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.

Free Fridays Book Giveaway: Choosing to See by Mary Beth Chapman

Here are today’s winners:

@claystorm

@rodseney

@kicktheball

@GlendaJohnson63

I have a couple more book giveaways coming up soon…stay tuned!

Today I’m super excited to give away four (4) copies of Mary Beth Chapman’s new book “Choosing to SEE: A Journey of Struggle and Hope”.

Chapman is wife to singer and songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman. In this book, Chapman talks about how her role as the wife of her charismatic celebrity, which was never what she intended or even had planned for her life. Living outside her comfort zone was only heightened when in 2008, the tragic death of their five-year-old daughter, Maria, led to a deep inner heartache. This is the story of one family’s journey towards hope, faith, and love through the high and very low periods of life and about learning how to trust God in the worst of times.

If you would like to win a copy of this book:

1. RT this post with something such as “Free Friday giveaway by @RonEdmondson Details here: “
2. Comment on this post with your name. Make sure I have either a Twitter or email address.

After 9 PM tonight CST I will choose four (4) random winners using Random.org from the comments received.

You do not want to miss this book!

12 Random Things I Learned from My Time with Rick Warren

I had an awesome opportunity a few weeks ago to spend a couple hours with Rick Warren and a dozen or so other pastors. Rick was in town to speak to a conference and Ed Stetzer arranged for him to meet with us. Obviously, this man is a mega-influencer just because of the book, the publicity he has received, and the impact he has in the church world and society. He is becoming a statesman for the church around the world.

It was a humbling experience. I didn’t choose the seat of honor (I promise), but I ended up sitting next to him in the meeting. Rick talked randomly and conversationally with us and I took notes as fast as I could. There are so many principles I took from our time, but here are 12 random things I gleaned from him: (Some are quotes…I put them in quotation marks…some are random points of information I heard from Rick’s talk.)

“We need to be reproducing churches. We need to reward multiplication of churches, not size of churches.”

“The model of Saddleback is to take people from “come and see” to “come and die”…as Jesus modeled.”

“You only listen to people you like. Be likable.”

Rick has the gift of faith. He sees things God wants to do that others can’t and has faith that it can happen. (That’s what leaders do!)

Until a few years ago, Rick read a book a day. He is a consummate learner.

Rick Warren is passionate about equipping pastors and leaders for the next generation and wants to spend the rest of his life equipping pastors.

“The ministry is not hills and valleys, but like a railroad passing through two extremes all the time.”

When he wrote “Purpose Driven Life” God told him “It’s not about you”. He never knew how many times he would be tested by that word from God.

Rick’s prayer every Saturday and Sunday before he preaches is, “Remind me that I belong to you…not this church…and this church does not belong to me”

“Jesus hung out with lepers…today that would be people with full blown AIDS”

“If you want your ministry to last, pastors need integrity, humility, and generosity.”

“Satan tempts us to use the strengths and gifts we have in a way that gives us glory instead of God.”

I realize Rick has his critics. Honestly, until you’ve sat where I sit and had a chance to hear his heart, I wouldn’t judge his ministry. He has some incredible plans for the next phase of his ministry and the influence of Saddleback Church in the years to come. I left more impressed than before I arrived. He’s the real deal.

Has the ministry of Rick Warren had an impact on you, your ministry or church?

Friday Discussion: Is Fear an Appropriate Motivator for the Church?

Is fear an appropriate tool for motivation?

We see it in many segments of society.

Rental car companies use it to sell extras to a rental contract. The skilled agent can make me doubt my insurance. The risk isn’t any larger than when I normally drive, but I sure feel that way after their spill.

We do it to help people lose weight or live healthier. When I see the effects of obesity on the body I’m more inclined to want to stay in shape.

We use fear to get people to wear seat belts, slow down and to deter drinking and driving. The crash dummy has been made famous saving lives by inducing fear.

So, I have a fair question:

Is fear an appropriate motivation tactic for the church?

I would love your thoughts and opinions. I’m a proponent of the “kindness of God leads to repentance” approach to witnessing, but if fear is such a great motivator should we literally be scaring the Hell out of people?

I love a good discussion…so what do you think?

7 Qualities to Look for in a Pastor’s Wife

I receive dozens of emails from pastors each week. This one caught my attention and I asked permission to use it here.  Hopefully others will benefit from my response and weigh in with their own thoughts. I have changed his name.

Ron,

I hope all is well with you. I frequent your blogs ever so often via twitter, which I do enjoy. the reason for this email is for some direction. It is my belief that the Lord has called me to be a pastor, however I am presently single. I wanted to find out what are some of the qualities one should look for and how should I go about finding a wife as a future pastor. I have been keeping the issue in prayer.

I would love to hear your thoughts.

Sincerely,

Mike

Dear Mike,

Most likely you will not be able to pick every expectation or qualification you have for a spouse.  I think is is wise, however, to have a goal. You are more likely to reach a target for which you aim.  With that in mind,

Here are 7 qualities I believe make up the ideal pastor’s wife:

Your biggest supporter. You should be hers too, but as a man in your position it is critical.  People will be less likely to support you if your wife doesn’t. Is she able to respect you in public enough not to criticize you in front of others?  Nothing would be more damaging to your ministry.  Ministry is hard on a marriage. Some days are harder than others. You’ll need to know there is one person always in your corner.

Obedient to the call of God regardless of the costs. Is she willing to walk by faith?  It will be required many times.

Visible and active in the ministry and/or church and looking to partner with you in ministry. I don’t believe the pastor’s wife should be everywhere, especially at the expense of her family, but the church should know she is a real person facing life’s struggles like the rest of the church.  Serving together because of a common love for Christ and a combined vision for ministry will help protect your marriage during difficult days.

Friendly and welcoming personality. Do people like her?  Does she have a genuine love for people, even those who at the time are harder to love?  This will be tested.

Completes you by filling in your weaknesses. Your ministry will be strengthened as “the two become one” and God uses each of your strengths to  blend a stronger team. Do your strengths compliment each other?

Less concerned about the material things of the world and more concerned about things eternal. This is a critical test for the life of a pastor’s wife. It is many times a life of sacrifice. This does not mean you can’t have or even enjoy nice things, but the source of real joy should come from the things money can never buy. There may be seasons of ministry where God calls you to real faith-testing and strengthening experiences with your finances. Will she remain faithful and committed during these times?

Loves Jesus more than you. If you need this one explained you may be in the wrong profession.

The easiest way for me to put this is that you should pick one like mine.  Cheryl is the perfect pastor’s wife. Of course, she is not available, but at least you have my standard for which you can set your ambitions. Praying for you as you have spiritual eyes and discernment.

As to where, that’s a tough one.  I don’t think location is as important as the heart with which you approach the search. When that is right it seems God will be much more willing to be in tune with the process and give you eyes to see. Perhaps my readers will have some suggestions.

Where’s the best place for singles (especially single pastors) to meet people today?

And, do you have any qualities you would add to my list for “Mike”?

Ted Video: Billy Graham on Technology and Faith

Just discovered this Ted video with Billy Graham talking about technology and faith. He’s humorous, engaging, and shares an interesting perspective about how to deal with technology in the future. He’s talking to a secular audience in 1998, but his words are still practical and helpful. The most encouraging part to me was to see the boldness of his talk in the midst of such a crowd.

Enjoy some time listening to this honored man:

Do you have a story or favorite memory of Billy Graham?

Changing a Heart versus Adding a Rule

I am often confronted with issues where one person has wronged another person.  At times people expect me, as the pastor, to enforce morals on people in order to change them.  Some how they believe if I talk to them, I can “force” them to change their ways.

I have learned one principle well.  Rules never change people.

It doesn’t matter how many you have, how strictly you enforce them, or even how loyal people are to obey them.  Rules alone never change a person.  Rules are often necessary to protect and bring order to chaos, but for people to change a heart has to change.

Heart changes change people, not rules.  Jesus working in a person’s life changes people, not more rules.

You may even be able to force someone to obey the rules…for a time, but compliance alone never indicates a true change of heart.

If you want me to speak to someone’s heart, I will.  If you want me to introduce them to Jesus, I would love to, but please don’t expect me to place rules on them that they will most likely not obey and that certainly will never truly change them.

Have you tried to change people with rules?  Did it work?

The No Guarantee Principle

Someone recently pointed out to me a principle they had always believed, until it didn’t come true for them. They were disappointed in the principle. I had to remind myself of yet another principle. Principles are great, but they aren’t promises; they are principles.

I love principles. I believe in them. I write about them. I even attempt to live my life by some of them.

But principles of men aren’t guaranteed to come true.

You can count on the promises of God, but don’t expect the principles of men to work every time. The truth is that life happens…and sometimes life is more powerful than a principle.

Take one famous John Maxwell principle (I know…how dare I pick on one of his principles…and he’s one of my heroes of leadership…but just for example…please don’t tell him)

Principle: No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.

That is true…unless you are a detective on a murder crime investigation. If you find a witness, you don’t care how much they care…you just want to know how much they know.

Principles are excellent. I love them. I write about them. I practice them. As I observe life, I even write some of them.

But real life can overpower principles. Principles can’t always overcome reality. The environment, other people, and circumstances will play a part in writing your end story, in spite of the principle you live by.

Don’t base your life on principles of man. Base your life on the promises of God. In them, you’ll never be disappointed.

Can you think of other principles of men that may not always be true?

Soles4Souls Loves Haiti: Sustainable Housing Project

I love the ministry of Soles4Souls.  Their success in doing their mission has been a phenomenal achievement.  In fact, I understand a book is being released soon that chronicles their journey over the last five years.  I interviewed Soles4Souls founder and CEO Wayne Elsey previously. You can read that interview post HERE.  

Wayne has taken a personal interest in Haiti.  He’s crying out for Americans to see the need.  He’s going to Haiti monthly.  Recently Wayne shared a plan he has to help with the tremendous housing problem they have.  I thought it was worth sharing here.  See this powerpoint presentation on Soles4Souls Haiti project.  For more information, contact Soles4Souls through their website.


Soles4Souls Project Haiti

If you can’t see this, you may need to open it in another browser type, or click on the link. http://www.docstoc.com/docs/47961120/Soles4Souls-Project-Haiti

Have you heard of Soles4Souls?