Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Seasoned Server

We frequently find ourselves eating at restaurants. I guess it’s a pre-requisite if you’re going to be in the ministry. It seems that a majority of our meetings take place around a bowl of chips & salsa accompanied by a large sweet tea for me and a diet coke for Beverly.

I remember when we came to BFWC in 1999 every family in the church was determined to take us to dinner. We were very appreciative of their offer and thrilled to break bread with our new congregation. However, what we didn’t realize was they all wanted to take us to the exact same restaurant. We laugh about that to this day. And by the way, we haven’t eaten at that restaurant for years – I guess we got burned out on it.

One thing I admire about a quality restaurant is the professionalism of their team. From the hostess who seats us, the server who waits on us to the manager who checks on us – if you’re in a place that is service driven, you’re in for a good experience.

Having served in customer service for many years, I’m a stickler for quality, not to mention I’m melancholic by nature and I recognize immediately the difference between excellent service and poor service.

I’m always thrilled to be greeted by my server within 2-3 minutes of being seated in their section. I appreciate the appetizer suggestion but I don’t want to be badgered into buying a basket of mozzarella sticks. Honestly, skip the beer & wine sales pitch…get straight to my sweet tea order, followed by a salad with ranch dressing and then my entrĂ©e in a timely manner. Can someone say DELICIOUS?

Now here’s what I love about a seasoned server: They pay careful attention to your need for a refill. But the best part is they don’t interrupt your conversation to ask the obvious … “would you like a refill?” They just do it! In fact, a seasoned server is invisible. You don’t even see them give you a refill.

Now consider this:

  • Acts 6:3 3Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.

The Apostles were looking for “servers” to carry forth the business of the church. In other words, someone who waits tables. Think about it…waiting tables in God’s Kingdom requires a high standard. (Honest, full of the Holy Ghost and wise)

Waiting tables in the natural and serving in the ministry are very similar. What those early deacons did by way of feeding the widows natural food was in spiritual contrast to prayer and the Word of God for the church.

If you don’t have a desire to serve people – you shouldn’t serve in ministry. Focus on the word DESIRE. In fact, it’s the first thing mentioned in the requirements for the ministry.

  • 1 Timothy 3:1 1This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.

Have you ever met someone who has such a desire to serve in ministry that they’re willing to serve in any capacity, regardless of pay? However, I’ve seen those same people change by losing their desire for serving the Lord and His people soon after they get the “position” they’ve been searching for.

Their desire is diminished by stress, circumstances, people, things, etc. Things aren’t what they appeared at first and suddenly they lose their love for the ministry they once craved.

In the ministry, we cannot avoid people or problems. In fact, without people we wouldn’t have a need for ministry. If we’re going to serve in ministry, we must retain our love for people. Parents don’t lose their love for their children. Even if the child breaks a dish, marks the walls with crayons or gets a bad grade on their report card. Why? Because of unconditional love and a sincere desire to be a good parent.

When you love your kids, you’ll go to the moon and back again to express that love. Our love and desire for Jesus, people and the ministry not only sustains us…it constrains us.

  • 2 Corinthians 5:14 14For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:

When we draw strength from the love of Christ, our love for serving people is more than a task to be endured…it’s a JOY! Regardless of the trials, tribulations and troubles that often come with serving our love for God sees us through it!

Think about what a waiter in a restaurant endures:

  • Their job can be taxing physically, mentally and emotionally.
  • Someone who serves in ministry will have all that plus spiritual demands.
  • When people are hungry they can be rude.
  • They can be hard to please.
  • Isn’t the same true in the ministry for people who are spiritually hungry?
  • Some people make you think you can’t do anything right.
  • In the body of Christ there are the SWEETEST and the MEANEST.
  • Then consider the jealousy that comes from other waiters when a big tipper sits in the other waiters section.
  • They’re all supposed to be working on the same team, for the same company, for the same boss, for the same goal and yet envy still creeps in.
  • And yet, even though this is sinful, I’ve run into “teammates” who become jealous of another person’s success in ministry.
  • Watch out!

  • Proverbs 3:31 Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways.
  • Proverbs 14:30 A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones.

Waiting tables in ministry or at a restaurant requires certain expectations. You are expected to please your boss (the company) and the customer. If your boss is unhappy with your work, you could get fired. If the customer is unhappy with your service you’ll lose the tip.

And yet, even though it’s difficult and a balancing act at times, there great rewards from serving. If you do your job well, everyone is happy. (i.e., you boss, the customer, your co-workers, the cook, the cashier and the custodian) EVERYONE WINS when we do our job well!

Placing yourself in the role of “service” can be humbling. But isn’t this what Jesus did?

  • Mark 10:45 For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Honestly, I don’t want anyone preaching in our pulpit that isn’t willing to mop a floor or scrub a toilet. Regardless of their educational status, if they’re not willing to do the “menial” task without an audience then they don’t earn a spot in my book to do the “large” performance in front of the masses.

  • Matthew 23:11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.

In ministry and restaurants alike, the server must have a “right fit.” I feel it’s very important not to jump at the first opportunity that presents itself. Let me make an observation. If a restaurant has to advertise that they need help, then consider this possibility: there’s a reason they need a new waiter and there’s a reason they have to advertise. I would want to know what those reasons are before I jumped in head first.

Can the same be said of a church? Sure. Before you make a commitment you need to know the sustained climate of that church. Sustained climates produce cultures. Understanding this will be revelation that could spare your from having a “bad taste” in your mouth.

What does it mean to serve? Does it mean we stand around doing nothing, twiddling our thumbs? The definition of SERVE means: to work for somebody; provide for; be useful; assist; have a particular effect; etc.

In other words, to work for someone while providing the best assistance possible to achieve a desired result for the one we’re serving.

Is this what Isaiah 40:31 means? But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Our strength will be renewed when we serve the Lord by serving His people. An effective, waiter, pastor, ministry leader, etc., follows

We serve the Lord by serving His people. In order to be a good waiter, or a good pastor, there are certain basic principles we must follow.

#1 Don’t Be Late
I was taught that if you show up on time you’re late. If you show up early…you’re on time. Nothing is more aggravating than waiting for someone to show up who is continually late. As table waiters (servants) we ought to be the first there and the last to leave.

#2 Don’t forget to Pray
If we ever needed God’s direction, we sure need it now! When you start your day (i.e., ministry event, activity, etc.) with prayer, you are less likely to error. It’s during our prayer that we can condition our heart to serve with humility, be a blessing to our peers, leaders and even the people we serve.

  • Colossians 3:23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;

#3 Get Organized
Know your role and function. This requires research. Thankfully, the Scriptures are full of passages that deal with the role of servant hood. Knowing the ins and outs and the ups and downs of your particular field of service will help you be prepared to give the best possible service when called upon. One thing I love about Disney World employees is that everyone…from the person who picks up trash to the people who perform in the shows…they have all been trained to answer your questions the same. Bottom line: they know their role and function.

#4 Suit up
This is elementary. However, sometimes we need to be reminded to dress for success. Again, I know this is basic, but some people just don’t get it. Get a haircut; brush your teeth; press your clothes; take a bath; comb your hair; use a lint brush; carry mints; etc.

First impressions are lasting impressions. How people perceive you is how they receive you. If you’re going to serve someone, make sure you present yourself in the best possible light. Nothing worse than having someone wait on me in a restaurant who is sneezing all over my food and showcasing their tongue piercing in my face while they chew their gum to take my order. Let’s be CLASSY whether we serve in ministry or public service. Before you step out of the house, look in the mirror and ask “would I wait on myself?” If you critique yourself first, you just might silence your critics before they have a chance to form a negative opinion.

#5 Be Agreeable
Don’t be argumentative and hard to get along with. (2 Timothy 2:24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all.) When we serve, we will have to serve through conditions that aren’t always pleasant. Grin and bear it.

#6 Work on Tolerance
You’re going to encounter picky people who will have you run all over the map before they finally decide what it is they really want. While you’re jumping through hoops to please everyone don’t allow the demand of ministry expectations to cause you to get snippy.

You'll hear things like this: “It’s too loud.”, “it’s too cold.”, “the sermon’s too long”. Friend, the list goes on. My advice is to keep going! Don’t let the fastidiousness of people wear you out.

  • Galatians 6:9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

In time, you’ll see the results you’re looking for. It might not happen overnight, but believe me it will happen. If you get discouraged now you’ll quit before your harvest comes. It is too soon to quit!

#7 Be Watchful
As a servant, you learn through tenure the appropriate way to serve. You remain constantly aware of the ones you’re serving. They don’t have to ask for a refill…you just see that it is taken care of. Like a shepherd who watches over his sheep, he knows the condition of the ones he serves even if the sheep can’t see him. Always keep your eyes open when serving. Look for ways to use the gifts you’ve been given in a non-intrusive or ill mannered way. If you neglect your post, you may not have a post to serve at later.

#8 Offer an Apology
If we fail in our service, we must simply ask for forgiveness. Believe me, when you serve, you’ll make mistakes. The worse thing we can do is to try and hide it or make excuse for it. The best thing we can do is to confess it and make it right. Friend, we can overcome any failure if we finish strong! Overcomers are called overcomers because they had something to come over!

Consider Jesus who came not to be served but to serve and give His life a ransom for many.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Why Are You Forsaking The House of God?

Nehemiah 13:11 Then contended I with the rulers, and said, Why is the house of God forsaken? And I gathered them together, and set them in their place.

Nehemiah asked the question that needs to be asked today. If a Christian doesn't meet regularly with others for fellowship, prayer, and the preaching of God’s Word, his enthusiasm for the Lord’s work will begin to fade.

This leads to apathy in spiritual matters, and before long such a one will begin to blend in with his worldly surroundings to the point that nobody would ever know he’s a new creature in Christ Jesus.

The attitude some church members take toward their church is somewhat, to say the least, a little bit perplexing. They say everybody should attend church and yet never go themselves. They expect the church to be there when they need it and yet never support it. They encourage the effort to seek new members for a church they do not attend. Parents want their children to attend the church even though they never go.

What we really need today is a willingness to turn from our excuses and follow God’s instructions in His Word concerning the church and the believer’s responsibilities to her. If you are not a practical member of a church, than you need to join one! If you are already a member of such a church, then you need to love it and support it with your presence, prayers, and even your "purse."

Your church is the place where you can grow, find comfort and fellowship, and serve the Lord for His honor and glory. Can you say as David did in Psalms 26:8, "Lord, I have loved the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honour dwelleth."

The next time you stay home on Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, or when your church is having a Bible or mission conference, or when your church is having a revival meeting, or whenever else your church doors are opened, remember that there’s no excuse for not attending.

It’s amazing the excuses I’ve heard people give for not going to church. They can make it to everything else but somehow ALWAYS have an excuse for not making it to church. Usually, these are the same people who fault the church for not being "there" for them.

I was raised in a pastor's home. I've heard some real classics! I would like to thank all the wonderful people in the body of Christ who have provided such quality material for us to be able to share.

Here's a few excuses that will either make you mad or make you smile:

  • The kids wanted to sleep in.
  • I had a flat tire.
  • I just felt like the Lord was telling me to stay home and meditate.
  • I’ve worked all day, I’m too tired. (Don’t pay attention to my facebook which tells the “real” truth.)
  • I’ve worked all week, I’m too tired.
  • The kids need to get in bed early.
  • By the time I got off work, drove through traffic, picked up the kids, I was too tired – you know I need my rest and have to get up early.
  • I’ve planned another get-a-way (at the last minute)
  • I don’t feel good.
  • I can make the church dinners and fun stuff, but going every service – well that’s just too much. Besides, what does Jesus expect out of me anyway?
  • I work lots of hours, so I’m too tired to worship God.
  • I don’t have anything to wear.
  • I watch online.
  • I’d go if they’d let me sit in the balcony.
  • I watch the 700 club, that’s good enough.
  • It’s deer season again.
  • It’s turkey season again.
  • It’s bear season again.
  • It’s squirrel season again.
  • It’s fishing season again.
  • It’s duck season again.
  • I can’t afford to give anything and I don’t want to be embarrassed.
  • I’ll go to church after I graduate from college.
  • Service is too long.
  • The sermon is too long.
  • I don’t like the music.
  • It’s too hot.
  • It’s too cold.
  • I camp every weekend.
  • My family never went to church when I was growing up. I’m not used to it.
  • My spouse doesn’t go.
  • My backside hurts from all the sitting and my knees hurt from all the kneeling.
  • Nobody notices when I’m gone anyway.
  • The game will be on at the same time.
  • I’m studying.
  • I’m allergic to crowds.
  • I have to mow my yard.
  • I have to wash my car.
  • It’s my family reunion again. (10th for the year)
  • I don’t have gas money (however, that didn’t prevent me from going shopping)
  • My spouse and I work different shifts and Sundays are the only day we see each other.
  • I was too tired after playing cards with my friends till 2 am last night.
  • I volunteer to work on Sundays.
  • I don’t like how things are being run anymore.
  • God told me not to go.
  • I went last Sunday.
  • I think I have a fever again.
  • I have a cold and I need everyone to stay home with me and help me blow my nose.
  • I can’t handle crowds so I’m going to the race instead.
  • I can’t handle crowds so I’m going to the ball game instead.
  • I don’t get off till 6 pm on Wednesdays.
  • It’s not Easter yet.
  • My spirit is trying to lose weight and doesn’t need to be fed.
  • I was forced to go when I was younger.
  • We are planning a big yard sale.
  • My alarm didn’t go off (again)
  • I have a headache.
  • I have a hangover.
  • I lost my car keys.
  • It's football season.
  • It’s basketball season.
  • It’s the play offs.
  • It’s the Olympics and you know they only come around every four years.
  • I bought season tickets this year, don’t expect to see me too much.
  • I bought a boat.
  • It was such a nice day we decided to go for a drive and then sit on the porch and watch people drive by.
  • My kids are in sports.
  • My DVR broke so I need to stay home and watch Desperate Housewives.
  • I’m on vacation for two weeks. (We’re not going anywhere really, but I need to get away from church.)
  • I can have church in my home.
  • We have a new dog.
  • My cat had kittens.
  • It’s snowing.
  • It’s raining.
  • It’s a full moon.
  • I needed some alone time.
  • I forgot it was Sunday.
  • If I know I’m going to be late, I just don’t go.
  • I believe in being balanced.
  • There was a sale on.
  • I got too involved in my last church and burned out. So, I don’t want to do that again.
  • I wasn’t scheduled to do anything at the church so I just stayed home.
  • I need to clean my house.
  • We are remodeling again.
  • This is the only time the contractor said he could be there.
  • I need to do laundry.
  • I am offended at someone in the church.
  • I don’t like shaking hands.
  • I don’t like being expected to go.
  • I am depressed again.
  • You preached at me last Sunday and I’m offended.
  • Are you the Pentecostal Police?
  • Family comes first pastor! (Oh…I thought God did. Don’t confuse God and church)
  • My family is visiting and they don’t like church.
  • Friends came in and I feel obligated to entertain them.
  • It’s my birthday, kid’s birthday, spouse’s birthday, mother/dads birthday.
  • My husband didn’t want me to go so I felt I should be submissive to him (when I want to) and stay home.
  • My wife didn’t want me to go and I felt I should be sensitive to her needs (and while I won’t admit it publicly – she rules the roost)
  • We got into a fight on the way to church and decided not to come.
  • I don’t feel “led”
  • Jesus understands.
  • The Lord knows my heart.
  • I feel closer to God in nature.
  • I have heard the topic preached before – don’t need to hear it again.
  • Jesus told me to stay home and spend time with Him.

  • Sunday, April 4, 2010

    I Love Eggs

    One of my favorite desserts is "Banana Split Cake." Whenever Bev makes this I want to eat the entire thing myself. (Graham cracker crust, Butter, Eggs, Powdered sugar, Pinapple, Bananas , Whip cream, Cherries, Nuts)

    • Layer after's the best! I'm sure it's fattening and has lots of calories that can't wait to get their hands on my waistline. :-)

    Here's a question...what if she left the eggs out of the recipe? What's the big deal with eggs? Why do most recipes call for them?

    Well, the egg is like GLUE. It keeps everything together. It adds strength to the overall ingredients.

    Now relate this to your life. We all need "eggs" in our lives - people and leadership that keep us together while we're going through the "oven" of life.

    What do you consider to be an egg to you?

    1. Jesus. I love the old song that says "without Him, I could do nothing. Without Him, I'd surely fail. Without Him, I would be drifting, Like a ship without a sail."

    2. Beverly. When God gave me her, He gave me a "good thing." She is the glue that keeps me together and we enjoy shepherding together.

    3. The pastoral team I work with. They are incredibly talented and gifted. They encourage, inspire and challenge me to do want to do better. Thanks guys! (Josh, Nathan & Jeremey!)

    4. Our super ministry team! Without them, the wheels at BFWC would come to a halt. I'm amazed at the way these leaders "make it happen" every week!

    5. The Spiritual Fathers in my life. Their wisdom and guidance continually provide strength to my personal leadership.

    There are more. Who are yours?

    Saturday, April 3, 2010

    A Fool No More (Part 2)

    4. NO MORE will I be impulsive
    Impulsive = inclined to act on sudden urges.

    Did you hear the story about the boy who did something on the spur of the moment without really thinking about what he was doing?

    This boy’s mother had just baked a beautiful ginger cake. She pulled it out of the oven and placed it on the table to cool. Then she went outside to hang up the washing. While she was out there the little boy came in, saw his favorite cake on the table, saw nobody around, so he stuffed his hands into the top of the cake, grabbed two fistfuls of cake and took off.

    What do you think happened when his mother came in and saw those two big fist holes in the top of the cake? Right…she went berserk and the little boy got a spanking. He got into trouble because of his impulsive behavior.

    I think Peter best exemplified an impulsive nature. He was quick to cut off Malchus’ ear and he was quick to start talking and making construction plans when Jesus was transfigured before him on the mountain.

    I guess we’ve all been like this in our life. Have you ever went in debt for something on an impulse - i.e., car, furniture, jewelry, house, clothes, etc., only to regret the purchase later?

    We can also be impulsive when it comes to what “others” are saying. I know a believer who always likes to “carry the mail” to me. They’ll meet me in the church hallway or call me on the phone and say: “Pastor, everyone’s talking…you’d better do something about this.”

    Proverbs 29:11 A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.

    I used to get alarmed by this. I’d run on that person’s word and try to put out all the fires and get to the bottom of things. After a few false alarms, I learned not to be too jumpy.

    One leader, taught me to “pour a little dye into the water to see which way it runs.” In other words, don’t be too hasty when you hear a negative report. If you’ll give it time, the other side of the story will usually migrate to you.

    After learning this lesson, I’ll never forget the look on the face of the “mail carrier” the next time they came to me and said, “Pastor, everyone’s talking…you’d better do something about this.” I said to them “who’s talking?

    Come to find out it was just a few NOT EVERYBODY like they had said.

    Nehemiah experienced the same thing. Sanaballat and Gashmu started spreading lies about Nehemiah: “He’s just building this wall to try and make a name for himself”; “Look at him, he’s even bribed the prophets to speak well of him.” Some of Nehemiah’s closest teammates said … “Nehemiah you’d better come down off that wall and put these fires of gossip out.”

    Nehemiah simply responded (paraphrase) “I’m not coming down off the wall to put out the fires of gossip…because they’ll light them faster than I can put them out! I’m staying on this wall and doing what God called me to do!”

    Friend, if you spend all your time trying to explain yourself to everyone…the Devil will keep you on the mountain of explanation all the days of your life.

    Impulse would have said … “you’d better take care of this right now!

    But wisdom says“Don’t open your mouth too soon! Keep your composure and let the Lord fight your battle.”

    Proverbs 14:29 He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly.

    Know any mail carriers? Don’t lose your footing…because of being impulsive.

    5. NO MORE will I refuse to change

    When we refuse to change, we open ourselves up for extreme complacency. Complacency leads to indifference and indifference leads to idleness.

    It’s easy to change hair styles. You should have seen me in Jr. High / High School. I had a big perm in my hair. What was I thinking? Someone should have told me how horrible I looked. Worse yet, I used to carry a “pick” in my back pocket. (by the way…it was a Goody!)

    It’s easy to change clothing styles. We buy the latest trends and try to keep up. For me, I’ve bounced back and forth between suits that have two buttons to suits that have three buttons; trousers that have pleats to trousers that are plain; shoes that have a round toe to shoes that have a square toe; jeans that are straight legged to jeans that are wide legged.

    It’s easy to change your mind. How many times have you changed your mind while the waitress is taking your order? Or you’ve carried something in your shopping cart all the way to the check-out only to put it back at the last minute?

    However, it’s not as easy to change your HEART. WOW – have I had to ask God for help in this area. I’ve heard people say, “I’ve had a change of heart.” That sounds really nice. But, the truth is, it’s not always as easy as it sounds. To change your heart, you have to allow the Holy Spirit to invade every part of your heart. This is often painful, because it reveals the true human frailty we try desperately to hide.

    It is foolish to think that we can make it all the way home (Heaven) without having a heart change. I’ve met some people who serve in ministry whose hearts are calloused and they’ve become mean spirited. Sure, they could resign from ministry and “do the body of Christ a favor” but is that really the answer?

    The answer is that we allow the Holy Spirit to speak to our hearts, convict us and then we make a choice to change.

    • CHOOSE to be positive.
    • CHOOSE to give others the benefit of the doubt.
    • CHOOSE to love.
    • CHOOSE to speak Heaven into people’s lives not Hell.
    • CHOOSE to forgive.
    • CHOOSE to let go of hurts.
    • CHOOSE to renounce a pouting spirit.
    • CHOOSE to be comfortable with who God made you to be.
    • CHOOSE to be kind.
    • CHOOSE to quit being critical.
    • CHOOSE to stop offering your opinion on everything.
    • CHOOSE to do the right thing.
    If you are trying to lose weight, you have to make a choice. How much will I eat? Will I continue to eat sweets? Will I eat after 6 pm? Will I continue to drink soda or switch over to good old fashioned water? Will I begin exercising?

    If we refuse to change we will end up returning to the very thing that has kept us idle.

    Proverbs 27:22 Though thou shouldest bray a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle, yet will not his foolishness depart from him.

    A fool sees no need to change.

    12 Reasons to show up at BFWC for Easter

    #12 - No one here is perfect - you'll fit right in.

    #11 - To find out if what people have been saying about BFWC is true.

    #10 - Because you've been watching services online all year and it's time to be here in person.

    #9 - Dress comfortably. No need for a 2nd mortgage on your house to buy new Easter clothes. Will there be new suits and fancy dresses? No doubt. Will there be people wearing jeans & flip flops? No doubt. At BFWC we think the most important thing is just that you're here. There won't be a fashion show.

    #8 - Your Mom really wants you to go to church on if you gotta be in church, I can't think of a better place than BFWC.

    #7 - Rumor has it that our Adult Dance team is doing something tomorrow.

    #6 - Your kids will receive FREE candy and a chance to win a bicycle.

    #5 – The band will be playing the death metal version of "Here comes Peter cottontail!" (Not true...but I thought it was funny.)

    #4 – Rumor has it that Pastor Jeremey just might wear a rabbit suit. (I made that one up too!) :-)

    #3 - It will be the beginning of a brand new message series called "Family Life - Keys You Need To Succeed!"

    #2 – You would just sleep in on Sunday anyway, so why not?

    #1 – You'll worship with some incredible people - who are GENUINE!

    Join us for two Encounter Services - 8:30 am or 11:00 am.

    Friday, April 2, 2010

    The Most Important Thing

    What a glorious GOOD FRIDAY. As you’re preparing for this weekend of celebration, let us remember what the most important thing is.

    1 Corinthians 15:3-4 3For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

    • It’s not about bricks, sticks, mortar or clay.
    • It’s not about square footage, multiple campuses, new editions, or coffee shops.
    • It’s not about programs, strategies, systems or structures.
    • It’s not about classic or contemporary.
    • It’s not about attendance, year-end reports or budgets.
    • It’s not about style, preference or flavor.
    • It’s not about dress code, long hair, short hair or facial hair.
    • It’s not about lights, smoke, sound or video.
    • It’s not about gyms, concerts, location or marketing.
    • It is about six hours on a cross.
    • It is about three days in the heart of the earth.
    • It is about sacrifice and a Savior.
    • It is about healing, salvation, deliverance and freedom.
    • It is about hope, faith and love.
    • It is about joy, peace and real relationship.
    • It is about a promised future and an expectant end.
    • It is about fulfillment of prophecy.
    • It is about the truth of the Scriptures.
    • It is about an EMPTY TOMB!

    Join us this Sunday for two Encounter Services: 8:30 am or 11:00 am.

    A Fool No More (Part 1)

    This is the second part of a teaching I shared on “Foolishness”. In the first teaching I spoke about “Are You a Fool?” (I began writing the first article a couple weeks prior as a leadership teaching to a group of leaders and finally finished it on the plane.)

    In addition to posting this to my blog, I also made it available as an email to our email database. The responses were incredible. A big thanks to all my pastor friends, of who this was originally intended, who commented as well as to those I heard from, some I know, some I don’t. :-)

    In all of Solomon’s wisdom he imparted specific truth about wisdom.

    Proverbs 1:1-3 1The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel; 2To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding; 3To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity;

    Basically, he tells us that each of are to “KNOW” wisdom and instruction as well as “RECEIVE” the instruction of wisdom.

    Many of us have learned in the school of hard knocks. Trial and error has been our constant companion.

    What a privilege I’ve had over the past eleven years, in particular, to have the guidance of some wonderful pastors/leaders. Their wisdom individually has been instrumental to my personal development as a leader. However, their wisdom collectively has been vital to my longevity.

    It’s one thing to KNOW wisdom and instruction, or have it shared with you. It’s another thing to RECEIVE the instruction and actually apply it.

    If we really want to know what wisdom is, we must know what wisdom is not. Wisdom is not foolishness. Want to be wise? Then don’t be a fool!

    In my first post we defined a fool: someone considered to lack good sense or judgment.

    We could also define a fool as someone who hates wisdom and walks foolishly, just to spite wisdom.

    The word fool is mentioned 62 times in Scripture. In Scripture the “fool” is a person who casts off the fear of God, and thinks and acts as if he/she could safely disregard the eternal principles of God’s righteousness. (A person who chooses to disregard God and His wisdom.)

    Here’s some steps to becoming a fool no more:

    1. NO MORE will I trust in myself

    In his own eyes, he can do wrong. (Proverbs 12:15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.)

    Foolishly, he trusts in his own heart. (Proverbs 28:26 He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.)

    And yet the Bible instructs us to put our trust in the Lord and not lean on our own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

    Alone by ourselves, we cannot be trusted! We absolutely need the Lord’s guidance in our lives. Not only do we need it…we must receive it in order to have success. The moment we trust in our own intellect and ingenuity, is the moment we welcome failure.

    I’ve talked with pastors and leaders who are sharp, innovative thinkers! I love being around them – they keep me inspired! And yet, even they have to realize that the ideas, dreams, strategies and systems are only achievable if the Lord is at the helm.

    I guess one reason we would rather trust ourselves is because people have failed us too many times and as a result we carry the thought process, “I’ll just do this myself – at least it will get done.” Before long, we’re trusting in our own strength, knowledge and skill and unwilling to receive instruction from another. If we don’t BREAK FREE from this mindset, we’ll never see the success we desire. Stop trusting in your own merit…trust only in the Lord.

    2. NO MORE will I be deaf to instruction

    Have you ever seen a child hold his hands over his ears and refuse to listen to instruction? Worse yet, have you seen an adult do this? Even worse, have you seen a Christian leader do this?

    I recall meeting with a group of ministers for a brainstorming session. In the group there was a particular leader who was new to his office and was extremely vocal about all the things HE was going to accomplish. I could tell from the facial responses from others in the room that they were thinking the same thing I was.

    Proverbs 18:2 A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself. (In others words, a fool cares only to tell others what he knows)

    Someone spoke up and tried to steer the conversation into the path of wisdom. Others commented. And yet, with all the instruction being offered in that room, this particular leader chose to do the opposite.

    Proverbs 18:13 He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him. (In other words, a fool thinks he knows everything)

    Six months later, when I saw that leader again, his countenance was completely different as he shared the results of how things didn’t work out like he had thought they would.

    It’s not that his plans weren’t creative and full of energy. What he lacked was timing. See, you can have the direction of God – but if you don’t have his timing – you will not have His success.

    We are admonished to receive wisdom and instruction – not despise it. Today, I’m extremely thankful for ears to hear. Sometimes it takes a while for wisdom to sink into my thick skull, but having a desire for wisdom will keep me coming back to the true source.

    3. NO MORE will I refuse discipline

    Who likes discipline? Who among us enjoy being taken to the office for instruction?

    Remember when you were in Jr. High and were called to the principal’s office? Every step you took, you were trembling, your hands sweaty, your stomach turning in knots. I remember too well.

    When I first began preaching in the pulpit, I remember one night after a great service (I thought), my Pastor asked to see me in his office. On the way there, I was thinking, “he’s going to compliment me for the fine job I did tonight.” When we walked in to his office, he asked me to have a seat. He then sandwiched me with a positive, a negative, and then a positive. He shared with me some things I needed to hear about the manner of my preaching and the misinterpretation of Scriptural context in my message. I felt like a fool, knowing I had made such a blunder and that everyone in the church that night knew it too. And yet, wisdom reached across the desk and said, “you’ll be alright – take this instruction and you’ll be the better for it.” I did – and I was.

    Friend, that was many years ago, and to this day, discipline is my best friend. The chastening of the Lord is not to be feared but embraced. It’s through discipline that my Lord makes me wiser and stronger. It’s through discipline that I am better shaped into the image of my Lord. It’s through discipline that I am declared a true son.

    Hebrews 12:5-8 5And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: 6For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

    If you are a pastor, parishioner, leader or breathing – the true test of sonship is whether or not you’ll stay in a place after you’ve been disciplined.

    I could have walked out of my pastor’s office with a “Mr. Big Britches” attitude and said:

    • “I don’t have to take this!”
    • “I don’t have to listen to this!”
    • “I’m called of God!”
    • “Bless God, no one’s going to tell me what to do.”
    • "I have a ministry!"
    • "Who does he think he is?"
    • "Bless God, I'll just go start my own church!"
    • "He's just trying to hold me back!"
    • "He doesn't want me to succeed!"
    • "I'm out of here!"
    • "I'll show him!"
    And if I would have, it would have proved the point that I lacked discipline in my life and was a bigger fool than I thought.

    Proverbs 17:10 A reproof entereth more into a wise man than an hundred stripes into a fool.
    Proverbs 12:1 Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish.

    Again, the true test of sonship is whether or not you’ll stay in a place after you’ve received correction.

    How many people do you know who have refused correction?

    Friend, if we want to be wise not only must we KNOW wisdom and instruction, we must also RECEIVE the instruction of wisdom.