Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A Letter to Bryan on His 30th

Dear Bryan,
I have been thinking about you and this birthday for a long time. Debbie and I have been so excited to plan and have this gathering with so many people who love and respect you.
It has been my supreme joy to know you and watch you grow as a man, husband, father and minister. We have known and seen how God has led you all the way and kept you through all of life’s trials and tribulations. It is a wonderful and amazing thing to see what God has done, is doing and will do in you and through you with Kathryn, your beautiful sons and the ministry God is calling you to.
Bryan, you are closing out the season of your life that others have called the “Preparation Years” or the years of “Inner Life Growth”. I believe you have been very well prepared – spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically, educationally, socially and in many ways. I believe you have paid attention to “Inner Life Growth”. These have been foundational years that have prepared you for this next season.
Today you enter a new season, a new chapter…what others and I have called the season of “Initiation”. The season of “Ministry Maturing”. Lord willing, this will be a season where you will continue to “initiate” several new ideas and directions. The Lord will lead you in the way you should go. You will mature in your ministry as you continue to exercise your gifts and talents and strengths according to your God given D-E-S-I-G-N. This is an exciting time and season of your lives.
I exhort you with all that is within me to continue to love the Lord our God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength. I exhort you to love Kathryn as Christ loves the church, laying down your life for her and demonstrating continually that she is the #1 priority relationship on this planet. She is your helper, completer, life giver, glory and she is indeed your lady of wisdom. Love and protect her well. She is a beautiful gift to you.
I exhort you to raise the next generation of Apinis in your beautiful sons. Be a model to follow. Teach and train them in the Word of God, in the ways of God and teach them to do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with their God.
I exhort you to take the low place and continue serving and trusting God to lead you, direct you and invite you to the places of honor that He intends for your life. He will “ridiculously bless” you more than you can ever imagine.
I love you, Bryan, and thank you for blessing me and many other people the way you do. You are indeed like a 4th son to me. I am blessed to know you.
A very grateful man and friend and boss, ☺

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Resist the Devil-James 4.7

James 4:7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you
I am intrigued by this truth and idea. Resist. What does it mean to resist the devil and how does one do it?
436. aÓnqi÷sthmi anthistemi; from 473 and 2476; to set against, i.e. withstand: —cope with(1), oppose(1), opposed(5), opposing(1), resist(5), resists(2).
As I have thought about and observed the work of the devil I would say the following:
1. We need to believe he is real and not some made up figure or force. He is a very real enemy. Also known as Satan, Lucifer etc…
• 1Chr. 21:1 Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel.
• Job 1:6 One day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them. 7 The LORD said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the LORD, “From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.”
• Is.1412 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. 15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.
2. We need to know his schemes and devices…i.e. to steal, kill and destroy…to confuse and accuse.
• John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
• Rev. 12:10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
3. We need to know the source of our real struggle…it is not against flesh and blood.
• Eph. 6: 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
4. We must put on the whole armor of God…
• Eph.6.10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
1) TRUTH – the truth will set us free
2) RIGHTEOUSNESS – living a right life
3) READINESS – always ready with the gospel
4) FAITH – we walk by faith and not by sight
5) SALVATION – being saved and belonging to God
6) THE WORD OF GOD – this is the sword of the Spirit
7) PRAYER IN THE SPIRIT – pray with out ceasing
8) BE ALERT – always be watching…
This is the way we RESIST the devil. We do these things and he will flee from us…Thank you Lord for these promises.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Inspire Me by Bill Hybels

The session started off with the story of a boy who was born blind with no leg strength to support him. Discovered he was gifted musically. An amazing story of a father and son. All the audience was super inspired.
What can happen when we are all inspired? The power of inspiration.
4 questions:
1. How much does it actually matter in the life of a worker to be motivated?
Motivated employees
• 87% stay
• Fewer Sick days
• Please motivate and inspire me
2. Who’s job is it to keep me motivated? Mine
When my spirit sags, do not blame anyone.
No body wants to follow a moping leader
We are to live in an “inspired state”
1 Sam.30.6 – David encouraged himself in the Lord…he took responsibility for his encouragement
Ways that Bill has stayed encouraged over the years:
1. Be crystal clear of my calling and mission from God
a. .Pay the price to get still before the Lord to get crystal clear
b. Who am I? When did He call me? To what has He called me?
c. For me…it is my personal mission statement
d. To always do that which pleases my heavenly Father
e. Helping men live life on purpose in balance
2. Leverage my spiritual gifts and strengths:
a. I am an exhorter, pastor, teacher and leader
b. My strengths are context, responsibility, relator, developer and intellection
3. Make sure the players on my team are inspiring people
a. Do all my players inspire me?
b. Do I get a “positive emotional jolt” every time they walk in my office?
4. The books I read
a. Am I reading biographies?
b. Books that inspire and challenge
5. Rub shoulders with “EIP’s” – exceptionally inspiring people
a. Their presence is inspiring
6. Participate in “EIE’s” – exceptionally inspiring events
7. Pay attention to physical disciplines
a. A 20% energy gain
b. Diet/Exercise
8. Pay attention to work environment
a. Work space can add to or subtract from
b. Decorated, pictures, art that lifts spirits
c. What does my work environment do for me?
9. What inspiring recreation do I have?
a. Golf, swimming?
b. What lifts my body and spirits?
10. Practice daily spiritual disciplines
a. When God speaks to me from His Word
b. Journaling
c. Writing out prayers
d. Saturated Reflection
From a sagging spirit to a full, inspired spirit
3. What is the best way to inspire and motivate those around me?
• The best way is to live a motivated/inspired life in front of them
• My motivation can be contagious to others
• It is a “force multiplier”
• Be a fully inspired self
A. Connect every one I lead to a grander, greater, compelling vision. What they are doing connects to the greater mission.
B. Learn the inspiration language of every one on my team.
• .How do people want to be inspired?
• Tell each other how we can be inspired
C. Identify and reduce every de-motivating factor and dynamic on our team. Address and resolve them.
• .Common demotivating factors
i. Unclear job descriptions
ii. Confusing benefits
iii. Underfunded ministries
iv. Hard office space
v. Meager salaries
vi. Few learning opportunities
D. Celebrate every sign of progress toward our teams shared goals
• This gives great energy
4. What would a church look like if every one was inspired and motivated?

Friday, August 10, 2007

Keep the Royal Law-James 2.8

James 2:8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.
When I read these verses, I was reminded of a conversation I had with Jeff McMillan back in 1985 in Orlando, FL. When I became the pastor of CCC, Jeff asked me why CCC existed? What is the purpose of CCC in Orlando? This was the first time I started thinking deeply about mission and purpose. His thinking was very helpful to me.
I will never forget a simple drawing he did on a flip chart that captured this “Royal Law”
Love the Lord your God
Love your neighbor
I appreciate simple and clear things. These thoughts have driven my life for the last 22 years. I was only 31 when these truths came into clarity for me.
I love waking each day and thinking of ways to grow in love with my God and how to love my neighbor. This indeed is the ROYAL LAW

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Temptation-James 1.13

James 1:13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
1. Temptation will come. It does not come from God. It will come from my flesh, the world or the devil…and it will come until I take my last breath on earth.
2. There is a pattern of sin in Scripture…SEE, DESIRE, TAKE, HIDE
a. Gen. 3 – Adam and Eve
b. Joshua 7 – Achan in Ai
c. 2 Samuel 11 – David and bathsheba
3. So how do we win in this battle of temptation?

Weekly Focus - Psalm 1

Psa. 1:1 Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.
OK...so you have started with delighting in and meditating on God’s Word day and night… “Meditation 101”
1. Pick a time and place
2. Get a notebook/journal
3. Write out thoughts or feelings or a morning prayer
4. Pick a small book to start…Ephesians, Philippians, or James
5. Read for depth and not distance. Read and re-read small paragraphs.
6. Note words and phrases and truths that stand out
7. Put in a “Power Phrase”
8. Write on 3x5 card and carry with you to review through the day and week

The next stage is Meditation 201 – Weekly Focus
1. Have a time for a “Weekly Focus”.
o I have mine every Sunday morning before church.
o Use it to review this past week and plan for this upcoming week
2. Review the truths that God has taught you. For me, it has been...
o 7/29 – The God of PEACE. Heb.13.20
o 7/30 – Equipped with everything good. Heb.13.21
o 8/1 – John, a servant of God and Jesus Christ. James 1.1
o 8/2 – Consider it pure joy. 1.2-4
o 8/3 – Ask God for Wisdom. 1.5-8
o 8/4 – Rich men fade away like wild flowers. 1.9-11
3. How did I do in all areas of my life?
MY LIFE – My Spirit, Soul and Body
• Spiritually? How was my time with God? Am I growing?
• Mentally? Did I renew my mind?
• Volitionally? What choices did I make? For life or death?
• Emotionally? Am I letting the fruit of the Spirit rule my life? Love, joy, peace, patience, etc?
• Physically? How is my diet and exercise?
MY MARRIAGE – Intimacy and Finances
• Am I one with Debbie in our spirits, souls and bodies?
• Financially? Am I stewarding the resources God gave me?
MY FAMILY
• Am I fulfilling my role as a father, son, brother and uncle?
MY WORK
• Am I doing my work as unto the Lord?
• Am I achieving mission/vision and objectives?
• Am I “choosing to cheat?”
MY CHURCH
• Am I using my gifts to build up the body of Christ?
4. What are your plans in all areas for this upcoming week?
o Have you planned a 24 hour Sabbath rest?
o What are the top 1,2 or 3 things you hope to accomplish this upcoming week in all areas of LIFE, MARRIAGE, FAMILY, WORK AND CHURCH?
5. Use the 7-day/21-block “Time Block” system
• The very first thing I plan is my 24-hour Sabbath. Try to find 3 connected blocks with nothing to do but your Sabbath Rest…whatever you need to do to recharge your battery.
• Whenever you have to fill a block with an appointment that you did not make, you must count it out.
• I also use this system to balance my nights out and my nights at home
6. As you look at your week ahead, what are the Top 1-3 things that you would want to accomplish in your:
o LIFE
o MARRIGE
o FAMILY
o WORK
o CHURCH
7. I am convinced that as people take time for daily and weekly reflections and planning, our lives will be more centered on Jesus, more PURPOSE FULL, more BALANCED and more peace FILLED.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Rich Men Will fade-James 1.9

James 1:9 The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. 10 But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business.
This passage intrigues me. Humble circumstances and high positons. Rich and low position. What does this all mean?
The rich will pass away like a wild flower. Life is so short and fading.
I love how I brought this idea to Debbie and she did this painting called "Fading."
Check out http://deborahwoodall.com

Ask God for Wisdom-James 1.5

James 1.5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6 But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.
I love these verses. I love the idea of being able to ask God for wisdom in this life. There are so many times and things for which I need wisdom.
Today I am wondering about…
1. All the social injustices in the world…AIDS, poverty, widows, orphans, pollution, child slavery etc…the needs are great and will be until the return of the Lord. How am I to live and serve in light of these enormous global needs? I need wisdom in these things
2. My health. My heart hurts. I need wisdom whether I should have or need by pass surgery. Lord, what should I do?
3. Our wealth. I need wisdom on how to be a good steward of the wealth and resources the Lord has given us.
4. Our children. They are finding their place in this world and we need wisdom on how to help them. How do we encourage them? We need wisdom on these things.
These are just a few of the things on my mind and heart these days. Lord I need wisdom. You tell me, you promise me, that if I will ask you, you will give it to me generously.
I believe and I do not doubt. I say thank you for the thoughts, ideas and insights that you will give me over time concerning these issues.
In other places in your Word, this is what you say on wisdom…
Luke 2:40 And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.
Luke 2:52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
Acts 6:3 Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them
Acts 6:10 but they could not stand up against his wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke.
Eph. 1:8 that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.
Eph. 1:17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.
Eph. 3:10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms,
Col. 1:9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.
Col. 1:28 We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.
Col. 2:3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
James 3:13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.
James 3:17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
So…the rest of the story. On this day I asked God for wisdom regarding my health, I had three people in less that 30 minutes tell me to take this heart thing seriously and go to the ER.
Bill Cronin got in my face and said take it seriously.
I called my cardiologist and asked my options and she said to go to the ER.
I called Steve James and asked him and he told me to get to the ER as soon as I can. Cancel my trip to Canada and get there.
I cancelled the trip to Canada, went to the ER, had all kinds of tests taken and all test came out NORMAL.
So I asked for wisdom and I think the Lord led me through all these friends and Doctors.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Consider it Pure Joy-James 1.2

James 1:2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
These 3 verses teach us so much.
1. We will face trials of many kinds. There are many of kinds of trials on the earth…
• Physical
• Relational
• Vocational
• Financial
• Persecution
• Suffering of many kinds
2. We are to consider these trials with “pure joy”. This is an amazing truth to me. How is it possible to consider “many kinds of trials” with pure joy? What is my reaction or response when I face trials of many kinds? Anger? Frustration? Medication? Fleeing? Shopping? What? Do I consider them with pure joy?
3. It says, “because I know” that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Do I? Do I know? Do I really know and believe this truth?
4. It is interesting that it is the testing of my faith. I guess the question is…do I trust God in the middle of my many kinds of trials? Do I believe? Do I have faith when all is falling down around me? When I am facing trials of many kinds, do I believe and trust God?
5. The testing of my faith produces patience…it develops perseverance. What is perseverance?
• Steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success
• To persevere – to continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no prospect of success
• From “thoroughly” severe
6. Perseverance must finish its work. It has a work to do in me. The purpose is to mature me, to complete me where I lack nothing. To bring about a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction…not lacking anything.
7. We all want to be mature. We want to be complete. We want to feel like we lack nothing but do we want to face trials of many kinds to get there? Consider it pure joy…because these trials are producing in me a sense of maturity and completion and a sense of lacking nothing.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Let Another Praise You-Prov.27.2

Prov. 27:2 Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips.
I recently received this email from a friend that I have not seen for 15 years. After spending several hours together this is what he observed and wrote. Needless to say I was very encouraged.
Okay, here are some sub-points. I didn't have to think too hard about this:
1. You love being around people - and it shows. One of the greatest people skills is wanting to be with people to begin with.
2. You always find something good to say about someone. This is one of the things I learned about you years ago, is that within a very short period of time in your conversation with someone you always had something good to say about them.
3. You understand the art of the question. Almost everytime I see you interact with someone, you are asking questions about them. You get them to talk.
4. There is an openness and approachability to you that people relate to. I certainly do.
5. You have a way of including people, of making them feel apart of what you are doing.
6. You always begin your interaction in a friendly way, expressing that your glad to see them and to be with them.
7. It is a rare thing for you to be critical of anyone, instead you are an encourager, building up the person you are with.
8. This will be hard to describe, but you have the ability to be "one of the guys" blending into the circumstances and the people you are in and with.
9. Even though you are pushing the double nickel, you act life your in your mid-thirties. The fact that you still look like you are in your mid-thirties doesn't hurt either.
10. Your one of the most "positive" people I know. This is a tremendous asset. That doesn't mean that you can't get discouraged. It means that your rarely are.
11. I can honestly say that for me, I always feel better after I have spent time with you. My tank is always a little fuller. This is high praise.
BC

John, A Servant of God-James 1.1

James 1:1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations:
Greetings.
I was struck by the phrase…A servant of God. Wow. I am a servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ. What a high calling and privilege.
I thought:
1. I am a servant
2. I am saved and called to serve.
3. I am to serve the Lord Jesus Christ.
4. Christ came not to be served but to serve and give His life a ransom for many
5. Look out each day to serve and not to be served.
6. Whom do I serve? God
7. How do I serve? By grace through faith using my gifts
8. When and where do I serve? To wherever God leads me
9. Why do I serve? For the glory of the Lord and the betterment of man.
What a privilege to serve in the name and the power of the Holy Spirit. This is where and how we find true life.