All posts for the month October, 2011

Thanks for all the prayers that got me safely to Uganda. Lost bag, but overall a very uneventful trip.

Here is a liitle of my itinerary:
Tonight (Friday, 9:00 am your time, we are 10 hours ahead of the west coast ) – speak to the youth group of the church the Earwickers attend and serve

Saturday – lunch with the Foursquare pastor in Kampala, John Kamanzi

Sunday – speak at the church

Monday-Thursday – Island Leadership Retreat – pastors and leaders gather together for teaching and fellowship. I will teach once each day.

Friday-Sunday – visit Bob and Carol Higgins in Lira

Sunday – return home

I hate halfway. It’s just past the point where you could have turned around and not nearly far enough to be excited about arriving. Going back isn’t an option, because it would take the same time to get where you are going as it would to go back where you started. So, what to do?

Push on. Press forward. Suck it up. Stick with it. Whatever else your dad or grandpa told you to do. Whatever you do, don’t give up.

Now, does where you are going help you push on? Do you know where you are going? Are you excited about the journey because you are moving? I know, I know, I’m working on 2 hours of sleep, so this isn’t making any sense. But do you know why you are on this journey? Purpose. Destiny. Fate. If you have a picture of the end, it may help you in the middle.

At this moment, I am about to land in Amsterdam, halfway to Uganda. What keeps me moving forward and positive? It could be as shallow as, it cost me and my church quite of bit of money to get me here. But eventually how much it cost to get here will fade. What’s left? Who I’m going to see at the end of my journey. That’s what really matters.

When you think about the end of your journey of life, who will you see? Do you know? If you don’t, how are you going to make it in the hard times and in the in-between times? I can’t wait to see our missionaries. I can’t wait to see my lovely wife and kids 12 days from now. And I can’t wait to see my best friend and the One who gave me a reason to walk down this road and the strength to persevere when times are hard. They are what helps me keepĀ  going and not turn back.

The last and only time I was in Africa was 1992. I spent almost 6 months interning with a missionary family, Bill and Kathy Kieselhorst, and their three boys in Nigeria. It was an incredible experience and confirmed that I would be involved in missions, in some capacity, for the rest of my life.

Almost 10 years later, I’m on my way to Uganda to visit our missionaries! Missionaries are my favorite people group:) I can say that, now that I’m not one of them. What I love about missionaries is the way they approach life. They are risk takers, often on the fringe, sold out to a cause, and a bit on the rebellious side. They have the gift of faith and can see, and often do see, the impossible made possible by God’s power and grace.

So you could say, “I am a bit excited about spending two weeks with them.”

Thanks for praying for me and my family. I will be visiting Brent and Virginia Earwicker, Seth Sokoloff, and Bob and Carol Higgins.

Acts 10:25-26 NIV
As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. But Peter made him get up. “Stand up,” he said, “I am only a man myself.”

As a Christian leader in our church and community I found this passage really interesting. Not because I want people to fall at my feet in reverance, but how hard I work to make sure they don’t. I wonder if we lessen the power of God working through us by trying to be “like everyone else.” I’m so “human” that no one would ever think to show this kind of reverance. Have we lost something?

I totally get it though, because priests and pastors are often elevated above their character and when they fail it hurts many people.

So here is my take away: don’t look for people to revere you, don’t expect it or demand it. But, in humility, walk in the power of God. Rest in the fact that you are counter-culture, special, set apart and used by God. Don’t work so hard to be like the world. Be your God-given self and allow Him to use you in power. The world is craving authenticity and real power. Power that changes lives, heals sicknesses, restores relationships. If we do these kinds of things consistently, then we probably have to say every once in awhile, “listen, I’m just like you. But God is powerful.”

I spent the afternoon yesterday at the celebration of life ceremony for Lori Sipe. It was inspiring as I heard story after story of how she influenced so many.

Pastor Ken shared the message and it was the clearest proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ that I have ever heard. He boiled down life to two things: relationship with God and with others.

This morning I read Acts 20:21-24 where it says that Paul had one aim: to tell others about the good news of God’s wonderful kindness and love. What else is there? As Ken said, we should concern ourselves with the lamp that doesn’t go out (our spirit) rather than be so concerned about our physical bodies. Work on the relationships that will last forever and don’t so be worried about that which is temporal.

Thank you Lori for living a life that pointed people to the most important thing: Jesus.

Have you ever woken up thinking about something stressful going on in your life or work? That’s been happening to me the past few days.

Most everyone reading this knows that I am a pastor. Just like every organization and every individual in America, the church has also been impacted by the financial crisis. I’m not waking up thinking about my own financial situation (even though my wife and I practice creative financing), I wake up thinking about the financial health of the people in my church andĀ  of the church itself. The next decade is going to be full of major changes in how we do church and how churches are funded. What will that look like? Is the church preparing herself for those changes?

Now that you know a little more of what wakes me up some mornings, if you think about it, lift up a prayer for me and all the pastors you have relationship with, as I’m sure many of them are also waking up with similar thoughts.

In Acts 15 Paul and Barnabas, great friends and co-workers, have a sharp disagreement that leads to them separating and working with different people.

As a notorious people pleaser I have been challenged lately to be ok with conflict. I used to run from it, avoid it, try to keep it at bay, but the Bible is pressing me to embrace it when necessary.

Much of the conflict that comes between two people comes from passions that do not align. As I read this story of Paul and Barnabas, it is hard to tell who is wrong. In other words, who should lay aside their passion? Sometimes that’s not possible and rather than forcing a unity that is conciliatory, at best, separation can bring a good result for everyone.

Do you think Paul and Barnabas stayed friends? We naturally conclude that their friendship was not just strained a bit, but was crushed. I think that is a faulty assumption and one that shows how inadequately we often see conflict. Friendship doesn’t always have to be on the line when there is disagreementa. Maybe it is not feasible to continue working together, but our friendships should go deeper than our philosophies on life.

Those are my ramblings on conflict. Would love to hear from others how they see conflict.

In Acts 14:21 it says that Paul and Barnabas preached the good news in the city of Derbe and made many disciples.

These guys were not in Derbe very long (just a few days up to a few months) and it tells us they made many disciples. So how long does it take to make a disciple? Does this passage make you wonder that, under the right circumstances, someone can be discipled in a few days?

A disciple is a follower of Jesus Christ. How long does it take to help someone follow Jesus? I think the church often complicates a very simple process of helping someone give their life over to Jesus and follow his teachings. The church has owned the spiritual development of Christ followers, but all Jesus asked us to do is make disciples, make a follower of Jesus. The responsibility of becoming like Jesus is primarily in the hands of the follower. The church preaches and teaches, but the follower chooses to live it out in relationship with Jesus and his church.

20111011-082152.jpgAt once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. (Acts 9:20 NIV)

There has been quite a debate in the church about how quickly someone should be allowed to share the gospel after they have been converted. This verse silences the debate.

Paul was a persecutor of the church and when he gets radically saved, he ends up connected to a group of believers in Damascus and stays with them a few days. Immediately after those few days he starts to preach. What do you think happened during those few days? What did they tell Paul about Christianity? What did they consider the essentials to pass along that gave Paul and these other believers the confidence for him to start preaching so quickly. My guess is they stuck with life of Jesus. They, most likely, shared the story of Jesus from start to finish, showed how Jesus was revealed in the Old Testament, and what His purpose was in coming to this earth. In one of Paul’s letters, that he wrote much later, he writes that he only wanted to preach Christ and Him crucified. You can take all of Christianity, our traditions and our teachings, and boil it down to one thing: Jesus Christ. Matter of fact, I get a little nervous when Christians get off Christ and into other “spiritual” things. Jesus is central.

I had a professor in college that told me one time, after you have preached what you think you need to preach, talk about Jesus.

How Jesus-centric are you?