Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Power of Presentation

Easter is just around the corner.  Churches will welcome "seekers" who normally do not attend church on a regular basis.  Some will come just to say they attended on Easter, perhaps to appease their conscience or their family.  Some might even come to show off their new clothes.  My hope is that many will come because they have a genuine hunger and thirst for God.

Statistics tells us that 56% of Americans would attend a church service if invited by a friend. (Lifeway Research)  I can't help but remember 9/11 and the impact it had on church attendance in the days and weeks that followed this tragic event.  However, it wasn't long till many people went back to their normal routines.  It seems that every time our nation faces a crisis, we see a spike in church attendance.  Could it be that as a nation we only seek God in times of desperation or financial hardship?  Sadly, some will come to church this Sunday searching for help…but will they receive that help when they come?

Will they see Jesus?  Will they hear the true Gospel?  Or will they just hear a few songs, a positive message, drink a hot cup of coffee and go home unchanged?

Perhaps, the church as a whole, could do a better job in the way we present the Gospel of Jesus.  Even Jesus knew THE POWER OF PRESENTATION.  We remember Palm Sunday at His triumphant entry to Jerusalem.  This was the day that Jesus was unveiled to the city - in preparation for His death on the cross - He gave very specific instructions to His followers.  Jesus didn't enter into the city in just any old way.  He had an exact time, and exact place and an exact method for His presentation.
  1. Jesus entered into Jerusalem on the 10th day of nissan, the Passover month.  On this day, Jewish families took a lamb and inspected it to make sure it had no defect.  Then on the 14th day of the month, the Passover lamb was to be placed on the altar in the morning and slaughtered by the priest in the afternoon.  Isn't this exactly what happened to Jesus?  At the same time that lambs were being killed all over the city, He was placed on the cross in the morning and He died in the afternoon.
  2. Jesus entered into Jerusalem riding the borrowed colt of a donkey.  He did this to show the people that He had not come as a royal dignitary or to start a political revolution.  His ways are not man's ways.  Kings and princes would have rode in on expensive horses, but Jesus came to us in HUMILITY - laying aside all His royalty so that He could stoop low enough to touch lepers, beggars, abused women, lunatics, criminals, social outcasts and sinners like you and me!
  3. Jesus entered into Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, a high pinnacle that overlooks Jerusalem from the east.  Jesus sat down there a few days later, just before His crucifixion, and taught about His Second Coming.  It is also the spot where His feet last touched the ground before His ascension.  Jesus wanted us to know that just as He entered the city from the east during His earthly ministry, he will enter it again from that direction when He returns in all His glory!
Thousands of dollars will be spent on PROMOTION, PAGEANTS, PROGRAMS, PRIZES and PRESENTATIONS for Easter.  Perhaps we believe we can reach bigger crowds with those tools.  Perhaps we can.  However, we must remember that after the crowds saw the waving palm branches and heard the noisy hosannas, they still asked, "Who is this?" (Matthew 21:10).  A wonderful church service isn't enough!  No matter how loud the praise, there is only one thing that will answer this question…and it's the PREACHING of the PURE and SIMPLE GOSPEL!  We must show them JESUS!
  • He is the SPOTLESS LAMB of GOD.  He didn't deserve to die, but He willingly gave His life to pay for our sins!
  • He is the HUMBLE, LOVING SAVIOR who came to this world not to be served but to serve - and to demonstrate to us the unfathomable love of the Father!
  • He is the KING of GLORY who will one day return to earth to judge both the living and the dead and determine who will and who will not receive eternal life.
Jesus in not just another way to God.  He is the ONLY WAY to God.  We must be clear and concise on this!  Many people today are confused about who Jesus is.  Some think He is a great prophet who deserves respect alongside Buddha, Muhammad and the Dalai Lama.  Others think He is nothing more than a "force of love" that accepts everyone regardless of their sin and doesn't require repentance.  Still others imagine Him to be an American politician riding on a Democratic donkey or a Republican elephant.  HE IS NONE OF THESE THINGS.


There's nothing wrong with putting on a big production, promotion or program for Easter or any church event…as long as we SHOWCASE a GLORIOUS JESUS to a lost world.  He must be INTRODUCED properly.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Are You Easily Offended?

Are you easily offended?
Are you still holding on to offences? 

Too many people in the body of Christ are standing paralyzed on the outskirts of the valley of victory, because the enemy is shouting out offences from the other side.

All too many preachers are putting away their Bibles, never to fill another pulpit again, all because somehow, somewhere, they were offended and wounded in their souls.

Nothing in life starts big: the same with offence. An offence always starts as a thought, and thoughts are seeds, that enter your mind.  Seeds of offence are the beginning of developments of offence in our lives.  But we have the ability to REFUSE the thought or uproot the seed before an offence is fully-grown in the garden of our hearts.

Believe can be offended all day choose to be. You have to reach a place in your life where you FORGIVE those who have hurt you, mistreated you, lied on you, betrayed you, misunderstood you, misrepresented you, etc. Forgiveness doesn't mean the other person is right...forgiveness is something you do because it is right for you.  Forgiveness ultimately frees you from RebuttalsResponding to ignorance and seeking Retribution.

I'll be sharing this timely message tonight at 7:00 pm.  If you can't be there in person…watch the LIVE Stream at

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Five Ways To Focus On The Few

Have you ever heard someone describe the details of when they received their "call" from the Lord?  Over the years, I've had many people, mainly preachers, share their personal story with me.  A common phrase, which I don't doubt, has been "I saw myself standing before thousands preaching."

I assume that most preachers, especially when starting out, have grand visions of one day preaching to the masses.  In fact, we are exposed to mission's magazines and crusade pictures that show thousands of people gathered in fields and stadiums.

Not long ago, I received an invitation to join a group of preachers who were invited to preach in such a meeting.  I was told that if we would go, the missionaries would arrange a big crusade for us and we would be able to preach to the thousands.  Obviously, there would have been lots of pictures taken and bragging rights about how many people came to Jesus.

I'll have to admit, it did sound exciting.  However, it seems to me that if I had the opportunity to travel to a foreign county, I would much rather spend a few days with a small group of local pastors, encouraging and resourcing them, so they can go out and preach at the big meetings.  Their connection to their culture would probably give them the greater impact anyway.

Don't get me wrong…MASS EVANGELISM is certainly effective!  However, I feel like I can personally make a bigger impact discipling the FEW to reach the MANY.

What did Jesus do?  Most of the conversations He had in ministry were inner conversations with His small group of twelve.  Even when He did big meetings, He used His small group of disciples to minister to the crowds.  He spent three and a half years investing in them in a personal way…not as a teacher…but as a friend.  Can you imagine being part of that team?  They weren't mass produced through a seminary warehouse…they were hand-carved by Jesus Himself!

If it worked for Jesus…it will work for us!  One person at a time.  That's what we call RELATIONAL DISCIPLESHIP.  However, in our "CHURCHY CULTURE" we've prided ourselves in producing a performance based environment that thinks that bigger is better.  We invest thousands in big events while ignoring relationships.  We want to mesmerize our senses with sensational meetings, bigger platforms, hyped up gimmicks and instant results!  

It may look spectacular on opening night, but the show fades fast!

Is this mindset killing our long-term results? Do we truly think that Christianity at it's best is most effectively communicated ONLY by preachers who stand behind pulpits?  Preaching is definitely important…but without personal discipleship, leaders aren't formed and Christians don't develop true character.  As a result, Christianity, at least in the U.S., is a mile wide and an inch deep and our faith has become programmed, superficial and even fake.

I'm not impressed in attending one more flashy conference where everyone dresses the same, has the trendiest haircut, fake glasses, skinny jeans, knows the latest urban lingo and hob nobs with the who's who.  I'm much more interested in making an impact with a covenant few who have the ability to multiply themselves in others.

How do we do dismantle the idea that MINISTRY has to be MASSIVE to be effective?  At what point will the church realize that it's not the multitude that hung around the cross…but it was the "one" (John the beloved) that remained with Jesus?

Here's a few things to consider when focusing on the few.

1. Discover
  • Jesus handpicked His disciples.  Paul did the same when he chose Timothy, Silas, Aquila and Priscilla to be his ministry companions.  Have you discovered who you are called to disciple? Is there anyone that you feel drawn to?  We must also remember that Jesus had a Judas on his team.  Not everyone who starts with you will continue with you. 
2. Invest
  • Discipleship is more than a program.  It's a personal relationship that flows out of love and genuine friendship.  Investments require time, finances and patience.  Isn't that what Apostle Paul was doing with the Thessalonians? "We were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us." (1 Thessalonians 2:8)
3. Share
  • Sharing ministry and time together is essential in developing relationships. It's more exciting to bring people with you on the journey, whether it's travel, events, ministry opportunities, etc., then to do ministry all alone.  Some of our most memorable moments will come from shared time together. 
4. Train
  • When Jesus needed to address an issue in the lives of His disciples, He didn't lecture them, He creatively used illustrations that related to the events of their lives - a storm, the death of a friend or an encounter with a needy beggar.  His teaching flowed out of His relationship with His disciples.  Discipleship doesn't happen in a classroom setting.  It can happen at Starbucks, during a ride in the car, etc.  It happens naturally when TIME is spent together.
5. Prayer
  • Prayer is a vital part of mentoring and personal discipleship.  Apostle Paul told Timothy that he constantly remembered him in his prayers "night and day" (2 Timothy 1:3).  On my personal calendar, I have certain times during the week marked for intercession for those I'm mentoring.
Today's fatherless generation is looking for more than the latest musical trend, coolest stage design or the hippest techno-pastor.  They just want authentic role models who will spend time with them.

Who are you discipling right now?  
Who is coming behind you?  
Who are you pouring your life into?

Something else to think about:
  • Relationship goes both ways.  If you want someone to pour into you…you have to begin pouring into someone else.
  • Relationship requires reciprocation.  We're inclined to allow others to invest in us…however, relationship requires us to be just as willing to invest in others.
      • Communication - Who in the relationship is making the phone calls, sending cards, texts, emails, speaking encouragement, etc.?
      • Investment - Who in the relationship is buying the meals? Never allow yourself to become the "taker" and the other person to remain the "giver."  Investing in any relationship requires mutual exchange.
Focusing on the FEW will maximize our ability to reach the MANY!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Check, Re-Check, Triple Check

2014 is the year to get HEALTHY when it comes to social media interaction.  In 2009 I wrote a blog called "Slapped In The Facebook" that was timely.  As the years have passed, it's apparent we need to read, re-read and triple-read it again.

Recently, I read an article by Phil Cooke that posed the question "Is It Time to Close Your Facebook Account?" Here were five reasons he gave...
  1. "You're Addicted - You may laugh, but some psychologists are pushing to have "Internet Addiction" broadly classified as a clinical disorder.  If you're checking, re-checking, and triple-checking your Facebook page again and again over the course of the day, it might be time to let it rest.
  2. You Don't Understand Privacy.  I don't have my phone numbers, home address, or other private information on Facebook for a reason.  There are simply too many horror stories out there - some from stalkers and others from social media's notoriously bad security flaws.  If you can't keep it private, you shouldn't be online.
  3. You Trash The Company Or The Boss.  As I told CBS Moneywatch - it's baffling, but millions of employees across America assume their boss doesn't use Facebook.  Vent your frustrations about your "idiot boss" or the "crazy CEO" and guess what? They'll find out.  If you can't play nice on social media, stay out of the sandbox.
  4. You Can't Say "No" To Past Relationships. An attorney told me recently that the word "Facebook" appears in a shocking number of divorce proceedings today.  if you're in a good relationship and discover your old high school flame is suddenly divorced and trolling, don't even THINK about clicking "like."
  5. You Have Trouble With Focus.  In my book "One Big Thing: Discovering What You Were Born To Do," I discovered that human beings are simply wired to focus on one thing at a time. Study after study reveals the only thing multi-tasking does is help us do a lot  of things badly.  But Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms are the epitome of distraction - and keep millions of people frittering away their time instead of accomplishing something important.  If you have trouble focusing on what's important, you may need to close the account."
Do you struggle with any of the options above? Are there other good reasons to close social media accounts?

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Just Be You

Who are you? God created you in His image and after His likeness. (Genesis 1:26-27)  When you understand WHOSE you are then you understand WHO you are.

  • The Bible tells us in John 3:27 "John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven."

Why is it that we allow the opinions of others control us?  It seems that society is focused on gaining the approval of what everyone else thinks about them. 

Have you ever considered how much "THEY" control your life?  How often have you said, "Well, you know what THEY say?"  

You see, "THEY" set the standard, and we wear it...or do it!  And while that may be fine in some areas, it's not when it comes to your life's direction.

  • Jesus said, "If the son...[makes you free men] are...unquestionably free" (John 8:36 AMP).

That means...

  1. Free from the pressure of others' expectations.
  2. Free to be who God has called you to be.
  3. Free to look to Him for answers instead of running to other people.

Look at
John 3:27 again..."A man must be content to receive the gift which is given him from heaven" (AMP).

Maybe your background has been a contributor to INSECURITY.  Perhaps you've over compensated the insecurity with competitiveness, and comparing yourself to others.  Perhaps you're jealous of other people's possessions, abilities and accomplishments.  Perhaps you've found yourself trying to keep up with certain people - or to be just like them. As a result, you've become frustrated because you've ended up operating outside of what God has called you to be.  In other words, you've not been yourself.

When we finally realize that we can only be who God has ordained for us to be, we can begin to say, "I am who I am.  I can't be anything other than who God has called me to be.  So, I'm going to concentrate on being the best 'ME' that I can be."

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Practice Makes Perfect

How you process information and arrive at conclusions must always be subject to the will of God.  Apostle Paul wrote " made new in the attitude of your minds..." (Ephesians 4:23-24)

When we first start thinking God's way, it may feel strange to us.  It may even feel like it's a "put-on."  But it's not. All we need is a little practice.

  • You have to PRACTICE being nice until you automatically become nice.
  • You have to PRACTICE going to church on Weekends and Wednesdays until going anywhere else seems strange to you.
  • You have to PRACTICE giving to God until it becomes as natural to you as shopping at the mall.
  • You have to PRACTICE speaking the truth until even the smallest lie tastes bad in your mouth.
  • You have to PRACTICE speaking kindness until every cynical, negative word is purged from your vocabulary.
It's all a matter of PRACTICE.

Someone may say, "Isn't that hypocritical - feeling one way and speaking another?"  No, it's RETRAINING yourself to walk God's way, and RESTRAINING yourself from walking any other way.

You are literally declaring, "Lord, it's no longer a matter of anything goes...from now on, it's what You say and what You direct me to do!"