th.

More on that later.

Spike

Ironically, I’ve seen a sudden spike in traffic to this blog. That’s really funny to me considering I have been way to busy to post this month.

So what are you telling me? If I shut up, you’ll show up?

I do keep this blog updated much more frequently. Starting this week I should be back to updating here regularly. It’s been a crazy month.

One thing I want to write in-depth about is 37signals’ new product Highrise. I’m in love with it and it’s taken my organizational skills to a whole new level.

Bitterness

God really worked on me tonight during the Fesser’s Bible study. We have to be incredibly careful not to let bitterness towards people interfere with his work in us.

I’m just going to be honest and say that’s especially true of people in ministry. We often get kicked in the gut by the very people we are trying to love and lead and that makes it hard to stay focused on his works. Confess anger and bitterness to God. Lay it on the alter and let him burn it up so we can move on and let him use us.

Another reason to love Netflix

This is another reason why I love Netflix. Not only do they offer a great service at a good price, turns out they treat their employees great as well.

I love this idea that you aren’t ranked on the time spent in the office but for the quality of the work.

I need to add Netflix to the list of “People we like” on our new site.

Via AdPulp.

Vision Check

1st Wednesday is coming up in just 8 days according to my countdown clock. I’ll be speaking on vision and we’ll be having a baptism service in conjunction with it. If you are interested in being baptised, please contact us and bring dry clothes/towels.

This can be huge. I need everyone to invite your lost friends. If you have to bring more church folk, fine, but especially bring lost friends. We wrote down over two hundred names of people we knew who needed Jesus. BRING THEM. It’s easy to just put the name in the bucket and pray. Now we have to get up and do something about it.

We’ll be discussing Jesus’ vision for every aspect of our lives and the daily obstacles we face to walking in God’s will. What is God’s will? How do we figure it all out? It’s gonna be great. Plus I think I’ve got Indiana Jones worked in there so that fill’s my movie quota for the sermon.

Also, Girl Band is tentatively scheduled to play for us the 1st Wednesday in May, so mark your calendars.

Bull

I love this quote by Rick Warren:

“A lot of preaching today is what I call longhorn preaching, as in the longhorn cattle found in Texas. This style of preaching has a point here, a point there, and a lot of bull in between!” – Rick Warren

Very nice. Now our job is to make sure we’re not filling out the middle with bull just to fill up our 45 minutes. Isn’t there enough great material between the Bible and our culture to make our points impact people?

Via Tony McCollum.

To onlookers

Rebecca (my wife) is incredibly wise. Looking at the posts over the past two days she finally made me see, what would someone think if they were considering NBCF?

So this post is to people watching this blog who might be considering visiting or joining NBCF.

First, to non-christians considering NBCF. Give us a shot. The number one complaint I hear from non-christians is they don’t like church because it is full of judgmental hypocrites. I agree with you, church is full of hypocrites. Ours is not different, and I’m one of them. We all screw up, which makes us all hypocrites. The key is not thinking we are better than anyone else. We are in, what I would consider a time of transition for our church. We have hovered where we are at for a few years now and it’s time to spur growth or we may begin to see a downward slide. Myself and Pastor James were brought on board as associate pastors a month ago. We’ve both been working in the church for several years, and now we are in charge of several aspects of our ministries. Mine is mainly geared toward outreach. My philosophy is I’m not reaching out to more church folk, I’m reaching out to you. I want you. I want people who have given up on church or who have never been. I want people that aren’t Christians. Being in a church community and living with Jesus will change your life. It did mine. I’m not going to lie and say it’ll be easy or you’ll like everyone. If you’re doing it right, being a Christian is the hardest thing you’ll ever do. But the benefits are eternal. From my posts I tend to sound like I’m unhappy where we are at. I’m not unhappy so much as passionate. When you read me rant and rave, know that it is all geared toward spurring changes so that we can reach you. I want to create a place where you are comfortable coming for the first time and then plugging into the community.

To Christians considering NBCF. If you are willing to get your hands dirty and serve, come on in. A time like this is incredibly trying. There will be tension as we implement new things. Be ready for it. We need Christians with a heart to reach the world. If you are a church person, who is content to come on Sunday and Wednesday and not do anything to reach the world, there are a lot of churches out there who are about the same thing. Go find them. It isn’t hard. We need people who can’t sleep at night because they have friends who are going to Hell. We need people who are willing to do everything they can to reach others. And we need people who are ready to plug into a vision that is bigger than just us. God’s vision for this church is to do things we don’t think possible. But, he’s not going to do it without us. Until we get up and put our hand to the plow, it’s not going to move.

Everything I do is under Pastor Leon’s vision to reach the world. I’m probably more abrasive than most (and sometimes more than I should be), but as Popeye says, “I is what I is.” I love NBCF and I love the things God has called me to do here. Please don’t mistake my passion for dislike. As I said earlier today, it’s going to take some passion to get us going.

On righteous anger, intensity and friggin’

Sometimes I let my wife read my posts before posting them. She often has words of wisdom for me. Last night was not one of those times. She was a little…worried about last night’s post after reading it this morning.

I’m not here to apologize, but to clarify.

Last night I experienced righteous anger. I was in no way in sin in my own heart. My anger was at our actions (or lack of) and at the brokeness of this world. It’s ok to be angry at those things as long as it doesn’t cause you to sin. When Jesus ran the money changers out in Matthew 21 and Mark 11, I don’t think he did so nicely. I think he had righteous anger.

I also don’t think the people he ran out were happy with him. My post yesterday was not to make anyone happy. It was to cause something to happen. ANYTHING. When you’ve been on high center so long as we have, we need some intensity to get us going. I don’t apologize for anything I said and haven’t edited it in any way. We need to hear these things, even when they hurt.

Even if I woke up this morning and thought it was a bad idea, I still wouldn’t edit it. I would post something like this. I want this blog to serve as a picture of real-life ministry for young men thinking of going into full-time ministry. I want you to know the ups and downs. I want you to experience my mistakes with me, so hopefully you can avoid the same ones. What we are fighting here is a spirit of religiousness that has prevented us from reaching out to the world. It’s what Jesus was here to fight, and I think it’s still our main problem. That’s going to require shaking things up and stepping on some toes. It’s going to require saying things people don’t want to hear, and honestly I’m more of a hammer in this respect. I’m going to make mistakes and I’m going to screw up, but I would rather try and mess up than sit back and tell the world to go to Hell. Which is exactly what we are doing if we aren’t reaching out to them. And no, just having a Sunday service does not count as reaching out to them.

And on the use of the word friggin’. In the words of the great Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride, “I do not sink that means what you sink it means.”

Friggin’ in my generations vocabulary is just an expression, similar to shoot or dang in older generations. I think it’s become a word that is accepted in that way and not as a stand in for another popular “F” word. It’s meant to show the intensity of the word it modifies and bring attention to it. So yeah, I’m gonna say it. It’s stuck in my vocabulary no matter how hard I try not to say it, it happens. I write how I speak. So prepare to see more friggins than you can shake a stick at.

Broken

God was really on me today to and I’ve just been craving his word. Normally Mondays are slow for me, but I’ve been fired up all day about the things we have planned for church.

I couldn’t figure out why. But then it happened.

I ran into an old friend at Wal-Mart and she began to tell me about all the things happening to her family. My heart broke. All I could do was pray for her and invite her back to church Sunday.

I walked out of Wal-Mart feeling like a failure and broken.

I have never been more bitter and angry at church than I am right now. All I could do was pray for her and invite her to Sunday morning. We have NOTHING at church for a situation like this where they can come as a family and connect with others who can help them. We have Sunday mornings and bible studies and individual mens/womens groups and THAT’S IT. We should have had something for them. A specific time and place where we can say “come here at this time and you WILL receive help.

You may argue that Sunday morning is the place for that. I’m sorry, but people are not comfortable walking down an aisle and spilling their business in front of a lot of strangers. This fear could prevent them from recieving help.

THIS IS WHY WE NEED SMALL GROUPS! I’ll be praying for her family and working like crazy to get all the things we have planned for the church moving. I’m so friggin’ irritated that we weren’t ready for her family. We’ve been around seven years and we should have been ready. And if you’re reading this and thinking “your right, the pastor should have been doing this” just shut up. I’m talking to everyone who has ever opposed his vision on small groups. This is why we need them. I’m not content to sit in the four walls of our church anymore and “go deeper.” I’m not going to sit in a chair and learn the friggin’ Hebrew meaning of words when people’s lives are falling apart.

I’m not saying we don’t need Bible studies, because they are essential. However, we can’t let that stand in for actually living out Jesus’ mission.

"Too Busy for God"

This morning was great. I brought God’s word, despite my own fears and I think God used it to work in people’s lives. The last half of the sermon was incredibly heavy. As people left, I didn’t receive too many happy hand shakes. A few, but not many. Honestly, I didn’t expect many. It was heavy at the end, but I meant every word I said. If we don’t get off our butts and start reaching new people, we will wither and die. It’s now or never. I believe if we don’t get after it, God’s will will pass us by and we will be like the fig tree Jesus cursed because we won’t bear any fruit.

I’ve uploaded the podcast here for anyone who wants to hear it.

Now that we’ve cast the vision for reaching the community, it’s time to go make it happen.

Follow the leader

The Swerve Blog from Lifechurch.tv has a great post about leaders staying close to their passion (or vision). If the leader of a small group drifts from the vision God has given him, the group will stray as well and begin to atrophy. The same thing can happen with entire churches. This is why God didn’t set up a church to be led by committee. He gives the vision to the pastor who gives it to us.

Fired up

Early morning prayer this morning was HUGE. God is ready to do something in this church. If we don’t get on board that train, it’s going to pass us by and we’ll be like the fig tree that Jesus caused to shrivel up and die.

I don’t have words for what I’m feeling right now, but you better get ready.

My message Sunday hasn’t changed too much, but God has called a little bit of an audible on the ending. He’s placed some things on my heart that I pray I have the courage to say. I’m bringing it. I hope your ready.

We don’t need everyone?

This post by Gary has me fired and stalking around my office ready to get going. I’m tired of this idea that we have to try to keep everyone who ever attends the church. Satan uses PEOPLE to try to destroy ministries and we let it happen because we don’t want to offend anyone. We need to offend some people.

This is my opinion and mine only, let me make this clear because I know many in the church will disagree with me. However, it is the senior pastor’s job to get the vision for the church from God. If you are not on board for that vision, it means you are not plugged in and involved with making God’s vision happen. Which generally means you are causing problems. The thing is, there are a million churches out there, and one of them probably has a vision you can plug into and serve. Find it. Go to it.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. We need to be more concerned with who comes in our doors than who goes out them. We need to be concerned about reaching the unchurched, not keep every Christian happy. If we try to make everyone happy, we will stagnate and die. If you don’t have laser focus on God’s vision, people will distract you and get you off mission. Being off mission is the same thing as doing absolutely nothing for God.

And as pastors, we need to guard against becoming too comfortable. The next person to oppose our vision may be someone who is the largest giver, or someone who helped start the church. We need to be willing to let EVERYONE go for the vision of God. If we are willing to let go of problem makers, we can reach MORE people for Jesus and that is the ultimate vision.

Just look at what has happened to General Motors. They tried to make a different car for absolutely everyone. Before you know it they were producing so many different styles, they didn’t do any of them very well at all. They need to scale back to two or three lines and focus on making those great. We don’t need to offer everything people want. If we do that we are never good at anything. We need to focus on a few things God wants us to do and do them well. Everything should be geared toward creating a welcoming community for non-Christians and training Christians to reach others. That’s it. Everything else is just fluff.

This is why we need to cast vision in everything we do. Every sermon, lesson, everything should be tied back to our need for Jesus and the church’s vision for reaching people for him.