Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Power of One

When I was in the ninth grade, I heard a message called "The Power of One."
It focused on the contrast between two men. Adam and Jesus; found in Romans 5:12-17
The phrase "by one man" has stuck with me to this day.

By one man, sin entered the world.
By one man, salvation has come.
The power of one.

I had a most wonderful experience brought to me through the use of Facebook.
A young lady who was a year behind me in school took the time to find me on Facebook and send me a message. I'm deeply honored that she would do this, and I want to share it to encourage you in the same power that it encouraged me. The Power of One.

I have changed the name out of respect, it reads:
Hey, my name is Meg and we were at Southside together. You are a year above my graduating year...anyway. I just wanted to let you know that you made a huge impact in my life your Sr year. I accepted Christ at a See You At The Pole meeting that you were leading. Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you for being so on fire for God back then. I have now been faithfully serving God for about 14 years. Thanks for making a difference in the lives of those around you. God Bless.

To those who wonder is it worth it, to those who can't see past today. For those of you that were in one of the two youth ministries I had the privilege of pastoring, to those who heard me say time and time again, "if you fall, get back up and dust the dirt off and keep going. It's true.

Don't give up.
See past today.
Display grace in your actions.
Don't hold grudges.
Reach out.
Don't gossip.
Help others.
Encourage those who need it.
Love without expecting anything in return.

The power of one.
By one man sin entered the world.
By one man salvation came.
What type of person will you be?

You be the type of person who makes a difference.
To make a difference, you have to do things differently. Christianity today needs to look different than it does right now. For me, I'm going to be known for "what things I'm for" rather than "what things I'm against."

The power of one.
Will you join me?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Inside Out

The Church.
It meets every week in a building.
It's encouraged to happen outside a building every week.

A few weeks ago, on the side of the road was a car in need of some jumper cables. I paused for a moment thinking like we all do, “I’ll be late for my meeting.” I texted my contact and decided to be late for the meeting, moments later the car was back on its way.

The Church happens everywhere.

I had the wonderful opportunity to speak at a church about a month ago where I gave an invitation for people to follow Christ. In the altar were people whose lives were being changed and hearts connected with God.

The Church happens everywhere.

Lately, a fantastic young man has opened his life to me and we’ve been having some great heart to heart talks. The openness and transparency he has displayed to me is quite an honor. I’ve had the opportunity to speak into his life and share some Biblical insight and help connect the dots between everyday living and biblical application.

The Church happens everywhere.

After speaking at a youth gathering, a parent came up to me afterwards and shared some struggles she and her husband have been going through in this rough economic time. She has been wrestling with some profound issues. Being able to speak life and encouragement and pray with her was one of the highlights of the evening. I could see the peace of God come into her life and her situation.

The Church happens everywhere.

My wife and I lead a small group of believers that is composed of people from several churches. When a couple in the group showed up with an important need, the group answered the call. When almost half of our group was affected with job loss, we all chipped in to make car payments, buy groceries, and do whatever we could for each other. A loving, passionate, giving community of believers.

The Church happens everywhere.

A few days ago, I received an email from a Youth Pastor in Dallas. I've never met the man and honestly have no idea how he got my contact information. In the email his heart called out for guidiance and a deep desire to connect with someone who could help him fulfill the call that God has put in his life. He is one of several I've had the awesome privilege of connecting with and getting to step into a new type of relationship with fellow members of the body.

The Church happens everywhere.

In the everyday experiences of life, if you look for it, church happens everywhere.
Many times the issue is we only see church in one location: a building; the reality is Jesus spent more time outside of the building and more time building the Church.

I encourage you to live your life with soul saving love.
Outside of the building and in the place where opportunities are everywhere.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Mugged at Knife Point

Ever notice when you buy a vehicle, you all of a sudden notice how many cars like yours are on the road?

You never notice them until you have one of your own.
All of a sudden they're everywhere.
The reality is, those cars were always on the road, the difference is YOU are now aware of them because YOU now have one.

I think the same applies to different areas of our lives.
Here lately it seems just about everyone I bump into has experienced great levels of pain or have been let down by people and organizations that were supposed to help and protect them.

Something my friend Steven and I share is a great love for music and the messages that come out of it. Several months ago when listening to one of my favorite songs the words jumped out and hit me like a ton of bricks. In the midst of singing them in my truck (by myself, because I'm not allowed to sing where people can hear me) I stopped and said, "Yes, that's true! Thank you God for allowing it to happen to me!!!"

They say, "I just wanna' get mugged at knife point, cut deep enough to wake me up, cause I know I don't want to die, sitting around watching my life pass me by....." Reliant K- This Weeks The Trend

I know what you're thinking....."that's sick!" I would think the same thing, too, if I hadn't gone through what I've gone through.
Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't wish the situation my family has gone through on anyone, nor what countless others have gone through.
Craig Groeschel calls it,"the private pain before public gain" stage.
But I will be the first to say that it's been the "mugged at knife point" situation where scriptures come alive and are proven true.

I truly thank God for allowing the mugging to happen to me.
It doesn't make it any more right.
It doesn't excuse people's actions.
It's just that I am no longer waiting for God's judgement on them.
I pray they are blessed in all they do and that God would withhold His wrath on them.
Because, I've woken up!
I realize I was dead in the place I was.
In the church where I was.
In the organization where I was.
In the accomplishments I had achieved.
While "doing ministry", while "doing church", while "doing stuff'" I was like so many countless others: watching life pass by.

But now I can see, hear, feel, taste and smell things that others can't because of what I've experienced. Bill Hybels calls it, "The Popeye Moment."
I can relate far better to those who are sick of church and Christians than I ever could before. The truth be told, in the past when I heard someone bad-mouth church or say the church is full of hypocrites, I'd simply write them off as someone who didn't "truly" know or had experienced a good church. Or I would argue with them that what they were saying was in their own mind and really had no clout.
Now, I'm more understanding, more compassionate. I listen more as my heart cries, like Popeye, "I've had all me can stands and me can't stands no more!"

See now I can honestly say, "I know what I'm called to do."
I'm more focused with more clarity and courage than I've had in the last eight years.

I encourage you, if you've been "cut" or "mugged" from the very ones who were supposed to put a robe on your back, a ring on your finger and sandals on your feet; first, allow God to do an amazing work in your life where you can honestly forgive them and release them (because honestly they don't even know what they've done to you...on some level they believe what they've done is 100% right, so there's no need harboring bitterness towards people who think they're right....trust me). Secondly, see it as an opportunity to start living in the fullness of what God created you for.

Yes, it's painful. It's not easy, but if it were easy then the world would be filled with better Christians instead of bitter ones.

So be different.

Be the type of Christian the world needs to know.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Hunting for Easter Answers

We had a great Easter today with friends and family.

I'd like to ask some questions and hear your thoughts. Your participation is greatly appreciated.
If you would at the beginning of your comment put your "church" status.

Disconnected--(use to go, rarely attend anymore)
Casual--(attend less than 10 times a year)
Attender--(attend 2 or more times a month)
Worker--(part of the ministry)
Staff--(receive a paycheck from the church)

Before I dive in with the questions, please know that I am not being rude of facetious.
I'm a "Gen X'er" right down to my very last bone, which means I have a very low tolerance for bull. I like the facts and I like the truth.
I love to take those facts and truths and create structures and methods for making ministry, churches, people and programs shine.
Below, I'll right the question, then under it give you a few of my thoughts on what causes me to ask it to begin with.

Thanks ahead of time for your feedback.

1. Are "the lost" (or disconnected) attending church on the two big holidays like they used too? If not, why is that?
Easter is one of those holidays that is typically a time people "show up" for church. The church I attend did have an increase of attendance, but no where near what I thought.

2. Was your Easter service different in anyway from a normal service? Should it be? If so, why?
If people who do not attend church show up on Easter, why do they not return next week? What are we doing to scare them off? ( I know those are more questions, again just my thoughts)

3. If I was one of the "Easter Sunday Only" attenders, what was a weird factor for me?
I say weird, but maybe disconnect factor or Christian-eese thing.

4. If Pastor came up to me and said, "what in the service should we change?" What would you say and why?
I'd think every leader would want constructive feedback, but if this is too sensitive, email me directly at farrelldesign@yahoo.com

Last one
5. As a new person coming in the door, what was the biggest issue YOU think they had to overcome and why?
I have kids, so I think in terms of a young family who doesn't know child check in procedures, or where the nursery is or if there even IS a nursery. So, what do you see?

Again, if you feel like any of your comments need to be sent to me personally and not posted as a comment, feel free to email me.
And if you know of people who would be great to answer these questions, please pass it around! The more the better.


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Legos, Connections and Friendships

I've recently heard someone talk about how everyone is like a Lego.
We all have a limited number of connectors.
Connectors like on a Lego.
Introverts have a few.
Extroverts have up to dozens.

Either way, once they're full, they're full.

This makes sense to me, because I've often struggled to fully understand the lack of friendship from people who didn't really measure up to what I expected out of a friend; and more importantly I've struggled to BE that type of friend that I feel I SHOULD be.

See, I'm an extrovert, and I have so many relationships that I don't have many "connectors" left. In fact, I find myself having to take some friends off in order to make room (time) for others. I mean, let's be honest....do you talk to all 400 of your friends on Facebook at least once a week? I don't. In fact, I feel like I liar for even having that many "friends" that I don't even talk to once a year!!!! This is probably why "T-Mobile" and other cell companies give you a "Fave-5" plan......they know most of us only have room for about five real, meaningful, connecting relationships. Some a little more, some a little less.

I no longer feel guilty for "not being THAT friend" nor do I any longer think ill of those who aren't that type of friend to me.
Because "acts of friendship" is one thing, and "acts of connection" is another.

When we moved into our house, the first week was great. We received pies, cookies, smiles, handshakes all welcoming us into the neighborhood. So many "acts of friendships", but ask me if I'm connected with any of them......the answer is no.

This is why many people complain about church being "cliquish." The reality of it is, it's not a church full of cliques as much as it is a church full of people whose connectors are already full.
This has been most helpful for me to understand why I've lost so many relationships over the last year during our time of ministry transition. I used to think it's because that person wasn't a "real friend" but the truth is, people have to make room if their connectors are full due to schedules, locations, timing, influences, and new relationships; some must come off to make room for the new or the relationships that want to be meaningful.

Sure, it doesn't make it any easier to know you've been taken off the relationship connector with someone, but know it's part of the process. It doesn't mean those people are bad or shallow or don't live up to your expectations.....it simply means their connectors are full and someone has to be dropped to make room for someone they want to have a deeper relationship with.

Because like Legos, some are used to build huge buildings, some are used to build cars....and some just get lost.

(The Legos example came from the book: Sticky Church)