Don’t Let It Stay In Your Head

Don’t Let It Stay In Your Head

It’s THANKSGIVING!

That means turkey and family time.

It also means that we, collectively as a culture, take a day to pause and be thankful.

If you’re like me, you probably have so much to be thankful for.

I catch myself often thinking about these things.

Can I give you one simple piece of advice when it comes to being thankful?

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The Power Of A Grateful Heart

The Power Of A Grateful Heart

It sort of amazes me that “Black Friday”, the day America loses its mind over cheap stuff we don’t really need, falls on the day that immediately follows Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is a profound day.

Not exactly because of Turkey or stuffing or cranberry sauce that most of honestly detest…

Thanksgiving is important because of redirects our hearts and minds.

We take this so seriously, that as we pastor our kid’s hearts we’ve made “having a grateful heart” one of the most significant points of emphasis in our home. When our kids complain, they’re immediately met with the question, “Are you having a grateful heart?”

There’s power in a grateful heart.

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What You Focus On Matters

What You Focus On Matters

Have you ever found yourself at that moment where your kids were doing something absurdly cute or ridiculously funny?

What do we do? We grab our phones and try to take a picture, don’t we?

More times than not something goes wrong with the picture for me: my fingers get in the way, the camera doesn’t focus on time, or the moment passes.

I think life is a lot like that.

Life is a beautiful journey. We’re surrounded by so much good and get to encounter so much in life that is purely wonderful, it’s impossible not to be struck by the simple beauty of life itself.

It’s also easy to miss it.

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It’s Lonely

It’s Lonely

During this blog series, I’ve shared what I didn’t know about planting a church when I started the adventure to plant Vortex Church in Albemarle, NC.

Most guys who strike out to start a church come from a similar context to me: they were on staff at a church doing something awesome for Jesus.

It’s so easy to overlook something that’s obvious: when you’re on staff at a church you’re typically surrounded with significant relationships. To be on staff at a church, the church would need to be larger in nature. There’s a large pool for relationships. From that, most church planters live in a significant community prior to their transition.

That was my story. We had fully integrated into the community we lived. We had a ton of friends in our church and outside of our church.

I played kickball in a league in our city with a bunch of people who never went to church, and I loved it. I played golf with men from our church on a regular basis at their invitation. I had coffees and lunch meetings with people that I was mentoring and leading.

Life was full of significant relationships.

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It’s Harder Than You Think

It’s Harder Than You Think

Anything worth doing is not going to be easy.

That’s the truth in life, and that’s the truth in church planting.

As I coach other church planters, I’ve noticed that that are a lot of us that approach this without a lot of respect for the work it’s going to take to sustain a move of God.

Throughout history, all great moves of God have been a lot of work for the people involved. In the mid-19th century, the great preacher Charles Finney led revivals throughout the US in what became known as the Second Great Awakening. During that time whole communities would be converted into active believers.

Before Finney led revival meetings in towns, he oversaw massive efforts of prayer networks throughout the communities. This methodology would later be replicated by Billy Graham Ministries in his crusades.

Too often we’re caught looking at the harvest, and neglect to understand the work that it took to sow the seed and prepare the field.

Here are a few observations on the work of planting a church…

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It’s Going To Hurt (Part 2)

It’s Going To Hurt (Part 2)

When you start a journey, it’s always exciting.

The first few steps of a run, the first few miles of a road trip… there’s always a sense of wonder and expectation.

The same is true of the journey to plant a church.

It started with good dreams: helping people find a meaningful relationship with Jesus, seeing broken families healed and the lost being found.

I neglected to understand this important fact: to see all that happens we would have to gather a bunch of sinners together, build relationships with them, and watch Jesus move in their lives… since we are practically incapable of doing any of that in their lives!

I didn’t expect to get hurt when we started out on this journey, but planting a church is a journey filled with pain.

Here are a few observations on how it hurts…

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It’s Going To Hurt (Part 1)

It’s Going To Hurt (Part 1)

I’m not a “health nut”, but I’ve learned something important about being healthy… It hurts.

Being unhealthy hurts, too.

When you plant a church, at the center of your motivation needs to be two things: God and people.

Planting always needs to be a response to a call. I’ve written about that before.

Planting also always needs to be focused on people.

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It’s Not About A Church

It’s Not About A Church

One of simplest, yet most profound questions we’ll ever wrestle with is: “What’s the purpose of my life?”

I believe that Jesus still invites us to follow Him, just like He did His disciples.

Sometimes it’s hard to figure out where God is going.

I know a lot of people who wrestle with this. The wrestling comes in the form of “calling” and “career”. We want to have a clear roadmap, and too often it just feels hazy for a lot of us. We don’t know what where Jesus is leading us or what He specifically wants us to do.

When God convinced me that He wanted me to move to back to our small, rural hometown and start a brand new church I thought this would all be about a church.

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Loved How We Need To Be Loved

Loved How We Need To Be Loved

A vast research project from the University of North Carolina studied how we, as American culture, view God. Christian Smith, a Sociology Professor at UNC, determined that the most common understanding of God in America aligns to these statements:

  1. A God exists who created and orders the world and watches over human life on earth.
  2. The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.
  3. God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when he is needed to resolve a problem.

Dr. Smith summed up this perception with this statement:
For most of America, we view God as a “Divine Butler”… someone to come and help us when we need Him, but not too involved in our lives.

There’s one huge problem with all of that…
That’s not how it works.
We’re not in charge. (and I’m thankful for that!)

The greatest problem with that perception of God is that we expect God to love us how we WANT to be loved.

That’s not how love works.

Love isn’t about what we want. Love thrives in what we need.
Love isn’t about me. Love is all about someone else.
Love isn’t about my needs. Love meets somebody else’s needs.

Why do we make love about us? It cannot work that way. It will only fail.

The same application needs to be made to how we understand God’s love.

God does not love us how we want to be loved.
God loves us how we need to be loved.

At times, what we need is not comfortable, and I’m afraid that many of us spend way too much time running from God’s loving invitations.

You know that your kids need to eat their vegetables. They’d rather eat candy. You love them, so you force them to eat their green beans and broccoli.

You want to live a comfortable life.
God wants you to live a meaningful life.
So… God convicts you and invites you to change your direction.

Even though its uncomfortable, He convicts you because He loves you!

I’m thankful that God doesn’t love us how we want to be loved.

He loves us how we need to be loved!

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What’s something that you’ve been running from that you realize is a loving invitation from Jesus?

You Asked: How Do I Make Time For My Relationship With God?

You Asked: How Do I Make Time For My Relationship With God?

I was asked this question recently:

How can I be more disciplined in making time each day to read my bible and have quiet time with God? I know it’s just an excuse to say “I’m busy”, but I really try to get it each day… and life gets in the way. Im really struggling with wanting to do this, but I’m having a hard time doing it. HELP!

First off… WHAT A GREAT QUESTION!
I love this question for a couple reasons:

#1 – The desire to spend more time with Jesus represents the longing to strengthen our relationship with God.

If you’re struggling with this desire, the only reason is that you know that you need Jesus! What a great realization to live with! Too many of us live complacent lives that aren’t aware of our desperate need for Jesus!

#2 – This question comes from a sincere place of understanding that we don’t have it all together!

Questions in general come out of an understanding of our own limits. They are, in that way, a very healthy part of our exploration and development. I don’t believe God is afraid of our questions. Just like a good Father, He’s patient and understanding with our questions!

*     *     *     *     *

Let’s start this answer with just a bit of advice on how we read the Scriptures…

When it comes to the Bible:
It’s more about what you DO WITH IT than what you know about it.

I realize that this is so counterintuitive to the way “Bible-study” has traditionally been taught. Knowledge isn’t transformational until it’s applied, and that’s the point of studying the Scriptures.

Reading the bible isn’t just a quest for knowledge; it is spending time with Jesus and letting Him shape your life.

Here are three steps to developing a more disciplined devotional life:

#1 – SET A GOAL.

We get goals, because in many ways our lives progress around them.

We also get the natural progression of goals.

So… If you’re new to reading the bible, it’s not wise for most of us to make a goal to read the Bible in 30 days. We might read it through, but we’d probably miss a lot.

Make a goal to read the bible every day. If that doesn’t work, try 5 days a week.

Make a goal to read at least a Chapter a day. Pick a book of the bible and read it through over and over and over again until you become very familiar with it. You’ll know when that’s happened because you’ll start quoting the verses!

If you’ve made more progress, progress the goals: more chapters, more books.

Remember: It’s more about quality than quantity. Don’t get to a place where you’re “I need to speed read these three chapters to keep up with that plan.”

#2 – PICK A TIME.

Everyone has a different rhythm. Some of us do well in the mornings, some at night.

I’d suggest deciding on a rhythm for your life (in general): Learn how much sleep you NEED, decide on a regular, daily rhythm that affords you that amount of sleep, and build your daily routine around that.

For me, I know I need about 7 hours of sleep to be well rested. I try to be in the bed around 10:00pm and asleep around 11:00pm. I then try to be awake at 6am. If I’m awake at 6am I have one hour at least until the kids are awake!

If you can wake up early and be functional, start your day with time with Jesus. Then get busy with your morning routine. Once we get busy, it’s easier to make excuses.

If you end your day with a devotional time, consider letting it be the last thing you do. Let your mind relax into God’s Word as you still yourself for the day.

Whatever it is… pick out a rhythm that works for you and make it routine.

#3 – TRY IT FOR A WHILE.

Don’t commit to a year. Or six months. Try it for a month, and then make adjustments for what you need.

Your devotional life is as much God teaching you about yourself as it is you learning about God. You’ll learn about how disciplined you are: NEWS FLASH… You’re not as disciplined as you want to be or need to be, and this journey an invitation to change that!

If you’re committing to anything, let it be that you’re making the intentional commitment to say, “God, whatever it takes; however it has to happen… I’m doing it.”

When we make our mind to devote ourselves to God like that, well… that’s a profound place to be!

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Do you have any questions? Ask away in the comments and I’ll get around to answering them!

 

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