April 29, 2010

What’s behind your Smile?

I married “up”.

I married a FANTASIC woman with brains and wit, whose smile lights up a room. In fact, when Jodi smiles at you, it’s so contagious that you can’t help but to smile back. This week I found one of the sources of Jodi’s smile. It’s something that I am ashamed to say I have overlooked over our 28 years of life together. Shame on me, but hey, now I know!

Several weeks ago, Jodi, who works part-time as the Financial Secretary for one of the local churches (not LifeSpring) here in town, was asked if she was interested in picking up a few more hours of work. That church's current receptionist was leaving soon and they were considering changing the full-time receptionist job into two part-time jobs. Of course, with the economic condition of our country and the financial state of our checkbook (eh... mostly driven by our checkbook), she agreed to interview for one of the part-time receptionist jobs, to go with her part-time Financial Secretary’s job.

This week Jodi had the interview with the church committee responsible for filling the receptionist position. When she got home, I asked her how it went.

After she answered some questions about her current job as the Financial Secretary, the committee began asking questions about the new part-time receptionist position. One question, and Jodi’s response to it, stuck out to me.

The team had asked Jodi how she would feel to be sharing the work and responsibilities with another person who is also part-time? Who would be in charge? Did she foresee any problems?

Jodi responded that she had no problem working with someone in a situation like this. She said typically there could be potential problems with one of them wanting to be in 'charge' or be the 'main' one that people looked to. However, she continued, that wouldn’t be the case with her because she had no desires to be ‘in charge’ of the other person. In fact, she said with a smile, “I have no problem submitting to the other person’s authority. I’m more of a ‘behind-the-scenes support person’ anyway. That’s what makes a difference and that’s what I’m good at.”

WOW! When I heard this I was blown away! That’s the kind of humble, confident attitude and approach to life that Jesus can build a church on. “I don’t need to be in charge or to be seen as being in charge to make a difference in people's lives.”

I now believe Jodi’s confident attitude of knowing who she is in Jesus Christ, and her understanding that humility and a servant's heart is what Jesus desires is the source of her SMILE. A smile that is contagious and brings joy to others.

What’s the source of your smile?

P.S.- After the interview, several on the committee told Jodi how nice it was since she had begun work at the church, to come into the office and see a big smile and a person with a willingness to help out anyway they could.

Yep, I married “up”.

April 26, 2010

Monday Morning Reflections 4/26/10

Yesterday, LifeSpring Church took a RADICAL step in being a different kind of church to share Jesus’ love. Instead of GOING TO church and having a "music-and-message" worship service, we decided to BE the church and serve others. We invited our congregation to come to cook and serve hamburgers, baked beans, and "the fixings" to some special people in our community. Those people were the employees of the Statesboro Police & Fire Departments, the Sheriff’s department, the EMS, the residents of the Summit Apartments, and some random people of Statesboro who lived near the Fire Station. Despite some serious early morning thunderstorms and rain most of the morning, we had 61 volunteers to come and serve over 250 plates and give out 30 Bibles! Here are my observations of the day...

Some signs that LifeSpring is on the right track to share Jesus' love:
  • Servants' Hearts
    I was blown away at the way that all the volunteers “jumped in” and helped wherever it was needed. No matter what the task, someone was willing to serve.
  • Inclusiveness of All
    It was good to see so many different ages laughing, fellowshipping, & working together. I realized how close our LifeSpring community has become in this last year as there seemed to be less awkwardness in the conversations as people who may have been just acquaintances realized that we were all here for the same reason… making a difference in our community for Jesus Christ. By the way, that’s a COMMON VISION we all share!
  • Moving Outside Our Comfort Zone
    I went with a group of about 15 people (13 of which were under 20!) to the Summit Apartments to deliver plates to low income families. I was so impressed with how these young people jumped in and over came the feelings of awkwardness and began to knock on doors, introduce themselves to total strangers and offered people a hamburger plate.
  • Fellowship in Community is Important
    There is power in numbers. Despite how much work was involved, for the most part, no one was burdened with TOO much work to do. Everybody just pitched-in and got things done. What a great example of the church family operating as a BODY.
  • Our Connection is Greater Than Our Differences
    As things wound down a basketball came out and several began to play some pick up basketball games. WOW, we have some tremendous athletes in our church family! Conversations began to circulate about future recreational softball & basketball teams. What I loved about this was that our church family began to find out that as different as we all are, there are many things that we have in common. And then they wanted to build on the common things…
And finally, near the end of the afternoon, the church family pulled me to the side and presented me with a birthday card and sang “Happy Birthday” to me and individually wished me a happy birthday. As I looked in the eyes of these once strangers who now care for me and my family, and whom I care for deeply, I realized, THIS IS WHAT JESUS' LOVE LOOKS LIKE IN PERSON.

Thank you Jesus, for allowing me the privilege to serve as LifeSpring’s pastor.

April 22, 2010

Staff Meeting at NewSpring

Really excited about attending the NewSpring Staff meeting with Perry Noble today. Several of the LifeSpring staff are with me. A couple for their first visit @ NewSpring church. It will be great to get feedback from their experience.

Perry has asked us to read 2 Kings 4:38-41 in preparation for the day and for a talk he is giving us. We discussed this as a team driving up here to Anderson, S.C. and had several thoughts on how he will tie this into church leadership.

Here are a couple of those thoughts...
  • People with good intentions will try to help "feed others" by contributing to the meal. In their zeal to help and serve, they mistakenly put "poisonous" food into the mixture and contaminate all of it, making potential "death in the pot" for all.
  • Is there really "death in the pot"? Does Elisha give the group a placebo in response to their fear that the stew is poisonous.
  • No mater what the problem or who the cause behind the problems in the church (death in a pot), the other people in the group (other prophets) will yell at the leader to do something…
What do YOU see when YOU read this selection...

More on this subject after today's meetings.

April 20, 2010

10 Marks of a GREAT Worship Service

Nearly every Sunday afternoon, and definitely by midday on Mondays, I will have someone ask me. “How was your church service?” or “Did you have a good service yesterday?”

As I think about these questions (and others like it), I decided that I would write a few thoughts from my perspective on what constitutes not just a “Good” worship service rather a “Great” worship service.
  1. People who attend feel genuinely welcomed from the time they arrive until they leave.
  2. Volunteers know their actions are significant to helping people feel genuinely welcomed.
  3. Volunteers don’t see what they do as “work”, rather they see it as an exciting & fun way to serve Jesus… by serving others.
  4. We see smiles and hear laughter as people fellowship with one another.
  5. We hear the audience singing and interacting with each other and with the worship team as they participate in worshiping God… in other words, we don’t worship God by OBSERVATION…we worship together by PARTICIPATION.
  6. Songs, prayers, and messages that point people to Jesus’ love for them.
  7. We see people following along in their Bibles and taking notes during the sermon.
  8. People taking the next step of commitment to Jesus.
    (Each person comes into the worship service from different places of commitment in their belief or relationship with Jesus. Each person’s response is based on there starting point when they arrived at church that morning. We don’t want to leave them where we found them that morning.)
  9. People feeling led to join in with one of our LifeGroups, or to help volunteer in some capacity in the weeks that will follow….and they feel comfortable enough to sign up or to get more information about each one.
  10. People speaking to me/others by email, text, facebook, or in person the rest of the week about the things that they took away from the worship service on Sunday Morning.

Do you find it interesting that I said nothing about the number in attendance that day…the amount in the offering plate… the number of baptisms…the number of new members taken in…

You see, I have found that the more successful we are in doing the 10 things listed above, well, the other things will take care of themselves.

"People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them."

Mark 10:13-16

April 16, 2010

My Foot Is Killing Me

Last week I was increasing my walking getting prepared to hopefully start jogging again. (OK, when you stop laughing you can continue to read this post!)

Later in the afternoon one day, after I had walked over an hour that morning, my right heel starting hurting. I played it off; "It’s just pain." But by the next morning I could hardly walk across the bedroom floor. It took several hours for my heel muscles to "loosen up". It actually felt like a pulled muscle in my heel...(Oh, stop laughing. I mean it, that sucker hurt.) After several days of 'self diagnosis' I realized that I actually had the continuing heel pain due to my tennis shoes being 'worn out'. The additional walking just made it worse.

Since finances are tight, I have to wear other shoes, so in the mean time I am just minimizing my walking until my heel completely heals. (Heel heals.. get it?!?)

So why am I blogging about this? Well, it's like this. As I continued to walk on my bad heel, I notices that I would turn my foot inward slightly to take some of the pressure off my heel. This helped me minimize the pain to my heel, but later I began to feel some pain in my leg.

It seems that in my efforts to avoid the pain in my heel, the adjustments I made in my walking stride and foot position were actually causing me more pain. It became a domino effect. Next I made adjustments for the pain in my leg, and then my back began to hurt.

SO... I just stopped walking as much as possible to let all the parts of me heal up. I got off my feet. I gave up the “1st pain” (by sitting more) which also helped stop the additional pain from the adjustments I was making in my walking strides and how my injured heel impacted the pavement.

As I reflected on these things, I began to wonder, how many times do we make adjustments in our lives because of a little pain, only to cost us or our loved ones more pain. For example, we avoid the "pain" of apologizing, only to have our pain compounded by the pain caused by a damaged relationship... all because we can't just say, "I'm Sorry."

Or, maybe we have some pains in our lives that we just don't take to God and we hold on to them & try to "walk them off" alone, only to find out later that by carrying those pains around, we end up with more pain in other areas of our lives too.

Can you think of some other examples in your life?

I think this has taught me that I need to take my pains and hurts to God at the beginning and not allow them to build up to the point that they cause me to adjust my life, or my morals, leading to more pain, struggling, and bigger adjustments down the road.

April 13, 2010

Things That Make You Go Hmmm...

Chris Elrod is a friend of Perry Noble (my Coach for church planting this year) and had this post on his blog the other week about 15 random things he was wondering about…I thought this was some good stuff... what do you think....Some GREAT thoughts here…
There is some stuff I just cannot comprehend. Try as I may to get it…it doesn’t make any logical or Scriptural sense. Here is a partial of things I do not understand.
  1. Folks that show up to church only a few times a year but expect the pastor to drop everything to provide them with his undivided attention.
  2. People that put nothing in the offering plate but still have the stones to expect that their opinions on the church should count.
  3. Parents who ground their children from church or the youth group…the very things that could help them with their behavior, future and afterlife.
  4. People that expect the pastor to tolerate their political views…but leave the church because of his.
  5. The occasional volunteer that expects the church to throw a parade in their honor just because they finally did what the Bible commanded.
  6. People that have basked in the grace of God…but fail to give grace to anyone else.
  7. Pastors that leave one church for another…for better pay.
  8. The need for church growth plans, programs, books, conference, seminars and resource kits…when we already have the Bible.
  9. Women that tolerate their husbands having multiple affairs…”for the sake of the kids”.
  10. Pastors that would rather be political pundits or civil rights leaders…instead of just preaching the life-saving message of the Word of God.
  11. People that have one spiritual standard for their pastor…and another for themselves.
  12. Folks that think the word ‘disciple’ is a noun…and not a verb.
  13. People that make comments about needing to go “deeper” in God’s Word…as if there is a Scripture in the Bible that isn’t deep.
  14. Pastors that think accountability means never asking them the tough questions or taking the hard line when it comes to their failure to follow Scripture.
  15. Men that think being the head of the household has something to do with the amount of money they are bringing in or the title they acquire at work.

Monday Morning Reflections 4/11/10

Monday Morning Reflections:

Before our morning worship, Satan threw our LifeSpring Volunteers a “Curve ball” for the first time in our new worship location. It caught us off guard, but the teams did a great job of “putting the ball in play” and we made some tremendous headway in adapting to difficulties that could have created havoc for a lesser talented Worship/Production team. We might not always hit HOMERUNS, but we put the ball in play so that Jesus’ team has an opportunity to score….

….. By the way, I LOVE using COACHING ANALOGIES!

I had the opportunity (along with a couple of my staff) to pray with 5 people who were dealing with some really DIFFICULT stuff in their lives. I was reminded that Satan is really trying to destroy “Christian” people by shaking their confidence in God. Sometimes loving others is no more than helping someone up who has fallen, helping them dust off, and then pointing them in the right direction…which by the way, the right direction is always toward JESUS.

I loved telling the story of Shadrach, Meshach, & Abednego! I get so EXCITED when I read Daniel 3:16-18 “…'O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.'"

Heck, this phrase just resonates with me… WE WON’T BOW DOWN! It’s not about the fiery furnace… it’s ALL about LOVINGLY OBEYING GOD!

Here’s a bit of Preacherman Trivia… Do you know what book of the Bible God was using to influence my life just over 13 years ago during some difficult times in my life? It was a time when nearly everything I read in this book of the Bible was related to what was going on in my life or in my family's life… here’s a hint… the scripture in this book was so influential on me at that time, Jodi and I decided to name one of our children after the name of this book in the Bible (My Children’s names and ages are… Christopher-20…Brian-17… and Danielle-13)… Do you know the answer now?

During my message this Sunday morning, a phrase came to me while on stage…and then I began to act it out or to physically illustrate it… I had no plan or thoughts to do this prior to the time that I did it… it was one of those times when God reminds me HE’s in charge of the message and I need to say what Jesus wants said.

It went something like this… "It’s time that Christians; those who love, follow, and serve Jesus 'STAND UP' while others are bowing down in this world. It’s time we make a DIFFERENCE.”

I LOVED IT! Thank you Jesus!

This was our 4th worship service in the new location and it’s starting to feel like home. I think all our LifeSpring family likes the new location, too. Thank You Lord for providing such an AWESOME place to worship in.

We revealed this weekend that on April 25th, rather than having a “Worship Service” we would be the church that “Serves others as our Worship”. We will be feeding over 300 police, firefighters, EMT, Sheriffs, & also low income families during our regular worship time. THIS IS SOMETHING RADICAL and I LOVE IT.

‘That’s Crazy’, or ‘That’s outside the box thinking’, is what some will say about us

… but for our LifeSpring Staff and leadership, when someone says “outside the box” type comments we just respond


May God keep us all blind to the Box that is trying to contain Jesus’ message of love and redemption!

April 6, 2010

Monday morning "reflections"

  • Thank you to all the volunteers who served to make this the best Easter Service @ LifeSpring ever. The service was AWESOME. A great time of worship, teaching, & meeting new people. WOW!
  • 2 people responded by trading in their “old life” for a “new life” offered by Jesus. I look forward to speaking with them personally this week.
  • 10 people expressed interest in joining one of our LifeGroups, and 6 others asked to help serve on other volunteer teams.
  • We celebrated Jake Palmers 10th birthday by the congregation singing “Happy Birthday” and just celebrating his life. I KNOW this was one of the answers to the WWJD question (What Would Jesus Do?)
  • I was so glad to see so many “LifeSpring” High School & College Students bring their families with them to church. It was good to meet these parents and see the joy on their faces as they worshiped with their children.
  • Our Worship team, Production Team, band, greeters, & hospitality teams all brought their “A game” on Easter. I have got to “step it up” as their pastor… I love the challenge.
  • After declining several offers for Easter lunch, my family – all 5 of us – went out to lunch together for our own “Family Time”, and it was GREAT! I have the most fantastic children. They’re so witty and loving. They are/have grown into some wonderful adults. I look forward to seeing the impact they are making on the Kingdom of God.
  • God had blessed me with a passionate and diverse group of volunteers and staff that are excited about loving and serving others as Jesus did… Thank you God!