Year: 2012

8760

I love the church. I love everything about church.

From Monday to Sunday there should be a vibrant expression of the church. The Sunday gatherings are great and I think God likes Sunday morning the best as well. The Bible says He loves the gates more than the tents. The gates are where the people gather. I have this picture in my mind of an excited expectant King anticipating the gathering of His people.

I also am a fan of small groups as they relate to your context. There should be a place for us to fellowship during the week in a way that is not possible on Sunday morning. A place where we unpack the scripture and work out real life in the context of relationship.

But there must be more than this.

There are 8760 hours in a year. Listening to one 20 minute sermon each week only accounts for .002% of those hours. When you add a small group you get to .011% of the total. Both of these expressions are critical but not sufficient.

When you compare those totals to the amount of media bombardment we receive each day it’s no wonder we are a defeated church.

We are a people called and created to live life in the context of community. Walking together, encouraging one another, learning from one another. We try to systematize discipleship which can be helpful but often the relationship aspect of discipleship suffers.

It’s time to rethink every paradigm we have as it relates to church life. I’m interested in what you think.

What does authentic community look like?
If you could design the church just for you what would it look like?

Insanity is doing what you’ve always done expecting a different result. It’s time for new wine, a fresh revelation. I don’t think we need a reformation rather a return to principles placed in a modern context.

What are those from your perspective?

I will be on top of the comment moderation and hopefully we can have a lively conversation. Please weigh in. I look forward to your thoughts.

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Posted by Gary in Church Growth, Discipleship, Leadership, 0 comments

A Different Perspective on Excellence.

I ran across this quote from Rev. Thomas Fuller from the 17th century and thought I would add this for context when talking about excellence. I’ve spoken here before of my definition of excellence which is: To offer the best I have, something above and beyond or different from the norm. Something costly.

Please consider this as an example:

Lord, my voice is by nature harsh and untunable, and it is vain to lavish any art to better it. Can my singing of psalms be pleasing to thy ears, which is unpleasant to my own? Yet though I cannot chant with the nightingale, or chirp with the blackbird, I had rather chatter with the swallow, yea, rather croak with the raven, than be altogether silent. Hadst though given me a better voice, I would have praised thee with a better voice. Now what my music wants in sweetness, let it have in sense, singing praises with understanding. Yea, Lord, create in me a new heart (therein to make melody), and I will be contented with my old voice, until in thy due time, being admitted into the choir of heaven, I have another more harmonious bestowed upon me.

Granted if his voice is harsh and untunable we probably don’t want him “leading” worship but I hope this provides a little balance to the Excellence conversation.

What are your thoughts?

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Post-Election Post

If you know me, you know I have many thoughts and many opinions about politics and about the election outcome specifically. I will however keep them to myself.

4 years ago I was very vocal and very engaged on social media and on this blog and I fear it accomplished nothing but animosity. These spaces are too small to contextualize and communicate in a way that reflects my heart. So I made a decision. The only things I posted relating to politics, save maybe one or two, have been related to how our republic works and the big picture ideas I hoped would inform those who stumble across what I have to say. Along with that I decided to put all of my energy into building that which is dear to the heart of God.

God is passionate about his prize creation. God created man in His image and desires and pursues relationship with us relentlessly. I also believe God’s chosen vehicle to reach the lost in these last days is the local church. So Kim and I have made a decision to focus our energy there.

Earlier this year we established a ministry under the covering of Life in Christ Church in Limon CO we are calling, for now, Trobee Ministry Partners. Our heart is to partner with those who build the local church. We feel like we have a calling like Nehemiah to stand beside and encourage pastors and leaders of smaller churches. Sometimes leading a church can be the loneliest place on earth and we want to come alongside leaders and walk with them.

We hope to do that in several ways. I will continue to do worship team retreats focusing on helping people understand their role in the church is to be a ministry of helps. We have a vision to come to smaller churches and facilitate a sabbatical for their pastor while teaching the congregation about rest and stewardship, among other things, while the pastor is being refreshed.

Our vision is still developing but we are very excited about what God is doing in the local church and excited for opportunities to build new relationships with leaders.

If you would like to know more or ask how we can partner with your church give us a shout.

As always would love to hear your thoughts.

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Posted by Gary in Church Growth, Discipleship, Personal, Politics, Practical, Worship, 0 comments

The Power of a Thank You

Proverbs 3:27 says:
Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so.

I served for 10 years in the Nebraska National Guard and was honorably discharged as a platoon sargent. It was a great experience where I learned invaluable lessons about many things.

I have never been deployed, never served outside the continental United States and have no idea what it feels like to fear for my life.

When Veterans Day comes around or when I happen to be in a place where Veterans are honored I never stand. Not for any real reason. I guess mostly because I don’t think of myself as a Veteran. My father in law who was in the Battle of The Bulge and is a real hero are the people I think of as veterans.

Stick with me here.

About 5 years ago on Veterans Day I got a text message from someone I worked with that said. Thank you for your service to our country. I was touched very deeply that someone thought of me and took the time to reach out and say Thank You in the simplest way.

I’m not asking you to text me next Vets Day. What I’m saying is if you know someone serving faithfully or someone who deserves a thank you would you give them one today.

It will make their day and yours.

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From the Archives, Is Excellence Perfection?

This week I am in Redding CA attending the Bethel Leadership Conference so I thought I would grab something from the archives. Hope your encouraged by it.

Is Excellence Perfection? From March 3, 2010

Excellence is a word we like to throw around especially in Christian circles. My sons old school used it so much it almost had no meaning. It’s not quite as bad as “Awesome” or “Incredible” but almost.

What does is mean? In regard to performance, our effort, our offering, our worship.

We can look at Hillsong, New Life, Willow Creek, or Mars Hill and say it’s easy for them to offer excellence look what they have. But how can I offer excellence when all I have is an old church piano player and a 13-year-old drummer?

Is it possible we have incorrectly linked excellence with perfection?

The dictionary defines “Excellence” as:

“The quality of being outstanding or extremely good”

So far so good but what is the standard by which we determine what is “outstanding” or “extremely good”? Is it Darlene Zschesch, Ross Parsley, Chris Tomlin, or is it the music teacher at the high school?

The dictionary defines “Perfection” as:

“the condition, state, or quality of being free from all flaws or defects”

Is that something we can offer? Do we have within our capacity or control to bring an offering free from “all flaws or defects”?

Vines Concise Dictionary of the Bible gives definitions for each usage of “excellence” here are the key words:

Over and above, The surpassing thing, To differ, A throwing beyond, The act of overhanging or the thing which overhangs, More, Greater, Superior by reason of inward worth, Mightiest, Noblest, Best.

When we talk, or think, about worship the word that is coupled with worship most often is “sacrifice” or “offering”. There are 5 different types of offerings in Leviticus.

Burnt offering, Leviticus 1:3
To show worship, devotion, and ask for forgiveness
 
Grain offering, Leviticus 2:1
To give thanks and recognize God as the giver of blessing and provider of good things
 
Peace offering, Leviticus 3:1
To ask God for blessing
 
Sin offering, Leviticus 4:1-2
To ask forgiveness for a specific unintentional sin or to become clean after becoming unclean
 
Guilt offering, Leviticus 5:15, 17-18
To make up for cheating, robbing, or destroying anything belonging to the Lord or to the people

These are all things we do, in whole or in part, when we come to worship. All of these require a sacrifice. All of them except the grain offering require an animal from the herd “without blemish”. The grain offering requires “fine flour”.

“Without blemish” can literally be translated “possessing integrity or truth”. Integrity is “the state of being whole or undivided”.

Consider King David in 1 Chronicles 21. Ornan was willing to give everything for the offering even the animals for the burnt offering. But David’s reply should cause us to stop and think, verse 24:

“I will not take what is yours for the Lord, or offer burnt offerings with that which costs me nothing”

Excellence then is:

“to offer the best I have, something above and beyond or different from the norm, something costly”

What are your thoughts? What am I missing?

If you would like to download the E.P. I Will Sing, you can get it here.

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From the Archives, The Love of God

This week I am in Redding CA attending their leadership conference so I decided to post something from the archives. Hope your encouraged by it.

The Love of God from December 10, 2010

Recently I’ve been struck by the love of God.

I’ve always known He loves me but the last couple of weeks as I’ve meditated on it I realize not only that He loves me but how much He loves you.

Again not that this is a great revelation it’s just that I’ve been thinking about how much He loves you and what that should mean for me.

I can get so frustrated with people. There are times when I’m behind someone on the on ramp to I-25 and they’re trying to merge with 75 mph traffic at 45 mph while talking on their cell phone and I just want to scream. Sorry if that shatters your opinion of me it’s just the truth.

However as I’ve been thinking about how much God loves all people and how He longs for everyone to know Him and walk in close intimate fellowship with Him it changes my reaction. I also realize He is my rear guard and I don’t have to worry about being crushed by the 75 mph traffic coming behind me.

C.S. Lewis in his sermon “The Weight of Glory” says we have never met a mere mortal. It is impossible to think too much about the potential glory of our neighbor and the weight of their glory should be placed upon my back. A load so heavy only humility can carry it and the backs of the proud will be broken. Everyone on earth is either an everlasting splendor or an immortal horror and all day long we are helping each other to become one or the other of these.

Everyone has a story. They are coming from somewhere and going somewhere. Before we make any judgments we need to understand their story and make sure we are helping everyone become and everlasting splendor not an immortal horror.

If you would like to download the E.P. I Will Sing, you can get it here.

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From the Archives, To Find Him Where He Can Be Found

This week has been spent mostly in the car and in preparation for next week at the Bethel Leadership Conference in Redding CA.

So I didn’t get anything posted and didn’t have time to write anything for next week. So I decided to bring some posts back you may not have seen when they were originally posted. Hope they encourage you.

To Find Him Where He Can Be Found from June 15th 2009.

 

God speaks to me sometimes by sending the same message in different ways over a period of time and then I have what I call a coalescing moment where it all comes together.

I just had one of those when I received a my daily email from the Copelands and from a friend on Facebook from Zimbabwe. We have never met and I don’t know why he found me and asked me to be his friend. He has 6 friends and I am the only one not from Zimbabwe.

Since launching into ministry in January I have had an interesting ride. I am living the dream but have been plagued with fear and doubt shortly after making the decision. Building the kingdom has been in my heart for over 10 years. At a workshop for worship with Job Vijil I knew this is what I was born to do. God has always been faithful so why the worry?

I say He is my strength and my shield, my ever-present help in time of need. I’m standing on the Word but I haven’t spoken in in weeks. Instead I have been speaking death. A couple of weeks ago my amazing wife scolded me strongly for the way I’m talking and she is exactly right. She is such a blessing to me. The Word of God is the final word but I must put it to work by speaking it out.

I am reminded of a short prayer by Hans Ur von Balthasar I apologize if I’ve posted this before:

 

Harassed by life, exhausted, we look about us for somewhere to be quiet, to be genuine, a place of refreshment. We yearn to restore our spirits in God, to simply let go in him and gain new strength to go on living.

But we fail to look for him where he is waiting for us, where he is to be found; in his Son, who is his Word. Or else seek for God because there are a thousand things we want to ask him, and imagine that we cannot go on living unless they are answered. We inundate him with problems, with demands for information, for clues, for an easier path, forgetting that in his Word he has given us the solution to every problem and all the details we are capable of grasping in this life.

We fail to listen where God speaks; where God’s Word rang out in the world once for all, sufficient for all ages, inexhaustible. Or else we think that God’s Word has been heard on earth for so long that by now it is almost used up. That it is about time for some new word, as if we had the right to demand one. We fail to see that it is we ourselves who are used up and alienated, whereas the Word resounds with the same vitality and freshness as ever; it is just as near to us as it always was.

Hans Ur von Balthasar, Prayer. Trans. Graham Harrison (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1986)

Today I commit to being in His Word and daily seeking Him in the secret place for His direction. I encourage you to do the same.

Blessings as you walk with Him.

If you would like to download the E.P. I Will Sing you can get it here.

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How To “Cause” Growth Of The Body

Over several years I have spoken with dozens of church leaders about how to measure growth in the church and it is universally agreed among them numbers are a poor reflection of health and growth. Don’t misunderstand I think numbers are important but how do we really know if the body is growing?

Did you know the Bible tells us exactly what we need to be doing in order to “cause” growth of the body?

In economics we know exactly what happens when we institute certain policies. A baker knows exactly what will happen when he adds a certain ingredient to bread. The same is true in the church.

Evangelism is one of the purposes of the church but I’ve noticed something; when we make evangelism the end rather than the beginning and make everyone an evangelist we de-emphasize the other gifts. Ephesians 4:11 says He gave some to be evangelists. I’m not saying only those with the gift of evangelism should share the gospel. We must always be ready to give an answer for the hope that is in us. I have no problem sharing my faith or leading someone to faith in Christ but my primary gifting is not evangelism. What I’m saying is we must recognize all the gifting entrusted to the church.

One of my closest friends thinks he’s a policeman. His vocation is policeman but he’s really an evangelist. Every time I talk to him he tells me about someone he has talked with about faith in Jesus. When we go into a coffee shop he starts looking around for who he might share the gospel with. It’s natural for him like breathing.

I remember feeling guilty when missionaries would come to our church and say things like “you’re either called to go or you’re called to send”. Their passion is admirable but my reading of the New Testament lists 16-18 gifts, depending how you read them. Giving and evangelism are only two. It’s critical that we recognize and value the other 14-16 gifts.

Ephesians 4:15-16 says when we all grow up in:

 “Christ who is the head from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”

Emphasis mine.

Paraphrase: When we are all walking in the fullness of our gifts and calling the church will grow.

It’s not magic. It’s recognizing, calling out, equipping, and releasing gifting back into the body that causes the church to grow. This is a leadership principle. We cannot blame the sheep for not walking in their gifting. We must create a culture where all the gifts can flourish.

As always leave your comments below. What do you think?

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The Power of an Apology

Over the last several weeks, some would argue longer than that, I’ve been a little difficult to be around.

I won’t go into detail as to why, I guess the reasons are arguable as well, suffice it to say I’ve been grumpy and disagreeable.

Though it was not my intention; I was rude to a couple of my closest friends recently. Thankfully the Holy Spirit pointed it out to me and I made two phone calls.

An apology is a very powerful thing. I’m not talking about the politician non-apology, apology. The “I’m sorry if you were offended” apology. I’m talking about taking responsibility for your actions and asking for forgiveness. It’s the “I behaved in an incorrect manner and I’m sorry”. As the Australians would say “Full Stop”. No qualification, no justification just a flat-out I’m sorry for the way I treated you. This is a principle I have tried to live by even to the extent of several times as the boys were growing up I would be on the edge of their bed saying “I’m sorry for the way I treated you today”.

A few days ago someone told me they were sorry for something that happened and I was reminded how powerful it is to be on the receiving end as well as the giving end.

Right now, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you if you need to call someone and restore relationship and when He points it out to you. Make the call immediately. You’ll be glad you did.

Romans 12:18 NKJV says “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men”. We all know it doesn’t completely depend on you. But make sure you’ve done all you can.

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Posted by Gary in Intimacy W/God, Leadership, Personal, 0 comments

E.P. Release Today!

Today is the Day!

I Will Sing

Buy Now

The digital download is available right now!

If you would like to hear the song stories you can start right here.

If I could I would like to ask two favors:

  1. If you know someone who might be interested in this project would you let them know.
  2. If you like the E.P. would you please click the like button at the bottom of this post.

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