YouVersion Changes Lives

If you have a smart phone or a computer, you never have to leave home again without your Bible!

I love what the team at LifeChurch.tv has done to encourage Bible reading through their work with YouVersion. Our church uses the live version each Sunday (sign up HERE) and it has started to catch on with people. YouVersion continues to improve their offerings for churches. Consider these additions:

Free Bible Pages
http://bit.ly/ajTkjP

Desiring to help people from every walk of life spend time with God’s Word, they are offering “Free Bible pages” that your denomination, organization, or individual church can use to connect people to the life-transforming power of the Holy Spirit as they engage in Scripture.

For no cost, they will create two Free Bible pages: one that is optimized for mobile devices and another on YouVersion.com. Both will feature your logo and a personal message from your organization. Then, very simply, anyone can download the free Bible App and start reading the Bible, thanks to you!

Reading Plans
http://www.youversion.com/about/reading-plans

More than 20 Reading Plans are helping people actively engage in Scripture with YouVersion. Countless users have let us know that their lives have changed because they are spending more time reading the Bible with one of these plans. They are customizable, sharable, and free. And YouVersion allows you to share what you are reading and learning through social media connections like Twitter and Facebook.

YouVersion Live
http://www.youversion.com/about/live

YouVersion Live allows people to interact with church services on their phone. Using their mobile device or any computer with an Internet connection, individuals can vote on a poll and see the results live, ask questions anonymously, follow along with message outlines and take notes, see Bible verses from the sermon in context, give a tithe or offering, and request prayer.

Have you downloaded YouVersion to your phone or computer? Is it helping you read the Bible more?

The Balance of Grace and Truth


The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

It is always a balancing act…the balance between extending grace so much that it ignores truth and holding too tightly to truth that there is no room for grace.

Have you ever struggled with that balance?

Jesus came full of both…grace and truth…the perfect balance…and that should be our goal as we strive to be like Him…full of both grace and truth…

Sometimes we extend grace to the point that we enable people to continue making bad decisions. Other times we give up too quickly on someone because they crossed the legal lines.

Where’s the balance?

This passage of wisdom from Ecclesiastes has often helped shape my thoughts on this subject:

In this meaningless life of mine I have seen both of these:
a righteous man perishing in his righteousness,
and a wicked man living long in his wickedness.

Do not be overrighteous,
neither be overwise—
why destroy yourself?

Do not be overwicked,
and do not be a fool—
why die before your time?

It is good to grasp the one
and not let go of the other.
The man who fears God will avoid all extremes .
Ecclesiastes 7:15-18 NIV

I don’t have it figured out…but reflecting on this passage helps keep my heart in check from ignoring either grace or truth.

Which of these two could you be holding on to too tightly?

Perry Noble – Don’t Give Up! #Cat10

Perry Noble is raw. He’s funny. He speaks his heart, doesn’t hold anything back, and, best of all, he’s passionate about Jesus.

At Catalyst 2010, Perry talked through 1 Kings 17 and God’s dealing with Elijah. God fed him by the ravens. He provided for him, but then the brook dried up and Elijah had no water. Elijah was in a period of learning to trust God completely.

Perry had so many great one-liners to share I decided to list some of them here:

  • God said, “It’s about time for a dumb redneck to get up and tell people about me.”
  • God is often going to lead us places we don’t think we want to go but we are always glad once we are there.
  • The best ministry advice I could give you: “Do what the Lord tells you.”
  • The greatest thing that’s ever happened in our ministry is unexplainable because God did it.
  • If you can explain what’s happening in your church God’s not doing it.
  • How many times do you drive by McDonalds and wonder if their hiring? (Referring to how tough ministry is some days.)
  • If you’re here and the brook is dry, God is not punishing you. He is preparing you for greater plans.
  • God was saying to Elijah, even though the brook is dry…I am never dry.
  • I’m a grave robbing, water walking God and I will never run dry!
  • Why do we run from situations God reigns over?
  • God has never given up on you, don’t you dare give up on Him

What a refreshing talk this was! I needed this! I hope you will order this talk.

Are you tempted to quit? Please know you are not alone. I’m praying for you.

Beth Moore – Dealing with Insecurity in Church Leadership #Cat10

Beth Moore started by reminding us how quickly life changes but how much the Gospel stays the same.  Then she had us stand, while she knelt to pray.  (I know that because I peaked.)  What a picture of humility on her behalf.

Beth then stated that she felt awkward talking to so many men about insecurity in leadership, but that was where she was asked and felt led to share.  (Thank you for being obedient!)

She began by taking us to Proverbs.

For the Lord is your security and He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap. Proverbs 3:26

Insecurity is a snare we are usually not prepared to face.  Insecurity means, “inordinate self-consciousness, positive or negative.”  Anything that causes us to be caught up in ourselves will keep us from fully honoring God.

There has never been a time when we were more susceptible to insecurity.  We live with instant scrutiny as church leaders.  Even before we finish a message, what we said is already put to the world on Twitter or in a blog.  Everyone has an opinion and everyone has a voice.  We have all become published authors. People are passing on information before they have a chance to absorb it. All this makes us prone to insecurity.

Somewhere along the way, if we don’t deal with insecurity, we begin to rely on our own abilities and forget the things of our first love.  Many leaders come to the destruction of their ministry because of their personal insecurities and their failure to rely on the Spirit of God for security.

Thanks Beth for reminding me to place my complete trust and dependence on the person of Jesus Christ!

Reflect on this:

Do you struggle with insecurity?  Could it be a reliance problem?  Are you relying more on your own abilities than the sufficiency of Christ?

Gayle Haggard on Grace and Forgiveness at Catalyst #Cat10

Gayle Haggard told her humbling story about her husband, Ted Haggard’s moral failure. You probably read about it…( #UnderStatement) If you haven’t, you can read more HERE. Most of us can’t imagine finding out that our husband had a secret life as Ted Haggard had. As a pastor, I can only imagine the trauma that went through his family, his church, and his personal life.

Gayle threw out so much in a short time that I decided rather than do a commentary I would share some of her statement that caught my attention most:

This is my moment to confess aloud to the whole world what I really believe and who I have confidence in…

My relationship with my husband, the church, even my family was at stake, but this is my opportunity to reveal what I really believe.

I was challenged, did I have the courage to do the things Jesus teaches us to do? I really do believe He will never leave us or forsake us… I believe that we do not abandon when the going gets tough. It seems like everybody I counted on was failing me.

God was telling me to love and He was telling me to forgive. The implications would be hard, but I was determined to live out the faith I had claimed to have. What good is forgiveness if you don’t bear with one another and forgive as the Lord forgave us?

I became the “sinner” for staying with my husband by the judgment of the church.

The evidence of our faith is shown by what we do when we face our greatest trials.

A great test of faith is how do we respond when another person sins.

Even though I was shocked at the nature of my husband’s sin, I was not shocked that he sinned.

There is not one city in America where the number of people attending church is increasing.

The church appears to not know how to model what we preach.

The world watches when we have a scandal and wants to see how we respond.

We are no better or no worse than any other human…but we have been redeemed.

I would hope as a church we would be able to grasp the real meaning of the Gospel.

Sharing my story has brought many others to share stories proving to me the church is often not the safe place to share the real struggles of life. (She went on to say the world seems to forgiven easier than the church.)

Gayle offered a sobering reminder to us all of what grace and forgiveness looks like. I plan to buy her book Why I Stayed: The Choices I Made in My Darkest Hour.

What about you? Can you imagine offering the kind of forgiveness Gayle has had to offer her husband? Give me your thoughts.

The Waters Have Come Up to My Neck!

Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck! Psalm 69:1

This is my favorite safety pull verse! Helpful always, but especially in emergency situations…

Do you ever feel as though you are drowning?

This verse is for you…

A friend of mine has completed his schooling and now needs to find a job. He has poured everything into his work, and he is ready to go to work.  Having felt fully led of God to take the steps he has taken, now he needs to feed his family and can’t find a job, and he wants to trust God to work out the details, but he’s afraid.

I have a friend with cancer. She has worried about her families future should something happen to her.  She’s stressed about the demands of being a wife and mom when she is so tired. She’s trying to be faithful.

One friend’s marriage is falling apart around her. She’s tried to hold it together, but every day it seems more hopeless.  She needs God to change her husband’s heart and mind.

Another friend lost a child this year to a tragic death.  She’s trying to hold on to her faith, but struggling to pull all the pieces of her life together some days.

And those are just a few examples of where this prayer of David’s comes in handy. You and I will experience times in our life when we need saving…some of us feel that way every day…especially in certain seasons of life. Sometimes we need God to boldly enter into the situation! We need God to take over and do a quick miracle! We need deliverance! And fast!

God is never too slow…but then again…He is never too fast either. He is always…ALWAYS…right on time!

Come quickly God, and save us, the water has risen to flood stage!

For what in your life do you need to pray this prayer?

Leading Alone is Never a Good Idea

If you are leading a team or organization, I have some simple advice for you. This is based on years of experience. I have been guilty of trying to lead on my own. I once had the false idea that I had to lead independent of others and that if I shared my struggles with other leaders, somehow I would be less of a leader. I felt like a sign of strength was to prove that I didn’t need help, but, as many of you know, this is never true for any leader.

Even still, I have been in organizations where there was no one on my team I felt I could confide in with a weakness. If this is your case, or especially if you are the only leader:

Always have a group of people you trust ready to assist you; to be your sounding board.

This isn’t just a leadership principle…this is a good life principle…

Here are a few things to look for in a person for a group like this:

  • One who has been where you are…
  • One who is going where you are going…
  • One who will not judge you….
  • One who can keep a confidence…
  • One you would follow their leadership

Are you leading alone? Be careful…you may want to find someone who can be there at the appropriate time…Don’t be afraid to recruit those people into your life. Chances are good they equally need that connection.

Does this post resonate with your story? Is there a time that it did?

Friday Discussions: Should Christians Boycott?


The Friday discussions have been fun. Thanks for participating. I hope you will join the dialogue. Remember, I like discussion, so don’t be bashful.

Today I want to know your thoughts on the subject of boycotting something you don’t support or believe in as a Christian. Recently I saw a group boycotting a business in another city. I won’t share the companies name, but apparently this company supports activities the Christians didn’t support. It made me curious:

Should Christians boycott products or companies because of things they are doing that may be seen as “unchristian”? Do boycotts work?

Do you think a boycott helps or hurts the cause of Christ?

What would cause you to boycott a company or product?

Would you ever publicly boycott a church if they failed to do as you think they should?

What boycotts come to your mind when you think about this issue?

Share your opinion on this issue.

Who Do You Love?

If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Luke 6:32a NIV

I wonder if Jesus got an answer to this question!

Be honest…it is easier to love some people than others. Some people quite frankly are just difficult to love. (No names necessary, but you know who I’m talking about.)

Jesus doesn’t always call us to easy tasks, does He? We don’t live under the same standards as the rest of the world, do we?

You and I, the children of God, are called to live a life of love. That requirement stretches far beyond the loveable. It reaches those that are down and out; those who smell funny; those outside of our social class; those of different colors; and yes, those who are not capable of returning our love.

Jesus even calls us to love our enemies! As tough as that is, it is at the very heart of our Christian faith. Afterall, you and I were once in a similiar predicament as those so hard to love. Think about it, we were seperated from God. The crud of our sin left us unattractive to God. There was nothing any us of any value to a Holy God. We were outcast; down and out; without hope…….enemies of God!

But, praise be to God, He loved us in spite of who we were! He reached down with the depth of His love and sent us a Savior! He restored us from our sin state and gave us access into His presence! He loved us with the cross!

Now we are to love others as we have been loved…

Who is God calling you to love today?

Friday Discussion: Should Churches Compare Attendance Numbers?

I realize there is room for debate and even disagreement on this Friday discussion post. I decided when I began this series that I would not shy away from issues only because they may appear controversial. My criteria is really issues I’m wrestling with personally or have a special interest in the discussion. Today’s post fits that category.  I put this off for a couple weeks before I posted it, because I’m not trying to encourage division in the church, but this is really something I’m wrestling through.  I’d appreciate your input. (I think we can disagree on this issue and still be partners in Kingdom-building!)

Should churches be comparing numbers of attendance with other churches?

Recently I’ve read controversy over the recent “fastest growing” and “largest” churches article published in Outreach Magazine. I admit, I read the article and I was encouraged by it and the stories of some of the churches. To this point, I have chosen not to submit our numbers, even though we would easily qualify in the fastest growing category. (I share that now only to illustrate that this is not an issue of bitterness…one of the counter arguments I have heard people say.)

Recently I tweeted that we had our largest non-Easter attendance and instantly people wanted to know the number. Most conversations with pastors start with a discussion of number. Keep in mind, I’ve posted before that the spirit of competition is not always a bad thing, even in the church. (Read those posts HERE and HERE.)

I’ve heard counting attendance numbers compared to 2 Samuel 24 where David wrongly counted the fighting men. At the same time, I’ve heard others counter that there is a whole book named “Numbers” and that most churches count their offering. (True that!)

So, my question remains: Should churches be comparing numbers of attendance with other churches?

What’s the value? What’s the harm? Is it good or bad? What’s your opinion?

I’d love for you to add to the discussion.