Monday, July 29, 2013

Building a Bulrush

This past week has been spiritually appetizing!  We've had the privilege of sharing life with some amazing kids & students from BFWC!  It's been like chewing on a delicious steak and hoping it never ends!  

We had some amazing men & women who accompanied Beverly and I at Youth Camp this year:
  • Our Jr. Camp Team:  Lisa Hubbard, Dawn Walker, Shannon Dosso, Anthony Scott & Josh Marks.
  • Our Sr. Camp Team: Lisa Hubbard, Kayla Smith, Taisha Walker, Chido Chidemo, Kaitlyn Hylton, Brian Murphy, Tyler Walker & Matthew Hanson.
These folks were amazing and ministered to our kids with excellence! They...
  • Drove vehicles
  • Stayed up late
  • Watched over our kids
  • Prayed for them
  • Played games with them
  • Cleaned up after them
  • Loved them
  • Corrected them
Our kids were amazing this week!  
  • Sure, we had our moments of intense fellowship where thoughts of spanking them crossed my mind. :)
  • Sure, we had some that we would have liked to have given 3 Benadryl when it was time for lights out! :)
  • Sure, we had some that struggled with their attitude and telling the truth. :)
  • Sure, we had some that told us what we wanted to hear. :)
  • Sure, we had some that were just there because their parents wanted them to go. :)
  • Sure, we had some that were just there because they didn't have anywhere else to go. :)
But we SHARED LIFE together this week!  There was no texting, tweeting, facebooking, instagraming, snapchatting...just REAL COMMUNICATION...the kind that makes you look one another in the eye and see a person without the aid of FILTERS, PHOTOSHOP, RETAKES and BIOS!  The REAL and the RAW!

Our hearts were flooded with emotions as we witnessed the power of God begin to speak into their lives!  The time in the altar was the most LIFE CHANGING of all!
  • Kids weeping before the Lord.
  • Kids dancing in His presence.
  • Kids praying for one another.
  • Kids receiving breakthroughs from bondages.
  • Kids laying their lives on the altar.
  • Kids consecrating their lives.
  • Kids journaling their thoughts.
  • Kids confessing their sins.
  • Kids being filled with the Holy Ghost.
  • Kids hugging one another.
Coming home, I asked the Lord...
  • How do we keep our children?
  • How do we help them?
  • What can we do to save this generation?
The Lord reminded me of Amram & Jochebed in Exodus 2 - they BUILT a BULRUSH!  My heart was stirred to brag on our kids Sunday morning and preach this message!  Here's the link: 

I can't parent other people's children...
but I can paraclete!

Together, we're building a BULRUSH to...

  • FACE and OVERCOME the DISTRACTIONS and TROUBLES that confront our children!
    • From a world that does not know Jesus!
    • From a world that wants to destroy God's people!
    • From a world that wants to destroy our children!
  • Do what is RIGHT for our children!
    • Protect our children for as long as we can!
    • Release them to God's sovereign care!
  • NURTURE and TEACH our children!
    • Teach our children about the world they are living in!
    • Teach our children God's Word and how to live for God!
  • Be such a Godly INFLUENCE that our children will make RIGHT CHOICES when the time comes!
    • They will choose to identify with God's people!
    • They will choose to reject sin!
    • They will separate themselves form the world they live in!
    • They will choose to follow God's plan of salvation!

2013 Camp Highlight Video

10 Ways You Know You Have A Heart For Kids

10 Ways You Know
You Have a Heart for Kids

1. You'll drive 10 hours round-trip!

2. You'll stay up all night and lose sleep!

3. You'll eat camp food 3 times a day and greasy cheeseburgers at night!

4. You'll get out in the hot sun and run around playing games!

5. You'll board a canoe knowing that your life is in the hands of a 14 yr. old!

6. You'll bathe in bug spray for 5 days!

7. You'll spend your own money to make sure every child has a snack – because they’ve spent all their money on energy drinks at the gas station on the first stop heading to camp!

8. You'll pick up dirty unclaimed underwear off the floor!

9. You'll wipe their tears because their feelings were hurt at the playground, when their best friend suddenly found a new best friend!

10. You'll let them wrestle you to the ground till you scrape your knees, pull your back and have to spend the rest of camp at the nurses’ station begging for something stronger than morphine to get you through!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Influence of the Middle Man

You can lead from the top, the middle or the bottom.  Your greatest place of influence may actually be somewhere towards the middle.

The middle? Come on...isn't that where all the responsibility is but none of the power?  Isn't that less money but more work?  Isn't that more to manage but less training?  

The middle...really?

The truth be known, most of the influence within an organization, team, church, etc. comes from the middle and not from the top.  It's from the middle that the success of the mission, vision and values are being LIVED OUT!

How do you gain this type of INFLUENCE as a middle man?

1. You don't need a title.  Having influence doesn't necessarily involve a title or a position.  You can have a great amount of influence from anywhere, especially in today's culture.

2. People will talk about you.  If you are amazing at what you do, people are going to take notice!  When they take notice, they will talk about you! (Hopefully in a good way.)

3. Alleviate someone's load. Your influence will definitely be felt when you anticipate the needs of those you serve.  Understanding how to best serve your leader and removing something from their plate onto yours will speak volumes of your servant-leadership.  Honestly, if you are creating more work (stress) for your leader instead of're diminishing your influence.

4. Never stop cheering! When you can celebrate someone else's victories...your influence in their life will magnify.  Sometimes being an influencer is nothing more than being a cheerleader and mentor to your team.

5. Come along side. Offering to help your peers on an upcoming project will show your willingness to serve the "big picture" and not just yourself.  

6. Do what you say. Trust is huge when it comes to influence. People will accept your failures and your successes if they know you are worthy of being trusted.  Keep your word and determine to make good decisions.

7. Think like a leader! Just because you're not the CEO, doesn't mean you shouldn't lead like you're the one paying the bills!  Taking on the spirit of ownership will change the way you speak and think.  instead of saying "they" you'll be saying "we."

8. Be happy wherever you are!  If you show up every day looking like a dill pickle, no one will want to be around you...and hence, you'll diminish your influence.  Embrace where you are today!  Don't be better!  Be the best where you're at right now!

If you want more information on this topic, I recommend John Maxwell's 360 Degree Leader book.  I read it years ago and it definitely helped me identify:

Hands Up Ministry
Hands Under Ministry
Hands On Ministry

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wake up in Prayerville

  • There is great joy when you step into your office, your kitchen or your classroom with the sense of the Holy Spirit being with you because you have paused to pray.
  • Every great leader takes time out and goes off by themselves to be alone in prayer.
  • During prayer, you lose your sense of independence and are caught up by a power outside yourself.
  • God can do almost anything with you...if given a chance.
  • Jesus spent all night in prayer (Luke 6:12).  The next morning, He called the disciples to Him and named them.  A lesson to us that we should spend time in prayer before we make decisions.
  • On your knees in prayer, before His all seeing eyes, VALUES become clear and decisions are able to be made without hesitation.
  • After feeding 5000, Jesus retreated to pray. (Matthew 14:23) - Prayer is always needed after seeing the crowd, the sick, the hungry and the great avalanche of human needs.
  • The most common excuse today for the lack of prayer is "I don't have time."  When in actuality, we find time for the things we really want to do.
  • When life's demands were greatest, Jesus withdrew the most in prayer.
  • We can miss mountain-top experiences because we don't take time to pray.
  • When we're alone with Jesus, in prayer, our souls can absorb the peace and strength of His presence.
  • For me, the early sunrise experiences in prayer trump the physical comfort of sleep.
Today, resolve to move beyond a narrow or confined prayer life.  Refuse to allow life to crowd out your time with God.

There may be times, even when you've taken time to pray, that it seems your prayers have hardly left the ground.  Keep praying!

Commit to being a learner.  Follow Jesus to PRAYERVILLE.

He will take you by the hand and lead the way for He is a loving and patient Teacher.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Next stop, Prayerville

Imagine if I were to give you a passport and a ticket and tell you "These will take you into a land where burdens are lifted, where the sun breaks through the clouds, where equipment for whatever rough roads may lie ahead is provided," what would your answer be?

Before you answered, I would tell you the stories of others who have traveled to to this land...

  • A Judge, who has been called upon to make an important decision, while pressure is threatening him, withdraws into his inner office to be alone with God.  He later witnessed that this is the only thing that is keeping him sane during his most strenuous days.
  • An Arbitrator, who is part of a negotiating team between management and labor, uses his lunch hour to be alone with God and is empowered to come into the meeting with such a spirit as to change the whole atmosphere.
  • A Clerk, who has been pressured by an irritated boss, withdraws to a closet to pray.  She comes back calm in the knowledge that the Lord will give her patience and skill to do the job at hand.
  • harassed mother, who feels that if one more thing goes wrong in her household, she will "blow up," is persuaded to join a small group for prayer, and returns to her house so changed that her children wonder what has happened to her.
The place I'm referring to is also has another name....PRAYER CLOSET.
  • Matthew 6:6 "But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly."
Perhaps at this point we should say a word about some things prayer isn't...
  • It is not a magic formula that will put a Mercedes in your driveway when the Lord knows that a Honda would enable you to be a better steward and eliminate the strain from your budget.
  • It is not an easy way of escape from living where God has placed you (or where you in your willfulness have chosen to be).
  • It is not a drug to dull your senses to the needs and calamities about you.
On the contrary...
  • It is a discernment that brings values into their right perspective.
  • It is the power that helps us to face life's difficulties with courage and hope.
  • It is the means by which we can see the world as it is and be guided into the "how" of being a part of the solution rather than the problem.
When we pray, we "prime" the Holy Spirit!  We bring to God's well, as we turn to Him in prayer, a cup of our faith.  Then the miracle happens.  His living water flows freely into our souls to quench the thirst that nothing else can satisfy.  

Jesus spent time in PRAYERVILLE.  Both before and after performing miracles, Jesus retreated alone to a place of prayer.
  • Mark 1:35 "And in the morning, a great while before dawn, he rose and went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed."
Think about all that happened before He prayed...
  • He had been in the synagogue teaching.
  • While there, a man with an unclean spirit confronted Him.  Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and the man was made whole.
  • From the synagogue, Jesus and His disciples had gone to Simon's house where Peter's mother-in-law lay ill of a fever.  Jesus took her by the hand and healed her so that she was able to minister to them.
But this day was not yet ended, for we are told that in the evening, after sunset, they brought to Him all who were ill and possessed of devils.

Yet - or should we say, so - He arose early the next morning to PRAY!

Prayer is an essential part of our day.  When we commune with God, we are transported to a place of peace!

More to come....

Friday, July 12, 2013

8 Reasons Leaders Endure

I love to talk about Joseph.
I love to preach about Joseph.
I love to read about Joseph.
I could sneeze a sermon series when it comes to Joseph. (Genesis 37)

There are so many nuggets of truth that make his life story one of my favorites!  I admire these qualities about him:

1. He held to his PRINCIPLES - Joseph was a man of character and integrity.  A man that was honest. A man that was tempted repeatedly but resisted temptation. 

2. He HUMBLED himself - although he became second in command in all of Egypt - his power and the prestige of his position never went to his head.  He remained the same.

3. He remained DISCIPLINED - regardless of the false charges, accusations and slander against him...he held a long term perspective that catapulted him toward his destiny.

4. He never stopped being FAITHFUL - even throughout all the mess people put him through, he remained faithful to God and never shirked his commitment to follow Him!

5. He clung to GRACE - although he had the power to condemn his brothers for their betrayal, lies and schemes - Joseph chose to exemplify grace and mercy.

6. He worked with EXCELLENCE - whether as a servant, the interpreter of Pharaoh's dreams, the manager of the family sheep flock or a prison worker...he did his job with competence!

7. He grew in WISDOM - trials gave him increased wisdom beyond his years!  He stepped into help set up Egypt for the famine at the young age of 30 and demonstrated a seasoned perspective with decisions and implementation!

8. He was a STRATEGIST - always planning!  He knew what needed to be done to prepare for the famine.  He gave specific instructions to the officials to gather up the food and store the food during the seven years of plenty.

Joseph had a pretty tough life...
  • He was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers.  
  • His father was told that he was killed by a wild animal.  
  • He was framed by his boss's wife because he refused to sleep with her and was thrown into prison.
  • He interpreted the dream of a prisoner who was released and restored to his position, but the guy forgot about him.
  • In the end, though, Joseph became the leader of all Egypt - second only to the Pharaoh himself.
  • When there is a famine, he is then able to save his family from starvation.
  • He tells his brothers when he sees them again that, though they meant harm, God orchestrated the events to put Joseph in a position to save them.
Joseph possessed these qualities, demonstrated them meticulously and saved the lives of Egyptians and Israelites.  His leadership scope included strategic planning, relational skills, delegation, art and skill of communication, boldness, vision casting, integrity, inspiration and hope. 

Christian leadership can be nurtured and developed through various legitimate and constructive means.  But nothing can replace the presence of God, His acts of grace and provision, His wonderful counsel, His assuring guidance and His blessed results in the life of a leader.

I hope someday when we reach our milestone, like Joseph, we will be able to say, "The Lord brought me here, and he made me a pastor, teacher, missionary, CEO, mother, father, mentor and a leader."

Stay the course...God is in control of your destiny!  Today, live your truth!  Play your best game! Listen to the trusted voice of The Holy Spirit within you!