On November 17th, shortly after 11AM, the small Illinois community of Washington was devastated by an F4 tornado that cut a diagonal path across the length of the town. The destruction was tremendous. In the aftermath, many people were asking questions, "Why would God allow this?" and "Where was God?" These questions and others do have answers.
Monday, October 14, 2013
In a world gone wild, freedom has been redefined by the sexual rules of the flesh. This affects not only the current political realm but Christian liberty as well. The church has done a poor job of handling the issue. In the light of real liberty, how is sex to be handled? Can we help the culture shift without destroying the people we need to be helping?
Monday, October 7, 2013
Monday, September 30, 2013
To everything there is a season. The old song says, "No change is permanent, but change is." That means that nothing in our lives are permanent. There is a time for everything, some longer than others. Change isn't easy. When we reach a crossroads of a change in life, how do we know which way to go?
Thursday, September 19, 2013
Life and death are in the power of the tongue. Knowing the difference between correction and attack is essential to protecting your heart. More importantly, there is a great responsibility for the words we speak. What is our part of the equation? Where does our responsibility end? What happens when truth collides with deception?
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
I freely admit, we need help. Between my wife and I, we have a lot of gifts and experience we bring to the table for a variety of ministry roles. However, there are a lot of things we just can't do. Trust me when I say this, you really don't want to hear me lead worship. The experience would be horrifying enough to inspire a Roger Corman film or Stephen King novel. We wouldn't even make it to the end of the first song of the first service. Not a good way to start.
We've had more than our share of setbacks. Those are to be expected. We've had a number of people we'd hoped would help that have backed away or felt lead to engage in other ministry activities. Some of them have expressed that they would be on board for months and even years that have backed off. Granted, a few of them are not right for the changes to the vision the Lord has given but some could adapt. However, The Lord's will must be supreme, not mine.
Finding leaders is extremely hard anyway. One of the challenges is dealing the accusation of "stealing sheep." I have heard that accusation leveled against several prominent pastors and larger churches and, ironically, used by many of those same pastors. I have to admit, the statement has never entirely made sense but I understand the sting of it. It hits at the need for acceptance and approval from authority figures that almost all of us deal with to one degree or another. The problem is that no one can actually "steal" anyone (unless of course there's kidnapping involved). Asking someone to help with a church or ministry puts the ball in their court. If the Lord leads that the question be asked, it is up the Lord and the person asked to make the call. People have free will and it's the Lord's will that matters most.
It's hard to build and keep a congregation together. Any departure can affect a pastor, some more deeply than others.It's especially true when that person or people are in key positions or actively serving. I believe it is this sense of loss along with an out-of-balance approach to leaving a church (see Leaving a Church in the Jesus' Outsider Archives) that contributes to the accusation. Again, I understand it but fulfilling a vision from the Lord and obedience to His word outweigh injured feelings or fear of loss.
The greater problem is born out of love. As I look at the people and pray about who to ask, they are all serving in a variety of capacities in churches and ministries I have great love and affection for and do not want to see them short-handed. Loyalty to beloved congregations and their leadership is a far greater hindrance that I could have ever anticipated. While I do not fear the sheep stealing accusation, I do struggle with feelings that I am raiding churches for their best, their mature, and talent. It has kept me from approaching a number of people over the last several months that I should have.
Most of those whom I've talked to about leadership are ones who've been cast-offs from other churches. Wounded leaders shut down by circumstance, politics, or, in some cases, their own shortcomings they have yet to see. My reasoning was that since the Lovely Bride and I are outcasts in many regards, that's where we should look. The results have been something less than spectacular. It's left us at essentially ground zero with leadership.
The ones who have come to us are not in any capacity ready to lead. Most are seeking a position for the sake of the position, have serious doctrinal issues, or are not yet in a place in their walk to lead. The latter category we can work with and help them mature, but the others are ones whom we cannot risk taking on at the beginning. For leaders, we need mature disciples of Christ ready to hit the ground running.
Shaking this handicap off is very difficult. Only recently have I approached someone who is actively serving. The Lord led them elsewhere, but I was able to overcome my hesitation and make the ask. I don't want to leave any church hurting for leadership, helpers, or musicians. The latter is particularly difficult because there is a small pool of musicians and vocalists able to pull off the type of music we'll be doing at FC and all of them are playing worship in one church or another. Love is getting in the way of the ask.
I am praying about taking a different approach. Thus far, we have kept the vision in house and only made it available to advisers and those we have asked to help. The Lovely Bride is feeling led to just put it out there for all to see. Her belief is that as we make it more public, we will inflame the passions of the right people and they will find us. There will still have to be a vetting process but it does seem like wisdom especially since I'm not sure who to approach at this point.
So, very soon, I will be putting the whole framework online. I don't know where I'm going to post it yet, but I will get make it available as soon as time allows. In the meantime, I have begun converting the Christ's Embassy Facebook page to Freedom Church. Over the next couple of days, I should get most of that process finished. To stay on top of things, please "like" the page. I will post there as often as possible.
Your prayers are appreciated and, if I may, solicited. God is leading and He is taking us on a path apart from all the well-laid plans. I'm nervous and a little scared, but I have to trust that He knows better than I ever could.
Monday, September 16, 2013
It's good to be back on the air! To kick it off, we're looking at the power of words. James spent a lot of time on the subject and there is a thread running through the rest of the Scripture on the same topic. Words can give life or can bring death. The effects can last long after they're spoken. What's been spoken over you?