Our community group is going through Purpose Driven Life. For some of us this is a refresher and for others it is the first time. (Interestingly, everyone in the group owned a copy of the book, but not everyone had read it.) Last night we considered week two. As a supplement to the book, I asked these questions. We had lots of good discussions and I’m still pondering my answers.
1. What does it mean “to please God”?
Do you believe your life brings God pleasure?
2. How do you feel about the statement: Worship is not for your benefit?
3. What is something your children do that makes you smile?
Would you rather have your children’s time or a plaque for the wall?
Do you want your children to trust you?
How do you think these the answers to these questions translate to your relationship with God?
4. If it’s true God smiles when we trust Him completely, is He smiling now about your trust in Him?
Where are you struggling/need to trust Him more?
Where are you struggling/need to obey Him more?
5. What is one fear/worry/burden you need to surrender to God?
6. What is the greatest barrier you have to prayer?
7. Have you weathered a time when God seemed distant?
What did you do?
8. How has your relationship with God changed over the years?
Spend some time considering these questions and your own answers to them.
One of our worship leaders shared a great line in an email to me. He and his wife met a couple from our area at a marriage retreat recently. As they got to know the new couple over the weekend they found out the couple didn’t currently have a church. The worship leader and his wife invited the other couple to attend our church. Here’s the shocking part of this story. You might want to sit down for this one. You aren’t going to believe what happened next.
THEY SHOWED UP! They actually came and even better…they liked it and have actually returned. In Michael’s email to me he wrote, “This inviting people thing really works!” I love that line. That line is true. That is the simple principle which has built Grace into who we are as a church today; no advertising; no fancy brochures or mail outs; simply the art of the personal invitation.
It reminds me of when I was pastor at another church several years ago and as soon as I arrived they wanted me to start an outreach program. They had considered and tried all kinds of formal, organized programs and nothing had really worked for them. I gave them one of my own. I taught them one Sunday how to grow their church. It is a genius plan. I highly recommend it still. It’s called the “Wanna Plan”. It worked great and the church that had been stagnant for years began to grow again (actually very quickly).
The “Wanna Plan” goes like this. Read slowly so you don’t miss anything. You approach someone (could be someone you know or someone you don’t know) and say, “Hey!” Go ahead and practice that part. You can even try different ways of saying “Hey!” if you want ranging from super-excited to semi-mellow. Don’t try to tackle the next part, which is much more difficult, until you get the “Hey!”downpat.
Then, carefully, not too fast and not too slow, in a pleasant sounding voice ask the people, “Wanna come to my church?” Now try that. Ask it as a question; not a statement. Say it with enthusiasm! After you’ve rehearsed each of these rather tricky lines a few times until you’re sure you have them, try putting them together into one phrase. I know what you’re thinking: This is too much information at once, but you can do it. I promise! It goes like this: “Hey, wanna come to my church?” (If you need to you can write this on a cue card in case you get too nervous and forget your line.)
This complicated system, if you can master it, really does work. Try some of the magic today.
Pretty much today is just a regular day. Of course, regular is a relative term. Regular this past week was a bit different than what regular regularly is. Today is already not regular in the sense that I’m sitting outside a little after 7 AM and it is almost too hot to be out here. (I just left the Northwest. They claim 15-20% humidity as being high. It didn’t start getting warm until 11 AM.) It’s not going to be regular in the sense that when people call or email I can’t give the excuse, “I’m sorry, I’m out of town.” It’s not a regular day because Cheryl isn’t with me right now…(and I miss her). It’s probably not going to be regular in the sense that I’m more than likely not going to eat every 2 hours today. Other than those differences, it’s just a regular day. Whatever regular is….
Plus another shot from today.
And the park where I went running this morning:
Kudos to Cheryl for the pictures. Tomorrow we drive to Glacier National and Canada. More to come. Looking forward to hearing Cheryl say “Wow!” a lot tomorrow.
These are pictures of our vacation. Keep in mind, that pictures only tell part of the story. They never capture the true beauty or the emotion in seeing part of God’s handiwork.
This is Sherman’s Chapel. Supposedly it is really, really old and famous. Some cool stuff probably happened here. You can research it online (and if you find out anything please comment here.) There was a sign telling all about it but it looked like it had a bunch of details so I didn’t read it.
This is Flathead Lake. Yea, I know.
This is the sweet car we are driving this week. The temperature got in the upper 40′s one night, but we still had the top down. Cheryl was shivering a little bit, but I reminded her that we paid extra to be cold.
Another view of Flathead Lake.
These is some of the wildlife we are seeing along the way. I didn’t actually see these, so I can’t guarantee that we saw them, but the picture was on my computer so I’m assuming Cheryl saw them. Pretty tall deer, huh?
We arrived in Spokane, Wa., spent the night in Couer d’Alene, Idaho, drove to Missoula, MT, then came to Kalispell, MT where we will spend two nights. Tomorrow we leave for Glacier National Park and then into Canada for a couple days.
I’m on vacation. It’s been too long since Cheryl and I got away for some extended time to relax. I’m not good at relaxing, and for me, sometimes relaxing is being free to think about what I want to think about. (So quit responding negatively to my Twitters about my thinking!) Anyway, Cheryl and I are accomplishing a goal. We’ve traveled now to every corner of the great USA together. She and I had both been here previously, but never together. (I’ll blog some pictures later.)
I have other things on my “Still To Be Done List”. Here are the first ones to come to mind:
1. Write a fiction book.
2. Sky dive.
3. Live in a city of over 1,000,000 people.
4. Live in a city with less than 10,000 people.
5. Travel Africa.
6. Do mission work in Africa.
7. Travel Asia.
8. Do mission work in Asia.
9. Develop patience (Notice that’s near the bottom. If I never get there…oh well…)
10. Wrestle a bear. (Okay, I’m just kidding about that one. Sort of.)
What’s in your “Still To Do” list? I’d love to hear from you.
Today I had a humbling experience. I’ve learned that humility is an art. Pride is easier to attain than humility. Throughout God’s Word He tells us how much He hates pride.
I have worked all week on my message for today, just like every week I’m up to speak. It wasn’t a difficult message. We have been mirroring our children’s ministry all summer, so the passage was already laid out for me. Today’s story was the resurrection; a message I’ve preached many times before. I could probably tell you most aspects of the story without my Bible in hand. The challenge is to bring freshness to a story most people think they already know. I decided to go simple; realizing that because of the newness of our church that there are many who aren’t familiar with the story.
I put together a scripted, verse-by-verse account from Luke 23. Yesterday I did my final edit. What normally takes me 3 or 4 hours on Saturday to edit my Sunday message took only about an hour. I left frustrated with myself thinking it was a horrible message, but frankly I didn’t know what else to do with it at that point. I went out to eat with friends last night complaining to the guy who is also in the ministry that I didn’t want to do this message. It just wasn’t that good. I woke up at 4 AM this morning ready to scrap the whole thing and start over, because I didn’t feel it had anything to offer people. I made a few changes, but really walked into church thinking this would be the worst message I’ve ever done at Grace. It’s still summer, I thought, maybe I wouldn’t scare too many people off and we could rebuild next week. I even shed a few tears of frustration before I went on stage.
Within five minutes of beginning today I knew I was no longer in control. I’m not saying I had a great message; it may have still truly stunk, but I left knowing God used it in someone’s life today. That’s a humbling, incredible, wonderful feeling.
It reminds me of a story told years ago about a young pastor fresh out of seminary who showed up to preach his first sermon at his first church. He was so confident, but his message simply bombed and he knew it. He walked off the stage deflated. A senior deacon in the church gave him some great advice, “If you had went up on stage the way you came down, you’d have come down the way you went up.”
That’s a good principle for me to remember every week.
Thanks God for allowing me to work for you and thank you for humbling me today!
Hopefully if you are in crisis-mode right now you are beginning to see the end of the tunnel. I pray God brings you through this time quickly. It’s important to know what to do AFTER the time of crisis has passed. Here are 5 things to do AFTER a time of crisis:
- Rejoice – Be thankful the crisis is over and a time of peace has come. I have many times prayed fervently during the hard times, but forsaken my “God-time” when everything is going well. Don’t follow my example in this.
- Share – The Bible is clear that we are to use our struggles to help others in theirs. Often because of fear or embarrassment we don’t allow people to see our past hurts. This denies God the opportunity to use the experiences He has given us for His glory. (Read 2 Corinthians 1:3-7)
- Prepare – If you have lived long enough you know that seasons of crisis come many times in life. During the quiet times when all is going well is when we should be preparing for harder times.
- Rest – To borrow from the Cheers theme song, “Taking a break from all your worries sure would help a lot.” Many people never enjoy the peaceful times because they are too paranoid about the next crisis that may or may not even occur. We should prepare for times of trouble, but we should never live in a state of worry.
- Grow - I have grown spiritually more during the hard times than in the easy times of life. Crisis-mode teaches us valuable insight into the character and heart of God. Use the down times to evaluate God, your life, and see how the two connect. Work on the places you are out of sync with God’s will for your life.
It would be nice if you never needed these blogs. My sense is, if your life is anything like mine, that some of you will.