November 17, 2011

Money Mistakes

If you haven't heard yet, our Church has started a new series about becoming Balanced in our finances. The more we dig into it together, the more we realize that we all have something that we're struggling with financially; whether that be trying to make ends meet from week to week or trying to get out of debt that we're in.

The good news is, you are NOT alone! We all have something that we're struggling with in this area. We are trying to bring those things to the surface, seek after the Lord for His guidance & find ways that we can honor Him with our money.

One of the things we discussed this past Sunday was knowing where we are. We need to know where we are currently sitting in our finances before we can make any changes. This requires us to be:
  • Honest with ourselves
  • Honest with God
  • Honest with each other
This also requires a certain level of vulnerability in admitting our mistakes and shortcomings. But we can't move forward to action into where we want to be until we come to terms with where we have been and where we are.

Perry Noble is the pastor of NewSpring Church in South Carolina and has written a few blogs on his past financial struggles. He openly shares his failures and how he overcame them. Go check them out and see if you can relate in anyway. I know I sure can!

November 15, 2011


3 John 1-4 (NIV)

The elder,

To my dear friend Gaius, whom I love in the truth.

2 Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. 3 It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth. 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

I was reading today in 3 John how excited the author (John) was when he heard that a good friend of his, Gaius, who he had spent time with leading and teaching about the truth of Jesus, not only had a “faithfulness to the truth”, but was “continuing to walk in the truth.

John, full of excitement over this wonderful news then made this statement:

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

As I reflected on these four verses, I realized something. Yes, John had “great joy” from hearing of Gaius “faithfulness to the truth” but John’s greatest joy, came from hearing the Gaius was “walking in the truth”. In other words, John’s “greater joy” came from Gaius putting his faith into actions!

Gaius had moved from being a hearer of “the truth” of Jesus in the worship service on Sunday morning or his weekly LifeGroup to a person who was willing to try and live it out daily.

Gaius moved from a person meditating and thinking about “the truth” of Jesus to a person who was willing to actually try and demonstrate “the truth” of Jesus by how he treated those around him.

The truth” of Jesus wasn’t a just a good idea or theory to Gaius. “The truth” of Jesus was an actual belief and faith that was so strong within him, that it couldn’t be contained. He had to do SOMETHING with what he believed. He chose to allow “the truth” of Jesus that was growing within him, to be shared with others by his actions.

To our knowledge, Gaius didn’t have to move to the mission field in another country, he didn’t have to go to seminary, or anything that earth shaking. He was just LIVING OUT the truth of Jesus right where he was.

And guess what. As Gaius LIVED OUT “the truth” of Jesus in his daily life, word spread (how else would John have heard about it). And that positive word about how he was LIVING OUT “the truth”, became a source of encouragement to his teacher, John (which was earth shaking to John).

Is “the truth” of Jesus just another belief or good theory on paper that comes up in our conversations with others around the water cooler at work?

Or is it an actual belief and faith that is so strong within you, that it can’t be contained and you just have to DO SOMETHING, like living it out each day, wherever you are, so others can experience it?

I promise you this, when we chose to take our faith in “the truth” of Jesus to the next level and actually begin LIVING OUT “the truth” of Jesus in our daily actions, not only will people experience the positive life change Jesus can bring, there will be such a contagious excitement within the body of believers that others will join with you as well.

Start the Ripple Effect of “the truth” of Jesus right where you are. DO SOMETHING!

November 9, 2011

Who am I?

What a beautiful day it is. I had a speaking engagement at the High School today that I had to prep for and was not able to jog this morning. So after a few text messages, I was able to switch around a few meetings so I could take a “Late Lunch-time Jog”.

It was so beautiful and warm, and I felt pretty good, so I half-heartedly stretched and decided I would walk for a while to loosen up. After 5 minutes of walking in the beautiful weather (which may not be this good much longer as winter is approaching), I thought, “why don’t I do some interval work.”

Recently, I have been hanging around some real runners who take this stuff seriously. I have jogged with a couple of them (until the leave me in their dust) and have heard them talk about doing “interval work”. You know, run as fast as I can for a couple of minutes, then walk 30-45 seconds, and then repeat, doing this for total of about 25 to 30 minutes. That didn’t sound that bad, and if they can do it, so can I.

So, off I go. The first couple of intervals were good. In fact, I was increasing my pace and stride length and feeling good about myself on this beautiful day. Then it hit me. A burning pain in the back of my left leg. Pulled hamstring. NO WAY! It’s warm today, I sort of loosened up walking, and its beautiful outside, this can’t be. So I stopped doing intervals and just walked for a while. As the burning stopped, I started jogging. After 100 yards, there the burning in my leg was again. Long story short, I kept trying to jog and walk, but the last part of the trip was all walking (BTW, I should have headed back toward the house when this 1st happened instead of continuing heading away from the house… I ended up traveling a total of 4 miles, with 3 of that being on a bum leg)

So, what’s the point? The outside environment (whether it is beautiful or not) doesn’t determine what is going on inside of me. Beautiful, warm weather on an AWESOME day doesn’t mean my body was prepared to do what I was asking it to do.

Mistake # 1: I didn’t prepare like I should have. I just went through the motions, walked a little bit and was ready to go. I should have stretched my muscles to begin with. No mater what the outside conditions were, no mater how much I wanted to get out there and get started working out, I STILL SHOULD HAVE PREPARED MYSELF for what I was about to do.

Mistake # 2: I’m not a runner yet! I tried to be something that I wasn’t ready to be yet. Just walking and jogging a few days a week doesn’t make me a runner yet. Hanging around with, talking to, and even jogging with runners, doesn’t make me a runner. Really, I’m a poser. I act like a runner, talk like a runner, but when it comes down to it, I haven’t put in the training or time yet to be a runner. I am a “walker/jogger” right now. Doesn’t mean I won’t or can’t become a runner. I just ain’t one now!

Truth is, there are people just like this in our churches today. Oh, I’m not talking about “walkers/joggers” posing as runners (Thought there are some of those). I’m talking about those who are posing as disciples of Jesus and aren’t prepared for what Satan is throwing at them, and are blaming God for them getting their butts kicked all over town by Satan.

Take a look at Acts 19: 1 – 23 pay close attention to verse 13-23

Remember the mistakes I made running today. 1- I didn’t prepare like I should have and 2- I tried to act like something that I wasn’t yet.

Satan is just waiting for you to “get too big for your britches”, and when he gets through with you, a pulled hamstring might be the least of your worries.

November 5, 2011

Hey LifeSpringer's,

I received this copy of a Blog (As Iron Sharpens Iron) from our District Superintendent & a good friend of mine, Ben Martin. It is pack with some AWESOME and Insightful comments, which I totally agree with. This is exactly the attitude and challenge that we, the Leadership and Congregation of LifeSpring Church (and every church) need to be reminded of. (I have also cut and pasted Ben's Blog to the bottom of by blog today)

As I read each line of this blog, I found myself NODDING IN AGREEMENT with Ben's statements. But it is more than "head nodding" and "un-huh's", and even "Amen's" we need today. We need vision (direction), a plan, and individuals to be bold and courageous enough to step outside their comfort zone and DO SOMETHING!

This Sunday (11/6), The LifeSpring Leadership Team will be meeting with me to - Remember our vision and internalized it, develop a plan to make that vision a reality, and then, with God's help, we will move forward with boldness and courage unlike any we have displayed before to invite, encourage, involve, and lead our congregation & community to the positive Life-Change found in Jesus Christ we all are called to.

Pray for us each day as we will for you as we move further outside our "comfort zone" to DO LIFE TOGETHER & making a Ripple Effect of Jesus love that change all of us!

LORD, let it be so.


The Real Problem?

Posted: 03 Nov 2011 08:16 AM PDT

Traveling across the District during this Charge Conference season I have heard many conversations about the economic challenges facing in our churches. It is not surprising therefore that when I attend conference meetings, one of the main topics of conversation is the economic challenge facing our conference. If the local churches are struggling the inevitable fallout is that the conference is struggling. Everywhere there is talk of scarcity, budget shortfalls, unpaid apportionments, staff and salary reductions, questions about our future.

While we have to address those issues because they are real and immediate, it is disturbing that we have more conversations about a decline in giving than we do a decline in membership and worship attendance. While we search for ways to teach stewardship and decrease budgets, I have always found the most effective way to increase giving and meet budgets is to grow the church. We should be far more disturbed about the lack of confessions of faith in our churches than the lack of giving. Many of our churches are working hard, and rightly so, to audit rolls, correct numbers, and take off inactive members. We do need to know where we actually stand. But, are we investing the same energy into our efforts to reach new people? We are ready to entertain new ways of raising money and carrying on our ministry with less money, but are we as ready to entertain new ways to worship to appeal to unchurched and younger adults, new ways to open our doors to the community, new ways to share the gospel? I would venture so far as to say it is not the economy that is killing our churches. In many places we have just gotten too comfortable with our church the way it is. Many of our churches have never decided that we wanted to grow (and in so doing have decided that we don’t). Too many of us have no passion to be intentional about meeting new people, and building relationships with people who are unchurched. Most of us don’t know the neighbors three doors down and sometimes even those who live next door. After twenty plus years of serving in the local church and never being out and about on Sunday morning, I have been shocked traveling from church to church to see how many people are at Wal-Mart and restaurants on Sunday morning. Maybe we are in the wrong place on Sunday morning. Undoubtedly the greeter at Wal-Mart has a better chance of sharing the gospel with someone who doesn’t know Jesus than we do in the church. We can no longer operate with a “build it and they will come” strategy in our local churches.

Our mission is the same as it has always been, “Go therefore into all nations and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded.” Could it be that our financial struggles are simply the result of having lost sight of what we are to be about?

November 3, 2011

Here’s my thoughts today on 2 Peter 1

In reading vs. 12-15 several thoughts came to mind

- Peter is determined to remind the readers of “these things” (see vs. 1-11), even though he admits that they are “firmly established in the truth you now have

o What is this truth? Well, I took a look at John 14:25-27

o 25 "All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

o Connecting these 2 thoughts is Peter speaking of the Holy Spirit that comes by faith in Jesus Christ. If you don’t think so… read John 14:15-19

o 15 "If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever- 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

- Peter wants to remind them of things they “know”, even though they know it (maybe they aren’t doing the things they “know”…hum)

o What makes me forget things

§ I’m get distracted

§ I treat something that’s important as unimportant

§ My focus shifts

§ I don’t memorize it

§ I don’t practice regularly what I know that helps me refresh my memory

o What things am I forgetting that I know about Jesus Love for me?

o What things am I forgetting that I have recently learned about Jesus Love for me?

o What things am I forgetting that I have experienced about Jesus Love for me?

- Peter also wants to “make every effort to see” that they will “always be able to remember these things”

o Why would Peter do this? Well, who was Peter’s teacher? Jesus. And isn’t this the same thing Jesus did/modeled for all the disciples? I think so. do this in remembrance of me…” when they were at the last supper…. I will leave you “another Counselor to be with you forever…the Spirit of Truth”.

Now’s the time for me to say WOW! What about you?

November 2, 2011

This weekend is the beginning of daylight savings time. In the Spring, we “sprang forward”, meaning we lost an our of our day. But in the fall, we “fall back” and actually gain an hour back. This Sunday, we get an hour we already have used back! Most of us will use that hour to catch up on our sleep.

But I have challenged our LifeSpring Leadership Team (LLT) to do something different this year with that hour. Maybe you would be interested in joining us. Here’s the challenge:

Take 15 minutes a day on Wednesday 11/2/11, Thursday 11/3/11, Friday 11/4/11, and Saturday 11/5/11 (15 minutes a day times 4 days equal 1 hour) and do the following

1) Take 5 minutes & read 2 Peter chapter 1 and jot down anything God shows you. (Read expecting God to show you something). Continue to do this for the whole 5 minutes.

2) Take 5 minutes & memorize Proverbs 3:5-6 (speak it out loud as you practice)

“Trust I the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding and in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.”

3) Take 5 minutes & Pray about what you have read, and memorized. Ask God to guide you and your church to becoming the loving, serving, & encouraging individual and community of believers that lead others to life changing encounters of Jesus love. Pray about whatever God lays on your heart.

Here is a sample of what I jotted down after reading 2 Peter 1:

Vs. 1. Peter identifies himself with Jesus as “a servant” and “an apostle” of Jesus Christ. As I looked at this , I realized that Peter is putting these words, these labels, in a certain order.

- Peter sees himself as a “servant” of Jesus before an “apostle”.

o Though the title of “apostle” or “disciple” may seem to carry some authority and power behind it, Peter seems to rather be identified as a servant of Jesus Christ first.

o Maybe I should do the same.

§ Would I rather have on my tombstone to identify what I did with my life …. “Pastor” or “Reverend” or “Husband” or “Father” or “Friend” or “Servant of Jesus Christ”.

o As I look at these words in print, I realize that in order for me to be the pastor, reverend, husband, father and friend God desires me to be, I must FIRST be the Servant of Jesus Christ that God calls me to be.

April 6, 2011

Thoughts on John 8:1-12

Here are a few of my thoughts and observations as I read John 8:1-12. I'd love to see your comments for additional discussion.
  • Jesus got to church (temple courts) pretty early to serve and to teach. You would think that there wouldn’t be that many people interested in being taught (especially that early in the morning), but we read that there were people gathered around him to desiring to learn.
    • Is there an opportunity in my life to meet with people early in the morning, before work or school, to have a moment to teach/learn about Jesus and what it is to be an obedient follower?

  • Jesus sat down to teach them. This is a very good posture to teach from; sitting down among the people, with them at their level (I’m referring to their spiritual maturity level, as well as their physical position of their bodies) to teach them. There is a place for “lecture” or “monologue” methods of teaching, but when teaching about applying the truths of the scriptures to our lives, this is best taught in a group discussion format with sharing and empathy.
    • How can I find and develop more “group discussion” dynamics with others to teach/learn about Jesus and what it is to be an obedient follower? Is social media an avenue to do this? If so, what are the pros and cons of doing it this way?

  • I’m not sure what Jesus wrote down in the sand, but I do know that he waited until he was ready to speak before He answered the Pharisees questions. No matter how much they continued to question or how persistent the Pharisees were, Jesus waited until He was ready to speak, not letting the actions of the Pharisees coaxing Him into responding unprepared.
    • This is a good example of patience displayed to myself and others who tend to “shoot from the hip” when faced with a ton of important questions from others seeking our response. Being patient and getting oneself prepared to speak is a discipline we all need to practice.

  • In a way, when Jesus says, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her,” His actions and His words are basically comparing all sin (that an individual commits) as the same as adultery while not ignoring or lessening the consequences of the sin. Jesus is implying that all sin is worthy of death and requires grace, mercy, forgiveness and encouragement to overcome for us to sin no more. This is exactly what Jesus gave to the woman when He said, "Then neither do I condemn you" and "Go now and leave your life of sin."
    • As an obedient follower of Jesus, how do I distribute grace, mercy, forgiveness and encouragement to others so they can overcome sin’s control in their lives?

  • Just like the Pharisees, the religious leaders of that time, people today are always quick to point out the sins or problems in other people’s lives without giving much attention to the sin in their own lives. I guess it is easier to see other’s sins than our own. I think we also do this because it deflects the “light of truth” from us to others, and gives us a sense that our sins are “not as bad” as theirs sins, thus we must be better and more loved by God.
    • Pointing others sins out does not lessen my sins in God’s eye, or justify my sins. Sin is just that, sin, and we should seek Jesus’ grace, mercy, forgiveness and encouragement to overcome our sins, as we freely give to others the same grace, mercy, forgiveness and encouragement to overcome sin.
So, what do you learn when you read John 8:1-12? Click "comment" below to join the discussion!