Friday, November 28, 2014

We Are Visitors (series)

When we first moved to southwestern Germany in 2007 we felt as if our season as associate pastors had come to an end.  We began to coach and mentor pastors and church leadership teams across Western Europe.  We also had to find a church for our family to attend.  It was our first time in over 20 years that we were visiting churches (over 20 of them) in order to choose one as our spiritual home.  We were looking at churches from a consumer's point of view - as outsiders rather than insiders.  This was truly an eye-opening experience!

While visiting these churches we noticed some areas (that were unfortunately fairly consistent in the churches we visited) that could definitely deter a visitor from returning.  This following blog series shares some of our thoughts about this.

We Are Visitors - part 1
We Are Visitors - part 2

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Don't make your calling mine

Don't make your calling mine.  What I mean by that is, don't expect me to do what God told you to do, live like God told you to live or sacrifice what God told you to sacrifice.  God created us with unique passions and talents, and we’ve gone through unique experiences.  Why, then, should I expect you to have the same passion and calling from God that I do?  It's not fair for me to expect you to have the same relationship with God and calling from God (pastoral/missions/church planting) that I do.

God told us to sell everything and move to Germany. It's arrogant for me to expect you to do the same thing in order to please God – as if I'm sacrificing more than you are for the will of God.

A perfect example of this was Keith Green.  He was an amazing minister, and was greatly used by God to stir a nation that was falling asleep.  Robin and I can still quote the words to almost all of his songs.  I believe he was used by God as a “prophetic voice.”  But like many with this “prophetic voice,” he expected everyone else to have the same heart and calling that he had.  He expected everyone to go to the mission field.

I don’t think this was right.  It happened to be right for our family, but it’s not the right place for everyone.  1 Cor. 12:12-27 makes that very clear.  Each of us has a specific calling.  It may be similar to someone else’s, but it won’t be the same.  We need to remember this and encourage everyone to find and fill his or her place.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Not good enough

Photo credit: Bianca Cimini
I just had an epiphany… I was thinking of the fact that Jesus didn’t choose any of the "Who’s Who Among Israeli Religion Students “ or “National Religion Honor Society” students to be one of His disciples.  Not one of them was trained (Acts 4:13 says they were "laymen with no training in Scripture or formal education").  He chose those that were passed over, those that didn’t make the cut.  He chose fishermen, tax collectors and political activists (radicals).

But what I had never realized before was that Jesus Himself was passed over by the religious leaders.  Even though they recognized that at age of thirteen He was gifted, they obviously didn’t choose Him to be one of their lawyers (experts in the Law).  He didn’t fit their expectations, so they discounted Him.  As Isaiah said, "He was despised and rejected by men!" (Isa. 53:3)

All Jewish children had to learn the Pentateuch (the Mosaic Law) before their 13th birthday.  We know it today as a Bar Mitzvah.  Then the religion teachers would choose a student in whom they saw a gift and refer him (no girls allowed) to the religious leaders for further training, in preparation for a life of religious service.

If you’ve been ignored or passed over because you aren’t the brightest or the best, you’re in good company.  God can use anyone who is willing to submit their lives to Him!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Something out of nothing

Image Credit: T.Magic
This past Sunday I had the privilege of spending some time with a team that will be launching their church in two weeks.  The pastor asked me to share from my heart so I gave them something that God spoke to my heart when we were getting ready to launch our church.

God is the Creator.  His creativity knows no bounds.  And He lives in us, which means His creativity lives in us.

Church planters represent the creative heart of God.  They literally create something out of nothing, just like He did.  They build something that gives life to people, just like the world He created.  They bring order to chaos just as He did when He took a world that was . (In Gen. 1 God brought a world from being formless and void to the wonderful place we know today.)  They bring light to the world, just like He did.

God brings together a team together.  They unite around a common purpose.  And together they do something significant – the plant a life-giving church!