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?

Check out this episode!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Words and Identity

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?

Check out this episode!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Great Challenge

I knew this wasn't going to be easy. In fact, I expected an enormous amount of work and difficulty starting a unique church like Freedom Church. The vision the Lord gave is very different from the norm of the mainstream church. Opposition and criticism are to be expected. Finding people who understand and are mature to help was expected to be difficult. I didn't know just how difficult it would be. It is turning out to be the biggest challenge of starting up.

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?

Check out this episode!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Challenges & Funks

We are finally in the new house with the new studio. It's not completely done yet but the main living space is ready and the studio is almost done. I expect to be back on the air very soon, possibly as early as Monday, September 16th. It all depends on getting the rest of the room set up enough to break up any sound not caught in the panels. It's a sound geek thing.

When the studio is done, it will no longer be "The Ugly Little Studio." The Lord has blessed us with a great home and, with a huge thanks to my friend Alan Schoenbein and ABC Construction & Restoration, a fantastic studio. Only a few pieces of furniture survive from the original studio are being used and some of them are going away as soon as finances permit. It will also double as the office for Freedom Church until we have a permanent home.

I find myself with a challenge. Because of the Lovely Bride's and my injuries, the move, and an assortment of other issues, we are way behind on Freedom Church. We are still have an issue finding the right people to form the core leadership for the plant. Many people have crossed our path that are well qualified spiritually but can't connect with the vision God has given us. We've had a lot of challenges with others who don't possess the qualifications needed to lead in a new church, some not qualified to lead at all but believe they are. Some I had hoped would be a part of the church have backed off from initial commitments or interest. Others have remained supportive but stopped short of expressing a desire to help. Finding the leaders has proven to be one of the greatest challenges I have ever faced in ministry.

When combined with some professional setbacks in my day job and a couple minor issues at home, I feeling a little discouraged. Okay, I'm feeling a lot discouraged and fighting a serious funk. There's really no other way to put it. I feel drained physically, mentally, and spiritually. I have no energy at all and feel myself not caring very much. I'm fighting it through prayer but I'm still very down.

I don't discourage easily. The Lovely Bride and I have fought through far worse than we are facing now. We know we are called to do this. We know we are called to reach a challenging group of people that few others have a desire to reach. We expected challenges and difficulties and other junk from the enemy trying to stop us. Even though I knew these days would come, I still feel very ill-prepared for them now that they are here. I understand Elijah when he was in hiding better than I have before. Great triumph that was followed by deep fear and depression. Fear isn't the issue for me. I'm not scared of continuing nor do I fear the enemy and his direct attacks. His approach is different with me.

I know what's happening is his attack. Direct attacks fail with most of us so he's hitting me through doubts, past issues, and negative words from people I respected. I keep hearing whispers in my ear telling me to give up. "No one cares if you do this," the voice says, "If they cared they'd do more to help. They'd join the team." Other times it says, "No one believes you can do this. Look at all the respected leaders who've told you that you're not qualified and you can't do it. How could they be wrong?" These voices are strong in all of us at different times. Past failures and negative words have stopped many people from achieving what the Lord has called them to be. Long after the words are spoken, they linger in our minds and hearts continuing to do damage to our present and future.

These are easy to dismiss when things are going well. After all, what better way to silence them than success? It's when the storms hit, plans go awry, or people abandon you that they ring with great power. With the challenges with finding leadership combined with a rough month at my day job (a serious financial hit), the enemy's voice in their harsh words are hitting harder than normal. I am pushing them aside with the Word and with reason. Most of the words spoken were said either from shallow relationship or ones that only know my past mistakes and not my growth from them. The Word reminds me of who I am in Christ and that I can do all things through Him. Fortunately, there are those who do speak encouragement into my life who know me better and believe in the vision the Lord gave me. Their words break through the funk.

As you can tell, in writing this out, the Lord has been helping to push through my funk and help me find peace again. I am encouraged by the recent support and His Spirit. I am doing much better. I understand David's psalms. Most of them started out pretty rough and ended in David expressing a renewed trust in God. That's where I am right now.

Perhaps the Lord allows us to experience these times to grow us and remind us of Who exactly is in control. The voices are dropping to a powerless whisper as I am reminded of my purpose to glorify Him and not heed the falsehoods of men. Yes, even the most respected men and women of God can be wrong about people. No one always hears the voice of the Lord with perfect accuracy. If we listen to people who do not see the best the Lord has for us and allow them to dictate our actions, we are not allowing the Lord to be on the throne. We're putting them there.

Please note that I am not talking about receiving words of correction or discipline. Such words are not meant to injure but to heal. In this situation, the words are "not yet" instead of "never." True words of rebuke are redemptive and lead to a path that will bring about the changes the Lord desires. The words spoken to me and, I suspect, many of you had no redemptive value. They were wounding and often shaming. Think of the conversation between Nathan and David. (2 Kings 12) Nathan definitely corrected the king after his affair and murder of his paramour's husband.  Although it was painful for David, the effect was to bring about repentance. Real words will produce good fruit even when painful. They do not lead to shame, guilt, or depression. It may take time and does require that we receive them, but the fruit is evident in the long run.

Maybe this helps you, maybe it doesn't. I appreciate you allowing me to be transparent with you for a little while. I told all of you that when I started to blog this journey that I wouldn't hold anything back. I will be posting more soon.