Friday, July 31, 2009

Connecting the Dots

My son, who just turned four, loves the activity--connect the dots.
When he was younger the game was simple, with only ten dots for him to draw a line to one another to connect.
Now he's on the pages that have up to thirty dots for him to draw a line to connect.

And because he is our son, he has a double dose of "perfectionism." He get's real upset when he realizes that he went the wrong way and connected the wrong dot.

But you should see him when he connects them all properly.
He comes running to me to show off his work of art.
That's awesome! As I take the wonderful picture from his hands to admire.
He beams with pride.

Our life should be a beautiful picture that we can run to God with and say, "look Dad!"
The devil knows this; it's why he tries so many times to get us to miss the dot moment.
What is a dot?
A dot, for us, is a moment in life when you or I have to make a choice or decision.
We choose wisely---a successful connection of the dot to another in our lives.
We choose poorly---we can get off track, make a bad testimony for ourselves; even do some serious damage to our lives, and more than likely we have to go back and retake that "dot moment"---because our heavenly Father loves us that much, He lets us "re-draw."

2 Peter 1:5-9 (NKJV)
But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.

Before I share what I believe are some great "connecting the dot" helpers, please note that the end of verse 9 echoes what is mentioned in the beginning of verse 5.
In a nutshell it tells us, "if you have been saved by grace because of Jesus Christ, then you should be growing in your faith. The elements that are listed, pay attention to and use them in partnership with the power of the Holy Spirit, already in work in you."

Here are three quick thoughts from this scripture that I believe will help us, "add to our faith" and successfully connect the dots in our Christian walk.

1. Practical Biblical Teaching: "But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge... " We need to be diligent to learn the Word of God. But not just so we can be a spiritual "know it all." But because it's a key to growing our faith. It's a compass to give direction when we're "on the dot" and need to know which way to go. Biblical knowledge works hand in hand with the Holy Spirit to help us make the proper decision.

2. Private Disciplines: "to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance," This is not my strongest area. However, I've noticed when I give special attention to the "things I don't want to do--but do them anyway" then it becomes easier and easier for me to do them and for me to do a better job at connecting the dots. There seems to be less mess and more beauty.

3. Providential Relationships: "to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. Upon doing some study into this verse, there seems to be some distinction between just "brotherly kindness" and "brother kindness love." In short, the latter is what Christ said the "second greatest commandment is like the first." This is the real rubber meets the road Christian living, but before you can get there you first have to have practiced a lifestyle of showing some "brotherly kindness" to those of like faith.
If you have siblings then you know the fighting is. It's probably why it hurts so much when it happens in the Church. But the point here is that you and I need fellow brothers and sisters that we love enough to be real, honest, loving, truthful, respectful, and compassionate towards; especially if we're to take that love to a word that does not know Him. Providential relationship is one that will always bring you closer to Christ; helps you connect the next dot, even if it hurts. Which means not every Christian friendship will be on that level, and that's okay, but you and I need the people in our life that know how to live "brotherly kindness."

Hope you enjoyed these thoughts and hope they help you when you find yourself on a dot and needing direction to make the next line a successful one. If you have any Biblical revelation on this subject, drop me a line, I'd love to here it.
I'm sharing this message in a couple of weeks to a wonderful youth ministry called, Ignited. God is doing amazing things in the church. Their youth are running around five hundred in weekly attendance and is filled with young men and women who love God and are making difference in their town.

Make beautiful pictures, connect the dots.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Difference

I'm here in Mexico, and tomorrow I get the honor to speak to hundreds of Pastors in the morning service.
The theme of the conference is called, "Making History." While at the same time there is a special service to honor my father-n-law, Dale Yerton, for his 40 years of ministry to Mexico.
Here is what I feel in my heart to share.

The Difference
I've always looked at my relationship with Dale as a Paul/Timothy relationship. He truly is more than just a spiritual father; however, it was when we were ministering in Peru together that the Pastor introduced us as "Moses and Joshua."
That phrase has echoed in my ears.

What could I say to a group of pastors who many have served for years in their churches, some just starting out?
What words do I pen to drive home the theme, "Making History"?

I've chosen to look at two major time frames in the life of Moses. When it comes to making history, Moses sure does take the top of the list. But the thing that I want to point is when he was first "called into ministry" and when he "exits the ministry."

Think about this: Moses was the first person ever called into full-time vocational ministry.

Many people up to this point loved God, lived for God, did great things for God; however Moses was the first who had the responsibility to "pastor" people.

Question: What will be the difference between you making history and watching history being made?

The Beginning
When called by God Moses gives five excuses or reasons why he can't be the one. We all do this. Each time God gives Moses the answer. I'll paraphrase, you can find this in
Exodus 3 and 4.
1. Moses, Who am I?
God, You're the one I'm with.
2. Moses, Who are you?
God, I AM, so don't worry about it.
3. Moses, What if they don't believe.
God, I turn dead things alive, I'm not worried about unbelief.
4. Moses, I'm not adequate for the job.
God, are you saying I make poor choices?
5. Moses, Is there anyone else you could send?
God, I know the value of relationships, I'll give you a helper.

In the midst of all this, God asks Moses a question, "What is in your hand?" Moses responds, "a rod." After this God does a miracle.
Two things about this. 1. When God asks a question its not because He doesn't know the answer, and 2. God never does a miracle to "show off."

The rod represented 3 things about Moses: his identity, his income and his influence. It's as if God is saying, "Moses as long as you hold on to that which is in your hand it will remain dead, but if you give me your identity, your influence, your income, I'll make that thing that is dead, become alive."
It was after this Moses's staff is forever called, "The Rod of God."

The Difference? Will you hold on or will you give over?

The End

There is so much I write about this but I want to keep it short, so here I try. This happens in Numbers 27:12.
God tells Moses, "your purpose in live will be completed, even though you won't get to go into the promise land, your people will. You're going to die here, they will enter the land."
Point---When a man of God dies, the plans of God do not.
We all leave some day. It may be by death, resignation, firing, etc. The plans of God will continue after we're gone. So who (to pastors) are you going to hand the torch to?

Moses only has two requests, (found in verse 16-17) 1. God you decide who it should be. It's amazing that Moses didn't bring a list and say, "here are some that I've been looking at, what do you think?" He simply says, "God whoever you want, I want." 2. "Let him be a person with the people." Someone who is a people person, good with people, someone who doesn't shy away from being there in the midst of the people." It's not to say that administration skills or teaching, preaching skills aren't needed but it's not the main thing.
God tells him it will be, Joshua.

Why Joshua? What's the difference between Joshua and anyone else. Up to this point only two were qualified, Caleb and Joshua. (ten spy ordeal) But we see that it was Joshua that served Moses from his youth. Joshua knew the heart of Moses and had been with Moses as an armor bearer. I think this has great significance in the Kingdom.
I think it's the difference worth paying attention to.

Footnote: This is in my heart, I see it in scripture, I think it's one of the greatest mistakes we as leaders/pastors and young leaders make. There is a difference between success and significance. Pastors you must think beyond your years. I thank God for Willy George in waking up a church in the 90's with the understanding of "turning the hearts of the father to the children" youth movement. But it must not end there. We need some spiritual fathers turning their heart to some spiritual sons and let God pick who its going to be after you're gone.

For those of you who know me, you know I enter a lot of "youtube" video contest. I got a rude awakening with one of the contest. In the detail entry it said, "if you're old, you can't enter." I laughed and clicked on it, to discover no one over the age of 25 was allowed to enter. Now I'm 33 and not old, but you know what? Yea! Probably some truth in there.

If you're a Pastor in your 30's, now is the time to start fathering as many as you can.
If you're a Pastor in your 40's, it's not to late, but you do have one day less than you did yesterday!
If you're in your 50's, and your not fathering, shame on you because you're not seeing the big picture. You think you're in your prime, and you're not. (don't confuse prime with relevant)
If you're in your 60's and your just starting the process----you're probably just looking for someone to keep doing what you did. Keep everyone happy, don't rock the boat, after all you've been successful---keep the success going, right? Nope, here's a truth, your predecessor will most always be different than you. (and that's good)
Past this, you should be enjoying watching your sons and grandsons in the church lead.

(ok, think I've offended everyone with the above, so I'm done now)

Saturday, July 18, 2009


I admit it.
I'm terrible at blogging.

My wife Lora, is awesome at blogging. She works hard at it. Reads and leaves comments on most of the ones she follows.
It's almost a full time job.

I keep up with several blogs, and try to be faithful in reading them. Commenting is another thing.
Some of the blogs I follow post every other day or so.
Some post daily!

I admire them all.
Me? I just post when I've got something worth saying.
And to be honest that's the scary thing about wanting to plant a church.
There's a part of me that thinks; "how in the world am I gonna come up with a message every week?" Clearly there are thousands of Pastors who do it and have done it for many, many years. I've spent eight years in ministry preaching weekly. Five of those eighty speaking about three times a week.
And there is my concern. I've been guilty of information overload.

I've often said, "the way pews got their name in church is by people sitting in them and soaking and then souring----pew!"
I look at things in life and think, "what things did you hear about the first time and got it, and started doing it right then?"--Honestly, not too many.
There's got to be a different way to "do" church in a way that reflects the personality of the leader. Right? Does every church have to be the same four song line up, shake hands, offering, preach, go home, repeat a few more times schedule?
I'm not calling for a church revolution....I'm simply asking, does a person have to fit that mold to become a pastor?
Discipleship is a process. One that I personally think can be done in a different way than what has been patterned for years. One I hope to be able to articulate the closer I get to launching a new church.
When? I don't know.
Where? I don't know.
But as God gives clear direction to His will, I do know this, it will be worth blogging about.