They were more interested in knowing the difference between good and evil than living the life God had given them…Continue reading
As we walked through that small season, I learned that when our plans fail, we need only to look to Jesus. He is the author and perfector of our faith (Heb. 12:2). He always has a plan. I’m am confident that God’s plan will always be better than mine.Continue reading
When God calls you into something it’s easy to get confused about what’s central in the journey. It’s too easy to let the destination become the object of the journey, but that’s not what Jesus wants.
Jesus said “I am the way…” (John 14:6). The path is Jesus, and if we get confused about that we can make good things supreme things.
The simple choice of where to allocate our treasure is a lot like the planting of seeds. The seed may start very small, but over time it will grow and produce fruit. Where we give our time, talent, and treasure may seem like small decisions right now, but over time the collective decisions we make have huge implications.Continue reading
Our church is in the middle of a series of talks I’ve entitled “No More Tombs”. We’re basically reflecting on the resurrection of Jesus to recognize that when Jesus walked out of the tomb, He invited us to walk of the tomb with Him.
We still live in tombs, though.
We let our relationships, our time, our past, and our finances become tombs. Even though Jesus invites us to life, we too often choose death.
One of the subtlest, but most significant, tombs that we choose to live in is in the area of personal finances. God has a plan to bring life to our finances, but we create our own plan and our own plan will always lead to death (Romans 6:23) .
God’s plan is quite simple: that we be givers, not takers.
I thought I’d take a few days and share some of the important differences between givers and takers, because it’s so important that we understand God’s heart in this.
God wants something for you, not from you. And so do I.
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The first significant difference between a giver and a taker is what’s happening on the inside.
Everything we do happens before we do it (Luke 6:45, Matthew 12:34, and James 1:15).
We choose, we believe, then we act… it’s really that simple.
You’ll often hear me say this: you do what you believe. We don’t have a behavior problem, we most often have a belief problem.
You can spend a lot of time analyzing the behavior, but if you don’t spend time understanding it’s motivation all you’re doing is treating a symptom without treating the disease.
So… Where does a giver start? Where does a taker start?
A taker starts with one simple decision: I’m first.
I’m first, so my needs come before anyone else. I’m first, so I deserve that before anyone else. I’m first, so I should have that position before anyone.
Takers are sinfully self-centered. Their needs matter more than anyone else. Their progress is more important than anyone else. Their happiness is more important than anyone else. They are the center of their own universe.
Givers understand on simple truth: we make a bad center.
Whatever is at the center of your life is functionally your god, and let’s just be honest… we make a poor god. Sure, you might be happy (for a while), but nobody else is if you’re your own center. As a matter of fact, they’ll start to resent you, even hate you, if you try to make yourself their center.
Givers start with this simple decision: I cannot be first.
If others are first, you’ll give… naturally. You’ll give because you care about their needs. You’ll give because you want them to be happy. You’ll give because you simply recognize them as being valuable.
That’s simply not enough, though. If others are you center, you’ll live to please them and you’ll live empty because you cannot please them. You’ll never be able to give enough to satisfy the needs of others.
So… where should a giver start?
A giver should start with the recognition that Jesus is first.
When place Jesus at the center of everything in our lives, He takes the lead in our finances just like everything else.
With Jesus as our center we give out of obedience. We don’t assume ownership over the time, talent, and treasure that God has so richly blessed us with. We recognize that Jesus is the owner, and he has invited us to be stewards of His blessings in our life. We don’t follow our own plan, but in turn, follow His.
A giver gladly, joyfully gives because their greatest delight is found in following Jesus.
It all starts on the inside.
So… what’s happening inside you?
What’s leading you to be a giver or a taker?
And… most importantly, what needs to change if you’re going to follow God’s plan to be a giver?
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Every church has BIG Sundays throughout the year: Christmas, the one after school starts, the one after New Years… and the biggest, most audaciously large Sunday in the entire year: Easter.
Big Sundays are important because, as a church, you get about 20% more people in seats than you normally do (and that’s without even TRYING to do anything to get them there).
If you care about those people and want them to experience the resurrection of Jesus, then you probably want to be prepared for this Sunday ahead of time.
Here are three things EVERYBODY in a church can commit to do in preparation for a BIG SUNDAY:
#1 – Pray BIG Prayers
There’s nothing bigger than eternity. There’s no bigger prayer to be prayed than for the people who visit our churches to accept Jesus and to have their eternal destiny altered through His grace and forgiveness.
Look at these scriptures:
- John 16:23 “I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. (NIV)”
- James 5:2 “The prayers of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with. (MSG)”
When we can HONESTLY pray in HIS NAME as a people who are LIVING RIGHT with God… we can see the miraculous happen. Don’t get confused: the GREATEST miracle of all is that our dead souls can come alive through the power of the resurrected Jesus.
Pray those BIG prayers and watch GOD deliver.
#2 – Commit to Serve
With your church expecting 20% more people than normal, that means its going to need at least 20% more volunteers to serve these new guests.
All too often we want to enjoy Easter, celebrate Jesus, and experience the amazing worship service that our church is going to provide for these guests. So… what happens at most churches? They ask us to help out and we simply say “No” simply to sit with our parents, our grandparents, our kids, or our friends.
But… who’s going to take care of these visitors that need to meet Jesus? Somebody else?
Consider these two scriptures:
- 1 Peter 4:10 “Be generous with the different gifts God gave you, passing them around so that all get in on it. (MSG)”
- Mark 9:35 “He said to them, ‘If anyone would be first, he be last of all servant of all. (ESV)”
Understanding that a person’s receptivity to the Gospel is dramatically impacted by how they are treated within the first 15 minutes of arriving at your church, don’t you think you can make a difference?
If you want to prepare for a BIG SUNDAY at your church, then commit to serve others and, ultimately, Jesus. You’ll be surprised at how meaningful it is when those visitors respond to Jesus and you know that God used you to reach them!
#3 – Invest an Invite
I promise you: your church is going to do their best job at Easter (or other Big Sundays). I don’t care what church you go to: if it’s a small church in the country or a mega-church in a large city, your Pastor knows it’s a big deal and will be prepared.
If you’ve chosen to buy-in, lock-in, and invest your life at a church, then you need to be bold enough to invite your friends and family to be there with you.
Consider these scriptures:
- Acts 1:8 “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
- John 12:47-48 “If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.”
- James 1:6 “Ask in faith, with no doubting…”
Jesus didn’t ask us all of us to be his preachers or his singers, but He did ask all of us to be his WITNESSES.
A witness POINTS to something. If you believe in your church, POINT OTHERS IT!
Here are a few pointers on inviting others to join you on a BIG SUNDAY:
- WEAKEST INVITATION: Facebook / Twitter – Don’t expect a heavy return on people you’ve ONLY interacted with through these social media sites.
- SIGHTLY BETTER: Email / Text Message – We all get too many electronic communications now-a-days. Expect emails and text messages to get lost in the noise.
- GOOD: Telephone Call – If you can, call your friends and family to invite them to church with you. It’s personal and relational. Those things matter.
- BETTER: Face to Face – The best way to ask someone to visit your church is face to face, in the context of a relationship. If you are not going to see them before the BIG day, make a point to visit them (at home, at work, etc.).
- BEST: Face to Face with Follow Up – If you ask someone personally, create a way to follow up with them after your conversation. Offer them a ride. Call them the day before. Offer to save them a seat. Do whatever it takes to get them to church.
Invite your friends and family in FAITH, without doubting, and watch your friends experience new life in Jesus.
I promise you this: the day you invite your friends to church and they respond to Jesus will be one of the most ridiculously awesome days you’ll ever have.
The harvest never happens without the work of planting. Teams never win championships without hours of dedicated practice. Great companies don’t emerge without years of sacrifice and effort.
Are you willing to prepare for a BIG SUNDAY? If you are, you’ll be better for it and so will the church you’ve bought into.
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Here are the TOP 10 reasons to consider be a part of new church start:
1. If you want to see Jesus do something new—if you’re sick of the status quo, join a church plant.
2. If you dream of being part of something bigger than yourself, join a church plant.
3. If you want to get into a fight—enter a battle—for the kingdom of Christ, join a church plant.
4. If you feel a constant itch to see people who don’t know Jesus come to know Jesus and you believe church planting is the best way for the gospel to advance, join a church plant.
5. If you want to give your time, money, energy, and talents to starting something new—if you want to make sacrifices in order for a mission to succeed, join a church plant.
6. If you fully support the vision, mission, doctrine, and leadership of a church plant, join a church plant.
7. If you want your faith to grow and you want God to fundamentally meddle with and change your life, join a church plant.
8. If you want to love your city, join a church plant.
9. If you want to watch God move in ways you never imagined—if you want an adventure (with all it’s discomfort and risk), join a church plant.
10. If you’re not afraid to bank your life on Matthew 16:18 (“I [Jesus] will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”), join a church plant.
Do you have ANOTHER REASON to join a new church start?
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