Practical

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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Posted by Gary in Leadership, Practical, 0 comments

What Happened?!?

Never in my lifetime did I believe I would see the church in such a state. I’m talking about the capital “C” church here. Certainly there are churches making a huge impact on people’s lives for the Kingdom and the cause of Christ but the universal church is struggling at best.

My heart is breaking for the bride of Christ. We don’t have to look far to see the church today in serious trouble. We’re increasingly viewed as irrelevant and out of touch. The majority of Americans view the church as nothing more than a social organization that does some good things, maybe, but really has no relevance in today’s world.

How did a group of people 2000 years ago without advanced degrees and none of the resources we have today impact the entire known world for the cause of Christ? And why are we viewed as irrelevant when we are equipped with seminaries, mass media, marketing, and vast resources. Why are we viewed as a nice subculture by most and downright evil by some.

I came across two articles one declaring “More Americans Say They Have No Religion”, and another with the headline “The Coming Evangelical Collapse”.

What has changed? Where have we gone wrong? What must we do to become again the Church Jesus planted?

I have written a book called “A Broken House”. It has been sitting in my computer for almost 3 years and I would like to walk through it with you over the next little bit. I would love to discuss it with you and get your feedback before it goes to print.

Please comment and invite anyone who you think would add to the conversation.

Also I will release my E.P. “I Will Sing” on October 16th. The next few weeks will be a mixture of this conversation and song stories from the E.P. I can’t wait for you to hear it!  You can listen to the first cut here.
 
 

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Posted by Gary in Church Growth, Faith, Leadership, Personal, Practical, 2 comments

Influence

According to lots of people it is of the highest importance.

Not that I disagree. Our ability to influence, persuade, is very important.

What kind of influence do we want? How do we attain it? Once we have it how do we use it?

Carlos Whittaker nailed this idea last week when he said:

Jesus did not set out to become an influential leader by getting other influential leaders to fall in love with him.
He set out to see people rescued from the grip of death.
And lives changed was the base of his influence.
Not the words of another.

I have fallen into this trap from time to time. I have been blessed to have the opportunity to be around some really amazing people. People who are having a huge Kingdom impact on the world. Looking back I can see how, instead of relying on God to fulfill His call and promise in my life, I have served the man of God well hoping the man of God would launch me into my calling.

It wasn’t a conscious thing and I am aware of how serving another mans vision shows me faithful to carry my own call. David laid down his life for sheep he would never inherit. It’s a subtle shift with  huge implications. We must be faithful servers and stewards and look only to God for what He has for us.

In the last several years I have had the enormous privilege of mentoring dozens of amazing young men who will be world changers. I’m happy to have my influence in the hands of those God has entrusted to me.

Contentment is watching someone you have walked with over several years making good choices, loving his wife, and serving with joy and passion.

Who has God entrusted to you? Pour into them and watch them step into the fullness of their calling. Zig Ziglar  said years ago the way to fulfill your dreams is to help others fulfill theirs. A truth that rings true in my heart today more than ever.

Don’t waste time on superficial temporary fame. Make sure your influence will last.

H.T. http://www.ragamuffinsoul.com

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Posted by Gary in Church Growth, Practical, 0 comments

Times of Refreshing

This morning Carlos Whittaker posted about his recovery process. It got me thinking.

I haven’t had a “super high emotional and spiritual experience” but I have had a very busy and productive couple of weeks. In the midst of God doing a lot in our midst, seeing great things come to conclusion and great things beginning, I haven’t taken time to refresh.

Being outside is what feeds me. I love being outdoors usually on a bicycle. I’m also a wimp in the cold so I don’t ride in the winter which means I get fat, out of shape, and unrefreshed. Why do I live in a cold climate you ask? I don’t know.

Jesus spent lots of time going away to a quiet place to be with the Father. The sabbath rest is a big deal and I need to make it more of a priority. What’s your routine? What feeds you? What’s the biggest obstacle to your resting?

Would love your thoughts.

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

I love my life

When I was in college a friend of mine would always pray, “God You are so big”, I remember thinking “That is the understatement of all understatements” however; I often find myself at a loss for words explaining what He is doing.

I find myself in that situation today.

Last weekend I had the privilege of being with some great people in Limon Colorado leading a worship retreat for Life in Christ Church. This is the first time a church has invited the community to join them. As a result we were blessed to have three churches represented. What a blessing to have different levels of musicians, different places in their walk with the Lord, and different traditions of worship. It created a different but very good environment.

We started on Friday night with Repentance and Dieing to self. It set the tone for the whole weekend. God was faithful and set a tone of reverence and expectation.

Saturday morning we began with Real worship, went into the rewards of loyalty by teaching through the book of Ruth, after which we were prepared to go to the centerpiece of the whole weekend, “walking in intimacy with God”. What does it mean practically to walk in intimacy with God? I know I’m supposed to read my bible and pray but there has to be more, and there is. We finished the morning answering the question “why music?”. If worship isn’t about music then why music?

After lunch we began by explaining what it means to be a “worship leader” and what is potentially wrong with the titles of “lead worshiper” or “lead follower”. We finished the heart portion of the day talking about excellence. What is it and can we offer it?

The practical “how to” portion began at about 2:00 with the purpose and elements of a worship team. What is the purpose of the choir and each individual element of the team. Where does each instrument fit into the sonic space. My friend Andrew did an excellent job with practical music theory. He starts with where we are rather than taking us back to theory 101 it was great.

After supper we went into planning and delivering a worship set and an actual rehearsal for Sunday morning.

I came home exhausted but energized. Seeing the fruit of God’s word and some practical application is always amazing.

If you were going to have a retreat what things would you add or subtract? What did I miss?

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Posted by Gary in Church Growth, Faith, Intimacy W/God, Personal, Practical, Worship, 1 comment

Is Excellence Perfection?

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?

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Posted by Gary in Church Growth, Practical, Worship, 0 comments

Leadership

Ask anyone what they think “leadership” is and you will likely get a different answer from almost everyone.

You will likely receive the John Maxwell definition most often:

“Leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less”

Especially from young Christians. Or you will receive some variation of the following:

“The only definition of a leader is someone who has followers”, Peter Drucker.

“The process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task”, Wikipedia.

The art of motivating a group of people to act towards achieving a common goal”, About.com

Dictionary’s are absolutely no help at all. Websters says “the office or position of a leader”. Very insightful.

Robert Fergusson, my favorite Bible College lecturer gave this definition:

True leadership is a God given quality that enables certain individuals to be set over and direct others positively toward both personal development and a common purpose. Either through short term impact or long term investment.

Not that I have a specific beef with any of these definitions. I like the Wikipedia and About.com definitions the least and Robert Fergussons best.

However I would like to offer a greatly distilled definition. A definition descriptive of Jesus leadership and the definition we should use in the body of Christ.

Biblical leadership is:

“Laying down your life for those entrusted to you”

I will expound on my definition later but again I would like to hear what you think first.

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Posted by Gary in Church Growth, Practical, 1 comment

Confession Time

Not confession in the literal sense of the term. I may need that as well but not in this space.

I have always spoken my mind here without holding much back and sometimes felt like I’ve been a little too honest. Today I need to process and get some things out of my head. As always I welcome your thoughts. I don’t know where this post is going I’m just mind dumping. So consider that fair warning.

In late 2008 I got very discouraged with some of the things being said in relation to the elections. The way I chose to deal with it was to fast all things political for as long as needed and focus on the one thing that can bring real change. Building the Church.

I was so pleased to hear my pastor tell the congregation yesterday. God’s plan is for us to operate in our gifts and there is no plan b. After the elections last year Dutch Sheets, in a letter to his partners, made the comment, God had a plan 50 years and 50 million baby’s ago it was us. These two statements go the heart of what I’m passionate about. Equipping the Saints.

I understand theologically God does not “need” us as much as He has chosen to work in and through us. Jesus modeled this plan as He walked purposefully to the cross while entrusting the message of salvation to 12 men. That is our task. raising up those who have been entrusted to us, calling out their gifts, making sure they are equipped, and then giving them permission to serve with a covering.

This is my foundational message. 2 Timothy 2:2, teach the teachers to teach.

Recently I separated my political thoughts into a different blog so I could keep this one solely for the purpose of ministry. Last week I posted 3 times concerning Conservatism and Christianity on this blog and began to feel bad about it. It is nearly impossible to separate politics from other aspects of our lives. They are completely intertwined.

I am very busy meeting with young men, serving on a couple of boards, helping different people with social media, as well as preparing for worship team retreats, writing a book, and trying to write songs. All good things but it begs the question:

What things, of eternal significance, should I focus on? In what areas should I focus on building the church? It all runs together and gets a bit confusing at times.

As I read other blogs they are mostly focused on one thing. Should I drop the political discussions and focus on building the church? Should I stop doing all but one thing and do it with all of my passion and effort? Religion and Politics are the two things we are told to avoid however Religion and Politics are two of the most important things we should be talking about. (don’t be too literal with that last sentence)

I realize Most of my problems are between my ears and because I’m in a safe place to deal with my pathologies God is bringing them to the surface. It’s good but hard. I’m developing a lifestyle of prayer and fasting that I’ve never understood before.

I am so thankful for my family especially my amazing wife who believes in me beyond my ability to understand. And thankful for friends who love me enough to tell me the truth.

Pastor Brady finished yesterday with this comment. “God has more gifts to give than people willing to use them” I don’t want to be that guy. I don’t want to spend time on things good but not eternally significant. If your still here after 600 words thank you. I’ll keep you posted.

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Posted by Gary in Faith, Intimacy W/God, Personal, Practical, 3 comments