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.

10 Random Things to Know about Pastors

Here are 10 random things you should know about pastors….these are true for me, but I suspect they may be for your pastor too:

The temptations you face…I face…

The larger the church gets…the less I know about anything…

I may not be the best person to ask…but I can point you to the right people…

The better the message…the longer it takes me to prepare it…

Even though I’m teaching it…I may not yet have mastered it…but I’m working on it…

I get nervous every time I start to preach…sometimes sick to my stomach nervous…

Sunday is not the only day I work…Honestly…

Your story probably doesn’t surprise me anymore…but I am never callous towards it…

To my family I’m not a pastor…just a husband and dad…

If you tell me something on Sunday morning…you probably should back it up with an email to remind me…

Pastors, does this list reflect you in any way? What would you add?

Sermon: Dealing with Greed

When a person struggles with greed, it will rob them of the peace and joy God intends for use to have.  The saddest part of this struggle is that most people who have greed in their heart don’t even know it.  Everyone around them does though…and most of the time…that greed becomes a wedge in those relationships.

Recently I talked about this at Grace Community Church.  Listen with an open heart.

Have you seen greed rob someone of peace and joy?

Do you have an example of a time you’ve been encouraged to give something extraordinary?

Will We Be Obedient?

I am amazed at what God has done through the work of the people of Grace Community Church in the first five years. We celebrated that milestone last week, but tomorrow is a new day. The start of the next five years. As a natural dreamer, I can’t help but wonder what the next five years will bring.

The anniversary caused me to be reflective this week. I thought about some of the obedience of the people following God in Scripture:

  • Noah did as the Lord commanded. Genesis 6:22
  • Moses followed God even when it meant leaving the comforts of a king Hebrews 11:27
  • Joshua did what the Lord commanded. Joshua 11:9
  • Rahab sacrificed her life for the life of some Israelite spies Joshua 2
  • Gideon led the people in spite of his weaknesses Judges 6-7

Throughout the Bible we find stories of people willing to risk everything they had to follow God, simply because He is God.

And, in turn, God seemed to favor and honor people who were obedient.

My time of reflection makes me want to obey Him even more. The question of what God will call me (us) to in the next 5 years is not near as important, at least from my perspective now, as the question of whether or not I will remain obedient…regardless of the risks and obstacles along the way.

What is God calling you to do? Will you be obedient?

Seriously….will you?

Friday Discussion: Christian Response to Customer Service

Let’s discuss….

As a former business owner, I am a huge proponent for treating a customer well. I don’t know that I would say the customer is king always, but the goal should certainly be that they leave feeling good about their experience. Customer service is the front door of any business (or church). Because of that, I tip well, I express appreciation and I always have a desire to make the waiter or waitresses day better, not worse than before I came. I want to encourage and reward good service and I realize that there could always be personal reasons why a person gives bad service on a particular day. I am always perplexed, however, of the way to respond when I receive bad service.

One night this week, my small group ate together at a local restaurant. From our first encounter, we knew our waiter did not want to be there. He was obviously impatient and snappy with his responses. It wasn’t the worst customer service I’ve ever received, but it was obviously not one of the best. When a large group recognizes the tension in a waiter, it’s probably a good indicator that service is less than excellent. It reminded me, especially with the pressure of my small group around me, that I don’t always know how to respond.

Today’s Friday discussion is:

What kind of customer should a Christian be? Do Christians have a right to complain when their service is bad? If the waiter or waitress is rude, do we turn the other cheek, or speak the truth in love? Do you tip for bad service and for good? Do you talk to the manager?

Give me your thoughts. How do you personally handle bad service?

Discuss and engage! I want to learn from you.