Saturday, January 29, 2011

Check the Destination

About six months ago Stacie and I were traveling home from Ethiopia. We had just spent 5 hours in Chicago O'Hare, prior to that 12 hours in Frankfurt. We were ready to be home. As we boarded the plane for the last leg of our flight we discovered that we were on the wrong plane. If we stayed on that plane we would have ended up somewhere in Kansas. To be honest I didn't want to end up in The Heartland. I wanted to go home! No matter how much I wanted to be in California, if I'd stayed on that plane I would have ended up at the wrong destination. Good intention. Wrong destination. Just like a plane has a destination, our thoughts have destinations.

The Apostle Paul says it like this…Romans 8:5, “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what that Spirit desires. The mind of the sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.”

When my mind is set on what God desires for my life, I will experience life and peace. When I let my flesh control my thoughts, the results will be destruction and the death of God’s best for my life. Part of the problem is that so few of us are aware of what we think about and meditate upon. It’s like someone trying to get control of their finances without knowing what they spend. You must do an analysis of your thoughts first.

This Sunday at South Bay I’m going to give a challenging message on getting control of your thoughts and experiencing rest in your mind. I hope that you’ll join us as we kick off our “Stress to Rest” series and start new service times at 9:00, 10:15, & 11:30a. Bring a friend and join us this Sunday.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Dream Big

Recently I've been reading several books that have challenged my thinking. Amazing Faith, which is a biography of Bill Bright's life and Exponential written by Dave and Jon Ferguson. I have 5 major prayers for 2011... one of which is, "God give me bold faith."

Here is a little paragraph from the book Exponential that really challenged me,
"A person who has pushed me to dream big is Lyle Schaller. He is one of the most prolific writers on church life... Over and over again he will rib me by looking me in the eye and saying, 'Dave, your biggest problem is that I have a bigger vision for your church than you do!' And strangely enough, every time he says that, my dream gets bigger!
Right now I'm thinking about what it will take for us at Community to be a church of two hundred sites in Chicago with one hundred thousand "3C" Christ followers. And when Jon (Dave's brother) and I get together to talk about our vision to be a catalyst for a movement of reproducing churches, we try to dream big! We start these dreaming conversations strategizing about how to reach one billion people." (p. 46)

He goes on to say that BIG DREAMS change your questions, the bigger the dream the more profound questions you will ask. Not only do BIG DREAMS change your questions, they change your prayers. God has so much in store for our lives that we can't even fathom. My thinking is way too small. I hope that as I align myself more with God in 2011, He will inspire in me God sized dreams that only He can accomplish.

Questions to ponder:
* How big is your God? Go back through the bible and start researching His character.
* When is the last time you asked God to give you a "God sized dream" that only He could accomplish?
* What fears need to be faced in your life in order to start attempting the dreams that God placed in your heart?
* With God's help... where can you put your skills, talents, personality to work to make a significant impact?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Protect Your Heart

Last Monday a friend in ministry sent an email informing me that he had a moral failing. I literally read through my friend's email 4 times. I wanted to make sure that I was reading correctly. This friend mentored me, he invested in our church, he was a co-laborer in the kingdom. Ugghh!

It is a sad reality that these situations happen way too often. I hear too many stories of pastors committing ministry suicide. Every time I hear these stories it serves to me as a fresh reminder of the weakness of the human flesh and the aggressive strategies of the enemy to bring destruction to kingdom leaders.

One week after receiving the news I wanted to give a little reflection to moral failings: (*not all of my reflections are based upon the situation with my friend)
* None of us are exempt from a fall. Our flesh can end up ruining our lives if it goes unchecked. When we think we are above a fall we are "cruisin for a bruisin."

* A fall does not happen over night. It begins when we stop protecting our heart. Boundaries are very important and you must have them in place, however it's important to remember that a fall comes from the human heart. It is not simply a result of a life without boundaries. Boundaries keep the heart in check, but the heart is the source.

* Ministry is exhausting. The toll and cost is great emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Pastors and ministry leaders are susceptible to a fall because of this reality. We must make sure to fill our tanks with honorable sources of life.

* Teachability and humility keep your feet grounded. We need people to tell us if they cease to notice a hunger and passion to keep growing and learning. If you stop asking questions or stop pursuing growth, this is a big red flag.

* We must guard ourselves in relationships with people of the opposite sex. I know this goes without saying right? Here's the deal, it's easy to become too comfortable with people of the opposite sex. Your familiarity in a business context can cause you to allow your guard to fall down and you stop communicating in a protected way.

* The best antidote to sexual temptation is a great sex life with your spouse. When your marriage suffers it makes you more open to other relationships that might provide a quick fix. My spouse is the only legitimate source of intimacy in my life, I must embrace that.

All this being said, no one sets out in ministry wanting to be a statistic. It just happens to so many who stop protecting their heart. I love my friend and I grieve for him and his family during this season. I pray that God would bring healing and deep repentance to his heart and to his family. I pray that he would find grace from others as he showed grace to so many. I pray that I would continue to find these situations as warnings to protect my heart and the heart of others.