Where I’m At This Week!

This week I’m in Ecuador with a group of pastors and ministry leaders, including our family pastor Michael Bayne, and my good friend Casey Graham.

We are here on behalf of Compassion International seeing the work they do to improve the world of children around the world.

We will see first hand where an individual’s monthly dollars to support Compassion children goes. I look forward to reporting to you what I see. I’ve never been to Ecuador, but so far it looks much like countries I have seen, such as Costa Rica, Brazil, and Mexico. I have learned, however, that there is a rich uniqueness about each people group and I’m excited to explore this one.

Please pray for our team and check out the ministry of Compassion International. [...] Continue Reading…

The Life of an Idea on a Healthy Team

Healthy teams allow every idea a chance to live…

The healthiest teams don’t contain an idea killer…

Healthy teams:

Brainstorm
Analyze
Test drive
Push back
Critique
Debate
Challenge
Every idea…

But healthy teams remain open-minded about an idea until it’s proven to be a bad idea…

Knowing that… [...] Continue Reading…

A Much Needed Encouragement for the Pastor

It’s Monday morning…

I have spoken with many pastors who share a common struggle with each other. If it was a good Sunday…one where God’s Spirit was at work…during the 24-hour period from Sunday noon and Monday noon…they face doubt and frustration.

Yesterday was one of those days for me. I know I was speaking truth. I know God was working, but I was teaching on marriage to many who are undergoing tough times in their marriage. It was hard and I felt as though I was adding insult to injury to many. I left feeling down and allowing the enemy to discourage me.

I am blessed to have several in our church sensitive to this issue…or sensitive to God’s Spirit in their own life. Yesterday afternoon I received this email from someone in our church: [...] Continue Reading…

10 Ways a Team Performs as a Team

A team…at least a healthy team…is not just a group of people who perform a common task. That may be a group, but it shouldn’t be called a team. I’ve written on healthy teams before:

10 Characteristics of a Healthy Team

Signs of an Emotionally Healthy Team

You can tell a healthy team by how it responds to each other and how it performs as a team.

A healthy team: [...] Continue Reading…

Are You More Like Martha or Mary?

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, Luke 10:41 NIV

I’m confident that wasn’t the response Martha was looking for. Didn’t Jesus care that Mary refused to cut the pies or set the table? Couldn’t He see that Martha had so much to do if they were still going to eat by noon? Shouldn’t Jesus have told Mary to get up and get busy?

There was work to be done. If Jesus was going to get His fill of fried chicken, someone had to fry it! Martha was tasked with everything. The Lord was coming to dinner. Didn’t He deserve the best? Poor Martha! Left to do it all!

Do you ever feel like that?

Mary was just ‘hanging out’ with Jesus! Sitting at His feet, listening to His teaching, she had forgotten all about making the iced tea. She was busy, too!

Was Jesus saying that we shouldn’t prepare for our family and friends? Was He saying that we shouldn’t have a complete meal, because we need to invest all our time into meditating on His word? Is He asking Martha not to finish rolling out the biscuits? [...] Continue Reading…

Scripture Memorization, Week 10

Here is this week’s memory verse:

I wonder if we thought about this verse this week, instead about what we do or don’t do as believers, if we’d feel better about our walk with Christ and more willing to follow Him wherever He leads. I have a feeling it would free us from some legalism and help us live by grace.

What do you think? [...] Continue Reading…

Your Choice: An Open Rebuke or a Hidden Love

An open rebuke is better than hidden love! Proverbs 27:5

I was talking to one friend recently who made a very pointed criticism of another mutual friend. It was obvious he has a sincere concern about our other friend, but instead of addressing it with him, he decided to mention it to me. Honestly I wondered how many other “friends” with whom he has had this same conversation. I simply told him I thought he should speak with our friend directly about his concerns.

This is such a difficult verse for some people…especially people pleasers…maybe even some pastors…because we are afraid to offend people, but the principle is that we must be willing to help those we love, even when it is uncomfortable.

Proverbs are principles. They aren’t promises from God as much as the are pieces of wisdom from God to help us live life better. The are commands as much as they are guidelines. You can live a very principled life and not be guaranteed success, but in the majority of circumstances, these principles work best. In this specific proverb, you are not guaranteed to be received well when you offer “an open rebuke”, but it is “better than hidden love”. We shouldn’t be constantly looking for flaws in other people and we should look at our own faults first, but when a friend is obviously making bad choices in life that will eventually cause them or others harm, the loving thing to do is to offer correction.

I believe the principle behind this proverb is simply that if you love someone…truly care for others…then you should be willing to confront the issues you see in their life. Sometimes others can see things in us that we can’t see in ourselves. If a friend or loved one is making bad decisions, it’s better to bring it to their attention than to ignore it in the name of love. I hear people say, “I don’t want to offend them” or “It’s none of my business”, but the idea here is that if you love someone enough, you’ll be willing to help them realize where they are making mistakes.

Is this tough for you? Do you agree or disagree with my assessment here?

If you are the one who needs rebuking, would you rather hear it from a friend, a stranger, or not at all?

Now the harder question, who in your life needs your “open rebuke” more than they need your “hidden love”?

Help me out with this post.
[...] Continue Reading…

The Healthy Imbalance of Marriage

Is it common in your marriage for one spouse to be strong when the other is weak?

Or is that just in my marriage?

Cheryl and I have noticed that it goes in seasons for us, and sometimes even day-to-day.

When Cheryl is having a bad day…week…month…I seem to be having a better period of time.

Cheryl often appears to be stronger during my weaker moments.

We have found it to be true emotionally, physically, and sometimes even spiritually.

When she’s weak, I can strengthen her…

When I’m weak, she can strengthen me…

That “imbalance” in our marriage has proven to be quite strengthening for our marriage…

This imbalance actually helps to keep our marriage balanced and strong…

I wonder if God might even be the designer of this imbalance at times…

Have you noticed this healthy “imbalance” in your marriage?
[...] Continue Reading…

To Change or Not to Change…That is A Good Question

Determining when to make change and when to leave things the same is one of the most delicate decisions of leadership, but I know one thing for sure:

“It’s working” should never be the primary reason to avoid change.

It could be a reason. Not everything needs changing. Some things are timeless. Change for change sake sounds good but isn’t always the best idea. (I wrote about it HERE.)

But organizations and teams need change…

Change keeps momentum going. It builds a culture of change. It keeps leaders on the team motivated. And, sometimes, you discover something wonderful. (I wrote more about that concept HERE.)

So while change isn’t always necessary, “it’s working” shouldn’t keep you from considering change either.

Which makes the decision of when to change that much more difficult…doesn’t it?
One rule of thumb for me…if there hasn’t been any change recently…

Chances are it’s time…

I am always reminded that leaders want to be in environments of change. Leaders are most comfortable when they can explore, take risks, and keep things stirring. There’s a reason marketers are always changing things…it’s not just leaders who want change…people tend to like change too.

Sometimes leaders need to create change before change is needed…even though things are working.

Are you a fan of change, or do you resist it?

What change do you need to make just because you can? [...] Continue Reading…

A Special Message to Stressed Out Church Planters (and others)

Dear church planter (and others)…

In the growth phase, everything is changing, life moves at rocket pace…

Somedays you don’t know whether you are coming or going…

It’s a bit overwhelming, stressful, even a bit scary at times…

I hear this often from new church plants and fast growing churches…

I feel (and identify with) your pain…

I see part of my calling to help church leaders during this time…

I pray you protect your heart and your family…

But…
[...] Continue Reading…