“It doesn’t matter who gets the credit as long as God gets the glory.”

– Craig Groeschel

Published in: on October 23, 2008 at 7:44 am  Comments (1)  

Catalyst: Brenda Salter McNeil

Some notes from Catalyst speaker Brenda Salter McNeil:

  • “Nobody wants to change the world more than God.”
  • When we really look at God, we can’t stay the same.
  • We can’t afford to just stay where we are in our comfort zones.  There has to be movement outward.
  • We all have a “Samaria” (see Acts 1:8), a place completely alien to us, another culture we don’t identify with.  It’s a place where the gospel really gets tested “for real for real.”
  • We often don’t actually do what Jesus said to do because it’s scary.
  • When we go to our Samaria, we’re forced to rely on God instead of on ourselves, on God’s power instead of our own.
  • “From the inception of the church it was intended to be a multi-ethnic movement.  It was always meant to be global.”
  • Believe that Jesus is who He says He is and will do what He said He would do.
  • Let God shake things up in my world and ministry and life.
Published in: on October 23, 2008 at 5:23 am  Comments (1)  

Catalyst: Jim Collins

Another excellent speaker at Catalyst was Jim Collins, author of Built to Last and Good to Great.  Some of his insights:

  • “Good is the enemy of great.”
  • “Greatness is not a function of the cards we’re dealt,” but of conscious choice and discipline.
  • “You will find a culture of discipline in every great enterprise.”  But you will not find it in average ones.
  • We must have the right people in the right places.
  • “You have to prepare for what you cannot possibly predict.”
  • Humility is the signature trait that separates great from good.
  • Humility brings a driving passion for the cause–not for personal gain.
  • “If it’s about you, you will not build something great.”
  • Do not build around a powerful personality.  To do so is irresponsible.  Instead, build an organization that endures.
  • Don’t just have a “to do” list.  Equally important is a “stop doing” list.
  • Ask yourself: What gets in the way?  What doesn’t produce results?  Your answers should be on a “stop doing” list.  The lack of a “stop doing” list is a lack of discipline.
  • Do not confuse values and practices.  Our values should not change; our practices must change.
  • Every generation needs to develop its own practices to express unchanging values.
  • Build a personal board of directors.
  • Build a council and use it as a mechanism of disciplined thought.
  • Ask the right questions.  What is your questions-to-answers ratio?  How can you double it?
  • Spend more time being interested and less time trying to be interesting.
  • Schedule days to turn off all the gadgets and do nothing but think.
  • Greatness is a function of the choices you make that no one else can see.
  • We pay our mentors back by mentoring others.
  • Everyone on your leadership team should be able to articulate their responsibilities without referring to their title.
  • “If you have more than three priorities, you have no priorities.”
  • We cannot focus on individuals to the neglect of the mission and vision of the organization.
Published in: on October 22, 2008 at 5:22 am  Comments (1)  

Christianese Blooper

I just stumbled across a funny reminder that Christians need to be careful not to slip into Christianese.  When I saw a podcast sermon title and clicked on the information button to see what it was about, it said: “A study in Romans chapter 8 encouraging Christians to be anxious for nothing.”

Sounds kinda like a bad idea to me!

Published in: on October 21, 2008 at 3:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

Catalyst: Andy Stanley (part 1)

The first session of Catalyst, the conference I went to near Atlanta a couple weeks ago, featured Andy Stanley as the speaker.  Some highlights:

  • As pastors and other Christian leaders, we’re called to influence people we don’t have official authority over.  In other words: “We can’t make them do anything.”
  • In order to motivate people into action, one essential is moral authority.
  • Moral authority comes from alignment between our creed and our deed.  That is, we do what we say.  We do what we’re asking others to do.
  • Moral authority goes beyond positional authority.
  • People expect this alignment from us–and they should.
  • When we compromise our moral authority, we lose our ability to influence people.
  • Our public & private lives must be consistent with each other.
  • Without moral authority, all the leadership practices in the world lose their effectiveness.
  • Three key areas where moral authority is applied in church leadership: (1) Forgiveness; (2) Family; (3) Finances.
  • Forgiveness is our message!  We must not harbor bitterness.
  • We must never carry with us into the future the hurts of the past.
  • There’s no excuse for bitter, vengeful church leaders.
  • We’ve been forgiven, so we must lead the way when it comes to forgiving.
  • I must never let my family feel like the church is my mistress.  If I do, I lose my moral authority.
  • Family must be prioritized over ministry, work, sermon prep, etc.
  • Never misprioritize when it comes to family!  Don’t sacrifice what is permanent for what is temporary.
  • Every dollar I receive in my paycheck came from someone who chose to give it to our organization.
  • If I want to lead generous people, then I must be generous.
  • Moral authority gives people confidence in our leadership.
  • Moral authority shows that we really, truly believe in where we’re trying to lead people.
  • Moral authority must be gained, maintained, and retained!
Published in: on October 21, 2008 at 5:09 am  Leave a Comment  

Living Stones

We had some last-minute changes in our worship service yesterday at CrossWay.  Fortunately God has placed some gifted people in our congregation to stand in when needed.  Our worship leader, Josh, had to be out of town for a funeral.  I was unable to preach due to sickness.  But the music in the worship service was led by Diana, and Norm preached a message from 1 Peter 2:4-10.  A big thanks to both of them for their ministry!

From the sermon:

  • We are living stones–together.
  • In a structure, even one broken brick needs to be replaced.
  • One brick by itself doesn’t serve much purpose.
  • There are different kinds of stones, each which serves a different purpose in building.
  • We cannot fulfill our destiny apart from the church.
  • Two traits of a priest: He has access to God & he brings others to God.  Jesus is our High Priest, and He has made His people a “royal priesthood”!
  • As priests, we are to be bridge builders to bring others to Christ.
  • As priests, we are to bring offerings to God.
  • “All of our work is to be an offering to God.”
  • Our worship is an offering to God: not a burden, but a joy.
  • The Christian himself is an offering to God.
  • “We have been chosen that we might be different from other people.”
  • We are a people dedicated to God.
  • Christians are a people for God to possess.
  • Am I possessed by God?
  • We have value because we belong to God.
  • We are called from insignificance to significance.
  • God has chosen us to do His work in the world.
  • “You are no longer an ordinary person because you are a person of God.”
  • “There is that awesomeness of God” that invokes “holy fear.”
  • “In Christ we are offered a new and intimate relationship with God.  God becomes a friend.”
  • Challenge: Give yourself to God in Christ and trust Him as your Provider.
Published in: on October 20, 2008 at 9:47 am  Leave a Comment  

Gems About Writing

Recently I got together over lunch with Randy Walter, editor of the Manna (a Christian newspaper for Maryland’s Eastern Shore).  He’s got a lot of wisdom and experience in the realm of Christian publishing, as well as a full cache of fascinating stories.  We had some delicious crab cakes as we talked about writing.

Some of the takeaways from our conversation:

  • “Everything I write I see as a teaching opportunity.”
  • “Most people, including Christians, don’t want to be preached at.  They want to be talked to.”
  • “Communication is the responsibility of the speaker, not the hearer.”
  • Aim for leaving a lasting impression.
  • Preparation can turn a potential crisis into an opportunity.
  • Even in secular writing, you can teach Christian truth.
  • If you write a book, you have to do one thing every day to promote your book.
  • Remember when approaching editors: They’re often frazzled and overcommitted, so write to meet their need.  Find out their needs–and meet them!
  • Be willing to take assignments.
  • Take opportunities to show your skills.
  • The secret to making good writing become great writing is rewriting.
  • There’s a difference between wanting to write and wanting to be published.  Which is my motive?
  • Why do I want to write?  To feel good?  To feel important?  Or to advance the Kingdom of God?
Published in: on October 18, 2008 at 5:42 am  Comments (2)  

10 Years

Tonight will mark exactly 10 years since I began following Christ and sobered up.

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been a full decade.  What a ride!  I’m so grateful for the countless, unbelievable ways that God has blessed me.  Thank You Jesus!!!!!!!

Published in: on October 17, 2008 at 5:59 am  Comments (2)  

Mr. Hyde and the Pediatrician

All week I’ve been sick and have waited for it to just blow over.  Finally I called the doctor and set up an appointment for this morning.

I felt kind of dumb and wimpy.  There have been several times in my adulthood I’ve gone to the doctor, but usually it was to get a prescription for allergy medicine, get a shot, or something like that.  The last time I went to the doctor because I was sick was probably half my life ago.

So I was already feeling self-conscious–a grown man going to the doctor because he doesn’t feel good and has a little coughie woughie and needs his mommy.

It got worse.

After taking my vitals and informing me that I’d gained six pounds since the spring, the nurse said I would be seen in “the kids room.”  Turns out that was an understatement.  She led me to a room near the back, and when she opened the door, I saw that the walls were covered with colorful childrens’ handprints with each kid’s name scrawled in childish handwriting next to it.  The patient table seemed like it was a mile high, and even had a little step ladder for the kiddies to climb up onto it.  In my paranoia I had to wonder: Are they doing this on purpose?

When the nurse came in to check things out I told her how I felt like a little kid, coming to the doctor just for being sick.  She had a hard time not laughing after she looked in my ears, saw how red one of them was, and said, “You’re really going to feel like a little kid if you have an ear infection!”

After doing the medical thing for a few minutes, she told me I had bronchitis and maybe an ear infection.  She wrote a prescription for an antibiotic and sent me on my way… without getting to leave my handprint on the wall.

The good part is at least now I’ve got some meds to knock this thing out, plus the nurse told me I needed to drink lots of coffee and other hot stuff.  Now that’s my kind of medicine.

Published in: on October 16, 2008 at 12:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

No One’s Calling This Guy A Sissy

Would you cut off your finger to play football?  This guy did.

Published in: on October 16, 2008 at 12:14 pm  Leave a Comment