in my last blog i mentioned something called the "pee-tree." this isn't code for anything....
Thursday, October 7, 2010
in my last blog i mentioned something called the "pee-tree." this isn't code for anything....
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
as many of you know i had the opportunity to go to ghana last week. if you know me very well you also know that this was a huge step of faith for me. a few things to help bring others up to speed about me:
1. i am a germaphobe
2. i am a homebody
3. i don't like to sweat
4. i don't like flying for longer than about 3 hours
as you can imagine....all of these things would be tested. as you can also imagine.....i was apprehensive about the trip.
our host is named Stephen Aputara. we met him at a seminar in little rock arkansas in 2007. at the time we just exchanged business cards and went our separate ways. he also met and quickly befriended one of our staff members named don. stephen now confesses that he sensed from the beginning that God was creating a partnership. over the past 3 years stephen has invited me to ghana on several occasions. i had an excuse for everyone of them and never went. about 4 months ago he was in the states and told me that he wanted me to come and that i should let him know when i would be there and he would build everything around our visit. i didn't have a way out. i knew this was God's way of telling me "excuse making time is over...better start packing!"
news of my trip traveled quickly. almost immediately i had 7 other people who wanted to be a part of this journey. i thank God for blake, phillip alycia, kristen, garrett, kayla and sean. they were the perfect people to make this first and most important journey with me.
over the course of the next few months we prepared for our trip. financially, physically with lots of vaccinations and spiritually....we didn't know what to expect. the area where we served is saturated with Islam so we studied to ready ourselves for potential conversations. the preparation was so important for me on many personal levels.
the day finally arrived....we hugged our families and boarded the plane for Africa.
in the next several posts i will do my best to introduce you to some of the fascinating people we met and describe the remarkable places we went. a quick glimpse of what is ahead:
- bats in the worship center
- 150 kids under the pee-tree
- one a day vitamins...if you eat 2 you will die
- preaching by flashlight
- dancing with the widows
- whistling for crocodiles
- sleeping with the geckos
- eating the slaughtered goat
- tour de ghana to hear the gospel
it was an amazing journey.....stay connected to my blog and i'll tell you some incredible stuff!
on each post you will find a picture of one of the many widows i met along the way. i promised them we would pray for them so thanks in advance for lifting each of them up.
Monday, October 4, 2010
if you would be willing to pray for one of them on a regular basis please let me know and i will send you a picture of a real person....with a real name...with real needs.
looking forward to hearing from many of you!
e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org to get a picture....this will make sure i have your email!!!
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Throughout the New Testament Jesus used questions to teach. Questions helped His disciples discover truth for themselves. Questions help each of us go through a process of self discovery. This post is the result of asking a question that was asked of me.
What would happen if the Church’s singular focus was to make disciples?
My response was very direct at the time. I stated that I believe we would see a movement of God like we have not seen in generations. So, another question was asked. What is keeping us from seeing a movement of God happening?
I reflected on an answer for quite some time. I thought about the stories I have read of how God is moving in other parts of the world. I thought about how I have not seen this happening here in North America. So, I asked myself a question. What makes North America different from other parts of the world?
I pondered this question while watching a few of our family’s favourite television shows. We often enjoy watching the Home Improvement Channel. Through the years I have been able to glean a number of good ideas from watching Disaster Do-It-Yourself or Holmes on Homes. One basic principle that has been restated many times in these shows is the need to know the difference between a load bearing wall and non-load bearing wall. The load bearing walls are the ones that keep the house from falling down. The non-load bearing walls are dividers that keep us from seeing what is on the other side.
I believe North America is different from other parts of the world because we like our space. In order to have this space we put up a whole lot of walls. However, for those of us who want to see and be involved in what God is doing some of these walls need to come down.
A number of the walls that I believe need to be come down first include:
The Wall of Comfort
I would define comfort as a state of being in which we feel secure. It is a feeling that everything is okay at least where I live. If we become too comfortable we no longer sense the urgency. In scripture Jesus warned his disciples that the time was near. He took down their wall of comfort so they could see what was coming and helped them prepare. What questions should we be asking Jesus? How do we move outside our comfort zone? Matthew 24:32-35
The Wall of Distractions
North American society provides an abundance of distractions. Add to our busy lives the need to adapt to a rapidly changing world and we see our attention becoming extremely divided. We are inundated with many forms of entertainment. We have numerous opportunities to listen to the radio, watch television or surf the Internet. Technology continues to take ever larger amounts of our time. Beyond this we still need to earn a living, pay our bills, raise our families and keep our relationships healthy. In order to sort out all these distractions it becomes imperative to ask some more questions. What are my priorities? How do I redeem my time? Ephesians 5:15-17
The Wall of Individualism
When I refer to individualism I mean the pursuit of individual rather than common or collective interests. This seems to be a common theme in Western society. It appears we are losing sight of what it means to be community. Our focus is diverted by the idea of personal success rather than corporate well being. The wall of individualism blinds us from the needs of all God’s people and from fully accomplishing God’s purpose. I continually ask myself, “What was Jesus’ original purpose for His people?” How do we live as Jesus intended? Acts 2:42-47
The Wall of Disobedience
Disobedience is any choice that is contrary to what God has instructed. It is saying no to God. This is not as obvious as it might seem. I often find believers questioning the relevance of scripture for today’s world. There is a sense that it was meant for those who lived two thousand years ago but it isn’t relevant today. It seems they want to make God’s word fit into their lifestyle. They do not see this as disobedience. What does it take to obey God? Titus 3: 1-9
So, what next?
Like any home improvement project it takes time, effort, tools, resources and a team of committed workers. In order for disciples to start taking down some of these walls more questions need to be asked.
What are the load bearing walls in our lives? What are the non-load bearing walls in our lives? What changes do we need to make in our lives if we want to see a movement of God happen in this generation?
Rob Ross works with Oikos Ministries, a contemporary home-based organic church network with an external message in Canada.
Monday, April 5, 2010
2.) do you feel like believers are living up to these responsibilities? why or why not?
don't be intimidated to respond. i don't have an agenda....just trying to get some feedback for a future sermon.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Have you ever wondered if you are truly a leader or if you have leadership potential? The following article written by Dr. Ron Herring, Director of the Center for Effective Leadership, spells out seven clear signs that point to your leadership potential.
Very few people question the scarcity of leaders in our world today. They seem to be in short supply, and churches aren’t the only ones looking for good leaders, so are businesses, education, non-profits, government agencies, and the military. Maybe you have the gift of leadership and don’t know it. Maybe God wants to use you in ways you haven’t imagined. Let me encourage you to continue reading this article and see how you stack up.
1. You have a sense of purpose-Leaders get up each day, excited about what they are responsible for. If they don’t have a project to lead, they look for one. Being a leader defines who they are!
2. You have the ability to say what you mean and mean what you say-Leaders are plain spoken. They have the ability to communicate in the clearest of language. There is no ambiguity when they speak!
3. People believe in you-Leaders find that people trust them. Trust has to be earned, it’s seldom inherited, but leaders earn it quickly. They put others at ease!
4. People follow you-Leaders have followers; it’s that simple. If no one is willing to follow you, you not a leader!
5. You make things happen-Leaders know that, in Texas, we’re fond of saying, “He’s all hat and no cattle!” Hot air just makes it warm, it doesn’t make it happen. Leaders don’t just talk, they produce!
6. You live in a state of constant self-evaluation-Leaders are never satisfied. There is always a book at their bedside, a CD in the car stereo, a podcast on the IPOD and a seminar to attend. Getting better is a journey they never complete!
7. You can’t wait to tackle the next project-Leaders are restless, they have to be “in charge” of something. If they’re not running the “show”, they’ve got little interest in the “show”. That’s not ego, it’s how they’re wired!
Thursday, January 14, 2010
as christians we have both the privilege and responsibility to be the hands and feet of Jesus at all times but in the midst of such suffering it seems especially important. it is estimated that over 3 million people have been directly affected by this tragedy. reports this morning said the death toll would most likely climb into the hundreds of thousands.
children have lost their parents
parents have held the limp and lifeless bodies of their children
homes and businesses have been destroyed
life as they once knew it has been forever altered
yesterday i received a link to photographs of the suffering. the label warned me that some of the images were graphic but i felt compelled to click on it anyway. my heart broke as a result of what i saw. it didn't take long until i wanted to click on the x and close the window. i knew if i clicked on the window the images would go away and i wouldn't have to acknowledge their suffering. with a click on the x i could go back to my life....my routine....but something told me to look more closely. something told me to look in their eyes. something told me to appreciate their pain. something told me not to click because their pain couldn't be removed that easily. and so i looked at every picture....at every person....and found myself broken.
i hope you will spend some time looking at the pictures. i think it will be good for your soul, albeit uncomfortable, to look into someone else's pain. it will do us all good to know that ignoring their suffering doesn't take it away.
after you look i also hope you will respond.
praying......fervently and often that those who are on the ground will be the light of Christ in their darkness.
giving....connect with Compassion International, World Vision, Texas Baptist Men...connect with someone who has the ability to take them the supplies they need to survive.
going....prepare yourself to be ready to go if and when it becomes possible.
look into their eyes.... http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/photos/photos_galleries/haiti_earthquake/#/2
Saturday, December 12, 2009
1. golf will survive....hard to believe for some but absolutely true.
2. there is more to tiger than golf and money....and women. there is a deeper issue.
3. believers who find plenty of opportunity to talk about tiger yet don't pray for him are missing an opportunity. tiger needs the Lord. nothing less....nothing more.
4. tiger is or is at very least on the way to becoming a broken man. we, as Christians, should be praying for him to find forgiveness in his brokenness and peace in the midst of this storm.
as i look back over the course of my life and ministry i have learned a very valuable lesson: God doesn't waste anything. He will leverage our very worst to point us to His very best.
stop talking about tiger's sin....and pray for his salvation.
Monday, November 9, 2009
i'm grateful to work with people who are willing to tell me the truth. i'm blessed to journey alongside of friends who care enough to wade through difficult waters with me. I'm honored to know that i have people around me who will ask the hard questions and call "bull" when i try to skirt the issue.
i suppose easy days are the ones that bring about no meaningful conversations. however, the days when i feel like i have grown the most are the days when difficult conversations happen. growth through tension.....who would of thought?
"as iron sharpens iron so one man sharpens another." proverbs 27:17
Sunday, November 8, 2009
as i think about today i can't help but wonder if there is someone who reads my blog that still feels like something is missing?? do you feel like life has handed you far more questions than answers? perhaps you wonder if there really is a God.....
i hope that you will seek resolution to your questions. if another believer has ever told you that asking hard questions is wrong please forgive AND ignore them. i believe hard questions open up the door for big answers to emerge. scripture says "seek and you will find."
my prayer is that you will find peace. my hope is that you will have the courage to ask the hard questions. my desire is that you would be willing to ask the questions that you fear will bring about ridicule because in that humility i believe God will answer.
i'm praying that you too will find peace......today.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
"Everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial."
Your future is found in I Corinthians 10:23. It reveals two options: permissible or beneficial. And your destiny will be determined by which option you choose. Who we become is determined by whether we settle for what is permissible or strive for what is beneficial.
It's so tempting to live down to what is required. It's so tempting to live in our comfort zone. It's so tempting to take the path of least resistance, but the path of least resistance never takes you where you really want to go!
What am I getting at?
Well, are you setting for what is permissible? Or are you striving for what is beneficial? Are you giving God leftovers? Or are you seeking first the kingdom of God? Where are you compromising? Where have you become comfortable with what is permissible?
Don't let short-term comfort short-circuit God's long-terms plans for your life. Spiritual short-cuts always turn into detours! Take the hard way. Take the high road. Strive for what is beneficial.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
the operation went well. the dr was very relieved to only find infection in my left maxiallry sinus. today at my post-op visit he mentioned 3 different times how glad he was that he didn't have to deliver bad news. i think he was leaning toward a more negative result. i'm glad he was wrong.
the recovery period has been smooth. honestly the pain has been minimal....i would like to think i just have a ridiculously high level of pain tolerance but i'm pretty sure that isn't the case.
all in all this journey has been beneficial for me for a couple of different reasons:
1. as a pastor i need to remember the emotions the patient is dealing with....they are very real
2. as a person i need to remember that there is nothing stopping me from a different test result down the road. each day matters and is truly a gift. the great theologian tim mcgraw got it right in his song "live like you were dying."
everything in life has some takeaways.....don't miss them
Sunday, October 25, 2009
the topic that has been on my mind the last day or so is the anesthesia. i was put under twice when i was a little boy but that was so long ago that i don't remember being worried about it.....i suppose there is a lesson in that isn't there??? today as i was going through all the possibilities in my head of what "might happen" God revealed to me what was actually happening all around me.
sadly, many people have allowed the enemy to anesthetize them. they have grown numb to the sin that is eating away at their soul. they don't feel a thing. sin is doing so many things to them.....yet they are totally unaware. at some point the anesthesia will wear off and in that moment they will feel the pain and anguish that sin has brought them.
i'm blessed beyond words that i have a Savior. i'm in awe of the fact that He allows me to know Him by name. i'm honored and humbled that He calls me "son." i'm painfully aware of the sin that is around me and grateful for His mercy that sustains me, equips me, protects me and encourages me.
i hope you know Him too. if you don't or aren't sure i would love to tell you about Him and how He specializes in waking people from the dark slumber of sin and ushers them into the light of His forgiveness and grace.
let me know....
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
God takes full responsibility for the life wholly devoted to Him.
think about that sentence for a minute.....allow yourself some time to marinate in that thought. when you and i fully devote our lives to God He will take full responsibility for the consequences. the scripture teaches us that perfect love casts out/drives away fear. the person whose life is aligned with the purposes of God and whose decisions and actions are based on the leadership of the Holy Spirit.....need not fear consequences.
what does that look like in our world?
not willing to fudge the numbers so corporate will reward you.....you may get fired
you make the hard decision to confront a friend about their sin.....they de-friend you
you tell your kids "no" because what they want to do doesn't honor God.....they get mad
you don't engage in gossip at the office....people begin to shun you
as you go throughout your day....wholly devote your life to Him. you may get ridiculed. you may get fired. your kids might get mad at you. you might lose a "friend" or two. the consequences may be difficult for you on a personal level but you, as a follower of Christ, don't own those consequences. God does.
Monday, October 19, 2009
i will have lab work done on wednesday of this week and surgery on october 30th in the morning.
keep the prayers coming if you don't mind.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
yesterday i went to the dr for an allergy test and a ct on my head. i found out i am allergic to 35 of the 40 things they test for! that isn't what has me worried though. after the dr took my ct he said we need to do surgery because my left maxillary sinus is full of something. he said he wouldn't be concerned if both sinuses were full but "since only one is blocked we need to do surgery to see if it is a malignancy." my heart dropped then very quickly found a resting place at the top of my throat. he saw that i was concerned and started to reassure me that there were other possibilities as well that were actually more likely the case. i have just had a hard time moving past the word "malignancy."
here's the favor....pray that all goes well when i finally get to have the surgery. i obviously would like to think it is something other than a malignant tumor but i have to practice what i preach and just trust that whatever comes from it is.....well, right. here is the prayer list as i see it:
1. God's will be done
2. my faith strengthened
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
during a talk by francis chan he made the following comment: "even pastors need to be pastored." he was referring to a time when he was encouraged and pastored by louie giglio. basically louie had reminded him that grace wasn't just something we are to proclaim to others....but receive it ourselves. what a reminder!! the same mercy and grace i tell others about is there for me as well. i don't have to hide behind the shadow of my failures anymore. i am free to step into the light of His forgiveness and rejoice.
i hope this serves as an encouragement to you today. why? because we have forgiveness....and because we have forgiveness....we're not guilty anymore.
when you see your failures, inadequacies, tendencies and sin i hope you will also be able to see the cross of Christ and in that place find grace.
(lyrics to "not guilty anymore")
it doesn't matter what you've done
it doesn't matter where you're coming from
it doesn't matter where you've been
hear me tell you I forgive
you're not guilty anymore
you're not filthy anymore
I love you mercy is yours
you're not broken anymore
you're not captive anymore
I love you mercy is yours
can you believe that this is true
grace abundant I am giving you
cleansing deeper than you know
all was paid for long ago
there is now therefore no condemnation for those who are in Jesus
you are spotless
you are holy
you are faultless
you are whole
you are righteous
you are blameless
you are pardoned
you are mine
Saturday, October 10, 2009
today i want to direct you to a video that gave me chill bumps when I first watched it. i hope it challenges you, as it has me, to remember the grace and love that we find in Christ.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
as we were out on the boat i noticed several different things about fishing. i also couldn't help but think of our responsibility as Christians to be "fishers of men."
1. i had to make the effort to go fishing. fishing is not a routine of mine so i had to adjust some things and make it part of my schedule.
2. we used different kinds of bait in order to catch the fish.
3. it took time....and patience.
4. it was so exciting when we reeled in a big one that i couldn't wait to recast the line.
i would encourage you to spend a few minutes thinking about being a "fisher of men." how do you see these 4 things playing out in the church and in our role as believers?
Thursday, June 25, 2009
today i can't get the issue of leadership off of my mind. last week i was talking to a group of guys and the subject of leadership came up. we threw out all of the cliches about leadership (you're only a leader if people are following you and etc) but knew in our hearts that there is so much more to leadership than catchy phrases and well articulated principles.
there is a great deal of information being distributed about leadership these days. john maxwell, andy stanley, patrick lencioni, aubrey malphurs, mark driscoll and countless others are churning out books left and right on how to develop leaders. the information in these books is really good stuff. these books provide insight as to how we can leverage our influence in the lives of others and lead them by utilizing their strengths and God given abilities. fantastic material.....no question about that!
i guess what led me into my little desert was being overwhelmed by all of the leadership information that I had been ingesting. somewhere along the way I became more concerned with being a good leader than i was with the following question: where am i leading these people?
this post my not make a difference for anyone out there but i suppose i needed to use it as a platform of confession. hopefully it challenges you to ask this question of yourself: where are you in your relationship with Christ? how much attention have you given your spiritual health? what "good things" out there have become a distraction to you in your pursuit of holy ilving and Godly leadership?