Thursday, January 31, 2013

Strengthening the Father/Son Relationship

There's something amazing that happens when fathers and sons unite together.  It's a visual reminder of two important things revealed in Scripture:  PRIESTHOOD and FAMILY.

The PRIESTHOOD - is the divine order through which FAMILIES are sealed together forever.  Everything we read in the Bible points toward families becoming part of God's ETERNAL FAMILY.

When you look at Fathers & Sons in a SPIRITUAL's one of the most amazing relationships found.  It can be NURTURING, JOYFUL and have a profound IMPACT on who SONS become and on who FATHERS become.

All of us, regardless of who we are or what our situation is...have access to a FATHER in our life. (Whether it be another family member, a mentor, a leader, a pastor, etc.)  There are special relationships that God affords us by using people who "stand in the gap" to fill the role of these significant father/son relationships.

Everyone of us are on a JOURNEY.  Fathers are a little further down the road, but none can say "they've arrived" to their final destination.  We are all in PROCESS of becoming who we will one day be.  FATHERS and SONS play a critical role in helping each other become the best that they can be.

No relationship is perfect...especially that of a FATHER and SON.  However, with effort...a great relationship can be forged.

If you are a SON...realize that you are your FATHER'S pride and joy.  Your FATHER sees in you a promising future and you're their hope for a better, improved version of themselves.  Your accomplishments are a joy to them.  Your concerns and problems are their concerns and problems as well.

If you are a FATHER...realize that you are the primary model of manhood for your SON.  You are their most meaningful mentor, and believe it or not, you are their hero in numerous ways.  Your WORDS and your EXAMPLE are a great influence on them.

Suggestions to Strengthen
Your Father/Son Relationship
  1. Trust your father.  He may not be perfect, but he loves you and would never do anything he didn't think was in your best interest.  When you put your trust in your father, he will feel the responsibility of that trust and try harder than ever to understand and to help.
  2. Talk to your father.  Share your thoughts and feelings, your dreams and your fears.  The more he knows about your life, the better chance he has to understand your concerns and to give you good counsel.  As your father, he is entitled to inspiration on your behalf.  His advice to you will be the heartfelt expressions of someone who knows and loves you.  More than anything, your father wants you to be happy and successful.
  3. Take an interest in your father's life.  Ask about his interests, his goals and his work.  As you learn more about him, you may find that his experiences help you to better understand why he responds the way that he does.
  4. Watch your father.  Watch how he interacts with other people.  Watch how he performs his ministry.  You will be surprised what you learn about him just by watching him and listening to him.  Think about what you don't know about him and find out.  Your love, admiration, and understanding will increase by what you learn.
  5. Ask your father for advice.  Let's be honest: he is probably going to give you his advice whether you ask for it or not, but it just works so much better when you ask!  Ask for his advice on Church activity, on your calling, on your ministry, on your classes, on friends, on school, on relationships, on hobbies, on decisions or choices you have to make.  Nothing shows respect for another person as much as asking for their advice, because what you are really saying when you ask for advice is, "I appreciate what you know and the experiences you have had, and I value your ideas and suggestions."  Those are nice things for a father to hear from a son.
  1. Listen to your sons.  Ask the right kind of questions and listen to what your sons have to say each time you have a few minutes together.  You need to know - not to guess but to know - what is going on in your son's life.
  2. Find a way to connect. It might be enjoying a coffee together, a sporting event, a conference/ministry event, etc. A one-on-one relationship should be a routine part of your stewardship with your sons.  Every father needs at least one focused, quality conversation with his sons every month during which they talk about specific things.  When or where this happens isn't nearly as important as the fact that it happens.
  3. Pray with and for your sons.  Give them your blessing.  A son who is concerned about an issue or decision he's facing will benefit from a father's blessing.  These are opportune times to call upon the Lord to bless your son.  One-on-one prayer and the sharing of testimonies can draw you closer to each other as well as closer to the Lord.
  4. Dare to have "big talks" with your sons.  Talk about serious issues, dangers, pitfalls, etc.  Ask the hard questions.  Your sons need your counsel, guidance and input.  Talking about sensitive subjects will lead to a greater trust between you.
I'm grateful for my fathers and my sons...they have taught me so much!  I pray that our Heavenly Father will bless all of us as fathers and sons and that we will honor our priesthood and that we will love one another by making relationships with each other one of the great, eternal priorities of our lives. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Kind of Church I Long For!

I love the CHURCH that Jesus died for!  The church is more than a gathering place for Christians on Sunday''s the BRIDE of CHRIST and it's full of people who are committed to COVENANT relationship! 

What is the church to you?  
What should it be?  

Here's some thoughts...

The church should be a place that is full of LIFE, ENERGY and EXCITEMENT!

The church should be a place of EXCELLENCE.  Not perfection - that's impossible. doing the best you can with what you have at any given moment.

The church should be a meeting place for the HURTING and the HEALED!  A place to laugh, cry, struggle, win and thrive.  NOT a place for hatred, anger, bitterness, gossip, backbiting, etc.  If church is just a place for plastic faces - or worse - that's not the church I want to be a part of.

The church should be filled with Christians and Non-Christians every week!  We should have lost people checking out our claims...those who are furthest from Him are the most exciting when they allow Christ into their lives!

The church should be about love, grace, mercy, hope and more!  When the church is a place of criticism, negativity or judgment by the people themselves then it ceases to be the church Jesus birthed.  The ONLY people He judged were the religious.  On the other hand, He had dinner with sinners...and He redeemed their lives!

I believe lost people matter to God and should matter to the church!  That's why it's essential that they be INVITED and made to feel welcome when they get there!  In fact, we should plan our Sunday experiences with THEM in mind!  Maybe it's just my opinion, but perhaps most of our Sunday experiences are planned for those who are already CONVINCED.

The church should be a place where the WORD of God is taught with such CLARITY that it's easily applied to our lives when we leave.

The church should be viewed as so valuable that we don't want to miss all!  Not in some twisted "cultic" way - but rather in what we get from it and what we give to it...knowing both matter deeply.

The church should be a place where people WORK TOGETHER.

I believe that some people take the church for granted.  It's not a place just to's a place to BECOME.  Perhaps there's too much anonymity allowed when we really don't have to answer to anyone for no longer showing up.

I think people should say goodbye if they're leaving or going to attend somewhere else.  it's just right and it's a matter of personal integrity and courtesy.  In my opinion, to just walk away is wrong.

I think EVERY Christ follower should be in a church - period.  Not just attending - INVOLVED.  Anything less is short changing; the person, the church and God.

I love the church.  Not the stuff...but the people and the God that shows up.  I love the stories of the lives there.  I love watching people struggle through to a NEW LIFE.  I love knowing that no matter how messed up some people are - they are there...TRYING!

It's refreshing to be in covenant relationship with people who are HONEST about where they are in life.  Those that show up each week - trying to go free...trying to find life...trying to make it another day/week...I love those that know they are MESSED UP and yet are GETTING UP every Sunday to fight another day for an inch of "more of God" in their LIFE, HOME, MARRIAGE, and WORLD!

Give me a church full of REAL PEOPLE that know they need God and I'll feel like I'm in my element...SHARING GRACE with those that need it and those that I know will SHARE IT when they FIND IT!

...that's the kind of church I long for!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

You Can't Make Me Go To Church!

"You can't make me go to don't even try!" I've never actually had anyone tell me that...but I'm pretty sure they were thinking it.

It's been said that the top three reasons people don't go to church are:  It's's irrelevant and all they want is your money.  For the most part, the people I've just described are people who don't go to church...those that have never been or that don't see church as a part of their life.

But what about the people that either go (somewhat) or used to go and for whatever reason don't now - yet they know they need to?

Why do "church" people NOT go to church?

1. Lazy.  Once you get out of the habit of going it's tough to get back in the habit.  Especially when you work a lot and feel like Sunday is your "only day of"...or something like that.  It's easy to justify not going by saying, "I don't get anything out of going there.  Besides, I hook up with my family at Cracker Barrel after they get out of church (and I get out of bed.)"  It's easy to convince yourself that "family time" is an equal replacement for going to church.

2. Too much effort.  I meet people all the time who are sporadic in going to church.  They miss going, for however long, then when the bottom falls out in their life they are "getting back in church."  Sadly, because they do not make church attendance a lifestyle - they go right back to not going again.  They could best be described as people who go to the gym about once every 4-6 weeks and really work out hard - trying to catch up - but because they are now "sore" they decide not to go back because it's just "too much work." (Until the next time they get in a bind and need the church again.)

3. Forget what church is meant to be.  They see church as an "event"...something to attend on opposed to the group of people that make that church home.  Going to church should be more than event in our should be a living organism NOT an organization.  Church should be about the people there and the God that shows up to meet with them every time they gather.  It should be a LIFESTYLE...where you plan everything else around it...not before it! 

4. "I got hurt."  I understand this one myself...but the truth is, you can't allow a past hurt or breech of trust or...whatever it might stop you from pursuing God's plan for your life...AND His plan includes you being a part of a local church.

5. "I watch TV for my church."  I like Christian programing...but honestly, the TV pastor don't know me at all.  He has never reached through the television and gave me a hug, high five, handshake...and nothing personal...he just can't be there when I need him to be - for he is not my pastor.  

6. "They talk about money too much."  Perhaps that's true in some places...but it's also true, if those that call a local church their "home" would tithe and give like they're supposed to - that kind of talk would disappear.  For churches to function takes finances...just like anything else in this life.  Are you a "tither" or a "tipper?"

7. "There are too many hypocrites in the church."  If that's the case, then you should quit your job because there are too many in the workplace that are not carrying their share of the load.  Also, you should quit shopping at the grocery store because there are bad cooks who are shopping there also.  And you should tell your kids to quit school because there are some kids there who are nothing more than juvenile delinquents.

  • The wife can always excuse herself from attending because her husband won't go.
  • The husband can decline because his wife won't attend.
  • If they happen to be together they can blame the children..."they just won't get up and go to church."
  • If they are all present and can't blame one another, they'll reach an agreement that they don't want to leave their dog alone.

Here's some real LAME excuses "Church people" use and make it sound good by adding "God Knows My Heart!"
  • "I didn't come to church because I was too tired.  So, I watched the LIVE stream.  Besides, I don't like all that 'handshaking' they make you do anyway.  I surely don't want to get the flu with all those germs that are going around...God knows my heart!"
  • "I had to miss church because the kids wanted to sleep in...God knows my heart!"
  • "I can't come on Wednesday nights because the kids need to get to bed early.  But...SHHHH...don't tell anyone that I took them to 'Disney on Ice' and we got home at 10:30 pm on a school night or we went to the basketball game...God knows my heart!"
  • "I just had this feeling I shouldn't be there...God knows my heart!"
  • "I've worked all week so I'm too tired to go...God knows my heart!"
  • "There are no people my age so I'm not going...God knows my heart!"
  • "We used to be faithful to every service, but now that we're so mature in the Lord we don't need to go so much...God knows my heart!"
  • "Every time I go, they ask me to volunteer for something.  Don't they know that I just want to go to church and be fed?...God knows my heart!"
  • "The parking lot is too congested.  If they would expand the parking and could guarantee that I don't have to park in the grass, then I'd probably be more inclined to go...unless it's raining, snowing, cold, etc...besides, God knows my heart!"
  • "I saw someone there from my past that I don't get along with...God knows my heart!"
  • "I would go but my EX goes there...God knows my heart!"
  • "I need to catch up on Facebook...after all, Facebook is the 'real world' to me and I have lots of REAL friends who REALLY care about me and all my private business I post on there.  They need me tonight, so church will have to wait while I minister on Facebook...God knows my heart!"
  • "Why go to church when I can get what 'I really need' by having my own self sanctioned prayer meeting in my home that includes popcorn prophecy, ecclesiastical ecstasy and real freedom to say and do what makes me feel good?...God knows my heart!"
  • "Little Johnny don't like the youth group we're going to let him call the shots about our church attendance, because after all, Little Johnny knows whats best for our families spiritual life and...God knows my heart!"
  • "I have to exercise every night of the can't be there...besides, if I don't exercise tonight I won't be able to eat at the big party or weekend get-a-way we have planned again on Sunday (during church time.)...God knows my heart!"
  • "I meet God in my man cave.  It's just Him and me.  I don't have to go to church to be a Christian.  Who needs all that fellowship anyway??? Apostle Paul wasn't talking to someone like me...he was referring to all those other Christians...and God knows my heart!"
  • "Little Susie has a, the whole family is going to stay home and blow her nose for her and...God knows my heart!"
  • "I can't handle crowds, so I'm going to the ball game instead...God knows my heart!"
  • "Things aren't like they used to be.  The music isn't my choice, they don't sing the songs I like, and to be honest, some of the people just get on my nerves...God knows my heart!"
  • "I would go to church more if the church would pay my utility bills, help out with funeral expenses, keep groceries in my pantry, do more for my kids and take better care of me...God knows my heart!"

Church is God's idea.  He created it to be a place where He meets with people - just like you and me!  He does incredible things in His church!  The local church is God's hope for the world.  It's the hospital - it's the beacon in the dark - it's the place where love should be shared - it's the place where we find grace, hope and love - WHATEVER each of us need to face this world and WIN!

There are NO PERFECT CHURCHES!  But, there are churches that are REAL...where God is able to meet with the people there and do incredible things in their lives!

At the end of the day...God really does KNOW OUR HEART!

Friday, January 18, 2013

To Attend or Not Attend...That is the Question

There is a tendency to approach church like a first time credit card user at the local mall. A consumer mindset seems to be prevalent with today's church goers.

Obviously, we're always going to have an opinion of our experiences...including church.  Evaluating what we "took away" from that experience can be healthy.  However, how far should we take that?

I'm not necessarily speaking of those who do not attend church routinely...but rather those who have been in church for awhile and have begun to "pick a part" their church experience on any given service, evaluating everything the church "did or didn't" do correctly.   

For example, "over evaluating" how long it took to get the kids checked in, how loud the music was or the songs selected, the efficiency of the ushers, the message content, the bulletins, and so forth...even to where we leave having not really even thought about what going to church is really about.

If we're not careful, we can put any church experience under a grading system and end up "failing."  Again, evaluation is a good thing but when we take it to the degree that our attitude is so negatively affected - it can put a block in the way of church being anything but something we do or don't like, rather than a place to WORSHIP God and learn His Word.

Here's the skinny...
  1. We can call a church "our church" and yet not go there because of ???  Everyone has a "because" in them that seems to prevent them from going to church.  When we yield to the "because" we tend to get out of the habit of attending church on a regular basis...and yet, still call a particular church "home."
  2. We can have such a high grading standard, that in our search for a church, "no church" feels right or fits what we're looking for.  Ultimately, it's probably something so trivial that it's not worth keeping us out of church and we can fail to consider that it might be just the place that God wants us to be.
  3. We can give up looking due to weariness.  Eventually we just quit trying because after all we can say, "I've tried" and then we either name a few churches or give the number of churches or how long we have been looking as the proof for our non-attendance.  This excuse seems to offer the best feeling of "justification" for not going anywhere.
  4. We can even compare every church experience to some past church experience and say, "It's just not like..." or "It's not the same as it used to be."
If you're like'll agree that there are NO PERFECT CHURCHES!

Perhaps we need to REFOCUS on what church is really about and not get hung up on the side items.  I try to encourage new families in our church to find an area that needs help and jump in rather than seeing something that isn't what it should be and then complaining about it.

Honestly, the Bible says we don't pick our church.  God picks the place HE wants us to belong to.
  • 1 Corinthians 12:18 "But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him."
So, we don't even get to choose where we do or don't go...God does.  

If you're one of those Christ followers that has gotten to where going to church on any given Sunday or Wednesday is OPTIONAL...what's up?  Is it you or is it something else?  Can we really afford not to go?  Has the church become so irrelevant to our faith - that it doesn't matter?

Take a closer look at your heart...evaluate where you're at in your spiritual walk with God...allow the Holy Spirit room to speak clearly.  I'm sure you'll come to the conclusion that going to church isn't a CHORE and it certainly isn't a BORE

Jesus loves the church...He loves you!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Jesus Tribe

Jesus never wrote a book or taught in a university and yet His "MOVEMENT" continues to grow over 2000 years after His earthly departure.  

What is it that makes people want to BELONG to the Jesus Culture?  I'm not referring to the worship band from California...I'm referring to a particular CULTURE of people.  

A CULTURE of people that, through a shared philosophy, form a TRIBE.

In 2009, I read a book that clarified what happens when cultures of people come together under a collective umbrella of thinking.  Seth Godin, a marketing expert, in his book, "Tribes" defines a TRIBE as a group of people who are...
  • Connected to one another
  • Connected to a leader, and 
  • Connected to an idea.  
For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another.  

A group needs only two things to be a tribe:
  1. A shared interest &
  2. A way to communicate.
In Mark chapter eight, Jesus taught His disciples and the multitude that gathered to Him, that whoever wants to join His tribe must: 
  • Let Him do the leading
  • Embrace suffering
  • Be self-sacrificing
It's this kind of thinking that birthed a CLIMATE that Jesus sustained in His inner circle.  In fact, He sustained it long enough until it produced a CULTURE of thinking that revolutionized LAW THINKERS into GRACE THINKERS.

Jesus' Culture is layered with SUB-CULTURES...
  • Servant-Leadership
  • Father-Son Relationship 
  • Covenant Partnership
  • Charitable Stewardship
  • Apostolic Apostleship
  • Successive Discipleship
  • Mutual Fellowship
  • Accountable Mentorship
No one has influenced people more than Jesus has.  
  • Are you part of His TRIBE?  
  • Do you THINK like He does?
  • Are your VALUES the same as His?

More to come....

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Observations about a Servant Leader

Beverly and I are so proud of the men, women, students and children who SERVE in the multiple areas of ministry at BFWC.  Volunteering for the Lord’s work involves the heart of a SERVANT.  (Also known as a SERVANT LEADER.)

11 Observations about
a Servant Leader
  1. Servant Leaders are flexible.  Even if their area of service isn’t a “perfect” fit, they keep an open mind and look for ways to make things better.
  2. Servant Leaders are persistent.  Even if they don’t get answers to their questions right away, they keep on serving and improving their area.
  3. Servant Leaders are  available.  Even if their schedule is demanding, they look for innovative ways to make full use of their time so that their available when needed.
  4. Servant Leaders are responsible.  They show up on time and follow through with their commitments.  They realize that people are depending on them.
  5. Servant Leaders are humble.  They don’t expect to start at the top.  They understand the value of working hard and proving their work/worth before they are given more responsibility.
  6. Servant Leaders don’t need a babysitter.  They finish their assignments from start to finish and don’t leave any task undone. 
  7. Servant Leaders give their word.  When they say “Don’t worry about this, I’ve got it covered” they follow through till the end.  Their word is their bond.  Plus, they have a good attitude during the process.
  8. Servant Leaders are respectful.  They watch their “P’s” and “Q’s” at all times and in all directions – vertically and horizontally.   You never have to wonder if a servant leader will be disrespectful, shoot you dirty looks, embarrass you in front of others or respond with “short” answers.
  9. Servant Leaders has a right perspective.  They do not consider themselves to be above those they lead.  They are able to see those they lead as peers and learn from them.
  10. Servant Leaders are Team Builders.  They draw strength from their followers and they know how to be a follower as well.  These kinds of leaders do not lead by decree or dictate.  Instead, they lead by allowing everyone to do what they do well.  They know how to step out of the spotlight to let others shine.
  11. Servant Leaders adapt to fit the situation.  They gauge each situation and respond accordingly.  When appropriate, they will pass over the reins to someone whose leadership style is more appropriate to the situation – they work with people’s strengths.  Good leaders understand that they are not necessarily the best person for a specific job; they know their strengths as well as their weaknesses, and can gracefully pass on opportunities best suited to other individuals.

These are just a few observations of a long list. 

2012 Highlights

Last night was amazing for our church family.  We gathered together to reflect on 2012 and highlight the ministries, volunteers and leaders of our covenant family…BFWC.  In addition, we “broke bread” together in the true spirit of Acts 2:42.  I’m always encouraged when I “DO” life with my church family.

·       Media Ministry reported that we have an average of 4,200 hits per month on our LIVE streaming and archived sermons.  That’s almost 50,000 a year! 
·       Food Pantry Ministry reported 1,766 people fed in 2012 (487 Families).  More than a dozen salvation's, 1 filled with the Holy Ghost and dozens of healing's/answered prayer for jobs!
·       Home Missions Ministry reported that we were able to partner with several agencies and local programs through Central Indiana including: Children’s Bureau, Compassionate Child Care Ministry, The Julian Center, Ronald McDonald House and Salvation Army. 
  • Helped Compassionate Angels fulfill some of the items on their 2012 bucket list.
  • Provided breakfast for the families staying at the Ronald McDonald House.
  • Provided back packs for the Back Pack Attack in 2012 to assist 33,000 students in central Indiana.
  • Volunteered at the 26th Annual Coats for Kids campaign – over 5,000 coats distributed.
  • Adopted 2 families during the Annual “Hope for the Holidays” with over $500 in gifts.
Nursing Home Ministry
reported increased attendance with volunteers and ministry efforts in 2012 with two monthly services being held on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of each month.
·       Sports Ministry reported now in our 5th season we have over 215 boys and girls playing basketball and cheer-leading.  To this date, we've had over 1000 kids involved in UPWARD at BFWC.
·       Transportation Ministry reported over 30 people riding the bus for the Sunday 11 AM service each week…and over 20 on Wednesdays evenings.  In 2012, the Transportation Ministry had 8 outreaches and led 15 people to Jesus.  One entire family was one to the Lord and baptized in the Spring of 2012.
These are only a few of the highlights that were shared last night as we honored our Pastors, Elders, Deacons, Ministry Coordinators and Volunteers.

I pray you’ll continue to be blessed as you continue to build the Lord’s work.  I want to encourage you to give 100% in 2013.  Allow your heart to be softened before the Lord and determine to DO MORE than ever before in the coming year.

Believing that your 2013 will be EXTRAORDINARY!