At our recent church picnic the incomparable Alexa Chloe took some quick pics of my children with her iPhone. I'm amazed by her talent along with the incredible beauty of my children. I'm done. See for yourself.
I've heard a lot of discussion about "production versus heart." What I mean by that is the planning and excellence factor on one side of ministry versus the prayerful trust on the other side. If you haven't been in this kind of discussion, count yourself blessed. I really do believe it's one of the dumbest ways to waste time.
Unfortunately, I've been in a lot of these conversations. Some I've started and some I've been pulled into. It is true that people can get caught up in either extreme. However, I read a great quote recently by John MacArthur…
"Making sensible and careful plans for serving God does not conflict with reliance on His providence, and reliance on His providence does not excuse failure to plan."
That pretty much sums it up. God deserves well planned, organized, excellent production whether it's a main service, middle school service, vacation Bible school, or a simple small group Bible study. Failure to prepare, in my opinion, shows not only a lack of concern for the people we are leading but a lack of respect and honor to God and what He has entrusted to your leadership.
I've been so guilty of this in my short time in ministry. There are plenty of excuses I can give as to why I wasn't as prepared as I could be but they would be just that….excuses.
In terms of the heart, we must be careful not to take the reigns in these endeavors and fail to prepare our hearts and souls for God to move. Work for God without God is just work. It's easier for us to prepare physically. It's even easier for us to teach people how to prepare physically. But if we aren't in a place spiritually where God can impress His plans and leading on our hearts we've reached a point in work where we're operating in our own plans.
I once heard Francis Chan as the question…
"Did you really have an awesome service because God showed up or was it just good marketing?"
With the talent, gifts and technology available today, it's easy to slip into our own devices and produce great services without taking the time to invite God to move.
None of this is news of course but it's just what God is pressing on my heart these days. We need to strive to find the balance. Our plans and preparations should be done in an attitude of prayer. As Pastors and leaders, we should have already spent as much time as possible in Bible study and prayer before coming to our teams and volunteers to lead. Again, I'm as guilty as the next guy in failing to do this. That being said, I'm going to do what I can to no longer enter the silly discussion. More importantly I'm going to do all I can to be a leader of whom the discussion isn't applicable.
As a father of three children, I am so prayerful for volunteers who are not only willing to serve in Children’s ministry but see it as a passion. Whatever church you’re attending, wherever you are….please do something. The video below is from Buckhead Church and perfectly illustrates the importance of having people pouring into the lives of young children.
I'm a Pastor.
I'm also a JV Soccer Coach.
I'm known for being a passionate, vocal, sometimes misunderstood communicator.
The truth is I know what I'm saying when I say it and there is almost always a reason.
Tonight I was a JV Soccer Pastor.
My team (comprised of sixth through tenth grade guys and one girl) had a tough game and we were missing two of our strongest players. We made some mistakes and those mistakes cost us the game but I can say without hesitance that we had a victory tonight.
Down three goals to none at the half I came to my team and asked them to remember what we talked about on the way to the game. Romans 8 tells us that we are "more than conquerors." In all we do we are working to glorify God. They responded by not allowing any more goals and coming close several times to scoring themselves.
Our team is young, inexperienced and undersized compared to most of the teams we're playing. Tonight was no exception. At one point near the end of the game, one of the opposing players was continually being illegally rough with our team. There had been no calls or warnings made by the officials so after seeing two of my players shoved quite mercilessly to the ground I was forced to come to the defense of my team.
I was loud, upset and very clear with what and who I was displeased with. I was not rude, flying off the handle or out of line. The referee disagreed. My job as coach is to teach, lead and protect my players. If the officials are failing to protect them I have an obligation to do it myself. I was rewarded with the first card I've ever received. In soccer, a yellow card is like a final warning before being "asked" to leave the game.
I'm not embarrassed by this booking. I'm not proud either. I can say though that for once, I wasn't allowing my anger to take over. I was earnestly looking out for the well being of my team. Interestingly enough, the referee also carded two of the other team's players after my card. Many of the parents in attendance were very encouraging and thankful that I stood up for their children.
So the question begs…did I honor God or dishonor God by receiving a yellow card? I'll let you chime in before I give my response. What do you think?
At NSM we’ve decided that 2010 is going to be a “dig down” year. We’re really making an effort to do a better job of discipleship with our Middle School students. For the first nine weeks of the year we went through a series called Starting Point that laid out the basics of Christian Faith and what it really meant to be a Christian.
The next natural step was our current series “How To’s.” In this series we’re walking through what it means, looks like and how to pray, do Bible study, worship and make disciples. If these students can gain a strong foundation of Faith and spiritual practices, Scripture promises that when they are old they will not depart from it. Below you’ll see the bumper for this series. If you know a Middle School student in the Charleston area, get them to SHIFT for one of our three services Saturday night at 6pm or Sunday morning at 10am or 11:30am.
Happy St. Patrick's Day!!! Of course I'm wishing you a Happy St. Patrick's Day. Have you not learned by now? This is a Christian Holiday. Not only that but this particular St. Patrick's Day is a very special one. Today is my son's first St. Patrick's Day!!! That's right, Steven Phillip III is celebrating in style. I won't write much today. Here are some links to my thoughts on this wonderful day along with why last year was such a special St. Patrick's Day, and a link to a great video explaining the true meaning behind this Christian holiday.
I know what you're thinking….he's so adorable, I wish he was twins!
Here we go folks! It's that time of year again and people are already signing up.
VELOCITY is coming!!!
V20X (Velocity 2010) is going to be incredible. God showed up in an unbelievable way last year. We believe He has some big plans for this year. Several churches have teamed up this year along with some serious additions that will leave every student and leader changed and begging to stay at camp. If you're interested in being a part of V20X get your $50 non-refundable deposit in asap. Trust me, you do not want to miss out this year.
For a little less than a year I've been working out on what could be called a consistent basis (time off to adjust to baby #3 not counting). This morning after my work out I was in some serious pain. The kind of pain that makes you feel like you tore something internally. As I understand, this pain happens when you've pushed your body to a point of growth. No, I'm not trying to brag about working out. Here's why I mention all this.
Millions, probably even billions of dollars are spent every year on gym equipment, memberships and self improvement. We spend this money intending to bring ourselves to these growing pains. Saying it that plainly sounds dumb but it's true. We spend money, change our schedules and adjust our lifestyle knowing that we're following a painful path with the hope that once we reach that destination, we'll be happier with ourselves.
However, if someone told us they were spending tons of money, changing everything in their life to pursue a painful path toward spiritual improvement (a deeper relationship with God), most of us wouldn't understand and would possibly even try to convince said person of an alternative plan.
Why is it that as Christians, and especially American Christians, we make the assumption that a life pursuing intimacy with Christ should lead to favorable circumstances and easier living? Scripture teaches the exact opposite. Imagine what would happen if we started pursuing Christ with the same dedication and fervor that we pursue self improvement, career advancement or romance. More over, imagine the growth that would happen if we embraced the same principles found in physical improvement as we look to deepen our relationship with God. What if we celebrated the growing pains found in life when we commit ourselves to God's plan for our lives?
What if no pain, no gain was applied to our walk with Christ?
Dear Fear, Regret, Sin & Mistakes,
Let's face the facts….we're not getting along anymore. You and I have been together for a long time now but something has changed. I'm not sure if it was you or me first but I don't think things will ever be like they used to be.
For years you gave me what I thought was joy, happiness and satisfaction. When things were difficult in my life I ran to you and you were always there to accept me. What I didn't realize though was that you weren't helping me. Every time you held me, you were just looking for a way to make me more addicted, dependent or afraid to do anything without you.
Well, now I'm writing to let you know I'm not afraid anymore. You can't hurt me. I know you'll try and you may even cause me some difficulty or pain but I'm not going to let you keep that hold on me. I'm moving on and I don't want to see you ever again. I don't want to be reminded of my past. As a matter of fact, when I think of my past I'm not even going to talk about you. I'm choosing to remember the joyful times, the happy times, the moments of success and blessing.
I know you'll remind me that my choices not only hurt me but hurt others and so my response is prayer. I'm praying for forgiveness. My God has already forgiven me and I'm asking Him to help those I've hurt to forgive me as well.
There have been enough tears, enough doubt. I'm choosing to believe the truth that my Savior has spoken into me. Despite all you have done to me and my reputation, I know that He is able to do so much more with me, in me, through me. He has overcome all my imperfections. He has won the battle against you.
This morning was a little rough. Mac decided to be somewhat high maintenance last night which led to our hesitance to waking up. As it turns out, Mac was just excited to show us what he can do.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I'm proud to tell you that Mac rolled over for the first time! Sadly, Anita and I totally missed it. We had both gone in the other room for a minute while he played on his mat. I was feverishly called to come to the living room where we saw Mac on his belly.
A few minutes later we got to see him do it again. So what can I say? My son is incredible.